Who or What Is Your Hope, Trust, and Faith In?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 31, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As our political climate in America continues to be rather volatile, this is a good time for us as individuals to stop and ponder this question: who or what is your hope, trust, and faith in?

We all have someone or something in our life that our hope, trust, and faith is in. To start, we should define those words so we’re all on the same page with this. The word ‘hope’ has lots of definitions, including wanting something to happen, a feeling of expectation or desire, or a feeling of trust. Trust is defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Faith is a complete trust or confidence in someone or something, which may or may not be religious in nature. We all have things that we hope for in life; we all have people or systems or things that we put our faith and trust in.

So what do you hope for? Who or what is your trust and faith in? We all need to answer this question for ourselves, and that answer is a glimpse into our worldview, how we see and interpret life.

For me as a follower of Jesus Christ, my goal is for my hope, trust, and faith to be fully on God. I am not perfect at this, and at times I find myself hoping for things that may not be of God, and trusting in other people or circumstances rather than God. When I fail at this, I find encouragement in God’s Word.

Psalm 42:5 says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” This is a perfect example of what happens when our hope is on anything other than God: our soul becomes downcast and disturbed. Perhaps we’re unsettled about life, or even get depressed. But when our hope is in God, we praise Him for everything, for He is the one that saves us.

1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” We know that Jesus gives us grace, or undeserved favor. We can fully put our hope in that, that when we mess up we know God will still love and forgive us when our hope is in Him.

Why should we put our faith and trust in God? God shares the reason way back in Numbers 23:19: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” God is fully trustworthy because He will always accomplish what He says and always fulfills His promises. God is always faithful and God never changes.

All of the things in this world will change or fail us in some way. Look back even to what has changed in this world in your lifetime, or go back farther in history. Everything changes and fails at some point in some way, except God. He is the only one worthy of our hope, trust, and faith. How are you doing at fully trusting God and only hoping for what He has in store for you?

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Working or Waiting

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 30, 2016 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Have you ever had an unsettled spirit, like you just don’t have peace but you’re not sure why? One time as I prayed and asked God why I felt so unsettled I felt Him respond with, “What don’t you trust me with? What are you trying to take control of?”

That was the exact source of my unsettled, uncertain spirit. I wasn’t trusting God with my circumstance. I was searching the internet, thinking, and trying to figure it out on my own. I decided to place my situation in God’s hands and trust, abide, and rest in Him, knowing that He has it under control.

Is there something you are wrestling with? Is there a situation that you, like me, are struggling with, trying to figure it out on your own?

For years my prayer journals have been filled with this request: “God, please show me where I need to be working and when I should be waiting for you.”

You see, in my faith walk, and maybe you have found this in your journey as well, I have had people say, “You just need to get busy and get to work on what God has called you to do.” And then someone else that I am sharing with would say, “You need to wait patiently on the Lord.”

I was so confused that as I look back over my prayer journals I have often seen this plea: “God, show me where I need to be working or when I should be waiting for you.” I will have to say that more often than not, the answer was wait, and I have done that to the best of my ability.

If you are uncertain or feeling unsettled about something, go to the Lord in prayer, ask him if you need to be working or waiting on Him. Join me as we rest in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” and trust in His timing.

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Justice Served, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 29, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Think of a movie where the bad guy gets what he deserves at the end. You can probably recall 3 or 4 of them right off the top of your head. It is a gratifying and relief filled moment when the villain goes down (or gets captured and tried).

Read the last segment in Judges 9. We finally see what happens to the blood thirsty tyrant Abimelech.

Feeling like he has all the power, Abimelech marches against the city of Thebez. And we see what happens when overconfidence and maniacal war mongering come together. Not a soldier, not a warrior, not even a leader as far as we know, but a common person (a woman from the city) drops a rock and crushes Abimelech's head. In his continued concern for his power and image, he asks his armor bearer to quickly kill him so that no one could say a woman killed Abimelech.

We see the end result of this kind of image, in the reaction of his soldiers - they all stop fighting and just go home. There is no lasting devotion, no loyalty, and no fierce battle in his memory. Just stopping and going home.

This is a "YES!" moment in the history of Israel, and it reminds us to trust God on several levels. We should remember to trust that He has a plan, and will keep His promises. Jotham's curse against Abimelech described the kind of leaders God chooses versus the kind of leader Abimelech was. Those who know the character of a Godly leader can see clearly when someone has the makings of a tyrant. It is best to steer clear of being in the camp with the tyrant, because they will destroy those who help them, and they often come to a swift and bloody end themselves.

We should also remember that God may use power hungry Abimelech-like leaders to expose problems and clean out power struggles that will not accomplish any good. We should not blame God for causing us to hurt or be uncomfortable when He lets us experience the consequences of our generation's choices. And we should trust that He will reveal the evil behind even the most well-dressed campaigns for power.

Once more, as we approach our elections here in America, I encourage you to remember that God is NOT absent or distant from the outcome. He will orchestrate the outcome toward His plans, even if that is by exposing all of us to socialism, world government, tyrannical loss of liberty, or whatever else comes through these candidates.

We need to also remember that He will bring about the natural end of their ambition on them and those who support them. But we must also remember to pray, in LOVE and RESPECT, for whomever is elected. We need to pray that they will hear and respond to God, so that His great good will come, instead of a legacy like Abimelech’s.

And personally, we need to take courage that whatever circumstance or whatever power seems to be over us, it is not greater than God and will come to its own end. The only way we, or any person or leadership, have any lasting influence or life or health is through Jesus Christ. Trust Him to lead you in how to vote and to orchestrate what is best afterward - no matter how difficult or dark the future may seem. There is one place to put our hope, and it is NOT in human leadership; it is always in His leadership.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Praying in Anguish

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 28, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

This post was inspired by a sermon by David Wilkerson called “A Call to Anguish.” It is also something God has been teaching me beyond that sermon. When we pray, do we pray with such gusto and desire that it actually hurts? More down to earth, when we pray, do we actually care about those we are praying for? And what I mean by ‘actually care’ is: do we care enough to actually get up and do something about it?

When a natural disaster strikes, we care to a degree. We grieve, we mourn, but unless it directly affects us, do we do something about it? Or do we just say a quick prayer, hoping God will use someone else to deal with the problem? Let me be open and honest about myself. I have greatly struggled in this area. Part of it is that I do not feel emotions the way most people do. I am a very analytical, fact-based, and intellectual-based person. I am not swayed by emotion easily. I get happy and excited and I get sad and depressed, so I’m not completely emotionless, however, do I truly care enough to weep over it in prayer, or to get up and do something about it?

