Miracles: Mastery over Inanimate Objects

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 30, 2019 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

God has mastery over inanimate objects – tools, weapons, and even celestial objects. When I started this series, I addressed how when God does miracles, He intercedes upon the natural order He established. God did set up a natural order for which things would happen by the laws of science that we have only recently discovered and were able to articulate. Gravity, forces, momentum, chemical reactions, biological activity, etc. were all established by God and do what He has told them to do.

There are two major events in the Bible outside of Creation itself in which God controlled solar objects. The most well know is Joshua’s long day. Joshua was in a battle, claiming the Promised Land for his people, and he knew that when the sun set it would turn the tide, so he commanded the sun to stand still. And the sun did not move from its spot for about a 24-hour period. Some people claim this is an argument for a flat earth or a geocentric model, but this was ultimately a statement about perspective, not a scientific model of the solar system. We still talk about the sunrise and sunset daily in weather reports and the phrase “the sun went behind a cloud” is still used, when in actuality, it was a cloud that moved in front of the sun. But what we can say is the Bible records the sun not moving from a human, “on earth” perspective for about a day.

The other incident was when King Hezekiah faced an illness. He immediately sought the Lord, and Isaiah came to reveal that God would extend his life 15 years. It seems that Hezekiah had doubts that God indeed meant that so the kings was asked which sign would validate the word. Hezekiah asked for the sun’s shadow to go backwards ten steps. He was asking for a reversal of the flow of time, and God gave it to him. Now whether the sun’s position in the sky actually went back ten steps or whether God simply shifted the shadow is not explicitly said, but we know that this was a completely impossible thing to happen in the natural. Hezekiah knew this, which is why he made that request. To push it ten steps forward would have been too easy.

A big argument that creationists have to deal with is the fabled “Starlight Distance Problem.” The argument is this: these stars are so many billion light years away, how can we see them if the universe is only 6000 years old? This argument assumes pure naturalism as the explanation, however, God has mastery over this physical universe including stars and the light they emit. We know this for certain: the stars were made on Day 4 and man, when he was created on Day 6, could see them. The mechanism is not explicitly given. But that said, the scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what light is, let alone how it really works. I’m certain the more we learn, the more we’ll find out that the actual description of the physical universe will only reveal the Bible was right all along.

God does these miracles for more than just celestial objects. Elisha made an ax head float. We all know the laws of buoyancy, and metal doesn’t float. Yet here, a man had borrowed an ax head, which was not cheap, and he likely would have to sell something major, possibly himself as a slave, to pay it back. So, Elisha caused the ax head to float so it could be retrieved. I can easily see God reaching down, picking it up, and simply supporting it on top of the water. This is not a violation of physics, but an intercession through the natural realm. God didn’t change the law of gravity or of liquid pressures to do this miracle. He simply picked it up the same way we would.

I mentioned earlier in this series about a pastor/missionary friend of mine who planted several churches in Juarez, Mexico. A gang of three men entered and attempted to shoot him, but the gun never went off, until he left the church and some in the congregation pursued them.

God controls many other objects as well. One pastor was in a near panic because he was bi-vocational and he lost his secondary job and the benefits that went with it. For three years he didn’t have a secondary job and God finally told him: “Did you notice throughout those three years, you never had a major appliance break down, a major car repair, or any medial issues?” God preserved this pastor’s resources so he would get through without the second job.

Sometimes God will kill an engine or make it so you can’t find keys readily to delay you on the road so you are not in the wrong place at the wrong time and get killed in a wreck. Sometimes, he’ll provide you a “bubble” while driving so you don’t have to face traffic while merging. I have seen that happen with my mom, who doesn’t like driving in the city. God will take the inanimate objects and position them to do what He needs done and ultimately so we will recognize He did it and give Him glory.

God is the master of this universe. He created it and can do with it whatever He pleases. While I would suggest God encourages us to seek out His mind as we study His creation, let us never get to a point where we want to become “academics” and/or “theologians” for that purpose and in the process lose the awe and wonder and worship of our Creator.

Next week, I will conclude this series with one final post on the greatest miracles of all: the resurrection and the Christian.

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Psalm 100

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 26, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100).

After 8 months of writing on the psalms, we made it to triple digits! I haven’t been writing on every psalm of course, but getting to #100 still feels like a great milestone. We still have 4 more months of psalms to go, so we’re not done yet!

We have seen a number of psalms of praise in our look through this book, but each one has its own character and feel, just as each of our modern songs has a unique feel to it. This one is short, only 6 verses, and it follows a repeating pattern of calling us to be thankful, remembering God’s promises, calling us to be thankful again, and again remembering God’s promises.

Verses 1-2 are the first call to thankfulness in this short psalm. “All the earth” is commanded to come before God to praise Him. Everyone is to worship Him with “gladness” and “joyful songs.” The Hebrew word in verse 2 that we see translated as “worship” also means to work or to serve. It’s our occupation and our obligation to praise God, but we should not simply praise Him out of a sense of duty but because we desire to.

Verse 3 tells us to “know that the Lord is God.” This verb for knowing is the most intimate way that someone can be known; don’t just know that God exists, but really get to know who He is. He made us, so as our creator He knows us intimately. We have the opportunity to get to know Him as well. He’s not some far off, distant God, but He promises to us that we are His people. He wants to be in relationship with us. The image of a shepherd and his sheep would be a common one for the era when this psalm was written. It depicts how God truly does take care of us and care for us, and how much greater His knowledge is than our own.

Verse 4 is another call to thanksgiving in this psalm. While verse 2 said “come before” and verse 4 says “enter,” those are actually the same root word in Hebrew, and these sections of the psalm have similar verbs to each other. Thanksgiving and praise go together. When we are truly thankful for what God has done, we naturally want to praise Him.

Verse 5 gives us more reasons to praise God for who He is. He is good, and He promises that His love and faithfulness will continue forever. The word translated as “love” here is a Hebrew word that we really don’t have a good English equivalent for. It’s like a combination of mercy, kindness, love, and loyalty all wrapped up into one. God is all of those things, and we should praise Him simply because that is His character and He will never stray from it.

Have you pondered God’s character and your relationship with Him lately? Perhaps today would be a good time to take a few moments and do that. Pray Psalm 100 to God and remember that He made us and will always love us. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less, and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any more. We are His people, and He loves us because of that relationship we have as His family. He will always be loving, merciful, faithful, and good to us.

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Aim High, Pray High

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 25, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I may be a pastor, teacher, and author right now, but those are far from what I thought I’d be doing when I got older, had you asked me about it when I was younger. Like everyone else, I have had different passions over the course of my life. At one point, I wanted to be a sports broadcaster, announcing baseball games and other events. I was a weird combination of a jock who loved sports and a math nerd who loved numbers and statistics. Basically, I was fantasy football before fantasy football was cool! What proved to me that sports announcing wasn’t going to be something I truly cared about was finding out that I’d likely have to go to college and major in journalism. That sounded like no fun, so I ignored that childhood passion. My first real job, other than landscaping for my neighbors, was working as a walking candy bar in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I had tons of fun in that job and I was passionate about making people smile, but short of making it to the big time (you know, like Mickey Mouse), I knew that wasn’t my future. In high school, I started going to my church youth group and that was where I discovered my true passion for God’s Word, studying it and teaching it, and that was one passion I would not ignore.

