The Time for Tears

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 30, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Whether you are knowledgeable regarding Old Testament wisdom literature or are a big fan of late ‘60s rock music, you are probably familiar with the saying, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." If the Bible interests you, those words can be found in Ecclesiastes 3:1. Even if it does not interest you, just turn on your local oldies station on the radio and you may hear almost identical lyrics in the classic from The Byrds called “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)." Both the song and the Scripture mention some of those specific activities for which there is a season, including “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). It seems pretty clear that the writer sees laughter and dancing as the clear opposite of weeping and mourning.

In the New Testament, James sees things the same way and writes about a time when weeping and mourning is most appropriate. In James 4:6-10, he’s giving a step-by-step process of coming to the necessary position of humility before a holy and righteous God. After writing in the previous verses that some believers are allowing their selfish desires for whatever pleases them to affect how they treat one another and their relationship with God, he turns our focus toward what God does for us anyway. While we are enemies of God due to our spiritual adultery and evil deeds (James 4:4 and Colossians 1:21), God gives us grace. In fact, it says He gives MORE grace. Do you know why God gives us more grace when we are His enemies? It’s because we NEED more grace when we are His enemies!

God is always pursuing us, but what we receive from Him is directly related to our attitude. James quotes from Proverbs 3:34 and declares that God stands in opposition to those who are prideful but shows favor (that’s what grace is, by the way) to the humble (James 4:6). Think about why this would be. The humble heart recognizes its desperate need for God’s grace. The proud heart demands that God bless it on the basis of that person’s own merits, whether they are real or imagined. When James writes that God “opposes” the one who is proud, it literally means that He sets Himself in battle against that person. Picture “Lieutenant Dan” in the movie Forrest Gump when he is challenging God to a fight in the middle of the crazy storm, only it’s God who is calling YOU out if your attitude is proud. You don’t have to challenge Him because He is already prepared to let you have it.

There generally isn’t a better way than that to deal with pride. It has to be destroyed, and the proud person has to be knocked down a few notches. It’s what is often referred to as “eating a slice of humble pie," only God usually gives us a lot more than a slice. This is because pride is the natural enemy of grace. A proud person cannot receive the “more grace” no matter how much God wants to give it due to the inability to recognize his need. James explains that, in view of God’s stance toward the proud, we must submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Charles Spurgeon had some interesting thoughts about this verse, recognizing that so many have it backwards - submitting to the devil while resisting God. Spurgeon said, “If he were a tyrant it might be courageous to resist, but since he is a Father it is ungrateful to rebel."

Those who don’t accept the Father’s free gift of grace or who use it as a license to keep sinning are like spoiled children who can no longer even recognize the precious gifts given by their parents and now act as if they are owed whatever they desire. Many of those people would argue that they submit to no one, but Spurgeon later said that even now, we are all submitting one way or another. He declared that if we refuse to submit to God, we are submitting to the devil. He added, “If you do not submit to God you will never resist the devil, and you will remain constantly under his tyrannical power. Which shall be your master, God or devil, for one of these must? No man is without a master” (Spurgeon).

Some of you feel like you are resisting the devil all the time and with all your might every day, yet you are still losing your battle. First, I want to remind you that even though James says the devil will flee from us if we resist him, that doesn’t mean he’ll never come back! The devil runs from the name of Jesus, but as soon as we start fading away from our Savior due to laziness or circumstances or whatever else drives us away, the devil comes back. Even Jesus didn’t get done with devil as soon as He resisted him the first time in the wilderness. Luke 4:13 says, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time." When was that “opportune time” when Satan came BACK to keep tempting Jesus? Was it every time a Pharisee mistreated Jesus or tried to plot his murder? Was it when he hung out with sinners and prostitutes who no doubt offered Jesus opportunities to engage in their depravity with them? Was it when all of his disciples left him? I’m sure the devil tried to tell Jesus how worthless He was and how nobody even cared if He lived or died. How about the Garden of Gethsemane? I’m almost certain Satan was there as Jesus perspired drops of blood, and he was probably at all of these other moments as well.

James gives us more instructions regarding our humility when he tells us to “come near to God” (4:8), but he also adds that God will come near to us when we seek Him. This is not a one-time thing. Every time we are struggling with resisting the devil, we must draw near to God. Again, this is a mark of humility. A prideful person believes he can just keep resisting sin. He has made his own willpower an idol. But a humble person recognizes the struggle and tell himself, “Unless I draw near to God, I stand no chance against the devil and his schemes." Then, based on that recognition, he gets up and seeks the Lord in prayer, worship, and the Word, just to name a few common ways to draw near to Him.

All of the above instructions from James are what separate the character of a humble man from that of a proud man. But, perhaps the most important mark of true humility comes in James 4:9: “Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom." When I used to read this, I’d wonder why James was such a downer. And if we take this one verse out of context, we’re left with those thoughts. That’s why we must read and understand the verse in context. James is writing about the humility we must have if we truly recognize the damaging impact of our sin and the amazing grace that God offers us. He wrote to people who seemed to be allergic to humility, people who claimed to follow Christ yet seemed joyful regarding their sin. It was like laughing in the face of God. His challenge to them was to humble themselves before Him, and to “grieve, mourn, and wail” over their sin and the offense it has been to the God who created them and loves them. In James’ view, this was truly the appropriate time for tears.

Friends, if the realization of your sin has never brought you to tears, I’d ask you if you ever truly realized your sin. I encourage you to appropriately humble yourself before God Almighty and repent of your sins to the point of tears that are not fake but come from a deep sense of the pain you’ve caused God, yourself, and others. As you humble yourself before Him, HE most certainly WILL lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

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Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 28, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Miracles are always a fascinating topic. The Bible is full of them. Naturalism denies them. Scientists constantly search for a way to explain them. They are a reality but difficult to explain. Christians often say, “God did it,” but skeptics return with, “You can’t invoke God. That’s just an escape.” So, what is the deal with miracles? Today, I am going to explore what miracles are and use this post to launch a series on what types of miracles the Bible contains and how God has mastery over His creation.

What are miracles? One of the simplest definitions is: “An event that cannot be explain by normal means otherwise.” Others describe them in other ways. A popular one in Christian circles is “a violation of the natural order God created.” The first one is decent, however, it has a logical hole. The miracle is accredited only as a place-holder until a better explanation is found. Skeptics frequently accuse Christians of stopping searching for the truth because “God can do anything” and to them that shuts down the discussion. So while it’s an okay definition, it’s not great. The second one is another problem, because this insinuates that God could break the rules and order He established. A major argument used by Old Earth Creationists to support “billions of years” for creation is that God does not violate his laws, therefore since science tells us the earth is really old, the straightforward account of Scripture cannot be true. It must be non-historical.

To follow that, other old earth creationists like Frank Tipler in his book The Physics of Christianity suggest that because God cannot violate nature, when He does a miracle, He must utilize physics (it’s really the highly controversial multi-verse theory that itself really makes no sense in physics, let alone logic) to do it. It’s a terrible book in my opinion, trying to make God submit to His creation, and while trying to argue otherwise, it makes God a rather pantheistic deity than the One True God.

I have been chewing on a different description of miracles and for the most part so far, as I’ve analyzed the miracles of the Bible, this description still seems to hold. I currently describe miracles as God intervening through the creation. He does not violate nature, but He steps in and takes action, which has effects in the natural. God is a spiritual entity which is on a different dimension of reality than the physical universe we study. He can come into our universe, interact with it, and change a situation without actually breaking the natural laws He established.

An example of this is Elisha causing the axe head to float in 2 Kings 6. Naturally, iron doesn’t float. Elisha didn’t do anything fancy to the water to change water density to cause it to float. How I describe what happened was God reached down, picked up the axe head and cause it to “float” on the water by holding it up from underneath. It’s still a miracle. When God parted the waters of the Red Sea, He directed winds to hold the water back. It never would have happened naturally, but He (or His angels) held the waters from crashing back down like an invisible dam.

