We Are One Tribe 

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 31, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

We finally got to see Black Panther this past weekend and get caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The whole movie was well done and there is plenty to appreciate throughout (even seeing Smeagol from Lord of the Rings as a buff bad guy was quirky and fun). But I want to write about one specific scene at the end, as it relates to my previous post. Spoiler alert: if you don't want to know how the movie ends, wait till you see the movie to continue.

The final battle between King T'Challa and his cousin Erik Killmonger is a profound interplay of good vs evil vs history vs healing and hope. When T'Challa learns the truth of how his father handled the rebellion of his uncle and how Erik was abandoned to grow up an orphan in the streets and completely separated from Wakanda, he realizes this was a huge mistake and created a far worse problem. T'Challa is motivated by compassion for Erik, even as he fights to regain his throne from him.

In the final scene between them, T'Challa carries Erik out to see the sunset in Wakanda - a sight Erik's father had told him about. As they kneel together, exhausted from battle and Erik with a spear through his chest, T'Challa says, "Perhaps we can still heal you." This was clearly a reference to the physical wound about to end Erik's life, but also a more profound reference to restoring Erik as a person and as a citizen of Wakanda. It's a palpable moment of grace and compassion, where we see T'Challa's integrity and we are hoping for Erik to accept.

Erik says, "Why, so you can lock me up?" He references the slave trade in Africa, and how many Africans would jump overboard rather than be sold in the Americas as slaves. He says, "They knew death was better than bondage." Then he pulls the spear out of his chest, which was preventing him from bleeding internally. He collapses and dies next to T'Challa.

I was moved deeply by this moment. Grace and healing are offered, but the assumption of consequence and the inability to see a future different than his past prevented Erik from accepting the hope T'Challa offered. The pain, the wounds of the world's tribalism and tyranny, blinded Erik to the potential of a future without those things.

The movies ends with T'Challa making a statement to the UN that Wakanda will no longer be hidden and will help the world with its technology and culture. He says, "We are ONE tribe."

I cannot help but hear the echo of Galatians 3:26-29 as I consider where the movie landed. As Paul writes to the Galatians, he is addressing their divisions and their choices to live according to the desires of the flesh and legalisms of their religious history. Prompted by the influence of Judaisers (religious Jews who tried to force early Christians to keep all of Jewish customs), the church at Galatia was being pressured to not only follow Jesus by grace through faith, but to also live under all the ceremonial and religious practices of Jewish law. Paul reasons with them at length that Jesus' death and resurrection satisfies the religious law and freed them from trying to EARN God's favor through religious works. In this section, Paul is trying to help them see that the distinctiveness of Jewish customs and laws are ultimately meaningless in Jesus. The playing field has been leveled and everyone has opportunity for God's love and grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. And it's not just an issue of race, but of gender, class, and circumstance.

In Jesus, no one is above or below anyone else, and no one has to earn it by being indoctrinated into becoming a different tribe. We have been made into ONE tribe, God's tribe through Jesus Christ. And every follower of Jesus is a citizen of that tribe, regardless of race, age, gender, economic status, etc.

The real question for us in Western culture today is, are we able to see and accept that grace, or are we stuck in the pain and experience of our past? Will we be like Erik and die rather than experience the grace being offered, because we fear there is some bondage or trick behind it? Or are we able to forge a new path together in the opportunities for grace and understanding? Are we committed to being ONE tribe, in the Kingdom of God? Or are we still holding on to our worldly tribalism, demanding our place and expressing our will to power?

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Who Do You Hear?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 30, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Who do you hear? Who are the ones who are drawing your attention and giving you the food for your soul? When I teach on Biblical worldviews, I ask five questions regarding Origins, Purpose, Identity, Destination, and Authority. The question on authority is, “Who do I listen to?” There are many different voices out there, however you can boil them all down to two: the voice of God and the voice of the world. Take a moment to read 1 John 4:1-6.

John opens this passage by telling us to test the spirits. Test everything we hear. My pastor makes a comment I can confirm: “You can pick up a book, good or bad, and read it without risking danger if you listen to the Holy Spirit about that book. If he says it is a good book, you can read and soak it in. If he says it is a bad book, you can read it and know it is a bad book and not be affected by it.” I have been able to do this. I have read books where I really thought the author was trying to say some good stuff, but there was a check in my spirit saying, “Something is wrong.” And when I dug deeper, I saw it was very wrong. I have read others where I was sick to my stomach before getting through the intro because it was so Satanic. I have read others where it was solid, and I have read others still where I did not sense a spirit of evil behind it, but at the same time, I didn’t get God’s approval of it either. I could do that because I was testing the spirit behind the writing if it was of God or not. And I’ve read books where I simply pity the author because of how spiritually blind he is and has chosen to be.

Now do not get me wrong; I am not suggesting any book we write is of the level of Scripture. However, there are books which are truly glorifying of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit was upon the author as it was being written. And while there are many good books out there, there are many others which are put in Christian bookstores and yet are nothing but pagan ideas decorated in Christian language. How can you tell which is which? 1 John tells us how.

John boils is down so simply. Those who are of the world and of the world system hear what the world and its leaders have to say. We who are Christians hear from God. What is more is those who are of God will also hear those who are of God. Those who are not of God will not hear us, because they will not hear those who sent us. John wraps up verse 6 by telling us this is how we know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.

“But who are you to be so arrogant to know that you are right?” I’ve had that thrown at me so many times I’ve lost count. In some ways the skeptic is right because they will hear some lunatic claiming to speak from God when God had not spoken. Why should they trust us? First, we have to make sure we really are hearing and listening to God, not to the world, and not to our emotions. Here are some guidelines we can use to test this:
1) How does what we are saying glorify God?
2) Does what we are saying magnify man in any regard?
3) Is God the end goal and the means, or just a means for man’s pleasure and happiness?
4) Is the nature of sin and the work of the cross given their just due?
5) Is Jesus glorified as not just Savior but God himself in the flesh?

There are other tests, but these are some good core basics. Those of the world will always elevate man to some degree, diminish God, diminish Christ and the cross, and take sin lightly. Those of God will glorify God alone, never take glory for themselves, raise Christ and the cross high, and take sin very seriously.

Another test is to examine how the world acts. A good way to know the will of God is to take any situation you are in, determine how you in your natural mind would do it (or how the average person would do it), and then do the opposite. Why? Because God and the world are at enmity with each other. Throughout the whole Bible, God purposes to make his people look weak, helpless, and foolish so no one could boast in their own skills.

The world and its system are of the Antichrist. John is not merely talking about the one man who will try to play Jesus in a very public setting at the end times and lead the final rebellion against God. He is talking about a spirit which is “contra-Christ.” Any voice which resists Christ is an anti-Christ, and there are many such voices. When Adam and Eve sinned, they gave dominion that was rightfully theirs over to Satan because they chose to listen to his voice instead of God’s. And ever since, Satan has done a great job at exerting his authority over this world.

But while Satan rules over the governments, the educational systems, the businesses, etc., his rule is still under a higher rule. Jesus has overcome the world, so as long as we are in Christ, we do not have to fear this world nor its system. We are in it, but we are not to be of it. We are not citizens of this world. We are actually enemies of it—enemies with a mission—to rescue the lost from it. Satan knows he can’t have us, so as long as we are not advancing on his turf, he’ll leave us alone. But if we are not advancing on enemy territory, we are useless to God in this world.

Greater in He who is in you than he who is in the world. The real reason why a typical young earth creationist (YEC) can crush PhD evolutionists in debates is not because YEC are smarter (though they typically are far better researched) but because they have the Spirit of Truth in them. The Evolutionists know absolutely nothing but lies, some due to ignorance but some due to intentional rejection of truth. The reason entire nations have risen and fallen is often due to the prayers of the saints. Rees Howells, among others, literally prayed the European front of WWII to victory by praying as though he was on the front lines. He did not listen to the reports from the media as the final declaration, but he listened to God. Many missionaries came face to face with witch doctors, pagan leaders, jungle warriors, no food, no money, no resources, and yet they all made it through to the end because their trust was not in this world but in Christ who overcame it.

