Facing Our 'Dark Side,' Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 22, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Please read last week’s post to get the context of this one.

What Paul explains in Romans 7 is something VERY different than the concept of light/dark sides, within our spiritual nature. God expresses that we are spiritual and physical beings, and apart from God we will do whatever seems right to us, which usually is whatever benefits or feels good to us. When we encounter God, He opens our eyes to see what is truly good and what is truly evil. It's a perspective we can only gain from Him, because He is the only one who is eternal and able to know which is which. God gave us His teaching, recorded in the Bible, as the primary way to know right and wrong / good and evil.

The challenge is, once we know right from wrong, it doesn't change our desires for things that benefit us. Even when we know something is wrong according to God, we see a potential advantage for ourselves or a potential pleasure in doing something, and our struggle begins. This is what Paul calls the desires of the "flesh." Our flesh desires personal gain, feeling, advantage, pleasure, avoidance of pain, etc. It is the moment we stop asking God what is right, and chose to do what we feel will improve our situation. This is different than wisdom, although we can use our wisdom to justify making a self-focused decision.

So, do we have a 'dark side'? Not in the way Star Wars presents it. We do not have two impersonal spiritual forces at war within us. We are not freed from the struggle through enlightenment, and we are not able to overcome evil by being good enough, humble enough, and 'zen' enough.

We are beings who are material and spiritual in ONE nature, and we are given to serve ourselves and protect our own interests. Only through God's teaching and perspective can we discern the difference between good and evil, and only by His power are we able to overcome our self-serving nature. The challenge for us is that God is not an impersonal force or a vending machine of 'force powers' that we can just tap into by meditation and self-denial. God is a person, He has a distinct identity, and He exists unto Himself. We are not God. Only through relationship with Him can we access His power and overcome evil with good.

Come back and read next week's blog post to explore more about how that may be possible.

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The Power of Your Testimony

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 21, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“And they overcame him with the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” ~Revelation 12:11

A couple months ago, I spoke at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I had a two-week notice on a workshop about how to use your past in your fiction, and in my preparation for teaching the workshop was this key factor: the power of your testimony. I would like to share what God made clear for me to teach at this workshop.

There are two primary types of testimonies: those who have been through the gutter and come out, and those who have been preserved from the gutter. The former is what most of us think of when the topic of testimonies come up: “I used to be this, now I am that.” The latter is for those who never did go through gutter. Each of these types of testimonies are necessary in the church.

The “rescue from the gutter” testimonies cover the lives of those who fell into darkness, either by their own choices or were dragged into the gutter by someone else and then escaped. Many of us have heard of the former drug addicts, alcoholics, porn addicts, slaves to anger or gossip, and those who lost it all only to rise up and get back on their feet.

Every Christian has some rescue from the gutter testimony, because every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we had not fallen into the gutter of sin, we would not need a Savior. The blood of Jesus brought us out of our sin and now we should either be walking in victory or walking towards victory. But I want to zoom in on specifics. What did Jesus really save us from? Greed? Lust? Pride? Anger? Rebellion against authority? Is there any change in us after we became a Christian? If not, perhaps we should evaluate ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith.

People who have come out of the gutter have great value. They can give those in the gutter hope of getting out, and they can go back into the darkness and use their escape to guide others to the light. I have not experienced the pain of divorce or a broken family. I cannot relate to people who have in that area. However, I can relate to people who deal with special needs kids. Last month, I got to spend some time with a dear friend I met at this writer’s conference a few years ago. He has an autistic child, and I am able to encourage him because of my own experiences in dealing with the issue.

The other type of testimony tends to be frowned upon in many churches: the preservation from the gutter. Why? This type of testimony does not have the dramatic story behind it. People who never went through the gutter tend to feel like their testimony does not demonstrate God’s power. I used to think this as well, but I was wrong. God demonstrates his power not only in his ability to get us out of the gutter, but also to keep us from it.

I have this type of testimony. I was raised in a Christian home, in the mission field. I was saved when I was seven years old. I have never tried drugs, never had a drink, never faced a broken family, never dealt with the death of a loved one prematurely, and most would say I’ve never had a real problem to face. That doesn’t mean I really don’t have issues, but I simply do not have that classic gutter-to-glory story. That being said, my story is also needed.

Having not been through the gutter, I can show those who have been through the gutter what it should look like to live outside the gutter. In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, describes the “institutionalization” of inmates and how those who have been in prison for years forget how to life outside the prison system. The “rehabilitation” process never prepares inmates to return to society. The same idea is true for us. We who were formally sinners do not know how to live as a Christian because all we know is how to live in sin. We need someone who knows how to live outside sin to show us how to live outside of sin. Jesus is the ultimate example of this, however we can do that job as well.

There is another advantage to having the preservation testimony. If you have not fallen for alcohol, drugs, lust, or whatever, you can go to those in the gutter because what is a weakness to someone else is just water off a duck’s back to someone else. You can go help someone walk that mile and not be afraid of falling into the mire, because that issue is not a temptation for you.

The power of the testimony cannot be underestimated. Which do you have? Have you been caught in the gutter and need help escaping? Look for someone who has been in the gutter. Do you want to know how to live free from an area of sin? Look for someone who escaped or someone has never had to face it for encouragement. But remember this one key: the most important element of any testimony is Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many people make their story about them and God is just a side-character. He is our rescuer and/or our preserver. This is His story. We are the damsel in distress, and Jesus is the knight in shining armor. He is the one who rescues us and the one who preserves us. Let us make sure he gets the glory and the center of attention in our testimonies.

While I have a preservation from the gutter testimony, I realized shortly after I taught this workshop at the writer’s conference exactly what God has preserved me from. In some of the issues I have struggled with in my mind, I have not carried them out in action and I realized just how much Jesus has preserved me. I have realized how easily I could have fallen into the gutter apart from God’s grace, and with that is the very scary reality that God could pull his grace at any point and he will not have to explain to me why. I have to take that warning seriously. God does not have to save us or preserve us. He loves to do so, but he has no obligation to save us. Whether we are saved or preserved, let us not forget that what we go through is for God’s purposes and for God’s glory. He will get his glory if we are rescued or preserved. Let us give him what he is due in our testimonies.

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Another Encounter with the Ark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 20, 2017 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we started a journey aboard the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. The Ark Encounter is a full-scale representation of Noah's Ark that demonstrates the feasibility of the account in Scripture. Last week we talked about the size of the Ark and the number of animals that may have been on it. I discussed what we found on the first 2 decks of the Ark. This week, we'll move to the third deck.

The third deck at the Ark Encounter was built for living quarters and food preparation. Again, as I said last week, the people at Answers in Genesis who put this all together took the freedom to fill in gaps where we simply don't know the specific details from the Bible. They make sure this is clear numerous times as you walk about the decks of the Ark. They give us what the Book of Jubilees says is the name of Noah's wife—calling her Emzara—and give us possible names and physical characteristics of Noah's sons' wives and skills they may have had, given the mission to survive on a wooden vessel for about a year with thousands of animals. Whether any of this information is accurate really is of no consequence. It just helps fill in the gaps that the Bible leaves out, because the details were not important. My wife and I enjoyed every bit of it.

A couple of side notes: if you plan a trip to the Ark, which I highly recommend, plan on eating there. Emzara's Kitchen is right next to the Ark with outdoor seating if you like and is exceptionally reasonably priced. In fact, I couldn't believe the cost; for a tourist attraction, it was very inexpensive.

