Psalm 40

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 22, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened—burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
(Psalm 40)

I know it’s a bit of a longer psalm to write out here in this post, but it is such a good one (as are all the psalms, really). We often think of the psalms as isolated chapters, not necessarily being in context with each other. But one interesting thing with this psalm is it’s in context with Psalms 37, 38, and 39. Psalm 37, which I wrote about here, encourages us to trust in God and His Word no matter what, even when the evil ones around us prosper. In Psalm 38, King David deals with sin, guilt, anger, and ultimately puts his hope in God. In Psalm 39, David shares the realities and difficulties in his life, searching for meaning. In Psalm 40, all that waiting and patience is paying off and David is beginning to rejoice in God as his salvation.

As verse 1 tells us, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Being patient means totally giving everything over to God. We generally want justice from God on our timeline and in the way we’d like it, but waiting patiently for God means knowing that He is the ultimate Judge and the one in control over everything. We need to let Him be God rather than trying to be God ourselves. It’s up to God how He wants to deal with each individual sinner.

David realizes he’s kind of a mess, and he’s asking God to save him from this mess. All he needs to do is have faith and wait for God to rescue him, to hear his cry and turn to him. We see that deliverance in verse 2: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

David went through a lot of adversity in his life, but we see his testimony here that he waited patiently on God. No, David wasn’t perfect, but he continually turned back to God when he went astray. What kind of adversity are you going through in your life? People in our lives will see how we deal with adversity. We may mess it up and try and fix things on our own, but we need to remember these words of David and wait patiently on the Lord, and He will deliver us in His timing. Being patient and relying on God through it, as David did, is the most powerful testimony there is!

Verse 3 tells us, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” We’re not singing the same odl song, but a new one! If we say or do the same thing over and over again, things won’t change. I had a professor in college who would always say, “If you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.” If we have a new song, though, something has changed! When we allow God to work in our life in His timing and sing His praises, we will sing that new song. Whatever adversity we’re going through may be taken away, thus giving us a powerful testimony about God’s work in our lives.

What is God doing in your life? Do you see Him working in your life, even in tough situations? When you’re going through difficult times, listen for the new song that God is giving you.

In verse 11, David writes, “Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.” Even though God has already rescued him, David realizes that he could very easily fall back into the sins he committed before. He recognizes that the only hope and freedom he can experience will come from God. He trusts that God’s love will always protect him.

The psalm closes in verse 17 with these words: “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” In this psalm, we see that David has a humble boldness. If we’re living out the new song that God has for us, we too can approach God boldly and confidently, even in the midst of struggles, and yet with humility that He is the only one who can truly rescue us from the difficulties of this life. We know that we are nothing compared to God, yet He still loves us and will be our help and our deliverer when we trust in Him and wait patiently on Him.

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Faith Resurrected

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 21, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

What does this Easter Sunday mean to you? You could probably give some theological answer regarding your knowledge of what God did through Jesus in raising Him from the grave, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Hopefully, you are going or have already gone to church today and you’ll get whatever theology you need there. What I’m talking about is personal impact. How has the resurrection of Jesus, our Messiah, changed your life? Are there any noticeable differences between your life now and the one you led BEFORE you came to believe in Jesus as both Savior and Lord? If not, why not? We’re talking about the biggest miracle and event that ever took place in this world, yet some believers still have a hard time seeing what difference it actually makes in their lives. If Jesus’ resurrection didn’t make a difference to anyone, then there would be no reason to celebrate it.

When I read about the apostles in the Book of Acts and hear stories of other persecuted believers throughout history and those who are enduring difficult trials around the world even now, I’m reminded of the clear distinction between mere lip service and living faith that matters. James, the younger brother of Jesus, writes about this in his letter to the first-century Jewish believers and we’ve been looking at his take on true faith for the past several weeks. The entire section of James 2:14-26 is about living faith versus dead faith. Those who claim to have faith but don’t back it up with action beyond their words have “dead faith” that is no different than what demons have. But those whose faith leads them to doing good works have faith that others can see. It’s a living faith that produces more faith in the lives of others.

Today, I’m specifically looking at James 2:20-24, where James writes to remind his audience about the best historical example of living faith with whom they would’ve been familiar - Abraham. It seems calculated that he discusses Abraham’s example for two reasons: 1) the best and most obvious example of faith would be Jesus of Nazareth, but it’s probably too new to the believers for James to get his point across that God has always been seeking those with a living faith, and 2) he later discusses a well-known Gentile in Rahab, who couldn’t have been more opposite of Abraham in lifestyle and upbringing but still showed true faith in action (we’ll get to her next week).

James brings up the story of their father Abraham as “evidence that faith without deeds is useless” (v. 20). He then explains that Abraham’s righteousness was revealed by what he DID in offering his son Isaac on the altar. For those who don’t know, James is referencing the story we find in Genesis 22. James makes it clear that Abraham already had faith before that and that he had already been considered righteous by God, as shown in Genesis 15:6. But “his faith and actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:22). We can truthfully say we have faith the moment we trust in Jesus for the first time, but our actions that flow out from our faith are what make it complete and alive. The example of Abraham is a perfect one because the same God who “credited” his believing as righteousness in Genesis 15:6 also decided it was time to test him, according to Genesis 22:1. God knew that Abraham had faith, but the test of having to sacrifice his son, his heir, and the one in whom his hope to be made a “father of many nations” was found, would be his opportunity to reveal that faith and make it complete. It was where the rubber of his faith would meet the road of life. Likewise, our tests and trials that we face in life are the opportunities to show our faith and separate ourselves from those who have the faith of demons.

If you know that story of Abraham and Isaac, then you know that Abraham didn’t end up having to sacrifice his son. He bound his son and laid him on top of the wood on the altar he had built, but just as he was about to slay Isaac with a knife, an angel of the Lord stopped him (Genesis 22:9-12). The angel, speaking for the Lord, then said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (v. 12). As James makes his point to his readers, they would’ve all been aware of that story. They could think back to those words from the angel, especially the “now I know” part of it. Abraham had been on a long journey of faith at that point and had certainly not always put his full faith and trust in the Lord. The harsh test turned out to be proof of his faith to himself, to Isaac, and even to God.

What made Abraham willing to sacrifice his own son? He certainly had no clue that God was going to stop him from doing it. Some argue that he did have that inkling because he told Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). But the fact that he was seconds away from killing Isaac after binding him on the altar shows that he had every intention of doing it. He didn’t stop and look around and say, “Okay God, just kidding. I know you were just testing me, so where is the lamb?” It was a settled matter in his heart that no matter how ludicrous it seemed, he had to obey God. Hebrews 11:17 tells us that Abraham “was about to sacrifice his one and only son” even though he “had embraced the promises." I intentionally mentioned above that Abraham’s hope for the fulfillment of those promises was found in Isaac, because that’s what it would’ve seemed to him and to us had we been there. But in truth, by the time of that test, Abraham’s hope was in God alone. He knew that if God promised to bless his name through Isaac but also commanded that he sacrifice Isaac, God had to know what He was up to. Hebrews 11:19 says, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead." As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ today, we’re thinking, “Well, duh, of course he can!” But Abraham had no evidence or historical reports that it could happen or had happened because it NEVER HAD! Yet, he reasoned that God could do whatever is necessary to make sure His commands do not contradict or break His promises.

