The Importance of Good Character and Integrity - The Spotlight is on You

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 30, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

These words directly from the mouth of Jesus indicate the purpose of the Church. I capitalized that word because it is about far more than just your local congregation. These words are about ALL believers in ALL places at ALL times. This goes for whether your local congregation is doing a good job of it in the community or not. You spend most of the hours in your life representing something other than a local church. If you work full-time, you probably represent your employer for at least 30 hours a week. You are almost always representing your family by your last name. If you are an athlete, you represent your team and maybe your school. I could go on, but you see my point that we are almost always representing something or someone beyond ourselves.

If you are a Christian, which means those around you should know it, then you are always representing Jesus. When Jesus spoke the words quoted above, he was teaching his disciples (not just the Twelve but anyone who followed him closely at that time) that their actions would have a powerful influence on what others would think about God. It’s a matter of semantics whether we want to say these people were “Christians” or not, but there is no doubt that, as Jews, they were familiar with this concept. God told them through the prophets and other Old Testament scriptures that things would happen regarding Israel so that the world would know that he is God. This could include unthinkable deliverance and times of rescue, but also consequences for disobedience. God has chosen, at least partially, to reveal himself to the world through his followers, which includes the people of Israel and believers in Jesus Christ who are “ingrafted branches” of Israel (Romans 11:11-24). Even if we don’t really care what others think of us, we must remember that they may be using our actions to judge not only us, but our Savior and God as well.

I have heard many times in the past from others something like, “Integrity is shown by what you do when no one else is looking”. While that may be true, we have to remember that we don’t have even half the amount of control we think we do. You may think you can get away with giving into sin just a little bit because no one will know anyway, but I challenge you to ask yourself if that’s really something you can control. Just because someone can’t see what you’re doing at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t come out or be revealed some other way in the future. And if it does come out, those actions will be judged as if they just happened even if you have forgotten them completely. Plus, there’s always the reality that God sees you at all times and “cannot be mocked” (Galatians 6:7). When we think we have the impact of our decisions and actions under control, we underestimate the damage that is done by bad character and a lack of integrity.

I’d like to share two recent examples from my job that illustrate this point perfectly. When two children were recently taken into protective custody and placed in a foster home, I had to speak to the biological father. He shared that even though he despises the extended family members of the children’s mother, he’d prefer that the children be with them over foster care. He told me that he “knows for a fact” that every foster parent “just does it for the money”, that foster homes usually have one parent for every ten kids, and that the parents usually just put the kids in a back room somewhere and don’t pay attention to them. Now, my experiences working with foster parents so far have been almost entirely positive. I’ve seen nothing like what this man says he “knows for a fact”. However, it only takes one to give the rest of them a bad name. Evidently, this man either had or heard of an experience with specific foster parents that shaped what he thinks about the rest of them. Sadly, we all know there are terrible stories out there that fit the characterizations described by this man. Because a few foster parents have had bad character and no integrity, the thousands of good and loving foster parents out there are not trusted.

The second example has to do with a coworker and friend of mine who does not profess to be a Christian but often likes to talk to me about my beliefs. She called me into her office to share something she saw that bothered her. She proceeded to tell me she saw a bumper sticker that day that read, “You can’t be Christian and pro-choice”. She found the sticker and the driver’s decision to display it completely judgmental and said she feels the person is missing the point of following Jesus. Whether you agree with the sticker’s statement or not, think about the perspective of those who see it and don’t understand why the person feels this way. My friend saw this as that driver taking the place of God in judging who is saved and who isn’t and I completely agreed with her. I told her that I believe giving people the right to slaughter innocent unborn children is not consistent with Biblical teachings about life, but that NOBODY except God gets to decide who is a follower of Jesus and who is not. We can’t decide that just because we feel someone’s political or social views are wrong. My friend said this particular judgmental attitude turns people away from Christ rather than toward him. In my opinion, this type of “speaking for God” that some Christians do is a lack of integrity that others notice.

We must remember that being followers of Jesus comes with great responsibility and does not give us the freedom to judge the salvation of others. Our responsibility, through what we say, do, and display, is to be an example of the grace and truth we have experienced through our relationship with Jesus. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Once we have been made “new creations”, we are in the spotlight. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). Later, Paul says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (v. 20a). God’s appeal to the world is that he sent Christ to reconcile us, a bunch of undeserving sinners, back to himself, a holy and righteous God. One of our purposes is to continue carrying that message of reconciliation as representatives of Christ. So ask yourself, what message are you carrying? Is it one of condemnation or reconciliation? Condemnation is real for those who choose not to follow Jesus, but the consequence comes from God, NOT YOU AND ME! I urge you to evaluate your character and integrity as a follower of Christ, because surely others are taking notice.

Blessed With Cancer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, July 29, 2014 0 comments

by Daniel Fazzina

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
- St. Paul the Apostle, Romans 8:28

My name is Daniel Fazzina, and God has intervened in my life many times. One of those times was when I was in the midst of a health crisis.

I felt the dull ache of death in my chest—the throbbing, the pounding! I just wanted it to stop—please! I saw dim fluorescent lights and heard distant, frantic, unfamiliar voices. I was on my back, moving down a long hallway. But where was I? A wave of nausea churned in my gut. I cringed, and vomit exploded from my mouth.

I felt something bite me. “What was that?” I wondered. “Get it off of me!” I felt the cold sting of thin steel pierce my flesh, and a burning sensation climbed from the wound up into the veins of my arm. Faces flashed into my view like ghosts, vanishing before my confused mind could recognize them, teasing me, taunting me.

I glimpsed a middle-aged man with a furrowed brow peering closely into my face. Why was he touching my eyelids? There were bright lights, flashes of white, then a young black woman with a kind, nervous face hovering over me. Was she an angel? It seemed as if my eyes were rolling around in their sockets like loose marbles while a spectral blacksmith used my head as an anvil, pounding me relentlessly with his invisible hammer. I heard my name through the clamor like a distant echo: “Daniel? Daniel! He’s going out! Doctor!”

Another flash, this time something vaguely familiar, deep brown eyes. Those eyes—could it be Mom? Yes! I wanted to cry out but my voice refused to comply. My tongue was tied in a knot, and the room was spinning, but Mother was there. A look of sadness mixed with terror covered her face. Her loving eyes had ballooned to twice their normal size. I focused on them, somewhat comforted, knowing she was there as consciousness fled from me.

Little did I know, this initial emergency room visit would be the beginning of my family’s descent into the valley of the shadow of death. It was the summer of 2002, and I was twenty-seven years old. The doctors found a massive, cancerous tumor inside my chest. The diagnosis was lymphoma. The tumor was positioned just above my heart, and it was larger than my heart. As it grew, it began crushing my pulmonary artery, starving me of oxygen and literally suffocating me.

The oncologists said it was inoperable, and that they would try to treat it with medication, but they weren’t sure if it would respond. If it didn’t, they assured me I’d be dead within months—three at the most.

What do you do when you hear news like that? It’s impossible to know what the “right” response should be. I felt a mixture of disbelief, shock, and numbness.

The following months were the most challenging and glorious of my life, filled with doctors’ visits, prayer meetings, pain, prophecies, medical tests, visions, love, and support. As a follower of Jesus since my childhood, I knew I was God’s child and that He could heal me if He wanted to. It was in this season of my life that God taught me to completely depend on Him. I remember being alone one night in my hospital bed, literally suffocating. I looked up to the ceiling and offered up a simple prayer. “Lord,” I said, “I know I’m Your child. If You want to take me, I’ll go with You.” The Bible says that for the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (see 2 Cor. 5:8), and I believe that. I continued, “But if You want to heal me and let me live, I will do my best to continue to serve You, and to share with the world Your goodness, love, mercy, and power.” I was a broken man, totally thrown onto the mercy of God, praying like Jesus did, “Not my will, but Yours, be done” (see Luke 22:42).

