Seeking Confirmation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 31, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Have you ever had a time where you had to question the very foundation of what you believe? Most go through a crisis of faith at one point or another. And it happens to best of us. The very man who confessed “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” had a crisis of faith. He asked Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?” How could John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, the one who leapt in the womb at the presence of his cousin, the one who shouted down Pharisees, the one who confronted the immorality of King Herod, the one who proclaimed a message of repentance, and the one who baptized Jesus doubt who Jesus was? If John the Baptist could doubt, how much more any of us? But how did Jesus respond to this?

Read Luke 7:18-35, particularly 20-21. Jesus immediately healed people and cast out demons. Then he told John’s disciples this report: “The lame walk, the blind see, the demons are cast out…” Jesus never told John, “Yes, I really am the one.” Jesus said, “Look at what I am doing here. Could I be anyone else?”

There are many skeptics about the claims of Jesus, and many of them ask, “If God really existed, why doesn’t he perform such and such a miracle?” My answer to that question is: “If God did that, would you believe?” Most never say, “Yes.” I want to point out two groups of people: honest seekers and dishonest seekers. I have touched on this in recent posts, but I want to dig deeper into that here.

An honest seeker one who seeks the truth of the situation in all matters, even if it proves him wrong and costs him something. An honest seeker does not just seek what some people claim about the issues; they seek to see if what is said is true. They weigh it and consider it and explore all the different options. They evaluate which options are able to stand upon their own merits. And they do not let the topic slide until they find out the solution. An honest skeptic will look at evidence that questions the position they hold and will conduct an honest investigation to find out if the evidence is so. He will reject evidence if it does not hold to honest scrutiny, not because he simply doesn’t like it.

A dishonest seeker is someone who already has a decision on the matter determined BEFORE investigation. They either favor one side they like or purposefully disfavor another side. They have no interest in what is actually true and they only want to find whatever arguments they can to support their pre-determined position. They will demand evidence for a position they do not agree with, but already have in their mind that no evidence can support that claim no matter what evidence is given. Now, this is different from someone with blind faith and holds to a position only because that is all they have known; this is someone who is presented with evidence and they refuse to examine it for a proper analysis.

An honest seeker may have doubts but wants to believe. Take a look at Gideon. He was not sure of his calling to deliver Israel from the Midianites so he asked for two tests with a fleece and dew. He was not trying to put God to the test by being presumptuous; he was rather seeking a confirmation the he really was to do it. The whole time, he wanted to believe. He just had a few stumbling blocks to overcome.

The dishonest seeker is not going to find God because he is looking to NOT see him. When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, he described how the rich man sought to get Abraham to raise Lazarus from the dead to warn his brothers. However, Abraham then responded with, “They have Moses and the Prophets (the whole OT from Genesis through Malachi at that time). If they do not believe Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe even if the dead were raised” (Luke 16:29). This is serious to grasp. The dishonest seeker will not be moved by evidence. Even when Jesus performed all his miracles and appeared before hundreds after his Resurrection, even then some still did not believe. It is because they did not love the truth enough to believe it. Ahab saw the evidence of the fire from heaven and it still did not change his mind.

I love the testimony of Josh McDowell. He was an honest seeker. He wanted to authentically disprove the Bible. He didn’t want to just find any argument he could find; he wanted to historically and logically disprove it. He could not, and in the process he realized it was true - every word. But he did not become a Christian. He still had his pride and his preferred lifestyle to deal with. Finally, God broke through that and he became a born again believer and is one of today’s leading apologists. He was an honest seeker, but also is a prime example that evidence alone will not convert someone.

I constantly hear people tell me to “prove God exists,” and if I choose to respond, I’ll typically ask, “What would you consider to be evidence?” So far, I have encountered only one person that actually gave legit criteria: God would need to demonstrate himself by doing something that cannot be explained by science. I was impressed. Most who attempt to answer that question either have given it no thought, or purpose to set up criteria for intention of keeping God from being a possible option. So I gave him a challenge. Ask God to address that deep, personal issue that only you know about and tends to keep you up at night. I told him to ask God not for a trivial thing like “make the chair move,” but for that deepest need and desire to be settled. This guy would not (as of when I last spoke) take me up on that challenge. Maybe he is on his own, I don’t know. But his last correspondence indicated he had no interest in finding out who God is or even if he exists.

Are we honest or dishonest seekers? We all have doubts and we all will be shaken at one point or another. I have had my faith shaken but it did not move me. I stood upon my faith, because it was a solid rock. And I know if my faith was based on anything weaker, I would have fallen.

If John the Baptist could be shaken, so can any of us. When Jesus gave the report, John believed again. One thing I have learned is that God will never turn down an honest seeker. He will never leave someone who truly wants the truth unsatisfied in the search. The reason why is because no one is ever going to be an honest seeker unless God is already drawing him. None of us seek after God on our own will and desires.

In the words of Aslan in The Silver Chair, “You would not have called me if I had not been calling you.” Then we are responsible for responding to his call or not. I truly believe God calls upon every person at one time or another. Not all respond correctly. Which are you?

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Are Socialists Followers of Christ?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 29, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

In Matthew 25:14-30 we read a parable of Jesus which some have entitled, “The Parable of the Bags of Gold,” and it seems to be one of the parables that liberals in America hate. Even liberals who identify as Christians hate this parable; either that or they reinterpret it so as to destroy its value—same thing.

The parable opens thusly:

“Again, it [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”

Two of these servants immediately “put the money to work.” This is capitalism. One man has a lot of capital (cash, material wealth, gold, financial instruments, etc.). He entrusts it to others in order that they can make it grow. This is the process of capital investment. One person who has a lot of money may decide to risk some of it in order to gain even more. The rich man allocated his money as he saw fit, voluntarily. It was his to do as he pleased and he chose to invest it with three servants for a profit.

Socialists and Marxists at this point would object and say that the bags of gold should belong to everyone. But not everyone has productive capability. Gold that belongs to everybody never gets amassed; it only gets spent.

Moreover, to socialize the means of production is to take them by coercion from a productive person and redistribute them. This is to deprive someone of their earnings and give them to someone who didn’t earn them. Talk about greed! Socialism deprives productive persons the reward of honest labor. “Everyone deserves a steak in a wealthy country,” you may say. But only a few people are feeding cattle at 2am in the dead of winter—they are the ones who deserve steak; if you want some, you have to buy it. If you just take some of his cattle, you’re a thief.

The reason that capital exists is because someone under-consumed so that she would be able to have something to invest. Then a large bully comes along as says that it isn’t fair for her to have more than another person; he says this to justify stealing the capital, some of which he redistributes among his “clients,” and some of which he keeps. This is the essence of socialism. Jesus never advocated it.

Returning to the parable, the man returns from his long journey and calls each servant to account for his investment. The first two doubled the master’s investment. He says, “Well done, enter into all of my happiness.”

But to the unproductive servant:

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Not quite the Che Guevara of the New Testament, is he? There is a reason this is important for today. It seems that many people today want to claim that Jesus was a socialist and that all of His people should be too. They assert that it is the “Christian” thing to do and if we do not allow the government to redistribute our wealth, we are greedy, immoral, and anti-Christ.

This parable was told to Jesus’ followers so that they would know what His expectations of them were. He was the man going on a long journey, too. He was entrusting the church and His ongoing ministry to His disciples; this is the treasure. He will return, we are promised in so many places of the New Testament (Titus 2:13 is but one example). And when Jesus returns He will demand an accounting from every Christian as to how they spent their lives. “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Romans 14:12). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Those who are wicked, lazy, or fearful—that is, those who do not “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8), will be cut off just like the final servant in this parable. John the baptizer said in Matthew 3:10: “The ax lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Jesus Christ said, “And throw that worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This, it seems, is how many people will find out that God means what He says in the word.

