What Does the Bible Say About Faith?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 30, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We’ve written a lot about the topic of faith here at Worldview Warriors. I’ve written about how a person has faith, living out our faith in the public square, who our faith is in, and many of my posts on the book of Romans from 2015 dealt with faith. Logan Ames has been doing a series for months now on the heroes of the faith from Hebrews 11.

Faith is a pretty important aspect of being a follower of Jesus, so naturally the Bible has a lot to say about it. To start, let’s see how the Bible defines faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). A few verses later in Hebrews 11:6, we see that, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” We cannot be a believer in God without faith, because we have to believe that He exists before we can follow Him.

Faith is essential for salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes that, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Where does faith come from? It comes from hearing the message of God. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. … Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:9-10, 17).

Jesus tells us that our faith has mighty power. “‘Have faith in God, Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’” (Mark 11:22-24). In Luke 7:1-10, we see that the centurion’s faith is what caused Jesus to heal his servant. In Matthew 21:18-22, Jesus instructs His disciples that they can do amazing things when they truly have faith.

How are we to live out our faith? James 2:14-26 tells us that our faith is shown through our works. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). We should live by our faith in God, who is unseen, rather than living by the things we see (2 Corinthians 5:7). While not using the actual word for faith, Proverbs 3:5-6 still demonstrates living out our faith: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

These passages I’ve referenced are just some of the ones that explicitly deal with faith, but the entire Bible is filled with examples of people living out their faith, or not having faith in God and facing the consequences. I encourage you to strengthen your faith by learning about those in the Bible who have lived out their faith well.

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The Faith of Jehoshaphat

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 29, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and even the inland parts of multiple southern states. Many of those places were hit hard again several weeks later when Hurricane Rita made an appearance. As many know, the biggest city that was impacted to the point it was almost completely under water during these events was New Orleans, Louisiana. As a response to the devastation that was occurring in her state, then-Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco made a statement where she called on Louisianians and all people everywhere to pray for those affected and for their state. At the time, I often listened to sports talk radio as I drove around in my work vehicle all day and one host in particular was Colin Cowherd. He is still someone I enjoy listening to today, but he decided one day to comment on Governor Blanco’s plea for prayers in a way that showed his ignorance toward the things of God. His response was something to the effect of saying that the people of Louisiana elected her to come up with something better than prayer. He was dumbfounded that asking for prayer was the best solution she could come up with and declared that she was not fit to lead and handle this crisis.

While I can understand that many use prayer as a substitute for action and that doing so is not necessarily the point of faith in God, Colin Cowherd simply failed to see any power in seeking the Lord during a crisis. As we continue to look at the heroes of our faith in this series, we find out that most of these people were eyewitnesses to the power of God long after they had run out of human options and plans to save them from their crises. King (don’t call him “Jumpin”) Jehoshaphat was no different.

In Hebrews 11:34, we’re told that some of the faithful heroes “became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” through their trust in the Lord. This achievement could be applied to many of the heroes, but Jehoshaphat is certainly near the top of that list. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 17-20 after he succeeds his father Asa as king of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 17:3-6, we see that Jehoshaphat followed the Lord and the ways of his ancestor, David, and that he did away with idols and their symbols and refused to consult them. The Lord chose to establish his kingdom and he gave great wealth and honor to Jehoshaphat. Verse 9 tells us that he also appointed teachers to go throughout Judah teaching the Book of the Law of the Lord. In other words, he didn’t just do away with idol worship, but also replaced it with a renewed national focus on the Lord. As Jehoshaphat made good choices and kept his focus on the things of God, he grew more and more powerful, and other kings surrounding Judah were afraid of him to the point that they brought gifts, likely to get on his good side.

In 2 Chronicles 18, Jehoshaphat almost falls into a trap set by the evil King Ahab of Israel. He does make the mistake of allying himself with Ahab by marriage first, but then agrees to join him in war (vv. 1-3). However, he urges Ahab to seek the counsel of the Lord first (v. 4). Ahab, probably somewhat begrudgingly, calls on all the prophets at his disposal and asks them if he should go to war specifically against Ramoth Gilead. They all tell him how awesome he is and that he should do it and will have victory. I say he probably consulted them begrudgingly for several reasons. First, he has shown little to no regard for the word of the Lord at any time during his reign up to this point. Second, his actions in the rest of the chapter show that he didn’t care much for it at this point either! Peer pressure can be a good thing in the Church, and it seems to me that Jehoshaphat put the pressure on Ahab to seek the Lord if he truly wanted Jehoshaphat’s help.

Ahab had 400 prophets who just told him the good news he wanted to hear and didn’t speak the Lord’s true word if it meant bad news for Ahab. Jehoshaphat caught onto this and asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (v. 6) Ahab responds that there is still Micaiah, but he hates him because everything Micaiah usually prophesies is bad news for him. Both Jehoshaphat’s question and Ahab’s response reveal that BOTH men recognized that the 400 “yes-men” were not true prophets but only gave lip service. The difference is that the Lord’s word truly mattered to Jehoshaphat, while Ahab was content to, as Paul later says in 2 Timothy 4:3, surround himself with those who said what his “itching ears wanted to hear."

They talk to Micaiah and true to form, Micaiah prophesies the bad news that Ahab predicted. Ahab would be deceived into thinking he could win the battle, but instead would be killed. Hearing all this, Ahab continues to get further away from the Lord spiritually and tries to use all the resources available to him to save himself. He puts Micaiah in prison until he returns safely, as if Micaiah is the one who had the power to doom him. He then tries to get Jehoshaphat to stand out in battle so he would be killed while Ahab disguised himself. Jehoshaphat realizes he has been duped after it’s too late and he’s about to be killed, but 2 Chronicles 18:31 tells us he cries out to the Lord in that moment of crisis and God rescues him. Ahab would later be killed “at random” (v. 33) and the prophecy was fulfilled.

In 2 Chronicles 19, Jehoshaphat returns from battle, is held accountable by a seer named Jehu for joining forces with the wicked Ahab, then returns to seeking the Lord completely. He appoints judges throughout Judah and urges them to judge carefully because they are judging for the Lord and not for mere mortals (vv. 5-7). In 2 Chronicles 20, we see the climax of Jehoshaphat’s story. He is told that a vast army made up of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites is coming to wage war against him and God’s people (v. 1). Any one of these groups alone would have been a tall task to defeat. This would be like the three best NFL teams all coming together to take on the Cleveland Browns! Jehoshaphat doesn’t panic and he doesn’t spend a lot of time coming up with a “plan” to win like Ahab did. Instead, he stands up before all the people of Judah and begins to pray to God, reminding him of his awesomeness and power, reminding him of what he’s promised and what he’s done in the past, and acknowledging that they are in trouble and need the Lord to show up (vv. 5-11). He finishes with these great words in verse 12: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."