In late December, I went in for my follow-up PET scan. It had been three months since I started chemotherapy, and this was the halfway-point scan to gauge the progress. The doctors were hoping (and my loved ones were praying) the tumor would be smaller and that the treatment was working. Well, God really answered everyone’s prayers because when I got the results, the tumor was not just smaller, it was completely gone! When I saw the pictures with no sign of the tumor that had so ominously threatened my life only months before, I looked up to heaven and with tears in my eyes thanked Jesus for His goodness and mercy.

Ironic as it may sound, God used a terrible, deadly disease to bless me abundantly. All the grace and blessings that resulted from my being sick could fill its own book, but here are a few examples:

My faith in Jesus and the knowledge that He is in control of my life, no matter how bad things look, was made more real to me through my experience. “Head knowledge” was tested and turned into “experiential knowledge.”

The faith of many people around me was strengthened after having witnessed the miracles that occurred during the crisis. Many relationships with friends and family were strengthened.

My relationship with my girlfriend, Sahani, was strengthened. We were drawn closer together in prayer, and it helped to mature us in our relationship with each other and with God. Today we are happily married and so blessed!

I have been honored to share my testimony at many churches, on radio shows, even on Fox News and television programs such as The 700 Club and TBN’s Praise the Lord. I now host my own radio show called Divine Intervention, on which I interview others who have experienced miracles. This led to the publication of the Divine Intervention book series, the latest of which is entitled Divine Intervention: 50 True Stories of God’s Miracles Today, and releases August 5th 2014 from Charisma House Publishers.

Many other blessings came out of my being ill, but it’s enough to say that the same Jesus who walked the earth 2,000 years ago performing miracles and healing people is still alive today and still doing miracles. He is real and He wants a relationship with you. I pray that you don’t take my word for it, however. I pray you will take a chance on Jesus, that you will give Him an opportunity to show you, and that you will experience Him for yourself. He loves you so much!

About Daniel Fazzina:

Mr. Fazzina’s professional background is in media production. His experience includes hosting radio shows, editing music videos, directing a short film, and award-winning commercials. He also served as a board member of St. John’s University’s chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where he earned his B.S. in Communication Arts in 1998. After studying in Spain, Italy, and France, and doing missionary work in the Dominican Republic, he has gained a broadened appreciation for different peoples, languages, and cultures. His radio program, “The Divine Intervention Show,” can be heard on Sundays at 10 p.m. on its flagship station, Hope Radio in New York, on various other radio stations across America, and on the Internet at Daniel's own personal testimony of miraculous healings - one from a painful chronic back condition in 2001, and one from a massive, cancerous tumor in 2002, led him to start the Divine Intervention Radio show and book series, in which he interviews intriguing people who have experienced the hand of God in Amazing ways. His additional interests include Biblical apologetics, alternative fuel technologies, networking, reading, writing, economics, cryptozoology, and creation science.

Everyday Miracles Pay Homage to Divine Intervention
God’s hand at work in the world, evidenced by powerful personal testimonies

Moses parted the Red Sea. Peter healed a man born lame. Jesus calmed a raging storm, healed paralytics, and raised the dead. The Bible contains some incredible stories of miracles and divine interventions, but are these types of events still happening today? The answer to this question, detailed in Daniel Fazzina’s Divine Intervention: 50 True Stories of God’s Miracles Today (Charisma House, August 2014), is an emphatic yes! Contained within the book is a collection of amazing true stories that attest to this fact. You will read astonishing firsthand accounts of people who have been healed of paralysis, "terminal" cancer, and tumors through prayer. You will see the love of God powerfully transform the life of an Islamic terrorist. You will witness the liberation of the demon-possessed, the resurrection of the dead and much more.

“The testimonies are true, amazing, and provide unmistakable evidence that God is still intervening in people’s lives today, just as He did during the time the Bible was written,” says Fazzina. “They are from people with diverse cultural and denominational backgrounds from all over the world who give glory to Jesus for their experiences.”

The topic resonates with Fazzina on a personal level too. More than ten years ago, he was healed of a painful chronic back condition and a large cancerous tumor in his chest. The doctors said he could be dead within a matter of weeks, but God had other plans for him, and now he is “an ordinary man [who] can not deny there are miracles happening every day.”

Daniel Fazzina’s radio program, “The Divine Intervention Show,” can be heard on radio stations across America and on the Internet on A native New Yorker, Daniel currently resides in Virginia with his wife.

Why is Good Character and Integrity So Important?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 28, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
I think we would all agree that good character and integrity are important in life. But the question of why these are important has a few different answers, depending on the authority in your life. We’ll look into these answers in today’s blog post.

Now, when I use the word “authority” in this way, I don’t mean an authority like the government or your parents who make rules for you. We all have an authority in our lives whether we acknowledge it or not. Our authority is whatever we use to make decisions in life, basically what defines our worldview. How you know what’s right and wrong? Your authority tells you, whether that is the laws of society, or the Bible, or something else entirely. Personally, the Bible is my authority because that is how I know what God wants me to do (and not do) in my life. God created the universe, so who better to learn the rules of the game from.

Before we can understand why these traits are important, we need to understand what they are. Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Good character, then, would be having good mental and moral qualities. Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”

So, back to the question at hand. One answer for why good character and integrity are so important is because of selfishness. Think about it - we all want those around us to have good character and integrity so they treat us well and we benefit. If someone around you does not have integrity and they rip you off, you get mad and upset, right? People with bad character and a lack of integrity are negative influences on our lives, whether because they treat us poorly or because those characteristics rub off on us. We also often live with good character so people will look at us and see how good we are; selfishly wanting to be praised for what we do and how we live. However, this selfish mindset is very much a worldly one. We are all human and experience such selfish desires, but if God is our authority (rather than the world), is this what He wants for us?

If your authority is the God of the Bible, then your attitude about good character and integrity should be different. The message of the Bible is that we should be like Jesus, who is the prime example of good character and integrity for our lives. We want to be like Jesus to honor God, the one who created, redeemed and sustains us. If we live our lives with good character and integrity, we honor God and glorify Him through our lives. If, on the other hand, we live with immoral or bad character and a lack of integrity, then God is dishonored. As followers of Jesus Christ, our goal is to give God glory and to let Him be seen through us - this can only happen if we live with good character and integrity.

But how do we live with good character and integrity? There are some basic rules to follow for good character given in Exodus 20:1-17, also known as the Ten Commandments. The verse that I believe sums up integrity is James 5:12 which says, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.” If integrity is the quality of being honest, then this is the best way to do that. When you say yes, mean yes; when you say no, mean no. Stick to your word, and more importantly stick to God’s Word and Jesus’ example of how to live on this earth. If people see that your word is good, then they will see your integrity, and God will be glorified through that.

So why is good character and integrity so important? If your authority is the world, then it’s so we can selfishly be treated well, and so people can look at us as good people. If your authority is God and His Word, then it’s so God can receive glory through our lives.

How are you living your life - to give yourself the glory, or to give God the glory?

Let Us Cross Over The River

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 27, 2014 0 comments

by Michael Homula

I was planning to share this writing next May on the anniversary of the event but something happened in my life this week that prompted me to share it now. I learned that an old friend had died rather suddenly. He was not a Christ follower, in fact he pretty much rejected Jesus and God, so my heart was broken over where he will now spend eternity. I learned that in his final moments he was frightened. That too broke my heart - severely if I am being honest. I am still hurting.

But it got me thinking of a Civil War (though not Gettysburg specific) related event that serves as a lesson for those of us who follow Christ and hope for those who don’t and are uncertain about death and heaven and eternity and things of that sort.

On May 10, 1863, less than two months before the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson would breathe his last earthly breath in a plantation office in Guinea Station, Virginia. He was the South’s finest tactical commander and a debate rages today about what difference he may or may not have made at Gettysburg had he been there. Eight days earlier, at Chancellorsville on May 2nd, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded (shot by his own men as he rode between the lines in the dark looking to press the advantage he had gained during the daytime fighting) and carried to a hospital where his surgeon, Hunter McGuire, amputated his left arm in an effort to prevent infection and save his life. Jackson was a Christ follower of enormous faith and never was it on display more clearly than in the final days and hours of life in his “earthly tent” (2 Cor. 5:1-10).

