The Boasting of the Enemy: Sanballat

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 31, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

In the famous account of Nehemiah building the walls of Jerusalem, there is a not-quite-as-famous battle of wits between Nehemiah and Sanballat. Sanballat was a ruler of the region, but not with legal authority. He ruled by oppression and occupation but never had any formal authority in Jerusalem, Judea, nor even under the Persian Empire at the time. However, he was a person of great influence and he inserted himself into a position of power, though it was never by legal right.

When Nehemiah came to rebuild the walls, he started out by investigating the situation in secret. He had letters from the King of Persia with authority to do what he was going to do, but he didn’t come announcing he was going to rebuild Jerusalem. He didn’t tell anyone what he had planned until he was ready to actually start it. He knew he would face opposition, so he would not stir it up before necessary. The rebuilding started and Sanballat, along with Tobiah and Geshem, heard about it. They had no legal authority to stop the rebuilding, but they were determined to do anything they could to discourage it and to stop it.

Sanballat approaches Nehemiah in nine different ways and tactics. Eric Ludy gives a powerful sermon about Nehemiah and how he handles each of these nine lies and tactics. This is a good resource, but I want to emphasize on just a couple of the tactics here: the boastings of superiority and the futility of doing God’s work. Together, Sanballat and Tobiah mock Nehemiah. They accused him of defying legal authority (despite actually having legal permission to do this directly from the king). They laughed, saying it would never be completed, that the stones were too brittle (limestone gets weak when burned) to do anything, and that if even a fox were to push against it, it would fall. Nehemiah repeatedly ignored what they said and continued working. When that didn’t work, Sanballat attempted a threat of brute force, only for Nehemiah to be ready by stationing soldiers in the gaps while the workers continued to raise the walls. The attack never came.

Sanballat had no real power. He had no legal authority to stop Nehemiah nor any legal right to oppress him. All Nehemiah had to do was report this to the King of Persia (remember that Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to him, one of the most trusted advisors and friends of the king) and it would be over. But it would take months for a report to get to the king and back so Nehemiah had to deal with the issue right then and there. But he knew that Sanballat did not have the power he boasted. Nehemiah could see through the smoke and mirrors that the great power Sanballat claimed was really nothing. And each time, Nehemiah turned to the Lord for protection and for strength to finish the walls, and he claimed victory. When he finished the walls, Sanballat moaned in despair because Jerusalem had been restored (though not to its former glory at that point).

I see two things out of Sanballat for the purposes of this post: how sneaky the enemy is to get within our ranks and usurp power not legally theirs, and how they boast about things they don’t actually have. I caught something very disturbing about both Sanballat and Tobiah as I have studied Nehemiah. They had connections to Eliashib, the High Priest of Nehemiah’s time. Sanballat’s daughter was married to Eliashib’s grandson. Then Eliashib later provided housing for Tobiah not merely in Jerusalem, but in the temple itself. These two enemies of God and enemies of Israel were allied with the High Priest, the first name listed among the builders of the wall. Our enemy constantly seeks to get within our ranks to infiltrate and corrupt us from within. That’s why Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep’s clothing. And today, because there is virtually no one alert and paying attention to the care of the flocks, many shepherds out there are not shepherds, but at best mere hirelings. A number of them are wolves leading their flocks astray to their dens to become the feast.

But another thing they did was to mock and ridicule any who would dare stand up for truth, build the walls to protect Biblical integrity and sound doctrine, and to care for the welfare of the people. They were not Jews who worshiped the same God, but heathen who had infiltrated into the “church” to lead them astray from within. They would not stand to see those who stand for truth make a stance, because a shepherd defending a sheep is “stealing” a meal from a wolf.

This is one of the most common attacks we face today, but unlike Nehemiah, many of us fall for the boastings. In academia, the heathen boast about all the evidence against the Bible and for Evolution. But every time I investigate the evidence provided, it does not take me long to find out that the evidence never does what it needs to do to show such claims. It’s the same smoke and mirrors Sanballat tried in declaring the wall would never last. The so-called “mountain of evidence” for Evolution quickly turns out to be a little more than a dirt clod that is crushed with slight touch.

So much of the attacks on Christianity actually have no power behind them. With powerful lobbies like the ACLU, who act as “watchdogs” to protect secularism from truth, they constantly try to bully and threaten lawsuits against any institution who dares to bring the Biblical message into the public square. But they really do not have the legal power to stop us, though they have done a good job at getting us to believe they do, and they have done a good job at convincing public schools and businesses and judges that they do. Now, we still need to be respectful of the institutions in authority and not be belligerent about it, however, the attacks on Christianity are like those of Sanballat: big words and big boasts with little true power behind it, unless we believe they have it.

Sometimes we are faced with real legal threats and lies. Ezra faced that when building the Temple. His enemies lied about his intentions and got the king to get them to stop building the Temple, despite having previous legal permission to do so. Sanballat could not do this because Nehemiah was perhaps the king’s best friend as his cup-bearer. Plus, by the time word got back to him, the walls would have been finished. So sometimes it does happen, but for the most part, the attacks on Christians for practicing their faith are like Sanballat: boasts but no true power to stop it. Don’t fall for it. Do not fear what man can do to us. If we are going to be obedient to God, there is nothing that can stop us, even if we get detoured for a little bit. The boasts of the enemy are simply that: boasts. They are not truth. We stand by the Word of God, and my God does not lose. I’ll stand by Him, despite all the boasting of the enemy.

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10 Answers, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 30, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

A few weeks ago, I answered the 10th in a series of 10 questions a British old earth creationist (or theistic evolutionist, I'm not sure which) had for his “young earth” creationist brothers. I was happy to find this list of questions as it provides a little something to work with in terms of the discussion between Bible-believing Christians and those who either don't believe it at all or, in this case, say they believe it but that it means something entirely different from what it says. I did a very detailed series concerning “10 Theological Questions No Young Earth Creationist Can Answer” a couple of years ago. This series exposed the lack of knowledge this particular theistic evolutionist had about the Bible and solid, longstanding theology, as well as how confused he was about what theology actually is. Many of his questions were science related or, at the very least, not related to theology at all.

In the case of this current series of questions, they were rather easy to answer, and I was happy to be of service for the man who posed them. I hope he's found some insight into how the Bible reads and why people, such as myself, have a firm faith in the Word of God that isn't a blind faith (like that of the atheist or other non-biblical worldview holder) but a faith that is confirmed repeatedly by observation.

I suppose the point of Mr. Roberts' set of questions was to show people how wrong we Biblical creationists are, but his questions demonstrated quite clearly that the old earth creationist and theistic evolutionist alike have no internal consistency—they get the Bible wrong and the history wrong. (I say history because we all should be able to see why origins “science” isn't science but a discussion of our ideas about historical events.)

He actually supported the Biblical creationists' position frequently while thinking he was solidly defeating it. In his opening statements, he made the claim that “at first glance” the Bible quite obviously teaches a “young earth.” This, of course, depends. I'm not sure what a “young earth” is since I think over 6000 years is a long time, but it's all about perspective. But he's right. The Bible unambiguously teaches that God created everything that exists in this universe in 6 consecutive regular earth days and rested on the 7th day. This isn't just from Genesis but other portions of Scripture as well. This has been the overwhelmingly held position on the interpretation of Scripture for thousands of years. There have been those over the centuries who've entertained other interpretations or even demanded such alternative interpretations were correct, but the vast majority of Church fathers and rabbis for a very, very long time have held quite solidly that the text actually means exactly what it says. There is literally no reason from the text to doubt this is true. So, he sort of shoots himself in the foot before he even gets into his questions.

