Liberty vs Freedom

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 30, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
These two words, liberty and freedom, appear to be the same thing on the surface, but really there is a difference.

According to Merriam Webster, freedom can be defined as “the quality or state of being free, as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” Freedom is the power to decide your actions. Liberty can be defined as “the power to do or choose what you want to.” So basically, liberty is being able to do what you want to do, while freedom is the power to have that liberty. Clear as mud, right?

As a person living in America, we have both liberty and freedom, politically speaking. We are able to do what we want, and we can decide our own actions. But, as I wrote about last week, because of God’s natural law, every choice and action has consequences, whether good or bad.

For example, I have the freedom to decide to steal an item from a store. I have the liberty to be able to do that. But, natural law says that at some point I will reap the consequences of those actions. Pehaps I will be caught and forced to serve jail time, or at least return the stolen item. Or perhaps the consequence will be a nagging guilt for doing what I know to be wrong. Even though I have the freedom to decide to steal and the liberty to do it, I will reap the consequences of those choices.

Spiritually, things work basically the same way. Every person has the freedom to decide whether they will believe in Jesus Christ, and the freedom to decide whether they will truly follow Him with their whole life or simply be a Christian in name only. In the United States, each person has the liberty to be able to follow Jesus. However, in a country that does not approve of Christianity (such as China, or some Middle Eastern countries), the people have freedom but not liberty. A person in China is free to decide to follow Jesus, but they don’t have the liberty to do so - politically. They can still follow Jesus but it needs to be much more undercover than here in the U.S. for example.

But, who grants us either freedom or liberty? Politically speaking, it is the government that we are under - city, state, and federal. We must all abide by the laws of the land or face the consequences. Spiritually, it is only Christ who can give us freedom. Galatians 5:1 explains it like this: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

We have freedom to decide our actions because Christ has died to set us free from sin. We can decide whether to live in sin, or to live in grace. Galatians 5:4-5 says, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Our choice is God or sin; law or grace.

Liberty, being able to do what we want to do, comes only from Christ as well. Often referred to as the “do do” passage, Romans 7:15-17 says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” That is the Apostle Paul wrestling with liberty right there, and I think every one of us can identify with his struggle. We know what we should do, but we are not able to do it because of sin in our lives. On our own and stuck in our sin nature, we don’t have the liberty to do what God would want us to do or to be obedient to Him. But with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have liberty to receive the Spirit’s strength, and at least do better with our obedience to God’s calling.

What do freedom and liberty look like in your own life? Have you been set free from the sin that holds you captive (Hebrews 12:1)? Do you have the liberty to be obedient to what God is calling you to do?

A Life That Fueled Revival - Robert McAllister

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 29, 2014 0 comments

by Michael Homula

Today’s Biblical Truth at Gettysburg post is written by my good friend and brother in Christ, Jim Lamason. Jim will be involved in the retreats we will lead to Gettysburg and he is an expert and author on New Jersey regiments in the Civil War and at Gettysburg. - Michael Homula

The history of the United States of America is filled many notable personalities. From the founding fathers through the intervening years into the present day. Most of us know of these men – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ford, Rockefeller, Roosevelt, Eisenhower – the list goes on and on.

However, and perhaps most importantly, the history of the United States is also filled with “common” men. Men who were born, raised, had families and served this nation with steadfastness, courage, honor, and duty. Most of them relied on a deep faith in God that gave them the strength to endure incredible hardship and do extraordinary things in times of great strife and war. Unfortunately, most of these men remain unknown to most of us.

One such man, long forgotten along with those who served with him at Gettysburg, is Robert McAllister. Born in 1813 of Scottish descent in Juanita County, Pennsylvania, outside of what we know to be State College, his dad was a farmer and his mother raised young Robert and his brother Thompson. Growing up in a household with a Christian faith as the center piece, the core values of faith in God and Jesus Christ served him well.

He grew up doing the usual things that young boys and then men did during this time in our history. Hard work, daily devotions and prayer time with family developed in the young man a rock solid foundation that would serve him all of his days. Notably, through the four long and bloody years of the American Civil War.

McAllister married his wife Ellen and began to migrate east, eventually settling in Oxford, New Jersey. There they had two daughters, Henrietta and Sarah, who soon become the apple of their father’s eye. It was during this period that McAllister developed his military and leadership skills, recruiting and training militia for both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He made a living in the railroad construction business and it kept him busy. Through the economic difficulties that occurred in the late 1850’s he kept the business running, managing to keep as many workers employed as possible. He also saw to it that those who worked for the company had housing, though rough and primitive even for the times. This was all the more challenging during the darker times, such as when a business building was burned to the ground during employee unrest.

When Civil War broke out, McAllister walked into his business office and spoke with his partner who was also well trained in militia tactics. His partner upon thinking it through said, “Robert, you go, for you will have a greater influence than I will. I will see to the business, and come along shortly.”

Commissioned as a Lt Colonel in the 1st New Jersey regiment of volunteers, McAllister was upset not to be given command of the regiment. He noted his unhappiness with the decision in a letter to his daughter. That letter is one of over 900 he would write during the war. Those same letters document his steady, sure approach to the equipping, training, and leading of his regiment to ensure its preparation for the battles that were looming.

In August of 1862, after skillfully leading his men during the Peninsula Campaign, he was finally offered the command he so deeply desired and readily accepted. With his appointment the 11th New Jersey Regiment of Volunteers, to which his name is forever linked, was born.

McAllister cared deeply for his men. Born out of his faith in Christ, he loved them and cared for their every need, even in ways that may not have been clear to them. With an eye towards their survival he used the same keen eye for detail he had practiced during his militia service, and in the 1st New Jersey, discipline and detail were important. Every button was to be in the right place, the accoutrements that the men needed to carry (ammunition, caps, and other equipment) were to be clean and ready for use. All weapons were to be maintained and always at the ready for the deadly work that was sure to come. This dedication to detail earned him the moniker “Mother McAllister” from his men. At the time it was not a term of endearment.

He led the 11th New Jersey into action for the first time at Fredericksburg in December of 1862 and the New Jersey boys performed admirably, suffering only light casualties as the rest of the Army of the Potomac suffered a disastrous defeat. This first taste of fire, death, and human suffering revealed to his men why McAllister was so detailed. From then on, “Mother McAllister” became a term of endearment that would follow him the rest of his days. McAllister’s dedication to the welfare and care of his men increased their devotion to him.

McAllister met regularly with the regimental chaplain for prayer, Bible study, and Sunday services. At first his men resisted but as time wore on, it became clear that it was wise for them to join in. McAllister never verbally ordered his men to do this; they just realized that it would be good to do so. While McAllister never drank nor uttered a foul oath, he did not condemn the men if they wanted to drink or play cards, things he himself would never do. He endeavored to bring on the change by example and deed. As a result, two massive revivals that swept the entire Union Army began in McAllister’s regiment.

The Sunday before Gettysburg, the chaplain of the 12th New Hampshire preached his sermon from Philippians 3:14: “Forgetting what is behind I press on towards the mark, the upward call in Christ Jesus.” Those two words, “press on”, became Colonel McAllister’s watchword for the night of hard marching to the fields just south of Gettysburg on the night of July 1, 1863.

The following day, July 2, found McAllister and his regiment on the Emmitsburg Road among the farm structures of the Klingle (Klingel) family farm, absorbing the brunt of the Confederate assault as it rolled up the Union line. McAllister and his regiment were steadfast as they held their own alongside men of two other Union brigades. It would cost the 11th New Jersey dearly.

The 11th New Jersey Monument along the Emmitsburg Road in Gettysburg

The regiment lost every officer above the rank of 1st Lieutenant and, by the end of the day, was commanded by John Schoonover, the regimental bookkeeper.

McAllister would recover from his wounds at Gettysburg and return to duty by August of 1863. He would rise to the rank of Major General by the end of the war. The Army would pester him to stay but he would muster out in July of 1865 and he would die on February 26, 1891 at the age of 78.

What can we can take from McAllister’s life and his faith?

Perseverance. In the face of incredible odds, both in his life and the horror of the battlefield, McAllister persevered – buoyed by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Stewardship. In the battles of life, just like the battles of war, God requires us to put to good use all He has given us and all He has taught us. McAllister put his faith to good use through his actions, and the care and discipline of his men. This not only enabled them to perform courageously and well in combat, saving many lives, but McAllister’s acts of faith and love spread a fire of revival through the entire Union Army that led to lives saved for eternity.