Friends, that’s the essence of humility before the Lord and admitting you need him during a crisis. It could be an army attacking your nation, a natural disaster destroying your home and everything you’ve worked for, or something that hits even closer to home like battling addiction or losing your job. Whatever crisis is facing you, there is power in prayer and in sincerely giving it all over to God. He has the power to win the battle FOR you, so that all you need to do is whatever little bit he tells you. Read the rest of 2 Chronicles 20 on your own and see how the Lord delivered Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah without them having to lift a single sword or kill a single soul. All they had to do was trust the Lord, put their faith in action by marching against their enemies while praising God with a song we still sing today - “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever” (v. 21) - and then gather the plunder the Lord had given them after he used the pagan armies to literally destroy each other. God almost always calls us to ACT out of our faith and trust in him, but even then the battle belongs to HIM. Stop trusting in your plans and efforts today and seek the Lord with all your heart!

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Practical Intercession

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 27, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I wrote about three different depths of how intercession can be understood. This week, I want to put some practical tips and ideas together of how we can intercede for our loved ones and this world. First, intercession is much more than just praying for someone on a spiritual level. I like to describe intercession also as an actual relief of a physical, emotional, or spiritual need in the life of someone else. But not many people want to intercede. I want to explore several reasons why we do not intercede for others, then I will explain some ideas on how we can do it.

God tends to have a hard time finding intercessors. Few people are willing to stand on behalf of others even if it means their own death. He told this to Isaiah and Ezekiel. No intercessors could be found by God. Why? Here are several reasons.

The first is likely the most common: ignorance. Most people will not intercede for others because they do not know what the needs are. Do you know the needs in your church? Do you know what people are going through? To be dead honest, I would suggest most have no clue about what is going on within their local church body aside from public announcements and the small cliques within the congregation. I speak of myself too. Gossip spreads easily, but how many of us understand what our own congregation is going through?

The second reason is self-focus. So many people are so intently focused on their own needs that they do not have the time or resources to look upon the needs of others. When someone else’s needs are brought up, many tend to look at their schedule to see if they can fit them in, rather than dropping what they are doing (if possible) to help that person. Many people’s lives are in such disorder due to various choices or circumstances that they need rescue. But here is the tragic part of this one. Someone comes to their rescue, enabling them to get momentary relief, but instead of rejoining the battle they hang back and let their rescuer fight the battle for them. Or, instead of taking advantage of the breather, they do nothing so they end up right back where they started, in trouble. The only solution is to take the focus off self (not being negligent with personal needs) and see what God needs us doing.

The third reason is cowardice. Yes, outright cowardice. Usually under the banner of self-preservation. “I don’t want to get involved because it’s not my business, or because I don’t want to get hurt.” Paul Washer gives a terrifying image of how God sees this situation. He describes a scenario where his wife goes shopping and is violently and brutally assaulted and violated. Then a man passes by, sees the crime taking place, and walks by saying nothing and doing nothing. He then says, “I’ll look for those men who attacked her, but I’ll look for him too because he had a chance to do something and didn’t do it.” How does God look at his Bride any differently? The context of this was in reference to pastors catering to the carnal goats in the church rather than feeding the sheep, but the image certainly applies to intercession.

Now, Washer also was not talking about those with the inability to do something. He is talking about those who WILL not do anything. Revelation 21:8 gives a list of those who will be cast in the Lake of Fire and cowards are the first in the list. That freaked me out because it’s the only of such lists to mention cowards. Not only that, how often have I acted cowardly, seeing issues going on and choosing not to do anything because of fear of getting hurt? That should humble us.

The fourth and last point for this post is the worst of them: apathy. Apathy is when you don’t intercede not because you don’t know about it, nor are too scared to do it, but because you don’t even care about it. It is when we don’t even care about the lost and just abdicate our position to let the world burn. Apathy is not out of ignorance but out of intentional laziness. It is a direct, “I don’t care what happens, just leave me alone and out of it.”

This is not a comprehensive list, but let us examine ourselves so we do not find these things in our lives. Instead, let us look to see how we can intercede for our brethren. First, we need to keep our eyes open. Look around you. What is going on? How are people hurting? What can you do about it? Many will say, “I have no idea what to do. I have no skills, no abilities, no money to help them.” That may be true. But have you considered trying to do what you can?

The man who walks by the scenario of a woman being brutalized may not have the strength to stand between the men and the woman. But at the very least, he can go call for help. Recently I have had two opportunities to intercede even though it wasn’t very much. In one case, I was staying with some friends who have two extremely active boys. For two hours I played lightsabers with them, enabling the parents to peacefully wash the dishes. It wasn’t much, but it was a breath of relief for them. Then in another case, I have another friend who was struggling with one of his sons. Not being a parent, I really have no advice for him, but I was able to let him vent upon me. It can be a very small thing which can also lead to a significant impact.

There is a popular tale of a young man who was constantly bullied as he was carrying his books home. He dropped them on the way and a classmate stopped to help him pick them up. The two became best friends and in his valedictorian speech, the bullied young man told the tale of meeting his best friend and how he was planning to commit suicide that night and was carrying his books home so his parents would not have to. The friend saved his life by a simple act of kindness. That is intercession. The friend had no clue how much of an impact that one simple act had.

You cannot intercede for anyone unless your eyes are open and you’re paying attention to your surroundings. God’s desire for each of us as Christians is to keep alert and awake, watching what is going on in this world and being ready to listen to God to tell you how to act in that situation. You cannot save everyone, but you can save those God calls you to save. God wants to use us for his plan of salvation and redemption, and often times intercessors will get hit the hardest. God builds his intercessors to be able to take the hits. Not everyone is called to be a Rees Howells and intercede as their spiritual callings, but everyone is called to intercede, just as everyone is called to evangelize and preach at some level. Whom is God calling you to intercede for? Listen to his call and then go out and obey.

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Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 26, 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.

