The Faith of the Anonymous

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, February 25, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Every human being likes to be recognized for the good things they have done and would prefer to remain anonymous regarding any mistakes that have been made. It’s part of our sinfulness and selfishness that exists deep within us. When we begin to follow Jesus, the hope is that the opposite begins to occur. When we see that Jesus was followed by a crowd with a very false perception of him and that he was hated anytime he even hinted at his true identity, we must accept that being his disciple doesn’t guarantee us fame, fortune, or recognition. It doesn’t guarantee us that life will be trouble-free. In fact, in the story of Christianity, the worst possible thing happened to the best possible man!

As followers of Jesus, we ought to be willing to ignore any chance at getting credit and always direct it toward our Lord and Savior. When we make mistakes, that’s when we ought to be willing to identify ourselves. The Apostle John tells us that confessing our sins allows us to be forgiven and purified (1 John 1:9). In the next verse, he tells us that claiming to be without sin makes Christ out to be a liar (verse 10). So, when we try to prevent exposure of our sins just to keep a good name for ourselves, yet still seek recognition for any good deeds, we’re actually harming the reputation and name of Jesus.

My very first real job when I was 16 years old was what’s called a “costume character." At Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA, I was paid to dress up in a variety of candy bar costumes and walk around and greet people. We did whatever we could to put a smile on people’s faces, including dancing, posing for pictures, dribbling a basketball in costume, or messing with people’s hair. Regardless, it was all done anonymously. I am in thousands of pictures all over the world, but no one knows it’s me. I was even in a commercial as the Hershey Bar, and no one knows it’s me. I could dance like a fool or accidentally wreck one of the displays that were set up, and no one would know it was me. I didn’t get credit for anything good, but I didn’t get blamed for anything terrible. It was all that dumb Kit Kat Bar! Looking back and knowing the entirety of my work there, it’s probably a good thing I was anonymous!

The same is true regarding my faith journey. Sure, my selfish ego would love to be recognized for any good things that God allowed me to accomplish. But if that would also mean that all my sins and failures are publicly known, I’ll pass. Since our sins and missteps far outweigh our good deeds, I’ll go ahead and assume that most believers out there would feel the same way I do. As we read Hebrews 11 and then look back at some of the stories of the heroes of our faith who are mentioned by name, we are reminded of both their successes and their failures. Those individuals were not looking to be made famous. They were merely walking their own personal journeys of faith. I wonder how they’d feel today about their stories being told in full. Would David want everyone to know that he defeated Goliath with a sling and a stone even if it meant they’d also know that long after that, he committed sins with Bathsheba and against her husband that had horrific consequences for all involved? Samson is on a whole different level. If I were him, I wouldn’t want my story told at all! Those are just two examples, but I try to put myself in the shoes of each person and I wonder how they’d respond to the notoriety.

We’ve reached an interesting point in this series, as we have now gone through all of the individuals who have been mentioned by name. But the stories of faith don’t end there. After Samuel is the last one mentioned by name, we are told of the accomplishments of many others through faith. The stories were most likely known by many in the writer’s intended audience. Whether or not the writer of Hebrews mentions their names, those people and their stories were known to the Jewish people. So, why keep them anonymous?

We are not 100% sure of who wrote the book of Hebrews, but the fact that so many faith stories are mentioned without a person’s name attached to them is one reason why I believe the writer was the Apostle Paul. When you think about other things Paul either wrote or said, he’s pretty intentional about telling anyone who will listen that it’s always about Jesus and never about us. It’s recorded in Acts 20:24 that Paul said, “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” (caps mine). In his letter to the Philippians, he writes that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21), and later talks about all his reasons to boast, yet says he considers them “garbage” or “dung” compared to knowing Christ and even participating in his sufferings (3:7-11). Those are just a few examples, but Paul was always exemplifying that our achievements, our sins, our lives, and even our very names are irrelevant and only the goodness of God’s grace through Jesus needs to be made known.

