Psalm 42

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 29, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We know that the psalms are the songs of the Old Testament, but many of them (or at least verses from them) have been turned into songs we sing today as well. From what I recall, my first experience with Psalm 42 was actually singing a song based on verse 1 in church when I was in grade school, called As the Deer. While the beginning of this psalm starts out with longing for God, it’s a rather back-and-forth psalm, switching often between lament and hope.

The psalm starts with a lament in verses 1-4. The psalmist longs to experience God’s presence, using the metaphor of a deer longing for water. He has an appetite for being in God’s presence. It looks as though the psalmist is getting more and more depressed, while those around him question where God is and much time has passed since the last time he was able to be in God’s presence in the temple.

Verse 5 is an interesting one, because the verse starts as a lament but then turns to hope: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” The psalmist realizes that his soul is saddened, but then he reminds himself that he has no reason to feel that way - his hope is in God who saves him! The same is true for us. It can be so easy to get caught up in the things of this world that are so negative - diseases, death, the worldly self-focused culture, poverty, the negativity of the media, etc. But our hope can always (and should always) be placed not in those things but in the God of the universe, for He is always our Savior and our God!

In spite of that hope, the psalmist returns to lament in verses 6-7. The psalm started with the imagery of being desiring God like water to drink, and now it moves to imagery of waterfalls, waves, and breakers. Instead of calm and serene waters, the psalmist now feels the torment of rough waters in his life.

But again, there is hope! Verse 8 says, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.” The psalmist remembers that God is always with him, always loves him, and is the God who in fact gives him life. God’s continual presence and love is a comfort to the soul, both for the psalmist and for us today.

In verses 9-10, the psalmist remembers that God is his rock, but he still cries out to Him in lament. Because of the circumstances going on in his life (which we as the readers don’t know the details of), the psalmist still feels as though God has deserted him. He is feeling oppressed by his enemies, he’s experiencing pain, and he’s being mocked. Even though God is still with him, it can be easy to forget that in times of great distress.

But in verse 11, the psalmist repeats the realization and hope that he experienced in verse 5. He truly can praise God in all situations and circumstances, because God truly is his savior!

That’s technically the end of Psalm 42, but many scholars believe that Psalm 43 is actually a continuation of Psalm 42. It’s 5 more verses and it continues the same pattern of a few verses of lament followed by a verse of hope. Psalm 43:5 is actually the same wording as Psalm 42:5 and 11, which makes a strong case for these psalms actually being one.

Whether these two psalms should be together or separate, the meaning is clear: we all go through times where life is hard and we question God. God may feel very far away and it may feel like he’s forgotten us, but we can be assured that God is always present with us and always loves us, no matter what. We too can say with the psalmist that even when our soul is downcast and disturbed, “I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God!”

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Faith Revealed

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 28, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I was listening to sports talk radio the other day and a man named Marcus Thompson was being interviewed. He writes for a website called The Athletic. Mr. Thompson was talking about his coverage of Golden State Warriors’ star Kevin Durant and his research into Durant’s background. Mr. Thompson said in the interview that it is remarkable that Durant turned out the way he did and has excelled the way he has because his upbringing did not set him on the road to success. Durant, like many others with rags-to-riches success stories, grew up in a broken family. His father left the family when he was infant, which led to his parents’ divorce and the need for his grandmother to help raise him. Basketball was his ticket to success and he worked hard at developing his craft to match his God-given height and ability. Similar stories would describe the lives of other all-time great athletes like LeBron James and Ray Lewis, proving that regardless of whether you come from a firm foundation or utter brokenness, your actions will go a long way in determining who you become.

In last week’s post, I shared my thoughts regarding James reminding his audience about their church father, Abraham, and his faith that was shown through action. To further illustrate his point, James follows his writing on Abraham by discussing the living faith of someone who couldn’t be more different than Abraham in every area other than faith. In James 2:25, he brings up Rahab, an Old Testament woman known best by a single title - “the prostitute." I find it interesting that James is a Christian, writing to mostly Christians, and referencing someone who came to faith just like they did. Yet, he still refers to her according to the worst part of her past. Why? I’m guessing it’s because James’ audience was primarily Jewish and judgmental and, though they knew the history of Rahab coming to faith, likely still remembered her sinful past in a way they had disregarded their own. Don’t we all do that at times? We hold onto the sins of others but conveniently forget about our own. More importantly, by reminding his readers of her past, James is showing that living faith has nothing to do with how you were raised or your past actions. It doesn’t even matter how long you’ve had faith. Once again, we’re reminded that living faith is always accompanied by ACTION. James 2:26 tells us that good deeds are to faith what the spirit is to the body. The spirit is what gives the body life, and deeds are what give life to faith.

Rahab’s story isn’t perfect. You can find it primarily in Joshua 2. She didn’t start out with any spiritual basis in her life. As I wrote in my book Heroes of the Faith, we must see the truth from Rahab’s life that faith is not something that only happens for the “religious” or “self-righteous." It doesn’t happen by going to church, and it’s not about our parents. No matter where we come from or what we’ve done, faith is an individual choice and is shown through action. Rahab did a lot of things wrong and lived in a pagan city enslaved by the filth of the world, but she chose to have faith when she came to realize she needed God the most. Rahab lived in Jericho, which was a fortified city just across the Jordan River from where the Israelites were camped out. It was the first city they would come to when they would enter the land of Canaan, which was the Promised Land that God was giving to them based on his promise to Abraham many years earlier.

Joshua was the leader of the Israelites and though he trusted that God would give them the land, it was still wise to scope it out because there was no guarantee that the current occupants of the land, who did not follow or worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would just give it up without a fight. So, Joshua sends a couple spies over to check out the city of Jericho and see what will be necessary to take the land and the city. The spies wisely chose to enter the home of Rahab because no one would’ve suspected anything. As a prostitute, there were men leaving and entering her home all the time. While the spies’ plan made sense from a human perspective, their cover was blown when somehow, the king of Jericho received word that the spies had come to stay with Rahab. The king then sends men to Rahab and orders her to bring the spies out. Make no mistake about it - they would be brought outside to experience a public death intended to scare the bejesus out of anyone else who dare come to spy out their city or even think about trying to capture it.

At this point, the spies knew they were toast. Their fate was in the hands of a pagan woman who had absolutely no reason to help them. That was their assumption, at least. What they didn’t know was how God had already been working in her heart. In Joshua 2:4-7, we see that Rahab does the unthinkable and hides the Israelite spies, knowing full well they are from a nation that wants to conquer her city and her people and that she could be killed herself for aiding them. We also see that she lies to the men looking for the Israelite spies and sends them away. Later, she explains to the spies why she made her decision and how they can get back to the Israelite camp without being killed or captured. If this were all we knew, we could assume Rahab had some other motivation that had nothing to do with faith. If a person does good deeds without faith, that person is just as spiritually dead as someone who has faith but no deeds. In order for faith to be alive, it has to be BOTH an internal belief AND accompanied by action.

