Blind Side

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 30, 2014 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Have you ever been blindsided by life, everything is going along as planned, and out of nowhere something unexpected hits you so hard it knocks the wind out of you? You find yourself holding your breath, reminding yourself to breathe, to get through this moment, day, month, year. In the popular movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock’s character Leigh Anne Tuohy explains in the opening monologue that the second highest paid player in the NFL is the left tackle. It is the left tackle’s job to protect the quarterback from what he can’t see, to protect his blind side. Check out the clip here.

What has blindsided you in life? What has happened that you didn’t see coming? Maybe your spouse came home from work one day and asked for a divorce; maybe it is the sudden death of a loved one; or perhaps your boss walks in one day and announces that the company you have devoted your life to is downsizing and you will lose your job. Blindsided, wham! Out of nowhere your life is turned upside down.

The first time I was blindsided by life was after the birth of my first son, Brandon. I found myself curled up in a ball on my parents’ couch crying uncontrollably as my mom took care of my newborn son and me. My sister encouraged me to call the doctor because she thought that I was experiencing postpartum depression. I remember thinking, depressed? Why am I depressed? I prayed for this baby, I planned for this baby, I prepared for this baby, what on earth do I have to be depressed about? It was obvious to everyone but me that I was clearly depressed. I forced myself off of the couch and called the doctor with tears in my eyes and found the help I needed to get over that season in my life. However, during this difficult and confusing time, I remember repeating this scripture verse over and over to myself from Deuteronomy 31:8: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I held on to that promise as I rode out that storm in my life.

I have battled depression on and off in my adult life. One day when I was trying to drag myself out of bed I felt like God gave me the words to a song:

“Jesus didn’t die for us to live this way
Broken hearted, empty handed, cast away.
Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves!
He is light out of darkness
The empty tomb
Strength in our weakness
Joy in full bloom.
Because, Jesus didn’t die for us to live this way
Broken hearted, empty handed, cast away
Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves!”

The words to that song helped me to get out of bed that day and reminded me of John 10:10, “I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We were born to LIVE! Not merely survive from day to day but live life to the fullest.

I know that our lives are busy. Maybe you’re thinking that your life is already full. You work a full time job, volunteer at church, your children have activities, not to mention your household responsibilities, and there are only so many hours in a day. Living life to the full doesn’t mean full of activities or merely being busy. Ask yourself, is your life full of peace, joy, and hope? Or do you find in your hectic schedule that you long for a sanctuary of peacefulness? The beginning of John 10:10 says that, “The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.” One of Satan’s most effective tools is to convince us that if we are busy we have purpose. We can have a life full of activities, and if we miss spending time with Jesus we invite the thief in to steal our peace, kill our joy, and destroy our hope.

In John 15 Jesus says the phrase “remain in me” six times. The King James Version says “Abide in me.” Abide means to wait, to put up with, to live up to, to submit to, and carry out. Abide in me (Jesus), when you don’t know the plan; abide in me when life is hard; abide in me when you are lonely, afraid, tired; abide in me – Jesus.

We remain in Jesus by spending quiet uninterrupted time reading our Bible, in prayer, and sitting quietly at his feet listening. If we are not filling ourselves up with the Word, in Jesus’ presence, and maintaining this relationship we will be left empty. We minister to those around us out of the overflow of Jesus in our lives. We can’t pour water out of an empty pitcher, and we can’t pour living water into the lives around us out of an empty vessel. Life to the fullest comes from a life being continually filled by maintaining a daily relationship with Jesus.

If you have been knocked down by life, I encourage you to pick yourself up, reach out for help if you need to like I did, but live the life you were created to live. We have two choices when we have been blindsided: we can be overcome by our circumstances, or we can be overcomers in Christ! I encourage you to be an overcomer and to LIVE!

The Messiah Test

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 28, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the amazing things about Scripture is how it fulfills prophecy fully and completely. This past summer, Bill Seng did a 10-part series of why he believes the Bible over other religious texts and reason #4 was because of the prophecy aspects. In the last two weeks, I described some of the details involving the Canon, which we know as the Bible. Today, I will wrap up my discussion on the Canon in how Jesus fulfilled the 300+ prophecies which together can be considered the Messiah Test.

Before I get into that, recall what I wrote two weeks ago about the Canon Test. One of the requirements is 100% correct agreement. There cannot be a single contradiction when taken as a whole. The Messiah Test is the same way. There are many who have come and claimed some of the prophecies, but if said person fails just one of these criteria that person is NOT the Messiah. We have Horus, Kristna, Mithras, and others who many have used to claim that Jesus is not unique. Some of these people claim to have been born to a virgin. Some of these people claim to have performed miracles. Some of them claim to die for the sake of the people. But those are just a few of the prophecies. Some of the prophecies are very specific on what would happen during the life of the Messiah and only one person fulfilled every single one of them. Many people could fulfill a few, but to fulfill each one would require the direct hand of God himself.

I heard of one mathematician saying that the odds of one person fulfilling just 8 of these 300+ prophecies would the equivalent of filling the entire state of Texas two feet thick with quarters, then blindfolded, select the one pre-marked quarter at random. For perspective, you can drive the entire day going across Texas and never leave it. It is over 850 miles along Interstate 10, and that’s just the east-west direction. Why did there have to be so many prophecies? I can think of a good reason. It gives us a pinpointed “address” so we can easily identify who the Messiah is. Many people have come to believe in Jesus just by studying these prophecies. Each one was written over 400 years prior to Jesus’ life. How did he accomplish this? Let take a look at some of these prophecies. In writing this post, I found an awesome site that lists 353 of the prophecies, where they are found and how Jesus fulfilled them, including the references. The prophecies are in order from Genesis to Malachi and there are some duplicates due to this structure. Let’s explore some of them. The first prophecy in this list is that the Messiah would come from the seed of a woman in Genesis 3:15. This implies a virgin birth. How do we know this? In most lineages, we hear of the seed of Abraham, the seed of Isaac, the seed of David, which is male lineage. Yet, in Genesis 3:15, it is the seed of a woman. Jesus fulfilled this as recorded in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:27-35.

Prophecy #23 in this list is that the Messiah would be a “lamb without blemish”. This picture is given with the Passover in Exodus 12:5. In the Passover, during the 10th plague against Egypt, the angel of death came to wipe out the first born of all those living in Egypt, but he would “pass over” any house that was marked with the blood of an innocent lamb that had no blemish, no spots or broken bones. Jesus is often considered the “Passover Lamb”. He had to be perfect and pure. He had to be without sin. Why? Because if he had sinned, his death would only cover his own sin. But because he was without sin and paid the debt that a sinner had to pay, it covered the cost.

Prophecies #50 and 55 come from two references but are effectively the same prophecy. The Messiah had to come from the line of David. It wasn’t enough that he come from the line of Adam or the line of Shem, or the line of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Judah. He also had to come from the line of David. This is also means he is a rightful ruler of the Jews, because he came from the bloodline of the kings of Israel and Judah. It really gets interesting because Matthew and Luke’s genealogies split at David. Matthew follows the line to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly adoptive father (a process that legally puts Jesus in that lineage). Luke follows the line through Mary and yet both of these lines intersect with Jesus and with David. How could anyone plot out such accuracy intentionally unless it was done so by God himself?

Psalm 22 is a major one that prophecies dealing specifically with the crucifixion. This is summarized in prophecies #75-92. Remember that crucifixion was not a known execution method at the time of David who wrote the Psalm. Crucifixion was a Roman practice that did not come into play until 1000 years later. But let me point out one specific one. #86 is the prophecy that the Messiah would be stripped naked for all men to see (Psalm 22:17-18). Public nakedness to a Jew was the ultimate humiliation. Nothing could be worse. No Jewish execution or even the execution of any of their neighbors during David’s time stooped that low. Yet the Romans did. Right before the cross would be erected, they reached down, grabbed the garments and ripped them off, giving full exposure. How would David, who wrote this Psalm 1000 years prior to the events, even think about this?

#126 reveals that the Messiah would be given vinegar in thirst. During the crucifixion, Jesus was thirsty and given vinegar on a sponge to drink. Isaiah 53:1-12 describes even more details about the Crucifixion covering #243-277. Why would an innocent man stand silent before countless false accusers?

