Judges 20:1-11

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 31, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men armed with swords. (The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, 'Tell us how this awful thing happened.'
So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, 'I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.'
All the men rose up together as one, saying, 'None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots. We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.' So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.” (Judges 20:1-11)

What happened that Israel was assembling? Check out the previous context of this story here. A Levite’s concubine had been killed because of the immorality of the Benjamite city of Gibeah, and now he’s doing something about it. He let the entire nation know what happened, so the nation began to unite against the immorality that was taking place in their own nation.

They came together from all areas of the nation and united at Mizpah to plan their course of action. Not quite all of them though - the Benjamites boycotted this gathering, likely since its purpose was to go against one of their towns.

The Levite tells everyone what had happened to his concubine. He may have exaggerated it a bit to paint himself in a better light, though - after all, he knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. But he explained why he dismembered his concubine’s body and sent them all the pieces, so they would discover what happened and bring attention to it.

Everyone at the gathering agreed that the town of Gibeah needed to be punished for their immorality and wrongful actions. The Israelites united around this cause.

Sometimes it takes a horrible situation to unite a people. In my generation, I experienced September 11, 2001 (I was a sophomore in college then) and saw how our nation united out of the tragedy to step up our game in fighting the war on terror. It was a time of high patriotism and unity in our nation, as we were fighting a common enemy. I recall hearing that the Sunday after 9/11/01 had the most church attendance our nation had seen in a long time. For my grandparents’ generation, they saw the nation unite against Japan and Germany in World War II. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII, one in the army under General Patton and the other in the navy in the South Pacific. The U.S. got into the war because of the tragedy at Pearl Harbor, and our nation was united in the cause because of the evil we were facing.

Tragedy and loss of life is always sad, but God can (and does) use bad situations to unite a people and to bring about His good (Romans 8:28). The tragedy of the concubine’s death united the nation of Israel against immorality, so God could bring about His good back into the nation and they would follow Him again.

What has happened in your life that sparked a change? What tragedy has motivated you to change your life to follow God more? If one man’s reaction to the death of one woman united an entire nation, what can you do with your one life?

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False Humility vs Pride

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

by Ami Samuels

Several years ago, I was preparing a presentation for a speaking engagement and I was letting the “What if”s get the best of me.

What if I can’t finish my outline? What if I mess up? What if my presentation isn’t good enough?

I went to my ladies Bible study and shared what I was experiencing. The leader of our group asked me a question that caught me off guard. She asked me, “What do you think about someone who is prideful?”

I thought for a moment and I replied, “When we are prideful, we aren’t glorifying God, but self.”

To which she said, “Really? Because I am getting a sense of false humility or self-doubt from you. False humility means to have a self-defeating mindset and poor self-image, evaluating oneself too harshly. This way of thinking is as at out of balance as pride.”

This got my attention because my first thought was, “No, it’s not.”

But as she finished I saw she was right. She said, “That pride and self-doubt are both focused on SELF not GOD.”

Wow! That is true. We tend to think of pride as self-centered and self-promoting, and we try to disguise self-doubt as humility.

Pride says, “I can do this myself, I don’t need God’s help!”

Self-doubt says, “I can’t do this, I’m not good enough, and God can’t use me!”

Our focus should always be on God, not ourselves, what he is calling us to do, and who he is calling us to reach.

The next time we find the “What if”s creeping in or a sense of self-doub,t we need to redirect our thoughts to God and what he is calling us to do, taking our attention off of our self and place it on God. Stop allowing this negative thinking to imprison us from the life God is calling us to.

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Facing Our 'Dark Side,' Part 3

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

by Nathan Buck

For the context of this post, check out Part 1 and Part 2 first.

From the moment we know the "rules" of any game, activity, or situation, we feel an internal conflict between obeying the rules or taking advantage for ourselves. The struggle is real, but it is not because of some impersonal galactic force. So, how do we live for good? How do we overcome evil desires? How do we put the real struggle back into its real context, instead of buying into the fantasy of Star Wars?

Make no mistake, I like Star Wars and enjoy the nods toward spiritual things. However, George Lucas openly admits that the ideology of his universe is one that cherry-picks themes from major world religions, all blended up in an Eastern Mysticism soup. It helps create and flavor some exciting stories, but when it comes to practical usefulness it has no distinct flavor and no real tools to accomplish what it espouses.

For example, in my previous example with Yoda, he says that his dark side has no power over him, and then Yoda uses the force to dissolve his dark side. While this is dramatic and seems like a desirable goal, it is a contradiction to the ideology of the Star Wars universe. If the force is light and dark, broader than both, and balance is the goal, then Yoda destroying his own 'dark side' is not only impossible, but it exposes the circular logic that persistently turns in on itself to try and make the whole 'spam-like' ideology seem to work. Where does Yoda get this power, and how could it be from the light side, if the 'force' requires balance? How could his 'dark side' be destroyed without him being out of balance with the 'force'? Because of these unanswerable ambiguities, the writers of Star Wars started exploring the evolution of understanding of the force, and have several themes they have seeded into the stories to try and keep it believable enough for those who want "Spiritism" and relativist truisms. Eventually, this vague mysticism cannot pass the test of reality and Truth, because it is fantasy. 

God, however, does address the issue of our struggle between good and evil very specifically, and He provides a practical solution through His personal involvement in our life.

Read Romans chapter 8. Take some time and reflect on the specific promises God makes in this chapter.

If we have relationship with God through Jesus Christ - meaning we have accepted Jesus' sacrifice for our self-centered decisions (choices apart from or against God: a.k.a. sin) - then we can count on the following: 

  • We no longer face condemnation. Being free from condemnation means we are not held guilty, we are not shamed, and we are not sentenced to the punishment for our sin. If we are not condemned, then we are freed to live the life we were designed for, instead of being stuck with the hand we were dealt or the situations we put ourselves in.
  • We are given God's power to live for good. His Spirit informs and empowers us toward what He has planned for good. He gives insight into His principles of the Bible, skills, abilities, power, and help for every moment we face. 
  • We are adopted as sons and daughters of God. We have access to God's power, His resources, and His wisdom. We are like family to God, able to approach Him with confidence in His love and grace toward us and toward others. We are able to boldly engage His plans knowing He will empower us for the task, and He will impact the lives we touch for His good.
  • We have the promise that He works all things together for good. No matter what we face, no matter how painful or challenging, no matter how much we might lose, we can trust that it will all be turned toward good.
  • Finally, we cannot be separated from God's love. We cannot be separated from God by anything or anyone, or any 'force,' if we are His.

If you are in a place where you desire spiritual insight, or you are wrestling with overcoming habits and desires that you know are not good but feel like you don't have the power to face them, then take time to reflect on what Paul shares in Romans chapters 6-8. Let God help you see your situation, your limits, and His perspective and abilities, apart from the clutter of popular fantasy. Let God show you His designs in you and His plans ahead of you.

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Do Not Serve Uncooked Meat

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

by Charlie Wolcott

What does cooking have to do with Worldview Warriors, let alone a person like me who does have on record the ability to butcher even a Hamburger Helper? (Yes, I have done that.) One thing every cook, amateur or not, knows is to not serve uncooked meat. It does not matter if you prefer rare, medium, or well done meat; if you do not raise the meat to an appropriate temperature, you run the risk of potentially serious health issues. In any restaurant, no one likes undercooked meat and it leaves them unsatisfied.

Some meats can be grilled, some heated on a stove, some on the spit over a camp fire, and others need the slow cooking of a crock pot. Some meats, in order to marinate all the way through, need to simmer in heat for 6-10 hours. Others just need to be raised to the right temperature and can take just a few minutes, depending on the dish. But what is critical is that the mean must be cooked or it is not safe to eat.