There is an amazing juxtaposition between what Abraham reasoned and what God actually did with Abraham’s own faith, and He can do the same with yours. It’s not like the command to sacrifice Isaac was Abraham’s first and only test. Thankfully, we serve a God of not just second chances, but often as many chances as it takes. Abraham had majorly failed on multiple occasions, and those are just the ones we know about. In Genesis 16, he sleeps with Hagar, the servant of his wife Sarah, because he and his wife are tired of waiting for the promise from God to be fulfilled. In Genesis 20, he deceives a foreign king, Abimelek, and says that Sarah is his sister because he fears Abimelek will kill him so he can take Sarah as his wife. These are just two of the examples of Abraham showing dead faith. He believed in God, but the circumstances and trials led him to walk not in faith, but in fear.

When Abraham witnessed the birth of his son Isaac even though he was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5) and his wife was ninety, it gave him a renewed understanding of the unlimited power of God to accomplish His will. Both Abraham and Sarah had originally laughed at the idea that God could give them a child in their late years. I find it stunning that God got laughed at and still had enough patience to keep His promises to them. Sarah was asked by an angel in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” As she gave birth and Abraham witnessed it, they could answer with a resounding NO. It’s safe to say their dead faith was RESURRECTED. When the ultimate test came later for Abraham, he was ready.

I pray that the resurrection of Jesus from the grave makes a difference in your life today. If God could raise the dead, on top of countless other miracles He’s been providing since the beginning of time, is there anything too hard for Him in your life? Maybe you’ve had opportunities to live out your faith with good works and you’ve failed miserably. That’s in the past now. God is giving you new opportunities to let Him resurrect your dead faith and make it alive again. Will you trust in Him and obey His will from now on?

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The Names of God: Jehovah Shalom

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 19, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is peace

We live in a world where this is no peace. Violent mobs destroy property and loot in the guise of “protesting.” Some political parties advocate that unless they regain control there won’t be civility. Mass shootings and a constant state of fear abounds. There is no peace in today’s world.

There would not even be peace even if our political realm “returned back to normal.” The Communist countries had no war within them, but there was no peace. During our previous U.S. political administration, there was no peace, even though one party pretty much had full control. During our current one, we certainly don’t have peace either.

But peace will not be achieved no matter whose political ideals are realized. Many people are not at peace even when everything going around them is smooth. Peace is not defined as “lack of war.” Peace is much better defined as “all is as it should be.” We live in a fallen and broken world. Something is drastically wrong with this world and every person is either asking or seeking how to make that which is wrong to be right. There will be no peace until that which is wrong is made right.

What is wrong with this world? We are. We are the ones at fault. Man is the crowning glory of God’s creation and we are the ones who messed it all up. It is our sin that has wrecked this world and created the lack of peace. Man has been trying to fix it up the best way he knows how – without God – and each attempt fails miserably. In the grand epic story we call world history, man plays the role of both the villain and the damsel in distress. Who is the hero in this epic? Jesus Christ. He came to deal with what is wrong with this world, sin, and to rescue His bride, us.

Jesus made the way to make peace between man and God. He is the one and only mediator. He is the one who was both God and man at the same time was able to take upon Himself the wrath of God, thus enabling peace to be achieved. We celebrate this moment in which the “peace treaty” was signed today, and call it “Good Friday.” It is the day in which we celebrate what Jesus did on that cross, and in two days we will celebrate the completion of that work on Resurrection Sunday. And now we who have been justified by faith now have peace with God. Jesus ended the war between God and man, however just because the treaty has been signed, that does not mean all factions are recognizing it. Therefore, God has sent us to be ambassadors to the lost in this world to implore and encourage that they make peace with God before He comes in.

When Paul wrote about ambassadors, he had a Roman ambassador in mind. When Rome set its eyes on a foreign nation or people group, they sent an ambassador ahead of them to negotiate terms of surrender. This would enable to nation or tribe to retain most of its identity and culture, and they would just need to pay tribute and submit to Roman rule. If the nation or tribe refused the terms, the Roman army would come in and clean house. The image relates to us in this way. God is coming to claim that which belongs to Him. He sends us as His followers to plead with the people to make peace with Him and to surrender to His rule before He comes in with His judgment against sin and to set Jesus Christ on the throne of this world where He rightfully belongs.

This is a key to understand about peace. My pastor made a very interesting connection about peace a couple year ago when he did the Advent studies of joy, peace, hope, and love. He cited Isaiah 9:7 and noticed that you cannot have God’s peace without God’s government. Since peace is properly defined as “all is as it should be,” then how can that be possible unless a pure, perfect, righteous, holy, and just God rules over it? Things went wrong when man decided to defy God’s rule and try to do things his own way, and they can only be made right by God intervening and setting them right.

Gideon gave God this name Jehovah Shalom when he was summoned to deliver Israel from Midian’s hand. But what did Gideon do immediately afterwards? That very night, he went and tore down the altars to Baal and Asheroth in his town and replaced them with an altar to the Lord. To make peace with God, he had to declare war on the false teachings and idolatry which itself was waging war against God. In order for peace to be acquired, all that which rebels against God must be put down and that which God established must be erected.

If we want peace in our lives, we must submit to God’s rule. The Apostle Paul made it clear that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. Only one of those is a Perfect Master: Jesus Christ. When we submit ourselves to and obey Christ, then no matter what goes on around us, we will have peace. Yes, the Christian can have peace of mind even when Hell is throwing everything it has at us. When things go wrong, when the car suddenly breaks down, when heavy traffic makes you late, when someone tells lies about you, or the government has shown to sell itself to the devil, we can still have peace. Why? How? It’s simple: God is still in control and nothing takes place without his permission or allowance. Such chaos approached Hudson Taylor while he led missions in China. He heard the bad reports and he just leaned back on his chair and started whistling. He was at peace. The man bringing the news was confused. How could he do that? The answer was that he just rolled the problem onto Jesus. Taylor didn’t have to take responsibility for the problem. He gave it to Jesus and waited for Him to take care of it. That doesn’t mean he did nothing, but that he recognized it was under Christ’s rule, therefore it was Christ’s responsibility. He only had to worry about obeying Christ, not solving all the problems he faced.

There is one more aspect of God’s peace I’ll address. God did not come to be a peace-lover; He came to be a peace-maker. What’s the difference? A peace-lover will surrender everything to not have to make a stand and not have to work to make something happen. They don’t know true peace and just want to get along in one big kumbaya with everyone. A peace-maker, on the other hand, will go deal with the situations and if necessary remove those disturbing the peace. They will go and set things in order, settle conflicts by a standard of truth, and get the job done. God is a peace-maker and He will set things straight. The question to us is this: will be part of the clean-up process, or will we be the ones God need to clean out? He’s going to set His rule here on earth one way or the other. We have a choice to stand with Him and be part of the process, or we can try to continue doing things our own way and be part of the problem for Him to deal with. Let’s not be part of the problem.

God is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord of peace. He is the ruler of this universe and He is returning once and for all to make all things that are wrong to be right. He delays His day of coming so we might make terms of peace before He takes us out with the trash. Will you make peace with God? Now is a better time than ever. Ask me or any of us at Worldview Warriors how to do this.

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The Birth of the Way

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 18, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Editor’s note: Due to the popularity of this post and the fact that Easter is on Sunday, we’re re-posting this one today for your enjoyment.