Joshua 2:9-11 shows us the reason why Rahab was suddenly motivated to help God’s people. She explains to the spies that she knows the Lord is giving them the land and that her own people are greatly afraid because of it and because of what they’ve heard about how the Lord has fought for them and provided for them in the past. Rahab now knows what it means to rightfully fear God. She even adds, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (v. 11). Rahab decided that it was better to be on THAT God’s side when the judgment comes than the side of her countrymen. First, we saw the action of hiding the spies; then, we saw the faith behind it. And all this from a woman who had no Godly foundation and didn’t even consider God someone with whom she could have a relationship at that point (she said “the Lord YOUR God” [caps mine]).

James is telling all of us that Rahab’s faith was just as much a saving faith as Abraham’s faith was. She didn’t have a clue what it meant to walk with God and his people yet, but her belief that the God of Israel was in total control caused her to determine it was best to help HIS people, and that belief led her to action at a moment when she was the only person who stood between the men of Jericho and the Israelite spies. Notice that James is not commending her for her lie, just as Hebrews 11 does not. He’s not saying Rahab’s faith was perfect. We all know that Abraham’s faith was far from perfect. But you don’t have to have perfect faith in order to have faith that is ALIVE. God used Rahab’s imperfect but willing faith to not only continue His plan and promise for the people of Israel to gain their own land, but also to bring salvation to Rahab and her family. Rahab would come and live among the Israelites after the fall of Jericho, would marry a Hebrew man, and would end up in the genealogy of our Messiah as the great-great-grandmother of King David (Matthew 1:5-6).

If you’ve grown up in a difficult situation, had poor examples of faith all around you, and had very little teaching regarding Biblical traditions, don’t think for a minute that you can’t have LIVING faith in God just as much as I or any other Christian you know does. Of course, it starts with some sort of internal recognition of who God is. That’s important. Once you have that realization, it may motivate you to some change in your life, possibly even something that seems drastic. But maybe that is what God wants for you. If it is, don’t waste another day ignoring what God is doing in your heart. Let go of the past and trust Him to lead you from here on out.

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The Names of God: Jehovah Sabaoth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 26, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts

Last week I wrote about how God is the God of peace, and as a peacemaker He comes to rule and bring His government. How does He do that? As I mentioned last week, when Rome came to take over a nation or tribe, they sent an ambassador to negotiate peace before the army would arrive. If the people agreed to the terms (which were Roman terms, rarely if ever negotiated), the army would rule over them, but the people would be allowed to retain their general identity. But if they refused, then the army would still come and wipe them out.

God is the Lord of Hosts, the commander of the army of heaven. He’s got an army to which there is no comparison. In The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Aragon raced to recruit the “men under the mountain,” an army of undead because the forces of Sauron coming against the city of Minas Tirith was too big. This army alone was so powerful because no weapon other than Aragon’s sword could touch them. And this army effectively won the battle single-handedly.

We see a few glimpses of this the heavenly host throughout the Bible. The first is found in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden. The entrance to the garden was protected by an angel with a flaming sword. Another incident is found right before Joshua advanced upon Jericho. This was no ordinary angel, but rather Jesus, fully dressed in His armor, as Commander of the Hosts of Heaven.

The first time we see an army of angelic hosts is in 2 Kings 6. Elisha had been warning the king of Israel where the Syrian army was moving and their intentions so the king of Syria sent his army to take out one man. Elisha’s servant panicked but Elisha didn’t. The prophet instead asked that God open the eyes of his servant and thus show him the countryside was surrounded with flaming chariots. We see this army show up from time to time throughout the Bible.

There is one major difference between God’s army and this undead army: the undead army was cursed because of bad choices; God’s army has always been completely faithful to the end. This army does not fight with conventional tactics or weapons, though the Bible often gives imagery related to physical war. In one instance, the Angel of the Lord wiped out 185,000 men of the Assyrian army in a single night, thus preserving Hezekiah. When Jehoshaphat faced three armies, God told him he would win the battle without having to raise a sword. When the king arrived at the place of battle, he sent his worship leaders as his front line, believing what God had said. There he found all three armies having wiped each other out. Even when King Saul and Jonathan faced the Philistines, Jonathan attacked with his armor-bearer alone and God’s army came in, causing confusion among the enemy. While Jonathan only killed about twenty men, even more died by the Philistines killing each other. When God’s army fights, His people always win.

What about our battles today? Does God fight for us today? He most certainly does. It doesn’t always come in the form of overtaking a physical enemy. There are spiritual forces we face, and the Old Testament’s physical enemies gave us a physical picture of how we should engage them. When God told Joshua to march around Jericho, He was demonstrating to Joshua that this conquest would be done by His hands, not by military talent. Likewise, that physical battle gives us a picture of how some spiritual battles need to be fought. Numerous prayer groups would march around a property they knew God was leading them to get. Sometimes they would march around a city or around a neighborhood, but the idea was to surround the territory to be claimed with a proclamation that it belongs to God.

One of the key things I am still struggling to truly grasp is that God is the one who fights God’s battles. We get to participate in them, but more often than not we are mere spectators in the battle. We are in the thick of it and we battle in prayer, but ultimately it is God fighting that battle. When God is the one fighting, He is the one who will win. He has an undefeated record and there are no ties in this war. Any time we experience a loss, it is not because God did not come through, but because we did not believe or because there was sin in the camp.

Right after Joshua’s most famous victory over Jericho, he got routed by the tiniest force in Canaan at Ai. Look back to my post on the “Effects of Sin” earlier this year. Achan thought taking a few things would not affect anyone except him. Turns out it cost Israel the battle. It wasn’t because God failed them, but because Achan’s sin prevented God from being able to bless them. Achan’s choice, which he thought would only affect him, held back the armies of God because God cannot bless sin. He told Joshua what the deal was and to go address it. In Joshua’s eyes, let alone God’s, Achan’s sin was considered treachery. It cost Israel a battle and much more.

Am I saying God’s armies can be restrained with sin, as though we have power over God? Not at all. God is still going to see what He wants done through to the end. The one who loses out is us, not God. God promised to bring Israel into the Promised Land and after hearing the spies’ report, they chose not to believe God. So, God chose to wipe out every adult in the camp except for the two spies who believed Him from the beginning. God’s plans were not waylaid. It was only delayed in seeing its fruition. It still got done. The next generation entered and then proceeded to take over the land.