Who do you listen to—God or this world? God promises suffering in this world but true paradise in the next life. The world promises pleasure now but nothing positive when you die. I have been a Christian for nearly 28 years, spent 22 of those years on the mission field (on and off in seasons), and I am now working to take my faith to another level. As I have grown particularly in the last couple years, my interests in the world have been fading. Movies hardly gather my interest any more. The only TV I ever watch is when my parents have it on and I just pass through the living room. My interest in video games is dying. The world is dying to me. And the closer I get to God, the more it will die. Listen to God. It will come with a cost, but what you will lose is not worth keeping and what you will gain is beyond priceless. Pay attention to who you are listening to and who they are listen to. Are they of God or of the world? Whichever voice you heed is the voice that will dictate who you become. Let it be God’s voice.

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 Birth of the Way

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 29, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Editor’s note: Due to the popularity of this post and the fact that Easter is on Sunday, we’re re-posting this one today for your enjoyment.

No one denies that Christianity exploded out of first century Israel. Within a single generation of the Resurrection of Christ, “the Way” had spread to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and not by force. It spread through the message of redemption and love. Where did the Christian faith come from and what best explains its origin? We recently celebrated the event that marks the birth of Christianity—Resurrection Day, or Easter. I believe there is no explanation for many of the events that led to the birth of Christianity other than they are authentic. Let’s take a look at one of the most difficult challenges for the skeptic: the origin of the faith we have called Christianity.

The most obvious answer to the question of “Where did Christianity come from?” is that the Disciples truly saw the risen Messiah and it radically changed their lives. Only an amazing event such as seeing the resurrected Messiah could have turned cowardly, scattered, confused, uneducated men with no prior knowledge of a risen Savior in their religious beliefs into bold, outspoken teachers willing to die for their faith.

Peter declared in Acts 2 beginning with verse 32, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses… Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” The origin of the Christian faith is best explained by the disciples’ sincere belief that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Anyone who denies the resurrection of Christ as the origin of the Christian faith has some explaining to do. Some will say the Christian faith was just taken from the Jewish faith or from some pagan religion. Neither of these is plausible. The resurrection of a single man who was both God and man is not something any Jewish person of the day would have recognized. We see the confusion in the historical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, agreed with Jesus that Lazarus would rise again—on the last day when all the saints are resurrected, not in a few moments as Jesus commanded him. This is the ONLY resurrection the Jewish people thought would happen. Nowhere in Jewish thought do we find the idea of a single individual resurrecting within history never to die again. A pagan source is equally unlikely since, as Jews, pagan practices were considered detestable. And since no known pagan story sounds like the story of Jesus, it would be an unsupportable position to say this is the case. Sure, there are several stories skeptics will point to, but none of them hold water. They either originate from a much later time, or their similarities are highly exaggerated or completely fabricated.

What are the primary explanations given by skeptics aside from the above two? Good question. Let’s take a look.

One explanation is that Jesus didn’t die. He was just unconscious when they laid Him in the tomb. After reviving in the cool, damp tomb, He made His way back to the disciples in an extremely weakened state and in need of emergency medical attention. This weak, feeble, and half-dead man is what birthed the stories of a resurrected Lord. The issues here are obvious and numerous. The Romans were very efficient at destroying life. To think they messed this up by accident and it just happened to be a man that claimed He’d rise from the dead is pretty unlikely. This idea also fails to appreciate the horrific scourging before the cross and the brutality of the cross itself. The Journal of the American Medical Association concludes, “Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.” (March 21, 1986, 1463). This theory also fails to recognize everything Jesus claimed to be and His impeccable ethical standard. Deception isn’t in His nature. This idea also wants us to think the disciples believed in a “resurrected Messiah” who was physically brutalized to the point of not being recognizable. If He were dead and resurrected as the Bible claims, He would not have had the appearance of just being whipped and beaten and having His flesh recently torn from His body. The disciples would have allowed themselves to be martyred for a half-dead, half-resurrected Messiah who likely required a great deal of care and nursing in order to survive. This weak, fragile man would not be considered the conqueror of death and the grave. There are other issues as well, but let’s move on for the sake of time.

The next explanation is that the disciples experienced hallucinations. This one is pretty laughable as this explanation is congested with issues. First of all, ALL the accounts of the resurrection make the claim that they were physical. There is no account written that we know of that indicates the appearances were not physical. Also, hallucinations are individual, much like dreams. To think that over 500 people had the exact same hallucination at the same time is a belief in the impossible. Even if everyone hallucinated at the same time, each person would have their own. Therefore, hallucinations cannot explain the group appearances attested to in 1 Corinthians 15, the Gospel narratives, and the book of Acts. Hallucinations of Jesus would most likely have been based on previous knowledge. Jews would most likely have envisioned Jesus at Abraham’s side, confirming He was, in fact, dead. This would not have led to the birth of the Christian faith at all. This theory also can’t explain the empty tomb or conversions of skeptics like Saul on the road to Damascus. The only reason to believe in the hallucination theory over the authentic resurrection of Christ is out of desire, not facts.

Finally, the earliest explanation outside of an authentic resurrection, is that the disciples stole the body. It is recorded in the Bible that the Pharisees paid the soldiers who guarded the tomb to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body. As a result, these uneducated fishermen became the perpetuators of the greatest hoax in the history of the world. There are several problems here. The disciples wouldn’t likely write that women were the first witnesses to this event because women were not permitted to give testimony in this culture. It’s also odd that they would include in their written accounts of the resurrection that the Pharisees claimed they’d stolen the body if they had, in fact, stolen the body. It also is in contrast to the disciples’ nature. As J. N. D. Anderson states, “This would run totally contrary to all we know of them: their ethical teaching, the quality of their lives, their steadfastness in suffering and persecution. Nor would it begin to explain their dramatic transformation from dejected and dispirited escapists into witnesses whom no opposition could muzzle.”

But the biggest issue with ALL of these ideas is that the disciples—all of them—allowed themselves to be tortured, brutally mistreated, and eventually murdered for something they knew was false. Liars make poor martyrs. Wouldn’t you think just one—ONE—would have recanted on their story? Just one? They were convinced Christ had risen from the dead and conquered death and hell. There really is no question. Be encouraged!

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Paul: Apostle of Christ Review

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 28, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This past weekend, I went to go see Paul: Apostle of Christ on its opening night with a group of guys from my church. Christian movies overall have a bad rap. They are either too cheesy in design, the message is too preachy, or the characters are too bland. Yet, recently, I have seen a significant improvement in the artistic talent, the script writing, and the acting in Christian movies. Paul: Apostle of Christ has leapt towards the top of the Christian movies I have seen and yes, that includes, the Sherwood Films of Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof, etc.

Paul: Apostle of Christ centers around Paul’s final days in a Roman prison, having been charged by Nero as being the lead instigator of the burning of Rome. Luke, the author of his Gospel and Acts, risks all to reach Paul and get some wisdom on what to do as Rome hunts Christians left and right. A local congregation, led by Aquila and Priscilla, struggles with whether to stay and help the people struggling with a madman of an Emperor or to flee to Ephesus and join Timothy there. While with Paul, Luke gets the inspiration to write Paul’s story, which became a big part of the Book of Acts. The movie is not about Acts as I initially thought, but what may have been the story behind the writing of it.

