Stop Forfeiting Peace

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 18, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

According to this study from several years ago, subjects who participated in it calculated that 85% of the things they worried about never actually happened. In addition, 79% of the feared things that did happen were found by the participants to be easier to handle or teaching them a life lesson that was necessary for them to learn. Overall, the study revealed that about 97% of what human beings worry about is based on misperceptions, hypotheticals, and exaggerations. Despite this reality, it is highly likely that you, valued person created in the image and likeness of God, has been paralyzed by worry at some point in your life or you’re at that point even right now.

In the same article that explains the study, we find this great quote by Michel de Montaigne: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which has never happened." Even in the church and amongst the family of God, there are many people who are constantly battling their thoughts and fears regarding negative circumstances they cannot control, people who know the victory is won in Jesus but still have a hard time viewing the devil as the defeated foe that he is. One big cause of stress, worry, and fear is the unwillingness to seek the Creator of heaven and earth in prayer. The great hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” spells out this problem at the end of the first verse: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer." Is there even one person out there who can say they literally take everything to the Lord? I doubt it. I’m just thinking about myself on the day I’m writing this and I’ve been a bit down and feeling somewhat lonely today. I feel disheartened by some of the things happening in my ministry context, I feel misrepresented and misunderstood by someone who attacked my character over what he perceived through social media, and I’ve got some family drama issues weighing on my mind. Yet, regrettably and quite unbelievably, I haven’t taken ANY of it to the Lord yet!

What is wrong with me? Why do I forfeit that peace? The answer is that these are things I desperately want to control, and the fact that circumstances have made it crystal clear that me having control isn’t going to happen here has not stopped me from worrying and trying. James wrote in his letter to the earliest Christians that it simply cannot be this way. It makes no sense to complain, swear, mistreat one another, or worry when we have the freedom to take everything to God in prayer. That is something I am going to do in these situations and it’s something I’m going to keep doing because, truthfully, what other option do I have? What other viable option do you have in the situations that cause you to worry and fear? When things are out of our control, when frustrations and stresses in life are going from bad to worse by the minute, you can either take it to the Lord in prayer or you can destroy yourself from the inside out doing everything you can to rely on yourself.

In James 5:13-14, the early church leader and brother of Jesus declares what the believers should do instead of acting out toward each other, grumbling about circumstances, or swearing by heaven and earth to change things (all responses he condemned in previous verses). James writes, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray” (v. 13a). What kind of trouble is he talking about here? I think he is not specific because trouble comes in many different forms. You could be afraid. You could be awaiting a sentence for a crime you committed. You could be having marital troubles. You could be struggling financially. You could be working overtime to cover up your sin due to fear of exposure. You could be dealing with bitterness over being misunderstood, misrepresented, or mistreated. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that the word “trouble” describes hundreds of circumstances. Yet, they all have the same solution according to James: pray.

He goes on to write, “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (v. 13b). Prayer is central to our relationship with God but one could say that singing songs of praise is just another part of our conversation with God. The Greek word psallo that is used in this passage is used other places in the New Testament and almost always refers to public worship, often with instruments accompanying the singing. James puts these two thoughts - prayer when in trouble and singing praises when happy - together because they both should happen not only privately, but also publicly. There is value in both when the family of God comes together, whether it’s a few people together in a home or thousands gathered in a church service. Admitting trouble publicly and seeking the Lord in prayer for it reminds others that they must do the same. Singing songs of praise publicly reminds everyone that there is still a God in heaven who is worthy to be praised in ALL circumstances. In addition, the suggestions here by James could be reversed, and they are reversed in other places in Scripture. We must seek the Lord even when we are happy and continue to do His will, and we must be willing to praise God even in the midst of affliction. These perspectives and attitudes are what separate believers from the rest of the world.

In the second verse in this section, James writes, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” (v. 14). Being sick is a separate condition from being happy or being in trouble, although sickness certainly leads to other sorts of trouble. Yet, conversation with God is still the appropriate answer. However, there is a second appropriate response here that does not apply to those who are happy or in other kinds of trouble, and that is the anointing of oil.

It’s interesting that modern churches have turned the anointing of oil into a totally spiritual exercise. But if there is one thing we’ve learned about James throughout this series, it’s that he is very discerning about how the spiritual and the practical work in unison to serve the will of God. The anointing of oil wasn’t a spiritual method to invoke some miraculous healing; that’s what prayer is. Oil in this context in the Middle East would be most likely olive oil, which has always been commonly used in the healing of multiple PHYSICAL ailments. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan takes pity on the robbed, beaten, and afflicted individual and one of the ways he helps him is by “pouring oil and wine” on the man’s wounds (Luke 10:34). Since James knew of the medicinal uses for olive oil, we can conclude that he encouraged the believers to seek the Lord and trust Him while also using the things He has already put at our disposal to help us.

James put the onus on the individual who is sick to be the one to contact the elders of the church and ask them for prayer and also practical help. In fact, he put the onus on everyone he talks about in this section to take the lead on the change. Too often today, people are desperate for others to pay attention to them and for others to pray for them when they aren’t even willing to seek God in prayer themselves. Many others simply won’t ask for help due to their own pride, something James has already repeatedly addressed in his letter. Heeding the words of James, the appropriate response to any trouble, joy, or sickness is to first individually seek the Lord and His grace, then make it public and invite others to pray for and help us. I urge you to follow James’ instructions so that you are no longer forfeiting the peace that comes through trusting the Lord, the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

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Miracles: Mastery over Spiritual Forces

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 16, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This post is going to be a unique one in my series on miracles because most of the miracles we talk about showcase God having mastery over the physical creation. However, this topic is unique because there isn’t anything physical about spiritual forces. God has rule and mastery over the angelic hosts of heaven and the demonic forces of hell. Angels and demons are created beings; however, they exist on a spiritual dimension rather than the physical dimensions we operate in. Yet, they also can interact in the physical realm.

The angelic hosts are often described as stars due to their brightness, their glory, and their power. They are not creatures to be trifled with. Ezekiel 1 describes the Throne of God on some kind of chariot with wheels full of eyes. The passage also describes some of the seraphim which have six wings and four faces: one each of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. If that confuses you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. These are powerful creatures which in their own power could readily rule or destroy the entire world. Yet, they submit to every word and command God gives.

When Jesus was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, good old foot-in-mouth Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus rebukes him and told Peter He had 12 legions of angels at His command and if He chose, He could call them to rescue Him. A legion is about 6,000 soldiers, so we are talking about 72,000 angels if not more. Jesus has command of them all.

Elisha had a view of the hosts of heaven as well. When he kept telling the king of Israel where the Syrians were moving, the king of Syria got frustrated to the point where he sent his army to hunt down one man, Elisha, so he could go about his war with Israel. Elisha’s servant woke up to see the army surrounding the village and Elisha didn’t even blink an eye. He instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant and when that happened, the servant saw the chariots of heaven surrounding the Syrians. They were rescued.

