Check Your Vertical, Part 5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 30, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Take a moment and read 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Imagine if I hung a plumbline in the middle of a room, and it represented perfect relationship. Imagine if we then positioned ourselves in the room based on our perspectives or current efforts toward perfect relationship. No one would be directly under the plumb line, because nobody has perfect relationships. In fact, we would be scattered all over the room.

What would it take to for everyone to move closer to the plumbline? What would we need to learn? What would we need to surrender? Where would we need to keep our eyes focused?

Now, put this in your own context. What would it take for you and your spouse to move closer to the plumbline? You and your kids? How about everyone with opinions about our recent cultural crisis? What if we put Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Alt Right, etc. all in the room?

When it comes to each person’s or culture’s unique perspective on relationships, it really doesn’t matter where we are placed in the room. In order to have perfect relationship, we ALL need to move away from our position and toward the plumbline. We can’t just tell others where they have to move because of where we see the plumb line; we have to move too. If we don’t, then we are not pursuing relationship; we are just maintaining our position or expectations. And unless we are directly under the plumbline, we need to adjust and surrender our position just as much as anyone else. 

It is the same with God's promises and teachings. He sets the standard and His is the plumbline, the true VERTICAL, and we cannot live His way if we aren’t learning and adjusting our experiences and perspectives under His standard.

This is why people reject God. This is why they gather around people who will say what they want to hear, because then they don’t have to adjust. They try to keep justifying their own way and their own perspective, which leads to this week's key principle: DELUSION is not DISCERNMENT. 

Just because someone says something that may agree with you, or may support your position, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Just because you can articulate your views well and add some statistics doesn’t mean you’re right. If we are to be truly discerning, we must always allow God to be God. His standard and His Spirit should always be able to correct us. We must do as Hebrews 12:1-2 says, to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, so that we are not deceived into following people, personalities, or those fine sounding arguments by an actor with a bachelor’s in engineering who has delusions about saving the world. Delusion is not discernment. 

Consider this:

  • When you encounter challenging moral issues, political issues, social issues, life challenges, etc., do you rely more on the Bible and prayer to clarify your choices and actions, or do you seek the insights of other “experts”?
  • What are some habits you have to help you “keep your head” instead of “sticking it in the sand,” or “losing your mind”?
  • Do any of your habits include intentional interaction or discussion with those most unlike yourself? How about a habit of breaking habits or rhythms, to create a need to rely on God for insight, strength, endurance, wisdom, etc.?

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


Ancient Landmarks

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 29, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Do not remove the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.” ~Proverbs 22:28

Back in 2011 when the Japanese Tsunami hit, I remember watching a lot of pictures and videos about the destruction. But one picture in particular stood out. It was a solitary post (in Japanese) but it said: “Do not build beyond here.” Needless to say, many of the buildings hit were built beyond that mark. Why would such an old post be in that location, a good ways in from the shore? The answer is simple: This was where the previous tsunami or an earlier one reached.

When I grew up in Colorado, we had a fence between our house and the empty lot next to us. That fence was not on the formal survey boundary, however it had been there for well over 50 years. When we moved, a new family bought our house and the city was preparing to build a duplex on the empty lot. The city waited for the new owners to leave for work and then tore down the fence and moved it. The new owners could do nothing about it.

Today, there is a near total disregard for the elderly and the ancient traditions. There is a huge push to erase the symbols and the records of the past. When we discovered the Holocaust concentration camps in Germany, General Eisenhower brought in as many cameras and video records as he could because he feared the day would come when people would disbelieve these events ever happened. And today, there are a number of people who deny the Holocaust actually took place.

One of the reasons why people ignore ancient markers is because they do not understand why they are there. There is this mindset that the previous generation was not as smart or educated as we are, and because of that, we know better than they do. Despite the fact that we stand upon the shoulders of the giants who went before us, there is a huge disregard for them. Our society has acquired an arrogance in thinking we do not need that which brought us here because we “have arrived.” Such arrogance is a common precursor to a great fall.

A Facebook meme tweaks a well-known saying: “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it… and those who do learn it are doomed to watch those who did not learn it repeat it.” The Founding Fathers of America knew their history, so they set checks and balances to prevent it from happening again. Today, there is such a push to remove the historic boundaries, completely disregarding why they were set up to begin with.

The liberals who want freedom from the rules do not understand why the rules were set up; yet on the other side, the conservatives who want the rules remaining in place have tended to fight for keeping the rules, also without knowing why they are there. My pastor said one time that ‘tradition’ is the practice of doing what you usually do without knowing why you do it. And because the reasons for why the rules were set up are forgotten, many are questioning the purpose of those rules.

But what about us in our spiritual lives? It is not just in politics that the ancient landmarks have been removed; it is also on the spiritual plain. When the deep time models which helped launch Darwin got going, the Bible was removed from having authority in the public square. We no longer began to examine claims on the basis of what the Bible says but on the basis of what modern science and experts say. For most of history, the Bible had authority in the public square. Now it is no longer recognized. The ancient landmarks have been moved so no one can go back and say, “This is what it should be and here are the records that prove it.”

Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Truth is something firm, concrete, and immovable. Those who stand on the truth cannot be touched, so what the enemy does is not attack the person standing on the truth but attack the truth the person is standing on. If the truth goes down, so does the person.

Removing the ancient landmarks may not affect you right away, but it does open the doors for other issues down the road. There are many people who fell for the old earth deception, and when I hear them speak that seems to be the only blemish in their doctrine. However, because of allowing that in, the next generation has figured out you can believe certain doctrines, reject others, and still be fine (that is not true, by the way). Sound doctrine incorrectly became an issue of picking and choosing what you think is important and disregarding what you think is not. This puts you at the top of the authority chain, because you get to decide what you have to follow and what you don’t. The next generation after that takes it even further, and so on until the Bible and sound doctrine is not only not considered, but actually despised.

Now we have preachers who utterly disdain ancient landmarks, describing such notions as “Brickianty.” They describe these sound doctrines as being treated like walls that keep some people in and keep some people out. They instead describe the doctrines in terms of a spring of a trampoline and they adjust and stretch depending upon the weight of the person jumping. Yes, I know precisely who the person who says this is, but I am not going to mention him here. This author/pastor rightfully complains about stiff religionists, however, he puts the blame on the doctrines of Scripture, not the person who misuses them. This is the same pastor who counseled a young Christian musician whom our leader, Jason DeZurik knows personally, to divorce his wife, leave his kids, and go open into a homosexual lifestyle. Why? Because the foundations were destroyed, and the ancient landmarks had been removed.

We need to place the landmarks back into position, and fortunately, while they have been broken down, there is still the evidence of where they once stood. But it is not enough to replace them. We need to establish formally why they were there to begin with. And it starts with the Bible having its proper place in our lives. When we have the Bible defining the territory of what goes where and what belongs in which areas, then our lives will make much more sense. When the storms of life come, we won’t be as the Japanese who were caught off guard in the tsunami. And because we have an enemy hell-bent on removing the ancient landmarks, we have to keep a vigilant guard at all times against him to protect them. In my studies of Paul’s letters, he talks about false teachers and false doctrines more than any other topic. Let us keep the ancient landmarks in place and let us guard them with our everything so those who come after us can know the truth and live accordingly.

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The Post-Evangelicals: Modern Sadducees

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

So many people claim the title of Evangelical, but many have thrown away its historical meaning, preferring to decide for themselves what belongs in the name. In several key ways, post-evangelicals are lying to themselves and others. They love to spend their days writing open letters to the church trying to explain why everybody hates it, including them. Post-evangelicals have rejected the foundational understanding of what it means to be evangelical. In doing this, they show they have so much more in common with the Sadducees.

Sadducees reject most of the Scriptures and completely redefine the ones they do accept, so as to alter the original concepts. Contrarily, one of the core commitments which evangelicals have always made to God is the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy clearly articulates what a right belief in the Bible as without error like this:
"We are persuaded that to deny [Inerrancy] is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians and misunderstanding of this doctrine in the world at large."

