Lion in a Duck Suit

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, January 31, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Some imposters can be easy to spot. I don’t imagine it would be too hard to recognize a lion pretending to be a duck. After all, both are very unique in size, shape, movement, etc. You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…” No other animal can imitate the uniqueness of a duck and be mistaken for a duck. Come to think of it, I don’t know of any animals that pretend to be other animals in order to forget they are what they are. Perhaps the animal kingdom has one up on us humans?

How often do we pretend to be someone or something we are not? How often do we wear the masks we have created, out of pride or insecurity? How often do we live a lie that others have forced upon us with wounds, ridicule, or abuse? And how often have we wished we were someone else, or had someone else’s life, just because we are unsatisfied with our own? And that is just the normal superficial stuff.

What about when it comes to personal integrity, morality, truth, faith, and our spiritual life? How often do we play hide and seek with our identity, our heart, our soul, and our creator?

We are unsatisfied creatures. So much so that we are often willing to give up precious parts of ourselves to try and become anyone or anything other than who we are. Read Romans 1:18-25, and notice two words that stick out there in that section – “wrath” and “exchange.”

“Wrath” is being uncovered, or revealed, because of people who hold back/suppress the Truth with unrighteousness. Notice that it doesn’t say “wrath” is being inflicted, or rocket launched, or tazer-ed upon people. It’s important to note that God is not just sitting around waiting to “smite” people. I will come back to that in a couple of weeks when we talk about Romans 2.

Notice also the word “exchange.” It’s used repeatedly in this passage. It means to “stop” one thing and to “start” another. Usually these are contrasting things, meaning unlike each other. So, in these verses, what is it that is being “stopped” and what is being “started”?

“Glory of incorruptibility” is exchanged for “corruptible created things.” “Truth” is exchanged for “lies.” And if you read ahead, you will see natural sexual usefulness, for unnatural use and relating. I believe this was more than just sexual, because our usefulness to one another is far deeper than sex, but sexual deviation is definitely indicated here.

The “exchange” is a rejection of God and His creative design. People were not satisfied with being in the “image of God” they wanted to be gods themselves and make their own path. They exchanged the glory of their identity as children of God to become mask-wearing imposters. Instead of worshipping God, they started to worship lesser created beings and even pretended to act like them. Instead of the beauty of mutual trust and admiration for the uniqueness of and usefulness of male / female relationships and marriage, they started trying any and all combinations they could think of.

They abandoned their design and became less in their attempts to feel, experience, and control more.

What costume have you chosen to wear?

Where will that imaginary journey take you?

Spiritual Warfare Basics: Five Principles: Weather

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 30, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Therefore measure in terms of five things: use these assessments to make comparisons, and thus find out what the conditions are. The five things are the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership, and discipline.” ~Sun-Tzu, Chapter 1.

No general in history has been successful without having a good understanding of these five principles. I’m going to do things a little out of order, and address “the way” which is the “moral of the people” for last because Sun-Tzu believes this is the most important of the five. So here we will talk about the weather.

“Weather” is representative of all the factors that you cannot control or manipulate. You cannot control your enemy’s actions, but you can certainly manipulate them. The weather is something you cannot manipulate. You have no say in what the weather does. Twice European armies attempted to invade Russia: Napoleon tried and Hitler tried. The problem is that both Napoleon and Hitler did not consider Russia’s two generals: General Winter and General Mud. Neither army was prepared for the real winters that they only got small glimpses of in France and Germany. And neither army’s horses or tanks could get through the mud that was left when the snow melted. In both cases, Russia simply retreated until Napoleon or Hitler was stuck, and then they struck back.

When David sinned against Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, there is a subtle statement that not many pay attention to. In verse 1, the Bible tells us “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when the kings go out to battle.” I’m not going to go into what David did in this post, but I want to point out that in the Middle East at that time, they went out to battle in the springtime. Why is that? Think about the context. Where are they? The Middle East. It’s a desert. Nights are cold during the winter. A traveling army would not fare well in such conditions. The summers are also too hot during the day. The kings of the area would fight when the weather was best suited for battle. They did not want their soldiers suffering in the cold or heat or rain. Remember that in the desert, when it rains, it pours. Also in the desert, you don’t want to fight during a windstorm because the sand will blast you, cut off your vision, and you will have no clue what is going on.

But weather can also be a tactical advantage. I’ve read reports of several armies charging downhill from the east right at sunrise. Why do this? It forces the enemy army to stare uphill, right into the sun, blinding them and preventing them to see who is attacking. Many armies have moved under the cover of darkness, under the cover of fog, or even in a sand storm. In the wars with Iraq, there was a massive sand storm right before we brought out tanks in and moved into Bagdad. It frustrated the generals because they had to sit back and wait. However, the sand storms blasted all the sand in the area away and exposed many of the landmines that had been planted in wait for them. In another famous battle, Elizabeth I of England defeated the mighty Spanish Armada, but with help: wind and waves. In many cases, weather has turned the tides of many battles and wars.

Spiritually speaking, what would weather be like in the battles we face? Remember that weather represents the things we cannot control or manipulate. Have you ever been in a situation where you really have no clue of what is going on and everything feels foggy around you? You aren’t alone. Keep your guard up. The enemy is likely making a move. But don’t forget that you might also be the one moving. There are times where God will make things foggy and murky to protect you. You may seem lost and confused but if you could see clearly you would not keep moving forward. One of the best illustrations of this is in CS Lewis’ book The Horse and his Boy. Shasta and Aravis, and the horses Bree and Hwin, had just sprinted to the Hermit’s house to the point of exhaustion and Shasta continues on foot. He reaches the King of Archenland just in time to warn him of Rabadash’s invasion, but then ends up traveling through a foggy mountain road where he would alert the forces of Narnia. When he came back with the army, he saw the route he had taken: a narrow path along a cliff. Had he seen the cliffs he would not have travelled as quickly as he needed to.

What about you? Do you trust the Lord in times of confusion and fog? Can you trust him to escort you through a dangerous location, keeping you in the dark so you do not see the dangers around you? Or so that the enemy cannot see you as you move through his territory? As I wrote this post, this verse came to mind: ”Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Did you get a new perspective on this verse like I just got? I hope so. Are you frustrated with spiritual sandstorms that keep blasting you, giving you grit in your teeth and making it hard to breathe? I do. I live in the desert and I understand the dirt storms that resemble those seen in the movie Hidalgo. But how often do these storms in our lives keep us from running into the enemy’s landmines that we don’t know are there?

In a personal experience, three years ago my parents and I were moving from one place southeast of El Paso, TX, to where we are now. We have a mobile home and had been working all but non-stop to get the house ready. But we lived in a farm area and our house was the biggest thing the house-movers had ever moved. It rained heavily for a few days right when we were supposed to make the move, leaving a lot of slimy mud. We had to wait a week. It was frustrating because we wanted to get the job done. But we learned later that the reason for the rain and preventing us from moving the house was to give us rest. We would not have rested had this not happened. And we needed it, despite not wanting to admit it.

We have to remember that God is sovereign over all the weather, all the conditions that we cannot control. He can change them in an instant. Jesus spoke to a storm and it calmed. He also sent hail to wipe out an army. He has it all under control and he will direct the weather to get you where you need to be. He will direct the weather to aid you in your battles and to protect you from battles you should not fight. But you need to trust him. He will get you where you need to be. He may stick you in the backside of a desert for 40 years as he did with Moses, but in all he does he is training you and preparing you for a destination where he will receive glory through your life. It is not going to be clear, calm, and comfortable all the time. We’ll go through heat and cold. Wind and calm. Clear and obscure. Rain, snow, and sometimes, hail. Tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes. And peaceful, calm, perfect. Every one of these we face, is for making us more like Christ and bringing us closer to the destination God has planned.

Next week, I’ll address terrain. Sun-Tzu devotes two chapters to terrain and I could easily do an entire series on that alone. But I’ll keep it to one post and hope this will help you understand knowing what ground you are fighting on and how it plays a role into your strategies.

Egyptian History and the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 29, 2015 2 comments

by Steve Risner

History. I'm a fan. My first love in academics is science. My second would be history. I have seen in many discussions that skeptics of the Biblical account use what they believe is recorded history as an example of well known facts that demonstrate the unreliable nature of God's Word. I’m sure many of these skeptics believe what they're suggesting. But the facts surrounding the accuracy of ancient historical records are less than settled and, in fact, there is a great movement towards reconciling ancient chronologies to better accommodate the Biblical chronology (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Today, I will use primarily Egyptian history as it is one often cited as evidence against the Biblical account.

