Why Should We Remember? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 27, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I had a friend when I was younger whose parents would always say, "Remember who you are and who you represent," whenever we would go out. Even as a teenager I was impacted by the integrity and honor of that comment. My parents never said that to me, but I certainly felt the weight of that expectation based on my parents' occupations.

It is challenging to be in the midst of teenage adventures, or even adult ones, and have the presence of mind to think about how others may be affected by your immediate choices or actions. And without constant reminders or intentional work to remember, it is easy to let our awareness of our impact drift. It is easy to forget. It is easy to turn aside to things that feel good to us in the short term but long term have destructive personal and public consequences.

If we have drifted from God, how do we get back on course? If we have forgotten what He taught us to believe, how do we remember? If we have misrepresented God, how do we REpresent the integrity of His example?

Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-21. In a season where the kings of Israel demonstrated the forgetfulness that afflicted the nation, King Josiah comes to power. Previous kings revealed that Israel had done exactly what God warned the nation not to do. God had said, "When you come into the land and gain [everything]... be careful you do not forget the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Deuteronomy 6). King Josiah was different.

At the age of 8, Josiah became king and showed a passionate desire to clean out the worship of foreign gods and clean up the integrity of the nation. When he was sixteen, he was actively pursuing God and reforming the nation. It was in this passionate pursuit of honor and remembering that something extraordinary happened.

After demolishing all the temples and images of false gods, and tearing down all the alters to foreign gods, Josiah commissioned the repair of the Temple in Jerusalem. Inside the Temple, during the repairs, the workman discovered the Book of the Law - the Word of God - given to Moses. Look at what Josiah does when he hears the Word of God. Why does he do that?

Josiah realized that even with all the purifying he had done, Israel still was far from living according to God's ways. His action was an act of mourning and humility. He wanted his own life, and the nation of Israel to be back on track with God - nothing else mattered. It had to be terrifying to realize how much Israel had forgotten of God's ways.

Take a moment and notice what happened here. Josiah's bold and passionate action to pursue God and cleanse Israel sets the stage for God's Word to be discovered. The King prepared the way, and the Word of God was again known among the people. All because SOMEONE remembered God.

Someone taught Josiah the ways of the kings that honored God, before him. Josiah wasn't old enough to know King David, and yet verse 2 says that Josiah walked in the ways of David and did not turn to the left or the right - meaning he didn't get distracted and did what was right. If not for that someone remembering, Israel could have continued to spiral away from God, and could have ceased to exist. Because of that someone, Josiah sought to remember more, and eventually gets the nation back on track, at least for a while.

Have you begun to forget God? Do you even know God's promises and how to live according to His ways? Will you passionately set aside every distraction and entertainment in order to seek God? What untruths or false beliefs need purified from your heart, the way Josiah purified Israel?

Take a moment and ask God to show you what parts of your life need refocused or purified. Take action to clean house and get rid of the amnesia of comfort and distraction. Then, read the Bible and apply God's principles to your daily decisions. Actively remember God by actively applying His ways to your life, your family, your work, etc.

And read next week's blog post, to see how our own obedience and remembering can have a world changing impact.

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.


Daily Dying

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 26, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week I wrote about dying to self being the secret to living the Christian life, however, how do we do this? Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live.” He also said, “I die daily.” Jesus said we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Easy to say, but how do we do this? This post is likely to be the most practical post I have written for Worldview Warriors in 3 ½ years. I am going to share with you how God is having me put this concept into practice in my prayer time. It is not something you can do one time and be done with it; it must be done daily. The problem with self is that it tends to have its own resurrection powers because it keeps coming back, and it will until we shed our corrupted body for a glorified one. But why wait until then to start living that way? Why can’t we experience heaven on the way to heaven?

I am no different than any other person. I have had areas where I have struggled with sins. I am not going to mention what they specifically are because the concept applies to any area. What people struggle with is going to vary from person to person but it has one thing in common: it’s all sin. Can a Christian struggle with sin? Yes and no. Yes, they can get trapped in a sin and still be saved, but there is the difference between a saved person and an unsaved person. A saved person may be stuck in a sin for a time, but they hate it, they don’t like it, they don’t love it, they don’t defend it. They want free and to be rid of it. The unsaved person has no regard that such things displease the Lord; they will justify their sin, call upon the grace of God as a means of getting away with it, and have no desire to get rid of it.

When a person struggles with sin, it is usually because they have not laid down that area before the Lord. If someone struggles with pornography or sexual issues, that person very likely has not surrendered their sexuality or their sexual life to the Lord for him to direct as he desires. If someone struggles with gambling, the root is either in finances or greed, and that person has not surrendered that aspect of their lives to the Lord. If someone struggles with anger, they have likely not surrendered their emotions or their demand for justice (which is a God-given part of us, just like our sexuality is) to the Lord for his timing and execution. If someone struggles with gossip or their tongue, they have not surrendered their tongue to the Lord. If someone struggles with prayer at night or even their ability to get a good night’s rest, it may be worth considering if that person needs to surrender his sleep to the Lord to direct (that is no knock on those with legitimate insomnia, but even then, insomnia might have a root cause in trying to control sleep).

There is a great unfortunate reality that many preachers are not teaching this in their pulpits. When we are born again, it is not merely a decision to say “I am a Christian.” It is a total surrender to Christ. He is the ruler of our lives. We are bought with a price and our lives our not our own to rule. I have said for years now that the purpose of Christianity is to become less of us and more of Christ. What enables God to allow us into heaven is to NOT see us, but to see Christ in us. So how is God training me in this? This is something you can take home with you and practice.

When God revealed that I had not purposefully and intentionally laid down specific areas of my life for him to control and direct, I began to do that in my prayer time. I would start with the area I was struggling the most, confess my pride and arrogance to think I could control this area, and lay it down before the Lord. That would be the focus of my prayers for a few days. Then I would continue praying about that area, and then add another area that needed to be surrendered to the control of the Lord; not replacing that in my prayers but adding to it. I got to a point where I had four areas of my life that I would regularly lay down before the Lord.

Here is the problem. When you start practicing this, you may have initial success, but that flesh is going to start fighting hard. It is going to wait for you to start letting your guard down a little bit and it is going to strike. And it is going to strike when you are tired. I was going strong for two weeks and then I starting catching a cold and BOOM! I got hit and while I have been pushing to get back up it has been very difficult to do so. I won’t forget a few years ago I was doing a daily reading through of the Bible and then I went to a conference and I lost momentum. It took a few months to get me back into it.

Where are you struggling? Do not be generic here; be specific. Are you struggling with pornography? Are you struggling with a wandering mind? Are you struggling with a loose tongue? Are you struggling with respecting authority? Are you struggling with self-control? Do you want to see improvement? Does a sport or activity or social media have control of your life? Take that area of your life and lay it down before the Lord. It may take phases. Rees Howells laid down his finances before the Lord and said, “All my money is for Kingdom purposes.” But then God took it a step further. He asked if he could control Howell’s finances. Howell’s test on this area was when God told him he could not even buy a thank-you card without asking for permission.

Pray about which area you need to surrender to the Lord. Pray about that issue every day. Lay it down before the Lord, every day, and do not pick it back up. Then start adding other areas you are struggling with to the Lord. Do not replace the first area but add the second. Then lay both down before the Lord daily. Do not let your guard down because when you do, that issue is going to come back again. It may not act immediately and if that is the case it is watching to see if you are getting lax or not. It is waiting to see if you are getting some flab back. I am too new at putting this into practice to proclaim total victory yet, however, I can see the route to getting to the level of my walk I want to reach now. I need to walk it in his strength and power, not my own, and I need to walk it.