Robert McAllister’s life, courage under fire and skill as a Christ following leader of men are a living testimony. His life matched his faith and belief in Jesus Christ. His actions reflected the light, life and love of Jesus.

Does yours?

- Jim Lamason

Author of the forthcoming book Into the Vortex of Fire - an historical novel about the 11th New Jersey in the Gettysburg Campaign.

A 7-Letter Word

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 28, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever had extra of something? Whether it was just a little or way more than you can ever use – what did you do with it? How you decided to handle that “extra” could reveal if you value control, or freedom.

FREEDOM is a 7-letter word that means you are able to make choices without constraint or restriction, and carries with it the understanding that you are free from being slave to anything or anyone.

The amazing thing about freedom is we can use our freedom to choose slavery, or restriction, or control. In fact we often do use our freedom to try and control others. Instead of using freedom to promote freedom, we often use freedom to create slavery under our expectations and desires.

Jesus shares two parables that I think illustrate this for us personally, and for the Church as a whole. Check these out in Luke 12:13-21 and Matthew 13:1-23.

Do you notice a contrast between how “seed” or “grain” is handled? In Luke 12, God directly confronts the man who decided to build bigger storehouses for his extra grain. The core of the parable is in regard to selfishness – greedily storing up for one’s self, instead of seeing if there is a need God intended to meet through providing the “extra.” The man didn’t even acknowledge that God provided the extra grain, and just made plans to store it all for himself.

Now let me add a twist to this story for a moment. What do you suppose would happen if this man did decide he should share his grain? If it was already in the storehouses, who would be in charge of getting it out, deciding whom it went to, deciding how much went to whom, etc? All that extra grain would have to funnel through his hands, controlling how much, to whom, and to where the grain would go. Why controlling? Because he already views the grain as HIS grain – he feels it belongs to him, and it is housed on his property. No matter how noble his conscience grew, his hand would still be controlling the flow of “his” grain.

A heart that seeks to store up, and silo up, what God provides as extra is a heart that will definitely control where that extra goes. And isn’t that exactly what we have done with our faith? Haven’t we siloed up the blessings and gifts God has given us into sterile religious buildings? Sure we offer grace and love, and maybe even share bits of our God story with others in our daily lives, but there is always a hook to come back to the “storehouse” – the silo – for more. In essence we have inadvertently built bigger barns to store God and God’s love and transforming power. We have stashed away the music and the art, the prayer, the blessings, the fellowship, and the discipleship in our storehouses. We have even begun to believe that the “real” God stuff happens only in the church barns and church silos. Real followers of Jesus always stop by the church silo every 7 days or less to get their God fix… right?

Now before I go any further, let me affirm that community and community worship is a healthy and can be a vibrant part of our walk with God. It can and should happen. But the fullness of community (sharing life together), and worship (celebrating God’s worth) cannot and should not be contained within a religious building. In fact, that is what was so different about Christianity to begin with – God being alive and living in the hearts of His followers by His Holy Spirit. All other religions had gods who lived in temples or were worshipped at altars, and God through Jesus Christ transformed even that part of His relationship with His people – so that every believer would be the temple of God’s presence. The Bible specifically refers to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There was never intended to be a church silo, or church barn/temple for God after Jesus. When God first interacted with Abraham and then later all of Israel, He used what they knew to help them grasp who He is and how to live with His presence among them. Then he redeemed even the broken cultic idea of gods being worshipped in temples, to create a people who were free to live and worship by the power of His Holy Spirit within them. So the CHURCH is the people, the followers of Jesus Christ, not the buildings. And sharing our faith, community, worship, and God stuff is meant to be everywhere that we are, not just in a 7-day cycle of religious gatherings.

Look at how Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13. His picture of the seed is not something to be stored. Seed is meant to be sown. You cannot sow seed in a barn or silo… well I suppose you could, but it would be meaningless – barns/silos are meant for storing, not growing.

The Farmer sows his seed… where?... where?? EVERYWHERE!

The Kingdom of God is meant to be present and shared everywhere. Jesus doesn’t focus on the seed provided; He focuses on the soil. God provided the seed; God can always provide more seed. The Kingdom of God is never short on seed. Jesus points out that it is the condition of the soil (our hearts) that is important. The soil will either allow the seed to grow, or challenge/kill the seed. The soil doesn’t come to the farmer and ask for seed. The farmer doesn’t do a soil survey before sowing seed there, he doesn’t lecture the soil about letting seed grow, and he doesn’t throw the seed at the ground as hard as he can to force the soil to take it. The farmer sows the seed, the seed is meant to be sown, and wherever it can grow, it will. Do you see the contrast?

Take a moment and ask yourself the following:
- Do I believe what I have is mine, or is it from God and for His purposes?
- Am I living in the freedom Jesus describes as the Kingdom of God – or am I stuck in the silo?
- What would be a good first step for me to live, worship, and share my faith like the farmer Jesus described in Matthew 13?

Issues with Old Earth Creation: The Gap Theory

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 27, 2014 12 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

In the next three weeks, including today, I am going to be addressing three of the more popular ideas about origins and how people try to demonstrate that the earth is really billions of years old. Some believers in Jesus Christ believe in what is popularly known as “Young Earth Creation” where the earth and the universe are really only about 6000 years old. But there are many church pastors and speakers who support the idea that the earth is billions of years old. Why is this? Who is right? How do we tell which is which? In this short series, I will be addressing three major position of “Old Earth Creation” (also known as OEC): The Gap Theory, Progressive Creation, and Theistic Evolution. I will explain what each position is, how they get such a position, and evaluate if it is valid.

Today, I will discuss the Gap Theory. What is this? The Gap Theory is an origins model that suggests that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is a long period of time where Lucifer had dominion over the earth, then he rebelled, and God destroyed it when he defeated Lucifer in a great war in heaven. This destruction is known as “Lucifer’s Flood” and then after this point, the story picks up in Genesis 1:2 and God re-creates the earth now for man instead of for angels. The idea of Lucifer’s fall is frequently found in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28: 13-19.

Now it is interesting to note that these four sections of Scripture are the key ones used to suggest this origins account. But it is interesting to note that nowhere in Scripture does it say when Lucifer fell and became Satan. There is no source to suggest this actually took place. In Genesis 1:31, at the end of Day 6, we see God calling everything he made “very good”. The Hebrew for this describes “done, complete, perfect condition”. This gives rise to the idea that when God made all the angels, including Lucifer, good but at some point between Day 6 and when man fell in Genesis 3, Lucifer rebelled and became Satan. Which of these two is correct? To be honest, we don’t know because we are not told. What we do know is that Satan was in the picture in Genesis 3 and that is it.

But when Lucifer fell and became Satan is actually more of a side point. The real key thing to address about the Gap Theory is the history it speaks about it. The theory suggests an undefined, indefinite period of time between the first two verses of the Bible. Why is this even suggested? The truth is this: the Gap Theory wasn’t around until 200 years ago when many in the scientific community started to demonstrate that the earth was much older than previously expected. And many theologians and preachers did not want to appear foolish in light of these new findings so they had to find some way to understand how God could have made everything while still sounding like it is acceptable with the scientific community. This brings up how the age of the earth is determined from a scientific standpoint. I’ll address just a couple points.

What made the idea of an old earth popular was not Charles Darwin but his predecessor, Charles Lyell, the “Father of Modern Geology”. He falsified erosion rates of Niagara Falls to make the Falls appear older than they actually should be. No one actually knows how old Niagara Falls is because we don’t have a record of mankind being there when the river between Lakes Erie and Ontario got started. But no one really questioned Lyell enough to keep the idea down. I can write a whole series of posts about why science cannot determine the age of the earth and that the dating methods used for such a concept are false, but that is for another time.

Suffice to say is that the pastors and preachers of the time in general did not stand on the authority of Scripture on the account of origins. They did not rise up to challenge Lyell or the leading philosophers which included Darwin, and speak from the authority of Scripture. Instead, they compromised and began to interpret Scripture in light of man’s current “understanding” of nature at the time.