First, let me say that the only reason I can see to doubt the clear text of Scripture is to compromise it with secularism and its rejection of God. But we should not adapt the Bible to fit the most recent version of history described by secularists. I say this because some have tried to suggest the Bible is allegorical in its opening chapters. There is literally no Biblical support for such beliefs. Hebrew scholars such as James Barr suggest, “...probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the [idea] that ... the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.” This means a simple reading of the text can give us approximate dates of events found in Genesis. Using this method of arithmetic (known as addition and subtraction), we calculate that the creation of the earth took place just over 4000 BC, that the Flood occurred about 2400 BC, Abraham trusted in God around 1900 BC, and the Exodus was about 1500 BC. Any attempt to suggest any of these dates are incorrect is not based on the Bible but on extra-biblical beliefs, i.e. placing something else on equal footing with God's Word or even placing something else on higher footing than Scripture. But, as we'll see shortly, historical evidence supports Scripture far better than it supports the secular model of history.

Egyptian history is fascinating. Some would suggest it spans far into the past—further than the Flood. This is a major problem for a natural reading of the early parts of Genesis since all of mankind, save 8 people, was destroyed in the Flood. So skeptics will criticize the Bible because its chronology disagrees with the popularly believed chronology of ancient Egypt. But this argument assumes that the Egyptian chronology is correct and the Biblical chronology is wrong. One might just as easily argue that the Egyptian chronology is wrong, because it disagrees with the Bible. Do you see the problem there?

The currently accepted chronology of Egypt is not one of antiquity. It was actually not even devised until the 20th century. It was heaped in assumptions (that are unsupported) but is now held on to as truth. The standard Egyptian chronology causes problems for nearly every other civilization that it is used to date. Egyptian history isn't labeled with dates. It is based on the assumption that no two Egyptian dynasties ruled simultaneously which is demonstrably false. There were frequently ruling parties that ruled together in different parts of the nation of Egypt. Adjusting the history for this, which many historians are beginning to support, will alter the Egyptian time line such that it coincides perfectly with the Biblical account. Let me explain.

First of all, the Byzantine historian Constantinus Manasses wrote that Egypt existed for 1663 years. If we do the math from the year that Persia conquered Egypt, we find Egypt was founded by Mizraim, Noah's grandson, in 2188 BC. This was well after the Tower of Babel dispersion—over 150 years. The currently accepted chronology adds nearly 1000 total years to the national history of Egypt. This is one issue with the Bible we can clear up readily.

Secondly, we have the Hebrews in Egypt, according to the Bible, with no evidence of such an occupation. That is the claim, anyway. But using the standard Egyptian chronology developed within the last 100 years, which has already been shown to give us erroneous results, it doesn't line up with ancient historians and it's based on false assumptions. It's said the Hebrews should have existed in Egypt during the 18th dynasty. There is no archeological record of such a thing—no Hebrews, no slaves, no Exodus, no Moses. That's because the Hebrews were there more likely during the 12th dynasty. When the timeline is adjusted to fit other well-known events, it seems it fits the Biblical time line rather well. Let me explain further.

We can deduce the date of the Exodus by looking at I Kings 6:1, which tells us “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” Historians agree for the most part that Solomon's 4th year would have been 966 BC. Working backwards, we're roughly at 1500 BC for the Exodus. Let's go further.

There seems there is enough evidence to support the existence of a Pharoah, Amenemhet III, who was a tyrant that enslaved a large number of foreigners. He had a son, Amenemhet IV. Mysteriously, Amenemhet IV vanishes without a word from all the ancient records. Amenemhet III had a daughter, Sobekneferu, who had no children. She became Pharaoh for 8 years and ended the 12th dynasty. The 12th dynasty was the time of the building of the pyramids. Why would the Egyptians need an entire nation of slaves if not to build these great structures?

You may be wondering why these names—Amenemhet and Sobekneferu—are not found in the Bible. It's common for names to be changed or for different peoples to refer to the same character with different names. In this case, the pharaoh in question is simply referred to as “pharaoh.” And if you look for such a nasty character during the 18th dynasty, you most certainly will not find him. You'd be 350 years or so too late. So the story is that Amenemhet III was the mentioned pharaoh. Sobekneferu found Moses in the river and adopted him. If she had no children, it would make sense for her to go to the river to pray to a god to provide her with a child. It would also make sense that a child, Moses, floating among the reeds that she found would be considered a gift from that god. He became Amenemhet IV. But Moses chose to identify himself with the Hebrews and, therefore, vanished from Egyptian record. Sobekneferu ruled 8 years after her father's death. When she died, so did the 12th dynasty. Another source of skepticism possibly taken care of.

But what of the plagues? Certainly such a devastating slew of events would have a record. Keep in mind we're talking about 3500 years ago or so. We're blessed to have any record of any of it. But we do find, written on papyrus some very interesting information. “Nay, but the heart is violent. Plague stalks through the land and blood is everywhere… Nay, but the river is blood. Does a man drink from it? As a human he rejects it. He thirsts for water… Nay, but gates, columns and walls are consumed with fire… Nay but men are few. He that lays his brother in the ground is everywhere… Nay but the son of the high-born man is no longer to be recognized… The stranger people from outside are come into Egypt… Nay, but corn has perished everywhere. People are stripped of clothing, perfume and oil. Everyone says "there is no more". The storehouse is bare… It has come to this. The king has been taken away by poor men.” (Erman, A., Ipuwer Papyrus, Leiden Museum, quoted from The Ancient Egyptians, a source book of their writings, Harper and Row, New York, pp. 94—101, 1966). To me, this sounds an awful lot like the land was devastated much like the Biblical account.

What about the Exodus? There is evidence that the slaves who lived in Kahun were the Israelites and that they left in a great hurry, leaving much of their belongings behind. This is in line with the Biblical account.

There are many other civilizations that confirm the Biblical account of historical events and people. When analyzed with an open mind, the truth of Scripture can be confirmed with external evidence. If one's desire is to fuel a hatred for the God of the Bible, no evidence will be seen that supports the Word of God. The closed mind cannot find God because he or she desires only to live in separation from their Creator. Any evidence that contradicts this notion will be brushed aside and ignored. The open minded and critically thinking individual can see God all around and appreciate evidence of His existence and the authenticity of His Word.

Creator vs. Creation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As I watched the postgame show after this year’s AFC Championship game in which the New England Patriots soundly defeated the Indianapolis Colts, I saw a giant sign in the stands that read, “In Bill We Trust”. This sign was a reference to the Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick, who is widely considered the best head coach in the game. The fans waived this sign proudly and the game announcers even drew attention to the sign in their own moment of praise for the man’s accomplishments. Just a few weeks before that, a reporter asked new University of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh whether or not he is comfortable with people calling him “The Messiah” because he is going to be the savior of the football program. To his credit, he said, “I’m not comfortable with that at all”. But that hasn’t stopped Michigan followers from viewing him in this manner. I watch sports enough that I can’t say I’m surprised by these reactions to mere men for their accomplishments. But because I know there is only one Messiah in whom we can trust, it catches my attention. One might wonder, how did these people get to this point?

I would contend that their outward words and actions weren’t produced overnight. In Romans 1:18-25, the Apostle Paul explains the progression of sin and its consequences. The end consequence is that “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (v. 24). Once they were given over, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (v. 25). So those are the results. But what caused those results? We see in verse 21 that it started with their “thinking”. That thinking included not glorifying God, not thanking him, and forgetting that he is the immortal Creator while they and everything around them are just parts of a mortal creation. Because “their thinking became futile”, they found themselves replacing the God they once knew with created things and persons in a way they probably never would’ve imagined doing. We need to learn from their path. It didn’t happen overnight. As the Lord directly told Cain as recorded in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it”. We need to accept that the battle is raging over our minds whether we consciously recognize it or not.

When you don’t master the sin that “desires to have you”, you really only have two choices from that point forward. You can either accept the reality that you cannot overcome it in your own power and must rely on the grace and mercy of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, or you can basically throw in the towel and conclude that you might as well keep living in sin because you can’t stop it or just don’t want to. The people that Paul is talking about in the passage above are those who did know God, but have simply not recognized the power God has given them over sin. It’s interesting that God’s righteous wrath did not destroy them. Instead, he simply gave them over and allowed them to experience the due consequences of their actions. Think about that. The Spirit revealed something to me in this passage. It is not God’s grace that allows us to continue in our sins, but his wrath. When we make choices to abandon wise thinking and begin to exchange truth for lies, God allows us to experience the consequences of playing with those fires. On the contrary, it is God’s grace and mercy that literally pulls us out of our sin when we can’t seem to do it ourselves. This is not fun, friends. When you are really battling your desire for sin and God puts up roadblocks for you, it might be frustrating. At the same time, it gives you a chance to look back and be thankful for how he stopped you.