He correctly states that the Gospel is about Jesus Christ and not the age of the earth. That's why I don't accept the name “young earth” creationist or YEC for the Biblical position. It puts too much emphasis on the age of the earth when, in reality, I don't care at all how old the earth is. However, I do care what the Bible tells us. I believe it's accurate and I refuse to wipe it away simply because the humanist origins myth demands I do so. Oddly, since the age of the earth is apparently unimportant to Mr. Roberts, he puts a lot of time into defending the humanist origins myth and its claims of deep time. If it's so unimportant, why put so much into it? I defend the Word of God and its inerrant nature when I speak of the age of the earth. Old earthers and theistic evolutionists defend the humanist origins myth.

He then asks about the age of the earth and the shape of the globe, seemingly either trying to announce his belief in a flat earth or he's trying to connect something that is a solid Biblical teaching to something that is not so as to make the one appear as absurd as the other. This is unfortunate and makes it difficult to take such people seriously.

He also makes it difficult to take him seriously when he proclaims that there is “no evidence” for a global Flood in all of geology. This, of course, is laughable and it's hard not to poke fun, but I'll resist a little longer. But if there was a global Flood, would there be large sediment layers around the world? Would there be large fossil grave yards around the world? Would we be able to track ecological zones as they're decimated in the fossil record? Would there be Flood legends in something like 200 different people groups around the world if there was a global Flood that left only 8 survivors? Sure, that last one isn't geology, but it's still solid evidence for the event's authenticity. “No evidence?” Please.

He moved on from here to a strange question—possibly his strangest. He muses about how ancient Hebrews could understand geologic time. What a strange thought. Were they too stupid to understand? This question has nothing to do with the subject. It's just an odd idea that doesn't make sense to me at all. But neither does twisting Scripture to mean something it clearly doesn't intend to mean, so there's that.

A very common claim from skeptics who are Christians is that “young earthism” is a new thing. This is obviously a dishonest attempt to discredit the position and it fails miserably. “Young earthism,” which is rightly called Biblical creationism, is what was believed for thousands of years prior to and after Christ's time by the vast majority of believers—Jew and Christian alike. This is evident in Church writings and, frankly, common sense as well as from reading what Old and New Testament writers had to say about it. We must include the global nature of the Flood as well since that is commonly attacked by Christians who don't accept the Genesis narrative as it's written as well. So, Michael Roberts tries to argue that this is the case—that “young earthism” is a new idea. It's true that the apologetic based on the accurate history recorded in Genesis is a newer development, but this actually is strong evidence that very few ever really questioned the plain reading of the text in the past. A few came and went who suggested we look at it differently, but their ideas were not accepted much at all until the humanist origins myth gained traction in the Church. Some have suggested Augustine was not among those who believed in a “recent” creation because he wondered why God wouldn't have created everything instantaneously since He was able to. I guess that's a thought, but it certainly doesn't mean he ascribed to deep time or evolution. It's actually the opposite.

To me, it seems that God created in a particular order because He was making a point and teaching us who He is. The first 3 days of creation are related consecutively to the last 3—meaning what happened on day 1 corresponded to something on day 4, while what was created on day 2 corresponded to something created on day 5, etc. Is this coincidence or design? Of course, I believe it's by design and a brilliant one at that. And this doesn't in any way take away from the historical nature of the narrative at all. Biblical creation has been the norm for centuries—as far back as Genesis was written, I believe. The Hebrews understood it as such and so did the early Church fathers including the Apostles and even Jesus, if we are to accept His teachings as He stated them.

We'll stop here for this week with the wrap-up of Mr. Roberts' 10 questions for his “young earth” creationist brothers and sisters. Next week, we'll finish up with the last few questions he posed. Thanks for reading.

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Psalm 56

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 27, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

While scholars of the Bible do have most of it pretty well figured out, there are a few things that remain a mystery in the Hebrew language. One of those things is in the introduction to Psalm 56: “For the director of music. To the tune of ‘A Dove on Distant Oaks.’ Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.” While we don’t know the tune of ‘A Dove on Distant Oaks,” another word that may have caught your attention is ‘miktam.’ That’s a transliteration from the Hebrew, because scholars really don’t know what it means. It could be a musical term, but it’s also similar to the Hebrew words for ‘writing’ or ‘engraving.’

But in spite of that uncertainty, this psalm still has meaning for us today as it did for David when he wrote it. As the introduction says, David wrote this when the Philistines had seized him in Gath. You can read about that part of David’s life in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

This psalm is a typical lament psalm, and it follows the pattern of lament, trust, affliction, trust again, then thanksgiving. It may seem to be very back-and-forth, but we often go through that with our own emotions, don’t we? We have times of lamenting, then realize we need to trust God, then we go through something difficult again, then we trust God again, and we realize we need to be thankful for everything God gives us.

The psalm starts out in verses 1-2 with David’s lament: “Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.” Obviously, David is fearful of his situation; wouldn’t we all be if our enemies were in hot pursuit of us? But rather than just being afraid of his enemies, he cries out to God for His mercy in this situation. The Hebrew word translated as “be merciful” can also mean to “show favor” or “be gracious.” David is asking God to be favorable to him in whatever the outcome of this situation may be.

The psalm continues in verses 3-4 with David expressing his trust in God: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” He admits his fear, but also that he doesn’t need to be afraid when he trusts in God. Yes, mere mortals may be able to harm the body, but David knows that God is in control of his soul.

What are David’s enemies doing to him? Verses 5-6 tell us: “All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.” Clearly, these enemies want to harm David. They are not just waiting for him to mess up, but they’re actively scheming and conspiring to ruin him.

But David knows that he is not the one who needs to serve justice to them; God is. Verse 7 says, “Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down.” We are often tempted to take matters into our own hands when someone wrongs us; that’s our natural human reaction. But David, instead, knows that God is the one who administers justice. He pleads with God to bring down his enemies.

Verses 8-9 continue, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.” David knows that God is aware of his suffering. God hasn’t turned His back on David, even in the midst of this difficult situation. He knows that God is for him, not against him.

Verses 10-11 are similar to verse 4: “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” We often need to hear truths multiple times before they really sink in, and David is no different. This idea of trust in God and not being afraid of man is for emphasis, to show us how important this is, even when it’s difficult.

The fact that these two expressions of trust are like bookends around the description of David’s affliction is significant. Our difficulties in life are always surrounded and overpowered by the character of God and His truth. Yes, they definitely seem huge to us while we’re going through them, but when we look at things from God’s perspective, we can see that His power is SO much greater! Even the worst that mankind can do to us is no match for what God can do when we trust in Him. Like David, we need to live our lives from a heavenly and eternal perspective, instead of from the perspective of how difficult our earthly lives may be.

Finally, the psalm ends with thanksgiving to God in verses 12-13: “I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” David praises God for His deliverance and being true to His promises and character.

Where do you see yourself in this psalm? Are you fearful of what people can do to you - twisting your words, slandering you, or even physically harming you? Are you trusting in God in spite of your fears, and praising Him no matter what the earthly outcome is? Be confident that God will deliver you from whatever difficulties you’re going through in life, and He is always trustworthy!