The following brief overview of his last days is taken from the detailed notes of Dr. Hunter McGuire and the eyewitnesses to General Jackson’s last days and moments on this earth.

Sometime after sunrise the morning of May 3rd, after having his arm amputated around 2 a.m., General Jackson was awake, alert, and in good spirits. Captain Smith read a note that was sent over from General Robert E. Lee: "I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory, which is due to your skill and energy." General Jackson, always cognizant of where proper credit is due, replied: "General Lee should give the praise to God."

Due to the battle that had re-ignited around the hospital tents, General Lee gave orders to move Jackson and his medical team to Guinea Station, VA where they would occupy a small plantation office on Thomas C. Chandler's 740-acre plantation named "Fairfield."

Dr. McGuire wrote:
He expressed great satisfaction when told that his wounds were healing, and asked if I could tell from their appearance how long he would probably be kept from the field. Conversing with Captain Smith a few moments afterwards, he alluded to his injuries and amputated arm, and said, “Many would regard them as a great misfortune; I regard them as one of the blessings of my life.”

Captain Smith replied: “All things work together for good to those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)

“Yes,” General Jackson answered, “that's it, that's it.”

By mid-week General Jackson worsened and he began to develop severe pain in his side – the product of pneumonia the doctors believed – and it did not seem he would survive. But by Thursday he seemed to be improving and Dr. McGuire wrote:

Towards the evening he became better, and hopes were again entertained of his recovery. Mrs. Jackson arrived to-day and nursed him faithfully to the end. She was a devoted wife and earnest Christian, and endeared us all to her by her great kindness and gentleness. The General's joy at the presence of his wife and child was very great, and for him unusually demonstrative. Noticing the sadness of his wife, he said to her tenderly: "I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may yet recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, ‘Thy will be done.’"

By Saturday, nearly a week after he was wounded and his arm amputated, General Jackson’s condition worsened again. Dr. McGuire described the situation and the scene in the plantation office:

Dr. Tucker, from Richmond, arrived on Saturday, and all that human skill could devise was done to stay the hand of death. He suffered no pain to-day, and his breathing was less difficult, but he was evidently hourly growing weaker.

When his child was brought to him today he played with it for some time, frequently caressing it and calling it his "little comforter." At one time he raised his wounded hand [his right hand had also suffered a severe gunshot wound] above his head and closing his eyes, was for some moments silently engaged in prayer. He said to me: "I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go."

It seemed that the Lord was indeed calling His dearly loved General Jackson home. There would be no daring flanking maneuver around an earthly death – something the warrior leader Jackson was so adept at executing on the battlefield – but Jackson was not searching for a way around the “enemy’s” flank. He did not need it for He had Christ as His redeeming Savior, and Jackson was well prepared for his real home. My words would be inadequate to describe Jackson’s final moments compared to those who were there and witnessed the brave warrior go into glory.

Doctor McGuire shares the final moments:

About daylight on Sunday morning Mrs. Jackson informed him that his recovery was very doubtful, and that it was better that he should be prepared for the worst. He was silent for a moment, and then said: "It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven." He advised his wife, in the event of his death, to return to her father's house, and added: "You have a kind and good father, but there is no one so kind and good as your Heavenly Father." He still expressed a hope of his recovery, but requested her, if he should die, to have him buried in Lexington, in the Valley of Virginia. His exhaustion increased so rapidly that at 11 o'clock Mrs. Jackson knelt by his bed and told him that before the sun went down he would be with his Saviour. He replied: "Oh, no; you are frightened, my child; death is not so near; I may yet get well." She fell over upon the bed, weeping bitterly, and told him again that the physicians said there was no hope. After a moment's pause he asked her to call me. "Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her that I am to die to-day; is it so?" When he was answered, he turned his eyes toward the ceiling and gazed for a moment or two as if in intense thought, then replied: "Very good, very good, it is all right." He then tried to comfort his almost heart-broken wife, and told her that he had a great deal to say to her, but he was too weak.

Colonel Pendleton came into the room about 1 o'clock, and he asked him, "Who was preaching at headquarters to-day?" When told that the whole army was praying for him, he replied: "Thank God, they are very kind." He said: "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

His mind now began to fail and wander, and he frequently talked as if in command upon the field, giving orders in his old way; then the scene shifted and he was at the mess-table, in conversation with members of his staff; now with his wife and child; now at prayers with his military family. Occasional intervals of return of his mind would appear, and during one of them I offered him some brandy and water, but he declined it, saying, "It will only delay my departure, and do no good; I want to preserve my mind, if possible, to the last." About half-past one he was told that he had but two hours to live, and he answered again, feebly, but firmly, "Very good, it is all right."

A few moments before he died he cried out in his delirium, "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks," then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he cried quietly and with an expression as if of relief, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees;” and then, without pain or the least struggle, his spirit passed from earth to the God who gave it.

This is the kind of peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), one has when their eternity is secure in Jesus Christ alone. When we trust in Jesus we need not fear earthly death, whether it comes suddenly or after many years of a life well lived, but rather look forward to it with anticipation as we cross over the river to rest under the shade of the tree’s with the One who created us and loves us more than our heart or mind could ever fathom.

Have you trusted Christ alone for your salvation?


Kickin’ Up Dust

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 26, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

When I use my weed whacker, or weed eater depending on what you may call it, I kick up all kinds of stuff. Grass, dirt, dust, rock, weeds; you name it, it goes flying. And often times it goes flying right at my shins. Now apart from the abrasions and cuts I get, most of the time I come in from using my weed whacker covered in a mixture of plant material and dirt. It clings to me, and only a shower will remove the coating that has been bonded to my skin at high speeds.

If only I could live my life following Jesus with that level of intensity. I mean, of course I could do without the scrapes and bruises from the rocks, but what would it be like to just be completely covered in the kinds of skills and character that Jesus demonstrates?

An old Hebrew blessing said, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Sounds odd right? Well, consider this. Disciples, or followers, of a rabbi, don’t have the goal to just learn something from the rabbi. They are not called students, and with good reason. It isn’t enough to know what the rabbi knew, or say what the rabbi said. True disciples want to BE who the rabbi IS. So they follow the rabbi everywhere and as closely as possible. They learn how he prays, when he prays, where he prays, and watch every movement he makes. Their imitation and learning goes so much deeper. They desire to be so saturated in the way the rabbi follows God, that it becomes second nature – or rather first nature – to them. There is no higher compliment to a disciple, than to tell them they look just like their rabbi.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus said what he did in Luke 14:25-27? “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’” Think about it, how could a disciple be like his rabbi, if he had any other concern or motive that meant more to him than being like his rabbi? Jesus goes so far as to say, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.”

Now I have always had the literal picture pop into my head when I read that verse – me carrying some big hunk of wood up a hill, while being jeered at, falling, etc. I read that statement and think Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet to see if I could get up the hill with the same hunk of wood he carried. But that is not at all what Jesus is saying.

The word he uses is “stauros” in the Greek language, which means “cross,” but it uses “cross” as a picture of what it looks like to suffer until you die. The cross or crucifixion was a gruesome way to die, the Romans made sure of it. Ultimately a crucified person would suffocate under the weight of their own body hanging from the cross.

So what is Jesus really saying it takes to be his disciples? We have to be willing to die to ourselves, die to our desires, and if necessary even die for what we believe. Dying to ourselves and our desires is hard enough. It demands a complete exchange of our desires and priorities, from ours over to God’s. That is what it means to give your life to Jesus Christ and become a follower. Jesus is not an “add on” that we just plug into to help us be “spiritual.” We cannot have Jesus, we cannot walk with Jesus, if we are not willing to jettison our self-made way of living in order to live his way. Symbolically that is what we do when we are baptized – declare that we are dead to our self-willed life (dead in Christ), and alive to God’s way of living (raised to life).