Laying down self is going to be hard. God often trains with three areas: sleep, food, and finances. Are you willing to allow God to dictate how much sleep you need and when to tarry in the night watch with him? Are you willing to sacrifice nice meals and eat what and when he wants you to eat? Are you willing to put all your finances at his feet to use at his discretion? Take one at a time and allow God to take control. Then add in another area without letting the other one go. As you get better and better at this practice, you will soon be able to simply lay down self as a whole each day and let God dictate all areas as he sees fit. The Christian life can only be lived if Christ is the one living it in and through you. I’ll wrap up with this quote from Eric Ludy’s Gospel presentation:
"Because if you try to imitate in your own strength, you will be a miserable replica. But if you allow the impartation of Jesus Christ to overtake you, suddenly it all works, because it's him imitating himself and he's very good at being God."

Let us put an end to self. Let us put an end to trying to do everything our own way. God knows what he is doing and he only knows how to do it right and good the first time. He does not require trial and error. He simply asks us to participate in his plan and do it his way instead of ours.

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.


Christian Terrorists, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 25, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

After a short hiatus from writing, I’m back with a look at more alleged “Christian” terror groups. We have previously discussed the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and Western treatment of natives. We looked at why much of these things have either been grossly exaggerated to make Christianity look bad or had nothing to do with Christianity at all. You can see those posts here and here. This week the focus will be on modern groups that claim a Christian foundation who have been accused of “Christian” terrorism. We are referencing claims made by Qasim Rashid in this article posted online in recent months.

So we get into the Lord's Resistance Army. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a farce and has little or nothing at all to do with Christianity. They are a cult and commonly referred to as a heterodoxy. Their goals are to create a multi party democracy, rule the land under the 10 commandments (gasp! Sort of like the US, I suppose), as well as a few other things. The actual number of those killed by the group is in the range of the tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, again bringing this clearly deceptive person's claims into doubt. That is, of course, too many lives lost and tragic, but no one (except an attorney in DC) believes this is a Christian group. If you research the group, you'll find it difficult to get real numbers on them and the death toll they've brought to Africa. But this person has inflated the numbers because it fits his agenda so he could “school” a white supremacist. But when you look further at the statements he makes, he claims that the “up to 100,000” victims of the LRA in 15 years is “far more destructive than ISIS.” This is strange. In under 2 years, ISIS is given responsibility for nearly 20,000 deaths in Iraq alone. This is far more serious than the LRA in concentration. And ISIS is waging a war, essentially, on the whole non-Muslim world (and even some Muslims that aren't Muslim enough). There is, in my opinion, not much of a comparison here.

Mr. Rashid moves on to the Central African Republic (CAR). CAR has been under a great deal of stress for decades. There has been violence there for a long time. Muslim insurgents calling themselves the Seleka have been causing trouble in CAR for everyone and especially Christians in the area. They have caused a severe deterioration of security in CAR and increased a great deal of ethnic tensions. In 2013, Seleka took control of the capitol city of CAR. In response to the brutality of the Seleka forces, “anti-balaka” coalitions of Christian fighters formed to carry out violence in response to Seleka fighters, unfortunately adding a religious element to the violence that had previously been absent. In truth, I feel it needs to be made clear that defending yourself and your family or nation is not at odds with Christianity. However, carrying out violence, and especially some of the terrible things that have been reported coming from CAR, is not in line with the teachings of Christ. This is another case of Christians responding to years of Muslim aggression and hostility. But, in the heat of fighting back, it's likely that some of these Christians have strayed from the teachings of Christianity. But the bottom line here is “Christian” attacks are the response of those who have been brutally attacked for years. I, and probably you, have no idea what sort of turmoil that would create on the hearts of those involved. The Muslim groups responsible for the attacks on Christians (first) are also the groups that have decimated the nation's stability and security.

Mr. Rashid furthers his point that white supremacists are Christians (which is nonsense) and tries to explain why racist groups are more dangerous than Islamic groups. There are some things to note here. 1) White supremacists cannot be Christians as their ideology is opposed to the teachings of Christ. Saying you're a Christian doesn't mean anything if you actively pursue actions and beliefs that are anti-Christian. This cannot be said for Islamic terrorist groups who are doing as their founder did 1500 years ago and as Islam has done since then. 2) ISIS isn't just a national security threat from within. ISIS is killing tens of thousands of people all over the world with the hope of creating a military Islamic state and, eventually, dominating the world. 3) The 382 police groups cited are looking at everyday stuff happening in cities and towns across the country. Most have no thought to Islamic terror, I would guess. I would believe that New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC are fairly concerned with Islamic terrorist groups more so than white supremacists. This really isn't something I feel I need to push because, frankly, my first point above means any further discussion is not necessary. They're not Christians.

He goes on to say that President Bush attacked Iraq because he was a Christian and God essentially told him to attack Muslims. This is a gross misrepresentation of the story. Bush felt led to go liberate the Iraqi people (mostly Muslims) from the dictatorial reign of an insane person who had not only committed mass murders and genocide but also had long targeted American allies in military operations. Again, Bush's goal was to free Muslims from tyranny. Some estimates, Rashid says, claim 1 million people died in Iraq because of the war. Other estimates that seem more credible put the death toll at half of that. I feel that any civilian casualties is too many, but bad things happen in wars. It's tragic and my heart breaks for the lives lost. However, many lives were lost in WWII and the result is we don't live under a German totalitarian government. Many died in the American Revolution, but because of this war, the greatest nation the earth has ever known was established as a sovereign nation. I don't want to get into whether the US should have gotten involved or if there were weapons of mass destruction (there were tons of them, btw). My intent here is to explain why the Iraq war was not a terrorist attack but a liberation of millions from an insane tyrant. And I don't believe it was due to Christianity at all. However, if it was, this would make me proud to be a Christian. Coming to a the rescue of a people in need and helping the helpless is what Christ was about.

Then this article takes a strange turn. He lists a few organizations or movements that have nothing, literally, to do with Christ. “The KKK still exists.” Yes. And it's a disgraceful group of misguided, bitter people. It has nothing to do with Christianity. Its members cannot be Christians, period. The KKK was started by Democrats who were angry about the Civil War. Their stated intent was to terrorize blacks, Jews, Republicans, and anyone who sided with the North. The KKK has actually been revitalized a few times, so it's really not accurate to say it “still” exists. Its existence has come and basically gone a couple of times. “Nazis still exist.” “Aryan nations still exist.” What does this man not understand? Nazis were not Christians. They were, if anything, atheists and Darwinists to the core. Atheists will try to separate themselves from Nazism, but that's a lie and nothing more. Hitler was not a Christian. He was an atheist or possibly a pagan, and he tried to take over the world through murder, genocide, and lies. Not a Christian. Racist groups, fascist groups, whatever hate group you want to tell me about cannot be a Christian group because they do not follow the basic tenets of Christianity. This is just the way it is. Christ taught love. His Gospel is a message of peace.