One subplot involves the head Roman guard who has a sick daughter and his struggles with Rome, who Paul really is, and his problems at home. This guard is nowhere found in Scripture, however, hints throughout Paul’s letters, Luke’s conclusion of Acts, and early church tradition indicate Paul seems to have a strong enough relationship with the guards that he could go about quite freely throughout Rome. In Acts 16 when Paul and Silas stayed in prison when they had a chance to escape, the head guard took them to his house, and then the whole family got saved. So while this subplot is not explicit in Scripture, it is very plausible something along these lines may have happened. The resolution of the daughter’s sickness is done very well without going through clich├ęs or your typical “conversion” account as seen in many Christian movies. I was very pleased with it.

The struggles of the church are very realistic and believable. There is some gore in the movie giving it the PG-13 rating, including seeing Christians bound to stakes to be burned as “night torches” to light up Rome’s streets. The church battles on what to do as other Christians are lead by the masses to the “circus” (that is, the Roman Coliseum “games”). Some want to stay, some want to flee, and some want military vengeance. The movie depicts children caught up in the mess, some innocent victims and others who understand the plight and want to do everything they can to help.

The only four characters from the Bible are Paul, Luke, Aquila, and Priscilla. I found Paul and Luke’s characters to be spot on. Paul frequently quoted from his letters, and they show Luke also struggling with how to love an enemy seeking to destroy them, emphasizing how Luke never met Christ in person. We know little of Luke’s actual character other than being extremely precise in his details and his loyalty to Paul and the ministry. We also know very little about Aquila and Priscilla other than being very supportive of Paul and his ministry. Initially I was not entirely sold on these two being in Rome during this time, however, since returning to Scripture to verify, these two were listed in the names Paul asked to be greeted in Romans 16, so that part was right.

The one thing that actually stood out to me the most as being unrealistic was the Roman head guard describing Paul as being Nero’s scapegoat for burning Rome. That term “scapegoat” was of Jewish origin in reference to Leviticus 16 and didn’t become a well-known term until later as many Christian phrases and words became more common. Everything else was either spot on or at the very least plausible. Going into the movie, I heard several people complain about casting white people for the movie, but the hilarious part about that complaint is that only Paul would have been of Jewish origin. Everyone else was European. So the whiners about “historical accuracy” on this movie didn’t know it themselves.

I am definitely going to see this movie again and will be getting it on DVD when it comes out. Among my writing projects that I eventually will get to (when I finish several of the four active books I have right now) is at least three books which intend to flesh out the details of several Biblical stories. I want to do one on the Exodus and the wanderings in the wilderness, one on David and his Mighty Men, and one on the ministry of Christ and the early church. This movie does precisely what I want to carry out: to show in greater detail what the events surrounding the accounts may have looked like without doing any damage to the account itself. Paul: Apostle of Christ does this very well. It fleshes out the events surrounding the end of Paul’s life and I could not find anything significant which violates what is clearly given in Scripture. It is an incredible movie and worth seeing.

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What Does the Bible Say About Entertainment?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 26, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

The entertainment industry is big business in today’s world. According to this site, in 2017 we Americans spent $11 billion at the box office, the recorded music industry was worth over $18 billion, video game revenue was over $23 billion, and book sales were over $37 billion. If you add up all those numbers, the entertainment industry as a whole was worth over $89 billion dollars last year - I’d say that’s definitely big business!

However, “entertainment” is a relatively new thing. Until this modern area, people spent much of their time working, and when they weren’t working they were likely taking care of things related to their survival. Free time and entertainment weren’t part of daily lives until in the 20th century when we developed technology that made working for survival easier. It was not until advances in technology in the 20th century that we had the capability to have recorded music, then movies, then video games. So, because of all this, the Bible does not speak directly to entertainment, since it didn’t really exist in Biblical times like it does now.

But even if the Bible doesn’t speak directly to entertainment, it does give us some guidelines to follow as we have the opportunity to entertain ourselves.

First of all, Colossians 3:17 should be our guiding principle: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When we entertain ourselves, are you doing it all in the name of Jesus and giving thanks to God through the choices you make?

Along with that, Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Think about the last movie you saw or video game you played; was it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable? Even if it’s just a few hours of entertainment, your brain was focused on it during that time. We are commanded to think on that which is right and holy.

Not only that, but our entertainment choices can affect others as well. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul writes to the church at Corinth about eating food sacrificed to idols, which was a big issue for them. Verse 9 says, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” The principle we can take from this is that the freedom we have to relax and be entertained in our free time should not cause others to stumble in their walk. You may be a mature enough Christian that you can listen to certain music and remain strong in your faith, but someone around you may be weaker and your choices could cause them to stumble.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” We must be careful that our entertainment does not become our master, since we cannot serve entertainment and serve God at the same time. We must be careful that we do not put our own entertainment as a higher priority in life than God is.

Does that mean we should never watch movies, play video games, or listen to music? Well, the answer really depends on the message of those things and the attitude of our hearts. Ephesians 5:8-11 tells us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” If the entertainment we choose is part of the “fruitless deeds of darkness,” then no, we shouldn’t bring those things into our lives. We are walking in the light of the Lord and we should live as such.

Entertainment in and of itself is not evil. If our attitude is right and we are still honoring God with the entertainment choices we make, then we can enjoy its part in our lives. But as we’ve seen, the Bible clearly warns against letting our life choices (whether entertainment or otherwise) draw us away from Him. What kind of choices are you making for your entertainment?

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The Faith of Daniel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 25, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

“The world is a very poor critic of my Christianity, but it is a very sufficient one of my conduct.” -Alexander Maclaren

In my Men’s Devotional Bible from Zondervan, a piece is written about “habits of holiness." It tells of a cigarette manufacturer years ago that invited people to take a 30-day test with their product. They relied on the idea that anyone who used their cigarettes for 30 days would develop a new habit and most likely become addicted to their specific brand. The writer goes on to remind us that the same is true with good habits such as flossing, exercising, eating healthy foods, doing devotions, watching our language, etc.

This got me thinking about the season of which we are in the middle right now. I’m talking about Lent. Some Christians have habits that display a lack of discipline for the rest of the year, then focus on making positive changes during this period. I’m not rejecting the notion that we ought to take advantage of every opportunity to motivate ourselves to make positive changes in our lives, but I do think that sometimes we put too much emphasis on our own human will. We think we can just put our minds to something and we’ll be able to accomplish it. If you chose to give up something for Lent this year, how are you doing with it so far? How committed have you been? Are you dying to get back to the fun and pleasure of the things you gave up? Or are you beginning to find it easier to live with the good habits because you’ve fully embraced them?

When it comes to the habits God wants us to have in our lives, we can’t just flip the switch in the moment of crisis. This week’s hero of the faith who is not mentioned by name in Hebrews 11 is Daniel, a man who certainly didn’t wait until the crisis came to practice good habits in his relationship with God. In Hebrews 11:33, we see that some of the ancient faithful ones “shut the mouths of lions." There were several other men to whom this phrase could apply, but writing about Daniel was an obvious choice for me. Here was a young man who had most likely witnessed the killing of his family members and many friends along with the destruction of his city when the Babylonians came and overtook Jerusalem. As if all that wasn’t enough, he very likely was made a eunuch once he was taken as a captive to Babylon because that was the case for most court officials and those who served the king. This is a level of devastation that most of us can’t even imagine and don’t want to. Yet, even in a foreign land as a captive, he continued to view his relationship with the Almighty God as one that would sustain him.

After many trials and some dream interpretation, Daniel is made one of the top three advisers to King Darius (Daniel 6:2). At this point, he is the definition of an overcomer, having already defied the odds to reach a level of prominence no one thought possible. But that kind of worldly success breeds jealousy from those around you. The officials, who were probably getting tired of hearing how amazing Daniel is from the king, decided they needed to find some way to accuse him. They tried and tried only to find that there were no skeletons in Daniel’s closet. I mean, stop and think about that. How long would it take someone to find a scandal or some other conduct or character issue if we told them to dig into the background of any politician? Probably about two minutes! When these people couldn’t find a legitimate reason to accuse Daniel, they decided to go ahead and create one. In Daniel 6:4-9, they convince King Darius to put a new decree into writing that stated that anyone who worshiped any god or human being except the king over a period of 30 days would be thrown into the lions’ den. In other words, they appealed to the king’s ego and it worked. These people did this knowing that Daniel prayed multiple times every day and likely wouldn’t stop.