Ever put any thought into your brain? Strange question, right? The brain is arguably the most powerful super computer on the planet. It operates at extremely high levels while using relatively very small amounts of energy. The brain, brainstem, and spinal cord coordinate every function of your body every second of the day every day of your life. It doesn’t sleep. In fact, studies show us the brain is more active while we sleep than when we are awake. I thought taking a look at this marvelous structure would not only be interesting but also get you thinking about how amazing our Creator is and how absurd assuming this marvelous piece of anatomy we take for granted came about by random, undirected processes. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

The brain weighs about 3 lbs. Your average laptop, which is much less productive than your brain, weighs between 5 and 7 lbs. This small but powerful computer will add 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy and will continue to grow (at a slower rate) until about the age of 18 years. It will likely max out at about 100 billion neurons, each making 1,000 to 10,000 connections to other neurons. This is such an amazing network. Estimates for total brain capacity, in terms we use for hard drives, range from 3 to 100 terabytes of information! To make it a little more confusing, there are approximately 250 quadrillion connections in the brain. To further complicate it, each connection is not just an “on/off” sort of connection. There are different thresholds for different connections and the speed at which neurons fire plays a role, too. There are different cell types, as well, that do different things in the brain. There are different neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, axonal branches and dendritic spines, and that doesn’t include the influences of dendritic geometry, or the approximately 1 trillion glial cells which may or may not be important for neural information processing. Because the brain is nonlinear, and because it is so much larger than nearly all current computers, it seems likely that it functions in a completely different fashion.

This little computer will run your entire body using roughly 10-20 watts of power for the day. The average juice used by your laptop ranges from 15-50 watts per hour. Think about that for a moment! Your brain, which is coordinating digestion, your immune system, your endocrine system, your heart, lung, and vascular systems, your liver and kidneys, interpreting your 5 senses (which you are probably not aware of at the moment), muscle control of the eyes including your pupil and lens operation, interpreting what you’re reading and processing it, as well as thousands of other functions your body is performing right now, runs on hardly enough energy to power the computer you’re viewing this blog on for about 10 minutes—and this will run the brain all day! How amazing is that?

The human brain is, pound for pound, the largest brain of any animal on earth when compared to the rest of the body—accounting for about 2% of its weight and 20% of its oxygen consumption. The elephant’s brain is larger than a human’s but is about .15% of the animal’s body weight. These brains are also not put together the same way, making ours much more capable of complex calculations.

Your brain does not feel pain, but the coverings around it are exceptionally sensitive. On the subject of pain—many pain nerves actually travel more slowly than other nerves. There are different nerve fibers that send different types of information to the brain. Some send pressure sense. Others send temperature sense. Others are vibratory in nature. Some send impulses for proprioception (telling your brain where you are in space). Still others relay pain sensation or touch. There are many different types of nerves that send impulses at different speeds. Ever wonder why you grab, shake, or rub something when it hurts? The sensation of touch, pressure, or vibration will get to your brain first, essentially minimizing the amount of pain sense that can arrive at the brain. This is known as the “Pain Gate” theory. If you shove enough other stuff through the gate, the pain isn’t allowed in.

And this is just how marvelous the human brain is! There are many other organisms that have brains much smaller than ours that do amazing things. Have you ever watched a sparrow fly across your lawn at about 15 mph and stop instantly on the wire of a fence that’s 1/16 of an inch in diameter? How much calculation went into that act? Amazing! Or a cat leaping in the air to catch that sparrow as it darts across your lawn? To predict the speed, height, and trajectory of such a feat is breathtaking—and this happens all the time. If we were aware of ALL the work our brains were doing all the time, we’d be exhausted and wouldn’t be able to do anything else.

I hope this was informative and, if nothing else, interesting for you. The human brain is simply far more complex than could ever been dreamed. Believing it could have developed by some sort of series of accidental mistakes…well, how is that even conceivable?

Where did this amazing computer come from? Check out Psalm 139:13-16.

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What Does the Bible Say About Peace?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 23, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Shalom!” This is the traditional Jewish greeting, which can be used as a “hello” or a “goodbye,” but literally the world shalom is Hebrew for “peace.” I think it’s a great sentiment to wish peace to someone when you greet them, whether coming or going. But what does the Bible say about peace? What kind of peace are we talking about?

The word “peace” occurs hundreds of times in the Bible, so I will not list all of them in this post. There are different kinds of peace discussed as well.

One type of peace spoken of in the Bible is regarding relationships. There can be peace between people, such as in Genesis 34:21 where Jacob’s sons make a deal with the Hivites to live peacefully together. Peace can also happen between nations, such as in 1 Kings 5:12 where Solomon and the nation of Israel has a peaceful agreement with Hiram, who supplied logs for the construction of the temple. We also see God promising peace to His people, such as in Psalm 85:8: “I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.”

Ultimately, true peace only comes from God. Psalm 4:8 says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus was foretold to be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and at His birth the angels proclaimed peace on Earth (Luke 2:14). In John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” A bit later in the same discourse (John 16:33) Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are commanded to live in peace as much as we can. Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” We are also told to, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Peace should be a way of life for those who follow Jesus Christ, as He is the embodiment of peace.

Because of sin in the world, there will continue to be conflicts and a lack of peace, until Jesus comes back again to instill lasting peace as in Isaiah 11:1-10. Jesus came to earth to take on our punishment and die so that there may be peace (Isaiah 53:3).

Are you living a life governed by the peace of Jesus, or by the flesh? Romans 8:6 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” I encourage you to pursue Jesus’ peace in your life this week. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

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 Hannah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 22, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Have you ever wanted something that you couldn’t have so badly that it made you literally sick? If so, then you know how difficult it is to even focus on anything else in life. You can’t be happy for anyone else. In fact, if another person is enjoying the blessing you so desperately crave, you’ll most likely resent him or her. You also can’t enjoy any of the blessings you ARE receiving in life because all you can think about is the thing that you wish you could have. An attitude of dissatisfaction can steal all of your joy and some of the joy from others as well.

Sometimes, God keeps us from getting what we want because he knows we need to get our priorities straight first. We need HIM to be what we desire most and for all other wants or needs that we have to be submitted to him. God may eventually give us the thing for which we are desperate, but waiting for it allows us to practice trusting in him, to be willing to submit all of our desires to him, and to appreciate the blessing all the more if/when we do get it. This is exactly what happened with Hannah, who went from being barren to birthing one of the most steadfast, bold, and faithful men who I’ve already discussed in this series - Samuel. I’ve decided to double-dip on the phrase in Hebrews 11:34 that says there were some “whose weakness was turned to strength” because of their faith. I talked about the faith and story of Esther last week, but it seems to me I’d be doing a disservice to this entire series of faithful heroes if I didn’t talk about Hannah. It just so happens that, like Esther, Hannah was one who was in a position of weakness, but through her trust in God and desire to obey him, she became strong and faithful.

