Armed with Mercy

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 31, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Two weeks ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to go to an all-day conference with over 1,000 brothers and sisters in Christ that was put on by The Voice of the Martyrs. It was truly a blessing to hear from men who have either seen or experienced firsthand the persecution of faithful Christians in other places in the world. It strengthened my faith to hear of these courageous men and women who ask for prayer more than any other needs, who choose to love even the enemies who are causing them lasting physical pain, and who say they don’t even pray for the persecution to stop because it actually keeps them on their toes and keeps their faith strong and growing.

The first man who spoke has not experienced direct persecution himself, but he is the VoM representative for a very large area in Asia where many Christians are being tortured and killed. Needless to say, he has seen the effects of persecution as he has traveled to those areas. He shared that as he was talking to some members of a church whose pastor had been murdered right in front of his family, one of the leaders brought up 1 Peter 4:1, which says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” The speaker shared how he was blown away at such an incredible display of faith and obedience. He talked about how we so often arm ourselves with so many other things rather than Christ. But Peter knew that we must be intentional about arming ourselves with Christ’s attitude and avoiding that which comes from the flesh.

One of the attitudes that we have to avoid is what James talks about in James 2:12-13 - judgment. Instead, we should be armed with an attitude of mercy because that was the attitude of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. James tells us that we must “speak and act” knowing that we will be judged not by how well we follow every law known to man, but by “the law that gives freedom.” Interestingly, James is reminding us that even though we are not bound by the law in the sense that the Jews of his time believed they were, there is still a standard by which God will judge us and that standard is indeed LAW in his eyes. James’ older brother, Jesus of Nazareth, said something similar when he was questioned regarding which commandment is the greatest: “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Have you ever wondered why Jesus gave an answer of TWO commandments in that response when the Pharisee was looking for one? The Pharisees probably would have agreed with just the first one, but Jesus quickly added the second one and said it is “like” the first. This means that the two really can’t be separated. Loving others is LIKE loving God, and the best way to self-evaluate our love for God is to look at how we’re doing at loving those he puts around us. The Apostle John also drew a connection between the two in 1 John 4:20: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." All of these verses show that the writers of the New Testament, as well as early Church leaders and our Lord himself, were consistent in declaring that we are bound by the law of love, which is the “law that gives freedom” that James mentions. Unlike other laws, we are bound to this one gratefully and willingly, understanding that we are merely passing on to others what we have received from God.

Because James considers this standard a “law” by which all Christians are bound, there also has to be a consequence for choosing not to adhere to it. We must understand that refusing to show mercy to others who have hurt us, even those who are still severely persecuting us, would render us incompatible with the faith that is based on love and mercy. So, James continues, “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13). Once again, he is echoing our Lord, who said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Do you want to find yourself in a situation where you have to answer to God for every sin you’ve ever committed and his wrath has to be satisfied? I certainly don’t, and that’s why I want to be armed with mercy toward those who hurt me and not judgment.

Jesus also said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judge. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). It’s easy for us as human beings to pound our fists and want justice. We want people to get what they deserve, until those “people” are ourselves and those we care about. The New Testament is clear that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot judge others according to their adherence to the law but expect to receive mercy by the law that gives freedom. If you judge another human being by every hurt they’ve committed against you and hold a grudge until they satisfy YOUR desire for atonement, then you are showing God and others that you don’t really believe in the laws of grace and mercy. And if you don’t really believe in grace and mercy, you can’t expect to receive it from the One who freely gives it to those who DO want to live by those laws. James ends verse 13 by saying, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” If you have received mercy from God, you’re only fighting a losing battle if you judge others by the old law.

I’ll leave you with some lyrics from the all-time great song by the late Rich Mullins called “Awesome God." In part of the second verse, he writes, “Judgment and wrath he poured out on Sodom, mercy and grace he gave us at the cross." You see, the only One who could ever show judgment toward wrongdoers is the only One who never needed mercy. He’s never needed it, yet He freely gives it. And in a few circumstances where He, in His omniscient wisdom, determined it was necessary, He poured out judgment. Since you and I will always depend on mercy, we are not like God, and therefore we have no reason or right to withhold mercy from anyone else. If someone has hurt you, today is a chance to reflect on all the mercy God has shown you and then pass it on to that individual. Ask God to help you do what you know you have to do, and He will help you.

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The Names of God: Jehovah Shammah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 29, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Shammah: The Lord is present

When I wrote about the attributes of God, one of the ones I addressed is omnipresence. God is everywhere, at all places, and all at once. He is not limited nor can be defined by a physical location. He is right with me as I type this post and is at the same time right with you as you read this post, even though weeks are separating these moments. That should both comfort us and scare us.

Many of us live our lives as though God is not around us. We say things we should not say, think things that are not wholesome, and participate in activities that do not edify, and for some reason we think that God doesn’t know about it. Many of us know intellectually that God is with us, but I would suggest few of us live like it. Many speakers and preachers have asked: “If you knew the President was going to be in your house in ten minutes, what would you do differently?” Many of us would clean up quickly and prepare our best clothes and appearance. Yet God is always with us, seeing us in our glamour and in our anything but.

Many people don’t like the idea of God being around everywhere because then they can’t do what they want to do and get away with it. The real reason many of us do not sin so horrifically that Hitler would look angelic is because God is right there with us, actually protecting us. I have recognized to some degree what the grace of God has protected me from, but I don’t always thank Him enough for it.

But I don’t want this post to be a judgment post on God always being there when we sin. God is also always there to get us out of trouble and to save us. The child in trouble on the streets with no help in sight is always relieved to see dad show up, even if it means he is about to get a whopping. God is our very present help in time of need. He is there to rescue us if we call for it. But God’s presence means much more than that.

Jesus told his disciples at the Great Commission, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This promise is in conjunction with “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” God is ever-present with us as we go about to fulfill our commission. He guides and directs us at our different turns. Sometimes He’ll let us wander off a little bit, but He’s always there to make the corrections when we are ready to listen. Before we make that wrong choice, though, He is there to warn us and caution us against making that choice.

But it is much more than that. God goes before us, coves our flanks, and follows behind us. He is our shield and strength. He protects us, never allowing us to be tempted beyond what we could bear, yet always providing a means of escape from it. He never promises to not give us more than we can bear in general; He promised no temptation would be too strong for us without an escape being offered. Sometimes that escape means to lay down your life or your job or your friends. We have to be ready to know how to answer at those moments before we get there, because if we don’t, we’ll cave. But God is with us. He is present with us. God did not protect Stephen from being stoned, yet He was with him the whole time. Stephen looked up and got a standing ovation from God for being the first born again Christian to die at the hands of those who hate God.

God is present. While God allowed Stephen to be stoned, that was because it was Stephen’s time. When it is not our time, and we are obedient to the will of God, we will be invincible. Look at Paul. He was stoned twice, brutally whipped 5 times, shipwrecked, left in the cold, left hungry, imprisoned multiple times, and even bitten by a viper. In all that, he could not be fazed because he still had a job to do. Paul never even flinched when the lethal viper bit him.

God did not change His character when the New Testament was completed. He protected His saints throughout their ministry lives until He needed to them to take a hit. He still does today. Just read Christian biographies. I’ve got quite a collection and I keep seeing story after story after story of God coming through and being with those who love and serve Him. If we don’t see that today, is it because God left us, or because we don’t believe He is actually with us and will protect us?

The Lord is present. Why should we fear? What’s the worst that can happen to us? Loss of jobs? We’ll lose those in a few short years anyway due to moving, quitting, or retiring anyway. Loss of friends? If they leave us for following God, can we really say they were our friends to begin with? Loss of family? While the pressure is real, they too will die at some point as well as you. Your own life? What’s ultimately the difference between dying now when your life is being asked for in standing for Christ and dying 20, 30, or 50 years from now knowing you renounced the name of Christ? The difference is how you stand before God on Judgment Day. The Lord is present. If He needs you to lose something, it’s not to steal your joy. It’s actually to replace it with something far better: Himself.