I am not completely sold on this description yet, as I am still chewing on it, but it seems to more accurately describe how God interacts with creation than the others. To use an analogy, the scientific process in physics requires that we define the system we are analyzing in order to account for everything in action. Once we define our system, if we do not consider any outside factors, then things like energy and momentum are conserved. This is a “closed system.” It means we don’t look at outside factors (though there is the aspect of work being added to or taking out of a system, but that’s too much physics to explain here). Naturalism puts the laws of nature as a closed system. Yet when God, who is an outside source, interferes, the system then becomes an open system. So, the laws are not violated, but rather influenced by an outside force.

To illustrate, a skateboard on a hill is going to roll down the hill. There are three objects in this system: the skateboard, the hill, and the earth. The earth pulls the skateboard down the hill because of gravity. The hill resists that pull with friction, yet because gravity is stronger than the friction, the skateboard rolls. But what if a person were to pick up that skateboard and walk it up the hill? Based on this system, this could be classified as a miracle, because the person is outside the system. Of course, this person is a natural being, however, if one did not know about the person, they would consider the skateboard going up the hill as a miracle, because nothing rolls uphill by themselves. This is not a perfect analogy, but I hope it gets the point across.

The skeptics will object to the “invoking of God” in such cases. There are legitimate cases where invoking God was not justifiable and what was called miraculous or supernatural was not. One of the best cases showcasing how this works was in Frank Peretti’s teen book Hangman’s Curse. (Warning: spoiler alert. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you wish to avoid them.) In this book, a high school is under a ‘curse’ as normally perfectly healthy students suddenly get deadly ill. With each case, the ghost of “Abel Fry” is cited. Twin teen agents Elijah and Elisha and their parents are sent to investigate. For much of the book, it looks like the source of the problems is spiritual, but as the kids investigate, they soon discover the curse is actually the results of an engineered spider bite. Peretti is known for writing supernatural thrillers so this twist was a nice surprise for me. The point here is that not all that is claimed to be miraculous is indeed miraculous.

There are other cases of popular TV preachers who perform “miracles” on a regular basis. I’d be skeptical of that, because the so-called miracles really are not miracles. Those who get “healed” have to be pre-screened, and none of them really have any major problems. The “miracle” is mostly out of emotional hype and the excessive “slaying in the Spirit” is simply to the point of ridiculousness. That’s not how the Holy Spirit moves. Those aren’t miracles.

False miracles are certainly out there, but don’t let them cause you to toss out the baby with the bath water. There are real and legitimate miracles still taking place today. I personally believe that no one “performs” them in the same way that the prophets or apostles did in Biblical times. But God does answer prayers and does miracles today. The accounts from the Bible were not myths and legends the authors put together. They were historical records given by eye-witnesses of the events. And those events were not only things of the past either; they still happen today. I have too many stories to share here, but as I go through this series, I will share some of them. In this series, I will address how God has mastery over time, distance, weather, quantity, physical health, spiritual forces, life and death, animals, plants, celestial objects, and I may come up with some more between now and when I finish as well. It’s going to be a fun series, so please join me for the ride.

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.


Who Is in Authority Here?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 27, 2019 2 comments

by Steve Risner

“Who is in authority here?”
-Kyle Reese, father of John Conner (from The Terminator)

When discussing creation and the Biblical worldview, quite frequently a number of side issues are brought up. These most often are concerned with the age of the earth, evolution, the global Flood of Noah’s time, death before sin and a few others. These questions are answered differently, I think, when we're talking with unbelievers rather than talking with believers who do not hold a view that is derived from Scripture. Today, my focus is with believers who do not accept what the plain teaching of the Bible on creation is. For the atheist or unbelievers, I believe the primary concern is their need for a Savior. For a believer who just has details about creation and various other related topics wrong, they have found their Savior, so the conversation is a little different. I hope that makes sense.

One major difference in the conversation would be the Bible. I firmly believe we should use the Bible whenever possible, but the atheist will not accept its teachings no matter how obvious or clear the truth is. A believer, however, should view the Scriptures with more respect and hold the Bible up as the absolute highest authority there is, period. Because of this, there is literally no leg for the old earth creationist or theistic evolutionist to stand on—at least no Biblical leg. This is a difference in the labels attached to these groups. Old earth creationists focus on the age of the earth, claiming it's really old. Theistic evolutionists focus on evolution. But the group most often hated (or at least disliked immensely) is misnamed “young earth creationists.” You see, what is often called by others a “young earth creationist” isn't so. I'm often called this, but I don't care about the age of the earth beyond what Scripture tells us. So, the name is incorrect, and I don't accept it at all. I'm concerned with the Bible—the Word of God. That's it, really. I find other sources of information interesting and even helpful at times, but ultimately, the Bible shapes my worldview and I can show anyone how this is done if they'd like. My point is, the name “Biblical creationist” is exactly right because I and so many others are concerned with upholding the teachings of the Bible. Creationist tales that don't reflect the teachings of the Bible are not Biblical, hence, they cannot claim to be derived from the Bible. They are anti-biblical.

In reality, it only makes sense for an atheist to accept or even want to believe that the earth is billions of years old (although no amount of time will allow for what they claim happened—the evolution of the universe and life on earth). It's truly a major tenet of atheism. I understand why they believe in and likely want desperately to be true the Big Bang that they claim happened some 14 billion years ago or so. But, again, this is a major cornerstone of the atheist faith. But how could anyone who accepts the Bible's teachings about Jesus Christ accept such major tenets of atheism and incorporate it into their faith? What's at the foundation here? How could atheism have more truth found in its origins myth than the Bible—the long-standing, overwhelmingly held belief in a 6 day creation some 6000 or so years ago?

Many mistakenly believe that the age of the earth is settled. Science has proven the earth is billions of years old and the universe is several times older than this. But the truth is that science cannot tell us the age of any fossil or rock. It cannot tell us about one time past events no one was around for or understands the conditions of. It's simply not possible. What is commonly reported and held up as fact is someone’s beliefs on the subject. There just happen to be many more who believe the atheists' interpretation of the data than that of the Biblical creationist. Of course, this has no bearing on the truth whatsoever. But it's a fact. Many (often without question or thought) have accepted what atheism claims is the origin of the universe and earth as well as life on earth. This should not be for more reasons than one.

First and foremost, it contradicts the very clear and consistently taught history presented in the Bible. I don't mean only Genesis; I mean the whole Bible. Every New Testament author references Genesis in some way. Every last one. If the creation of everything that is was important to every single author—most if not all knew Christ personally in the flesh—then it seems reasonable that creation is an important topic to the Lord. The Bible teaches that God created the heavens, earth, sea and all that is in them in 6 days and rested on the seventh. This must mean 6 normal, 24-hour earth days because it's the basis for our week. This is stated in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17. Obviously, the timeline in which He created everything is of great value to God because He included it not only in the written Word of God but He Himself inscribed it with His own finger in stone for the Hebrews to know, including it in the 10 Commandments. Then, using the timelines that we are given in Genesis and through the Old Testament to the Exile (which has a well-accepted date of 586 BC), we find that Adam was created on the 6th day which happens to be about 4150 BC. You can read a more detailed explanation of that here.

There is little wiggle room here and since nearly every major Christian doctrine is founded in a natural reading of Scripture, there is no excuse for simultaneously accepting what the Bible says about man's condition and his need for a Savior and believing in the foundational tenets of the atheists' origins myth. They do not work together. The Bible's narrative on creation as well as on the Flood and the history it contains contradict the origins myth of atheism. The Bible doesn't just give us a children's tale about creation in Genesis, but the narrative is confirmed throughout the Old and New Testaments, even mentioned by Jesus Christ Himself. He confirmed the people mentioned in the lineages found in Genesis 5 were real people. The line of Jesus seemed important to the New Testament authors as well since two of them included as historically significant many of the people mentioned in Genesis 5.

There's no way around the fact that this timeline was intended to be taken literally and the years noted with each person can only be so we can account for the years since Adam's creation. Why else would they be included? Why would years be included not just in the lineages but also relating to the Exodus, when Jacob went to Egypt, etc.? The timeline of creation mattered to these authors. The reality of sin and when it first occurred mattered. The blood sacrifice, as described in Genesis first, mattered to them. Sin bringing death to the creation mattered—in fact it was a major idea presented in great detail by Paul. The reality of the Flood and its global nature as a consequence for sin seemed to be noteworthy to Jesus and Peter.