They were right. Daniel 6:10 tells us that Daniel changed nothing even after he heard about the decree. He was at peace and it was settled in his mind that God was truly in control no matter what happened. That verse also tells us that Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem and prayed three times a day. He clearly wasn’t trying to hide it. He also got down on his knees, showing humility, and gave thanks to God, showing gratitude. The jealous ones immediately report him to King Darius and remind him that once a decree is in writing, it cannot be altered (vv. 12-15). We read that Darius tried everything he could to save Daniel, but ultimately was not willing to go against the law and against his own foolish word. When he ordered Daniel to be thrown into the den in verse 16, a very interesting thing happened. He said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you." This is the heart of the quote I placed at the beginning of this writing. People may not understand our “religion” or our God, but they certainly know how to recognize good and bad behavior in us. The jealous officials and the pagan King Darius all knew they could find no wrongdoing in Daniel’s life. Darius even acknowledged that Daniel “serves God continually." When those who are against our faith or don’t have our best interests in mind are still able to commend our conduct and recognize our commitment to God, we’re doing something right.

But Daniel was committed long before any of the crises came. He daily spent time in prayer before the Lord and kept his focus on God and his plan. As captive as Daniel was, he lived in more freedom than anyone else in this story. Daniel 6:18 tells us that Darius couldn’t eat, drink, or sleep for the whole night knowing Daniel was in the lions’ den. He knew he had made a dumb decision and he also knew Daniel was a good man that he didn’t want to lose.

You know the rest of the story. Daniel had a better night sleep than Darius! The lions didn’t touch him and Daniel gives credit to God for sending an angel to “shut the mouths of the lions” (Daniel 6:22). Daniel had started new habits in his life and kept them to the point where he couldn’t even imagine a life where he didn’t pray to God at least three times each day. When we start things God wants us to start, we can’t imagine how it will all be done. But once it has become a habit, we don’t even consider not doing it. Daniel’s heroic faith was on display for all to see. Verse 19 tells us that Darius rushed to the lions’ den as soon as he woke up to call out to Daniel to see if he was safe. That tells me that Darius, who didn’t even know God, practically expected Daniel to still be alive. He knew what God was capable of and actually believed there was a solid chance that God might save Daniel from Darius’ own hand. If he believed there was no way Daniel would survive it, then why would he rush to the den with anticipation?

Do you want to have the kind of faith that is THAT noticeable to those around you? Do you want to be so faithful that even those who have no faith practically expect God to work in, through, and for you? If so, begin your habits of spiritual discipline now. Stick with it until it becomes something you can’t live without. Read the Word, spend time in prayer, even fast when applicable. Remember that God is in control, and living a life that trusts him completely for results is the most peaceful and stress-free life you’ll ever find!

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The Trap of Progressive Morality

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 24, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you noticed how tribal our culture has become and how divided we are by experience, ideologies, and opinions? How did we get here? Is this progress?

It goes without saying that in many areas of life, business, culture, etc. that progress is a good thing. But progress toward what, and from what? If we are talking about improving our health, sales in our business, or educating or employing more people, that kind of progress is good. But what about moral progress? Is there a point at which all moral values are really relative to experience and don't really apply to everyone? That is the basic principle of moral relativism: the idea that what is true for me is true for me, but not always (or even ever) true for others.

The major problem with moral relativism is that truth becomes a construct of my experience, and morality is only what furthers the narrative that I identify with. The trap is that we get caught in a moral framework that only exists in our experience and has no transcendent value. This means we have to create a counterfeit transcendence of value by convincing others to live according to our narrative and forsake their own personal narrative to become intertwined with ours. Now, sometimes it's easy to do that, because there are people around us whose experience agrees with ours. This is where the rise of tribalism begins: the battle over the strongest narrative and who can assert their version of reality the best.

Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle assumed there were absolutes, and with good reason. They understood there were major problems with this idea of progressive morality, because eventually it devolves into what Friedrich Nietzsche called "the will to power." This is the idea that every living thing exists to exert its power, put another way, the motivation for life is to exert our influence on the material world. The problem with Nietzsche’s thought is that he was a nihilist, which basically means he believed everything is meaningless. He believed ultimately that there was no eternal purpose for our existence or our accomplishments. We are here, and then we blink into nothingness.

It is interesting that in Western culture, we have married secular humanism to this "will to power," and try to ignore the gaping "nothingness" at the end. We have tried to say that we are here to make a difference in the world for the sake of human improvement, because all humans are basically good, and we can continue to progress the more we congeal humanity into one big community of stories that affect each other for the good.

There are a ton of assumptions in that way of thinking. But the truth is, evil exists and is not extinguished by relativism, because true relativist thinking has no standard by which to judge something as evil. Good or evil are constructs of individual or collective experience. The one(s) doing evil, can state that their experience justifies their actions, and so therefore it isn't evil, but good. To put it more simply, when the basis for good and evil is just our experience, when there is no transcendent standard, we are left with only the "will to power," and a giant battle of "king of the hill" ensues. No matter how much common ground we seek to build, and no matter how much we try to influence others by listening and telling stories, there will always be places we refuse to surrender our perspective. Those places will bring conflict that cannot be resolved, because they assume we don't have to resolve our own story and we are supposed to exert it upon the world in order to achieve our greatest good.

The trap of moral relativism is that it leads to tribal warfare every single time. For example, look at current Western culture, every war in history, every social conflict, etc. Somewhere at the root of each of these is the will to power.

Paul said something similar to Timothy when he was mentoring him as a leader ministering to the early Christian Church. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Notice how Paul addresses tribalism and relativist thinking. When people want it their way, they gather around them a critical mass of people willing to support their viewpoint. They turn aside from truth and turn toward myths. In other words, they reject facts and data for the experience of the narrative, even if the narrative never really happened.

This is why debate and discourse have disintegrated in much of the Western world and in countries where tyranny rules. Countries ruled by dictatorship are just places where the many tribes have been replaced by the strongest tribe. If you want to see where moral relativism leads, it isn't to egalitarianism; it is to tyrant under those with the strongest narrative or the strongest army pushing a narrative.

Paul's encouragement to Timothy is the keep his head in all situations - to recognize there is a standard, endure the hardship of both submitting to the standard and in facing the push back from those who reject the standard. Be an evangelist, a herald of what is good. Yes, of course, share the Truth of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection with people, but also demonstrate and speak about what is True for all people in all places at all times.

It is not ok to let people go their own way and become tribal. If we do, then we become just as tribal and we join a game that can only be won by overthrowing others. We must continually live and discuss the Truth that unravels relativist thinking. We must help people restore the identity of their design instead of the identity of their experience, on whatever level it's been overwritten. We must continually point out transcendent Truth and the end result of relativist thinking simultaneously. This means we have to resist tribalism and resist the skirmishes that help someone's will to power.

We must first submit ourselves to the standard of Jesus' example and teaching. We must purge ourselves of tribalist interpretations of Jesus' example and teachings. We must care enough about those around us to be in meaningful dialogue. We must ask questions that draw the relativist assumptions into the light and help unravel the power the mythical narrative has over their beliefs and actions.