Let me illustrate this further. As Christians, we all want to see people go to heaven. We do not want to see anyone go to hell. I have spent a good part of the last 13+ years studying and learning about Biblical worldviews, namely on the Creation/Evolution debate. This is great head knowledge. I can honestly outdebate many atheists, but do I care for their souls? Or do I just care about winning the argument? Do I care enough to show the love of Christ? During my prayer training the last few months, I realized how little I have been praying for souls. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak for the chapel service at Jesus Chapel School about the reliability of the Bible. As I prayed about this event, God pressed on my heart to pray for the souls of the students. This quote from Leonard Ravenhill got my attention:
“I am increasingly convinced that tears are an integral part of revival preaching. Preacher brethren, this is the time to blush that we have no shame, the time to weep for our lack of tears, the time to bend low that we have lost the humble touch of servants, the time to groan that we have no burden, the time to be angry over the devil's monopoly in this ‘end time’ hour, the time to chastise ourselves that the world can so easily get along with us and not attempt to chastise us.” ~Leonard Ravenhill: Why Revival Tarries pg 67

George Whitefield was a man who would weep for his audiences even when they did not know to weep over their sin. Paris Reidhead describes Whitefield as one who wept not because the people were going to hell, but because they were lost in sin and did not even know it. John “Praying Hyde” Hyde groaned with such agony and passion that it literally moved his heart from one side of his chest to another. Elijah groaned in prayer that it might rain, seven times. Jesus prayed in such agony at Gethsemane that he sweated blood. Do we care enough that it hurts, that we do something about it?

Nehemiah is the standard example of praying in anguish. In Nehemiah 1, he hears about the ruins of Jerusalem as he attended the King of Persia in Susa as a cup-bearer. He wept, fasted, and prayed, and it grieved him so much that he could not hide it from the king. To be sad before the king could cost you your life. The status of Jerusalem so grieved Nehemiah that even preserving his life could not help him mask it.

David Wilkerson describes this as a baptism of anguish: when you ask God to have him share his heart with you. Nehemiah felt the pain God was feeling about the ruin of the city of his people. Jesus felt the agony of God repeatedly when he saw the crowds and had compassion on the people. The great preachers and missionaries were baptized with anguish over the lost. Just look at Paul’s life. He had one driving passion: to see souls set free even to the point where he told God that if he could take the place of another in hell so that person could go to heaven, he would do it.

Do we care? Do we truly care? Or do we just sit back, say a quick, “May God bless this person or this situation,” and then never think about it again? Wilkerson really gets in your face about it: “Don’t tell me you’re concerned if you are spending hours in front the internet or television.” “You can sit and watch television and your family will go to hell… Let me ask you. Did what I just said convict you at all?”

Wilkerson actually cared. He heard of the violence and the poverty in New York City when he was a small town preacher from Pennsylvania. He actually cared. When visiting with a homeless man, the man said: “What do you care? You can go home to your nice fancy home and shine those nice shoes.” Wilkerson looked down at the man who had no shoes. He took his shoes off and gave them to the man. He actually cared and did something about it. But take notice that he did not get to that point unless God covered him with anguish over the situation where it hurt too much to not do anything.

A local youth minister here in El Paso, Texas heard about the kidnapping and disappearances of Johnny Gosch and Jacob Wetterling back in the 80s and it grieved him so much that he took action to deal with those cases. He became a private investigator in dealing with child kidnappings, sex trafficking, and occult crimes for a number of years. He actually cared, but his action would not have started had God not first baptized him with anguish.

A final comment about anguish that Wilkerson makes clear is that this anguish, this pain, is temporary. He described it as birthing pains. When God wants you to do something, he will burden you and it will be painful to birth, but when birth takes place, the joy surpasses the great pain. I have not had the experience of directly leading someone to the Lord. I know that is a shocker for some. I am sure some have come to Christ because of my witness, but it has been planting or watering. I have not been present being the one harvesting yet. I am asking the Lord for that as I write this post. I am asking the Lord to burden me for lost souls, so that I pray for their salvation. I am asking for him to share his heart, his anguish over the lost, with me. I am asking him to teach me how to care for the person I talk with in apologetics. It is not an overnight process, but it is coming. The more I pray, the more I am experiencing that burden. It is a good burden because it is God’s burden he wants me to help carry, and it is one I won’t be able to carry without him helping me. A call to anguish is not a pleasant thing, but very often it is the only thing that gets us off our feet. When our flesh is put on that cross and we depend more on Christ, then we will find the life and joy so abundantly above and beyond what we could ask or think.

Next week, I will start a mini-series on prayer about spiritual warfare and intercession.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Ephesians 3:17-18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 24, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Today, I’m going to take a look into four key phrases from Ephesians 3:17-18 that should guide your life as a follower of Jesus Christ. This passage is part of a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus to encourage them in standing strong and following Jesus.

“Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”
Faith in Jesus Christ is essential to following Him. After all, we can’t (and wouldn’t) follow someone who we do not believe in. This statement is not a conditional one, where if we have faith then Christ will dwell in our hearts; rather, it’s one of constant experience. As we continue to trust in Christ through the faith that we have, He will continue to dwell in us. As He is dwelling in our hearts, His teachings will guide our thoughts, words, and deeds.

“Be rooted and established in love”
As we trust in Christ and have His presence in us, the result is love. This love isn’t the kind of love like saying I love chocolate or I love sunny days, but this is the ultimate, unconditional, self-sacrificing love that only God can truly demonstrate for us all of the time. There is absolutely zero selfish motivation in this love. Paul uses two metaphors here. One word picture of biological, that of a tree with deep roots in the soil of love. This imagery is also reflected in Psalm 1 and Colossians 2:6-7. The other word picture is architectural - a building with a strong foundation, established on the rock of love. We see this reflected in Colossians 1:23 and 1 Peter 5:10.

“Have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people”
While this passage was written directly from Paul to the church at Ephesus, it’s not limited to them. Even back in the days of the early church, there were believers in multiple locations. All of them would have this power together. This applies not only to all people across the geographic distance of the church back then, but across all time as well. This power is for all believers, everywhere, and in all times. We receive this power through our faith in Christ, Him dwelling in our hearts, and having our spiritual roots deep into His love.

“Grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”
This idea of grasping the fullness of the love of Christ means to perceive it, comprehend it, and hold it as our own. Christ’s love is way too large to be explained by any geometric measurements! We cannot fully grasp it with our feeble human minds, but we are commanded to try and grasp it anyway. This love is the self-sacrificing and completely unconditional love that Christ has for His Church, for everyone who trusts in Him. This is available to anyone and everyone who wants to have that relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dig your roots deeper into His love. Establish your firm foundation on Christ alone.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Justice Served, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 22, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever found yourself shouting at the screen during a movie, especially at home, when the bad guy seems to be ruthlessly getting away with everything? We especially feel the tension when the good people and the heroes are injured or killed. We feel the sense of horror and outrage, and a part of us cannot help but speak up. We especially feel our anger grow when the villain makes his 'final' move to power.