What I find interesting is that for 3300 years between when Moses wrote Genesis and to when these “old earth models” were coming around, the church had always stood on Genesis being historical. The debate in the 1st and 2nd century church was not 6000 years vs millions of years, but 6 days vs instantaneous creation. St. Augustine held to an instantaneous creation because to “limit” God to 6 days was to “limit” his power. But the issue is not how “could” God have created everything. God could have made it any way he wanted. That’s not the point. The point is “God said he made it in the way he did in Genesis 1. Do you believe him or not?” And so when for 3300 years, mankind has the wrong impression about Genesis, yet when science finally achieved the level it got to at that point, that men who did not fear God nor honor his word were able to figure out what 3300 years of church history had wrong? One thing is clear, if the earth is millions of years old, someone is lying. Either God lied about how he made the universe of man is lying about how old the earth really is.

The Gap Theory has other issues that they share with Progressive Creation and Theistic Evolution and I will deal with those issues in the next two posts. But I will make clear that the Gap Theory completely rests on the “modern scientific philosophies” instead of solid Biblical reasoning and it rests on ideas where Scripture is silent. It is very unwise to build a theology or even philosophy on a mere “could be”. Because time and time again, that “could be” actually sounds like a very familiar phrase: “Did God really say…?” Do not be fooled. God must be true, even if every man is a liar. I will stand by God’s word and the authority it has.

Can You Live Without a Liver?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 26, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The liver is remarkable! It’s such an important part of our bodies and has held a significant place in religious practices in ancient times. This practice of haruspex is even mentioned in Ezekiel 21:21. You can read more on the religious connection to the liver here. There is also significance in the Hebrew ceremonies outlined in the Book of Leviticus concerning the liver here, here, and here as well as a few other places in Leviticus and Exodus. At one time, the liver was believed to be the source of blood, so its connection to life and its significance in religious practices is easy to discern. Let’s move on to the physical attributes of this marvelous organ.

In terms of weight, the liver is the largest organ in the human body, and for the average sized male it would be approximately 3 pounds. One-third of the cardiac output in one minute passes through the liver. Because of many of its functions, it is often referred to as the 'body's chemical factory'. That’s because this 3-pound mass in your upper right quadrant does some 500 different jobs—making, breaking down, or processing huge quantities of chemistry in your body. This amazing piece of hardware is something you cannot live without. On December 31, 2013, my family found out just how important this chemical factory is when my uncle, Mark, passed away at age 54 due to liver failure. He fought for years and went through countless procedures and drugs to counteract the huge number of problems that arise when one’s liver does not function properly.

Here is a short list of things the liver does (in no particular order):
1. Metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, thus providing energy and nutrients (this in and of itself is a very long list of functions—metabolizing each of these various compounds)
2. Produces proteins and monitors the supply and demand of proteins
3. Stores vitamins, minerals, and sugars (again, a long list of different things stored)
4. Filters the blood and helps remove harmful chemicals and bacteria
5. Creates bile which breaks down fats which is stored in the gall bladder
6. Helps to assimilate and store fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K as well as Vitamin B-12
7. Stores extra blood which can be quickly released when needed as it can shunt whole blood with all of its constituents into the general circulation (it has approximately 15% of all blood in the body at any given time)
8. Creates serum proteins and constructs blood protein which maintain fluid balance and act as carriers
9. Helps maintain electrolyte and water balance
10. Creates immune substances such as gamma globulin
11. Breaks down and eliminates excess hormones
12. Provides blood clotting factors
13. Breaks down ammonia and other toxins created in the colon by bacteria which aids in preventing death
14. Helps to maintain blood pressure
15. Constructs cholesterol and estrogen
16. Reconstructs hormones
17. Synthesizes urea
18. Interconverts amino acids
19. Constructs 50,000 systems of enzymes to govern metabolic activity throughout the body
20. Removes damaged red blood cells and will take this on as the primary site for this if the spleen is absent
21. Converts the thyroid hormone thyroxine into its more active form triiodothyronine (inadequate conversion may lead to hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, weight gain, poor memory and other debilitating conditions)
22. Creates glucose tolerance factor from chromium, niacin and possibly glutathione (GTF is needed for the hormone insulin to properly regulate blood-sugar levels)
23. Removes some fat-soluble toxins from the body
24. Activates B vitamins into their biologically active coenzyme forms (virtually every nutrient must be biotransformed by the liver into its proper biochemical form before the nutrient can be stored, transported or used in cellular metabolism)
25. Stores copper and zinc
26. Manufactures carnitine (the only known bionutrient which can escort fats into the mitochondria where they are used to generate ATP energy) from lysine and other nutrients, converts lactic acid from a toxic waste to an important storage fuel (the liver will take lactic acid from the bloodstream and convert it into glycogen)
27. Serves as the main glucose buffer, preventing high or low extremes of blood sugar
28. Converts essential fatty acids such as GLA, EPA, and DHA into the lipoprotein, main poison-detoxifying organ in the body (why it can be harmful to take pharmaceuticals).

This list goes on and on, but the important thing to note is that nearly every one of these functions cannot be done by another part of the body and without nearly every one of these functions, you cannot live.

So this makes me ponder the possibilities of it being the result of a series of accidental copy mistakes in the genetic material of our ancestors. Is it possible that this chemical factory that takes on 1/3 of our blood supply every minute and generates, breaks down, regulates, or in some fashion has an influence on nearly every chemical in your body exists in its current form by a natural process that was nothing more than errors in code? Without anyone one of these functions, the human being would not be very happy and would likely die in a short period. The liver is a marvel.

The Importance of Natural Law - It Does the Will of the King

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1 comments

by Logan Ames

I think it’s safe to say that our culture is and always has been obsessed with the idea of kingship. Two of the most popular board games out there, chess and checkers, involve kings as the most powerful pieces. Popular movies and books involve kings or the quests of others to gain kingdoms. We have a popular fast food restaurant called Burger King whose slogan tells us what we all want to hear, that we can “have it our way”. As kids, we played a game called “King of the Hill” long before it was a TV show. A popular song from several decades ago was called “King of Rock”. Sports are no different. This month, the favorite in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals was the Los Angeles Kings and the best basketball player in the world, who also happened to play in the NBA Finals, is affectionately nicknamed “King James”. In other words, we give our attention to just about anything that has the word “king” in it. Ultimately, most of us probably wish we could be king or queen of something.

Stop and think about why that is. If you could be king or queen, what would be the best part of it for you? Sure, the money and material wealth would be nice. But I know for me, the thing I’d enjoy the most is getting to make the rules, not just for myself but also for all those under my authority. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If you get to make the rules, then no one can tell you what to do and anyone who disobeys you experiences the consequences. It may at times seem like people are getting away with things they shouldn’t, but they always end up reaping what they sow because of the laws set by the king.

God’s natural law is certainly at work in one very interesting book of the Bible. I say that it is very interesting because God is actually not mentioned even one time in it. I’m talking about the Book of Esther, so named because it is the story of the rise of a Jewish captive girl all the way to queen of the powerful Persian Empire. Esther is not her birth name, but was given to her in captivity. Take time to read and familiarize yourself with the story. I will try to give some highlights, but there is so much I will have to leave out. Parts of the story will absolutely disgust you and even make you question why God would allow them. But let’s face it – sin is disgusting and sometimes the WHOLE picture is needed to see how God’s natural law is at work.

The story takes place after God has already allowed the Jews to be taken captive because of their disobedience. When the enemies of God and his people have the power, bad things happen. King Xerxes gets angry when the current queen disrespects him and essentially removes the throne from her. He then orders that all the beautiful virgins within his realm be brought to the palace, where they will undergo a year of beauty treatments just for the one night they will each go in and sleep with the king. The virgin who pleased the king the most would be named queen (2:4). I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Whether it was legal in that kingdom or not, this is rape. Esther was a captive girl whose parents had likely been murdered, and the only family we know of that she had left was her cousin, Mordecai. Now she was in a foreign land, controlled by those who do not worship God, and was forced to sleep with a crazy king. This is where many of you wonder how a loving God could allow such atrocities in the life of an innocent girl.