This is hard work, and it requires patience and compassion. I suggest we get practice by examining ourselves and whatever tribe we find ourselves a part of. Can the things we say we believe and fight for pass the scrutiny of Jesus? Would He approve of everything we think He approves of? Would He condemn everything we think He would condemn? Are we willing to hear Him speak to our assumptions without adding assumptions onto what He actually said? I would hope the answer is yes. Sadly, I see tribalism at work within the Church and those who say they follow Jesus. I see progressive moral perspectives where Jesus was quite clear on God's standard. Judgement, division, and warring exists among the people Jesus said have received His unity and peace. Why is that? What excuses do we really expect to stand before God's scrutiny?

If you don't wrestle with that question daily, then perhaps relativism is already at the core of your thinking, and your efforts have become the will to power for a future tyranny. Take caution, lay down anything that does not position Jesus at the center of the focus.

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.


Division in the Church

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 23, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of my favorite moments I had during my time with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship while I was at college was Holy Week. The week before Easter weekend, the Christian organizations on campus would come together in a joint effort to reach the campus. We were united over one thing: the Gospel. But halfway through my time there, I became the leader of the IVCF chapter. I tried to keep that unity going and it was dropped. Each organization said they would do their own thing but nothing unified. It was tragic. This motion perpetuated a question many skeptics have about Christianity: Why are there so many denominations?

Skeptics have often pointed to the ‘fact’ that there are 33,000 denominations out there. Which one is right? I kept hearing that claim and I could not picture that many out there. Wikipedia here has a list of the Christian denominations in the world and yes I counted them. Not even 400. Even with the cults and “weird” groups like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., you won’t get 33,000 denominations.

I never really understood all the denominations issues and Paul never stood for them either. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul heard about those who followed Paul, those who followed Peter (Cephas), and those who followed Apollos. He reminded the Corinthian church that their focus should be on Christ, not an individual. I take a similar stance. I don’t see Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, or whatever. I often don’t know the differences between the groups. What I know and what I focus on is “Bible-believer” or “not.” I do not separate on the basis of a given set of doctrines but more on how they get there. There are some crazy cults out there under the name of a mainline denominational group, and there are many churches (including the one I go to) who do not affiliate with any denominational group. My church is one my pastor describes as “Bapticostal.” We have flavors of both groups which can tend to seem to be at dire opposites, especially in how Baptists and Pentecostals handle miracles and tongues.

Most of the divisions took place over mere preferences of worship, gatherings, mere location, and other things. The Seventh Day Adventists split off over whether you worship on Saturday or Sunday. The Southern Baptists broke off at the time of the Civil War because they wanted the right to hold slaves. (The denomination has long since repented of that.) The Anglicans broke off from Roman Catholicism simply because Henry VIII wanted a divorce so he could sleep with whoever he wanted. Some of the divisions are so silly, yet there are others which were necessary. A prominent Presbyterian church in Boulder, Colorado, broke off from the main denomination due to the moral decline of the main group, particularly regarding homosexual ‘marriage.’

When it comes to core doctrines, political correctness, or even with worldly factors, there are times where a Christian is called to draw a line, because Jesus draws a line. Cults and heretical teachers have been around since the Garden of Eden and they all have the same voice as that serpent: “Has God indeed said…?” Here are some factors to look for.

A false teaching will always diminish God, Christ, and the work of the cross. Often it will not be direct; it is often indirect. A major front the enemy is using to sneak false teachers in is through the origins debate. Often seen by many as a “secondary” doctrinal issue, I have had to beg to differ that it is a secondary issue. Why? Because every Old Earth model promoting deep time, no matter if they go by Theistic Evolution, Progressive Creation, Gap Theory, or a new one to me, Young Biosphere Creation, they all tend to make God subservient to the laws of nature (which he created), and elevate man to the ultimate authority position.

Now, I can have a relationship with old earthers, despite disagreeing on origins, but those I can do that with do not promote such positions. I listen to them, and while they are wrong on that topic, they frequently talk about Christ and the authority of Scripture and are demonstrating a seeking after God. They do not elevate man nor pull down God. They are just wrong on this issue, likely because they have not thought it through, or that was simply how they were raised and it hasn’t been uprooted yet. They tend to intellectually agree with old earth, but when they preach the Gospel, any reference to Genesis sounds a lot like the young earth account more than the old earth account they hold. But these people really don’t run in great herds.

That said, the old earth crowd loves to accuse the young earth crowd of causing divisions because we are drawing a line between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the unholy. They are in the churches, so when YEC spots them promoting false teachings and calls them out, they cry foul. My question is this: why were they let in and given a platform to being with? The answer: back in the mid-1800s, the church leaders were asleep at the watch and instead of standing for truth, they instead tried to incorporate these new “scientific” findings into the Bible. It is not those who stand for truth who causes the division. It is those bringing in false teachings. The evidence is in Romans 16:17-18. The false teachers are causing the division because they are not united on Christ (despite their claims to follow him) but serve their own bellies, their own reputations, and their own egos, and with smooth words, they deceive the hearts of the simple. What they teach is offensive to the true doctrine. This has been allowed in because the priests, the pastors, and the church leaders (not all) have conspired against the Lord. That’s not my claim, it’s Ezekiel's. When these false teachings are allowed through and sin is not addressed, Ezekiel said one cause of this was a conspiracy of the prophets to promote their own gain and to claim to speak for the Lord when he had not spoken.

But there is another cause of division which needs to be considered: Jesus himself. There is a great push for unity, but Jesus never actually said he would bring unity between men. He said he would bring unity between men and God via reconciliation which requires the death of self. Between men, however, he promised not to bring peace, but a sword. Any division in the church should be a result of drawing a line upon Christ and any doctrine which reveals him. I draw a line with origins because one model glorifies God as he should be glorified, and the other diminishes the spotlight upon God and in actuality diminishes the work of the cross. Christ is going to cause division because he forces everyone to make a decision: to be for him or against him. Jesus did not complain when another man performed miracles and cast out demons in his name, despite not being among his group. Yet he constantly chided his own disciples for their lack of faith, including just prior to this incident when they could not drive out a demon.

Yet there are times where the greatest opposition we will face is from within. Don’t believe me? Just try actually walking the walk in today’s modern churches, living in true Biblical holiness, praying through until the answers are done, and speaking only that which God has told you to speak. Just try that and watch some of the most “Christian” people you know start turning against you because they gave up on their walk and your success is convicting them. This is what Jesus was talking about in how you must love him more than you love your closest friends and family.

Divisions are going to happen, and yet while the skeptic insists this refutes Christianity, it actually proves it, because the Bible predicts that such divisions will take place. God is going to sort it all out in the end. In the meantime, he has given us a Book through which we can determine truth from falsehood, where we should draw the line and divide to keep out the false, and where we should not, being unified with Christ despite negligible differences. I can get along with many different people because I am united with them over Christ. I will not, however, have unity with those who diminish his name and his work. I cannot. As oil has no relation to water, neither does the Godly have anything to do with the pagan. As Tozer said, "The blessing of God is promised to the peacemaker, but the religious negotiator had better watch his step. Darkness and light can never be brought together by talk. Some things are not negotiable." ~A.W. Tozer, Gems From Tozer, page 48

Do not generate your own standard for division, but let Christ do it for you. Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. And there comes a time where you must divide because God is calling you somewhere and your circles will not or cannot come with you. Follow Christ at all costs, even if it means doing so alone.

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


What Does the Bible Say About Different Languages?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 19, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I love languages. I didn’t always realized I loved them, but apparently I did. When I was in 7th grade, I made up my own language, both an alphabet and a spoken language (though I was really the only one who spoke it, since no one else wanted to really learn it). In high school, I excelled in Spanish class and even took a year beyond what was required. I took more Spanish classes in college and pondered a minor in the language, but then decided against it so I could focus more on my engineering classes. A few years later, when I was headed to seminary, I was afraid of Greek since a relative of mine struggled with it a few years prior to that. By the end of the term, I was still waiting for it to get difficult! That was when it finally occurred to me that God had given me a gift for languages, and since then I have immensely enjoyed learning and teaching Biblical Hebrew as well.