Jehovah Shammah: the Lord is present. He is there when we sin; He is there when we follow Him. Let us continually run to Him and let Him be everything we need and beyond.

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Do Geologists Hate the Bible?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 28, 2019 3 comments

by Steve Risner

Today, I'll be tackling the 8th question in a series of 10 posed by Michael Roberts, an old earth creationist or possibly a theistic evolutionist. Last week we dealt with the fact that creationism of the Biblical kind (what some call young earth creationism) has overwhelmingly been the traditional view of Christians and Jews since those faiths were a thing. The evidence makes any attempt at rewriting history appear to be parody and not to be taken seriously. This week's question is a little different, although it does try to redefine a few things. Let's take a look.

Were early geologists opposed to Christianity and did they use their geology to undermine belief?

Again, I like the quick and easy answer. The answer is: of course not! As far back as the 200s AD, Tertullian spoke of Flood geology. Chrysostom wrote on it in the late 300s AD. Augustine did so in the late 300s AD to early 400s AD. These men would probably not qualify as “geologists” for most old earth creationists, but Charles Lyell (one of the most infamous deep time geologists of the 1800s) was an attorney. Most evolutionists have no trouble with Darwin even though he was not a scientist of any kind.

However, in terms of geologists, Nicolas Steno, who Mr. Roberts mentions, was a “young earth” creationist and studied geology as such. He is known as the father of modern geology and his principles are still used in geology today. Francis Bacon, the developer of the scientific method, was a major influence on many of the “Scriptural geologists” of the 19th century. These geologists were hated, literally, by many who disagreed with their beliefs concerning geology and earth history. Bacon believed there was a major difference between the laws God used to govern the universe (operational science which can be studied and tested) and how God created the universe and all that is within it (historical science or origins science). Even back then, this debate was heated.

About his belief in a 6000-year-old earth, Steno wrote that sedimentary layers were laid down successively and that they and fossils were the result of the Flood. John Woodward, another geologist of the day, agreed. Isaac Newton's successor, William Whiston, also shared similar beliefs about earth's age (he added 6 years to Ussher's calculation) but believed the Flood may have been the result of comet bombardment, an idea that is still today tossed around by creationists as a portion of the Flood mechanism. Alexander Catcott used geological arguments to defend the Genesis creation narrative and the Flood narrative. Johann Lehmann believed that primary sedimentary layers were the result of creation while those bearing fossils were from the Flood of Noah.

It was really James Hutton who began to tell the tale of uniformitarianism in the late 1700s. His work was criticized heavily by Richard Kirwan who disliked Hutton's ideas because they were atheistic and disagreed with the Genesis narrative. Jean-André Deluc had similar views to Kirwan and accepted the Genesis account and Noah's Flood as real history. Kirwan and Deluc disagreed on some points of Scripture and its creation account and universality of the Flood, but the two were heavily influenced by the Bible in their studies.

The Geological Society of London was established in 1807 and had members who had little knowledge of geology but plenty of money and a desire to learn. However, these men were nearly unanimously deep time proponents and gave hardly a glance to Biblical teachings.

William Buckland was a leading geologist in England who pushed catastrophism solidly and actually taught Charles Lyell. Lyell would eventually be the one who admitted to attempting to “remove Moses from the sciences.” Buckland believed the geologic evidence supported creation and a global Flood, but he leaned towards an old earth for some reason. He published works that made it very clear, even in the 1800s, that the Flood of Noah was a real event and a global catastrophe. Years later, his views changed as others began to work on his interpretation of the Bible and the evidence. You can see the slope here, I hope. We start with the historical document of the Bible and work from there. Over the years, some tend to allow anti-biblical ideas in, resulting in small amounts of compromise. Then we have overt compromise where we accept some but not all the Bible's clear teachings. Then the slope steepens and the journey from half Christian doctrine/half secular doctrine to no Christianity at all is fast and easy. How can any old earth creationist or theistic evolutionist deny this? Buckland is a perfect example.

In the 1830s, Charles Lyell, an attorney, published his works on geology, outlining how he thought geology should be done. He was radically uniformitarian in his approach—an approach we know has been debunked for a long time yet is still advocated by many. Lyell's purpose, according to him because he was “the spiritual saviour of geology,” was in “freeing the science from the old dispensation of Moses.” This was tragic. Geologists forsook the catastrophic history of the world and replaced it with a debunked idea of long, slow, gradual processes. All geologic activity was viewed this way for a long time, which is why Roberts makes claims about geologists only finding evidence for an old earth and other such nonsense. More recently, small catastrophes are allowed into the framework of geology, but no one would admit to a global catastrophe like the Biblical Flood.

Isn't it a very telling fact that most Christians had no reason to doubt the Genesis narratives of the creation and Flood until the later centuries, when atheists, naturalists, materialists, and deists were beginning to argue for the earth's existence outside of the Biblical explanation? It's like God miscommunicated how He created the universe to us and waited for God-hating or God-denying people to come up with ways to reject Him in creation so we would know what really happened. This, of course, would mean these people were the source of truth for us rather than God's Holy Word.

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Guns and Bullies

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 27, 2019 0 comments

by David Odegard

“Well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same,
who'll get there first is uncertain”
-Bob Dylan, Jokerman

Violent predator preys on the weak; community shocked by bloody massacre. Commonplace headlines no longer shock us as outrageous acts of evil overlap one another, each more wicked than the last. Perhaps you had never heard of Christchurch, New Zealand, until Brenton Tarrant entered a mosque and opened fire, killing many.

As a Christian, I weep with those who have suffered this latest act of violence.

Oh, that the swords were plowshares! The first reaction of reasonable people is to cry out for someone to stop the carnage, to bring order. Usually this means an outcry for government to make new laws restricting gun ownership. Yet with all the actions taken by government to limit guns, the violence never stops.

Independent Minds (April 27, 2018), a UK media outlet, asked why knife violence is rising so rapidly even among the very young. The UK has been very progressive with laws restricting weapons, like a complete gun ban. Scot Mann, a Tory MP, last week tweeted that all knives should be fitted with a GPS tracker (you’ve got to read it here). The UK continues to restrict freedoms at a rate that would have blown the minds of the founders of the American Republic.

The Washington Post observes, “As Britain cracks down on weapons, criminals turn to acid attacks” (Aug. 26, 2017). No knives, then acid. No acid, then bamboo spears, or fishing line, or bricks. As Bob Dylan sang in Jokerman, “Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks, Molotov cocktails and rocks.” The murderous are among the most resourceful persons on the planet; there is no shortage of violence in the human heart.

The liberals seem to want to make a prison out of the entire society. More guards with more guns, more rules, more video cameras, more of big brother—but never freedom, privacy, or independent thought. George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm as cautionary fiction, not how-to manuals! That point is lost on liberals, as I believe are so many points.

Would-be shooters target schools, mosques, concerts, and other gun-free zones, but never police precincts and shooting ranges. They prey on the weak—not the strong. Chicago is a gun-free zone, but it boasts one of the highest murder rates in the nation. In fact, liberal policies always fail. This is bound to happen when people lead with the heart to the exclusion of the mind.

The answer is to strengthen the weak, not to weaken everyone else. Violence will not disappear until bullies are afraid to act out on their violence. As the old American proverb goes, “God created men, and Samuel Colt made them equal.”