Jesus’ statement goes farther than just “getting saved” or “accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.” By using the cross as a symbol of suffering and death, Jesus is saying we need to be willing to give up our physical life, like he did. So if we are confronted with a choice to deny Jesus in order to live, as a disciple we could not deny the one we most want to be like. The choice would be simple – or should be, but we know it’s not.

You know, even being a martyr for your faith can sometimes be easier than being a disciple of Jesus. Once someone is martyred, they are dead and no longer concerned or burdened by the struggle to live like Jesus. How much harder is it to remain alive, and daily live for Jesus and die to self?

The world is changing, but for now, most of us will have the difficult task of choosing daily – live Jesus’ life and his way, or our own. Which did you choose today so far? What desires or choices do you have to make today that may show who you really follow? Do you look like you in a Jesus mask, or do you authentically look like Jesus?

Young Earth Creation: Noah’s Flood

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 25, 2014 7 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Young Earth Creation model is not just about how God created the universe, but on the foundations of how everything on the planet began, including languages, cultures, and everything. It is the model of origins that brings us to where we are today. The Young Earth Creation Model (YEC) emphasizes on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Last week, I talked about Genesis 1 and its genre, if it is history, myth, allegory, or else. I did skip Genesis 2-5 but I will come back to that later. Noah’s Flood plays such a significant role that it covers 4 chapters of the Bible. And many questions are asked. Was it Local or Global? Was it an original account or was it based on Babylonian myths like Gilgamesh? Is there any scientific evidence for it? Is it important to the Christian faith to believe in the Flood? I’ll tackle these four questions in this post.

Local or Global? Here we need to look at the text. The sources of water from the flood are 40 days and nights of rain and the fountains of the deep bursting forth. The account describes how mountains were covered by up to a depth of about 15 cubits (or about 20 feet). The flood then covered the earth for 150 days. After these 150 days, the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. But it was not for an additional three months that the mountain tops were visible. Ultimately, Noah spent just over a year in the Ark before disembarking.

So those are the facts. All the Old Earth positions have a local flood interpretation of the account. Their reasons why is because when the flood waters wiped all the living creatures from the face of the earth, they believe this just references the ‘known world’. This concept is seen in Acts 2 at Pentacost when peoples from all over the earth were in Jerusalem. But let’s take this a little deeper. How can we tell if we are talking about “the whole planet” or “just the known earth”? Let’s look at the clues. We have waters covering the mountain tops for well over 150 days. The local flood supporters suggest that Mesopotamia is a basin or that the Flood is what filled the Black Sea. But if this were the case, the mountains, which were supposed to be hidden for 8 months would easily be seen. Let us not forget that Mesopotamia has two rivers that drain into the Persian Gulf. So those flood waters would easily go right into the ocean if it was local. All the facts combined show that only a Global Flood is optional here. That is the only explanation from the text alone for the time frame and the physical description of the Flood.

Was the account based on other flood legends? This works two ways. Was the Biblical account based off others, or were the others based off the Biblical account. The Babylonian account of Gilgamesh was written before Genesis was compiled. So the claim that the Biblical account was based off that has initial merit. The Jews never engaged with ancient Babylon possibly if Ur, where Abraham was from, was part of Babylon. So it doesn’t make sense for Abraham to pass on the flood legend as history to a people that didn’t deal with that opposing culture. There is one detail though that stands out to me: the two Arks. Noah’s Ark was about 450 feet by 75 feet by 45 feet. This is the world’s #1, most ideal ship building ratio used in most cargo ships and aircraft carriers today. No ship builder has found a better ratio that perfectly balances strength, stability, and comfort. Gilgamesh’s ark was 180x180x180 cubits. A perfect sphere. That would capsize with every wave. It would be impossible to stay in that thing. There is no basis for Genesis to base the account off Gilgamesh, but there is very good reason for the Babylonians to base their myth off the legends that would have passed through the generations from the Flood account, which eventually was written down by Moses. Worldwide, there are many Flood legends, and the Chinese word for “Flood” literally means “8 people in a boat”. How did they get it all? We find that out with the Tower of Babel dispersion.

Scientific Evidence? This one is a biggie because the major dating methods that suggest an old earth depend on uniformitarian assumptions. The Biblical account depicts a Global Flood, so we should see evidence of large amounts of water affecting the entire planet. And that’s exactly what we see. In fact, the Evolutionary model depicts a worldwide Flood as well. The difference is when. The Biblical account was 4400 years ago, and the Evolutionary account was before life initially formed in the Primordial Soup. Two things that are often used against Noah’s Flood, the Geologic Column and fossils, are actually best supported by Noah’s Flood. The Geologic Column is made up of sedimentary layers, which by definition were laid down by water (or occasionally, wind, but usually water). The Geologic Column as shown in textbooks is nowhere to be found complete anywhere in the world. It doesn’t exist. Every area has layers missing, layers out of order, and in some places upside down. What is more is that between all the rock layers, the boundaries are smooth and flat. They do not show evidence of plants having grown through the layers (while there are plant fossils, this is different than plants growing) nor do they show evidence of wind or water erosion between the layers. Fossils themselves do not reflect the Evolutionary model. While there are several ways to form fossils, the most common in the natural world shows it must be buried quickly, rapidly before any scavengers can get to it and be put under pressure. The Evolutionary model does not have this. But Noah’s Flood does. With the fountains of the deep bursting forth, this would create sediment-laden waves that would produce tsunami like effects. This would account for the smooth layers as well as very smooth flat-topped hills as such seen in Oklahoma where, had they grown to standard mountain height, they would be over 20,000 feet tall. I’ll be visiting these hills in September. Noah’s Flood provides a quality mechanism to lay down the rock layers and provides the conditions to not only create fossils but also in the order, location, and condition they are found in. There are many more evidences but that will need to wait for another post at another time.

The last question is “Is the Flood important for a Christian to believe”? The Flood is referenced a number of times throughout Scripture. The Flood is a picture of Baptism, of God using water as a tool of judgment to bring about new life. It is also the same picture of what happens when we believe in Christ. When we die to ourselves and to the world, God then raises us up back to life. This sequence is seen numerous times in the Bible and the picture painted here in by the Hebrew letters comprises the word “Amen”. Jesus, when talking about the End Times warned about the “Days of Noah.” Peter warned about scoffers who deny the Flood account. Peter, in the same context tells us the world will be destroyed by fire like it was with water at the end times.

The Flood was a major worldwide event that reminds us that God takes sin seriously. He did promise never to Flood the earth again. This also rules out a local flood because there have been MANY local floods in recorded history. But there has never been another Global Flood and there never will be. But if we believe the account, and we believe there is only one means of Salvation (the Ark) only one door (Jesus Christ) it gives us a much clearer understanding of the Gospel. Next week, I’ll address the next major historical event of the Young Earth Creation account based off Scripture: the Tower of Babel dispersion.

Life is in the Blood

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 24, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The heart sits as the center piece of our circulatory system. This pump weighs in around ½ pound and will circulate blood through your body starting less than 2 months after conception until you pass into eternity—about 75 times per minute, or 3 billion times in the average lifespan. The circulatory system has more than just a heart, however. It consists of the heart, blood vessels and capillaries, and the blood itself. But critical to this system are other very important organs like the lungs, kidneys, liver, and spleen to mention some of the big ones. Fifteen to twenty percent of your blood volume (or about 2/3 of a quart) will circulate through your brain at any given minute. It will take the average blood cell about 20 seconds to circulate throughout the body. By the end of its life, it will have travelled about a quarter million times around the body! And the heart has more than one fail safe system for making sure it gets the stimulation it needs to beat. There are nerves from the brain, the sinoatrial node, the Bundle of His and Purkinje fibers that all work to make sure the heart does not stop.