No one denies that Christianity exploded out of first century Israel. Within a single generation of the Resurrection of Christ, “the Way” had spread to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and not by force. It spread through the message of redemption and love. Where did the Christian faith come from and what best explains its origin? We recently celebrated the event that marks the birth of Christianity—Resurrection Day, or Easter. I believe there is no explanation for many of the events that led to the birth of Christianity other than they are authentic. Let’s take a look at one of the most difficult challenges for the skeptic: the origin of the faith we have called Christianity.

The most obvious answer to the question of “Where did Christianity come from?” is that the Disciples truly saw the risen Messiah and it radically changed their lives. Only an amazing event such as seeing the resurrected Messiah could have turned cowardly, scattered, confused, uneducated men with no prior knowledge of a risen Savior in their religious beliefs into bold, outspoken teachers willing to die for their faith.

Peter declared in Acts 2 beginning with verse 32, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses… Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” The origin of the Christian faith is best explained by the disciples’ sincere belief that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Anyone who denies the resurrection of Christ as the origin of the Christian faith has some explaining to do. Some will say the Christian faith was just taken from the Jewish faith or from some pagan religion. Neither of these is plausible. The resurrection of a single man who was both God and man is not something any Jewish person of the day would have recognized. We see the confusion in the historical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, agreed with Jesus that Lazarus would rise again—on the last day when all the saints are resurrected, not in a few moments as Jesus commanded him. This is the ONLY resurrection the Jewish people thought would happen. Nowhere in Jewish thought do we find the idea of a single individual resurrecting within history never to die again. A pagan source is equally unlikely since, as Jews, pagan practices were considered detestable. And since no known pagan story sounds like the story of Jesus, it would be an unsupportable position to say this is the case. Sure, there are several stories skeptics will point to, but none of them hold water. They either originate from a much later time, or their similarities are highly exaggerated or completely fabricated.

What are the primary explanations given by skeptics aside from the above two? Good question. Let’s take a look.

One explanation is that Jesus didn’t die. He was just unconscious when they laid Him in the tomb. After reviving in the cool, damp tomb, He made His way back to the disciples in an extremely weakened state and in need of emergency medical attention. This weak, feeble, and half-dead man is what birthed the stories of a resurrected Lord. The issues here are obvious and numerous. The Romans were very efficient at destroying life. To think they messed this up by accident and it just happened to be a man that claimed He’d rise from the dead is pretty unlikely. This idea also fails to appreciate the horrific scourging before the cross and the brutality of the cross itself. The Journal of the American Medical Association concludes, “Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.” (March 21, 1986, 1463). This theory also fails to recognize everything Jesus claimed to be and His impeccable ethical standard. Deception isn’t in His nature. This idea also wants us to think the disciples believed in a “resurrected Messiah” who was physically brutalized to the point of not being recognizable. If He were dead and resurrected as the Bible claims, He would not have had the appearance of just being whipped and beaten and having His flesh recently torn from His body. The disciples would have allowed themselves to be martyred for a half-dead, half-resurrected Messiah who likely required a great deal of care and nursing in order to survive. This weak, fragile man would not be considered the conqueror of death and the grave. There are other issues as well, but let’s move on for the sake of time.

The next explanation is that the disciples experienced hallucinations. This one is pretty laughable as this explanation is congested with issues. First of all, ALL the accounts of the resurrection make the claim that they were physical. There is no account written that we know of that indicates the appearances were not physical. Also, hallucinations are individual, much like dreams. To think that over 500 people had the exact same hallucination at the same time is a belief in the impossible. Even if everyone hallucinated at the same time, each person would have their own. Therefore, hallucinations cannot explain the group appearances attested to in 1 Corinthians 15, the Gospel narratives, and the book of Acts. Hallucinations of Jesus would most likely have been based on previous knowledge. Jews would most likely have envisioned Jesus at Abraham’s side, confirming He was, in fact, dead. This would not have led to the birth of the Christian faith at all. This theory also can’t explain the empty tomb or conversions of skeptics like Saul on the road to Damascus. The only reason to believe in the hallucination theory over the authentic resurrection of Christ is out of desire, not facts.

Finally, the earliest explanation outside of an authentic resurrection, is that the disciples stole the body. It is recorded in the Bible that the Pharisees paid the soldiers who guarded the tomb to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body. As a result, these uneducated fishermen became the perpetuators of the greatest hoax in the history of the world. There are several problems here. The disciples wouldn’t likely write that women were the first witnesses to this event because women were not permitted to give testimony in this culture. It’s also odd that they would include in their written accounts of the resurrection that the Pharisees claimed they’d stolen the body if they had, in fact, stolen the body. It also is in contrast to the disciples’ nature. As J. N. D. Anderson states, “This would run totally contrary to all we know of them: their ethical teaching, the quality of their lives, their steadfastness in suffering and persecution. Nor would it begin to explain their dramatic transformation from dejected and dispirited escapists into witnesses whom no opposition could muzzle.”

But the biggest issue with ALL of these ideas is that the disciples—all of them—allowed themselves to be tortured, brutally mistreated, and eventually murdered for something they knew was false. Liars make poor martyrs. Wouldn’t you think just one—ONE—would have recanted on their story? Just one? They were convinced Christ had risen from the dead and conquered death and hell. There really is no question. Be encouraged!

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Psalm 37

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 15, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

In one of the commentaries I use, the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, the heading they gave Psalm 37 is, “Wise Living in a Crooked Generation.” Anyone following the news headlines in the U.S. for the last decade or so would probably agree that we are living in a “crooked generation,” and as Christ followers we are called to still live in a wise manner. One of the issues this psalm addresses is how the wicked seem to prosper even while the righteous suffer. So, this psalm seems especially applicable for our world today, even though it was written a few thousand years ago.

Verses 1-2 summarize what our mindset should be: “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” That sounds simple enough, right? But it’s really much easier said than done. We are so often envious of those who get what they want in life, even if they came by those things in an evil manner. Those who do wrong and not follow the narrow path of God’s Word seem to have so much more pleasure and fun in this life, don’t they? But their enjoyment is only for this lifetime, and they will pay for their lack of faith for all eternity.

So what should we do instead of worrying about those who are evil and being envious of them? We get the answer in verses 3-8: trust in God, take delight in Him, commit our ways to Him, be still and wait patiently on Him, refrain from anger, and don’t fret.

What is the result of all of this? “For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land… But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (verses 9 and 11). You may be thinking that inheriting land isn’t much motivation for you; it sure isn’t that appealing to a city girl such as myself. But the land represents God’s kingdom, so “inheriting the land” is really inheriting the Kingdom of God! With that Kingdom, we also will enjoy peace, which is an amazing gift from God to us.

Verses 12-26 give us lots of contrasts between the ways of the righteous and the ways of the wicked. Read that passage and see which category you, those around you, and society as a whole are a part of. This passage shows that the righteous and the wicked will always be at odds, polar opposites of each other in what they do. Society may want to tell us that there is a gray area, that not everything is black and white, but God’s Word makes it pretty clear that there are just two groups of people: the righteous who follow Him and keep His ways, and the unrighteous who don’t.

But that doesn’t mean that being one of the righteous ones is easy; it’s definitely not. That’s why we need God’s Word, including psalms such as this one, to continually encourage us to follow God’s path. Some of that encouragement can be found in verses 27-29: “Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” Again, while dwelling in the land referred to physically inhabiting God’s promised land for the people of Israel, for us today it means being a part of God’s Kingdom. We will be able to dwell with Him forever!