The story is found in 1 Samuel 1 and I encourage you to read the whole thing even as I give you the bullet points. We are first told about this man, Elkanah, who had two wives named Hannah and Peninnah (v. 2). It’s important for us to understand that the fact that even though polygamy was somewhat of a norm in ancient Israel doesn’t mean that God accepted it. The Bible never puts polygamy in a positive light. It tells us that God brought together one man and one woman at the beginning of human life (Genesis 2:21-24). It’s very possible that polygamy, like many sins that we have today, became so culturally accepted to the point that participants were ignorant of the fact that it wasn’t good. But all we have to do is look at the tension, stress, and bitterness that it causes to see that it certainly was not part of God’s intended plan.

The two wives of Elkanah developed a rivalry between them (vv. 6-7). Peninnah was given children, but the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. Since motherhood is such a high honor and was back then as well, it seems that Peninnah used this to provoke Hannah. In the constant competition for their husband’s love and attention, Peninnah had the upper hand and both she and Hannah knew it. That didn’t stop Elkanah from loving Hannah. In fact, he would give her a double portion of the meat whenever they worshiped and sacrificed to the Lord each year at Shiloh because he loved her and knew that she was distraught over not having children (vv. 3-5). Elkanah, like many men, did his best to love his wife but simply couldn’t understand how she felt. He was loving but insensitive and failed to see that what she desperately needed was something that he could not provide unless the Lord chose to allow it.

Hannah was so distraught over her situation and cried so much that she wouldn’t even eat. Then one time, after her family had finished eating, she got up and began to pray “in deep anguish” and with “bitter weeping” (v. 10). In that prayer, Hannah made a vow to the Lord that if he cared about her misery enough to give her a son, then she would “give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor would ever be used on his head” (v. 11). This was a Nazirite vow, the same one commanded by the Lord regarding Samson’s birth in Judges 13:2-5. A Nazirite vow was similar to something you and I might do for Lent or for an even longer period of time. It was traditionally done for a season in ancient Israel, but as far as I know, Samson and Samuel are the only ones who were considered Nazirites from birth. Maybe that type of submission to his will was just what God wanted to see before he chose to bless her. Hannah did the right thing in taking her feelings of grief and anguish to the Lord rather than trying to meet her needs through other means.

After spending time in prayer and pouring her heart and desires out to the Lord, she is initially reprimanded by the priest because he thinks she is just drunk. But after she explains what she is doing, the priest sends her away with an encouragement and a blessing (vv. 12-17). When we pour ourselves out to the Lord in desperation, he often gives us little nuggets of hope through others before the blessing comes. We see this happen between Hannah and the priest because, after he encourages her, she found the strength to eat something (v. 18). That strength continued the next day as she got up and worshiped the Lord before going home. I remind you that she did this AFTER submitting her desire to the Lord but BEFORE she knew how or even if he would respond. Our worship of the Lord is about who he is, not what he does for us. If we think about all he has done for us, we should always worship him anyway. But if we base it on that alone, we tend to start focusing on what God HASN’T done for us and begin to think he isn’t worthy of our worship. Hannah learned to praise him no matter what.

After they went home, Hannah and Elkanah slept together as they probably had done many times before, but this time the Lord remembered her and she became pregnant with Samuel (v. 20). It probably would’ve been tempting at that point to thank God for the gift and then hold onto it and neglect the vow she had made. Anyone who has had children and has had to let them go at some point knows this to be true. But Hannah faithfully follows through on her promise and presents Samuel to the priest at the Lord’s house in Shiloh after he is weaned (vv. 21-28).

Hannah’s life was in the dumps. Not only did she not get what she wanted in terms of a child at first, but her husband had another wife right there in the same home who got what Hannah wanted and rubbed it in on occasion. Her deep anguish didn’t lead her away from the Lord, however, but right to him. Rather than respond to Peninnah’s provoking behavior, she went to the Lord. Rather than stop believing, she went to the Lord. Rather than engage in other immoral behavior to meet her needs, she went to the Lord. Because of this, she became a woman of great faith and strength, and she gave the Lord all the credit. In 1 Samuel 2:1, she says, “In the Lord my horn is lifted high." The word for “horn” is the Hebrew carni, which is a figurative symbol of strength. Hannah trusted in God and he turned what was a great weakness for her into a great strength as she gave birth to a man who led Israel with truth and grace. What can God do in your life if you trust him with your most desperate needs and deepest sorrows? You may feel weak, but depending on him will make you strong and faithful.

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.


Primed for Tyranny, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 21, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Please read last week's blog post before continuing with this one, if you haven't already.

We are helping the adolescence of tyranny every time we pick up our tribal issues, and equate them to Jesus' mission.

Look at Luke 19:28-44. It’s lamb selection day for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people cheer, shout "Hosanna!" and lay down their cloaks on the road to pave the way and express allegiance. But allegiance to what? Why are the Pharisees so nervous? And why did Jesus weep outside the city, as if the city was already lost?

According to scholar Ray Vander Laan, the palm branches and the shouting of "hosanna" reflect the victory of the Maccabees just before the Hasmonean Dynasty. It was a time when the Seleucid Empire had conquered Israel (called "Judea" at that time). Antiochus III promised Israel they didn't have to be Hellenized (made to forsake their beliefs and practices for Greek ones), but many Jews started taking on Greek religious practices anyway. Antiochus IV came to power when Antiochus III died. Antiochus IV replaced the Jewish High priest, Onias, with Jason who bribed his way to power and was committed to Hellenizing the Jews. 

Jason removed Judaism as the religion of the city. Jason is later replaced by Menelaus, who let his brother steal valuable religious items from the Jerusalem temple. This lead to revolts by the Jews, after which Antiochus IV made it illegal for Jews to observe Jewish religious practices. Then came the revolt of the Maccabees (lead by Mattathias and Judah). They overthrew the Greeks, freed the land, and set up the Hasmonean Dynasty. There was a great procession (parade) as leaders entered the city, during which the people waved palm branches as a sign of the peace they would now enjoy as a result of the final battle that cleansed the land of Greek influence.

Going back to Luke 19 and Jesus' procession into the city, why does He weep after he gets there? Why does he say the crowd is missing the point on what would bring them peace? Why is it that eventually their cheering would lead to a siege on the city and the destruction and death He describes in verses 42-44?