Christians affirm the Bible is absolutely true and without error. Sadducees and post-evangelicals do not affirm it.

This idea has been systematically attacked for at least a century and a half from the various centers of higher critical studies. They insist that the Bible has error, that it is cut and pasted together from a myriad of sources, and that we must exercise our reason to determine which parts are God’s Word and which are just plain old human writing. The higher critics always seem to reject those parts that have to do with the supernatural—just like the Sadducees.

Exalting flawed human reason to the highest pinnacle of authority obviously pushes the authority of God’s revelation in Scripture to a secondary place. This discredits the Christian faith, undermines belief, and weakens the moral and spiritual convictions of God’s people. It weakens the church. But post-evangelicals consistently reject whatever the culture doesn’t like, because ultimately they feel that they have the authority to select belief from the Bible according to their whims. Ultimate morality is not found in God’s timeless, unchanging character but rather in the social convention of the moment.

This is flatly non-Christian, but every week I read blog posts by people trying to save the church’s “street cred” with the culture around us (see James 4:4). This is not evangelical; this is post-evangelical. Along with this small view of Scripture has come a torrent of weak-willed acceptance of every form of abomination. Post-evangelicals mostly accept abortion, homosexuality, gender confusion, and progressivism in general.

I once had a seminary professor who said that we don’t have to believe that Paul wrote all the letters that the Bible ascribes to him. Pseudonymity does not harm Biblical authority. Not more than 30 minutes later, we were discussing certain standards raised in 2 Timothy and she said, “Well, I don’t believe Paul is the author so it doesn’t matter too much what the real author thought.” Her acceptance of higher criticism cheapened those books thereby harming Biblical authority in her own life. This same professor once called me a hypocrite for believing that abortion is wrong, but not subsequently condemning the death penalty. Had I been given the chance to defend my view, I would have told her that I condemn the destruction of innocent life. The person who rapes or kills ought to be held accountable for just punishment, which has always been attached to those particular crimes. She said that she accepted homosexuality and would have no problem performing a same-sex wedding because she viewed the Bible through “a hermeneutic of love.” How a so-called hermeneutic of love changes the words on the page, she did not explain. The highest authority in her Bible interpreting scheme is not the Bible itself, but rather the way her progressive community chooses to read it.

Article I of the Chicago Statement says: “We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God. We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.”

Evangelicals do not allow their community to contradict the Scriptures without serious push-back. Nevertheless, my former professor did not hold this in common with evangelicals. She is a post-evangelical. Hebrews 4:12 boldly contradicts my professor “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Sadducees reject the afterlife, angels, demons, and the spiritual world entirely. They are physicalists; they believe that that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties. But more on that next week as I continue to describe what post evangelicalism is.

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Is This the End?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 26, 2017 0 comments

by Aaron Felty

For the last decade, I have heard more people talking about the end of the world than at any other time in my life. With the recent weather (Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, etc. and some 70+ wild fires on the west coast this year so far), wars and threats of war, hostilities between people of different skin colors, epidemics like Ebola, and political differences, there are people proclaiming it is the end. Some people silently wonder if it is the end. Then there are those who speak out against anyone who might say these activities are God’s judgment for the sinfulness that is rampant in our world, and who are doing harm to the unsaved world by declaring that this is the end.

What are we to do as Christians who live in this time of history? How are we to interpret all of this? I am not the final authority, and I am not going to tell you what to think or do. My desire here is to present a Biblical response and reminder pertaining to these issues.

I know these discussions are cyclical and there is truly nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). When Israel became a nation in 1948, there were many people claiming that the end was put into motion. Some people believe that we are now in the final stretch and everything is coming to its necessary conclusion. You can find a myriad of articles written about the prophetic significance of these particular historical events online. I find them fascinating and in some ways positively alarming.

Some are urging people to trim their lamps for the bridegroom is near (Matthew 25:1-13). I would fall in that camp. I will not go so far as to say the end is coming on April 17, 2018 or any other particular date. Here is a list of past and future predictions about when some speculated that the end of the world would occur. Note how many happened!

So what are we to do? How should we interpret these things? The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:11b, “He (God) has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” I believe it is in the hearts of people to question their mortality, to look at the circumstances and events of their particular era and make conclusions based on their interpretations of those circumstances. There is also something of an instinctive awareness that one day everything will end. The issue is that we have to be Biblical in our interpretations and understand that nobody knows the day or the hour in which Christ will return, not even the Son (Matthew 24:36).

Are the terribly bad weather events and tensions God’s judgment, or does God have nothing to do with it? At a very superficial and safe level, the answer is of course God has something to do with it, but God is not angrily throwing lightning bolts in judgment, waving His hands to cause tsunamis, or blowing the dust to create diseases. These are certainly the effects of sin in the world. We cannot be blind and unaware of God’s involvement all throughout history. If we read the Old Testament and listen to the prophets, we might come to a different conclusion about these “fear of the end” invoking events. Perhaps God is indeed attempting to awaken us from our stupor. Perhaps God is allowing these things to drive us to our knees in prayer and repentance.

Didn’t God use a flood to wipe the earth clean from people who were only inclined to do evil all the time? (Genesis 6:5) Didn’t God open up the earth during the time of Korah’s rebellion? (Numbers 26:10) What about Genesis 19:24 where the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah? In Job 38, God declares that He alone is the one who commands the clouds, the sea, the sun, snow, and hail. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 gives a long list of curses for disobedience of God.

We should be very careful to so quickly say that what we are experiencing is NOT the judgment of God, but we should also be very careful to not say definitively that this IS the judgment of God or that the end is coming on this or that day.

These things we need to remember and do:

  1. God is sovereign. He is in control. There is nothing that has happened, is happening, or will happen that has not first passed through the hand of God (Lamentations 3:37 and Job 2:3-6). The hurricanes, wild fires, diseases, wars, political strife, tensions amongst people groups, and all other things are no surprise to God and must happen to get us to where we need to be in His plan. Place your trust in Him and His plan.
  2. God is good. Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” The problem of predicting the end is that God’s goodness extends past our understanding. He is not slow in keeping His promises, He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. So whether we have seconds, months, or years before the end, we should be encouraging people to repent from sin. That is the ONLY reason God’s final judgment has not yet occurred. (Paraphrase of 2 Peter 3:1-9). Hold on to hope in trials.
  3. God is trustworthy. He has promised to bring this present world to an end by fire according to 2 Peter 3:10, but the good news is He will then create a New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1). In Romans 10:13, Paul tells us that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. The end is definitely coming, so whether it comes this year, next year, or in 50 years, we need to call on His name and persuade others to do likewise.

I heard an old Christian joke years ago: When asked what he believed about the end times, a man said, “I am a PANtheist. I believe it will all PAN out in the end.” I concur with that sentiment with a disclaimer: Since we do not know the exact facts and can only "read" the signs, we should be prepared by drawing as near to the Lord as possible and persuade as many people as we can to do likewise. These groanings should motivate us to be evangelists and passionate lovers of Jesus.

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Judges 21:25 and Conclusion

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 25, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)

After writing on the book of Judges for most of the last year and a half (since March 28, 2016!), this is the last post on the book of Judges. The very last verse of the book, quoted above, sums up the entire story pretty well.

This time in Israel was a period of unrest and anarchy. The people were often without a leader between each of the judges that God provided, so at those times they lived in idolatry and immorality. Sin was prominent, both individually and on a national level, so God repeatedly allowed punishment to come on them as they would get attacked or captured by their enemies.

Back in April of 2016, I wrote about a 5-step pattern of repetition in the book of Judges. The pattern is this:

  1. Sin - The people disobey God.
  2. Slavery - God allows them to be enslaved by their enemies.
  3. Supplication - The people cry out to God for deliverance.
  4. Salvation - God delivers them.
  5. Silence - There is a time of peace.