The details these prophecies give are so specific that the best story tellers combined could not come up with such an account. And as an author and story teller in my own right, I would not be able to conceive of all these details in a time where such a situation was not conceivable. If I were to describe the brutal death of a righteous man, I would use something my immediate audience could relate to. But the specific details in these prophecies were completely foreign concepts to the authors. How could anyone predict that Jesus would be betrayed by a friend specifically for 30 pieces of silver and that those 30 pieces of silver would be cast down in the temple? Yet that is precisely what happened with Judas’ betrayal. Jesus fulfilled every one of these prophecies with exact precision. And that makes him worthy of being the fulfillment of the Canon.

With this distinction, Jesus has all the rights and authority to do with us as he pleases, to rule our lives as he wants. Does this make him sound like a slave master? Yes, but he is the perfect master. He’s not like the standard slave master we think of as we tend to picture pre-Civil War US history or ancient Egypt. He is a perfect master who does seek the best for us. And because he is the fulfillment of the Canon, it does not matter what we think of him. He is the standard, not us. He is right, not us. We can only be right by agreeing with him. He is the boss. He is the King and there is nothing we can say or do that will change that. To surrender to his will requires eating humble pie, but he is a perfect master. He is not safe as he does what he wills but he is good. And when he puts us through trials and difficulties, he sees the end result which will make us stronger and prepared for bigger and better things. Trust him. He is the Messiah. He is the King. And it is the greatest honor we could ever have to serve him. And this final question is bestowed to us all. What will you do with Jesus? Embrace him for who he is, as Lord, King, Savior, Friend? Or reject him and continue to try to rule your own life? The choice is yours, but no matter what choice you make, Jesus is still the Messiah, the fulfillment of the Canon.

Thanking God For Adversity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 26, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In preparation for this writing, I came across a quote by pastor and author Bruce Larson: “The bottom line for you and me is simply this: Grimness is not a Christian virtue”. He goes on to say, “If God really is the center of one’s life and being, joy is inevitable. If we have no joy, we have missed the heart of the Good News”. I find this very impactful because I know so many believers who walk around with a very defeated or complaining attitude. Maybe that is you. Maybe you are having a difficult time being thankful or finding joy in your life because of the circumstances you have faced, or are facing. As you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, whether it is because you are truly thankful or because you have to put on a front in order to appease friends and family members who will be with you, I want you to know about the origin of the day itself. You’ll see that adversity does not overcome a thankful heart. In fact, it strengthens it even more.

At the link here, you can find the Thanksgiving Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln from October 3, 1863. This made Thanksgiving Day a national celebration officially, but the idea of intentionally giving thanks began well before that. According to Wikipedia, it was first a tradition of the Native Americans that the Pilgrims recognized in 1621 when they declared a three-day feast to celebrate with the natives and thank God for all he had given them. It was adversity that drove them to recognize their dependence on the Almighty God to carry them forward. They fled religious persecution in England, left for a new and unknown land, and arrived in Massachusetts when they were shooting for the coast of Virginia. This trip took about two months and contained 102 people on one ship in a harsh and stormy sea. When they began to settle the land, they built shelters but were unprepared for the harsh winters. Forty-six of their people died during that first winter due to the extreme cold weather or starvation. After all this adversity, those that were left gave thanks to God as their true Provider, Protector, and Sustainer.

But it didn’t stop there. Two centuries later, a woman by the name of Sarah Josepha Hale, a well-known writer of the day who penned a collection of poems that included “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, wrote letters to five different presidents over a span of forty years urging them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. That sounds like something right out of The Shawshank Redemption! She persevered until President Lincoln finally listened to her. Then again, she had already dealt with adversity. Her husband died when she was very young and left her alone with the children. She is said to have worn black for the rest of her life, some fifty years plus, in order to mourn for her husband. While she mourned the loss of the love of her life, she remained thankful to God for all that he had provided and sought to have the whole nation follow her example.

So, what made Lincoln finally be the one to listen to her? Well, he certainly didn’t listen to her right away. In those days, George Washington had already instituted Thanksgiving as a holiday for the states that wished to observe it, but most of the southern states did not. For Lincoln to agree to make it national, he would likely upset some of those states. I submit to you that, as you can see if you read his proclamation, Lincoln’s adversity led him to recognize the need to thank God and continue to depend on him as a nation. If you know your history at all, you know that the U.S. Civil War was still going on at this time. Try being president of a country torn apart by a Civil War! In addition, Lincoln had as much personal adversity before he even became president as anyone could. He lost a child, was rejected by a woman he loved, failed while running for several different political offices, and had a nervous breakdown, just to name a few struggles. Maybe this was why, by the time he became president, he knew who was really in charge. This is from the proclamation: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy”. These words immediately followed Lincoln’s list of many of the blessings God had poured out on the nation over the previous year. Despite it being one of the darkest years in American history, Lincoln still found reason to thank God for his faithfulness and led others to take the same view.

The Apostle Paul learned to take a similar view. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul is given a “thorn in my flesh” and calls it a “messenger of Satan to torment me”. We are not told exactly what it was and many scholars have opinions about it, but there is no way to know for sure. What we do know is that Paul “pleaded” with God to have it taken away. But God chose to give an answer different from what Paul wanted or maybe even expected. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9a). Paul allowed God to change his outlook, and from that point forward declared that he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. He then declared, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

Whatever has happened in your life over the past year or longer, I urge you to approach tomorrow and the rest of this holiday season with a firm reliance on God to carry you forward and to completely sustain you. It’s not that we have to be fake and hide the fact that our hardships are no fun. But, there is something valuable about recognizing our own shortcomings and inability to sustain ourselves. When we accept that we can’t do it on our own and must look to a Power greater than ourselves, it’s much easier to see all that we have to be thankful for and much more likely to lead to intentionality regarding giving thanks. Everyone who has ever had a major role in bringing forth this holiday we celebrate as a nation went through a lot of adversity before turning to the Lord. We may not like it, but we often need it to get our focus back where it belongs. The turkey will be great, the football might be mediocre, and the time with family could go a lot of different directions. But the provisions of the Lord during the times when we need him the most have never changed. He has never failed us and he’s not going to start now. Will you choose to be thankful, even for your adversity? Remember, when you are weak, you are strong in Christ.


Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 25, 2014 13 comments

by Bill Seng

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” - 1 Timothy 6:20

Science is not what it was meant to be at its founding. In the early years of science, although exclusively practiced by aristocrats with nothing better to do, it was performed out of a genuine curiosity to understand the world. Aside from conclusions that derived from certain biases, it seemed like most early scientists were engaged in a genuine pursuit of truth. Today, I think that it is safe to say that science has become a political battering ram championed and funded by politicians. Anyone who opposes the popular political view of a certain scientific proposal is ultimately labeled as Anti-Science.

Believe it or not, I have deviated significantly from what I was going to write in this post. I have a tendency to rebuke those who believe in old earth creationism, theistic evolution, and global warming, but I am going to take a step back and attempt to leave my bias at the door even if for a moment. We have to be very careful what we declare as science because science, regardless of what pop culture says, is not merely the scientific method. Science is knowledge. Knowledge is not a hunch about something; it is an absolute understanding of a given topic. For instance, I know that 2+2=4. That is an indisputable truth. That is science and no matter how many ways I take the quantity of 2 and pair it up with another 2 the result will always be 4. Anti-Science, then, is a denial of the truth. However, some things are not so black and white.

When going into the realm of the creation vs. evolution debate, global climate change, the Ebola epidemic, etc. one must be willing to admit that there is much that is not understood about each respective topic. In the creation vs. evolution debate, there truly is no way to know the age of the earth through natural observations. It is only through preconceived biases that such conclusions can be made. Regarding global climate change, it is impossible at this point in history to determine whether the “shifting seasons” and variances in temperatures is a result of cyclical patterns or man-made factors. With the Ebola epidemic, we know that the disease can be spread by certain means of transmission but there have been cases that may have defied the odds. Such occurrences have warranted a certain level of precaution when dealing with the disease. If a given topic is not fully understood, one should not assume that the conclusions presented by one faction or another are dogma. Sure, I have my biases regarding each one of these topics and would argue passionately about them. It would be unfair to say that those who disagree with me are not intelligent. For all I know, which is not much in the grand scheme of things, I could be wrong.