Even if the world was as secure as a prison (though prisons are far from secure), violence would remain in the hearts of men. Strengthen the feeble, do not enfeeble the strong. There is a reason that bullies do not pick a fight with someone stronger than themselves—they are cowards. Stand up to them!

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It’s Good to Be Alive

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, March 26, 2019 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

2017 had quite an incredible ending for my family and me. As we continue on and find out more and more as the years go on, I am learning just how incredible it really was.

On December 15, 2017 my wife and children had just found out that I had suffered a life-threatening stroke and needed lifesaving brain surgery. The next day after surgery, no one knew what was going to happen. Even the neurosurgeons and nurses at the hospital were unsure of what was about to happen. I think they were just glad I was still alive. So, as I laid in the neuro ICU in a comatose state, hooked up to a respirator for my breathing, no one knew if I would be in a vegetative state for the rest of my days. On Saturday, December 16, 2017 they began “stroke checks” every hour, on the hour. I was heavily sedated but would be woken up every hour by a nurse agitating my mouth in an attempt to wake me up.

It all felt like a dream to me and, in all honesty, I was unsure at the time what was going on. Had I been kidnapped and brought somewhere to be tortured? Then I heard my wife’s voice and finally saw her face. That gave me much comfort and peace. Little did I know what had just happened to me. That morning, a doctor had not only sawed my skull open but then removed the part of my brain that had been killed by the stroke. Part of it was supposed to impact my balance and speech. Would I ever walk again? Would I ever speak on the radio or preach again? These are things that crossed not only my wife’s mind but my children’s minds as well.

Upon hearing that I had a life-threatening stroke and was having brain surgery, my mother, who is a retired nurse, packed funeral clothes as her and my father made their way to where we live. Being a parent myself, I can only imagine what it must have been like for my parents as they made the long drive out to Ohio from where they live in Minnesota, not knowing what might become of their oldest son.

In the neuro ICU, my wife was being patient and loving to me. At one point I motioned to her with my index finger that I wanted to write and she quickly got me some paper and a pen. The first thing I wrote was illegible. At the time, I had no idea that what I was asking to do, writing just a little note to my wife, held the interest of so many around me. While I was told that I had had a stroke, I still had no idea that I had just come out of brain surgery and that part of my brain was literally missing. It felt like I had just awoken from an evening’s rest. So, by me trying to write and communicate, many people were intrigued by me. Would I know how to write? Would I know how to use punctuation? These are things my wife and others wondered.

Well, I was able to communicate, and later to my delight the nursing staff removed my breathing tube. I don’t remember the following very well but my wife tells me that once the breathing tube was removed I just started talking and talking. She even said one of the nurses asked, “Is he always like this?” to which she said, yes, that’s him. Over the next few days I had so many visitors that my wife had to tell people to stop coming so I could rest. I am still so thankful for all of that. I am still so appreciative to all of the people that came and helped out our family and even bought our children Christmas gifts that year.

In the ICU, I was hooked up to monitors and had a tube draining fluid off of my brain, yet I was still asking to go home. Now, I see how silly that request really was. The next few days were critical as, according to the doctors, my brain could still swell. They were concerned as I wasn’t “out of the woods” yet. After being moved down to a step-down unit, later the next week I finally was able to leave and go home – not to a nursing home, but to our family’s home. I went to physical therapy two times and they told me that I could keep coming back but there was nothing more they could do to help me. I took a test with the occupational therapist also. At the beginning of the test she told me she would need to send out the results of the test to know what to do for later therapy sessions, but after the test was done she already knew I was beyond needing the help they could give.

About one month after the stroke and brain surgery, my wife and I went to go see the neurosurgeon. My wife and I were in the waiting room to be called into his office. “Jason DeZurik, Jason DeZurik,” the nurse called out. I grabbed the armrests on my chair to help me stand up and started walking over to the nurse to go to his office. She was visibly startled. She looked down at her chart not once, but twice and said, “I thought you’d be in a wheelchair. What nursing home are you rehabbing in?” I said, “Home.” She said, “Your home?”

Friends, our God is still a God of miracles. And even though all the doctors we saw would not say the word “miracle,” they would use words like, “remarkable,” “incredible,” and “above average” to explain my recovery. As I was being discharged from the hospital, one nurse leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You know you’re miracle, right?”

There is so much more I could share with you but I think you are getting the picture. God is God and we are not! I am still in awe of the technology we have in this day and age and I am absolutely in awe of Almighty God, that He would allow me to not only keep living on this planet but would allow me to live pretty much a normal life after that ordeal. Oh sure, I have some residual effects from this event, but I am so blessed to not only be alive but it’s good to know that I have the friends and family that I have in my life as well. It’s good to be alive!

If you’d like Jason and his wife to come and share their story with you and your group or congregation, please contact us at Worldview Warriors.

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Psalm 25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 25, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I’ve heard it said that when you don’t know what to pray, you can use the psalms as a guide and pray the psalms. Today we’re going to look at Psalm 25, which is a great example of a psalm that functions well as a prayer. I encourage you to read it in its entirety before continuing on with this post.

The basic structure of this psalm is that it starts out with a prayer for deliverance in verses 1-3, a prayer for guidance forgiveness in verses 4-7, assurance of God’s working in verses 8-10, another brief request for forgiveness in verse 11, the response to God’s forgiveness in verses 12-14, and finally a prayer for deliverance and protection in verses 15-22. This psalm was written by King David, though it’s unclear at what point in his life he wrote it.

The psalm starts out in verse 1 with a declaration of trust in God: “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” This really sets the foundation for the entire psalm, because without trust in God, why even ask Him for anything? We have to have that trust as a foundation of our faith, or else our faith is meaningless. If we are trusting in anything other than God, then we would expect who or what we have our trust in to help us, and anyone or anything else will fail us at some point. If your trust isn’t fully in God (as I know mine isn’t all the time), then this is a prayer we all need to pray, that we would trust God more. This statement may not be so much a statement of fact as it is a plea for what we desire.

Verses 2-3 then show us the confidence that comes from that trust, that no enemy will triumph over the one who fully trusts in God. No evil can overpower him because the God He trusts in is all-powerful. Shame will come on his enemies who don’t trust in God, not on himself.

The psalm continues with David asking God for guidance and forgiveness. While David is confident in what God can and will do, he also needs to remain humble and submit to God’s guidance in his life. He asks God to teach him and guide him (verses 4-5). David desires to imitate God, as we should as well. We’re not necessarily called to submit to a list of laws and rules, but instead to submit to following our Savior no matter what.

Verse 7 is a prayer for forgiveness: “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.” David doesn’t deserve forgiveness on account of what he has done, since he is clearly a sinner, but on account of God’s character. God is good and loves His people, so because of that David can confidently ask God to be forgiven for all the times he has messed up on that.

Verses 8-10 build on the character of God that we saw in verse 7. We see in more detail how God is good, how He guides and teaches His people, and how He is loving and faithful to those who follow Him. Since God never changes, we know all of this is true of God today as well! We can count on God to always exemplify these characteristics.

Verse 11 is another request for forgiveness, similar to the one we saw in verse 7: “For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.” Again, David knows that he does not at all deserve God’s forgiveness, but God and His name are so great that they can cover all of David’s sins. Our sins are great as well, but God’s name is still greater that we can ask for and receive that forgiveness too!

David’s response to God’s forgiveness is in verses 12-14. When he knows he is forgiven, he responds to that with “the fear of the Lord” (verse 12), which is the Old Testament way of indicating being a disciple or follower of God. God will teach us how to follow Him and will make His promises known to us, on account of the forgiveness we have received by confessing our sins and believing in Him.