The other side note is the impact this attraction has made on the area. There were nearly a million visitors to the Ark last year (keeping in mind the park opened in the summer) and is projected to draw about 2 million this year. That's an amazing amount of revenue for local businesses which will, in turn, put money in the state's purse. Gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and many other local businesses have had a great deal of added business from out of state or at least out of area travelers. Not only has the media not mentioned this at all, but they've painted a very different picture where the Ark Encounter actually cost the state tax money out of the budget. This is not true at all and you can find factual reports on this online. Kentucky’s tax payers will see a great benefit to having this park in the area, bringing in millions of people and tons of revenue and tax dollars from around the country.

The truly beautiful thing I appreciate with the Ark Encounter is it stays true to God's Word. It fully incorporates the narrative told in the Biblical account of the Flood. Sure, gaps are filled in where there are no details, but these things don't impact the account as a whole. The Bible makes a few things clear and AiG doesn't water these things down: God created the universe and therefore the earth about 6000 years ago, He hates sin and there is a penalty for sin, God destroyed all mankind in the Flood about 4400 years ago saving only 8 people, and this Flood covered the entire planet. Rather than bow to the currently popular humanistic interpretations of the evidence (which are largely contrary to the evidence, in reality), AiG has determined to honor the Word of God. They've decided that it's more important to stick to the clear teaching of the Bible instead of manipulating it to say something it obviously doesn't. There is no room in a Biblical worldview for millions or billions of years of geologic time and no room for evolution or a Big Bang. There simply is no way to be consistent and mingle the Word of God with humanism. Single common ancestry and Big Bang cosmology are nothing more than humanism, and it's impossible to marry them to Christianity and still be a faithful to the Word of God.

For centuries, science and laypersons alike understood the fossil record and geologic column in general represented a massive worldwide Flood that destroyed everything on land during the time of Noah. Due to the arbitrarily chosen ages assigned to rock layer by Charles Lyell and others (who specifically stated his purpose in doing so was to remove Moses—that is Genesis—from the sciences), humanism hijacked science and has dominated it ever since. Darwin chimed in with a process (an impossible and completely unscientific process, mind you) to create biodiversity, and now we're here. Science was invented by Christians as they studied the world and universe around them. They marveled at the greatness of God as they looked deeper and deeper into His glorious creation. God created nature. For some reason, even mentioning God as we look at nature gets shouts of anti-science or religious nut. The truth is, I believe, that if we refuse to acknowledge the One Who made nature as we study it, we can't possibly expect to unlock its greatest secrets. Humanist interpretations of scientific evidence have effectively stated that, although there are a great many reasons that nature points to a Creator, that is the one thing they will refuse to acknowledge regardless of the evidence. It's the one thing that's right and they've chosen to accept any answer except the right one. It's remarkable, really.

Atheism, in general, is very illogical and inconsistent—inconsistent with science, reason, and reality as well as being internally inconsistent with itself. The depths to which atheists go to deny the God of the Bible and the obvious evidence for Him in creation is pretty amazing.

As an example of the terrific lengths humanism will go, let's look at Mars for a second. NASA will tell you that “Mars used to be covered in water and so could have been ideal for supporting life.” It is believed that Mars has water on it, mostly of the frozen variety although some gas seems to exist there as well. Some scientists want us to believe the Red Planet was covered in water and probably had life on it, but it’s now bone dry. However, if you mention to them that the earth was once covered in water by a huge Flood, even though two-thirds of the earth is still covered by water and large reservoirs of water have been found beneath the earth's surface, they'll laugh and scoff and say, “Where's the evidence for that?”

I plan to explore some of this evidence in the future and also share with you some of the magic atheism must believe in for the universe, sun, earth, and life to exist. It's pretty crazy stuff. Thank you for reading. Be encouraged. The faith of the Christian is backed by the evidence, not in spite of it. We have a faith that is reasonable and well founded.

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The Peace of ‘67

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Scott McKenzie advised the nation that “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.” This advice captured the mood of the early Haight-Ashbury scene were the hippies had everything they wanted: sex, drugs, rock and roll, communism, and local tolerance. It was the idea that people could define what love, happiness, and peace meant for themselves that was so attractive. It was the rejection of Christianity and the adoption of these redefined values that fueled American culture for decades.

That Summer of Love in 1967 came tantalizingly close to achieving some sort of cohesive community. Young people came from all over the nation to join in with the hippies. Fresh-faced college kids and high school drop-outs showed up in the tens of thousands, ready for sex and drugs. Certainly for some, that is what it was about. But the philosophy behind the Haight-Ashbury experience was not about drugs, it was about self-exploration through LSD and other substances. The community really was trying to find love, happiness, and peace. “There was a whole generation with a new explanation.”

This explanation was entirely contrary to deep tradition of Christianity. Think of this: While Moses was on the mountaintop getting the Ten Commandments, the Israelites developed their own Haight-Ashbury community. They grew impatient that it was taking Moses so long to return and they asked Aaron to make them an idol of gold, a calf.

The day after it was finished was to be a day of festival. They made animal sacrifices and then began to party, hard. “Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This Hebrew word used for play there (tsachaq) has the connotation of sex play or gross sexual immorality. This was a drunken orgy on an enormous scale. There were approximately 2 million Hebrews wandering. How many participated? You can get the idea without me going into an inordinate amount of detail. It was so gross that God told Moses while he was still on the mountain that He was going to just destroy them. Moses interceded and God relented. Nevertheless, the Israelites had totally defiled themselves.

Christians (and many others) know that when habits of sexuality are loosened, it does not result in a multiplication of love and unity; rather, it produces hatred and betrayal, jealousy and fighting. The Israelite community would not have lasted long in that desert trying to be a free-love community. They would soon have bludgeoned themselves into oblivion.

The summer of 1967 was about as close to free love, peace, and drug-fueled euphoric happiness that the hippies ever got, yet the mood on Haight-Ashbury had already began to change, as it always does, from freedom to exploitation.

By the time some of the innocent-eyed, hitchhiking runaways arrived later that year and in 1968, Haight-Ashbury was already a hard drug scene. The flowers were replaced by needles and the fresh-faced girls found it didn’t really matter if they wore flowers in their hair or not - it was probably going to be pulled. The hippies had the conclusion of their social experiment, but they refused to learn the lesson. They have since tried to conduct this experiment with better results, but the results are always the same. Alas, they won’t give up until everyone is dead.

St. Augustine would have made a good hippie had he lived 1600 years later. Nevertheless, he was a rich young man being educated at college in rhetoric. He tried to fill the void with everything. He confesses the influence of immorality had on him: “Nevertheless, O hellish flood, the sons of men are thrown into you with fees paid, so that they may learn these fables… acted out publicly in the forum… But for this would we never have understood the words ‘golden shower,’ ‘lap,’ ‘deceit,’ ‘temples of heaven,’ and others written in the same place, unless Terence had brought a depraved youth upon the stage who took Jove as his model of adultery? … Yet, O my God, in whose sight I now safely recall this, in my wretchedness I willingly learned these things and took delight in them” (Confessions of St. Augustine: Book 1, Chapter 16, Section 25).