A Christian terror group is an oxymoron. There cannot be such a thing. A hate group whose primary foundation is love would be internally contradictory, would it not? However, Islam has aggressively sought to dominate the globe since Muhammad’s attacks on the Arabian Peninsula. History doesn't lie. God does not tell us to hate unbelievers. In fact, He loves them as much as anyone who has surrendered to Him. This person, Mr. Rashid, seems a bit misguided and has distorted the facts, either knowingly or unknowingly. Perhaps his misunderstanding of Christianity is in his “schooling.” I encourage him to keep digging and searching for the truth and to really find out what Christianity is about. Perhaps you can too.

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.


Let My People Go!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 24, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

You cannot give away what doesn’t belong to you. This seems to be a self-evident truth, doesn’t it? In order to transfer the legitimate ownership of something, you must first be the legitimate owner. If you do not believe that, I would like to sell you my neighbor’s house. The principle of self-ownership is a foundational philosophical truth. No one has a higher claim on your life than you do. Nor can you claim to own anyone else. Please watch this video based on Ken Schoolland's book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, which you can watch here.

I own myself. Before you say that God owns me, let me provide background to my statement. Although God created every human being, He does not force them to obedience. God has a legitimate claim upon the entire human race because He created them, but God has allowed freedom to choose. God does not usually exercise His sovereignty over people in a way that prevents all evil. He does not choose the evil; He warns against it even. But he does not place a shock-collar on everyone and zap them every time that they displease Him in word, deed, or motive. Life has natural consequences, but God seems to be mostly willing to wait until after we die to judge us for our actions. He has given us freedom, even when that means that other people get hurt. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

We can use this freedom to obey him, seek him, or deny him. We can use it to harm others—as everyone has done at some point. Or we can voluntarily surrender ownership of our lives to God. I surrender my life to God, but I cannot give my life to God if I do not own my life in the first place. If the government owns me, as they certainly act like they do, then God would have to convince the government to surrender me.

Pharaoh made this mistake. Moses was sent with God’s message: “Let my people go.” Pharaoh felt that he owned the Hebrews and claimed them as property. But he had no rights of ownership of anyone. He did not heed the will of God, and in response God destroyed him, his army, and the long-term viability of Egypt as a world power for several generations. God was acting in a unique way as it regarded Israel. He did not deliver every slave in the world, or even all the slaves in Egypt. He only freed the Hebrews.

The Hebrews were supposed to be a model of humans voluntarily being ruled by God; they were to be the ‘city on a hill,’ the joy of the whole earth. But in the end, they preferred bondage. They asked to be placed back under bondage to a human king. God warned them that a human king would abuse life, liberty, and property (see 1 Samuel 8:11-18), but they insisted.

God’s perfect plan was that He would directly rule a nation that voluntarily gave itself to God. They would be His people and He would be their God, and in so doing, cause all the nations of the earth to be jealous for the good life in God’s kingdom. Israel was pregnant with that very purpose. But, Isaiah would later admit that the nation of Israel had failed to show the world the ways of God. “We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life” (Isaiah 26:18).

But even so, Isaiah foresees a time when this will no longer be true. In the very next verse (Isaiah 26:19), Isaiah sees that everything will change with the advent of the Messiah. “But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise—let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy—your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” At that time the barrenness will end and there will be real life.

The purpose of God will be complete: He will have a people of His very own, who voluntarily surrender the ownership of themselves to God. This is the goal of the new covenant according to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33 and 32:38) and Ezekiel (37:27). This idea is the main concept throughout the New Testament, but it is a powerful description of life in the eschaton (the end of the world): Revelation 21:3. This is the end goal of all redemptive history. Where Israel failed, the Messiah will not.

Odd as this seems that governments exercise ownership over people, they have historically acted in this way. National conversions to the leader’s religion were considered normal and valid. Princes acted as though their conversions included all the people in their lands. This concept undergirded many of the religious conflicts in Europe’s history.

But no other person or group of persons, no matter the claim they think they have, can own another person. No one owns you but you. The church does not own you, the government doesn’t own you, and God doesn’t force his ownership on you either, though he would have the right to do so but doesn’t. As Garrett DeWeese once wrote, “If God himself tolerates unbelievers and seeks to persuade them by means of the attractiveness of the loving sacrificial work of Jesus and the loving Christian community (see John 17:20-23 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-20), then it follows that Christians should not embark on a mission to force belief contrary to conscience.”

We appeal to the conscience of individuals with the truth claims of God in Scripture, but we cannot legislate Christianity. No one is ever truly converted by the sword. Rather, God expects individuals to voluntarily submit to His rule and reign and associate themselves with one another in the church in order to carry out God’s will and demonstrate His power and glory on the earth so that all may see and know that He is God. Your dedication of yourself to God and to His kingdom is only valid if the principle of self-ownership is true, and Pharaoh doesn’t have the power to stop you.

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.


The Importance of Remembering the Past

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 22, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This time of year is often a time of transition, with graduations and weddings going on. When we transition in life, we often remember the past and look ahead to the future. When I graduated college with my undergrad degree (almost 14 years ago now!), I had very fond memories of those 4 years - how much I had grown and matured during that time, the friends I had made, etc. I wanted to remember the past, but I was also looking forward to the future. For me at that time, the future meant getting married in less than a week, moving to a new home in a new city, and starting grad school the next fall.

Remembering the past is important, for a couple of reasons. First, if you remember the past, you’re less likely to repeat the mistakes you already made. My day job is as an electrical engineer, and there are mistakes I have made at my job that have cost extra money or caused people to do more work. As a part of a consulting company that works for others, if I forget those mistakes and repeat them again, our clients will be a lot less willing to hire us again. I need to remember what I have messed up in the past so that I learn from it and don’t mess up again in the future.

This is so true with the people of Israel in the book of Judges that I’ve been writing about for most of the last year. Israel followed God, then something happened and they turned away from Him, God punished them, they cried out to God, He forgave the, and then they started following God again - until they forgot what happened and strayed away from God again. The majority of the book of Judges follows this pattern in Israel’s life. They kept forgetting the past and making the same mistakes all over again.

Second, remembering the past is important for us to remember what God has done for us. Psalm 143:5 says, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” If I’m facing a difficult situation, I can look to what God has already done in my life to give me the confidence that He will come through for me again. If God has continually proven to me that He is faithful and trustworthy (which He is), then I can have confidence that He will continue to be so. Past events in my life that have shown me God’s provision will help me to trust that He will provide for me again, even if it looks a little different this time.

Third, remembering the past honors the achievements of those who have gone before us, as long as we don’t worship them. We can learn dedication to a cause from those who have fought for our country so we could be free today, especially on this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. We can honor those who have gone before us by learning from their mistakes as well, so we don’t walk down the same wrong paths they did.

We remember Jesus and His sacrifice for us every time we participate in Holy Communion. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Paul writes, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” We remember and honor Christ and how He suffered and died and was raised for us through this important remembrance of the past. This gives us the gift of salvation and eternal life, which can also remember and honor by sharing it with others.

Learn the past and remember it, so you don’t make the same mistakes again, remember what God has done for you, and honor those who have gone before us. While the future may be exciting to think about and plan for, the past will help that future be a better one.

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


The Blame Game

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 21, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Genesis 3:1 says, “The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord had made. He said to Eve, ‘Did the Lord really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”

Eve basically says, “We can eat from any tree but, if we eat from the tree in the middle of the garden we will die.”

The serpent then says, “You will not surely die!”

It goes on to say that Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that she gave some to Adam, WHO WAS WITH HER. I need to stop here for a second. I know that Eve needs to take responsibility for her actions in listening to the lies of the serpent, but hold on here. ADAM WAS WITH HER.