In the last section of the psalm, verses 15-22, David prays for God to deliver him and protect him. This section contains a number of imperatives (commands): turn to me, be gracious, relieve, free me, look on me, take away, guard my life, rescue me, etc. All these petitions and requests of God are framed by declarations of trust: “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (verse 15) and “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you” (verse 21). David has confidence that God will deliver him and grant all these requests for help because of who God is.

In the last verse, David turns his attention onto the nation of Israel as a whole instead of just focusing on his own life. This both invites Israel to pray this psalm with David, as well as inviting us to pray it and to focus on the bigger picture outside of our own troubles. We all have difficulties in our individual lives, but so does our nation and the broader family of our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. We are encouraged to pray for not only ourselves and our immediate circle, but also for the bigger picture of what God is doing in the world.

I challenge you this week to pray Psalm 25 for yourself. Declare your trust in God. Ask for his forgiveness. Respond to that forgiveness by following God with your life. Request that God lead and guide you through life. Be confident in God’s character, that He always loves you and you can fully put your hope and trust in Him.

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.


When Good Isn't Good Enough

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 24, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I recently saw a meme posted on Facebook that addresses an age-old question that causes some people to turn away from God. The question is simply, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” You may have wrestled with this question before and I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard someone else ask it. It goes against what makes sense in our finite brains. We see that people who appear to be “more” wicked based on their actions may not suffer as much as someone who seems to be genuinely trying to “live a good life." But it’s important to remember how “good” is actually defined. The creator of that meme referenced above answered the question this way: “Well, that only ever happened once, and he volunteered."

You see, our definition of “good” is based largely on how we compare ourselves to each other. But even Jesus himself addressed our understanding of what is good. In Mark 10:17, a rich man comes to Jesus and falls on his knees, a great move to begin with, and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, as he often does, begins his answer with a rhetorical question: “Why do you call me good? No one is good - except God alone” (Mark 10:18). This response used to confuse me. It comes across at first like Jesus is saying He is not God. But He doesn’t actually say that. In reality, He is challenging the man to think about what he is saying. If he really believes Jesus is good, and no one is good but God alone, then he should connect the dots and realize that he’s talking to God in the flesh! Jesus then continues His point to help the man see that his own standard of “good” doesn’t meet God’s. In Mark 10:19-22, Jesus reminds him of several of the Ten Commandments that have to do with how we treat others. When the man begins to think, “Alright, no problem because I’ve already got these down," Jesus tells him the last thing he must do is sell all of his earthly goods and give the money to the poor so that he can have treasures in heaven. The man walks away disappointed because he realizes how big of a sacrifice that would be for him.

The above story illustrates the problem with those who try to BE or DO good on their own. They don’t realize that to meet God’s standard of “good” is to love others just like we love God (Matthew 22:37-39). But it’s not just about saying we love God and others; there has to be action involved. To be good like God in the way we love others is to sacrifice EVERYTHING for those who don’t deserve it, those who are not good, because that’s what God did when He came to this earth as a baby who grew into a man who died to set the whole world free from sin. The disciples who watched Jesus’ encounter with the rich man are shocked and begin to wonder how anyone could possibly be saved, but Jesus tells them, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:26-27).

Years later, Jesus’ younger brother James writes to the first-century Jewish believers about the danger of assuming they’re doing “good” in God’s eyes while not completely following the most important law. In James 2:8-9, after he had just addressed the problems with showing favoritism or partiality toward the rich, James explains that the believers can’t justify their love for those who are rich by saying, “Jesus tells us we’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves." James says that if you REALLY love your neighbor as yourself, then you’re doing the right thing in God’s eyes (v. 8). The issue was that some of the early believers were using this “royal law” when it was convenient to justify their actions rather than loving EVERYONE as “neighbors," even those they saw no reason to love. It doesn’t matter how well you think you are loving your rich neighbors if you refuse to show the same kind of love to those who are poor, and James says this is a sin (v. 9). And he adds that once they sin, according to the law, they are convicted as “lawbreakers."

I remember when I was much younger and the general consensus among non-Christians I knew was that “being a good person” consisted of not breaking the law and being kind to others. Honestly, I’m not even sure if that is true anymore as people seem to value rebellion and doing what’s best for oneself more and more. But the easiest way to respond is to ask if they’ve ever rolled through a stop sign, driven over the speed limit, walked across a busy street outside of the crosswalk, or paid less than required on their taxes. Some of these probably even happened unintentionally. Yet, there are in fact laws against these behaviors and to break one, even unintentionally, makes a person a lawbreaker.

In James 2:10, the writer makes his point crystal clear: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." Notice that the person doesn’t even have to TRY to sin. He could just stumble at one point on his journey, just like someone who runs a marathon but doesn’t see a stone in the middle of the road along the way and trips over it. They did well for the majority of the race, but the fact that they tripped over the stone makes the entire race less than perfect. Most of us are okay with being less than perfect, but God’s standard of “good” is perfection. And James says that if you avoid other temptations but commit one sin, you are a lawbreaker in God’s eyes (v. 11).

We’ll get more into how this should cause us to behave toward others next week. For now, we have to understand that God commands us to treat every human being as our “neighbor” and to love them as we would ourselves. This is true even when we don’t feel like it or when the person has hurt us. The reason we do this isn’t just because it’s a “royal law," but also because we recognize we are not good in God’s eyes and we make it pretty difficult for others to love us. If we catch ourselves comparing ourselves to others and believing we are “good” when others are “worse," Jesus and His brother James are there to remind us that no one except God is truly good. We can either choose to judge others and ourselves by His standard of holiness or live by the law of love for all our neighbors, but we cannot choose both.

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The Names of God: Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jehovah Mekoddishkem

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 22, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord My Righteousness
Jehovah Mekoddishkem: The Lord My Sanctifier

The names of God are numerous mostly because our human minds cannot truly grasp an infinite description of an infinite being. Much of the names of God we find are based off His character and His actions. Here we see God being the standard of righteousness and the One who separates His people to be holy and pure, unique from this world.

I chose to tackle these two names of God together because they both address the same core process: taking sinful man, declaring him righteous, and making him holy. Christianity makes absolutely no sense at all to the natural man. It is not merely that we have a crucified Savior, but that we have a pure, righteous, and holy God administering perfect justice and justifying the wicked. It is called the “Scandal of Grace.” Yes, a “scandal” is an appropriate term, yet it was done without breaking any laws nor violating any part of God’s character. Let’s dig into this scandal.

Everything always should start with the character and nature of God. The whole story is about Him. God is a Holy God. He is pure, perfect in every detail and aspect about Him. He is righteous and just. He rewards those who do good and gives those who do evil their just reward. Every man will reap what he sows, whether good or bad. The problem is once Adam and Eve sinned and ate of the fruit, it wasn’t just them who were affected, but all of their offspring were affected too.

People complain that it wasn’t fair to be judged for a sin we didn’t commit. That is true. We did not eat of that tree, however Adam and Eve gave us that nature. That which is corrupted cannot produce that which is pure. We understand this in genetics. When a mutation in a parent takes place, that mutation is then carried on to the offspring. It is not the fault of the offspring, but it does not make situation the offspring is in null or void. We inherited the “mutation” of sin from our parents, but unlike a mere genetic mutation, we have each partaken in our own sin and that is what we will be held accountable for. We won’t be held accountable for the sins of our fathers, just the sins we commit.

But this leads to the grand conundrum. How can God be a perfect and righteous God and show mercy to wicked sinners? If God does not punish sin, He cannot be righteous. Yet how can God be merciful if He punishes every sinner? The answer is found in Jesus Christ. I like to use the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant to illustrate this point. The first servant had a completely unpayable debt and begged for mercy to repay it. It would take him multiple lifetimes to have a hope of repaying it. Yet the master forgave it. The debt didn’t go away; the master simply did not hold the servant responsible for repaying it. So, what happened to the debt? The master took it upon himself. The master “ate the bill” so to say. The parable goes on to show this servant never paid attention to what happened to him, but my point is made here. Jesus enabled the Father to forgive us by taking on the debt we owed. Because Jesus was without sin, He had no debt against God himself, and therefore He was able to repay that debt. But that debt was death. Jesus paid the debt with his very life and did so by becoming a man, living as a man, and doing what man was always intended to be able to do.