In the coming weeks, I will be addressing these “anonymous” accomplishments by faith. I will put some names to them because that’s really the only way we can go back and learn more about the context and story behind the faith. But I wanted us to have this chance to pause and consider what is most important. If you have a chance to walk by faith and accomplish something great, do you find yourself looking for the credit? Do you trust God with your reputation, or do you try to control what others think of you? Like many of the heroes of faith found in the Old Testament, you may go through something difficult only to bring glory to God. It might not have anything to do with YOU and your reputation. Truly trusting in God means being faithful even in the aftermath. It means focusing on Christ’s story over our own. God may call you to a life of faithful anonymity. Could you accept that? If not, take a look at your own sins and ask yourself whether you’d really want everything exposed. I know I wouldn’t, and that makes it undeniable that Christ’s story is a much better one to tell than my own.

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The Price of Ignorance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 24, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Regardless of your political affiliation, read through this, as it is important for all of us. In the last week, we have seen the termination of an NBC commentator for his comments during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the negative Twitter flurry over an appropriate quote from Hamilton used to congratulate US figure skater Mirai Nagasu, and the admonishment of other commentators for any statement that could be taken wrong by anyone. We saw the use of Twitter by Adam Rippon to amplify his spotlight by taking a shot at Vice President Pence as being hateful toward gays, and then duck and cover when the VP offered to meet in person and have a conversation to get to know each other. The climax of the week was Joy Behar, on The View, stating without hesitation or reservation, that to be Christian and to say you 'hear God' is a sign of mental illness. Her comments were specifically directed at VP Pence, but they were insensitive, slanderous, and hurtful.

The outcry from religious people and mental health community was swift, and many demanded her termination. VP Pence responded with respect and disappointment, pointing out the damage this kind of careless speech can have on those who do struggle with mental illness, and also on people of all faiths - whose relationship with their god was stated as illness.

Now, I am not advocating for Pence, nor am I stumping for action on any of these specific events. I AM wanting to point out the extreme irresponsibility and damage that can be done when people publically speak out of ignorance. If there is a call to action, it is in what we learn from these situations. Look at what these events have in common. In each of them, someone tried to be smart, funny, popular, recognized, or powerful by stating something publically that they thought would help others see them this way. And in each circumstance, they said something out of their lack of knowledge or experience, and they ignited criticism and backlash. Maybe they did it knowing what would happen, maybe it was calculated, but it appears to just be stupidity given voice. We used to just tolerate these comments and ignore them - knowing that person would eventually encounter reality, or maybe we would thoughtfully share the truth with them. But NOW the culture is trained to be 'triggered' every time someone says something stupid, inflammatory, etc. The reactions are sharp, tribal, and often just as ignorant.

Ok, this is not a new phenomenon, even if we feel like it is new to us in our culture. Even Charles Dickens included in the Christmas Story that the two most dangerous "creatures" were Ignorance and Want. Consider the ways in which ignorance and desire have lead us to racial division, wars, class separation, and genocide. There is a heavy price for ignorance, which brings me to Jesus' example in Matthew 15:1-20.

Jesus and his followers just finished traveling across the Sea of Galilee by boat, teaching people and physically healing people. They are tired, and yet empowered by God and doing amazing things, and apparently they grabbed a snack. Religious leaders there decided this was a time to challenge Jesus and try to invalidate what is happening. Instead of acknowledging the good and celebrating that people have been miraculously healed, instead of acknowledging the work Jesus and His disciples are doing for people, these religious leaders focus on the fact that the disciples didn't pause to ceremonially wash their hands before eating.

Why am I calling this out? The religious leaders thought they were uber smart and tuned into God's plans. They knew the rules and believed that they were in a position to correct Jesus and discredit Him. They spoke out of what they were certain they knew, and they never considered the potential of their ignorance.

Read the rest of the passage carefully. See how Jesus responds to them. What does He call out? 

Jesus counters their appeal to the 'clean hands' tradition that they FELT was sacred, and exposes how they have used their traditions to break God's commands which ARE sacred. They had become so confident of their position and interpretation of events that they couldn't see where they were getting it wrong. They spoke from the silo of their experience and forgot that God sees everything and can consider every perspective in helping people live out what IS true and right and good.