God is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts. He is the Commander of the armies of heaven, and He never loses a battle. It always amazes me how many people try to fight against Him when it is truly a futile effort. God doesn’t lose His battles. He doesn’t settle for draws either. He only knows how to win and He wins every time. And He asks of each and every one us this: “Which side are you on? Mine, or against Me?” Choose you this day whom will you serve. I have chosen to serve the Lord, albeit far from perfectly. What about you?

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What the Krebs

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 25, 2019 2 comments

by Steve Risner

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

This week I wanted to touch on a process that is basic to every form of life we are aware of on earth—the Krebs' Cycle, or Citric Acid Cycle. At first, I wanted to outline it in detail and talk about its complexities and the silliness of the thought that it arose by chance. However, I quickly realized that such a blog would not be read by anyone because it would be similar to reading a higher-level science text - a.k.a. boring. So I've decided to just write a bit on energy and how life—all life—depends on it.

The Krebs' Cycle, named after Hans Krebs, an American biochemist, who discovered it in 1937, is what turns glucose (the most common form of sugar in our bodies) into useful energy. There are 8 basic steps to this process, and it's quite amazing to think of the detail in creating something so basic to our existence—energy.

Why do we need energy? Of course, without energy we could do no work—chemical, electrical, or mechanical work all requires the expenditure of energy. We house energy in a chemical called ATP—adenosine triphosphate. ATP is made in the Krebs' Cycle. There are other processes involved before and after the Krebs' Cycle that use ATP, so the argument quickly becomes a chicken/egg discussion if you believe in evolution from a single common ancestor. It's just nonsensical. So let's look at different ways we make energy.

We eat food. It's yummy. It tastes good and we enjoy it. I suppose that's motivation our Creator gave us to sustain us. We need food not for a good time at dinner but to generate energy and acquire nutrients to perform the complex processes we are always involved in that keep us alive. Food is digested in a series of stages from chewing and saliva through the stomach and all the way to the end of the GI tract and back out to the outside world. Along this pathway, nutrients are snatched from our food. Glucose, a sugar, is a basic nutrient that eventually starts our story, so let's talk about it for a moment.

Sugar is what we break up into little energy packets. We do this all day, every day, as long as we are living. Every cell of the body requires energy to do whatever it is that it does. Glucose is broken down into smaller molecules, which eventually become acetyl CoA. This compound is what undergoes changes in the Krebs' Cycle to release energy molecules. This pathway is called glycolysis, which simply means “breaking sugar.” But we are so marvelously built that we can actually make glucose out of other things—namely fat and protein! That's amazing. In fact, you don't need to eat ANY glucose in order to live because your body can make it out of other things. I often tell my chiropractic practice members struggling with their diet that there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. If you don't eat them, you make them. How cool is that?

So proteins are broken down into amino acids, which can be converted into acetyl CoA, which enters the Krebs' cycle and BAM! Energy is produced. Triglycerides (fat) can be broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. Glycerol is converted into... you guessed it.. glucose, which is turned into acetyl CoA and BOOM! Energy is produced. Our Maker knew what He was doing.

Think of this: each cell in your body, on average, will consume (after generating) about 10 million molecules of ATP every second! What?! I could show you all the math that comes up with this completely theoretical number, but let's just assume it's pretty close. That's jaw dropping, isn't it, when we consider there are approximately 100 trillion cells in our bodies (depending on who you talk to). Looking for calculations on the Internet (which I admit is sketchy), it looks like the average human uses about 100-150 Watts of power in a day, or the energy an average light bulb would consume. Is that startling to anyone else? Most of the appliances in your home consume far more energy than you do. Again, our Creator is astounding!

Then there are organisms that simply sit in the sun and generate energy! How nice would it be if you could just sit outside for a few minutes and generate the energy you needed to get through the day? Plants (and several other organisms) have the ability to turn light energy into usable energy to sustain themselves—a process called photosynthesis. It just so happens that they use our waste products to make energy and survive, and we use their waste products to make energy and survive. What an awesome cycle!

I pray in reading this you're not overwhelmed with jargon or technical stuff. I did my best to reduce the boring stuff most of us would gloss over. In essence, the bottom line is the Krebs' Cycle is astoundingly complex and important. ATP, the primary (although not the only) product of the Krebs' Cycle is what every known living thing uses for energy. We make ATP from glucose—a sugar. We can eat sugar or make it from proteins or fat. There are hundreds of enzymes that move different products down multiple paths to go from hamburger and milkshake to usable energy. You are, literally, what you eat.

Brian Thomas of says this concerning ATPase (an enzyme used to break ATP and extract its energy): “Since evolution by natural selection requires reproduction, and since reproduction requires life, which requires ATPase, the enzyme is therefore a prerequisite for evolution. But with evolution out of order until ATPase ‘appears’, evolution is not even in the running as a model to explain the origin of the molecular motor.”

Let's reflect on the fact that God is the Creator and Sustainer of life.
Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
1 Corinthians 8:6, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

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.


Psalm 40

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 22, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened—burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
(Psalm 40)

I know it’s a bit of a longer psalm to write out here in this post, but it is such a good one (as are all the psalms, really). We often think of the psalms as isolated chapters, not necessarily being in context with each other. But one interesting thing with this psalm is it’s in context with Psalms 37, 38, and 39. Psalm 37, which I wrote about here, encourages us to trust in God and His Word no matter what, even when the evil ones around us prosper. In Psalm 38, King David deals with sin, guilt, anger, and ultimately puts his hope in God. In Psalm 39, David shares the realities and difficulties in his life, searching for meaning. In Psalm 40, all that waiting and patience is paying off and David is beginning to rejoice in God as his salvation.

As verse 1 tells us, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Being patient means totally giving everything over to God. We generally want justice from God on our timeline and in the way we’d like it, but waiting patiently for God means knowing that He is the ultimate Judge and the one in control over everything. We need to let Him be God rather than trying to be God ourselves. It’s up to God how He wants to deal with each individual sinner.

David realizes he’s kind of a mess, and he’s asking God to save him from this mess. All he needs to do is have faith and wait for God to rescue him, to hear his cry and turn to him. We see that deliverance in verse 2: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

David went through a lot of adversity in his life, but we see his testimony here that he waited patiently on God. No, David wasn’t perfect, but he continually turned back to God when he went astray. What kind of adversity are you going through in your life? People in our lives will see how we deal with adversity. We may mess it up and try and fix things on our own, but we need to remember these words of David and wait patiently on the Lord, and He will deliver us in His timing. Being patient and relying on God through it, as David did, is the most powerful testimony there is!

Verse 3 tells us, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” We’re not singing the same old song, but a new one! If we say or do the same thing over and over again, things won’t change. I had a professor in college who would always say, “If you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.” If we have a new song, though, something has changed! When we allow God to work in our life in His timing and sing His praises, we will sing that new song. Whatever adversity we’re going through may be taken away, thus giving us a powerful testimony about God’s work in our lives.