The psalm closes with how we should respond to facing the evils of this world. When we follow God, our wise response should be that we put our hope in Him, be obedient to Him, and have faith in His justice. Verse 34 tells us this: “Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.”

We will see those who do evil in this world flourish for a time, but their prosperity will not last (verses 35-36). We should live our lives like those we see who are righteous, and not like the sinners who will be destroyed (verses 37-38). But as we’re reminded in verses 39-40, none of this can be done in our own strength. It all comes from God - His power, His strength, and His deliverance in our lives!

What is your reaction when you see someone enjoying prosperity in this world? How do you feel when a person prospers when you know they have done evil, and it seems like you’re getting nowhere by following God’s ways? Be encouraged by Psalm 37 to continue to trust in God and follow His righteous ways. Your eternity with God is much more valuable than someone else’s temporary prosperity in this world!

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.


Faith Like Demons?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 14, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

A few years ago, I participated in a weight-loss challenge at the office where I was working. I did very well and ended up in second place, but the guy who won was a good friend of mine who dropped about 16 pounds in one month! Once the challenge was over, most of us who worked so hard to lose that weight in order to win went back to eating red meat and carbs. It didn’t take long for the weight to find its rightful spot back around our midsections. I remember speaking to the guy that won the challenge after we had all gained the weight back. We were talking about how difficult it is to keep it off and all the excuses for why we can’t do it. The man then turned to me and said, “Then again, Logan, I guess if it mattered that much to me, I’d figure out a way to make it happen!”

That conversation illustrates the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. We can talk so much about how important something is to us, but our actions will reveal whether or not it’s true. We are used to defining what we “believe” by processing what we feel and think, but what we truly believe is shown through action. That’s why James focuses so much on showing our faith through good works in his letter to the early Church. In James 2:18-19, he explains that claiming to have faith but not showing it through action puts us among not very good company: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder."

In this passage, it seems pretty clear that James is addressing something that had become a problem in the early Church. Previously in his letter (James 2:8-13), he emphasized that breaking even one law makes a person guilty of breaking the whole law in the eyes of God, and that because of their realization of their own sinfulness and inability to earn salvation through works, they should treat everyone they encounter with the same mercy God has shown them. Now, he felt it was important to address those who had gone too far to the other extreme - living as though works are completely unnecessary because they can’t save a person. So, he throws down the challenge to anyone who thinks they know better than him. He invites them to reveal their faith without any good works and he will in turn show his faith by pointing to the corresponding evidence in his life through good works.

Evidently, there were some in the early Church, or at least James feared there were some, who treated faith and deeds as separate spiritual gifts. They would say, “It’s fine for you to have deeds. That’s great for you! But that’s just not something God blessed me with." James knows this is nonsense and he does not want to take the chance of allowing such theology to spread through the Church, so he decides to address it in his letter. He wants to make it clear that doing good works as a Christian is not a special “gift" but a requirement for all believers to reveal their faith to others.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be constantly searching for good things to do. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33), which means there are opportunities all around us to live out our faith boldly in the midst of difficulty and even to help others who are in trouble. We also know that temptation is all around us in this world. The Lord told Cain in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Even Jesus Himself faced temptation a lot more often than we realize. We know about his temptation in the wilderness for forty days and nights, but at the end of it, Luke tells us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In other words, the devil wasn’t done with Jesus. Enduring trials, helping others who are in trouble, and resisting temptation are all “deeds” that we don’t have to go out and seek because they are part of the natural course of life for the Christian.

James knows that his challenge for those who ignore the need for good deeds can’t really be completed. His statement has the kind of striking sarcasm that reminds me of Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal and the false god of Baal itself (1 Kings 18:27). James’ point is that no one can “see” a person’s faith unless there are visible works. If you are a manager and one of your employees tells you they are sick, you would have to trust them unless you are physically in their presence when some of the symptoms reveal themselves. In the same way, anyone can say, “I have faith," but the only way to verify that what they are saying is true is to look at the accompanying works in their lives.

After he challenges them to find a way to show their faith without deeds, James tells his audience that believing there is only one God makes a person no different than the demons, who also “believe” in God, yet do not act on that belief other than to tremble at God’s very presence because they know He has power over them. If faith only means to “believe in God” and nothing more, than even the demons and Satan himself are faithful. Since their “faith” is not accompanied by action, it is dead and does nothing for them or anyone else.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want my faith to be like that of the demons. I want my faith to be something that others can see by the ways I love others and do works associated with my faith, all while understanding it is not any of MY works that saves me, but the work that Jesus did on the cross. Paul understood that salvation was a free gift from God, yet he still wrote to the believers at Philippi, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is not the same kind of fear that the demons have. The demons shudder in the presence of God because they know He can end them. We also know it, but we’ve been set free from that fear because we know of God’s love for us, and “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is based on the knowledge that not doing things God’s way will have lasting natural consequences for us. Fear can be a great motivator. For example, realizing the reality of cancer and other diseases might influence you to quit smoking. The possibility of losing your family ought to help you resist the temptation to lust or cheat.

What Paul tells us has to do with each of us individually. Sometimes we care so much for the salvation of others but neglect to work out our own salvation. As you reflect on your own spiritual life today, is your faith like that of the demons, or is it being worked out continuously? Is your belief in God something others can see? If not, I challenge you to see the Holy Spirit and ask Him to create a clean heart and a renewed desire to do His good works within you today.

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


The Names of God: Jehovah Nissi

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 12, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Nissi: The Lord my banner

I’ve never been the kind of person that does war cries or chants or pep talks or what not. I know their purpose and their intent to rile someone up, get them on an emotional high, and spook out the opponent. It doesn’t matter whether its in actual war, a sport, or even a business meeting. I’m simply not that kind of person. I find shouting at your opponent is a waste of energy while I simply stand there with confidence of “Watch out!”

There only time I’ve ever actually enjoyed a war cry is from Eric Ludy’s short sermon on the Israel’s war cry which I wrote about in one of my first blog posts for Worldview Warriors. RAK CHAZAK! Be strong and courageous! Do not give in to fear! That is the only one I’ve ever been able to buy into.

The purpose of war cries and chants is to get the people motivated, and there’s something about crowd mentality in that too. When you see a group of football players getting into their rhythm, you don’t want to interrupt that, because they are a force to contend with. When the group gets a high morale, it is tough to break. Likewise, when the morale is down, it takes a leader to raise the banner, the flag, or the symbol of what you fight or play for and call for everyone else to bring on their best. In the movie The Patriot in the final battle, the American lines fell before the British troops and Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, grabbed a U.S. flag from a retreating soldier and rallied the troops to where they soon claimed victory.

The Bible has such a moment too, and that is where the name Jehovah Nissi came about. In Exodus 17, Amalek rose up to try to stop Israel from crossing the wilderness and reach Mt. Sinai. Moses sent Joshua out to lead the battle while he climbed a hill to oversee it. Moses lifted his hands and as long as his hands were up, Israel won, but when they fell, Amalek gained ground. Aaron and Hur realized this and rushed to Moses’ aid, holding his hands up until victory was achieved. Moses’ raised hands was little different than raising a flag or a banner and as long as it was up, the people’s morale remained high. Moses knew he was nothing special in this, but it was God the whole time. So, he gave God the name Jehovah Nissi to commemorate that battle.