But here is what is critical: Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes them unclean, but what comes out of it... the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and these defile them... from the heart come evil thoughts: murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander...these are what defile a person.” As we face another day of reactive media attention, violence in our schools, and division within our nation and our neighborhoods, let us fully acknowledge this simple truth. Unrestrained lips are destructive, no matter who may be speaking.

If we are going to stop the downward spiral of our culture, it is going to start with people who care about knowing the Truth and speaking words that heal and restore. The path forward for us as a nation and as the human race is to shut out ignorance and the reactiveness of our short-sightedness. We need to assume our ignorance, position ourselves as learners, and in the places where we get to speak God's Truth, do so with gentleness and respect. Even if we are pressed to defend ourselves or others against the ignorance that perpetrates all kinds of evil, we must do so with humble restraint toward what is actually true, and with every effort to open the eyes of those who are acting in ignorance - just like Jesus did.

I recognize that there was a season in my life where I was hyper critical of the mystical, like Joy Behar, and may have even dared to speak outrageous things. Fortunately, I did not remain ignorant on the things I had spoken so firmly against, and I pray the same for her. I also hope all of us are able to acknowledge our own ignorance and be willing to discuss, discover, and discern, so that we and others do not have to pay the heavy price of ignorance.

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The Bible’s Take on Creation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 23, 2018 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This week, Worldview Warriors is looking at what the Bible says about creation. There is far too much to say on this topic in one blog post and this has been a topic discussed by myself, Steve Risner, Bill Seng, and others on occasion in great detail. Today, I want to boil it down to the core issues and remind us what the creation issue is so important. There are three major aspects I want to address: the details of the creation account given, the purpose of the creation account, and whether it is a primary or secondary issue.

There are many who try to minimize the importance of the creation account. Some do this because they really have not thought about the purpose of the account and see it as a distraction. Others, however, do this for the intentional purpose of inserting their opinions (namely evolutionary aspects) into the mix. Now, the Bible does not say “About 6000 years ago, God created the heavens and the earth.” Many old earthers use this as their primary argument to insert their opinions of pagan origins (yes, I said that intentionally). But they purposefully ignore what the Bible does say about the creation in doing so.

The Bible gives five major details regarding creation, and most seem to only recognize one of them. The Bible tells who created the universe: God. Then the whole rest of the Bible proceeds to describe God in who he is and his interactions with mankind. Most old earth creationists and young earth creationists will agree on this point, however, I do question the OEC’s understanding of who God really is.

The Bible gives the order of how God created the universe. That’s Genesis 1 in a nutshell. Every old earth models gets this aspect wrong; I’ll explain why next week. The Bible tells us the mechanism God used to create the universe: his voice. He spoke it into existence. He did not use any natural means. Hebrews 11:3 reveals that which is seen was made by that which is not seen. “Seen” and “natural” are virtually interchangeable in this context. Old earth models fail at this point as well.

The Bible tells us how much time has passed since creation. Old earthers will cite Genesis 1:1 as saying God made the earth billions of years ago, then he did the rest of it over six days. Yet God himself, when addressing the full congregation of Israel while he gave the 10 Commandments, said he made the heavens and the earth and everything in it is six days. The first four words of the Bible are “In the beginning, God…” There’s where the calendar = 0. The Bible then counts forward, using the genealogies, the rules of the judges and the kings, and even some references to secular rulers to give specific time frames for the events. To this day, the Jewish calendar is based on this and has yet to hit year 5800. Bishop Ussher’s calendar is about 200 years different and most of that has to do with the alignment with secular history and our modern calendars. These differences are negligible in the context of the big picture. The old earth creationist constantly struggles to address this point, so often they outright ignore it or try to make it seem irrelevant.

The Bible gives a fifth detail: the condition of the creation. Genesis 1:29-31 describes how both man and animal were given plants for food and God calls it “very good.” Decay, sin, thorns, thistles, and death were not present. Old earthers love to suggest the Bible never says animals did not die prior to sin. It never says any did die prior, and the first death it does describe was a direct result of sin: providing clothes for Adam and Eve. None of the old earth accounts accurately describes the conditions the Bible does give. They are not great in detail, but enough to know which models line up and which ones do not. It is critical to understand that the world behaved very differently than it does today under the curse of sin and the judgment of the Flood.