And yet, as Christians there are certain truths that we can call science in the truest sense. The passage above is from 1 Timothy and in the context of the book, the false science it is referring to has nothing to do with laboratories, Bunsen burners, or test tubes. It is referring to true knowledge that can be obtained through a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul and Timothy had been dealing with charlatans that were promoting false teachings about the Gospel message. Ultimately Paul told Timothy to avoid these false teachings. Science for them was revealed in the truth of Jesus Christ, who was risen from the dead to the glory of God.

Are you anti-science? Are we anti-science?  If we are grounded in reality, we will be humble enough to admit that our knowledge is so limited that we should not put down opposing points of view. I would further caution everyone on both sides of these debates to become suspicious when politicians get involved. In humility I think that the only statement that we can make in regards to science is this: “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

How Can I Be Thankful in All Circumstances?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 24, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This time of year, our focus often turns to being thankful. We get bombarded with Thanksgiving advertisements; we make plans to spend time with family; and we’re reminded in many places that we should be thankful for what we have. It’s easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving, or when all is going well in your life. But what about being thankful in ALL circumstances, and all year long?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The key to the last part of giving thanks in all circumstances is held in the first two parts: rejoice always, and pray continually.

In order to be thankful, even in the really bad times of life, we need to always be rejoicing. But, how can we have joy when life stinks? A couple months ago, I wrote about that. We should consider it pure joy to be going through the difficult times of life, because those are what God uses to strengthen us and help us grow to be more like Him. Even if we’re not happy with the circumstances of our lives at the moment, we still have the joy of knowing Jesus Christ and being in relationship with the God of the universe. Knowing that Jesus died to save us from when we mess up should be all we need to have complete joy in all circumstances!

But, we are human and we forget about the wonderful love that God has for us. We may try to always rejoice, but we’ll fail at that at times. So what do we do? We turn to the second part of the verse I quoted above - pray continually. That doesn’t mean we need to spend every moment on our knees in total focus on God, but it does mean that God should be always on our hearts and minds even as we go about the tasks of our day. When we’re communicating with God through prayer, we will be constantly reminded of His love and sacrifice for us, so that we are better able to rejoice always. Granted, our human minds will stray from God and turn away from Him, but through His forgiveness we’re always given another chance and can get back on track.

If we’re rejoicing always and praying continually, we can’t help but to be thankful in all circumstances! When we have the true joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, we will be thankful in the good times and in the bad times; in November and in every other month of the year.

What can you do in your life to embrace that joy, so you can be thankful in everything?

Failure: A Natural Teacher of Leadership

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 23, 2014 1 comments

by Preston Hunteman

Failure. No one likes to admit it, especially me.  I have wanted to grow up and become free of all the rules associated with living at home. The truth is, failure is a fact of life. One of the best things about the Scriptures is that they give testimonies of real people. We get to see them in all their failing glory.  Jacob and Esau, Abraham and Sarah, David and Bathsheba, David and Uriah, Moses in the desert, Jonah, Peter, and so many others.

Ultimately failure is what makes us grow up and experience life to its fullest.  Think of a child.   Have you ever seen a child learn to walk or run?  Did you see that child fail and fall on the floor continuously while the parents closely hover by?  Can you imagine yourself as the child trying to find his way in a new world?

Although you may not like to fail, know that you are not alone.  God is right beside you all the way.  As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, nothing will befall you which you cannot stand up underneath.

Your failures are among the most memorable things that will ever stay with you.  Failures are sometimes God’s way of showing us what we could do all along but never did because of this or that.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Failure is only as permanent as you will allow it to be. An extraordinary leader does not fear failure rather he embraces it to learn from the pain so that it may be better for the next time. Great things are accomplished once the fear of failure is less than the desire for the given goal.

Thanksgiving and Praise

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, November 22, 2014 2 comments

by Michael Homula

Contrary to our elementary school lessons that establish a meeting between pilgrims and native Americans as the first Thanksgiving, the truth is actually a far more poignant story.

As those who had been followed along in the Biblical Truth at Gettysburg series or who have joined me and the team in Gettysburg for one of our retreats know, I am a very serious student of the American Civil War and I have been studying the war since I was 15 years old. Naturally I have an affinity for many of the leaders of that period, but Abraham Lincoln’s courage, leadership and faith have always stood out to me.

The truth about the first official day of national Thanksgiving and Praise in the United States is directly attributable to Lincoln. Please note that the addition of the word Praise was not mine; it was a critical component to the first national day of Thanksgiving in this country and the preeminent reason I felt compelled to draft this post. There is a very interesting spiritual and faith based fact about Lincoln and his Thanksgiving and Praise Proclamation that I wanted to share as we approach the 151st Thanksgiving Day.

The timing of the proclamation came at a critical point in our nation's history, which was embroiled in a horrific Civil War that appeared to those living in America at the time to have no end in sight. Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor of the time, wrote a letter to Lincoln in 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote,

“You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Spiritually speaking, Lincoln's original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in nearly 10,000 dead and 53,000 wounded or missing. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

“When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.”

This Thanksgiving, as we meet with family and friends, let us be ever mindful of the mercy and love that God has shown us. Let us not forget the Praise element of the original National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise and lift our hearts, our voices, and our lives to our Creator and Savior from whom all good things come.

The Canon’s Authority

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 21, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I opened the discussion on how each book of the Bible was put through the “Canon Test” to see if it was worthy of being included in Scripture. I referenced a quote from Eric Ludy’s The Bravehearted Gospel where he describes what the Canon is, how it was determined, and what it means for us. Because that quote is directly from his book, I will repeat it here.

The Bible can be likened to a great tree with 66 branches. But this tree didn't start with 66 branches. Every branch had to be added over time. And to be added each branch must first have endured the supremely difficult "test of canonicity".
1. It has to prove it came from the same root. It has to be inspired by God himself.
2. It has to bear perfect likeness to the rest of the existing branches on the tree and could not contradict or bear the nature of a different type of tree. It had to align to perfection without a single fault.
3. And it had to evidence fruit identical to the fruit on the rest of the existing branches, showcasing in its life the exact same nature as the root from which it is born.

The Canon has divine authority to rule and control. So whatever possesses the distinction of Canon becomes...
  1. A Measuring rod against which all other ideas or truths must be measured, and all men must be judged, as well as all other aspiring measuring rods must be tested.
2. A correcting rod by which all men must come into alignment and all rebellion is driven from the hearts of men.
  3. a shepherd's rod that guides, comforts, and enables men down the narrow way of God's kingdom path
4. And a King's rod that silences all opposing opinion, holding all authority to divine truth, righteousness, and the nature of sin, death, life, salvation, and the world to come.
~The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy, pp 186-187

Last week, I addressed the three criteria any book must have to be considered as part of the Canon of the Bible. This week I will address the four points that Ludy lists for what the Canon is and what it can do. The Canon is the ultimate authority we have for our lives in all areas. While it does not address every specific situation, it gives us the guidelines for how we should live regardless of time, culture, or language. In keeping with the tree language, Ludy describes the Canon as a rod that has four functions.

1. A Measuring Rod. The Canon is the ultimate standard. It appeals to no other standard other than itself. The Canon being the ultimate standard does not rule out other standards from being able to exist, but they must be judged by the Bible. To describe this in scientific terms, there is a weight in the International Bureau of Weights and Measurements that defines the mass of one kilogram. It also has the standards for every other unit of measurement. Every weigh scale, every ruler, every thermometer, must be compared to the one standard at the IBWM. Likewise, every standard we use for any reason, be it science, ethics, government, business, or even just family rules, is subject to the Canon and must be checked by it. EVERY standard is subject to the authority of the Canon.

The Canon is also the judge of us. Hebrews 4:12 describes it as living and active, able to judge the hearts of men. We often hear that we have to interpret Scripture this way or that way. But such a mindset places our minds, our worldview, and our standards above Scripture. And this will always lead to false teachings and false beliefs. I cannot judge Scripture and determine if it is good or bad. It judges me. The Canon is the standard. Be a Berean. Measure anything anyone says against the Canon, including your own ideas. If it stands, it’s good to go. If not, reject it.

2. A Correcting Rod. The Canon provides not just the ultimate standard for how we should live, make our decisions, and do what we do, but it also provides the means of getting us back onto the correct path when we stray from it. It is not enough to tell us we are wrong. Satan does that too. That is condemnation. What God does is conviction. The two look VERY similar but there is one difference: When God convicts us, he tells us exactly where and how we got off on the wrong path and he tells us what we need to do to get back on it. The Canon provides what we need to do that.