The circulatory system is vital for fighting diseases and maintaining homeostasis (proper temperature and pH balance). The system's main function is to transport blood, nutrients, gases, and hormones to and from the cells throughout the body. It also allows communication to take place from one body part to another. This blood will travel, on average, through 60,000 miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins or more than twice around the earth.

Red blood cells are unique cells in the human body in that they do not contain a nucleus and have few organelles. This gives them the almost donut like appearance we’ve all seen in pictures. This unique characteristic allows them to fit through the capillaries, which are nearly exactly the same size as the blood cells—about 1/3000 of an inch or a tenth of the diameter of a hair. In some areas, the capillaries are smaller than the red blood cells, so the blood cells actually deform momentarily to work their way through these passages. Without them, we would die. But there is a lot more to your blood than just red blood cells.

First, there are different types of blood in the human body—arterial and venous. The former is rich in oxygen and carries nutrients away from the heart. The latter carries waste products, primarily carbon dioxide, back to the heart. Within our blood is a very long recipe of ingredients that allow us to live. There are, obviously, red blood cells. But there are also white blood cells which are one of our immune system’s greatest weapons. There are several types of white blood cells, many of which are phagocytic (they eat stuff). There is even one called a natural killer cell which, as the name implies, kills cells of the body that do not have the proper identification. Our white blood cells die daily in the battle to keep us infection free. The nasty material we find in pockets called pus is actually an accumulation of dead white blood cells that have fought the good fight for our good. Without them, we would die.

There is yet another type of cell commonly found in our blood called thrombocytes or platelets. They are involved in blood clotting so we don’t bleed to death every time our skin is broken. Without them, we would die.

There are also other things in our blood, including a great deal of water. 92% of the plasma (the part of the blood that is not blood cells) is water. The other 8% is mostly protein and minerals. Within this list of proteins are primarily albumin and clotting factors. Albumin is essential for maintaining the proper pressure in our system to pass nutrients and waste products back and forth. Without it, we would die.

The Bible tells us that the “life is in the blood” in Leviticus 17:11. It also tells that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Blood is complex and very important physically and spiritually.

Truly, the extremely complex system consisting of a pump, an extensive exchange system, and the plumbing to get the nutrient rich fluid we call blood through our bodies is something we could not live without and we have a lot to learn about it. Some may try to say that this complex and highly interdependent system arose out of mindless accidental genetic mistakes. Could this be more absurd? If any of these parts are not in place correctly, we would not be alive. How did such an interdependent system evolve over time? We know the truth is that God created this amazing system perfectly and in place. There really is no other option that makes any sense at all.

Discipleship - It's What Keeps You Pressing On

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As I was thinking about what to write about discipleship this week, the Holy Spirit once again brought it to me through something that is a routine activity, as he often does. It seems to me that the Church has been trying to “figure out” discipleship for a long time. We have classes in seminaries, conferences within denominations, and programs within local churches that are all crafted with the purpose of teaching people how to be disciples. But the more I read about Jesus and his disciples in the New Testament and the situations in which they found themselves, the more I think discipleship can be boiled down to hanging out with Jesus enough to know what he would do and then going and doing likewise.

I’m not trying to trivialize something that is not easy for any of us, but I am hoping to shed some light on how we so often over-complicate Biblical concepts. This all came to my mind yesterday as I did something that is now routine but still not easy - exercise. A few months ago, I decided, for at least the tenth time in my life, to start putting more emphasis on healthy living. As I’m sure anyone reading this who has made the same decision knows, it’s not as easy to do it as it is to talk about it. I’ve done pretty well and I feel blessed that God has given me health to be able to implement these changes in my life, but this past weekend was certainly a bump in the road on the way to wellness. I got lazy, didn’t exercise, and ate pretty much whatever I wanted.

When it came time to go for a run on Monday, I was mentally defeating myself before I even started, thinking about how unhealthy I felt after the weekend and how much more difficult the run would be because of my poor choices. I can admit that I started thinking about giving up only about a half mile into it. I was literally asking the Lord to keep me going. As a side note, isn’t it interesting how often we ask God to cover for our pathetic choices, and how often he does? Anyway, the thought that came to my mind as I struggled, and often does when I am doing something physically taxing, is how much my pain and fatigue pale in comparison to what Christ went through for me on the day he was crucified. Then I find myself asking him to help me have just a little bit of the strength and perseverance that he had. I think to myself that, if he could persevere on that horrible day because of his love for me and desire to obey the Father, then I, someone who calls himself a follower and disciple of Christ, need to find a way to finish my 30-45 minutes of pain without quitting.

As a disciple, my desire to be like the Master even in a small way gives me motivation to press on even when nothing else does. If it were based solely on my will power or my desire for personal achievement, I’d throw in the towel almost every time. As I continued on the run, two different random strangers gave me encouragement to keep going. I see them as little reminders from God. Before I knew it, I was back home and realized I had persevered in this one test. This small victory can lead to larger ones in my life as I continue to face other challenges that make me think about how Christ handled himself while he walked this earth and strive to be more like him. Discipleship for me is becoming more about watching and doing and less about figuring out the proper formula. Jesus faced many trials in this world and told his disciples they would face the same and more. They didn’t need to have all the answers. They just needed to listen, watch, and repeat.

Check out Jesus’ words to the disciples in Matthew 10 as he sends them out “like sheep among wolves” (v. 16). First, he gives them authority to do extraordinary things that they figured only he could do (v. 1). He then commands that they go and preach that the kingdom of heaven is near throughout all of Israel. But I don’t see anywhere in there that he teaches them “how” to preach. These guys didn’t need a class or program to learn how to be disciples. Jesus simply told them to do what he had already done. We know this because Matthew 4:17 tells us, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” Jesus also told them how to deal with rejection and persecution. They had already seen him walk the walk, so now he was talking the talk for their benefit. He tells them to move on if someone doesn’t welcome them or listen to their words (v. 14), then tells them not to worry about “what to say or how to say it” WHEN they are arrested, not if (v. 19). That’s interesting because the first thing we start thinking about today when we are arrested, or even accused for that matter, is what our defense will be. Jesus tells them they don’t have to worry about mounting a defense, because the Holy Spirit will speak through them and for them (v. 20).

Jesus continues through the rest of his instructions to make the connection between what he has done and what they will do. He tells them they will be hated not because of themselves, but because of HIM (v. 22). Then, he explains why being his disciples means they should expect to be like him in every way, even the ways that won’t make them happy. “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” (Matthew 10:24-25)

Friends, discipleship is not easy and is not comfortable. Jesus certainly didn’t mince words about that. He went on to tell his disciples that they couldn’t even love their family members more than him (Matthew 10:35-37). In other words, Jesus was willing to give up everything in order to obey his Father and save you and me. To be his disciples, we must also be willing to sacrifice whatever he asks in obedience to him. When we struggle and want to give up, we know that Jesus was in a similar situation and yet overcame. Whether it’s physical exhaustion, the responsibility to forgive, having to face betrayal and rejection, having your reputation ruined, looking at a seemingly impossible task that you know God has led you to, or even being threatened with physical harm or death, you can find encouragement to press on just by knowing that Jesus did it first. And just as Jesus’ first disciples continued lives that served as encouraging examples to the next generation of disciples, so can you be encouraged today by other disciples of Christ in your life and be an encouragement to others. Being a disciple of Jesus requires us to KNOW him and how he lived, then face our “giants” just as he did. With no example before us, we have no motivation or hope to keep resisting the temptation to be our own gods. But with Christ as our master and the examples of others around us today, we have all the motivation that we need!

Why Do I Believe the Bible Over Other Religious Texts? Reason 8

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, July 22, 2014 0 comments

by Bill Seng

Reason 8) Authorship

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” – Galatians 1:8-9

The Bible does not claim to be written by an angel. Why is this significant? One of the Islamic traditions is that Muhammad was given the Quran by an angel. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was directed to his book of golden plates by an angel. Despite the Apostle Paul’s warning against alternative Gospels, particularly those given by angels, these traditions supposedly received their revelations from angels. The first warning, however, is against receiving an alternative Gospel from human agents including those who were currently preaching the very Gospel message they had previously received! Jehovah’s Witnesses have committed the very sin that the Apostle Paul preached against in this passage. Paul warned against new messages and new messengers for a reason.