Recently, I have begun to recognize how this plays out in my own life. As I’ve struggled to step away from destructive choices, I have literally gone to bed many nights asking God to show his mercy by getting me out of my mess. I’ve done this after I have seen that my repeated attempts to get myself out of it have failed, and that there are times I have just chosen what is wrong even though I know it leads to destruction and ultimately desire not to sin. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you know the difference between your flesh and the work of the Spirit in you. You know that while you may have an overarching desire to not sin that has come from the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, there are still desires of the flesh that seem to attack you almost every day. I encourage you to ask God to show his mercy by leading you out of your mess.

It’s the devil who wants to beat you down for the mistakes you’ve made. But even after you have replaced God with a created thing, you still have hope. When you find yourself in despair after you have given in to sin, I urge you to go back and replay in your mind how you got to that point. Where did your thinking begin to change? Where did lies replace the truth about God that you knew? As those things become clearer to you, repent by not only confessing your sins to God but also by humbly asking him to intervene when you face the temptation again.

There are many ways that we worship creation over the Creator as the Romans did. It may be an athlete, singer, movie star, or politician that you depend on to give you what you feel you need. It may even be your local pastor or worship leader, whose abilities have caused you to forget that the same Holy Spirit who moves through them also moves through YOU. As sons and daughters, you may still be trying to always please your parents. As parents, you may be putting your children’s opinions of you above God’s. These are all forms of worshiping creation over the Creator. We may not even realize the ridiculousness of it until we step away and evaluate.

In Luke 17:11-14, all that a group of 10 lepers had to do was stand at a distance and call out to Jesus to have pity on them as he passed them by. They recognized that their state was a total disaster. They didn’t even need to ask for a specific result or act from Jesus, but needed only to appeal to his compassion for their helpless situation. Be encouraged from this story that God knows your helpless state as a slave to your sin and the ONLY thing you need to do is call out to him. He may ask for steps of faith after that just as Jesus did in the story. But he will surely come to your aid if you turn to him and admit that he is Creator and the only One worthy of your praise. If this has struck a nerve with you, don’t delay. Your stand upon the truth begins today.

Dear Neil Degrasse Tyson: That Religious Feeling You Get When You Look at the Stars IS a Religious Experience

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, January 27, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

Today I was listening to Neil Degrasse Tyson, the host of the popular science series Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, lecture against the existence of God.

As he lectured, he cited Ptolemy, who upon observing the heavens praised the gods for the magnificence of the cosmos. Tyson then stated, “This is Intelligent Design.” No, he was not giving credit to the Intelligent Design movement or credibility to the notion that there could be a God out there. His point was that even though we are compelled to worship some sort of divine being as we observe the universe, this feeling is a false feeling and it is a natural feeling. It is like we are stupefied by what we look at in the vast vacuum of space. In other words, he was simply stating that our study of the universe naturally instills us with an awe and wonder akin to some sort of reeeeligooooussss experience. Hmm. What does Romans 1:18-23 say? Check it out:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” ~Romans 1:18-23

Shall I go on? Need I? Ok, you twisted my arm. Mr. Tyson, you might not like the answers the Bible has to give, but it just described you to the finest point. Why can a person look up to the heavens and be filled with awe and wonder, akin to a religious experience? Could it be because our observations of nature are a part of our religious experience? Could it be that the universe reveals God to us; that it opens the door to a greater understanding of who created everything that we see? This seems to be what the Bible is advocating. But what about this verse that says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools”?

I do not seek to offend anybody who might be reading this blog post, but it is making a point of which Dr. Tyson is a clear example. If you can look up at the heavens and exclaim, “Wow, this makes me want to worship!” and then in your next breath say, “There is no God,” you have by your own admittance become what the Bible calls a fool.

I have heard my fair share of atheists debating theists, and the atheist’s number one argument is that there is no evidence that can either prove or disprove the existence of God. This means, to them, that the existence of God is just an absurdity. But wait, did not Tyson legitimize Ptolomy’s worship of the gods by saying that observing the universe brings upon this sort of euphoria? Do not evolutionists also routinely concede that life appears as though it has been designed? Are there not natural laws and solid theories that defy evolutionary philosophy, like the law of conservation of energy, biogenesis, and (dare I say) entropy?

I don’t mean to take away from Tyson’s brilliance; he is a very smart man. What I will say is that he is closed-minded and does not realize how badly he is hurting the progress of science by denying the possibility that God exists. Giving credit to Newton and Ptolemy, but denying credit to people like Jason Lisle and Stephen Meyer, is beyond hypocritical; it’s totally backwards. The God through whom the wonders of the natural world were first unveiled is the same God who still has much to reveal.

Romans 1:18-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 26, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25)

Before you start reading this post, go read this webcomic. It’ll only take you a minute; I’ll wait.

I think that webcomic perfectly sums up the message of this week’s passage of the book of Romans. We are the blind men feeling the elephant, but we don’t just have to stumble around blindly trying to figure out God. The elephant speaks - God has revealed Himself to us!

Generally speaking, there are two types of revelation of God: general revelation, and special revelation. General revelation is what is described in the first part of our passage from Romans (verses 19-20 specifically) - we see God through the people and things He has created. We can see God’s character in nature, in the amazing complexities of the human body (check out some of Steve Risner’s posts for more on that), and in how this world functions. Every human being has access to all of that; there is no excuse for not seeing God revealed in what He has created.

Special revelation is where God reveals more details about Himself to us. The Bible is considered the best form of special revelation that we have, and that too is accessible to almost everyone. Many organizations today are working on making it more accessible to those who don’t have it translated into their native language yet, but I would guess that everyone reading this post has access to a Bible. You probably have a printed copy or two (or more) around your house, and if not there are many websites such as Bible Gateway where you can access the entire text of Scripture in many, many translations. So special revelation, too, is accessible to most people on the planet as well now.

So why does all this matter? To sum it up, God is God. If we acknowledge Him as God, great! If we don’t acknowledge Him as God, He is still God and He is still ruling over the entire universe.

The problem is that people think that if they don’t acknowledge God as God, then He isn’t God. This is as true today as it was back when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans in the 1st century. As Paul says, by this thinking “they became fools” (verse 22). They made created things their god, rather than God. People today may not worship images made to look like people or animals, but we do worship many other things than God - check out this post on idolatry for more on that.

Take a good, close look at the world around you and see what God has revealed to you. If that isn’t enough, read your Bible and learn more about the character of the living God. Remember, the elephant speaks; we have no excuse to not know God and to not acknowledge Him as the God of the universe.

A Firm Foundation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 25, 2015 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Several years ago I wrote a talk about building a firm foundation. This talk is based on Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

If we want to have a firm foundation we need to build our lives on the rock, which is Jesus. If we want to be able to withstand the storms of life, our foundation needs to be in a daily relationship with Jesus and built on the word of God. In my own life I started to recognize a pattern in my behavior. When the storms of life came crashing down I found myself reverting to old behaviors and I would fall into old mindsets.

What I realized was that you can’t build a future with a crack in your foundation.

If you were building a new home and you went to check on the progress and found a crack in the foundation, you wouldn’t let them continue to build until the situation was completely resolved. Building a house on a cracked foundation would only result in bigger problems in the future. Over time as the house shifts, the floors will warp and the walls will crack causing more and more damage.

It is the same thing in our lives. Every one of us has experienced hurt, and some have had extremely painful pasts. You can’t build a future if you are paralyzed by your past.

It is as if you had a deep splinter and you continued to apply medicine but you never removed the splinter. It wouldn’t heal until the root cause was dealt with.

Do you have underlying issues that hover just below the surface? Do you notice that when life becomes hard or stressful you relate it to a past hurt? Do you feel like you continue to deal with the same issues over and over again? It is important that we identify the cracks in our lives so we don’t spend our whole life trapped in a painful past.

Once we have identified an issue, we need to deal with it. It may seem easier to ignore it and hope it goes away, but like a cracked foundation on a home when left unresolved, the problem festers and gets worse over time. The first step in healing is laying your pain at the feet of Jesus, giving the situation to him and asking for his healing. Seek wise counsel from a pastor, trusted friend, or a Christian counselor. Often times, asking for or granting forgiveness is necessary to move forward. This can be the most difficult step. Go to the person in love. Your goal is to move forward in a positive light, not cause more strife. I have heard it said that if we allow bitterness to take root in our lives, it is like drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person; the only person it hurts is you.