He knew as well as she did that they were not allowed to eat from that tree. As a matter of fact, God had told Adam himself! I guess I always thought that Adam was off working in the garden or tending animals and Eve brought him a snack. But he was with her. He knew what he was doing when he ate the fruit and where it came from as well as the consequences.

When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree that He had commanded him not to eat from, Adam said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.”

Then the Lord said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

And Eve said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

This is where the blame game originated! Adam begins with “Well, Lord, the woman YOU gave me, she gave me the fruit and I ate it.” And Eve, she says, “Well, the serpent, he deceived me.” Isn’t it our human nature to blame others when we are confronted with our own mistakes or sin? We try and deflect the attention away from us onto someone else.

Let’s examine our lives, take responsibility for our own actions and stop playing the blame game!

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.


Out of the Gray, Part 6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 20, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]

I enjoy theater, especially being in theater. I enjoy playing different characters and using different accents. When I was a teenager working in a snack bar, I even used a rather convincing British accent to convince a regular customer that I was my own twin brother. It was in good fun, and after two weeks I dropped the accent mid-sentence and let him know I was pranking him. We had a good laugh, once it finally sank in that I really was the same person the whole time - and once he got over the desire to punch my lights out for embarrassing him.

I could pull off pretending in my own context, and where the people around me were not as grounded in British culture as I was. But it was a different story when I went to London. My accent was received well initially, but then true Brits started seeing the gaps in my act. They could hear certain phrases, pronouciations, and references to culture that either seemed outdated or just totally NOT British. Playing a role on stage, or short term in a small context, is one thing, but in real life pretenders can be more easily spotted.

For the final week in this blog post series, read Jude 1:24-25. Why do you think the wicked cannot stand in front of God on the day of judgement? Is it possible to BE good, and not know God or live His way?

Jude makes it pretty clear throughout the message he wrote that there is only one way that is good, and only one key to escaping the "gray" of our culture and the world. We must be CONTENDING, not PRETENDING. We cannot bluff our way past God. And we cannot contend for something we don't actually believe and live.

When we bond ourselves to Jesus, when God is our first priority and His teaching is embedded and growing in our hearts, when we stand for what is good and right and true by God’s standards - contending for the faith - then we are able to discern what is good and evil by the power of God’s presence and Spirit leading us. If we just try to be good and ignore Jesus or pick and choose what we like about the Bible, then we will not able to discern what is good, and God will see our charade as clearly as the Brits saw through mine.

Jude offers us great encouragement for putting aside the act and fully giving ourselves to God's ways. If we trust God and rely on Him, it is He who can keep us from stumbling, and it is He who can rescue us - as well as others through us. It is He who will fill us with joy as He prepares and brings us to spend eternity with Him.

We cannot pretend to be a Christ followers by keeping rules, protecting rituals, dogmatically browbeating people, or blending up all the ideologies of the world and making them sound Christian. None of that is following God, and none of it is contending for the faith. It is just being what jude describes in verse 12: "clouds without rain, autumn trees without fruit, uprooted, and twice dead." No fruit and no root means twice dead. You have no present life, and no future life to come from you.

So, will you come out of the gray?

What do you need to do to get God’s teaching in you so you understand the Bible more and can apply His ways to everyday living? What wise counsel to you need to regain your discernment?

Where have you been hesitating to speak the truth in love? Or where have you been speaking the truth without love, and failing to contend for faith?

I encourage you to get with a small group or have some one-off time with someone who is a few steps ahead of you on the journey with Jesus. And I encourage you, challenge yourself to read and understand the Bible. There are all kinds of reading plans in apps and in the back of Bibles. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into the gray by not knowing what God has taught is the way. And don't allow yourself to be caught pretending when you stand before God. Your life, and the lives around you, are too important to let fade to "gray."

Pray this with me: Lord Jesus, free us from the gray thinking and living in our culture. Raise up those who will stand firmly rooted in your Truth and are confidently living in your power and strength daily. Raise me up to be someone who contends for the faith, revealing your Truth in everyday circumstances. Position me and empower me to rescue those you send me to rescue. Help me to trust you to be the leader of my life, my destiny, and my reward. And help me to lead others out of the "gray" by the life and journey you have prepared ahead of me. In Jesus' name - Amen!

If you want use this series with a small group, here are some follow-up questions to help you.

  • Do I align my life to God’s will, or am I adding God into my will?
  • Do I contend for the faith? If yes, when was the last time I told someone about Jesus?
  • If asked, would non-believing friends say I love them, or that I judge them? Would they say I agree with them or invite them to see things differently?
  • Are we able to discern when community is drifting from God? What should we do, according to Jude, to be equipped to handle ourselves and others to stop the drift? What are the practical habits/actions we need to do to be able to handle divisive people or situations?

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The Secret to Living the Christian Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 19, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Is there really a secret to living the Christian life? A sacred formula that makes it work? Something that we have to go search out in order to see it in action? Yes. This a hidden ingredient to Christianity that makes it all work that many, many who call themselves Christians do not know about. I would almost go as far as saying without this ingredient, you should be cautious about even calling yourself a Christian. The very interesting thing about this ingredient is that it has been in plain sight the whole time. It is there for all to see. The problem is that many don’t want anything to do with it. They know what it is and they want to see if they can “eat” Christianity without this ever so important ingredient.

What is this secret ingredient? It is actually something I have been writing about the previous six weeks, and I will need to two posts to cover it. This is something I have known for most of my Christian life. I have listened to songs about it, read Scriptures about it, preached about it, written about it, and listened to sermons about it; but I did not really get it. Earlier this year, I wrote about the difference between intellectual Christianity and actual Christianity and this ingredient is the epitome of that issue. I knew where I needed to get to. I knew what the Bible said about it, but I did not know how to get there. I refuse to settle for less and if it takes forever to get there, I will still keep pushing to go that direction. Leading up to Easter weekend and Resurrection Sunday, God turned the light on and I finally saw why I did not have the means of getting to this level of Christianity I admired and sought. Please keep in mind that reaching that level does not end my journey, but simply prepares me to go even deeper to another level. There never will be a time when I fully “arrive” until the day God calls me home.

So again, what is this secret ingredient? It is the substance that makes us a Legendary Hero, not a Cowardly Hero. It is the substance that enables us to see beyond our natural eyes and fight for causes greater than ourselves. It is the substance that prevents us from gripping our own dreams and desires too tightly to allow for growth. It is the substance that kills the flab in our lives, and brings in God’s approval rather than asking for tolerance. It is the substance that enables God to make us what he wants to make us, rather than us telling God what we want him to make us into.

God began to show me how to start using this ingredient in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday. My youth pastor and pastor preached two powerful messages that grabbed my attention. They preached on the cross, and this is what turned the lightbulb on. This ingredient will not work instantly in most cases, and it requires use over time before effects are usually seen. I have begun to put this ingredient into my life and I have started to see some improvements. It has not worked its full effect yet, and in order for it to work, I have to keep using it.

We have all heard about what Jesus did on the cross. He took our place and died so that we would not have to suffer the wrath of God. He made a way for us to be reunited in our relationship with the Father. Because of his death, our sins are covered and we are freed from the bondage to sin. Curses are broken and our enemies are defeated because of the work done on the cross. However, this work is missing one key ingredient for it to be applied in our lives. This secret ingredient is: WE must get on that cross.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! Did you just say Jesus died so we do not have to?” Yes, I said that. But we still must get on the cross in order for the Christian life to work. While this is a message hardly stated by most pulpits, it is a message preached frequently by Paul.