So, creation isn't a side issue, although it's true that understanding it or accepting it are not necessary for salvation. But the reality here is that many—including formerly well-known evangelists like Charles Templeton—lose their faith or reject the Bible or Jesus Christ simply because the humanist origins myth has been explained to them as something it's not—a proven fact. Once this presentation has infiltrated a person's belief system, the first victim is the Bible. “If we know the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that it developed over a very long period of time before life evolved, then the Bible must not actually mean what it says.” This is the problem. When confronted with evidence that seems to contradict a very clear teaching (and a teaching widely accepted for thousands of years) found in the Bible, the first questions I would ask is, “Does the data actually contradict the Bible? Do we know for certain this data has been interpreted correctly? Are there alternative explanations that can easily align with the Bible's historical account?” The truth of it is, there is no evidence that contradicts the Bible's account of creation, and I mean none. There are many different interpretations of the data and only some of them contradict Scripture.

For the unbeliever, it makes sense that they would willingly choose interpretations that don't jive with Scripture. They don't want the Bible to be true. However, for a believer, would it not be the more consistent and honest approach if we were to accept first and foremost what the Bible says, and then see how the world reflects that? Some may suggest this is biased and not the way we search for knowledge, but those people are not followers of Christ and don't believe His Word. The truth is, no one views evidence without bias. It's very difficult to do and hardly anyone has done it. So if a believer who claims to respect the Bible—they will claim they hold it in high regard—chooses to accept an interpretation of the data that contradicts the Bible thereby forcing them to reinterpret very plain, very clear, and very obvious portions of Scripture, what they've done is place an authority over that of Scripture. They've decided they can know things outside of God's Word and, in fact, in place of God's Word.

If you think this is not true, please tell me how I've erred. The tired argument of, “Well, that's your interpretation” is nonsense. We're not talking about something obscure or hard to draw conclusions on. We're not talking about things eluded to but not solidly spoken of in the Bible. We're talking about an exceptionally clear narrative on something that happened that is spoken of in detail throughout Scripture. Let's be honest about it and call it like it is: the old earth creationist and theistic evolutionist has determined that “science” has said one thing and that thing is not in line with the Bible, so the Bible must be wrong. He or she may not say it like that or even disagree with that statement as I've written it, but the truth is it is exactly what they've done. You cannot come up with deep time or evolution or anything like either of those things from the Bible. Not at all. Again, if I'm incorrect, show me from the Bible. Show me how the old earth or theistic evolution worldview is drawn from Scripture and I'll happily show you how my worldview—the Biblical worldview—is drawn from it.

Secondly, as I've indicated above, the data can easily be interpreted to fit the Biblical model. We are talking about history. It's historical facts that are in contention here, not science. Science cannot tell us the age of fossils or the earth or rocks. It simply can't. Our worldview can interpret the data based on the belief that the earth is billions of years old or closer to 6000 (or whatever we decide, really), but the science cannot confirm it because that's not how science works. One time past events no one was around for and no one understands the conditions of cannot be confirmed scientifically.

This will be a first in a series of posts concerning anti-Biblical ideas of creation and the Bible.

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 67

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 24, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.” (Psalm 67)

Similar to the praise psalms we’ve been studying lately, this psalm is all about blessing. It starts out reminiscent of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

This priestly blessing provides three different aspects of blessing: protection, favor/grace, and peace. Just the reference to it at the beginning of this psalm would have been enough to remind the people of the whole of God’s blessings in every aspect of their lives. We see in verse 1 that God is clearly the source of all our blessings because of His grace for us. We don’t deserve to be favored or blessed by God, but that’s what His grace is all about.

What is the purpose of God blessing us? Verse 2 tells us that it’s not for our own selfish enjoyment but rather that His ways may be known on the earth. The Hebrew word used here for “known” is the most intimate type of knowing there is. It’s not just knowing that God exists, but truly knowing Him and being in a relationship with Him so He can provide us salvation. That’s what God desires for all the nations of the earth.

Verse 3 and verse 5 are identical and full of praise. When we receive blessings from God, our natural response should be to praise Him. When we receive something good from another person, we usually thank them, right? The same should be true for God, and even more so because we really don’t deserve the blessings He gives us anyway. Israel praises God for delivering them, and the expectation is that when other nations are saved as well, they too will join in praising God.

While Israel was God’s chosen nation before Jesus came to earth, that doesn’t mean God ignored the rest of the nations during that time. Verse 4 shows us that He rules all peoples with His goodness. God is still their God and rules over the universe, even if they don’t acknowledge Him as such. The prayer of this psalm is that all peoples of the earth would praise God for who He is.

Verse 6 indicates that we can see God’s blessings even in how the land yields its harvest. While today we know all the modern science behind how plants grow, the Israelites back then attributed it to the blessing of God. Even today it’s still the blessing of God that allows crops to grow to feed us. This past spring, we had significantly more rain than normal in the midwest, which delayed the corn planting pretty significantly. We don’t know yet what this may do to the economy, but many industries could be negatively affected by this - ethanol (made from corn) is in our gasoline, many livestock animals get fed with corn, etc. The ability to plant and grow food to keep humanity surviving and thriving is still related to God’s provision in our lives and for our nation.

The final verse of this psalm wraps up with reminding us of why God blesses us: “so that all the ends of the earth will fear Him.” It’s not about making us happy, though that is a nice temporal benefit of God’s blessings in our lives. It’s really all about making God known to all the people on earth, so that they will come to a saving faith in Him.

How do you respond to God’s blessings in your life? Do you remember to thank and praise Him for them? Do you use God’s blessings to share about Him to others around you? Today, consider the many ways that God has blessed you and what you’re doing in response to that.

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.


Cheating on God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 23, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There are certain television commercials that will always be remembered. You probably have your favorite that comes to mind right now. For me, I’ll never forget one that came out right around the Super Bowl way back in 1996. It was an ad for Pepsi and you can find it here. A man who is obviously employed by Coca-Cola goes into a store to fill the fridge with the product. There is a hidden camera on him the entire time and Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin Heart” is playing in the background of the commercial. While doing his job, the Coca-Cola employee notices a fridge stocked full of Pepsi cans. Fearing he will be caught “cheating” on his current employer, he looks around several times to see if anyone can see him before choosing to grab a can of Pepsi from the fridge. As soon as he removes it, hundreds of other Pepsi cans come crashing out of the fridge and onto the floor. The avalanche causes shoppers in the store to come running to see what the commotion is all about. The man then places the Pepsi can back on the rack in the fridge in an effort to hide what was already out in the open - his infidelity toward Coca-Cola.

As silly as it sounds that a person who works for Coca-Cola would be fraternizing with the product of its biggest rival while on duty, Christians are guilty of cheating that is a million times more egregious. Once we come to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord and understand the extent to which He went to proclaim His love for us, we willfully enter into a relationship with Him. The New Testament identifies the church as “the bride” of Christ in multiple places, Ephesians 5:25-27 and Revelation 19:7 just to name a couple. Yet, we still seem to always have our eyes on whatever other “partners” are flaunting themselves in front of us. We cheat on the Lord with money, sex, popularity, fun, food, alcohol, and many other things. These things tempt us and tell us we can have a better life with them. We often fall for the deception even when we know that nothing and no one ever has or ever will love us like God does.

This problem that all believers have is why James had to use strong language when addressing it in James 4:4-5. He addresses the believers in the early church to whom he is writing by saying, “You adulterous people." This moniker may seem shocking to us and it is certainly intended to get the attention of not only those to whom James wrote, but also those who read it. That being said, most of the believers in the early church, which was comprised of mainly Jews, would’ve understood the reference fully. They were certainly familiar with Old Testament passages that identified the nation of Israel as an adulteress. In Jeremiah 3:6-9, the Lord speaks to the prophet and mentions the adultery of Israel and Judah (they were still split into two kingdoms at that point) three different times, also declaring that they “had no fear” of the Lord and that “immorality mattered so little to her." The nation of God’s chosen people committed this adultery by worshiping “stone and wood."