The real message being conveyed here is to beware of corrupt messages. The message of the Gospel, as expressed by the New Testament authors, is grace through the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What do these later religions accomplish through their updated messages? Notice that Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses both diminish the person of Jesus Christ. One says that he was merely a prophet; the other says that he is the earthly incarnation of the angel Michael. Both religions claim that the God of the Old Testament was a separate God from the person of Jesus. Mormonism sees Jesus in the sense that he is the Son of God and a God, but that he is no more of a son of God than Satan is except that Jesus’ plan of salvation, according to their beliefs, preserved the free will of mankind. Aside from this key doctrine, it is not until a deeper look is taken into each respective religion that the differences become more evident. Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah’s Witnesses have what are considered authoritative works outside of the Bible. Mormonism even seems to embrace a works-based salvation as evidenced on their official web page: “Each of us will be resurrected and overcome physical death regardless of what we do in this life. But we have to do our part to overcome spiritual death. To be forgiven of our sins, we need to repent and increase our faith in Jesus Christ throughout our lives. We will not be saved simply because we get baptized or say we believe in Jesus Christ. It takes work, but the work we do doesn’t only prepare us for heaven, it blesses us in this life too” (

The message of salvation is tarnished when the person of Jesus Christ is misrepresented. He is not merely a prophet, an angel, or even a god; he is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Immanuel (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23). Trusting the original Gospel message through the Apostles’ original message is the way to salvation. Their warning against hearing an alternative Gospel message from anyone, including themselves, speaks to their truthfulness.

What is Discipleship?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 21, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson
If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the Bible passage known as the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” This verse commands us as followers of Christ to make disciples - but what is a disciple?

As I wrote here, a disciple is from the Greek word “mathete” which most simply means a learner. It is a person who follows their teacher and desires to be exactly like him or her. If we follow Christ, we should desire to be His disciple - wanting to be exactly like Jesus.

In Biblical times, the word disciple was used in connection to the teachers of the day, rabbis. If you were a young man intelligent enough to continue on in your schooling past the age of 13, rather than beginning work in your family’s trade, you would search for a rabbi to follow. When you found one, you would ask for his permission, and once approved you would begin to follow your rabbi everywhere. This literally means following him around everywhere, and doing everything exactly like he does - from daily habits of waking up and going to sleep, to how he eats his meals, to how he spends his time in studies and other activities. The disciple would literally follow the rabbi wherever he went, and try to imitate his rabbi’s lifestyle as much as he could. This is exactly the relationship that Jesus wants us to have with Him - that strong desire to imitate exactly what He did when He was on earth.

But why is discipleship important? As I started this post with, it is a command by God to make disciples. But before I can make disciples, I have to be a disciple myself. The main goal for me to be a disciple is to follow in steps of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” But since Jesus isn’t literally walking on earth in human form today, I can’t exactly walk around with Him all day. Instead, I can imitate others who are disciples and examples of Christ themselves. 1 Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “Therefore I urge you to imitate me [Paul]. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” This is what we need to do as well - find someone who is a disciple and imitate them, although we must realize that they too are human and will likely mess up.

So how do we do this discipleship thing? There is no cut-and-dried answer, but it all boils down to being in relationship with Jesus, and with others who are also in relationship with Jesus, and being willing to learn and be molded into the image of Christ. Some characteristics that a disciple should have are as follows:

1. Intimacy with Christ
2. Faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
3. A Biblical perspective on the circumstances of life
4. A teachable, responsive, humble, and obedient spirit
5. A clear sense of personal purpose and calling
6. Healthy relationships with Godly people
7. Ongoing ministry investment in the lives of others

We definitely can’t become perfect disciples overnight; it is a process that takes an entire lifetime. The congregation I currently attend (The Catalyst Church in Findlay, Ohio) is currently going through year long discipleship training process that I’m a part of. But we know that even after this year of training, we’ll only just be getting started. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifelong goal, and I know I will always be working to be a better disciple of Jesus so I can help others be His disciples as well.

Lessons in the Suffering and Trials of Elizabeth Thorn

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 20, 2014 0 comments

by Michael Homula

Last week I shared a brief story about Elizabeth Thorn and what she experienced, endured and did during those three fateful days of July 1863 while six months pregnant. Today I want to take some time to look more closely at Thorn and what we can learn about the character of God and how we should respond when we face suffering and tribulation.

In the summer of 1863, when a battle came to Gettysburg, its citizens were trapped between armies and soon witnessed that the universe of battle was broad and complicated and they too would have to be players in the drama. So they stepped in. They performed all sorts of duties during the crisis – some acted as spies, some picked up a rifle and defended their homes, others cooked, and most ultimately nursed and comforted the wounded and dying. But in the case of Elizabeth Thorn, she scouted ground for the Union Army and then took on the gruesome task of burying the dead all while six months pregnant. Truly amazing!

Thorn documented her experience like virtually no other in the town of Gettysburg at that time. In her writings we find a woman weary but strong, frightened but courageous, horrified but comforted. We must ask ourselves: why was she able to do what she did in the face of such tribulation?

Immediately after the battle, upon returning to the cemetery and the gatehouse that was her home, she found dead and dying men littering the ground. Ordered by the cemetery president to begin burying the dead, she wrote:

"Yet for all the foul air we two started in. I stuck off the graves and while my father finished one, I had another one started. This lasted for days, until....Two [others] came, but one only stayed two days, then got deathly sick and left. The other stayed five days, then he went away very sick.

"[We] kept on burying the soldiers until they had the National Cemetery ready, and in that time we buried one hundred five soldier…it was only excitement and God that helped me to do all the work, with all that stench."

The “why” was her God. The temptation to run away from the horror, carnage, and stress must have been enormous. No one would have faulted her for doing so. Instead of sinking into a paralysis of fear or run to get away, she turned to God and He delivered – as He always does. This is a lesson those who follow Jesus and declare God as Father.

In Zechariah, the prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:

"Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst." (Zechariah 2:4–5)

In Thorn’s weak, fragile, and vulnerable condition God afforded her protection – “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” If it were true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem then surely it was true for Elizabeth Thorn, and it is true for us today as God’s dearly loved children. God will be a “wall of fire” around us.

He has been. He will be.

But, it gets even better. Inside that fiery wall of protection God says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of His fire; He will give us pleasure of His presence.

This certainly would be an encouragement to Thorn during the days and months of hard and gruesome labor and it should be sweet to us as well, carrying us through whatever we face in our lives.

There are seemingly infinite lessons for us in the suffering, perseverance, courage, and fortitude of a pregnant woman burying the dead at Gettysburg. Worldly suffering is inevitable but God has many reasons to allow us adversity, just as Jesus suffered before and on the cross. In the interest of time and space, I chose three reasons:

To Glorify God

It may sound odd, but sometimes we are given tribulation in order for God to receive glory. Consider the events in Daniel concerning Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were to be thrown into a flaming furnace for not worshiping a pagan god. They declared to king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:16-18, “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us…”

In other words, in this tribulation that the three were receiving, God would be glorified in their deliverance from it. Similarly, just as Elizabeth Thorn faced her trials, we may face trials so that our perseverance in God may one day glorify Him when we are delivered from the hardship.

To Build Faith

This is opposite of what most people would believe. One would think that trial and tribulation would cause a believer to lose faith in the Lord, however this is opposite of what the Bible teaches. Faith is built by being tested just as how exercising, though it is uncomfortable to most, builds muscle.