Why does the Bible give an origins account? First off, this account is not a myth, nor parable, nor allegory, nor metaphor. I’ve read my share of those types of accounts and the Bible fits none of them. It is written as history. Whether one accepts the history or rejects it is another matter. The reason people suggest that Genesis is not history is because they know what the Bible says and what they believe on origins do not agree but they want to still sound both smart to the world and religious to the Christians. God calls such notions foolishness. Believe him or don’t, but don’t be lukewarm as the Laodicean church was as I wrote about last week.

The purpose of origins is to give the Gospel message a foundation rooted not in myth, but in reality. If Genesis is just a feel-good story, then everything else that follows is just a feel-good story and Christianity is just another useless religion. But if Genesis is correct in its history, then sin is a very real problem with only one real solution: the cross of Jesus. To the many who love this world, that is unfathomable, mostly because of pride. The Bible makes it clear that the world and God are enemies. It is impossible to believe God’s authority and the world’s “experts” at the same time.

It is critical to understand that origins must NOT be an isolated event. Every word of the Bible is not meant to be taken as a stand-alone. It all points to one thing, or rather one person and one event: Christ and Christ crucified. Paul, a very educated man, said he determined to know nothing except Christ and the cross. He did not reject his other knowledge, but he made it all point to that central point.

So does that make Creation a secondary issue? Beware of this one, because many false teachers will try to make it one for the purpose of sneaking in their poison. Take notice WHO is declaring that creation is secondary. It’s not the ones who believe and defend the authority of Scripture over the world. It is those who believe the world over Scripture. This approach is the “minimal requirements” approach which I wrote about just over a year ago. It is a ploy to get the bare minimal to “get by” and retain as much of self and the world as possible. This is also a Satanic tactic: bring the false teaching in not by directly attacking Christ but through “secondary” issues. Any military strategist would attack this way. This approach is not of God. They want Christ’s name to get out of hell, but will not let go of their own sin. Such people won’t make it in because Christ will not have anything to do with it.

So is creation secondary? Yes and no. It is only secondary in the sense that it points to Christ who is supreme. It is primary because it is the foundation which holds the cross upright. No one likes a plain foundation for a home; they want the home. But the home is a very weak home unless it is built upon something very solid that won’t give. The reason we can trust the Gospel and the cross is because we can trust every single word of Scripture and that includes Genesis. If we cannot trust God to get his origins account right, how can we trust him about salvation? It is an issue of authority and which one should be believed. That is a primary issue.

The Bible makes Genesis so simple and clear that a child can read and understand it, and yet the most learned and “wise” people of this world cannot embrace it. God purposefully chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. And Jesus said unless we become like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. God approves of child-like faith: those who hear him and trust him as a child is supposed to trust his parents. But unlike the fallible parents of this world, God will not fail. Only the humble will see the creation account and the cross for what they are. The proud will never see it. If the creation account is too difficult for you to understand or accept, then follow the advice of Martin Luther and let the Holy Spirit be more learned than you.

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Faith in Evolution

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 22, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Evolution is not a scientific study. It's a religion. Some will argue otherwise (most, I would guess, who believe in evolution) but the case is fairly well closed. Evolution (meaning the idea that life emerged from non-life billions of years ago and slowly, over eons of time, became more and more complex and specialized, changing from pond scum to, eventually, people through a series of mutations and natural selection) is a belief system. As much as evolutionists want it to be based on evidence, it's not at all—not at all! If I had a dollar for every time an evolutionist told me about the mountain of “hard evidence” for universal common descent, I'd be fairly wealthy. Yet, when asked for just a pebble from this mountain there is most often no response. On occasion, things that do not support common ancestry are given as a portion of that mountain, or evidence shared by creationists to support their models is shown. But evidence that is incorporated into the creation model and the evolution model is not appropriate to use as evidence monopolized by evolution.

Here is a little fact for everyone to chew on: evolution as an explanation for the origin of life and the diversity of life from some most recent common ancestor has no scientific evidence whatsoever. None. Evidence for slight (often epigenetic) changes are given as proof for single common ancestry, but that is disingenuous. They are not the same thing. Let's take a quick look at why belief in evolution is BELIEF in it and why evolution can easily be called a religious faith. It's pretty straight forward, really.