After identifying the cracks in our lives and addressing them head on, we continue our progress by studying the Bible and spending time in prayer. We need to build a foundation in Christ so that when the rain comes down, the streams rise, and the wind blows and beats against us, our foundation will hold firm.

What are the cracks in your foundation? Could it be past hurts, pain, anger, bitterness? Spend some time in prayer examining your life to make sure there are no cracks so that your life is built on a firm foundation.

Spiritual Warfare Basics: The Enemy’s Equipment and Arms

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 23, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of knowing our enemy and knowing ourselves. Last week, I wrote briefly about the standard issued equipment we, as believers, have for this battle. I also introduced the idea that some of us have specializations for engaging in this battle. Today, I am going to introduce to you what our enemy has at his disposal to use against us. It’s very difficult to make a battle plan if you don’t know what your enemy is equipped with. So let’s dig in.

Scripture actually does not list any armor the enemy uses in the same sense that we have armor. And I have a pretty good idea why. It’s because of our equipment. There is a scene in the movie Lethal Weapon 3 where the villain creates a special bullet that can pierce the police’s bullet-proof vests. And Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson) when demonstrating the effect of these bullets makes a comment: “Vests are optional, boys and girls.”

While this scene was how the bad guy’s weapons penetrated the good guy’s armor, the reverse is true in the spiritual realm. Our weapons, because of God’s holy power and provision, are too powerful for any armor they could muster. So they don’t bother wearing any. I see no hint in Scripture that our spiritual enemy wears any personal armor to defend himself in the same way we have armor. But do not let that allow you to put your guard down. An enemy without armor is not necessarily weak.

The same friend of mine who I referenced last week about using “landmines” is using a table-top role-playing game called WarHammar 40K to help him visualize and picture how we could engage in this spiritual battle. One of the races in this game is called the Dark Eldar. This race is very similar to the Orcs of Lord of the Rings. They come in large numbers and are the “minions of evil.” But this race has no defensive stats. What they do have is very high attack power and very high speed and evasion stats. What does this mean? As my friend very well describes it: “If you can spot them from a distance, they are target practice. If you let them get too close, sign the will.” Our enemy uses speed, agility, and offense to fight. They don’t worry about defense very much. They will run before they will try to hold their ground because they know they will lose anyway.

However, in Matthew 16:18, we hear Jesus talking about the “gates of hell.” So they do have some kind of defenses, but that is fortress or stronghold defenses, not personal armor defenses. And these strongholds do not come down with ease, unless you are submitted to the will of God and are using his weapons. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that our weapons are not carnal but have divine powers to demolish strongholds. These defenses are not actually as strong as they are made to appear. And this brings us to the main weapon our enemy uses: Deception.

Deception was the first tactic used against mankind in the Garden of Eden. The first thing the serpent said was “Did God really say?” You are going to hear me reference this a LOT during this series because it is used extensively when we see the enemy’s tactics in play. In fact, if you study Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, you will be able to summarize it in three words: Deception, Deception, Deception. The reason I keep bringing this book up is because it is the “Bible” of warfare. This book is used in so many different fields and is required reading in every military academy I know. As a church, the principles of this book are being used against us and very effectively.

The Bible records many historical events, and one of the reasons it does is because it gives us a blueprint of the enemy’s tactics. He doesn’t change his tactics very much, only how it is packaged. And his primary weapons, the primary tools he uses, are smoke and mirrors. He’s really good at them. He is really good at making himself appear much bigger, much more powerful than he actually is. He is still a formidable foe if you are not careful. Do not think you can outsmart him. But do not fear; we have a general, a Commander-in-Chief that has never lost on our side: Jesus Christ.

The enemy has a collection of weapons he uses. They include fear, doubt, propaganda, lies, mocking, ridicule, peer-pressure, worldly-system pressure, and deception. But the one I hate the most is one that has proven to be very effective. We expect these types of weapons from an expected enemy source. We expect fear coming from Muslims. We expect propaganda coming from governments wanting to get their people to submit to their ideals. However, where the enemy has been most effective is in planting false teachers and false teachings from within our midst. If you don’t believe that false teachers will be in the church, look at the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Jesus tells us the enemy will plant false teachers within our midst. Will we recognize them?

All of Scripture verses that warn against false teachers are hard to comprehensively list. Twice in Paul’s letters to Timothy, he addresses these issues. In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul warns about profane and idle babblings which is falsely called “knowledge.” There are going to be a lot of false teachings that the “experts” are going to call “science” and “fact.” I rail against Evolution because this is precisely the type of thing Paul is warning us about. In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul warns us there will be times where people within the church are not going to tolerate sound doctrine. Why not? Because they will have bought the deception, the lies the enemy has been planting through the false teachers. Not all who claim to be Christians are Christians, and not every preacher from the pulpit is a tool of God. The way to tell who is who is to be a Berean and to check out what is being said with Scripture.

Now that we’ve established the basics of our equipment and we’ve established what our enemy is going to use to fight against us, let us from here delve into five key principles that every military general must understand to engage in battle: Weather, Terrain, Military Doctrine, Leadership, and the Will of the People. To whet your appetite on this, the weather contains everything you cannot control including conditions of the battle field, the seasons, etc. Terrain is the battlefield itself. It’s not just a matter of what battles you chose to fight, but where you choose to fight them. Military Doctrine is the principles of how generals and soldiers should act and behave. Leadership includes chain of command and dealing with authority. And the Will of the People deals with how both the soldiers on the field and the people back home view the war and support the war. In the next five weeks, I will hit each one of these as a sub-series of Spiritual Warfare Basics.

Big Bang or Big Dud? (Part 2)

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 22, 2015 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week I took a short look at a few of the scientific issues surrounding the Big Bang. We briefly looked at the CBR (cosmic background radiation) and touched on expansion. That leads us to redshifts. The redshift is what is put up as support for the expansion of the universe. Is it really expanding? Who knows? Redshift is an apparent shifting of the wavelength of light seen from luminous objects in space. If the universe is expanding as they say, it would be interesting to find out where all the energy lost would be going. Gentry wrote a series of papers on this, one of which outlined the massive loss of energy that would violate the First Law of Thermodynamics (which we’ll get to in a moment). Redshifts are real, for sure. But what they show us is anyone’s guess. Some say it’s similar to a Doppler shift—exemplified by the change in pitch of the sound of a race car going by or a siren on an ambulance. What is strange is that many objects in space that must be close together (because they have a visible bridge between them) can have very different redshifts. Redshifts are used to determine distance. How does this stand to reason in light of the observable data? Essentially, this means they've got 2 completely different measurements of distance and claim they are the same. Redshifts also seem to be quantized or in specific patterns. This is not in agreement with the Big Bang at all. Then we have quasars and their redshifts which do not work out at all in light of their apparent positions in space (no pun intended there). Quasars are extremely bright and have huge redshifts. But they seem to be found within structures or very close to structures that are not near as far away.

The Big Bang depends upon the cosmological principle which states the universe is everywhere the same, more or less. On the local level, galaxies obviously clump into clusters or even superclusters, but cosmologists have assumed that on a larger scale this clumping disappears. Extensive surveys of galaxy distributions have revealed that clumping and long strands of galaxies seem to be the norm on the largest scales that have been studied. The uniformity of the universe is assumed, but all evidence indicates that the universe is not uniform or evenly spread out. In other words, there is no evidence that the universe is homogeneous.

A very large problem many have simply waived their hand at is the First Law of Thermodynamics. The Big Bang does not answer the question of, “Where did everything come from?” It cannot do that. It is only an explanation of what may have happened AFTER everything we know of (matter and energy) existed. Essentially, the story goes that nothing expanded rapidly to give us everything we see today in the universe. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. The Big Bang gets a pass here. The answer most will give is that the laws of nature don't apply to this particular instance. How nice, right? When faced with a problem that goes against everything we've ever observed, they simply say, “Well, that doesn't apply in this one instance even though we know it applies to every other case in the universe that we know of.”

Another issue with demonstrable laws of science is that of entropy. Entropy means, essentially, randomness or running down—decay. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states a system will increase its entropy. An explosion (or expansion if we must) has never been seen to result in a net increase in order. In fact, every single time an explosion has been witnessed, the result is a large amount of disorder. If we took a box full of all the parts needed to build a TV and hung it in out space, we would not expect it to become a TV if we simply cause the box to expand rapidly. That doesn't make any sense. As previously mentioned, the universe is actually highly ordered. From the weight of an electron to the energy potentials of the universe to the distances between bodies in space, it's all delicately balanced.