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Don't Mess with His Kids

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 26, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

One of the most important things for any child to know about his or her parents is that they will always have the child’s back and stand up for them when they are being mistreated by others. God demonstrates this for us when He comes to our rescue in the midst of the attacks we are facing from our enemies. The only time God does not do this is when there is a greater purpose for our pain and He wants us to endure the trials and overcome them by faith.

That was not the case for me in eighth grade when I was suddenly jumped by two classmates who were hellbent on physically fighting me. These guys had picked on me for awhile verbally and I had occasionally responded just so I didn’t come across as a pushover. However, they made a plan one day, unbeknownst to me, to have one of them distract me while the other came up behind me and started pounding on me. They enacted this plan right in the middle of the class-change time after the bell had rung, just so that there would be lots of other students in the hallway and they could make an example of me. My dad had always taught my brothers and I that it’s never okay to start a fight, but we were allowed and even encouraged to defend ourselves if necessary. Well, I took his advice to heart that day. I chose to defend myself after getting jumped and ended up landing three punches to the one guy’s face while they only landed one on me. All of us were then questioned by the principal and the other two guys even admitted that they planned out the attack, yet I still got suspended four days to their three because I had landed more punches.

When my dad found out that I had been punished more severely than the other two guys who planned their attack on me and then put it into action AND admitted all of this, he decided he wasn’t going to let the school treat his son unfairly. My dad actually took time out of his schedule to go into my school and speak to the principal. He told the principal that his judgment in the case of his son was unfair and that the principal needed to make it right. I remember thinking that either my dad made his point really well or the principal was just terrified of further upsetting him. Either way, the principal complied and the end result was that I had a day of my suspension taken away and the other two guys got a day added to their suspensions. The principal learned an important lesson - to mistreat the son was to mistreat the father!

In James 3:9-12, the writer is continuing his teaching concerning our use of language and how unstable the tongue really is. He draws attention to the fact that we human beings who profess our faith in Jesus as Lord are quick to “curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” even while we are showing up to public meetings and praising our Lord. James declares that praise and cursing should not come out of the same mouth (v. 10). The key to his point is that in God’s eyes, cursing someone that He created in His likeness is akin to cursing God Himself! We know from Genesis 1:26-27 that James is correct in that man and woman were created in God’s image and likeness. Those of us who find no difficulty in speaking an unkind word to or about a fellow human being would do well to remember how seriously God takes the mistreatment of His children. Our empty words of praise when we gather for weekend services and enjoy the music mean nothing to God if we just as easily curse His image-bearers.

Like my dad, God will always come to the defense of His beloved children unless He sees something for them to learn or exemplify to others in the situation. This was important for me as I approached marriage just about three years ago. I was given advice that I now give to engaged couples who come to me for counsel. That advice is for the man to treat his wife as God’s daughter and for the woman to treat her husband as God’s son (lowercase, so we’re not talking about Jesus). If I only view my wife through the lens of my own judgments, her own mistakes, or the fact that she is MY wife, then I neglect the responsibility that God gives to me and the one for which He will hold me accountable. If I can train myself to remember that she is a daughter of God rather than just someone who occasionally hurts me or annoys me, then I can value her and treat her the way she deserves. It’s no different than my desire to treat her well and earn the right to partner with her from her biological father. God doesn’t take kindly to those who mistreat His children, so I have to remember that the gift of a great wife that I’ve been given is not something to be taken for granted.

Ultimately, we are supposed to view every human being this way no matter what they’ve done because nothing can take away the fact that God made them in His image and likeness. That being said, most of us can’t even love our spouses and children in this way. So, James addresses it and uses the pronoun “we," once again indicating that he struggles with these difficulties as much as anyone to whom he is writing the letter. So, rather than bash them for their obvious contradictory words and actions, he uses it as an opportunity to teach them something by getting them to think. He asks two rhetorical questions: “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” and “Can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs?” (James 3:11-12)

The obvious answers to James’ questions are NO and NO, but the people needed to see that allowing praise and cursing to come out of the same mouth is just as absurd as going to a salt spring and expecting fresh water to come out of it. In other words, one of the two opposing forces has to win out. If you consistently praise God’s name while also consistently mistreating the people He has put around you, either the praising has to change the cursing or the cursing will change the praising. It is impossible to continue to have both and claim it as a productive lifestyle that lives by faith.

Paul tells us that we should not allow any unwholesome talk to come out of our mouths but instead should focus only on saying that which builds up those who need to hear it (Ephesians 4:29). If we can’t say something that builds others up, then we’re better off keeping our mouths shut. The bottom line is that we cannot and will not get away with verbally abusing those whom God loves and created in His likeness just by showing up occasionally on weekends and singing His praises with our eyes closed and hands up in the air. If we mess with God’s created “kids," we are messing with God and that is never a position you want to be in. Take a moment right now and consider who you may have hurt with words even in the last 24 hours. Chances are that you can find someone. Contact them now, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. Then, seek the Lord and ask Him to help you see people the way He does - as His created image-bearers who need to be built up. You can do this by the power of the Holy Spirit!

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The Boasting of the Enemy: Rabshakeh

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 24, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This is part 2 of my series on the boasting of the enemy (read part 1 here). This one is by a little-known name, but in a somewhat well-known story. King Hezekiah was besieged by the Assyrian army as their empire was growing. The Kingdom of Judah had been reduced almost to just Jerusalem and the siege was made. Because sieges in those days were often lengthy, the Assyrians offered a treaty of surrender, but this offer wasn’t to Hezekiah but to the whole people. This is a unique tactic because the purpose was to get the people to distrust their God-fearing king. Hezekiah was one of four kings who got full kudos from God for his faithfulness. But the boasting and tactics of the Assyrian diplomat, Rabshakeh, caught my attention and this is the one that sparked this series.

Rabshakeh boasted loud enough for the people of Jerusalem to hear. There were 185,000 soldiers surrounding the city. Everyone was on edge. Rabshakeh proclaimed that Assyria had defeated the nations and all the gods they served, thus how would Jerusalem fare any different? But here is a statement that caught my attention. Rabshakeh knew about King Hezekiah’s reforms to return to true worship of the true God. He knew that Hezekiah had destroyed the high places which were used for the worship of the True God, which at the same time were also used for the worship of the other gods, a key point to consider. Hezekiah was one of only four kings who destroyed the high places, which God had commanded. He even went as far as destroying the bronze serpent which Moses had made because the people had turned it into an idol. Now take a look at the comment Rabshakeh makes in the Isaiah account:
“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?”

Rabshakeh made the declaration that the God of Israel would not support them because Hezekiah had taken away the high places and altars from the pagan sites and told the people to worship at the Temple, God’s chosen place for worship. This is a very clever tactic. He accused Hezekiah of insulting his God when in actuality Hezekiah obeyed God. Most people, when they hear these kinds of boasts, immediately begin to examine themselves and question if they did something right or wrong.

This is precisely the same general tactic Sanballat (he’s the third one I’ll address next week, but it’s not about this incident) used against Nehemiah. Sanballat sent Nehemiah an “open-letter,” which meant anyone who had access to it could have read it. The letter stated that rumors were going about that Nehemiah was preparing to start a revolt against the king of Persia (remember that Nehemiah served as said king’s cupbearer) and that he was building the walls of Jerusalem for his own glory. Most people would have lost weeks to months of trying to figure out what exactly they did wrong when nothing was wrong. Everything was wrong with Sanballat who invented this lie to get Nehemiah off his guard. Nehemiah, however, was not impressed. He simply replied, “You are making things up out of your own heart. Nothing of what you said is happening.”