I was willing to go through all the necessary training and hard work to become an approved, reliable teacher of the Scriptures and I believe that was and is God’s will for me. Yet, I’m aware of how many other passions I ignored simply because it would’ve been difficult to pursue them. I’m sure you can relate. I’m blessed enough to be doing what I love right now and earn a living doing it, but I know so many who have just settled for way less than what God wants for them. I definitely settled early on in my life until God made it clear what my true passion was. What about you? What do you REALLY care about in life? Do other aspects of your life reflect your answer? It’s necessary for all of us to step back every once in a while and take inventory of ourselves to see where and how we are “settling," which is almost always the enemy of progress regarding our faith and obedience to the Lord.

While my focus here so far has been on our overall passions in life, I want to use it as a springboard to discuss our prayer lives. The title of this piece comes partially from a sermon series I did at the church I pastor on the book of Acts. In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Paul’s life reflected that he didn’t care about much else and was willing to go through every trial and give up every possible thing to complete this task. Earlier in the sermon series, we came across Acts 12, which tells us of another apostle who gave up everything to obey Christ and do God’s will. It’s the story of Peter being put in prison by the ruthless King Herod, who intended to make a public example out of Peter and execute him (Acts 12:1-4). But in Acts 12:5, we read, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." This shows us that Paul and Peter taught the early church, the same people to whom James writes, to not only aim high for that which God wills, but also to pray earnestly, fervently, and powerfully about the things they care about. David Guzik says that our prayer is often powerless because we are busy asking God to care about things we don’t care too much about.

In his letter to the early church, James concludes his writing by focusing on what it means to pray in faith for the things we care about and the things we know God cares about. In James 5:15-16, he specifically identifies several components of the prayer of faith. First, he writes, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (v. 15a). This is a very interesting sentence. It appears that James is telling us that as long as we have enough faith, God will heal our loved one who is sick. This could be detrimental to the faith and growth of seekers if it were to be understood that way. What if God chooses not to provide the healing? Does that mean the person praying doesn’t have enough faith? A closer look at the original language is necessary here. The phrase “to make well” in the Greek is the word sodzo, which means “to save." It’s where we get the theological word “soteriology," which is the study of salvation. James has much more loftier goals in mind than simply a temporary, physical healing.

The question is, what do you really care about? James is encouraging the believers to ask God for physical healing while understanding that a person’s sin and separation from God is of much greater concern. It reminds me of the story of Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus heals all ten guys of their condition, but nine out of ten never even come back to praise God and give thanks. The one who does is a Samaritan, and Jesus is astounded at the lack of gratitude shown by the Jewish men. He then looks at the Samaritan and says, “Your faith has made you well” (v. 19). The Greek word for “well” in that verse is also sodzo. Jesus is making the point that all ten lepers were physically healed, which is only temporary, but the one who gave thanks and praised Him showed faith that SAVED him permanently, beyond the sickness of this world. I believe that James has the same focus in his letter. It’s important to ask the Great Physician for healing and to explore practical methods for getting healthier, but if our focus remains only on the present physical condition of ourselves and our loved ones, then we aren’t aiming high or praying very high.

James tells us that if we are made well (aka “saved”), then our sins will be forgiven. But we have to walk in that forgiveness and walk away from the sin. An important first step to walking away from sin is acknowledging it, and an important second step would be surrounding yourself with those who will hold you accountable. Hence, James continues, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (v. 16a). This is a part of prayer and seeking God that today would be seen as an awkward and foreign concept, yet right there it is in Scripture. There are some obvious guidelines we should follow when confessing sin, particularly if it’s done publicly, to avoid causing greater distress for the hearers and potentially tempting them into further sin. However, James considers confession a necessary part of the prayer of faith. The Greek word for “confess” can actually be translated “to agree." In other words, confessing sin is important because the sinner acknowledges before others and God that the behavior was a sin. Keeping it in the dark breeds opportunity for the offender to justify it, and for the offended party to wonder if the offender even understands what they did. When the sin is confessed and brought into the light, it breeds unity, forgiveness, and healing.

Finally, James says that the prayer of faith must be “powerful and effective” (v. 16b). Other translations say that the prayer is “fervent." I shared earlier about the church earnestly praying for Peter when he was imprisoned by King Herod. That’s an example of fervent prayer. It’s not that our spiritual fervor will in any way influence God or convince Him to do what we want. That’s not the point James is making. He’s simply saying that we ought to be fervent about the things God is fervent about. We ought to truly care about God’s will and that which we are seeking Him for in prayer. In the rest of the chapter, which we’ll look at over the next two weeks, James uses the example of the fervent prayers of Elijah in the Old Testament.

What do you really care about? What things really are important to you? Does your prayer life reflect your answers? How much time do you spend in prayer each day? Are your prayers fervent and earnest, with a fire that won’t be put out until you see God move in some way, or are they more lukewarm, with an attitude of indifference? These are important questions to answer so you can determine whether you have been settling for a mediocre prayer life because you haven’t gotten the immediate results you want. If so, I urge you to seek the Lord with all your heart and all your might, to pray even to the point of exhaustion. You cannot ask God to care about the things you don’t even truly care about.

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Miracles: Mastery over Biological Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 23, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

As I continue my series on miracles, our next topic is that God has mastery over his entire creation. This also includes the biological life forms He created including animals and plants. Throughout Biblical history, God used both animals and plants to prove He was indeed God to His people.

Twice, Jesus had Peter puts his nets down in a time a place when no fish should be caught and yet he had the biggest catches of his career. In the first instance, Peter was just being called to become a disciple and in the second, Jesus had just risen and Peter would be reinstated as a disciple. Peter was an expert fisherman. He knew when the fish were around and how to go after them. He did everything he knew to do to find the fish and caught nothing. Then Jesus comes around and tells him to drop the nets one more time and Peter, knowing that Jesus did not know a thing about fishing professionally, still believed Him and caught his greatest catches.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the Gospels made a point to address that it had never been ridden. Colts are young donkeys and this one had never been tamed. It is nearly impossible to ride an untamed donkey, yet this one carried Jesus without objection. He had mastery over animals.

In the Old Testament, God showed mastery over animals as well. He prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and carry him back to Nineveh. Exactly what kind of fish, we don’t know. Some have suggested a sperm whale, but we cannot say for sure.

He brought the animals that would be spared from the Flood to Noah. Noah didn’t have to go get them; God brought them to him. For surviving the Flood on the Ark, it’s likely a number of them went into hibernation or a low energy state. Many animals take shelter during storms, and when major disasters are about to take place the animals often flee their natural habitats or retreat to them. God may have put them into a subdued state to survive the Flood.

He gave one animal, a donkey, the power of speech. Balaam was supposed to be a priest of God, someone who knew God and spoke what His standards were to be. Yet, Balak king of Moab was able to buy him out. Balaam still refused to actually curse Israel, but the lure of money was too strong, so instead of directly speaking a curse on Israel, he told Balak how to get Israel to curse itself by getting them to sin against God. In one of the trips to Balak, the Angel of the Lord blocked Balaam’s path, yet only the donkey could see Him. After receiving multiple beatings, the donkey spoke and that is when Balaam saw the Angel of the Lord.

In another instance, a gang of hoodlums mocked and jeered the prophet Elisha shortly after Elijah was taken up to heaven. These 42 youths (who were not little kids) didn’t merely mock Elisha for being bald but were actually telling him to go up to heaven with his master and leave them alone. Elisha merely cursed them, and two bears came out of the woods and mauled them to death.

God controls the animals. In my personal life, I have not seen an incident where I knew that God directed an animal to act in an unusual way for a purpose. I’ve heard some stories across the internet, like an ant carrying a contact lens because a rock climber had lost it on a mountain and couldn’t see without it. I have no idea of the validity of that story, but I’ve heard similar stories. I know of one incident where a couple of missionaries in the jungles of South America were captured by guerilla soldiers and on a Sunday, a group of birds came in and sang for the duration of the church service they were supposed to be in. What I do know though is that the animals, while left to their instincts, will obey God upon command.