The same is true about what we teach and what we write. Many of us have ideas percolating in our minds, however not all of them are ready to be shared because they need to cook longer. It is really easy to get excited about something you came up with and want to share it with everyone, but if you take the time to let the dust settle before you announce it, you may realize that what you discovered is not at all what you initially thought it is.

The media in particular is extremely guilty of this. They will jump at the slightest bit of anything they want and run with it before they take the time to find out if what they are reporting is actually true. This is true for politics, Evolution-based science, global warming, and many other topics. There are numerous examples of evidence cited for Evolution and blasted in the media that after more careful examination, the evidence showed to be nothing of the sort. Here is one example: “Flipperpithecus.” What was once thought to be a humanoid collar bone turns out to be just a dolphin rib. I do appreciate Tim White’s sense of humor in naming it.

But the Creationists have fallen guilty of the same issue. When the discovery of Homo Naledi was released two years ago, Answers in Genesis and the Institute of Creation Research released conflicted responses to the discovery. I believe they rushed their response. When this discovery was made regarding vast amounts of water under the earth’s crust, I was hesitant to join the fray. Many jumped on the bandwagon proclaiming it as evidence for the Flood. I decided to wait before using it. I have not heard much new about this discovery so I am still hesitant to use it in my arguments. What I do know is this: whenever you hear an argument about a new find about this or a new find about that, sit on it for a while. Let it simmer. Every evidence proclaimed by Evolutionists has fallen short and had they taken more time to let it simmer, they would realize their evidence never did what they thought it did. But Creationists need to be careful too. The desperation to “prove” one’s own case can be a strong pull and make one blind to what is actually happening.

It’s not just the creation/evolution debate where this is an issue. The same is true in our writing and our speaking. This whole past year I have written primarily about the journey God has been taking me on regarding prayer, intellectualism, and other issues. I’m far from a finished product, even on this phase of the journey, and when I finish this phase, I can’t stop because there will be another phase after that. All that said, as God begins to show me different things, I cannot just go write about them right away. I need to chew and process things so the “nutrients” of what I say will have any value.

It will be a long time before I run out of topics and posts for Worldview Warriors because each time I get an idea, I write it down on in my OneNote page. Some of the ideas I get are able to be written rather quickly without taking a lot of time to process. This is one of them. But others have required time to process, to think about, to gather information, and to simmer before I can write them. Then after writing them, I need to let that simmer a while and revisit them before I submit them for posting. Several times I have had to rewrite the whole post because it didn’t cook right before serving.

What can happen if we write too quickly without having taken the time for God to cook them? Like with scientific evidences, you can miss critical details that lead you to false teachings. One time I was reading through Luke 1 and I came across this verse. It stated that Elizabeth was of the line of Aaron and considering Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, I thought that gave Jesus legal blood-lineage to the High Priesthood as well as legal blood-lineage to David’s kingship. Then a friend of mine reminded me that to be a High Priest, you needed both parents to prove of the blood lineage of Aaron and that Jesus was of the order of Melchizedek, not of Aaron. I had jumped on this in excitement but did not take the time to let it simmer and process. Had I waited, I would have realized my “discovery” really was not much a discovery.

This example is a small one. There are others that are more severe. There are a lot of false teachings out there addressing legitimate issues in the church, however the solution is not cooked meat. Sometimes the solutions are just Jell-O at best, fluffy foo-foo with no actual nutrients nor anything that actually addresses the core issue. Sometime the solution offered leads the church even further away from the truth than the problems it attempts to address. What we need is a return to sound Biblical doctrine. If we see a problem and want to solve the issue, do not rush to try to solve the problem without thinking things through. Sometimes we can and sometimes we need a quick decision, but we need to learn to let our ideas simmer and cook before we put them out.

Those of us who are leaders to any degree need to learn this because we are responsible for any who follow us. I need to make sure all my writings and all my talks are properly cooked before I give them out. If you post on social media, you need to cook your posts before you post them. That includes me because I am often very quick with my keyboard in discussions (though I spend more time cooking my original posts).

How do you cook them? Start with Bible study and prayer. Is what you are writing/speaking reflective of God’s glory and consistent with his message and character? If you aren’t sure, cook it before you serve it. If the heat ruined it, then you should not be serving it anyway. Make sure what you serve is not just edible but a dish that would make Chef Ramsay proud. Likewise, when you write or speak, don’t just let your message be edible, let it be something that gives life.

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It's All Around Us

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

by Steve Risner

As previously mentioned, my wife, Michelle, and I visited the Ark Encounter in June of this year. The Flood of Noah's day is of paramount importance in terms of the Biblical worldview and the authenticity of Scripture. If the Bible's account of a global Flood is false, then we should be suspicious of the entire Bible. If we determine to regard the Bible's stories of creation, the Flood, crossing the Red Sea, and/or God defeating numerous, powerful armies for the Israelites as fables, myths, legends, or allegories, then we must do the same with God's pronouncement on sin and the path only He provides for redemption for mankind. In fact, we would be forced to consider that mankind is not lost or that he doesn't have a sin nature because these things are brought out in the creation narrative. We would ultimately find there is no value in a Christ who is a literary figure. But if the Flood did happen we know several things: 1) God has proclaimed certain things to be sin, 2) He hates sin, 3) man's nature is to sin, and 4) God dealt with a world heaped in sin that literally thought evil things all the time by destroying it. Scriptural evidence supports these ideas and that this happened about 4400 years ago, give or take. If there is ample evidence around the globe that a Flood took place as the Bible describes, then no one has any excuse to continue to not believe in the God of the Bible. This, of course, is my opinion, but I believe it's based on solid logic. Let's take a very brief view at some of the evidence that this catastrophe did, in fact, happen. It's all around us.

No one doubts that the earth was covered in water—no one from either side of this argument. That's one thing that I think gets overlooked a lot of times. The Bible, without any physical evidence from around the globe, made the claim thousands of years ago. Scientists today agree. How and when is a source of disagreement, but the fact remains that the earth was covered with water in the past just as the Bible states. We know the planet has undergone major changes in geography and topography. The Flood explains this as well, but we'll get into Flood models later. However, we also understand this because we have fossilized sea creatures on the highest mountain tops in the world. Why would we find animals from the ocean at the top of the Himalayan mountains if this were not so? The walls of the Grand Canyon, which in and of itself is a testimony to the Flood, are riddled with fossilized sea creatures. The Grand Canyon sits at an average elevation of well over a mile above sea level. So, we are pretty sure the evidence is in favor of a planet covered in water. Ever see pictures of horses and fish fossilized together? Seems interesting to me. This screams of a Flood that catastrophically annihilated the planet. The evidence is all around us.

Another interesting thing to note is that sediment layers (as their name implies) are layers laid down in water. We find them all over the planet. This is what the geologic column is made of. In fact, we find many sediment layers that actually cover entire continents or cross from one continent to another! How could this be if there were not a huge Flood? The Tapeats Sandstone found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is found all across the US. Most if not all of the very thick layers (called megasequences) of the Grand Canyon are found throughout North America. Slow, gradual processes, which the currently popular view by secular scientists claims deposited these layers, cannot be a serious consideration, especially if we're talking about layers that have fossils in them. A dead animal would be scavenged long before it could be buried in sediment if the process was a very long one. And because we see either very rapid or no erosion between the layers of the geologic column wherever it's found, we know it wasn't deposited over a long period of time. Many secularists are starting to change their ideas on this and accept a catastrophism type mentality—but they'll not accept a word of the Bible!

An extremely viable option for how rock layers formed, some of which cover thousands and thousands of miles across continents or from one continent to another, is the Flood of Noah's day. If you study the Lower Carboniferous Redwall Limestone layers of the Grand Canyon, you'll find they have identical counterparts in England containing the same materials and the same fossils. Again, how could this be if they are thousands of miles apart? Flood models account for such things quite easily. I believe the Truth is often simple. The Cretaceous chalk beds of southern England can be found in Northern Ireland, France, Poland and as far away as Turkey, Israel, and other parts of the Middle East—even Kazakhstan! Those are gigantic fossil beds that are composed of trillions of fossils. Not only does the Flood account for why these rock layers formed, but it explains why all these sea animals died all at one time (which clearly they did). The evidence is all around us.