But not all the spiritual beings are good. Scripture indicates that when Satan fell, he took 1/3 of the angels with him. That’s some impressive skills of deception. Those angels had seen God and knew of His glory, His goodness, and His power, yet they sided with Lucifer in his rebellion. Demons have been going after man since creation, yet it is critical to note that none of them can force any person to do anything. The serpent didn’t hold Eve down and make her eat the fruit; he simply told her a simple lie and let her make the choice for herself.

Yet when people start following and listening to the advice demons offer, slowly but surely their own will erodes away. There is a legitimate thing called “demon possession,” when a demon takes control of a person’s body. But such possession only takes place with permission from said person. I used to watch some “haunting” shows a number of years ago, and one thing I noticed through all the possession stories and hauntings, there had to be some sort of invitation for them to be there. And to rebuke said invitation, it takes an authority higher than the one that set it up, or that authority had to be broken.

Jesus understood the authority issues regarding demons. He drove one out of a boy who was thought to be an epileptic in modern terms. Whether that was truly a medical condition for this case or the demon gave him symptoms of epilepsy is irrelevant. What is clear is that Scripture identifies the seizures as being from a demonic source. The disciples could not drive it out and yet at one word, Jesus did. Jesus had command over even the demons.

Earlier when Jesus met a demoniac, who could not be chained and lived among the tombs, the demons knew who He was and Jesus cast them out. They went into a flock of pigs and drove them into the lake to drown. Jesus had command over them. The demons had to ask permission to stick around.

There are two Old Testament accounts of how well God has control over the spiritual forces. In one instance, God summoned the angelic hosts to have one of them incite King Ahab to go to war where he could be killed. A lying spirit said he would tell Ahab’s false prophets about the success he would have, and God said that would work. So here we see God will employ even the demons to do the work He wants do.

In the other account, God and Satan had a squabble over Job. In fact, it was God who brought Job to Satan’s attention. Yet, God would not let Satan touch certain things. At first it was Job’s person: Satan could steal his wealth, houses, and family, but not his body. Then Satan could take his health, but not his life. Job passed the test, which lasted for only about a week, by not sinning with his lips against God. Everything that was stolen was restored above and beyond what he originally had.

I, too, have dealt with demonic forces. In one instance, I was wrapping up my short career at a local grocery store, witnessing to a co-worker, and in the process I stirred up a demonic stronghold in his life. That story usually takes me about an hour to tell in proper detail, but long story short, I could sense that God restrained it from physically attacking me. It very well could have and I was not interested in being another of Sceva’s seven sons. Yet, God also did not allow me to drive it out either. I don’t know why. I can only suppose that part of the issue was my co-worker did not want it out.

In another instance a couple years after this, I told that story to some friends during a retreat and that very night, I heard some animal growls near my room. At first, I thought it was someone snoring, but it was distinctly animal-like. After a few minutes, I realized what it was so I cast it out in the name of Jesus and it went dead silent. When I told my friends about that night in the morning, they reported hearing the same sounds at the same time. We were in different buildings.

God is ruler over the spiritual forces. We need not fear the demonic hosts of hell, though we should not take them lightly either. Everything is under the command of the Lord including both angels and demons. Next week, I look into how God has mastery over biological life: plants and animals.

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 95

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 12, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:1-7a).

When I read these opening verses of Psalm 95, my mind immediately went to church services I attended growing up in the Lutheran Church. We sang these words, almost exactly word-for-word, as a part of the weekly service liturgy, though I had to do a little research to determine exactly which part of the service it was. (In case you’re curious, I believe it was the Venite in the Order of Matins.)

It is fascinating to me how something that was put to music and sang over and over again really sticks in a person’s head! It’s been many years since I regularly attended that congregation, yet as soon as I read the first line of this psalm my brain immediately put the tune to this whole section.

God has given the gift of music to His creation, and one of the great uses of music is, of course, to praise our God who gave it to us. Many of the psalms in the Bible have been turned into the songs we still sing in our congregations today. Going through a number of psalms this year, I’ve ran across many lines that are lyrics to hymns and songs that I know.

Music not only gives us an avenue to worship our God, but it also helps us learn about Him. We are able to learn and truly remember many things when they are put to music; just ask any small child who learns to sing the alphabet song! I used to work with a man who was in his 50s then who would actually start singing the alphabet song anytime he had to search for anything in alphabetical order. Music really sticks with us!

This opening section of the psalm calls us to worship God (verses 1-2), praises God for who He is as our Creator (verses 3-5), calls us again to worship Him (verse 6), and praises Him again for the relationship we have with Him (verse 7). While we can (and should) worship God at all times and in all places, we are called to come together to praise Him. The primary purpose of this gathering is not to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives but to praise the God who created us all and has saved us from our sins. God is truly the great King.

These thoughts are not just relevant to when we are worshiping God through music in a Sunday church service, but we could use these words to praise our God every day of the week. He is truly always worthy of our praise and worship, every moment of every day!

The psalm changes its focus a bit starting at the end of verse 7. The remainder of the psalm expresses God’s judgment on the people and their response to it. The people have been disobedient, but they are given a chance to repent and start again. The story of the Israelites forgetting and being ungrateful for the works that God did to bring them out of slavery in Egypt is used here as an example of what the people of Israel kept doing - and we do it too. They tested and tried God and went astray from Him, just as we do. But just as God kept giving them many “second chances,” He does that for us too.

Where is your heart toward God today? Are you praising Him for the great things He has done in your life? Or have you gone astray and need to turn back to Him? Do you praise God every day, or just on Sunday mornings at church? What songs of praise are on your heart, or stuck deep in your mind somewhere that you need to bring back to the forefront to praise God again? Let us sing for joy to the Lord and come before Him with thanksgiving every day!

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The Judge and the Jar

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 11, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

For years, I’ve heard friends of mine talk about putting money into their “swear jar." Now, I can’t honestly say that I have ever actually seen a swear jar at the home of anyone I knew, but it became somewhat of a popular assertion to suggest paying a swear jar in an effort to punish oneself for foul language and hopefully eradicate it from one’s vocabulary. It sounds like a good idea in theory because having to relinquish money for a mistake generally makes a person think about it a bit more (think of how much you began to watch your speedometer more closely immediately following your first speeding ticket). But, if no one else has control or access to your jar and the money goes back to you anyway, it’s an exercise in futility.

The subject of swearing is certainly addressed in the New Testament, but it has very little to do with what our current society recognizes as “curse words." To be clear, Paul writes against “unwholesome talk” in Ephesians 4:29 and directs believers to avoid any “obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking” in Ephesians 5:4. This means that the words which we commonly refer to as “curse words” are wrong in God’s eyes as well. However, the problem of swearing carried much greater consequences than mere bad words. James felt it was important enough to warn his audience about it in his letter to the early Christians. In James 5:12 he wrote, “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Otherwise you will be condemned.” His words are very similar to those of his older brother, Jesus, in Matthew 5:34-37.