He later confesses “I burned to get my fill of hellish things. I dared to run wild in different darksome ways of love. My comeliness wasted away. I stank in your eyes, but I was pleasing to myself and I desired to be pleasing to the eyes of men (Confessions: 2,1,1). With eloquence, he began to describe the result of this casting off of restraint. “Clouds arose from the slimy desires of the flesh and from youth’s seething spring. They clouded over and darkened my soul, so that I could not distinguish the calm light of chaste love from the fog of lust” (2,2,2).

He was only 16 years old as this was taking place! But many a 16-year-old knows exactly what he is talking about. He embraced sexual immorality. “Then it was that the madness of lust, licensed by human shamelessness but forbidden by your laws, took me completely under its scepter, and I clutched it with both hands” (2,2,4).

Augustine gave himself over to sexual immorality and discovered that it brought no peace and no joy, nor did it bring freedom. It brought hollowness, despair, and a soul in ruins. He confessed that he was in love with pleasure, but he had no real love whatsoever. He would have fit in just fine at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury in 1967.

Nevertheless, he discovered that “our heart is restless until it rests in you [Jesus]” (1,1,1). If you want real and lasting peace, it never comes in a pipe. Peace comes not from the poppy, but by at last agreeing that God is right in His ways. If unrestrained sex produced something other than a destroyed soul, if it produced real life and joy, God himself would have promoted it. But it doesn’t and it never will.

We Christians have been given the ministry of peace. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We make peace with God, with our fellow man, and with ourselves by confessing that God was right all along. We confess that we threw off God’s restraint because we thought we knew better than God, and it has brought us to its bitter conclusion. I have been at war with God, but now I realize that He was right all along. I make my peace. I surrender. Then through the power of the blood Jesus Christ, by His merit, I am forgiven! Join us in this ministry of reconciliation!

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Judges 19:11-21

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 17, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, 'Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night.'
His master replied, 'No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.' He added, 'Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places.' So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, 'Where are you going? Where did you come from?'
He answered, 'We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.'
'You are welcome at my house,' the old man said. 'Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.' So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.” (Judges 19:11-21)

This week’s passage builds on the story of last week’s, so I encourage you to go read that post here before continuing on with this one. The short version is that the Levite’s concubine had gone home to her parents, he went to get her, and now they’re traveling back to their home. They had gotten a late start thanks to the girl’s father, so now they need to stay overnight on their journey.

The city of Jebus was on their way, but it was not an Israelite city, so they likely would not have received good hospitality there and it could have been dangerous for them. It was only 4 more miles to Gibeah, a city belonging to the Israelite tribe of Benjamin, so they continued on there instead. It sounds like these travelers didn’t know this, but Gibeah did not have a good reputation; it was known for being very immoral.

In those days you wouldn’t just find the local Holiday Inn and check if they had vacancy. Instead, you’d wait in the city square until someone would offer you lodging at their residence. The travelers waited at the city square like was customary, and it was very odd that they were refused hospitality by most of the city.

Finally, an old man offers to help them out. It turns out that he was from the hill country of Ephraim, just as they were. It’s always nice to find someone you can connect with when you’re away from home. And, since this man was not native to Gibeah, he may not have shared the immorality of the town.

Normally, the host would supply all the needs of the travelers who would stay with them, including food. This Levite did not want to be a burden to whoever took them in, so he offered to take care of them, they just needed a place to rest. But the old man still took care of their needs, taking them into his house, providing them with food, and even taking care of their donkeys. He definitely seemed welcoming enough.

Sometimes, our expectations can be different than reality. The Levite and the concubine traveled a little farther just to stay at the Israelite town of Gibeah, rather than take their chances at the non-Israelite town of Jebus. But when they get there, for hours no one is willing to offer them hospitality - and these are their own people! The town they expected to welcome them was in fact unwelcoming to them. It seems like a chance encounter with the old man, but thankfully he does offer to help them. Their expectations were for a restful night in his house, but we’ll see next week how that doesn’t happen.

Where in your life have you experience a reality that didn’t measure up to your expectations? Maybe a friend or family member you expected to help you has let you down. Or maybe you have let someone else down.

What are your expectations of God? Do you feel like He has let you down? The reality is that God will never let us down and we can always count on Him, even when His reality may look different than what we expect.

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Flame of your Future

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 16, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Have you ever tried to start a fire by hand? I haven’t, but I have watched members of Survivor do this for several seasons.

Starting a fire by hand takes a great deal of effort. There is a lot of work that goes into trying to ignite a spark, but the work doesn’t end there. Once there is a spark, you have to carefully blow on the fire while cautiously adding kindling. If you blow too hard, you will put out the flame. Likewise, if you add too much kindling too soon, it can snuff out the fire.

My husband Chuck was in a transferable position with his job, which means that with different job opportunities we often had to move to different locations. We have lived in 5 different states. Every time we moved, it seemed to take some time to reignite my flame. It seems I would be just starting to find my groove in a new community, church, ministry, and then we move again.

I have begun to realize that the primary reason I have a hard time reigniting my flame is because I spend so much time looking back at what I had, that I don’t start living where I am. This type of thinking can be destructive when it goes unrecognized.

My focus on my past life does nothing to help me move forward where I am. I had stopped living in the moment and was living in the past. This is not the plan God intended for our lives.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Imagine a runner who races toward a finish line, but he keeps looking back over his shoulder for his opponent. That would certainly hinder his race.

Maybe for you it is a certain time in your life, a job or career, a place where you lived, a person you miss, or a past hurt that you cling too. Some people never find freedom from their past. Don’t let that be you!

I will end with a quote from Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there!”

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Facing Our 'Dark Side,' Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 15, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

In the final episode of the "Clone Wars" cartoon, Jedi Master Yoda goes on a quest to learn how to transcend death. It's an episode that basically tries to explain why 'force ghosts' are possible in the movies and in the canon of Star Wars 'ideology.'

As part of this episode, Yoda battles a shadowy figure that sounds just like him and has a similar form to him. Initially, Yoda says, "Recognize you, I do not." As they battle, the shadowy figure states that he has been feeding on the enjoyment Yoda has from the Clone Wars - presumably the sense of accomplishment as the battle rages to do good and defeat the Separatists and the Sith.

At the point Yoda seems like he is going to be overwhelmed by this shadowy foe, he stands up and says, "Recognize you, I do. My Dark side, you are. Power over me, you do not have." Then he vaporizes his 'dark side' by channeling his humility and peace in a way that he could use the force to overcome his own ego and hubris. It made for a great story, but it begs questions about our reality. Do we have a dark side? Can we overcome it by just disconnecting ourselves from attachments, channeling humility, and denying our desires?

Read Romans chapter 7, and read it slowly. Take time to reflect on what Paul is explaining. Then come back and finish reading this post.

Initially, it seems like Paul agrees with the ideas Yoda expresses, that there is a struggle between our light and dark sides. But if you read carefully, what God teaches us through Paul? Is He saying good and evil coexist in us? Is He saying that 'enlightenment' and our own purity of spirit have the power to overcome evil?

Come back next week to continue to explore whether we have a 'dark side' and how we might overcome it.

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The Sins of Jeroboam

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 14, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I noticed an interesting trend as I read through the list of the kings of Israel recently. With two exceptions, every king of Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.” The two exceptions were Shallum, who reigned for six months, and Hosea, the last king of Israel. That got me thinking: what were the sins of Jeroboam that all but two of the kings of Israel did not depart from? None of the other kings actually did what Jeroboam did, yet they did not depart from his sins. Let’s dig in.