According to Josephus, the early church historian, every so many years on lamb selection day, there would be parades like this. A hero or group would march into the city and a riot would start as people hoped this might be the moment when Rome was driven out of Jerusalem - just like in the time of the Maccabees. The Romans would often respond with ruthless violence, slaughtering everyone participating as well as anyone in the area of the riots.

So, that's why we see the Pharisees get nervous as Jesus rides in and the people start cheering. What the people are cheering is, "hosanna" which means "save us" or "deliver us." This cheering is also why Jesus weeps. He knows the hearts of the people, and He can see they are looking for political freedom, a savior from God who had divine power to wage war and overthrow the Roman occupation. Jesus could see the path they were committed to walking and where it would lead them. The warring, the unrest, and the tribalism would never accomplish the peace they needed, even if for a season they gained the peace that they wanted. The people would always be primed for tyranny, unless something significant changed inside of them.

Jesus' way did not continue the tribalism and division that allows tyranny to take root. He went to the heart of the issue and invited us to follow Him FIRST, above all other concerns. Following Jesus will enable us to exemplify His unity and peace, even as we go through turbulent times. Following Jesus will raise our eyes to what is True in and beyond our experience, so that we can commit to His mission and not imperfect shadows of His mission. Whether we are engaged in evangelism, social justice, politics, or any other sphere of our culture, if we are divided against other followers, then we may NOT be following Jesus, no matter how noble or emotionally powerful our narrative may be.

Jesus did not participate in intersectional ideology, and he didn't quibble over the immorality of worldly governments or leaders. Jesus saw the truth of every circumstance. He was gracious toward the hurting, whom preservationists had overlooked or oppressed. He confronted the progressives for their departures from God's morality. He taught those who thought they knew what the right answer was. He avoided the entanglement into political agendas by recognizing we should "give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God's." And He passionately laid His life down for the mission to redefine this world's values, through followers who would maintain their focus on Him and teach others to do the same. He undid sin and death, overturning the primary forces that motivate the evils of our world. Never is there a relent by Jesus in regard to His Spirit and His followers influencing the world. And never was that influence partial to the tribalism that leads to tyranny.

Reflect on this (often):
- Am I divided against fellow believers? If so, why? How can we both believe something is of God so strongly, and yet be divided? What are we missing?
- If I am going to confront other believers on an issue, why am I certain I see it clearly? What could I be missing that they see?
- If I speak publically, will my words build up, heal, unify, and bring to discussion? Or am I venting my grievances and fertilizing the soil of tyranny?
- How do I interact within the unity and peace of Holy Spirit, already given to followers of Jesus, if my ideas may be in conflict with other followers? What unifying thread does God see, that we are missing? Am I willing to let Him show me?

In all things, even the disarray of our culture and politics, God is sovereign and He sees the path forward. Only He can prevent us from walking down the path to tyranny. Are we willing to pause and seek Him and His perspective beyond the narratives we play and replay? Will we lay aside the temptation to preserve or progress our interests, so that we can advance His way of living as of FIRST importance?

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Defining Intercession

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 20, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

"Intercession” is a term many people in Christian circles have heard but few really understand. I wrote about intercession in my series on prayer about a year and a half ago, but last month, I got the opportunity to speak at my church’s Men’s Breakfast meeting and this topic is what the Lord lead me to speak on. So while the topic is fresh on my mind, I want to go into greater depth about what intercession is and what it is like. Today, I am going to define what it as well as give some Biblical examples of who did it, then next week I am going to look at some practical ways on how we can intercede as well as explain why we don’t.

First, I want to define intercession in three different ways. Consider it at an elementary level, a high school level, and a post-graduate level. First is what most people understand intercession to be: “praying for someone else.” That is a true and correct definition, however it is only at a basic level. The depth of what it means, however, goes far beyond what many of us have ever grasped.

Praying for someone else helps keep our minds focused on serving God and serving others rather than our own issues. It is important to pray about our current situation and needs, however when we pray for others and their situations, it puts our own problems into a better perspective. It is important to note that this type of intercession is not about getting others to do your praying for you, or you doing others’ prayer for them. It is also important to note that we tend to only pray for others if that person would affect us personally or because of what that person can give us. That’s not intercession. Intercession requires making a stand with no concern about self.

The “high school” level of defining intercession takes this same idea and goes deeper. This level of understanding is easily described in terms of a battle scene. In a battle, an ally is going to get hit at some point. So will you. Intercession is when you go to aid your ally and often fight the enemy or battle they are facing for them or alongside them. The purpose of this kind of intercession is to enable a weakened ally to retreat from the battle to heal or to free them to finish the job they were sent to do.

This often takes place in the form of prayer, but with the mindset of “I am going to fight in their battle,” not merely “I support you but from a distance.” This is the image of “standing in the gap.” Here are some examples. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan and stayed in the riverbed until all the people got across. They stood in the gap and held the waters at bay so the people could enter the Promised Land. Moses stood between God and Israel when the Golden Calf was made. Abraham stood between God and Sodom. Esther stood between her people and Haman by approaching the king at risk of her life. Solomon interceded for a woman at risk of losing her child to a thieving other woman. Even Ahimelech interceded for David by providing bread and Goliath’s sword. These each example gave relief to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The “post-graduate” level of defining intercession is seen in only a few extremely rare examples. The only two people I can think of to express this type of intercession are Rees Howells and Jesus Christ. With Rees Howells two things stood out to me. God asked Howells to be in position to literally take the place of woman with tuberculosis, her sickness and her expected death. He agreed and obeyed. God literally substituted Howells for this woman in this disease. Howells did not die, but he should have and that is for another time. Later in life, Howells was leading a Bible college during World War II. He turned a room in the campus into a war room, where he had maps of the battles and a radio constantly updating him on the status of the war. He and his students would pray with the mindset that they were actual soldiers in the battlefield. They prayed as their lives depended upon it. And miracle after miracle after miracle after Nazi blunder paved the way for the Allied victory.

Jesus is the ultimate example of an intercessor. He did, as the last Adam, what the first Adam did not. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, Adam stood there and did nothing while the Serpent tempted Eve. Instead of standing between Eve and the Serpent and protecting her, he let her be the guinea pig. Then when she ate, he did not remember God’s command and love her to the point of offering to taking her punishment for her. He instead was complicit in her crime, eating the fruit willingly. And lastly, when God called them out for their sin, Adam threw Eve under the bus, blaming her for his choice.