We saw this pattern repeated many times throughout the book, and it really is the natural cycle of human life. We mess up in some way, God gives us a consequence for that according to His natural law, we realize we messed up and cry out to God for forgiveness, God forgives us, and we have a time of peace before we start the cycle all over again by messing up. They did what they thought was right, which often didn’t line up with what God wanted them to do.

We look back at Israel in the book of Judges and often think, “How stupid were they, that they didn’t learn already?!” But we need to remember that they would go through this cycle over a course of decades, not just in a day or two. Every generation needed to experience it in order to learn from it. If we take an honest look at our own lives, we’ve probably gone through this same cycle more times than we’d like to admit.

So, what have I learned from the last 18 months of writing on the book of Judges?

Even with my many years of Christian education, I had never done this detailed of a reading or study through the book of Judges. I had studied many parts of it before, but never the entire thing like this. I learned many details to the stories that I had never realized before, and I read some stories in the book that I don’t believe I had ever read previously.

I learned about the other nations surrounding Israel and their interactions. Back in May - June 2016, I wrote on a number of different people groups from that time period that I really didn’t know much about prior to this study.

By far the biggest truth I learned from this study on Judges was that you will reap what you sow! If you turn away from God and disobey Him, eventually He will let you get punished for that choice. But when we turn back to God, He is always there welcoming us back.

My religion class teacher from 9th grade summed up this theory well: “O=B and D=C.” That stands for Obey = Blessed and Disobey = Cursed, which is God’s natural law in a nutshell. When we obey Him, we will be blessed. When we disobey Him, we will be cursed. This is what Israel needed to keep learning and re-learning throughout the book of Judges, and we need to keep learning and re-learning this in our own lives as well.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through Judges, and stay tuned for something new next week!

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


The Faith of Abel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, September 24, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

If you have a sibling with whom you are very close, chances are that you’ve had moments in your life when you felt like you were doing everything right and still got the shaft. You probably felt that your parents favored your brother or sister and that just really irked you. I remember when I turned 16 years old and was eager to get my driver’s license. However, I already had my own car and it had a manual transmission. Because of this, my parents made me learn how to drive stick shift before I was allowed to get my license. Two years later, my younger brother turned 16 and was allowed to get his license right away even though he had no vehicle and had to share my mom’s car. This annoyed me and seemed unfair! Eventually, I got over it because ultimately, it could only affect me if I let it. Plus, there’s always the fact that it was a completely immature view of things.

Most of us grow out of these feelings, yet there are some who allow them to grow into a bitter root that ultimately consumes them. That’s been going on for almost as long as human beings have been around on this planet. Today, we’ll learn about someone who allowed his jealousy and selfish feelings to overpower him, as well as someone who didn’t focus on such petty things because his focus and faith were in the Lord.

Our foundational verse for this series about our faithful heroes is Hebrews 11:3, which says, “By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” With this understanding of what God was able to accomplish as our foundation, the miracles we need seem entirely possible and our complaints seem all the more pointless. We see in the next verse that the first person mentioned by the writer of Hebrews as one who was faithful is Abel. You can read Genesis 4 on your own and see that Abel is the younger brother of Cain, and they were the first two sons of Adam and Eve.

In Hebrews 11:4, we’re told that Abel’s faith caused him to bring a “better offering” to God than Cain did. Right off the bat, that makes us a little uncomfortable because we are comparing something that seems like it shouldn’t be compared. I mean, none of us would approve of someone sitting and judging one person’s offering at church as “better” than someone else’s. But the NIV translation of the Bible doesn’t give us anything else to go with. Take a look at the same verse here in The Message. It wasn’t just about what they brought to the Lord, because the Lord also knew their hearts, and Abel’s offering was based on faith. If we go back to Genesis 4, we see that Abel and Cain had separate jobs that they did, they each brought offerings to the Lord, and the Lord favored Abel’s offering but not Cain’s (vv. 3-5). The question is, why?

Let me go ahead and put the disclaimer out there that anytime we are trying to dig into the mind of God, we should tread carefully, especially if the answer is not crystal clear in Scripture. In this case, however, we can gain an understanding with a little deeper look into Genesis 4:3-5. They tell us that Cain brought SOME of the fruits of his soil, while Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his flock. This may seem insignificant, but their actions reveal a little bit about their hearts. Cain’s offering appears to have been a little more reluctant than Abel’s. We don’t know that for certain, but we do know that he brought “some” of what the Lord provided for him. In other words, he gave God his leftovers. Abel, however, gave the fat portions (considered to be the most luxurious part of the meat) of the firstborn of his flock. This means that before he took anything for himself, he gave the very best that he had to the Lord.

As I said earlier, the Lord knew each man’s heart. So, we can’t say for sure that his favor was based only on the nature of the offering. But this does teach us something about our own attitudes toward our giving. Do we recognize that God has given us literally everything we have? Does that even matter to us? When we decide to give back to him through the local church or in other ways, is it something that we do out of religious necessity only after we have taken care of everything we want first? Or do we offer to God the very best of what we’ve been given because, by faith, we trust him to meet all of our other needs? These are the questions we must answer individually, and how we answer them says a lot about our faith.

You can read the rest of the story in Genesis 4 to see what transpired. In short, Cain is angry and sad about God not accepting his offering. He is given the chance by God to master his own emotions, repent, and choose to do what is right. He doesn’t, so his emotions lead him to a fit of jealousy and rage in which he kills his own brother. The Lord confronts him and he lies, even mocking God in the process. Then he gets a persecution complex and believes that everyone will be out to get him for the rest of his life. We never see any sign that Cain repents in any way.

Cain’s sinful choices began with emotions, which by themselves are not necessarily considered “sin.” God spoke to him at a critical moment when the temptation to act out of his sin was strong and urged him to master that temptation. But Cain gave into it and became a murderer, only one generation after sin entered the world. While Abel is our faith hero for the week, we read very little about him. Why is that?

Friends, doing the right thing in God’s eyes won’t get you much fame or attention. But when your actions are lined up against the actions of those who do not follow him or live by faith, you’ll be an example to others. Depending on the situation God puts you in, you might even get the chance to be a witness to the whole world. Abel was a human being. I’m sure he was tempted to sin just as Cain was. But his proper perspective on who God is caused him to make his faith his first priority. It wasn’t just about what Abel believed intellectually, but moreso about how his beliefs translated to action.

What is God asking you to do by faith? What sins are in your life that you recognize desperately want to have power over you? If you believe that God created the entire universe out of nothing as the Word says he did, then let that faith influence how you approach every area of your life, including giving, resisting sin, and letting God be your defender when someone is jealous or bitter toward you. Let’s learn from Abel’s example and apply it to our own lives.

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.


Check Your Vertical, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 23, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

After a long and struggling summer, some serious issues at work, health issues within our extended family, and then some doubt about our vacation even happening, we finally got the “all clear” to go. It was amazing. Everything we looked forward to was just perfect, and we UNWOUND.

I am sad to say that when we returned, it only took 48 hours for me to be completely WOUND again. Just that quick, on the heels of an amazing time of relaxation, I was stressed out. It was hard for me to see the way forward, especially since I let the horizontal struggles sweep me back off my bearings.

What are some simple principles that can help us move forward, to grow and to go the way God wants, moving forward in the horizontal, without losing sight of the vertical? This sounds like it should be easy. But there are plenty of things that can lead us off course, and most of them need to be handled FIRST in our mind, before we lose our way.

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Paul is encouraging a young leader in the Lord and giving Him guidelines to stay on course. Those guidelines are just as relevant to us today as they were to Timothy then. 

Paul starts this chapter saying that he “solemnly charges” Timothy in regards to His purpose and calling. The Greek words Paul uses for “solemnly charges” mean to testify or give witness like in a court case. In other words, this is important, and it has the weight of life, death, and eternity connected to it.