The prophet Hosea was probably most known for exposing Israel’s adultery. He recorded in Hosea 3:1, “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’" Now, I have no clue what the “sacred raisin cakes” are and that was always a source of laughter for my friends and I in high school youth group when we would read that passage. We’d wonder what was wrong with those dopes. How could they cheat on God with SACRED RAISIN CAKES of all things? But, for those who truly love the Lord with all their heart, our spiritual adultery is probably just as deserving of ridicule. They’d look at us and wonder how we could exchange our relationship with God for the pursuit of the almighty dollar, or for ideas that are popular but don’t align with His Word.

Hosea would’ve been considered a fool by many for continuing to love his wife who cheated on him over and over again. The kind of love that is foolish in the world’s eyes is exactly what God offers us over and over despite our adulteries. In fact, our continued spiritual infidelity shows that we either don’t care or don’t understand how much it hurts God. We are so used to offending Him and still receiving His unconditional love that it’s almost like we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The early church had the same issue, so James called it out. He asks a rhetorical question to remind them that we cannot be friends with both God and the world. Yet again, James is echoing his older brother, Jesus, who said that “no one can serve two masters” and that we “cannot love both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). In James 4:4, the Greek word for friendship is philia, which comes from the same root word as one of the ancient Greek words for “love." So, what James is describing is not simply having friends that are worldly or enjoying some secular things. He’s talking about believers who long for that which is worldly and has nothing to do with eternal life. Just a bit earlier in his letter, he talked about the difference between wisdom that focuses solely on earthly and unspiritual things and that which comes from heaven (James 3:13-17). What we long for and value in life will be directly related to the type of wisdom we possess.

James adds that if we long for the things of this fallen world, the end result will be enmity between us and God. The word “enmity” is a strong word that can also be translated “hostility” or “hatred." In other words, it’s impossible to be neutral or indifferent towards God. That would be like trying to be neutral or indifferent towards your spouse, while occasionally pursuing other love interests. It doesn’t work for a marriage and cannot work in our relationship with the God who “jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us” (James 4:5). God is not a big fan of being spurned or having His unconditional love rejected by those who have claimed to know and love Him back.

Friends, you’ll never find anything more satisfying in life than entering into a relationship with the living God who created the entire universe but decided He wanted one of YOU here so that He could lavish His love on you (1 John 3:1). God is certainly more like a gentleman and will not force you to love Him back, but He doesn’t hide His longing for you or His intense pain when you reject Him in favor of something that He knows cannot fulfill you. I urge you to take a look at your life and be honest with yourself about the ways you have been cheating on God. He will let you come back to Him and will not hold your past sins against you if you’re truly repentant. But, there will come a day when you no longer have the opportunity to repent because your time has run out. For that reason, it makes sense to turn back to Him now, before the consequences of your infidelity catch up to you.

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I Am the Lord, There is No Other

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 21, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Isaiah 45 is a passage I have always known to be the prophecy concerning King Cyrus of Persia, who would be the one God would use to deliver the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. What is neat about this passage is how Cyrus is identified by name over 100 years before Cyrus was even born or before Persia became a nation. Yet, when I read this chapter not that long ago, it struck me that three times, God declares: “I am the Lord, there is no other.” He says this a lot through Isaiah, however, as I read this chapter, it really stood out.

God is making a strong emphasis here with the repetition. “I am God. You are not. Neither is anything else.” The Old Testament is full of examples of God showcasing how He is the only true God and any other deity we try to put in His place does nothing and is nothing. God is not saying the other gods don’t exist, because plenty of demonic entities or even humans have played the roles of a god, but not in the same way that God does His job as God.

Elijah summoned the prophets of Baal and Asherah to meet him along with King Ahab on Mt. Carmel. The showdown was to once and for all determine who the true God really was. The other prophets did their rituals all day long and got nothing. Elijah purposefully ruled out all possible means of trickery and with one simple prayer, fire came down from heaven. The God of Elijah was the one true God.

Moses had a more challenging situation. He turned Aaron’s staff into a snake, but the Egyptian magicians could do the same. Even though Aaron’s snake ate the other snakes, Moses had to face a possible reality that his God was well-matched. This thought would have risen again when the magicians could replicate the first couple plagues. However, by the 4th plague, they realized that they had no answer and proclaimed it an act of God. The plagues became a further testament to God’s uniqueness and how only He is God as the plagues devastated Egypt but then left Goshen, where the Israelites stayed, untouched.

The Lord is God. There is no other. He is not just master of the creation, bringing fire from heaven, turning staffs into snakes, etc. He is ruler over the affairs of man. There is not a ruler on this planet in any political situation or even business operation in which God did not oversee. Sometimes He lets the people get the ruler they want. Sometimes He allows a wicked ruler to usurp a position. And sometimes He puts the most unexpected person into a position of leadership. We do not often know what the purpose of that person being in place is, but God does.

God installed Saul as king because the people demanded one. God wanted to show the people exactly what they were asking for and they got it. But then He used the governmental system they chose to install a king who would do what He wanted done. Some have speculated that God intended to install a throne in Israel with David as the king if Israel had waited and trusted God to lead them. God installed Babylon as a conquering empire to deliver judgment upon all the ancient near east nations who had harassed Judah and to punish Judah for its sin. He raised up Cyrus to deal with Babylon and then to restore Judah. He raised up the Roman Empire so through the Pax Romana time of peace, the Gospel could spread through Europe with ease. And yes, I will state that God has raised up President Trump in the U.S. too. For what point or purpose, I will not say, other than I believe he is only a temporary bulwark against the liberal agenda to silence any Christian voice from the public square. Either way, God installed him as president. I believe that God is also going to allow the eventual antichrist to come and take complete dominion over this world to carry out the end times prophecies.

All these kings and rulers, whether they want to recognize it or not, are under the rule and direction of God. He is the God who turns their heads and through whom He shows favor towards His people. If we have a leader we are struggling to deal with, we don’t have to take it into our hands to set things right. God knows what is going on, and He will set things right. If we are patient and let God work in His timing, what is wrong will be made right.

The Lord is God. There is no other. We have no need to replace God with any other idol or false God that garners our interest. Israel did this all the time, which is part of why God said to destroy all the high places and demolish all the idols. He did not want any “competition” because He knew how easily the hearts of Israel could be led astray. He also knew that any “competition” never could do the job only He could do. He knows that any time we turn to another idol or another god, it is not God who gets short-changed. It’s us.

The Lord is God. There is no other. There is none like Him. There was none before Him. There will be none after Him. And none can compare with Him today. And yet this unique God wants to be with us, individually and collectively. Who are we to draw His attention? That is what makes our God so special. He cares about the tiniest details, even the ones we consider to be insignificant. He cares about the problems we face and the battles we have to endure. He will fight for you, if you believe Him and let Him be God. I trust the Lord God. I know all the other sources of authority out there are insufficient to do God’s job and they will not deliver when I need help. Only God can do that. While I am far from perfect in carrying this out, I know this: God is God. Nothing else is and no one else can compare. Let Him be God and know that there is no other.

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Psalm 66

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 17, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week we looked at Psalm 63, which is a psalm of praise but also contains reflection on the psalmist’s relationship with God. This week’s psalm, Psalm 66, is one of pure praise. Some scholars believe that this psalm was originally divided into two parts. The first part, verses 1-12, is a hymn, which can itself be divided into two separate hymns - first celebrating what God has done and then praising Him as a community. The second part, verses 13-20, is more of an individual thanksgiving psalm.

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.’ Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot—come, let us rejoice in him. He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations—let not the rebellious rise up against him” (Psalm 66:1-7).

This first section of the psalm talks all about what God has done for the universe as a whole and for mankind. It’s mostly somewhat generic rather than talking about specific individual deeds, but it does mentions the specific act of turning the sea into dry land and passing through the waters on foot. God did that in Exodus 14, when the people of Israel were fleeing from Egypt, which was a pivotal time in that nation’s history. Of the many miracles that God has done, I can imagine that was one of the most impressive for those present to experience!

What have you seen God do in your life that is miraculous? Maybe it’s nothing like parting a sea so you could cross on dry land, but perhaps God has worked a great healing in your life, or you’ve narrowly avoided a tragic accident. Has God overpowered an enemy in your life? Have you experienced God’s Holy Spirit help you resist a strong temptation?