Thought you should know.

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Judges 16:1-3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 27, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, 'Samson is here!' So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, 'At dawn we’ll kill him.'
But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” (Judges 16:1-3)

At this point in the story of Samson’s life, he’s been looked to as a leader of Israel for the past 20 years. They respect him for his strength and how God empowered him against the Philistines. Because of how many Philistines he had killed, naturally Samson waited many years before venturing into Philistine territory again. Even in the remote reaches of the Philistines’ territory, Samson’s reputation was well known.

One of Samson’s weaknesses was women. He easily gave into temptation with a prostitute. The Philistine men saw him there, and they decided to wait and see if they could capture him. Even 20 years later, they could not have been happy with all the destruction Samson had caused their people. The men likely fell asleep while they were waiting, but they figured there was no way Samson could get out through the locked city gates overnight anyway.

But, they obviously forgot the amazing physical strength that Samson had shown previously. During the night, Samson goes out and rips loose the large, heavy gates, along with the structure that it was connected to! And he doesn’t just rip them off and just lay them aside; he carries them away out of the city!

The symbolism of the gates is significant. The city gate was the place where the city’s rulers or judges would sit to discuss the issues of the city, similar to a city council that we may have today. Samson showed that even the city’s leaders had no power over him.

Samson showed his physical strength and Israel respected him for that, but they should be trusting in God who is even more powerful than Samson. Samson would not have had those powers except through God empowering him. But even with Samson there as evidence of God’s power in their lives, Israel still chose to go astray from God and disobey Him.

Today, we have even greater power than Samson! As believers in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living in us and empowering us. What are you doing with that power? How are we impacting our culture for God’s Kingdom? How are we (figuratively) ripping off the city gates and making an impact? Pray about how God would empower you to make a difference where you live.

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Above the Clouds

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 26, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

One day I was sitting out on my deck and I saw two eagles soaring high above the clouds. They were so high that I could hardly see them. They truly were soaring above the clouds. All the other birds I could see were flying in and out of trees, on the ground, and on power lines. These birds were much closer to where we live. The eagles were soaring above it all, and this made me think about the fact that we should soar above the drama, competition, gossip, criticism, and backstabbing of this world.

In Isaiah 40:31 it says, “Those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Not that we are ever above others, but we should remain above the chaos and drama. As Christians, we shouldn’t feed into gossip or fan the flames of drama. Instead, we should continually look to the Word of God for guidance and truth.

I am a people person and I love to talk, so there are certainly times when I enter conversations that I shouldn’t, or I repeat something I shouldn’t have. However, my personality type is not an excuse for this.

I have begun to ask myself these questions: “Does this conversation glorify God?” “Do my words or actions bring glory to my Father?” If not, then I move away from those conversations and situations. And when I do stumble and mess up, I ask God for forgiveness of my sin and spend time in prayer asking for strength to turn away from it.

Join me as we spend time in prayer, reflecting and asking God to show us how we can soar above the drama and chaos in our lives.

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Are You a Gray Hat? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 25, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This blog post is part of a series. Read the next post here.]

In the world of computer hacking, there are terms, language “icons” if you will, for those who hack for a good cause, those who hack for selfish or evil causes, and even one for the hackers you aren’t really sure whose side they are on. These iconic images are borrowed from old-fashioned spaghetti westerns. The good hackers are called white hats, selfish or bad hackers are called black hats, and the ones who were not quite sure about are called gray hats. In the old western films, the sheriff and the good guys wore white hats, the bad guys wore black hats, and the characters who could be on either side would wear gray hats.

Ok, so that’s great, but what do computer hacking and hat colors have to do with us? Well, are we really brave enough to ask which hat we wear? Better yet, are we willing to let our assumption of what hat we wear be challenged by God? I encourage you to let this impact you and maybe re-frame what you believe about yourself. I have found that most people like to believe they are a white hat, even when they know what they are doing is wrong.

Read Psalm 1. In just six simple verses God gives a pretty clear picture, doesn’t He?

What happens to the person on the path with the wicked? There is a rush with crossing lines, getting away with something selfish, or breaking a rule. It feels good, it lures us deeper, and we go from rabbit trailing down that path to standing in a broken habit. We get stuck in a self-indulgent or rebellious sin that we let become part of experience, that we start to WANT as a part of our experience. And after we stop to stand, it’s not long until we sit down; we become unmovable, convinced we have a right to live this way, and we will mock or attack or tear down anyone who tries to show us anything different.

This is the gray hat becoming black. Notice there is only one direction this leads. God doesn’t see gray as a hat we put on or take off. It is a hook that draws us away from Him and eventually leads to denying Him and dismissing His ways.

The person blessed by God doesn't take that path. They meditate on God's Word both day and night. The Hebrew word used for “meditate” in Psalm 1 is a word picture of a person “muttering under their breath.” It’s meant to convey the idea that God’s Word is always being repeated, reflected upon, and applied to their daily life circumstances. The Jewish idea of “learning the text” wasn’t so much about memorizing it just to repeat it. They memorized it to make it so much a part of them that their every decision was guided by God’s teachings and commands. They didn't have to run and check their Scriptures to see how God would want them to handle a situation; they already knew, because they knew the text.

This is the white hat: continuously learning and repeating the Word of God so that every action they take is in line with God’s will. This is the choice we are presented in Psalm 1.

So ask yourself: am I a mutterer, or a mocker? Do I live every day passionately seeking how God’s Word would guide me in each moment? Or am I spiraling down the path of the world?

Check out next week's blog post for more from Psalm 1 and to better see which hat you may be wearing.

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Clarity of Scriptures

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 24, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There tends to be an impression that there are… *changes to deep voice* “HIDDEN MEANINGS” in Scripture. Are there things God has hidden from us? Or are the Scriptures clear that anyone could read them and get the same basic understanding? What about those scholars that indicate there are “deeper meanings”? What about these other books and different models and interpretations? How do we address all these?

Allow me to say this: There are certainly deeper meanings to Scripture. The Bible is the only book you can read over and over and over and over again and still get new stuff out of it. Men have dedicated their lives to studying this book. If you took every person who has ever lived or ever will live and give them absolutely nothing to do but to study the Bible, all that knowledge combined will still not even come close to exhausting the contents of this book. Here is my answer to this question.

There are deeper meanings, however a deeper meaning must not and cannot contradict a lower level meaning. For example, we can calculate the area of a triangle to be 28 square feet with the basic formula A = ½bh. But we can also calculate the area of a triangle by calculating the area under a curve with calculus and integration. Calculus does not contradict our basic area formulas, but they rather enhance them. I have heard some suggest that Young Earth Creation is a basic level understanding of Genesis and Old Earth Creation is a deeper understanding; the problem is that the two contradict each other. Last year I did a study (starting here) on the arguments of Matthew Vines in addressing homosexuality. The conclusions he arrives at are claimed to be a “deeper understanding,” yet it completely goes against the plain language. If what you believe contradicts what is plainly written, it is not a deeper meaning.

There are many who believe that God did not reveal everything in the Bible and has waited until more recent days to give a “new revelation,” and this “new revelation” is above and higher than what the Bible says. The Book of Mormon is one such example. Yet often these “new revelations” conflict with the Bible and fail each of the tests used to validate canonicity. 2 Peter 1:20-21 is clear that no prophecy or Scripture is of private interpretation, but written with the author’s personality and through divine inspiration. It was publicly known at the time of the writing to be God-inspired.