Another principle in physics, the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, raises questions about the Big Bang. There are planets and moons that spin the “wrong” direction when compared to other planets and moons. If the solar system was a huge dust cloud that, for whatever reason, began to spin, wouldn't all the bodies in that system spin the same way? The claim is that somehow the planets and moons with retrograde motion were struck by some object in space which caused this spin reversal. Can you imagine the amount of energy required to do that? Me either. As an example, Pluto (a retrograde planet) has a mass of 1.25x1024 kg! It's the smallest planet with such motion. Venus and Uranus also are retrograde. The energy required to move such a structure without knocking it out of orbit is beyond the imagination. Would we expect some sort of mark to remain after such a collision? There are also multiple satellites of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune that have orbits that are counter to the other satellites of those planets. Strange when viewed from a Big Bang perspective. We also are blessed with the completely made up existence of dark matter and energy. Why do such things exist? Because if they didn't, cosmologists couldn't explain much at all. It MUST exist (even though there is literally no trace of it at all) or they've got it all wrong. We could talk about dark matter all day, so let's just stop there.

These are but a few things that conflict with the idea of the Big Bang (none of which are theological). Science has accepted this theory of origins with little question or regard for the scientific process. When we consider the issues involved with the Big Bang and the Bible, the problems are even greater. There is literally no way to make the Big Bang and “Let there be light...” work together unless you toss out the entire story of creation. The time frame is off. The order of creation is off. The mode by which God states He made everything is violated. There is just no way to make sense of the two together.

However, as I stated in last week’s blog post, some Christians have decided to meld God's Word with man's current word on the subject. This is simply a terrible idea for several very obvious reasons. One is that God's Word doesn't change but our understanding of the universe around us changes all the time. Many Christian theologians, scientists, and philosophers have accepted Big Bang cosmology and have made it part of their apologetics. But the history of science tells us that most ideas that were once accepted as true were eventually abandoned when further evidence was found. This is one of science's great marks—that it is constantly evolving. How many theories from centuries past are still held on to today? It is very arrogant to believe that our generation has found ultimate truth, especially when it comes to a subject we practically know nothing about, truly. An honest and humble examination of the history of science would tell us that there is an excellent chance that the Big Bang, as widely accepted as it is, will be replaced someday. If and when it falls out of favor and we have made it a central theme of our apologetics, then what will happen to our apologetics?

The wise man builds his house on the rock, so when trials come the house will stand. God's Word is the rock we can rest on when we are discussing the origins of the universe and of life. The foolish man builds his house on the sand which gets washed away with every new trend. That house is bound to fall.

The Gospel Ripple Effect

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 21, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As anyone who has ever jumped in a pool or thrown a large rock into a lake knows, the ripple effect always starts from the point of impact and moves outward. Unless there is some scientific phenomenon of which I am not aware, it is impossible for the ripple to be felt far away from the impact first and then work its way back to the object.

The ripple effect caused by the gospel message of Jesus Christ works the same way. In Romans 1:15-17, the Apostle Paul talks about his eagerness to continue speaking about this gospel to the Christians even in Rome, where it was still pretty dangerous to do so. He goes on to share why he is eager: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (v. 16). This was one of the first Bible verses I ever had to memorize when I was a child, yet I didn’t really understand the last part of it until just recently. Many who struggle to believe the truth found in the Bible will point to statements within it that seem to contradict one another. For example, Romans 2:11 says, “For God does not show favoritism”. That verse is right after the “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” phrase is repeated two more times! One might wonder how it is possible for God to not show favoritism if the Jews are constantly coming first!

I’d like to address this apparent contradiction, because understanding why Paul mentions this phrase three times in the first two chapters of Romans can help us with our mission mindset even today. It is true that God does not show favoritism, but the Jews never seemed to grasp this. They were the people of the Old Testament who had a covenant with God and it did provide certain advantages. The problem was that they took their standing with God for granted and forgot about their purpose. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Rather than seeing their advantages as given to them for the purpose of “making them a light” to others, many Jews viewed Gentiles (anyone who is not Jewish) as unclean and undeserving of salvation. So while God did not show favoritism, the Jews certainly favored themselves!

Paul seemed to understand Israel’s position and call when he lived during the New Testament times. When he mentions that salvation comes “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”, he is simply pointing out that the Jewish race is where God chose to begin his message of redemption, grace, and salvation. The word “first” isn’t about favoritism; it’s about responsibility. Israel had a covenant with God based on the faithfulness of Abraham and their other forefathers, but then they broke their covenant and God chose to redeem them through a descendant of their own race. When Christ came to the earth and was born a Jew, the gospel message was brought FIRST to the Jews. The responsibility of his Jewish disciples, according to Jesus’ own command, was to “go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 [caps mine]). The Jews first had the opportunity to receive the gospel message of salvation so they could then expand it to “all nations”. God chose to bring that message through a man and chose to have that man be born to a Jewish woman. This isn’t favoritism because it’s merely the starting point.

Think about what I wrote above about the object being tossed into the pool or lake. Jesus Christ and his closest followers were that object. The ripple effect of the gospel was intended to reach ALL nations as it went out from the Jewish race. After Jesus gave the Great Commission (quoted above), he repeated his intentions for the gospel message again in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. Later in Acts 8:1, we see that “a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria”. And so it began.

So, the question we all must address at this point is what this means for us in the church today. I believe the answer is two-fold. First of all, let’s not ever get too conceited based on what we think our position is before God in the church. The church where I pastor is going through a potentially large change in leadership structure right now. We had a great discussion the other day about how being an elder, deacon, pastor, or any other officer in the church is not about power or authority, but about service and responsibility according to the gifts God has given to each person. It is important to remember that our positions mean nothing if we don’t use them to continue to expand the gospel message.

The second meaning for me has to do with how we approach evangelism as individuals and as groups or churches. We have to remember the direction of the ripple effect. In other words, we can’t be thinking about how to reach people for Jesus in China when we haven’t even shared his message of salvation with those who are right around us. You may feel there are so many hurting people out there who need Christ and you may wonder where to start. Sometimes people get paralyzed by trying to “figure out” the starting point. I believe, based on the direction the message has expanded since it began with the Jews, that we simply just need to begin right where we are. Start with the people in your own home if you have family members who need the hope and grace of Christ. Move on to the people in your schools, offices, grocery stores, banks, and others that you see regularly. Then, maybe you can begin to develop a plan to reach those in your city that you wouldn’t run into on a regular basis. After that comes surrounding towns, states, countries, and eventually the ends of the earth!

As a final word of encouragement for you regarding the responsibility that we all share to take the gospel message to the ends of the earth, I want to tell you that obviously there will be people who reject you and reject the gospel at every level that I shared. I assure you, there are people in my own family who don’t know Jesus. If I had not shared his message with them at this point, I’d feel that would be where I would need to start. However, the encouraging part is that Paul faced the same thing. In Acts 13, he and Barnabas explained to the Jews that they had to speak the word of God to them first, but have turned to the Gentiles after some of the Jews rejected it (v. 46). Then, we are told that Paul and Barnabas “shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them” before they left that town (v. 51). It was common for Jews, after they had to go through a Gentile city, to shake the dust off their feet as a way of saying they didn’t want to take anything from the Gentile city with them. Paul was sending a strong message that, as long as they consciously reject Jesus, he will move on to those who are eager to hear about him no matter what nationality they are.

Friends, when you or the message you bring are rejected, it may sting. But remember your purpose of spreading this message of hope, grace, and salvation. Have the confidence in Christ and his work in you to shake the dust off your feet and move on. The ripple effect continues until the gospel has reached the ends of the earth. Will you be a part of it?

What is Righteousness Through Faith?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, January 20, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” ~Romans 1:17

A righteousness through faith: it is a concept that is a stumbling block for many different people groups. Some would say that the idea that we can be righteous through faith is easy believism. It is not fair that people who have lived a sinful life should receive salvation merely through faith in Jesus Christ. Most would say that something more must be required. That is why people have come up with additional doctrine to balance out the spectrum of righteousness.

Let me spell out the righteousness spectrum really quickly. On one end of the spectrum, we have the idea that this doctrine of faith-based righteousness is foolish and false; only good deeds can make us right with God. This is clearly heresy based on Romans 1:17. Next we have the idea that faith in Jesus is essential, but that our good deeds must outweigh our bad deeds. Those who reject this idea believe that we are saved through faith, but that we must confess our sins every time we transgress in order to receive true forgiveness of our sins. As we make our way to the other end of the spectrum we have those who believe that faith is sufficient to secure our righteousness, but that our lives ought to reflect the grace we have received. And on the far end of this side of the spectrum we have those who think that faith and only faith is sufficient and that no good deeds need to follow. In fact, even if you live a totally hedonistic life, it is okay, so long as you have faith. What is the correct doctrine of faith-based righteousness?