In each of these cases, we see a leader or a banner, some image that represents all the athletes and soldiers stand for. It is the rallying point, the signal caller, and the hope of the combatants. When a fort surrenders, they lower the flag. When a fort is in distress, they fly the flag upside down to notify those outside there is danger in the fort. When a fort or nation is in mourning, they fly the flags at half-mast.

What should be the most famous case of a flag flying can be found at Ft. McHenry in the War of 1812. This was the moment in which Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner. The British troops pulled their entire armada to shell the fort only to be stopped by surrender, as recognized by that flag on the fort ramparts. The people knew precisely what that flag meant and despite being shot down again and again, the people ran to that flag throughout the night and held it up in person. That is something we Americans don’t understand anymore: the courage to “rather die on your feet, than live on your knees” (quote from movie clip cited above). But it is also something missing in our Christian lives as well.

We have a banner, a rallying point, and a symbol that represents who we fight for and who we represent. That banner is God himself: Jehovah Nissi. He is not only the one we turn to for shelter, but He is the very symbol that brings us together, riles us up, and sends us charging back into the battle for souls. God is the one telling our souls to get up, to get back into the fight, to rise up, and engage the spiritual forces holding people hostage.

The problem is so few of us only turn to God for our immediate needs and not as a rallying point. We go to church mostly for the social gathering or for listening to a good talk, but church is meant to be so much more than that. Church is meant to be a place where the flag of Jesus Christ flies. It is a place where a pastor sounds the horn to rally the troops, give us our orders for engaging this world, and send us back to battle strengthened and encouraged. So few pastors see their role that way. Even though I lead a Bible study group at my church, I often don’t think of it this way either. But imagine the change of church behavior and attitude if we did.

Do we have someone calling to us to rally us together? Do we see the banner to be raised? In this sermon excerpt, Paul Washer says what costs him sleep is this: “To pace a room at night, saying ‘There is a place. There is a place, where He is not worshiped, where He is not worshiped. There is a place where He is not worshiped. I cannot sleep. There is a place where He is not worshiped. There is a place where the flag of Zion does not fly.’” Who thinks like that? It’s supposed to be Christians. Not super-Christians, not elite Christians, but everyday Christians. Our job as ambassadors is to not merely plead with people to come to Christ but to expand the territory of the Kingdom. Do we think that way?

To whom do we rally? To what cause? For which kingdom? Sadly, many of us fight for something other than Christ and His Kingdom, and especially when we do so under the guise of doing just that. It’s a clever trick of the enemy and he’s good at it. Instead, let us raise the banner of Christ high and let the world know that we proclaim the name of Jesus, Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my banner. He is our war cry. He is our rallying point. He is our motivator. He is our general who gives us His orders. Let us rally together at the banner that is Christ and see to it that His name be raised and glorified in every aspect of our lives.

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


Why Are All the Geologists Wrong?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 11, 2019 3 comments

by Steve Risner

Today we'll be looking at the last question in a series of 10 that Michael Roberts wants to ask “young earth,” aka Biblical, creationists. This week's question is fairly easy and has been partially answered in the previous posts regarding his 10 questions, but we'll get on with it here:

Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

As is my custom, I try to answer short and sweet if possible. This has more than one answer that's fairly obvious, at least to me. The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible's clear teaching on earth's history. It doesn't get any more obvious. However, the second answer is a little more detailed.

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible. If we reject the clear teachings of the Word of God, how can we even suggest we are following the God of the Bible? Sure, many of these old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists will say they accept Christ's teachings and the apostles’ teachings, but why? If we reject some of it, what standard do we use to know if we should accept what the Bible says in one place and reject other parts? I'm seriously asking. If the answer is “science,” then we're lost already.

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you've placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you're choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith.

Why do old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists reject the creation account and timeline for creation as clearly expressed in the Word of God? It is contrary to the time scales required by the humanist origins myth. There's really nothing more to it. It's easy to understand why an unbeliever would accept such things, but why would a follower of Christ? Generally, again, it has to do with their worldview. They've accepted the idea that the earth is old and will not reject that. There is ample evidence to the contrary, especially the most powerful evidence—the eyewitness account of God's Holy Word. However, they've determined that the Bible wasn't meant to give us these truths. They've decided that men who hated God or, at the very least rejected Him as the Creator, were the ones who would give us the truth about the earth's past. This “truth” these God-deniers have proposed is totally at odds with the clear teaching of Genesis and is necessary for the humanist origins myth, beginning with the Big Bang and following through all the way to the origin of life and, eventually, man's evolution. That's not to say that all of those who accept deep time rather than what the Bible says are evolutionists, but this is fairly common.

Then there is the rejection of the global nature of the Flood found in the early chapters of Genesis. If the old earth creationist or theistic evolutionist believes there was some sort of flood, it is a variety of flood that is inconsistent with the Flood recorded in Genesis 6-9. The Flood found in the book of Genesis is unmistakably global and violently catastrophic, lasting for a year, and many recovery events likely took place for a long time afterwards. This devastation destroyed the surface of the earth, every air-breathing land animal that was not on the ark, and every human being on earth except those found on the ark. Why would believers reject this narrative found in the Bible? Because it answers many of the questions they have concerning geology and other fields of study while destroying their preconceived ideas of deep time. It essentially erases much of their evidence for deep time.

Why are there countless rock layers all over the globe, some of which span entire continents or from one continent to another? There was a global Flood that produced all of these layers of sediment. Why are there billions and billions of dead things in mass graves all over the globe buried in some of these rock layers? There was a global Flood that killed them all. Why are there traditions all over the world that divulge much of the information found in the Bible's narrative of the Flood—cultures that, according to some, would have no connection to the Hebrews or their holy books? There was a global Flood and the people that survived passed down the story from one generation to the next. Why was there an Ice Age at all? Because all the activity that created/maintained a global catastrophe like the Flood warmed the oceans but put a great deal of dust in the air, cooling the air temperature. This with the added moisture was a perfect environment for lots and lots of snow.

Why do some cultures that seemingly have no connection to the book of Genesis trace their lineages all the way back to the sons of Noah or even to Adam? Because these people groups separated at Babel and carried their family trees with them after the Flood. Why are there places and people groups all over the world that have a direct connection to Noah's grandsons or other relatives listed in the Table of Nations? Again, these people were real people who founded these people groups and settled in these places that still have a connection to these ancestors. (More on that can be found here.)

Why are there fossil beds all over the world with mixtures of organisms from geologically different ages—vastly different in many cases—and why are these bone beds never talked about by deep time proponents or evolutionists? We find these because there is no such thing as “geologic time,” because everything was created just over 6,000 years ago. All these organisms, including humans, died together in a global Flood as described by the Bible. Check out the Ashley fossil beds in the southern U.S.

After yet another appeal to authority and appeal to majority, Mr. Roberts then explains that geologists can make mistakes. Isn't that big of him? He downplays this, saying that the mistakes geologists make are small. By whose standard is he suggesting this? If their starting point or preconceived ideas about the history of the earth is off and this forces them to interpret all the evidence incorrectly, how can he possibly suggest their mistakes are small? There's so much to say about his bias here, but I must move on.

His final statement is really just another attempt to sound like he knows what he's talking about but exposes his lack of understanding on how this all works. He says, “So far no young earther has given an argument against geological time which has any validity.” Says who? Mr. Roberts, a retired Anglican priest? I'm sorry to be rude, but who is he? If the numbers he suggests for how many creationist geologists are out there are even near correct (they likely are not, according to Creation Ministries International and others), it's rather impressive how much great material there is out there. The Flood models and theories that have arisen in just the last 40 years are astounding. This is with very few working on it and very little money to support it. How impressive is that?