There is so much more to say on this, but here is the short and skinny: when Jesus died, all who believe in Him and have been born-again, everything that originally belonged to Christ was imputed, transmitted, onto us. His righteous, His perfect, His purity, His holiness, His standing with the Father, is given to us. This is why we can call God, Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord my righteousness. It is not of our own doing, not of our own works, not of our own efforts, but of Christ and Christ alone.

Jesus Christ is our righteousness. When God looks upon us, He does not see the scarlet red of sin but instead sees the red blood of Christ. He sees the debt we owed as settled and cancelled. In God’s eyes, we are not seen merely as though we never sinned, but even better. The term is “restored.” When a car guy restores a car, he takes an old car that was used, abused, and no longer as good as it used to be. He strips it down to its core chassis and then begins the restoration process. He gets new parts, new paint, etc. and eventually the car ends up looking exactly like the original, only now it is far more valuable than it would have been brand new from the factory. That is us. We are going through the restoration process. The theological term for this is sanctification.

God is Jehovah Mekoddishkem, the Lord my sanctifier. He takes us through the restoration process which first must strip us down to the core being and from there He can begin putting us back together the way he intended. As a clay potter must work out the stones and hard chunks before he can mold the clay into the shape and vessel he wants and as a goldsmith must melt the gold so the impurities can be scraped off, God must remove the sin in our lives so He can work with the pure substance. This is not a fast process. While the formal moment of salvation, the moment of spiritual re-birth, is instant, sanctification is not. If the goldsmith rushes the process, he’ll lose a fair amount of gold with the impurities. Likewise, if God were to just instantly wipe out our sin, He’d lose much of us in the process.

But while the process takes a long time, we can be assured that God will see the work He started through until it is completed. That said, the process can certainly take much longer than it should if we don’t cooperate with God. Very often, God has to break someone down to powder so in order to be able to rebuild him back into what He wants. It is HARD to die daily but that is what it takes to be sanctified and to be made into the image of Christ. However, when we surrender and let God do His work, the end result will always be worth it. Let us put our trust and let Jesus Christ be Jehovah Tsidkenu, our Righteousness, and Jehovah Mekoddishkem, our Sanctifier.

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.


Is Young Earthism New?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 21, 2019 1 comments

by Steve Risner

This week we will be addressing old earth creationist (or theistic evolutionist) Michael Roberts' 7th question in a series of 10 for young earth aka Biblical creationists. This question is a great one as it allows me the opportunity to show very clearly how many of these people choose to misrepresent or rewrite history. It's far too common, and this misleading needs to stop. When I read statements like this, my first inclination is to wonder if it's a parody or spoof of some kind. Unfortunately, these sorts of statements are serious and concerning. In reality, this is an attempt to either create the image that deep time has been a traditional view (so they're looking to use an ad populum argument), or they're trying to strip the Biblical creationist of the same status, or both. The funny thing is, as Biblical creationists have said all along, popularity has no weight when it comes to the truth, but the truth is quite clearly on our side. What is Mr. Roberts' question?

Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?

The simple answer here, which I like to provide whenever possible, is: of course it is. However, for years I have seen old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists try to make it sound like Biblical creationism (what they term “young earth creationism”) is a recent development. They try to point to people from the 1800's or as late as the 1960's who have written on or promoted the Biblical age of the earth and/or the global Flood narrative as people who originated the ideas. This is laughable, if we're being nice.

The traditional and most widely-held view throughout all of history has been that God created the heavens and the earth about 6000 years ago with Adam and Eve being created on the 6th day. The Old and New Testaments both seem to have no issues with this. There is no way to use the text of Scripture to come up with anything else. There is no version of the Bible that even hints at the millions or billions of years old earth creationists want and theistic evolutionists require. I stated it previously in this series, but to get us all up to speed as to how the Biblical creationist (rightly called Biblical as our beliefs are drawn directly from the Bible) comes up with a date since creation of about 6000 years, I'll post it here again:

We start with Genesis 5 where we have genealogies recorded for us from Adam to Noah. This is not just a record of who was someone's father, but it also gives the number years in between. This is not like most other genealogies in the Bible which may be incomplete or without these age indicators. This makes them reliable for calculating time to within a year or so. Genesis 7:6 tells us how old Noah was when the Flood started. So, using the years indicated in Genesis 5 which ends with Noah and Genesis 7:6, we reasonably know that the Flood occurred 1656 years after Adam's creation (which was on day 6 of the creation week). This is reasonable but could be off by 10 years or so, depending on how the years actually fall. Genesis 11:10 begins another genealogy with ages assigned to its members from Shem, the son of Noah, to Abraham. Genesis 21:5 tells us how old Abraham was when Isaac was born. Genesis 25:26 tells us how hold Isaac was when Jacob (Israel) was born. Genesis 47:9 tells us that Jacob was 130 when he went to Egypt. Using only these numbers, we come up with Jacob moving to Egypt 2298 years after the creation of Adam.

Exodus 12:40 tells us that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years (confirming what God told Abraham about his descendants being in Egypt for 400 years). This puts the Exodus at 2728 years after the creation of Adam. Israel wandered the desert for 40 years, so they entered the Promise Land 2768 years after the creation of Adam.

Now we need to move on to 1 Kings 6:1, which states clearly that it was 480 years after the Exodus that Solomon began working on the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This means Solomon began work on the Temple 3208 years after the creation of Adam (that's over half the history of the world now). Based on the chronologies written for us in the Old Testament (which are too complex to list here), we know that the time from the Temple to the Exile was about 345 years. I say “about” because it is a little less solid a number, but it's certainly not thousands or millions of years off. It's probably within 100 years and likely much closer than that. This puts the Exile of the Israelites at about 3553 years from the creation of Adam. Here we can jump from the timing found in the Bible and put it in our terms. The Exile is generally considered to have occurred in 586 BC. That means the year 1 AD was 4150 since the creation of Adam, plus or minus no more than 50 years! Then we add 2018 years to get us to 2019 and we end up at 6168 years since the creation of Adam, who was made in the image of God on the 6th day of the creation week.

Was it really a small sect of people, or were people on sure or clear on the age of the world throughout history? I have compiled a short list of Jews and Christians. I say “short” because I got tired of recording the names and decided this was enough. There are many more from history.

This list of theologians, scientists, historians etc. who have adhered to a Scriptural reading and have maintained the “young earth” position would include: Julius Africanus, George Syncellus, John Jackson, William Hales, Eusebius, Marianus Scotus, L. Condomanus, Thomas Lydiat, M. Michael Maestlinus, J. Ricciolus, Jacob Salianus, H. Spondanus, Martin Anstey, W. Lange, E. Reinholt, J. Cappellus, E. Greswell, E. Faulstick, D. Petavius, Frank Klassen, Becke, Krentzeim, W. Dolen, E. Reusnerus, J. Claverius, C. Longomontanus, P. Melanchthon, J. Haynlinus, A. Salmeron, J. Scaliger, M. Beroaldus, A. Helwigius, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, Clement, Theophilus, Hyppolytus, Jerome, Bede, Henry F. Clinton, Maimonides, John Lightfoot, Ussher, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, and many many others. You can see many of these names at this link. The Jewish calendar is now at 5779. This is the number of years since creation, according to their traditions.