What is God doing in your life? Do you see Him working in your life, even in tough situations? When you’re going through difficult times, listen for the new song that God is giving you.

In verse 11, David writes, “Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.” Even though God has already rescued him, David realizes that he could very easily fall back into the sins he committed before. He recognizes that the only hope and freedom he can experience will come from God. He trusts that God’s love will always protect him.

The psalm closes in verse 17 with these words: “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” In this psalm, we see that David has a humble boldness. If we’re living out the new song that God has for us, we too can approach God boldly and confidently, even in the midst of struggles, and yet with humility that He is the only one who can truly rescue us from the difficulties of this life. We know that we are nothing compared to God, yet He still loves us and will be our help and our deliverer when we trust in Him and wait patiently on Him.

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Faith Resurrected

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 21, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

What does this Easter Sunday mean to you? You could probably give some theological answer regarding your knowledge of what God did through Jesus in raising Him from the grave, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Hopefully, you are going or have already gone to church today and you’ll get whatever theology you need there. What I’m talking about is personal impact. How has the resurrection of Jesus, our Messiah, changed your life? Are there any noticeable differences between your life now and the one you led BEFORE you came to believe in Jesus as both Savior and Lord? If not, why not? We’re talking about the biggest miracle and event that ever took place in this world, yet some believers still have a hard time seeing what difference it actually makes in their lives. If Jesus’ resurrection didn’t make a difference to anyone, then there would be no reason to celebrate it.

When I read about the apostles in the Book of Acts and hear stories of other persecuted believers throughout history and those who are enduring difficult trials around the world even now, I’m reminded of the clear distinction between mere lip service and living faith that matters. James, the younger brother of Jesus, writes about this in his letter to the first-century Jewish believers and we’ve been looking at his take on true faith for the past several weeks. The entire section of James 2:14-26 is about living faith versus dead faith. Those who claim to have faith but don’t back it up with action beyond their words have “dead faith” that is no different than what demons have. But those whose faith leads them to doing good works have faith that others can see. It’s a living faith that produces more faith in the lives of others.

Today, I’m specifically looking at James 2:20-24, where James writes to remind his audience about the best historical example of living faith with whom they would’ve been familiar - Abraham. It seems calculated that he discusses Abraham’s example for two reasons: 1) the best and most obvious example of faith would be Jesus of Nazareth, but it’s probably too new to the believers for James to get his point across that God has always been seeking those with a living faith, and 2) he later discusses a well-known Gentile in Rahab, who couldn’t have been more opposite of Abraham in lifestyle and upbringing but still showed true faith in action (we’ll get to her next week).

James brings up the story of their father Abraham as “evidence that faith without deeds is useless” (v. 20). He then explains that Abraham’s righteousness was revealed by what he DID in offering his son Isaac on the altar. For those who don’t know, James is referencing the story we find in Genesis 22. James makes it clear that Abraham already had faith before that and that he had already been considered righteous by God, as shown in Genesis 15:6. But “his faith and actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:22). We can truthfully say we have faith the moment we trust in Jesus for the first time, but our actions that flow out from our faith are what make it complete and alive. The example of Abraham is a perfect one because the same God who “credited” his believing as righteousness in Genesis 15:6 also decided it was time to test him, according to Genesis 22:1. God knew that Abraham had faith, but the test of having to sacrifice his son, his heir, and the one in whom his hope to be made a “father of many nations” was found, would be his opportunity to reveal that faith and make it complete. It was where the rubber of his faith would meet the road of life. Likewise, our tests and trials that we face in life are the opportunities to show our faith and separate ourselves from those who have the faith of demons.

If you know that story of Abraham and Isaac, then you know that Abraham didn’t end up having to sacrifice his son. He bound his son and laid him on top of the wood on the altar he had built, but just as he was about to slay Isaac with a knife, an angel of the Lord stopped him (Genesis 22:9-12). The angel, speaking for the Lord, then said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (v. 12). As James makes his point to his readers, they would’ve all been aware of that story. They could think back to those words from the angel, especially the “now I know” part of it. Abraham had been on a long journey of faith at that point and had certainly not always put his full faith and trust in the Lord. The harsh test turned out to be proof of his faith to himself, to Isaac, and even to God.

What made Abraham willing to sacrifice his own son? He certainly had no clue that God was going to stop him from doing it. Some argue that he did have that inkling because he told Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). But the fact that he was seconds away from killing Isaac after binding him on the altar shows that he had every intention of doing it. He didn’t stop and look around and say, “Okay God, just kidding. I know you were just testing me, so where is the lamb?” It was a settled matter in his heart that no matter how ludicrous it seemed, he had to obey God. Hebrews 11:17 tells us that Abraham “was about to sacrifice his one and only son” even though he “had embraced the promises." I intentionally mentioned above that Abraham’s hope for the fulfillment of those promises was found in Isaac, because that’s what it would’ve seemed to him and to us had we been there. But in truth, by the time of that test, Abraham’s hope was in God alone. He knew that if God promised to bless his name through Isaac but also commanded that he sacrifice Isaac, God had to know what He was up to. Hebrews 11:19 says, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead." As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ today, we’re thinking, “Well, duh, of course he can!” But Abraham had no evidence or historical reports that it could happen or had happened because it NEVER HAD! Yet, he reasoned that God could do whatever is necessary to make sure His commands do not contradict or break His promises.

There is an amazing juxtaposition between what Abraham reasoned and what God actually did with Abraham’s own faith, and He can do the same with yours. It’s not like the command to sacrifice Isaac was Abraham’s first and only test. Thankfully, we serve a God of not just second chances, but often as many chances as it takes. Abraham had majorly failed on multiple occasions, and those are just the ones we know about. In Genesis 16, he sleeps with Hagar, the servant of his wife Sarah, because he and his wife are tired of waiting for the promise from God to be fulfilled. In Genesis 20, he deceives a foreign king, Abimelek, and says that Sarah is his sister because he fears Abimelek will kill him so he can take Sarah as his wife. These are just two of the examples of Abraham showing dead faith. He believed in God, but the circumstances and trials led him to walk not in faith, but in fear.

When Abraham witnessed the birth of his son Isaac even though he was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5) and his wife was ninety, it gave him a renewed understanding of the unlimited power of God to accomplish His will. Both Abraham and Sarah had originally laughed at the idea that God could give them a child in their late years. I find it stunning that God got laughed at and still had enough patience to keep His promises to them. Sarah was asked by an angel in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” As she gave birth and Abraham witnessed it, they could answer with a resounding NO. It’s safe to say their dead faith was RESURRECTED. When the ultimate test came later for Abraham, he was ready.