In whatever circumstances we’re going through, we know that God always deserves our praise! He deserves praise from all of the earth that He created, especially from us as humans.

“Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance” (Psalm 66:8-12)

This section is a community praising God for what He has done in their lives and for their nation. They see now that difficult things they went through were for their good and so they could experience God’s provision in their lives. The purpose of trials is not to discourage people, but to help us grow through them and experience God in new ways.

So often we ask for God’s help when we’re going through a difficult time, but do we remember to praise Him for it afterwards? Do we look back and realize how much that difficulty helped us grow, to refine us like silver? Do we see God’s abundant provision even more, after having gone through a hard time when we had to do with less?

“I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you—vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats. Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Psalm 66:13-20)

This last portion of the psalm helps us to internalize this on an individual level. The pronouns change from “us” and “our” to “my” and “I.” God worked in the life of the nation of Israel, but each individual Israelite still needed to praise Him individually in order for the nation as a whole to praise God.

We see assurance here that God listens to our prayers. Whether we’re in the midst of a trial and crying out to God in lament or if we’re on the other side looking back and praising Him, we know God hears us. He will never withhold His love from us, and we should praise Him constantly for that! We don’t deserve to be loved by God, but He loves us anyway, through all of the experiences of our lives.

How are you showing God praise in your life today?

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Chasing the Wind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 16, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There once was a wise teacher in Israel, a man who became king and was wiser than anyone else in the world at the time (1 Kings 4:29-31). His name was Solomon and, despite his great wisdom, he stupidly pursued the fleeting pleasures of the world rather than the lasting joy of knowing God. He obtained for himself over a thousand wives and concubines, many of whom were from foreign nations about which God had commanded the Israelites not to intermarry with their people (1 Kings 11:1-3). As King Solomon grew older, he realized that he had wasted so much of his time, energy, and money on pleasures that would never last. How depressing that must have been for him! He declared in Proverbs 1:7 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," meaning everything he knew and everything he had was pointless if he didn’t remember that God still rules over him. He wrote the same thing differently in Ecclesiastes 1:14: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

The vast majority of us truly have no clue what it would be like to have all the money and worldly pleasures of the world combined with the gift of wisdom and understanding. That is the life so many people today are longing for, yet just about anyone I can think of who has lived even a taste of it has found themselves to be utterly unfulfilled. If you had everything you could’ve ever wanted but still couldn’t buy happiness and joy, you’d probably be as frustrated as King Solomon was.

A couple years ago, Hugh Hefner passed away. He was the founder of a magazine I don’t even feel like naming right now as I assume most of you know who he is. He became an icon to so many and lived a life of fame, luxury, women, and money that many people dream of. Yet, I remember hearing after he passed that those closest to him realized how incredibly alone and dissatisfied he really was. I read an article that details the sad, lonely life he lived and the constant battle with the fear of death. This makes sense if you think about it. If the only thing you had ever done with your life was spend time and energy trying to please yourself and ignoring the fact that you have no idea when your time will be up or what happens after that, you’d be terrified of the end too. Fortunately, unlike Mr. Hefner, King Solomon came to his senses before it was too late and learned that “fearing God and keeping his commandments are the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

I wonder if James, the brother of Jesus, had Solomon in mind as he wrote his letter to the early church. He also had a perspective on what it means to chase after things that can never satisfy. While Solomon referred to it as a “chasing after the wind," James simply recognized it as futile and unsuccessful pursuing. In James 4:1-3, he sees that human beings have these sinful desires which cause us to battle with one another, to want what others have, to build up an attitude of anger and resentment towards them, and to try to find fulfillment apart from God. This bitter and unsatisfying pursuit of whatever it is our flesh desires leads to “fights and quarrels,” even with other believers. If we know that God is our eternal and ultimate fulfillment but we keep trying to find worldly, temporary pleasure anyway, we’ll have no time for that which benefits others. How would benefitting someone else serve the ultimate goal of getting what the SELF desires? And if we have no time or reason to care for what’s best for someone else, we begin to see everyone else as a rival, someone who either already has or is trying to get the same things we are.

James says that not only does this lifestyle result in fights and quarrels, but it also results in effectively murdering others. Using that word in this context was probably shocking to the readers of James’ letter, but it was deliberately intended to be so. James probably remembers his brother’s teaching on murder during Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus explains that the act of murder is merely the result of the true problem in the person’s heart. He said this because it was common for the Jewish teachers to preach against murder while ignoring their own hatred for others. Jesus taught the listening crowd that to “murder” someone with words or within one’s heart causes that one to be “in danger of the fire of hell." He would follow the same line of thinking and teaching in regards to adultery in Matthew 5:27-28, declaring that looking at another lustfully is no different than committing the act itself.

Later on, James explains that we “kill” others in order to get what we want, but we still can’t get it anyway. While certainly, people have been physically murdered over jealousy and covetousness (think of Uriah the Hittite once David had slept with his wife and needed to try to cover it up), the reality is that many even in the church today fall into the trap of running down the reputation of another in order to build themselves up. This happens when one person wants the job another has, when one person gets the praise another deserves, and even when one person is pursuing a love interest who is already involved with another.

Ultimately, the truth of this passage is that if we are desiring something that we don’t have, the One we should be seeking is God Himself. James says that the biggest reason we often don’t have what we desire is because we don’t ask God. We refuse to pray and instead just try to get what we want on our own. James knows that even many sinful desires are rooted in voids in our lives that God has allowed to be there. For example, the sinful and lustful desires for sex that drag so many people down are merely the twisting of God’s good plan for sex by the devil himself. If you are desiring sexual intimacy, knowing God created that desire within you, don’t allow the devil or the world to use it to trap you. Simply ask God to meet that need for you by bringing you a spouse, and then TRUST HIM to provide that person in the timing HE knows is best. Feel free to apply this same logic to anything else you desire.

Finally, James says that even when we do ask God for things, God knows our heart and knows that we have impure and selfish motives. Using the same example as the above paragraph, some people earnestly seek the Lord for a spouse, but their motivation is solely based on what that spouse can do FOR them. If that’s you, ask God to bring you a mate who you can serve and grow WITH. The same is true with a job, house, car, or money that you seek. If God were to give you those things, what would you do with them? How would you use them to glorify His name? Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Jesus echoed this in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Which kingdom are you seeking, His or yours? If we seek Him first and delight in Him first, you better believe He’ll give us what we desire in our hearts because He will have changed our hearts to be in line with His. God wants you to be satisfied and content in Him. If you reject this and keep trying to find it elsewhere, you’ll just continue chasing the wind, something you could never catch.

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Passing the Debt to Your Children

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 14, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

King Hezekiah was one of only four kings whom God gave full praise over the course of his reign. As one of only eight who followed the ways of the Lord, he was one of only four who was noted for taking down high places where idols were being worshiped. He even destroyed the bronze serpent Moses had made because the people had turned it into an idol.

Hezekiah had one major sin recorded during his reign. In Isaiah 39, we learn of how Hezekiah met with envoys from Babylon, and he showed the envoys everything in the treasury of Jerusalem and the Temple. Scripture makes clear that there was nothing of his wealth and power that he did not show Babylon. There is a legitimate question to ask: why did he do that? One can only speculate, but pride and showing off what he had would certainly be a good possible answer.

God was not happy about this, so He sent Isaiah the prophet to address the king. Hezekiah was truthful in his response and Isaiah laid down the hammer, likely in tears. He told Hezekiah that because he had done that, Babylon would one day come and take away everything in the treasuries of Jerusalem. However, because he was loyal to God in nearly every area, this judgment would take place for his children.

At this point, Hezekiah makes a tragic statement that caught my attention. He called the proclamation of judgment from God to be “good” because it would not happen in his lifetime and he would have peace and truth in his. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he just called a curse that was put upon his children to be “good.” King David would not have said that. David would have said the sin was his, so let the punishment be upon him. That’s how he handled the sin of his census. What should Hezekiah have done instead? I believe Hezekiah should have immediately began instructing his children in the fear of the Lord and to not follow in that mistake. We know he did not do that (or very well) because his son Manasseh who succeeded him at age 12 was the most wicked king of the line of Judah, and his sin would bring upon the kingdom the captivity into Babylon.