Galatians 2:20 states, “For I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live.”

Romans 7:1-6 describes how in sin, we are bound legally to the law of sin and death as one is bound in marriage. The only way God authorizes a marriage to be broken is through death and Paul played on that. Only by dying to self and to the old self can we be freed from the law of sin and death and be re-born into a new marriage of the new covenant. Romans 6 is about the need to die to self, the second half of Romans 7 is about the conflict between the old self and the new self, and Romans 8 is about the victory found in Christ Jesus.

The secret ingredient to Christian living is when we get out of the way and we die to ourselves. The selfish flesh is the greatest hindrance to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, and it must be removed. Jesus’ death is to free us from self, but we will not be free unless self is dead. We are not our own; we are bought with a price. As Christians, we no longer rule our own lives as we did before Christ.

Here is the problem many of us have and why we struggle so much with different sins: We often read a post or hear a sermon about this topic, and we readily immediately respond and offer ourselves anew to Christ. We put ourselves on that cross to die in Christ, but a few days, weeks, or months later, self keeps calling and because we are not putting it to death, we take it down from the cross. Self often appeals to our “good nature” so we don’t kill it and let it stick around. It will promise to be good and only come around on occasion. It promises to behave as long as we toss it a bone or two, but then one day, it will throw a coup and claim the throne of our lives that it once had. If we want to see victory in our lives, we need to put self on the cross, keep it on the cross, and stop taking it back down.

Paul Washer stated that the most dangerous prayer any person could pray is, “Lord, make me like Jesus.” We love saying that prayer, but we really don’t want to be like Jesus. Jesus lived wholly and completely devoid of self. He did not allow moment for self, a though for self, an action for self, rest for self, a meal for self, absolutely nothing for self. Everything about him was only about his Father’s will. The closest Jesus ever got to considering self was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and even then he submitted his will, his mind, and his body to what needed to be done on that cross. Next week, I am going to share with you perhaps the most practical and applicable post I have written for Worldview Warriors to date. I am going to share how I have been putting this principal of death to self into practice.

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The Millstone

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

When I equate liberals (whether they self-identify as Christian makes no difference in the end) with being barbarians like I did last week, it is because of their stubborn inhumanity. Like barbarians of old, the modern liberal loots and plunders that which it could never build. They must take from others because they themselves cannot reproduce institutions and culture which are built by faith.

Liberals who call themselves Christian do not often found institutions like seminaries, colleges, hospitals, or nursing homes unless they get money from some benefactor, like the government. Rarely do they collect small amounts of money at the grassroots level to build these institutions. There are some exceptions (Harvard), but mainly, they want to sneak in and take away the institutions that were founded by godly conservatives.

That is what happened to Princeton. Princeton was a Christian Seminary, Presbyterian by nature and creed, conservative. But in the early part of the 20th century, mainline churches began to import liberal German theology, which denied the inerrancy of Scripture and undermined the authority of the Bible by asserting that some parts were only myth. Presbyterians who held to this liberal theology quietly took faculty positions at Princeton preaching tolerance, but as soon as they held enough power tolerance was over. Princeton was reorganized to create a liberal school, even though the liberals had nothing to do with its founding.

Why didn’t the liberals begin their own school? Because preaching against the faith doesn’t move the mountains necessary for the founding of such an institution. Preaching relativism and anti-biblical dogma erodes the nature and spirit of Christianity. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Men like J. Gresham Machen had to flee in the face of their faithlessness. When he showed the Presbytery evidence that these liberals did not believe the doctrine of the church, the liberals went unpunished. The church looked the other way. The liberals were given a pass, until they took over. But the liberals did not give passes to conservatives—they purged them. Machen founded Westminster Theological Seminary as a revolt against the liberal takeover.

Today, Westminster Theological Seminary itself has been in danger of being overrun. Peter Enns said he slid away from orthodoxy while he was a teacher there. He rejected Adam as a historical person, redefined inerrancy in such a convoluted way as to be incomprehensible and deceptive, and championed evolution. Perhaps some of the Presbyterians were taking the lessons learned at Princeton because they refused to send any of their prospective ministers to be taught under Enns.

Westminster had a difficult process of removing Enns, and many board members resigned after Westminster asked Enns to leave. Good riddance. Nevertheless, Enns can still be found teaching kids not to believe the Bible.

Machen is one of my heroes of the faith and I am glad that the school he founded survived the takeover attempt, at least this attempt.

This is the same pattern that has corrupted the mainline churches. It can be seen in the recent votes by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow pastors to practice homosex. It can be seen in the controversy surrounding the United Methodist church on the same issue. It can be seen in the Anglican church. None of these denominations were founded by liberals. As one ELCA churchman told me, “Why should we leave? We were here before the gays. Why can’t they go found their own denomination?” Because that sort of thing requires faith and access to God, neither of which they have.

Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:6-7) The liberals do not believe or teach the Word of God. Do you want them ruining your institution? Ignoring their apostasy and idolatry is cowardly and weak. Take a stand.

Those of us who have not reduced the Bible to a human book, who have not rejected the authority and inspiration of Scripture, who have not accepted a mediocre faith that does not require stark animosity with the world, who have not rejected the person and work of Christ, who have not bowed our knee to Baal – we must remain steadfast. Make no treaty with liberals. Their treaties only last until they have power. Look at the college campuses around our nation.

Remember what alliance Abraham was willing to make with the wicked king of Sodom: “I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal.”

Go and do likewise.

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Who, What, and Where is Ephraim?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 15, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week is the third installment in writing about items that will come up in Judges 17, which you’ll see at the beginning of June, so stay tuned! Today I’m writing on Ephraim, but there are multiple things named “Ephraim” in the Bible, so here’s a brief summary of them.

The name Ephraim itself means “I will be doubly fruitful.” Its root word is “peri,” which means fruit in Hebrew. Add to that a modified form of the “-ayim” dual/double ending and a prefix similar to a very form indicating “I will be,” and you end up with the word Ephraim.

The first Ephraim we read about in the Bible is the second son of Joseph, the guy with the coat of many colors. We see Ephraim in Genesis 41:52 and 46:20. Ephraim is significant because, like his grandfather Jacob, he received the familial blessing when he should not have. Ephraim’s brother Manasseh was older so he should have received the blessing, simply because of birth order. But in Genesis 48:10-14, Joseph’s father Israel (aka Jacob) blesses Ephraim first.

The next Ephraim is the tribe of Israel, which was made up of the descendants of Joseph’s son Ephraim. The tribes of Israel were mostly formed from Jacob’s sons, except for the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. These two were from the sons of Joseph, so rather than having one tribe of Joseph (who was Jacob’s son), there were two - Ephraim and Manasseh. You might be thinking that there should be 13 tribes then rather than 12, right? Jacob had 12 sons, and if each son became a tribe except Joseph became 2, then that’s 13, right? Not quite. Jacob’s son Levi became the tribe of the Levites, but since they were priests and served in God’s temple, they did not have land so they were not considered an “official” tribe. The tribe of Ephraim numbered 40,500 people according to the first census in the wilderness after leaving Egypt (Numbers 1:32-33), but only 32,500 when they took the promised land 40 years later, likely due to loss of life during battles.