Peter in 1 Peter 1:6-7 emphasizes this idea. Peter tells us that our faith would be found to glorify Jesus, though it be tested by fire. The classic example of this is Job who, although he lost everything, maintained and built faith in the Lord. Elizabeth Thorn’s faith was tested in a way that none of us are likely to experience yet her faith remained firm under fire.

To Grow

Adversity and tribulation, just as it helps us build faith, also helps us to grow more complete, especially in perseverance, character and hope. Romans 5:3-5 says the following:

"…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

God promises that our growth occurs in a process starting with hardship. Hardship gives us a reason to have perseverance: to get through it no matter what. Perseverance builds character by having us trust in the Lord and be humble. Finally, good character gives us the hope we need to overcome the hardship.

I see no greater example of these (and many others) than actions of Elizabeth Thorn at Gettysburg as she faced, alongside her God, suffering and adversity beyond what any of us could imagine.

So, what will you do when you next suffer or face a trail?

The Bleeding Ninja, Jesus, a Tent, and a Dead Girl – Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 19, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Last week I invited you to read Luke 8:40-48, and we unpacked a very important detail infused into that situation. When the hemorrhaging woman comes and takes the tassel of Jesus’ Tallith in her hands, she is healed by God immediately. God’s response to her faith was to heal her and affirm that He was the only one she would find her healing in. Oh, and also to affirm that it is through Jesus Christ that we are able to have relationship, healing, and restoration with/by God.

But did this woman’s healing cost the life of a little girl who Jesus was on his way to see? Did she catch God off guard or interrupt some plan in motion? What was Jairus supposed to feel or think, when this woman got healed by a “sneak attack” on Jesus, and his daughter is still dying?

Let’s continue in that same passage with verses 49-56. Take a moment and read them, then come finish this blog.

Jairus served in the temple as a priest, a faithful and God-fearing man. His daughter was dying. Although he had heard the religious leaders condemning Jesus, he chose to seek Jesus out because he believed the miracles he heard were happening through him. As Jesus blessed and sent the woman on her way, he turned back to heading to Jairus’ house. Before they could take even another step, messengers from Jairus’ house came to tell him his daughter had died.

Jesus reassures him, and asks everyone to stop mourning when they arrive. Jesus tells them she isn’t dead, and they laugh. These people knew death when they saw it, and she was dead. From a human perspective, this was a concrete ending, with no reversal. From God’s perspective, she was only asleep. Now if you read the passage, you know Jesus silences the laughter by throwing them all out and then raising the young girl from the dead. Let me show you a part of that moment that we miss, if we don’t know what I shared last week about the Tallith.

In Luke, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Child, arise.” In Mark 5:41, Jesus is recorded as saying, “talitha koum” and its translated as “Little girl, I say to you get up.” When I studied this a number of years ago, I remember coming across an explanation about why “talitha” would be translated “little girl.” Children were often addressed using the word “Talith” because as a part of their family life they would be wrapped in their Father’s prayer shawl and blessed by him. They were also said to be “in the shadow of his [their father’s] wings.” This was an expression of their father’s love, care and responsibility over his children. The prayer shawl/little tent clearly symbolizes that both children and parents are blessed when they are in relationship with each other – while living under God’s teaching, love, protection, etc.

So, not only is Jesus saying, “Little girl, arise,” but with the cultural understanding of how the prayer shawl/little tent was used in the family it could be translated with more emphasis. Jesus could be saying, “Little girl who is under my tent, arise!”

Jesus shows that He is the one who brings life, healing, and restoration again, this time by reversing death. With loving intimacy, like a good father to his child, Jesus invites her under His love and care, to have relationship with God, following His teachings, and living life to the fullest. We are not sure what Jairus’ daughter went on to do with her life. I would bet she remembered and lived her life to honor the one who gave and restored her life to her.

What about you? What or who is it that you need God to heal? Have you started believing the doubts about why God doesn’t seem to be taking action?

No one can explain for you why God is or is not taking action the way you want Him to. No one can stand in God’s defense and justify the hardship and suffering you or a loved one may be experiencing. No one has a “faith formula” that will twist God’s arm to give you the particular miracle you want. In fact, God may take the situation in the exact opposite of what you hope.

I would like to encourage you, though. Three things we know just from this passage we looked at the last two weeks:
- God’s plan is from an uncluttered perspective. He can see good even when all we see is pain.
- We can boldly take the name of God in our hands and hold on to him, trusting He’ll bring the best out of any situation.
- He invites us to walk with him, according to his ways, under his shelter – so that he can bring life and blessing to every circumstance we face
- It may take years, it may be in an instant – He will not be late, He does not forget. He will rescue His people.

Young Earth Creation: History or Myth?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 18, 2014 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Psalms 11:3: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Many of you have noticed that Bill Seng, Steve Risner, and I have been addressing a lot of different issues about the Bible, Evolution, and many origins issues. As Christians, why are discussions about origins so important? Why can’t we just focus on the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ? Why can’t we just say “God created the universe and that is that”? Our view of origins actually directly affects how we live our lives, and as Christians, the model of origins we believe in also affects our view and our ability to live the Christian walk. I will emphasize that “age of the earth” is not the central issue, but a fruit of central issues. If we get those central issues in order, the age of the earth will take care of itself. I also want to emphasize that discussing origins ultimately means nothing for a Christian if we do not intend to point to Christ through it all.

In the last three weeks, I briefly talked about differences with the Old Earth Creation models and Scripture. I could not get into all the details without making each post 10x longer, but the common theme I demonstrated was that these Old Earth Models trust in the knowledge and wisdom in man to tell us how to read Scripture instead of taking Scripture as the highest authority and building a model based on that. There is one model that does start with Scripture and tests all things with Scripture: Young Earth Creation, or as Ken Ham would prefer it to be called, Biblical Creation. The moniker Young Earth Creation (or YEC) was coined in the late 19th century in response to the Old Earth Models, however the position that YEC takes is the same position that the church and the history of the Jewish nation held. It was not until the last 200 years that the “age of the earth” was even an issue. The debate in the early church was between a 6-day creation and an instantaneous creation, but the age of the earth was never up for discussion, until recently.

So with this post, I am starting a new series about YEC, why I hold it, why it is the model that best fits the records of the Bible, and why it is important for Bible-believing Christians to hold it for their model of origins. And this does play a role with Christ at the cross. But first, I am going to discuss one of the major challenges to the YEC position: Is Genesis 1-11 historical or mythical? A record of history, or an allegory?

I am a published author and I know a thing or two about myths, allegories, metaphors, etc. A myth is a grand story that may have some basis on historical events but the intention of the account is not to tell factual history. The Odyssey is a myth that may have had some historical truth but was never intended to be told as truth. An allegory uses a fictitious tale to describe how something may look like in the real world. The Chronicles of Narnia has allegorical elements in how Aslan deals with the Pevensie children. A metaphor uses a picture of something that is well-known and well-understood to describe something that is abstract and more complex.

When I see people object to YEC claims and suggest that Genesis 1-11 is allegorical or metaphorical, I have to suggest that these people do not understand these terms. If the Creation account is allegorical or metaphorical, what is the picture that is trying to be described? In Jesus’ parables, we see this done right. Because, with understanding of the culture of the time, Jesus’ parables give us a clear understanding of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. He took something that was well known and well established and used it to describe how his Kingdom works.

But Genesis does not do this. The idea here is that the people of the OT did not understand modern science so God had to give them a myth, an allegory, a metaphor, and idiom, until they could understand the “deeper meaning.” However, the “deeper meaning” being referenced here is the secular account of origins which looks absolutely nothing like what is described in Genesis 1-2. I mentioned this in my post on Progressive Creation two weeks ago. The order of creation is very different in all the Old Earth models than in the Biblical account. It’s not just an interpretation issue. It is a total structure issue. The YEC model is the only origins model that actually follows the order of Creation in Genesis 1.