Not everyone enjoys languages like I do, but what does the Bible say about them? To start, we should look at where different languages came from, which can be found in Genesis 11:1-9. That is the story of the Tower of Babel, which starts by telling us that “the whole world had one language and a common speech” (verse 1). Just when humanity had a good thing going with just one language, they had to go and mess it up. They got together and tried to build a tower that would reach God. So that they wouldn’t succeed, God confused their languages and scattered them to different places.

The cool thing is how God tends to bring things full circle. A few centuries later, Jesus had come to earth, lived His life, died, was raised again, then ascended to heaven. Shortly after that, the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and began to speak to a large crowd, full of people who spoke a variety of different languages. Every person in the crowd was able to understand them! The same God who confused the languages back in Genesis 11 also un-confused the languages in Acts 2 to share the gospel message of Jesus with thousands of people all at one time.

Another story that has to do with language in the Bible is in Judges 12:1-7. For the details on that, you can check out this blog post. In that story, a simple pronunciation difference determined which side you were on in a civil war among Israel.

Of course, the whole Bible is made up of language as well. The Bible is God’s Word given to us in written form, and anything written has to be in a language. The Old Testament was originally written mostly in the ancient Hebrew language with some Aramaic, while the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek. Today, the Bible has been fully translated into over 670 languages (and the New Testament into over 1500 languages), thanks to the work of many people and organizations, but it is still God’s Word. I would encourage everyone to learn it in its original languages as there is so much depth and richness there, but if that’s not a skill you have, then praise God for those who do enjoy languages and have provided you with multiple English translations for you to read and to bring you closer to God!

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The Faith of Caleb

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 18, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Have you ever planned to do something that you were absolutely certain God had set in your heart to do? It could be a dream or passion that you believe he gave you, a command you feel you have to follow that came directly from God, or a promise he guaranteed for you if you simply trusted in him every step of the way. Anyone who has walked with the Lord for any period of time can probably point to a season of their lives where they were following a plan they thought God had created just for them only to find that nothing but obstacles stood in their way. How we respond to those obstacles is a matter of faith versus fear.

Recently, a story out of college football and the annual NFL Scouting Combine further illustrated this. A young man from the University of Central Florida by the name of Shaquem Griffin, who dreams of playing in the NFL, was able to bench press 225 pounds 20 times and also ran the fastest 40-yard dash time in the history of the combine for linebackers. He also had a wonderful college playing career that culminated with him being named Defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl just two months ago. While these accolades would be impressive for any athlete dreaming of making it to the NFL, they are exaggerated by the fact that Griffin had his left hand amputated when he was just 4 years old! Observers at the bench press said they’d be surprised if he was able to do even 5 reps, but he blew them away by getting 20 even with a prosthetic hand to grip the bar. Shaquem Griffin has had a dream of playing in the NFL since he was a kid, destined to join his twin brother who is already there. But even if he felt it was his destiny, his resolve was tested with the obstacle of having one less hand than everyone else. His passion, desire, and hard work has allowed him to face that obstacle and many others with faith rather than fear. If he is drafted into the NFL in just over a month, his dream will have been realized despite the circumstances that stood against him.

I have no idea if Shaquem Griffin is a follower of Jesus Christ or not, but I do know that his determination in the face of adversity is an example to all of us, especially believers. When God gives us a command or a promise, it’s not even about chasing our own dreams and desires at that point. We have something even greater. In the Old Testament, God had promised Abraham and his many descendants in Israel that they would be given a land of their own, a land flowing with milk and honey. This would become known as the “Promised Land." To experience God’s promises, we are generally required to take some action. God often works in a way that includes us. When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness and they knew they’d be approaching the Promised Land, he was told by the Lord to send men from each tribe of Israel to explore the land of Canaan, which was the Promised Land. Moses obeyed God and ordered the men to go just as he had been told to do (Numbers 13:1-20).

When the men who went to spy on the land returned, the difference between walking by faith and by fear was all of a sudden crystal clear. Numbers 13:27-29 tells us that most of the men first talked about how the land indeed flows with milk and honey just as God said it would, but then immediately turned their attention toward the obstacles, which included fortified cities, lots of enemies, and some very large people who would be impossible to defeat in their eyes. It was at this moment that one of the spies, a man named Caleb who represented the tribe of Judah, decided he had heard just about enough of this malarkey. According to verse 30, Caleb “silenced the group," stood up before Moses and everyone else and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." This took some serious guts, but more importantly, serious faith. Caleb was probably a little stunned that his countrymen could be so easily driven away from God’s promise by a few obstacles. Unfortunately, Caleb’s attempt to steer them back onto the road of faith fell on deaf ears, and the men continued to live in fear and even “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored” (v. 32).

We should not miss what happened there. The spies who allowed their fear and negative circumstances to cripple them weren’t just content with keeping it to themselves. They made sure everyone else knew how they felt. In general, even when we’re wrong, we try to win the popularity contest. Even when we’re wrong and caught up in sin, we need to get as many people on our side as we can. It changes nothing about truth and reality, but sure does make us “feel better." This has been a problem with humanity for thousands of years. Today, just like back then, the only way out of this problem is to re-focus our eyes and hearts on God’s truth and promises.

Caleb, this time with help from Joshua (the same one who would later take over as leader of Israel after Moses died), tried again to dissuade everyone else from their fear and negativity. In Numbers 14:6-9, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in front of the entire nation of Israel and then proceeded to remind everyone that the land they explored was “exceedingly good” and that it had everything God promised it would have. The tearing of their clothes was a common expression of intense grief. How sad they must have been to see that they were in the minority led by faith while their friends and family members crumbled in fear! After reminding them of what they saw in the land, they spoke about the need to stay on God’s side in order to receive his promises. They pleaded with the people to not rebel against the Lord.

Sadly, even this plea did not change the hardened hearts of the Israelites. True to the words of Caleb and Joshua, he rest of the men who spread the bad report about the land never actually got to receive the promise of God. They were struck down by a plague and died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:37). However, because of Caleb’s faithfulness and Joshua’s support of it, they alone from the group who explored the land were kept alive by God until they could physically enter the Promised Land themselves.

Caleb is not mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, but the writer tells us in verse 33 that some of the unnamed faithful heroes “gained what was promised." There is no question that this description would fit Caleb among others in the Old Testament. The good news is that it can fit you too! In a world where people, even many in the Church, are held back by fear and circumstances that appear impossible, you can stand up and gain what is promised by reminding others of God’s faithfulness, his power, and his promises if we simply walk with him, obey him, and trust him completely. No matter how big the giant is, your God is bigger!

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.


Follow the Money?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 17, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

There is an old saying, "follow the money," that is used when people are implying that there is a financial motive behind a situation, decision, corruption, crime, etc. It is a saying that is considered a "truism," because although it is not ALWAYS true that people's motives revolve around money, it is OFTEN true that getting or keeping wealth (or some form of security) is at the heart of how decisions are made. When the Apostle Paul writes his letter to Timothy, he states that "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." Take a moment and read 1 Timothy 6:3-21.

Notice the two issues Paul ties together as he mentors Timothy: the love of money, and an unhealthy interest in controversies. It's important for us to realize that these two go hand in hand. Whenever someone is determined to get rich, or keep their wealth and security, it leads directly to - or may require them to create - conflict and controversy.

Consider the story by Dr. Seuss called The Sneetches. One group had stars on their bellies and one did not. The ones with stars thought they were better. The ones without thought if they had stars they would be better. Along came Sylvester McMonkey McBean, with a machine to solve their problems - for a price. He capitalizes on their class/race war and rakes in the money as the sneetches go round and round adding and removing stars from their bellies. Eventually, they have no money left, and all of them are a mix of star-bellied and non-star-bellied sneetches again. The sneetches are left with the consequences of their vanity and discontentment, and McBean drives off with the cash.