The tribe of Ephraim’s territory in the promised land would later become Samaria in Jesus’ day. It was the center of much north-south traffic and was located between the Jordan River and the sea. Ephraim’s land was approximately 55 miles by 30 miles, so approximately 1,650 square miles, which is a little larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island. You can go here for a map of the layout of the tribes to see their relative sizes. During the time of the judges however, Ephraim was haughty, proud, and generally discontent with the other tribes. They felt they had a right to be proud, since the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant (where God’s presence dwelled) was in Shiloh in Ephraim for a number of years. Ephraim was knocked off its high horse a bit when they were removed later on. Ephraim became jealous of the tribe of Judah once Jerusalem (which was in Judah) became the capital of Israel.

The term Ephraim also refers to a mountainous area of Israel, Mount Ephraim, and a forest east of the Jordan River. The central district of Palestine was mountainous and occupied by the tribe of Ephraim. This part of the country is referred to in Joshua 17:15 and 19:50. It was densely wooded in Joshua’s time, but it also had fertile valleys. Joshua himself was buried there (Judges 2:9). Another significant event in this area of Ephraim was the battle between David and Absalom that was fought there, where Absalom died (2 Samuel 18:6-15).

But wait - there’s more! Ephraim was also the name of a gate in the city of Jerusalem. It was on the north side of the city, looking toward the land of the tribe of Ephraim. This gate is referred to in 2 Kings 14:13 and its parallel passage of 2 Chronicles 25:23.

There was also a city called Ephraim in the territory of Ephraim. Jesus went there with his disciples after raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:54). The town of Ephraim was in the wild hill country north of Jerusalem.

The territory of Ephraim will be the setting for when we pick up Judges 17 in a few weeks, so now you have some background as to who, what, and where that is.

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Competition Versus the Great Commission

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 14, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Ministry is not a competition. It is the Great Commission.

The Great Commission, that we received from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, is this “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There have been times in my life when I have observed other people receiving opportunities to serve God, opportunities that I wanted. I would find myself saying things like, “I could do that, I would’ve liked that opportunity, I am just as qualified to do that job, why didn’t they ask me?” This kind of thinking left me frustrated and jealous.

God has been laying this message on my heart lately: it’s going to take all of us, using all our talents and gifts, to reach the hurting world around us with the message of Jesus.

When we see others get breaks that we would have liked to have, let’s look at it as the perfect opportunity for them, because it best fits their talents and gifts. I also try and remember that if God wanted me to have that opportunity, I would have had it.

There are going to be people that I reach because of my personality and gifts, but some people may be receptive to my teaching and some people might not. Likewise, you can reach people that I can’t.

We each need to seek God’s guidance for our own lives. Remember that we are all on God’s team, and we all have been given the Great Commission.

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Out of the Gray, Part 5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 13, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]

In JRR Tolkien's story The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, there is a fantastic moment where Gandalf rescues Theodin, the king of Rohan. In the movies made in the early 2000's, it’s a powerful scene where Gandalf releases Theodin from the spiritual possession of Sauroman. Theodin was stuck; he was overwhelmed by the power of Sauroman, a wizard he trusted. Sauroman was once good, or so everyone thought. Inside Sauroman was a pleasure in having power that corrupted him and lead him down the path of becoming "gray" and then "black," even though he still wore white. Sauroman made it appear that Theodin was overcome with an illness and unable to speak clearly. Through Theodin and Grimma Wormtongue (the king's aide) Sauroman started manipulating the Kingdom of Rohan and weakening it, so it would be easily crushed by the army Sauroman was forming. If you haven't seen the movie in a while, I recommend at least pulling up that scene on YouTube here.

The point is, sometimes we need help, and sometime others need help to escape the gray. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the power of a thought, an idea, a cultural norm, or even a spiritual influence, that we lose the ability to think clearly and discern what is good.

It’s important to realize when someone is stuck physically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually, mercy and rescue (maybe even 'exorcism' like Gandalf did for Theodin) can help.

Read Jude 1:23. Jude reminds us that contending for the faith is not about winning arguments and protecting cultural habits. It’s about rescuing, and sometimes wrestling hard to rescue people from the gray and bring them to the light. Gandalf doesn’t attack Theodin the king; he battles Sauroman, the false white wizard “who has become gray as Gandalf went from gray to white.” Sure Theodin gets bumped around, but there is a protective focus and a confidence in the power of what Gandalf is doing that allows him to aggressively free Theodin without worrying about him being hurt. To me, that is a picture of what Jude is saying here. Rescue those around you by contending for the faith.

If they are caught in some doubt, fear, or a spiritual battle, there may be a struggle against the darkness that is overwhelming them. Engage with confidence in God’s power and His love for that person. He has the power to rescue them, and He may have placed you there at just the right moment to contend for their very lives.

Are you in a place where you need help from someone who is a follower of God and lives confidently in His power? Are you in the life of someone who needs mercy, and maybe even physical or spiritual rescue from the things they have been drawn into? Ask God to show you who may help you, or who you are to be a help to. And then trust his power to get you (or others) unstuck from the "gray" places that you find yourself in.

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The Potter and the Clay

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 12, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Most people who have any remote Christian background have heard the potter and the clay analogy. It’s easy to talk about and is part of the bridge of the very popular song “Change My Heart, O God.” This analogy is used in Jeremiah 18, Isaiah 29:16, Romans 9:21, and other passages. God is the potter and we are the clay. God takes us and molds us and makes us into what he wants us to be. It is a very common image where we like to talk about it, but we do not want to go through it.

I would say the majority of us do not want God to make us into what he wants to make us into. I would say the majority of us are asking God to make us into what we want to be made into. How often do we pray, “Lord, make me and use me however you want and I will cooperate and agree no matter what happens to me or what reputation I have”? I would suggest not often. I cannot really think of when I have said this kind of prayer except perhaps the last several weeks. Most of us rather pray, “Lord, enable me to do this, this, or that, and while you are at it, please give me a good reputation.” We have that dream job or dream position or dream family and we ask God to make us so we can have that dream. But which of us are willing to lay those dreams down so God can mold and make us into the vessels he needs for his purposes?

What kind of vessels does God make? Some are made to be put on display. These are the talented artists in music, art, dance, or sports. Some are made to carry water or food or even tools. These are those who are involved in helps ministries. There are some that are used for sanitation and removing waste. These could be prophets. There are some for holding candles and shining light. These are the teachers. There are many others too. Many people want to tell God what kind of vessel we want to be, and it is usually a glamorous one. What if God wants you to be a hidden vessel? Are you willing to allow God to mold you into what he wants you to be, or are you going to be stiff and difficult for God to work you into what he wants? Are you willing to carry out the job he wants you to do, or are you going to complain that you did not get the job you wanted? Sometimes we need to be moldable, and other times God needs to break us so he can reform us.

For the bulk of my Christian life, I have sought to be moldable. I know the tales and the descriptions of being broken. That never sounds like a fun process to go through. So I have had in my mind this whole time to be moldable and flexible. I often would not think of this picture of potter and clay directly, but it’s the same idea. I would rather be flexible so God can mold me rather than have God break me.