Back to Rabshakeh. The people did not heed this boast because Hezekiah warned them that such boasting would be made and not to heed it. Hezekiah did indeed turn to the Lord for deliverance and God revealed to him through Isaiah that this army would be routed. Not only did Sennacherib, the Assyrian general, have need to return home because of a coup taking place there (where he was shortly assassinated) but the Angel of the Lord came and wiped out all 185,000 soldiers in a single night.

What can we learn about this boast? The threat was real. Let’s not mince words here. Assyria had 185,000 soldiers and Hezekiah stood no chance against this army in his own strength. They were determined to destroy Judah as numerous armies had been for 300 years since David took the throne. Yet while the threat was real, Rabshakeh must have learned that there truly was something about the God of Judah because every army from before, no matter how large, kept being defeated. Just examine what happened in Jehoshaphat’s reign when three armies went against him only to end up defeating each other. So instead of making a direct assault, he sought to get the people to abandon Hezekiah and the Temple of God. Rabshakeh intended to take Jerusalem anyway no matter what the people did, but he wanted to showcase that both Hezekiah and the people had abandoned God… by obeying Him.

How often have we been accused of dishonoring God and causing division for standing up for sound doctrine? For me, very often. I stand for Biblical creation and when I seek to destroy “high places,” where people try to worship both God and “science” at the same time, I am attacked for “causing division.” God gave Israel specific commands to destroy places of worship to other gods, and instead of destroying them Israel instead inserted worship of the True God alongside all the others. I alluded above that Israel had turned the bronze serpent Moses made into an idol. Hezekiah destroyed these high places and then was accused of insulting God in doing so. I have seen so many people doing this from the atheists to the Old Earth Creationists alike.

But it’s not just an origins issue. There are a few good voices out there that are calling for a return back to true Biblical Christianity, because so much of what passes for American Christianity is absolutely nothing like what Christ envisioned. When they speak against the “high places,” we see the boasts of the enemy, some of whom try to wear sheep’s clothing, proclaiming that WE are the problem for rocking the boat. The boat many are on is heading towards destruction and will sink; if necessary, we may need stop rocking the boat and simply jump off it.

Pastors, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, and parents: be like Hezekiah. Take down the high places that demand to share God with other gods. Teach those under you to not listen to the boasts of the enemy and proclaim that God will not help us for obeying Him. Show that God will always reward obedience. It won’t always come with comfort, but it will always come with victory. He will never abandon those who obey Him to completion. And no matter the boast of the enemy, God will come through in the end. Next week, I’ll look at one more boast.

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A Bulwark Against Collapse

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 22, 2019 0 comments

by David Odegard

Jesus Christ rose from the dead, appeared to His disciples, and sent them to the corners of world bearing the message that the Kingdom of God has arrived. The Kingdom advances from its epicenter in Jerusalem, rippling through space and time, ever in conflict “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Nevertheless, these forces could not entirely resist the dedicated evangelism of true Christ followers, and missionaries traversed the globe shining the light of Christ’s resurrection in every dark space they could reach.

Christianity triumphed over the powers of Roman darkness, brutality, and culture of death. Say what you will about the Church gaining temporal power, the churchmen of the age of Nazianzus and Augustine stubbornly refused to love what the pagans loved. Their hearts were captivated by the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Their hearts were set upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because of this they provided a deep intellectual frame for loving God in a hostile world, a source of theological unity and structure to keep the Kingdom advancing in the face of determined, Satanic obstruction. As Jesus prophesied, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus Christ began to stitch the patchwork mosaic of the barbarian tribes of Europe together through His work through the Church and through common stories, values, philosophy, and experience. A culture of life began to blossom under the dark shade of Roman tyranny, fostered by Christians’ faithful adherence to the “house rule” found in Ephesians 4-6, Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and the Sermon on the Mount.

Liberation from decay began its upward march in Europe, which would eventually burst forth in the fruit of human rights, abolition of slavery, the scientific method, the arts and humanities, medicine, commerce, and the greatest leap in quality of life that the world has ever witnessed. And these are just the crumbs falling from the Table of the Lord! What joy shall fill the earth at the final consummation of His Kingdom when the world, the flesh, and the devil no longer shade the bloom, when snakes no longer slither in the garden?

But there remains a dragon between our time and that, a dragon capable of sweeping the stars from the sky and blackening the earth with its devastation. It has whipped up a furious cloud of deconstruction, postmodernism, and revisionist history. It descends like a plague of locusts upon our institutions, devouring the fruit. Its cultural Marxism gushes out like acidic fire, dissolving all those woven fibers of shared meaning, philosophy, and experience—leaving in its wake a desolate Hobbesian nightmare, a war of all against all—the Shire come Mordor.

The result can only be catastrophic to our shared society. These postmodern nihilists strip love from the world and claim it is just a power play “dressed for the opera.” They offer no beauty of their own but denigrate all beauty in an attempt to show the best of Western culture—John Donne, Rembrandt, and Beethoven—as ugly, false, and scatological. Or as Roger Scruton once remarked from the halls of Scrutopia, “They wish to parade the best works through the streets, naked and thrashed!” They offer suicide as the only cure for Western atrophy.

When Christians sleep, barbarians invade. That is certainly evident on campuses across the nation. The university has become the diversity; rampant tribalism, segregation, and disorder spoil an entire generation. What devastation shall be wreaked when these ones gain the halls of power? They shall burn what they could not create, raze what they could never build.

Where are our bulwarks? Where is the Ambrose of our time? Where is Augustine, Athanasius, and Anselm? Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere they are needed. Why should we allow the acid of critical theory to dissolve all the grandest things ever created?

Notre Dame is an omen, either that the barbarians are here to stay or that we Christians are no longer worthy of her.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
“Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool,
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”
Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the Lord;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago.
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces
, who pierced the dragon?
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Isaiah 51:1, 7-8, 11

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Psalm 51

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 20, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12)

The above passage is probably the most familiar one from Psalm 51. I grew up in a Lutheran church, and that passage was part of the weekly liturgy during the service. These words were part of a song, and it’s so ingrained in me that I really can’t read that passage without singing it in my head!

Psalm 51 was written by King David, and it’s one of the seven penitential psalms. That means it’s primarily a psalm of penance or confession, asking for God’s forgiveness and renewal. David wrote this psalm after he had been rebuked by the prophet Nathan for David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (2 Samuel 11-12). Through Nathan, David realized how great his sin was against God, and this psalm is him expressing his sorrow, confession, and repentance to God over that sin. Many of David’s psalms question God, but in this one there is no questioning, only his deep awareness of sin and desire for God’s grace and forgiveness.

In verses 1-6, David recognizes how sinful he is. Verse 1 says, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” David knows that all he can do is beg for God’s mercy, knowing that he doesn’t deserve it but that God is loving and compassionate. When we sin against God, we no longer have any right to claim God’s blessings for our lives, but that’s what His grace is all about - giving us mercy and favor that we don’t deserve at all.