Jesus did not do that. Jesus came and upheld God’s law, reminding the people in love and gentleness while standing firmly against the wolves seeking to devour the sheep. He never threw any person under the bus for their sin or to protect himself. And very frequently, he stood between the accusers and the broken. His ultimate stance of intercession was going before the Father and saying something like, “I will take your full wrath upon myself in their stead. Let those who believe me and are of my seed get my righteousness and all that belongs to me.” Jesus did what Rees Howells did for that woman, but on a much larger scale. He took our place, gave us what he had, and took what we had. Jesus became sin itself and when God saw his Son upon that cross, he no longer saw his Son. He saw everything that is evil poured upon him and he crushed his only Son with his full wrath and hatred of sin.

We will not truly grasp what Jesus did for us until we start to see the wretchedness of our sin. Yet, Jesus, who did not have anything to do with sin, took it all so we might become his righteousness. He interceded for us by going to the cross. And yet even in his resurrection, he sits at the right hand of the Father not only preparing a place for his bride the Church, but also interceding on our behalf. Let us not let that work go to waste on us.

Today is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. In all the talk about gun laws and enforcement of them, please note that it can only deal with the symptoms of a much deeper issue which will never go away. Intercession, the Biblical way, can deal with the root issue because it addresses the real core of the problem: sin. Next week, I’ll describe some practical tips on how to intercede and things which prevent us from interceding.

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 Gender?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 16, 2018 1 comments

by Katie Erickson

Gender is a hot topic in today’s culture. Our culture keeps trying to redefine gender roles, so what does the Bible have to say regarding gender?

Any Biblical discussion on gender has to start back at the beginning, at Creation. Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created humankind in His image, and He created us with two genders: male and female. This creation was “very good.”

While the Bible does support science as we know it today, the purpose of the Bible is not to be a biology textbook so it does not provide anatomical details as to what defines a male or a female. But it is very clear that humankind was created with those two genders.

There are many passages in the Bible that give instructions based on gender roles, such as instructions to husbands and wives. One passage with such instructions is Ephesians 5:25-33. That passage discusses both the human relationship of husbands and wives and the spiritual relationship of Jesus Christ and the Church.

Some believe that the Bible considers men to be more important than women. It is true that the Bible was written to a patriarchal (male-dominated) society, but does that mean God favors males over females? I wrote a blog post on that a couple years ago, so for more on that aspect of gender, please go read my post on “Why Does God Hate Women?”.

But when it comes to having a saving faith in Jesus Christ, a person’s gender doesn’t matter. Galatians 3:26-29 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

As believers in Christ, we are all called to “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). That’s what the life of a follower of Christ should be all about.

Are you living your life as an example of the love of Christ to all people, regardless of their gender? If you are a follower of Jesus, what are you doing to support the Biblical worldview in gender discussions happening in our culture today?

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The Faith of Esther

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 15, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In the movie Open Range, which came out about 15 years ago, Kevin Costner’s character gives us one of those “mic drop” quotes before he walks away from a bar conversation. In the discussion, a group of men are talking about the great injustice that is happening in their town. Costner’s character, Charley Waite, mentions that they could do something about it and a father stands up and says he doesn’t want his sons getting involved because they could be shot and killed. Charley then stands up and says, “You may not know this, but there are things that gnaw on a man worse than dying." He walks away leaving this group of men to think about whether the present issue is one that matters enough to them to be willing to die for it.

We all have things and people we think we’d be willing to die for, but we wouldn’t really know for sure until the moment presented itself. As you think about your life now, is there an injustice in the world for which you’d be willing to give it up? Is there a cause that matters enough to you? Does the will of God matter enough to you? We know that the will of God to make the necessary sacrifice on our behalf to cover our sins mattered enough to Jesus to go through with it even though he knew the suffering and was even tempted to give it up (Matthew 26:39). But there were many people even before Jesus who were willing to give up their lives for God’s will if necessary.

The book of Esther tells us the story of one such person. The title character rose to prominence from humble beginnings during a very difficult time for not only herself but also the entire nation of Israel. She would fit the description of faithful heroes in Hebrews 11:34 “whose weakness was turned to strength." Her “weakness” was not something she was born with. Rather, the difficult circumstances that God allowed in her life led her to a point that would break absolutely anyone. Esther 2:5-7 tells us about it. As you may recall from the posts about Daniel and his friends, all of the Israelites were either killed or captured when King Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army invaded and overtook Jerusalem. The events of Esther take place well after that, as King Xerxes of the Persians is now the authority, but the Jews are still in captivity. We learn that Esther was originally named Hadassah, but like Daniel and his friends she was given a pagan name in the pagan place. She has been raised by her cousin, Mordecai, who had been carried off in exile, because both of her parents have died. The verses don’t tell us for certain, but it’s very likely that her parents were among those murdered by the Babylonians. On top of all that, Esther is a stunningly beautiful young woman, which wouldn’t have necessarily been a blessing given that she is around evil, immoral men with no one really to protect her.

King Xerxes was a very foolish man who literally banished his previous queen from his presence just because she refused to parade herself immodestly in front of him and his drunk friends (Esther 1). Several years later, he and his attendants come up with this plan to find a new queen. Basically, they will round up the most beautiful virgins from all over the Persian empire and have them each come to the king and spend one night with him after they’ve had many months of beauty treatments. And just in case it isn’t already apparent to you, those poor girls didn’t spend that night watching movies and eating chocolate, and they didn’t have the option to say “no” to anything that happened. Their purpose was only to please the king as best they could. This is what we call “rape." They could dress it up and make it seem like a privilege for the girl and do whatever else they want to make it seem normal in their culture, but do not ignore the evil that existed and the fact that it was commonplace in this immoral kingdom.

I also want to point out that it’s not like the king suddenly decided to start forcing women to sleep with him. He already had a harem of women that he could call on whenever he wanted. Like everyone, however, the king started getting bored with his sin and had to take it to the next level. After everything else that has happened in Esther’s life, now she is taken from the one family member who she had left and forced to live in the king’s harem until it was her turn to go and try to please him. Yet, her life is an example to all of us that even the evil deeds of human beings can be used by God to bring about his will. He doesn’t cause it or approve of it, but he does show his dominion over sin by using it to accomplish his purposes.

As the story goes on, Esther is picked out of what scholars believe was about 400 women and is chosen to be the next queen. Esther 2:17 reminds us that it wasn’t even about love, but that the king was “attracted” to her more than any other women. Later in Esther 3, we read about the plot of a man named Haman, who had been elevated to the king’s second in command. He wants everyone to kneel down and pay him honor in accordance with the king’s order, but Mordecai boldly refuses since doing so would be a sin against God. He seems to be following in the footsteps of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Mordecai doesn’t lead a riot. In fact, he had exposed a plot to assassinate the king earlier. He is willing to submit even when he disagrees or doesn’t like the king’s decisions, but the stopping point is when obedience to the king requires disobedience to God. Haman decides he is not just going to kill Mordecai, but ALL of the Jews (Esther 3:6-15). The king gives the edict and the plans are set in place.