Proverbs 29:1 warns us that a stiff-necked person will be broken suddenly and without remedy. When I studied civil engineering, I took a class on different types of materials. In that class I learned of the elastic (Young’s) modulus and the sheer modulus. The elastic modulus is a measurement of how much force a material can handle compared to the amount of deformation (stretching, bending, etc) it endures. Sometimes the material can revert back to its original form (like most rubber bands), or sometimes the deformation is permanent (like with metal). The shear modulus is the measurement of the force applied to a material compared to whether it breaks or not. In some materials, these two modulus are quite close to each other. Steel and rocks are examples. If you increase the pressure upon these materials, when they start to bend, it only takes a little bit more to break them. According to Proverbs, a stiff-necked person will be able to handle a lot of stress without bending, however there will not be any sign of shattering until it is too late. I did not want to be this kind of person. I still have a lot of impurities to work out, but I wanted to be where God can gently work them out, rather than having to shatter me and pull them out.

There is another image of clay vessels that caught my attention. It is when the sinful woman (often believed to be Mary Magdalene) anointed Jesus’ feet. She took her jar of spikenard, an extremely expensive perfume, and broke it, pouring the perfume upon Jesus’ feet. The scent was so strong it filled the entire room. Another passage of Scripture describes us as the fragrance of Christ. The spikenard filled the room because the jar holding it was broken. When we are broken, often through the means of persecution, we should release the fragrance of Christ. My pastor uses a lemon to illustrate. He asks, “What do you get when you squeeze a lemon? Whatever is inside it.” God will squeeze us to get whatever is in us to come out. Is it Christ? Or is it the flesh? Good fruit juice? Or something rancid?

There is value in being flexible and there is value in being stiff and strong. God needs both types of people. The flexible type readily listens to God’s Word and moves to obey it. The stiff and strong very often need to be shattered first, then God can start to work with them. When that happens, however, that person cannot be moved by anything the world throws at them. Jacob was one such person. He was extremely strong-willed and he would do whatever it took to get what he wanted. Then one night, he got into a wrestling match with God and he refused to let go. Up until that point, Jacob had done everything by the flesh and that night God broke him and he walked with a limp from that point forward. In the process, Jacob lived by the Spirit instead of the flesh. It took a breaking to do that.

Asking God to break you is perhaps the most dangerous prayer one can make, because God will. Sometimes God will be gentle with us, but other times God needs to give tough love. In being flexible, I am wondering if I need God to break me. I have areas that I have not wanted to give up as I thought I would. I have areas where my flesh still has solid control over my life. And I sense God is asking me if I would like him to break me so he could finish forming me into what he wants me to be. I have to admit, I am scared of that prayer.

One of the greatest fears of God breaking us is if God would expose that deep dark sin that you have told no one about. A reason for that fear is because in such breaking, that which we tend to cherish in the flesh or in the world is going to be lost. However, if we recognize what God sees in our sin, brokenness is precisely how we should respond. Brokenness is the penitent and contrite heart that David displayed appropriately to his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is his great confession. Brokenness drives us to true repentance where we no longer take sin casually and we truly want nothing to do with what caused it to begin with. It is a painful process. While no one who has been through the breaking process wants to go through it again, they know that because of it they are so much better off than they would be without it.

There is another angle of brokenness that deserves another post. This is what God has been teaching me this past couple months and what these past four weeks have been building up to. I am calling this the secret to living the Christian life in its power. I can say it is one of the least popular aspects in the Christian faith and one of the topics least spoken of in many pulpits. I have known this secret for years, but in theory only. Next week’s post is ultimately a culmination of what I have been writing about since July of last year. This is what is needed in order to pray like I wrote about how we should pray, and how to live not just in theory but in practice. Stay tuned.

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Barbarians at the Gate

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 10, 2017 2 comments

by David Odegard

As you begin reading this blog post, you may think that this is hyperbolic rhetoric. But as you read and see where this heads, I think you’ll begin to see that there is much reality in this posting in today’s world.

It is apparent that Europe is falling into chaos. Bands of rapists plague Germany and Sweden; there are areas of Islamic concentration where police and citizens cannot go. They are imposing the barbaric values of Islam on the people within their reach. Furthermore, few European leaders seem to have grasped the cause of the strife; they stumble over themselves in haste to justify or exonerate the refugees. If they can’t even identify it, how can they possibly curb the violence?

As a response, there are several extreme right wing groups forming in France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden who are training in violence. Haven’t we seen this play before? It ends in blood.

We are witnessing with our own eyes the people of Venezuela dissolving in the socialist hell they created. People are dying! Starvation, madness, revolt! But in America, Bernie is still cool. “Let’s continue to lead the U.S. down the socialist alley and let’s also import more barbarians, in addition to those we are creating on college campuses. Let’s make sure that Americans no longer have their guns.”

Let’s face it: Europe and America have accepted a purely naturalistic way of viewing the world. They believe in scientism. We believe in only matter; there is no ultimate meaning in the universe. We are only cosmic accidents, an arrangement of star-material which has delusions of grandeur. The atheist Bertram Russell put it this way (as quoted in JP Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle):
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.”

The naturalist’s, or the believer in scientism’s, response to the barbarians at the gate is to say, “What does it matter if they get in? We are all dead eventually anyway!” This suicidal resolve is everywhere on display.

The postmodern person hears the barbarians banging on the gate and mutters, “Tis the wind, only this and nothing more.” They redefine reality to suit themselves. People scream in their faces that the barbarians are at the gate to which the smile politely and say, “That’s your truth,” and go back to the backgammon game.

The liberal seems to be so happy that the barbarians have come because they think they are getting rescued from the evil clutches of capitalism. They have been howling for more barbarism. They stomp their feet if anyone tries to tell them they can no longer murder the unborn in their ritual of selfishness. They applaud lawlessness and set up sanctuary cities for them. For several months they have been looting and pillaging the country wearing either ISIS costumes or crocheted uterus hats. Don’t cry for me, Venezuela!

The liberals ensure that if a student going into college isn’t a barbarian that they become one before they graduate; because the world needs technologically advanced barbarians. Higher education is nothing more than an indoctrination center. Almost all of the professors are leftist; most committees do not even have one conservative representative. Any view that is not in harmony with secularism, scientism, socialism is at best ignored, but more often than not it is mocked and jeered and recently—silenced by violence—in America, people. Civil discourse is gone on college campuses in the US.

Are you awake?

All the while, those Christians who still reverence the Bible (and they are disappearing), are screaming in the face of a dimwitted society that has been educated by the state for compliance, not critical thinking. We clang our church bells, screaming, “Wake up! The barbarians are here! Clang, clang. They will sell our children into slavery. Clang, clang. They will rape our wives and daughters. Clang. They will kill and plunder us. Clang, clang.” But we scream into the wind.

You may think that this is hyperbolic rhetoric, but it is the really real reality of Europe, right now. Furthermore, Christians are the only voice saying, “Stop murdering the unborn.” This isn’t even a hard concept.

Augustine may have been shocked that God allowed the barbarians to sack Rome in the 5th century, but post-evangelicals and liberal Christians have gone back to sleep. Meanwhile, those who have not bowed their knees to Baal are fully awake. We have seen this play before. It is a tragedy. There will be blood.

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.


What is an Ephod?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 8, 2017 4 comments

by Katie Erickson

What is an ephod and why am I spending time to write about it? That’s what we’re digging into today.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember an ephod from back when we were writing on Gideon in Judges 8:22-28. As I wrote there, “The ephod was an apron-like garment worn by the high priest and was made of linen; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; and gold thread. Two shoulder straps and a waistband held it secure. The ephod was an article of clothing that the priests would wear when they would consult with God. Making the ephod gave the people a way to honor Gideon without him becoming their leader.”