What does he charge Timothy with? To be ready in season and out of season, to preach the Word of God. Do you know that we are all supposed to do this? If we believe what the Bible teaches that we are all ministers of the good news of Jesus, if we believe we are the priesthood of all believers, then we all share in this charge to preach. Maybe not on a platform or to audiences, but in and out of season. So, ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE.

In order to preach the Word, you have to know the Word. In order to know the Word, we have to learn the Word. So, what is the best way to learn? Check out these statistics in regard to learning. People remember: 
10% of what they read
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
50% of what they see and hear
70% of what they discuss with others
80% of what they personally experience

But there is one more method that causes us to remember and learn better than all these. In fact, it has a whopping 95% retention by those who absorb and assimilate knowledge this way. Maximum learning comes from TEACHING OTHERS!

When we break something down and help someone else learn it, we actually improve our own abilities exponentially. Children who take on their own student actually learn faster and become stronger at whatever they are learning, because they are engaging every aspect of what it takes to grow and mature in their own abilities – at the same time they are helping someone else develop theirs. The same is true of our faith.

Knowing God is the most important aspect of your life and the most significant relationship you have. Are you passionately seeking to understand His Word, so that you can live and share His teachings and promises? Who are you learning from, and who are you teaching? Are you ready to preach in season and out of season? If not, who will you partner with for your learning and development? Who will you teach in order to galvanize and refine your own learning? Will you make the time to do so in regards to your faith?

The way forward starts with a solid understanding of our VERTICAL bearings and intentional growth and teaching from God's Word to keep us from being overrun and burnt out by the ways of the world.

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Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 22, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I am one of those hyper-focused guys where while it may take me a while to get started on something, once I get going, don’t interrupt me on it until I am at a good place to stop. I used to hate unexpected interruptions and it would make me shut down. I don’t remember it, but rumor has it that the worst tantrum I threw as a child was when my babysitter sent me to bed half an hour late. Why? It threw me off my schedule and I was not prepared for it. I am much better at dealing with this now, but I was not exactly the best person to be around when I was interrupted and inconvenienced. How do we handle interruptions and inconveniences?

I worked in retail for six years after high school and into my first couple years of college at a local grocery store. They had made me a jack-of-all-trades at this store. The only departments I did not work were meat market, bakery, and produce. I worked warehouse, I worked the shelves, I worked cashier, I sacked/carried out groceries, dairy, frozen, and even janitorial stuff from time to time. I remember one summer, I sought to do a thorough cleaning of the shelves I was primarily responsible for and I long lost count of how many times the front called me up to sack groceries or cashier for one or two customers when there were plenty of other people in the story who truly weren’t doing much. It was frustrating, and the more I reflect upon it, I did not exactly handle it the way I should have.

What dislodged this from my mind was Eric Ludy’s sermon “Fixing Broken Pots.” In this sermon, Ludy describes the mission work of Otto Conning in Ira Jaya and Papua New Guinea. Otto was sent to do language studies and to translate the Gospel of John, and yet every time he turned around the people came to him to fix their broken pots, busted shovels, bent machetes, and a rusty harmonica. Ludy shows how Otto had to get to the point where dealing with all these interruptions was more important than the primary job he was sent to do, and in the end he ended up being ahead of nearly every other missionary sent by the board by ten years. It was hard, but he learned to appreciate the inconveniences and that ultimately God was the one responsible for how and when he got things done.

When I first heard that sermon, I knew I was guilty of not handling things the right way. When things go as expected, life is easy. But something I have known for some time but never really appreciated so much is that God likes to make us uncomfortable because that is the only way to get us to grow. I can say this from experience and I am sure many of you can say it too. If you want God to teach you patience, I can guarantee you will get many opportunities to practice patience. I can also say from experience that if you want to have a time completely separated from everything else so you can focus on a project, you can expect a number of interruptions and inconveniences to come your way. My project I tried to do at this grocery store was a fine example.

What kind of inconveniences do we face? What are they for? How should we respond to them? Interruptions and inconveniences come from two sources: God or Satan, and between them there are three primary motivations in throwing them at us.

The first motivation for God to throw us inconveniences is when he wants to teach us something. Some of these are small things. A flat tire that actually kept you out of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Getting called to the front of the store when you are focused on a project in the back end. Dealing with the “customer from hell.” Having a manager constantly micromanage your work. In growing up serving on mission teams, the sewer line of our Colorado home would back up every Friday night, right before we were to leave before sunrise the next morning for Juarez, Mexico. Every time. Paul had his thorn in the flesh. He repeatedly asked for it to be removed, but God was teaching Paul to trust in God alone and not his own skills, abilities, and intellect. These inconveniences are to help us build our character and to make us stronger so we can handle even bigger issues.

The second motivation for inconveniences are where God wants you to set up your plans and then he will redirect your steps when you get there. A case of major inconveniences that years earlier would have really messed me up took place in 2011. I was the leader of one of the Christian organizations at my college and I had spearheaded an outreach with a professional pool player, Steve Lillis. The very week he was to arrive, we got hit with a massive deep freeze that impacted the entire country. He got on the first plane out of New Jersey only to arrive in El Paso, to high temperatures of 15 degrees. Never in recorded history had El Paso stayed more than 48 hours below freezing. This storm killed the power generators, which killed the water pumps, and El Paso was forced to manage rolling blackouts and boil water because the major pipes had busted because they were frozen. For our outreach, we lost our venues and our intended audience. Yet God opened up other venues and other audiences, and Steve Lillis told me that week was his best in 15 years of international presentations. He included this trip in his autobiography. Man makes his plans but God directs his steps. He created inconveniences to get us to reach those he wanted to reach.

But thirdly, Satan also gives us inconveniences which God allows but did not necessarily authorize. While God will use inconveniences to help us grow, the enemy uses them to distract us and pull us off our position. We are soldiers in God’s army, positioned at certain stations. Satan will try to throw interruptions and inconveniences at us to try to get us to respond to them and leave our post, because once we leave our post, he invades our territory to try to take it over. These are such inconveniences were are to silence. Paul did so in Acts 16:16-18. A girl kept following them and proclaiming their message in a not so appropriate way. Paul got annoyed and cast the demon out of the girl. This of course caused her owners to get mad and they started a riot.

Learn the difference. Learn what you can learn from God, but don’t let the distractions keep you from your post and your duty. If God needs you to change your duty, he will tell you so. But don’t let the enemy give you that counsel.

I have greatly improved in my handling of interruptions and inconveniences, however I am not perfected. As a substitute teacher, a few weeks ago I had a day where my assignment got changed 4 times before the 1st period ended and I was able to take it with class. There have been other times a few years ago when such a circumstance would have shut me down. Let us handle our inconveniences with grace and tact. Recognize where they may come from, and even if they are from the devil, let us seek what God wants us to learn from it.

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The Price of Utopia

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 20, 2017 1 comments

by David Odegard

Every utopia seeks to create an unchanging, ideal life or society in which persons are the happiest they could be. A utopia seeks to create a static life. Change, dynamic surges of thought or progress aren’t welcome because they upset the status quo. The problem with utopia is that it destroys innovation and freedom. The utopia destroys what it means to be human; instead of making me a slave, it ultimately seeks to make me a robot. Just a little gear in someone else’s great big machine. No thanks!

Alexander the Great was totally enamored with the teachings of Aristotle. He saw himself as a liberator of the barbarian world, bringing them the gift of Greek culture. He brought with him the Polis, a square city plan with a road (called kardia, meaning “heart”) running north and south, an avenue that was three times as wide running east and west, and a giant square in the center where these two roads met. The shops would run along the kardia, and just off the square would be the temple to the principle god. There would be a theatre, a hippodrome (horse racing), public baths (with male and female prostitutes), a gymnasium, etc. It represented a perfectly ordered existence.

Alexander’s idea was that to be fully Greek meant to wake up in the morning and get the blood pumping at the gym—a good workout, then to the baths. After the baths, a vigorous meal and perhaps some spirited public debate at the forum or listening to a lecture. Then on to the theatre or the hippodrome for a little night life, where wine, women, and song was the order of worship.