Plants are the same. While classified as biological life, they do not have the breath of life as animals have. God has mastery over them too. When I wrote about how God has mastery over time, I talked about Day 3 of Creation. The plants grew to maturity in one day. That was a creative, miraculous act that does not follow the normal patterns of life and growth we measure today.

Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit when he expected it to. All he did was speed up the inevitable curse of death that was already upon it. God also made a tree grown for Jonah, then withered it away in a day. Jonah was complaining about the heat while watching for Nineveh to perish, then he complained about the tree dying. God had to deal with him on that issue.

God is the one who controls and has mastery over crops and our food supply. He used Joseph to foretell to Pharaoh about a seven-year famine which would follow seven years of bounty. He blessed the crops of those who were obedient, but often put a curse on them when sin abounded.

God has mastery over the animals and plants. After Adam sinned, God cursed the ground so plants would produce thorns and thistles. Ever notice how with the tiniest bit of rain, weeds grow exponentially but your desired garden battles to produce anything? We can thank sin for that. After the Flood, God put the fear of man in the animals, because He gave us permission to eat them. But the day will come when that will be undone. Predation will cease, crops will produce what they used to produce, and there will never be a shortage. I look forward to the day when animal and plant life is restored not merely to their original function but to an even better form.

Next week, I’ll look at how God has mastery over inanimate objects before wrapping up this series about the one greatest miracle of all time: the Resurrection of Christ.

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The Genesis Myth, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 22, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Furthering our discussion of the reading of Genesis—more accurately the creation and Flood accounts of Genesis—there is a great deal more to say. This is the fourth installment in a series of posts concerning reading the book of Genesis, although I also wrote about it in January of 2016 in a post called “The Book of Genesis.” We've covered how the creation account should clearly be taken as a narrative of history and how that was the predominant way it has been taken for thousands of years. You can find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 at those links. Charlie Wolcott, also a writer for the Worldview Warriors, has written on the idea of Genesis being a myth as well. You can find that here.

I've fairly completely established, at least in my opinion, that the Genesis creation narrative cannot or should not be read as Hebrew poetry. It doesn't actually matter if you want it to be poetry or not since this wouldn't impact the veracity of the historical facts, but the account of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 have little to no resemblance to Hebrew poetry. In fact, it is written more consistently as a historical narrative than many of the books in the Old Testament that are obviously historical in nature (like Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, etc.). Charlie Wolcott mentions this in the above linked blog post but I'll quote him here:

“Some argue that Genesis 1-11 is poetic. However, there is a problem. In Hebrew, there is a very distinctive difference in writing style between historical narrative and poetic genres. The RATE Project comprised of eight years of studying radioactive decay and the dating methods involved there, comparing it to the Genesis account. One of their studies was a statistical analysis of the styles of verbs used in historical passages (such as Joshua, Samuel, Kings, etc) with poetic passages (such as Psalms, Hannah’s Prayer in 1 Samuel 2, Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, etc.) And what they discovered is that Genesis 1 in particular shows more verbs that were used in historical narrative passages than most of the passages analyzed. This can be checked out in the book or DVD Thousands not Billions.”

The case for Genesis having little if anything to do with Hebrew poetry at all is fairly open and shut. Anyone suggesting it is poetic (which, again, doesn't actually even matter to the veracity of the historical facts) needs to study a bit more. Genesis isn't Hebrew poetry, or any other type for that matter. There's no other example of Hebrew poetry like it.

I've repeatedly stated that Genesis 1-11 must be read as it was intended, or the rest of Scripture doesn't have a real/rational foundation. It must be read as an actual history documenting the creation of the world, origin of life, origin of sin (the Fall and Curse), and introduction of God's redemptive plan and the lineage of Jesus, God's response to a world heaped in sin, His promise never to judge sin a second time with water like that, and finally the origins of people groups and languages. Some will scoff at this but there is rarely an alternative offered up in response. There are far too many questions of deep theological impact that cannot be answered consistently if Genesis 1-11 do not represent a real history of the origins of the creation, sin, death, etc. Some of these questions would include the following.

1) If physical death did not result from Adam's sin, a) why did God slay animals and later require the sacrifice of animals so they would physically die in our place? b) Doesn’t this indicate the intimate connection between man’s sin and the death/corruption of all of creation? c) Why did God specifically mention physical death in the pronouncement of the curse if physical death was not what He meant? d) Why did Jesus die physically on the cross if the death described in Genesis is only spiritual death?

2) Why are Adam, Abel, Seth, Noah, etc. mentioned in lists of other people if they weren't real people? No one is suggesting the others in these lists (like those found in Luke, mentioned by Jesus, or in Hebrews) weren't real people. Why include imaginary people in these lists with real people? How can any of the history be taken as real or literal if the imaginary/not literal history is intermixed so readily and seamlessly?

3) If Adam was not a real person, was Jesus real? If Jesus is the Second Man or Last Adam, doesn't this mean He's mythological as well if Adam was? Did Jesus die physically to destroy something initiated by someone who never existed?

4) Why are events, places, and people mentioned with such detail and descriptions if they were not real? Why would God include time lines in Genesis if they were not intended to be taken as actual time lines? What would the point be for giving us such detail if the details were not true? For example, the exact day Noah went into the Ark is recorded. The exact day it started raining is recorded. How long the Flood lasted is recorded. The exact days he released birds, rested on mountains, and exited the Ark are recorded. The ages of many are given to specifically give us a detailed time line from the creation of Adam. God cares about times and events. He created stars and such to keep track of times and seasons. He tells us when the Hebrews left Egypt and entered the Promised Land. The details are a waste of time, especially those concerning time, if they are not real. They give us a sense of distrust of the entire story if we can't trust what's being said. It also casts a little doubt on other writers of the Bible if they reference these accounts as historical but they are not. This is even true of Christ, who referenced creation, the instigation of marriage, Abel's murder, and Noah. He mentions them sometimes to demonstrate something that did happen as compared to something that will happen. If the "did happen" is not real history, doesn't this mean the "will happen" cannot be a real event in the future?

5) Speaking of the future, if death and disease reigned prior to man being here and before man sinned, does this mean (because we can only assume Eden was not a real place) that when God "restores all things" to be like that time that there will be death and disease in His perfect paradise? If the Tree of Life never existed, why is He going to restore a time when the Tree of Life exists? Is heaven not an actual place and are its descriptions embellishments?

6) If God did not create everything in 6 days, why did He say He did? Not only does it state this clearly in Genesis but also twice as God Himself is speaking in Exodus (29:11 and 31:17). These Exodus passages are associated with promises. Are we to assume the promises are folklore or mythology as well? Wouldn’t the ancient Hebrews believe by reading Genesis and hearing His words spoken during the time of Moses that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them in 6 days?

7) Why do we need a Savior if the sin nature isn't a thing since Adam never existed, the Fall never happened, and man wasn’t created special by God and in His image? The cross has defeated sin while the blood covers our sins. These are two different ideas: sin as a nature vs sins as things we do in disobedience. In fact, I've read some Theistic Evolutionists (and written about them extensively) who basically say that Jesus died to save us from being big meanies. That's exquisitely superficial and makes the Gospel more of a nice thing rather than an essential part of living and eternal life. Do animals need saved? Are they capable of sin? If man is only capable of that disobedience, when did that start if man wasn’t created special on the 6th day? And why?

8) If Adam wasn’t a real person, was the sin nature not passed on to his offspring? If God indicated that Satan (the Serpent) would strike at Eve’s offspring’s heel but her offspring (referring to Jesus) would bruise the Serpent’s head, how does this make sense if none of it happened and Eve wasn’t a real person? Who is God talking to or referring to? Were there other humans at the time that did not sin and, therefore, were not brought under the curse and, therefore, are not in need of a Savior? I would like to hear an explanation for this.