We see a few different words for “sin” in these verses - sin, iniquity, and transgression. These are three separate words in the Hebrew, and while there are slight nuances of difference between them, they really all mean going against God in some way and disobeying His commands. Since the psalms are poetry, the authors will often use multiple words that mean the same thing for literary purposes.

Because God is so “right” and “justified” in all He does (verse 4), that shows David how much more sinful he is compared to God’s perfection. Knowing we’re sinful isn’t an excuse to sin, but rather an understanding of our need for God’s grace in our lives that much more. We’re sinful even from birth (verse 5), but God still requires faithfulness from us (verse 6).

In verses 7-12, David moves from confession of his sin to praying for restoration from God. Restoration means that he will be cleansed (verse 7), have joy again (verse 8), and that God will no longer see his sin (verse 9). David knows that God is able to accomplish all of these things in his life, and he prays that God will do so, since he has confessed and realized how sinful he is.

If we simply just remove sin from our lives, we are more likely to commit that sin again if we don’t fill its place with something more beneficial. So, David asks God to give him a pure heart, so that his intentions will be renewed (verse 10). We must be cleansed and forgiven before we can come before God, but when we then have a pure heart, we can maintain that relationship with God. This transformation is radical, and God needs to “renew” our hearts to make it happen. Sin is so bad that God can’t just put a band-aid on it, but instead we need a whole new heart, one that has not turned away from God in disobedience.

David knows that he needs God’s Spirit to remain in his life to help guide and direct him on the right path, the path that can overcome future temptations (verse 11). David also asks God for a “willing spirit” (verse 12) so that he will be following God’s ways out of joy and not obligation. He wants to want to follow God, not just to follow God and obey Him because he knows he should.

Now that David has confessed his sin and repented of it and God has cleansed him and given him a new heart, he praises God and recommits his life to Him in verses 13-17.

First, David realizes that others who have sinned need to go through this same process of confession and renewal that he has gone through. He says in verse 13, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” David knows that he can help others overcome their sin and receive God’s grace and forgiveness, so he commits to teaching them.

Next, David praises God in verses 14-15: “Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” David knows that he doesn’t deserve the grace and mercy that God has shown him, so he praises God for delivering him.

Out of this gratitude, David comes to a point of deeper commitment to God in verses 16-17. David knows that God doesn’t really want animal sacrifices, but that He wants our hearts to realize our sinfulness and our dependence on Him for His grace. That is the sacrifice that God wants from David and from us as we follow Him.

Finally, in verses 18-19 David puts his sin in perspective of the nation of Israel. David desires that the nation of Israel also confess her sins to God so that she may be restored and experience God’s grace. David shows this in the imagery of the walls of Jerusalem needing to be rebuilt after they have been broken down, knowing that God can restore Jerusalem both physically and spiritually.

Where have you sinned in your life and are in need of God’s grace? It may be a “big” sin like David’s sins of adultery and murder or a “little” sin like telling a small lie - but all sin is sin in God’s eyes. We must confess each and every sin we commit, truly be sorry for them, and ask God for His forgiveness to restore us to a right relationship with Him. We need to have God create pure hearts inside of us so that we are more resistant to temptation when it comes again. When God does that, which He will because He always fulfills His promises, we need to praise Him for what He has done and teach others about it as well. I encourage you to pray Psalm 51 as you confess, repent, and experience the wonder of God’s grace in our life!

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Just Shut Up

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 19, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

One of my favorite all-time talk radio segments was something that Mike & Mike in the Morning used to do once a week called “Just Shut Up." It would typically be at the end of the week so the show’s producers had enough time to gather interview or press conference clips from throughout the week to find some of the dumbest things that athletes and coaches had said. After playing those clips, the hosts would collectively say, “Just shut up!” Sometimes, the person making the dumb comment is the same person the show had been praising earlier for their performance. This goes to show that no matter how successful you are in life, no matter how much money you have, and no matter how good of a day you are having, every single person is susceptible to opening his or her mouth and ruining it!

James continues his writing about the problem human beings have with the tongue in James 3:7-8: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." James had already written in verse 2 that “anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect," suggesting that language is the one thing keeping even the most righteous individual from being perfect. Just before that, he wrote in the same verse, “We all stumble in many ways." James, who was a leader in the early Church writing to many other believers, included himself in that statement because he understood that no one is exempt from the issues caused by an out-of-control tongue.

It’s surprising that something so small could cause such big problems. James compares the tongue to animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures because all of them can be wild and out-of-control if not properly handled. The difference, though, is that all of those creatures have been brought into submission to mankind, yet man has not been able to control his mouth. Many times, the mouth has control over the human being.

The question, then, is how do we battle this issue of an out-of-control mouth? The Greek language gives us a bit of a hint in these verses. Where it says that “no human being can tame the tongue," I found it fascinating that the Greek word there for “can” comes from the root dunamis. It’s where we get the English word “dynamite." This word is translated as “power” in Acts 1:8, where Jesus said his disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. So, when James says that “no human being can tame the tongue” (3:8), he means that, in our own carnal ability, we don’t have the same dynamite power that the Holy Spirit has to tame the untamable.

The next question in my mind would be, why are our words untamable? James tells us that the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). The Greek word for “restless," which is akatastaton, could also be translated as “unstable." I don’t think that anyone who has ever gotten into trouble because of something they said would argue that this is true. It’s almost like you are surprised at the magnitude of your own stupidity with words, asking yourself, “Why in the world did I just say that?” Since we’ve all been there, we ought to accept what James says about the tongue being completely unstable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to blame some object that cannot think on its own for my struggles. That seems like a bit of a cop-out. However, I think James knows this. I don’t believe he is trying to blame the tongue or give it some sort of power that it doesn’t actually have. He’s teaching the new believers to take sin seriously. He wants them to realize that if we want to have better results with whatever comes out of our mouths, then we need to “walk by the Spirit," as Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16. Just a few verses later, Paul says we must “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). It’s not just walking with Him in a general sense; it’s letting Him lead us and guide us every step of the way!

We need to do this because the real problem isn’t the tongue but the HEART. Jesus says in Matthew 12:34 (ESV), “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." James draws attention to the tongue because the dumb, hurtful, or sinful things we say are the RESULT of the problem, but the ROOT of the problem goes far deeper than words. God created us with perfect hearts and minds that were reflected perfectly in what we say. But after the fall in the Garden of Eden, we had a serious problem, a disease with no cure. Genesis 6:5 tells us, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." Once Adam and Eve sinned and brought into their lives the knowledge of evil, fear, shame, guilt, blame, selfishness, and everything else that comes with sin, the corruption of the human body from the inside out was in full swing.

The only answer we have to this serious problem is Jesus. The inclinations of the flesh are still the same, but because Jesus defeated sin, we too can have victory over the human heart, the human tongue, and anything else that has been corrupted by evil. The best way to learn and walk in that victory is to “just shut up” sometimes. James already wrote earlier in his letter to the believers that they should be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19). His older brother, Jesus, had sent the disciples out one time to share the good news in Israel. As he was commissioning them, he gave them many instructions, one of which had to do with making sure their words were used for His glory. In Matthew 10:18-20, Jesus says, “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." When you read through the Book of Acts, you see that these words of Jesus come true as the apostles and early Church leaders are often “filled with the Holy Spirit” as they speak.