Let me say again that natural law says there are consequences for not obeying God. There is no evidence that Esther’s consequences were a direct result of her own sins, but what happened to her and many other innocent Jews was in fact a direct result of the nation’s disobedience toward God and his laws. But even in the midst of their oppression, God and his law were still at work. The king was pleased with Esther more than anyone else and he made her queen (2:17). She didn’t know it yet, but God was using her submission to the evil worldly authority and the wickedness of the captors to bring Esther into a position where she could save the Jews from being wiped off the face of the earth. Mordecai, also a captive Jew, enters the scene and we see that he sits outside the king’s gate. He uncovers a plot by the king’s officers to assassinate King Xerxes. Trusting that God is still in control over the whole thing, he tells of the plot rather than let the evil king die. His actions to save the king are written down, but nothing is done for him at the time. Instead, one of the king’s arrogant nobles, Haman, is honored. The king issues a decree that everyone kneel down and pay Haman honor, but Mordecai refuses. This enrages Haman to the point that he essentially becomes Hitler way before Hitler’s time. He seeks to kill all Jews and has a gallows built 75 feet high on which he plans to hang Mordecai. He makes a deal with the king and all of these evil plans are put into an edict.

Mordecai hears of the edict to kill all the Jews and asks for Esther’s help since she has been elevated to such a position. Esther initially expresses fear, knowing that even approaching the king without being invited is punishable by death unless he extends the golden scepter (4:11), which serves as a foreshadowing of Christ, who allows us to be spared from the wrath of the King. However, Mordecai shows his faith and dependence on the natural law of God, who promised to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3). He tells Esther that if she chooses to remain silent, she will not be spared but “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place” (4:14). What faith! Did God speak to him on this matter? It’s possible, but it seems to me that Mordecai just had faith that King Xerxes isn’t the TRUE King, and that the true King’s will is going to be done no matter what! His reminder of that truth spurs Esther to courage and heroism. She decides to go to the king, saying, “And if I perish, I perish” (4:16).

The rest of the story shows how God was in control even when it appeared that King Xerxes and Haman were. The king can’t sleep one night and asks an attendant to read him the record of his reign, probably to satisfy his vanity. In the midst of this, he is reminded of how Mordecai exposed an assassination plot. He realizes Mordecai was never honored and orders Haman, the very man who built a gallows on which he was to hang Mordecai, to pay honor to Mordecai. Haman is obviously upset and tells his friends and wife about it. Even they have begun to see that you don’t mess with the natural law of God. They tell him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!” (6:13) They recognized that, even with all the wealth and power of the world, they were up against God and they had no chance. His purposes will be fulfilled no matter what!

The king grants Esther peace for all of her people and asks who had arranged to have them killed. When Esther reveals it was Haman, the king is filled with rage. Haman chooses to beg Esther for his life and in doing so, appears to be falling on top of her. The king then orders Haman to be hanged on the very gallows he had planned to use for Mordecai (7:10). It doesn’t end there. The king issues a new decree that authorizes the Jews using force to attack those who had planned to destroy them, and it “just happens” to be for the same day that Haman had originally had the king issue a decree giving them a right to kill the Jews. Wow! God might not be mentioned in the book, but the good and bad consequences related to those who adhere to natural law and those who don’t could not be more obvious!

Just in case you are wondering, King Xerxes was not spared his consequences. In terms of leadership for his people, he was a failure. His people were mostly destroyed by the Jews. His reign as king was then cut short by his assassination by one of his guards. The book ends with the telling of how Mordecai, who once put on sackcloth to mourn what was legally ordered to happen to all the Jews and sat at the king’s gate every day, was exalted to second in command of the entire kingdom. When trials and troubles were at their worst, the faith and courage of Mordecai and Esther rested on God’s promises and his natural law that determines what will happen FOR those who obey him and TO those who don’t. It should be a lesson for us in the world today as we look around and see the degradation and destruction of the world. It may seem like things keep getting worse, but our choice is still the same – to obey God or to go against him. If we disobey, God’s natural law says we can’t win, no matter what temporary comfort we receive. If we obey, his natural law says we can’t lose, no matter how desperate our circumstances seem. Let us remember that God is the true KING over all and his will SHALL ALWAYS be done.

Why Do I Believe the Bible Over Other Religious Texts? Reason 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 24, 2014 2 comments

by Bill Seng

Reason 4) Prophecy

The Bible reveals truths about the future that continue to be verified. One must be very careful in interpreting Scriptures that were not fulfilled in Biblical times, but simply going through the prophecies that were fulfilled and recorded in Scripture is quite amazing.

There are a lot of prophecies that were fulfilled throughout Scripture, so I will give you a good sampling of some that I found to be especially noteworthy. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram. When Abram falls asleep, the Lord tells him that his descendants will become slaves in a foreign land, but that he would deliver them (15:13-14). This prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Moses when God sent plagues and the Israelites were led to safety through the Red Sea.

The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah predicted the fall of Tyre and Sidon (Ezekiel 26, Zechariah 9). Some of the fascinating facts about these prophecies are that (1) King Nebuchadnezzar failed to conquer Tyre and Sidon. Nebuchadnezzar, himself, was a very powerful king and the fact that these cities endured through his attack is amazing. (2) After Nebuchadnezzar’s siege, the inhabitants of Tyre moved to an island and built 150 ft. walls! (3) But along came a certain military genius by the name of Alexander the Great, who laid siege to the city for seven months. Alexander fulfilled the prophecies that the city would be completely destroyed and laid to waste.

Jesus made several predictions throughout his ministry among his disciples, but his most noteworthy prophecy (other than his death and resurrection) was that of the destruction of the Temple of God in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:2). His prophecy of the destruction of the Temple was fulfilled in 70 A. D. as the Jews attempted an uprising against the Roman government. The Romans sieged Jerusalem, resulting in people starving to death, and they ultimately took the city and completely annihilated the Temple. Now, what about today?

One must be careful in interpreting the fulfillment of prophecies today. Isaiah 66:7-8 reads, “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation brought forth in a moment?” Many people take these verses as a prophecy concerning the rebirth of Israel, which happened in 1948. Strangely, it appeared as though Israel had been reborn in a day.

To me, it seems as though most of the specific prophecies of the New Testament were in relation to the Second Coming of Christ. Because of that, some of the prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. However, many warnings were given to the disciples that were fulfilled both in their lifetime and ours. For instance, John 16:2 states, “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” In the book of Acts, Saul oversaw the murder of Christians because he believed his condemnation of Jesus’ followers was in obedience to God. Muslims have believed that Christians are deceived by Satan and to carry out judgment against them is a service to God. In India, the Hindu extremists persecute and murder members of the Church because they believe they are serving their gods. Jesus’ words were spot on.

Romans 1 states a recurring pattern for people and nations that reject God. It states that they suppress the truth that is clearly seen (18-20). It says that they claim to be wise but become fools (22) and that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (25). As a result, it reveals that God gives unrepentant sinners over to all sorts of depravity with an emphasis on homosexuality and the worship of created things (24-31). Romans 1 closes with a horrifying revelation that the people doing such wicked things are well aware of God’s commandments and not only violate them but commend those who also violate God’s law (32). I think America is in big, big trouble.

To close, I want to remind the reader that the unfulfilled prophecies in Scripture are in relation to the Second Coming of Christ, which will be at the end of history. Some people might mock the notion that Jesus is returning to judge the world, and they claim that the Bible’s prophecies concerning the end have already failed. I would urge you, if you are one of these people, to heed the words of Peter: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s delay in bringing judgment is for our good so that the full number of those who would repent do actually repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Much more could be said about the fulfillment of prophecies in relation to Scripture, but this is just a brief overview to give you an idea about why I believe the words of the Bible. Books of the Bible like, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., were accepted as being inspired by God because their words of prophecy were indeed fulfilled, and not just in part. Their prophecies were 100% accurate to the finest detail, meaning that they had to be inspired by God. If the prophets of the Bible were correct about events that were already fulfilled, should we not trust their words in relation to future events? Should we not trust that the Bible itself is divinely inspired?

(Some of the information for this blog was taken from Ray Comfort’s book Scientific Facts in the Bible, 2001, Bridge-Logos Publishers. Pgs 39-41)

The Importance of Natural Law

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 23, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
It has been said that the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. While taxes are a certainty in our culture today and since many years ago, death has always been a certainty for all human beings, ever since sin entered the world back in Genesis 3. But why is that? Why is it absolutely certain that every human will die? Because of natural law.

When God created the world, He created it with just one law: “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17). The consequence for breaking that law is in it - if the man ate from that one specific tree, he would certainly die. The Hebrew text for that phrase (“you will certainly die”) can be literally translated as “dying you will die.” It uses the same root word twice in a row for emphasis on that fact.