Ah hedonism, ah Hellenism, ah the good life of being truly Greek. But, if this is the daily routine in utopia, who was planting and reaping the crops, ferrying goods back and forth, providing security, watching the children, or cooking the meals? Alexander had an answer for that too: the slaves. Yes, Alexandrian Hellenism was dependent upon slave labor so it could not be the ideal for all. Every utopian scheme must erase the individual in order to exalt the society in which all the humans must fit. The scheme must whittle all those square pegs to fit into its round society.

There have been Christian models of utopia as well. Some of them have been absolute, Jew-killing nightmares. Others have been fine. There are basically two kinds of attempted Christian utopia: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary associations are no problem, even those that wholly embrace socialism or communism. If you don’t like it, you can leave. The Amish, the Hutterites, the Mennonites, and the Quakers, just to name a few, all began as Anabaptist communities that wanted to live out the Christian life in a deliberate way. They voluntarily surrendered their own rights and freedoms in order to live in a way that they felt was consistent with the Bible. Those members, or children of members, who did not wish to live according to the established norm of the community were allowed to leave. They were never killed or jailed; forget the modern depiction of all of these communities as witch burners, it just wasn’t the case.

Another example of this type are the monasteries which are designed to enable the Christians who live in them to pray and meditate in order to draw nearer to God. The Dominican order was established for that reason, but they also had the vision of preaching to the world. It seemed like a utopian ideal. As long as it remained uninfused with secular power, it remained true to its founding vision.

But on April 20, 1233, the Dominican order was tapped by Pope Gregory to enforce orthodoxy on Christians. Hence the Inquisition was born. To be sure, the Inquisition was an illegitimate outgrowth of the Dominican order, which sought to employ reason in defense of the gospel towards pagan and others. Forced conversions were something not intended by the founder. Nevertheless, when the idea utopia gets into the minds of powerful people, it always engenders dehumanization by necessity. Those square pegs ain’t gonna whittle themselves, are they. The difference? The use of force.

Ludwig Von Mises wrote, “In human life there is never calm and repose. Life is a process, not a perseverance in a status quo. Yet the human mind has always been deluded by the image of an unchangeable existence. The avowed aim of all utopian movements is to put an end to history and to establish a final and permanent calm.”

The 1800’s were filled with many competing utopian models. Marx, Darwin, Bacon, the Republic of France, the frenzy of post-millennialism in the United States, not to mention all the utopias dreamed up by authors, both religious and secular. It seemed that everyone had an ideal shape that human society could be hammered into. The builders of the Tower of Babel would have been proud. Man’s will must be overcome by human force and effort. All of the humanistic ideals that have arisen since the Fall of Man have believed in the perfectibility of man. Religions, Christian denominations, and secularists embraced the ideal of utopia even if they couldn’t agree what exactly the perfect society should be.

The 1900’s became the battleground for all of these ideals. The 20th century was a bloodbath, but the blood was spilled in the name of utopia. Karl Marx’s view of the perfect world started the Russian Revolution—Red over White. Millions dead! Later it would be Chairman Mao, Pol-Pot, and many others filling the killing fields with the bodies of those square pegs who refused to be whittled in the Marx’s perfect socialist order.

Hitler and Mussolini had their own ideas of utopia and they brought all the power of Italy and Germany to bring about a worldwide Pax Germana. Millions more dead. In the United States, the social gospel and the progressive movement completely reordered society with the help of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Lyndon Johnson vastly undermining traditional American values and freedom. The “experts” were in control building a New America. They were taking their cues from secular idealists who had so much in common with the National Socialist Party of Germany. I could go on for a thousand pages!

How is the Kingdom of God different? Isn’t heaven the ideal of the ideals? YES! But God is the one who does the whittling of the pegs to fit them into His Kingdom. He does it with perfect love and ability. Humans can only PLAY God, they can’t BE God; therefore, their efforts to recreate the Garden of Eden always fall short. They always dehumanize and enslave. They try to make a human being into an unthinking machine—a robot, a cog in someone else’s machine.

But God works differently. He works through love not power. He works through self-sacrifice not coercion.

1 Peter 2:1-5, 11-12 says, “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Like newborn infants, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from the desires of the flesh, which war against your soul. Conduct yourselves with such honor among the Gentiles that, though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us."

Sinful human beings simply cannot be made into a perfect society. It will always fail. God has chosen the way of regeneration. So must you.

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Race, Not Races

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 19, 2017 0 comments

by Aaron Felty

My father is black and my mother is white. We live in a time where there is so much animosity between those two color groups in our country. We hear about the “Black Lives Matter” movement, police officers shooting unarmed black citizens, and we see a variety of protests because of the latent racism and perceived “privilege” that exists. We see white people waving confederate flags and getting upset because they think black folks should just stop complaining and work harder. (Didn't we just have a black president?) Is the black/white issue the only issue? No, but it is the easiest for us in the United States to see the problem of race.

This blog post will not address those topics directly, but is intended to point people to Jesus in the midst of these difficult issues. It all begins with seeking to understand. Philippians 2:3b says, “In humility consider others better than yourself.”

Too often, we are trying to prove “we” are right and “they” are wrong. If we sought to understand the place from which one another was coming, much of this would disappear. For instance, do you understand and can you display compassion for people who do not look like you? Can you humbly answer these questions: Why do black people feel seem so hung up on racism and white privilege? Why are black people always talking about how poorly they are treated? Why do white people bristle when a black person protests the national anthem? Why can’t black people just work harder? There are so many things we need to address and these aren’t even the main ones, but you get the point. Listening and seeking to understand is the first and best way to begin to undo the negative effects of “racism.”

Additionally, we are also influenced by the media and people who push a particular narrative for a living. They are often called “race baiters.” Not only that, but we do have a sense of self-preservation; while something may be true and hurtful, we deny it because we may have contributed to it directly or indirectly, and that is too big of an issue to face on a personal level so we ignore or deny it. We have many influences that contribute to how we view “race” and how we react to it. Some are internal influences and some are external influences.

The Bible teaches that there is one race, the human race, and we in our sinfulness have created artificial walls between us and those who do not look like us, which is why “racism” exists. In Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, Greek or Scythian (Galatians 3:28). However, in America there certainly are these distinctions, and those of us who claim the name of Jesus would do well to create bridges not walls so that we can understand how to be salt and light in the midst of racial tension.

What is the follower of Jesus Christ to do in regard to the problem of race in the US? I am going to address only a few of the Biblical concepts here.

First of all, as I stated above, we need to consider others better than ourselves. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”

The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. If we want to solve the problem of “racism,” we must first consider if our motives are selfish and our perspective is arrogance. The above passage says we are to do nothing if either of those exists. In racism, we see our perspective as THE perspective (vain conceit) and if others do not agree with our perspective they are labeled with some nasty epithet. As followers of Christ, we have to resist that activity. When talking with someone who feels as though they are victimized by racism, the Christ-centered thing to do would be to listen and attempt to understand from their perspective. The non-Christ-centered thing to do would be to argue to prove our point. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).

When we consider others better than ourselves, they will almost always be willing to hear another way, but not until they have been heard. When dealing with a racist it is also best to listen. We do not have to agree with them, but if we understand where they are coming from, perhaps we can influence them away from their racist tendencies and perhaps God will give us an apt word in that moment. I’m not sure about you but I have NEVER convinced someone to change their sinful ways by pointing out their sin, especially if they are coming from a position of pride. However, when I interact humbly, I have seen people respond in humility and consider a different way.