3. A Shepherd’s Rod. The Canon does more than just tell us what the right and wrong paths are. It does more than just tell us how to get back on the right path when we stray. It also tells us how to stay on the right path so we don’t get off it in the first place. It provides us the comfort we need to know and understand that God is indeed with us through our life’s journey and that he guides us and directs us each step of the way.

4. A King’s Rod. There is a lot of evil on this world and the Canon points out that such evil will be punished. This is one of the key reasons why so many people hate it. Because unless they come into agreement with what the Canon says, they are under the King’s Rod, not the Shepherd’s Rod. The King’s Rod means government and justice. God is a just God. Yes, he is love and he wants what is best for us but if he does not punish evil, how can he be called loving? God knows what the punishment is for sin and he must enforce it. But because of his love and mercy, he is holding it back as long as he can. He does not want any to perish under that Judgment. But the day will come when Judgment is carried out. And there will not be any warning other than what we have already received. The Canon describes what the law is, what the standard is. If we do not follow it, when the King’s Rod shows up, do not be surprised. We are not perfect and we never will be able to perfectly stay on the right path. But if we believe the Canon and strive to follow it, we will see the Correcting Rod, not the King’s Rod.

The Canon shows what the standard is and it requires perfect fulfillment. We all know that we cannot meet this standard. But the Canon also provides the clues of what to expect for the Promised One who can fulfill it. There are over 300 prophecies detailing how the Messiah would come and how his life would be carried out. Next week, see how Jesus is the one that passed the Messiah Test.

God's Smoke Alarm

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 19, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

What is the purpose of a smoke alarm? It’s not to just annoy you to the point that you want to take a baseball bat to it. Its purpose is to get your attention so that you are alerted to a major, life-threatening problem you otherwise wouldn’t have recognized. Sometimes you are in a deep sleep, other times you may be so far away from the fire in your house that you don’t notice it and the alarm causes you to stop whatever else you are doing to take action. If you have an alarm that doesn’t function properly, you may be susceptible to something much more drastic happening to you, your family, and your home. You may also be completely irritated by the constant beeping when there is nothing to be alarmed about!

I’ll never forget the two weeks I spent in the beautiful town of Buena Vista, Colorado in 2011. The purpose for me being there was to go through two weeks of intensive counseling that included a group teaching session, several hours of one-on-one therapy daily, and nightly homework. I was dealing with some personal struggles at that time in my life and had experienced the consequences of my poor choices. I was broken, but was also beginning to see the hope that I have in Jesus no matter what I had done.

Maybe the most impactful part of the group teaching was when my counselor, Pete Kuiper, stood up and taught us that “pain is God’s smoke alarm”. It was impactful not only because it made me think about what I was going through at the time, but also because it has stuck with me. Every time I realize that I’m kind of just getting by in life and not really experiencing the abundant life that God desires for me, and every time I realize that I’m going through a lot of pain because of my choices, I remember what my counselor taught. A smoke alarm has to be annoying. It HAS to get our attention. Otherwise, it’s pointless. We might get so frustrated some day with the annoyance of the alarm that we destroy it. We may take care of the minor frustration, but then it leaves us vulnerable to the much greater problem of a fire. The teaching was that the pain we feel in our lives, whether it be the result of our own choices or the choices of others, is there to alert us of a much greater problem. The pain is what gives us a chance to make a change so that we are not destroyed completely. We may experience the pain or consequences of sin and just do whatever it takes to make the pain go away, but unless we pay attention to the larger problem and take action, we are still in danger. We have to remember that the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and we are most vulnerable when we don’t even know there is a problem.

Think about your own life. Do you realize there is a problem in your life when you wake up and the sun is shining and everything goes perfectly the way you had planned? Of course not! If you feel like everything is going well in your life, you won’t be inclined to change anything. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’”. As human beings, we have a tendency to only look at our present circumstances and if they include pain, we want it to stop and we want it to change. But God sees the big picture, so he may not be interested in changing your circumstances. He might be more interested in changing YOU!

Take a look at Jeremiah 29:1-14 and read it on your own. I will make just a few points about it. Jeremiah was a prophet who was almost always telling someone what they didn’t want to hear, because he was true to God’s Word through him. The people of Israel were in captivity to the ruthless Babylonians. It was one of the ways the Lord punished them for their disobedience and rebellion against him. He had warned them over and over again that this would happen, but when they rejected him anyway they experienced the consequences of their actions. Then, once they were in captivity, it was like they were just waiting on God to deliver them, praying that he would rescue them and change their awful circumstances. And he would… eventually. They even had prophets and diviners among them who claimed to be from God and told them what they wanted to hear, but God himself declared they were lying and that he had not sent them (vv. 8-9). Instead, God told them to get used to living where they were. He told them to stop waiting for him to rescue them and to learn to follow him even in the midst of their pain. He even told them to PRAY for the Babylonians (v. 7). How dare God ask them to pray for their enemies! God then tells them, as we often quote, that he has plans for them to prosper and have hope and a future (v. 11). But what we often don’t realize is that God says this right after telling them they will be stuck in Babylon for SEVENTY YEARS (v. 10).

Friends, seventy years is a long time to suffer consequences for sin. But in the scope of Israel’s history and their future, it was still but a fraction of what God had planned for them. God chose to allow them, as a nation, to be punished for their sins because he still had plans for them to have a future that would include being an example for other nations. Israel’s purpose was to point the rest of the world toward God. Their disobedience was a much greater problem than the pain they experienced because it threatened their very mission on this earth. God doesn’t delight in punishing anyone, but he loves his people enough to send any alarm necessary to get their attention. What “smoke alarms” do you have in your life right now and what bigger problems is God trying to draw your attention to? Rather than asking God to get rid of your pain, try asking him to give you the strength to endure the pain and to reveal to you what you need to learn. He cares about you enough to not leave you drowning in your consequences. Take comfort in verses 12-13 in the passage I referenced above: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Go and seek the Lord!

Malthus: Ideology Matters Part III

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3 comments

by Bill Seng

Have you ever played the lifeboat game? There are different variations but I recall having done this exercise from elementary school all the way through my undergraduate studies.  The way it goes is that a ship is sinking and there is one lifeboat left. The lifeboat will carry only 6 people and there are 10 people left on the sinking ship. All 10 people have gifts of some sort that make them valuable. Let’s make a sample list: An elderly male doctor, a nursing woman and her infant (they count as 1 person), a female Olympic swimmer, a male priest, an actor, a female singer, a male lawyer, an ex-convict who has turned his life around, a female governor, and a male professional baseball player. With 1 being the most valuable and 10 being the least valuable, you are supposed to rank the importance of each individual and ultimately determine who survives and who is doomed.

I hate the premise of this exercise. It forces its participants to quantify the value of human life. Some of the most common solutions are that, “The priest is prepared to die already; he’s gone. The doctor is old, he isn’t going to live much longer anyway. The swimmer can swim to shore and hopefully survive, and the ex-con can’t be trusted.” How would you answer this question? No matter how you answer you are actively engaging in your own brainwashing.

If you have read my post from last week, you will notice that Thomas Robert Malthus determined that certain individuals were not worthy of life. His justification for determining who was fit and who was not was based on a false assumption of his that the world would be dangerously overpopulated and under nourished in just 200 years. His proposed solution involved steps to reduce the size of the world’s population. Do not treat those who are terminally ill, do not save the lives of illegitimate or orphaned children, don’t worry about the fate of the incarcerated, and marry at an older age and conceive fewer children. Make sure that the less valued people of society live in environments where they are prone to deadly diseases. This guy sounds like something out of a movie about a future dystopia, but his ideology is alive and well today.

For one, Malthus would be proud of the environmental and global climate change movements. After all, his concern was not so much about over population but the planet’s inability to provide resources (food, water, shelter, and clothing) for the world’s populace. Check out this link and see what one of the world’s chief proponents of global warming alarmism says regarding population control (namely Al Gore).

Planned Parenthood is probably one of the most noticeably Malthusian institutions today.  Its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a despicably hateful, sexist, and racist proponent of population control. You will see that many of her sentiments resemble those of Malthus (I posted some of his quotes last week). Here is one example of what she thought regarding population control: “[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” (Links here and here.)