After man sinned for the first time, sin entered the entire world and was prevalent throughout all of creation and in every human being to come. The natural law that God created for the world continued to come into play: every human being will reap the consequences of their actions, according to God’s stated laws, some of which can be found in the Ten Commandments. There are some laws in the Bible that were meant just for the Jewish people of that day, but many are meant for all people in all times. To interpret which is which, we need to be able to read and understand the Bible; but that’s for another blog post.

If a person breaks any one of God’s laws, he or she will experience the consequences. For example, let’s say a person steals something from a store, breaking God’s law against that. If they get caught, they will immediately face the consequences of shoplifting, which could be anything from simply returning the stolen item to spending time in jail, depending on the civil law for that crime. But what if they don’t get caught, and they don’t see the immediate consequences of going against God’s law? According to God’s natural law, that person will still experience a consequence at some point, whether it’s simply the guilt of knowing they committed theft, or that action causing a ripple effect of other consequences in their life.

Because we are human beings living in this world of sin, we know that we cannot break God’s natural law. Every sin will have a consequence, and the eventual consequence of any sin is death (Romans 6:23a). But, even though no human can break God’s natural law, fortunately God can! He is the only one who can give us a way out of that ultimate consequence - death. As the second half of Romans 6:23 says, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus Christ was the only human who was also able to get around God’s natural law - because He is fully God as well. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, we have the opportunity to have faith in Him and escape the ultimate consequence. Our bodies will still die on this earth, but we will have eternal life in heaven forever.

But does that mean we’re outside of God’s natural law on this earth, simply because we believe in Jesus? Nope. Natural law applies to this earth, and all humans (whether believers in Jesus or not) will reap the consequences of their actions. Even though we may know what we should do, that doesn’t mean we can do it - see Romans 7:14-25 for more on this. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” This passage doesn’t specify whether the person is a follower of Jesus or not; God’s natural law applies to everyone, because we have all sinned.

But natural law isn’t just negative; it can have positive consequences as well. Good actions will have positive consequences. Living a life that is as Christ-like as much as possible and sharing the gospel with others has the consequence of sharing the love of God. Putting your extra money to paying down your debts has the consequence of financial freedom. Similarly, waiting to make a large purchase until you have saved the money, instead of going into debt, also gives financial freedom.

So why is natural law important? We need to realize that every action has a consequence. Good actions will have positive consequences, and actions that go against God’s laws will have negative consequences. That is God’s natural law, and it applies to all human beings, whether you like it or not. When you break God’s law, you will have to pay a price. What actions are considered sin and breaking God’s law aren’t up to us as humankind or as a society; it’s up to God, and based on what He says in His Word.

Christianity and Gettysburg - Really?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 22, 2014 0 comments

by Michael Homula

When Jason DeZurik and I first began to sort out what God might have planned for the Biblical Truth at Gettysburg ministry at Worldview Warriors, I was stirred deeply. I had been leading men to Gettysburg for nearly 10 years on mini-retreats and they were fun, educational, spiritually enlightening and just great fellowship. But, I knew they could be so much more.

When I started writing this series, I shared that it was my heart’s desire to be in conversation with Christians about the extraordinary events and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ during the days leading up to, during, and after the epic Battle of Gettysburg. In this conversation, it is my earnest hope, we will find ourselves challenged to live out our faith in a more actionable and effective way.

As Christians, if we are ever to think with discernment and wisdom about the American past, in this context Gettysburg, it is imperative that we learn good historical thinking skills. The first step to thinking historically is understanding the difference between the “past” and “history”. It is a critical difference.

The past is everything that humans have said or thought or done until now. The past is almost infinitely vast and intensely complex. We are only afforded blurred glimpses or vague shadows of the past – that is all that has survived. History, on the other hand, is the effort to piece together the evidence that remains in order to make sense of the past. I like Christian historian John Lukacs’ simple definition of history as the “remembered past.”

History presents us with a nearly infinite storehouse of compelling human stories, but I am convinced that if the study of history is to be truly educational and spiritual, it must be much more than that. An educational and spiritual study of history, a Christian historical view if you will, must alter the way we think, challenge our hearts and change who we are. Our encounter with the past, with those people who lived during the Battle of Gettysburg and the events surrounding the epic struggle of the Civil War, should be a relentless quest for a heart of wisdom - “a conversation with the dead about what we should value and how we should live,” (David Harlan). As Christ followers, we can’t settle for less. Genesis 32 tells how Jacob wrestled with God the whole night through, telling the Lord, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (v. 26). I can’t begin to fully uncover the depth and intent of that story’s meaning, but I think of it often when I walk the fields and study the people, places and events that forever changed our nation at Gettysburg. Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and an accomplished historian, encourages us to believe “that there will always be gifts to be received from the past.” We must seek them persistently and relentlessly. Like Jacob, we must resolve not to let go until the Lord has blessed us.

I am NOT suggesting that we pray for special revelation from God, asking him to disclose hidden meanings from the past. I can find nothing in scripture that the Holy Spirit will reveal American history to us but the Bible is clear that the Spirit is given in order to convict us of “sin, and righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8). The purpose of wrestling with the past, again in this context the people and events at Gettysburg, until the Lord blesses us is to study history in such a way that it ultimately exposes our hearts. Our ultimate aim is not to simply understand the past for its own sake or vainly attempt to distill lessons from the past that help us get what we want in the present. No, our ultimate goal is to see both God and ourselves more clearly, to the glory of God and for our sanctification.

The goal is to get wisdom. As Proverbs 4:7 puts it, “Wisdom is the principal thing.” If wisdom is our goal, we must figure out how to scrutinize the past so that it will lead to a more intense and Godly scrutiny of our hearts in light of God’s Word. This is exactly what it means to have a Christian historical view. To think about history as Christ followers.

The weight and intensity of the past at Gettysburg is jarring. It is palpable. You can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it and smell it as you walk the fields. It is not easily described and unless you have been there you can’t fully appreciate it. When we walk the battlefield we can feel the nearly tangible presence of the 170,000 men who clashed there, and the 2,200 inhabitants of Gettysburg who dealt with the aftermath. I don’t mean literally that their spirits hover there (despite the ridiculous number of “Gettysburg Ghost Tours” that exploit the hallowed ground financially). There is something deeply spiritual about walking the ground of a famous historical event. Walking over the ground at Gettysburg, “heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for us”, connects us to those whose footsteps we follow.

It is an experience that will jolt us out of our own narrow frame of reference. Just ask Jason. Gettysburg, the landscape and the stories of the men and what they did there, has a way of suddenly making us feel small. That is a good thing because an integral component of wisdom is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge ought to lead to great humility.

Growth: A Uniquely Divine Occurrence

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 21, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

When you see a tree, or a flower, or a particularly eye-catching fern – what crosses your mind?

I mean after you appreciate its cool, beautiful, or mesmerizing appearance, what thought comes next? Do you just go on to the next item in your day? Or do you stop and wonder about how that life form got there?

Do you think about how all of its cells work together to give it shape, and keep it alive? Do you reflect on the theory of evolution and wonder what this life mutated from – or is mutating into?

Have you ever pondered the growth of something? Not just the mechanics of growth, but the unique ability to GROW! Seed becomes sprout, become seedling, becomes juvenile plant, becomes reproductive organism that thrives, provides food or shade or pleasure, and spreads its seed to give life to other organisms.

GROWTH is transformation, from a seed, to a life form. GROWTH is amazingly resilient in the face of adversity. GROWTH is steady unrelenting progress toward maturity. GROWTH is uniquely beyond our control to cause.

Think about it. Even with genetic manipulation of plants and animals, we can create all kinds of things. We can even bond pesticides to plant DNA (which in my opinion is a major health hazard). But for all that we can create, all that we can stimulate, we cannot CAUSE growth.

No one can claim they made something grow – it is a uniquely Divine activity. Only God causes growth.

I love to walk in my garden in the summer time; it’s actually a time of reflection and worship for me. Sure I did a lot of work to prep the soil, kill the weeds, fertilize the seeds and plants, but I cannot cause anything to grow. So, each day when I can see another leaf grow, another vine or branch or flower, another fruit or vegetable, I recognize it is God at work. God is CAUSING growth to happen in the life forms He designed.

Why is this an important thing to reflect on? It reminds me, that I am not God. It’s a simple, observable, natural law that indicates there is a power beyond me who brings life. That power revealed Himself through creation, and through directly interacting with people. God almighty is the LIVING God. Only a living God can provide life and growth. And He revealed his love and plans for relationship with us, through Jesus Christ.