I pray that the resurrection of Jesus from the grave makes a difference in your life today. If God could raise the dead, on top of countless other miracles He’s been providing since the beginning of time, is there anything too hard for Him in your life? Maybe you’ve had opportunities to live out your faith with good works and you’ve failed miserably. That’s in the past now. God is giving you new opportunities to let Him resurrect your dead faith and make it alive again. Will you trust in Him and obey His will from now on?

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The Names of God: Jehovah Shalom

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 19, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is peace

We live in a world where this is no peace. Violent mobs destroy property and loot in the guise of “protesting.” Some political parties advocate that unless they regain control there won’t be civility. Mass shootings and a constant state of fear abounds. There is no peace in today’s world.

There would not even be peace even if our political realm “returned back to normal.” The Communist countries had no war within them, but there was no peace. During our previous U.S. political administration, there was no peace, even though one party pretty much had full control. During our current one, we certainly don’t have peace either.

But peace will not be achieved no matter whose political ideals are realized. Many people are not at peace even when everything going around them is smooth. Peace is not defined as “lack of war.” Peace is much better defined as “all is as it should be.” We live in a fallen and broken world. Something is drastically wrong with this world and every person is either asking or seeking how to make that which is wrong to be right. There will be no peace until that which is wrong is made right.

What is wrong with this world? We are. We are the ones at fault. Man is the crowning glory of God’s creation and we are the ones who messed it all up. It is our sin that has wrecked this world and created the lack of peace. Man has been trying to fix it up the best way he knows how – without God – and each attempt fails miserably. In the grand epic story we call world history, man plays the role of both the villain and the damsel in distress. Who is the hero in this epic? Jesus Christ. He came to deal with what is wrong with this world, sin, and to rescue His bride, us.

Jesus made the way to make peace between man and God. He is the one and only mediator. He is the one who was both God and man at the same time was able to take upon Himself the wrath of God, thus enabling peace to be achieved. We celebrate this moment in which the “peace treaty” was signed today, and call it “Good Friday.” It is the day in which we celebrate what Jesus did on that cross, and in two days we will celebrate the completion of that work on Resurrection Sunday. And now we who have been justified by faith now have peace with God. Jesus ended the war between God and man, however just because the treaty has been signed, that does not mean all factions are recognizing it. Therefore, God has sent us to be ambassadors to the lost in this world to implore and encourage that they make peace with God before He comes in.

When Paul wrote about ambassadors, he had a Roman ambassador in mind. When Rome set its eyes on a foreign nation or people group, they sent an ambassador ahead of them to negotiate terms of surrender. This would enable to nation or tribe to retain most of its identity and culture, and they would just need to pay tribute and submit to Roman rule. If the nation or tribe refused the terms, the Roman army would come in and clean house. The image relates to us in this way. God is coming to claim that which belongs to Him. He sends us as His followers to plead with the people to make peace with Him and to surrender to His rule before He comes in with His judgment against sin and to set Jesus Christ on the throne of this world where He rightfully belongs.

This is a key to understand about peace. My pastor made a very interesting connection about peace a couple year ago when he did the Advent studies of joy, peace, hope, and love. He cited Isaiah 9:7 and noticed that you cannot have God’s peace without God’s government. Since peace is properly defined as “all is as it should be,” then how can that be possible unless a pure, perfect, righteous, holy, and just God rules over it? Things went wrong when man decided to defy God’s rule and try to do things his own way, and they can only be made right by God intervening and setting them right.

Gideon gave God this name Jehovah Shalom when he was summoned to deliver Israel from Midian’s hand. But what did Gideon do immediately afterwards? That very night, he went and tore down the altars to Baal and Asheroth in his town and replaced them with an altar to the Lord. To make peace with God, he had to declare war on the false teachings and idolatry which itself was waging war against God. In order for peace to be acquired, all that which rebels against God must be put down and that which God established must be erected.

If we want peace in our lives, we must submit to God’s rule. The Apostle Paul made it clear that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. Only one of those is a Perfect Master: Jesus Christ. When we submit ourselves to and obey Christ, then no matter what goes on around us, we will have peace. Yes, the Christian can have peace of mind even when Hell is throwing everything it has at us. When things go wrong, when the car suddenly breaks down, when heavy traffic makes you late, when someone tells lies about you, or the government has shown to sell itself to the devil, we can still have peace. Why? How? It’s simple: God is still in control and nothing takes place without his permission or allowance. Such chaos approached Hudson Taylor while he led missions in China. He heard the bad reports and he just leaned back on his chair and started whistling. He was at peace. The man bringing the news was confused. How could he do that? The answer was that he just rolled the problem onto Jesus. Taylor didn’t have to take responsibility for the problem. He gave it to Jesus and waited for Him to take care of it. That doesn’t mean he did nothing, but that he recognized it was under Christ’s rule, therefore it was Christ’s responsibility. He only had to worry about obeying Christ, not solving all the problems he faced.

There is one more aspect of God’s peace I’ll address. God did not come to be a peace-lover; He came to be a peace-maker. What’s the difference? A peace-lover will surrender everything to not have to make a stand and not have to work to make something happen. They don’t know true peace and just want to get along in one big kumbaya with everyone. A peace-maker, on the other hand, will go deal with the situations and if necessary remove those disturbing the peace. They will go and set things in order, settle conflicts by a standard of truth, and get the job done. God is a peace-maker and He will set things straight. The question to us is this: will be part of the clean-up process, or will we be the ones God need to clean out? He’s going to set His rule here on earth one way or the other. We have a choice to stand with Him and be part of the process, or we can try to continue doing things our own way and be part of the problem for Him to deal with. Let’s not be part of the problem.

God is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord of peace. He is the ruler of this universe and He is returning once and for all to make all things that are wrong to be right. He delays His day of coming so we might make terms of peace before He takes us out with the trash. Will you make peace with God? Now is a better time than ever. Ask me or any of us at Worldview Warriors how to do this.

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The Birth of the Way

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 18, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Psalm 37

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 15, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

In one of the commentaries I use, the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, the heading they gave Psalm 37 is, “Wise Living in a Crooked Generation.” Anyone following the news headlines in the U.S. for the last decade or so would probably agree that we are living in a “crooked generation,” and as Christ followers we are called to still live in a wise manner. One of the issues this psalm addresses is how the wicked seem to prosper even while the righteous suffer. So, this psalm seems especially applicable for our world today, even though it was written a few thousand years ago.

Verses 1-2 summarize what our mindset should be: “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” That sounds simple enough, right? But it’s really much easier said than done. We are so often envious of those who get what they want in life, even if they came by those things in an evil manner. Those who do wrong and not follow the narrow path of God’s Word seem to have so much more pleasure and fun in this life, don’t they? But their enjoyment is only for this lifetime, and they will pay for their lack of faith for all eternity.