In that one story, Dr. Seuss captured the heart of greed, the nature of discrimination, and the insidious destruction that comes from pride. He also perfectly illustrated what Paul was writing to Timothy and lays a groundwork for considering our current events.

Let's look at a couple recent examples. Few considered there may have been a profit motive for the Parkland, FL school district. According to an editorial article by The New American there was an alliance between the school district and local law enforcement, with a specifically stated goal to end the pipeline of students going to jail. Federal funding is not favorable toward schools with high crime rates, because funding is linked to attendance numbers, and attendance is directly affected by crime rates. If a school holds kids accountable for crime and expels or suspends them, then their attendance drops and so does funding. The pressure to keep kids in school at any cost and report a low crime rate is very high. So, was money part of the formula for disaster in Parkland? Very likely.

In the last few days, news analysts have questioned if there is incentive for sanctuary cities/states to hide their crime and illegal immigrant numbers in order to keep federal funding dollars. The law suit between the Justice Department and California will bring to light a lot of legal, jurisdictional issues, and financial motives.

It doesn't take long to realize that there are very few decisions that we make on a daily basis, for our work or personal lives, that do not involve money or financial security in some way. We are naive if we think money doesn't play a significant role in the situations boiling over in our culture today. If we look closely, the conflicts over gender norms, wage gaps, abortion, healthcare, immigration, etc. all have underlying profit or security motives. In every one of them, the strife is created by wanting something we think we need, or the strife is being provoked by someone who stands to gain from the conflict. We need to be able to see the REAL motives and not get caught up in the controversies. The controversies are the smoke screen to hide what is really going on politically, morally, or socially.

When the surface level reactions are all we see and respond to, when the media frenzy and emotional stories are all we hear, we lose sight of the facts and get caught in the spin cycle just like the sneetches, all the while we are being fleeced by Mr. McBean.

So, how do we break the cycle? Paul tells Timothy how, in verse 6 and verses 11-21. He says, "Godliness is a means for great gain, when mixed with contentment." There were those in Paul and Timothy's day who thought they could use their religion to get rich. Paul has pointed out previously that their lifestyle was not godly because the motive was wealth and not true godliness. Here he is telling Timothy that if someone is truly godly (God focused) and is content with who God has made them to be and where He has placed them in life and society, then they will have everything they need. In fact, he indicates they will have something more valuable than any worldly wealth or security they could try to get.

The hard part is being content with God, with ourselves, and with our situations. Humans have a tendency to lay aside moral standards to suit themselves. Friederich Nietzsche, the famous nihilist philosopher wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, "A living being wants above all else to release its strength; life itself is the will to power." In His view, the 'will to power' was the driving force behind life. Not moral goodness, not the betterment of humanity, just power. Because once you remove moral standards and morality is relative to your perspective, then really no one else matters. All that matters is your expression, your narrative that leads to power. We cannot have it both ways, either everything is meaningless beyond our own grasp for power, or moral standards by God are essential for the common and the extraordinary good. Now, consider this: are intersectionality, identity politics, gun control, sanctuary cities, gender norms, the new feminism, etc. a result of godliness mixed with contentment?

Are we willing to look at who is pulling the strings and what they stand to gain? Are willing to look at what we stand to gain (or lose) by participating in the spin cycle? Don't misunderstand my point in looking at what Paul tells Timothy. When there is injustice and discrimination and abuse, we need to address each with facts and take action to hold people accountable with evidence. We should make policies to correct it with sound judgement and facts as well. But if we think we can make good policy or bring justice without godliness and contentment at our core, then we are mistaken. And if we think, as an ally to any of these, that we are safe from examining our motives because we "don't stand to gain" from helping a cause, we should take caution. Even on issues we don't directly gain from, we may be being used as the machine of Sylvester McMonkey McBean.

Take some time and read 1 Timothy 6:3-21 again. Reflect on what Paul is telling Timothy. Then consider the news items that get you stirred up. Consider why they matter to you, what you actually know through verified fact, and what God has actually taught on the subject (not just what you heard in a sermon or on a TV show claiming what the Bible says). Then prayerfully consider what action you should take that will help others take hold of the full life God has intended for them.

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 Superiority of Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 16, 2018 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Many people love to talk about the inerrancy of Scripture. The Bible in its original writing contained not a single error in any detail it discussed. In the copying and translation process, some errors have been introduced, however they are extremely few and each one is completely irrelevant to the actual content of what is being said. These errors, or variations, are spelling/grammar issues, number disagreement, and/or pronoun replacements, nothing of valuable content.

Fewer people will talk about the sufficiency of Scripture. Especially in light of academic arrogance, many, many Bible teachers, pastors, and scholars will listen some to what the world says, and add in something from their education, usually in some form of humanism into their theology. I wrote about the sufficiency of Scripture last year, but since then, I got inspired to take that idea even further. The Bible is not just sufficient to provide answers for every type of topic in every type of field, but it is superior to every other authority in attempting to address such topics. Not only can each major type of field be answered with the Bible alone, but the Bible provides better answers than any other authority.

One of the words used to describe Scripture is the word “canon,” which in the Hebrew it means “rod.” Throughout the Old Testament, this word “rod” is used in four different ways. Two of the ways are in context of a shepherd. The shepherd will use his rod to correct a sheep who has wandered off and bring him back onto the right path. He will also use the rod to help keep the sheep from wandering off in the first place. A third use is related to authority, namely a king’s rod. This rod is the symbol of the man in charge. But the fourth use is the one this post will address: the measuring rod. (See Eric Ludy’s sermon “Canon” for more details on this.)

You cannot go through a basic education without using a ruler at some point. A ruler is a device we use to measure short distances. We use thermometers to measure temperature, weigh scales to measure weight, and a clock to measure time. You can to go Wal-Mart or any store and get household devices to measure these things. Yet, what happens if a yard stick happens to be an inch short? What happens if the thermometer’s needle gets stuck? How are they fixed and reset? They have to be calibrated to a given standard.

At my job as a substitute in the public schools, the bell schedule changes every Friday so we can insert an anti-bullying program. As a result, while my watch stays steady, every time the bell schedule changes, my watch ends up getting a little faster and a little faster to the bell. So every few months I have to change my watch to match my work’s clock. My watch is not the standard, the clock at the school is and in order for my watch to be accurate, I must change it to match what the school is doing. Now, I can leave my watch alone for a while, knowing it is 5 seconds or even a minute off the bell. I introduce an error factor, but I have to correct for that error every time I look at it.

The Bible is like the school clock. It is like the formal definitions of weights and measurements. It is the standard upon which all other standards are derived. The Bible is superior to all other standards because no other authority is given by God to do what the Bible does. The Bereans were praised for listening to what Paul and Silas has to say and then going back to Scripture (which then was just the OT) and verifying what they said. Jesus repeatedly cited the authority of Scripture in his debates with the Pharisees, using Scripture as not just sufficient for his own teaching, but also superior to any other teaching.

Paul was the scholar of all scholars in his day and yet he treated all the knowledge of this world as rubbish and foolishness. He made a purpose to know only Christ and Christ crucified. Everything he was to know was to point to Christ and that cross. Anything that did not point to Christ he treated as dung. He frequently cited Scripture as his primary authority both before his conversion and after. What was the difference? Before his conversion, Scripture was just the end of the means. After, he saw Scripture as the revealer of Christ. But Scripture still was his first and highest authority, not just rigid in text but also in spirit.