9) If the creation account, talking snakes, huge floods, Babel, family trees, etc. are not real things, what else in the Bible is not real? If these events are discounted by science (which, of course, is impossible) doesn't that mean ALL miracles (every single one) are not to be taken literally? Axe heads can't float, death angels can't kill the first born, no plagues were visited upon the Egyptians, seas and rivers can't pull back and stand in a heap while people cross them on dry land, donkeys can't talk, men can't pray over dry bones or dry lands and cause them to come alive or cause it to rain respectively, 300 soldiers could not beat thousands of well-armed enemy soldiers, food would not fall from heaven every day, water cannot come from a rock, men can't ride flaming chariots, a child can’t kill a 9-foot-tall professional soldier with a small stone, a man dead three days can't come back to life on his own power nor can he ascend into heaven on his own, babies can't be born to virgins, water will never turn into wine no matter how long you wait, crippled beggars cannot instantaneously stand and walk or stretch out their lame hands or have their blind eyes opened with spit, humans cannot foretell future events, etc. You get the idea. What other parts of the Bible are not true simply because so-called "science" has deemed them impossible? I’ve been told that Genesis 1-11 can’t be taken literally because they’re too bizarre. Honestly, I was told this. What’s less bizarre in the Scriptures? Truly, the entire Bible contains some gripping drama, but it also is filled with God working in the lives of human beings. This, by definition, is supernatural and is completely discounted by “science.”

These are just some of the issues that arise from not reading Genesis as though it were history. Of course, the Hebrews took it as history. Of course, the Jews during Jesus’ time (including Jesus) took it as history. Of course, the vast majority of believers for the past two thousand years have understood the text to mean exactly what it says. A child old enough to read could comprehend what this narrative is trying to say. Does it make any difference whatsoever if the text is poetic or organized such that it denounces false religions of the time? The truth is, most of Genesis was likely written long before any of those false religions were imagined by men. That’s for another time. Jesus warned those He spoke with that if they didn't believe Moses, they wouldn't believe Him either.

Tune in next time while we continue this series on reading Genesis.

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Psalm 98

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 19, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Do you like things that are new? For me, it depends on what it is. Something new often means that something has changed, which could be good or bad. Getting a new car is great, but it could lack features that you enjoyed in your previous vehicle. A product being “new and improved” may mean that the manufacturer has changed something you really liked, and the new one might just not be as good. Often, something new happens because something old is no longer sufficient for its task.

Today’s psalm, Psalm 98, starts by saying, “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.” Interestingly, this is one of 6 psalms that talk about singing a new song to God (Psalms 33, 40, 96, 144, and 149 are the others in case you were curious). But what’s wrong with our old song that we need to sing a new one? Do we need to constantly be coming up with new songs to praise God appropriately?

Think about your favorite musical artist. Do you stop liking their previous music when they release a new album? Generally not; I’ve been a big fan of the band Need to Breathe for years, and I still enjoy listening to all their music, even songs I’ve listened to for over 10 years now. But there is something uplifting and exciting about finding a new song that you enjoy.

That’s how it is with our praise to God. We can sing the same songs over and over again and they are still great for praising Him. But sometimes it takes a new song to give us a new perspective, or a new song can help us remember what God has done for us at a particular time in our lives. For example, whenever I hear How Great Is Our God, it takes me back to the first time I heard it - at a church leadership convention I attended with a former pastor (and good friend) back in early 2006. That was a new song to me at the time, and it helps me remember what God was doing in my life at that time. Now it’s more of an old song to me, but it’s still a great way to praise God.

The other day I happened upon this video through a social media post, where a talented singer goes through popular hymns and songs used to praise God for the last 1500 years. I’m familiar with even the oldest songs he chose, and they still work well to help me connect to God and worship Him. All of the psalms are really old songs, though we no longer have their original tunes available (plus they would have been sung in the original Hebrew). It’s likely the psalms were written over a period of a few centuries then compiled sometime around 537 B.C., so at this point, all of the psalms are well over 2500 years old!

Psalm 98 is one of joyful celebration to God. Verses 1-3 talk about praising Him for ways He has delivered His people in the past, verses 4-6 are worship of God because of who He is as the great King, and verses 7-9 praise Him in anticipation of His coming to His people:

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn — shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.”

While I’m guessing you won’t be picking up a ram’s horn to make music to the Lord anytime soon, the idea is that we should be praising God in whatever way we can do so best for all the things He has done for us and will do in the future, whether that’s an “old” song or a new one.

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.


Stop Forfeiting Peace

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 18, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

According to this study from several years ago, subjects who participated in it calculated that 85% of the things they worried about never actually happened. In addition, 79% of the feared things that did happen were found by the participants to be easier to handle or teaching them a life lesson that was necessary for them to learn. Overall, the study revealed that about 97% of what human beings worry about is based on misperceptions, hypotheticals, and exaggerations. Despite this reality, it is highly likely that you, valued person created in the image and likeness of God, has been paralyzed by worry at some point in your life or you’re at that point even right now.

In the same article that explains the study, we find this great quote by Michel de Montaigne: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which has never happened." Even in the church and amongst the family of God, there are many people who are constantly battling their thoughts and fears regarding negative circumstances they cannot control, people who know the victory is won in Jesus but still have a hard time viewing the devil as the defeated foe that he is. One big cause of stress, worry, and fear is the unwillingness to seek the Creator of heaven and earth in prayer. The great hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” spells out this problem at the end of the first verse: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer." Is there even one person out there who can say they literally take everything to the Lord? I doubt it. I’m just thinking about myself on the day I’m writing this and I’ve been a bit down and feeling somewhat lonely today. I feel disheartened by some of the things happening in my ministry context, I feel misrepresented and misunderstood by someone who attacked my character over what he perceived through social media, and I’ve got some family drama issues weighing on my mind. Yet, regrettably and quite unbelievably, I haven’t taken ANY of it to the Lord yet!

What is wrong with me? Why do I forfeit that peace? The answer is that these are things I desperately want to control, and the fact that circumstances have made it crystal clear that me having control isn’t going to happen here has not stopped me from worrying and trying. James wrote in his letter to the earliest Christians that it simply cannot be this way. It makes no sense to complain, swear, mistreat one another, or worry when we have the freedom to take everything to God in prayer. That is something I am going to do in these situations and it’s something I’m going to keep doing because, truthfully, what other option do I have? What other viable option do you have in the situations that cause you to worry and fear? When things are out of our control, when frustrations and stresses in life are going from bad to worse by the minute, you can either take it to the Lord in prayer or you can destroy yourself from the inside out doing everything you can to rely on yourself.

In James 5:13-14, the early church leader and brother of Jesus declares what the believers should do instead of acting out toward each other, grumbling about circumstances, or swearing by heaven and earth to change things (all responses he condemned in previous verses). James writes, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray” (v. 13a). What kind of trouble is he talking about here? I think he is not specific because trouble comes in many different forms. You could be afraid. You could be awaiting a sentence for a crime you committed. You could be having marital troubles. You could be struggling financially. You could be working overtime to cover up your sin due to fear of exposure. You could be dealing with bitterness over being misunderstood, misrepresented, or mistreated. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that the word “trouble” describes hundreds of circumstances. Yet, they all have the same solution according to James: pray.