Secondly, we pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). If you are a minority and have been mistreated, how about praying for the one who has mistreated you? If you are white and have been tongue lashed by a black person because you are white and do not “get it,” why not pray for that person? As in the first point, it all begins with listening. If you are in a dangerous situation, by all means flee to safety. However, God is able to change the heart of the persecutors in an instant. If you know someone who uses racial slurs or who is hostile toward other races, add them to your prayer list. Stop shaking your head at them and start bending the knee for them. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). Ask the Lord to soften or heal their broken hearts, to convict them of their sin, and restore them so they may see others with God’s eyes not their own.

Finally, we see needs and meet them as we are able. This is indicated in Matthew 25:31-46 and James 2:16. This is one of the biggest problems black people seem to have with white people. Recently, a local Black Lives Matter group came out with 10 things white people can do (though I will not link to it because it has some disgusting language in it). I found the list absurd, but I understand the sentiment. Black people often wonder why white people do “nothing” when it comes to the obvious struggles in the black community. I could write an entire blog post on this. Suffice it to say, there is so much more white people could do to demonstrate understanding and compassion to the struggles still facing people of color. Some of these include befriending, supporting legitimate groups that advocate for healthy dialogue within varying ethnic groups, pushing for legislation that improves conditions in communities that are predominantly black or where people of color live, participating in peaceful protests, writing articles, asking good questions, listening, praying, or whatever you can do when a need is made known. If we did these things, we would see transformation in the health of our churches, our cities, our nation, and our world!

All too often, when a person hears talk about these issues, they immediately bristle because of the culture’s approach, which says, "If you are white, you are privileged; if you are black, you are a victim!" While both may be true in certain circumstances, in my opinion, neither are true in every situation. In fact, the argument simply creates more division. The only privilege we are all entitled to is the grace offered to us through our Lord Jesus Christ; it is free for the receiving!

I realize I have made this a completely one-way issue, discussing blacks being mistreated by whites. I am aware that these issues are far more complicated and occur the other way as well and with many other people groups from various cultural backgrounds.

In heaven, there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, so let's practice getting along here on earth!

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Judges 21:19-24

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 18, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.'
So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, 'Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’'
So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.” (Judges 21:19-24)

Israel was at a dilemma, which you can read about in more detail in last week’s post. The tribe of Benjamin had been nearly wiped out by the civil war in Israel, and they thought they had solved two problems at once by giving the virgins from Jabesh Gilead to the remaining men of Benjamin to repopulate, but there weren’t enough women to go around. So, Israel had to get a bit creative in how to address this.

The oath that Israel had taken before the war (referenced in Judges 21:1) said that the other tribes could not GIVE their daughters to Benjamin in marriage. But if Benjamin STOLE their daughters, that wouldn’t be breaking their oath, right?

There was a festival coming up in Shiloh and many people would be gathered there. This celebration is likely along with the celebration of the Passover, as the dancing may be an imitating Miriam’s dancing in Exodus 15:20-21.

The men of Benjamin were given very detailed instructions on where they were to go, primarily because they would not have been familiar with the hill country of Ephraim. This instruction would help them make a quick escape, should it become necessary. It’s especially interesting that the Benjamite men were essentially told to ambush the young women; this is the same technique that Israel used to defeat Benjamin in the war, and now it would be used to build their tribe back up.

This method was very unorthodox, and it would likely make the family members mad that their girls were essentially stolen from them. Marriages were usually arranged by the father, so this was contrary to their customs. But, the leaders of Israel would support the men of Benjamin in this, in case the families got mad over the action. They needed to fill the gap left by the tribe of Benjamin, and the women of Jabesh Gilead weren’t enough so they needed more. They technically aren’t breaking the oath since they’re not “giving” the girls to them.

After this plan was put into action, Israel had now taken care of the issues with Benjamin, and the army could disband. However, this episode was one of the most tragic in Israel’s history due to the great loss of life in the war and the fact that they were fighting among themselves rather than against an enemy nation.

But what about Israel’s actions to get around their oath - were they acceptable? This issue is often referred to as the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. They were following the letter of the law in that they technically didn’t break it by not giving their daughters in marriage. But, the spirit of the law is about the heart attitude. Israel was trying to find a loophole to get around what they promised.

This reminds me of something my brother and I did when we were little. It was nap time, but we were getting toward the age of being too old for naps, so Mom told us to stay in our rooms. Well, our bedroom doors were right next to each other in the one corner of the hallway. There was different carpeting in the hallway than our bedrooms, so there was a clear line of what “in our rooms” meant. So, he sat in the doorway at the edge of his room and I sat in the doorway at the edge of mine, and we put a board game on the floor of the hallway and played it.

Did my brother and I follow the letter of the law? Yes - we were technically both in our own bedrooms. However, we were not following the spirit of the law, which was that we were to be by ourselves napping, or at least being quiet separately in our own rooms.

Israel followed the letter of their oath by technically not “giving” their daughters in marriage, but they disobeyed the spirit of their oath by coming up with a conniving way to get around it. They did need to fill the gap in the tribe of Benjamin, but they would have been much better off if they simply hadn’t made the oath in the first place.

Where in your life are you following the letter of the law, but breaking the spirit of the law? Maybe you’re “just friends” with that person, but in your heart you’re wishing it was more and therefore not being true to your significant other in your heart. Maybe you’re reading your Bible every day because you feel you’re supposed to, but your heart really isn’t in it and you aren’t doing it to draw closer to God. Take a look at your life this week and see where your motivation may not be what God would desire, even if your actions appear okay.

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Understanding By Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, September 17, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

When you’re afraid of something in life, how do you overcome it? Do you essentially just close your eyes and wait for the circumstances to pass you by, hoping that you won’t get harmed? Do you “man up” or “woman up” and face them head on? Personally, I rarely take either of those two approaches. God has given me a very analytical mind, so it causes me to approach my fears differently than many people. While others might take the “try not to think about it” path, I gave up on that idea a long time ago. I must find a way to reason in my own head that I’ll be okay. When I was afraid of roller coasters as a child, I watched happy and healthy people with all of their limbs intact walking off The Sidewinder at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania and reasoned that I would not be injured or killed because they were not. Even when I went skydiving as an adult in 2005, I was terrified, yet I reasoned that the odds for survival were in my favor based on seeing other people successfully complete their jumps and knowing that a very large majority of people who do it survive and love it!

In the church, so often we respond to legitimate questions or fears that people have with some form of “that’s why they call it faith." Sometimes, that might be an appropriate response. Other times, it’s an incredibly lazy one. How can followers of Christ expect to develop other potential believers by pretending as if the entire foundation of our belief system is blind faith? If we look at Scripture, there are few circumstances where God requires us to trust him with no basis or foundation whatsoever. As I mentioned in last week’s post, God routinely commanded his people in the Bible to intentionally remember what he had done for them in the past. This wasn’t because God needed some kind of pat on the back. God doesn’t need our approval, our thanks, or our encouragement. The purpose for God telling them to be intentional about remembering what he did for them and how he showed up for them over and over again when they would have otherwise been destroyed was to show them they had REASON to keep trusting him.

Faith is not the opposite of reason. Some people say that faith in an unseen God defies logic, but I guess that all depends on what your standard of reason is. As we embark on a series that will cause us to look at each and every one of the heroes of our faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, including some who are not mentioned by name, we must understand that they trusted God because their standard of reason had been altered. Before addressing any of the specific individuals, the writer of the chapter gives us what I believe is the foundational verse for the whole thing: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). This is a verse you will see quite a bit in my posts in the coming weeks and months. The men and women of this chapter who put their lives in the hands of their Creator did so with more than a blind and unreasonable belief that he was worthy of their confidence. It was an established truth that they UNDERSTOOD.