Take a moment to read and reflect on Psalm 104.
- Pay attention to how many things are uniquely from God’s provision for us.
- Do you give God credit and thank Him for all that He has provided?
- Do you even acknowledge God can and does provide our very existence?

I pray that God’s Holy Spirit will meet with you as you read Psalm 104 – and that you will grow.

Christian In Name Only

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 20, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott
Originally posted on March 28, 2014

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers’.” Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

These are difficult words from Jesus that many of us would love to just skip over. What Jesus is saying here is very hard to swallow. That many who will claim to know and to follow Christ will never get in. Wait! To be a Christian, all it takes is believing in your heart and declaring with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, right? Romans 10:9 makes it very simple, doesn’t it?

What I believe Jesus is addressing here is the Christian-in-name-Only, or CINO for short. The person who claims to be a follower of Christ, will boldly declare God’s goodness and his grace, will perform many acts in line with God’s commands, but will be lacking a most critical aspect: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our relationship with Jesus is best described as a marriage, which Katie and Logan discussed in February. However, the CINO is not a traditional marriage of a lifelong covenant between a Groom and his Bride. It is, as David Wilkerson describes, a marriage of convenience. It is a marriage that wants all the benefits that come with the marriage, but there is no commitment to a relationship. It is a claim for someone who wants the name of Christ so that their reproach from sin may be taken away, but they still want to do their own thing and live their own way.

Friends, Jesus will have nothing to do with this type of relationship. Those whom Jesus talked about, those who said “Lord, Lord,” are ones who truly think they are Christians. The use of “Lord, Lord” is an emphasis of holding someone to a position of very high esteem. But Jesus said he never knew them. They will say they believe in Jesus. But so do demons. This is just intellectual acknowledgement but we are required to dig a little deeper.

The CINO does not actually follow Romans 10:9 by believing in their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. They may claim it verbally, but they won’t live it. How do I know? Because they only actually want Jesus as Savior and not as Lord. They want him for fire insurance from hell and nothing else. They don’t want him ruling over their lives and telling them how they should act and live.

How can I say that? Because of what Jesus said at the very end of Matthew 7:23. “Away from me. I never knew you, evildoers.” That was NIV. In KJV, it says, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” But the New King James Version nails it. “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

What does all this mean? “You who practice lawlessness” in other words is “you who act as though I gave you no law.” 1 John 5:2 tells us that one of the evidences that we are Christians is that we will follow God’s commands. Yes, Jesus here is telling these people they lived their own way and did not follow his commands. Check out what the Message Version of Matthew 7:23 says.

“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

I don’t know about you, but that is sobering. It is a wake-up call. In the Living Bible, Jesus said “You have never been mine.”

Friends, if any of this has convicted you, this post is not about judging you. There are times where I see this behavior in me and I must repent from it. But I know I am not a CINO. Not because I said a prayer 23 years ago, but because I know God has transformed me and changed me to think his thoughts and given me a desire to seek after him. I know I am born-again because I depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ for my every-day sustenance and because I have a relationship with him. He lives in my heart and I press onward towards the goal of giving Jesus complete and total dominion of every area of my life. I know Jesus and more important, he knows me, intimately.

Friends, whether you are an atheist, an agnostic, a Christian-in-Name-Only, or even an honest follower of Christ and have fallen to the desires of your sinful self, you do not have to stay that way. No matter where you are, Jesus Christ came to save you. Don’t try to make it on your own. It won’t work. Don’t try to set the terms. You are not in a position of negotiation. Come to Christ on his terms. And his terms are very simple: “Give me all of you and I will give you all of me.”

Fathers, You Are Extremely Important

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 19, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner
Originally posted on February 25, 2014

Editors Note: As we continue our series on “Marriage – What Is It?” Please share this with a father. Please share this with a young man who is not yet a father. This is too important just to ignore.

Dads are extremely important. I mean, fathers: I’m guessing you have absolutely NO IDEA how important you are in the lives of your children, and in the lives of your wives, AND very much so in the life of the church. We need dads to be who God called them to be. Understand I believe moms are exceptionally important, as well. Today, I’m writing about dads because I think we have a big problem concerning dads. In order to understand the greatness of dads, we need to look at what God has to say to dads:

Gen. 6:18 - Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Abraham is the Father of our faith, so to speak. Abraham wasn’t a perfect man, but he did something that God commanded: …he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD…so [He] will bring about …what He has promised. That is: He will make him great.

So how do we direct our children to keep the ways of the Lord? God’s Word further says, in Deut 6:6-9 - Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

So in order to do this we need to know the Word of God ourselves and we need to talk about it. We have plenty of opportunity to learn about God’s ways from the Bible, in church services, small groups, and the internet.

God has called us, dads, to train up our children. He’s called us to be the head of the household and direct our children in the way of the Lord. You may not have signed up for that, but that doesn’t change the fact that God has made an order to things and you’re much closer to the top than many of us would like to take responsibility for.

Fatherhood is in decline. Fathers are portrayed on TV as imbeciles and they have little to no authority at all. Men have bought this and have become Doug Hefernan and Ray Barone, Tim Allen or Homer Simpson. With fatherhood on the decline and men simply playing their Hollywood role of bread winner and neighborhood clown, we’re in trouble. Men have decided to let mom be the authority. She can teach the kids. She can be in charge. Let her make the decisions and let her go out and represent the family in the community or church. I believe this is a BIG problem.

Here are some staggering statistics that may help you realize why I feel God placed this on my heart.

A survey was conducted to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is alarming in light of what I just told you concerning attendance. There is one critical factor found in the survey. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

So let me share the survey results so you can see why this is amazing: If both parents are regular in their church attendance,74% of their children will remain faithful to one degree or another. If dad is irregular in attendance while mom is regular, 62% will attend (that’s a loss of 12% because dad was not a regular attender). If dad doesn’t attend but mom is regular in her attendance, 39% of their children will have a faith of some sort (that is a loss of 35% compared to dads that attend regularly). 2% of their children will become a regular attendee. 2%!

In short, If the father attends at all, 50-74% of his children will attend church on some level. If the father does not attend, 2% of his children will become regular worshippers and not even 40% will attend at all.

Said another way: If mom stays home but dad goes, a minimum of 2/3 of the children will be in church. If dad stays home and mom goes, 2/3 of the children will not go to church. If neither goes to church, 80% of their children won’t go either.

When a child gets to the age where they begin to differentiate themselves from mom and dad, more than anything, they’ll use their dad as the role model—this is for boys and girls. Where the father is indifferent, inadequate, or just plain absent, the task of differentiation is much harder. When children see that church is a "women and children" thing, they will respond accordingly—by not going to church, or going much less. Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates that going to church is not really a "grown-up" activity.

We live in a time where fatherlessness is the norm. I’m not just talking about single moms, friends. How many dads do you know who live with their wives and children but are really absent?

Children with involved Fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self-esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex.

I had a bunch of stats for you to confirm this, but I honestly thought they’d be too depressing. I will share a couple just to make the point stick:

--85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.
SOURCE: U.S. Dept. of Justice
--children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households.
“Without two parents, working together as a team, the child has more difficulty learning the combination of empathy, reciprocity, fairness and self-command that people ordinarily take for granted. If the child does not learn this at home, society will have to manage his behavior in some other way. He may have to be rehabilitated, incarcerated, or otherwise restrained. In this case, prisons will substitute for parents.”

SOURCE: Morse, Jennifer Roback. “Parents or Prisons.” Policy Review, 2003

The bottom line to this is that Dads are a gift to their children. As a father, you must realize that your presence is a gift to your child. Fathers represent a lot more than just a paycheck to a child; they represent safety, protection, guidance, friendship, and someone to look up to.

Marriage: Between One Man and One Woman - Like It or Not, It's About Sex

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 18, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames
Originally posted on February 13, 2014

I think it’s safe to say that we are all in a sex-crazed society and have been for decades. It’s never been more accessible than it is now. Network television shows advertise it as one of the main attractions of their program. You can find it on the Internet intentionally and sometimes even unintentionally. Even commercials for products that have nothing to do with sex use it to try to increase sales. A large percentage of the children I work with each day do not have both parents in their lives and were born out of wedlock. The adults I work with frequently have different sexual partners than they did the previous week. However, I’m sure none of this really surprises you.