A fantastic bit of evidence, I think is one of the most notable, is the fossil record in general. It is rare to find a single fossilized organism. Most fossils are found in vast graveyards where it’s clear that a huge catastrophe occurred, killing a large number of organisms at once. Another thing to note is that these large numbers of fossils found together indicate a couple things: 1) the position of these huge graveyards indicates flood waters washed the bodies into large heaps where they were covered in sediment, and 2) the organisms died most likely in water/mud from the position we find many of them in—the death pose. This pose has been postulated to be the result of drowning, but that is not conclusive. Now, to me, it seems fairly obvious most if not all fossilized animals were in water at some point near their death since they were buried very quickly and died or vice versa. That's simply how it works. See the above remarks for clarification on the formation of sediment layers and why it necessitates water being involved.

But it's significant that we find these huge graveyards of animals. It supports an enormous Flood like the one described in the Bible. These gigantic fossil beds are all over the world. Dr. Andrew Snelling, a geologist and Biblical creationist, made this statement: “As part of the evidence of the Flood, we would expect to find rock layers all over the earth filled with billions of dead animals and plants that were rapidly buried and fossilized in sand, mud, and lime. And that’s exactly what we find.”

To demonstrate why catastrophic flooding (not just “regular” flooding) is a very reasonable explanation for these fossil graveyards: I work in Findlay, OH. We often have a lot of water issues around here. The Blanchard River is not friendly to us. This June and July has been extremely wet. Recently, we had over 5 inches of rain in some places on top of the several inches we've had in the last week alone. The river has risen to engulf much of downtown Findlay. Where am I going with this? Stick with me. Because of this rain, there is often flooding. With the flooding, we have water that may run across the road in certain low-lying places. This plays into the fossil graveyard idea like this: after the rain stops and the waters recede, we find evidence of the water crossing the road. In the country, there are huge debris fields in all of the areas that water was moving over the road. The straw and corn husk, in particular, often accumulates in giant piles. That's because the water rushes it to a place where it gets stuck, settles, and eventually, after the water level goes down, the debris is left in large heaps.

I took the above picture after the recent flooding in our area. This pasture is just grass, but a huge amount of straw accumulated at the corner because of the flooding. Think of this as a straw graveyard, like the fossil graveyards. Just imagine if each of those bits of straw were a dead animal that drowned in the Flood and accumulated in a place the water flowed through but the animal carcasses couldn't. This is how these fossil graveyards are formed, I believe. It's very common to find huge numbers of fossils together rather than a single one here or there. This is indicative of massive flooding and is not consistent with the idea that the planet was under water all at one time in eons past.

It takes some digging and a lot of reading, but you can find the arbitrarily written timelines for various things online. You can find that Pangea, the last of the supercontintents, broke apart about 200 million years ago, according to secular thinking. This doesn't work with many of the intercontinental rock layers we find. The White Cliffs of Dover, the chalk beds I wrote of above, allegedly developed and then split apart into these various places, between 60 million and 100 million years ago (again, allegedly). I suppose it's possible this particular transcontinental rock layer developed at the same time over this vast area (also consistent with the Flood), but this doesn't help the skeptic of the Flood. It still means a gigantic catastrophe occurred, killing all of these sea creatures all at once and burying them instantly. The Flood models explain this with ease. The secularists' models have a hard time with it, as far as I can tell. The evidence for the Flood is all around us.

How likely is it that a guy writing thousands of years ago happened to describe an event that explains a vast number of global clues without having any knowledge of those clues? I guess he was just super lucky, huh? I'll cut this short for this week. Next week, we'll further discuss evidence for the Flood. I hope you find this informative and thought provoking even if you disagree with the Bible's narrative.

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A Disquieting Dream

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

by David Odegard

I don’t claim that this a prophetic dream or anything, but several months ago, I fell asleep reading as I often do. I dreamed of a large hill with no real vegetation on it. As I looked closer I realized that it was a giant mudslide that was being held back by an incredible retaining wall made of cedar planks and pylons.

The pylons looked like sequoias. The planks were thick and roughhewn. It looked as though they could hold the mudslide for a thousand generations. Below the pylon and plank wall a fat little village sat filled with old houses. People were nonchalantly going about their business as though there wasn’t a deadly mudslide looming. I understood in my dream that it had been many generations since the pylon wall was built and everyone took for granted that it would always provide its benefits. It had been so long that most people were completely uninvolved with the pylon wall; it was just something that was always there from the time they were born till the time they died.

All fine. The villagers don’t have to understand the physics of pylon and plank walls to be secure. But as I looked, a few miles of the pylon wall had been completely washed out and mud covered a section of the village. People were dead under that mud, but none of the others noticed or cared. I thought, “How could those pylons have been broken?”

I set about examining the other pylons and what I found was shocking. Many of the pylons were rotted hollow, or were rotting underground. Many of them only looked strong, but they were weak. Much of the structure was about to be washed away by the mudslide. Some of the planks, too, were already broken, but they hadn’t given way because of the support of the other planks. Too many were broken, though, and it couldn’t last very many more years. How long until another complete section gave way? Why didn’t anyone care?

Now, whether this dream was sent to me from God or just the product of my own subconscious doesn’t really obscure the point. The mudslide is the inevitable disaster of judgment. It is restrained by the remains of a Christian culture which the villagers do not remember or understand. Christians of the past built a culture based in their belief in the New Testament. The intercessory prayers of God’s people may delay judgment, but the judgment of God is as inevitable as gravity (Nahum 1:3; Matthew 5:13). The timing may be flexible, but it is assuredly coming. Be warned.

God would simply not be just if he allowed bad people to “get away with it.” God will always do the right thing. If someone steals the money from an old lady’s bank account then finally gets caught, we rejoice when he goes to prison because justice has been done. Well, God is absolute in his sense of justice. He makes all things right. This is something he has revealed about himself.

Getting back to the dream, the pylons are the pastors and elders of the church. It is their job to intercede for everyone and preach the gospel (Acts 6:4). Most of the weight and responsibility is upon the pylons in the same way that the bulk of weight of the ministry is carried by pastors and elders. The planks do the actual work though. The pylons alone could not restrain the mud; the planks do that. But the pylons hold the planks in place. Together, each doing its part, it functions beautifully.

The bishops (regional directors or district superintendents whatever you want to call them—the pastor to the pastors, whatever) are supposed to pray and support the pastors. These guys are like pylon inspectors. If the pylons begin to rot, it is the inspectors’ job to pull them and replace them so that tragedy doesn’t ensue. Herein lies the rub: many church denominations just aren’t fulfilling this duty.

I think of the liberal denominations that are almost completely secular – those who believe that politics is the important arena, or who are willing to ordain actively homosexual ministers, or who water down the word of God through higher criticism or other means of dilution. These denominations were certainly ignoring the spiritual state of their pastors long before the denomination slid so far away from biblical Christianity.

We cannot settle for superficiality. Probe beneath the surface and you may find that there is a hollow corruption in great looking ministries. If you want to restrain the “flood of dissipation” in modern society, which is definitely one of the roles of the church (again, Matthew 5:13), then you must be strong in a real way. The inside must match the outside. And for goodness sake, leaders, if you see some weakness, address it. Pretending that the issues are not serious will not help anyone, especially the non-Christian world.

Whole denominations have been falling into apostasy. Every time the enemy is able to bring one of them under his control, it puts that much more pressure on the rest of the retaining wall to remain strong. Faithful Christians are under more strain than ever before in the West due to the failings of the liberal denominations. The world mocks Christianity and the apostates cheer them on. As Thousand Foot Krutch said, “Gimme one if you can feel it, two if its real and gimme three signs that your awake.”