When the bad guy turns on the evil henchmen he used to gain power, we see him securing his position as the strongest, the most powerful, and the only one left with enough power to control the people, the nation, the world. It's in that moment we see the full narcissism and depravity of evil. Turning on those who were friends, or at least cohorts, in achieving their position, the truly evil character reveals the corruption of ambition and the total selfishness of tyranny.

Read Judges 9:42-49 and look at Abimelech. After he kills Gaal and everyone who turned Gaal in, he hears that Shechem's leaders have gathered. It doesn't take much to interpret Abimelech's motives. This is the moment where he believes he could rise to power, even above those who helped him get power, and he moves to destroy them. Not only is he successful, but now he has the confidence to move against anyone who will not bow to his power.

The saddest part of situations like this is that they are very true - and happen in our world VERY often. The hunger for control and power has, at its core, a disregard for others. The disregard is so strong that it sees others as merely tools to accomplish our own goals. This desire is in all of us to some degree, depending on the situation or goal. And if our desire is strong enough, we will even eliminate anyone who gets in our way.

I invite you to do a heart check on your own motives as you interact with other people. Do you see them and their story? Do you see what you can do to help them reach their goals? Or do you only see where they can help you reach yours?

When it comes to our election this year, we must do our best to discern if this is a season for an 'Abimelech' to run his/her course through our nation, or if we are to stop them from coming to power. And if God does bring them to power, will we have the trust that He will make sure things turn out the way they should?

Next week's blog post may help in reminding us to trust Him. Stay tuned.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Effectual Prayer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 21, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” ~James 5:16

What makes our prayers effective? What makes them work? First let us look at this verse. “Confess our sins to one another.” Let us be careful about what this means. I heard one person share during a sermon how he and his wife were at a conference and repenting of their sins, but this man kept on going. His wife asked him this: “Are you confessing sin, or re-living fond memories?” Confessing sins to each other is important because it releases guilt, and it restores relationships that can hinder our prayer. But do not use that to bring back sins you want to “re-experience.”

Pray for one another. How often do we support each other in prayer? How often are our prayers just about our needs, or rather our desires? I have yet to address Intercession in the context of prayer, but that is what this is about and that is necessary of a separate post.

Our prayers need to be fervent. What does that mean? According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word is “energeho,” which is the same root as “energy,” meaning to be active and mighty. Too many of my prayers have been very weak. I have not wrestled and done “battle” with God to get my prayers answered. When I wrote about hindered prayer, one of the things I addressed was when we quit praying. We do not see results as quickly as we’d like so we stop and say, “We’ll try again later.” We aren’t being active in our prayers. We tend to be couch-potatoes watching the athletes do their sport with great energy and endurance and we wish we could do that… without getting up off the couch and starting to work out. We won’t be instant athletes in the field of prayer, but let us start moving so we could be one day. Start with five minutes, move on to ten, to one hour. When I hear of Rees Howells praying for 11 hours in intercession for acquiring a building or for praying for the outcome of a battle in World War II, I know I have nowhere near that capacity. I do not sense having a calling like Howells had, but I do know every one of us has a calling to pray. And the saints praised for their prayer life throughout the Bible were prayer-ers who had an active, fervent prayer life.

The kind of person we are also make prayer effective, but only for one kind of person: a righteous person. We cannot expect our prayers to be very effective if we are living in sin, if we are living for ourselves. We spend 1-2 hours in church on Sunday morning, maybe one hour Wednesday evening, and say a few minutes of prayer for our meals and expect God to answer our prayers when we spend hours and hours on TV, internet, and games? I’m guilty here. Not that TV, internet, or games are evil by themselves. What we put on them is more the issue. When I was preparing this series, God told me to put the video games away, so I did. I had several times where I really wanted to play, but I chose not to. Don’t think I was being all holy and spending all that time in prayer instead. I ended up vegging on the computer a lot, even when listening to sermons. I was praying more than I had, but not like I could have been. God later said if I wanted to play again, I could. For several weeks, I still did not, because part of what I was to learn in this process is more dependence upon him. So now, I am able to turn off the Denver Broncos when God wants me to pray (that was a tough one when the game was on) and I am able to turn off the games when God wants me to pray. God is still not done with me on these issues.

If our prayers are to be effective, prayer needs to be our priority. Not that we cannot do anything else, but it needs to be our priority. That means we need to schedule our day around prayer, not schedule prayer around our day. If we make our prayer time an extra thought, and not something we schedule our life around, do not be surprised when God treats your needs as “if I get around to it.” You can tell who makes God priority in how they handle church. I reserve my schedule so I can make it to church early. When my church has activities, I make it my priority that I be there for them. Look at the prayer meeting. The only reason I stopped going to my church’s Wednesday prayer sessions (which is what sparked this whole series and study) is because God told me to get involved with the youth group, which is at the same time.

Read this quote from E.M Bounds:
"His [Paul] teaching is that praying is the most important of all things on earth. All else must be restrained, retired, to give it primacy. Put it first, and keep its primacy. The conflict is about the primacy of prayer. Defeat and victory lie in this one thing. To make prayer secondary is to discrown it. It is to fetter and destroy prayer. If prayer is put first, then God is put first, and victory is assured. Prayer must either reign in the life or must abdicate. Which shall it be?" (The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds, page 99)

This is one of many quotes by Bounds that my pastor addresses so simply: “You spend half your time reading, half your time repenting.” Is praying priority in your life? Is spending time with God your top motive, your top task that must be done? It does not matter if you spend your prayer time in the morning, noon, or night, but do you schedule your time with God first over everything else you do? What if you were to schedule your prayer time first, then your job schedule? So if God told you to pray at a certain time, then you would purpose to arrange your work schedule around it? You may need to stay up later than you normally would or get up earlier than you normally would. John Wesley was invited for dinner with one of the elite of London. At a given time, he suddenly got up and left his host. The host asked, “Where are you going? It’s not even 9:00.” Wesley said something like, “I have an appointment with the Lord, and I need not be late.”

Do we have that kind of conviction about our prayers? Are we willing to cut off our appointments, our social meetings, even if we were to appear to insult our hosts, so we make our appointments with God? You don’t dare show up late for work. Why do many of seem to think it is okay to be late for God? And then we wonder why are prayers have so little effect. Let us make God our priority. When we do that, we’ll start seeing God making our requests, as they align to his will, become priority as well.

