Week - Seven Gifts From God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 28, 2013 0 comments

Something that has really stood out to me this week more than it has in the past is the number of people who have either audibly spoken or posted on social networking sites their excitement that it is a “3-day week”. I am of course referring to those who work in jobs that give them both Thursday and Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday. But isn’t it interesting that our calendar week is defined as seven days, yet we refer to our “week” as the days we go to work? It’s almost like the other days don’t exist, or like we think those are the days we don’t have to suffer the way we do on our work days. Our culture has conditioned us to dread going to work and to always be looking forward to the next holiday, vacation, or weekend.

While our culture has conditioned us to think this way, God has not. I’d like to remind you that work is actually a GOOD thing, according to the Bible. First and foremost, work was here before sin was. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). This was not only before there was sin, but also before there were even any direct instructions from God to the man regarding what he can and cannot do. The fact that work is something we sometimes dread is a result of the curse that came after sin a little later. God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17b). At that moment, work became something that was no longer only good, but still something we very much need. Paul says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b). I think it’s pretty neat that the Scriptures from so long ago pretty much describe our current view of work with astounding accuracy. We sometimes like our work, but also get worn out and dread it at times. However, we keep pushing forward because we know it is necessary to eat and pay our bills.

If you read Katie’s post from Monday or even an old one of mine from July on the word “Sabbath”, you saw that God set up a schedule of seven days for us when he created the universe in six days and then rested on the seventh. The people were told during the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 to work for six days and rest for one, then repeat. Earlier, when they completely depended on God to supply their food needs with manna from heaven in Exodus 16, they had to gather twice as much on the sixth day because God had told them there would be none to gather on the seventh day so that they could properly observe the Sabbath, which God had instituted by resting for a day after he worked for the first six. Did God need the rest? Of course not! As I argued in that July post, “resting” also means to stop or pause for reflection. God chose to take a day to appreciate all he had done, and he wants you and me to do the same. If we don’t, we lose sight of the true gift that is each and every day we’re granted.

God did not make this week three days. He did not make every other week five days. Every seven-day period you and I experience is a week, which is a collection of seven new gifts that were not guaranteed to us the day before. While this may seem like stating the obvious, we really need to discipline ourselves to take this view. Whether we are vacationing, resting, or working, the new day is a precious gift. David says in Psalm 119:16 that “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. This means none of them are by accident! Our church culture has become just like the secular culture, as we often go throughout our weeks just desperately anticipating that encouraging music, inspiring sermon, or uplifting fellowship we get every Sunday at church, only to spend the rest of the week “just getting through” it. This must change if we are to impact the lost world. We must view our jobs as blessings and approach each day as an opportunity to worship God and be thankful for what he has given us. If we can master this, the vacations, days of rest, and Sunday celebrations with the family of God will be even sweeter.


Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 25, 2013 2 comments

It has been said that, “Seven days without love makes one weak.” I would say along with that, “Seven days of God’s love makes the world in one week.”

The seven day period we call a week is significant in multiple ways in the Bible and to those who follow Christ. In Genesis 1:1-2:3, God created the entire world out of nothing in six days, and then He rested on the seventh day, thus establishing the first week. The reason we have a week that consists of seven days is based on God’s creation of the world.

Later on, in Exodus 20:8-11, God is giving the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel and He reminds them of this pattern of a week. He says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

The people of Israel were commanded by God to keep up this seven-day rhythm of life. They would work for six days then rest for one day. In today’s culture, we often feel like we have it rough having to work for five days then getting the weekend off; back then they had to work for six days in a row! The reason for this pattern, again, was God’s creation of the world. The seventh day, on which they were to rest, was made holy as the Sabbath day (click the link for more info on what Sabbath is), and the Israelites were to do no work on that day.

The other significant “week” reference in Scripture is what’s known today as Holy Week. This is the week starting with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter. For Jesus, this week started with Him coming into Jerusalem with people praising Him and calling Him the King. It continued with Him sharing a special meal with His disciples, then being betrayed, tortured, and killed in a violent death on a cross. Fortunately for us, the week didn’t end there! The week completed with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His conquering of death for all who believe in Him. One could say that Holy Week is the most important week for all who follow Christ, since the events of this week are what we base our faith on.