Has Biblical creation (aka young earth creation) been the traditional view over the centuries? Without question I think we can say, “Absolutely.” It's only been widely doubted as the obvious intent of the text in the last 200 years or so, as secularists hijacked science and have tried to make the history of the world and the universe for that matter a scientific subject to back up the humanist origins myth. Roberts makes the wild claim that people prior to 1800 had no idea about the age of the earth, primarily, it seems, because no one had ever seen a rock layer or a fossil found within one. What Roberts fails to recognize is that as far back as 200 AD, Tertullian was writing about the Flood and how it accounted for marine fossils being found on mountain sides in layers of rock. It wasn't until the 1800's that secular humanists decided to rewrite history and arbitrarily assign ages to rock layers. This is literally what happened. The dates assigned long ago were arbitrary, if we're being honest and designed to remove the Bible from history and science. Flood geology didn't start in 1960, as Roberts claims. Not even close. It's been the norm in Christianity for about 2000 years and in the Jewish faith for much, much longer.

Why would most people over the centuries believe the Bible's clear teaching is a universe and an earth that is 6000 years old? Because that's what the Bible obviously claims. Biblical creationists, old earth creationists, and even theistic evolutionists and secularists for the most part, agree that the text seems quite unquestioningly in support of a 6000-year-old creation. The reason for this is clear, I hope. It's what the text says.

But perhaps Roberts, like most old earth creationists or theistic evolutionists, is confused. He is maybe mixing up Biblical creationism (his term is young earth creationism) with the apologetics used to defend the Bible that focuses on the Genesis account of creation and the age of the earth. It's all too common, really. But the fact that this apologetic didn't exist until recently is a testament to the fact that everyone until recently accepted what the text clearly tells us about creation and the time that creation occurred.

Lita Cosner from says it beautifully: “It's true that the specialized area of apologetics devoted to defending the Biblical doctrine of creation and bringing the relevant scientific facts to bear on the topic is a fairly recent development. However, there is a long line of Biblical interpreters, theologians, and scientists who have believed and defended the Biblical doctrine of creation. Indeed, it could be argued that creation apologetics is the logical outgrowth of the same sort of belief in Biblical creation in a context where the doctrine is being specifically attacked and undermined in the church. The lack of a specialized area of creation apologetics in the early church should therefore be taken as evidence of the universality of belief in creation—it simply wasn't even debated.”

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Psalm 24

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 18, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Psalm 24 is a wonderful psalm of worship and coming into the presence of Almighty God. This is what we do every time we gather together to praise and worship Him! While this was written many centuries ago, it’s still very applicable for today. Let’s dig in.

“​The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (verses 1-2)

The Hebrew language has a few different words for “earth,” and the one used here is the same one that’s used in Genesis 1:1-2. It encompasses all of God’s creation on earth! You and I are included in this, as the psalm says “all who live in it.” We belong to God, not to ourselves.

God is the one who created, founded, and established the earth - not us. God is the one who has creative majesty and power over all the earth. No human could ever hold this power, even with all of our scientific and technological advances. Think about all the things we’re still not able to control, such as the weather and natural disasters. God is still sovereign over all these things. ALL of the earth belongs to the Lord. He is the almighty, powerful God, creator of the universe.

“​Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who many stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” (verses 3-4)

These two verses build on the previous two. Are we worthy to come before Almighty God? Can we stand in His holy place? Do we even compare to the majestic creator God who created this entire universe? Nope!

Only one who is worthy can do so, who has “clean hands and a pure heart.” The word for “hands” here specifically refers to the palm of your hand. If you’re holding something, it’s in your palm. Or if we wash our hands, we make sure our palms are clean. Our hands are often used to refer to our actions. The word “heart” here also refers to our mind or our will. It shows that our thoughts and intentions must be pure as well, not just our outward actions.

This section also says we must not “trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” We may think we’re doing well at this and could approach God, but we really aren’t. Just because you don’t have a statue you worship doesn’t mean you’re not worshiping an idol. We have all sorts of “little gods” in our lives - other people, our jobs, making or spending money, our material possessions, etc., basically anything that isn’t God. We like tangible things and have a hard time putting our trust in things we can’t see, touch, or feel, so it’s really easy to get distracted by the things of this world.

But we have more to the story today than the psalmist did. We know that Jesus is that person, the one with fully clean hands and a fully pure heart! Jesus never worshipped anyone but the one true God. He led a perfect, sinless life and died the death that we deserved, so that we have the opportunity to approach God. As this psalm says, we may “ascend the mountain of the Lord” because of Jesus.

“​They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.” (verse 5)

This verse refers to the people in the previous verses, the ones with clean hands and a pure heart. These people will receive blessings from God. An interesting thing here in the Hebrew is the preposition that the NIV translates as “from.” Hebrew only has 3 primary prepositions, while English has many more, so there’s lots of ambiguity when translating. The preposition here could also mean “on account of.” So instead of saying “blessings from God,” we receive “blessings on account of God” - meaning on account of the sacrifice of Jesus, because He did the work for us. We didn’t do anything to earn it.

In the second half of this verse, the word “vindication” is better translated as “righteousness,” and again that same preposition occurs. We receive righteousness and are declared right by God on account of what He has done for us. While the name of Jesus is not specifically mentioned in this psalm, it’s clear that it’s all about His redemptive work on the cross.

“​Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.” (verse 6)

In the English, we see the word “seek” twice here, while in Hebrew it’s two different verbs. The first is seeking as in investigating, studying, or practicing something repeatedly. Blessings come to the one who repeatedly investigates and studies God. The second “seek” is more of a searching or inquiring about something. We should search for God and what He is doing in our everyday lives. Don’t just wait but be actively searching and inquiring for Him.

“​Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” (verse 7)

There’s a shift in the psalm here to simply praising God and declaring Him as our King of glory. The gates and doors here are referring to the literal gates and doors they would have had back then in their walled cities, but figuratively they refer to opening our hearts and minds to God’s truth. We need to let God into our lives and allow Him to work through us so that His glory may be seen by all!

“​Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (verse 8) The natural question to ask is who is this person? We know that He is the Lord Jesus! He is strong, mighty, powerful, and heroic. These are extremely prized characteristics in Israel in that day, as warriors were needed to fend off enemies and conquer lands.

“​Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. ​Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty - he is the King of glory.” (verses 9-10)

This is one of those times we’re reminded that the psalms are the songs of the early church. We could think of this like a chorus in our modern songs, as verse 9 is an exact repeat of verse 7, and verse 10 is similar to verse 8. This emphasis shows just how important this point is.

So how can we apply this psalm to our lives today? Jesus needs to be the King of our lives, in that most important position above all else. Are you letting God rule over everything in your life, or are you taking that control for yourself? We know God will always be the King of the universe because He created it, but we can choose to believe and follow Him or not. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, and He must be our King of Glory. Will you choose Him today?

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Rags to Riches

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 17, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Recently I saw the following quote on Facebook from a man whose source of income is providing several different types of services for his personal clientele: “Rich and successful folks might be the worst tippers on the planet." Obviously, that’s a matter of opinion and very much a generalization that was based on the person’s own experiences on this given day. But it made me think about how those who have a lot of material wealth and have made it their priority so easily forget about appreciating the labor of others, which made me think of 1 Timothy 6:10a: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Many who are rich are unable to find satisfaction. They are constantly looking for more or paranoid of losing what they have. Because they are focused on themselves and their “stuff," they tend to forget about the troubles of the poor. Again, these things are not true of all “rich folks," but we can certainly agree that the attitudes do exist.