Next week, I am going to address a very difficult aspect of prayer for me: praying in anguish. Inspired by a sermon by David Wilkerson, I will address praying to the point where it hurts.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Judges 9:42-49

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 17, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelech. So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. Abimelech and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. All that day Abimelech pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there, he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, 'Quick! Do what you have seen me do!' So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.” (Judges 9:42-49)

I encourage you to go read my last two blog posts (here and here) to get the full context of this story. Abimelech and his army have come to Shechem to stop a plot to overthrow him as leader, which they successfully did, running Gaal the Canaanite out of town. So what are they doing still staying in Shechem?

Abimelech decided that he needed to punish the citizens of Shechem for their lack of loyalty to him. If he hadn’t immediately intervened, it’s likely that Gaal would have rallied the people and even more of them would have been fighting against Abimelech. Abimelech decides that one more good ambush should do the trick.

This was all going on during their harvest season. The city of Shechem had walls around it, and only the city proper was inside the walls. The fields where they grew their crops were outside the walls. To harvest their crops, the people had to leave the protection of the city’s walls. After Abimelech ran Gaal out of town, the people would not have expected any further military action, and they had to get back to the work of harvesting.

So what does Abimelech do? He ambushes the unsuspecting civilians of Shechem! While the men were all out working in the fields, Abimelech’s army got between them and the city so they were unable to retreat to safety, and he killed them all.

After the ambush of the workers in the fields, Abimelech wasn’t done yet. He and his army went to the tower, which was 68 feet wide and 84 feet high. It was located inside the city, and its purpose was for people to take shelter in and defend the city. However, the tower didn’t provide enough protection this time; Abimelech and his army set it on fire, which only furthered the mass slaughter and Abimelech’s total capture of the city.

It says in verse 45 that “he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.” Scattering salt over it symbolizes the utter destruction of Shechem and its perpetual infertility. There are other references to this in Deuteronomy 29:23 and Psalm 107:33-34. If salt is scattered on plants, that plant will die, and Shechem died. The city wasn’t rebuilt until almost 200 years later (1 Kings 12:25).

What can we take away from this story? Abimelech was a ruthless leader. He may have looked good to begin with (for those who weren’t paying attention to how he came into power - by killing 68 of his half brothers), but as time goes on his true character was revealed. In this election season, take note of the true character of the candidates. Look at their past actions to see how they handle certain situations. Will he or she be a person who follows God’s will for this country? Or will he or she say that up front, but then show their true character and not lead well? Only time will tell, but make sure you look for clues and thoroughly investigate each candidate before placing your vote. Pray that God would guide your heart in this process, and the hearts of the candidates as well.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


What Does the Cross Mean to You?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 16, 2016 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Recently I was flipping through an old notebook and I found a drawing I had done. The picture was of a cross that was large enough to write inside of it. On the cross I had written words describing what the cross means to me.

Here is what was written on the cross:

He Gave All to offer a free gift for all
Conquered the Grave
Overcame the World
Sinless for Sinners
Shed Blood
Ultimate Gift
Father’s Love
The very last entry read
The battle is won.

At the bottom of my drawing I had written, “What does the cross mean to you?”

I would like to encourage you to create your own illustration of the cross, and write on it what the cross means to you. I even took colored pencils and added some color. Take my idea and run with it. See where your thoughts and creativity lead you.

Maybe you are thinking that you’re not very good at drawing. That’s ok, because this is just for you. It is more about the reflection of what the cross means to you rather than a perfectly illustrated picture. No one else has to see it, so don’t worry about how it looks. Believe me, I am no artist, but I do like to doodle and draw from time to time.

Take a few minutes and reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross and ask yourself
What does the cross mean to you?

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Watch Your Mouth... and Your Back!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 15, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I will probably never forget the times where, when I was younger, my temper caused me to say things that got me into trouble. From childhood outbursts over family yard games, to a middle school lunch room argument that lead to an almost comical after school showdown, to many other moments I'd rather not mention. As a human being, I am not immune to the syndrome that periodically afflicts us all - inserting our foot into our mouth.

If you read the passage for today in Judges 9:30-41, you will see the Gaal was unfortunately afflicted with this same problem, and it cost him his life. Not only did Gaal take things into his own hands and not wait for God to deal with Abimelech, but he publicly boasted that he would destroy Abimelech if the people would follow him. Gaal had gall, to the point of arrogance. Gaal also was not smart enough to check his audience and watch his back (along with his mouth).

Zebul, the leader of the city of Shechem, reported Gaal to Abimelech. Abimelech comes to fight Gaal. Zebul criticizes Gaal and taunts him to go out and fight Abimelech. Based on the passage, others did join Gaal, but probably very few. Gaal is chased off, and Zebul drives Gaal's family out of the city - probably thinking that his 'loyalty' to Abimelech will be rewarded in a good way. But it isn’t; more on that next week.

Gaal had a big mouth, passion, and courage to stand up to Abimelech. But he didn't have God's support, and he didn't have the support of the people around him. So, props for fighting the bad guy, Gaal, but next time you need to check your ego at the door and wait on God.

Have you ever been like Gaal – so confident of how right you were, or what you could do, that you blurted it out, almost daring everyone to test you? Have you had a Zebul, who decides to protect his own interests and sells you out to the local bully, or to those who are looking for a way to bring you down?

There are a couple simple things we can remember from Gaal's example:
- Don't boast about what you can do.
- Don't threaten a powerful person unless you have an army to back it up.
- Don't fight an enemy without God.
- Don't assume everyone who agrees with you will join you or have your back.

The last one is important for young people and young leaders. Sometimes, people who agree with your stance on an issue may not agree with your solution. Worse yet, they may see your solution as a way to betray or remove your position and protect themselves. Had Gaal been listening more to God, and more aware of how others perceived the danger he was inviting, he may not have created the prideful situation that came before his fall (or more accurately his 'run').

And let me take this one step farther, by connecting it to our online social media chatter. What are you saying? Who is reading it? What could be the consequences of your words (Matthew 12:36)?

I am dismayed to see such shaming, judgment, and just downright ignorant banter on almost every current topic in the media. Even if you don't have a 'Zebul' listening and ready to sell you out, you will have to explain the words you said to God one day. Are you going to be ok with the consequences you face for careless words?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Praying Through a Fog

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 14, 2016 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

One of the most frustrating situations we tend to go through is a time of uncertainty and a time where things do not seem to make any sense. It is like we are lost in a thick fog and we cannot see where we are or where we are going. How often would we feel so much more peace in our situation if God simply allowed us to see what was going on and explained why he was putting us through these situations?

I just came through one of those fogs, which I wrote about last week. I was in a fog, where I did not know what was going on with my job. I made the mistake of allowing the position I was teaching as a substitute to become an idol in my life, and that clouded my vision on what God was doing in my life. At the end of last year, God told me I was to substitute teach for another year and then he would open up some doors. Just that little light put everything back in perspective, which helped me see where I was and helped me to stop idolizing that position. I can say I am still in a fog right now, but God gave me a tiny glimpse of where I was, which gave me confidence to keep going.