So what should we do instead of worrying about those who are evil and being envious of them? We get the answer in verses 3-8: trust in God, take delight in Him, commit our ways to Him, be still and wait patiently on Him, refrain from anger, and don’t fret.

What is the result of all of this? “For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land… But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (verses 9 and 11). You may be thinking that inheriting land isn’t much motivation for you; it sure isn’t that appealing to a city girl such as myself. But the land represents God’s kingdom, so “inheriting the land” is really inheriting the Kingdom of God! With that Kingdom, we also will enjoy peace, which is an amazing gift from God to us.

Verses 12-26 give us lots of contrasts between the ways of the righteous and the ways of the wicked. Read that passage and see which category you, those around you, and society as a whole are a part of. This passage shows that the righteous and the wicked will always be at odds, polar opposites of each other in what they do. Society may want to tell us that there is a gray area, that not everything is black and white, but God’s Word makes it pretty clear that there are just two groups of people: the righteous who follow Him and keep His ways, and the unrighteous who don’t.

But that doesn’t mean that being one of the righteous ones is easy; it’s definitely not. That’s why we need God’s Word, including psalms such as this one, to continually encourage us to follow God’s path. Some of that encouragement can be found in verses 27-29: “Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” Again, while dwelling in the land referred to physically inhabiting God’s promised land for the people of Israel, for us today it means being a part of God’s Kingdom. We will be able to dwell with Him forever!

The psalm closes with how we should respond to facing the evils of this world. When we follow God, our wise response should be that we put our hope in Him, be obedient to Him, and have faith in His justice. Verse 34 tells us this: “Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.”

We will see those who do evil in this world flourish for a time, but their prosperity will not last (verses 35-36). We should live our lives like those we see who are righteous, and not like the sinners who will be destroyed (verses 37-38). But as we’re reminded in verses 39-40, none of this can be done in our own strength. It all comes from God - His power, His strength, and His deliverance in our lives!

What is your reaction when you see someone enjoying prosperity in this world? How do you feel when a person prospers when you know they have done evil, and it seems like you’re getting nowhere by following God’s ways? Be encouraged by Psalm 37 to continue to trust in God and follow His righteous ways. Your eternity with God is much more valuable than someone else’s temporary prosperity in this world!

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Faith Like Demons?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 14, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

A few years ago, I participated in a weight-loss challenge at the office where I was working. I did very well and ended up in second place, but the guy who won was a good friend of mine who dropped about 16 pounds in one month! Once the challenge was over, most of us who worked so hard to lose that weight in order to win went back to eating red meat and carbs. It didn’t take long for the weight to find its rightful spot back around our midsections. I remember speaking to the guy that won the challenge after we had all gained the weight back. We were talking about how difficult it is to keep it off and all the excuses for why we can’t do it. The man then turned to me and said, “Then again, Logan, I guess if it mattered that much to me, I’d figure out a way to make it happen!”

That conversation illustrates the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. We can talk so much about how important something is to us, but our actions will reveal whether or not it’s true. We are used to defining what we “believe” by processing what we feel and think, but what we truly believe is shown through action. That’s why James focuses so much on showing our faith through good works in his letter to the early Church. In James 2:18-19, he explains that claiming to have faith but not showing it through action puts us among not very good company: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder."

In this passage, it seems pretty clear that James is addressing something that had become a problem in the early Church. Previously in his letter (James 2:8-13), he emphasized that breaking even one law makes a person guilty of breaking the whole law in the eyes of God, and that because of their realization of their own sinfulness and inability to earn salvation through works, they should treat everyone they encounter with the same mercy God has shown them. Now, he felt it was important to address those who had gone too far to the other extreme - living as though works are completely unnecessary because they can’t save a person. So, he throws down the challenge to anyone who thinks they know better than him. He invites them to reveal their faith without any good works and he will in turn show his faith by pointing to the corresponding evidence in his life through good works.

Evidently, there were some in the early Church, or at least James feared there were some, who treated faith and deeds as separate spiritual gifts. They would say, “It’s fine for you to have deeds. That’s great for you! But that’s just not something God blessed me with." James knows this is nonsense and he does not want to take the chance of allowing such theology to spread through the Church, so he decides to address it in his letter. He wants to make it clear that doing good works as a Christian is not a special “gift" but a requirement for all believers to reveal their faith to others.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be constantly searching for good things to do. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33), which means there are opportunities all around us to live out our faith boldly in the midst of difficulty and even to help others who are in trouble. We also know that temptation is all around us in this world. The Lord told Cain in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Even Jesus Himself faced temptation a lot more often than we realize. We know about his temptation in the wilderness for forty days and nights, but at the end of it, Luke tells us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In other words, the devil wasn’t done with Jesus. Enduring trials, helping others who are in trouble, and resisting temptation are all “deeds” that we don’t have to go out and seek because they are part of the natural course of life for the Christian.

James knows that his challenge for those who ignore the need for good deeds can’t really be completed. His statement has the kind of striking sarcasm that reminds me of Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal and the false god of Baal itself (1 Kings 18:27). James’ point is that no one can “see” a person’s faith unless there are visible works. If you are a manager and one of your employees tells you they are sick, you would have to trust them unless you are physically in their presence when some of the symptoms reveal themselves. In the same way, anyone can say, “I have faith," but the only way to verify that what they are saying is true is to look at the accompanying works in their lives.

After he challenges them to find a way to show their faith without deeds, James tells his audience that believing there is only one God makes a person no different than the demons, who also “believe” in God, yet do not act on that belief other than to tremble at God’s very presence because they know He has power over them. If faith only means to “believe in God” and nothing more, than even the demons and Satan himself are faithful. Since their “faith” is not accompanied by action, it is dead and does nothing for them or anyone else.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want my faith to be like that of the demons. I want my faith to be something that others can see by the ways I love others and do works associated with my faith, all while understanding it is not any of MY works that saves me, but the work that Jesus did on the cross. Paul understood that salvation was a free gift from God, yet he still wrote to the believers at Philippi, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is not the same kind of fear that the demons have. The demons shudder in the presence of God because they know He can end them. We also know it, but we’ve been set free from that fear because we know of God’s love for us, and “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is based on the knowledge that not doing things God’s way will have lasting natural consequences for us. Fear can be a great motivator. For example, realizing the reality of cancer and other diseases might influence you to quit smoking. The possibility of losing your family ought to help you resist the temptation to lust or cheat.

What Paul tells us has to do with each of us individually. Sometimes we care so much for the salvation of others but neglect to work out our own salvation. As you reflect on your own spiritual life today, is your faith like that of the demons, or is it being worked out continuously? Is your belief in God something others can see? If not, I challenge you to see the Holy Spirit and ask Him to create a clean heart and a renewed desire to do His good works within you today.