The skeptic will be quick to say, “I worship God, not the Bible. God is above the Bible.” That’s actually not what God said in the Bible. Psalm 138:2 states that God puts his Word above his name. Why? Because his name is of no value unless his word is true. This is true of any person. A man who cannot keep his word is a man whose name cannot be trusted nor valued. God is not a man that he should lie. Some also say, “The Bible is not the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God.” This is also false. BOTH are the Word of God. The Bible is the Word written in text. Jesus is that same Word in living flesh. The Bible makes no sense unless you insert Jesus as the key into the lock. The reason Jesus is trustworthy is because he fulfills the written text perfectly. Jesus is no longer here in physical form. Yes, the Holy Spirit is ever present with us, but it is the Bible that is the only physical, tangible connection any person has with God. It is the ultimate authority and the standard upon which we are to discern the spirits.

No other standard can compare to Scripture. No other authority has been given the weight God has given Scripture. No other authority can boast of being God-breathed. No other authority can boast of never being wrong. No other authority can boast of coming from God and bearing God’s fruit. Science cannot do any of that. Education cannot do any of that. Politics cannot do any of that. Money and business cannot. Sports cannot. Drugs cannot. Sex cannot. Listening to sermons and Christian music cannot replace digging into Scripture.

When Ezekiel saw the vision of the angel measuring the Temple, he had a rod of which was used to measure it. The temple is not a physical temple but the body of Jesus Christ. The measuring rod is not a physical ruler but the test of Scripture. No other measuring rod is accurate and no other temple matches the measurements of Christ. That is why every person needs a Savior. Every other standard puts man at the helm. Scripture is the only authority which puts God at the helm. Scripture is not just inerrant. It is not just sufficient. It is superior. Why seek your advice from others gods when you can get it from the real thing? Why depend upon that which will fade and burn when you can depend upon that which will last forever? The wisdom of this world is shameful and will be put in its place. The wisdom of God, while it seems foolish to this world, is the everlasting truth and will always not merely outlast this world, but completely dominate it. Seek the Lord who has revealed himself in Scripture. He is always right.

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


Fathers, You Are Extremely Important

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 15, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Editor’s note: Due to the popularity of this post, we’re re-posting this one today for your enjoyment.

Dads are extremely important. I mean, fathers: I’m guessing you have absolutely NO IDEA how important you are in the lives of your children, and in the lives of your wives, AND very much so in the life of the church. We need dads to be who God called them to be. Understand I believe moms are exceptionally important, as well. Today, I’m writing about dads because I think we have a big problem concerning dads. In order to understand the greatness of dads, we need to look at what God has to say to dads:

Genesis 18:18-19: "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Abraham is the Father of our faith, so to speak. Abraham wasn’t a perfect man, but he did something that God commanded: …he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD…so [He] will bring about …what He has promised. That is: He will make him great.

So how do we direct our children to keep the ways of the Lord? God’s Word further says, in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, "Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

So in order to do this we need to know the Word of God ourselves and we need to talk about it. We have plenty of opportunity to learn about God’s ways from the Bible, in church services, small groups, and the internet.

God has called us, dads, to train up our children. He’s called us to be the head of the household and direct our children in the way of the Lord. You may not have signed up for that, but that doesn’t change the fact that God has made an order to things and you’re much closer to the top than many of us would like to take responsibility for.

Fatherhood is in decline. Fathers are portrayed on TV as imbeciles and they have little to no authority at all. Men have bought this and have become Doug Hefernan and Ray Barone, Tim Allen or Homer Simpson. With fatherhood on the decline and men simply playing their Hollywood role of bread winner and neighborhood clown, we’re in trouble. Men have decided to let mom be the authority. She can teach the kids. She can be in charge. Let her make the decisions and let her go out and represent the family in the community or church. I believe this is a BIG problem.

Here are some staggering statistics that may help you realize why I feel God placed this on my heart.

A survey was conducted to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is alarming in light of what I just told you concerning attendance. There is one critical factor found in the survey. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

So let me share the survey results so you can see why this is amazing: If both parents are regular in their church attendance,74% of their children will remain faithful to one degree or another. If dad is irregular in attendance while mom is regular, 62% will attend (that’s a loss of 12% because dad was not a regular attender). If dad doesn’t attend but mom is regular in her attendance, 39% of their children will have a faith of some sort (that is a loss of 35% compared to dads that attend regularly). 2% of their children will become a regular attendee. 2%!

In short, If the father attends at all, 50-74% of his children will attend church on some level. If the father does not attend, 2% of his children will become regular worshippers and not even 40% will attend at all.

Said another way: If mom stays home but dad goes, a minimum of 2/3 of the children will be in church. If dad stays home and mom goes, 2/3 of the children will not go to church. If neither goes to church, 80% of their children won’t go either.

When a child gets to the age where they begin to differentiate themselves from mom and dad, more than anything, they’ll use their dad as the role model—this is for boys and girls. Where the father is indifferent, inadequate, or just plain absent, the task of differentiation is much harder. When children see that church is a "women and children" thing, they will respond accordingly—by not going to church, or going much less. Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates that going to church is not really a "grown-up" activity.

We live in a time where fatherlessness is the norm. I’m not just talking about single moms, friends. How many dads do you know who live with their wives and children but are really absent?

Children with involved Fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self-esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex.

I had a bunch of stats for you to confirm this, but I honestly thought they’d be too depressing. I will share a couple just to make the point stick:

--85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.
SOURCE: U.S. Dept. of Justice
--children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households.
“Without two parents, working together as a team, the child has more difficulty learning the combination of empathy, reciprocity, fairness and self-command that people ordinarily take for granted. If the child does not learn this at home, society will have to manage his behavior in some other way. He may have to be rehabilitated, incarcerated, or otherwise restrained. In this case, prisons will substitute for parents.”

SOURCE: Morse, Jennifer Roback. “Parents or Prisons.” Policy Review, 2003

The bottom line to this is that Dads are a gift to their children. As a father, you must realize that your presence is a gift to your child. Fathers represent a lot more than just a paycheck to a child; they represent safety, protection, guidance, friendship, and someone to look up to.

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


What Does the Bible Say About Rainbows?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 12, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Rainbows: one of my favorite things to draw as a kid, and I’ve always loved all the colors (as long as the colors are in the right order, of course). When I was growing up, rainbows were always considered a beautiful thing and a reminder of God’s promises, but that has changed some today with the LGBTQ movement adopting the rainbow as their symbol. (Side note: is homosexuality a sin? Find out here.)

As a follower of Jesus Christ, it is important to base our beliefs on what the Bible says rather than what culture says. So, what does the Bible say about rainbows?

By far the most prominent rainbow reference in the Bible is right after the story of Noah’s ark and the big flood found in Genesis 6-9. Specifically, Genesis 9:12-16 says, “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Scientifically, today we know that rainbows appear in the sky because of reflection and refraction of sunlight when it hits water droplets, such as when the sun first comes out and there’s still a bit of rain coming down. But we can also look at that rainbow as a remembrance of the promise that God made to Noah many generations ago, that He will never again destroy all life on earth with a flood. We know that God is faithful to His Word, and while there have been localized floods that do much damage (including in Findlay, OH, where I live), there has never again been a flood that destroyed nearly the whole planet like the one recorded in Genesis.

The next mention of a rainbow in the Bible is in the prophet Ezekiel’s first vision. Ezekiel 1:25-28 says, “Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.” Here, the rainbow is a descriptive term to show the brilliance and radiance that surrounds this figure in his vision.

The final mentions of a rainbow in the Bible are in the book of Revelation. Revelation 4:3, referring to the scene John saw in the throne room of heaven, says, “And the one who sat there [on the throne] had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Later, Revelation 10:1 tells us, “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.” In these instances, the rainbow is seen again as a symbol of hope and of God’s love, glory, and majesty.

What does the rainbow mean in your life? Does your interpretation of that refer to God’s faithfulness and His glory and majesty, or something else? I encourage you to take a look deeper at what the Bible says, even when it may be counter-cultural.

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.