How do you pray when things do not seem to make sense? How do you hold onto the faith when God seems so far away and you have no idea what your situation is? Adrian Rodgers has a very practical sermon on “When Nothing Seems to Make Sense.” I touched on this in my post Do not Doubt in the Dark, but here is another facet to his message. If things do not seem to make any sense, “Do not demand to understand. Try to understand if you can, but do not demand to understand.”

In the Bible, Job had the problem of demanding to understand. He wanted God to explain himself right then and there. Job did not understand the spiritual wager that went on in heaven. If he had known about it, it would have been easy for him to pass the test. But he also would not have learned his lesson, and neither would we have learned his lesson. Do not try to force God to explain himself to you and at the same time, do try to grasp your situation in light of the big picture if you can.

Another important thing to do in times of confusion is to hold your position. Some of the best advice I have ever heard on these types of situations is to never make any rash decision in such times. If you are not sure what God’s will is, go back and revisit the last thing you know God told you to do, and obey it. We need to know our position on where God has placed us. When the Bible says, “Be still,” it is not talking about staying motionless and being quiet. It actually is a military command: “Hold the line! Hold the position! Do not move from where God put you!”

But there are times where we need to move. One of the best stories I have read that shows this situation is by C.S. Lewis in The Horse and His Boy. Shasta sprints ahead of Rabadash and successfully warns the king of Archenland about the coming invasion. But then he stumbles along a mountain path alone in a dense fog. Instead of just staying still, he follows the voice of Aslan. In doing so, he ends up in Narnia where he alerts them. When he returns with Narnia’s forces, he goes along the same path and discovers it was a treacherous mountain road where he easily could have fallen off, had he seen where he was and not listened to Aslan’s voice.

A friend of mine told a similar story to this situation. He described how a friend of his was in a deep spiritual fog, with no hint of orientation or anything. It was totally dark around him and he kept praying and praying for God to show him some light so he knew what was going on. Eventually God did “turn on the lights” and in his spirit, this friend of a friend saw a demon sniffing around, looking for him. He immediately prayed, “Turn off the lights!”

There are times where God purposes to get you into that fog and that is to protect you. In one situation, it could be to keep your eyes off your surroundings so you do not get distracted and so you do not get struck with fear by what you see. In another situation, it could be not to keep you from seeing, but to keep you from being seen. Many armies have successfully maneuvered around other forces in fogs and they did not complain about not being able to see. They knew in that fog, they were hidden from enemy sight.

Too often we do not have the full picture, and many times God purposes not to show it to us. Why? I believe part of it is this: if God did show us what we would face in advance, most of us would not do what he wanted us to do. That being said, I can testify that those of us who have entered into partnership with God and obeyed him through the trials and difficulties and times of uncertainty, we would not trade it for anything else. The only thing we would regret doing was not going through that situation, but for not trusting God earlier than we did.

Do not try to force God to explain himself in times when things do not appear to make sense. As you pray, pray that God will get you through your dark times and through the fog. Do not try to rush him. When you are in that fog, God does not put you there to confuse you. God is not the author of confusion. He puts you there to keep you from being distracted by what you would see if you did have clear vision. He puts you there so that you are not frightened by the enemy’s maneuvers. At the same time, God can also take you through a fog to hide you, so he can put you in a position to strike the enemy from under the cover of darkness.

Trust in the Lord in times of confusion, in the dark fog that blots out the sun. He knows the situation far better than we do and far better than our enemy does. As you pray, pray not explicitly for vision, but for God’s clear direction. Pray that God will take you and prepare you for his tasks during that time. Praying for God’s glory to be demonstrated as you walk with him in absolutely surrendering trust. When you focus on the Lord in complete obedience, you cannot lose. Next week, I will address effectual prayer along with secrets on how to get answers to prayer.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Judges 9:30-41

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 10, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelech, saying, ‘Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.'
So Abimelech and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelech and his troops came out from their hiding place.
When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, 'Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!'
Zebul replied, 'You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.'
But Gaal spoke up again: 'Look, people are coming down from the central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.'
Then Zebul said to him, 'Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!'
So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelech. Abimelech chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. Then Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.” (Judges 9:30-41)

Make sure to read last week’s post for the context of this story. The short version is that Abimelech is facing some negative consequences for his violent acts, and a Canaanite man named Gaal is challenging his position as ruler. Abimelech didn’t live in Shechem, where this story takes place, but he had appointed Zebul to be the local ruler there.

Zebul found out about Gaal’s challenge to Abimelech’s rule, so he does exactly what he’s supposed to and informs Abimelech of the plot to overthrow him. Zebul recommends to Abimelech that he do something about this quickly, before the people have a chance to band together for this cause and make things worse. Abimelech does just that and sets out with his army overnight.

Zebul and Gaal are hanging out by the city gate, and Zebul gets worried that Gaal will see Abimelech’s army coming and prepare a defense. Zebul tries to distract Gaal but that doesn’t really work. Once Gaal figures out what’s going on, Zebul eggs him on and starts trash talking about how he’s going to get clobbered.

War breaks out, Abimelech and his army versus Gaal and the people of Shechem who were rallying for the cause of getting Abimelech out of power. Abimelech and Zebul work on getting Gaal and his family out of Shechem so they can’t cause any more trouble there.

So what can we learn from this story that helps us in our daily lives today? One lesson is that we need to face whatever our problems are. If you have someone in your life that you have a disagreement with, don’t just sit back and complain without doing anything. Don’t get into an all-out physical war with them like Abimelech did with Gaal, but do confront them in a loving manner. Do so as promptly as possible before the situation gets worse and you’re faced with a larger problem later on.

Another lesson we can learn from this passage is about how to be a good employee. Abimelech was Zebul’s boss. Zebul could have heard about Gaal’s plot and decided to go along with it, to overthrow Abimelech and maybe become the ruler himself. But instead, he informed Abimelech right away and sided with him rather than against him. It’s important to have open lines of communication with your employer (or your employees, depending on your situation) and keep them informed of situations that could cause issues later if left unchecked.

How are you like Zebul and Abimelech in your life? Or how are you like Gaal, stirring up trouble for other people? Take a look at your roles in life this week and ask God for guidance on where you may need to work on your attitude.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Taking Things into Your Own Hands?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 8, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

We've probably all heard the expression, or even said it ourselves at times, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” While this expression sounds good in a “take charge” and “git 'er done” sort of way, it also exposes unhealthy reliance on yourself, strong independence, and a judgmental attitude.