He goes on to write, “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (v. 13b). Prayer is central to our relationship with God but one could say that singing songs of praise is just another part of our conversation with God. The Greek word psallo that is used in this passage is used other places in the New Testament and almost always refers to public worship, often with instruments accompanying the singing. James puts these two thoughts - prayer when in trouble and singing praises when happy - together because they both should happen not only privately, but also publicly. There is value in both when the family of God comes together, whether it’s a few people together in a home or thousands gathered in a church service. Admitting trouble publicly and seeking the Lord in prayer for it reminds others that they must do the same. Singing songs of praise publicly reminds everyone that there is still a God in heaven who is worthy to be praised in ALL circumstances. In addition, the suggestions here by James could be reversed, and they are reversed in other places in Scripture. We must seek the Lord even when we are happy and continue to do His will, and we must be willing to praise God even in the midst of affliction. These perspectives and attitudes are what separate believers from the rest of the world.

In the second verse in this section, James writes, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” (v. 14). Being sick is a separate condition from being happy or being in trouble, although sickness certainly leads to other sorts of trouble. Yet, conversation with God is still the appropriate answer. However, there is a second appropriate response here that does not apply to those who are happy or in other kinds of trouble, and that is the anointing of oil.

It’s interesting that modern churches have turned the anointing of oil into a totally spiritual exercise. But if there is one thing we’ve learned about James throughout this series, it’s that he is very discerning about how the spiritual and the practical work in unison to serve the will of God. The anointing of oil wasn’t a spiritual method to invoke some miraculous healing; that’s what prayer is. Oil in this context in the Middle East would be most likely olive oil, which has always been commonly used in the healing of multiple PHYSICAL ailments. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan takes pity on the robbed, beaten, and afflicted individual and one of the ways he helps him is by “pouring oil and wine” on the man’s wounds (Luke 10:34). Since James knew of the medicinal uses for olive oil, we can conclude that he encouraged the believers to seek the Lord and trust Him while also using the things He has already put at our disposal to help us.

James put the onus on the individual who is sick to be the one to contact the elders of the church and ask them for prayer and also practical help. In fact, he put the onus on everyone he talks about in this section to take the lead on the change. Too often today, people are desperate for others to pay attention to them and for others to pray for them when they aren’t even willing to seek God in prayer themselves. Many others simply won’t ask for help due to their own pride, something James has already repeatedly addressed in his letter. Heeding the words of James, the appropriate response to any trouble, joy, or sickness is to first individually seek the Lord and His grace, then make it public and invite others to pray for and help us. I urge you to follow James’ instructions so that you are no longer forfeiting the peace that comes through trusting the Lord, the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

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


Miracles: Mastery over Spiritual Forces

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 16, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This post is going to be a unique one in my series on miracles because most of the miracles we talk about showcase God having mastery over the physical creation. However, this topic is unique because there isn’t anything physical about spiritual forces. God has rule and mastery over the angelic hosts of heaven and the demonic forces of hell. Angels and demons are created beings; however, they exist on a spiritual dimension rather than the physical dimensions we operate in. Yet, they also can interact in the physical realm.

The angelic hosts are often described as stars due to their brightness, their glory, and their power. They are not creatures to be trifled with. Ezekiel 1 describes the Throne of God on some kind of chariot with wheels full of eyes. The passage also describes some of the seraphim which have six wings and four faces: one each of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. If that confuses you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. These are powerful creatures which in their own power could readily rule or destroy the entire world. Yet, they submit to every word and command God gives.

When Jesus was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, good old foot-in-mouth Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus rebukes him and told Peter He had 12 legions of angels at His command and if He chose, He could call them to rescue Him. A legion is about 6,000 soldiers, so we are talking about 72,000 angels if not more. Jesus has command of them all.

Elisha had a view of the hosts of heaven as well. When he kept telling the king of Israel where the Syrians were moving, the king of Syria got frustrated to the point where he sent his army to hunt down one man, Elisha, so he could go about his war with Israel. Elisha’s servant woke up to see the army surrounding the village and Elisha didn’t even blink an eye. He instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant and when that happened, the servant saw the chariots of heaven surrounding the Syrians. They were rescued.

But not all the spiritual beings are good. Scripture indicates that when Satan fell, he took 1/3 of the angels with him. That’s some impressive skills of deception. Those angels had seen God and knew of His glory, His goodness, and His power, yet they sided with Lucifer in his rebellion. Demons have been going after man since creation, yet it is critical to note that none of them can force any person to do anything. The serpent didn’t hold Eve down and make her eat the fruit; he simply told her a simple lie and let her make the choice for herself.

Yet when people start following and listening to the advice demons offer, slowly but surely their own will erodes away. There is a legitimate thing called “demon possession,” when a demon takes control of a person’s body. But such possession only takes place with permission from said person. I used to watch some “haunting” shows a number of years ago, and one thing I noticed through all the possession stories and hauntings, there had to be some sort of invitation for them to be there. And to rebuke said invitation, it takes an authority higher than the one that set it up, or that authority had to be broken.

Jesus understood the authority issues regarding demons. He drove one out of a boy who was thought to be an epileptic in modern terms. Whether that was truly a medical condition for this case or the demon gave him symptoms of epilepsy is irrelevant. What is clear is that Scripture identifies the seizures as being from a demonic source. The disciples could not drive it out and yet at one word, Jesus did. Jesus had command over even the demons.

Earlier when Jesus met a demoniac, who could not be chained and lived among the tombs, the demons knew who He was and Jesus cast them out. They went into a flock of pigs and drove them into the lake to drown. Jesus had command over them. The demons had to ask permission to stick around.

There are two Old Testament accounts of how well God has control over the spiritual forces. In one instance, God summoned the angelic hosts to have one of them incite King Ahab to go to war where he could be killed. A lying spirit said he would tell Ahab’s false prophets about the success he would have, and God said that would work. So here we see God will employ even the demons to do the work He wants do.

In the other account, God and Satan had a squabble over Job. In fact, it was God who brought Job to Satan’s attention. Yet, God would not let Satan touch certain things. At first it was Job’s person: Satan could steal his wealth, houses, and family, but not his body. Then Satan could take his health, but not his life. Job passed the test, which lasted for only about a week, by not sinning with his lips against God. Everything that was stolen was restored above and beyond what he originally had.

I, too, have dealt with demonic forces. In one instance, I was wrapping up my short career at a local grocery store, witnessing to a co-worker, and in the process I stirred up a demonic stronghold in his life. That story usually takes me about an hour to tell in proper detail, but long story short, I could sense that God restrained it from physically attacking me. It very well could have and I was not interested in being another of Sceva’s seven sons. Yet, God also did not allow me to drive it out either. I don’t know why. I can only suppose that part of the issue was my co-worker did not want it out.

In another instance a couple years after this, I told that story to some friends during a retreat and that very night, I heard some animal growls near my room. At first, I thought it was someone snoring, but it was distinctly animal-like. After a few minutes, I realized what it was so I cast it out in the name of Jesus and it went dead silent. When I told my friends about that night in the morning, they reported hearing the same sounds at the same time. We were in different buildings.

God is ruler over the spiritual forces. We need not fear the demonic hosts of hell, though we should not take them lightly either. Everything is under the command of the Lord including both angels and demons. Next week, I look into how God has mastery over biological life: plants and animals.

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 95

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 12, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:1-7a).

When I read these opening verses of Psalm 95, my mind immediately went to church services I attended growing up in the Lutheran Church. We sang these words, almost exactly word-for-word, as a part of the weekly service liturgy, though I had to do a little research to determine exactly which part of the service it was. (In case you’re curious, I believe it was the Venite in the Order of Matins.)

It is fascinating to me how something that was put to music and sang over and over again really sticks in a person’s head! It’s been many years since I regularly attended that congregation, yet as soon as I read the first line of this psalm my brain immediately put the tune to this whole section.