Yet today, how many of us do the same thing Hezekiah did? How many of us make decisions that will affect our children and we really don’t care because we won’t see the consequences ourselves? As a country, that has been our lifestyle. “Who cares about what our children will go for? Let’s live it up now. They can deal with it later.” I have heard from several places that the average family in America lives on approximately 120% of their living wages. That means families are spending $120 per $100 they make. Common sense tells us to live a good percentage below our wages so we can save up for when disaster strikes. Yet many people either live above their means or barely survive paycheck to paycheck.

The government is no better. Back in the 1930s, the government latched on the financial advice of John Maynard Keynes (see this video for a debate between Keynes’ views and others), whose primary philosophy with government is spend now to keep an economy going because in the end, “We’re all dead.” His entire approach mirrors the issue I am addressing in this post: live for the now, and if the curse comes upon our children because of it, who cares because it’s not going to affect us.

One can speculate that America faced this problem too when it was birthed. It was debated on what to do with slavery at the founding of the nation and in part with the 3/5 Compromise (treating slaves as property for financial aspects and as only 3/5 of a person for population/voting rights), the Founding Fathers chose to pass on this issue down to their children. Less than 100 years later, the Civil War took place in which slavery was a major issue. Instead of dealing with the issue then and there, the Founding Fathers passed on the issue to their children and it multiplied exponentially until it came to a violent end.

The same issue is upon us spiritually. Many stats are showing up to 90% of the church’s youth are fleeing by adulthood, and numerous reasons abound for this. One reason I will address that is not explicitly from the polls but is rather an underlying theme is the church has become self-centered and truly is not concerned about the youth. Yes, they spend thousands of dollars on youth ministry and games and VBS material, but what exactly are they being taught? It’s usually self-focused, don’t-worry-about-sharing-your faith, God-has-your-best-interests-in-mind, and anything else that ultimately treats God like a divine butler.

The generation of parents in churches today have fallen for the Prosperity Gospel and Emergent Church philosophies. As a result, while they seek their own lavish lifestyles, their kids are being set up for dealing with the aftermath. As a result, the kids are realizing they don’t want anything to do with cleaning up the mess their parents are leaving behind so they are flying the coop.

What legacy are we leaving our children? The Bible repeatedly talks about leaving an inheritance for our children. It’s not merely talking about money but a lifestyle and a reputation. While Hezekiah had a Godly reputation, he left his son Manasseh with a debt hanging over his head that was a result of Hezekiah’s pride. Perhaps that is part of what drove Manasseh to sin as he did. Manasseh never faced this debt in his lifetime either, even though he reigned for 55 years. That eventually came down to Hezekiah’s three great-great-grandchildren who each took a turn at the throne when the Babylonian captivity took place.

What are we leaving behind? Have our choices led to consequences our children will have to face? Let us not follow Hezekiah’s example and call it “good” when our children will have to face the consequences that should be given to us. Let us instead learn from our mistakes, repent from our sins, and teach our children to live a life so the curse which was meant for us will not be given to our children.

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Psalm 63

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 10, 2019 2 comments

by Katie Erickson

Many of the psalms we’ve been looking at this year are considered lament psalms, where the psalmist both expresses his complaints and his praise for God. In Psalm 63, however, we see only praise of God and reflection on our relationship with Him.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (verse 1). If you’ve ever been really thirsty, you may be able to relate to the psalmist’s sentiment here. Fortunately today, we are generally able to get water where and when we need it, so we never get to the level of thirst where our whole being is just longing for water and we cannot find any. But that is exactly how we should long for God - with every piece of our being! The great thing about God is that He is always around and is always accessible to us, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you” (verses 2-3). The psalmist longs for God, but also knows that he is able to find God. He has seen and experienced God’s power and glory in his life. When we have experienced God and know His power and glory, we should desire more of Him. We should seek God’s love even more strongly than we seek preservation of our own lives! We praise God because He is that desirable to us.

“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (verse 4). The psalmist is committing his entire life to praising God. How many of us can say that? Sometimes we have a hard time committing just one hour per week to praising God - which is around 0.6% of our time, just to put that in perspective. Can you imagine committing your whole life to praising God? Even while we’re doing the necessary tasks we have to do in life, we should do them with an attitude of praise to God.

“I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (verse 5). I love food; maybe you do too. You know that feeling of being contentedly full after a big meal? That’s the metaphor being used here to describe God, except in the case of God that feeling can last forever. Our bodies will get hungry again and we’ll need to have more meals, but with God we will be constantly satisfied. For that, we give Him our praise!

“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me” (verses 6-8). Here, the psalm returns to the idea of longing for God that we saw in the beginning. The psalmist finds protection and comfort in God’s presence, because he knows God will protect him, even through the darkest times of night.

“Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals” (verses 9-10). After the psalmist reflects on God’s protection and presence in his life, he knows that God will take care of his enemies for him. He knows that God will judge His enemies for him.

“But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced” (verse 11). The realization that God will judge the psalmist’s enemies gives him even more reason to rejoice in God. All those who trust in God will get to share in His glory with Him, while all those who are liars and disobedient to God will not.

Have you spent time just praising God lately? How have you seen God working in your life? What is your response to that? Read over the entire psalm again and see if it stirs any reminders of what God has done for you and how He desires for you to praise Him today.

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Fruit-Tested and Heaven-Approved

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 9, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

If you’ve ever been in a situation when you weren’t sure that someone’s actions were going to match their words, you’ve probably heard the saying, “The proof is in the pudding." In other words, we know we have the right ingredients to get the job done, but we don’t know the result until we see the finished product and it has been adequately tested. Some of the prominent figures of the New Testament would agree with this saying, but they would use a much healthier alternative to pudding - fruit. John the Baptist saw a bunch of Pharisees and Sadducees who rejected the good news of Jesus coming to him to be baptized after they had watched the crowd do so. When he realized they were just trying to do what was popular, he confronted them and called them out, then challenged them, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). It wasn’t their one act of being baptized that would ultimately show whether they were serious about repenting, but the overall fruit that is produced in their lives.

In last week’s post on James 3:13-16, I wrote about what true godly wisdom is NOT. I discussed the need for humility and the fact that head knowledge without a fear of the Lord actually sets us further away from true wisdom. In James 3:17-18, the writer switches course from talking about worldly wisdom to pointing out what godly wisdom, which comes from heaven, is supposed to look like in our lives. In talking about the characteristics of this godly wisdom, James trots out a list that rivals that of the “fruit of the Spirit” described by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. James says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Because this wisdom comes from heaven, its fruit is consistent with that of the Holy Spirit, with the holiness of God.

I want to dig into James’ description a little more so that those of us who wonder whether or not we are wise in the world’s eyes or wise in God’s eyes have a “mirror” of sorts that we can look at and get an honest reflection to help us answer that question. Godly wisdom is “first of all pure." This means more than just sexual purity; it is undefiled by even the popular or common sinful attitudes of the world. Peter thought he had godly wisdom when he stood up for Jesus and declared that he would never allow his friend, teacher, and Messiah to be handed over to the authorities to suffer and die. But Jesus boldly said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23). This may seem harsh coming from Jesus but he had to be crystal clear so that Peter and the other disciples understood the vast difference between worldly thinking and a life based on the concerns of God. Peter was a bold follower of Jesus who had just demonstrated that boldness by declaring that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 16:16), but the sinful and selfish attitudes of the world infiltrated his mind that quickly. True godly wisdom recognizes this worldly attitude, reject it, and works to eliminate it from the mind altogether.

James then builds on the initial statement that godly wisdom must be pure. He says it is “peace-loving” and “considerate." It takes on the character of God in this way. The Messiah was described as the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6, centuries before He came to the earth and demonstrated that peace even though he had every right and reason to punish us with all the might available to him as King of kings. Godly wisdom doesn’t love punishment and only uses it when absolutely necessary. Godly wisdom loves peace, gentleness, and kindness. It considers the benefit of others rather than its own rights. It may have a right to apply the letter of the law strictly, but it recognizes when it is wrong to do so and necessary to forgive and look beyond someone’s offense.