This is a bit of a confusing topic in Scripture because while the verses in James and Matthew appear to prohibit all oaths, there are examples of Godly men all throughout the Bible who invoked the name of God as their witness to the truth of what they were saying. Just to give you examples from each Testament, Elijah did it regarding his proclamation that there would be no more dew or rain in 1 Kings 17:1, and Paul did it regarding his reasons for not returning to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 1:23. In addition, God Himself occasionally swears an oath. In Hebrews 6:13-14, the writer refers to the oath God swore by Himself to Abraham regarding the promise.

So then, what is the difference between those oaths and what James and Jesus were talking about? I believe the answer lies in the cultural context that we can’t see directly in Scripture. As David Guzik explains in his Enduring Word commentary on this verse, Jewish people of those days understood the difference between binding oaths and non-binding oaths. Oaths which invoked the name of God were considered to be “binding," while oaths that merely mentioned other things and did not mention God’s name were considered to be “non-binding." Many of the Jews, including those new believers who were part of the earliest church, used this distinction to their advantage. They could give the appearance of being serious about their statements while knowing they could easily ignore what they had originally said as long as they didn’t mention God’s name. It was the ancient version of “crossies."

If you pay close attention to the words of both James and Jesus, the non-binding oaths are what they are condemning. Swearing by heaven (the sky), the earth, one’s own head, a city, or anything else with the full intention of ignoring the oath would leave them in danger of condemnation. James simply tells believers not to do it, while Jesus explained in His words that God controls all of those other things, too. So, those who felt they were less responsible for honoring their word if they swore by things God created rather than the Creator Himself were sorely mistaken. Since all of those other things matter to God, one cannot simply swear an oath by them and think that God won’t care if it’s broken.

The bottom line in James’ warning is that those who consider themselves believers and followers of Jesus should always consider the impact of their words and ought to place high value on keeping one’s word. Anyone who has to rely on workers or volunteers in order to complete necessary tasks knows the frustration that occurs when someone doesn’t show up after committing to be there. In my own life, I have friends who I know I can count on to show up and work when they said they would, and I have other friends whose word simply cannot be trusted. But beyond my own evaluation of those friends, James declares that those who have to swear by something more than just giving their own words are actually betraying themselves. Their need to say more than a simple “Yes” or “No” reveals that their word is very weak. And those whose words cannot be trusted will be judged accordingly by the Almighty Creator.

If you have been someone who has gone back on your word so many times that you don’t even recognize when you’re doing it anymore, it’s time to stop and heed the warnings of both James and Jesus. You might think just because your society has gotten used to it that God and His people don’t care either. You might also think that trying to earn people’s belief in you by swearing some sort of oath is acceptable in God’s eyes. You must know that you could be in danger of eternity without God! Words matter to Him and anything you could swear to would reflect poorly on your character, and that character deficiency will be dealt with when Christ returns. I encourage you all to be men and women who are keepers of their own words and doers of the work of the Lord.

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Miracles: Mastery over Life and Death

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 9, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week I wrote about how God has mastery over physical health. This week I will take it a step further and showcase how God has mastery over life itself. There is a terrible statistic that ten out of every ten people die. (I stole that from Ray Comfort.) There is nothing any of us can do about it. Man has strived and fought the aging and dying process from the beginning. Just watch TV for five minutes and you will find commercials about extending your beauty and retaining a younger look. Man is constantly striving to extend his life and is terrified of death.

But why? Why is man constantly striving to postpone death? If death is and always was part of the natural world, why is man scared of it? Evolution teaches by implication that death is a benefit to life because as each generation passes, life evolves into better forms. But the Bible teaches that death is a foreign agent brought in by man when he sinned against God. Man was not meant to die but to live in continual communion with God. But sin is a corrupting, corrosive agent and it only produces death. Yet, that death is actually a mercy from God, because if man were to live forever in a sinful state, separated from God and in perpetual decay, it is the nightmare that spawns ideas of zombies: a state of perpetual death and yet no relief from it.

God has control over life and death. He is the one who breathed life into Adam, making him a living soul. He gives life and He takes it away. No man lives without permission from God and no man can die without it either. We do not understand why God takes a life and lets another live. I have addressed this issue several times within this series, but we are not in a position to judge God on why He lets some live and some die. We don’t have the full knowledge of God to know what would happen if someone who died had lived, nor do we have full knowledge of why God spares someone we think should have died. He struck down Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit, yet He let King Manasseh reign for 55 years after turning to idolatry and murdering his son on the altar to Molech.

But there are also times where a sickness or something takes a life and God is not done with that person yet. The Bible has numerous accounts where a person died and was raised again. Elijah raised the son of the widow he stayed with during the 3½ year drought he proclaimed. Elisha would replicate this miracle twice, once with another family’s son, and then later by a man who was dropped onto Elisha’s bones.

Jesus raised two people from the dead during his earthly ministry. The first was Jairus’ daughter, and the second was one of his most famous miracles: Lazarus. What makes Lazarus’ tale so interesting is that Jesus waited long enough that Lazarus’ body would have been part way into the decaying process. So, this wasn’t a case that could be argued that the person could have been declared legally dead but wasn’t actually dead. Lazarus was all dead, and Jesus raised him back to life. The greatest account of raising from the dead is Jesus himself with his resurrection, however that is such a special case I am going to devote an entire post to that one thing.

God did not stop this miracle when the New Testament was completed. One of the deacons at my church lost his son to drowning. Yet after he was pronounced dead, God raised him back to life. These miracles don’t happen in great quantities and I cannot explain how or why. It is well beyond any kind of scientific study, but it also cannot be denied.

God also preserves life. Last week, I wrote briefly how I was sick and dying as a child with no hope of recourse, yet God spared my life. My case wasn’t as dramatic as some others. The Apostle John, according to tradition, was captured by the Romans and thrown into a pot of boiling oil but came out unscathed. The real reason John was exiled to Patmos was because they could not figure out how to kill him. Rees Howells was on a mission in Africa when the plague hit. God asked him if he would pray and declare that no one would die on his property. Howells struggled against the fear of being presumptuous but eventually did so and no one died on his property while everywhere else they did. That is what got the people to finally receive the Gospel there.

In another incident, a friend of mine was preaching in Juarez, Mexico when three gang members entered. The leader pointed the gun at my friend while the other two robbed the congregation. My friend pointed his finger at the gunman to where the hand and gun overlapped and proclaimed, “There’s power in the blood!” The robber pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. He checked the gun and did it again – five times. The robbers fled while the church thought the gun was fake, so they took chase. Outside the church, the gun worked just fine but the robbers encountered police. In another incident, also in Juarez, Mexico, a worship team was attacked by a gang. The son of the leader stood up and took 38 bullets before going down saying, “God forgives you,” the whole time. They would have wiped out the entire group but ran out of bullets. God spared one person and He let another die, but He preserved him long enough to let the others live.