I'm going to throw in atheism here for fun because, in reality, atheism naturally leads to a belief in evolution. The two go fairly hand in hand (which is another reason theistic evolutionists make me sad). Religion has several major components. The first is stories—primarily stories about origins of the universe and life. Atheism via the Big Bang and abiogenesis gives us its myth about origins. This even can lead to us knowing, from the atheist's perspective, what man's place in the universe is. According to the tale, man is just a smart animal and is, therefore, not really special at all. There is then experience. How many atheists have said how “liberated” they felt when they decided to deny the existence of God? Darwin had his time on the beagle that changed his perspective (not really—his grandfather wrote about universal common descent long before Darwin did). From the social perspective, atheism is as much a missionary minded religion as any other. Richard Dawkins says, “If this book [The God Delusion] works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” Atheism is taught to children under the guise of evolution (as I said, the two go hand in hand). Scientists are often looked at as the source of truth in the world. Some we would call them the priests of evolutionism or atheism.

Then there is the written source of the religion. Atheism has several manifestos that give it its substance, and there are numerous authors who have proclaimed its various truths. Whether an atheist knows what these documents claim or not, they likely believe what these pages state to one degree or another. Each religion has some sort of standard of conduct by and large. Atheism adopts relativism in terms of morality, although it really has no standard at all for morality as prominent atheist authors have stated. Ritual, I would say, is the weakest of the traits in atheism for religion. But it exists, for sure. Darwin's Day was just celebrated 2 weeks ago and has gained popularity over the last few years. There are other examples, but Darwin's Day is probably the biggest example. The material side of atheism includes nature herself. She's considered our mother by atheists. You can read in more detail about the 7 characteristics of religion and how it pertains to atheism here.

Evolutionism is a belief. People will foolishly put their faith in “experts” or those “at the top of their field” to give them answers to questions no scientist could possibly answer. Have you ever heard Neil deGrasse Tyson say, “The universe is almost 14 billion years old, and, wow! Life had no problem starting here on Earth! I think it would be inexcusably egocentric of us to suggest that we're alone in the universe.” This is a philosophical statement and has no basis in science. Some try to suggest that denying that evolution is a thing means you're rejecting science. That's nonsense—totally and utterly nonsense. Science and evolution are not just NOT synonyms, they're hardly related.

Here's the thing: show me a single piece of evidence that shows evolutionism is a reality. Be careful! I'm not asking for you to show me that a life form can change slightly under environmental pressures. That's not representative of universal common descent and it does not support that man shares an ancestor with apes or that birds evolved from dinosaurs. It means life can adapt. Nothing more. There is no evidence that supports this and can only mean Darwin was right. The mountain of evidence is a sham. It's a farce. There is not only not a mountain, there is not even a pebble. And reading what a Ph.D. says about events he doesn't understand, wasn't around for, and couldn't possibly have real knowledge on and then concluding that you've read the facts means you have no idea what science is or what it can do. Science –real science—can help us cure diseases or put satellites into orbit. It gives us cell phones and ballistic missiles. Universal common descent does none of those things. It's historical and literally nothing else. It's a story of past events and is unsupportable with real data.

Evolutionism is a religion. It's about faith in the word of a man who claims to know things he can't possibly know. And what of the “experts” who have studied God's Word their entire lives and say there is no way to marry Christianity's Genesis account with Darwin's origins myth? Are they not qualified enough to be taken seriously? Why is the evolutionist's “expert” more qualified than the Christian's? Because of predetermined outcomes that are selected for by the evolutionist.