Next, James says that heavenly wisdom is “submissive." This simply means that it is willing to yield to others. It is not stubborn or stiff. A person who demonstrates the quality of submissiveness does not demand his own way. He is willing to listen to others, is open to what they need, and willingly defers his own rights for the sake of those around him. Heavenly wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruit." It recognizes that we must show mercy to others if we want God to show mercy to us. Too often, we seek mercy from God for ourselves but don’t show it to others. Godly wisdom recognizes the level of mercy we receive is DIRECTLY affected by the level of mercy we give to others (Matthew 7:1-2). It is “full of good fruit” in the sense that someone cannot just claim they have this wisdom from above with no evidence in their lives to back it up. A person who has heavenly wisdom naturally demonstrates it in action.

James wraps up his discussion by stating that heavenly wisdom is “impartial and sincere." It is not partial to others, meaning it does not assume problems or look for faults by which to judge them. It is sincere in that it does not pretend to be something it isn’t. The NKJV translates this word as “without hypocrisy." Those who have heavenly wisdom cannot be posers. False humility doesn’t work. They always act according to their own character and not to try to prove something that isn’t true in the first place. James then concludes what we know as chapter 3 by saying, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (v. 18). In other words, if we live peaceably according to the characteristics of this godly wisdom previously described, we’ll see the benefits in the lives and relationships of those around us. It is a direct contrast to the envy, selfish ambition, and disorder mentioned in James 3:16.

In closing, I want to tell you about a book I am reading right now called Love Without Limits by Nick Vujicic. I just read a chapter that deals with a struggle that is personal to my wife and I along with many other couples out there. Nick talks about the shift in perspective that was needed once he got married to his wife, Kanae, and especially after she gave birth to their first child. Nick was born without any limbs and travels the world speaking about his life and evangelizing about the goodness of God despite his physical limitations.

Shortly after his son was born, Nick left for a four-month tour. He writes about the excitement he had at the thought of coming home to snuggle with his wife and son and his expectation that they would just smother him with kisses and desire to snuggle with him and comfort him after all his hard work. Like any husband who’s been in those shoes finds out, Nick learned when he got home that his expectations were far away from reality. His wife had been living as basically a single parent that entire time. While she loved Nick and was excited to see him when he arrived, she was also in desperate need of a break and saw HIM as her relief. At first, this bothered Nick. But I was struck by his ability to self-reflect and change his attitude. He writes about how his wife and son are “excellent mirrors that reveal just how flawed and selfish a man (he) can be."

Nick realized that he had lived a long time as a single man devoting his life to ministry. It was rewarding, yet he felt very lonely at times. Now, God has given him the precious gift of a family and he failed to change his perspective from a life focused on SELF to a life focused on providing for his family both financially and with his presence. As Nick came to this difficult realization, he could either demand that HIS rights and HIS needs be respected and cared for, or he could change his focus and consider what he can do for the benefit of others. This, my friends, is the difference between Godly wisdom and the worldly wisdom that demands to be recognized. Nick apologized to his wife and told her he never wants to be away from his family for that long again. He had a renewed focus and sense of what it means to be a man of God. May you look in the “mirror” of your own life and honestly reflect on where you need to change, as Nick did. God will bless you as you seek His holy face and His wisdom.

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Trust God, Not You

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 7, 2019 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~Proverbs 3:5

This is one of the most famous verses out of the book of Proverbs, and I can truly say it is the least obeyed. It’s certainly one I don’t apply as often as I’d like to say. Do we truly trust in the Lord with all our hearts? Or do we lean on our own understanding, our own way of thinking? One of my pet peeves is when I hear people claim to be Christians, then spew out some completely heretical and anti-Biblical teachings. After I correct them with, “This is what the Bible actually says,” their response is, “That’s your interpretation.”

God never intended any of us to “interpret” the Bible in any fashion other than the clear language in which it was written. It’s an issue I’ve hit through numerous articles but specifically in my post A Matter of Interpretation. Katie Erickson has also written an article where she gives the basics of hermeneutics. But in all this, there is a key feature in all the arguments about Bible interpretation to watch out for. Who is the filter for determining what is said – God or you?

Many people will say, “How can you read anything without ‘interpreting’ it? After all, we all read our own understanding and experiences into everything we read.” That’s actually true. One of the things I’ve frequently taught is what our worldview is and what it does. It acts as the filter for how we receive and understand things. As Christians, it is imperative that the worldview we use is not ours but God’s in “interpreting” Scripture. These people who side with worldly ideas, even while claiming to be Christian, do not use the Bible as the filter and standard for interpretation, but their own ideas and their own thinking. And in the vast majority of cases, those ideas are in line with this world and with the “experts” of this world, and not with God’s direct, clear, and unambiguous message. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. The only way to make sure we are getting it right is to NOT trust ourselves, but to trust God alone.

I see this particularly strong in the Old Earth Creation circles, but I also hear this in the Prosperity Gospel circles and heavily in the Emergent Church/Progressive Christian circles. The idea is the same: “I get the be the boss of what God says and whether I want to believe it or not. If I don’t like it, I can change what it means to make it more palatable.” How many times have you heard people saying, “We need to reach these lost people with a message they can understand and receive?” But they aren’t talking about presenting the same true Gospel in a language they can understand, but rather taking out the “offensive” parts. So instead of saying, “God created the heavens and the earth in six days,” to a scientific audience, they instead say, “The science shows billion of years (it doesn’t) therefore the Bible didn’t quite understand what we know today.” Instead of saying homosexuality is a sin, they say, “God loves them just as they are.” What they strive to do is to take out the sting of the Gospel. Why? Because they don’t trust God can do what he does best: convince the heart of the unbeliever, and instead trust upon their own understanding of how a message is to be received.

How should we trust in the Lord, then? How can we read the Bible without inserting our opinions into it? The easy answer is to get you out of the way and let God speak straight. One thing I don’t see nor hear from those who favor “other interpretations” is the seeking of God to clarify what He meant. I tell the skeptics that when I don’t understand something in the Bible, I ask the Author what He was saying. Words have meaning and while languages do change, the message has not. God said what He meant, and He meant what He said. We have to learn to trust God that He got it right the first time, didn’t stutter in saying it, and will deliver perfectly on what He said. When people disregard God and don’t trust what He said on things like Genesis, rest assured that with FEW exceptions, they also disregard and don’t trust Him on things like the Gospel or about His return. And many will do this the whole time claiming to be Christians and that they believe the Gospel. Do they? Making a proclamation of faith is one thing, but Jesus said that won’t cut it.

Why is it so hard to trust God? Man knows less than 1% of what there is to know and each time we discover something, the more we realize how little we do know. Yet God is omniscient. He knows everything there is to know. Why is it hard to trust the one who knows everything to have things under control? Why do we so easily trust ourselves, who truly know very little in comparison? There is an easy answer to this: sin, namely pride. When the Serpent tempted Eve, the temptation was to be as knowledgeable and to be like God. Since the Fall, man has always sought to be better than God. He always sought to be smarter, wiser, more moral, and better than God. That’s precisely what Satan tried to do in his initial rebellion against God.

Man does not trust God because in his sinful, prideful heart, he thinks he’s better than God. But is that true? Can man top God? The answer is an emphatic NO. Nothing man can do can best what God offers. When all men gather together to rage and battle against God, He laughs at them. God knows their thoughts and he knows how to answer each thought. The heart of man is wicked and deceitful. It lies to us. We will readily lie to ourselves to make us feel good, even to our own peril.

And why? Why do we do that? The answer is because we’ve been trained by both our own sin and by the education system to trust our minds and to trust yourself. We commonly hear phrases like, “Follow your heart,” or “What does your heart tell you?” Teachers and counselors always ask, “What do you want to do?” It’s always self-driven, self-understanding, and self-motivated. Our world today focuses as much attention on trusting yourself and trusting your own understanding that when we suddenly come to the Bible, we read it via the same training we received from the world. Let me break it to you simply, but firmly. You cannot be a Christian and live or think as the world does without the Holy Spirit convicting you about it and dealing with it.