James tells us that we ought to see people the way God sees them, which would mean we hold those who are poor in this world in honor because God has chosen them for something much better beyond this world. In James 2:5-7, the writer acknowledges that some in his audience of early Jewish Christians have chosen to only see people according to their rags or their riches. He directly says to them, “But you have dishonored the poor” (v. 6). Those who wore rags for clothes because that’s all they could afford were generally treated with contempt. Those who dressed in fine linens and adornment were treated with high honor because of their wealth and status. James told his audience that they shouldn’t be favoring the wealthy in this way because in those days the rich exploited and oppressed those who were poor.

We can deduce from the way James writes, as well as the history of the early church, that the majority of believers were living in poverty. Acts 2:44-45 tells us that the believers stayed together and sold property and possessions so they could meet one another’s needs. As the early church was persecuted, there is no doubt that the believers experienced great personal loss, from homes to material possessions and eventually to physical pain and death. Siding with Jesus and His followers did not lead to worldly economic success. The rich not only exploited and oppressed the poor believers through physical persecution but also by “dragging them into court” (v. 6). Those who sought to destroy the early Christian movement were willing to use any means necessary to do so, whether legal or illegal. James never encouraged anyone to seek revenge or to show favoritism AGAINST the rich either. He just wanted the believers to know that to honor the rich just because of material things was to be siding with those who persecuted them and their Lord. It was counterproductive.

More importantly than the fact that it was counterproductive, James tells the believers the biggest reason they cannot show favoritism toward the rich is that God does not (James 2:1). In fact, there is a sense in which God has especially blessed the poor. James says He has “chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him” (James 2:5). He wants them to look at their material poverty not as a reminder of their earthly trials, but as an assurance of the eternal reward that awaits them if they continue to love Him and keep their faith. They might be wearing rags now, but it’s all temporary until they are given the riches of heaven. In contrast, the rich who they favor now have no such assurance, and everything they have will pass away if they do not have faith in Jesus.

There are two different ways in which we can say that God has “chosen the poor," and both are accurate. The first is that He has given the poor more opportunities for faith. Those who are poor in the world’s eyes can choose to look at their circumstances as opportunities to trust in God to carry them. So, just like those with the most money are richest in the world’s eyes, those who have the most opportunities to depend on God during trying times would be the richest in faith. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth in a similar way in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

The other way that we can say that God has chosen the poor is that He literally entered our messed up world in poverty. He didn’t have to. God could’ve chosen to come down to our world with trumpets blaring, all the riches in the world, and undeniable power and authority. Instead, Jesus came into the world through a very poor family, to an unwed teenage girl whose family would struggle to make ends meet as long as they lived. Even when He went out and about for His three years of ministry, He didn’t stay in luxurious palaces. He stayed wherever people allowed Him to stay. This is why He told would-be disciples that they had to count the cost if they were going to follow him. In Matthew 8:20, “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’" He also told the crowd in Matthew 6:24, “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." If God Himself was willing to choose the poor and to live among them on this earth in the person of Jesus, why would those who follow Jesus assume the rich should be more favored? Philippians 2:5-8 reminds us that we should be humble like Jesus, who set aside His nature as God, the wealthiest of all time, and took on the nature of an obedient servant. Servants were never rich in those days.

Friends, if you’ve been having financial troubles and looking at those who have money and seem to be financially set as sort of the “dream life," I encourage you to let your knowledge of the Lord change your perspective. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and can barely pay the bills each month, you have an opportunity to live in obedience to God and trust Him to replace those rags one day with riches in His kingdom. But this only happens “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:23). Refuse to chase after worldly, temporary wealth. Commit to viewing your struggles as unique opportunities that God chose to bless you with. Celebrate the assurance that you have in heaven with Him.

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 Names of God: Jehovah Rohi

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 15, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Rohi: My Shepherd

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most famous single chapter of the whole Bible. Its opening line is “The Lord is my shepherd.” While the original Hebrew would best be written as ro’i, most commonly we see this word written as rohi, so that's what I'll be using in this post. Check out Katie Erickson’s blog post here for more on this.

God is our shepherd and we are His sheep. Jesus spent a fair amount of John 10 describing how he is the Good Shepherd. He is the one who guides us and directs us while tending to our needs, cleaning up our messes, going after us when we get lost, and protecting us from wolves. Now I never grew up on a farm, so I truly cannot attest to this from experience, but in everything I have heard, shepherds never were the most desired job to have, and yet it was one of the most critical jobs in the agrarian culture of Bible times. When one thinks of “shepherd” in the Bible times, it is quite similar to that of “custodian” in the modern day. It is one of the least prestigious jobs one could have. It is menial labor usually reserved for the poor and for those who can’t afford nor have the skills for better jobs.

Sheep are stupid animals. My pastor grew up on a farm and he tells a story of how anther farmer was trying to get his sheep into a truck to move them and one sheep jumped off the ramp into the trainer and like the blind following the blind, the rest did the same. Why? Because the one in front of them did it. I heard another story that if one sheep is sick and starts to throw up, suddenly other sheep watching them suddenly start feeling sick. I’m not sure if this one is completely true, but apparently if a sheep is rolled onto its back, it cannot get up by itself. It must have help from the shepherd. Sheep must be frequently shaved. A while back a sheep named Shrek escaped and went without being sheared for six years. Sheep must have a shepherd.

That description of sheep really does a good job at describing us. We have such a crowd mentality where if we see someone doing something, we will respond in kind and follow them. Just ask any teenager why they did something. The answer is often along the lines of, “Everyone else is doing it.” I’ve used that one myself. And don’t get me started on social media and politics because much of the battles we are fighting is perfect evidence of how man is. An appropriate term is “sheeple.” Jesus wept over Israel because the people were lost, blind, and in trouble because they had no shepherd. God was particularly ticked at the prophets and priests of Israel because for the most part, they did not seek to protect the sheep; they instead conspired to devour the sheep. There was only one solution: God himself had to be the Shepherd.

The job of shepherd is not a fun job as I already mentioned. They have to lead the sheep to places where they can feed and drink water. Sheep also don’t drink out of just any water. It has to be still and gentle water. They won’t drink from rushing waters. Shepherds often would have to be very knowledgeable about the caves and places for shelter in storms, because they typically would be miles from home often days out at a time. When at a pen or a cave, the shepherd would sleep at the entrance so not only the sheep could not get out, the wolves could not get in. That is why Jesus referred Himself as the Door. The only way in is through Him.

A good shepherd knew each of his sheep by name. I have heard numerous accounts of shepherds who would gather their flocks together and put them all into a single pen for the night because it would be easier to manage them as a group. But no shepherd needed to worry about losing track of his sheep because all he had to do was called them out or whistle his whistle. Each sheep knew the shepherd’s voice. The sheep which did not belong to that shepherd would not respond to that voice. The same is true about us. There are only two primary voices we can hear: God’s and someone else’s. Which one we listen to reveals who we belong to. Which voice do we listen to? God makes his voice clear and understood, but it is up to us to respond to it. If we choose not to, then can we truly claim God is our Shepherd?

Another job a shepherd has is to fight off the wolves. This is a harder topic for me to truly grasp than I often would like to admit. It is NOT the sheep’s job to defend himself. He can’t. A sheep is totally powerless to defend himself. Even a mass of sheep together cannot defend themselves. The wolf will always win. The sheep’s only reliable defense is the Shepherd. Now unlike actual sheep, there is one small difference between us and them. God often requires us to take a step of obedience in engaging in that battle and He wants us to exert the authority He’s given us as His children. However, for any Christian, if they are to truly fight God’s battles, it is through prayer and through God actually doing the battle. It is not the sheep defending himself; it is the sheep calling upon the Shepherd to defend him. Yet, talking about myself, I often try to defend for the faith in my own power and own intellect instead of going to my Shepherd in His power to defend His Kingdom and His Truth. Please pray for me that I may turn over the battle to God and let Him defend Himself. He doesn’t need my help. He only asks that I join and partake with Him in that battle, and mostly that partaking is simply to watch the battle. Yet even in this, God does the most miraculous thing: His sheep beat the wolfpacks because it is God doing the actual fighting.