Regardless of your position, you must acknowledge the words of Jesus. In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus tells his disciples that those who follow him will be recognized by their fruit, and those that do not follow him will bear bad fruit. In considering your theological position in this matter, you must remember the words of Jesus and of the Apostle Paul.

And yet, I tend to side more on the side of security of righteousness through faith alone. To me, it appears that good fruit is born through the spirit of one who has truly given his or her heart over to Christ. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus makes a statement that may sound confusing to you: that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. There are those who take this verse, and those following, to mean that we too must fulfill the Law of Moses. Considering the fact that “the righteous will live by faith,” Jesus cannot be saying that we too must fulfill the Law.

What Jesus has revealed to us is that he upholds a standard of righteousness that goes beyond the simple understanding of works-based righteousness. In fact, it targets the very ailment of the human condition, namely, the human heart. Even those who appeared outwardly to be fulfilling the Law were still condemned because their obedience was only an act. God knew their hearts and saw their hidden wicked deeds. Jesus’ standard is so high that the entire world falls short.

But he has fulfilled the Law. The world is still under the judgment of the Law, as Jesus makes very clear, but those who put their faith in Jesus are made righteous by the grace of God. Jesus took upon the sins of every human by being made into sin upon the cross. God the Father turned his face from him so that he may forgive you and me. Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law, has alleviated the weight of sin from our shoulders.

Any other attempt at righteousness by one’s own efforts will fall flat. I have heard Billy Graham, the Dalai Lama, and other religious leaders admit their occasional shortcomings, if not outwardly, inwardly at least. We need a righteousness that transcends our efforts. The only possibility is faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:15-17

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 19, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:15-17)

This section starts out in verse 15 with “That is why…”, which should make us ask the question of what came just before this. Why is Paul so eager to preach the gospel to those who are in Rome? For the answer, check out last week’s post that covers the previous verses in Romans 1, or go read the chapter for yourself. When we see phrases such as this in Scripture, we should always look at the context to understand what’s going on, rather just jumping in at the particular verse we’re looking at.

Verse 16 within this passage (“For I am not ashamed of the gospel”) is a fairly often quoted verse of the Bible, because it is so powerful. It’s a great thing for us to say too; after all, none of us want to be ashamed of the gospel. But are we ashamed of it? This is a tough verse to truly live out in all aspects of our lives. Sure, we’re not the least bit ashamed of the gospel of Jesus when we’re in church on Sunday morning or in a Bible study. But what about when you’re at work, and your coworkers get into a discussion about how they don’t agree with the Christian faith? Or when you’re out at a club, drinking and dancing and having a good time, possibly doing things you shouldn’t? Are you ashamed of it then?

The word used in the Greek where Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel has the meaning of “to experience or feel shame or disgrace because of some particular event or activity; to be ashamed of” (Louw & Nida Lexicon). When we’re ashamed of something, we don’t want to be associated with it. We may feel that association tarnishes our reputation or makes us be seen in a negative way. Do you feel this way about being a follower of Christ?

Paul even gives us the reason why we should not be ashamed of the gospel: “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” As Logan wrote recently, the Greek word for power is the same root as our English word dynamite. The gospel is truly that powerful! It can (and does) bring salvation to all who believe - not just Jews who were God’s chosen people for so long, but for EVERYONE! That’s how powerful the gospel message of Jesus Christ truly is.

The only reason we have to be ashamed of this amazing power is if we see other things as more powerful than it. If you see acceptance by your peers as more powerful in your life than the gospel, then you’ll likely be ashamed of it. If you see having a wild night of partying as better than living by God’s standards, then you are ashamed of the gospel. It’s all about what we place as the highest priority in our life; is it the gospel, or the things of this world? Do we see the power of the gospel for what it truly is, or do we mistakenly think the things of this world are more powerful?

We also see in this passage that “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.” What does that mean? Righteousness is defined as “the quality of being morally right or justifiable.” God is the only being who is truly morally right in all areas and at all times. How do we know that? Because of Jesus’ perfect, sinless life on this earth, which He lived so that He could die for us and be raised again.

We know the righteousness of God through faith, believing in what we don’t see. We can’t see God’s righteousness like we can see the sky or the trees, but we believe that God is righteous (completely morally right and perfect) because He is the perfect God of the universe, and He has revealed that to us in His Word, the Bible.

Do you believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, and follow Him as your Lord and Savior? Or are you ashamed of that gospel, and place it as a lesser priority than the things of this world? Where do you stand?

Prayer Warrior General

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 18, 2015 0 comments

by Michael Homula

Back in August, I wrote a post entitled All In God’s Hands, But Even If He Doesn’t. I briefly brought up Confederate General Robert E. Lee, his faith and the fact that as soon as he would order his Army of Northern Virginia into battle, he trusted them to divine providence of God’s will.

Robert E. Lee is a complex, complicated and controversial figure in American history. It is not easy to fully understand the man without getting off the surface and going very deep, I mean scholarly research deep, into his personal writings, letters, general orders and actions. Even with such research it can be difficult to discern the mythical Robert E. Lee, immortalized by the South and North alike, from the real man. I have spent nearly 20 years attempting to do just that and, while I have more clarity than 20 years ago, I assure you I am nowhere near truly knowing the real R.E. Lee.

At the heart of Lee’s story is one of the monumental choices in American history: revered for his honor, Lee resigned his U.S. Army commission to defend Virginia and fight for the Confederacy, on the side of slavery. “The decision was honorable by his standards of honor—which, whatever we may think of them, were neither self-serving nor complicated,” satirist Roy Blount, Jr. says. Lee “thought it was a bad idea for Virginia to secede, and God knows he was right, but secession had been more or less democratically decided upon.” Lee’s family held slaves, and he himself was at best ambiguous on the subject, leading some of his defenders over the years to discount slavery’s significance in assessments of his character. Lee will be the focus of SO many more posts in our Biblical Truths at Gettysburg series.

What is not in question was General Lee’s faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and his diligent commitment to prayer. There can be no doubt that his faith in God’s providence and his reliance on the almighty arm of God provided the foundation for all of his actions and the wellspring source of his undaunted composure under severe trial.

As we have looked into Romans 1:8-14 this week at Worldview Warriors, I could not help but think about Lee and his prayerful ways. Lee was a man of much prayer and great faith but probably few of his most intimate friends fully understood the depth of his feelings on this subject. He was a man of great reserve, and only his actions, and an occasional outburst of feeling, showed the sold out soul of a prayer warrior Christ follower.

Many of his staff officers and close observers often noted Lee by himself, often in a small wooded area or open field, seemingly transfixed in prayer. On one occasion, as the roar of battle loomed just up the road, Lee came upon a small group of men in prayer on their way to the deadly front. He stopped his horse Traveller, dismounted, removed his hat, and joined the mean in prayer.

In 1863 when the Rev. J. William Jones and another chaplain went to consult him in reference to a better observance of the Sabbath in the army, he says that the "General's countenance glowed with pleasure, and his eye brightened; and, as in his simple, feeling words he expressed his delight, we forgot the great warrior, and only remembered that we were communing with a humble, earnest and prayerful Christian."

When he was informed that the chaplains prayed for him, tears welled up in his eyes, as he replied, "I sincerely thank you for that and can only say that I am a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone, and need all the prayers you can offer for me." (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:7)

The failure at Gettysburg was a sore disappointment to the South, but no one blamed General Lee, though there is a strong military argument to be made that the blame for defeat at Gettysburg lies solely with Lee. It was a crushing defeat for the Army of Northern Virginia and, while the lack of success was mourned over, the South never censured Lee for the failure. Confidence in and love for Lee increased, due in large part to a prayerful countenance, steadfast faith, and implicit trust Lee placed in God, and the southern people meekly bowed in submission to God’s will – a will that had not seen fit to crown the Gettysburg campaign of Lee with victory.