We have to stop trusting we can figure it out. This is really hard for intellectual types like me, because those who are educated and know how to think tend to rely on our own understanding far more often than we would like to admit. When you read the Bible, let God speak. Put all your “other books” aside, including the commentaries if you must. They aren’t Scripture and they aren’t they don’t carry the same authority. Many of them are true and many of them are good reading, however, what you are reading is what someone who was not inspired by God thought about what they learned. It doesn’t carry the same authority. Don’t trust upon them over God (as many are wont to do).

Trust the Lord COMPLETELY. Forsake your own understanding because unless it is completely yielded to Christ, it is not to be trusted. When it is completely yielded to Christ, it will cease being your understanding but rather Christ sharing His understanding through you. Stop listening to the “wise of this world.” They really don’t know anything. Buy the Truth, seek wisdom, and get understanding, but know that it can only come from God and will return to God for His glory and His purposes. Anything else is null, void, in vain, and utterly worthless.

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10 Answers, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 6, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week, I began a wrap-up to a series of questions posed by a man whose beliefs on creation/evolution are anti-biblical. His questions were intended to show just how foolish “young earth creationism” is (when, in reality, the correct term would be Biblical creationist since we don't care about the age of the earth but about the Bible). This is the second part of that wrap-up. You can find the first part here.

So, the next tired argument from deep time proponents is that of the conspiracy theory. “Have all the scientists and world governments conspired to discredit the Bible and turn people toward atheism?” Of course not. They're just incorrect in their starting assumptions. This is not to say they're wrong about everything. But if your starting premise in incorrect, it's very unlikely the rest of your data and how you interpret it will follow a path to the truth. It's just the way it works. You'll view all the data in light of this false foundational idea and build from there. It's easy to fit the information we have into a false narrative. People do it all the time and there's no reason to believe science is any different because, frankly, we're not talking about a scientific topic. We're talking about history and you can make up any tale you want, throwing some scientific jargon in here and there—like Star Trek is in the future.

What I believe is true in this matter—that of the strawman idea that Biblical creationists believe there's some worldwide conspiracy—is a little different than most talk about. You see, most of those who are professional scientists—they work in scientific disciplines and do work regarding it (although we're not exclusively talking about them but laypersons as well) have been so deeply entrenched in this thought process that they cannot see another way. They are actually blinded to alternative explanations and cannot see the blind bias they have. Blind bias is far more dangerous than intentional bias because you don't even know it's happening or that you're blinded by your bias. They literally cannot see it. It's dangerous and unfortunate. All the while they tell you how bad they feel for you because you've been brainwashed when, in reality, that's very uncommon in the Biblical creationist scene. But it seems very hard to find a follower of the humanist origins myth who's not been indoctrinated into it, rendering them incapable of honestly viewing alternative explanations for the data.

We do know without any doubt that there were very influential men who pushed their ideas about geology simply to discredit the Bible. This is a fact; it's not just my opinion. So, if removing the Bible from geology was the intended purpose in generating deep time, doesn't it follow that if the Bible is actually history and the Flood was actually global, that anything that develops from a foundation without this at its core would be wrong? Is it a conspiracy? I believe some in the past (and many likely now) do hate God and want to do all they can to discredit His Word and belief in Him, so they will seek out ways to fit the data to this desired result. However, there are many who, because they've been taught this foundation of no God of the Bible and no global Flood, start with an error at the outset and, therefore, fit the data to an incorrect narrative. Is it malicious? I think we all understand very few if any actually believe it's evil concerning the majority. It's just an error in their starting point. For some it is intentional, and we could probably fault them for that, but for most it's not. It's just what they've been taught. Does this mean all the Biblical creationists who accept the Bible over man's word think they're smarter than all the deep time proponents—whether old earth creationists, atheists, or theistic evolutionists? Of course not. It means we have the foundational premise correct and allow the data to fall into place in line with that narrative, while others begin with what I believe is a false premise and allow the data to fall into the narrative of deep time and millions of years of death.

Within his next question, Mr. Roberts accidentally refers to his ideas as “old earth geology.” That means there are alternative ways to interpret the data and he's admitted it. Of course, Christians don't oppose geology but the humanistic interpretation of the evidence. Why interpret the data in such a way that it discredits the Bible when you can easily interpret it in such a way that it agrees completely with the Biblical narrative of earth history? This is such a strange idea to me, but I guess the difference is that I've come to trust the Word of God and believe the very clear, very plain, very obvious teachings of the creation and Flood accounts are true.

Old earth creationism and theistic evolutionism have no Biblical basis, period. I've repeatedly asked for someone to show me where it comes from in the Bible and I'm refused an answer. I completely understand if an atheist or other unbeliever scoffs at the Bible and the historical narrative it gives detailing the origins of the universe and life on earth. I cannot understand why someone who claims a faith in the Bible will reject teachings from the Bible that have been the accepted teaching for thousands of years, because the text is easy enough for a child to read and comprehend. There are differences in how some of us read some passages of Scripture—how pastors are chosen, the roles of women in the Church, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, end times stuff, and much more—but rearranging the historical narrative of creation and the Flood and distorting it into something it doesn't actually even come close to resembling is an assault on the Lord, in my opinion.

I have repeatedly asked people who adhere to such blatantly anti-biblical teachings why they try to marry man's humanist origins myth with solid Christian teachings. I'm frequently told that “that's your interpretation” of the text. I find this such a bizarre idea. God told us what He did and fairly clearly when He did it. The Bible is exceptionally clear on it. He told us step by step with details on what happened when. The nature of the creation and the global extent of the Flood are foundational doctrines of Christianity. They contain within their stories the foundation of nearly every major Christian doctrine. Without them, most of our doctrines become opinions or interesting ideas, reducing the Bible to an inconsistent work of men rather than the perfect Word of God. So, if God, who invented communication, had this narrative written down for not only the Hebrews but also for us, what could possibly make someone think it's confusing or doesn't mean exactly what it says?

Man has been studying nature since his creation. It's in us to do so. But man's understanding of the cosmos, the earth, the forces of nature, and life itself is constantly changing—sometimes getting closer to the truth, sometimes getting further from the truth, and sometimes just stepping to one side or the other. But our understanding of the “Book of Nature” as so many call it is not complete and far from perfect. God's communication to us in His Word is perfect and, for the most part, very clear. Our choices, then, are to reject God's plain teachings that have been accepted for thousands of years, or reject man's currently popular explanation based on very incomplete understandings of nature. For me, the choice is so obvious I'm a little troubled the question even needs to be asked. And why would there be literally not even the slightest hint in Scripture that God created any way other than how He claimed to have created? Why would the Bible repeatedly state wherever it's mentioned that the Flood of Noah's day annihilated the entire planet and killed everyone except the 8 that were on the Ark? Why would we not find so much as a hint that it may have been a local flood or some such other thing? God is not a God of confusion.

I'm always baffled by deep time Christians (OEC or TE) that ask questions like this series by Michael Roberts. I've read several different series of questions by old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists that are supposed to be tough for Bible believers. In reality, they're a great tool for exposing how illogical their theology is (which is far more important than their scientific understanding) and fairly often how confused they are about what the Biblical position actually is. It's concerning that so many will reject something that, to me, seems pretty important while they have very little understanding of it.

The Apostle Paul warns us that a falling away will take place. He goes on to describe how this will happen or what will be involved. This makes me doubt that it's referring exclusively to those who claim Christ but reject His written Word. However, I feel it's reasonable to assume that, like there will be many anti-Christs, there may be many different ways for people to fall away. The slippery road to unbelief or universalism is clear when we're talking about rejection of creation and the global Flood. There are many I've interacted with who, over the years, have slowly become much more like the world and much less like a Christian brother or sister. From their statements on their philosophies or their beliefs, it's harder and harder to distinguish between them and the unbelievers I interact with. This, of course, isn't to say all old earth creationists or theistic evolutionists walk this path. Many do and it saddens me to witness it. There are many sincere believers who are wrong on creation and the Flood. It's not a matter of their salvation, but it can lead to problems as the foundation for their faith is shaky.

Friends, don't be fooled. There is no reason to change the intended meaning and well-accepted meaning of the creation account and global Flood narrative found in the Bible. It makes no sense to try to adopt the humanist origins myth into the Bible's accurate recording of how and when God created everything and how and when He annihilated the planet's surface with a global Flood. Let's be consistent.

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