We don’t know why God raises some, preserves others, and takes others still. It is appointed once for every man to die, and after that the judgment. We do not know when our time is going to be up. Each of us could die in an instant. Driving down the road, one could die and another could be spared. A wildfire could wipe out an entire neighborhood but spare one home. God has mastery over life and death, and Jesus made this ultimate statement: do not fear men who can only kill the body, but fear God who can kill both body and soul. When we know God is in control, we have absolutely nothing to fear from this world. Why? Because as long as we are obedient, God will preserve and protect us for as long as He needs us in action. If He lets us fall into enemy hands, it will be not merely for our benefit, but also for His glory. He allowed Richard Wurmbrand fall into Communist hands and Corrie Ten Boom to fall into Nazi hands so that through their imprisonment and torture, they would learn God’s mercy and grace and love personally and as a testimony to the rest of the world.

God has mastery over life and death. Do not fear death. Those who are born again know that physical death will only carry us into God’s presence and out of this curse of sin. Next week, I’ll examine how God has mastery over spiritual forces.

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The Genesis Myth, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 8, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This writing is the 3rd in a series about the intent and proper way to read the book of Genesis. You can find the other two here and here. Is it an ancient historical narrative with real people, places, and events? Is it poetic? We showed how this second question doesn't actually matter, but people bring it up. A song or poem about an event in history doesn't take away from the historicity of the event. Is it myth or folklore? Is it an allegory or parable with no real connection to reality other than the ideas presented (not the actual people or events)? How does such a thing even make sense? Our faith, the Christian faith, is in the one true God. Why? I hope you're beginning to see that the Genesis narratives of history—etiologies of the universe, life, humanity, sin, and redemption—are no different in their writing than the rest of the book of Genesis and, actually, no different than the rest of the historical books found in the Bible. Without a natural reading of the text, the Jewish and Christian faiths fall apart because their very foundations are reduced to cute stories that teach us something but have no basis in reality.

The grammar of Genesis 1 cannot be considered poetry. We've been over that a great deal, but I wanted to add something to it. In Hebrew, there is something known as the “vav consecutive” which is a way to describe something that happens in a particular order. In other words, it's like “this happened, then this happened, then this happened, etc.” It's common in Hebrew historical narratives. This is found over 50 times in the first chapter of Genesis! It's a detailed look at an event the author obviously thought really happened. It is exceptionally rare to find such wording in Hebrew poetry. That's not to say it couldn't be poetry, but it has none of the hallmarks of Hebrew poetry and, therefore, would be a one-of-a-kind poetic entity. We call that “special pleading.” And, again, this doesn't take away from its factual nature at all. But Biblical scholars make the claim that there is no figurative language at all in Genesis. We covered that in last week's blog post.

The narrative also claims to be a family history. There is no known break between any early chapters of Genesis and the later chapters. They flow continuously and with uniformity. No one to my knowledge argues that Genesis 12 isn't intended to be historical. There's no reason to think earlier chapters aren’t historical as well. The Bible repeatedly makes reference to individuals found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis including Adam, Abel, Seth, and Noah. Often times, these people are mentioned with other individuals whose reality in history is not contested. Why is this? There is no reason beyond the fact that the humanist origins myth (the Big Bang and biological evolution) isn't compatible with a natural reading of Genesis, so some even within the Church have looked to atheism, secular humanism, and the like to learn about our origins. This shouldn't be so. It's often stated that, “The Bible isn't a science text” which is 100% true. However, it doesn't need to be. It's a historical text for sure, especially the several books that specifically are written to that end. Genesis, Exodus, and several other Old Testament books are clearly written to be historical in nature—giving us a solid family history of not just the Hebrews/Jews but also a very linear look at the ancestry of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.

Were Adam and Eve real people—the parents of all humans? The Bible makes it very clear that this is precisely what it teaches. Show me otherwise. If they were not real people, then nothing the Bible says can be considered trustworthy, for the detail and constant reference to these people and their offspring can't be understood as meaning anything else. If the follower of Christ claims these people were not real, then there was no Fall. If there was no Fall, there was no curse. If there was no curse, there was no promise of a Redeemer, and the faith is of no use to anyone. Again, if you believe I am in error, please explain that error.

Genesis 3:15 tells us of the “offspring promise.” Genesis 5:29 mentions the curse found in Genesis 3 starting with verse 14. The curse was declared as a direct result of the action of these two people (actually, Adam specifically). Jesus is mentioned by Paul as the Last or Second Adam. How does this work if the first Adam was not real? Some say, perhaps, that Adam and Eve were “all of us.” They represent humanity in this tale of the origins of sin and death as well as our need for redemption. However, this doesn't logically (or theologically) follow. If “in Adam, all sinned,” how does that sin get passed on from him to his progeny of he didn't exist? It means the curse doesn't get passed on and the Fall didn't happen. If this is so, the promise of a Redeemer is also mythical or not real. And if Adam didn't pass his sin nature to his offspring, what are we in need of a Savior from? Or if you believe Adam was a real person but he evolved, wouldn't it follow that other humans had evolved at around the same time since the population was moving in that general direction so to speak? This would mean their offspring didn't carry the sin nature and, therefore, are immune to the consequences of sin since they didn't inherit that nature from their ancestors. Only Adam's progeny would require salvation as others from other lines wouldn't have inherited it. Do you follow?

The theological issues I've described are only starting to scratch the surface. They get significantly more profound as we study His Word and what it reveals about humanity, God, nature, and eternity. In other words, the more we learn from God's Word, the more we see it cannot function under any sort of conjunction with any origins myth—be that humanist (the most popular I believe), Hindu, or whatever tale you want to marry with the historical creation account found in the Bible (not just Genesis).

But there is far more than the creation narrative that some believers toss when they reject the natural, intended way the text is to be read. They have to reject the Flood or suggest it was something other than what the Bible states repeatedly it was—an amazing, global catastrophe that decimated the entire planet for a year as a result of the terrible sin that all of mankind, save Noah and his family. Peter tells us that since God promised to never again do such a thing—a global Flood that destroys everything—there will be a day when the earth is purged with fire rather than water. If the Flood wasn't a real, global event, what does this mean? Will God destroy a small portion of the earth with fire on that day? Will He destroy everything with fire in a tale of folklore or a mythological event that won't actually happen or will it be embellished so as to make it seem global and horrible? The thought is laughable, but some very intelligent people have painted themselves into such corners. The detail that describes the event—the Flood—is so precise and so immense that it's inconceivable to consider the intent of the narrative to be anything but historical. Again, this is not just Genesis 6-8 we're talking about but the many references to this event throughout the Old and New Testaments. Anything else? Yes!

The Tower of Babel, which I have written an entire series on, is another historical event that the text clearly intends to convey as actual history. It uses the proper grammar and structure to be taken as history. The narrative gives us specific details about where and when this even took place. The studies of language, cultures around the globe, and archaeology can all easily be seen to support this event. Some have suggested that the Table of Nations is one of the most accurate and consistent writings on the origins of people groups and no one has yet to find actual fault with it. Sure, many will say it's not the true history of all people groups on earth, but there is nothing behind that claim. As I outline in the above-mentioned series, the evidence is overwhelming and more than enough to convince someone who is honest in their search for truth.