But where did this idea that the Bible has hidden meanings come from? Where did the idea that we need to depend upon expert scholars to find out what the Bible says? I am not knocking Biblical scholarship by any means here. It is noted most in the bulk of Roman Catholic Church history, but it is also prevalent in Protestant churches and it was often seen in Bible times, so no one gets a pass in this regard. Some would either prevent the Scriptures from being accessed by the public, or personal study of Scripture would not be encouraged, or they would teach the people that only the priests could read and understand Scripture. The “advantage” to any church with this mentality is that it makes the people dependent not upon God but upon the person/group/church to hear from God. This is an easy environment for cults to fester, especially when the people are being taught to not question the leadership. It is an idea to prevent the leadership from being challenged in their position.

That is on the leadership side, but the laymen have a problem in this regard too because many are simply too lazy to go look up the Scriptures themselves. They would rather hear from someone else, or read a book (even good ones) but never spend time in the Bible or with God. Now, there is nothing wrong with listening to pastors, reading good books, and studying the giants that have gone before us; however none of them can or ever will replace your own private time studying the Bible yourself and praying. See my post on “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” for more on this particular topic. Many don’t realize this but the Bible actually tells us to check it out and to validate what it says. The Bible NEVER even hints that we are to take it by blind faith. Luke praised the Bereans for not taking Paul and Silas at their word but going back to Scripture to validate them.

Not everything in the Bible is crystal clear where we can be spoon fed the truth. There are things God puts in the Bible to make us wrestle with it. That is part of why Jesus spoke in parables, so we would not just hear but that we would meditate and think and process the truths being said. But the truth was all there in plain sight. One of Jesus’ most popular phrases was, “He who has ears, let him hear.” We do see things through a glass darkly. We do not have the full picture, but anyone who seeks the truth and will not rest until they find it, will find it. And very often, when we get it, we will see that it was so plain and obvious from the get go.

With this being said, the spiritual things of God are spiritually discerned. They will not make sense to those who only think in the ways of this world. Now does that contradict what I have been saying about the plain meaning of Scripture? Actually no. Mark Twain is attributed to saying, “Most people are disturbed by the parts of the Bible they don’t understand. I am most disturbed by the parts I do understand.” Most of Scripture is simple and straightforward. The “difficult” parts are usually the parts that have to do with Christian living, which will not make sense until you are born again. The reason why many say the Bible is so difficult to understand is not because it is difficult to understand, but because it is difficult to believe and obey. So to cover their unbelief, people will say that Scripture is difficult to understand, so they can excuse themselves from following through with what it says. God’s commands are not complicated; they do not require scholarship to grasp. We love to make things complicated. The Gospel is so simple a child can understand it. Do not let your brain get in the way of truth and the Savior.

I’ll wrap this up with one last comment. If you really want to understand Scripture, the key is to study and learn about Jesus. Every word of Scripture points to him. The Bible is the Word of God in text. Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 made absolutely no sense to the Jews. What was said was clear and plain, but what it meant and what it pointed to was lost. Once you know about Jesus it all makes perfect sense. Study the Scripture, but study with Jesus as your central focus. EVERY passage has some road, some connection to Christ. In every passage you study, search for that road. You can find one without doing violence to the intended passage. The Bible was written to be read by his people, understood by his people, and lived out by his people. What he said to Israel then is the same message says to us and it is the same message to the jungle warriors of the Amazon. That message is Jesus. The whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation reveals him. Study the Bible, but don’t miss Jesus.

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The Ultimate Goal of Biblical Charity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 22, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes; Jesus died for nothin’ I suppose.” –John Prine, 1971.

There has always been a tradition in the United States and Britain which recognized that there is a certain moral hazard in handing out money, goods, and services. “England’s original Poor Laws, enacted in 1589, sought to ‘reinforce righteousness,’ to strengthen ‘the family bond,’ and to ‘set the poor to work’ and turn the country into ‘a hive of industry’” (George Grant, Bringing in the Sheaves). Because the instillation of virtue was a main part of helping the poor, determined policies were enforced to reduce graft and sloth. The poor laws were never perfect, but they were better in many ways than the current system popularized in the United States.

Last week, I pointed out that collusion with the government involves overlooking the fact that governments steal from people and pocket a heavy “collector’s fee,” sometimes increasing the number of poor. Perhaps you are pragmatic and decide that state sponsored theft is a tolerable evil in the face of doing so much good. We might have a conversation about how much good is being accomplished compared to how much good could be accomplished if we didn’t have to pay the bully, but that is for another time.

Instead, I want to point out one of the first causalities in federalizing charity. Besides making theft foundational, it also removes almost all of the accountability associated with local giving.

Biblical charity works much differently. First, 100% the funds have been given voluntarily. Second, there is a local Christian in charge of those funds who is in some way accountable to the people who gave the money. He must not allow a person who does not meet the criteria of neediness to drain the coffers. “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:16).

The Bible sets up criteria to keep the system solvent. The church provides accountability with every dollar it hands out. Not only that, but many times a Christian can discern the deeper needs that a poor person may have. A majority of the financial counseling I do is with people who do not have an income problem; rather they have a management problem.

Other times people are poor because of an ongoing addiction problem like the case of Sam Stone from John Prine’s heartbreaking song. Giving addicts money only deepens the problem. Furthermore, someone had to work and not receive the benefits of that money in order to provide it. You cannot ask that person to sacrifice so that someone else can continue to feed an addiction.

Remember Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32? The younger son wants his inheritance early, and even though this would have put a strain on the rest of the business, the father agrees. The wicked boy goes off and lives the high life in the city with other wastrels. But when he runs out of money, all of his friends desert him. He goes down and down until he is living with unclean pigs in utter despair. His pride finally is destroyed and he repents and returns to his father’s loving and open arms.

But I wonder sometimes what would happen if there was a welfare system that would be willing to maintain that young man in his rebellion and folly. Would he ever have come to repentance if someone came along and began to pay all of his bills? The Bible teaches that some poverty is a judgment of God. The English system of old knew this and tried, albeit imperfectly, to implement poverty relief that was as close to the Biblical ideal as possible.

I see pastors abandoning the spiritual world of the gospel to engage the world in the political arena. They trade the thing that has the real power to transform sinners for a powerless life of social work. Sam Stone’s only hope is the gospel of the risen Jesus; he needs a revelation that Jesus did not die for “nothin’,” but for salvation.

If we examine the current model of government welfare against the standard of the attempt to “’reinforce righteousness,’ to strengthen ‘the family bond,’ and to ‘set the poor to work’ and turn the country into ‘a hive of industry,’” the government fails on each of these four criteria. It reinforces sloth, weakens the family bond, keeps the poor in generational poverty, and does not reinforce righteousness in any way. Government welfare is a failure. It is time to replace it with Biblical charity. I would be willing to support any measure from anyone that only uses money that has been voluntarily given. We can be so much more creative than the bureaucrats in Washington.

If there was one thing that the church could do to regain the mission of Christ in the world, it would be to stop colluding with secular powers and begin to administer Biblical charity. The ultimate goal is to see people restored to a right relationship with God. You are never going to get that from the welfare department, but you will get that in the local church!

Lord, may your kingdom come, your will be done, give us our daily bread, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us—to Thy name be the glory.

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Judges 15:14-20

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 20, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Then Samson said, 'With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.'
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.
Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, 'You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?' Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.
Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” (Judges 15:14-20)

Samson was hiding from the Philistines, and his own countrymen in Judah found him and turned him over to the Philistine army. Judah was not willing to fight with Samson to stand up for what was right; they simply handed him over, likely thinking that Samson would die at the hand of the Philistines. They had the opportunity to rise up and potentially dominate over the Philistines, but they didn’t.

But Samson didn’t die! He was empowered by God’s Spirit, and his amazing strength was shown by killing 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. While this was an amazing feat, remember that Nazirite vow that Samson had on his life since before he was born? Part of that vow was that he could not have contact with anything dead. The donkey whose jawbone Samson used would have had to have been dead, so Samson was violating that part of his vow (again).