If you’ve been finding yourself being made a fool of by the words that come out of your mouth, the only real advice I have for you is to be quiet and seek the Holy Spirit. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I find myself not only saying too much at times but also saying it too quickly. When I do that, I’m basically trying to lead the Holy Spirit, rather than letting Him lead me. We cannot move ahead of the Spirit, but we must let Him lead us step by step. May God bless our words!

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 Boasting of the Enemy: Goliath

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 17, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There seems to be a lot of boasting by those who despise God, His Word, and His people today. When I was growing up, atheists were a small minority and while they believed there was no God, they didn’t seem to care about those who did. Today, however, it is very different. Today, the ‘atheist’ is not really a “I don’t believe God exists” person, but rather, “I am in defiance of God and anything he stands for.” They are really more “anti-theists” than atheists.

In that defiance, many of them dare God to prove them wrong and to do something about it. There is the classic tale of the professor who stands before his class and says, “If God does exist, let him strike me down with lightning in the next five minutes.” What a foolish thing to say. I heard of another story where a couple teenagers were out doing street-evangelism and told two guys, “You don’t know if a car is going to come and hit you.” (They were on the topic of not knowing when death would come.) The guys left and crossed the street only for a car to come within inches of hitting them. Both men turned back towards those teens and stared in awe. I don’t know what happened after that.

People boast all the time about what they can do and what they know, and they think they can defy God and expect Him not to do anything about it. There is one such case in Scripture which stands out to me regarding this: the famous encounter between David and Goliath. This is perhaps one of the most famous and well-known of the historical events of the Bible. The David vs Goliath showdown has become the cliché of upsets of the little guy beating the expert. While many look at David and his character growth in this showdown, while also examining how God used him to beat this giant, I want to look at the villain of this story. Who was Goliath and what was his boast?

Goliath was no mere mighty warrior. He was a giant. Depending on the size cubit you use, he could have been anywhere from 9½ to 12 feet tall. He wasn’t a mere skinny dude either. He was built big on top of that. Many speculate Goliath and his brothers (each big men in their own right) came from remnants of the Nephilim genes. He was of the sons of Anak, a family of giants. Goliath was trained for war from his youth according to King Saul. He reminds me of the Spartans who began training their soldiers to be soldiers by 8 years old. He was the best of the best. He had no rival and he knew it. His hometown was in Gath, which was actually only a few miles from Bethlehem. He practically lived on Israel’s doorsteps and thus knew quite well what they were capable of doing.

King Saul had stirred up trouble against the Philistines. He had won a battle against Nahash the Amorite which garnered the people’s trust and then thought he could take on the Philistines once he got established as king of Israel. He took a garrison but kicked up a hornet’s nest in the meantime. Saul’s army had no weapons and began to scatter until his son, Jonathan, made a sneak attack and after some infighting in the confusion, the Philistines fled. But Saul had other problems because he continually refused to do what God said in the manner in which God said it. So as a result, Samuel notified him that his throne would cease with him and be given to another (1 Samuel 15). This is what set up the scene for this epic showdown. The Philistines didn’t want a massive battle and decided to let the war be decided by each nation’s two best warriors in a one-on-one duel. Goliath was the one who initiated the challenge, and since Saul was head and shoulders above everyone else in Israel, it was actually his duty to be the one to face Goliath. Needless to say, 40 days passed and no one dared make a move. It is thought that each day, Goliath inched closer and closer to the camp, defying the armies of God and ultimately defying God himself.

Goliath knew that no one in Israel stood a chance against him. He was the best. And in the natural mind, knowing the world Goliath came from, there would be none who bet against him. He didn’t merely walk up to the brook for the duel; the text gives a notion that he rather strutted. There is an undertone of, “Look at me, the best warrior in the world. Who wants a piece of me? Give me the best you have!”

But then strolls in a young lad who hadn’t even finished puberty yet. David was thought to be somewhere between 15 and 17 years old and with only a staff and a sling, no armor, he approached for a duel. Goliath was livid. He expected the best Israel had and instead he gets a little kid who looked like he hadn’t seen a day of battle training. While David had five stones, he only needed one to strike down this giant. What’s more is David sprinted after this giant. He did not fear him nor was he concerned about missing his shot. With one swing, David silenced the boast of this giant, using humble weaponry (a sling) and humble clothing (no armor), but with absolute confidence in the God he served.

Goliath boasted in his skills, his size, his talents, and his weapons. He knew that Israel did not have anyone with the physical ability, the weaponry, or the talent to face him, but his boasting did not consider the God of Israel being the One True God who actually could do something on behalf of his people. He defied God and God sent His champion, a weak, humble, lowly shepherd boy, a nobody then, but the one God had in mind to be the heir to the new throne of Israel.

Many in this world boast as Goliath did. The giant boasted for 40 days and did not expect that God would ever show up after all that time. Likewise, the scoffers today defy God, daring Him to do something about it, and they don’t plan for anything to actually happen. We may be in the middle of the “40 days” of boasting, but let us not fear them, because the day of the hero is coming. But unlike the humble entrance that David had, or that Jesus had when He was born and lived on this earth, when Jesus returns, He won’t be a humble servant but a conquering king. The scoffers we face today think they are giants. They may come with science credentials, they may come with lawsuits, and they may even come with physical violence, but they are boasts. They have no real power to a Christian. The Holy Spirit lives within us, and if we listen to Him, He will lead us through the battles to victory. I’ll look at two more major boasts made by the enemies of God over the next two weeks.

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Intergalactic Mr. Rogers

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, May 14, 2019 3 comments

by Chad Koons

“God is love, man! Jesus loves you! That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ!” He sipped his coffee while grinning like the Cheshire cat. His long hair, unkempt appearance, and deeply engraved smile lines could only mean one thing. This guy was one happy hippy. “Really?” I wondered aloud, “Is that what people need to hear, simply that Jesus loves them?” His frap wasn’t the only sickly sweet thing in Starbucks that day. It was painfully apparent to me; this man was spreading what I’ve come to call the dreaded Mr. Rogers gospel.

Ah, Mr. Rogers: that sweater wearing, mild-mannered, comforting man. To him, every day was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Mr. Rogers was the ultimate “nice guy,” wasn't he? He was never angry, he was always soft spoken, and he was about as fierce as a kitten.

This is how I saw God for a long time. But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone; many people see God this way. “God loves me, He’s always there for me, He understands me.” Everything seems peaceful and okay, which, my friends, is a devastating misunderstanding of who God is. We have allowed the fullness of the Lord to become two-dimensional, and the Word right along with it. It too has been reduced to a positive, one-sided message of comfort akin to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Let me just say it:

God is not an Intergalactic Mr. Rogers and His Kingdom is not the Neighborhood.

This isn’t a show. We’re not all “okay.” This can no longer be the Land of Make Believe. We need to wake up and stop conveying the wrong message before it’s too late.

At the risk of being a voice crying out in the wilderness, I believe many of us have deceived ourselves and perhaps the world into a lethal, false sense of security. Are we overdue for a wake-up call, to reevaluate how we see the Lord and consequently how we present Him to the world?

Don’t get me wrong, God is very good, oh yes. But to believe that He is all warm fuzzies, peace, love, and rainbows is completely missing the mark. He is the lion AND the lamb. There is a gravely serious side to God, as well. Are we failing to project the full picture of who God is?