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The Names of God: Jehovah Nissi

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 12, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehovah Nissi: The Lord my banner

I’ve never been the kind of person that does war cries or chants or pep talks or what not. I know their purpose and their intent to rile someone up, get them on an emotional high, and spook out the opponent. It doesn’t matter whether its in actual war, a sport, or even a business meeting. I’m simply not that kind of person. I find shouting at your opponent is a waste of energy while I simply stand there with confidence of “Watch out!”

There only time I’ve ever actually enjoyed a war cry is from Eric Ludy’s short sermon on the Israel’s war cry which I wrote about in one of my first blog posts for Worldview Warriors. RAK CHAZAK! Be strong and courageous! Do not give in to fear! That is the only one I’ve ever been able to buy into.

The purpose of war cries and chants is to get the people motivated, and there’s something about crowd mentality in that too. When you see a group of football players getting into their rhythm, you don’t want to interrupt that, because they are a force to contend with. When the group gets a high morale, it is tough to break. Likewise, when the morale is down, it takes a leader to raise the banner, the flag, or the symbol of what you fight or play for and call for everyone else to bring on their best. In the movie The Patriot in the final battle, the American lines fell before the British troops and Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, grabbed a U.S. flag from a retreating soldier and rallied the troops to where they soon claimed victory.

The Bible has such a moment too, and that is where the name Jehovah Nissi came about. In Exodus 17, Amalek rose up to try to stop Israel from crossing the wilderness and reach Mt. Sinai. Moses sent Joshua out to lead the battle while he climbed a hill to oversee it. Moses lifted his hands and as long as his hands were up, Israel won, but when they fell, Amalek gained ground. Aaron and Hur realized this and rushed to Moses’ aid, holding his hands up until victory was achieved. Moses’ raised hands was little different than raising a flag or a banner and as long as it was up, the people’s morale remained high. Moses knew he was nothing special in this, but it was God the whole time. So, he gave God the name Jehovah Nissi to commemorate that battle.

In each of these cases, we see a leader or a banner, some image that represents all the athletes and soldiers stand for. It is the rallying point, the signal caller, and the hope of the combatants. When a fort surrenders, they lower the flag. When a fort is in distress, they fly the flag upside down to notify those outside there is danger in the fort. When a fort or nation is in mourning, they fly the flags at half-mast.

What should be the most famous case of a flag flying can be found at Ft. McHenry in the War of 1812. This was the moment in which Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner. The British troops pulled their entire armada to shell the fort only to be stopped by surrender, as recognized by that flag on the fort ramparts. The people knew precisely what that flag meant and despite being shot down again and again, the people ran to that flag throughout the night and held it up in person. That is something we Americans don’t understand anymore: the courage to “rather die on your feet, than live on your knees” (quote from movie clip cited above). But it is also something missing in our Christian lives as well.

We have a banner, a rallying point, and a symbol that represents who we fight for and who we represent. That banner is God himself: Jehovah Nissi. He is not only the one we turn to for shelter, but He is the very symbol that brings us together, riles us up, and sends us charging back into the battle for souls. God is the one telling our souls to get up, to get back into the fight, to rise up, and engage the spiritual forces holding people hostage.

The problem is so few of us only turn to God for our immediate needs and not as a rallying point. We go to church mostly for the social gathering or for listening to a good talk, but church is meant to be so much more than that. Church is meant to be a place where the flag of Jesus Christ flies. It is a place where a pastor sounds the horn to rally the troops, give us our orders for engaging this world, and send us back to battle strengthened and encouraged. So few pastors see their role that way. Even though I lead a Bible study group at my church, I often don’t think of it this way either. But imagine the change of church behavior and attitude if we did.

Do we have someone calling to us to rally us together? Do we see the banner to be raised? In this sermon excerpt, Paul Washer says what costs him sleep is this: “To pace a room at night, saying ‘There is a place. There is a place, where He is not worshiped, where He is not worshiped. There is a place where He is not worshiped. I cannot sleep. There is a place where He is not worshiped. There is a place where the flag of Zion does not fly.’” Who thinks like that? It’s supposed to be Christians. Not super-Christians, not elite Christians, but everyday Christians. Our job as ambassadors is to not merely plead with people to come to Christ but to expand the territory of the Kingdom. Do we think that way?

To whom do we rally? To what cause? For which kingdom? Sadly, many of us fight for something other than Christ and His Kingdom, and especially when we do so under the guise of doing just that. It’s a clever trick of the enemy and he’s good at it. Instead, let us raise the banner of Christ high and let the world know that we proclaim the name of Jesus, Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my banner. He is our war cry. He is our rallying point. He is our motivator. He is our general who gives us His orders. Let us rally together at the banner that is Christ and see to it that His name be raised and glorified in every aspect of our lives.

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


Why Are All the Geologists Wrong?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 11, 2019 4 comments

by Steve Risner

Today we'll be looking at the last question in a series of 10 that Michael Roberts wants to ask “young earth,” aka Biblical, creationists. This week's question is fairly easy and has been partially answered in the previous posts regarding his 10 questions, but we'll get on with it here:

Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

As is my custom, I try to answer short and sweet if possible. This has more than one answer that's fairly obvious, at least to me. The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible's clear teaching on earth's history. It doesn't get any more obvious. However, the second answer is a little more detailed.

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible. If we reject the clear teachings of the Word of God, how can we even suggest we are following the God of the Bible? Sure, many of these old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists will say they accept Christ's teachings and the apostles’ teachings, but why? If we reject some of it, what standard do we use to know if we should accept what the Bible says in one place and reject other parts? I'm seriously asking. If the answer is “science,” then we're lost already.

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you've placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you're choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith.

Why do old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists reject the creation account and timeline for creation as clearly expressed in the Word of God? It is contrary to the time scales required by the humanist origins myth. There's really nothing more to it. It's easy to understand why an unbeliever would accept such things, but why would a follower of Christ? Generally, again, it has to do with their worldview. They've accepted the idea that the earth is old and will not reject that. There is ample evidence to the contrary, especially the most powerful evidence—the eyewitness account of God's Holy Word. However, they've determined that the Bible wasn't meant to give us these truths. They've decided that men who hated God or, at the very least rejected Him as the Creator, were the ones who would give us the truth about the earth's past. This “truth” these God-deniers have proposed is totally at odds with the clear teaching of Genesis and is necessary for the humanist origins myth, beginning with the Big Bang and following through all the way to the origin of life and, eventually, man's evolution. That's not to say that all of those who accept deep time rather than what the Bible says are evolutionists, but this is fairly common.