Wake up! The world is burning. Will you laugh and play the violin like Nero? Or will you preach and pray like a Christian? “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration… in hope that the creation itself would be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the plains of child-birth up to the present time” (Romans 8:18-22).

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


Judges 19:22-30

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

by Katie Erickson

“While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, 'Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.' The owner of the house went outside and said to them, 'No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.'
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, 'Get up; let’s go.' But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, 'Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!'” (Judges 19:22-30)

If today’s passage seems out of context, that’s because the previous parts of the story are very important to make sense of this. You can read the first part here, and the second part here.

The Levite and his concubine had been welcomed into an old man’s home in Gibeah, which they apparently didn’t realize was a very immoral city. They thought that the fact that it was an Israelite city of the tribe of Benjamin meant that they would receive good hospitality there. But, Gibeah had taken on the immorality of the Canaanites and had turned into another Sodom.

These men who came to where the Levite and his concubine were staying were obviously practicing homosexuals. They had seen a new person come into town and thought they could take advantage of that. They were going against God’s law, as stated in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. (Is homosexuality still a sin today? Find out here.)

The old man wanted to protect his guest, so instead he offered his daughter and the concubine that came with the Levite. That’s exactly what Abraham’s nephew Lot did in Sodom (Genesis 19:8), but fortunately in that situation the angels had rescued them.

In that culture, women were considered lowly in society, and molesting a man was considered very disgraceful. The Israelites normally considered raping a woman to be disgraceful as well (as in Genesis 34:7), but it the lesser of the two evils so to speak. Promiscuous women were often put to death for their behavior (Deuteronomy 22:21).

We can get an idea here as to why the concubine left the Levite initially, if this was typical of his behavior. She faced abuse all night while he was spared. He knew what was going on and did absolutely nothing to stop it. She survived until dawn, but the abuse was severe enough that by actual sunrise she was dead. The Levite seems especially callous with her, expecting her to be fit for travel that day after what she endured all night.

The corruption that existed in Gibeah was remembered for many generations. It was even written about by the prophet Hosea many years later, in Hosea 9:9 and 10:9. It was not quite as legendary as Sodom and Gomorrah, but it was still very bad and was remembered as such.

This murder was a shock to the nation of Israel, so the Levite does something shocking as well - he cuts up the concubine’s body into 12 pieces, and he sends a piece to each of the tribes! To us this may seem especially horrific, but it was his way of showing the people that there was a big problem with immorality right there in their nation, and they need to do something about it. This cutting up was similar to how they would prepare a sacrificial animal (Exodus 29:17, Leviticus 1:6). The tribe of Benjamin, where Gibeah was located, also received one of the body parts.

The purpose of this strange act was to unite the nation of Israel against the evil that was happening within their borders, particularly in Gibeah. It seems like an odd way to do that in my opinion, but that’s what they did.

Israel was obviously becoming more and more immoral. This was the nation that God had chosen, and they were blatantly disregarding his laws! If Israel wasn’t following God, then who would? They had adopted morals of other non-God-following peoples, and because of that they had twisted their identity as God’s holy people. Much like in today’s society, they followed whatever “truth” they wanted to at the moment, rather than constantly following God’s absolute truth.

Where in your life have you become immoral and aren’t fully following God’s law? Immorality can be fun for a time; after all, if sin wasn’t fun we wouldn’t do it. But we need to realize that God’s natural law is always in effect, and there will be negative consequences when we don’t follow Him.

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

by Ami Samuels

Most of us are familiar with the famous hymn Amazing Grace: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Or you may know the version by Phil Wickham “This Is Amazing Grace.”

The definition of the word grace is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. It’s an unmerited favor, a gift we don’t deserve, and a free unearned gift.

Grace is showing love when others would show hate or anger, even if someone deserves a tongue lashing or our anger. Grace is showing them love. Grace is showing kindness when others are rude, gentleness when others are harsh, compassion when others are hurting, and generosity when others are greedy.

You may remember the WWJD bracelets that were popular a few years back. What a great reminder throughout our day to stop and think “What Would Jesus Do?”

Would he extend love or hate? Kindness or be rude? Compassion or ugliness? Generosity or greed?

When Jesus died, He died the death he didn’t deserve for sinners who didn’t deserve the gift of salvation. He extended the ultimate gift of grace. The amazing thing about grace is that it is showing undeserved and unearned love to others.

Join me as we strive to walk like Jesus, remember how Jesus showed us grace, and give the gift of grace to others.

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Facing Our 'Dark Side,' Part 2

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

by Nathan Buck

Please read last week’s post to get the context of this one.

What Paul explains in Romans 7 is something VERY different than the concept of light/dark sides, within our spiritual nature. God expresses that we are spiritual and physical beings, and apart from God we will do whatever seems right to us, which usually is whatever benefits or feels good to us. When we encounter God, He opens our eyes to see what is truly good and what is truly evil. It's a perspective we can only gain from Him, because He is the only one who is eternal and able to know which is which. God gave us His teaching, recorded in the Bible, as the primary way to know right and wrong / good and evil.

The challenge is, once we know right from wrong, it doesn't change our desires for things that benefit us. Even when we know something is wrong according to God, we see a potential advantage for ourselves or a potential pleasure in doing something, and our struggle begins. This is what Paul calls the desires of the "flesh." Our flesh desires personal gain, feeling, advantage, pleasure, avoidance of pain, etc. It is the moment we stop asking God what is right, and chose to do what we feel will improve our situation. This is different than wisdom, although we can use our wisdom to justify making a self-focused decision.

So, do we have a 'dark side'? Not in the way Star Wars presents it. We do not have two impersonal spiritual forces at war within us. We are not freed from the struggle through enlightenment, and we are not able to overcome evil by being good enough, humble enough, and 'zen' enough.

We are beings who are material and spiritual in ONE nature, and we are given to serve ourselves and protect our own interests. Only through God's teaching and perspective can we discern the difference between good and evil, and only by His power are we able to overcome our self-serving nature. The challenge for us is that God is not an impersonal force or a vending machine of 'force powers' that we can just tap into by meditation and self-denial. God is a person, He has a distinct identity, and He exists unto Himself. We are not God. Only through relationship with Him can we access His power and overcome evil with good.

Come back and read next week's blog post to explore more about how that may be possible.

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The Power of Your Testimony

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

by Charlie Wolcott

“And they overcame him with the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” ~Revelation 12:11

A couple months ago, I spoke at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I had a two-week notice on a workshop about how to use your past in your fiction, and in my preparation for teaching the workshop was this key factor: the power of your testimony. I would like to share what God made clear for me to teach at this workshop.

There are two primary types of testimonies: those who have been through the gutter and come out, and those who have been preserved from the gutter. The former is what most of us think of when the topic of testimonies come up: “I used to be this, now I am that.” The latter is for those who never did go through gutter. Each of these types of testimonies are necessary in the church.

The “rescue from the gutter” testimonies cover the lives of those who fell into darkness, either by their own choices or were dragged into the gutter by someone else and then escaped. Many of us have heard of the former drug addicts, alcoholics, porn addicts, slaves to anger or gossip, and those who lost it all only to rise up and get back on their feet.

Every Christian has some rescue from the gutter testimony, because every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we had not fallen into the gutter of sin, we would not need a Savior. The blood of Jesus brought us out of our sin and now we should either be walking in victory or walking towards victory. But I want to zoom in on specifics. What did Jesus really save us from? Greed? Lust? Pride? Anger? Rebellion against authority? Is there any change in us after we became a Christian? If not, perhaps we should evaluate ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith.

People who have come out of the gutter have great value. They can give those in the gutter hope of getting out, and they can go back into the darkness and use their escape to guide others to the light. I have not experienced the pain of divorce or a broken family. I cannot relate to people who have in that area. However, I can relate to people who deal with special needs kids. Last month, I got to spend some time with a dear friend I met at this writer’s conference a few years ago. He has an autistic child, and I am able to encourage him because of my own experiences in dealing with the issue.