What can happen in seven days? God can create a universe. We can work and rest to honor God. Jesus can go from being hailed as a king to being humiliated and dying back to being a victorious king. What can you accomplish for God in your next week?

Worship - Only God Is Worthy

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 21, 2013 0 comments

I’m sitting here in the living room of my home watching CNN news because my roommate has it on, and I just heard something completely ridiculous that was certainly very well-meaning. They were showing footage of the damage done by the recent tornadoes in the Midwest and covering some of the stories that have come out of the destroyed towns. As the anchor talked about the positive stories of people helping each other, he shared that one couple whose home was destroyed had a picture of themselves that was found 80 miles away and posted on Facebook by the stranger who found it so that it could eventually be returned. The couple’s daughter was interviewed and said, “It’s just a testament to the greatness of humanity”. While I agree that the stranger did a great deed, isn’t the woman missing something obvious? How does one explain how something traveled that far and that fast by weather alone, or how it “just happened” to wind up in the hands of a kind stranger, or how there were enough connections between the strangers to get the picture back where it belongs? There are only two possible options: random coincidence or the will of God. I submit to you that the story is not about the “greatness of humanity”, but about the love and faithfulness of God.

If you stop and think about it, wanting to be our own God, or in other words “be worshipped and worship ourselves”, has been the problem ever since the first sin. The serpent tempted Eve by saying that she and her husband would “be like God, knowing good and evil” if they ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:5). This obviously appealed to their hearts’ desires because they immediately took some of the fruit and ate it. Since that day, humans have been battling the same temptation. Pop stars do increasingly bizarre and inappropriate things to make sure they are getting more publicity than the competition, politicians will say and do just about anything to get your support and loyalty, and professional athletes on even the worst of teams immediately celebrate when they make a good play so that the attention is on them. Social media is also a stumbling block, as so many people boast about how many “friends” or “followers” they have.

We may not realize it, but when we worship ourselves or try to convince others that we are to be worshipped, our actions are on par with those of Satan. I understand that’s a hard truth for many, but it’s true nonetheless. After Jesus is baptized and just before his earthly ministry begins, he is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. You can find the story in Matthew 4:1-11. The devil tempts Jesus in three different ways. After questioning Jesus’ authority as the Son of God with the first two temptations, he goes for the jackpot with the last one. He takes Jesus to a place where they can see all the kingdoms of the world and says, “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me” (v. 9). Satan was so desperate to be worshipped that he even deceived himself. Last time I checked, the kingdoms weren’t his to give away! Jesus knew this, so he responded by quoting the Scripture that says, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Deuteronomy 6:13 and Matthew 4:10).

One of the marks of a true believer in Jesus is humility. This means that we understand that we are not good apart from him. The Bible tells us “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). We know and intentionally remind ourselves that we are not worthy to be worshipped because we are mere servants of the living God, who alone is worthy. We may receive encouragement and praise from others for how we allow God’s gifts to be used in our lives, but there is a fine line between that and worship. We remind others that the gifts are from God and we are mere vessels. Two great examples from the New Testament come to mind. In Acts 10, Cornelius falls at the feet of Peter in reverence. “But Peter made him get up. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘I am only a man myself’” (v. 26). Peter has apparently come a long way from arguing with the other disciples about who will be the greatest in heaven. Then in Revelation 22, the Apostle John writes that he “fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing (the revelation) to me” (v. 8). He then writes that the angel said to him, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” (v. 9)

Peter and the angel were able to understand that they were not worthy to be worshipped. Did you catch that? Even an angel is nothing more than a fellow servant of God with all the brothers and sisters in Christ. Only God is worthy of worship. You and I live in a world where people are constantly looking for someone to worship and constantly wanting to be worshipped. Again I say, only God is worthy! Whether you are the one who has fallen into the trap of worshipping idols, which include everything other than God, or the one who revels in the false worship you receive from others, a redirection of your focus is crucial. Servants of God will come and go. We are here today and gone tomorrow. But God is worthy, he is the beginning and the end, and he must be worshipped!


Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 18, 2013 0 comments

For those of us who have been in the church for many years, the word “worship” has become synonymous with the music part of a service. I have caught myself doing that as well; it’s an easy trap to fall into. We talk about “worship music” and seem to imply that the only way we worship God is by singing songs. But is that really the only way? What about people who don’t like singing, are they excluded from worshipping God?

To worship means to express reverence or adoration for a deity. For Christians, this means showing reverence or adoration toward the one true God of the Bible. How did our “Christian” culture get so twisted as to believe that only singing songs is considered worship?

Romans 12:1 says, “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.” The Greek word used here for “worship” is latreia, which means both worship and service. We are serving God as we worship Him.

Did you see in the above verse how we are to worship God? I didn’t see anywhere in there that worship is *only* singing songs on Sunday morning from a particular genre of music. It says to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” True worship is when we sacrifice ourselves to God. (Learn more about the word “sacrifice” here.) That doesn’t mean we kill ourselves, but rather that we give up our own desires to God and do what He desires for our lives. We are to be living sacrifices who follow the living God. Our entire lives should be a witness to God’s glory and how He is working in our lives.

The band Casting Crowns has a song called “Lifesong,” and the chorus goes like this:

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

This is what worship is. Everything we say and everything we do should show our reverence and adoration for God. Yes singing songs on a Sunday morning can be a part of that, but it is truly so much more! We need to worship God with our whole lives, with everything we do and say. Our lives need to be living sacrifices to God, to show our true worship to Him.

Witness - Your Endurance of Hardship

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 14, 2013 0 comments

As I sit here and write this piece, it is Veterans’ Day 2013. While I have the day off work to honor and remember them, there are many who are actually the ones serving our country around the world that do not get this day off. Some of them are in very difficult circumstances. They might include harsh weather conditions, hostile enemies, and deplorable living quarters. The difficult circumstances often do include being separated from their loved ones. It is during these times of hardship that the character and perseverance of our service men and women are most obvious. Our government awards the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor based on how individuals respond in the most daunting of circumstances. While all veterans are to be honored and most have the same strong character as those award recipients, it is hardship that presents the opportunity for it to be shown publicly.

Also as I sit here today, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini. You may have heard about his story. He and his family live in Boise, Idaho, where Saeed is a pastor. However, he’s been jailed for his faith in Iran for over a year since he went back to visit and share the gospel. According to the Washington Examiner, Pastor Saeed’s family confirmed he has recently been transferred to the infamous Rajai Shahr prison. About this prison, Dutch diplomat Loes Bijnen said, “Political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists, and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates”. Bijnen also added, “They have nothing to lose (because) many of them are condemned to death anyway, (so) murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence”. While we pray for Pastor Saeed’s release and safe return to his family, you better believe that many are taking notice to how he responds to his hardship. Many, including Bijnen, clearly feel that putting a “political prisoner” in the same place as violent criminals is unfair and cruel. But maybe God has allowed it because there are murderers, rapists, and drug addicts who desperately need to see the example of how a follower of Jesus endures hardship.

The same is true for each and every one of you who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. If you read Katie’s post on Monday, you saw that we get our English word “martyr” from the New Testament’s Greek word for “witness”. That Greek word can also mean “testimony, evidence, or reputation”. While we traditionally think of “martyr” as one who is killed, Webster’s secondary definition is “somebody who makes sacrifices or suffers greatly in order to advance a cause or principle”. My point is that even if you are never asked to sacrifice your life, you still have a very powerful witness for Christ when you endure any kind of suffering. In Hebrews 12:1, the writer encourages the early Christians, and us, to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” because “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. He is referring back to the stories of which he just reminded them in the previous chapter.