So now, we have to address the myth vs. history aspect. A myth may have started out as history but that aspect is lost over time with embellishment and such. With accounts like Sodom and Gomorrah, the Crossing of the Red Sea, the Conquest of Jericho, and more and more in the Bible, Creation is not the only account that would suggest “myth” in Genesis. But myth has no intention of showing history. All of Genesis and many other books of the Old Testament clearly show history. The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, along with the annals of the Judges and the Kings, show history. The genealogies of Genesis are repeated in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus. And in Middle Eastern and African cultures, genealogies are among the most valued historical documents you can have. They prove your lineage of where you came from. Jesus had to be of the lineage of Adam to be able to cover for the sins from Adam. I will go into detail on that later. So Genesis 1-11 can’t be a myth.

Some argue that Genesis 1-11 is poetic. However, there is a problem. In Hebrew, there is a very distinctive difference in writing style between historical narrative and poetic genres. The RATE Project comprised of eight years of studying radioactive decay and the dating methods involved there, comparing it to the Genesis account. One of their studies was a statistical analysis of the styles of verbs used in historical passages (such as Joshua, Samuel, Kings, etc) with poetic passages (such as Psalms, Hannah’s Prayer in 1 Samuel 2, Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, etc.) And what they discovered is that Genesis 1 in particular shows more verbs that were used in historical narrative passages than most of the passages analyzed. This can be checked out in the book or DVD “Thousands not Billions.

A very important thing to note is that Hebrew is a pictographic language. Each word and each letter of Hebrew is a picture or even an idiom. If you have time or interest to check out how this works, no single source I know of better illustrates this concept than Eric Ludy’s sermon “The Cry of the Roman Soldier,” a study on the word “Amen.” Hebrew uses pictures and idioms as a basis for their language. And this is completely independent of genre. This understanding of Hebrew cannot be used to determine what genre a text is because it is used universally in all genres.

A final thing I will address here is that no Bible scholar questions the historical account of Genesis from Genesis 12 on. Genesis 12 is when the scope of the Biblical account narrows from a worldwide account and zooms in on Abraham, the Father and Progenitor of the Hebrew Nation from whom Christ would come. Prior to that, there is absolutely no logical break, no visual cue to suggest there is a change in genre. Abraham’s name is listed in the Genesis 11 Genealogy and it is written in the same style as the rest of the book. An interesting observation is that the translators from Hebrew to English saw the differences in the genres as well. Look in your Bibles. You will see that historical narrative passages are written in standard paragraph form like any other book and poetic passages are written in a very distinct poetic form. You can visually see the differences in the genre.

The reality is, Genesis is historical narrative. It is not poetic, it is not mythical, it is not allegorical, and it is not metaphorical. It records history. And it is this history that forms the roots of everything Christians believe. I will have another post on that particular aspect soon. It was treated as history by every author of the Bible who referenced it, including Luke, Peter and Paul. Jesus himself did too. If they treated Genesis has history, so should we.

Your Body is a Temple

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 17, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner

So what's a temple? The dictionary will say something like a building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods or other objects of religious reverence. To the Jews, the Temple (of which there were two) was the site on which Abraham, in obedience, nearly sacrificed the son of the promise, Isaac. God provided a ram for the sacrifice and Isaac was spared. Nearly a millennium later, David purchased this same place to build the Temple of God. Solomon actually constructed it and it was magnificent. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It was rebuilt in 516 BC and added onto in 12 BC. After Jewish Zealots took control of the city in 66 AD, Rome laid siege on Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

To the Jewish people, the Temple was the holiest site on earth. It was the one place on earth that God would manifest Himself within the Holy of Holies once a year. The high priest was the only person able to enter this place and atone for his sins as well as the sins of the people. This area was separated from the rest of the Temple by a very thick veil because there was a great divide between God and man. The priest would have to go through a lengthy ceremonial cleansing/washing to enter and would burn incense before going in. This was to partially block his vision so he, an imperfect man, would not be struck dead for looking on the perfect, holy, awesome, righteous God. Personally, as life changing and indescribably amazing as it would have been, I think I would not have wanted the job. I know myself too well. I probably wouldn't have made it out alive.

But on the cross, as Christ breathed His last breath, there was an earthquake and the veil that separated us from God was torn. Now, so there is no confusion, this tearing had nothing to do with the earthquake. It was not a result of a “natural” occurrence. The veil was torn from top to bottom signifying that God Himself had opened the Holy of Holies. The veil was traditionally the thickness of the width of a man's hand—or about 4 inches and was extremely durable. All this to say that since God Himself tore the veil, we have access to Him through Jesus Christ—our High Priest—so we don't have to ask another person who is a sinner like us to go through a week of preparation to enter into the Holy of Holies and atone for our sins. Praise God for this wonderful fact!

As a result, and as I wrote last week concerning the Holy Spirit, God Himself resides in us. We are the Temple of God. According to 1 Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” And just a few verses later Paul writes, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

All this is to say that at least here in America, a very large portion of us are in disrepair. The number one killer in the US, heart disease, is primarily a lifestyle related disease. The number two killer, cancer, can largely be attributed to lifestyle although we know less about cancer than we don't know. The number three killer, stroke, is very often related to lifestyle. Number four, lung disease, is most often a lifestyle disease. Number five is quite often lifestyle related as well—that being diabetes. About 10% of cases of diabetes are type 1 diabetes. Most cases of type 2 diabetes are lifestyle related. We're not taking good care of our Temples.

About 70% of us are overweight and half of those that are overweight are obese. Obesity means your BMI is over 30 and the excess fat you have accumulated will likely decrease your life expectancy. That's pretty heavy stuff, no pun intended. Over the last 20 years, researchers have concluded that our overall caloric intake in the US has not increased but our overall obesity rate has increased by about 10-15%. In America, we generally like convenience. We eat from a box, a can, a bag, or a window more often than not. Eat real food! We also like to eat those carbs—breads, noodles, rice, potatoes—just about anything that will increase a meal size but not cost much. We've been told things like we should eat margarine, we should eat all the grains we can, we should eat artificial sweeteners, we should avoid eating fat, etc. Most of the things we commonly see on TV or learned in school regarding eating right are wrong. That is the unfortunate truth. If you care enough about your health so you can live a longer life that you actually enjoy rather than being sick for much of it, do some research on eating right. After you look into it long enough, you'll find something that works well for you. There's no silver bullet. You can contact me personally if you like and I may be able to direct you to some great resources.

Research has also found that the number of people who are participating in physical activity has decreased quite a bit in the last 20 years as well. “I walk a lot at work” or “I have to keep up with my grandkids” are often excuses I hear for not exercising. What these people are saying is they're active and that is not a bad thing. But there is a MAJOR difference between being fit and being active. Being active means you move around sometimes. Being fit means your cardiovascular endurance as well as your joints and muscles can tolerate exertion. Exercise is what gets you fit. Walking in a factory or whatever doesn't get you fit. It keeps you active. One is okay. The other is terrific and has been shown to improve your life expectancy and your quality of life (which to me is far more important). Start out small. Go for a walk for 30 minutes. Get a bike you can peddle while you watch TV or read a book. Join a gym. Get a partner who will keep you accountable. Do something! Anything! I must stress, however, that being “in shape” is about 30% exercise and 70% what you eat.

It's also critical to get the proper amount of water. Water is a clear, odorless liquid that comes from most faucets. It doesn't fizz. It doesn't have any calories, caffeine, or sweeteners. It can be very inexpensive. Take your body weight in lbs and cut that in half. This number is, for most, the number of ounces you should drink of WATER (not pop, not coffee or tea, not whatever else you're drinking) a day. What this does for you is amazing.

Our Temple also needs a little rest from time to time. A good 8 hours a night or so will do wonderful things for you including helping you feel better during the day, fighting off illness, give you more clarity of thought, help you lose weight (for a few reasons), and just make you smile.

There are many other things that one can do to help maintain or improve their Temple, but these few things I've mentioned—eating properly including drinking enough water, exercising, and adequate rest—are not optional if you want to be healthy and enjoy the number of your years. Take care of the Temple and “honor God with your body.” Your loved ones need you to.