The other type of testimony tends to be frowned upon in many churches: the preservation from the gutter. Why? This type of testimony does not have the dramatic story behind it. People who never went through the gutter tend to feel like their testimony does not demonstrate God’s power. I used to think this as well, but I was wrong. God demonstrates his power not only in his ability to get us out of the gutter, but also to keep us from it.

I have this type of testimony. I was raised in a Christian home, in the mission field. I was saved when I was seven years old. I have never tried drugs, never had a drink, never faced a broken family, never dealt with the death of a loved one prematurely, and most would say I’ve never had a real problem to face. That doesn’t mean I really don’t have issues, but I simply do not have that classic gutter-to-glory story. That being said, my story is also needed.

Having not been through the gutter, I can show those who have been through the gutter what it should look like to live outside the gutter. In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, describes the “institutionalization” of inmates and how those who have been in prison for years forget how to life outside the prison system. The “rehabilitation” process never prepares inmates to return to society. The same idea is true for us. We who were formally sinners do not know how to live as a Christian because all we know is how to live in sin. We need someone who knows how to live outside sin to show us how to live outside of sin. Jesus is the ultimate example of this, however we can do that job as well.

There is another advantage to having the preservation testimony. If you have not fallen for alcohol, drugs, lust, or whatever, you can go to those in the gutter because what is a weakness to someone else is just water off a duck’s back to someone else. You can go help someone walk that mile and not be afraid of falling into the mire, because that issue is not a temptation for you.

The power of the testimony cannot be underestimated. Which do you have? Have you been caught in the gutter and need help escaping? Look for someone who has been in the gutter. Do you want to know how to live free from an area of sin? Look for someone who escaped or someone has never had to face it for encouragement. But remember this one key: the most important element of any testimony is Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many people make their story about them and God is just a side-character. He is our rescuer and/or our preserver. This is His story. We are the damsel in distress, and Jesus is the knight in shining armor. He is the one who rescues us and the one who preserves us. Let us make sure he gets the glory and the center of attention in our testimonies.

While I have a preservation from the gutter testimony, I realized shortly after I taught this workshop at the writer’s conference exactly what God has preserved me from. In some of the issues I have struggled with in my mind, I have not carried them out in action and I realized just how much Jesus has preserved me. I have realized how easily I could have fallen into the gutter apart from God’s grace, and with that is the very scary reality that God could pull his grace at any point and he will not have to explain to me why. I have to take that warning seriously. God does not have to save us or preserve us. He loves to do so, but he has no obligation to save us. Whether we are saved or preserved, let us not forget that what we go through is for God’s purposes and for God’s glory. He will get his glory if we are rescued or preserved. Let us give him what he is due in our testimonies.

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Another Encounter with the Ark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 20, 2017 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we started a journey aboard the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. The Ark Encounter is a full-scale representation of Noah's Ark that demonstrates the feasibility of the account in Scripture. Last week we talked about the size of the Ark and the number of animals that may have been on it. I discussed what we found on the first 2 decks of the Ark. This week, we'll move to the third deck.

The third deck at the Ark Encounter was built for living quarters and food preparation. Again, as I said last week, the people at Answers in Genesis who put this all together took the freedom to fill in gaps where we simply don't know the specific details from the Bible. They make sure this is clear numerous times as you walk about the decks of the Ark. They give us what the Book of Jubilees says is the name of Noah's wife—calling her Emzara—and give us possible names and physical characteristics of Noah's sons' wives and skills they may have had, given the mission to survive on a wooden vessel for about a year with thousands of animals. Whether any of this information is accurate really is of no consequence. It just helps fill in the gaps that the Bible leaves out, because the details were not important. My wife and I enjoyed every bit of it.

A couple of side notes: if you plan a trip to the Ark, which I highly recommend, plan on eating there. Emzara's Kitchen is right next to the Ark with outdoor seating if you like and is exceptionally reasonably priced. In fact, I couldn't believe the cost; for a tourist attraction, it was very inexpensive.

The other side note is the impact this attraction has made on the area. There were nearly a million visitors to the Ark last year (keeping in mind the park opened in the summer) and is projected to draw about 2 million this year. That's an amazing amount of revenue for local businesses which will, in turn, put money in the state's purse. Gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and many other local businesses have had a great deal of added business from out of state or at least out of area travelers. Not only has the media not mentioned this at all, but they've painted a very different picture where the Ark Encounter actually cost the state tax money out of the budget. This is not true at all and you can find factual reports on this online. Kentucky’s tax payers will see a great benefit to having this park in the area, bringing in millions of people and tons of revenue and tax dollars from around the country.

The truly beautiful thing I appreciate with the Ark Encounter is it stays true to God's Word. It fully incorporates the narrative told in the Biblical account of the Flood. Sure, gaps are filled in where there are no details, but these things don't impact the account as a whole. The Bible makes a few things clear and AiG doesn't water these things down: God created the universe and therefore the earth about 6000 years ago, He hates sin and there is a penalty for sin, God destroyed all mankind in the Flood about 4400 years ago saving only 8 people, and this Flood covered the entire planet. Rather than bow to the currently popular humanistic interpretations of the evidence (which are largely contrary to the evidence, in reality), AiG has determined to honor the Word of God. They've decided that it's more important to stick to the clear teaching of the Bible instead of manipulating it to say something it obviously doesn't. There is no room in a Biblical worldview for millions or billions of years of geologic time and no room for evolution or a Big Bang. There simply is no way to be consistent and mingle the Word of God with humanism. Single common ancestry and Big Bang cosmology are nothing more than humanism, and it's impossible to marry them to Christianity and still be a faithful to the Word of God.

For centuries, science and laypersons alike understood the fossil record and geologic column in general represented a massive worldwide Flood that destroyed everything on land during the time of Noah. Due to the arbitrarily chosen ages assigned to rock layer by Charles Lyell and others (who specifically stated his purpose in doing so was to remove Moses—that is Genesis—from the sciences), humanism hijacked science and has dominated it ever since. Darwin chimed in with a process (an impossible and completely unscientific process, mind you) to create biodiversity, and now we're here. Science was invented by Christians as they studied the world and universe around them. They marveled at the greatness of God as they looked deeper and deeper into His glorious creation. God created nature. For some reason, even mentioning God as we look at nature gets shouts of anti-science or religious nut. The truth is, I believe, that if we refuse to acknowledge the One Who made nature as we study it, we can't possibly expect to unlock its greatest secrets. Humanist interpretations of scientific evidence have effectively stated that, although there are a great many reasons that nature points to a Creator, that is the one thing they will refuse to acknowledge regardless of the evidence. It's the one thing that's right and they've chosen to accept any answer except the right one. It's remarkable, really.

Atheism, in general, is very illogical and inconsistent—inconsistent with science, reason, and reality as well as being internally inconsistent with itself. The depths to which atheists go to deny the God of the Bible and the obvious evidence for Him in creation is pretty amazing.

As an example of the terrific lengths humanism will go, let's look at Mars for a second. NASA will tell you that “Mars used to be covered in water and so could have been ideal for supporting life.” It is believed that Mars has water on it, mostly of the frozen variety although some gas seems to exist there as well. Some scientists want us to believe the Red Planet was covered in water and probably had life on it, but it’s now bone dry. However, if you mention to them that the earth was once covered in water by a huge Flood, even though two-thirds of the earth is still covered by water and large reservoirs of water have been found beneath the earth's surface, they'll laugh and scoff and say, “Where's the evidence for that?”

I plan to explore some of this evidence in the future and also share with you some of the magic atheism must believe in for the universe, sun, earth, and life to exist. It's pretty crazy stuff. Thank you for reading. Be encouraged. The faith of the Christian is backed by the evidence, not in spite of it. We have a faith that is reasonable and well founded.