In Hebrews 11, the author takes his readers through a recap of all of the stories of faith they know from their history in which people endured hardship by trusting in God and his sovereign will. Most of these stories are ones you and I can read in the Old Testament, but there are others who are not named who were tortured, jailed, mocked, flogged, stoned, sawed in two, and put to death by the sword (vv. 35-37). While their ultimate witness was their refusal to deny the faith even up to their deaths, they also persevered through many hardships that did not kill them. You and I can witness in the same way. Did you know that we have an advantage that they did not have? “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40). While their faith was in the yet-to-come cross of Jesus, we have the advantage of knowing that God’s promise already came true!

So what is the hardship in your life that requires endurance? Pay no attention to the hardship of your neighbor, because God has a specific “race” for YOU to run. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever help others in their quest to persevere. It means that suffering is not a contest. We don’t have to try to make it happen to a certain level so that God accepts us. Jesus tells his disciples shortly before his arrest that they WILL have trouble in this world (John 16:33). In other words, it’s impossible to follow Christ and not have trouble. For you, it may be waiting patiently for that promotion, that degree, or that spouse. It may be losing one of those three things. It may be having to deal with some form of persecution, or suffering through your parents’ divorce or some other family crisis. Remember that absolutely EVERYTHING that God gives us in this world will disappear, because “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). With that as your hope, you can absolutely endure any hardship God allows in your life. In doing so, you’ll be a witness to everyone around you.


Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 11, 2013 0 comments

This week’s word is witness, which appears in many different situations in the Bible. In the Greek New Testament, the word for witness is marturia, which is where we get our English word “martyr” from. A martyr is a person who is persecuted and killed for their faith.

One of my favorite passages where this word is used is what’s called the Prologue, which is John 1:1-18. In particular, check out verses 6-8:

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”

In the Greek, the word marturia (in both its noun and verb forms) occurs 3 times in just these 3 verses. Two occurrences are where it uses the noun “witness”, and the third is where it says “to testify.” The verb form of marturia means to testify or to be a witness. John (the baptist, not the apostle) came as a witness about the light (Jesus). He isn’t the savior, but his purpose was to help point people to the savior and tell people about him.

But why is this important? You too are a witness! Often when around believers in Jesus, you may hear them talk about having or sharing their testimony. A believer’s testimony is their own personal story about how they came into a relationship with Jesus and about what He has done in their life. Every person has a testimony to share; we are all witnesses of what God has done in our own lives and the lives of others around us.

We need to share what we witness so that we, like John the baptist, can be a witness to testify concerning Jesus. We aren’t Jesus, but our purpose in life is to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection with others that we meet. We don’t have to be martyrs to be witnesses; we can simply tell others our story and how we have seen God’s glory in our lives. We are Jesus’ witnesses here on earth, so that others might learn about Him through us and what we have witnessed.

Widow - Ignoring Her Needs is Eternally Serious

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 7, 2013 0 comments

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words”. This great quote has been attributed to church father Saint Francis of Assisi. It is oft-quoted in seminary and other Christian circles. But many of you may be wondering what he is talking about. Isn’t preaching what the pastor does when he gets up in front of the church every Sunday morning and SPEAKS? Well, actually that is just a small aspect of preaching. A pastor can preach an amazing sermon on discipline, but if he is a glutton, lazy, or addicted to something, you’re not likely to put a lot of stock in his words. If he speaks about love, fidelity, or integrity, yet has an affair or physically harms his wife, his words are pointless. To preach is simply to proclaim, and we make much louder proclamations with our actions than we do with our words. Sometimes, words might be necessary. But you can often proclaim without them!

In the early Christian churches, self-righteousness was a major problem. There were people, namely the teachers of the law, who loved to tout their knowledge and legalism yet failed to live according to what they knew or taught. They fell in love with all that their positions afforded them in the eyes of the world, and some went so far as to kill Jesus because his truth was a threat to everything they loved. Because they failed to see their error in living, Jesus spoke of them with harsh words. “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely” (Mark 12:38-40). Friends, this is the Creator and Judge of the universe stating that those who exploit the most vulnerable among us will be punished MOST severely. I’d say we better pay attention.