God has given the gift of music to His creation, and one of the great uses of music is, of course, to praise our God who gave it to us. Many of the psalms in the Bible have been turned into the songs we still sing in our congregations today. Going through a number of psalms this year, I’ve ran across many lines that are lyrics to hymns and songs that I know.

Music not only gives us an avenue to worship our God, but it also helps us learn about Him. We are able to learn and truly remember many things when they are put to music; just ask any small child who learns to sing the alphabet song! I used to work with a man who was in his 50s then who would actually start singing the alphabet song anytime he had to search for anything in alphabetical order. Music really sticks with us!

This opening section of the psalm calls us to worship God (verses 1-2), praises God for who He is as our Creator (verses 3-5), calls us again to worship Him (verse 6), and praises Him again for the relationship we have with Him (verse 7). While we can (and should) worship God at all times and in all places, we are called to come together to praise Him. The primary purpose of this gathering is not to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives but to praise the God who created us all and has saved us from our sins. God is truly the great King.

These thoughts are not just relevant to when we are worshiping God through music in a Sunday church service, but we could use these words to praise our God every day of the week. He is truly always worthy of our praise and worship, every moment of every day!

The psalm changes its focus a bit starting at the end of verse 7. The remainder of the psalm expresses God’s judgment on the people and their response to it. The people have been disobedient, but they are given a chance to repent and start again. The story of the Israelites forgetting and being ungrateful for the works that God did to bring them out of slavery in Egypt is used here as an example of what the people of Israel kept doing - and we do it too. They tested and tried God and went astray from Him, just as we do. But just as God kept giving them many “second chances,” He does that for us too.

Where is your heart toward God today? Are you praising Him for the great things He has done in your life? Or have you gone astray and need to turn back to Him? Do you praise God every day, or just on Sunday mornings at church? What songs of praise are on your heart, or stuck deep in your mind somewhere that you need to bring back to the forefront to praise God again? Let us sing for joy to the Lord and come before Him with thanksgiving every day!

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The Judge and the Jar

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 11, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

For years, I’ve heard friends of mine talk about putting money into their “swear jar." Now, I can’t honestly say that I have ever actually seen a swear jar at the home of anyone I knew, but it became somewhat of a popular assertion to suggest paying a swear jar in an effort to punish oneself for foul language and hopefully eradicate it from one’s vocabulary. It sounds like a good idea in theory because having to relinquish money for a mistake generally makes a person think about it a bit more (think of how much you began to watch your speedometer more closely immediately following your first speeding ticket). But, if no one else has control or access to your jar and the money goes back to you anyway, it’s an exercise in futility.

The subject of swearing is certainly addressed in the New Testament, but it has very little to do with what our current society recognizes as “curse words." To be clear, Paul writes against “unwholesome talk” in Ephesians 4:29 and directs believers to avoid any “obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking” in Ephesians 5:4. This means that the words which we commonly refer to as “curse words” are wrong in God’s eyes as well. However, the problem of swearing carried much greater consequences than mere bad words. James felt it was important enough to warn his audience about it in his letter to the early Christians. In James 5:12 he wrote, “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Otherwise you will be condemned.” His words are very similar to those of his older brother, Jesus, in Matthew 5:34-37.

This is a bit of a confusing topic in Scripture because while the verses in James and Matthew appear to prohibit all oaths, there are examples of Godly men all throughout the Bible who invoked the name of God as their witness to the truth of what they were saying. Just to give you examples from each Testament, Elijah did it regarding his proclamation that there would be no more dew or rain in 1 Kings 17:1, and Paul did it regarding his reasons for not returning to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 1:23. In addition, God Himself occasionally swears an oath. In Hebrews 6:13-14, the writer refers to the oath God swore by Himself to Abraham regarding the promise.

So then, what is the difference between those oaths and what James and Jesus were talking about? I believe the answer lies in the cultural context that we can’t see directly in Scripture. As David Guzik explains in his Enduring Word commentary on this verse, Jewish people of those days understood the difference between binding oaths and non-binding oaths. Oaths which invoked the name of God were considered to be “binding," while oaths that merely mentioned other things and did not mention God’s name were considered to be “non-binding." Many of the Jews, including those new believers who were part of the earliest church, used this distinction to their advantage. They could give the appearance of being serious about their statements while knowing they could easily ignore what they had originally said as long as they didn’t mention God’s name. It was the ancient version of “crossies."

If you pay close attention to the words of both James and Jesus, the non-binding oaths are what they are condemning. Swearing by heaven (the sky), the earth, one’s own head, a city, or anything else with the full intention of ignoring the oath would leave them in danger of condemnation. James simply tells believers not to do it, while Jesus explained in His words that God controls all of those other things, too. So, those who felt they were less responsible for honoring their word if they swore by things God created rather than the Creator Himself were sorely mistaken. Since all of those other things matter to God, one cannot simply swear an oath by them and think that God won’t care if it’s broken.

The bottom line in James’ warning is that those who consider themselves believers and followers of Jesus should always consider the impact of their words and ought to place high value on keeping one’s word. Anyone who has to rely on workers or volunteers in order to complete necessary tasks knows the frustration that occurs when someone doesn’t show up after committing to be there. In my own life, I have friends who I know I can count on to show up and work when they said they would, and I have other friends whose word simply cannot be trusted. But beyond my own evaluation of those friends, James declares that those who have to swear by something more than just giving their own words are actually betraying themselves. Their need to say more than a simple “Yes” or “No” reveals that their word is very weak. And those whose words cannot be trusted will be judged accordingly by the Almighty Creator.

If you have been someone who has gone back on your word so many times that you don’t even recognize when you’re doing it anymore, it’s time to stop and heed the warnings of both James and Jesus. You might think just because your society has gotten used to it that God and His people don’t care either. You might also think that trying to earn people’s belief in you by swearing some sort of oath is acceptable in God’s eyes. You must know that you could be in danger of eternity without God! Words matter to Him and anything you could swear to would reflect poorly on your character, and that character deficiency will be dealt with when Christ returns. I encourage you all to be men and women who are keepers of their own words and doers of the work of the Lord.

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.


Miracles: Mastery over Life and Death

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 9, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week I wrote about how God has mastery over physical health. This week I will take it a step further and showcase how God has mastery over life itself. There is a terrible statistic that ten out of every ten people die. (I stole that from Ray Comfort.) There is nothing any of us can do about it. Man has strived and fought the aging and dying process from the beginning. Just watch TV for five minutes and you will find commercials about extending your beauty and retaining a younger look. Man is constantly striving to extend his life and is terrified of death.

But why? Why is man constantly striving to postpone death? If death is and always was part of the natural world, why is man scared of it? Evolution teaches by implication that death is a benefit to life because as each generation passes, life evolves into better forms. But the Bible teaches that death is a foreign agent brought in by man when he sinned against God. Man was not meant to die but to live in continual communion with God. But sin is a corrupting, corrosive agent and it only produces death. Yet, that death is actually a mercy from God, because if man were to live forever in a sinful state, separated from God and in perpetual decay, it is the nightmare that spawns ideas of zombies: a state of perpetual death and yet no relief from it.

God has control over life and death. He is the one who breathed life into Adam, making him a living soul. He gives life and He takes it away. No man lives without permission from God and no man can die without it either. We do not understand why God takes a life and lets another live. I have addressed this issue several times within this series, but we are not in a position to judge God on why He lets some live and some die. We don’t have the full knowledge of God to know what would happen if someone who died had lived, nor do we have full knowledge of why God spares someone we think should have died. He struck down Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit, yet He let King Manasseh reign for 55 years after turning to idolatry and murdering his son on the altar to Molech.