Then there is the rejection of the global nature of the Flood found in the early chapters of Genesis. If the old earth creationist or theistic evolutionist believes there was some sort of flood, it is a variety of flood that is inconsistent with the Flood recorded in Genesis 6-9. The Flood found in the book of Genesis is unmistakably global and violently catastrophic, lasting for a year, and many recovery events likely took place for a long time afterwards. This devastation destroyed the surface of the earth, every air-breathing land animal that was not on the ark, and every human being on earth except those found on the ark. Why would believers reject this narrative found in the Bible? Because it answers many of the questions they have concerning geology and other fields of study while destroying their preconceived ideas of deep time. It essentially erases much of their evidence for deep time.

Why are there countless rock layers all over the globe, some of which span entire continents or from one continent to another? There was a global Flood that produced all of these layers of sediment. Why are there billions and billions of dead things in mass graves all over the globe buried in some of these rock layers? There was a global Flood that killed them all. Why are there traditions all over the world that divulge much of the information found in the Bible's narrative of the Flood—cultures that, according to some, would have no connection to the Hebrews or their holy books? There was a global Flood and the people that survived passed down the story from one generation to the next. Why was there an Ice Age at all? Because all the activity that created/maintained a global catastrophe like the Flood warmed the oceans but put a great deal of dust in the air, cooling the air temperature. This with the added moisture was a perfect environment for lots and lots of snow.

Why do some cultures that seemingly have no connection to the book of Genesis trace their lineages all the way back to the sons of Noah or even to Adam? Because these people groups separated at Babel and carried their family trees with them after the Flood. Why are there places and people groups all over the world that have a direct connection to Noah's grandsons or other relatives listed in the Table of Nations? Again, these people were real people who founded these people groups and settled in these places that still have a connection to these ancestors. (More on that can be found here.)

Why are there fossil beds all over the world with mixtures of organisms from geologically different ages—vastly different in many cases—and why are these bone beds never talked about by deep time proponents or evolutionists? We find these because there is no such thing as “geologic time,” because everything was created just over 6,000 years ago. All these organisms, including humans, died together in a global Flood as described by the Bible. Check out the Ashley fossil beds in the southern U.S.

After yet another appeal to authority and appeal to majority, Mr. Roberts then explains that geologists can make mistakes. Isn't that big of him? He downplays this, saying that the mistakes geologists make are small. By whose standard is he suggesting this? If their starting point or preconceived ideas about the history of the earth is off and this forces them to interpret all the evidence incorrectly, how can he possibly suggest their mistakes are small? There's so much to say about his bias here, but I must move on.

His final statement is really just another attempt to sound like he knows what he's talking about but exposes his lack of understanding on how this all works. He says, “So far no young earther has given an argument against geological time which has any validity.” Says who? Mr. Roberts, a retired Anglican priest? I'm sorry to be rude, but who is he? If the numbers he suggests for how many creationist geologists are out there are even near correct (they likely are not, according to Creation Ministries International and others), it's rather impressive how much great material there is out there. The Flood models and theories that have arisen in just the last 40 years are astounding. This is with very few working on it and very little money to support it. How impressive is that?

There is a great deal that not only geologists but many different experts in a variety of fields of study have shown that is supportive of the Bible and its claims about creation, the Flood, and the timelines involved. It's a huge faith booster and confirms that our faith, the faith of the Bible-believing Christian, is supported by the evidence which is all around us. It's not a blind faith like that of the atheist (who looks very much like many old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists regarding these subjects). However, in all that, the ONLY argument that should matter to any follower of Jesus Christ is that found in Scripture. The case is abundantly clear, but I suppose this only matters if we view the Word of God as the final authority.

James Barr of Oxford puts it this way: “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the ‘days’ of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

James Barr is not a Biblical creationist at all, yet he knows fully that the text is clear. It's unfortunate that Christians will willfully toss these amazing narratives out because they don't fit their preconceived ideas. They've placed an authority higher than the standard of God's Word which in and of itself reveals their worldview.

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.


Psalm 34

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 8, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Sometimes, a writing is made more interesting because of who the author is and the circumstances of the author’s life at the time of that writing. Psalm 34 is one of these that caught my eye, because of its heading: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.” That’s rather descriptive, wouldn’t you say? So before digging into the psalm itself, I want to take a look into what was going on in David’s life at the time he wrote this.

Scholars connect this heading to 1 Samuel 21:13 specifically: “So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.” Check out the context in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, and you’ll see that David went to Gath as part of his fleeing from King Saul who was trying to kill him. The servants of King Achish were clearly afraid of David as his reputation for being a mighty warrior preceded him, so David was afraid they would try to kill him. Instead, he pretended to be insane, and his plan worked - King Achish wanted David to leave, and he does.

Knowing that context of the writing of Psalm 34, we can better appreciate the content of it: David praising God and extolling the virtues of wisdom.

The first section of the psalm, verses 1-7, is David praising God. David calls attention to what God has done, not David’s own deeds. God heard his cry and saved him. David invites the community of people to worship God together because of the mighty things God has done. David personally experienced God rescuing and delivering him, and he reminds us all that God is to be praised for that.

Verses 8-9 give us commands to experience what God has for us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” Taste, see, and fear and all command forms of those verbs, so they’re more emphatic than just simple suggestions. We, too, can experience all that God has for us when we take refuge in Him, just as David did when he was in Gath and afraid of what the people would do to him.

The rest of the psalm focuses indirectly on wisdom. Verse 11 has the feel of a teacher introducing a lesson: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” This is especially interesting coming from a man who just pretended to be insane, that he should be teaching his readers about wisdom! But verses 12-14 give good examples of how to live out the fear of the Lord: don’t spread evil or lies, do good, and pursue peace. A wise person will do these things and will receive God’s blessing for them.

The next verses refer to contrasts between righteous and unrighteous people. God watches and is attentive to the righteous person, but not the evil one (verses 15-16). God hears the cries of the righteous, is close to them, delivers them, and protects them (verses 17-20). Evil and unrighteous people will be condemned, but the righteous will be rescued (verses 21-22).

It’s pretty clear that David wrote this psalm out of his own personal experiences. David had gotten into a situation in Gath where he was afraid for his life, but he trusted God to protect him. Sometimes, God protecting David meant God slaughtering David’s enemies, or God working through David to perform a mighty conquest like that; in this situation, however, God’s protection looked like David pretending to be insane, so the people of Gath wouldn’t want him around anymore and would let him go peacefully.

What does God’s protection look like in your life? Are you daily praising God for all the ways that He protects you? Are you “tasting and seeing” God’s goodness in your life? We are all called to fear God and give Him glory and praise with our lives. He is the giver of all wisdom, and sometimes that wisdom may show up in our lives in surprising ways, as it did for David.

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.