The crime Jeroboam was guilty of is recorded in 1 Kings 12:25-33. Take a moment to read the passage before continuing. The law remained for all people to come to Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam’s reign, for worship, the feasts, and all the other religious activities. Jeroboam was afraid that if the people, who had just rebelled against Rehoboam, would go back to Jerusalem they would in turn rebel against him. Keep in mind that Jeroboam was given the same promise as David, where if he followed the Lord, his seed would always remain on the throne.

Instead of following the promises of God, Jeroboam followed the fears of men and compromised. He built two golden calves, put one in Dan in the north and Bethel (the same place as where Jacob saw the staircase to heaven) in the south. He declared that these idols were the gods who brought the people out of Egypt and set up not only numerous non-Levite priests but his own feasts to celebrate them. What started as a compromise of convenience became a complete and total rejection of God and anything he stood for.

Jeroboam was cursed for his sin and an unnamed prophet told him a future king, Josiah, would desecrate his idols and the very bones of his priests. His son, Nadab, would be killed by Baasha, thus beginning a trend of five dynasties and a handful of individual kings who never left a son on the throne. Jeroboam caused Israel to do a mighty and terrible sin, however as bad as that was, none of the kings that followed him are recorded to explicitly turn away from this sin. Shallum had no mention of his action regarding Jeroboam’s sin and Hosea did evil, but not in the way Jeroboam did. Even these two are not recorded to have repented from the sin nor to take down the idols. The key I want to address is that all these kings, while not necessarily guilty of committing the same sins of Jeroboam, were guilty of not leading the nation a better direction.

There was only one king of Israel that even attempted to seek after God and that was Jehu. Jehu was sent to wipe out the entire line of Ahab and he zealously fulfilled those commands. However he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam. Notice that this passage emphasizes the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. Jehu successfully wiped out all worship of Baal and destroyed Ahab’s family, and the Lord was pleased with this, however he did not turn from the idols Jeroboam set up.

I do not know if these kings bowed before and worshipped these idols, but at the very least, we can tell this: the idols were never taken down, and because they were never taken down, God held them all guilty of committing the same crimes. The idolatry of Jeroboam continued through every king of Israel, and the only two kings that did not have this moniker attached to their name were Shallum and Hosea and even then, both were called evil kings. Both Shallum and Hosea murdered their predecessors and usurped the throne and neither left a son on the throne.

How does this apply to us? How many sins have our fathers committed that we have not done anything about it? I’ll tell you a major one of our nation: abortion. 1973 will always go down in infamy as the year that abortion was “legalized.” That generation is guilty of administering the crime of abortion in the eyes of God. Our generation is not guilty of setting up abortion; we are guilty of continuing it, or at the very least doing nothing about it. Some presidents, governors, and legislators have made efforts to limit the reach of abortion, however as long as it is the recognized law of the land, that sin will be upon the blood of us and our children until someone rises up to turn the nation against it. We did not commit the evil that got abortion started. What we have done (this generation) is exceedingly worse.

Slavery was another great sin started way back in the 1600s, and our Founding Fathers did not deal with it. They left it to future generations to sort out. The Civil War, according to some, was a result of judgment upon the US for that sin. I’m not entirely convinced by that argument, but it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first leader to actually turn from the sins of slavery. There were many other issues involved with that time period, but that is outside the scope of this post.

The “generational curse” is a zoomed in version of the same issue. The same besetting sin tends to haunt the same family members. One pastor I know said sexual morality was a big problem in his family and he and his father were the only ones in his extended family to not have experienced the pain of divorce. Other families deal with abuse or drinking. Sometimes it is poverty. Yes, I said that. Poverty is not just a financial situation; it is also a spiritual condition. It took one person to start the generational curse, and it takes one to break it.

Are you going to turn from the sins of your fathers? The only king to ever actually address Jeroboam’s idolatry was Josiah, king of Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already fallen to Assyria and Josiah set out to execute the most significant turn-around in the history of both nations. Josiah’s full repentance and restoration of Judah even exceeded the reforms of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, and Hezekiah, who each made reforms. Josiah destroyed the altars, the idols, and even the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people had made that into an idol. He burned the bones of the priests of Jeroboam and reform came to the whole land. It took a king from a different nation to deal with this problem. As a result, God, who had already sworn to punish Judah because of the sin of Manasseh, would delay his judgment and not bring it in Josiah’s time.

What about us? Has God already condemned the US because of our sins? If Sodom and Gomorrah were judged as they were and they only had one guy preaching any form of righteousness (Lot), how much more so when what we do is even worse than Sodom and we have numerous preachers (and more, including myself, are rising) warning us of the danger? This weekend, take time to listen to this sermon by David Wilkerson on this issue, titled “A Cry Against the Wickedness of American Youth.” It ties in directly to this post. We are deeply entrenched in the “sins of Jeroboam.” Which of us is going to lead the way to turn from them?

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An Encounter with the Ark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 13, 2017 8 comments

by Steve Risner

My wife and I were able to visit the Ark Encounter in Williamsburg, KY recently. We've visited the Creation Museum numerous times and have enjoyed it every time. The Ark was no different. Answers in Genesis did a great job of constructing a structure to the believed dimensions of the Ark according to Scripture, and in filling that structure with what are feasible methods and means that may have been employed to sustain life on the Ark during the nearly 1 year that 8 people and an unknown number of animals would have survived. I'd like to go into some depth on some topics concerning the Ark if I may.

The bottom line with it is if we reject the account of the Ark and the Flood as it's recorded in the Bible, we are free to reject literally any other parts as well. The reasons for rejecting the Flood account and the means that God used to replenish the earth with air-breathing, land-dwelling animals have always been less than impressive to me. I've heard many. But if the Flood didn't happen as a global event about 4400 years ago, how can we trust anything the Bible tells us? Only because of humanistic interpretations of nature does anyone in today's age question the account's details in Scripture and/or completely revise the narrative. We don't have license to do such things, especially if the cause is another religion (humanism and/or naturalism) that disagrees with the Bible's portrayal. There is literally no excuse to do this and I hope to help you see why, at least from my perspective.

I believe this topic—that of the Flood—is very important. This is because if the account in God's Word is not reliable history, then the rest of Scripture is not reliable and the entire faith of the Christian is worthless. This is because if we can't believe some of it, how are we able to trust any of it? However, if the story is true, then there is no reason for anyone on earth to not offer their lives to Christ. It's that important. This portion of history tells of God's creative work, His hate for sin, His wrath and justice, and His love. The entire Gospel message can be found in this short narrative that occupies just a few chapters of Genesis. In short, the Bible, and therefore Christianity, stands or falls with the Flood of Noah, in my opinion.