God is Jehovah Rohi, my shepherd. He is the provider and the source of my protection. He is the one who equips me and trains me and cleans me up. He shears me so my “wool” can be used for His purposes. He protects me from the wolves, though often when I wander from Him, He allows the wolves to get a few bites to let me know to keep coming back to Him. Yet when we follow Him and obey Him, He will lead us to the ultimate paradise: a land where we will have everything we could ever want and where we will finally be able to see the Shepherd face to face. I look forward to that day. Next week, I’ll look at Jehovah Tsikednu: the Lord my righteousness.

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Were They Too Dumb to Get It?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 14, 2019 4 comments

by Steve Risner

Ever wonder if the Bible is accurate on what it tells us? I mean, if the Bible tells us about history, is it accurate history, or is it made up or an embellishment or something? What about scientific stuff? If the Bible makes mention of things that we would consider today to be in the world of scientific study, would those statements be accurate? The Bible makes a lot of claims concerning God and His creation and what He, as our Maker, expects of us. It tells us Who the Savior is and how to follow Him. He's given us a great many commands and a great many promises. If we are to trust them, would it not make sense that we should be able to trust other things the Bible teaches us? If not, by what standard do we know if something the Bible says is correct?

This week's question from Michael Roberts is one that we touched on the last 2 weeks but we'll try to be more thorough this week. That question is:

Does the Bible teach that the earth is spherical?

The Bible hardly speaks of the earth's shape. It does make mention of the fact that that earth is circular (looking at a sphere 2-dimensionally will show it looks like a circle) and suspended on nothing. As previously discussed in another post, the word translated “circle” in Hebrew can and likely should have been translated “vault.” A vault is a 3-dimensional space. A flat disc is not a vault by any stretch. Others have made the point that Jesus tells us that when the Son of man comes, it essentially could be night time for some and day time for others. This would work if the earth were a sphere but not flat. We can also take Job 26:10 into our account of the earth's shape according to the Bible. It says, “He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.” This is referring to a “terminator” (not the cybernetic organism). A terminator is defined as the dividing line between the light and dark part of a planetary body. This is only really possible with a spherical earth.

Roberts claims that the “Bible isn't interested in science.” This is a funny statement to me, really. The Bible is a book. It's probably not interested in anything, really. God, who inspired its writing, I believe is very much interested in 1) being accurate when He communicates, and 2) science which He created. The study of His creation is science. Kepler said that science is thinking God's thoughts after Him.

The Bible isn't a science text. No one has ever claimed otherwise to my knowledge. However, if it speaks on scientific topics, it is accurate. It's not a history book, but if it gives us history, it's accurate. It's not a psychology book, but when telling us about humanity and the thinking of man, it's accurate. God is fairly smart. I say that jokingly, because of course, God is omniscient (all-knowing) and His wisdom is far beyond anything man could ever hope to reason. I doubt God would make sure He inspired men of long ago to write down His thoughts for us, only to tell us things that were not true or accurate because, perhaps, at that time, we just weren't smart enough to grasp it.

Many who believe in evolution assume man is getting more intelligent. The truth is that man is getting less intelligent, not more. Sure, we've added a great deal to our knowledge, but this doesn't mean we're smarter. It just means we have discovered more (unless, perhaps, prior to the Flood, man's intelligence and acquired knowledge was also great, which I believe it was) and built on what those before us discovered. This works into Mr. Roberts' next question:

How could people in 1000 BC grasp the idea of geological time?

I think they would have no trouble understanding the far-fetched idea of “geological time.” How could they not understand it? I guess I have no idea what he's getting at here. How does anyone understand anything? Again, man is not more intelligent than he used to be. Only someone who accepts universal common descent (aka molecules to man evolution) would even consider it possible than man is getting more intelligent. Studies show us we're not, and that's okay. With the ever-increasing number of mutations in our genes, that's probably not the only thing that's not as good as it used to be in humans.

After he poses this strange question, he goes on to explain that geologists began to think the earth was older than “Ussher had suggested.” He then tells us about a botanist rather than a geologist, but that's splitting hairs. Ussher didn't suggest the age of the earth. He calculated it just as I explained a couple of weeks ago. The Bible quite easily explains how to arrive at a date for creation—this date being just over 6000 years ago. It's definitely not just Ussher's suggestion. Many others calculated the date of creation as well.

Roberts then says, “By 1800, most thought the age of the earth was in millions and that included most Christians.” He gives no support for such a statement, which is also at odds with the current belief on the age of the earth held by secularists (which is in the billions of years, not millions). What's funny is, as I showed a few weeks ago in another post, a very large portion of Christians today don't accept evolution as the means by which God created man. Wouldn't it make sense that this would include the time necessary for the humanist origins myth as well? I can't say for sure, but I don't think most Christians give it a lot of thought. If asked, they may say, “Sure, I guess the earth might be billions of years old.” But if questioned about the Bible, the same people may also say, “Sure, the Bible is true. I trust it.” The Bible obviously doesn't say God created over billions of years or billions of years ago. It does give a very clear timeline from Adam to the Exile and we are pretty sure we know when this happened.

His last statement is, “In the 20th Century, radiometric age dating showed the earth is 4.6 billion years old. That is based on the physics of radioactivity and has nothing to do with evolution. If the dates are wrong then so is all physics.” Radiometric dating has so many issues. And how were those methods calibrated? If they actually were, was it not by using fossils in rock layers that were arbitrarily given ages by people before who literally had no idea when these organisms lived? We can use radiometric dating to come up with various ages for the same sample. This is if we use different methods on the same rock layers or use the same methods on the same rock layers. They can be wildly erratic. Which dates are accepted? Those that closest fit the preconceived age for the sample. In other words, if the scientists believe a sample is 800 million years old, all dates not in line with that assumption are tossed while those that are close to this age will be accepted. It's pretty common, actually.

This link is an interesting review of a book about dating the age of the earth. This link, from my friend Rod Carty, shows how invalid (not just inaccurate) radiometric dating is. Just about 9% of all the ages arrived at in this example were consistent with the predetermined age of the moon. Which ones get published? Of course, only the results that agree with the predetermined age. If these are the “proven results of science” that Mr. Roberts is relying on rather than the unchanging and perfect Word of God, I'll take the Word of God any time. He claims that radiometric dating is a solid way to calculate the age of the earth and/or its rocks. This is laughable, truly. It is a way to calculate how much of a certain isotope is found in a rock. Any conclusion derived from this information is fanciful at best. All that's going on is determining the amount of a substance and then guessing what that means.

He claims this has nothing to do with evolution, but it has everything to do with it. If evolution were not part of the humanist origins myth, the absolute necessity of deep time would not be there at all. He claims it's just the physics of it. No. In fact, it is not the physics at all, not even accidentally. The truth of the matter is that after analysis of how much of something is in a rock, a lot of guessing and speculation and assuming goes into using those numbers to come up with an age. Where is the physics? He's assumed the physics involved and has no idea if his assumption is valid or not. Nor does he care, I suspect. As long as 9% of the results remain the published results and they support deep time, no one cares to actually think about it for a moment.

Be a thinker. Try not to let the philosophies and religious beliefs of advocates for evolution and deep time interfere with your ability to think critically and honestly. Unfortunately, many times it's hard to get all the data—the whole story. But if you dig deep enough, sometimes the information is there. Have faith, dear reader. Man's arrogance and his skewed understanding of God's creation and how he interprets it is no match for the perfect Word of God. Stay tuned.

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.