Just after the Battle of Gettysburg, on August 21, 1863, Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. Lee, the ever prayerful General, sent out a general order to the Army where he embellished the decree with a sincere prayer for righteousness amongst the Confederate ranks:

Soldiers! We have sinned against Almighty God. We have forgotten his signal mercies, and have cultivated a revengeful, haughty, and boastful spirit. We have not remembered that the defenders of a just cause should be pure in his eyes; that "our times are in his hand" - and we have relied too much on our own arms for the achievement of our independence. God is our only refuge and our strength. Let us humble ourselves before him. Let us confess our many sins, and beseech him to give us a higher courage, a purer patriotism and more determined will: that he will convert the hearts of our enemies: that he will hasten the time when war, with its sorrows and sufferings, shall cease, and that he will give us a name and place among the nations of the earth.
R. E. Lee, General

That following winter, a great revival took place in his army, the extent of which was almost unprecedented and will be a topic of future posts*. As gray bearded veteran and boyish soldier alike turned their lives over to Christ by the hundreds and thousands, General Lee entered heartily into their feelings, went among them, joined them in prayer, conversed with and encouraged their chaplains, asked earnestly for their prayers, and in every way showed the deepest interest in their reborn lives and work in the name of Christ.

While the controversy over Lee’s motives, intentions, and attitudes will likely rage for eternity, we can be emboldened in our own prayer lives by Lee’s faithful and prayerful life. He was a man who, facing the severest trials of his life – indeed the severest trial of our young nation’s life – prayed unceasingly and fervently for God’s will to be done.

* For more reading on the revival’s that took place in Confederate Camps in the winter of 1863 please see Christ in the Camp by Rev. J. William Jones

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, January 17, 2015 3 comments

by Nathan Buck

Having faith in God and living a life that represents Him and His love and grace can sometimes seem overwhelming. Daily stress, personal desires, fighting a cold, you name it; anything can knock us for a loop and we feel like we have to start all over again. Believing and living a life that follows Jesus can feel like trying to eat an elephant.

As the saying goes, you eat an elephant “one bite at a time.” Paul picked up on this same kind of thought in Romans 1:14-17. Take a look: “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Paul saw that the intended natural outflow of God's promise through Jesus was for ALL people to be invited to relationship and freedom with God. Because of that, he knew that the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection had to be shared - especially with those who had never heard the promise in the first place (the Gentiles). He says he is “obligated” to share it. The importance of God's message compelled Paul to want to share it with everyone. He wanted everyone to know what it is to live “righteous” before God.

Righteous living is very simply defined as 'right living,' or living in line with God's design and teachings. This can be difficult to do. We need God's help, and we have it through the presence of His Holy Spirit, if we have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. But we shouldn't miss or gloss over what Paul describes in verses 16-17.

He says a righteousness has been revealed, “that is by faith from first to last.” This is a curious phrase, and when I dug into the words of this phrase, I saw the translators had chosen to express this passage in the easiest and simplest way to understand and express it. First to last, meaning from the start to the finish. That is encouraging, but there is more to this expression.

The language implies strongly that these are “moments” of faith. So, we could translate it, “righteousness that is by faith, from our first faith moment to our last faith moment, as it is written: ‘the righteous will live by faith.’”

In our busy lives we often do not give our full attention to any one moment. We assume and presume we know what is or what should be happening, but we usually are not fully present in that moment. Paul seems to show us here, that if we are going to live well and live God’s way, we need to be fully present in each moment with FAITH being the glasses we are wearing in order to observe, understand, and engage. If we will intentionally take each moment and experience it with a deliberate focus on how Jesus might lead us to walk through it, then we will consistently live righteously before God.

If we live our faith, fully present in each moment, we will eventually eat the “elephant” of what it is to walk in step with God through Jesus Christ.

So, how present are you in the moments you are given each day? How can you begin to be fully present in each daily moment you have? What distractions need to be set aside? What assumptions need tempered with the reality that you may not be right, or may be handling people wrong with your 'right' answers?

Righteousness, right living, comes through faith in Jesus Christ, as we live it out moment by moment. Now, focus and step into your next moment.

Spiritual Warfare Basics: Our Equipment and Arms

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 16, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the most important things you must know when talking about any kind of warfare involves your assets. Sun-Tzu said: “Know your enemy and know yourself, then in 100 battles you will never be in peril.” One of the key things involved in this statement is knowing your assets: your skills, your equipment, and your weaknesses. We’ll look at some of the enemy’s skills, equipment, and weaknesses later. In this post, we’ll emphasize on what we have for equipment, arms, and armor.

First, there is the standard equipment. This is gear, armor, weapons, and tools that every born-again Christian is issued. I need to make one thing clear before I move on. NONE of this equipment is accessible to any who has not been born again, who has not sworn fealty to Jesus Christ, who has not submitted his or her life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I wrote a post about those who claim to be Christians but were never born again. If you have any doubts if you are indeed saved or not, read this post before going any further and make sure you are saved. You are in this battle whether you want to be or not, and unless you are born again, you have no armor, no defenses, and no weapons. Any you think you might have are effectively worthless and won’t help you against the whims of the enemy. So make sure you know Jesus. Make sure you are born again. When you are, and when you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom, you have access to God’s equipment. And that stuff works.

So let’s dig into this. When we think of spiritual armor and spiritual weapons, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the Armor of God. Now, I’m not going to go into detail about what each piece of the Armor does here and the reason why is because I already did that for Worldview Warriors back in April and May. But do we even know what the Armor of God is? Could we list them? A good friend of mine and I gave a workshop about spiritual warfare at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference last year. We asked this question to two groups: Can you list the Armor of God? Only half of each group could do so, but even then, not with confidence. Fellow warriors, if we don’t even know what our equipment is, how can we be expected to use it? Tactics themselves, defensive or offensive, are of no avail if you don’t even know what you have to work with.

So what is the Armor of God? Ephesians 6:10-18 is the popular passage that we know about as we grew up in Sunday School (for those that did). We tend to picture this kid’s toy set, but as adults, we often don’t picture a real set of armor and a real sword that does real battle. Paul had a Roman soldier in mind as he described this armor, not a medieval walking tank, not a child’s toy. Roman soldiers had strong armor for defense, but they were also very light on their feet so they could move with speed and agility. Now, here are each of the six pieces. To go into more detail about it, click on the links to what I wrote about earlier on them. We have the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Feet of the Gospel, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit. These six pieces are the standard issue. This is what every believer gets, but very few of us actually use it. I hope through this series, you will learn more about how to use this equipment. But God does not just work with standard equipment. He also uses specialists. Let me show you a very different angle of a common passage from a military perspective.

Every sports coach cannot make a good game plan if he does not know what his players can do. Every business CEO searches for the employees who are best capable of completing the tasks that need to be done. And the army, when properly run, does the same. Paul describes this concept in 1 Corinthians 12, like a body. Every one of us has a body that is comprised of many parts and each part has its own function and purpose. Likewise, in God’s army, we each have our own individual roles. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how we have different spiritual gifts, including teaching, prophecy, encouragement, serving, leading, and mercy showing. Each one of us has an emphasis towards one of these gifts, but also at least hints at others. I firmly believe that the combination of all our skills and talents are unique and will not be found anywhere else. But I will stop there, for the scope of this post.

But think of these gifts from a military perspective. In the army, you need scouts, short range fighters, long range fighters, generals, captains, artillery, healers, reserves, and others. We need everyone in this battle. Yes, if someone goes down, we need someone to step up and replace that person, but how many of us step aside so that someone else can fight the battles God meant for us to fight? As soldiers in God’s army, we need to know what our position is and be ready to carry out God’s orders upon command. We need to hold our position no matter what the enemy throws at us. There are times where we need to step back, rest, and recover, but that order needs to come from God. Because many times, it’s actually coming from the enemy. What is your position?

There are many other weapons at our disposal. We have singing, shouting, giving praise, being thankful. We have the Blood of the Lamb, we have the Word of our Testimony. We are called not to love our lives as unto death. But there is one weapon a friend of mine showed me that may be of interest. In war, it is critical to know your enemy’s movements. How they move, when they move, their routes, etc. What do you use when the enemy uses the same routes over and over and over again? In the army, we use landmines. What if we could learn to use spiritual landmines? Temptation has a wonderful tendency of taking the same route. Is my friend wrong about that? He describes a spiritual landmine as this: take that temptation and sinful idea to its logical conclusion. Where will you end up if you take that temptation over time? Is that a place you really want to be? Think about that place, dwell on it, but don’t wallow in it. Dwell on it so that you have that revolting sensation, so when you think about it you say “NO, I DON’T want to go there!” Then when temptation comes in, it triggers that revolting thought, wakes you up, and helps you to say, “No, you aren’t coming in here.” I’m testing out this concept but my friend says it has worked for him time and time again. What areas do you struggle with where you could use a spiritual landmine?