Why am I tearing apart a seemingly harmless saying? Because it isn't harmless. It will bring division, alone-ness, and possibly destruction to whomever wields it seriously. Everyone who chooses to charge ahead and take things into their own hands is at risk of their own downfall.

Read Judges 9:22-29 and pay particular attention to what the passage says God was doing versus what Gaal was doing.

Abimelech and the city of Shechem are about to get their reward for the bloodshed, deception, and evil they had done in their hostile takeover of leadership. God sent and permitted an evil spirit between them to begin the judgement on them. Just as things start heating up, Gaal steps into the mix. Gaal not only ridicules Abimelech but calls for allies to take Abimelech down.

It wasn't necessary, because God was already doing it. Initially we might ask, “Why did God let Gaal be killed by Abimelech, instead of just using him to judge Abimelech?” We do not know Gaal's motives, but we do know the ambition for action was his own. God did not call him to it, and God knew what motives were behind it. Gaal didn't wait for God's plan; he took things into his own hands and paid a price he didn't expect.

Every day we face the choice to seek or wait for God's plans. Every day we choose to trust Him, or be tempted to take things into our own hands. This passage is just one of many examples where those who rely on themselves come to an unexpected negative outcome or end. We must remember that even noble actions, done outside of God's will or timing, can have destructive consequences. We must also remember that God is NOT slow in keeping His promises. He will keep them in the timing that is the best.

In a few weeks we will be tested in this very notion, as a nation. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must wrestle out your motives and why your vote will be cast the way it is. If there is any part of you tempted to take this in the direction YOU think is best, without being certain it is God's direction, then you need to pull back and spend time in prayer. We dare not make a cautious choice if God is bringing judgement, and we dare not make a harsh choice if God is choosing mercy. We also dare not make no choice, since God has called us to influence our culture, and we dare not make a default or flippant choice to somehow fulfill an obligation to vote and deny responsibility for the results.

I invite you to fast and pray for the direction God is leading our nation. Then vote with confidence in His plan for the years ahead, instead of trying to make it turn out the way you think it should. Our vote, as believers, may not be about the candidates themselves as much as the direction God is taking us to bring about His plan. If we vote with our own motives or do this for ourselves, I guarantee it will not be done “right.”

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Fickle and Selfish Prayers

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 7, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

There are two types of “prayers” that tend to be unanswered: fickle prayers and selfish prayers. In order to give this study any proper justice, I need to give you a few stories about my recent life that make me look really good [note the sarcasm]. First, fickle prayers.

A few weeks ago, I had a big moment in dealing with fickleness, and it was the same week my post on perseverance was released. That Wednesday and Thursday were very interesting days that week. Now, an important part of this story is that in this season of training on prayer, God and I agreed to meet at 9:00pm every evening for reading my Bible and for prayer. The exceptions were Mondays and Wednesdays because I teach a Bible study on Mondays and I help with my church youth group on Wednesdays. So I usually start that one between 9:15-9:30pm. This particular Wednesday evening, I got home so tired I told the Lord I just had to get straight to bed. It was not good.

I do not remember if it was that Thursday or Friday, but on my way to work, I listen to numerous sermons on my flash drive in the car. The one I happened to be on was Eric Ludy’s sermon: “The Amen Life.” This sermon is about living with “blazing integrity.” Instead of being “fickle” where you readily switch positions depending on what you think is better for you, Ludy suggests we need to be “amen,” where we mean what we say and we do not waiver. Let’s just say I was convicted. I had promised to God I would meet at 9:00pm, a little later on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I flaked out.

Thursday, the next day, was a challenge for me. This Thursday was NFL opening day and I am a Denver Broncos fan. The game was Carolina vs Denver, a Super Bowl rematch. God said I could watch the game, however, at 9:00pm, I had to be off. It was a close game. Denver had just scored to pull within three points at the start of the 4th quarter and would eventually win. But I had to turn off the game so I could be with God. It was hard to turn it off and even harder to focus because my parents had the game on in the other room and I could hear it. Denver has more night games coming up and I still need to be off at 9:00pm to be with the Lord.

I don’t say this to boast, but to show during that week, I was up and I was down. I was fickle. I spent time with God when I wanted to and did not when I did not want to. I was inconsistent. So I have to ask: do we make God enough of a priority to be consistent? Are we dedicated enough to show up on time, even if we don’t feel like it? Not just with our prayer time. What about with church? I get frustrated watching people walk into church part way into the worship service and don’t even give it a second thought. Let me just call it what it is: it is being fickle. We don’t dare show up late for work, but with God it is no big deal. If that is our attitude, if we don’t make God our priority and don’t care if we make or miss our appointments with him, we should not be surprised when God passes us by and does not answer our prayers. God is “amen.” He is faithful, trustworthy, consistent, and never late. If we want to meet God, and if we want him to answer our prayers, we too should be faithful, trustworthy, consistent, and never late. It is not about routine, though discipline does help. It is about letting your yes be ‘yes’ and your no be ‘no’.

Why are we fickle? One of the key reasons is that we are selfish. We are only interested in what we think will help us and are not truly interested in God’s agenda. James said one of the reasons why our prayers are not answered is because we ask amiss. We pray for something that we will use for our own selfish purposes. We must be very careful about this because three different things could happen. The first is God simply does not answer and we should consider ourselves blessed when this is all that happens.

The second thing that could happen is God does answer the prayer. It happened to Israel in two notable incidents. In 1 Samuel 8, Israel asked for a king and God gave them one. They got Saul who did not turn out to be a very good king. The other one was in Numbers 11. The Israelites complained about the manna God provided and wanted quail. So God gave them quail, so much to last them a month. However God cursed them with it. God may answer our misguided, selfish prayers and curse us for it.

The third thing comes from a quote from a local author and youth leader Gregory Reid.

"We must pray according to the will of God precisely because God is not the only one answers prayer. You heard that right. If you pray for yourself or others out of the direct and explicit will of God, or meddle with prayers in others' lives, there are plenty of demons more than happy to take your unbiblical or misplaced prayers and ‘answer’ them." (Gregory Reid: War of the Ages, pg 134-135)

Yes, this is a scary proposition. Satan and his minions are capable of answering our prayers, especially if they are not in agreement with what God wants. It happened with Ahab. He wanted Naboth’s vineyard and a very unfriendly source answered that prayer in his wicked wife, Jezebel.

There is one other type of selfish prayer we make that I will address. And this gets to poke me a bit more. Earlier this year, I wrote two posts about “Getting Slighted” and “Do Not Doubt in the Dark.” I was addressing a situation with my job where I was given a far greater workload than my job description called for, when I should have been simply given the job I was doing. I am a substitute teacher now and I was teaching physics, doing the job of a full time teacher last year. I do believe my administration did not properly handle the situation, however, God had to deal with me before he could deal with them.