First, some details about the Ark Encounter itself: we loved it. We arrived on a Wednesday morning, hoping this would mean it was easier to navigate with fewer people. There were certainly a lot of visitors, but I think we chose a great day to get in, see it all, and get out. The Ark itself is enormous, obviously—the largest timber-framed structure on earth. It's 510 ft long, 85 ft wide, and about 51 feet high (although it sits off of the ground, making it closer to 65 ft high). As you walk in, they have a time lapsed video to watch, if you like, of the construction. That was pretty interesting to watch. A great deal of work was done to put this thing together in around 2 years. There was a great deal of cost involved as well—none of which was paid for by taxpayers. That's in interesting side note: the amount of lies and fake news delineated over the course of this project by people who despise the Biblical account of the Flood (whether atheists, some other religious group, or, unfortunately, Christians who've rewritten the book of Genesis to fit their second religion) was astounding. In fact, it still is as bogus stories are still circulating. Any time a claim was made that I couldn't investigate on my own, I would simply email AiG and ask them. That's how it should work, right? The taxpayer thing was just one of the false narratives being told. It amazes me how someone will hold their position when the only way to defend it is to lie. Doesn't that mean you know your position is wrong but you just choose to stick to it anyway? Moving on into the Ark...

The first and second deck of the three decks were primarily for animals. Row upon row, stacks and stacks of small cages with watering devices and feeders were all around. The Ark Encounter makes it clear in numerous places that they took artistic license with a lot of the details of the Ark's construction. Whatever the Bible gave as a guideline or a solid fact, they incorporated. If it was something not included, they felt free to envision what was a possible solution for any number of details. The point of the Ark Encounter was simply to demonstrate the possibilities and not give us the absolute truth of the details, which is impossible. Too many details are left out in the Bible.

As we walked further in, we saw walls lined and floor space filled with water jars and food storage. We walked in further and found larger stalls for the larger animals. Many of the animals found in these enclosures were extinct varieties of animals of specific kinds. This added to the intriguing nature of the visit. Many strange animals our eyes have never seen in the wild due to their believed extinction were modeled (very well) for us to see God's creative handiwork. The second deck was similar but had more of the larger animal stalls as well as some room for doing work like blacksmithing and weaving as well as other skills that may have been useful for a long stay on a huge wooden ship.

This is a good place to note a few things here concerning animal numbers. A very common objection is to the numbers of animals on the Ark and the space required for animals on the Ark. Let's just say, after seeing the display at the Ark Encounter, I have no issues at all with the space and number of animals. The first thing to note is how many animals were likely on the Ark. Skeptics will erroneously claim that there are some millions of species on the earth (I've often heard 6 million or thereabouts). This means that number times two would be the number of animals necessary on the Ark and there is no way for this to be true. That's correct. Millions and millions of animals couldn't possibly fit on the Ark.

Fortunately, this claim is heaped in false assumptions. While there may be 1.9 million known species on planet Earth, and this number will likely increase as time goes on, there is no need to fret. First and foremost, the Bible doesn't speak of “species” of animals because that's a very recent (relatively speaking) word that modern day science uses. What makes a species a species is something of a mystery, as there are about 12-20 different definitions you can find online. But it makes no difference. A species is the smallest subcategory of organism. The Biblical “kind” is a much more broad group of animals that's less than 2,000 and possibly less than 1,500. AiG estimates it at 1,398 kinds of animals. This is calculated using known abilities to cross-breed species and other factors. I'd like to write more on baraminology in the future. There are several cases where there is uncertainty about the boundaries of a “kind,” so AiG tried to error on the side of having more kinds rather than fewer kinds.

Now, let's also consider the fact that of the 1.9 million documented species (and, truly, there are likely many we have not documented), only about 38,000 of them (or 2%) are land animals that have the breath of life in them. This means 98% of species are fish, plants, insects, bacteria, etc. So the number gets dramatically decreased just by reasonably restricting the type of animals on the Ark as commanded by God—land-dwelling, and primarily if not exclusively vertebrates. These two factors (using the Biblical “kind” rather than species, and limiting the number to land-dwelling vertebrates) greatly decreases the actual number of animals that were likely on the Ark, and therefore greatly reduces the amount of space necessary to house them.

Let's move to animal size. In my mind, I had always just considered stalls as being all over the place filled with the pairs of animals, or groups of them if they could live together. I hadn't really considered the fact that most animals are very small (compared to some of the larger animals we commonly think of). About 85% of all land-dwelling animals are fewer than 22 pounds. Only about 7% are between 22 and 220 pounds. Thus, only 8% are over 220 pounds. Also keep in mind that these numbers of average sizes are for full grown, mature adults. It isn't referencing juveniles or even younger animals. Younger animals would be advantageous to have for their size, durability, and the remainder of the breeding life being longer. This means that only just over 200 large or very large cages were necessary and just under 300 medium sized cages. There would have been roughly 600 smaller cages and about 300 cages for birds. That may sound like a lot—1400 cages. But keep in mind the volume of the Ark was extremely large. Nearly 500 tractor trailers could fit inside the Ark! That's significantly larger than it would need to be to house this many animals, if, in fact, the estimates by AiG are even close to accurate. I have no reason to doubt they are anything less than in the ballpark. To be honest, if the numbers for animals are a fifth of the actual number, the Ark would still have an enormous amount of free space for supplies and for people. The Ark is just that big. The Ark Encounter represents all of these estimates and has accommodations for all of the believed animals—from birds to bats to cats to cattle to snakes and dinosaurs to elephants and giraffes and the humans on board as well as supplies.

After seeing this representation of the Ark with its size and space, the accommodations and supplies, as well as some of the suggested solutions to some of the problems that likely would have been involved with this Biblical narrative, I have no doubt that the Flood and the Ark that was necessary to keep animal life and mankind alive was possible. I plan to discuss a little more of the Ark Encounter next time and get into a number of the common objections or questions people have with the Flood. Thanks for reading.

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The Rueful Romance of Happiness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 12, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

If you were to conduct a survey of the top values of almost any individual these three would be among the top: love, happiness, and peace. What most people do not know is that these are the first three signs of God’s Spirit living in a person’s life according to Galatians 5:22: “Love, joy, peace…”

Happiness is as elusive a creature as bigfoot. We see pictures of happiness in sales ads selling everything from cigarettes to soap, and some of our friends have claimed to see happiness first hand; yet, we are not sure they are telling the truth. More often than not, happiness is what other people have and it is what we have only experienced in a fleeting way – a whiff of happiness.

Happiness is a romantic notion that if I could create the right circumstances, I would experience continuous happiness. But this isn’t true, of course. Such circumstances do not exist. In fact, the opposite is true. Focusing on creating happiness for myself only heightens my awareness of just how elusive it is. This was the conclusion that the author of the book of Ecclesiastes drew.

He says, “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that proved to be vain” (Ecclesiastes 2:1). He goes on to try and find happiness in laughter and alcohol, but concludes they don’t provide happiness. He undertook giant building projects like a huge palace with gardens and parks with thousands of fruit trees. He built ponds, lakes, and reservoirs to supply vast forests of flowering trees. But none of these building projects brought happiness. Then he decided to amass giant heaps of silver and gold, which he did. He assembled the best singers in his country. He says that none of these things could produce happiness. Then he built himself a harem and denied himself no pleasure. This too was vain, he concluded. Sex did not make him happy. Nothing did. He says, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure… everything was meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

Proverbs 23:5 was also written by Solomon. It says, “Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone.” The same is true of happiness. If you notice that you are happy you feel content in the moment, but it is fleeting. What replaces the happiness is an insecurity about future happiness. Will it return? It is the temporary nature of happiness that alarms us the most. This idea is perfectly represented in the following poem:
Rose kissed me today,
But will she kiss me tomorrow?
Be that as it may
Rose kissed me today,
But the pleasure gives way,
To an uncertain sorrow.
Rose kissed me today,
But will she kiss me tomorrow?