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The Peace of ‘67

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

by David Odegard

Scott McKenzie advised the nation that “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.” This advice captured the mood of the early Haight-Ashbury scene were the hippies had everything they wanted: sex, drugs, rock and roll, communism, and local tolerance. It was the idea that people could define what love, happiness, and peace meant for themselves that was so attractive. It was the rejection of Christianity and the adoption of these redefined values that fueled American culture for decades.

That Summer of Love in 1967 came tantalizingly close to achieving some sort of cohesive community. Young people came from all over the nation to join in with the hippies. Fresh-faced college kids and high school drop-outs showed up in the tens of thousands, ready for sex and drugs. Certainly for some, that is what it was about. But the philosophy behind the Haight-Ashbury experience was not about drugs, it was about self-exploration through LSD and other substances. The community really was trying to find love, happiness, and peace. “There was a whole generation with a new explanation.”

This explanation was entirely contrary to deep tradition of Christianity. Think of this: While Moses was on the mountaintop getting the Ten Commandments, the Israelites developed their own Haight-Ashbury community. They grew impatient that it was taking Moses so long to return and they asked Aaron to make them an idol of gold, a calf.

The day after it was finished was to be a day of festival. They made animal sacrifices and then began to party, hard. “Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This Hebrew word used for play there (tsachaq) has the connotation of sex play or gross sexual immorality. This was a drunken orgy on an enormous scale. There were approximately 2 million Hebrews wandering. How many participated? You can get the idea without me going into an inordinate amount of detail. It was so gross that God told Moses while he was still on the mountain that He was going to just destroy them. Moses interceded and God relented. Nevertheless, the Israelites had totally defiled themselves.

Christians (and many others) know that when habits of sexuality are loosened, it does not result in a multiplication of love and unity; rather, it produces hatred and betrayal, jealousy and fighting. The Israelite community would not have lasted long in that desert trying to be a free-love community. They would soon have bludgeoned themselves into oblivion.

The summer of 1967 was about as close to free love, peace, and drug-fueled euphoric happiness that the hippies ever got, yet the mood on Haight-Ashbury had already began to change, as it always does, from freedom to exploitation.

By the time some of the innocent-eyed, hitchhiking runaways arrived later that year and in 1968, Haight-Ashbury was already a hard drug scene. The flowers were replaced by needles and the fresh-faced girls found it didn’t really matter if they wore flowers in their hair or not - it was probably going to be pulled. The hippies had the conclusion of their social experiment, but they refused to learn the lesson. They have since tried to conduct this experiment with better results, but the results are always the same. Alas, they won’t give up until everyone is dead.

St. Augustine would have made a good hippie had he lived 1600 years later. Nevertheless, he was a rich young man being educated at college in rhetoric. He tried to fill the void with everything. He confesses the influence of immorality had on him: “Nevertheless, O hellish flood, the sons of men are thrown into you with fees paid, so that they may learn these fables… acted out publicly in the forum… But for this would we never have understood the words ‘golden shower,’ ‘lap,’ ‘deceit,’ ‘temples of heaven,’ and others written in the same place, unless Terence had brought a depraved youth upon the stage who took Jove as his model of adultery? … Yet, O my God, in whose sight I now safely recall this, in my wretchedness I willingly learned these things and took delight in them” (Confessions of St. Augustine: Book 1, Chapter 16, Section 25).

He later confesses “I burned to get my fill of hellish things. I dared to run wild in different darksome ways of love. My comeliness wasted away. I stank in your eyes, but I was pleasing to myself and I desired to be pleasing to the eyes of men (Confessions: 2,1,1). With eloquence, he began to describe the result of this casting off of restraint. “Clouds arose from the slimy desires of the flesh and from youth’s seething spring. They clouded over and darkened my soul, so that I could not distinguish the calm light of chaste love from the fog of lust” (2,2,2).

He was only 16 years old as this was taking place! But many a 16-year-old knows exactly what he is talking about. He embraced sexual immorality. “Then it was that the madness of lust, licensed by human shamelessness but forbidden by your laws, took me completely under its scepter, and I clutched it with both hands” (2,2,4).

Augustine gave himself over to sexual immorality and discovered that it brought no peace and no joy, nor did it bring freedom. It brought hollowness, despair, and a soul in ruins. He confessed that he was in love with pleasure, but he had no real love whatsoever. He would have fit in just fine at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury in 1967.

Nevertheless, he discovered that “our heart is restless until it rests in you [Jesus]” (1,1,1). If you want real and lasting peace, it never comes in a pipe. Peace comes not from the poppy, but by at last agreeing that God is right in His ways. If unrestrained sex produced something other than a destroyed soul, if it produced real life and joy, God himself would have promoted it. But it doesn’t and it never will.

We Christians have been given the ministry of peace. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We make peace with God, with our fellow man, and with ourselves by confessing that God was right all along. We confess that we threw off God’s restraint because we thought we knew better than God, and it has brought us to its bitter conclusion. I have been at war with God, but now I realize that He was right all along. I make my peace. I surrender. Then through the power of the blood Jesus Christ, by His merit, I am forgiven! Join us in this ministry of reconciliation!

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Judges 19:11-21

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

by Katie Erickson

“When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, 'Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night.'
His master replied, 'No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.' He added, 'Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places.' So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, 'Where are you going? Where did you come from?'
He answered, 'We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.'
'You are welcome at my house,' the old man said. 'Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.' So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.” (Judges 19:11-21)

This week’s passage builds on the story of last week’s, so I encourage you to go read that post here before continuing on with this one. The short version is that the Levite’s concubine had gone home to her parents, he went to get her, and now they’re traveling back to their home. They had gotten a late start thanks to the girl’s father, so now they need to stay overnight on their journey.

The city of Jebus was on their way, but it was not an Israelite city, so they likely would not have received good hospitality there and it could have been dangerous for them. It was only 4 more miles to Gibeah, a city belonging to the Israelite tribe of Benjamin, so they continued on there instead. It sounds like these travelers didn’t know this, but Gibeah did not have a good reputation; it was known for being very immoral.

In those days you wouldn’t just find the local Holiday Inn and check if they had vacancy. Instead, you’d wait in the city square until someone would offer you lodging at their residence. The travelers waited at the city square like was customary, and it was very odd that they were refused hospitality by most of the city.

Finally, an old man offers to help them out. It turns out that he was from the hill country of Ephraim, just as they were. It’s always nice to find someone you can connect with when you’re away from home. And, since this man was not native to Gibeah, he may not have shared the immorality of the town.

Normally, the host would supply all the needs of the travelers who would stay with them, including food. This Levite did not want to be a burden to whoever took them in, so he offered to take care of them, they just needed a place to rest. But the old man still took care of their needs, taking them into his house, providing them with food, and even taking care of their donkeys. He definitely seemed welcoming enough.

Sometimes, our expectations can be different than reality. The Levite and the concubine traveled a little farther just to stay at the Israelite town of Gibeah, rather than take their chances at the non-Israelite town of Jebus. But when they get there, for hours no one is willing to offer them hospitality - and these are their own people! The town they expected to welcome them was in fact unwelcoming to them. It seems like a chance encounter with the old man, but thankfully he does offer to help them. Their expectations were for a restful night in his house, but we’ll see next week how that doesn’t happen.

Where in your life have you experience a reality that didn’t measure up to your expectations? Maybe a friend or family member you expected to help you has let you down. Or maybe you have let someone else down.

What are your expectations of God? Do you feel like He has let you down? The reality is that God will never let us down and we can always count on Him, even when His reality may look different than what we expect.

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Flame of your Future

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

by Ami Samuels

Have you ever tried to start a fire by hand? I haven’t, but I have watched members of Survivor do this for several seasons.