What is exponentially worse is a Christian who will completely disregard what the Bible clearly says about origins and, instead, accept the currently popular origins myth of atheists (that we know will be different next year or 10 years from now). This, of course, is what the theistic evolutionist has done. Then they will hold hands with people who hate God and attack brothers and sisters in Christ using the God hater's arguments and tactics. The fact is, once a person has determined in their mind what they believe about origins, all data will be interpreted to support that idea… like it's a belief. Atheism is the active belief that there is no God (although some will try to say it's merely the absence of belief in God). Atheism makes claims only an omniscient being could make, setting the atheist up as his own god. If an atheist has made up in his mind that there is no God, when he is presented with data about the universe or allegedly about origins, how else will he interpret that evidence but in a way that will support his belief? To quote’s article Atheism Needs Evolution: “So all of the core elements of the grand theory of evolution (cosmological, geological, chemical, biological and human evolution) are simply a logical, philosophical outworking of the basic concept of classical atheism applied to the world we live in. All of these conclusions could be derived from a simple general belief that God does not exist (atheism), prior to influence from specific physical evidence whatsoever. From that point forward every fact one sees could be interpreted according to that view. These would then be correlated to create a history about the universe that supports those beliefs.”

And what of atheists who doubt the Darwinian mechanism for explaining life and its diversity? They BELIEVE something else, which is weird since they claim it's a fact.

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint... the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Michael Ruse, Ph.D. and anti-creationist philosopher of science.

Take a moment to read's article “Evolution a Religion.” It's a short read and outlines a number of particulars as to why Darwinism is a belief system.

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What Does the Bible Say About How to Treat Creation?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 19, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Creation: it’s all around us, and in fact literally is us! We know that God created everything - humans, nature, the sun and moon, the stars. So when He gave us His Word in the Bible, what did He tell us about how we should treat this amazing creation?

Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” The Hebrew word that’s translated there as “work” can also mean labor or serve. The general idea of it is to work or serve with respect. The word that’s translated there as “take care of” also means to guard or keep watch over. So in that statement, God is showing the man (Adam) and the rest of us that we should treat His creation with respect.

Numbers 35 talks about cities of refuge for the people of Israel where they can be safe, and verses 33-34 say, “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.” While that command was specific to the Israelites in that situation, we can take from it the idea that we should treat the land with respect. The Lord does dwell with us, and we should treat His creation well for that reason.

We know from Psalm 24:1-2 that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” If someone gives you a gift, especially a person you greatly respect or admire, you would generally treat that gift with the utmost respect. How much more should we take care of this earth that God has given us! It is a gift to us, along with our very lives, from the almighty creator of the universe!

In Exodus 23:10-11, God gave Israel specific instructions regarding the farming of their land: “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

Deuteronomy 11:12 is talking about the promised land as the Israelites are about to cross into it. It says, “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Again, that passage was written to that group of people specifically at that time, but the idea behind it is that God does care for the land, so we should treat it with respect.

God created this world for us as humans to inhabit, so simply because of that fact we should take care of it. It brings God glory when we take care of His creation. How are you glorifying God in your life by taking care of creation?

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The Faith of Samuel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, February 18, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I remember when the show American Idol, which became one of the most popular television shows of all time, first came out and one of the biggest reasons to watch the show was Simon Cowell. He was quite the polarizing figure because while other judges were soft, kind, and tried not to ruin the contestants’ dreams, Simon seemed to have no problem telling them exactly what they needed to hear. His goal was not to placate the contestants just so they could leave that week or the entire show feeling better about themselves. His years of working in the industry taught him that the best thing he could do for those people was tell them the truth.

Whether you liked Simon or not probably had a lot to do with how well you receive the truth when it is not what you hoped it would be. Personally, I enjoyed watching Simon on the show because I felt that he was the only person that truly cared about what was best for the individual. As I relate it to my own life, I’ve had plenty of “yes” people around me who were unwilling to give me the dose of reality I sorely needed at times, and I’ve also had plenty of people who were always willing to tell me the truth even when they knew it would sting temporarily. I can say with 100% certainty as I sit here and type this that the truth-talkers have been much more beneficial than anyone who wanted to make me feel better in the moment.

I’m sure many of you would say the same thing if you sit back and reflect on your lives. The truth doesn’t always feel good, but it’s never wrong. We can look at accepting truth when it doesn’t feel good as a sort of discipline. Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hearing what we need to hear gives us a chance to get back on track. If what we hear has to do with sin, it also gives us the chance to repent.