From what we read in Scripture:
God is fierce, an almighty warrior. (Exodus 15:3-8)
God is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, ruling in power over all. (Revelation 19:16)
God is Holy, expecting His people to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16)
God is perfect love, which demands perfect discipline upon His people. (Hebrews 12:5-8)
God is without sin, commanding mankind to repent and sin no more. (Acts 17:30-31)
God is the Judge of all the earth, and His judgment is coming to all. (Revelation 20:11-15)

Do we understand this? How aware are we of God’s less cuddly side? Even in the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan, the depiction of Jesus, “He’s not a tame lion." To be abundantly clear, God is not some cosmic nice guy who is universally tolerant and accepting of everything. The Lord is full faceted, holy, and perfect. He has definitive opinions, a firm will, rules, and commandments to be obeyed.

I am not encouraging us to become insensitive. Some will use the truth as a hammer; please don’t do that. We should love people, second greatest commandment understood, so we must be patient and loving as we make Jesus known. Work on that if you already know how to be gentle, humble, and sensitive before the Lord and before people, then this next part is for you. Let’s step out of our comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to share confrontational truth. Remember that some of the most transformative moments in your life have come through confrontation.

Don’t be afraid to offend. Jesus offended people all the time (mostly the religious leaders, funny enough). The Great Physician knew that medicine can taste bad.

Don’t be afraid of rejection. Jesus let people walk away. He was not insecure; God was still at work in their lives and Jesus knew it.

Don’t be afraid of the ensuing mess. Sometimes “go and sin no more” requires that we walk with someone through their struggles. This may not be easy for you or for them.

God is love, yes, but He is fierce love. He loves us enough to not let us remain as we are, lost in sin and bound in cycles of separation from His will. Do not be afraid, Church. Someone needs to see and hear from the fullness of God dwelling inside of you. Will you love them enough to show them the truth?

Come as you are, yes. Come, realizing that we come and become transformed by the power of God. Come and become conformed into the full image of Christ. Come to the Lord who redeems who you are, who calls you to be like Him.

“Jesus loves you” is not a full picture of the gospel. The love of God, however, through a well-balanced people, will absolutely change this world. Let Mr. Rogers stay on TV and let the full breadth of the God of the Universe live through you.

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 50

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 13, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Often, we think of the psalms as being lamenting (sometimes even whining and complaining) or full of praise for God. But there is another type of psalm as well: one of prophecy of God's judgment, as is the case with Psalm 50.

The psalm starts out in verses 1-6 describing the righteous judgment of God. We know it is God Himself who is providing the prophecy in this psalm. Where we see in English, “The Mighty One, God, the Lord” at the beginning of verse 1, the Hebrew text is actually 3 names for God all in a row: El, Elohim, Adonai (YHWH). There is no question who is speaking here!

Verse 3 states, “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.” Verse 6 ends this section with, “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” While God is a God of love, He also must deliver justice to His people when it’s needed. When God’s people disobey Him, no matter what the context is, consequences of some sort must follow. God shows us His love by always being just. God does not tolerate anything that goes against the rules He has set for His people.

The next section of this psalm, verses 7-15, provides a more specific warning to God’s people: “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God” (verse 7). Again, we see the name of God repeated here with extra emphasis in the Hebrew text, so Israel knows who is speaking to them.

This section describes how God does not really need the sacrifices and offerings He has commanded of them. It’s not that God needs Israel to kill that animal in order to feed Him or something; what He truly wants is their obedience to Him, which they show by doing what He commands of them. What made their sacrifices and offerings significant was the attitude of their hearts: “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (verses 14-15).

This applies to us today as well. We are no longer commanded to sacrifice animals to God, since Jesus’ sacrifice took care of that once and for all, but God still desires that our hearts have the right attitude toward Him. We should be thankful for everything that He has given us, and we show that by doing our best to do what God wants us to do in our lives. When we humble ourselves and call upon Him rather than relying on our own strength, we have the right attitude and will receive God’s benefits in our lives. He will deliver us from the struggles we have in this life (in His way and in His timing) when we honor Him with our lives.

Next, the psalm moves on to warn those who are “wicked,” which means those who don’t follow God, in verses 16-21. We see that these people are the ones who may give lip service to God’s laws but don’t actually follow them (verses 16-17) and who sin without regard to what God desires (verses 18-20).

Verse 21 says, “When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.” Some people may think that just because they don’t have immediate negative consequences to their sin or get directly called out by God for it right away, that He’s ok with their actions. This is clearly not the case here. God sometimes waits to see if people will repent before calling them out and laying down the law.

Verses 22-23 wrap up the psalm with going back to God’s judgment, which is always righteous: “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.” God is reminding His people that this is still just a warning for them, but they really need to change their ways or they will experience His judgment. He is still a God of grace! He reminds Israel (and us) again to live out a right attitude toward Him and we will be saved from His judgment.

Do the warnings of this psalm apply to your life? What is your attitude like? What in your life do you need to repent from, to change your ways and renew your attitude to one that honors God? God is a God of grace and second chances, but we need to recognize that He is also a God of justice who sometimes needs to punish His people to help us learn what is right.

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


A Weapon of Mass Destruction

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 12, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

If you’ve ever watched a very large structure get demolished to make room for future plans, you know that it is a very strategic event. My favorite sports teams when I was a child played at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is a pretty small city, so everything is relatively close together. In 2001, when it was time to demolish Three Rivers Stadium to make way for parking for the new stadiums, they placed 4,800 pounds of dynamite in 2,500 different spots within the structure where they might have maximum impact. They couldn’t just drop a bunch of bombs from the sky and hope they land in advantageous areas that would do the trick. Going about things that way would put many other buildings and infrastructure, as well as many other human beings, in the vicinity of the stadium in danger. For the job to be done efficiently and safely, they needed the stadium to implode inward and had to place the dynamite in strategic locations that would make certain of it.

When you possess something that has the ability to do great damage to others if handled improperly, you must go to the greatest lengths necessary to guard against it. You must do whatever it takes to maintain control and safety for yourself and those around you. Carelessness leads to great destruction. On the other hand, the same item that can be used as a weapon of mass destruction can also be used for good purposes. The dynamite I referenced above carries catastrophic consequences if misused, but it was able to bring down a stadium that comprised over 60,000 seats in a matter of seconds when put to good, controlled use.

In James 3:3-6, the writer tells us about a weapon of mass destruction that we all possess - the tongue. James explains that the tongue is just like a bit that goes into the mouth of a horse or a rudder that steers an enormous ship in that it is small but has a mighty influence. A rider uses the bit and the reins to control an entire horse. The captain of a ship uses the ship’s wheel to control the rudder, which then controls the entire ship. In the same way, the tongue is such a small part of the body, yet it has the tendency to control the whole person. James says that it “makes great boasts” (v. 5). He then compares the tongue to a forest fire. Forest fires usually begin with just a small spark, and it doesn’t take long until it is raging out of control.

Think about all the harm that can be done with words. There are very few sins that don’t involve words to some degree. In fact, the wise teacher and king, Solomon, tells us that even the overuse of words is a problem: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” (Proverbs 10:19 [NLT]). When we were children, we were taught that “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you." We now know, of course, that it’s a completely untrue statement. Sometimes, our words hurts others. Other times, our words hurt ourselves. With our tongue, we swear, lie, flatter, embellish, exaggerate, gossip, and make promises that we cannot keep, just to name a few sins caused by the tongue. As I wrote about in last week’s post, even when we seem to be doing everything else right in our lives, the sins of the tongue can still bring us down. That is why James says that the one who can keep from sinning with words is “perfect, able to keep their whole body in check (James 3:2). It’s the part of our lives we most need to tame even when everything else has been conquered.