We too can have that understanding by faith when we face impossible and trying circumstances. Let’s follow the same logic the writer, and most likely the heroes, in Hebrews 11 did. If you walk outside right now and look up at the stars, down at the flowers, around at the mountains, or out toward the beaches and oceans, you basically have two choices in deciding how you believe it all came to be as it is. You either believe that someone designed it that way, or you believe that it happened by some stroke of luck or chance. Maybe you believe that chance has been accurately described by scientific research, but if so, there is still chance involved because you’d have to decide where the very first form of matter originated. Do you realize that either of the two options I described above requires faith? Since we can’t be 100% sure either way, it’s a matter of faith. If you believe that someone designed what we see outside, then you must decide if it’s the God of the Bible or someone else. This is where faith and understanding go hand in hand. The beginning of the Bible in Genesis tells us all about what God created. Then we go outside and can physically see with our very eyes that it’s designed just as the Word says it is. Even later in Genesis 9, we see that God created the rainbow for a purpose. Today in 2017, we can still walk outside and occasionally see the rainbow as God created it.

God’s not asking you to trust him just because he says so. He’s saying, “Look around and understand that you can trust me." Continuing with the logic of the writer of Hebrews, if God could make everything that we see out of what was not visible, is there anything he can’t handle? We must understand how small our view of God is and how limited our view of his involvement in our circumstances can be at times. If our standard of reasoning through our difficult circumstances is only extended as far as we can have control over them, then we won’t be able to trust God for anything. If our best doctors in the world say there is nothing they can do for a patient with a terminal illness, then we have no reason to have hope. On the flip side, if our standard of reasoning BEGINS with the understanding that God absolutely created everything that we see out of what was not visible, then the things for which we need his intervention seem like small potatoes in comparison. That terminal illness for which there is no cure could easily be healed by God. That drug addiction which has a grip on you or your loved one is nothing compared to God’s love and strength. Those attacks by your enemies don’t stand a chance against God’s power.

In a world with increasing uncertainty, we must stand on the only thing we know IS certain: hope and trust in God. We’ve had major hurricanes, continued terror attacks all over the world, political unrest, and threats of nuclear war. These seem like overwhelming and troubling circumstances to face, and they don’t even include whatever you are facing in your personal life. Left to our own reasoning, fear will overtake us. But when we think about what we know God has already created and accomplished, we are able to reason that he can do what we need and much more. I encourage you to compare the miracles you need from him to creating the world out of what we can’t see, and let your understanding by faith be your guide to get through whatever it is. Do that this week, then join me next week as we begin to look at other men and women just like us who had to go through the same reasoning process.

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Check Your Vertical, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 16, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I have a hobby in ceramics, making stoneware pottery. Now, let’s say I sell you a piece of pottery and you take it home and read the use and care instructions to know how to clean it, and what it’s safe to be used for. What if those instructions only told you what not to do? What if that label was so long and detailed, that it was hard to tell what you were allowed to do with it? 

Are you going to be inclined to use that mug or teapot? Would you think the maker was interested in you using the mug, or preserving it in some sort of shrine? Would you want to buy from me again?

By having instructions that list everything you shouldn’t do with it, the piece of pottery becomes useless – or at least a very expensive display item and dust collector. It becomes a statuesque piece of pottery we pay homage to by admiring its appearance - occasionally dusting it so visitors don’t think we are slobs - even though it has never served a practical purpose in its existence. You know what that’s called? An idol!

Read Matthew 15:15-20 again.

What Jesus revealed about all these laws the Pharisees had made was that in their desire to be “safe,” they had inadvertently created idols. By working so hard to create and keep all these rules, the rule-keeping became more important than the purpose behind the original rules. They tried so hard to set boundaries inside the boundaries God gave, that staying inside all the concentric circles of rules became their full-time focus. Jesus points out that their argument about washing hands and how to eat is so caught up in rule-keeping that they miss what God prepared for them, and they wind up in a worse position with God for their blindness to what matters to HIM. They had trapped themselves with all the horizontal rules and could no longer tell which way was up. 

Jesus presents a solution/test to His disciples that is pretty easy. If you want to check your VERTICAL, consider what Jesus tells them: Our OUTPUT can GLORIFY GOD, or DEFILE US - because it REVEALS our FAITH, or our IDOLS.

If you want to know what is in someone’s heart, listen to what they say. I mean really listen. Don’t guess. Don’t assume and jump to conclusions. Listen carefully. Ask questions for clarity if necessary, but listen. Sometimes we dress up all kinds of brokenness in fine sounding words, rational sounding arguments, or carefully slanted data. Sometimes our brokenness is obvious in what we are saying, whether we admit it or are aware of it, or not.

What about your own language? What do you say that reveals what is going on in side of you? What vows have you made, saying “never again….”? What attacks do you level with sarcasm, guilt, or finding fault? What wounds do you cover with humor, defensive language, or misdirection? Do you know it reveals you heart, even if you don’t mean for it to?

If you want to check your vertical, check and see if your life is seeking to live God's best, then run the tape back of this morning's conversations. Rewind this week's chats in person or on social media with friends and co-workers. Replay the last months’ conversations with your spouse, kids, or close friends. What do you hear? You know what is laced in through those conversations. Are you willing to face that brokenness and those idols and surrender them to God?

You can see your idols if you are honest, and you can see where there was truth that honored God. I invite you to intentionally be aware of what you say, how you say it, and what it reveals about your heart. Do the same as you listen to others. Then examine carefully the voices you are “akouo syniemi" – hearing and understanding – and whether or not they really are pointing you in the way God would have you go. Be willing to lay down any input that corrupts or distracts from your output honoring God.

Next week, we will look at another passage and see how we can use the vertical to better see the way forward. 

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Do Not Ride Your Parents’ Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 15, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There is an entire demographic in many churches today in grave danger of hearing the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23: “I never knew you.” Jesus talked about the difference between true and false converts more than any other topic. Most, if not all, of his parable had to deal with that issue. I want to address one particular demographic of false converts: those who claim to be Christian by riding the faith of their parents.

I was reading through the kings of Israel and Judah, particularly studying what their choices and actions were, when this topic got dislodged, and I’ve simply been waiting on the Lord for the right time to address it. The first Bible I ever got was an “Adventure Bible” in the NIV, with commentaries geared for kids. One of the charts in this Bible was on the kings with who they were, how long they reigned, a brief synopsis of their reign, and whether they were a good king or not. That chart had always stuck in my head and as an adult, I am not convinced at the accuracy of that chart, because one king was listed as good, but in actuality was not very good: Joash.

2 Chronicles 23-24 covers the details of Joash’s reign. His rise to the throne is a great testimony of God’s protection of David’s line. Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, followed well in her parents’ footsteps. She sought to wipe out the entire royal family when her son died, and only Joash survived because he was hidden from her. Athaliah ruled wickedly for six years. Joash in the meantime was raised by Jehoiada the high priest.

When Joash was seven, Jehoiada made his move to remove Athaliah and instill Joash as king. She was executed and the idols to Baal were torn down and worship of the Lord was reinstated. It was a great day because wickedness was met with justice, and a king who could lead the people in the ways of the Lord was in power. Joash initially set out to do this. He is one of the few kings who is recorded to repair the temple after years of disarray because of false idols being put there and worse things taking place within those walls. Joash is considered a good king for this, however there was one thing that stood out to me.

We see this in 2 Chronicles 24:2: “Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” This is different from any of the other kings who were listed as good. Those kings did what was right all the days of their lives. Joash did not do that which was right ALL his days, and his apostasy began the moment Jehoiada died. He led the people away from God and right back to idol worship. Joash even killed Jehoiada’s son for confronting him. In the end, Joash was assassinated and the end of his reign was so bad he was not even given a proper king’s funeral.

What led to Joash’s demise? It was not because he did not have a good mentor. It was not because he listened to bad advice. It was because he was truly a false convert. The Bible never says Joash sought the Lord. The closest it gets is saying he sought to repair the temple. He did works for God, but never sought God personally.

The man who raised him, Jehoiada, was a good man. He sought the Lord, sought to protect Judah, and taught Joash all the ways of the Lord. He was an old man too and died at age 130. Joash rode Jehoiada’s faith. He followed God’s ways because the man who raised him followed God’s ways, but God’s ways were never his ways.