After Samson’s great victory, he comes up with a poem for his victory chant. His poem does make more sense in the original Hebrew, since the words for donkey (“hamor”) and heap or pile (“homer”) sound more similar. The carcasses of donkeys were often through outside the city wall, which is similar to the disgraceful death that the Philistines received.

In Israelite culture, names are often significant. The place where this happened was originally called Lehi, which means “jawbone,” but then it was renamed Ramnath Lehi, which means “jawbone hill.” The name change was likely in honor of the “hill” of dead Philistines caused by Samson.

Samson acknowledged God’s victory in that battle and didn’t take the credit for himself, but he was still physically drained after it. I would imagine that killing 1000 Philistines would be a lot of work, especially with only a donkey’s jawbone for a weapon! God provided for Samson’s physical needs, just as he had many generations earlier for the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6).

Samson may not have been proclaimed an “official” judge over Israel, but after this incident the people looked to him as their leader for the next 20 years.

Samson allowed God to empower him to victory, while the rest of Judah was still cowering in apathy. They just didn’t care about their situation enough to do anything about it. In your life, are you empowered, or are you apathetic? Do you care about what’s going on in the world around you enough to be motivated to do something about it? Or are you just sitting back and letting others rule over you, because you don’t care enough to do anything about it? Ask God to empower you with His Spirit like he did with Samson (though that likely doesn’t mean for you to kill anyone!). Be empowered this week instead of living in apathy.

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Consistent Christian

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 19, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

In a recent conversation with one of my sons, he was sharing that he wanted to be a consistent Christian, not a “conditional Christian.” His example was that he was more willing to drive right at the speed limit if he saw a cop car up ahead, immediately slowing down to the correct speed limit. He went on to say that this is sort of like how we behave if the pastor is in our living room, or you are with Christian friends.

He made some valid points, so don’t act like he is the only one who thinks or acts this way.

It made me examine my own life. Are there areas that I am being a conditional Christian instead of a consistent Christian? Am I living out my Christian values on a daily basis, or am I conditionally behaving that way in certain situations? As I truthfully considered these questions, I realized that I am better than I used to be, but I still have some work to do.

Other people are watching our example. Do they see us consistently behaving in a Christian manner? Or do they see us with conditional responses, depending on who we are with?

I’m not saying that consistent Christians are perfect; no one is. Rather, we should consistently reflect Jesus in our day to day lives, not being perfect but being consistent.

Truthfully examine your life. Are there areas that you are being a conditional Christian instead of a consistent one? Let’s make the changes necessary to consistently reflect Jesus in all situations.

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My Way or the Highway

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 17, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“It’s my way or the highway!”

We’ve all heard that phrase used, or any variation that means the same thing. You agree with me or go off on your own and get out of my way. There is a strong perceived resistance to this mentality with all the talk about inclusion and getting along, yet the great irony is that the ones most vocal against this are the ones who most viciously carry it out. The ones that want everyone to be most open-minded and to embrace and consider ideas other than their own are typically ones most reluctant to practice this. However, this should not surprise us, because every belief and every religion is exclusive of others.

How can I say that? In Christianity, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said he is the only option. No other way works. Islam teaches a similar message: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” They are adamant that there is no other option other than Islam. Mormons do claim to believe in Jesus Christ but also believe that salvation must be approved by Joseph Smith. Atheists, by the very definition of the term, believe there is no God at all, which is certainly exclusive of any religion that claims there is one. More on that below. The point here is every belief and every religion believes they are right and every other religion is wrong.

So the natural following question to this reality is: Which one is right, and how can we know which one is right? One of the things we at Worldview Warriors have addressed in great detail is a defense of the Biblical position. Many of the posts by bloggers Bill Seng, Steve Risner, and I (prior to July 2016) have been about apologetics and mainly the Creation/Evolution debate. Current blogger David Odegard has been doing a series on the different philosophies of man that have come through our academies and universities. We have plenty of resources and if we do not know the answer, there is a good chance we know someone who does. We have good reason why we believe what we believe, but I do not have the space to into that in this article.

What if we do not know if we are right or wrong? That can be an honest position to take because many do not know if they are right or wrong. There are sadly many who claim to be Christian and they truly have no idea why they believe that. Many atheists today say their atheism is not the affirmative believe in “there is no God” but a position of “I lack belief in God.” The latter is not actually atheism; that is agnosticism, which in both Latin and Greek means “ignoramus.” That’s not an insult, it simply means means “I don’t know.” And it is perfectly fine to be in that state of “I don’t know.”

However, if you are in a position where you do not know, then you are not in position to argue against those who do know. To know and to know against is still coming from positions of knowledge. You cannot come from a position of ignorance and honestly argue with someone who comes from a position of knowledge. “Well, maybe I do not know the actual answers but I do know that you are wrong!” I’ve heard that numerous times as well.

Let’s use Creation and Evolution to illustrate. Many times, I have heard, “I don’t know how the universe came to be but I know that God did not do it.” How do they know? By what position can they make such a statement? There is a difference between coming from a position of knowledge and knowing all the details. The Bible does not say exactly how God created atoms or how he made the laws of physics other than through just his voice, but it does say, “All things were created through Him and for Him.” We can come from a position of knowledge that God created it because we have a record of that.

To claim that God does not exist requires a position of knowledge, which means one must have honestly investigated everything (and I mean everything) lest God be in that area where they have not investigated. Considering most scientists today tell us we know less than 1% of what there is to know in the universe, and if they are honest they will admit that the more they learn the more they realize they don’t know, how could anyone intelligently say “there is no God”? But if they do not know about God’s existence, how can they tell us we are wrong?

In reality they have to be right in order to retain their position. They cannot consider God to be an option, because if they do that messes up everything they have done and considered and worked for. For an atheistic scientific researcher dedicating his life to the study of Evolution, to admit that God created the universe as the Bible records defeats and nullifies everything he had done: all his education, all his research, all his papers written, everything. And many are not willing to give up their work for truth, because everything about them is based on their education. Some try to admit God’s existence and retain their academic prowess by slapping “God did it” to the end of their studies, however that’s not the “cost” Jesus talked about. But there are some that will seek truth and have eaten the humble pie and admit their life’s work prior to the knowledge of Christ was in vain.

Something we need to understand is that if we consider any other option than the one we claim to believe, we are admitting that we actually don’t believe anything. A faith that teaches any other way other than that faith is a faith that teaches nothing. We as Christians need to grasp this reality. Jesus said he was the ONLY way. The ONLY option. If there was any other way to heaven besides the cross, then Jesus’ death was for nothing and the faith we live is a total lie. We need to understand this because that is precisely what this world wants us to admit. They want us to “coexist” or embrace the idea that “all roads lead to God” or that “God will take you if you are sincere enough.” NO! Those are all lies, and the entire purpose of such a position is to get us to say that Christ’s work on the cross was meaningless. It is a direct attack and affront to the Gospel to suggest any other way besides what God said.

Many people hate Christians because we say there is no other way. When we say, “Jesus is the only way,” we are telling these people that their way does not work and is false. But if we truly understand the Gospel, we will realize that every way MUST be wrong except what God said through the Bible. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all in need of a Savior. There are many reasons why Christianity alone stands out from other religions. Just one reason is that every religion requires man to work their way to God or heaven, and Christianity has God coming to man to rescue him. Man’s works are meaningless to God by themselves.

I truly believe I am right. If I did not have that confidence, I would not be here writing this blog post. I have seen many challenges against what I believe and not one challenge has or ever will stand up against the Bible. It is not Charlie Wolcott’s way or the highway. It is Jesus Christ’s way or the highway. I want to stay on His way and I will continue to proclaim his way, even if his way lands me in trouble as it did Paul, Peter, James, John, Stephen, Wycliffe, Tyndale, and countless others who have truly suffered and died for their faith. If you are not on Christ’s way, the highway is wide and popular and heading straight to destruction and hell. Both ways lead to the judgment seat, but only one way survives it. Which way have you chosen?