There is a great deal that not only geologists but many different experts in a variety of fields of study have shown that is supportive of the Bible and its claims about creation, the Flood, and the timelines involved. It's a huge faith booster and confirms that our faith, the faith of the Bible-believing Christian, is supported by the evidence which is all around us. It's not a blind faith like that of the atheist (who looks very much like many old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists regarding these subjects). However, in all that, the ONLY argument that should matter to any follower of Jesus Christ is that found in Scripture. The case is abundantly clear, but I suppose this only matters if we view the Word of God as the final authority.

James Barr of Oxford puts it this way: “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the ‘days’ of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

James Barr is not a Biblical creationist at all, yet he knows fully that the text is clear. It's unfortunate that Christians will willfully toss these amazing narratives out because they don't fit their preconceived ideas. They've placed an authority higher than the standard of God's Word which in and of itself reveals their worldview.

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.


Psalm 34

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 8, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Sometimes, a writing is made more interesting because of who the author is and the circumstances of the author’s life at the time of that writing. Psalm 34 is one of these that caught my eye, because of its heading: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.” That’s rather descriptive, wouldn’t you say? So before digging into the psalm itself, I want to take a look into what was going on in David’s life at the time he wrote this.

Scholars connect this heading to 1 Samuel 21:13 specifically: “So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.” Check out the context in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, and you’ll see that David went to Gath as part of his fleeing from King Saul who was trying to kill him. The servants of King Achish were clearly afraid of David as his reputation for being a mighty warrior preceded him, so David was afraid they would try to kill him. Instead, he pretended to be insane, and his plan worked - King Achish wanted David to leave, and he does.

Knowing that context of the writing of Psalm 34, we can better appreciate the content of it: David praising God and extolling the virtues of wisdom.

The first section of the psalm, verses 1-7, is David praising God. David calls attention to what God has done, not David’s own deeds. God heard his cry and saved him. David invites the community of people to worship God together because of the mighty things God has done. David personally experienced God rescuing and delivering him, and he reminds us all that God is to be praised for that.

Verses 8-9 give us commands to experience what God has for us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” Taste, see, and fear and all command forms of those verbs, so they’re more emphatic than just simple suggestions. We, too, can experience all that God has for us when we take refuge in Him, just as David did when he was in Gath and afraid of what the people would do to him.

The rest of the psalm focuses indirectly on wisdom. Verse 11 has the feel of a teacher introducing a lesson: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” This is especially interesting coming from a man who just pretended to be insane, that he should be teaching his readers about wisdom! But verses 12-14 give good examples of how to live out the fear of the Lord: don’t spread evil or lies, do good, and pursue peace. A wise person will do these things and will receive God’s blessing for them.

The next verses refer to contrasts between righteous and unrighteous people. God watches and is attentive to the righteous person, but not the evil one (verses 15-16). God hears the cries of the righteous, is close to them, delivers them, and protects them (verses 17-20). Evil and unrighteous people will be condemned, but the righteous will be rescued (verses 21-22).

It’s pretty clear that David wrote this psalm out of his own personal experiences. David had gotten into a situation in Gath where he was afraid for his life, but he trusted God to protect him. Sometimes, God protecting David meant God slaughtering David’s enemies, or God working through David to perform a mighty conquest like that; in this situation, however, God’s protection looked like David pretending to be insane, so the people of Gath wouldn’t want him around anymore and would let him go peacefully.

What does God’s protection look like in your life? Are you daily praising God for all the ways that He protects you? Are you “tasting and seeing” God’s goodness in your life? We are all called to fear God and give Him glory and praise with our lives. He is the giver of all wisdom, and sometimes that wisdom may show up in our lives in surprising ways, as it did for David.

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.


A Working Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 7, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In the fall of 2011, I spent two weeks in the beautiful state of Colorado for some specific and intentional counseling that was geared toward people like me who would be entering into vocational ministry. While the therapy consisted of group and one-on-one sessions, the entire trip included a lot of free time that allowed me to explore the wonderful creation around me while also having much needed solitude with the Lord. I did my fair share of hiking, climbing, and driving all around the Rocky Mountains in the middle of the state. One afternoon, I decided to go walking on a popular trail, but I also considered going farther up the mountain and away from the well-traveled trail. I wanted to get away from everything as much as possible, even if that meant being alone in the Colorado wilderness. I asked my counselor about it and he told me that the area where I planned to hike was known for its mountain lions. However, he said they are rarely seen unless they want to be seen, and that they don’t really go near humans. Then he laughed a little and said, “Well, good luck, Logan, and if I’m wrong, sorry!”

To be quite honest, I was a little bit fearful of what would happen to me if I stumbled upon that rare mountain lion. My dad had told me he wouldn’t venture that deep into the wilderness without some sort of “protection." I was on a counseling trip and had flown out there, so I was about as far away from bearing arms as a newborn baby. I wanted to experience the wilderness and I wanted to be out there where it’s just me and God, but I also didn’t want to get eaten. As I contemplated going, I remember the thought coming to my mind that if I REALLY believed that God is in control, then I had to actually WALK that out. I had to actively take a step of faith. I had to go beyond just thinking that God is more powerful than mountain lions. It was time to live it out. Needless to say, I had a terrific hike, talked to God a lot, and as a real bonus, did not get eaten alive by any hungry mountain lions.

True belief is faith in action, not just faith in statements. The above story is completely about me and my faith journey from mere words to actions, and no one else in that story really benefited from me. James tells us in his letter to the early Church that true faith works to trust God AND meet the needs of others. In James 2:14, he first asks rhetorically what good faith without deeds would do for a person and if that type of faith could save them. To be clear, James is not saying that deeds (or works) are what save a person. He continues to put the focus on faith. That being said, he recognizes that there is a type of faith that works and a type of faith that does not work. When James asks, “Can such faith save them?," he is making the point that the type of faith that does not reveal itself in action must not really be grounded in Jesus. If it’s not grounded in Jesus as the Messiah who suffered and died on our behalf and then rose from the grave in victory over death, then it can’t bring salvation.

The faith that follows Jesus cares about what and who He cared about, and Jesus always had compassion on those who were suffering and had real, obvious needs. So, in James 2:15-17, the writer brings up a hypothetical circumstance that was very real for some people back then and is real for many people today - someone comes with a need because they cannot provide clothing or daily food for themselves. The type of lazy faith that James is addressing in this writing basically would tell such a person, “Good luck and may God bless you." They might even be really sincere in their well wishes for the needy person. But the point is that they aren’t really DOING anything to help. Rather than offer to share what they have or go and buy the person what they need, they are settling for well wishes. Is this what we do today? Have you ever seen an obvious need that you had every ability to meet but instead settled for, “I’ll be praying for you”? Nowadays, we don’t even have to say that we’ll pray. We can just go on Facebook and click the “praying hands” emoji to get our point across.

Look, prayer is great. We should always pray for one another. But prayer was never meant to be a substitute for action. If there is a need right in front of you that you have the ability to meet, you don’t even have to pray about whether to meet it. If God has put it in front of you, He’s already answered the question you’re asking in prayer. To ignore the need and do nothing to meet it is incompatible with the faith that Jesus taught in his followers. So, James concludes, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). It might still be classified as faith by those who live it, but it is a dead faith. It does not work and therefore does not produce more faith.