These are but two of the more modern versions of Malthusian thought, yet they are not the only examples. At beginning of the 20th century a popular movement arose in the world of science known as eugenics. Eugenics sought to sterilize the unfit of society and promote the elite. It was a dark era in world history. It started off innocently enough through remarks by people like Darwin and Galton, but it slowly evolved into a monstrosity. The more civilized nations understood the value of eugenics. It started off subtly in Europe and moved to the United States. Most people attribute the whole idea of the super human to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. The terrifying reality is that it actually originated in America. At the beginning of the 20th century, America sterilized 60,000 people. Of course, by this time both Malthus and Darwin were well known among the ruling elite, providing more than enough justification for this travesty (link).

This is no small topic. I encourage you to research these subjects and these people yourselves. So many aspects of our country are governed through Malthusian thought, justified through the ideas of Charles Darwin. By the way, who should be left off of the lifeboat? My answer: women and children first.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Our country was founded on the principle that we would be advocates for the weak. Will we be known as such tomorrow?

If God is All About Love Then Why Does He Punish His People?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 17, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, I wrote about sowing and reaping, and how you will experience the consequences for your actions, whether good or bad. To many people, however, experiencing negative consequences will be perceived as punishment from God.

We know that God is love, because He says that many times in His Word, including a number of times in 1 John 4:7-21. But what is love? Check out this blog post for a better definition. But we as humans tend to think that love is only good things, like getting flowers from your significant other, hearing kind words, and that sort of thing. But do you realize that discipline is also a form of love?

Think back to when you were a child. Did your parents discipline you? If you did something wrong, did they just let you keep doing it, or did they provide instruction and possibly a punishment for what you did? Do you think they did that because they disliked you? No! Parents discipline children as a way of giving them instruction to help them grow into mature adults.

Go read Hebrews 12:5-13 right now. Notice how the author is comparing our relationship with God to that of a parent and a child. Why is that such a good comparison? Because we are God’s children, and have been fully adopted into the family as sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-7). God is our heavenly Father, and we need to learn from Him just as a child learns from his or her earthly father.

When you were a kid, did discipline feel like punishment? Probably, because your mind didn’t fully grasp what was going on. Looking back at a particular time of discipline, can you now see how that was really helping you become a mature adult? If a father does not love his son, he wouldn’t care how whether that son grows up to be a mature adult or not. It is BECAUSE the father loves his son so much, that he cares enough to make the effort to properly discipline him. This is how God is with us! He loves us SO much that He disciplines us for our own good!

The book of Proverbs is full of instruction for us, and it even talks about receiving discipline in many places. One of the Hebrew words used often is “musar,” which means discipline, correction, and instruction. Discipline is not punishment; discipline is instruction on how to correct your actions to become a better, more mature person. Discipline is not a bad thing! Punishment is negative and often causes fear, but discipline is training to live a better life in the days ahead.

I would challenge that if you are feeling like God is punishing you, there are one of two things happening: (1) you sowed something negative and are reaping the negative consequences (see last week’s blog post), or (2) God is providing you with discipline because He loves you.

How is God disciplining you in your life, and what can you learn from that?

Why Should We Ask More Questions?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, November 15, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

  Have you ever had someone ask you a question, and although you knew the answer instantly, you struggled to give them a reply because the answer was forcing you re-think what you believe or know?  Eastern culture is more used to this type of conversation than those of us in the West.

  We tend to state our opinion and whatever we think are facts to support that opinion, and then argue with others by continuously stating what we think.  We usually ask questions for information, accusation, or to express a lack of confidence in someone’s authority.  Just read any social media or blog discussion and you will see what I mean.  Rarely do we ask questions for discovery, or for the benefit of someone else’s discovery.

  Ray Vander Laan shares the story of a woman who went with him on one of his Israel tours.  He had just taught the group about the differences between Eastern and Western cultures.  He explained how concepts and abstract ideas are used in the West, and how questions and concrete pictures are used more in communication in the East.  He also shared that entire conversations and lessons could be taught in the East, just by asking questions.

  One of the women in the group was having trouble grasping what he was trying to say, and struggling with how it changed her understanding of Jesus’s conversations in the Bible.  Shortly after Ray was done teaching, the group walked into a market and they were each exploring the different shops.  This woman went into a shop that sold paintings.  An older Jewish man was displaying his painting for sale, and was in the process of painting a picture when she walked in.   She complimented him on his work, and asked some questions about different ones.  Then after complimenting him again about how beautiful his artwork was, she said, “Can I ask you which one is your favorite?”

  The old man paused and gently looked at the woman and said, “Are you married?” She was confused because he wasn’t answering her question, but she answered, “Yes, why?”

  (It was important that she asked another question, because if she had just said, “Yes,” the old man would have nodded and then just gone back to his painting.  Without a return question, it is assumed the person is not open to learning, or having discussion and the conversation ends.)

  He said, “Do you have any children?” To that she replied,  “Yes, I have three.  Why?”

    (She was still confused, but at least she asked another “why” question.)

  He looked at her and said, “And which one is your favorite?”

As the point of his question dawned on her, it bypassed her mind, and went straight to her heart – connecting with something deep inside of her as a mother.  There was no way to love one of them to the exclusion of the others, no way to have a favorite without wounding the others, and each of them loved for who they uniquely were.  So it was also for him as an artist.    She ran out of the shop with tears in her eyes, and told Ray and the group, “I just met Jesus in that shop.”

  In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus walks into church on the day of rest (Sabbath).  There is a man there with a shriveled hand.  There are religious leaders there who have wanted to accuse Jesus of, well, anything they could. They wanted to get him in trouble because he disturbed their way of living and believing.  They wanted a way to prove he was not the savior and discredit him.  Jesus knew what they were thinking and he tells the man with the shriveled hand to stand up in front of everyone.  Then Jesus asked a question, “Which is lawful to do on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

  It was against the law to work on the Sabbath.  God commanded that people rest from their work and spend the day in thanks and worship of God.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had taken that commandment to extreme levels and defined all kinds of things as “work” in order to avoid breaking God’s command.  They had so fearfully legalized everything, that mercy and compassion were completely excluded from life – especially on the Sabbath, a day devoted to God.  Jesus’ question exposes the fact that their extended definitions of God’s law missed the simplicity and purpose of God’s command.

  Verse 5 says that Jesus “looked around at them in anger and was deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.”  Was Jesus angry about them being human and making the mistake of being legalistic?  Well, I am sure He wasn’t happy over it, but I think something deeper is going on here.  Think about it; how many of them asked a question after his question?  They remained silent.  Why?

  Why do we remain silent when we are faced with a question that exposes a lifestyle we are living, a belief we have, or choice we have made is out of sync with what we know is RIGHT?  How many times has Jesus asked you a question, either in the Bible or from the mouth of another person, and you remained silent? Or worse, you started to argue and justify your position because you assumed the answer was meant to hurt you, shame you, belittle you, accuse you, etc.

  Look at what Jesus’ intention was: He heals the man’s hand.  His intention was to heal the man’s shriveled hand, but I believe it was also to heal the religious leaders and rescue them from the trap of their own legalism and fear.  They chose to stay afraid, inside their beliefs that protected their way of living – and no one else’s.  And the end of that passage in Mark tells us they became bitter, and plotted for a way to kill Jesus.

  Questions have a way of penetrating straight to our soul, because when someone asks a question WE are the ones answering it.  A good question exposes our thoughts, motives, desires, etc. in ways that debate and argument cannot.  When we answer a question, even without speaking it, we instantly come face to face with who we really are and how we really think.  Sometimes the inner conflict we feel in that moment is very painful, and we may be tempted to blame or try to silence the person who asked the question. In those moments, we need to recognize we are facing ourselves.  We need to be willing to grow, make corrections, reexamine, etc. Otherwise we may be tempted to act like the religious leaders and try to silence Jesus.

  Look again at what Jesus did to the shriveled hand.   Look at what he did in giving the religious leaders an opportunity to course correct. Jesus’ intention is always for good. Whether He asks a question through the Bible, through His Holy Spirit by tapping on our conscience, or through one of His followers, the goal of that question is always to bring about what is good.  Are you willing to believe that?

  Take a moment and reflect: Questions can lead us to Truth, and deep questions can lead us to freedom, restoration, and healing.

How are you responding to the questions Jesus is asking you right now?