Regrettably, there are far too many these days who care nothing for the truth. Their quest is to stroke their unbelief, no matter what. This is why altering the text to make it fit with the currently popular version of the humanist origins myth is illogical and actually dishonest. Making the truth of Scripture false so unbelievers won't argue with it serves no purpose. They, like we all once were, are at war with God. For most, in my opinion, it's not that they don't believe He's real but that they hate Him and don't want to submit to Him. So, they cloak their hatred in a claim of unbelief, even effectively lying to themselves about it. However, the fact that there are few if any real atheists is not the point of this writing. We will pick up with this discussion on Genesis next time. Thank you for your time and attention.

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Responding to Evil

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 7, 2019 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Saturday, August 3, 2019, will go down in infamy as one of the largest and deadliest mass shootings in Texas, let alone the nation. As of the evening of the shooting, 20 were dead and another 27 were injured with one person in custody. It took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, less than 20 miles from my house. I have shopped there many times, yet I was at home when it happened. This store was nearly at capacity with almost 3000 customers. My school district where I teach had been in session for a week, and other parents were starting their school shopping as well. El Paso is a high poverty city with a large percent of people on government food stamps, so the first weekend of the month is always busy at stores. This could have been MUCH worse.

As of writing this post, everyone I knew in El Paso was safe and not in the shooting’s area, though some were there not long before it took place. Several of my fellow teachers were within earshot of the shooting, constantly hearing the helicopters and sirens overhead. The entire city was asked to stay home. All scheduled activities were cancelled. El Paso is reeling, and we need as much prayer and support as possible. Already, the lines for the call for giving blood were well out the door of the city’s two blood bank centers. It was tragic and for many people, not merely those directly affected, it will take some time to recover, if they ever do.

But how should we respond to such acts of evil? There are two major answers which come from two major worldviews. Every time something happens the media and the government state two answers: more education and more government. Education always comes in two angles: “awareness” which really does and says nothing. Why are athletes kneeling for the anthem? Colin Kaepernick started that to raise awareness against police brutality. He lost his message in the mix because of how he approached it, and to this day I know of nothing actually productive he has done about the issue he has protested. Awareness doesn’t work. The other angle is to tell people how these things are being done, but in reality, it’s training people how to respond and training potential shooters on what the pre-programmed response will be. That’s going to backfire soon too.

More government isn’t the answer either. Less than two hours after the shooting began, calls started to be made about gun control. I still cannot see how taking guns from law-abiding citizens is going to answer anything. Gun control will never answer this situation either, because it will only be at best a band-aid to a much deeper problem. That problem is SIN. If we want to solve the issues of these violent acts, we must get to the true root of it all.

Many people like to cite 2 Chronicles 7:14 during tragedies as though that will stave off such horrific incidents. Yet that was a promise made to Israel during the dedication of the Temple. There is a similar passage in Jeremiah 18:7-10 that actually applies to all nations. It is the same passage where Jeremiah sees the potter and receives the message that God will make and mold what He wants out of a person or nation. If the person receives God’s molding hand, he will become a vessel useful for the potter. If he rejects God, he will be tossed aside into the heap to be burned. God treats nations and generations the same as He does will individuals. The nation that obeys and seeks God will be molded for His purposes and receive His blessings. The nation that rejects God will be cursed and face judgment.

We have to understand that the Unites States of America is not living under God. While founded to operate under the Christian ethic and via Christian principles, this nation has rejected God as a whole. We as a nation cherish death over life. We’ve killed well over 60 million babies under the name of ‘women’s health.’ That alone is a sin God will not judge lightly, but it is also a sin that has birthed more sin. Combined with the teaching of evolution, where man is nothing more than a glorified animal with no intrinsic value, just a blip on the continuum of time, and where all things done will be remembered only for a moment, there is no support for the value of life. The elderly and the disabled are consuming our money and resources that could be spent on “better things.” Since 1962 when God was formally removed from the public square, we have sown sin, and these despicable acts are mere fruits of what was sown. We will reap what we sow, and often more than we have sown and later than when we sowed it. As tragic as these shootings are, they don’t surprise me.

The shootings, violence, rapes, thefts, and all these crime sprees are a result of sin. There is one solution and one solution only: nationwide repentance. We as a nation must turn from our sin. Our “thoughts and prayers” are sometimes rightfully mocked by the secularists because they often are lip service. We as Christians must own our nations sins as though they are ours. That’s how Nehemiah prayed when he heard of the broken-down walls of Jerusalem. That’s how the high priests throughout the Old Testament were to pray: for his own sins first, then for the people, for sins he did not commit.

I, for one, have often stayed away from political discussions and posts. I’ll make comments here and there but only rarely because I know the government isn’t the solution. However, as I process this shooting that hit my city, I am starting to realize that while I have nothing to do with our nation’s sins in person, as an American citizen, when the nation sins, I am part of that nation. If the Church is to turn this ship around, it must take ownership of the sins this nation has committed under its watch. Even if we have not committed the sins nor endorsed the sins and even if we have spoken up against those sins, because we are a collective body as a nation, we are still part of the nation which sinned.

Shootings like this are tragic and we must mourn with those who mourn. But when we respond, we must respond with brokenness over our sin. David knew how to respond in Psalm 51. Let us repent of our sin, individually and collectively. If we wish to see an end to this, that is the only possible answer other than the total destruction of the nation. I haven’t shed enough tears for this nation in prayer. The few men of God who are left can only hold back the tide of judgment for so long. Our blogger David Odegard described a disquieting dream for us and this shooting was evidence of another breach in the dam. Time is short. Church of America, what will we do? Let us return to God and be the Church to this broken and hurting world. Let us seek to save them before more are lost forever.

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I Know God’s Will for Your Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, August 6, 2019 0 comments

by Chad Koons

What does God want for your life? Ever wondered that? I have.

On a clear summer night in 1998, I had been driving fast through the countryside while DC Talk’s Jesus Freak CD was blasting through my speakers. The night sky was shot through of brilliant, starry holes, and the moon lit up the landscape with a hopeful glow. The wind whipping through my open windows stung my eyes and reminded me of the tears still lingering on my face.

“I will do whatever You want,” I pleaded with the Lord, “What is Your will for my life?”

By that point in my life, I had felt left behind and unsure of my future. I had faithfully invested some years working with Greater Harrisburg Youth for Christ, a season of life which was beyond amazing. God had been moving at YFC and lives were being changed for both students and leaders alike. I can’t even begin to tell you how many powerful people of God came from that era.

I knew that my season of ministry with YFC had been winding down, yet I wasn’t sure what to do next. Many of my peers seemed to have that answer pretty well supplied to them, as they were either in college, getting engaged, or beginning careers. For a few of us, however, the next steps were not so clear.

All of this had weighed heavy upon my heart that evening in the car.

“Lord, have I messed up and missed your will?!” I yelled out over my car stereo, while cruising even faster between two fields. My heart ached to know the will of God for my life. Perhaps you can relate.