Up to this point, Esther has not revealed her true nationality to the king or to anyone else. She has been waiting for the right time and Mordecai sends word to her in Esther 4:8 that basically, it’s now or never. It was time for her to reveal her ethnicity and her people to the king and beg him for mercy. Initially, she responds out of fear and says that if she approaches the king without being summoned, he can have her killed. She also adds that it has been thirty days since she has even seen the king (4:11). As a side note, this shows us that even being queen wasn’t a great life. She had no closeness with her husband and had no right to see him unless HE wanted it. If he went thirty days without even caring to see her, I highly doubt fidelity was part of the equation. After her fearful response, Mordecai reminds her that she is not likely to escape the edict to kill all Jews just because she is a queen, pointing out that she has nothing really to lose by asking the king for mercy. He then shows great faith and tells her that God is going to deliver HIS people one way or another, so she can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. He declares that this critical time might be the whole reason God has allowed her to come to the position of queen! (4:12-14)

In the end, Esther showed her great faith. She may have needed a little motivation from someone who had more faith when she was struggling, but that’s true for all of us. When she agreed to go to the king and put her trust in the Lord, she told Mordecai, “If I perish, I perish” (4:16). Esther and Mordecai were both willing to give up their very lives for the cause of standing up for God’s people, and they trusted that whatever happened would be the Lord’s will. You can read the rest of the story to see how God thwarts the plans of the wicked and saves his people through the strength and faith of Esther, who literally put her life on the line. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther, but he is working behind the scenes throughout it. The same is true in your life. You may feel like he has allowed so much tragedy, abuse, and brokenness in your life. You may feel like he has weakened you. But if you trust him and live in that faith, you’ll see and know that he is still at work to use everything that has been done to bring his plan to fruition. God is always in control!

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Primed for Tyranny, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 14, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I have continued to see posts and articles among "Christians" that mirror what I see in the U.S. culture right now. I see some people blasting evangelicals about hypocrisy and losing their way, alongside fearful articles about Trump laying up a power grab to become our first Tyrant by diminishing the powers of the UN. I see others writing a blank check for anything Republican, Trumpian, or aimed at preserving an America that once was. Every one of them feels they have the most valid argument and some solution for the ills of our culture. And all of them are participating in building a foundation for tyranny. 

How is it that tyranny takes root in a society? Is it because some leader is just so powerful that he/she simply overwhelms the will of the people? Rarely, and I would venture to say never, has it happened that way.

The infancy of tyranny is when people begin to isolate around emotionally charged arguments. It takes hold because of the polarization. As people become tribal and fragmented, the unity of agreement around what is good is destroyed. Facts and evidence take a back seat to feelings, experiences, and anecdotes. Our ability to sort out what is factually true for all people becomes skewed by what is experientially true for whatever tribal affiliation we are closest to. Our ability to know when specific actions are necessary to address an isolated wrong is clouded by our perspective within our tribe. The specific wrong gets overlaid on every circumstance. In short, the whole world becomes a nail, and we just need a hammer to drive it home.

The net effect of this tribalization is that the power of the people is diminished into tribes who are fighting with one another. This is the adolescence of tyranny. In this phase, the tribes feel more passionate rage around emotionally charged issues close to their tribal identity, and at the same time they recognize they don't have the power to convince everyone else or protect their position. In this phase, the tribes are consumed with progressive ideas that jettison the moral and societal framework of their society, or they are consumed with enshrining moral and societal principles to try and help their way of life survive. Both perspectives come from deeply FELT ideologies, and yet BOTH are out of touch with reality. The progressives tear down good fences because the peace and prosperity those fences brought have prevented them from experiencing the original horrors that lead to those fences being built. The preservationists know the fences are important, but they can no longer remember or effectively relate the reasons why the fences are needed in the current context - so their arguments sound like, "just because." (Meanwhile, if anyone happens to notice anything suspicious in regard to a tyrant, it only takes a mild "stirring of the pot" with the tribal conflicts to get them distracted again.)

The amnesia of time and the chaos of tribalism set the stage for a tyrant to rise. They present some great threat, vilifying some notion, person, or ideology. They offer a bright future, change for the better, and protection from the "villain" they present. Often times, the idea or person being vilified represents some of the remaining fence posts of moral standards that could unravel their plans. (This is why it's always important to examine the one(s) calling someone else 'Hitler.') 

By getting the people to hate and reject the "villain" themselves, the tyrant is able to have power handed to them instead of seizing it. They also get the added bonus of wielding guilt over those who tore down the fences and handed them power. They are given broad authority for decisions and legislation that ultimately influences who lives and who dies. That is the maturity of tyranny.

We are not there, but we are on our way. And we are helping the adolescence of tyranny every time we pick up our tribal issues and equate them to Jesus' mission.

Look at Luke 19:28-44. It’s lamb selection day for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people cheer, shout "Hosanna!" and lay down their cloaks on the road to pave the way and express allegiance. But allegiance to what? Why are the Pharisees so nervous? And why did Jesus weep outside the city, as if the city was already lost?

Next week's post will answer those questions and help us avoid being pawns in political plots for power.

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Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 13, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

What is our reputation and to whom should we be concerned regarding our reputation? Last year, I was doing my daily Scripture and I came across a very interesting statement. 2 Kings 3 is the whole context but I want to emphasize on verses 12-14. Jehoram, son of Ahab, king of Israel, called upon Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom to go to war against Moab. Long story short, the three armies got stuck in the desert for a full week without water and decided to call upon a prophet and the only one of God in the area was Elisha. And this is where things get interesting.

Jehoshaphat knew that Elisha was a man of God and he spoke the truth, but when the three kings approached him, Elisha did not wish to speak to Jehoram. He told him to go speak to the gods of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. Jehoram pleaded for a word and this is what Elisha said in 2 Kings 3:14: “Surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you.”