Martin Luther said it correctly when he said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone." When James wrote to the early Church in his letter, he understood that they had a long history of trying to earn God’s favor through good works. Yet, he also realized that when they came to know the freedom of following Jesus, they went to the other extreme and began to assume that works didn’t matter much. James would’ve been in agreement with the Apostle Paul, who addressed this issue in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." In other words, our faith in God’s free gift of grace is what saves, but the only appropriate response to that reality is to do the good works He prepared for us to do AFTER we are saved by faith. To refuse to do good works is a sign that one never experienced that salvation by grace through faith.

Paul makes the point even clearer in Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship." Rather than do good works to try to earn God’s mercy, and rather than freely accept His mercy and ignore the responsibility that comes with it, Paul says that the only thing that makes any sense in response to what God has done is to say, “Here I am, Lord; show me what to do and use me however you want."

Have you been letting God use you to meet the needs of those around you? Or have you been somewhat ignorant and lazy after receiving the free gift? Ask God to show you specifically what you can do in your life to have a working faith that trusts God in your own scary circumstances and also meets the needs of others when God puts them in your path. Be willing to do whatever He commands because you are so grateful for what He’s already done for you.

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


The Names of God: Jehovah Rapha

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 5, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Rapha: The Lord who heals

Many skeptics laugh at the idea of praying to God for healing. A common question is: “If you were sick, which would you expect results from: an actual doctor, or an invisible sky daddy?” There have been numerous cases of religious couples who would not let their child see a doctor because of their convictions and the child died as a result. Skeptics love to cite these as examples of “prayer not working.” They also try to cite statistics in that in only 50% of cases do people praying actually get better. Let me set the record straight here. This is not what we are called to do to pray for healing, and that is not what prayer is; it’s not a magic formula that can be scientifically examined.

In 2 Chronicles, Asa was the first good king after Solomon. He walked in the ways of the Lord and tore down the high places. Yet at the end of his reign, he stopped seeking the Lord, namely in his last two years. He got a foot disease and instead of turning to the Lord, he turned to his physicians. Now the prophets in those days were not doctors, however they had access to the Master Physician who knew the whole story. Asa died of his disease because he would not seek the Lord.

Later in 2 Kings, Hezekiah got sick and was dying. He sought the word from the Lord through Isaiah and was told he would die. Hezekiah prayed and sought the Lord and his life was extended for 15 years. It could be argued if this was a good thing or not because Hezekiah’s sins as king were done in those 15 years, however the point was made. He sought the Lord first.

There is nothing wrong with going to see the doctors. God gave us medicine and plants to heal all sorts of things, and He gave us knowledge and wisdom to discover those uses. He gives doctors wisdom in how to treat patients. However, He wants us to seek Him first. Who knows more about our bodies and what we are facing – an educated doctor, or our Creator? God may have us go see the doctor. The stories I have heard of Christians getting cancer so that we can be a testimony of Him to those doctors and nurses are numerous.

There is a woman at my church battling her third round of cancer in the last few years right now. While the skeptics may say, “Obviously that prayer didn’t work,” what we are saying at my church to that cancer is, “Three strikes and you’re out.” To this day, not a single person who has come to our church has died of cancer in 16½ years. And while we have a small church body, we don’t have a small sample space of cancer patients who beat it. How do they continually beat it? We know the Master Physician: Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals.

I am a personal story of God showing up when the medical field could not deliver. When I was 4 months old, I got sick and was dying, and the doctors had no explanation. They said to pray and my parents and my church at that time prayed. The next day we found dead bacteria in my spine and I was healed. God allowed that to happen because that incident provided, through insurance, for the 9+ years of physical and tactical therapy I would need growing up.

So why do people who pray die? Why does He take the mother of a child who begged God to let her live? That was the backstory to Professor Radisson played by Kevin Sorbo in the movie God’s Not Dead. The truth is, we don’t know why God does what He does and why He doesn’t do certain things. Sometimes, it is simply a result of the curse due to general sin. Sometimes it is due to personal sin. Sometimes it is mercy from something we could not see in the future. Sometimes it is because God needs to work in the people around that person. What I do know is that God is in control and He understands precisely why He does what He does. We don’t, except when He gives us a glimpse of the bigger picture.

A skeptic may say, “You’re just giving God an excuse.” Am I? The same skeptic will give the experts they trust the benefit of the doubt. Why would I not be allowed to give God the same? My response to those who want to blame God for those issues would to take it up with Him. God never backs away from an honest skeptic. Just ask Job. God let all these things happen to him simply because Satan accused God of bribing Job to worship Him with blessings and protection. Yet Job got frustrated with his whole life being stripped away from him. His children slain in one go, his entire financial status gone, his physical health gone, and his closest friends and wife put the blame on him and on God. Job refused to curse God to His face, but he challenged God to find out why it all happened. God’s answer showed up in Job 38-41 and in those four chapters, God put Job into his place and reminded him that God is God and we are not. Job had the correct response in saying, “I know nothing and spoke that which I knew not.” Let us keep that mindset when we go through things in which we don’t understand what is happening.

God is Jehovah Rapha, the one who heals. God may not heal us immediately in this life, but He will heal us ultimately in the next. We are all going to die at some point, by sickness or by age or by other means. But if we put our trust in the Great Physician, He will one day grant us bodies that will not wear out, nor decay, nor experience death. And in all cases, let us turn to Him first before we turn anywhere else. When we have a word from God, we’ll know how to approach our doctors with confidence that we will beat it or that we will go out in glory. I cannot tell you how many doctors get hope when they get to treat a patient who knows their God. It gives them hope that their job is worth it. Trust in Jehovah Rapha and He will preserve us until our time has come.

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Do Christians Hate Geology?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 4, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The question Michael Roberts, an old earth creationist, asks for this week's post is a strange one—one I'm not sure why he's asking. But that's sort of been the case for most of his questions for “young earth” or Biblical creationists. If you've been following along, you'll know we've been answering a list of 10 questions that Mr. Roberts has for Biblical creationists. We've covered whether or not the age and shape of the earth are important, if ancient people could understand geologic time, the literal reading of the Bible, animal death, and geologists in general. You can check out the full series here. Today's question is this:

Did Christians oppose old earth geology in the past?

This question is a very important one because of how he's asked it and because of his commentary just below it.

The fact that Mr. Roberts refers to his “slam dunk” evidence as “old earth geology” is impressive. He's at least admitting that there is a difference between the starting assumptions of “old earthers” and “young earthers” who are more accurately called Biblical creationists. That's the whole thing in a nutshell. A “Scriptural geologist” is one who will use the Bible as a starting point and interpret the evidence they uncover through that lens, while an “old earth geologist” will start with deep time as required by the humanist origins myth and interpret the evidence through that lens. This effectively answers the bulk of his questions concerning geology. It very clearly answers his next question, which we'll get into at a later date. But he's likely unwittingly let the proverbial cat out of the bag here by calling it “old earth geology.” I'm grateful he's acknowledged the difference, even if he didn't intend to do so.

I feel like we're answering this question for at least the second time. Last week, we looked at whether or not geologists were adversarial toward Christianity in the past. The obvious answer was “no” since most geologists who are credited with founding the discipline were Biblical creationists and interpreted the evidence in light of that and the global Flood. It wasn't until the late 1700s or 1800s that the thought of abandoning the Bible as a historical source began to get traction. We outlined a bit of that process last time.