James, the brother of Jesus, addresses the issue of self-righteous legalism in his letter to the early Jewish Christians who had been scattered due to persecution. He tells them that you can’t just hear, know, and believe the word, because all of that is meaningless if you don’t “do what it says” (James 1:22). He explains further that “anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (vv. 23-24). If you can’t remember what you look like, you wasted your time looking in the mirror. If you don’t DO what the word says, you’ve wasted time gaining knowledge that can only puff up your reputation at best. For those who argued over what exactly it is that God wants his followers to do in response to the word they receive, James leaves no room for discussion. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (v. 27). If you want to live God’s Word, start with caring for orphans and widows.

In addition to Jesus and James, the Apostle Paul took the care of widows seriously. He devoted nearly a fifth of his first letter to young Timothy to specific instructions about how the church should care for widows (1 Tim. 5:1-16). Three different times, he references the church’s responsibility to care for widows who are “really in need” (vv. 3, 5, and 16). This qualifying phrase was used to refer to those widows who have not only lost their husbands, but also have no children or grandchildren to take care of them. It was assumed that any widow that did have relatives would be taken care of by them. Just how strongly was it assumed? Paul says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (v. 8). Wow! That is a strong warning.

The Biblical message about caring for the needs of widows is clear. We can’t afford to ignore them! For all of you young people out there, you may very well be in a position at some point to care for a widow in your family. So many today seem to just want to pass the responsibility off to others, be they family members, friends, or assisted living facilities. I urge you to heed Paul’s warning about those who don’t take care of their own family members. For all believers, I challenge you to think about how you care for orphans and widows. While the Bible’s word for “widow” is very specific for a woman whose husband has passed away, I would also encourage you to examine your heart for serving others who are vulnerable, such as children who have been abused or neglected and single mothers whose husbands or partners have simply abandoned them when they were needed most. Even if a vulnerable person is such because of her personal consequences, I don’t believe that should change how we serve her. Friends, ignoring the needs of a widow or vulnerable person among us will have eternal consequences. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be punished most severely, be like one who forgets my own face, or one who is worse than an unbeliever. It’s time for the church to BE what we say we know and believe.


Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 4, 2013 0 comments

I would guess that everyone reading this knows somebody who is a widow. What is a widow? Simply put, it is a woman who has lost her husband to death. Regardless of the circumstances of the husband’s death, this puts the widow in a difficult place in life. She may need to get a job, or a better job, as the sole income for the household; she may now be the only parent to their children; she has lost her emotional companion; etc.

In the book of Ruth in the Bible, we meet three widows. Naomi was living in the land of Moab when her husband died. Her two sons also died, leaving behind widows Ruth and Orpah. In the culture at that time, a widow was completely dependent on others. She would have no way to make an income, outside of prostituting herself, without the help of a man. Having no husband or sons, Naomi has nothing. She encourages her two daughters-in-law to return to their own families and remarry. Orpah does that, but Ruth continues on the journey with Naomi until they reach their new life in Bethlehem.

Naomi is very bitter at her life situation. She’s so bitter, in fact, that she asks people to call her by the name Mara, which means “bitter” in Hebrew. Ruth, however, desires to make a living for her and Naomi. She goes out to glean wheat, which was basically picking up the leftover stalks that the harvesters missed. It just so happens that God has a plan for her, and Ruth meets a man named Boaz who owns the field she’s gleaning in. Boaz redeems their family by marrying Ruth, and one of their descendants (many years later) is Jesus. I would encourage you to read the entire book of Ruth for yourself (it’s only 4 chapters), since there’s so much more to it than this brief overview.

So what is my point in telling you this story? If you are a widow yourself, or if you know one, God can and will still use that situation for His glory. If Ruth had taken the easy route and gone back to live with her family in Moab, she never would have met Boaz in Bethlehem and become an ancestor of Jesus, the savior of the world! God took what looked to be a miserable situation, where these three women had no men to take care of them, and used it for His glory in a mighty way. He can use your life too if you let him, regardless of your circumstances.