To my complete surprise, God actually answered my question.

“Look up,” the voice of the Lord spoke clear as a bell in my heart. I slowed down and stole another quick glimpse of the stars. The voice continued, “If I can control the universe, I can direct you.”

At once I was in the Spirit; call it a brief mini vision. I saw myself stuck inside of a great labyrinth made of giant hedges. I was lost, staring at the hedge walls before me. Suddenly the angle of my vision panned outward and upward until I was able to see an aerial view of the labyrinth. Now, viewing the maze from above, I could clearly see the path that I had taken, including all of my wrong turns, and I could also see the way out. The voice of the Lord came again: “I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end, I look back on your future.”

Undone, I began to weep.

“Nothing that you do can take Me by surprise, nothing can take you from My hand. Follow Me,” the voice of the Lord concluded. That encounter changed my life, because I knew what the Lord meant when He said, “Follow Me.”

“Follow Me” as a directive was nothing new; Jesus is quite famous for it in the Bible, actually. But what did it mean in relation to God’s will for my life in the here and now?

At the time, I had sincerely thought that will of God was something that I did, and that I’d miss the will of God if I failed to listen and obey correctly. Have you ever felt this way?

The will of God may often include a particular thing to do, or a particular place to go, yet that is not the heart of the matter.

When the Lord said, “Follow Me,” He was actually telling me the secret to knowing His will for my life. Do you know what the Bible says is God’s will for your life? I do. To be like Him. To follow the Lord so closely that you begin transforming into His image.

To be conformed into the Image of Christ: this is the will of God for your life! That’s what the Bible says. The rest… well, in most cases, that may just be details.

Where are you right now? Be like Christ there. What does the Lord have you doing right now? Be like Christ while you’re doing it. Are you sensing a transition coming soon? Be like Christ through the transition. Being like God where you are. This is the will of God for your life.

What about the details? Can you miss the will of God for you? Relax. Love God and be pure. What your hands find to do, do it with all of your heart as unto Him. Follow your giftings, know the Word of God inside and out, stay in community with a local Church body, listen to Godly counsel, and be like Christ. Change your thinking. The will of God is not always what you do; it’s who you are. It’s great that you want to know particulars, but never let the “what’s” and “where’s” take up too much space. Concentrate on HIM. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and the details will come.

You won’t miss it. I didn’t.

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Psalm 92

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 5, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

The title of Psalm 92 is “A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.” While we often find that multiple psalms share these titles, this is the only one with this particular title. That is significant because it specifically says it’s for the Sabbath day. For Jews, the Sabbath day was not only a day of rest and refraining from work, but it was also their day to focus on worshiping God. This psalm helps bring words to that focus.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp” (Psalm 92:1-3).

We see right at the start of this psalm that “it is good to praise the Lord.” It’s a simple statement, but it also has deep meaning. Why is it good to praise and worship the Lord? He is a good God. He has created us. He loves us. When we continually turn away from Him, He continually reaches out to us and provides a way to restore our relationship. He sent His Son to die and be raised for us that we may live with Him eternally. The list could go on and on of all the reasons that it is good to praise the Lord!

In case you don’t know how to praise the Lord, the psalm goes on with some suggestions: proclaim His love and faithfulness throughout the day, and you can even use music. We often associate praising God with music; in fact, I’ve heard it says many times in congregational services where the “worship time” is equated to the music and singing time. The reality is that we should be in constant worship of the Lord with our entire lives. Our worship of God should not be limited to singing songs on a Sunday morning, though that is one way we can praise the Lord.

Other reasons to praise God are found in verses 4-5: “For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!” While not everything God does will make us happy all the time, He does have our good as His ultimate focus when we’re following Him (see Romans 8:28). We can look at all the things God has done in our own lives, the lives of those around us, and His deeds recorded in the Bible and we can see how great He is. We cannot understand His thoughts, but we know they are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

In verses 6-8, we see two responses to God: the wicked don’t understand and will be destroyed, but those who follow God will forever exalt and praise Him. Verse 6 uses the phrase, “Senseless people do not know.” The word in Hebrew for “senseless” has the connotation of behavior like animals, who don’t necessarily have common sense. The wicked are like animals in that they are focused on themselves and not on God. The Godly, however, will exalt and praise the Lord forever.

Because of the wicked people’s response (or lack thereof) to God, they will be judged and perish. That is described in more detail in verses 9-11 of this psalm. Enemies will perish and evildoers will be scattered. In contrast, verses 12-14 tell how the righteous ones will flourish. While the wicked are swept away, the righteous are planted like a tree - which, interestingly, is the same metaphorical ideas as Psalm 1.

This psalm closes in verse 15 by giving words that the righteous proclaim: “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” This psalm started with saying that it is good to praise the Lord, and the psalm closes with that same idea. We know that the Lord is always good and faithful, and for that He deserves our constant praise. He is the only one who is truly reliable and always perfectly good, all the time!

What part of your life reflects God’s goodness? Where are you witnessing God’s goodness and praising Him for it? Or, if you don’t feel like your life is going very well right now, can you identify with the wicked and need to turn your life back toward one that honors and praises God? How do you praise God, other than singing some songs on a Sunday morning? I encourage you this week to think about praising God with your whole life, because He is always good to His people!

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The Faithful Footsteps

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 4, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

When I was just seven years old, I had an experience that certainly shaped me going forward. My uncle was visiting us in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and our entire family decided to go to the local swimming pool and take him with us. My uncle was 48 years old at the time, which seems young to me now but back then I thought he was ancient. We were hanging around the deep end of the pool near the diving boards and my uncle decided to show off by going and doing a full front flip off the low dive. I remember being impressed, only to have my appreciation turn to fear when my dad and my uncle both challenged me to go and do the same thing off the high dive. I said, “No way," but they insisted that if my uncle could do a flip off the low dive at the age of 48, I should be able to do the same thing off the high dive at my age. Well, seven year-old Logan wasn’t about to take that from anyone, so he was going to show them that he isn’t a chicken and will step up and complete the challenge. I proceeded to climb the ladder, take the ill-fated leap, and land directly on my back when I hit the surface of the water. The sound of my back smacking the water reverberated across the swimming complex and was only drowned out by my screams as I came back above the surface.

When I think back to that moment in my life, I learned that pride, stubbornness, and even arrogance were within me. Those were the traits that led me to give in to the pressure, even though they were mostly joking. I’ll point out that they both encouraged me and my dad helped me from the water even as I was in pain. Even though it was prideful to assume I could do what they said even with never having tried it before, I realize that at least part of my reason for going for it was my knowledge that my uncle had completed a similar difficult task before me. I was comforted, whether I recognized it at the time or not, by witnessing the success of someone else who abandoned safety and overcame fear to accomplish the goal.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and obviously I shouldn’t have followed their challenge or given in to peer pressure. But there is something inspiring and motivating to us when we watch someone else go through what we are about to go through and come out alive and well on the other side. This is especially true in ministry and in the Christian life. I have other pastors that I meet with regularly and even some long distance friends that I communicate with who have been through difficult experiences that I now face.