This week’s faithful hero is a man from the Old Testament named Samuel, which literally means “heard by God." I’ll get into the circumstances of his birth in another blog post later in this series, but it helps to know that his very existence was brought about by a conversation between his mother and the Lord, and that his life from very early on was characterized by his own ability to speak to and hear from God himself. Samuel is the last hero mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, but his story is quite unique. It’s hard to place him within one specific era in Israel’s history because he was around at the end of the period of the judges and the beginning of the period of the kings. Samuel is most known as one who “called upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 99:6). As such, Peter also lists him first among all the prophets as he is addressing the crowd in Acts 3:24. Like all of the other heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11, Samuel had a role to play in God’s story. But unlike many others, he had no great military victory or conquest. His role was to simply speak truth where it was needed, and he did it well.

The first time we really see Samuel doing what he was called to do is in 1 Samuel 3. He was only a boy but had been set apart for the Lord’s service by his mother, so basically, that means he was living at the house of the Lord and serving under a priest. That priest’s name was Eli, and the story tells us that Eli had wicked sons and that he did not properly deal with their sins. If the priest was not even willing to address sin within his own family, then he certainly wasn’t honoring the Lord and the position he had been given. Samuel hears God speak to him for the first time, but it’s bad news. God tells Samuel, who I remind you is STILL A BOY, that he is going to judge Eli and his household for the sins of his sons which Eli knew about and did nothing. 1 Samuel 3:15-18 then tell us that Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision the next morning despite Eli’s insistence. This is where we see, however, that Samuel does not allow that fear to stop him from honoring God’s word to him. He tells Eli the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and Eli correctly accepts the word of the Lord knowing he can’t change it anyway. Verse 20 then tells us that all of Israel recognized Samuel as a prophet of the Lord.

We see more examples of Samuel’s willingness to speak the truth throughout 1 Samuel. In chapter 8, we see that the elders of Israel ask for a king to lead them so they can be like the other nations. This greatly disturbs Samuel, so he goes to the Lord. He’s probably expecting God to work something good in the situation, but God just tells him to give the people what they want and warn them of the dangers of naming a king to rule over them, which really meant they were no longer looking to God for guidance but a mere man. Samuel again pours his heart out sharing everything God told him to share, but the people reject his words and demand a king. Repentance is rejected by the people, so they get Saul as king and the downward spiral begins.

In chapter 12, God brings thunder and rain when Samuel is done speaking to the people about God’s greatness and their sins. The people repent and admit their sin of asking for a king and also ask Samuel to pray that they won’t die for their sins. This might be where Samuel says something like, “Heck no! You knuckleheads have rejected my preaching so many times that I am done with you!” But that’s not what he says. He tells them it would be a sin against the Lord for him to fail to continue praying for them. Samuel continued to be faithful to God’s word.

Samuel stands up to King Saul several times, including in chapter 15 when Saul fails to completely obey the Lord, who told him to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul destroys everything and everyone that is weak and despised, but he keeps the best of the best alive. He tries to pretend his intention was to sacrifice them to the Lord, but Samuel declares that God prefers obedience over sacrifice every single time. He is so serious about keeping God’s word that he even kills the king of the Amalekites himself when Saul is unwilling. In chapter 16, Samuel anoints David as the next king of Israel even when he is rejected by everyone else, including his own father and family members. Samuel honors the word of the Lord for the rest of his life, and actually, beyond! In 1 Samuel 28, Saul is so distressed (sin will catch up to you eventually) that he consults a witch to consult the spirit of Samuel long after he has died. A crazy thing happens and the witch, probably to her own amazement, is able to bring up Samuel. Saul asks Samuel for help and guidance and even the spirit of Samuel continues to speak the difficult truth of God’s word to Saul.

What we can learn from Samuel is that God’s word is never to be sugar-coated. Without understanding the reality of what God is saying to us, we can never repent. And repentance is a MUST for anyone to really turn to Jesus. God sets a very high standard for those who claim the responsibility of speaking HIS word. Throughout the Bible, he condemns those who speak only what the people desire to hear so they can feel great about themselves. Samuel kept his faith in God’s word and never manipulated it to be what he wanted. He continued to speak it and very seldom brought about repentance. But as a true prophet, his ONLY responsibility was to speak the truth. The results were up to God. This is a powerful lesson for any of us who share God’s word with others. And in case you didn’t know it, faithful Christian, that’s not just preachers; IT’S YOU TOO!