Do you hear them as accusations?  Do you hear loving correction?  Do you hear an invitation to a different path?

Are you teachable and willing to ask more questions or dig deeper?

Would you be willing to dig into the Bible for every place Jesus asked a question, and explore the answer (or other questions) it provokes?

The Canon Test

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 14, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week I talked about being a Berean, and how we need to check out what people are saying for validity. But doing so requires having a standard to compare everything to. As Christians, we have an ultimate/final standard in the Bible. But a question arises. It is well known that the Bible was written by 40 different men over a span of 1600 years. How on earth could this compiled book retain this ultimate truth? And how did each book get chosen to be put in the Bible, but others like the Apocrypha and the Gnostic Gospels did not? This gives rise to the concept of the Canon Test. It is far more intense, strict, and difficult to pass than any other test out there, including scientific peer-review. What is this test? And if the Bible passes this test what does that mean? Eric Ludy describes it far more succinctly than I can.

The Bible can be likened to a great tree with 66 branches. But this tree didn't start with 66 branches. Every branch had to be added over time. And to be added each branch must first have endured the supremely difficult "test of canonicity."

1. It has to prove it came from the same root. It has to be inspired by God himself.
2. It has to bear perfect likeness to the rest of the existing branches on the tree and could not contradict or bear the nature of a different type of tree. It has to align to perfection without a single fault.
3. It has to evidence fruit identical to the fruit on the rest of the existing branches, showcasing in its life the exact same nature as the root from which it is born.

The Canon has divine authority to rule and control. So whatever possesses the distinction of Canon becomes...
  1. A measuring rod against which all other ideas or truths must be measured, and all men must be judged, as well as all other aspiring measuring rods must be tested.
2. A correcting rod by which all men must come into alignment and all rebellion is driven from the hearts of men.
  3. A shepherd's rod that guides, comforts, and enables men down the narrow way of God's kingdom path.
4. A King's rod that silences all opposing opinion, holding all authority to divine truth, righteousness, and the nature of sin, death, life, salvation, and the world to come.

~The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy, pp 186-187

What does this all mean? In the next three weeks, I will go into detail on each of these points and then go into how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Canon.

First, it is important to note that because of the authorship and time frame of the writing of Scripture, the Canon was not decided at one time. It was not decided at the Council of Nicea in 325AD, even though a statement about the Canon was made. What was that statement? That statement did not decide what was Canon but was a confirmation of what was already decided what the Canon was. At the time of Constantine and this Council, many other books had been proposed to be added to the New Testament. This included the Gnostic Gospels. The Council of Nicea made a statement saying, “This is what the Canon was, and we are sticking with it.” But how were books like the Apocrypha or the Gnostic Gospels rejected from the Canon while books like Esther or James were included? Let us explore what the three criteria are.

1. It must come from the same root. It must be inspired by God. First, I want to make explicitly clear that there is a difference between God leading us to do something and having something “inspired”. My first novel Call to Arms was something God lead me to do. I would not have written the novel, let alone anything else I am now working on, had he not prompted me to do so. But anything I write is not God-inspired. It is not “God-breathed” as 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us. The Old Testament was written by prophets, men who, prior to the cross, had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That itself is another topic. The New Testament was all written by those who were either disciples (Matthew, John, Peter), had first-hand experiences with Jesus (James, Jude, Mark, Paul) or thoroughly researched everything and spent a lot of time with those directly involved (Luke). None of the other proposed books such as the Apocrypha, the Gnostic Gospels, or even other pastors’ teachings could demonstrate such authentication. Some of these other works may contain true accounts but Canon must be 100% truth, and demonstrate that the actual source is God himself. It cannot have a single blemish, which leads to the second criteria.

2. It must bear perfect likeness without a single blemish. When Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that was the initial established Canon. This is when God passed down the Law and Moses, having twice spent 40 days and nights alone with God on Mt. Sinai, wrote down the initial Canon. Each book from that point on had to pass this test to be added. Joshua was added to the Canon next, then Judges, then Ruth, then the Samuels, Kings, Chronicles, etc. Each time a book was approved for Canon and added to it, the next proposed book had to not just bear full agreement with the first five but each already added book. And each book had to match perfectly and 100% consistently with all the previous books. There could not be one contradiction or it would not be considered Canon. Each book had to prove itself coming from the same source, having the same type of “tree.” It had to be in perfect agreement with the central theme of the overall Canon, and not deviate away from that central them. If it bore a different type of nature in terms of its revealing the nature of God, revealing his plan and purpose for mankind, it would not pass the Canon Test.

3. In farming practices, you can cut off the branch of a tree and graft in a branch of another type of tree. You can see trees that are half one color and half another color. But with the Canon, you cannot do that. While Scripture has exactly one correct interpretation (the Author’s) it has many applications. A correctly deducted application from the proposed book must match in perfect alignment the nature of the correctly deducted applications from the established Canon. Each book must showcase correctly the nature of God, the nature of man, the redemptive plan of God, and the model for how we are to live.

In all, only 66 books were able to pass the Canon Test. The last book to be added was Revelation, and Revelation completed it. The Canon is finished and sealed. No other book is going to be added nor will any other book be able to pass the Canon Test. But now that we know how the Canon was set, what does that mean? Next week I will address the four points Ludy details on what authority and power anything that bears the nature of the Canon has.

Sowing and Reaping - Don't Think You Can Mock God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 12, 2014 1 comments

by Logan Ames

We live in a society where personal accountability and responsibility seem to be scarce. This is happening more and more as people make excuses for their behaviors and others accept those excuses. Murderers and rapists say they have no choice but to act on their urges. Being addicted to certain substances is seen as a “disease”, and more and more people choose not to work because of certain “disabilities” that wouldn’t actually prevent them from working. Before some of you jump all over me, I fully understand that there are some who have legitimate disabilities and wouldn’t be able to work if they tried. But according to what I see almost daily in my job, that is a very small percentage of people compared to the number who get paid for doing nothing. My girlfriend and I recently met a woman at an outreach event for our church who came with her three children while her husband stayed home. She told us her husband thought about coming, but that he has a “social anxiety disorder” that caused him to stay home. However, she also told us that her husband had cheated on her at one point! Obviously, this man used his “disorder” as a crutch only when it benefited him, but didn’t let it stop him from meeting a new woman while he was married. And the worst part about it was that his wife was either deceived or purposefully chose to buy into the garbage he was saying.

While society, and even our current government leaders (on BOTH sides), seem to have it backwards in the sense that people are not held responsible for their actions, God does not see things that way and never will. The Apostle Paul says that assuming we won’t experience the good and bad consequences of our actions is like laughing at God. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). In other words, all actions have consequences. They might not always match up according to YOUR standards, but fortunately YOU are not in control. God alone is sovereign and his Word says you will reap whatever you have sown.

Paul was writing those words to a group of believers in Galatia who were still trying to teach the Gentiles (non-Jews) that they had to follow Jewish laws in order to know Jesus. The application there is that if you seek to “earn” righteousness through your own efforts in obeying the law, you will reap both the consequences for breaking just one of those laws and the constant exhaustion from trying to measure up to the standard you have set or allowed others to set for you. This concept of reaping what you sow had been declared to Israel many centuries before, yet they continued to sin and rebel against God as he continued to try to get their attention.

Take some time to read Isaiah 1 on your own. The whole chapter is essentially about God pleading with his people to look at the horrific consequences of their actions and to turn toward him as the only sensible response to those consequences. For example, he rhetorically asks, “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted” (1:5). God is simply stating the obvious. The people have reaped what they sowed. Some may say that God wasn’t very merciful since he allowed them to suffer such horrific consequences. But I’d say that God’s mercy is clearly shown in the fact that he is still calling out to them and urging them to repent, despite their constant disobedience. God doesn’t owe it to anyone to give them another chance, yet he continues to do so.

As he so often does with us, God gives his people a way out. Look at Isaiah 1:18-20. First, God invites the people to “reason” with him. This means that what he offers them is not the crazy plan of a madman, but rather the only logical choice they can make based on their current situation. He explains that no matter what has been done in the past, their sins will be overcome and the red stain will be as white as snow or wool. But it still comes down to a choice. All they have to do is submit to him as their only Savior and be obedient and they will “eat the best of the land”. However, if they continue to resist this free gift of salvation and restoration and continue to rebel against God, they will be destroyed. God is patient and loving and wants them to turn to him. But after all, he still will NOT be mocked.