This is what stood out to me. Jehoram had a reputation which a true prophet of God did not respect, and yet Jehoshaphat did. The one thing I never understood about Jehoshaphat was why he kept being the ally of Israel. That was the only blemish he had on record. His son married Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, which lead to two generations of wicked kings (Jehoram of Judah, Ahaziah, and Athaliah, Jehoram’s wife). However, Jehoshaphat was one of only four kings of all the kings listed to go through the land and destroy not just all the idols but all the high places where those idols were once worshipped. He had a reputation for serving and living after God’s commandments. When three armies came to destroy him, he did not turn to other allies. He turned to God who gave him a victory without having to raise a sword.

The leading prophet of God, Elisha, the man who followed in Elijah’s footsteps and performed twice as many recorded miracles as his predecessor, respected Jehoshaphat. Jehoram only got a hearing because Jehoshaphat was with him. Had the king of Judah not been with him, Jehoram and the king of Edom would have been lost to the desert. Elisha then provided a miracle for the kings by not only providing water, but the Moabites thought the water was blood.

There are several things that are worth learning from this statement from Elisha. What do the true men of God think about us? Would they see us as Jehoram, or would they see us as Jehoshaphat? Do we have a reputation of living after God’s ways or living after this world? Take note that Jehoram was not deemed as wicked as Ahab because he put away the Baal statue which was in the palace, however, he did not do away with the golden calves Jeroboam had made shortly after the full kingdom was split into Israel and Judah. So he was not as “evil” a king as his father, yet Elisha considered him not any different. Why? He did not turn back to God. He did not destroy the false idols. Jehoshaphat did. He got rid of any worship of that which was not to God.

Now when most people talk about reputations, the main direction of such talks is to not worry about your reputation and worry instead about what God thinks. We should not worry what the world thinks about us. I have dealt with an old earth creationist who claims to be a Christian and yet constantly chides young earth creationists for making him look bad. Specifically him. He is concerned with what his secular PhD peers think about him. They see “Christian” and they picture “young earth creation” and they are not wrong to do so. However, his primary argument is, “What do you think these secular scientists think about you? How will you get them to listen to you?”

My response is this: As a Christian, the experts of this world’s opinions of me are not my concern. Speaking the truth as God clearly stated from Genesis through Revelation is my concern. God repeatedly calls the wisdom of this world to be foolishness, so why should I seek their approval? This old earth creationist, a well-educated man by secular standards, has missed the whole point of what it means to live as a Christian in a fallen world, by being in the world but not of it. He wants a reputation with praise from the secularists. Bad news for him. If he wants the praise of the world he will get it, and that is all he will ever get. He won’t get the praise from God, nor from any man or woman who follows God.

Leonard Ravenhill was a true prophet of God of the 20th century. He often said, “I speak in many places once.” What did he mean by that? He meant he would be called in to preach for a church because of his reputation and because he would preach the truth, often a very convicting truth, many churches would not invite him back. Paul Washer’s most famous sermon was the “Shocking Youth Message.” He gave it to 5000 youths and the host venue never brought him back. Preaching the truth frequently leads to hatred from within the church and without. Isaiah 59:15 states that when truth is hated by the community that just turning from evil will make you prey to the wicked. However, there is something even more disturbing to consider.

There are churches where Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Paul Washer, and other big name solid preachers will not go. They know the reputation of such churches as not being godly. That is a scary moment. When true men of God refuse to come because they will not put their name and their ministry with your group or organization, it’s often a sign of apostasy. I am not talking about those who cannot make it because of various factors. I am talking about an open invitation and the preacher, who has been with God and knows his voice, will not have anything to do with them. The apostate potential host will often accuse said preacher of being bigoted or close-minded or even scared of listening to opinions other than their own when nothing of the sort is going on. The preacher wisely recognizes what is actually happening and will not put his name in association with apostate groups. When a church or society repeatedly turns away from God, he often removes the voices who speak his truth from that church or society. Woe to any person or group when God removes his hand and his voice.

What is your reputation? Would the Godly be able to look at your life and say, “I want to spend time with you”? Or would the Godly look at you and say, “I must keep my distance from you”? Do you care what the heathen think about you? Would the public be able to look at your life and testify, “This person was a Christian and he showed it by doing this, this, and that”? If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence among your peers to convict you? In all this, I want to remind us all that the only opinion which really matters is God’s. Sound Godly men are not perfect, but it is often through them whom God will reveal his opinion. Everything must be tested against Scripture and when a solid man of God will not see a church or group, that is good reason to be wary of them. Be watchful.

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A Disquieting Dream

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

Editor's Note: We are sharing this dream once again with you and have added this new drawing from our friend Scott Harshbarger on this dream. Thank you, Scott! You can view more of Scott's artwork here, check out his website here, and follow him on Facebook here.
Upon seeing this artwork, David Odegard's response was, "That is uncanny. Wow. Amazing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Does the Bible Say About Addictions?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 9, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Addictions are a prominent topic in today’s world. When you hear the word “addiction,” you probably immediately think of drug addiction, smoking, alcohol addiction, or things like that. But there are many other addictions that could grab ahold of our lives - we could be addicted to our phones, junk food, attention from other people, or all sorts of things. Addiction is part of our sinful human nature, and it is very much a fleshly desire.

The Bible does not address addiction specifically, but it does address temptation, and addiction is one form of temptation. We know that sin and evil come from the devil (1 John 2:16), but we have the power to resist temptation through the submission of our lives to God (James 4:7).

Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” If we’re truly and fully walking in the ways of God’s Spirit, we won’t have the desire to gratify what the flesh wants. But while we live in this world, our natural tendency is to fulfill our own desires. It takes a stronger faith and trust in God to turn away from that kind of temptation.

Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” We can make choices in life whether to put ourselves into a potentially addictive situation or not. We can choose the addiction, or instead we can choose to be filled with God’s Spirit.

Romans 6:6-7 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” We are set free from our sin in Christ and we are no longer slaves to it. Through Christ, we have the power to break any addiction we have in our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We know we will be tempted, because that is part of living in this world. But with God, we will have a way to get out of that temptation if we make the right choice.

Psalm 50:15 encourages us to, “Call on me [God] in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” We know that God will ultimately deliver us when we call on Him and desire to live our lives to give Him honor and glory.

Are you sensing a theme yet? We will have sin and addictions in this world, but God is bigger and more powerful than them. We could very easily let this get us down, knowing that while we’re in this world we’ll have to constantly face temptations and potentially addictions. But instead, we should have a different attitude:

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

But, all this is generally easier said than done. As Jesus told His disciples while they were waiting for Him as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). We need to be on guard for any kind of temptation, especially addictions: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Take a look at your life this week and see what addictions you may be struggling with. Pray to God and work on deepening your relationship with Him, so that you will have His power to fight those addictions.

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.