But there are also times where a sickness or something takes a life and God is not done with that person yet. The Bible has numerous accounts where a person died and was raised again. Elijah raised the son of the widow he stayed with during the 3½ year drought he proclaimed. Elisha would replicate this miracle twice, once with another family’s son, and then later by a man who was dropped onto Elisha’s bones.

Jesus raised two people from the dead during his earthly ministry. The first was Jairus’ daughter, and the second was one of his most famous miracles: Lazarus. What makes Lazarus’ tale so interesting is that Jesus waited long enough that Lazarus’ body would have been part way into the decaying process. So, this wasn’t a case that could be argued that the person could have been declared legally dead but wasn’t actually dead. Lazarus was all dead, and Jesus raised him back to life. The greatest account of raising from the dead is Jesus himself with his resurrection, however that is such a special case I am going to devote an entire post to that one thing.

God did not stop this miracle when the New Testament was completed. One of the deacons at my church lost his son to drowning. Yet after he was pronounced dead, God raised him back to life. These miracles don’t happen in great quantities and I cannot explain how or why. It is well beyond any kind of scientific study, but it also cannot be denied.

God also preserves life. Last week, I wrote briefly how I was sick and dying as a child with no hope of recourse, yet God spared my life. My case wasn’t as dramatic as some others. The Apostle John, according to tradition, was captured by the Romans and thrown into a pot of boiling oil but came out unscathed. The real reason John was exiled to Patmos was because they could not figure out how to kill him. Rees Howells was on a mission in Africa when the plague hit. God asked him if he would pray and declare that no one would die on his property. Howells struggled against the fear of being presumptuous but eventually did so and no one died on his property while everywhere else they did. That is what got the people to finally receive the Gospel there.

In another incident, a friend of mine was preaching in Juarez, Mexico when three gang members entered. The leader pointed the gun at my friend while the other two robbed the congregation. My friend pointed his finger at the gunman to where the hand and gun overlapped and proclaimed, “There’s power in the blood!” The robber pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. He checked the gun and did it again – five times. The robbers fled while the church thought the gun was fake, so they took chase. Outside the church, the gun worked just fine but the robbers encountered police. In another incident, also in Juarez, Mexico, a worship team was attacked by a gang. The son of the leader stood up and took 38 bullets before going down saying, “God forgives you,” the whole time. They would have wiped out the entire group but ran out of bullets. God spared one person and He let another die, but He preserved him long enough to let the others live.

We don’t know why God raises some, preserves others, and takes others still. It is appointed once for every man to die, and after that the judgment. We do not know when our time is going to be up. Each of us could die in an instant. Driving down the road, one could die and another could be spared. A wildfire could wipe out an entire neighborhood but spare one home. God has mastery over life and death, and Jesus made this ultimate statement: do not fear men who can only kill the body, but fear God who can kill both body and soul. When we know God is in control, we have absolutely nothing to fear from this world. Why? Because as long as we are obedient, God will preserve and protect us for as long as He needs us in action. If He lets us fall into enemy hands, it will be not merely for our benefit, but also for His glory. He allowed Richard Wurmbrand fall into Communist hands and Corrie Ten Boom to fall into Nazi hands so that through their imprisonment and torture, they would learn God’s mercy and grace and love personally and as a testimony to the rest of the world.

God has mastery over life and death. Do not fear death. Those who are born again know that physical death will only carry us into God’s presence and out of this curse of sin. Next week, I’ll examine how God has mastery over spiritual forces.

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The Genesis Myth, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 8, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This writing is the 3rd in a series about the intent and proper way to read the book of Genesis. You can find the other two here and here. Is it an ancient historical narrative with real people, places, and events? Is it poetic? We showed how this second question doesn't actually matter, but people bring it up. A song or poem about an event in history doesn't take away from the historicity of the event. Is it myth or folklore? Is it an allegory or parable with no real connection to reality other than the ideas presented (not the actual people or events)? How does such a thing even make sense? Our faith, the Christian faith, is in the one true God. Why? I hope you're beginning to see that the Genesis narratives of history—etiologies of the universe, life, humanity, sin, and redemption—are no different in their writing than the rest of the book of Genesis and, actually, no different than the rest of the historical books found in the Bible. Without a natural reading of the text, the Jewish and Christian faiths fall apart because their very foundations are reduced to cute stories that teach us something but have no basis in reality.

The grammar of Genesis 1 cannot be considered poetry. We've been over that a great deal, but I wanted to add something to it. In Hebrew, there is something known as the “vav consecutive” which is a way to describe something that happens in a particular order. In other words, it's like “this happened, then this happened, then this happened, etc.” It's common in Hebrew historical narratives. This is found over 50 times in the first chapter of Genesis! It's a detailed look at an event the author obviously thought really happened. It is exceptionally rare to find such wording in Hebrew poetry. That's not to say it couldn't be poetry, but it has none of the hallmarks of Hebrew poetry and, therefore, would be a one-of-a-kind poetic entity. We call that “special pleading.” And, again, this doesn't take away from its factual nature at all. But Biblical scholars make the claim that there is no figurative language at all in Genesis. We covered that in last week's blog post.

The narrative also claims to be a family history. There is no known break between any early chapters of Genesis and the later chapters. They flow continuously and with uniformity. No one to my knowledge argues that Genesis 12 isn't intended to be historical. There's no reason to think earlier chapters aren’t historical as well. The Bible repeatedly makes reference to individuals found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis including Adam, Abel, Seth, and Noah. Often times, these people are mentioned with other individuals whose reality in history is not contested. Why is this? There is no reason beyond the fact that the humanist origins myth (the Big Bang and biological evolution) isn't compatible with a natural reading of Genesis, so some even within the Church have looked to atheism, secular humanism, and the like to learn about our origins. This shouldn't be so. It's often stated that, “The Bible isn't a science text” which is 100% true. However, it doesn't need to be. It's a historical text for sure, especially the several books that specifically are written to that end. Genesis, Exodus, and several other Old Testament books are clearly written to be historical in nature—giving us a solid family history of not just the Hebrews/Jews but also a very linear look at the ancestry of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.

Were Adam and Eve real people—the parents of all humans? The Bible makes it very clear that this is precisely what it teaches. Show me otherwise. If they were not real people, then nothing the Bible says can be considered trustworthy, for the detail and constant reference to these people and their offspring can't be understood as meaning anything else. If the follower of Christ claims these people were not real, then there was no Fall. If there was no Fall, there was no curse. If there was no curse, there was no promise of a Redeemer, and the faith is of no use to anyone. Again, if you believe I am in error, please explain that error.

Genesis 3:15 tells us of the “offspring promise.” Genesis 5:29 mentions the curse found in Genesis 3 starting with verse 14. The curse was declared as a direct result of the action of these two people (actually, Adam specifically). Jesus is mentioned by Paul as the Last or Second Adam. How does this work if the first Adam was not real? Some say, perhaps, that Adam and Eve were “all of us.” They represent humanity in this tale of the origins of sin and death as well as our need for redemption. However, this doesn't logically (or theologically) follow. If “in Adam, all sinned,” how does that sin get passed on from him to his progeny of he didn't exist? It means the curse doesn't get passed on and the Fall didn't happen. If this is so, the promise of a Redeemer is also mythical or not real. And if Adam didn't pass his sin nature to his offspring, what are we in need of a Savior from? Or if you believe Adam was a real person but he evolved, wouldn't it follow that other humans had evolved at around the same time since the population was moving in that general direction so to speak? This would mean their offspring didn't carry the sin nature and, therefore, are immune to the consequences of sin since they didn't inherit that nature from their ancestors. Only Adam's progeny would require salvation as others from other lines wouldn't have inherited it. Do you follow?