James understood the importance of looking at the examples of others when we are trying to endure the difficulties we face. I’m calling the examples “the faithful footsteps," but another appropriate name would be “the patient footsteps." James urges his readers to consider the patient examples of the prophets who are written about in our Old Testament and to also consider the whole life of Job as they are dealing with intense suffering (James 5:10-11). The prophets of old all suffered in some way for speaking the word of the Lord as they were commanded to do, and perhaps none suffered more than Jeremiah, who was put into stocks, thrown in prison, and later dropped into a cistern with no water and only mud.

Jeremiah is the one who came to mind when I first read these verses. We should consider his patience and obedience when we face sufferings or persecutions. He even lamented his condition to the Lord when he said that he is mocked and ridiculed all day long and that God’s word has brought him nothing but “insult and reproach” (Jeremiah 20:7-8). But even in the midst of his complaining, he remembered that proclaiming the word of the Lord was what he was born to do and that even if he were to try not to do it, he couldn’t. He said, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). Jeremiah faithfully spoke the word of the Lord even when he knew it would lead to suffering.

James writes that the early Christians “count as blessed those who have persevered” (James 5:11). This statement has nothing to do with earthly blessing. The world looks at people like Jeremiah and the other prophets and concludes that they suffered for nothing since they met their end by the sword or other methods of persecution. Church tradition suggests that the latter part of Jeremiah’s life was spent in the foreign land of Egypt after he was taken there as a captive by King Johanan. It’s easy for mockers to assume that Jeremiah was not blessed, but James reminds us that our end in this life is the beginning of our blessed eternity with God in heaven. Death is not the failure of their perseverance, but the success and completion of it. As the early Christians were facing persecution, James used the example of the prophets to remind them that their perseverance is not yet complete, but that if they continue to endure and hold on, they will soon receive their eternal reward as well.

After reminding his audience of the prophets, James also brings up the life of Job. You’d have to read the entire book of Job to understand the big picture, but here’s a summary. In Job 1-2, the man who is very wealthy yet righteous is attacked by Satan, but God wants to use it as a test. Job loses everything, including his health, his property, his servants, his home, and his children. He refuses to curse God, which was the entire goal of Satan’s attacks, but as time goes on and he continues to deal with his misery, he does begin to question why God would allow all of this to happen in his life. God deals with him at the end of the story by reminding Job that he was not around when God created the earth’s foundations, filled up the seas, and told the morning when to shine (Job 38). He never actually gives Job His reasoning for the suffering but simply reminds him that Job is not even close to being on His level of understanding. Job realizes his mistake in even thinking he has a right to know God’s reasons, acknowledges it before God, and repents in dust and ashes (Job 42:1-6). The very end of the story tells us that God blessed Job twice as much as the early part of his life, and the specifics are given in Job 42:10-15.

It would be easy to assume that Job received his full reward for perseverance while he was still alive on this earth, but ask yourself, would you ever get over the death of your child or children, even if the Lord blessed you with more? I can think of a half dozen believers who I personally know right off the top of my head who have experienced the death of a child, including one pastor I know who has had to experience it TWICE. Many of these individuals have other children, some of whom were born after the earlier loss. I can assure you that they never get over it, even as they remain faithful and experience other blessings.

Even for a wealthy man like Job who received double the earthly blessing that he had before, it’s not even in the same ballpark as the reward he would receive upon his death. Only in heaven with our Lord does one escape the pains of this life. Be encouraged by James’ words today, knowing that regardless of the suffering you are facing now, there is an eternal reward coming in a place with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). If you are having a hard time persevering through the suffering, consider these examples of old, and commit to following in their faithful footsteps.

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Miracles: Mastery of Physical Health

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 2, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jesus performed more miracles of physical healing more than any other type of miracle He did. While there are numerous cases throughout the Old Testament, this was a particular detail that would pertain to the Messiah. When Jesus came to his hometown of Nazareth, He read from the scroll of Isaiah in how the lame would walk, the deaf would hear and the captives will be set free. He then said that this prophecy was fulfilled in their hearing of it. I only have time and space to give a snapshot of the healing miracles Jesus did, so I’ll address them by the types of physical ailments He healed.

A woman had a bleeding problem, in which for 12 years she sought all the doctors she could find only to have no solution. She heard of Jesus and was so desperate she knew she just needed to touch the hem of His garment and she’d be healed. And she was.

A man laid crippled, since birth, by the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus simply asked if he wanted to be made well and at a command, the cripple got up, took up his mat, and walked.

A man born blind begged at a street corner and Jesus healed him. Jesus was the first person recorded in Scripture to heal blind eyes. To the Jews, this was no ordinary miracle.

In one instance, Jesus healed ten lepers. He sent them to the priest to be washed, yet only one of the ten returned to thank Jesus for healing them.

This is just a snapshot. In several places, Jesus only healed a single person when a crowd sought healing (like at the Pool of Bethesda). But there were many other instances where Jesus healed the whole crowd. In some cases, Jesus healed out of compassion. There are other cases where Jesus did not heal because of unbelief. At a cursory glance, there seemed to be no formal standard for when Jesus healed many or when He healed only a few, however we do know that Jesus only healed when He sensed the power of God to do it and when He had permission to heal.

Healings took place outside the Gospel writings too. One of the most famous accounts was when Elisha healed the Syrian general, Naaman, from leprosy, requiring of him to bathe seven times in the Jordan River. The apostle Peter healed a cripple at the Beautiful Gate near the Temple. Paul was bit by a viper and suffered no effects. God demonstrated repeatedly that He has mastery over physical health.

Healing miracles didn’t stop in the New Testament. I have personally seen numerous cases of physical healings, and one of them was me. When I was four months old, I was dying and doctors had no clue why. All they could say was to pray, and my parents and my church prayed. My life was spared, and to this day no one really knows what happened.

My brother suffered a massive hearing loss as a child. He could not hear consonants, and when we’d run the vacuum cleaner, he’d put his hands on it to feel the vibrations. My parents received a doctor’s report on it after church (our family physicians were also church elders) and a family in my church overheard it and spent the afternoon fasting and praying. The next day, my mom got out the vacuum cleaner and my brother ran out of the house screaming because the noise was too intense for him. He had been healed. He was four years old at the time.

I was at a retreat about ten years ago up in the mountains in Colorado. A girl at the retreat was in absolute agony due to walking up and down the hills with a bad knee. She was in prep for her seventh knee surgery later that summer. Some friends prayed for her the last night of the retreat, and she started weeping and jumping for joy. Her knee was healed. God still heals today.

But God doesn’t heal everyone. In the last few years, my church has lost a few people to a sickness we believe God would heal, but it didn’t come in this life. One was five-year-old girl who had a heart problem. She was on a transplant list and she did get a new heart, however the old heart had done too much damage and this illness took her life. Just a couple months ago, a woman, whom I’ve spoken about a few times on this blog, passed away after her third battle with cancer. She had it beat emotionally and spiritually, but it took its toll on her body and she passed away in victory.