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Answering the Big Questions

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 16, 2017 7 comments

by Steve Risner

Today, I will attempt to explore the value of science in our modern world. To do that, I'll need to define what I'm talking about when I say “science.” Science can formally be described as the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. In other words, science is the study of the world around us. The knowledge we gain through observation and experimentation on the world around us can be cataloged and added to. Observations are made through our senses and through instrumentation.

There are varying categories of science, but I feel that unless they meet the basic criterion of observation and experimentation, they have moved past or outside the realms of science. This means “historical sciences” like that of cosmogony (the origins of the universe) and evolutionary biology are not actually science but history and/or philosophy. Such things are interesting, but they can never be touted as anything more than philosophical musings of times past that no human was present for and no human can possibly know the conditions of.

Now I will make a few notes on what science is not. Science is not synonymous with atheism. Science is a systematic attempt to study the world. Atheism is nothing more than a philosophy—a self-defeating one at that. Science is not anti-religion. In fact, the two have little in common unless one makes scientism your faith. Science is actually nothing more than a tool, much like a hammer or a computer or a chain saw. You can use those things however you like, whether you're an atheist, a Christian, a Hindu, or something else. The same can be said of science. You see, religion and science attempt to explain very different things. They are not mutually exclusive, but one can fill in the gaps that the other leaves.

Science tells us about nature, and really that's the end of it. It can't tell you about the past if there was no one there to verify it. You may be able to use forensic science to determine who shot the sheriff in 1820, but you can't use science to tell you about where the solar system came from or how potassium came into existence or the origin of DNA. If fact, you can't even use science to determine how life emerged on this planet. It's literally impossible. Even if one were to make life in a lab from non-living matter, there would be absolutely no way to know if this happened in the past on earth. Science, which was invented by Christians, and for quite some time was dominated by Christian thought, is a way for us to understand the creation. It was hijacked by humanists in the 1700-1800's with the sole purpose of discrediting the Bible and directing man away from God.

Religion is something completely different. Religion tells us about our origins. It can help us figure out our purpose in life. Religion gives us a look at our identity—who are we? It can also offer us a glimpse into our destiny if we allow it to. These questions are profound and cannot ever be answered by science. Humanism, atheism, and even scientism or materialism will attempt to tell us that science can and does answer these questions—especially those dealing with origins—but the “science” they refer to is their philosophy and has little if anything to do with science as a way to acquire knowledge about the world around us.

Science can tell us how to read stored information on a drive the size of your thumb. Science can help get us over the Atlantic in a few hours without getting wet. Science can put men on the moon and deliver high quality images from satellites right to your home or even to a screen in your pocket. Science can help us generate medication or help us diagnose disease processes. Science can help us build skyscrapers or fast cars. Science can even be used to win wars or elections. But the most important questions man has ever been challenged with have nothing to do with science.

Science can't answer the most basic and critical questions humanity has ever asked. Science is completely useless when it comes to telling us what love is or why we love. It cannot tell us why we hate or why we clash as we do. Science cannot answer us if we ask what it is we value or why we value it. Science can't tell us what being human actually means. It fails utterly to explain morality or being nice. It doesn't tell us why we want justice or revenge. Science cannot offer you an explanation of guilt or mourning or what to do with such things. Science can't tell us the meaning of life, or what it means to be successful, or what we're supposed to do with our lives. The biggest question of all—the one that ties most of these questions together—also cannot be answered by science. That question is simple: Is there a God, and if so, who is He and what does He want from me? That's three questions, but you get the idea. This question—is God real—will lead us to answer the other big questions of life concerning origin, purpose, destiny, and strong emotional experiences. You can see from the given definition of science that we discussed earlier that it can tell you nothing about these questions, really.

The bonds of love, whether between a man and woman, father and child, human and pet, or just one person's concern and care for a total stranger, can never be explained by science. Right and wrong in terms of conduct are not things science can determine for us. Science is amoral; this means it is not concerned with morality at all. This is different than being immoral; immoral means NOT moral—it's bad. A hammer is amoral; how you choose to use it can be moral or immoral. If you use it to pound in a nail as you build a house, that's a good use of a hammer. If you use it to kill your neighbor's cat because you're a cat hater, that's an immoral use of the hammer. Science is the same way. The hammer doesn't choose right and wrong or moral or not. Science doesn't either. It works to the will of the person. And science cannot tell us about morality. Religion does that.

The fact is, if naturalism is true, none of these questions even matter. If you and I are just a collection of atoms and our thoughts are just random firings of neurons that we have no control over, there is literally no value in anything. We've discussed many times the cold, bleak philosophy of atheism, which sings the praises of your insignificance. A world dominated by “science” (again, so called because it is philosophy that has disguised itself as science) and atheism is worse than any nightmare you could imagine.

This is a short writing on the value of science and the difference between it and religion. The two do not cover the same ground at all. Suggesting otherwise tells me you don't understand what science is or can do. It also may tell me you have a hidden agenda (or not so hidden). Science cannot answer the questions man wants answered and religion speaks to. Science can help warm your food for you in 30 seconds or tell you if there's a traffic jam up ahead miles before you get there. Who you are or why you're here or how to be truly fulfilled are found in religion. I hope this helps.

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What Would Jesus Steal?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 15, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

If we could discover together a better way to provide for the values that we share concerning the poor which was not based on corruptible government coercion, would you help to bring that vision into reality? (Jesus steals nothing, but I stole this title from Dr. Gary North.)

Leftist Christians, liberals, and progressives have all become secular in their approach to poverty relief. They believe that salvation arrives on Air Force One. They believe that the most important arena to be contested is that of political power, because they believe that all real change comes from central planning and control. Jesus didn’t believe any of that. “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest” (John 18:36).

Jesus believed and taught that the place of real change was in accepting His Lordship over one’s life. In response to this, the church of yesteryear sang, “Soul by soul and silently her [the Church] shining bounds increase; all her ways are gentleness and all her paths are peace.” The Christian vision was unanimously tied up in the spiritual arena. Prayer was the means of deliverance from evil, not voting.

The Lefties rejected the reliability and then the authority of the Bible. As their view of God and His word diminished, their faith in themselves and mankind grew. Soon they believed that if anything was going to get done, they themselves must do it. Around the turn of the 20th century, progressivism and the social gospel converged to grasp the means of political power in America and began to use governmental power (prisons, bullets, and manipulative threats) to achieve ends that most of us would agree are noble, like education and eliminating poverty. But does the end justify the means? Leftist Christians and their secular counterparts believe it does.

Jesus wants us to help the poor. He told us so. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) is probably one of the clearest examples of Jesus’ expectation for us to take care of the downtrodden, the hurting, those suffering misfortune. In it, a traveler is set upon by thieves, beaten, and left for dead. A good Samaritan comes along and picks him up and voluntarily provides the means for his restoration. He helped the man out of his own means. He did not say, “Let me get a social worker, let me see if I can make someone pay else for this.” In no way did Jesus’ parable imply a use of force, whether governmental or otherwise.

What the Lefties advocate is that political power be used to force people, even under threat of a gun or prison, to surrender the money they earned in honest labor. Then a burdensome “rake off” is taken by the gun holders for “administration fees,” then some of it is given to those whom the government deems worthy. To top it off, leftist Christians point the finger at the rest of us and say, “Shame on you if you don’t go along with this scheme! That means you are not like Jesus. Anyone who claims to follow Jesus should give the secular government even more power!”

But the story of the Good Samaritan does not imply that the Samaritan in any way owed the man anything, or that the beaten man had a claim on the Samaritan’s money and service. That is what makes the Samaritan so good; though he didn’t owe the man anything, he provided everything. Jesus wants us to be like that Samaritan. But to advocate for a system that uses governmental power to take other people’s money or services is immoral and non-Christian. They should be ashamed of themselves. First, they should be ashamed for abandoning the Kingdom of God for secular power. Second, they should be ashamed that they bring the power of secular government to bear on others to advance their objectives by force. Third, they should be ashamed for their part in creating this secular behemoth that believes that it can steal to achieve whatever ends it justifies as noble. Today, these ends include abortions and dropping bombs all over the world.

Fourth, they should be ashamed that they have helped produce more power for the government, and this government power has been sold to the very people who abuse the poor. The government gets its cut no matter which way the power is used, whether it is used to steal from the rich to give to the poor, or whether it is used to steal from the poor to give to the rich. It is all the same to the secular power.

But lastly, the Leftists should be ashamed that their empowering of the secular government has eroded 98 percent of the value of the dollar, left many elderly people impoverished, and created astronomical levels of poverty. Leftist Christians are certainly well-meaning people, but they are completely unaware of the results of their policies. It is time for them to go beyond good intentions and actually do good. At times, I am greatly dismayed when I point these things out to them, because many of them seem to value feeling good about themselves more than doing actual good for others. This, too, is something to feel ashamed for.

So next time you see a conservative Christian, don’t assume they don’t care for the poor; statistically they are probably doing more than any liberal you know to alleviate poverty. They believe in a better way, a more effective way. They believe in following what Jesus actually said and did, not what Che Guevarra thinks Jesus meant.

Next week, I will look at something else Jesus himself actually taught.

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Judges 15:9-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 13, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The people of Judah asked, 'Why have you come to fight us?'
'We have come to take Samson prisoner,' they answered, 'to do to him as he did to us.'
Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, 'Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?'
He answered, 'I merely did to them what they did to me.'
They said to him, 'We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.'
Samson said, 'Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.'
'Agreed,' they answered. 'We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.' So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.” (Judges 15:9-13)

For the context of this post, go read last week’s post on the previous passage and you’ll see why Samson was in hiding. I’d probably be hiding too if I had just killed thousands of Philistines!

Because of Samson’s actions, the Philistine army moved into Judah to keep an eye on what was going on. They figured Samson would be hiding somewhere in Judah, and his fellow countrymen would likely know where. The people of Judah didn’t want to fight the Philistine army, so they went to get Samson out of hiding in order to keep the peace.

The Israelites, including the territory of Judah, were being oppressed by the Philistines, but it wasn’t as difficult for them as previous occupations had been. Judah had the opportunity here to rise up against the Philistines with Samson as their leader, but they didn’t take that opportunity. They wanted to keep the status quo and not rock the boat. They would rather be ruled by the Philistines than rise up against them, even though Samson had clearly shown that he had the capability to lead a rebellion.

The men of Judah would have know that handing Samson over to the Philistines would likely be certain death for him, especially since they were so mad at him for the destruction he had previously caused. But Judah did it anyway! One man’s life was evidently worth it to keep the status quo.

Samson didn’t want to kill his own countrymen, or have them kill him out of fear, so they agreed to simply tie him up and hand him over. They even used new ropes for added strength so Samson wouldn’t break them.

Judah took the easy way out here. They chose complacency over doing what was right. The right thing to do would have been to rise up against the Philistines, who were corrupting Israel with their worship of pagan gods. Israel was not meant to be oppressed by other nations; they were meant to worship the one true God and be led by Him and whatever leader He appointed. But they chose to do nothing rather than fight for what was right.

Where are you complacent in your life? What issues are you not standing up for that you should? We all have times in life when we should take action but we don’t. I encourage you this week to ask God where you’re sinning by not taking action, and to be empowered by His Spirit to do what’s right.

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A Truckload of Temptation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 12, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

One evening as I was leaving the grocery store, in walked a man pushing a tall, wheeled cart covered in a green tarp with the words Krispy Kreme Doughnuts written on the side. These were not just Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but fresh doughnuts! My defenses were down because it was late and I was tired, and fresh Krispy Kremes were just a few feet away. I gathered my senses and decided the best thing for me to do was keep walking. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief and putting my temptation behind me, I walked outside to find an abandoned Krispy Kreme truck full of doughnuts. I paused and gazed into the back of the truck with the doors wide open, and now faced an entire truck of the tempting treats.

My imagination began to run wild. I could already imagine tomorrow’s headlines, “Woman Hijacks Krispy Kreme Truck.” I watched in my mind’s eye as I drove recklessly with the steering wheel in one hand and a glazed doughnut with fudge topping and sprinkles in the other. But then, jolted back to reality, I walked on, putting the doughnuts and my temptation behind me.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Resist means to withstand, strive against, to withstand the action or effect of, or to refrain or abstain from, especially with difficulty or reluctance.

In my weakness, I wanted to give in to the temptation that loomed before me. Isn’t it ironic that the things that tempt us seem to be lurking around every corner, everywhere we turn? This time I stood firm, realizing that I could not have had just one doughnut.

What tempts you?

When Jesus was in the desert he had been fasting for forty days and he was hungry. The enemy came to tempt him. Jesus’ defense against the enemy was to repeat his Father’s words to him. This is another reason why learning the Bible is so important. When temptation comes, we can immediately silence the negative thoughts or turn from temptation with Scripture. When temptation comes, we don’t always have our Bible handy, so it is important to have God’s Word in our hearts and mind so we are always prepared to face the tempter.

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Did It Have to Go This Way?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 11, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever looked back on a situation and realized that you probably could have handled it much better? Have you ever reacted with what you thought was the right thing or the justice-oriented thing to do, only to realize the outcome didn't seem good at all? Have you ever made a decision about a critical situation out of emotion, anger, or educated guess, only to discover later that God may have had a better way? Or worse, have you ever chosen your way to handle a situation because it felt right, even when you knew the way God wanted you to handle it?

Read Judges 15:1-8 and consider Samson's situation. His wife is given to someone else by her father. Samson decides to burn the crops and olive groves of all the Philistines as punishment for how the Philistines manipulated his wife at their wedding, and for how her father gave her away when he assumed Samson hated her.

When the leaders of the Philistines find out why Samson burned the fields, they kill his wife and her father, as an act of revenge and justice. In response, Samson goes on a killing spree, to avenge his wife and to hold the Philistines accountable for murder.

Samson's job was to judge, and his calling was to deliver Israel from the oppression and rule of the Philistines. In some instances, he seems almost too willing to be judge, jury, and executioner. In other situations (especially when it came to women) he seemed too willing to hesitate. It can be difficult in Samson's story to clearly define God-sanctioned actions and God-permitted actions that lead to a better resolution later. And I think it's because Samson's willfullness is in the mix, and his personal desires get intermixed with the mission and distort the situations.

Yet, if we are honest, is this really that far from us? Read any twitter or Facebook feed and look at the verbal and emotional carnage.

In this passage we never hear God's command for any of Samson's actions. I think it is a reasonable passage to pause and take a look in the mirror. How often do we, with a sense of justice and morality, engage in vengeful arguments and actions, tearing others down? Do we act with clarity knowing what should be done, or do we just do what we feel or think needs to happen?

I wonder how many would have died if Samson had consulted God on what to do. Perhaps he did and it would have turned out this way anyway; we don't know for sure. But I do know there have been many times where the emotional carnage around me has been because my moral sense of justice connected to a passionate desire to react, which overrode my trust in God's ways and led to a sinful action against someone else.

If you have been hurt, offended, or just angered at someone's comment, do yourself and everyone else a favor: PAUSE, count to 10 (or 100 if you still find your heart racing), then pray and ask God what to do, and don't act until you are sure of His answer to the situation. If it is a situation of immediate danger, get safe and get help. Ask God for help in the immediate and for how to respond in the days to come. God is able to lead us in every situation, even split second decisions. It is our job to seek Him and listen.

We dare not find ourselves jumping in to judge situations, motives, comments, or hurts too quickly. If we do, we may make the situation worse or even deadly. God's justice is perfect and complete and comes at the proper time. Our first concern should always be to know God and trust God to lead us in every circumstance. If He is first, then our actions will clearly display Him and His character. And for a follower of Jesus, God being seen should be our first concern in every situation.

Pray for one another to be strengthened in this, and for me also. It is hard for all of us to be truly faithful in every moment and every season.

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.


For the Future of Mankind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 10, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

We want to leave a better world for our kids than we had growing up. You hear this all the time from numerous people of all kinds of faiths, religions, and peoples. Everyone wants to see this world better off than it is now. Just listen to the news and the dreams from the politicians and scientists. They all are talking about the betterment of man and society and addressing issues that are problems to man and society. Even wicked men did what they did in attempt to usher in a better and brighter age with their lives, despite their methods or how wacky their ideals. But I have a question for each of us: why do we want to leave a better future for the next generation?

Please do not read what I am not saying. I am not suggesting we NOT leave a better place for our children. I am asking where did this idea of needing to leave a better place come from? The most common answer is simple and true: “Things are not the way they should be.” It does not matter what you believe; everyone seems to have the same sentiment. Things are not going as well as they should be now and we all need to do a better job so our children do not have to suffer as we have. There are many differences in why we think we have problems and what our proposed solutions are, however we all see the same problem: things are not the way they ought to be. I want to address two things: What is the way things should be, and how can we get there?

First, if things are not as good now as they should be, what is the way things should be? What are we comparing to? Many people have all kinds of different ideas and almost every one of them is a world that particular person would like to see the most. It is usually some type of utopian world where everyone is comfortable according to the standards that person likes to be in.

However, that utopian ideal tends to have certain peoples removed from the picture. Hitler’s ideal utopia was to be removed of Jews, blacks, Christians, and ultimately anyone not of the “Aryan” race. In his debate with Ken Ham, Bill Nye told everyone if you wanted to believe in God, that was fine, but leave your children out of it because “we need them.” Nye’s ideal utopian world has no God and no believers in God in it. I have news for you, the Christian “utopian society,” which we describe as heaven, also has people removed from it: the wicked, the rebellious, the self-righteous, and those who want nothing to do with God. Jesus gave many warnings about those who will not make it to heaven.

It does not matter what you believe, not everyone makes it to this “better world.” This idea of “Coexist” and “Can’t we all get along?” is truly a fantasy that no one believes nor supports. Someone is always left out and it is usually the Christian and God himself in most of these utopian dreams. The reason why is because the ideal these people have is one where they get to experience heaven without God there. They want to be free of pain, toil, tears, and just want to party, but God is not there. These people will get their wish – to be without God – but it won’t be the utopian dream they have deceived themselves with.

But how did this idea of a utopian society and world come from? Many have a worldview where Evolution is the model of origins and everything evolved without the aid of a supernatural creator, to where we are being made better and better and better through mutation and natural selection of the “weaker” species, despite the fact that every observation says it is going the opposite direction. We are not “evolving” better and better; we are ‘devolving’ worse and worse. But this worldview does not give an accounting of why there is even a concept of an ideal utopian existence. In reality, this dream is stolen (yes, I mean that) from the Christian worldview.

The Christian worldview states that everything was in perfect order and we had utopia 6000 years ago, then when Adam and Eve sinned that utopian dream was shattered. We have been going downhill since. This explains why there is a dream utopia within most, if not, all societies. It was a reality and that knowledge is lost. In Don Richardson’s Eternity in Their Hearts, he describes numerous cultures that had knowledge of a one true God and a hope for that knowledge to return. Same idea. There was a perfect world, but it was lost because of sin. There will be a new perfect world as depicted in Revelation 21-22. This is what most people look forward to. The difference between the Christian and everyone else is that everyone else wants the paradise but no God. The Christian looks forward to this utopian dream where we will see the Father face-to-face and where God will be worshiped without ceasing. This is not going to be boring harp playing. It is going to be something so far bigger above and beyond what we can imagine.

Now, how do we get to that utopia? How do we get to that better place we dream of? The secularists and the godless have ideas by removing anyone who gets in their way. The “New World Order” has a tenant that the ideal world population should be 500 million. They would be happy to wipe out 7 billion people to suit their ideal utopia. Take a strong notice that any time someone talks about the betterment of society or the benefit of mankind, they are not talking about every person; they are talking about their dream ideal society where they benefit the most. If they do not get benefit from it, they either want nothing to do with it or they want it out of the way, because those resources could be used to benefit them. God has other ideas.

God’s very nature is so holy and pure that if his presence were to be around sin, his wrath would annihilate it. The only way he could rescue mankind while also being consistent with his character was for someone to pay the penalty and satisfy his character of justice and righteousness. Jesus did that. It was not the cross itself that paid the price; the cross was just the means used to carry it out. It was the perfect, innocent Lamb of God taking the full brunt of God’s wrath and being crush under it that satisfied God. And because Jesus did that, we have the opportunity by grace, through faith, to die ourselves in Christ and also be resurrected in him. Keep in mind that this “utopia” is not for our benefit primarily. It is for Christ’s benefit primarily. We are his reward. It is all about HIM. It is not about what we get out of it. That’s not the primary purpose of the cross. God wants to save us so that the Blood of Christ would not go unused, not for the primary purpose of keeping us out of hell. Let that sink in.

The utopia that God establishes is eternity with him. I have only had glimpses of the glory that awaits us when this sin, death, and darkness passes. I also know very little is being done to prepare for that eternity, in this world, in the churches, and in my own life. Are we getting ready for a real utopia? Not this fake dream of perfection without God, but a real reality where God finally receives the glory and honor he is due and we get to see him face-to-face. One where there is no night, no pain, no death. There will be work, but no toil. The wolf will lie with the lamb and the Tree of Life will bear its 12 fruits in season. And best of all, we will be in the eternal and glorious presence of God Almighty.

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.


Preaching to the Choir

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 9, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

“The choir you are preaching to certainly does not believe in your God or the threat of eternal hellfire if you so much as question His existence or even break an obscure ticky-tack rule arbitrarily laid out by some preacher with an agenda.”

This week I wanted to make a short statement concerning this misconception said to me by a friend who is an atheist. For me, it's very hard to be loving in responding to such statements because it's a completely foreign idea to me, and therefore I don't feel it's an honest claim. However, I need to realize that not everyone has my life experience. Not everyone has my beliefs or background. Not everyone thinks the way I do. So I need to work on this sort of thing.

But the idea here—that Christianity is some sort of iron-fisted, rule-following make-believe—is not what Christianity is or is about. Have you ever felt like being a disciple of Christ means you are not allowed to question anything concerning the Bible or Christ or God's existence? Have you ever felt like you just had to follow some rules in order to be saved? Christians have done a great job of confusing this issue over the years, so I can't necessarily blame my friend for his faulty opinion. To be honest, I'm sure he's stating this in the fashion he chose to mock Christianity, but it does offer up some truth in terms of how some unbelievers may view the life of a Christ follower. In some cases, this may be just due to misunderstanding the Christian life, but in other cases it may well be that the unbeliever was raised by someone who also thought that Christianity was about following rules—we call that legalism—and not about surrendering your life to the Savior of the world. This sort of cold, heartless religion generally turns people off and they walk away from what they think is Christianity. In reality, it's nothing like Christianity. They then seek and search for something to fill the emptiness every human being has without their Savior, rejecting the only thing that can make a person whole because they experienced a counterfeit version of it. This makes me sad and is far too common.

I've had many friends over the course of my life who grew up in “Christian” homes only to leave the faith as soon as they got out of high school. Why does this happen? Far too often, I believe it's because the Christianity modeled for them by their parents or church leaders was fake. It's easy to do. You go through the motions. You do the right things. You go to church on Sunday. All that stuff is great, but it's not Christianity and it's not what makes one a Christian. Christianity is a walk. If you're walking somewhere, you have a starting point with a destination in mind. The goal is to be like Jesus Christ. It's a process, a working out of our faith. It's not rule following, especially what this quote is getting at—“ticky-tack rules arbitrarily laid out.” The result of surrendering to Jesus Christ is a changed heart. We don't become a Christian because we're doing good works. We don't follow Christ because we're doing nice things. We do good works because Christ is living through us—we're His hands and feet and His voice. We take care of people and care for people because we're following Christ and not the other way around. I guess you could say it's the difference between an inside-out faith versus an outside-in faith. If your heart is full of love and grace and humility (because Christ was full of love and grace and humility and He's living inside your heart), you will naturally do things that serve people and serve God.

The analogy I've often heard concerns a water pitcher and is based on Luke 6:45, which tells that what the heart is full of is what comes out of a person. If a man is like a water pitcher, whatever fills him is what comes out. Makes sense, right? This is especially true, I feel, when the man gets jostled a little. If you have a full pitcher and shake it up a little, you'll slop out whatever is in it all over the place. If a man is shaken up (life happens and he has struggles), whatever is truly in his heart will come out. If he's full of love and grace, that will come out of him for everyone to see. If he's full of anger and bitterness, that's what will be all over the place for everyone to see. If a man's heart is full of Jesus Christ, he will naturally be inclined to do those things that are Christ-like. It's not about arbitrary rule following. It's about a life of serving Jesus and allowing Him to live through us.

Now when it comes to questioning your faith—questioning God's existence or why something the Bible says is right—I think it's healthy and I think we need to be honest about it. It's important to honestly ask these sorts of questions because it helps us understand. Rather than just knowing what's right because we were told, “This is just the way it is” or “Because the Bible says so,” or something like that, we are able to reason through things and find truth. This is the difference between being taught what to think verses being taught how to think.

No honest Christian shies away from inquiry. That doesn't even make sense. It's because of man's curiosity, a characteristic given to us by our Maker, that Christians invented science. It's because we wanted to know the truth about the world around us and we were free, because we're Christians, to ask those questions. It's true that some religions frown upon questioning. Many, in fact, fear questioning. I believe this is because the error in their beliefs can easily be exposed if one is allowed to be rational and ask questions. It's even true that many so called Christians go through life this way—believing it's a lack of faith or something to question God or the Bible. I feel it's not only not a bad thing to question, but it's extremely healthy. Rather than just know what the Bible says, you understand why it says it. That's powerful!

We can apply the thought behind the old proverb about giving a man a fish and he'll eat for a day or teach him how to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime. One is easy and fills an immediate need with no thought of the future or self-sufficiency. The other takes more time and is a little more difficult, but the result is that the person has an understanding of how to care for their own need. In terms of Biblical studies, if we tell our children what the Bible says and leave it at that, we're not really creating disciples. They don't understand the logic or rationale behind something, so if they are challenged on it, they may fold and reject their faith simply because they lacked the understanding. They had some knowledge, but no understanding as to why the knowledge was correct—if, indeed, it was correct. If we teach people the “why” with the “what,” they'll be able to not only answer the questions they may be asked (or the questions they themselves ask) but will be able to reason through other questions and figure out solutions to problems. It's about giving tools to reason through things rather than just be spoon fed answers.

We should be diligent in learning and digging deep rather than just having a surface knowledge. Sure, we can start with surface knowledge. We can teach young believers what the Bible says about a subject. But over time they need to have the “why” explained to them. Give them the rationale behind the facts. If we understand the Bible's message and its thought processes a little, we can answer many of those tough questions as well as determine if a teaching we hear is right or wrong. We should always examine philosophies and teachings to see if they line up with Scripture. If they don't, they're wrong, period. It may still be of value to understand why someone thinks that way, but it should be rejected. If they do line up with Scripture, then we can figure out how to apply that truth to our lives.

My friend talks about preachers with agendas and “ticky-tack rules” and so forth. There have been leaders that come and go who tarnish the name of Jesus. These are men doing what men do rather than men living the life of a Christ-follower. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. The truth of Jesus Christ, the Bible, or Christianity cannot be determined by the inaccurate representations of imperfect human beings. It's really that simple. Unfortunately, there are many who have turned people off to Jesus Christ because of their lack of grace, love, and humility. They pretend to be following Christ or they simply let their flesh get the best of them, hurt people, or conduct themselves in an inappropriate fashion. The unbeliever sees this and determines that Jesus Christ is not for them because of this inaccurate representation of Him.

Final thought: know what you believe and why you believe it. If you have struggled with questions about Christianity, please ask us here at Worldview Warriors. It's why we're here.

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.


Moving On: Steps Toward Poverty Relief

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 8, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Remember, constant reader, our object is not just to expose the extremities of Christianity, but to actually produce a comprehensive Christian social ethic. Let me begin with an urgent issue—poverty relief.

I remember once sitting across from a very nice person who had been raised by a progressive school system to believe that any evangelical Christian who identified as conservative probably hated poor people. And even if that particular conservative did not hate the poor, they were at least duped by a hateful system of deprivation and exploitation. I introduced him to a few of Jesus’ economic statements. As he thought about it more, he realized that we are all concerned about the poor.

Evangelicals, even those who identify as conservatives, do actually care about the poor. The real question is whether or not the help that progressives are willing to give actually helps anyone.

In our society, the progressives have controlled not only the purse strings, but also the narrative concerning what should be done for the poor. Evoking images of a Charles Dickens novel, they paint anyone who does not endorse government-controlled poverty relief as a Scrooge, tight-fisted and non-Christian. Consider this exchange that Scrooge has with an alms collector:

“At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.”
“Are there no prisons?” Scrooge asked.
“Plenty of prisons,” replied the almsman.
“And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?” asked the amicable Scrooge.
“They are. I wish I could say they were not,” said the horrified almsman.

Although this isn’t a direct quote from the book, A Christmas Carol, it is close enough that you’ll remember it. Dickens paints an either-or picture. Anyone who has read the book will agree he paints in vivid color that evokes powerful emotions in all of us. Nevertheless, either you agree with Dickens that the institutions he doesn’t like are evil, or you deserve to be haunted and damned to carry a long chain about your neck the rest of the afterlife. But what if the institutions that he takes aim at are actually alleviating poverty? Can we examine a “sweatshop” and see if it actually does help the poor, or should we condemn them out of hand because it has the word “sweat” in it?

The Bible vehemently denounces exploiting the poor. God watches over them and if someone uses a position of power to coerce another person, God takes note and will be against that one. Generosity is always praised. But can giving away money and removing the incentive to provide for oneself and one’s family ever backfire? Obviously it can.

There is a moral hazard when someone seeks to hand out money. The following is a helpful guide. First, where is this person getting the money? Is it his or her own money? Then do what you will. Second, did someone else earn this money and give it to you? Then you are responsible to obey their wishes for the money or give it back. For example, if they give you money to help single mothers, you can’t give it to the men’s group fundraiser at your church; that would be unethical.

Third, did someone else earn the money, but did not give it willingly? Do not take this money, it was stolen. But someone may ask, “What if the money was taken by the government?” If it is wrong for you as an individual to take someone’s money away from them against their will, then it is also wrong for you to send a politician to do it for you. Any poverty relief program that relies on the forced distribution of wealth cannot be called Christian since it relies on theft—even if that theft is through democratic action.

What is left to us then, since we all want to see poor people provided for and helped? Many other solutions are available that do not require coercion by political bullies. Jesus laid out financial principles that must be respected in a Christian social ethic. I will write about that next week.

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.