In contrast, the tongue can also be used for much good when properly controlled. Think about the previous examples James used. Horses can destroy things when out of control, but they can be used in battle, transportation, and even competition when used for good. Large ships can also be used in battle, transportation, and trade, but they can cause destruction and massive loss of life if not properly steered. Even fire, which generally destroys everything in its path, is also used to provide heat, light, and the preparing of meals. We’ve already pointed out many of the ways that the tongue can be used to harm others, but the person who has it under control knows how to use it for good and for God’s glory. With our words, we can cite Scripture, praise God, teach others, encourage those who are struggling and build them up (Ephesians 4:29), communicate love, show grace, and provide hope and life in the midst of a person’s feelings of darkness and death.

So, the big question is, how do we control the tongue? James 3 is primarily about taming the tongue and how darn-near impossible it truly is. Some people think the best answer is to talk less or not even talk at all. But think about it this way, do you solve the problem of an out-of-control ship by keeping it tied to the dock? Do you keep the crazy horse in the stable? Do you keep the matches in the box so a fire is never started? Choosing those options may prevent some problems, but it also prevents you from experiencing the good that can come from those things. To refuse to speak at all is to refuse to ever encourage someone or communicate with them in a helpful and productive way. That’s not the answer.

Like many other aspects of the Christian walk, the answer is giving up control. While the horse, the ship, and the matches can all be controlled by the same human beings who allowed them to be out of control briefly, the tongue cannot. The tongue is a part of the body that must be submitted to Christ like all other aspects of the believer’s life. Being a follower of Jesus means we experience a rebirth, a changing of the heart. And what we say out loud is always connected to what we feel/think within ourselves. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34). Jesus also said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). One aspect of this might be that we desire to defend ourselves, to spread gossip, or to hurt someone with words the way we have been hurt, but that we refuse to engage in it because we are “denying ourselves” and trusting the Lord to work all of that out.

If you truly want to begin to tame your tongue, James basically tells us it’s impossible if we are depending on our own power. But since we know it’s a matter of the heart, we ought to pray like David did in Psalm 51:10 every morning: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." If our tongues speak whatever is in our hearts, and we ask God to purify our hearts by his Spirit, then we have a chance to use our words for much more edification and encouragement than destruction as long as we’re here on this earth. The bottom line is that we cannot tame the tongue on our own any better than we could tame sin at all. That’s why Jesus went to the cross for us and then rose from the grave, giving us power over the things that held power over us before. May you walk in the power that Christ has given you over the tongue this week as you 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.


Buy the Truth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 10, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

"Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding." ~Proverbs 23:23

As I’ve read through the Proverbs in my personal studies recently, I’ve noticed how well it treats truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding. There are two primary descriptions Proverbs uses for these four things: a person deserving to be cherished, and the most precious possession one could acquire. These four terms can nearly be used interchangeably, but allow me to distinguish them.

Truth is the simple facts. It is what it is and no matter what anyone says, it always is. It doesn’t change and it doesn’t care about opinions or education or emotions. Wisdom is application and knowing when and how to use the truth or how to address those who despise it. Instruction is the passing of knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. Understanding is knowing more than just the facts but what is all involved with them, what is required for them to be true, and the implications of them.

Proverbs 23:23 tells us to buy the truth. How can something so precious be bought? It is not talking about a mere monetary value, because truth’s value cannot be measured. Instead it is talking about setting everything you have aside and getting this precious jewel. Jesus taught a parable about this idea. A man working in someone else’s field finds an invaluable jewel in the field. He buries it, sells everything he has, and then buys that field, knowing it has the treasure that is more valuable than anything he owned prior combined.

Truth is to be bought, but it is not to be sold. Isn’t that a contradiction? Doesn’t buying something mean the other person is selling it? Again, that only applies if you are talking monetarily, which this verse is not. Peter faced the idea of selling Truth. In Acts 8, God was moving extensively throughout Jerusalem in establishing the church, and a man named Simon Bar-Jesus (not the same Jesus as our Messiah), wanted to buy the Holy Spirit. He didn’t really want the Holy Spirit but the power and reputation that was coming with it. He wanted in on the fun. Peter got into his face and cursed him, “Your money perish with you.” Simon immediately repented, but the point stands. He sought to buy the power, but not the Truth.

When we have the Truth, we don’t charge for giving it. We don’t ask for favors in return. It was offered freely to us and we should give it freely. While I could classify myself as a newbie on the speaking platform (I have several conferences under my belt, but I am not a regular speaker), I decided early on that I would never charge any church or group any honorarium for speaking at their event. I would need the group to only cover transportation costs if necessary, and if they wanted to give me a love offering, that is another issue. But I would never ask for money to speak, nor would I expect a love offering for my financial support in these endeavors. While I am to seek and buy whatever it takes to get truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding, I am never to sell it as though it was something I should ever part with for selfish gain.

What makes Truth so precious? As I mentioned above, it is often described as a person. Proverbs 1-9 describes wisdom as one which protects, preserves, guides, comforts, and stops evil and temptations. There is someone who fits that description: God. When we seek Truth and Wisdom, we are actually seeking God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” [emphasis mine]. He doesn’t merely have Truth. He is Truth. He is the standard.

It is worth noting here that this proverb does not talk about knowledge that should be pursued. It is not talking about “go get an education.” There are many “educated” people today who do not know a thing. We have many high school graduates who can’t even read because they were passed on through the grades and given “participation grades” instead of having to work. I have met some PhDs whom I wonder how they even passed the college entrance exams. Now, don’t read what I am not saying. I am not saying to never go to school. I am saying that school can only offer you knowledge which may be true or may be false. It does not offer truth nor wisdom nor true instruction, nor understanding. It offers what you need to do a job according to worldly standards and frequently it is only enough to do the job, not enough to think on your own, and especially not enough to question the system. Knowledge puffs up and makes one proud. Wisdom and truth, however, should make us humble, knowing that the only real knowledge is a gift from God, not a product of our own work. But like muscles, for us to be able to use wisdom and truth, they have to be used and practiced.

God offers His Truth freely to any and all who seek Him. If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask. But you need to ask the correct source. The only correct source is God. When we pursue Truth, we are pursing God. This is why partial science will lead us away from God into secular humanism and naturalism, but following true science will lead us to the One True God. The more one truly studies ALL of science holistically, without abandoning the basics, the more he will discover the One True God was there all along. The famous proverb of all the world’s scientists and experts climbing the mountain of knowledge is still true. When they reach the top, they will find a group of Biblical theologians who have been camped there for centuries. You will never find Truth without finding God with it; and if you despise God, you will never find Truth, because you will show to hate the Truth and lash out against anyone who speaks it.

The Truth of God is open and available to any who wants it. He does not offer it via a private revelation that only one person can access. He does not share all His “secrets” with every person, but with those He is most intimate with; however, every one of us has the opportunity to be that intimate with God. We are as close to God as we want to be. We have to make the effort to work with God and let Him do His recreative and sanctifying work in us. But everything God offers is available to those willing to put in the effort to go get it (again, it is a gift, not a wage-earning work). Buy the Truth. Pursue God with everything you have and you will get Him, and you will never be disappointed 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.