Perhaps one of the greatest areas of mockery that we have right now, especially amongst those who declare themselves to be followers of God, is with our finances. Through the Old Testament prophet Malachi, God told the people that they cannot expect him to bless them when they aren’t even willing to trust him with the 10% of their property that he requires. “‘Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:7). He goes on to tell them they are “robbing” him and are under a curse as an entire nation because they have not been tithing as he commanded, then urges them to test him and see that if they sow trusting in him for all of their needs, they will reap so much blessing that they won’t be able to contain it (verses 8-10). If you want financial peace, you can’t hold onto everything and try to manage it yourself. There are too many variables in the world that you can’t control. By demonstrating that you trust God with everything he gives you and are willing to follow his commands, you put your financial burdens in the hands of the One who IS sovereign over those variables and the One who has not, does not, and will not fail to bring you peace. The choice is yours.

Have you been mocking God in your life? Have you been continuing to make the same disobedient and rebellious choices while still getting angry with God that your circumstances are not changing? Remember that God does not stand for mockery. You will reap what you have sown. While bad consequences from bad choices won’t feel good, understand that God allows you to experience them because he loves you and wants to use them to turn you back toward him. Don’t allow yourself to keep getting beaten when God is offering you a way out through Jesus Christ. Trust him, then watch the amazing things he does in your life.

Malthus: Ideology Matters Part II

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 11, 2014 0 comments

by Bill Seng

 “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:20-23)

Sociology is a very interesting course… okay, I enjoyed it because it gave me an opportunity to argue with my professors and classmates with whom I disagreed with just about everything. Anyway, in my first semester of sociology class we progressively arrived at the issue of overpopulation. Historically, there were two main voices that tried to resolve what should be done with the population crisis. One of them a more of a blood-and-guts, “get rid of the riff raff” type of guy. The other was very methodical. No, we should not just send out the kill squads to eliminate those who were not fit to survive, but we certainly should not enable them to survive.

His method was brilliantly devious. There were his more subtle means of population control that merely involved the notion that people should not be married until later in life so that they may have fewer children. To cite this method as his primary contribution to the field of population control would be horribly misleading. This devious man, of course, is none other than Thomas Robert Malthus. Check out my blog post last week for a little more on him.

Before I go much further, my fascination with Malthus is in its infancy stage. I have only been made aware of how persistent his ideology has been for the past three or four years of my life and have had little time to do as much research on him as I would like. But the more I learn about him, the more clear it becomes that he very well may have been the father of the progressive movement.

“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate [condemn strongly] specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders.” (Malthus 1878, 412)

Such a quote is not a rare finding inside of Malthus’ writings. This was a man who cared little about the commoner. In fact, he saw the common human as being little more than a scourge upon the earth, a waste of space that sucked mother earth’s resources dry before the truly important people could use them for something better.

In his writings it is clear that he believed that certain people were unfit to survive. When I say this, I am most specifically referring to infants. “The [illegitimate] infant is comparatively speaking, of little value to society, as others will immediately supply its place... All children beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this [desired] level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons.” (Malthus 1878, 411, 430-1) Reading this reminds me of the assurances of the pro-choice movement that insist some children would be better off not being born. It also reminds me of China’s strict one child per family laws that have grave consequences upon their infringement.

The other group that comes to mind is the poor. Even though I do agree with him that “poor laws” are not always to the benefit of those living in poverty, I would also say that I disagree with his remedy. As stated in his earlier quote, he would encourage the spread of disease among the economically unfit. The spread of disease would alleviate the burden from the ruling class to deal with the impoverished and instead lay them at nature’s wrath. Without knowing any better the poor would wipe themselves out by propagating disease and the fit would be free to reign however they may please.

Oddly enough, most of the people in my classroom agreed with the idea of population control whether it was from Malthus’ school of thought or the other guy’s. I must admit that it was most troubling to see how many were siding with the ideology that advocated for brutal social cleansing. Regardless, a dilemma that they had not considered was, “On what side of population control would you be legally bound, given such circumstances?” We all want to think that we are superior to the rest of the human population but people like Malthus believe that over 90% and some even say upwards of 98% are a waste of space and resources. That is a lot of people and I would dare to suggest that unless you went to an Ivy League school you would not make the cut. Somewhere between 2-10% of the population would be spared if people like Malthus had their way.

From the little I know about Malthus’ teachings I have been most preoccupied with what policies they have led to today. Let us make that the topic of our next discussion.

Sowing and Reaping

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 10, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Unless you’ve had experience working directly on a farm, the terms sowing and reaping probably don’t mean a whole lot to you. As a city girl through and through, farming is definitely not in my world. But to many of those whom Jesus was speaking to while He walked the earth, farming was a way of life.

Jesus tells the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-9, and I would encourage you to go read it now. You should also read Jesus’ explanation of this parable in Matthew 13:18-23. Essentially, the gist of it is that a farmer sows seeds on different types of ground, and he reaps a harvest based on the ground. Good ground yields a good harvest; bad ground yields a bad harvest.

So what does this have to do with anything for us today? Well this concept of sowing and reaping is a very necessary thing, even in non-agricultural lives like many of us lead. The big idea is that you will reap what you sow, and that doesn’t just mean seeds and plants.

Let’s say I “sow” negativity into those around me by being generally mean and derogatory. What will I “reap” from that? I will get negativity back from those around me, damage relationships, and lose friends. Let’s say I “sow” driving too fast on the highway. I will likely “reap” a speeding ticket, or a traffic accident, or even just guilt from knowing I broke the law.

All of our actions have consequences. We wrote about this a few months ago when discussing the concept natural law. Good actions that agree with God’s natural law will have good consequences, and bad actions that disagree with God’s natural law will have bad consequences. That’s the way God set up this world to function.

One of my high school religion class teachers (I went to a private school) taught us something that sticks with me to this day: “O=B and D=C.” That’s not some mysterious equation, but rather it’s a simple shorthand for sowing and reaping: Obey = Blessed and Disobey = Cursed. This is based on Deuteronomy 28. Verse 1 says, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.” After this, God lists all of the blessings they will receive if they obey Him. On the other hand, verse 15 says, “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.” After this, God gives a very long list of curses they will receive if they disobey Him.

The book of Deuteronomy was originally written to the people of Israel thousands of years ago, but the principle contained in this text applies to us today as well. If we obey God’s laws, we will be blessed. If we disobey God’s laws, we will be cursed. It’s really as straightforward as that. You will reap what you sow, whether good or bad.

What are you sowing in your life? Are you sowing good seed on good soil, so you’ll reap a good harvest? Or are you sowing bad seed on bad soil, so you’ll reap a bad harvest? Whatever you do will have consequences, whether good or bad. I encourage you today to examine your life and consider this carefully when making your everyday choices, so that you may choose wisely and reap God’s bountiful blessings in your life.

The Berean Spirit

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 7, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” ~Acts 17:11

What is “the Berean Spirit”? We often hear this phrase in Christian circles but what does it really mean? Why should we emulate it? Berea was a city in Greece that Paul, Silas, and Luke traveled to between their stops in Thessalonica and Athens. This is right before Paul had his epic showdown with the Greek philosophers at Mars Hill. Luke noticed a difference between the Jews in Berea and the Jews in Thessalonica as Paul and Silas preached the Gospel of Christ. This difference is that the Jews in Berea would constantly study and search the Scriptures to find out if what Paul and Silas were saying was true. And what the Bereans found out was that their message was true in full accordance with Scripture.

But something has happened in the last few generations. This concept of going back to confirm if what a source says is valid is rarely seen today. It is important to have valid sources in doing your research, but how do we know if they are valid? We can check for multiple sources if they are saying the same thing, but that does not eliminate issues of collaboration (especially in the cases where results must adhere to a preferred paradigm) or “he said/she said” battles. And with today’s Internet access, what are the filters being used to discern what is true information from the junk? What are the standards to help us determine what is true or not?

Too many times I am seeing papers just repeat what is being said, but they do not find out if what is being said is actually true. In my graduate courses to get my teaching certification, this was the worst. In most of the papers I had to read, rarely could I tell if the author actually had anything to say on the topic. Most of the time, the papers were a regurgitation of what others said. Even when the sources had competing views, the papers were mostly “x says this”, “y says that.” I usually did not see if the author of the papers actually had anything to say about it.