Ken Ham wrote a book a few years ago called Already Gone. The book addresses the issue of countless youth being raised in the church then leaving it as young adults. Many blame secular education, especially at the high school and college levels for turning them, however Ham suggests the real reason they are leaving was because they never were there to begin with. They knew the language, but they never knew the Lord. They followed their parents’ rules but they never embraced them, and the moment they left the house, their faith was left behind with them… because it was never theirs. This is a pretty good summary of the bulk of the “ex-Christian” testimonies I have heard. The problem is they cannot be ‘ex-Christians’ because they never were Christian to begin with. 1 John 2:19 tells us they came out of us but were never of us.

Teenagers, your parents cannot save you. You will not make it heaven because your parents are Christians. They can teach you the truth, but you must embrace it for yourself. You must own it. You cannot claim to be a Christian just because your parents are, or even just because you go to church. Do not be a Christian in Name Only. It is going to show. Christianity is not a label to wear; it is not statement of beliefs to hold on to. It is a completely new identity, a new nature, and to be very frank, it will make you very different from everyone else. You cannot be a Christian and be popular with the world and be consistent in your life. Pick one to follow, but a word of caution. The world will dismiss you the moment you are no longer beneficial to them. They don’t actually care about you. If you follow God, it will be hard, but he will never abandon his own.

Parents, your kids don’t come with you to heaven just because you are going. They are going to make it on their own accord, on whether they have been born again. Parents, you MUST stop trying to find any remote hint of a sliver that your kids might be saved if they are living godless lives. You cannot hope on the day of judgment that their profession of faith as a seven-year old is going to be sufficient; you are deceiving them and deceiving yourselves. Teach your kids how to walk in faith when you are not around. If your kids have back-slidden, there is a good chance they never were saved to begin with. Teach them what true salvation is and live that faith by your own lives. And this is going to be difficult to hear, but if your child, after doing everything in your power to showcase Christ, still rejects him, that is his/her choice, and it is NOT your fault. If you have sought the Lord in your own life, showcased it before your kids, and they still refuse to walk with Christ, do not blame your failures. It is on them. Keep praying for them, but in those cases, do not pray for them to return to the Lord. Pray for them to meet him in the first place and if that means handing them over to Satan to be brought to rock bottom, then let it be so. That being said, if your children as adults walk with the Lord and seek him, then praise be to God.

Do not be as Joash who only looked God’s direction while Jehoiada was alive. Do not use your parents’ faith to do your work for you. Learn from them, but make your faith YOUR faith. Our kids will face the world one day and I have seen so many, Christian and non-Christian, show up totally unprepared to face it and get swallowed alive. The only way to face this world and survive it is to be deeply rooted in Scripture and anchored to the Shepherd. Your parents can train and prepare you, but they cannot fight your battles in your stead. They can fight with you, but not in your place. Place your faith in Christ, nor your parents’ faith in Christ, and you will see victory. In the day of Judgment, you will hear these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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.


The Brave New World and You

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 13, 2017 2 comments

by David Odegard

Aldous Huxley wrote his most popular book The Brave New World in 1931. It was a dystopian look at a possible future in which the world is entirely managed by central planning. Last week I reminded you, constant reader, of Orwell’s 1984 and the stark similarities to modern life, but this week I want to reacquaint you with Huxley’s work.

If you recall, Huxley’s BNW was set the year 632 AF (after Ford) and controlled by Mustapha Mond as the World Controller. The world is subdivided into 5 classes: idiots called Epsilons, next Deltas, Gammas, Betas, Alphas. Each person is hatched in a test tube and is genetically engineered for maximum efficiency. The lower classes are “produced” to be hardy against the environment, they are strong for menial labor, and they are kept stupid enough to not want “higher” attainment. They are completely controlled through the use of recreational sex and drugs. The higher classes are more intelligent and they are suited for white collar work.

There is no sickness in this society. Everyone is perfectly happy. As the character of Mustapha Mond described the World Society:
"The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers they feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave.”

This description sounds chillingly like the Cardinal Principles document produced by the NEA Report in 1918, which has remained the ideology of public education from then until now. The methodology has changed wildly since 1918, but the ideology has remained constant: the production of a stable and contented populace.

One of the complaints of this Report according to Frances Fitzgerald, who studied American textbooks as part of her work America Revised, is that the older educational standard was too high and that it led “boys and girls away from pursuits for which they are adapted,” assumedly toward pursuits that the NEA did not feel boys and girls were “adapted” such as entrepreneurialism, invention, or other “white collar” work. Fitzgerald shows that the Report of ’17 called for a reorientation from history toward “social studies.” We need look no further than the destruction of southern monuments to realize that this principle has been fully realized today. There is a disregard for actual history, in preference for a sterilized social justice revisionist history.

Fitzgerald further indicts modern textbooks by looking for a uniting “ideology behind the texts.” She concludes that they do not convey history but rather present “a catechism… of American socialist realism.”

John Gatto quotes Fitzgerald’s work in his own book: “More than once she notes ‘actual hostility to the notion of intellectual training.’ Passion, in partnership with impatience for debate.” We need look no further than the modern university campus to see the fruit of passion plus impatience for debate. Speakers are routinely shouted down or harmed on American campuses. This is not because they are millennials; it is because they are the product of a multi-billion-dollar indoctrination regime that is an almost universal cradle-to-grave educational system controlled by the NEA and their Cardinal Principles. This is why we have to think of it as a “new brand of salvation,” that humanity can manage itself to a higher form of social life. Next stop—socialism unhindered by dissenters, “a socialism so good it’s mandatory.”

The idea is that “correctly managed mass schooling would result in a population so dependent on leaders that schism and revolution would be things of the past. . . No more wars, no civil disputes.” Just happy shiny idiots collecting stamps and laughing riotously anytime someone hits his head on a doorway. For proof, one need look no further than one’s own internal reaction to the government-by-manipulation on display at every facet of modern life. Don’t want to wear a seatbelt even if you are the only one in the car? Here’s your fine. Don’t want to bake a cake for people you don’t agree with? Here is a fine so large you’ll no longer be in business. On and on and on. From the DMV to the Veteran’s Hospital, we Americans have become all too familiar with government meddling in everyday life.

According to Fitzgerald’s findings, American textbooks are deliberately dumbing us down, numbing our minds to the upsetting realities in the world, simplifying us to pull our levers and pay our taxes and leave the thinking for the Alphas.

As Mustapha quipped, “’Just to give you a general idea,’ he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently—though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible.”

In conclusion, Gatto writes:
“The appearance of Cardinal Principles signaled the triumph of forces which had been working since the 1890’s to break the hold of complex reading, debate, and writing as the common heritage of children reared in America. Like the resourcefulness and rigors of character that small farming conveyed, complex and active literacy produces a kind of character antagonistic to hierarchical, expert-driven, class-based society. As the nature of American society was moved deliberately in this direction, forges upon which a different kind of American had been hammered were eliminated. We see this process nearly complete in the presentation of Cardinal Principles.”

In short, critical thinking had to go. One needs only look around to see that this fruit has long ago set. America is plunging into intellectual chaos. College students are demanding to be enslaved with socialism and refuse to exit the echo chamber.

Christians, I have endeavored to display that the government schools are an ill-fit for your child for more reasons than that they teach evolution and don’t have explicit moments of prayer. They are diseased with humanism to the very core—producing venomous fruit. Even when public institutions taught creationism and had prayer, they were still training students not to think, all the while placating unsuspecting Christian parents that all is well.

Americans worship one god really: government. We learned it in the religious school of secular humanism we were forced to attend. The twin values, ordinances if you will, of this American religion are personal security and affluence. We Christians must reorient around our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must orient in His kingdom, which is not of this world even though our message of the gospel is for this world. We are in the world, but not of the world. We love the world because God loves it. We attempt the reconciliation of God and world. If you feel no pressure to conform to the world and its standard, perhaps it is because you have already done so. Romans 12:1-2 is for you.

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