What might surprise you is that research has shown that things aren’t much different in the Church. Infidelity and divorce statistics are about the same. Some of the regions with the largest consumptions of pornography are in the so-called “Bible belt”. I have talked to several pastors who have had young Christian couples in their churches come to them seeking relationship advice without wanting to address their number one problem area of living together and being sexually active with no marital commitment! In 1997, Christian musician Michael W. Smith wrote a book called “It’s Time to Be Bold”. He encourages young people to boldly live for Christ, but reports that 62 percent of CHURCHED teens have become sexually involved by the twelfth grade. That was in 1997! I wonder what that statistic is like today.

All of the problems that have been caused by sex outside of God’s plan for it have brought the Church to a point where we don’t want to talk about it, even though the Bible introduces it as a gift from God through marriage. When Adam was all alone in this world, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). I’ve often wondered what the word “suitable” means there. I’m sure there is an explanation for it if we dig into the Hebrew, but I’ll leave that task to someone else because I think the word “suitable” is perfect! I’ve heard this verse used to explain that everyone should get married, and I’ve recently heard it as an explanation for why a man should marry again after his wife died. While I wouldn’t fully disagree with those explanations, I don’t believe they express God’s gift.

When God said it was not good for the man to be alone, I don’t believe he just meant that Adam was spouseless. Adam was the only human being on the planet! God never intended for that to be the case, so he created a way to make more humans. What a gift this was! God created the first two humans on his own, yet loved them so much he desired to allow them to bring forth life. God could have made the process excruciating for his created beings, but instead chose to bless them with an incredibly pleasant and joyful experience. Once God had created the possibility for them to procreate, he commanded them to do so. We see in Genesis 1 that it is his very first commandment to them after they are both created. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (v. 28a). I believe this gives us a picture of the mind of God. He desired to create a human race that he could love and bless. His plan was to create the first two and then give them the gift of “making” the rest of the human race. Eve’s body was physically “suitable” for Adam to complete the task God had commanded. Knowing this would LITERALLY cause two different fleshes to become one, God recognized the intimacy and commitment that are involved. The writer of Genesis, inspired by God, declared that the woman is the man’s “wife”, a singular feminine noun as described in Katie’s post on Monday. This was all before there was sin.

Thousands of years later and after sin had stained God’s gift of sex just like it does the rest of his creation, the Apostle Paul bluntly explains the purpose of marriage. “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2). The word for “to marry” can also be translated “to have sexual relations”. Paul is admitting that complete celibacy is noble for those whom God has called to such a life, but that he has also given couples the gift of each other as the only relationship in which sex is a blessed and God-honoring event. Throughout the chapter, Paul reiterates that remaining unmarried is great for those who have been given that strength by God. “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (v. 9). Paul also commands those who are married not to deprive each other of sex “except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer” (v. 5). For the husband and wife, who agreed to the sexual relationship when they married, depriving one another of that gift would only increase their vulnerability to the enemy’s attacks through temptation.

Based on God’s desire that mankind would fill the earth, the way he intentionally designed male and female bodies to “fit” together to make that happen in an enjoyable way, and the very unique commitment and intimacy that process would require between the ONE man and ONE woman involved, I can only conclude that God created marriage to protect the gift of sex that was not meant to be shared with multiple partners. We’ve seen the destruction caused by those who have not followed him in protecting that gift, but that doesn’t change what his plan was and still is for marriage. Our God is big enough to restore all of that destruction, but we can only experience restoration when we first admit that we have broken away from his plan for one man and one woman, and then turn back to him for healing.

Crown of Thorns

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 0 comments

by Bill Seng
Originally posted on October 30, 2012

It was said to have been the darkest day in history. War, catastrophe, tragedy; none of it compared to the unspeakable evil of this day. Evil. Evil! What better word to describe these people? It was as if they had been possessed by the spirits of hyenas, flocking around their helpless prey, mocking him as though he were nothing more than sport to them.

These men were soldiers, scourging one who had done no evil. A man innocent of all of the charges for which he was accused. They beat him and laughed at him. “So you think you’re a king, huh?” They stripped him of his clothes and beat him some more, laughing as he writhed in pain. “If you are a king, then you ought to dress like one too!” They clothed him in a purple robe. Purple, the color of a king; the color of robe that Caesar wore. “There, now you look like a king! But wait…one thing’s missing.” They unveiled a horrid contraption. A crown. But not any old crown, a crown of thorns.

Such a contraption could not have been forged in the depths of hell. Its menacing barbs threatened any who would dare even touch it, let alone wear it. The wood was splintered and dirty, as though it were nothing more than scrap. As the Son of man looked upon this device, he reminisced upon its origin.

He remembered where thorns came from and why they existed. It was not his doing that menacing accessories like thorns would come about, but mankind’s wickedness. Mankind in its infancy defied him a long, long time ago, in a garden that no longer existed. It was paradise, but it was lost.

God spoke to the man and his wife, “Your work has brought suffering and death upon this world! Therefore, your suffering will be multiplied as you must harvest your food among thorns. Thorns will characterize your world, even the simplest pleasures of your lives will be ruined by these thorns that invade your world. You might think that you have somewhere to rest your head or a safe haven to lay your body, but you will encounter peril around every corner from this day forward. And at the end of your life, the ground, which you cultivate, the ground, that gives you food, the ground which brings you life will be your place of rest. You are nothing but dirt without me. But, I will be your King and I will bring you salvation.”

He was their King and he would fulfill his word. They placed the crown upon his head. The pain was almost numbing. It was enough to make one hope for an early death. But not him. He was their King, and this was the most that his subjects had acknowledged him since he created them. They had to use sticks to fit the crown onto his head. Just touching it was pricking their fingers, drawing streams of scarlet to drip from their hands. As the thorns penetrated his skin and pierced his brows, he saw through this mockery.

Demons in the background whispered in their ears and provoked them to go just a little further. “Beat him,” they whispered. “Spit upon him…mock him.” The demons took great joy in this scene. They laughed and jested as their King, barely conscious, fought to sit upright. Blood pouring down his forehead; body ravaged and broken. “You cast us out by the thousands, and now you barely cling to your life. Where is your Father? Where is he? Will he protect you? He has no power over us! You belong to us now!”

They forced him to his feet and into the court. They brought him before his nation, clothed in humiliating royalty. He was dressed as the king they deserved: broken, bloody, and humiliated. The greatest of them should be lucky to achieve such a status. And yet he stood before them and took their insults and endured their threats. Though he had no dignity before them, he was fully dignified. Though they stripped him of his royalty, he was the only one clothed in majesty.

The demons poked and prodded from behind the scenes. “Come on Son of God, exercise your power! You did it once, let’s see you do it again. Extinguish their fire with a flood, perhaps. Or how about you call down your legion of angels; yes, call down Michael, your servant to slay these evil doers. Or even better, consume them with this holy fire that burns inside of your heart. Look at this worthless, pathetic, rabble. You are a King, are you not? Judge them. Show them your wrath. Send them to Hell!”

As he was to his accusers, so he was to his provocateurs: silent, patient, and unmovable. In his conscious daze, he made out two words, “Crucify Him!” his sentence was pronounced. They mounted him with a cross and sent him on a journey to Golgotha, the place of the skull. Some say that this was where Adam Fell and where Jacob saw the ladder to heaven. To the Holy One of God, it was a bridge between heaven and hell.

All along the way, dragons spewed their flames and jackals nipped at his heals. The entire world had turned against him. He was wretched, but still clothed as their King, wearing his crown of thorns. The unseen world paraded along with him on his death march; gleefully believing that this was it. God had lost and the world was theirs. Death was the master. Death was the victor. Satan triumphed and he would rule God’s world.

They climbed the hill and flames shot from its plateau. The people on the hill were immune to it at this point because they were used to living in the searing heat produced by the flames of hell. They could endure the flames so long as they were in the presence of God, and this man, that was more like a lamb being led to its slaughter, was the residence of God on earth. His crown was worthy of his people. Thorns, pain, and death.