Let me illustrate this with one example: UCSB has an on-line forum for questions and answers. One student asked about radiometric dating and the validity. Response #5 described how we can get within a 2-5% error rate and said that we can date a rock at 2.5 billion years with an error rate of 2 million years. This is clearly not thought out or checked out because a +/- rate of 2 million years requires a 0.08% error rate. If we have 2-5% error, that requires 50-125 million years. Did this responder check his sources, or did he just repeat what he read from what he thought was valid? I’ve tested this with several evolution supporters and they said the full quote was just fine. They did not check to see if what was said was valid or not.

This is a major problem. We have lots of people who can Google search, but can they sort out the good stuff from the junk? Do they even know what qualifies as good stuff or junk? When I am in a discussion on the Creation/Evolution debate, a good majority of the time the person I am discussing with can only repeat what is being said. They usually do not analyze for themselves what is actually being said. Now I understand that most of these people are lay people and they leave the upper level science to the “qualified experts.” But this is just admitting they are holding with blind faith that these scientists are doing their job right, are reporting their data correctly, etc. This also allows the dishonest ones to much more readily slip their junk through, because so few people are actually checking them out.

Many times, I see science articles like “Science Daily” and “Nature” and science textbooks and museum displays do the same thing. They don’t look at the actual scientific studies with any kind of analysis or reasonable scrutiny. They take what they see as fact because the “scientists are experts and know what they are doing.” Remember that all these sources are what the public considers to be science. And there is virtually no checking up on them. Where it really gets bad is when there is fierce backlash for trying to check up on some of this stuff. Let us not forget what American humorist Will Rogers once said: “Scientists get bigger and bigger reputations the more they talk about stuff you can’t check on.”

This is not just a science or education problem. It is also a theological problem. Too many times, I see well-meaning people take what a theologian says at his word rather than checking him out with Scripture. Too many people are more interested in what man says the Bible says, rather than what the Bible says the Bible says. I’ve seen many people on Facebook do a great job at citing preachers I don’t necessarily agree with, like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Rob Bell, and others. I’ve seen them post from preachers I do agree with like Paul Washer, Eric Ludy, Charles Spurgeon, and others. And there is nothing wrong with quoting them as it is. But are we checking out what they say with Scripture? I will be the first to say that not one person on this planet has 100% correct theology, except one: Jesus Christ. Paul Washer has a good interview where he tells us that if we are getting our spiritual feeding just from these pastors, including himself, and NOT looking at Scripture, we have ears but are not hearing, we have eyes but are not seeing. Now, we can glean from them. We can learn from them. No question there. But whom do we trust more? God and his Word, or these fallible men? Where is the Berean? Who is saying, “This is a false preacher/false teaching and here is why”? Who is saying, “This is a true preacher/true teaching and here is why”? Are we slamming what we hear against Scripture to see if it stands? Let us do that more. If it stands, great. If not, reject it.

There is a LOT of good stuff out there. But there is a lot of junk too. Bias always plays a role not matter who you are. Deception very often plays a role when money or politics are involved. And never forget that we have an enemy who has a sole purpose of leading us away from the truth. We know the truth is found in the Bible. When you hear someone speak, check it out. I’m speaking this to me as well as you. If anything I say here in my Worldview Warriors blog posts does not line up with Scripture, tell me. I take Jesus’ warning about a millstone very seriously. Just know I’ll be checking up on such claims with Scripture as well.

Know the truth. And when you know the truth, you will not be fooled by the false teachers nor be swept away by any teaching that comes and goes. To be a Berean means to test everything with Scripture. But what makes Scripture the standard that we use for testing? In the next three weeks, I’ll be discussing how the Bible is that standard. Next week, I’ll introduce you to the Canon Test, the criteria used to determine what could be included in the Bible or not. Don’t miss it.

Cell Coverage

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 6, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week I introduced the cell—the basic building block of all life we know of. The complexity we find within these little bags of goo is just breathtaking. Processes too numerous to count and too tiny to fully understand fill these little factories that make us what we are. If you missed that particular introductory blog, you can find it here. Today I would like to just give a short explanation on what some of the organelles do (or what we believe they do). We'll start on the outside and move in.

The cell membrane is far more complicated than a barrier between the inside and outside of the cell. It is filled with receptors, doors, pores, and tons of little bits of machinery. Channels, gates, and pumps are infused in this thin layer made of mostly protein and fat. The actual structure of the cell membrane in and of itself is remarkable, but I'll not bog you down with the details. Protecting the internal environment of the cell and allowing things in and out are its most basic functions.

Just inside the cell membrane we find the cytosol, which is the goop of the cell and makes up about half the cell's volume on average. It is a salty, nutrient-rich slime that suspends much of the organelles in the cell.

Further in and closer to the nucleus, we find endoplasmic reticulum, also known as ER. This is a large series of interconnected sacs that primarily produce materials for use in the cell. Smooth ER makes lipids and breaks down toxic materials, while the rough ER makes proteins. Rough ER appears to be speckled and rough looking because it is infested with ribosomes, which are protein making machines. Ribosomes basically read RNA strands that give instructions for making specific proteins. These materials are often sent to the Golgi complex.

The Golgi complex puts the final touches on the materials sent to it and prepares them for shipping either somewhere inside the cell or to the cell membrane where it will be expelled through a specific channel or gate into the body.

How do all of these little machines work? How are they powered? Mitochondria. Mitochondria look like little beans inside the cell. Inside these powerhouses are numerous folds that increase surface area. Inside here, we find energy molecules being broken down and their energy used to power the cell. A cell will most likely burn over a billion ATP (energy molecules) every minute or two. We'll save the Kreb's cycle for another blog—it's amazing, too.

Deep within the cell, we find the nucleus—the big dot in the center of the cell. The nucleus has its own membrane, and within it we find the genetic material that holds the blueprint for you. We also find that the DNA is hard at work unzipping itself, copying small sections, and shipping them out to ribosomes so they can build a specific protein. Then we'll see it zip back up. Recall from my blog on DNA that this little strand is about 3 feet in length (that's a meter for the rest of the world) but invisible to the naked eye.

There are many, many other organelles, depending on the cell. We have vacuoles, which are basically just bubbles that carry substances inside the cell. There are centrioles, which have an interesting story. I was taught in high school and in college that the purpose of the centrioles, among other things, was to aid in cellular division. The explanation is more complex than that, but the funny part of this story is when the centrioles are removed, cellular division is unhindered. My biology professor told me this right after he told me what the function of centrioles was. “This is what they do, but if they're not there, the job still gets done.” Makes you wonder, doesn't it? There are also things like cilia for moving material outside the cell, and flagellum (basically a tail) for locomotion. The flagellum's parts list consists of over 40 different proteins and it looks and operates just like an outboard motor. Lysosomes basically eat stuff up. They envelop something and release agents that break it down. They also serve a more morbid function. If the cell needs to destroy itself, it signals the lysosomes to rupture inside the cell, spilling their enzymes out in the cell, causing it to basically eat itself. They have the nickname of “suicide bags.” Finally, the cytoskeleton is the internal skeleton of the cell and is found all over within the cytoplasm. However, unlike our skeletons, this structure is dynamic and is constantly changing—being broken down and reassembled all the time.

This is the short list. There are many, many more structures to cover, but for the sake of brevity and the sake of you losing interest (if I haven't already) we'll stop the list here. But what about outside the cell?

Cells are bound to each other. It would be very unfortunate if all our cells were just piled up in a heap and expected to maintain the proper shape. This process of bonding is called cellular adhesion, and there are several molecules used in the process. Perhaps you've seen Louie Giglio's presentation that talks about lamanin. If not, I highly recommend both of these videos that are sure to leave you speechless: Indescribable and How Great Is Our God.

The bottom line here is the cell is astoundingly complex and highly organized. What goes on in every cell of your body all the time is literally beyond comprehension. It's miraculous. I would encourage you to watch this wonderful video that attempts to demonstrate a few of the things happening in your cells. The video is fairly short, and you can view the narrated or non-narrated version. Prepare to have your mind blown.

God has made life, and He's made it so complicated it's simply naïve to attribute its existence to mindless processes and dumb luck. Darwinian evolution is logically bankrupt and void of demonstrable support in the real world. It exists in the minds of its adherents and quite literally nowhere else.