     -Henry Austin Dobson

If you replace the name Rose with the word happiness, you will see that the idea fits perfectly. This is a highly structured poem where the lines are exactly repeated. Lines one and two express a happy mood, but the mood quickly changes to worry by the time the exact lines are repeated to close the poem. Such is the transitory nature of happiness; it kissed me today, but will it kiss me tomorrow?

If happiness is fleeting and elusive, what hope do we have of finding it? Worse yet, if you take only this life or this material world as the measure, you can’t hope to find happiness, for we all return to dust and blow away. But what did Jesus say? “Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You cannot find happiness. It finds you, stays for a moment like a bird on a branch, and then flits away. It just happens. That is why it is called HAPPiness. Happen and happy come from the same root word and they both convey a sense of being temporary.

But when we add the life to come into our figuring, that is, when we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we are able to add another dimension. We don’t just turn to dust and blow away; we see God and are judged by Him. He makes all things right again, and if we are Christians, we are allowed to spend eternity with Him in His new creation.

Focusing on this Kingdom gives us great joy. Joy is knowing that what God has given to me cannot be taken away. It is a permanent blessing in the face of a very temporary world. If you want to experience true joy, open your heart to Christ. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Joy is the result of taking Jesus at His word and trusting Him enough to follow Him through this life into the next, more permanent one.

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Judges 19:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 10, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“In those days Israel had no king.
Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents’ home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, 'Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go.' So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the woman’s father said, 'Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself.' And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman’s father said, 'Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!' So the two of them ate together.
Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father, said, 'Now look, it’s almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home.' But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.” (Judges 19:1-10)

As we start Judges 19, we’re starting a new story. These last few chapters of Judges (chapters 17-21) contain various stories that show the immorality of Israel. The repetition of the phrase “In those days Israel had no king” (like we see here in verse 1) show that Israel needed a leader to get them back on track with morality.

As with the previous story of Micah and his idol, the characters here are also from the hill country of Ephraim. Here, we see the main characters are a Levite and his concubine. A concubine is similar to a mistress; she’s a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife (or wives). This was common in polygamous societies, where a man would have multiple women living with him as wives or concubines. A concubine is sort of a cross between a wife and a slave, so she could not marry her master but was required to live with him as though they were married.

This particular concubine was evidently pretty unhappy with being of the lower concubine status, so she committed adultery with another man. Instead of facing her husband who would have been mad about the situation, she went home to her parents who lived in Bethlehem.

Four months later, the Levite husband wants to get his concubine back, so he goes to her parents’ house in Bethlehem to fetch her. The girl’s family is happy to see him, since that means their relationship would be restored. The girl’s adultery had disgraced her family, so this would be a restoration.

The father persuades the Levite to stay for a few days, which was the common practice of hospitality back then. Traveling was generally long and difficult, so a few days of rest would be welcomed. So on the 4th day, and again on the 5th day, the Levite tries to get an early start and go back home, but the father keeps delaying him. The father convinces him to stay for another day each time. We’re not told why he didn’t want them to leave, so that’s left up to the reader’s speculation.

Finally on the 3rd time the father tries to get the Levite to stay, he does finally get away, but it’s much later than planned, which is significant as we will continue on this story in the next couple weeks. We know the concubine is with him, but we don’t know if she went willingly or not.

We see a lot of family interaction going on in this passage. There’s the relationship between the Levite and his concubine, the relationship between the concubine and her parents, and the relationship between the Levite and the concubine’s father. The story started out with the betrayal of the concubine to her husband, which is obviously a damaged relationship. Then we see that she damages her relationship with her parents, as she disgraces them by returning home. And then we see the strained relationship between her father and the Levite because of the continual begging him to stay.

Do you have relationships like this in your life? Are there broken relationships that need mended? Have you done something to disgrace your loved ones? Are you causing someone grief by the way you treat them? Use this story to help you look at your own relationships and where they may be broken and need repair. Ask God to help you see what you are able to mend, and what you need to do better so that strained relationships don’t get worse.

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Does Anybody See Her?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 9, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

In the song “Does Anybody Hear Her” by Casting Crowns, these lyrics really spoke to me:
“Does anybody hear her
Does anybody see,
Oh does anybody even know she’s going down today.
Under the shadow of our steeple a lot of lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me.
Does anybody hear her
Does anybody see.”

I started to think: Does anybody see her? Wasting away, withdrawing from the world, cutting herself, eating herself to death.

I was at a loss for what I could do, but I am beginning to realize I don’t have to have all the answers. My job is to point them to Jesus and God’s Word, and to love and care about them. I can let them know they matter and that God loves them.

I can’t heal them, but God can. I can’t help them completely, but God can.

We live in a fast-paced, perfection-driven society that no one can keep up with. If it’s not houses and cars, it’s clothes and body image, or maybe it’s promotion and success, or sports and school. We are bombarded with images that push us to be perfect and to be #1.

We are so worn out, and we are killing ourselves for the next job, house, social activity, or perfect body that we are missing true relationships in our lives. True peace and healing comes from the most important relationship in our lives, a personal relationship with Jesus.

So the next time you see “her” and you don’t know what to do or say to help her, point her to Jesus.

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Legacy: The Kryptonite of Faithfulness, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 8, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

This week's blog post picks up where we left off last week. Click here to go back and read part 1.

I mentioned last week that we would look at an example that might help us let go of legacy thinking and focus on God's calling and mission for those who follow Him.

Take a look at Exodus 32-34. This is a famous moment in Exodus. Back in chapter 24, Moses, Aaron, 70 elders, and others were invited up to the mountain for a symbolic “wedding” that takes place – God marrying His people in a covenant relationship. Then God gives instructions for the place of worship, the order of community, and the 10 commandments. Moses goes back on the mountain and the people hardly wait until he is out of sight to start wondering if he is coming back.

Read Exodus 32:1-2. It seems we fall into the legacy trap most easily when we let impatience, boredom, or our own control get the better of us.

When we have a sense of urgency about something that is not of God, we will tend to make a God of our own choosing to lead us where we want to go. When God seems to be taking too long to get where we think we should be going, we start pressuring our leaders to take us into the land we have imagined instead of the land that is promised to us.

When we let our expectations of what is the “right way” to do things drive us forward instead of checking what God has asked us to do, we start to wonder where God is. When experiences, traditions, and preferences are lifted up as sacred and the mission of God is rejected because it rewrites those traditions, requires that we move beyond those experiences, or demands that we surrender our preferences, we start to look around and wonder where the man of God is. We start to ask where Moses is, grumble about where my seat on the pew is, argue about the color of the paint on the walls, or the use of technology in worship, or the sound of the music, or the clothing worn by guests… and the list goes on.

Underneath the surface of all of this, something more sinister stirs.

The belief that God can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) becomes captive to the language of we can’t do things because of money, time, attendance, or so and so’s grandfather (who died 20 years ago) wouldn’t like that. Suddenly we say God is able, but because of our circumstances, traditions, belief about what is sacred, or just our personal ownership and investment, we say we can't. Well if God is able and we can't, then who is standing in the wrong place or trusting the wrong focus?