Starting a fire by hand takes a great deal of effort. There is a lot of work that goes into trying to ignite a spark, but the work doesn’t end there. Once there is a spark, you have to carefully blow on the fire while cautiously adding kindling. If you blow too hard, you will put out the flame. Likewise, if you add too much kindling too soon, it can snuff out the fire.

My husband Chuck was in a transferable position with his job, which means that with different job opportunities we often had to move to different locations. We have lived in 5 different states. Every time we moved, it seemed to take some time to reignite my flame. It seems I would be just starting to find my groove in a new community, church, ministry, and then we move again.

I have begun to realize that the primary reason I have a hard time reigniting my flame is because I spend so much time looking back at what I had, that I don’t start living where I am. This type of thinking can be destructive when it goes unrecognized.

My focus on my past life does nothing to help me move forward where I am. I had stopped living in the moment and was living in the past. This is not the plan God intended for our lives.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Imagine a runner who races toward a finish line, but he keeps looking back over his shoulder for his opponent. That would certainly hinder his race.

Maybe for you it is a certain time in your life, a job or career, a place where you lived, a person you miss, or a past hurt that you cling too. Some people never find freedom from their past. Don’t let that be you!

I will end with a quote from Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there!”

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Facing Our 'Dark Side,' Part 1

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

by Nathan Buck

In the final episode of the "Clone Wars" cartoon, Jedi Master Yoda goes on a quest to learn how to transcend death. It's an episode that basically tries to explain why 'force ghosts' are possible in the movies and in the canon of Star Wars 'ideology.'

As part of this episode, Yoda battles a shadowy figure that sounds just like him and has a similar form to him. Initially, Yoda says, "Recognize you, I do not." As they battle, the shadowy figure states that he has been feeding on the enjoyment Yoda has from the Clone Wars - presumably the sense of accomplishment as the battle rages to do good and defeat the Separatists and the Sith.

At the point Yoda seems like he is going to be overwhelmed by this shadowy foe, he stands up and says, "Recognize you, I do. My Dark side, you are. Power over me, you do not have." Then he vaporizes his 'dark side' by channeling his humility and peace in a way that he could use the force to overcome his own ego and hubris. It made for a great story, but it begs questions about our reality. Do we have a dark side? Can we overcome it by just disconnecting ourselves from attachments, channeling humility, and denying our desires?

Read Romans chapter 7, and read it slowly. Take time to reflect on what Paul is explaining. Then come back and finish reading this post.

Initially, it seems like Paul agrees with the ideas Yoda expresses, that there is a struggle between our light and dark sides. But if you read carefully, what God teaches us through Paul? Is He saying good and evil coexist in us? Is He saying that 'enlightenment' and our own purity of spirit have the power to overcome evil?

Come back next week to continue to explore whether we have a 'dark side' and how we might overcome it.

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The Sins of Jeroboam

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 14, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I noticed an interesting trend as I read through the list of the kings of Israel recently. With two exceptions, every king of Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.” The two exceptions were Shallum, who reigned for six months, and Hosea, the last king of Israel. That got me thinking: what were the sins of Jeroboam that all but two of the kings of Israel did not depart from? None of the other kings actually did what Jeroboam did, yet they did not depart from his sins. Let’s dig in.

The crime Jeroboam was guilty of is recorded in 1 Kings 12:25-33. Take a moment to read the passage before continuing. The law remained for all people to come to Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam’s reign, for worship, the feasts, and all the other religious activities. Jeroboam was afraid that if the people, who had just rebelled against Rehoboam, would go back to Jerusalem they would in turn rebel against him. Keep in mind that Jeroboam was given the same promise as David, where if he followed the Lord, his seed would always remain on the throne.

Instead of following the promises of God, Jeroboam followed the fears of men and compromised. He built two golden calves, put one in Dan in the north and Bethel (the same place as where Jacob saw the staircase to heaven) in the south. He declared that these idols were the gods who brought the people out of Egypt and set up not only numerous non-Levite priests but his own feasts to celebrate them. What started as a compromise of convenience became a complete and total rejection of God and anything he stood for.

Jeroboam was cursed for his sin and an unnamed prophet told him a future king, Josiah, would desecrate his idols and the very bones of his priests. His son, Nadab, would be killed by Baasha, thus beginning a trend of five dynasties and a handful of individual kings who never left a son on the throne. Jeroboam caused Israel to do a mighty and terrible sin, however as bad as that was, none of the kings that followed him are recorded to explicitly turn away from this sin. Shallum had no mention of his action regarding Jeroboam’s sin and Hosea did evil, but not in the way Jeroboam did. Even these two are not recorded to have repented from the sin nor to take down the idols. The key I want to address is that all these kings, while not necessarily guilty of committing the same sins of Jeroboam, were guilty of not leading the nation a better direction.

There was only one king of Israel that even attempted to seek after God and that was Jehu. Jehu was sent to wipe out the entire line of Ahab and he zealously fulfilled those commands. However he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam. Notice that this passage emphasizes the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. Jehu successfully wiped out all worship of Baal and destroyed Ahab’s family, and the Lord was pleased with this, however he did not turn from the idols Jeroboam set up.

I do not know if these kings bowed before and worshipped these idols, but at the very least, we can tell this: the idols were never taken down, and because they were never taken down, God held them all guilty of committing the same crimes. The idolatry of Jeroboam continued through every king of Israel, and the only two kings that did not have this moniker attached to their name were Shallum and Hosea and even then, both were called evil kings. Both Shallum and Hosea murdered their predecessors and usurped the throne and neither left a son on the throne.

How does this apply to us? How many sins have our fathers committed that we have not done anything about it? I’ll tell you a major one of our nation: abortion. 1973 will always go down in infamy as the year that abortion was “legalized.” That generation is guilty of administering the crime of abortion in the eyes of God. Our generation is not guilty of setting up abortion; we are guilty of continuing it, or at the very least doing nothing about it. Some presidents, governors, and legislators have made efforts to limit the reach of abortion, however as long as it is the recognized law of the land, that sin will be upon the blood of us and our children until someone rises up to turn the nation against it. We did not commit the evil that got abortion started. What we have done (this generation) is exceedingly worse.

Slavery was another great sin started way back in the 1600s, and our Founding Fathers did not deal with it. They left it to future generations to sort out. The Civil War, according to some, was a result of judgment upon the US for that sin. I’m not entirely convinced by that argument, but it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first leader to actually turn from the sins of slavery. There were many other issues involved with that time period, but that is outside the scope of this post.

The “generational curse” is a zoomed in version of the same issue. The same besetting sin tends to haunt the same family members. One pastor I know said sexual morality was a big problem in his family and he and his father were the only ones in his extended family to not have experienced the pain of divorce. Other families deal with abuse or drinking. Sometimes it is poverty. Yes, I said that. Poverty is not just a financial situation; it is also a spiritual condition. It took one person to start the generational curse, and it takes one to break it.

Are you going to turn from the sins of your fathers? The only king to ever actually address Jeroboam’s idolatry was Josiah, king of Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already fallen to Assyria and Josiah set out to execute the most significant turn-around in the history of both nations. Josiah’s full repentance and restoration of Judah even exceeded the reforms of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, and Hezekiah, who each made reforms. Josiah destroyed the altars, the idols, and even the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people had made that into an idol. He burned the bones of the priests of Jeroboam and reform came to the whole land. It took a king from a different nation to deal with this problem. As a result, God, who had already sworn to punish Judah because of the sin of Manasseh, would delay his judgment and not bring it in Josiah’s time.

What about us? Has God already condemned the US because of our sins? If Sodom and Gomorrah were judged as they were and they only had one guy preaching any form of righteousness (Lot), how much more so when what we do is even worse than Sodom and we have numerous preachers (and more, including myself, are rising) warning us of the danger? This weekend, take time to listen to this sermon by David Wilkerson on this issue, titled “A Cry Against the Wickedness of American Youth.” It ties in directly to this post. We are deeply entrenched in the “sins of Jeroboam.” Which of us is going to lead the way to turn from them?