The theological issues I've described are only starting to scratch the surface. They get significantly more profound as we study His Word and what it reveals about humanity, God, nature, and eternity. In other words, the more we learn from God's Word, the more we see it cannot function under any sort of conjunction with any origins myth—be that humanist (the most popular I believe), Hindu, or whatever tale you want to marry with the historical creation account found in the Bible (not just Genesis).

But there is far more than the creation narrative that some believers toss when they reject the natural, intended way the text is to be read. They have to reject the Flood or suggest it was something other than what the Bible states repeatedly it was—an amazing, global catastrophe that decimated the entire planet for a year as a result of the terrible sin that all of mankind, save Noah and his family. Peter tells us that since God promised to never again do such a thing—a global Flood that destroys everything—there will be a day when the earth is purged with fire rather than water. If the Flood wasn't a real, global event, what does this mean? Will God destroy a small portion of the earth with fire on that day? Will He destroy everything with fire in a tale of folklore or a mythological event that won't actually happen or will it be embellished so as to make it seem global and horrible? The thought is laughable, but some very intelligent people have painted themselves into such corners. The detail that describes the event—the Flood—is so precise and so immense that it's inconceivable to consider the intent of the narrative to be anything but historical. Again, this is not just Genesis 6-8 we're talking about but the many references to this event throughout the Old and New Testaments. Anything else? Yes!

The Tower of Babel, which I have written an entire series on, is another historical event that the text clearly intends to convey as actual history. It uses the proper grammar and structure to be taken as history. The narrative gives us specific details about where and when this even took place. The studies of language, cultures around the globe, and archaeology can all easily be seen to support this event. Some have suggested that the Table of Nations is one of the most accurate and consistent writings on the origins of people groups and no one has yet to find actual fault with it. Sure, many will say it's not the true history of all people groups on earth, but there is nothing behind that claim. As I outline in the above-mentioned series, the evidence is overwhelming and more than enough to convince someone who is honest in their search for truth.

Regrettably, there are far too many these days who care nothing for the truth. Their quest is to stroke their unbelief, no matter what. This is why altering the text to make it fit with the currently popular version of the humanist origins myth is illogical and actually dishonest. Making the truth of Scripture false so unbelievers won't argue with it serves no purpose. They, like we all once were, are at war with God. For most, in my opinion, it's not that they don't believe He's real but that they hate Him and don't want to submit to Him. So, they cloak their hatred in a claim of unbelief, even effectively lying to themselves about it. However, the fact that there are few if any real atheists is not the point of this writing. We will pick up with this discussion on Genesis next time. Thank you for your time and attention.

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Responding to Evil

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 7, 2019 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Saturday, August 3, 2019, will go down in infamy as one of the largest and deadliest mass shootings in Texas, let alone the nation. As of the evening of the shooting, 20 were dead and another 27 were injured with one person in custody. It took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, less than 20 miles from my house. I have shopped there many times, yet I was at home when it happened. This store was nearly at capacity with almost 3000 customers. My school district where I teach had been in session for a week, and other parents were starting their school shopping as well. El Paso is a high poverty city with a large percent of people on government food stamps, so the first weekend of the month is always busy at stores. This could have been MUCH worse.

As of writing this post, everyone I knew in El Paso was safe and not in the shooting’s area, though some were there not long before it took place. Several of my fellow teachers were within earshot of the shooting, constantly hearing the helicopters and sirens overhead. The entire city was asked to stay home. All scheduled activities were cancelled. El Paso is reeling, and we need as much prayer and support as possible. Already, the lines for the call for giving blood were well out the door of the city’s two blood bank centers. It was tragic and for many people, not merely those directly affected, it will take some time to recover, if they ever do.

But how should we respond to such acts of evil? There are two major answers which come from two major worldviews. Every time something happens the media and the government state two answers: more education and more government. Education always comes in two angles: “awareness” which really does and says nothing. Why are athletes kneeling for the anthem? Colin Kaepernick started that to raise awareness against police brutality. He lost his message in the mix because of how he approached it, and to this day I know of nothing actually productive he has done about the issue he has protested. Awareness doesn’t work. The other angle is to tell people how these things are being done, but in reality, it’s training people how to respond and training potential shooters on what the pre-programmed response will be. That’s going to backfire soon too.

More government isn’t the answer either. Less than two hours after the shooting began, calls started to be made about gun control. I still cannot see how taking guns from law-abiding citizens is going to answer anything. Gun control will never answer this situation either, because it will only be at best a band-aid to a much deeper problem. That problem is SIN. If we want to solve the issues of these violent acts, we must get to the true root of it all.

Many people like to cite 2 Chronicles 7:14 during tragedies as though that will stave off such horrific incidents. Yet that was a promise made to Israel during the dedication of the Temple. There is a similar passage in Jeremiah 18:7-10 that actually applies to all nations. It is the same passage where Jeremiah sees the potter and receives the message that God will make and mold what He wants out of a person or nation. If the person receives God’s molding hand, he will become a vessel useful for the potter. If he rejects God, he will be tossed aside into the heap to be burned. God treats nations and generations the same as He does will individuals. The nation that obeys and seeks God will be molded for His purposes and receive His blessings. The nation that rejects God will be cursed and face judgment.

We have to understand that the Unites States of America is not living under God. While founded to operate under the Christian ethic and via Christian principles, this nation has rejected God as a whole. We as a nation cherish death over life. We’ve killed well over 60 million babies under the name of ‘women’s health.’ That alone is a sin God will not judge lightly, but it is also a sin that has birthed more sin. Combined with the teaching of evolution, where man is nothing more than a glorified animal with no intrinsic value, just a blip on the continuum of time, and where all things done will be remembered only for a moment, there is no support for the value of life. The elderly and the disabled are consuming our money and resources that could be spent on “better things.” Since 1962 when God was formally removed from the public square, we have sown sin, and these despicable acts are mere fruits of what was sown. We will reap what we sow, and often more than we have sown and later than when we sowed it. As tragic as these shootings are, they don’t surprise me.

The shootings, violence, rapes, thefts, and all these crime sprees are a result of sin. There is one solution and one solution only: nationwide repentance. We as a nation must turn from our sin. Our “thoughts and prayers” are sometimes rightfully mocked by the secularists because they often are lip service. We as Christians must own our nations sins as though they are ours. That’s how Nehemiah prayed when he heard of the broken-down walls of Jerusalem. That’s how the high priests throughout the Old Testament were to pray: for his own sins first, then for the people, for sins he did not commit.

I, for one, have often stayed away from political discussions and posts. I’ll make comments here and there but only rarely because I know the government isn’t the solution. However, as I process this shooting that hit my city, I am starting to realize that while I have nothing to do with our nation’s sins in person, as an American citizen, when the nation sins, I am part of that nation. If the Church is to turn this ship around, it must take ownership of the sins this nation has committed under its watch. Even if we have not committed the sins nor endorsed the sins and even if we have spoken up against those sins, because we are a collective body as a nation, we are still part of the nation which sinned.

Shootings like this are tragic and we must mourn with those who mourn. But when we respond, we must respond with brokenness over our sin. David knew how to respond in Psalm 51. Let us repent of our sin, individually and collectively. If we wish to see an end to this, that is the only possible answer other than the total destruction of the nation. I haven’t shed enough tears for this nation in prayer. The few men of God who are left can only hold back the tide of judgment for so long. Our blogger David Odegard described a disquieting dream for us and this shooting was evidence of another breach in the dam. Time is short. Church of America, what will we do? Let us return to God and be the Church to this broken and hurting world. Let us seek to save them before more are lost forever.

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.