There are many other spiritual weapons in our disposal, but this is boot camp, not officer training. I’m just trying to cover some basics so you have a better picture of what is going on. To get into more detail would require a whole separate study. But let this help you take a different perspective on the Armor of God and the spiritual equipment and abilities we have. When we know what we have to work with, it makes knowing how to recognize the tactics being used against us and helps us to plan how to fight back. Next week, I’ll address more of the enemy’s equipment and the tools he has under his belt. Then we’ll go into basic tactics we see in the spiritual battlefield.

Big Bang or Big Dud? (Part 1)

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 15, 2015 4 comments

by Steve Risner

I feel we’re going to challenge a few folks this week and next with my two upcoming blog posts. I also feel that is a good thing. Several weeks ago, possibly even a few months ago, a friend of mine who is a Biblical creationist commented that he simultaneously believed at one time in the theory of evolution, and in what the Bible stated in terms of our origins. He said he believed this way for some time because he never actually took the time to look at both of these ideas to see if they were compatible. Once he did take the time, he quickly realized that they could not work together on any level and he was forced to make a decision—believe God’s eternal Word or believe man’s current word on origins. He chose wisely, in my opinion.

Today we’re not going to discuss biological evolution, but the Big Bang. It seems many Christians have decided the Big Bang was reality and they have accepted it while claiming to believe the Bible as well. There are a few explanations, I think, for this. One is that they just haven’t given it an honest thought. Like my friend, they just accepted both without seeing if that was consistent. However, some have thought about it and, unlike my friend, have not determined that God’s Word is the final authority. They have decided that man’s current explanation of origins is, at the least, equal to God’s Word on the subject, so they try to meld the two. This doesn't work at all, actually, and is a slippery slope that can easily lead to a loss of faith in Christ as the only way to salvation. That’s another story and I’ll not be addressing that today. What I want to discuss is the factual information behind the Big Bang and briefly touch on alternatives.

The Big Bang generally stands on 3 major ideas: the CBR (Cosmic Background Radiation), the expansion of the universe, and the abundances of the light elements (primarily hydrogen, helium, and lithium). We can throw in the cosmological principle as well. How well have these things been evaluated or validated? In fact, how can they be tested adequately at all? You may be surprised to find something a large majority of scientists and laypersons alike believe firmly has little merit when scrutinized. I hope to at least demonstrate for you that the Big Bang is not as solid as we are led to believe.

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) has been heralded for some time as a major triumph for the predictive power of the Big Bang theory. The sad truth for this particular cosmological view is that the Big Bang did not predict the measured CBR at all. In fact, it was off by orders of magnitude. Something to note is that, long before it was measured, Sir Arthur Eddington predicted the temperature of space at 3 degrees Kelvin and refined it to 2.8 degrees later. He did this without the Big Bang. Thoughts for the Big Band and the CBR ranged from 5-50 degrees Kelvin. The actual measurement is 3 degrees Kelvin. What has been lost in most reporting of this is that the data did not match the predictions, although many will say they matched perfectly. This sort of deception has happened quite a lot with the Big Bang model. An agreement between the theory and the data is proclaimed only after the data has been used to modify the model to “predict” the measurements. The interesting thing with the idea that the universe began as an unfathomable expansion that turned into the delicately balanced universe we have observed IS that balance. If the expansion was “too smooth” it would not have allowed for any stars or galaxies to clump together. However, if it were “too clumpy” it would have had such a large gravitational attraction that the universe would have collapsed into a black hole. However, what we got was a perfect balance that allowed for the formations of massive structures but not so massive as to reverse the expansion. If the gravitational energy was just a little more or less, or the kinetic energy of the universe was slightly more or less, it would all either fly apart or contract back. How nice it balanced perfectly for us. You can read some fascinating things about the CBR and expansion/contraction online from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, you’ll likely find a lot of rewritten history as to what the theory predicted and what was observed. I don’t want to spend too much space on any one issue. Investigate further if you like.

Hopefully, I can show you how the Big Bang is far from solid science. In fact, I would suggest it’s far from science, period. It’s a belief system. Much like Darwinian evolution is based on a very real observation—that animals vary and adapt slightly—but is extrapolated far beyond the reaches of scientific inquiry. Next week we will discuss redshift, the cosmological principle, and the laws of physics. These, as well as the things discussed here, are exceptional reasons to doubt the validity of the Big Bang from a scientific stand point.

We will also discuss the theological implications briefly. But let’s take a quick peak at the Bible’s call to worship our great God with creation. Psalm 148:3-6 says, “Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.” I hope you’ll follow along next week as we continue to explore the Big Bang, which is more of a dud in terms of science.

The Only Opinion That Counts

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 14, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As many of you know, I am a huge sports fan. Over the years, I’ve seen my favorite teams receive both the benefit and the hardship of bad calls made by officials. The NFL Playoffs are upon us this year and already, there have been several questionable calls made that have impacted games and one absolutely horrendous call that almost directly influenced the outcome. Every time a questionable or downright ridiculous call is made, there are a lot of opinions shared through a wide variety of media outlets and around the water coolers at offices for days. When the calls are recognized right away by fans in the stadiums and they are perceived to be injustices against the home team, fans erupt with boos and obscenities directed at those responsible. But there is one thing that is true about every call and I often hear the analysts point it out: The only opinion that counts is that of the official who made the call!

Authority matters. Even in this day and age when we have technology that can confirm or overturn many of the calls that are made, there is still a lot left up to the official’s judgment. Fouls in basketball, penalties in football and hockey, and the strike zone in baseball are all completely subjective in the moment, even though there are guidelines for making the calls in the rule books. So, no matter how many opinions are out there and no matter how strong some people feel on their opinions or what evidence they feel proves their case, the original call of the one with authority to make it is what stands.

The Apostle Paul understood whose opinion really matters regarding his life, his work, and his plans. In Romans 1:8-14, he encourages the Christians in Rome that he prays for them often, talks about his desire to come see them when it is the Lord’s will, and explains his obligation to serve God by preaching the gospel. What is clear in the passage is that Paul is concerned about what God alone thinks of him. He starts off by thanking God for the enduring faith of the Roman Christians in the midst of trials, which has become known throughout the world. Paul then says, “God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times” (vv. 9-10). In other words, just in case the recipients of the letter question the validity of his words, he is playing the “God as my witness” card!

For Paul, however, it wasn’t just a “card” to be played. It was how he lived his life. In another letter, he tells the Christians in Corinth, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Paul wants to make it clear to all who read his letters that he is not distracted by the judgments others pronounce on him. The Corinthian church struggled with whether to follow Paul, Apollos, or some other teacher. Paul assured them that how he compares to other humans in their eyes is irrelevant. The church in Rome may have wondered if he really cared about them or if he was just speaking “Christian-ese”. He assured them that God knows his heart and spirit and is a witness to his constant prayers for them.

Later in that same Romans 1 passage, Paul talks about his attempts and plans to see them. Some scholars believe this may have been because the enemies of Christianity as well as some of the believers themselves wondered if Paul was really willing to come preach Christ in a place where it would be difficult to do so. He wanted to assure them that he desires to come and has tried to make it happen, but whether it does or doesn’t is up to the Lord. He also talks about an “obligation” to all people to preach the gospel. Paul considers himself obligated because he is accountable to God and he knows what God has called him to do. With a clear call from God, which Paul received not long after he came to know Christ, there was no reason for him to allow the opinions of others to make him question his responsibilities.

How do you handle the opinions and judgments from others? Do you spend a lot of time worrying about it? Do you fear that your personal reputation might be destroyed if people misrepresent you and your motives? Does this lead you to be constantly defending yourself unnecessarily? Take a look at Paul’s life through not only Romans but the other letters he wrote as well. Paul was often in chains, but he was one of the most free men that ever lived. He considered it a blessing to be counted worthy of suffering for Jesus. If you killed him, that would only get him where he really wanted to be quicker than he expected. Paul was singularly focused on serving Christ and sharing his gospel message and was not deterred by anyone or anything.

You may think it’s not possible for you to get to that point, but it is. It starts with recognizing whose opinion of you it is that really counts. It’s not that you don’t ever think about others. Paul himself said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But in thinking about others and their thoughts and feelings, Paul never allowed it to override what God had asked of him. If it clearly opposed God’s will for him, he ignored it and moved forward. I urge you to learn from Paul’s life. When you allow worry and fear over the opinions of others to paralyze you spiritually, you can’t experience the joy, freedom, and rest of knowing you are approved by the One whose opinion actually matters. Maybe today is the day for you to begin experiencing those things.