This week's answer, however, is quite obviously “yes.” Many throughout the ages have vehemently criticized those who have wandered from the Biblical truth found in the creation and global Flood accounts. It wasn't very common in times long past, but some did come and go. However, many in the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s, and today oppose those narratives that do not begin with or support the Biblical narrative and time lines. I listed several who did this last week, during the time which we can truly say humanism began to infiltrate the Church in many forms, especially in the way nature was interpreted. So, quite clearly, Christians have opposed the incorrect and corrupted interpretation of geology.

However, Christians haven't opposed geology—just the humanistic interpretations of the facts. Geology was developed by Godly men who looked at earth history (geology) through the Biblical lens. Secular humanists hijacked the study and claimed it as their own about 200 years ago or so. There are still those that oppose these anti-Biblical interpretations, but their numbers are obviously quite small compared to the majority of old earth geologists. As we've stated before: popularity has no bearing on the truth.

So, Michael states that he thought “Christians opposed geology.” This is just a strange statement. It's like saying “People who eat healthy oppose cooking.” No. They may oppose bad meal prep, but they don't oppose making food. Christians don't oppose geology. It's a study. I think geology is fascinating, and I love it. If you're doing it wrong, I may not like your conclusions, but that has no relation to the study as a whole. I love astronomy and cosmology. I think the Big Bang and the explanations its advocates give for what we see in the universe are hysterical, but I don't dislike astronomy and cosmology for what in my opinion are erroneous beliefs of unbelievers. These disciplines and many others were largely developed by Biblical creationists.

This is akin to the bogus argument that pits Christianity against science. That is ridiculous and usually means the person saying such things is either totally ignorant on the debate or is trying to be misleading. Either way, that sort of thing is something I just don't have time for. Let's get into what Mr. Roberts says about this question a little more.

He claims that, after reading hundreds of books, he concluded that most if not all Christians did, in fact, adhere to a “youngish” earth. This sounds like he's answered his own question—question number 7. This question we answered a few weeks ago, but we'll mention it here because of the glaring contradiction in his own statements. “Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?” The answer was “Uh, yeah! Big time.” He seemed to believe it was not, but now he's saying that it was until the humanist origins myth dictated a new interpretation of the data (a new way to view geology) and the Bible (reinterpreting Genesis and other key passages). The evidence we find in nature can EASILY be interpreted to be 100% in line with Scripture as it reads. (By Roberts' own admission, it demands a “young earth” interpretation.) It's not that Christians didn't have “geology to guide them.” Geology was around for a while before humanists hijacked it. What he is saying is that Christians didn't have humanism to make them doubt the Scriptures and its obvious teachings until the 1800s.

He ends by saying, “Very few Christians opposed geology for the last few centuries.” What does that even mean? No one “opposes geology.” That's absurd. We oppose the humanist origins myth which Mr. Roberts has used to interpret the geologic data. That's all.

There are many Bible-believing Christians who love science and glorify God with their work. We can find long lists of scientists who reject the humanist origins myth and its infiltration of modern science and the Church. Many creationist organizations are staffed with such people. I'm talking here about professional scientists, but the same is true for laypersons as well. Many reject the humanist origins myth because they've accepted the Word of God as their first and primary authority. Rejecting humanism is easy if you've done this. However, many have determined to use man's currently popular interpretation of the data, which is shaped by humanism, to rewrite the Bible and tear down centuries of understanding of the Holy Scriptures. The narratives we're discussing here are very straightforward. They make it easy to get the general idea of creation and the global extent of the Flood, but some will reject these very clear teachings based on the currently popular humanist origins myth that's been disguised as science for a very long time.

Don't be sucked in, folks. Christians don't oppose science in any form. We oppose the humanist origins myth and its infiltration, or even hijacking, of science. We're still waiting for “scientists” to catch up with what the Bible has stated for a very long time.

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Psalm 27

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 1, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

This verse from Psalm 27 is the primary reason I wanted to write on this psalm; it has been a very encouraging verse at various times in my life. It reminds me (along with Romans 8:31) that even though the things of this world may cause me fear, I ultimately have nothing to fear when my trust is in Jesus.

This psalm is all about God’s presence with us. It can be easy to forget that He is always with us, since we’re surrounded by this material world. When we are consumed by the things we can see and touch, it’s easy to forget about God who is unseen. Psalms like this one remind us that He is always with us, and that when we don’t feel His presence, we should ask Him to remind us.

Verses 1-3 start out by proclaiming confidence in God’s presence. It’s clear that our confidence is not in what we can do, but in who the Lord is. He is our light, our salvation, and the stronghold of our lives! No one else can compare to Him in power. Even if armies come against us and war breaks out, the psalmist shares the confidence that God will be with him and help him (and us). It is the knowledge of God’s continual presence that gives the psalmist the confidence to know that he will be ultimately protected no matter what happens.

Verses 4-12 are overall a prayer for God’s presence, but verses 4-6 has a different mood than verses 7-12.

Verse 4 paints a beautiful picture: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” This brings to my mind the song Better Is One Day, which is based on this verse. This is the ultimate goal of any follower of Christ, that we will ultimately dwell with Him forever. That is what we seek by living our lives to give Him glory - we want to be in His presence forever, and we have the assurance by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus that we will do that one day.

Verses 5-6 elaborate on this a bit more, explaining how God will keep us safe and continually exalt us above our enemies. Because of this, we will rejoice, praising Him with singing and music. When we’re rejoicing, we can’t be afraid, so praising God is another way that we can cast out fear from our lives and trust in God’s provision.

The mood changes in verses 7-10, and the focus is on seeking God. We may go through periods where we do not feel His presence, and that is when we should seek Him all the more earnestly. The repetition of multiple ways of saying the psalmist desires to seek God show the intensity of his searching and how great his desires is to experience God’s presence. The psalmist feels like God has abandoned him, but that just causes him to seek God all the more, because he knows that God has promised to always be with him. The same applies to us. Perhaps you’re at a place in life where things look desperate and it’s hard to see God working in your life. Pray these verses of this psalm along with the psalmist, knowing that God will answer your plea.

The psalmist’s prayer continues in verses 11-12, with requests for guidance and victory. He asks God to give him a “straight path,” which means a lack of obstacles in life. He knows that only God is powerful enough to remove obstacles or difficulties from his life. His second request is for victory over his oppressors. Even though his enemies are spreading falsehood about him, he knows that God is way more powerful and can provide victory over even that which looks hopeless from a worldly perspective.

Verses 13-14 conclude the psalm with further confidence in God’s presence: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” In spite of whatever difficulties the psalmist is facing, he knows he will see God’s goodness in his life. Even the worst situations are opportunities for God to be glorified and show His power in our lives.

While these concluding words were likely meant for the psalmist’s own benefit, they are also encouraging for all those who believe in God. We are all called to wait on the Lord. This word for “wait” in Hebrew also means “hope,” so we could also translate this as “Hope in the Lord.” We know that He is the only one who will never fail us, so hope in Him is not like hoping that something will be accomplished but knowing that it will and just waiting on His timing for it to happen.

We know that God is with us. Because of that, we have no reason to fear anyone else! When we seek God’s presence, we will find it. We can and should put our hope and our confidence in Him, because He truly is good. Rest in that promise this week.

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