He was mounted on the cross as the wretched harlequins waltzed around him; flinging salt and vinegar at him to enflame his wounds. He was sin, not they. Even God had turned his back on this man, how could they possibly suffer any consequences for their devious acts toward him? Finally, his body beaten and his spirit exhausted, he let out one more mighty cry, “IT IS FINISHED!” And for the first time, everyone was still, everyone was silent. The demons stopped dancing, the people stopped shouting. The dragons stopped roaring and the jackals stopped barking. He had one last thing to say and it was what they had all been waiting for: “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” And with those final words, he died. There was a moment of silence, of disbelief and then they started rejoicing.

But their rejoicing lasted no more than a second. Blackness covered the earth and an earthquake shook the world. The ground began to split and divided the holy temple in two, rending its curtain that divided man from God. The demons were no longer laughing; they were lamenting. “God is angry and he seeks to destroy us!” one of the evil spirits cried. “He has broken his word, it is not yet our time!” complained another. Chaos broke out as the people and spirits dispersed.

When the darkness cleared, a handful of people remained. They kneeled at the cross, sobbing, weeping at what they had just experienced. But the evil was gone. The darkness was gone. And the veil was gone. Their King, upon the cross, still wore the crown of thorns. He was high and lifted up, just as the prophets had said. Gazing upon his dead, naked body, they gathered the courage to bring him down. They knew not what the future had in store for them, but what they had just experienced would be seared into their minds for all eternity.

Before, he was their son, their brother, their teacher; what they just witnessed elevated him above that. He was certainly dead, but the power of his death silenced all of his mockers and sent them running in panic. Some in the streets were even declaring that the saints of old had been awakened from the dead. What just happened? They did not recognize this man, despite dressing him in the image of their king. He was the King that molded them into his image. As these disciples and Roman guards gazed upon this corpse as it descended, they could not help but to notice the crown of thorns on his brow and ask, “Was this truly our King?”


What is Marriage? The Importance of Children

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 16, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
Originally posted on February 24, 2014

When I first saw the blog topic for this week I had to laugh. While I have been married for over ten years, we do not have any children, so it is somewhat ironic for me to write about how children are important in a marriage. But, I do truly believe that children are vitally important.

So why are children so important? Well first off, none of us would be alive if it weren’t for children! God didn’t create every person on this planet all at once; he created two people, a man and a woman. God commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 1:28. So, that man and woman had children, who also had children, who had more children, et cetera. Many many generations later, here we are. If my parents didn’t have children, I wouldn’t be writing this post to you today. As Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”’

Whether you have children of your own or not, it is likely that you are an influence in at least one child’s life. You may have nieces or nephews, young siblings, young cousins, or close friends who have young children. I would guess that everyone reading this can think of an adult from their childhood years who was not a parent and had a significant impact on their lives. I have a great relationship with many children in my church family, and to the children of close friends. Even if I am not directly raising them and providing for their daily needs, I do have an impact on their lives. I strive to be a good example of Godly living for them.

If you do have children, it is important to raise them in a Godly way. The Bible explains this in passages such as Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:6­-9, Proverbs 22:6, and 2 Timothy 3:14­-15, among others.

But what does this have to do with marriage? Children can be raised by an unmarried, single parent. Because of the sinful nature of the world we live in, there are circumstances where this can be better than living with an abusive parent, for example. But when children are raised inside a marriage relationship, there are two parents to love them and direct them in their lives. Mothers and fathers have different gifts and abilities; with just one parent, the child misses out on experiencing the gifts of the other parent. By being raised in a household with married parents, a child can experience firsthand what marriage looks like and why it is important. A child has two examples of Christ in their life, right there in their own household, living life together through all of its ups and downs.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Whether you biologically have a child or not, we should all play a key role in the lives of children close to us. We should strive to be the example of Christ in that child’s life.

Conversations With the Dead in The Wheatfield

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 15, 2014 0 comments

by Michael Homula

Last week, I shared the story of Father William Corby blessing the famed Irish Brigade moments before they plunged headlong into The Wheatfield to check the Confederate advance. The fight for The Wheatfield at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, has long been one of the most confusing and misunderstood engagements. I will make no attempt to clear up the confusion in a blog post (you will have to sign up for one of our Biblical Truth at Gettysburg retreats to get that).

The Wheatfield stands out as one of the bloodiest places in American military history. In only a few hours of fighting, the 19 acre field of wheat changed hands between the North and South six times with some 4,000 casualties. The veterans who survived called it a “whirlpool” of battle because regiments on both sides were seemingly sucked into a vortex of confusion, chaos and carnage.

The monument to the 27th Connecticut in The Wheatfield

The Wheatfield is one of my favorite places on the battlefield to spend time studying the fighting, reading my Bible and praying. Mostly I sit in quiet reflection, listening to the voices of the dead.

Now before you think I have lost my mind, allow me to explain.

One of the best quotes about the value of history comes from historian David Harlan. In his book The Degradation of American History, Harlan reminds us, “at its best, the study of American history can be a conversation with the dead about what we should value and how we should live.” Not many academic historians hold to that view anymore, and we lose a proper view of history as a result.

I am repeatedly reminded of this when I walk the ground of The Wheatfield at Gettysburg. The opportunities for life-changing conversations abound, if we have ears to hear (Matthew 11:15). The Wheatfield, for me, is the best place to have the conversation Harlan describes. The “whirlpool” recalled by those who survived now sits in peace and tranquility ready to engage us.

As I try to imagine what these men experienced, much more personal, far more disturbing questions come to dominate my thoughts. “Could you steel yourself to do what these men did?” I find myself wondering. “Could you endure what they endured?” More importantly, “Could you witness such carnage and still believe in mankind? Could you help to inflict such destruction and still believe in yourself? Could you experience such suffering and still believe in God?” Above all, “Are you devoted to any principle, any cause, any person, any Master enough to give,” in Lincoln’s words, “the last full measure of devotion?”

The short answer to all of the above is, “I don’t know.” I pray to God that my faith would not falter, but I just don’t know.

What I do know about myself is not reassuring: I too often struggle with even the most trivial acts of self-denial, the most mundane expressions of laying down my life that pale in comparison to the price paid by so many who fought there.

But these are not the only voices that I hear in The Wheatfield at Gettysburg. There were countless other voices raised during the battle itself. We don’t have audio recordings of these moments, perhaps thankfully, so most of these cries from the heart are known only to God. However, a precious few have survived. They come in the soldiers’ own words, conversations and confessions made to peers, not necessarily uttered for us to hear today. The testimony of an unnamed and unknown soldier who bore witness to a very different kind of response to the indescribable happenings in The Wheatfield.

We only know of this soldier through the recollection of Confederate Captain George Hillyer of the 9th Georgia Infantry. When the fighting at Gettysburg began on 1 July, the men of the 9th GA were twenty-nine miles away. They marched all day and all night to arrive on the field just before dawn on 2 July. After spending the morning laying around in woods just west of The Wheatfield, Hillyer’s company was in the middle of the Confederate Attack on the Union left and found itself face to face with the Irish Brigade in The Wheatfield.

The Georgians were forced to withdraw and Hillyer, along with his exhausted and bloodied company, spent the night within earshot of the field where, only a few hours earlier, they had fought and killed and watched their friends be killed. As the sun went down neither side held the field and the now trampled wheat, covered in blood and dead and dying men, became a type of no man's land separating the Union and Confederate lines.

In the midst of that hellish scene, Hillyer was amazed to hear one of the men between the lines begin to sing. Hillyer wrote there were “thousands of desperately wounded men lying on the ground within easy hearing of the singer and as his voice rang out like a flute . . . not only the wounded, but also five or ten thousand and maybe more of the men of both armies could hear and distinguish the words.” The song they heard had been written four decades earlier by an Irish poet named Thomas Moore. It was later set to music and published in 1831:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

When I sit in the middle of The Wheatfield today, this is the voice I hear. Taking the past seriously, especially as those who follow Christ, means putting our own lives to the test (James 1:2-4). The conversations at Gettysburg, in places like The Wheatfield, do just that, pressing us with hard, uncomfortable questions: What do we value? In what do we hope? Where do we find meaning?

The answers, etched in granite stone and marble on monuments dotting the fields of Gettysburg – written by the blood of men who gave their lives – are noble. No doubt. However, they are also earthbound and temporary.

Vastly more challenging, far more convicting, much more comforting, supremely hopeful is the response on the lips of the unknown soldier whose voice one can still hear if we have ears to hear. Sung in darkness amid death and despair, it is both historical occurrence and spiritual metaphor, an echo of God’s invitation to a bruised and hurting world.

Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel…