Called to Ministry

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 30, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

I can remember the exact moment God planted the desire in my heart to serve him in a speaking ministry.

I was at a fall ladies’ banquet in Robinson, IL. The speaker was author Julie Ann Barnhill. Julie was sharing that as a child, she loved to talk. She was the student that the teachers were always asking to be quiet. She shared how God had taken what she considered a negative attribute and turned it into a ministry.

That night I realized that God had a plan for my life as a communicator. The funny thing was, at that time I could barely pray out loud in front of people.

Not long after that banquet, on a Sunday morning during the church service, I remember praying “Here I am God, send me.” When I prayed that prayer, I had no idea what my journey would look like or where it would take me, but nonetheless I prayed the prayer with a sincere heart.

What I later realized was that when I prayed that prayer I was aligning myself with God’s will for my life, instead of expecting him to line things up how I wanted them to be.

God has provided many opportunities for me to serve him over the years. I have seen Ephesians 3:20 at work in my life: “God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” God has already done more than I could ask or imagine in my life and his word says he has MORE!

Take some time to reflect on what God is doing in your life. How has he grown you as a person, and in your faith? Pray Ephesians 3:20 over your life and make this year a MORE year!

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Out of The Gray, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 29, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]

Being able to tell the difference between things, being able to know right from wrong, is called discernment. Our ability to discern what is good is directly related to how clearly we can see what is true. And just like a dark room makes it hard for us to find our way to the door without running into something, so a lack of focus on God's teaching makes it hard to live for what is good.

In this series, we are going through the Bible book of Jude. Read verses 8-14.

To summarize what Jude is saying, DESIRE, ENTITLEMENT, and EGO derail DISCERNMENT. In other words, without a singular focus on Truth, we become distracted, self-interested, self-protective, and lose sight of God’s ways. Worse yet, we will marry it to concepts and ideologies that are against what God teaches, and we will create or validate the "gray." And when we go "gray," it becomes harder and harder to tell the difference between good and evil, because we lose contrast, we lose clarity, and we can no longer discern what we should do. Our ability to see the contrast of colors and our depth perception are directly related to how much light is available for us to see. If you find yourself more often than not debating what choice you should make, and feeling like you don’t know which way to go, then take caution, you may be swimming in the "gray" without enough Truth to help you see clearly. Get a friend, get wise counsel, but most of all get into the Bible and learn what God has said about the type of situations you may find yourself in.

What is distracting you? Is it something you desire? Something you feel entitled (have a 'right') to? Or is it just the effort to always have people like you?

Take the time to recognize what motivates you, and ask God to show you if your motives are pure. Get wise counsel from someone who is mature in their relationship with God. Most of all, read the Bible and learn God's principles, so that your situation will gain clarity and contrast, so you can see which way is truly good.

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.


Fighting Flab

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 28, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Flab is one of those things anyone who cares about their physical body hates. It is the excess fat that gives extra weight and is useful for nothing to the body. Many people deal with flab and to be honest, I am no exception. Now to be clear, there is a difference between having flab and being overweight. According to the health regulations, virtually every professional athlete, namely in basketball and football, would be classified as “obese,” despite not having a single bit of flab in their systems. I am addressing the squishy stuff that does nothing but slow us down.

Flab prevents us from being able to exercise the way we would like to exercise. It is not the only factor, but it is one that affects us regardless of age. I do not have the physical endurance I used to have, and it is because I have allowed flab into my body. I have slowed down a little bit due to age, but the real factor is simply because of both diet and lack of exercise. Six years ago I was in the best shape of my life, but I simply stopped working out when I get into the classroom. The last few months, however, have been better.

Flab works in a downward spiral. Because of the extra weight, you can’t exercise as much as you used to, so as a result, you don’t burn off as much as you used to, leaving more flab than before. It makes you more and more lazy. It also works in reverse. The more you start working off the flab, the more energy you have and the more you want to move. This burns off more flab making you even more energetic and it spirals upward. We understand this concept in the physical, but it applies to the spiritual as well.

Flab gives a perfect analogy to our prayer life. Last year, I wrote extensively on prayer (starting here) and I have realized how difficult praying the way I want to pray is. It is really easy to say the quick thank you for meals and please help this situation, but the real kind of prayer that I studied and wrote about is another animal. It takes work, and I could say many of us are dealing with spiritual flab in this area. That being said, there are some that truly do know how to pray even if they don’t know it. I am not merely talking about the length of prayer, but the work of prayer.

God is looking for people who can do the work of prayer. Most cannot do the work he wants to see done, and as a result we won’t see God working. Now to be clear, God is still going to get what he wants done, but he chooses to act in and through us. If we won’t do it, he will look for someone who will and not only will we miss out, so will many others under us. I’ll never forget hearing about a man who came to a church and for four weeks he simply sat there weeping. When the pastor of the church decided to come ask him about it, the man showed him blueprints of a building that matched the one he was sitting in. God had told him to build a church, and he refused to do it and missed it, so God moved on and found someone who would.

The last two weeks, I wrote about Legendary Heroes and Cowardly Heroes. This man was a cowardly hero because he received the call to adventure and he refused the call. Another pastor tells a story of how God told him to start a Christian school at his church and he did not want to. A dear friend warned him that if he did not do that, God would pass him by, not for the moment or for that ministry, but for good. The warning was that God would never use him again. He started the school and God has used him in numerous ways, raising a generation of Legendary Heroes through the education circles he’s been a part of, including today. But if he had refused the call, he would not be where he is, the school his church currently supports would not exist, the church he planted would not exist, and there would be many left by the wayside.

This pastor had flab that made him not want to take up the call. I have had flab that has made me want to just sleep in and do nothing. Slothfulness is one of the seven deadly sins along with pride, envy, lust, greed, gluttony, and wrath. Laziness leads to more laziness and nothing gets done. A sentry who is lazy will allow anything and everything in through the gates and does not care, good or bad. In most countries, a guard who does that kind of job is held on charges along the lines of treason. Yet we are called to be on guard duty over our souls and over God’s Kingdom. How are we doing?

During my prayer series, God told me to put away my video games and I had no problem with that. After several months, he said I could play again. I waited a few weeks because I wanted to make sure I was doing so for right reasons. I selected several games I wanted to play and went through them and just finished a few weeks ago. In that process, I realized how much my prayer time was dropping and diminishing, and as I am writing this I can say I am feeling what I could describe as “video game withdrawal.” I thought I could drop the games at any time because I had before, but when I get home from work, I can barely function because my brain is tired. I would often spend 1- 1 ½ hours playing in the evening and then I’d be fine for the rest of the night. But now, I’m fighting to try to do anything productive. It’s because I had allowed flab to build up. I wasn’t praying as much. I would still make sure I did my Bible reading, but I wasn’t praying, certainly not as I should have been. I have put my game systems away and I may or may not get them out again. I have no intentions of buying any of the new systems in the near future, but my interest in gaming did not die like I thought it would and like it has with TV and movies. If I am to be spiritually fit, I can’t settle for relaxing activities when I need to be working out and getting rid of that flab.

God wants you to get rid of the flab. This does not mean you cannot rest or relax, but it means you cannot allow laziness to build up in you. It will take a while to get rid of it. There is no “instant flab removal” process in God’s Kingdom. Any fitness person will tell you that you can undo 3 months of working out in just a couple weeks, and just a couple weeks of inactivity can take months to back to that same point. The same is true in our spiritual lives. It is not too late to start “working out” again. Start today. Even if you cannot do much or do it for long, start today and do what you can. Let God train you and build you. He only knows how to build one kind of person: a lean-mean-praying machine. And he will build you the right way. You just need to follow his training. God is a good trainer and he does not know how to build wimpy warriors. The only kind of warrior he builds are the strong, mighty, dedicated ones that do what he says upon command and win the impossible battles.

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Christian Terrorists, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 27, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

In last week's post, I discussed an article that claimed a number of past events or current groups were equivalent to ISIS only from a Christian standpoint. I explained why a “white supremacist” cannot be a Christian, so cannot represent Christianity. I also discussed why the American treatment of Native Americans, the transatlantic slave trade, and the British treatment of Aborigines are in no way even closely related to a “Christian ISIS.” This is because these things had nothing to do with Christ or were not done in the name of Christ (although the person in this article made the claim that they were). We also noted that if an act is in line with the teachings of the faith's founder, we can connect that act to that faith. But if an act is contradicted by the teachings of the founder, those acts are not connected to that faith. This week, I'll touch on a few things that were done in the name of Christ. I hope you find it challenging but encouraging.

We'll start with the unbeliever's favorite: the Crusades. There were three Crusades. The first Crusade was a response to Muslim military action, as Islam swept over the predominately Christian Middle East and Africa and even made it to Europe. The first Crusade's goal in 1091 was to retake Jerusalem from 200 years of Muslim control. Notice the intent was to undo the results of Islamic aggression. “Convert or die!” was the slogan of the Muslim forces as they took town after town and eventually nation after nation. Christians from Europe were sent to claim the holy city back. They succeeded.

Subsequent Crusades were less successful—actually, they were more likely failures. The end result of the Crusades, however, was that Europe was not swallowed up by Islamic aggression. To quote D'Souza, “Western civilization might have been completely overrun by the forces of Islam… The Christians fought to defend themselves from foreign conquest, while the Muslims fought to continue conquering Christian lands.” Because of the Crusades, Europe was not overrun by Islam. Many historians regard the Crusades as the Christian response to 4 centuries of Islamic terror over 2/3 of the Christian world. Many of the world's most notable Christian centers are now Muslim—Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople. We all (Americans and especially those with European ancestors) owe the Crusades a great deal of gratitude. They altered the course of history, stopping the most dominating military expansion the world has ever known—that of Islam. Also, it's interesting to note that there have been many Christians who have walked the paths of the Crusaders whose purpose was to apologize for the deeds of the men who wore the cross. These acts were not done in accordance with Christ's teachings, hence, are not Christian in nature. But for Christians to go through those lands and repent of the acts of these Crusaders says quite a lot. I've never heard of this happening for the horrendous acts of Islam. Men did terrible things on the roads to and from Jerusalem from their homes in Europe, but it was out of greed, not out of following the teachings of Christ.

Then unbelievers love bringing up the Salem witch trials. This one is very interesting as the reports by skeptics are greatly exaggerated. The Salem witch trials lasted over a year and resulted in 20 people being executed, all but one by hanging. Five others died in prison. This is not a good thing and is another dark spot in American history. However, it's a far cry from the “hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions” that the late Carl Sagan claimed. This further demonstrates the lengths unbelievers will go to reinforce their unbelief. Going from 25 victims to 100 would be a large stretch. Going to thousands or “perhaps millions” is just lying. The Salem witch trials are considered by many to be an example of religious extremism that does not represent Christianity at all. This is not the same as the so-called “Islamic extremists” who seem to be following the teachings of their founder and their holy book. Moving on to the Inquisition, we find another example of revisionism. The exaggerated tales of these events were largely put forth by Spain's political enemies and by anti-Christians. The Inquisition was a time when the Catholic Church was trying to deal with heresy, so institutions were set up to try people accused of it. The Inquisition trials were only applicable to those who claimed to be Christians, and the trials themselves were generally fair in nature. Often, some form of penance like fasting was given at sentencing if guilt was declared. Over the 350-year period of the Inquisition, the average year would have rendered fewer than 10 executions, and perhaps even fewer than 5. It's argued that the total of persons executed in the Inquisition might be as low as 1500. Now, in truth, this is 1500 too many, but is a far cry from the commonly held belief that tens or hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Quite often, people pervert something wonderful. Men get a hold of power and want to keep it. They acquire masses of wealth and want to keep it. This can turn them from acting according to the teachings of Christ to doing as they see fit to stay on top. This is not representative of Christianity. We can't blame Jesus for people doing things in His name that He clearly spoke out against.

In regards to the comparison of Islam and some “Christian terror group,” we can find Richard Dawkins, who hates God and His people, saying, “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”

Next week, we'll look at a few modern day “Christian” terror groups. I hope this was informative. We've seen that there were some terrible things done in the name of Christ in the past, but these things were not done because Christ taught them. He often spoke against them, in fact. Christ's message was love, grace, and forgiveness. He never taught to kill unbelievers. He didn't seek to punish “infidels.” He told us to love our neighbor and pray for them. These things must be looked at for what they are—man's perversion of a God's plan and man's fleshly desire for power and wealth.

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Biblical Charity: Personal Care

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 26, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

One of the failings of state welfare is that it treats everyone the same without any qualifications. I know we don’t want the state to treat people differently (even though they do it every day), but each case is different. People are not static number charts of income, demographics, number of children divided by the zip code, and the causes of destitution or need are vastly different.

Should the drug addict who uses her welfare money for drugs rather than to feed her kids be treated the same as the single mother who works two jobs to provide for her kids? The elders of the church are able to make those distinctions and many more. They know the people, their stories, and their needs.

Here is a scenario. A man attends church faithfully for 40 years, raises his family there, and tithes his entire working life. Then he is diagnosed with cancer and has to undergo treatments and cannot work because he is so sick from the cancer treatment. He is off for 3 months. His family is going to do everything they can to help, but he will still have financial needs. Does his church have a responsibility? 1 Timothy 5 would suggest they do.

This passage of Scripture teaches when the church must step in to help widows. It has the accountability section included that I wrote about last week, but all those qualifications being met, the church has the responsibility. Moreover, it is able to assess and meet the need on a case by case basis.

In the case of this hypothetical man, the state may be unwilling to help him because he makes too much money “on paper.” They may tell him to come back when he gets a few payments behind on his mortgage. But the leaders of the church know this guy and his situation. They step in and set up meals for him and his family. After a couple months, the elders ask about the mortgage, finding out that he is completely stretched, and they decide that the church will pay 3 months to see him through until he is back to work. Someone from the church comes by and mows the lawn, and on it goes.

What happens to the church? They deepen in their love and service for one another. Everyone is strengthened as a result, both the one who gives and the one who receives. This is the opposite of the morally corrosive effect of state welfare, which in many cases keeps people in poverty because of the disincentive to work.

Here is another scenario. A church has a food bank. One day a single mom stops in and gets a few things. Later, the lady on duty notices that this same mom is at the free clothing closet. She strikes up a conversation with the lady and learns of the situation that she has fled her abusive boyfriend and is on the run with their two kids. Suddenly, the ministry of food and clothing has turned into an all-out rescue mission. This is the church providing help, service, and the love of Christ to all as Galatians 6:10 tells us to do.

Another scenario: a man comes to the church asking for money to buy food for his kids. The man is a notorious gambler. His wife comes to church faithfully and it is well known that she doesn’t see a dime of his paycheck; the family lives off her earnings from her part time job. The pastor tells this man that he needs financial counseling. The man leaves angry, slamming the door behind him, but shows up the next day willing to get some help with his gambling problem. The pastor shares the claims of Christ and the man hears and considers them. Over the course of the counseling sessions, the man’s trust in Christ grows and he becomes a born-again Christian. He goes home to his wife a new man, and life changes completely for her and the kids. He is in church every Sunday after that. This would have never happened had the pastor just handed him some food, or worse yet, money for food.

You may be thinking that these situations are a little idealistic, but the truth is I have seen these scenarios in real life in ministry. I have changed some details, but they are real life situations. God does enter into people’s lives; they do get set free from addictions; they do get born again.

One church I served with provided several homes, all expenses paid, for burned out pastors and their families, and a few of these provisions lasted several years. These pastors and their families are some of my close friends to this day, and they are in ministry in churches all over the United States because a small group of Christians were called to minister to their physical and spiritual needs. All the of this was provided completely by free will offerings; the state could never do that.

I am weary of the accusation that conservatives are greedy or that Christians who don’t agree with state redistribution are against charity. No, we just believe that there is a far superior way, a way that restores people without making them dependent, a way that gives personal care and accountability.

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Judges 16:28-31

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 24, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.” (Judges 16:28-31)

In our passage from last week, Samson set the stage for what God is about to do. The Philistines were having a big party to worship their god Dagon with more than 3000 Philistines in attendance, and Samson was put on display as their great prize. Samson got in place by the main pillars of the building, and that’s where we pick up today’s passage.

As he had previously, Samson once again called on the Lord for strength. He wanted to be obedient to God’s plan, and at this point in his humiliation, he likely realized (finally) that following God’s plan was the only way to get out of this. Delilah had cut Samson’s hair so that he had lost his strength, but his hair had begun to grow back. Samson likely would not have regained his full strength on his own, without God’s power back on him.

So what does Samson do? He brings the roof down - literally! He pushes on the pillars with all of his strength (and help from God), and the whole place comes crashing down, killing all of the dignitaries inside and the 3000 Philistines up on the roof. While Samson had killed many Philistines a few times before, this was his largest slaughter yet. It also came at the greatest price - Samson too lost his life that day. Samson would gladly die with the Philistines according to God’s plan rather than continue to live a humiliated life among them.

Because of this final act of faith, Samson was considered by the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews to be a “hero of the faith,” in Hebrews 11:32. He is only mentioned very briefly, but he is there. Throughout his life Samson failed to live up to the standards of the Nazirite vow that was placed on him, but God still used him. Samson was ruined by his own lusts, but God still used him. Samson was an example of great potential of working for God, but he did not have true obedience to God or good character, but God still used him.

Samson did get revenge on the Philistines, but only in God’s timing and using God’s methods. I’m sure he would have preferred to kill thousands more of them in some spectacular way where he could live to receive at least part of the glory, but that’s not what God had planned. Samson had revealed the secret of his strength to the wrong person (Delilah), so he had to pay the consequences. God used Samson to be victorious over the Philistines.

Do you feel unworthy of God using you and your life for His Kingdom? Just look at all the ways Samson messed up, and I bet you won’t feel quite so bad. God can and will use anyone for His purposes, and all we need to do is be obedient to Him. Although, like Samson, we will likely still mess up and need God’s forgiveness. But if we are willing to be used by God in the method and the timing that He sees fit, He will do miraculous things through us.

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Answering God’s Call

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 23, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

As I sit here contemplating obedience, I wonder, how readily obedient are we to the call of God on our lives? Do we respond with obedience or excuses?

In Exodus chapters 3-4, we find Moses in the very presence of the Lord. When the Lord calls him, he answers, “Here I am!” But then we see 5 times (5 times!) that Moses questioned and tried to avoid the call on his life.

He starts out by saying, “Who am I?”

“Well, suppose I go, who do I say sent me?”

“What if they don’t believe me?”

“I’m not a good speaker!”

Finally, Moses says, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it!”

We see in scripture that the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, BUT He didn’t give up on Moses. He didn’t say, “Forget it, Moses, I will find someone else!” No. What he said was, “What about your brother Aaron, he can speak well. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth, and I will help you both to speak and teach you what to do.” I love this because, God is telling him that He will help you to speak and teach you what to do.

As humans, when God calls us to something much bigger than ourselves, we immediately think of our inadequacies and short comings. But God says, “If you answer my call on your life, I will give you words to speak and teach you what to do.”

Are we obedient to God’s call? Or do we, like Moses, have a laundry list of excuses of why we can’t do what he is calling us to do?

The next time you feel the call to step out in faith, pray, spend time studying Scripture, and seek wise counsel from a pastor or someone who knows and understands the Word. If you still feel called, don’t give God your excuses, give Him your obedience!

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.


Out of The Gray, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 22, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]

  A flashlight is a very simple and very practical tool. You only have to show a child how to use one once, and they immediately understand the value. When it’s dark, a flashlight helps us see clearly and move more confidently through the dark around us.

In the same way, we need Truth be our flashlight. Let’s go back to the book of Jude, as he shares the key to getting out of the “gray” and to dealing with the “gray” in our midst.

Read verses 3-4. Jude says we must contend for the faith. The Greek word he uses there for “contend” is epagonizomai – which means ‘struggle for the faith.’

This doesn’t mean to beat people over the head with religion. It means to know God deeply, and know how to share the Truth with others so they believe God. To “contend” in this context isn’t about protecting the religion. It is about struggling and fighting the “gray” - the lies and the deceit - in order to keep Truth in front of people. And as we do, people will have faith in God.

If you know anything about athletes who are contenders, they have a singular focus. CONTENDERS have a SINGULAR focus.

Do we have a singular focus on God’s teaching, the Truth He has given us? Do we do the hard work of knowing His Word and then keep His teaching in front of people? Do we connect His teaching to real life examples, so that people see the Truth and have faith in God? If we are committed to that, then we will have no room for gray in ourselves. We will need to make clear the gray that is all around us in the culture, and in the church.

Consider your focus this week. Who or what is at the center of your attention? That influence either clarifies or clouds your ability to see - it is either a flashlight or a fog. Ask God to show you which, and then come back next week to continue our journey out of the gray.

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.


Cowardly Heroes

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 21, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I wrote about legendary heroes and some of the aspects of the journey they take. Then I challenged you to think about what would happen if the hero refuses the call to adventure and will either not take the journey or not complete the journey. This is when the hero becomes what I will call a cowardly hero. Such a person is only a hero because he/she is the protagonist of the story. In some literary circles, such a person could be called an “anti-hero.” In other literary circles, this is when the hero becomes the villain of the story and the genre switches from adventure to horror. Now, horror is not “scare and freak you out.” Horror is similar to the tragedies of Shakespeare, where the protagonist turns darker and darker and it becomes a matter of survival.

In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was the hero because he took the Hero’s Journey and completed it. However in the prequels, we have another hero: Anakin Skywalker. He was supposed to be the legendary hero above all other heroes. Anakin had the opportunity to go where no other Jedi could have gone and he refused. He did not cross the barriers heroes must cross, listen to his wise mentor Obi-Wan, nor did let his old self die to take on the role he was supposed to. As a result, he became the villain, Darth Vader. Let’s look closer into Anakin’s story and see how that applies to us.

Unlike Luke, Anakin’s journey took place over the three prequel films. He was an outsider, born of a virgin, a child with unsurpassable skills, yet held as a slave. He had the dreams of being a legendary pilot and hero, not much different than Luke. His call to adventure came when Qui-Gon Jinn found him and he followed the Jedi Master. Anakin trained for the next ten years but there came a moment of crisis that would force Anakin to make a choice. He went to rescue his mother but just as he got to her, she died in his hands. Anakin had the choice to rise up and be the hero, however, the problem Anakin had is that he never let go of his past. He tried to push through, but his anger towards all whom had wronged him continued to build up.

The critical moment came when Anakin sought to protect Padme from death, and Yoda’s wisdom was for him to let go of her and not to try to retain her. While the Star Wars history is more Buddhist in nature, this advice is actually the same advice Christ gives when he says, “He who keeps his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Anakin’s downfall came when he had to decide between letting Mace Windu arrest Palpatine and save him so he could acquire the ‘power’ to save Padme. Anakin chose to save her and began the journey down the Dark Side. As a result, Anakin not only became a villain, but he lost everything he held dear including everything he tried to keep. Anakin tried going on the journey but he refused to let the slave boy part of him die and become the hero he was supposed to become.

How does this apply to us? As I said last week, every one of us is called to go on the Hero’s Journey with Christ. But not many of us finish the journey. It’s not just the heroes who refuse the call to adventure who become villains, it’s the heroes who fail to complete the journey. Every hero at one point or more is offered a chance to leave the journey. Luke had that chance. Han Solo offered Luke to join him in smuggling instead of facing the Death Star. Luke could have abandoned the journey and if he had, he never would have become the hero he is known as. When we quit on the journey, we are as Jesus described rocky soil or thorny soil. We are also as John describes as those who never were with us to begin with.

The problem Anakin had is that he refused to let go of his past life. He refused to go through the baptism. This is the same for any person who wants to follow Christ but refuses to let go of his selfish ways or refuses to let go of the worldly system he has grown dependent upon. Jesus said flat out he would spit such people out. You can’t have both self and Christ as the same time. Anakin held too strongly to his mother and wife. Jesus said if you put your hand to the plow and look back, then you are not fit for the kingdom. You can’t move forward in Christ and look back to your past life longingly. Are we willing to let go of those we love and leave them in the hands of God? About 8-9 years ago, I was with a mission group at a church in downtown Juarez, Mexico during the height of the drug cartel violence. The pastor there asked the director of our mission organization if he was killed if we would take care of his family. That’s no small request. He did not hold his family so tightly that he could let them go to do what God had told him to do.

A cowardly hero refuses to let go and seeks to control everything in his own power. He will not relinquish control to God Almighty. And here is something else: a cowardly hero will always compromise in some way, shape, or form. Anakin compromised with his romance with Padme. He was never supposed to fall in love. He sought every way he could to twist the laws to favor his situation to get what he desired. He took the command to be compassionate and interpreted it as “love,” so he said he was encouraged to love. He took what he knew to be true, twisted it to justify himself, and made it so he could take the very command against something to suggest it supported that violation.

The compromiser is one who tries to play hero without separating himself from the world or from his old self. I need to make one thing clear: a compromiser is never known for doing anything productive. The good side will reject him. The bad side will support him, but the whole time laughing at him from behind the scenes. Why? He’s advancing the bad side’s cause and doing nothing to advance the good side. The compromiser won’t even be known as a villain in the story, just as a failure for not standing on any ground, though they can become villain the more they turn toward the dark side. If you try to stand on both sides and bring them together in “peace,” you aren’t doing anyone any good. You can be a leader and be a compromiser, but you cannot compromiser and be a hero.

This is the same issue with the “open-minded.” An open-minded person is open to all kinds of different ideas, but they cannot be heroes because they cannot stand on something they believe, because they have to be open to contradictory ideas. A legendary hero picks his ground to stand on and refuses to move from that spot. A cowardly hero refuses to stand his ground.

Which are you? A legendary hero or a cowardly hero? You have been called to the journey. There are two outcomes: you become the hero of your life story, aided by Jesus Christ who is the ultimate hero, or you become the villain of your life story. You carry out the Hero’s Journey to its end and walk and carry out the true Christian life, or you bail out of the Journey and never reach the destination. Something you may want to read after this is The Pilgrim’s Progress. That story actually is quite similar to what this two posts have covered. Are you on the journey, or did you depart from it? I have good news. If you did depart, you can come back to it. Take the Hero’s Journey, but don’t let the world, the devil, or your own selfish flesh turn you into the villain.

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Christian Terrorists, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 20, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

“Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.” Christian terrorism or Christians attacking other people is a favorite topic of atheists and other unbelievers. Recently, a friend on Facebook shared an article about a Muslim who “schooled” a white supremacist about Christian terrorism. There was so much misinformation given (without a single source, mind you) that I felt it was a great topic for a blog post. So here we are.

This stemmed from this article, as I said, that was shared on Facebook. We all know that Facebook is a wealth of knowledge and most of the memes and articles we read there are documented, factual, and vetted for accuracy. My sarcasm level there was turned to 11, by the way. You can see a great number of atrocities and terrible “Christian” organizations that this person references as being equivalent to ISIS—a Muslim terrorist group.

First and foremost, there is something very important to note here that nearly completely eliminates the need for further discussion (although I will discuss it further since that’s why I’m writing here). This point is simple: Islam's founder promoted, participated in, and taught violence. The Quran records much of this, as do history books. Violence in the name of Allah is what the founder of the religion called for and did. The insanity of political correctness has revised much of this, but the truth is easy enough to find. Over the course of 1400 years or so, Islam amassed an empire far larger than the British Empire at its height. The hordes of Islam have been imperialistic since its founder conquered Mecca in 624 AD. He conquered lands in Arabia until his death in 632 AD. His successors continued to conquer and subjugate neighboring nations for the next millennium and more. This has been the norm since this religion's birth: bloody conquest. Conversely to this is the fact that Jesus Christ never promoted violence. Forced conversion is absurd and Christ never advocated it. Killing unbelievers is also not something Jesus taught or did. Christianity is a faith built on grace, love, and forgiveness. If a person kills in the name of Jesus, it's difficult to make the claim that this is in line with Christ's teachings. If our actions are consistent with the faith we profess or the teachings of the founder of our faith, we are acting in line with that faith. If our actions are inconsistent or actually the opposite of what the founder of our faith taught or our holy book teaches, then we are not acting in the name of that faith. Does this make sense? The bloody history of Islam speaks for itself.

In this article I've linked above, the first glaring inconsistency is that the person who asks for the list of “Christian groups like ISIS” is a white supremacist. There is no such thing as a Christian white supremacist. It's not possible to follow Christ and hate people, especially if that hatred is born out of something as irrelevant as a skin color. The Bible clearly teaches that racism is 1) a man made idea, and 2) absolutely foolish. So the fact that this conversation even occurred is puzzling to me. But let's move on to the content here of the claim of Christian terror groups.

Let me say here, as well, that my intent with this post is not to slam Islam. The point is to use this Muslim's claims about Christianity to demonstrate the point that misinformation about Christianity is rampant and the misunderstandings about Christianity are huge.

He begins with the slave trade between Africa and the Americas and Europe. The very curious thing here is that the slave trade was fueled by Africans, many of which were Muslims. The slaves that were bought and sold were most often from central and western Africa and were sold by other west Africans. They were sold to the Americas, Europe, and even Muslim nations. In fact, because the Muslims of north Africa were attacking American trade ships and enslaving their crews, the US Marines were born. So the first thing this person brings up is something his religion promoted. Let's be honest here: the Muslim faith promotes slavery if we can take the Quran and acts of its leaders as a representation of Islam. Slavery is not so consistent with Christianity—a religion of freedom and grace (although, again, due to misinformation or Bible passages taken out of context or twisted, the unbeliever likes to say the Bible is for slavery). But the telling thing in this man's claim is the fact that he says the purpose of the slave trade was to bring the “heathens to Christ.” This is obviously not true, especially in light of the fact that Muslims were heavily involved, but he's trying to manipulate the information he's shared to mean something no one believes it means to further his point. A sure sign of weakness in your argument is that you need to lie about it.

The next point he makes is Native American genocide. He again claims this was done in the name of Christ. I say this is nonsense. The early American government did send missionaries to the Native Americans and paid for churches to be built for them, but the Native Americans were not murdered for the glory of Jesus Christ. The tragedy of the Native Americans is a very dark chapter in the Unites States, but to suggest it was out of America's Christian heritage that these people had their lands, and far too often their lives, taken is absurd. Not to beat it to death, but killing the Native Americans in the name of Jesus (which didn't happen) would not be in line with Christ's teachings.

He then goes on to the killing of Aboriginal peoples in Australia, trying again to claim such tragic violence was the result of Christianity. Not so at all. Christ never promoted such acts and saying that this was an result of Christianity, simply because the nation responsible claimed to adhere to follow a Christian worldview, is nonsense. He also notes that “90% of their population” was killed by Europeans. I'm not exactly sure where he got this figure, but what I've found is that Australia had roughly 250,000 natives when Europeans made first contact. Disease killed many of the Aborigines. Europeans killed many, as well. But the figure I'm finding is there were at least 60,000 left after disease and war. That's closer to 75% and it includes those who fell to sickness. Again, embellishing the figures to make your point seem stronger is a sure sign your argument is hollow. An interesting side note here is that because of atheism and its love for Darwinism, Aborigines were caught and forced into zoos in the West because the evolutionists believed they represented a less developed form of human. I don't feel that the conquest of Australia or the Americas is the same sort of thing as the Islamic conquest of the entire world, which was their goal. The method and intent are very different.

That's all I wanted to tackle for this week's post because these were related in that none of these things were done in the name of Christ—not by a long shot. To suggest they were is absolutely insincere. The politically correct crowd has decided that 15 centuries of blood shed on the part of Islam is nothing to write about, but manipulating history to seem like Islam was the passive victim is the way to go.

Christ taught something very different than Muhammad. John records for us a new command from Jesus that He gives us. He says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” There’s nothing in there about killing infidels or suppressing unbelievers. No killing in the name of God. No calls for beheadings. Jesus and Muhammad teach polar opposite ideas. The difference is easy to see, and you can see it in how Islam spread over the world and compared to how Christianity spread. The former spread by the sword; the latter in love. These are consistent with the teachings of their founders.

Next week we'll look at a few things that are brought up here concerning past actions that were actually done in the name of Christ. This will be interesting and I think you'll gain a new or fresh perspective on the topic of the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Crusades. Thanks for reading.

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Biblical Charity: Church Based Accountability

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

The church gets its money through the love and good will of Christian people. Therefore, they must add accountability to its benevolence programs.

We know that state-run welfare is riddled with corruption, fraud, and a lumbering bureaucracy, but it has massive bales of cash that it has taken from the middle class. The local church by contrast is quick and nimble in its decisions to help, almost no corruption and fraud (there are notable exceptions), but not a whole lot of cash. Only the church is really in a position to offer insightful accountability.

The apostle John records an occasion when Jesus fed 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fish. It was a miracle of multiplication that showed that Jesus was not limited by material. Merrill Tenney says in his commentary, John: The Gospel of Belief, that this miracle showed Jesus to be the master of quantity. But in purely economic terminology, this miracle shows that Jesus is not bound by scarcity.

Scarcity is one of the fundamental problems with the material world, and it is a foundational concern for economics. Basically, scarcity is the observation that there is unlimited human wants, but only limited resources to satisfy them. Even though the world has abundant supplies of some things, they are still scarce in the sense that they are limited. As my farmer neighbor replied when I wanted to buy more of his land, “Land, they ain’t makin’ any more of it.” Which means, if you want it, you’re going to have to pay for it. Just to reiterate: human wants are unlimited, material resources are limited. This is absolutely true unless Jesus shows up and does a miracle.

Since Jesus showed himself to not be bound by the law of scarcity, the crowd was very excited. Jesus could give them bread and circus, the two main pillars of population control at that time. He could show up and do his multiplication miracle, wow the crowd and feed them all in one fell swoop. John 6:14 says, “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did… they intended to come and make him king by force.” So Jesus leaves them and goes to be alone with the Father, hiding himself from people. The people go around the lake to where Jesus was expected to be next.

Jesus does make it there the next day after a very long night. John 6:25-26 says, “When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.’” He tells them what should be their focus.

My point in sharing this story is that Jesus miraculously disregarded the economic law of scarcity to prove to these people who he really was—God the Son, the One who fulfills prophecy. But did they believe and repent? No, they just wanted free food from then on. Jesus did not give into them. Instead Jesus preached a very hard sermon about who is going to be saved. He said only those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will be saved. Verse 52 says, “Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’”

This sermon was so hard not only did many people desert Christ at that point, many of his closest followers grumbled. Thus Jesus winnowed out those who truly believed and those who did not.

Jesus held the beneficiaries of the food distribution accountable to Biblical truth. We as his followers must do the same. We should pass out food and clothing while never forgetting that our primary responsibility is to hand out the Truth of the Gospel.

It is our love and care for people that opens up a door to hear the message of the Gospel. The government has taken over charity to turn the heads of the needy to them. Many look to the government for solutions to every problem including poverty, while fewer people look to God. God has the real answers and they are not merely economic. People need food, clothing, and shelter in emergency situations, but most of all they need real truth from heaven. Let us not go beyond Jesus.

At my congregation, we are very willing to come along side someone who is needy. We partner in a food bank, we give away clothing and sometimes money to people we do not know. We also would go the distance if one of the members of the church ever lost a job or needed a longer-term solution, because we have a relationship with one another. However, after the immediate needs are met, we do a financial assessment and outline steps of action, and we also share the Gospel. If they take our steps of action, we walk through it with them. If they do not respond to the steps of action, we cannot justify using other hardworking people’s money to sustain someone who is unwilling to cooperate, and we refuse to give them any more help. That is the right and Christian thing to do.

Jesus could have fed the 5000 every day until the day they died, but he wouldn’t do it. On day 2, all they got was the Gospel and not a crumb more.

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Judges 16:23-27

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 17, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, 'Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.'
When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
'Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.'
While they were in high spirits, they shouted, 'Bring out Samson to entertain us.' So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, 'Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.' Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.” (Judges 16:23-27)

If you want to catch up on what’s going on here, check out last week’s post. The short version is that Samson has been captured by the Philistines, thanks to him telling Delilah the truth about cutting his hair so that he would lose his strength. The Philistines have gouged out his eyes, imprisoned him, and humiliated him.

The Philistines attributed their capture of Samson to their god, Dagon, which is curious since it was clearly Delilah who helped them. But who is this Dagon?

Dagon was a Philistine idol, and his name means “little fish” or “fish god.” He has the body of a fish and the head and hands of a man, sort of like a mer-man. This image is one depiction of Dagon. Dagon was introduced to the Philistines from the Assyrians and Babylonians. The most famous temples of him are at Gaza (as here in today’s passage) and at Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:1-7).

Dagon was also noted as being the god of grain. This is pretty significant if you’ve been following Samson’s story. Remember the retaliation and revenge that occurred between Samson and the Philistines in Judges 15:1-8? One of the ways Samson wreaked havoc on the Philistines was to burn their fields of grain. Samson had dishonored Dagon, the grain god, in this act. It’s likely that the Philistines would have believed that this angered Dagon, therefore Dagon would have been out to catch Samson as well, which is why they praised Dagon for this capture.

Even though 20 years or so had passed, the Philistines still remembered what Samson did to them. All the things they did to Samson were to further mock and humiliate him. Even this festival was humiliating to Samson, since he was put on display to the 3000+ Philistines in attendance, and because it looked like Samson’s God had abandoned him.

At this moment in the story, things are looking pretty bad for Samson. He’s completely humiliated and both he and his God are being mocked. It looks like there’s no way Samson can be victorious over the Philistines now… or is there? Samson asks a servant to help him so he’s near the main pillars of the building, setting the stage for what is to come. Stay tuned next week (or read ahead in the chapter) to find out!

So what does all this have to do with today? Are you in a situation where perhaps it feels like all is lost? Are things going from bad to worse, with seemingly no way out? It can be hard when we don’t see the end of the story just yet. Wherever you’re at in life, and whether you realize it or not, God knows how this chapter will end for you. It may be the outcome you want or it may not be, but that’s not what’s important; what’s important is that God gets the glory.

In Samson’s life, God was not yet getting the glory at this moment, and the thousands around him were praising Dagon. While those around you likely don’t have a physical idol image that they worship, people are often falling into sin by worshiping things other than God. What is God inviting you to do about that? Near the end of today’s passage, we see Samson setting the stage for what God is about to do. He wasn’t just going to sit idly by and watch all of this Dagon worship; he was ready to do something about it, even if it came at great price. Even when all seems lost, God will still come out victorious, both in Samson’s life and in yours.

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It Is Finished

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 16, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

I wanted to share this lovely Easter display that my good friend Julie Taylor has on the mantle in her home. As I sat in our life group a few weeks ago, I was drawn to the beauty and meaning that is represented here. I began to think about the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus, but my thoughts kept coming back to “It is finished.”

As I reflected on the Easter message, I began to think about the fact that if I were to ask fellow believers if they believe that Jesus died that horrific death on the cross for our sin, they would say they do. I also believe that a majority of Christians would say that they believe that on the third day Jesus rose again.

In regards to the phrase “It is finished,” I would venture to guess that most would agree that when Jesus spoke these words “It is finished,” we believe that He had fulfilled prophecy.

But do we truly believe it is finished? Isn’t it just like our enemy to trick us into thinking we have to control everything instead of trust? That we would worry and fret instead of having peace and rest, doubt and fear instead of having joy and faith. But if we truly believe it is finished, the enemy has no power over us!

There is a line from the Big Daddy Weave song Redeemed that serves as a wonderful reminder for us. It says, “Stop fighting the fight, its already been won, I’ve been redeemed.”

Jesus wins! As believers, we win in the end!

The Greek translation for this phrase “It is finished” is the word “tetelestai.” It was generally written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show that a bill had been paid in full.

It is finished!

This Easter, join me as we reflect on what Jesus has done for us: His death and resurrection. We should not lose sight of the fact that because of His ultimate sacrifice, “It is finished” - the debt has been paid in full. The enemy has no power over us as long as we are in a right relationship with the Lord.

Take a few minutes to look at all the objects in the above picture and the meaning found there. What a powerful avenue to share the Easter message with our family, friends, and neighbors without saying a word.

Easter Blessings,

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Out of The Gray, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 15, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

For context on this next series of blog posts, read my previous posts "Are You a Gray Hat?" starting here.

There was something I learned in criminal justice courses in college, and I found it to be true in every sphere of life. Someone who uses the letter of the law to undermine the spirit of the law is still a lawbreaker. Why is that important to us today? Well this thought touches the focus of this series of blogs as we explore how to get out of the "gray" way of living.

Look at the book of Jude. It’s one chapter, 25 verses. And in it Jude not only confronts the "gray" we live in, but he shows us how to deal with it and escape it.

Read verses 1-2. Right there in his greeting he says he is a “bondservant” of Christ. This is someone who is a slave by choice. Slaves in Jesus’ day were not slaves in the same way as we have known them in American history. Yes, there were people who were forced to be slaves, but typically salves in Jesus’ day were people who owed a debt and were indentured. These people had to serve as a slave until they had paid the debt. Slaves were to be cared for by their masters then released as a freedman when the debt was settled.

A bondservant was different. They were someone who was free, but chooses to bind themselves as a servant to a master, for life. They and their family would serve that master as long as the bondservant (or the master) lived. They would usually pierce their ear with something to indicate their status as a bondservant, and they were well cared for by their masters.

If we call ourselves Christians and Christ followers, are we just are we following Him through religious habits, or are we dedicated to Him above all else? Have we satisfied the technicalities of “getting saved” in the Bible, or are we living out the Spirit of that? Are we like Jude, a bondservant? If not, there may be a whole lot of gray we need to deal with. 

Take time this week to consider who or what you really serve and how that displays what you believe. Come back next week and continue exploring how to get out of the "gray" in the next part of this series.

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Legendary Heroes

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 14, 2017 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Stories of great heroes are a staple in any generation and any culture. Some of you know that I do more than just write for Worldview Warriors; I am also a published author. In my learning curve about writing novels, I met a really good friend at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (I am serving as one of the faculty at this conference this year) who taught two workshops that changed how I look at writing fiction. Those two workshops were titled, “The Ministry of the Villain” and “The Hero’s Journey.” To have a “legendary” hero, you need to know how to use both.

“The Hero’s Journey” was taken from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero of A Thousand Faces, a study on every story that withstands the test of time. In Campbell’s study, he noted that all of these studies have four key characters and 17 common plot points. Campbell had an extremely loyal student working on some sci-fi story and kept going back to him to make sure he had this “Hero’s Journey” right. That student was George Lucas and the story was Star Wars. The four characters of this Journey are: Hero, Anima, Villain, and Wise Mentor. Three of those are quite self-explanatory, but the Anima often is not. The Anima is essentially the “damsel in distress,” the hero’s equal and opposite gender and is an ideal representation of the world that needs to be rescued.

“The Ministry of the Villain” workshop wrecked my world and how to use the villain of a story to address that wicked sin that you either cannot bring up in your circles or won’t dare bring to the light. Take that evil and personify it into a villain that will meet his justice or redemption. A key point made in this workshop is that it is the villain that makes the hero the hero. No story is of any interest if there is no villain to overcome, no challenge to beat.

With that said, there are certain things about the hero of the Hero’s Journey that makes him a hero and I will need two posts to address them. Today I will address what makes a legendary hero, the heroes that will be remembered for all time. Next week, I will address what happens when the hero of a story refuses to go on the journey. So what makes a legendary hero?

First off, in order to be a hero, the protagonist must be an outsider to the world he seeks to rescue. He cannot belong where he is. He does not fit in with everyone else. Let’s use Star Wars to illustrate. Luke Skywalker was left on the forgotten planet of Tatooine, the farthest planet from the bright center of the universe. He was raised as a farmer, but never fit it. He longed for the journey, the adventure.

Princess Leia, on the other hand, was deeply rooted in the world system. She was active in the Old Republic and one of the point people of the Rebellion. She was the best of the best that the world that needed to be rescued could offer. She had the best weapons, the best strategies, the connections, she was the image of what the Rebellion and what a free people was to be. Yet, Leia could not rescue the galaxy from the Empire. She was too entrenched in the world to be able to do it. It took Luke, an outsider who was not part of the system, to come rescue her and then destroy the Death Star.

The hero also requires assistance from a “Wise Mentor.” Luke received the message for help from Leia and when Obi-Wan offered for Luke to join him, Luke immediately refused it. He could not go save the world because he had “work to do.” What did it take to break Luke free from the farm? The destruction of the farm. Every hero tends to suffer some form of tragedy to get them started on their journey.

Another phase of the Hero’s Journey is a “baptism of fire.” This is the point in the story when the life of the old hero finally dies and he wakes up to claim his role. In Star Wars, this moment took place in the trash compactor. Luke was no longer a follower in the journey and began to take his role as a leader. When a hero goes on his journey, his old life must be put aside and his role as the hero must be fully embraced.

There is more the Hero’s Journey but I don’t just want to give a lesson on the journey. I also want to apply this to our lives. God wants us to take this journey. All three of the points I bring up directly applies to the Christian life, and if you study the Hero’s Journey as a whole, you will find even more similarities to how we should be living our lives. God does not want us to live lives where we are just part of the system who believes in him. He wants us to live heroic lives - bold, adventurous, and overcoming the villains we face. It’s a commonly cited verse but very rarely actually applied: Romans 8:37: We are MORE than conquerors. Eric Ludy, in his book Wrestling Prayer, challenges our generation to be as David and his Mighty Men, a generation of heroes and warriors for the Kingdom of God. But let’s briefly look at these particular steps in the Hero’s Journey and how it applies to us.

We have to be outsiders. We can’t be in and submitted to the world’s system. The Hero came to save a world from the hands of evil. If we are under the world’s system, how can we save it? Jesus was not of this world. That is why he could be that hero. He asks us to join him and be as David’s Mighty Men were to David. The Mighty Men were known because of David, and we should be known because of Christ, not because of us. But we cannot be in the system if we are to battle the villain holding it captive.

We need help getting started on the journey and very often, God has to grind us to powder to do so. It takes an emotional or physical tragedy that forces us out of our seat of comfort, or more accurately put, our seat of familiarity. We so often resist this because we don’t want to experience the pain of suffering. Yet it is often necessary because it gets rid of that self, that spiritual ‘flab’ that hinders us from getting up and getting something done. If we are not willing to be broken and go through tragedy, why should we expect God to use us to make us a legendary hero?

This journey God calls us on is meant to take us out of our comfort zone for good, not just to go on this journey and then return to our selfish, self-centered lifestyle. When Luke entered that trash compactor, the farm boy died and the Rebel leader and Jedi-to-be was born. When we go on this Hero’s journey with Christ, our old self is to die and the new self is born. We will never go back to that old life… and we will never want to.

Are you willing to go on this journey with Christ? Many do not want to because they know the cost and they don’t want to pay it. They value their lifestyle and their comforts too much. However, I have a stern warning. I alluded to one of the phases of the Hero’s Journey above called “The Refusal of the Call.” Every hero initially refuses the call to adventure, despite wanting to do something more than what they are currently doing. But what happens if the hero does not punch through that barrier and start the journey? What if the hero does not complete the journey? That hero becomes not a legendary hero, but a cowardly hero. And there are dire consequences when this happens. Stay tuned for next week’s post.

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So Easy a Caveman Could See It

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 13, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

In last week's installment, we looked at the obvious nature of design when it comes to living things or life in general. You would think a person was crazy or on drugs if they told you your smart phone was the result of random, undirected processes that involved no planning or forethought. Your smart phone is actually quite dumb when compared to the workings going on in every cell of your body, let alone the immense coordination of all the systems that make up your totality. To suggest all that came about through mindless, uncoordinated processes is ridiculous. We exposed some of the statements evolutionists have made where they either accidentally call living things designed or where they marvel at how complicated the “programming” of a living thing is and still want to call it a wonderful accident of nature. Let's look at some more things that have been stated on this topic of design:

Voltaire was no friend to Christianity, himself being a deist. But he interestingly said, “We are intelligent beings: intelligent beings cannot have been formed by a crude, blind, insensible being: there is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton's intelligence, therefore, came from another intelligence.” It's nice he mentioned Newton, even though he and Newton would have disagreed on quite a lot, especially in regards to Christianity. Newton is regarded by many to be the greatest mind science has ever known. He lived long before the IQ test was a thing, but many believe his intelligence was at least as great if not greater than Einstein's. Voltaire, who was not a Bible-believing Christian at all, saw the absurdity in believing that human beings were nothing but the result of “blind, insensible” natural processes. A Designer is required, simply put.

Many argue that Intelligent Design (ID) cannot be scientific because it stands on the Bible or some other sacred text as its foundation. It's true, for me anyway, that the Bible is the absolute authority on matters. When the matter is origins, it undoubtedly should be the final authority for a Christian. But the fact is that design in living things is so obvious, that it IS scientific simply because it's observation nearly goes without saying. This statement by Michael Behe, PhD puts it very well: “The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day.” A remarkable thing can be found reading the above Wikipedia link. The school Dr. Behe teaches at says this: “While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”

This demonstrates the terror that ID strikes in evolutionists. They cannot tolerate a rival idea. As such, they will sling mud at any idea contrary to Darwinism and will even attempt to reduce it to being unscientific simply on the merit that it is at odds with evolutionism. This isn't science at all. This is consensus and is anti-science. I've written on this as well in the past, but it cannot be stressed too much or too frequently. The insecurity of evolutionists is striking and they don't even seem to care that their primary weapon against dissension is shunning or public ridicule. There are many examples of this, including the above mentioned statement by Lehigh University. Dr. Behe's statement is spot on. Design isn't something we arrive at simply because the Bible says so, although we certainly do come to that conclusion based on the Bible. Design in life is an obvious observation that nearly anyone of nearly any age can realize.

William Dembski states the simple nature of the issue: “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible: namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.” The idea that nature (never mind where nature came from) accidentally built a wide variety of extremely ingenious designs in the living world, including multiple super computers and sensors without any idea what it was doing goes beyond logic and reason. All scientific experiments on the origin of life have come up empty handed in providing a viable way for life to arise from non-life. Even if they did stumble onto a method by which they built a living thing in a test tube, they would be proving ID is required and in no way would be able to support that such a thing happened accidentally in eons passed. DNA is a wonder in and of itself and is so complex we cannot begin to rival its sophistication and scale.

Last week I mentioned the bacterial flagellum and how it, as “simple” is it may be, has some 40 different parts that would need to be accidentally made at the same time and in the proper sequence for the thing to work. This is also the case for the clotting cascade. Have you ever wondered about your blood's ability to clot? It's actually pretty fascinating and absolutely necessary for life. If we didn't have this ability, we'd all be dead. But if our blood clotted randomly all the time, we'd also all be dead. The balance is essential and how something with over 20 different sequential components to it randomly and accidentally just popped into existence is a thing of fairy tales. If it works “too well” we die from stroke or some other form of blockage. If it doesn't work well enough, the smallest cut can easily result in us bleeding out. It has to work correctly and had to since the dawn of the first organisms with a circulatory system.

This same idea is true for an endless number of different things in the living world. You may hear perfectly arranged stories as to what may have happened for these amazing anatomical and physiological things to exist, but no evidence exists for such stories. I guess there's no evidence beyond the fact that these things do exist—the bacterial flagellum exists, the clotting cascade happens, etc. The evolutionist, because he or she has already determined that evolution has happened, will say some such made up story as to the origins of a structure or function must be correct. In fact, quite often it will be presented to us as though they watched it happen and are are reporting on what they saw. Their arguments quite often boil down to, “I'm here. We're all here.” And they'll end it up with, “Therefore, evolution.” They'll arrange things in groups or lineages or trees or whatever and act as though they've presented discovered facts when, in truth, they've only discovered that they can arrange things in groups or lineages or trees and nothing more. They've agreed before looking at any evidence that evolutionism is a fact, which will result in them interpreting all the evidence to support their origins myth or claim any evidence they cannot incorporate into their myth as unscientific.

We've touched a little on irreducible complexity and specified complexity in these two posts without getting into a great deal of detail. These ideas are clear and easily seen in nature. Irreducible complexity is the idea that something, when it is broken down into its simplest form, is still marvelously complex and could not have arisen by random, undirected, uncoordinated processes—like the flagellum or clotting cascade. Specified complexity is a little tougher to tackle, but the idea is explained by Dembski this way: “Life is both complex and specified. The basic intuition here is straightforward. A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex (i.e., it conforms to an independently given pattern but is simple). A long sequence of random letters is complex without being specified (i.e., it requires a complicated instruction-set to characterize but conforms to no independently given pattern). A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.” While we can find lots of shouting down of such ideas, the merit of the arguments against such things is void of much intellect at all. Again, when something counters the evolutionism world, it is mocked and berated and called unscientific. Interestingly, Behe responds to such attacks with, “It might be tempting to imagine that irreducible complexity simply requires multiple simultaneous mutations - that evolution might be far chancier than we thought, but still possible. Such an appeal to brute luck can never be refuted... Luck is metaphysical speculation; scientific explanations invoke causes.” There is nothing scientific about Darwinism beyond the observation that there is biodiversity—a variety of living things on earth. Mutations happen. Organisms that survive pass on their genes more frequently. None of these ideas is unique to evolutionism. None of this leads to evolution from a single common ancestor unless you're already committed to such an idea before viewing the evidence.

Before the attack of “quote mining” is used here against these writings, let me be clear here on what a “quote mine” is and is not. A “quote mine” is taking something out of context for the purpose of making it appear the one making the statement meant something completely different than their intent. A “quote mine” is not taking a quote and exposing the person's inconsistency within their own philosophy. No ideas were presented here that were intended to mislead anyone into believing any of these evolutionists quoted were supporting ID. They seem to by their statements, but we know they do not. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.

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You Feed Them

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 12, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Till now I have been mostly focused on what Biblical charity is not. As I begin to demonstrate and affirm what Biblical charity is, it is important that you are divested of the notion that the government can mediate Christ’s will for the poor; they can’t. Government has to concentrate power in order to provide anything that the poor need, and since they manufacture nothing and grow nothing, they have to take it from someone else. But unscrupulous people buy that power after it is amassed for their own purposes. This is the heart of oppression.

Another notion that you are hopefully divested of is that people can be forced to be better. The nefarious “social gospel” thought that they could legislate virtue. But if the New Testament teaches us anything, it’s that legislation is weaker than our own sinfulness (see Romans 6-8); if we are to be good, we need something better than laws.

When I say that you cannot be forced to participate in redistribution schemes, that does not mean that I believe we have no moral obligations to Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, your moral obligations supersede being legally right (Romans 8:12).

When Ezekiel described the new covenant that God was going to make, he says “I will” 10 times; moral goodness is a creation of God in the hearts of those who put their trust in him. It is because God acts that goodness results. People cannot save themselves, nor can we save each other, whether through laws or some other way. We must be changed by God! One of the ten “I will” statements is, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). If you take a stone from the bottom of the sea, and though it has been there for 10 centuries, when you break it open it is dry inside. Stone is not penetrated by water. In the same way, the human heart can be submerged in a Christian culture and yet remain obstinate toward God. A stone heart does not respond to God and cannot respond to God (Romans 8:5-8). Jesus accused the Pharisees of plastering over a heart that did not love God.

Furthermore, in the next “I will” statement, God says, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27). God promised that he would do ten things to change our nature under the new covenant (Christianity), and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was one of those things. This is what makes it possible to live for God! This is what we call being born again. Why would you want to revert back to oppression and violence to achieve Christ’s will? Christian, follow Christ; he did none of those things.

So if we cannot force others to pay for our programs, if we cannot collude with governments, what do we have left? Everything. We have been entrusted with the ongoing mission of Christ. We carry on everything that He did. The local church is the hope of the world!

In Matthew 14, we read how differently Jesus did things. Great crowds were following Jesus at the time, and he taught them till it was too late for them to go buy food and get back safely. The disciples said to him, “Send the crowds away because it’s already late so they can go to the village and buy themselves some food.”

But Jesus told them, “You give them something to eat.”

The disciples were floored of course. How was this even possible? Should we appeal to Herod for some bread? Never. Shall we demand that the villagers give up a little bit from each of their own homes so we can give some of it to the crowd? No! Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”

Understandably, they say, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” They rightly knew that the task was greater than their ability. But what was Jesus’s solution?

“Bring the loaves and fishes here to me,” he said. He then gives them specific instructions, which the disciples follow, resulting in the miraculous multiplication of the food. The result is that God is glorified and there is abundance. Jesus calls us to work in a different way. We cannot please God or advance the kingdom of God through worldly methods. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please him.”

In order to do our Christian duty to the world, we must rely on Christ’s power and methods. They are supernatural in nature. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14). If we try to bring about God’s kingdom using worldly methods, we will fail every time.

“You feed them.” Christians, our Lord has called us to take care of the poor, to preach the gospel to them, to pray for them. “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).

Let us start food pantries, financial counseling, clothes closets, hospitals, orphanages. Let’s do all of these things in the name of Jesus! George Muller started all those orphanages first of all to preach to the materialistic British people of his day the message that God is a better provider than money. Secondly, he was deeply concerned about the plight of orphans. American Christians started most of the hospitals with no government help. And then later denominations lost those hospitals to an avalanche of regulation and paper-pushing to satisfy the bureaucracy in Washington. We were all better off without the secular “help.”

In spite of the fact that the secularists and statists take so much of our money away from us, we still have a moral obligation to our Lord to carry out his objectives on the earth. If we modern Christians have five loaves and two fishes and the tax man takes two loaves and one fish, our situation of being hopelessly dependent on God has not changed. Three loaves and one fish can feed a multitude as well as five loaves and two fish when Jesus Christ is doing the math for you. Let’s remember that.

Next week, I will write more about Biblical charity. Blessings.

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Judges 16:15-22

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 10, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Then she said to him, 'How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.' With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. So he told her everything. 'No razor has ever been used on my head,' he said, 'because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.' When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, 'Come back once more; he has told me everything.' So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' He awoke from his sleep and thought, 'I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” (Judges 16:15-22) Check out last week’s post for the situation that’s going on here. Samson has fallen in love with Delilah, and she has been promised a fortune from the Philistine leaders if she can find out the secret to Samson’s strength. He’s already lied to her about it 3 times, and now she’s getting rather frustrated with him.

But Delilah still wants the fortune that was promised to her for revealing the secret, so she keeps it up and keeps nagging Samson about it. This is definitely not a healthy relationship between Samson and Delilah. It obviously is not based on mutual trust and respect, since she’s been bribed to betray him and he keeps lying to her. On top of that, she’s nagging him about finding out his secret rather than respecting his privacy on that matter.

Remember what happened back at Samson’s wedding to the woman from Timnah? Because of his wife’s nagging, he gave in and told the answer to his riddle, causing him to lose a bet. In this situation, the same thing happens. Rather than break off his relationship with Delilah, Samson gives in to her nagging and reveals the secret to his strength.

From previous chapters, we know that Samson had been careless about 2 of the 3 parts of his Nazirite vow (drinking wine and being around the dead), but it appears that he had been faithful on not cutting his hair. This may have been the most important part of the vow, since the angel who announced Samson’s upcoming birth to his parents spoke of it specifically.

So Delilah realizes that Samson is finally telling the truth, so she gets the Philistine leaders back and cuts Samson’s hair in his sleep. At first Samson thinks all is well when he wakes up, but then he discovers that his strength really has left him, and so has the Lord.

Samson was quickly captured by the Philistines, his eyes were gouged out, and he was imprisoned. Loss of eyesight was considered a terrible curse for Israelites, so this is a very big deal. They gave him the task of grinding grain while imprisoned; grinding grain was usually women’s work, so this added to Samson’s humiliation. As time went on his hair began to grow back, and the Philistines likely allowed that so they could use his strength for their benefit when it returned.

Samson reaped what he sowed. He was apparently so full of himself and so confident in his abilities that he didn’t think he’d lose his strength when his hair was cut, or else his fleshly desires for Delilah got the best of him. Either way, he turned against God so God turned against him.

Where are you giving in to temptation in your own life? Is there something that you’re trying to resist, and you’d be a lot better off if you just walked away from it? Samson would have been better off if he had just walked away from Delilah’s temptations, but instead he gave in and reaped what he sowed. What are you sowing in your life that you’ll end up reaping the consequences for? Ask God for the strength to turn away and get on His right path for your life.

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