My pastor described an incident a number of years ago when he was the worship leader at a revival meeting in the panhandle of Texas. The speaker had a healing ministry (not the kind that you see on TV which are fake), and God was healing people through him left and right. But there was an older man who had stage 4 cancer waiting at the end. He came forward to be healed and everyone in the crowd knew what this man was dealing with and they were expecting a “grand finale.” The minister held the man’s hands and simply stood there for about five minutes. In the end, he said something like, “God is with you. Go in peace.” The man wasn’t healed. My pastor understood precisely what was happening. The minister was not there to do a show nor to get attention. He sought the will of God on each person and God was making a statement that He wasn’t doing stuff for a show. Jesus refused to perform miracles at the whim or will of the people. That is what was happening here.

God does not choose to heal or not to heal on any arbitrary basis. It may seem like that to us, but God has the entire picture in mind. He knows the beginning from the end, and He knows the “would be” scenarios. He never takes a life out of spite. When it’s time, He says it’s time. Sometimes it’s out of mercy. Sometimes it’s out of judgment. Sometimes it’s little more than, “You’ve done all you can do for Me here on earth. Why not just come home to Me?” We don’t know, but God does.

The skeptics will ask us if we trust God over medicine. They always cite the cases of people who turn to prayer instead of a doctor. Many of these cases are being presumptuous of God rather than seeking God out; those are not viable counter-examples. God gave us medicine, but wouldn’t it be best to seek the advice of the Master Physician before going to choose a pill to take care of our ailments? God may often tell us to go see a doctor. The woman who passed away from her third battle with cancer did and every time she was at the hospital, both the nurses and the other patients in her ward got to hear and witness the life of Christ flowing through her. But in other cases, God may tell us to go to the doctors so He could showcase that He knows more than they do.

Seek the Master Physician first. He’ll tell you want He wants you to do, and should He heal, He will do so. Should He not, let us be at peace that He is still in control. When I was diagnosed with degenerative myopia in my eyes, I was at serious risk of going blind, especially if I took a blow to the head. My parents and those around me panicked. I didn’t. I knew that if God needed me to be blind, He’d let it happen so He could use me. It didn’t happen and my eyes stabilized, but God is still in control. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing. And for those who have been born again, we await the day when we will receive a new body that is finally free from the corruption of sin and death. That will be a glorious day.

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The Genesis Myth, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 1, 2019 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week, we began to take another look at the Genesis narratives and discuss whether or not they are intended to be taken as historical or some other way. We saw how the “That's your interpretation” argument doesn't actually make sense since “my interpretation” is exactly what the text says. It's a timeless series of narratives. It's grounded in space and time, telling us about real people, places, and events and claims to be explaining where the universe and earth came from, as well as our present human condition including our desperate need for a Savior. It also gives us the family history of that Savior. Genesis claims to be a family history, tracing all mankind back to Noah and then to Adam. These same people are mentioned throughout Scripture and in the lineage of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. Adam was obviously a real person and Jesus mentions his son Abel and Noah. The author of Hebrews also mentions Abel as though he were a real person in history. If you believe that these are references to mythical people or folklore, then your faith is based on cute stories that have no grounding in reality. If you disagree, I'd like to hear why.

Some suggest Genesis is poetic. To this I ask: which parts? It's 50 chapters long and has no indication of any sort of break. The text is uniform from its opening verse to the end of chapter 50. My next question is: why does that change the historicity of it? There are many psalms and songs of praise in the Bible that tell about actual events. We have songs written today about real events. Claiming the text is poetry doesn't actually matter. However, it's not poetry. According to John Currid, author of “Genesis” (a commentary on Genesis): “Genesis 1 contains little or no indication of figurative language. There are no tropes, symbolism, or metaphors.”

Genesis doesn't have any of the primary markers of Hebrew poetry like parallelism and figures of speech. There are small bits of poetry within the Genesis narratives, but they are generally found in statements made by individuals and inserted into the narrative. Examples are Genesis 2:23, Genesis 4:23-24, and Genesis 9:6.

If you read the rest of Scripture, you'll find that the writers of all other references to the creation narrative or the Flood refer to them as historical. The writers of the New Testament point to the creation, Fall, and Flood as precedents for what God says He's going to do in the future. Are these prophetic words to be taken as some kind of future folklore or myth? It's a seamless historical book from the start and gels with the rest of the Bible all the way to Revelation. It gives us the line of Jesus all the way back to “...the son of Adam, the son of God.” If we are to assume there is some break in the story, this would mean the text would have made some concealed leap from real people to mythical people that we like to tell stories about but weren't real.

Hebrews also gives a detailed flashback to many of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11:4-38. However, verses 4-7 would somehow be taken as folklore or mythical since they contain persons found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis while, without any indication whatsoever, the writer moves to real people and events in verse 8. But this passage in Hebrews doesn't leave the book of Genesis until verse 23 where it mentions Moses.

Genesis claims to be an etiological story of the origins of everything that exists and why man, who was created special, has a sin problem and why a sacrifice is necessary to pay for that sin. Without this natural reading of the text, I'm not sure where the foundation of Christianity even rests. If the human condition is based on a made-up story about a man who never lived who passed on sin to all of his offspring who didn't live and to theirs and so on, I'm afraid I don't see a need for a Savior at all. Or, perhaps since Adam is considered to be a mythical figure by some, so is the Savior Himself since He is listed as the Second or Last Adam.

Do you think Jesus was a real person who suffered a very real death on a cross for your sins and mine? If He was real, Adam must have been as well. And if Adam's sin brought death to all, then certainly he was created special. If not, doesn't that mean animals would require a Savior as well? If man is just an evolved animal who has a bigger than average brain, is he truly special? Is he separate and distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom? If so, how? If God didn't create him in His image, who is man? The theological issues that arise when we decide to not take God at His Word are a tidal wave! It's hard to make sense of anything in Christianity if Genesis isn't a real history about real people and events. We can talk like it makes sense without Genesis, but that story is very shallow. What is the human condition in old earthism or theistic evolution? Why do we need a Savior? What are we being saved from? Why did Jesus die physically if He only freed us from spiritual death? So many unanswered questions. If you have time, please help me out.

There is literally no reason based on the context, based on how the narratives are used in other passages of Scripture, based on grammar/word usage, based on the continuity of the narratives from Genesis 1 through Genesis 50 to read the narratives as anything but ancient historical narrative. Someone finding another way to interpret it is coming to the text with an agenda and preconceived ideas that are extra-biblical. They cannot be coming from a Scriptural stance as the text doesn't so much as give a hint that the narratives are anything else but historical. The overwhelmingly held position since these passages were written is that the text conveys a real history about the origins of the Jewish people and, eventually, the Messiah.

My worldview is anchored in His Word. A person viewing this text as something other than history is anchored in humanism and its origins myth. I would encourage anyone who falls into this trap to reconsider and take God at His Word. There is much more to discuss on this topic, and I look forward to getting into it further.

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.