That job had become an idol in my heart. I wanted that job and I believe I earned it. Others believe I earned it. However, I did not handle that situation the right way in my heart. I had an idol in my heart. When we have idols in our hearts, we will not be able to pray properly in accordance to God’s will. God had constantly told me about Joseph’s time in Egypt and I tried to listen but it did not click. When I realized this job had become an idol, it all started making sense. I was not seeking what God wanted in my life. I wanted that job. I was not doing my assigned job to the best of my ability because I wanted the title. And I had to do something I did not want to do: apologize to my principal for my attitude, when she did not know about it (to my knowledge).

Why do our prayers not get answered? The problem lies with us, not with God. Every time. God is never at fault when prayers go unanswered. Many times we do not understand why they went unanswered. Sometimes we do not know why things happen the way they do. Next week, I will address how to handle situations that we do not understand and how to pray them through.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Conversation with an Atheist - Founded on Faith, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 6, 2016 1 comments

by Steve Risner

This week will be the last in a 3-part series on America's status as a Christian nation, which is part of a larger series concerning a conversation I had with an atheist. You can catch the first 2 parts of this series here and here. The first was concerning things the Founders said that confirm we were a Christian nation founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a Christian people. The second included acts of the government primarily under the Founders that confirm the government of the United State of America was not secretive in their attempts to Christianize the Native Americans, hold church services in government buildings, or print Bibles using tax money. This week we'll take a short look at what I believe is the only real defense a person could use to suggest this nation is not a Christian nation or was not founded on Christian principles. That is a fragment of a sentence found in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli.

Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Treaty of Tripoli. What's that and why did we need it? For nearly 2 decades shortly after the American Revolution, we had no Navy to speak of. Our cargo ships heading into the Mediterranean and surrounding areas had little to no defensive capabilities. The Muslim nations in the area saw this and began to capture these ships, take their cargo, and enslave the sailors on board. There were a number of treaties written in this time period with several different Muslim nations. Jefferson, who signed into law many acts that funded the Christianization of the Native Americans including sending missionaries, building and staffing churches, and printing Bibles, was the American primarily responsible for this treaty's writing. Knowing how Jefferson felt about Christianity, the Bible, and our nation, does it seem likely that Jefferson would write a treaty that stated we were not a Christian nation? What is often quoted in the Treaty of Tripoli by those who hold we are not a Christian nation is this: “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion…” That seems pretty straight forward, right? Slam dunk for the secularist. The trouble is, this is a very short part of a very long sentence in one treaty of which there were many over a long period of time. This is classic quote mining. The sentence in question is literally over 4 times longer than this little snippet. But greater than this, if we understand the point of the treaty and the foundations of the conflicts in question, we see the issue a little differently. The entire quote reads: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

This was literally America's first war on terror and also, quite literally, our first war as a sovereign nation. The European “Christian nations” had long battled against Muslims. It was a war between Christians and Muslims. The Muslim nations in question saw America as another “Christian nation” like the rest. But we see in this quote that Jefferson was saying we're not at war with Muslims. We respect them and their religion and respect their right to be Muslims if they so choose. He states clearly (and this is easy to miss) that the GOVERNMENT of the United States is not a Christian government. I stated this in a previous blog post—the difference between America being a Christian nation versus being a Christian state. He was simply saying Christian America is not interested in being at war with Muslims because they're Muslims. However, Jefferson was Commander-in-Chief over the first military action we took as a sovereign nation. This was the US Navy sending ships to Tripoli to stop the piracy that was happening regularly and costing us nearly 20% of the federal government's annual budget. Ever wonder why the US Marine's hymn contains the phrase “the shores of Tripoli” in its opening line? This encounter is exactly why.

The circumstances of the conflicts in question strongly support my contention that we are a Christian nation. The attacks on our ships were because we were a Christian nation, specifically, and because other nations alleged to be Christian attacked Muslims regularly over the years. Jefferson's words that we've quoted were his attempt to separate our Christian nation—a nation that recognizes the religion of Islam and respects their right to practice it—from the Christian nations of Europe that had engaged in warfare against these Muslims simply because they were Muslims. Other portions of this treaty, as well as other treaties for the same purpose, essentially said, “We're not like the Christian nations you've had trouble with in the past. We're a Christian nation that is okay with you being Muslim in your countries all you want. We just want to buy and sell goods with you.”

“But what about the separation of church and state?” you may ask. Do you know that this phrase is not found in the US Constitution? The First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” and goes on to outline the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition. It says nothing of a “wall of separation” which is the phrasing so often quoted. Jefferson, again, is the man responsible for this terminology. In a personal letter to a Christian denomination, he wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” He is simply stating that the church he was writing to, as well as every other church, need not fear that the government would officially declare a state religion. This is something that we had recently broken free from when we revolted against England. But the US government cannot interfere with your right to express your religious conviction (unless you are harming someone else). It in no way means the government must sever all religious ties from itself.

President Andrew Jackson rightly said, “The Bible is the rock upon which our republic rests.” How could the foundation of our nation, as claimed by numerous Founders, be intentionally excluded from every part of the functioning of the government? Look at all the things the Founders did using federal tax money and buildings. Look at the Supreme Court and the obvious Scriptural references all over it as well as the Library of Congress and Capitol. Monuments are littered with Bible references. The National Archives note how our laws are based on the Bible. Look at the fact that Congress opens with prayer. How about the fact that our money says, “In God we trust.” Where does that come from? Our national anthem contains this verse:

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Even the Star Spangled Banner declares our Christian heritage, stating we are a land rescued by heaven and references praising the “power” that made and preserves our nation. Also, obviously, there is the reference to “In God is our trust.”

The US House of Representatives stated in 1854: “The great vital element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Our nation is so very far from this truth right now. We are victims of revisionism and deception. How can one argue, knowing the facts, that this nation was not founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a Christian people? Sure, we've come far from this in the last 100 years or so, but that doesn't change the fact that our founding was based on our God given rights as human beings. If you don't believe this, you have no basis for your rights as an American. Let's consider how, since at least the 1960s, our nation has slid faster and faster down a slope of depravity and immorality. Consider the state we are in right now. As we've forgotten our foundation and Who it's built upon, we've become a place our Founders would be disgusted by, I'm certain.

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Judges 9:22-29

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 3, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God stirred up animosity between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelech. God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelech.
Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech. Then Gaal son of Ebed said, ‘Who is Abimelech, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelech? If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Call out your whole army!’’” (Judges 9:22-29)

In last week’s passage, we see how Abimelech (Gideon’s son) came into power as the leader of the tribe of Manasseh. Jotham, the only remaining one of Abimelech’s 69 half brothers, warned the people that they’re not choosing the right man to lead them, but they didn’t listen.