Do you see the trap of legacy thinking? It takes experiences and traditions meant to fuel the passion of our future journey with God and turns them into weights we cannot lay aside. It turns the launch pad of one generation into cement shoes for the next that prevent anyone raised in the culture from following wherever God leads them.

Do you see how the very nature of looking to our accomplishments and achievements, and charting the mileposts we have checked off along the way, only casts our eyes backward and ties us to the places we have been, instead of leveraging that experience for those who will advance into the next phase of God’s mission?

Legacy thinking leads us to Esau's mourning and weeping (Hebrews 12:16). We get to a point where the choices we have made have so directed our mindset that we can no longer change, adapt, or support the next part of the mission. Worse yet, it causes our older people to disengage because their legacy is done, and it leaves a new generation without the influence of wisdom to apply to new challenges. They end up repeating the same mistakes and stopping short of God with their own golden calf – their own attainable personal legacy.

Please notice what Moses does in Exodus 32:20-30:

  • He burnt the idol.
  • He made them drink it as a reminder and taste its bitterness.
  • He confronted leadership.
  • He purified the community of those who would not trust God.
  • He desperately pleaded with God for mercy and the grace for another chance.

Sometimes we invest so much that we are blind to how off course we are, or feel we cannot give the effort to course correct and go where God asks us to.

Whenever we are concerned with OUR legacy, we will miss God's purpose and get off course, especially when His purpose requires that we surrender ourselves and our control to Him.

How about you?

  • What needs burned up, ground up, and needs to be a bitter taste for a while to get back on course?
  • What has distracted you to believe YOU can’t, even though GOD can?
  • Where do you need to get honest with your leaders and their priorities?
  • Where do you need to let your leaders help you get honest about your own priorities?

If we are going to avoid the legacy trap, we need to get desperately honest about our motives, our beliefs, and whether we are serving God's mission. Are you willing to lay aside EVERYthing that hinders (and the sin that entangles us) to run His race? Are you running, looking toward Jesus to guide you? Or are you just building another monument of achievement for others to remember you by?

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Scientific Explanations

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 7, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the great traps people in the origins debate fall into is in how to handle explanations. Atheists and theistic evolutionists in particular have frequently accused young earth creationists (YEC) for “lacking explanatory power.” This comes from what they call the “God did it” argument. However the problem with such an argument is that they are looking for a natural explanation when it is in actuality a supernatural explanation. Genesis 1 repeatedly states “God said… and it was.” Hebrews 11:3 then states that which is visible was made by that which is invisible. In other words, God used no natural means in creating the universe. There is more. Genesis is not merely “God did it;” it gives what order God creating things, how long he chose to do it in, the method he used to do it, and how much time has passed since he did it.

But that is not a sufficient explanation for many skeptics, mostly because they want the natural means, so they can try to figure out how to do it without God. So allow me to turn the tables. If the Bible’s explanations lack the explanatory power they prefer, do they provide anything better? I find many Evolution supporters argue for their explanations the same way Bill Nye did in his debate with Ken Ham. One of the points Nye made was about the origins of sexual reproduction. He very accurately described the benefits of sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction. However, he failed to address the question he was answering: how did it come about? You will find this tactic everywhere in any old earth circle of any level. The explanations given are what they do, not how they got there, and such explanations actually make much more sense under a Biblical model than they do under their own. Yes, sexual production gives a lot of benefits. We can see God’s design in that. And how it works, even in a fallen world, makes sense if it were designed as such. So far no explanation for HOW it got there from secularists exists. There are lots of ad hoc stories, but none of the science they claim to have is ever brought forth.

In reality, the purpose of all these attempted explanations is so they can say, “There is no need to invoke God.” Keep that phrase in mind; it is a purposeful intention to keep God out of the equation as much as possible. They have already ruled God out as being a possible answer in their minds, and even if every option besides God were exhausted, they would still keep searching for another one to keep him out. My response to them is they have not built a sufficient case to revoke God from the equation. They never will. If they want God out of the equation they need to greatly step up their game.

A friend of mine gave a great image about how explanations need to be: If it is true, the evidence will make music. If it is false, it will be just noise, and needs to be defended with volume. Does Biblical Creation make music with the evidence or does it make noise? Does Evolution make music with the evidence or does it make noise? Albert Einstein is credited as saying: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Electromagnetism can be summarized with Maxwell’s four equations. Newtonian physics can be summarized with Newton’s three laws. Much of our scientific knowledge can be explained simply and succinctly. What about Creation or Evolution?

Creation is simple. Genesis 1 is easily understood by a child. It does not require an seminary degree to be able to read and understand Genesis 1, though many in Old Earth circles would like you to believe otherwise. We have the length of the creation week, the order of creation, the method of creation used (the voice of God), and we have how much time has passed since creation. It is short and simple, but not simpler.

Evolution is anything but simple. Countless times we have asked for simple evidence for Evolution and we frequently receive either a lengthy explanation or “you need to do your homework,” or “read a textbook,” or “get an education,” or anything except a simple explanation. As a teacher and a speaker, a common phrase we use to speaking to adults is: “If you cannot explain it clearly to an 8th grade level, you do not know your material well enough.” Now I understand some subjects require some extensive levels of studying, but what exactly is “simple” about Evolution? Every time a Creationist tries to put Evolution in layman’s terms we get the response, “You don’t understand Evolution.” When I see the very few attempts (and I mean few) to explain Evolution, I see very long-winded treatises that do not go into any level of actual depth, and it is mostly “explanations” that read like a fairy tale than any sort of scientific study.

The other thing to notice about Evolution, and this goes for the Old Earth crowd as well, is the dependence upon high level vocabulary. The idea is to sound smarter than your audience so they won’t try to refute you in front of everyone else. In a debate with Kent Hovind, Progressive Creationist Hugh Ross said he’d rather have a debate in front of other PhDs instead of laymen. I believe his intention was that he would rather present his case before those who are more knowledgeable in the scientific (secular) studies so they would not buy Hovind’s arguments. But who was he really referencing? Those who have done their homework, or those who already agreed with him? He certainly would not want many YECs in his audience because many of them are very knowledgeable about both sides. One of Ross’ tactics in particular is a complete lack of clarity. He needs things in the Bible to be unclear, such as the meaning of a “day” or “whole world.” He’s not as bad as many atheists I’ve dealt with in the sense that he actually sticks with the definitions he uses. He just does not give any clarity why he uses the definitions he uses or why they are better. With YEC, our terms are clear, we stick with them, we don’t change them, and you actually can know exactly what our position is. It simply amazes me how many Bible-skeptics read so many YEC articles and still come out as though they never read one word of them, based on what they spew out.

Evolution is a historical model (no, I will not call it a scientific theory) and the evidence depends upon high level studies, muddied waters, gullible students, and high levels of noise to try to drown out the cacophony its “evidences” make. I find more and more that those who lack in sound argumentation tend to make up for it with volume and they are LOUD. Since when did a sound scientific theory need government aid to defend it and silence any critics from having a voice? That alone is strong evidence that the evidence for Evolution is NOT as strong as we are led to believe. The defense for Evolution utilizes some very strange tactics for such a strong theory. The Bible does not need us to defend it. It can defend itself, as it has for 2000+ years.

When one examines all the fields of study including history, archaeology, science, and others and fully studies them, all the data seems to point towards the Bible. Nelson Gluek, one of the top archeologists, said: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever contradicted a biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible” (Quoted in Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, page 89). He’s not alone in this sentiment. The written and oral world history matches what the Bible says. Every actual scientific study has not refuted a single statement of the Bible. The only field that rises against it are the false philosophies of naturalism, Evolutionism, and other false religions, and they fail to produce a quality challenge. The Bible still remains true. It’s becoming less popular these days, which ironically proves the Bible true because it predicted how the false teachings would come about and the bulk of the world would turn against God. The Bible is true. Its explanations make music and it will outlast every challenge brought against it as it always has. This book will never fail.

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Is Today Really America’s Birthday?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, July 4, 2017 0 comments

by Bill Fortenberry

July 4th, 1776, has long been celebrated as the birth of our nation, but is that really the day that America became independent of Britain?

The first recorded celebration of the 4th of July occurred on the first anniversary of that date in 1777 in the city of Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence had been signed. A reporter in Philadelphia wrote of the event:

“Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity … Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen, and amen.”

This reporter’s wish has come true, with the 4th being celebrated every year from that day forward for the past 240 years. But was this really the day on which the thirteen colonies ceased being colonies of England and became independent states? An important letter from John Adams to Horatio Gates gives us a hint to the answer.

On March 23, 1776, more than two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, John Adams wrote:

“I know not whether you have seen the Act of Parliament call’d the restraining Act, or prohibitory Act, or piratical Act, or plundering Act, or Act of Independency, for by all these Titles is it call’d. I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency, for King Lords and Commons have united in Sundering this Country and that I think forever. It is a compleat Dismemberment of the British Empire. It throws thirteen Colonies out of the Royal Protection, levels all Distinctions and makes us independent in Spight of all our supplications and Entreaties.”

The act of parliament to which Adams was referring was the American Prohibitory Act, approved by King George on December 22, 1775. This act declared:

“That all manner of trade and commerce is and shall be prohibited with the colonies … and that all ships and vessels of or belonging to the inhabitants of the said colonies … shall become forfeited to his Majesty, as if the same were the ships and effects of open enemies.”

The Prohibitory Act included authorization for British privateers to fire upon and capture any American ship and claim its cargo as their own. This was, in essence, a declaration of war against America. It was a removal of the king’s hand of protection from the colonies and an authorization for his military to treat the Americans as enemies at war.

Most modern Americans have forgotten about the Prohibitory Act, but it was one of the primary motivations for the Declaration of Independence. When the Continental Congress met on June 7, 1776, to debate the resolution for declaring independence, one of the arguments presented was:

“That as to the king, we had been bound to him by allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his assent to the late act of parliament, by which he declares us out of his protection, and by his levying war on us, a fact which had long away proved us out of his protection; it being a certain position in law that allegiance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceasing when the other is withdrawn.”

This argument was eventually included in the Declaration itself in the line stating:

“He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”

The “certain position in law” that the colonists mentioned is a reference to a very prominent case in British history known simply as “Calvin’s Case.” In Calvin’s Case, the British Court ruled that:

“As the subject oweth to the King his true and faithful ligeance and obedience, so the Sovereign is to govern and protect his Subjects, to rule and protect the subjects: so as between the Sovereign and subject there is a dual and reciprocal tie, because just as the subject is bound in obedience to the king, so the king is bound to the protection of the subject.”

Thus, according to British law, the moment that King George affixed his signature to the American Prohibitory Act, the thirteen colonies ceased to be colonies of England and became thirteen independent states in America. The adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, was not the birth of our nation. It was an announcement, a declaration to the rest of the world that a new birth had taken place. Where once had been thirteen colonies of England there now stood thirteen independent states joined together in unison as the United States of America.

Happy Independence (Announcement) Day!

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Judges 18:22-31

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 3, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“When they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, 'What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?'
He replied, 'You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’
The Danites answered, 'Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.' So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.
Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.” (Judges 18:22-31)

For the context of this story, I encourage you to read my previous posts, like this one. The short version is that the Israelite tribe of Dan was not happy with the land that God gave them, so they were venturing out to conquer their own land, the territory of Laish. We were introduced to Micah and his idol here, and just before this text the Danites had gone to Micah’s house and stolen his silver idol.

So after the theft, Micah gathers some men who lived near him and they try to go after the Danites to get the idol back. Micah and his small band were able to overtake the Danites, since their large numbers, livestock, and children slowed them down more. The Danites pretended not to know why Micah was upset, but really they were just trying to hide their sin. Any thief should realize that the person they stole from would be upset once they discovered the theft. In this case, Micah is very outnumbered, so he is forced to just give up.

There’s an interesting parallel between this story and one about Abram in Genesis 14:10-16. This story takes place shortly after Abram and his nephew Lot had separated from each other, so it’s before God’s covenant with Abram (and his name change to Abraham), before Abram has any children, and before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness. In this brief story, Lot was captured by the 4 kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram gathers together a very small army, and because God was on his side Abram’s small army overtook the kings and their companies and was able to rescue Lot and return the goods that the kings had stolen.

So what’s the main difference between what’s going on with Micah and the Danites, versus Abram and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah? God. Abram’s small army was victorious because he was following the one true God. Micah’s small army was defeated and had to give up because they were following his idol, a false god. While the world will always say that larger numbers are better in an army, what really matters is whether that army is following God or a false idol. God is the one who brings victory.

So moving on in this story of the Danites, they were successful in capturing the town of Laish. We saw before that the people of Laish were basically sitting ducks. They were geographically isolated and had no one to help them, so that worked to the Danites’ advantage. The way they took over Laish is reminiscent of Abimelech’s revenge against Shechem in Judges 9:45-49; it was total destruction. Even though they were worshiping Micah’s idol instead of God in this instance, they were victorious; but it was at great cost, and they were still disobeying God by taking land that wasn’t given to them. Negative consequences don’t always come right away, but they will come in God’s timing.

The Danites continued to worship Micah’s idol instead of the one true God. This would not serve them well in the long run, since worshiping a piece of silver is completely worthless and pointless. The idol didn’t have any power to do anything for them, and they showed that it could be easily stolen. God, however, will never leave us nor forsake us, and He is all powerful.

What are you following with your life? Are you following the one true God, who truly can and will take care of you and provide for you? Or are you following something worthless, like Micah’s idol? Take a look at your life and see how you spend your time, your money, and your energy, and you’ll see what you’re really following.

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Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 2, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Are there certain foods that you crave? Do you crave pizza, ice cream, donuts, potato chips, cake, French fries, cookies, or pie? Maybe for you it is a nice juicy steak or a certain type of sandwich. Wouldn’t it be nice if we craved broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, or kale – something that was good for us? Some of you have heard me share my love for Krispy Kreme donuts, and how I struggle because my cravings for them are strong!

In 1 Peter 2:2-3 it says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, no that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

There is that word “crave.” Crave spiritual milk. Crave spiritual teaching, knowledge, and wisdom, so that we may mature in our relationship with Christ.

Now think back to our food cravings. Crave spiritual growth, knowledge, and maturity like we crave donuts, pizza, French fries, and pie. That is a strong desire and craving!

Once we start to study and grow in the word of God and strengthen our faith walk, we will desire and crave the spiritual teachings of God, now that you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Together, let’s dive into the Word of God like we were diving into a scrumptious piece of cake – and crave spiritual maturity like we crave our favorite treat!

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