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An Encounter with the Ark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 13, 2017 12 comments

by Steve Risner

My wife and I were able to visit the Ark Encounter in Williamsburg, KY recently. We've visited the Creation Museum numerous times and have enjoyed it every time. The Ark was no different. Answers in Genesis did a great job of constructing a structure to the believed dimensions of the Ark according to Scripture, and in filling that structure with what are feasible methods and means that may have been employed to sustain life on the Ark during the nearly 1 year that 8 people and an unknown number of animals would have survived. I'd like to go into some depth on some topics concerning the Ark if I may.

The bottom line with it is if we reject the account of the Ark and the Flood as it's recorded in the Bible, we are free to reject literally any other parts as well. The reasons for rejecting the Flood account and the means that God used to replenish the earth with air-breathing, land-dwelling animals have always been less than impressive to me. I've heard many. But if the Flood didn't happen as a global event about 4400 years ago, how can we trust anything the Bible tells us? Only because of humanistic interpretations of nature does anyone in today's age question the account's details in Scripture and/or completely revise the narrative. We don't have license to do such things, especially if the cause is another religion (humanism and/or naturalism) that disagrees with the Bible's portrayal. There is literally no excuse to do this and I hope to help you see why, at least from my perspective.

I believe this topic—that of the Flood—is very important. This is because if the account in God's Word is not reliable history, then the rest of Scripture is not reliable and the entire faith of the Christian is worthless. This is because if we can't believe some of it, how are we able to trust any of it? However, if the story is true, then there is no reason for anyone on earth to not offer their lives to Christ. It's that important. This portion of history tells of God's creative work, His hate for sin, His wrath and justice, and His love. The entire Gospel message can be found in this short narrative that occupies just a few chapters of Genesis. In short, the Bible, and therefore Christianity, stands or falls with the Flood of Noah, in my opinion.

First, some details about the Ark Encounter itself: we loved it. We arrived on a Wednesday morning, hoping this would mean it was easier to navigate with fewer people. There were certainly a lot of visitors, but I think we chose a great day to get in, see it all, and get out. The Ark itself is enormous, obviously—the largest timber-framed structure on earth. It's 510 ft long, 85 ft wide, and about 51 feet high (although it sits off of the ground, making it closer to 65 ft high). As you walk in, they have a time lapsed video to watch, if you like, of the construction. That was pretty interesting to watch. A great deal of work was done to put this thing together in around 2 years. There was a great deal of cost involved as well—none of which was paid for by taxpayers. That's in interesting side note: the amount of lies and fake news delineated over the course of this project by people who despise the Biblical account of the Flood (whether atheists, some other religious group, or, unfortunately, Christians who've rewritten the book of Genesis to fit their second religion) was astounding. In fact, it still is as bogus stories are still circulating. Any time a claim was made that I couldn't investigate on my own, I would simply email AiG and ask them. That's how it should work, right? The taxpayer thing was just one of the false narratives being told. It amazes me how someone will hold their position when the only way to defend it is to lie. Doesn't that mean you know your position is wrong but you just choose to stick to it anyway? Moving on into the Ark...

The first and second deck of the three decks were primarily for animals. Row upon row, stacks and stacks of small cages with watering devices and feeders were all around. The Ark Encounter makes it clear in numerous places that they took artistic license with a lot of the details of the Ark's construction. Whatever the Bible gave as a guideline or a solid fact, they incorporated. If it was something not included, they felt free to envision what was a possible solution for any number of details. The point of the Ark Encounter was simply to demonstrate the possibilities and not give us the absolute truth of the details, which is impossible. Too many details are left out in the Bible.

As we walked further in, we saw walls lined and floor space filled with water jars and food storage. We walked in further and found larger stalls for the larger animals. Many of the animals found in these enclosures were extinct varieties of animals of specific kinds. This added to the intriguing nature of the visit. Many strange animals our eyes have never seen in the wild due to their believed extinction were modeled (very well) for us to see God's creative handiwork. The second deck was similar but had more of the larger animal stalls as well as some room for doing work like blacksmithing and weaving as well as other skills that may have been useful for a long stay on a huge wooden ship.

This is a good place to note a few things here concerning animal numbers. A very common objection is to the numbers of animals on the Ark and the space required for animals on the Ark. Let's just say, after seeing the display at the Ark Encounter, I have no issues at all with the space and number of animals. The first thing to note is how many animals were likely on the Ark. Skeptics will erroneously claim that there are some millions of species on the earth (I've often heard 6 million or thereabouts). This means that number times two would be the number of animals necessary on the Ark and there is no way for this to be true. That's correct. Millions and millions of animals couldn't possibly fit on the Ark.

Fortunately, this claim is heaped in false assumptions. While there may be 1.9 million known species on planet Earth, and this number will likely increase as time goes on, there is no need to fret. First and foremost, the Bible doesn't speak of “species” of animals because that's a very recent (relatively speaking) word that modern day science uses. What makes a species a species is something of a mystery, as there are about 12-20 different definitions you can find online. But it makes no difference. A species is the smallest subcategory of organism. The Biblical “kind” is a much more broad group of animals that's less than 2,000 and possibly less than 1,500. AiG estimates it at 1,398 kinds of animals. This is calculated using known abilities to cross-breed species and other factors. I'd like to write more on baraminology in the future. There are several cases where there is uncertainty about the boundaries of a “kind,” so AiG tried to error on the side of having more kinds rather than fewer kinds.

Now, let's also consider the fact that of the 1.9 million documented species (and, truly, there are likely many we have not documented), only about 38,000 of them (or 2%) are land animals that have the breath of life in them. This means 98% of species are fish, plants, insects, bacteria, etc. So the number gets dramatically decreased just by reasonably restricting the type of animals on the Ark as commanded by God—land-dwelling, and primarily if not exclusively vertebrates. These two factors (using the Biblical “kind” rather than species, and limiting the number to land-dwelling vertebrates) greatly decreases the actual number of animals that were likely on the Ark, and therefore greatly reduces the amount of space necessary to house them.

Let's move to animal size. In my mind, I had always just considered stalls as being all over the place filled with the pairs of animals, or groups of them if they could live together. I hadn't really considered the fact that most animals are very small (compared to some of the larger animals we commonly think of). About 85% of all land-dwelling animals are fewer than 22 pounds. Only about 7% are between 22 and 220 pounds. Thus, only 8% are over 220 pounds. Also keep in mind that these numbers of average sizes are for full grown, mature adults. It isn't referencing juveniles or even younger animals. Younger animals would be advantageous to have for their size, durability, and the remainder of the breeding life being longer. This means that only just over 200 large or very large cages were necessary and just under 300 medium sized cages. There would have been roughly 600 smaller cages and about 300 cages for birds. That may sound like a lot—1400 cages. But keep in mind the volume of the Ark was extremely large. Nearly 500 tractor trailers could fit inside the Ark! That's significantly larger than it would need to be to house this many animals, if, in fact, the estimates by AiG are even close to accurate. I have no reason to doubt they are anything less than in the ballpark. To be honest, if the numbers for animals are a fifth of the actual number, the Ark would still have an enormous amount of free space for supplies and for people. The Ark is just that big. The Ark Encounter represents all of these estimates and has accommodations for all of the believed animals—from birds to bats to cats to cattle to snakes and dinosaurs to elephants and giraffes and the humans on board as well as supplies.

After seeing this representation of the Ark with its size and space, the accommodations and supplies, as well as some of the suggested solutions to some of the problems that likely would have been involved with this Biblical narrative, I have no doubt that the Flood and the Ark that was necessary to keep animal life and mankind alive was possible. I plan to discuss a little more of the Ark Encounter next time and get into a number of the common objections or questions people have with the Flood. Thanks for reading.

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