Manasseh was one of the smaller and weaker tribes of Israel, but being their leader still gave Abimelech a power trip. He wasn’t exactly what you’d call everyone’s favorite leader; he was more like a tyrant or a dictator than a judge with the people’s best interests at heart as previous rulers had been.

Shechem, the setting of this section of Judges, was one of the main towns in Manasseh and it was along a primary trade route for the area. The people there did not get along well with Abimelech. The citizens of Shechem fought back Abimelech was to basically sabotage the economy. They would rob the traders who came there, which caused the economy to crash because people were afraid to come through there, lest they get robbed as well. Even though Abimelech did not live there, and had appointed a man named Zebul to rule directly in Shechem, this would still hurt the area that Abimelech was in charge of.

Meanwhile, a man named Gaal moves into town. Gaal was a Canaanite, and he was very opposed to having an Israelite such as Abimelech ruling over the area of Manasseh. Gaal questions Abimelech’s qualifications to be their ruler. Abimelech’s mother was from Shechem, though we do not know if she was Canaanite, Israelite, or from another people group, and his father Gideon was clearly an Israelite.

During the harvest festival that honored the false god Baal-Berith, Gaal starts stirring up trouble for Abimelech. Gaal claimed that he would be a better leader for the people than Abimelech, and he throws down the gauntlet to challenge Abimelech.

Why was Abimelech having such a rough time as leader? He was simply reaping what he sowed. If you recall, we read in Judges 9:5 last week that Abimelech had murdered 68 of his half brothers in cold blood, all so he would be assured to come into power, rather than one of them. He was now paying the price for his violent actions, by the people turning against him.

What have you done in your life that you’re facing negative consequences for? Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes; that’s how God’s natural law works. How are you going to handle those negative consequences? We don’t see Abimelech’s response to his consequences yet, but stay tuned next week for more of that story.

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In a Whisper

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 2, 2016 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Several years ago I spoke at a retreat and their theme was “In a Whisper.” I felt led to communicate the importance of us making intentional choices to immerse ourselves in prayer and God’s Word to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord. I know that everyone is busy but a deeper relationship with the Lord requires commitment and discipline.

My husband likes to say that I “go with the flow,” but the truth is I could flow right through my day and have wonderful intentions of spending time with the Lord but the thought “I’ll get to it” keeps coming to mind. If I am not careful I can drift right through my day and as my head hits the pillow, I utter a few prayer requests before I fall asleep. I have a tendency to be reactive to my life instead of proactive.

I now make the intentional choice to spend quiet time alone with God. I schedule it in my day. I plan ahead.

There is a quote by Stephen Covey that says, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.” Isn’t that true? It makes me think back to when my boys were little and I was busy trying to get something done and I would hear, “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” until I would stop and give them my full attention.

I wonder how many times a day God is whispering, “Ami, Ami, Ami…” until I slow down and listen to Him.

We often have good intentions of spiritual growth but we are lacking on our follow through. Join me as we make intentional choices to spend quality time with the Lord daily and put Him first in our lives.

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Badda-bing, Badda-boom... Hey-oh... Forgetaboutit!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 1, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

It's almost like it jumped off the pages of an old style mafia novel, or off the screen of a Godfather movie. When you read this week's passage, and you catch what's going on, you can almost hear Abimelech say, "Badda-bing, badda-boom... hey-oh... forgetaboutit!"

Read Judges 9:1-21. Did you catch how "mafia" like Abimelech is in his hostile takeover of the "business"? This conspiracy and rise to power is not only a massive betrayal, it's an outright slaughter on the level we might expect of Adolf Hitler. Abimelech strikes a deal with his mother's extended family by letting them know that if they support him in coming to power, he will be sure it goes well with them. The expression, "I am your bone and your flesh..." appears to be a reminder that 'support' goes both ways. (Hey-oh, we're faaamily... forgetaboutit)

His family gives him 70 pieces of silver to initiate his rise to power. It's no coincidence that there were 70 sons of Gideon ruling over Israel. This is blood money, a price on their heads, and exactly what Abimelech asked for. He hires his hit men and slaughters his brothers on a stone. Abimelech is then crowned king.

Jotham, his youngest brother, escapes, and after Abimelech is crowned king he speaks out against Abimelech and those who supported him. (This parable by Jotham is also the "curse" of Jotham referred to at the end of Abimelech's story.) According to some Jewish commentaries, this parable compares great leaders who were unwilling and yet brought about great things (great fruit like the olive and fig trees), against a briar/thorns that do not bear fruit and are only fuel for a fire (an unfit leader). Essentially, Jotham is saying to all of Israel that the ambition of Abimelech will lead to his own downfall and the downfall of all those who supported him in killing the sons of Gideon. If Abimelech is a man of integrity, then they have nothing to fear, but if not then the thorny briar will eventually be burned, and everyone hiding in its protection will be consumed in the flames with it.

Jotham goes into hiding as Abimelech's power grows, and we are left to consider this moment in light of our own situation in America. True to Jotham's parable, a leader will be shown for who they really are through their leadership. Deceit and conspiracy cannot remain hidden, and the blood of innocent lives destroyed will not be silenced by power. Truthfully, I have never been more undecided going into an election year. Not because I can't decide which is a more 'Christian' leader - I have no delusions of acquiring or maintaining an enculturate religious philosophy that has no real fruit from God's character, nature, and Kingdom. My perspective is IN the world and aware of what cultural Christianity is, but not OF the world and not seeking the imitations of godliness without power.

My God is God of ALL. He is not fazed by an election any more than He was fazed by Abimelech's treachery. God was still working and seeking to get Israel back on track with Him, but it wasn't going to be a quick fix. Israel had to learn to get their eyes off of kings and power and earthly rulers. It took generations of history to move the cultural needle even one degree away from the desire to be like other nations and have powerful military kings. And still today, we wrestle with seeing kings and presidents as our saviors and our protectors. So much so that we still have conspiracies, we still have murderous climbs to power, and we even break into open street fighting over candidates. I am not interested in a culturally 'Christian' leader. I am not interested in who will line my pockets or make my life easier.

I am interested, like Jotham, in God's plan to bring justice to us as a people, to open our eyes to His ways, and to establish His Kingdom through our lives representing Him as the one true King! Anything else is short of true faith in Jesus Christ.

We must pray and seek God's will for whom He will put in office, and we must do it understanding that He may allow an Abimelech to come to power, in order to expose and burn out the selfishness with which we decide our nation's direction.

  I am praying for God's leading and will vote for whomever He says. I may be sick at the choice, but I will make it trusting Him to bring about what is good for His Church, this nation, and all nations.

What about you? Will you trust God that much with your vote? Or will you hide, whine, blame, accuse, etc.?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.