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What Do Miracles Prove?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 17, 2018 1 comments

by Nathan Buck

I recently saw a post from a colleague about an unexpected miracle his congregation experienced. They were having a dinner for the community, and they planned for 100-150 people. But, they had double that amount show up! Their kitchen staff had planned for the original numbers, there was no extra food, and no one had time to go to the store. A bit panicked, the leadership, the prayer team that was praying for people coming to the event, and the kitchen staff all stopped and prayed. They asked God specifically for a "loaves and fishes" miracle like in Luke 9:10-17. Then they all prepared and started the event trusting God. Halfway through the meal, the lead kitchen person came into the gathering and announced that there was enough for anyone who wanted seconds. People ate their fill. At the end of the night, my colleague walked back to thank the kitchen staff, and there sitting on the counter was the leftovers. They had placed them in Styrofoam carry-out containers. With nothing wasted, and nothing stretched, there were EXACTLY 12 carry-out containers left. A miracle, exactly in line with what they prayed, and beyond the power of any human there.

Miracles are real. Miracles don't just "happen." Contrary to popular mystic psychobabblers on TV, the universe is not some powerful anonymous force conspiring to occasionally help us win at the casino or be more confident about our personal power to influence the world. THAT is delusion. Miracles are specific, and they are usually directly related to causing someone to lay down their sin and shame and trust God, or to amplify people's faith in God. If you read through the Bible you will see that all miracles, even creation itself, was intended for human beings to encounter the existence, power, and love of God.

So, I am not going to spend this blog post defending whether miracles "happen" or why they occur. They do, and they are intended to provoke faith in God. What I am going to do is look at what happens when we try to divorce the miraculous and supernatural from God.

Can empty spiritism and personal power do anything? Look no further than a recent speech at the Grammy's. The mask of spirituality, hides the obvious truth that "personal power" is really a reflection of pride. See the contrast. Using power words in speeches or evoking emotional responses in your followers, while directly benefiting and overlooking the very "casting couch" abuse that now conveniently serves political ambitions by supporting #metoo, is no different than thousands of other charismatic cultic leaders in history. Sadly, legitimate power to hold sex offenders accountable and give support to the abused is hindered by the blurred vision from this kind of virtue signaling. Saying we should "speak our personal power" reminds me of Acts 19:11-20.

In that passage of the Bible, God has been opening people's eyes to the truth of Jesus' resurrection. God has been doing incredible miracles of healing and restoration and people are giving their lives to God. But there is a group of religious Jews who don't believe in Jesus but see power being demonstrated by Paul, and they try to imitate it. They go and they try to face off against an evil spirit possessing a person. They say, " the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches..." (verse 13).

You know that moment when you say something, and then you realize what you just said makes no sense? I like to hope these guys had that moment here. But even if they didn't, what happened next surely confirmed to them that what God was doing through Paul, because of Jesus, was not some magic incantation they could wield. I laugh every time I read the demon's reply to them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" Especially because they get a thorough thrashing and are sent away naked and bloody. It's hilarious, because God's power is not some magic spell, and miracles are not a manifestation of human power or effort. Beyond that, it's hilarious because they get their butts handed to them for being fakes.

Think about all the empty spiritual messages constantly being offered up in our culture. It doesn't matter who says it, how popular they are, or how much influence they have in the world, if they present ANY offer or secret to power that is not directly from and in relation to God through Jesus Christ. It is at best a fantasy, at worst demonic, and most likely a trope to comfort their conscience and bolster their position.

Miracles are real, and they only occur for one reason: to demonstrate who God is and who and what he cares about. The Bible is clear: only one has the power to truly do miracles, and our experience of the miraculous is directly related to Him. I encourage you to read Acts 19 and 2 Timothy 3. Reflect on the differences between Paul and the imitators. Let God lead you to any place where you may be imitating godliness but denying its power. 

May you discover a deeper relationship with God and walk in His power in such a way that you see the kinds of miracles Jesus has done and continues to do.

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.