What does an ephod look like? This picture is an example that points out the different parts of a high priest’s outfit, which includes the ephod.

The ephod was made of fine linen. It had two pieces (a front and a back) joined together over the shoulders. It was worn on top of the tunic. The high priest’s ephod would be embroidered with many colors such as the one in the photo, while others would be much simpler

So, the ephod was a sacred vestment, which is like article of clothing. It was originally worn by the high priest (Exodus 28:4) but later was worn by regular priests (1 Samuel 22:18). We also see Samuel wearing an ephod in 1 Samuel 2:18, and David wearing one in 2 Samuel 6:14.

So far it sounds like an ephod is a good thing, used for worshiping God, right? Well, there’s another definition of that same word that isn’t so good. The word ephod is also associated with idol worship. Back in Gideon’s story, Judges 8:27 says, “Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” The people began to worship Gideon’s ephod rather than God, and that is clearly idolatry. This also happened in the book of Hosea, as referenced in Hosea 3:4.

Scholars believe that it started out that the ephod was worn to worship God, then it was worn to worship foreign gods (idols), then the people would put the ephod on the idol statue, and the term then became synonymous with idol worship.

So are ephods important today? If you’re talking about the garment itself, then not really. Ephods are not generally worn or seen anywhere today, except possibly for some Jewish religious ceremonies. But the idea behind it is definitely still important. Idol worship is still a bad idea and goes against how God created us - to worship Him and Him alone. Anything that we worship, whether it’s a statue, a person, or a piece of clothing, is wrong and is disobedient to God.

While the details of the physical garment of an ephod are not very relevant today, perhaps thinking of it will help you remember to keep your heart pure and not worship anything except the one true God.

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.


Abide in Jesus

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 7, 2017 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Recently my son asked me, “Mom, why isn’t God answering my prayers?” As I thought about how to answer him, I started to think about my own life and then I looked to Scripture. In John 15:7 it says, “If you remain in me and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Fathers glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

The King James Version of this Bible verse uses the phrase, “Abide in me.” Abide means to remain, continue, stay, continue in relationship, endure, or wait.

When I personally ask myself why God isn’t answering my prayers, I consider if I am abiding in a relationship with Jesus. Am I spending time with him in Bible study and prayer? Or am I in a place where I pray only when I need something?

Have you ever had a friend who only calls you when they need something from you? How did that make you feel? How close did you feel to that person? In a mutual relationship, each person gives of themselves to maintain a good relationship. It is our part of the relationship to seek God and spend time with him.

There are many reasons why God might not answer our prayers. Unconfessed sin separates us from God, we may be asking for something that doesn’t bring God glory, or God may be answering, “Not now.”

I am convinced that if we take the time to spend in a daily relationship with the Lord, he will reveal his answers to us through his Word. I encourage you to make that a habit this week.

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Out of the Gray, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 6, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]

As an artist and a craftsman myself, I enjoy watching other artists do their craft. Forged in Fire is a show on TV where blacksmiths compete against each other to create knives, swords, and other bladed weapons made of steel. They must be functional weapons. The judges test each one to see if it has the quality in the metal work to do what the weapon was originally designed to do. I am always amazed at the "fit and finish" the experienced blacksmiths have on their weapons. And you can always tell who has spent a significant amount of time studying and practicing their craft. Usually, those who have not invested in learning and developing their skills are the first ones to be eliminated from the contest.

It is the same with our faith. We must KNOW and GROW what we believe. In book of Jude, read verses 20-21. (If this is the first post in this series you have read, you may want to read the previous weeks for a better understanding of the context of these verses.)

As we know and grow what we believe, we will also be able to better discern God’s direction and what is good in each circumstance we face. We will begin to see and be passionate about what is really true, not what only sounds true or what is outright false. The amazing thing about Truth is that it is exciting and freeing. Even when Truth doesn't feel good, there is a part of us deep down that somehow knows it is good. When Truth impacts our hearts, we want others to know it too – which also helps us want to contend for the faith (Jude 1-3).

Let me illustrate how this works. Dandy Blend is a coffee substitute made from dandelion root, roasted barley, chicory, and beet root. A friend of ours who loves coffee got Lyme disease. She worked with her doctor and naturalist to recover and be healed from the disease, and while she did, she was not allowed to drink caffeine. Her nutritionist recommended she drink Dandy Blend.

When they visited is one time for dinner, she brought it along and shared it with me. She told me about the benefits, and I became curious. I read up on the amazing properties of dandelions – yes those pesky weeds we all try to kill – and I was surprised at how beneficial they were. I was struggling with how I felt strung out on coffee, so I tried Dandy Blend for a while, and I felt great on it. Now I drink it regularly. And because I drink it, my kids became curious. My one daughter even developed a slogan, completely unprompted by me: “Don’t kill yourself with coffee, heal yourself with dandy blend.” Ok, so this isn’t a plug for the product, nor do i think marketing is in my daughter's near future, but it shows the simplicity of what it means to contend for Truth. In that simple exchange of experience, research, science, and campy slogan writing, contending for the properties of Dandy Blend happened.

It is really that simple when it comes to what we believe. As we build ourselves up in God’s Word and contend for the faith, Jude reminds us that we are not in this for ourselves. The church is not a fortress to be protected, it’s a force to be reckoned with – or at least it should be if we are following God and not our preferences, traditions, or comforts.

Take some time this week and consider this: how are you building yourself up in what you believe? Are you growing in what you know, and are you practicing applying God's ways to everyday living? Who may become curious because of the skill you demonstrate with your faith in God?

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.


God’s Tolerance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 5, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Tolerance is the practice of being patient and getting along with those who disagree with us. It is the ability to maintain a relationship with someone despite having a point of disagreement. Tolerance is NOT “agree with how I think.” We are taught in both the secular world and the Christian world that we should be tolerant of those who don’t agree with us, however, what does God say about tolerance? Does he practice tolerance? The answer is going to surprise many. We seem to have this idea that God is very tolerant of us. After all, he is kind and loving and merciful. We were sinners and he still died for us. The notion that God will take us as we are is true. God does not need to wait until we are cleaned up until he will receive us. However, God is not tolerant… of anything.

If you have recovered from the shock of such a statement and are still with me, let me refresh you again with what tolerance is: to be tolerant, you have to have someone who disagrees with you, and then you get along with them, with that issue not getting between the two of you. God is not tolerant. What disagrees with God? Sin. Can God get along with sin? Absolutely not. God will be very patient and long-suffering in carrying out the punishment sin deserves, but there comes a point where enough is enough. For God to be tolerant, he would need to be able to maintain a relationship with that which violates his character.

The passage of Scripture that caught my attention to this topic was 1 Samuel 15. God told King Saul to wipe out the Amalekites. Who were these people and why did they deserve this punishment? Amalek is one of Esau’s grandsons. Esau from the get-go was a man who lived according to his flesh and according to his physical needs. Esau despised his birthright, surrendering it for a bowl of stew. Even in Romans, God said he hated Esau. Why? Because Esau never sought after God. You see, God does not merely look at the individual. He looks at generations. The sons of Esau were never friendly towards the sons of Jacob. Amalek’s people revealed their true nature when they waylaid Israel in the wilderness in coming out of Egypt. In Exodus 17, they attacked and Moses stood above the battlefield and held his arms up for the victory. It was this battle that God cited in why he wanted them eliminated, about 400 years later. God gave the Amalekites 400 years to repent of their sin of trying to stop God’s people.

Was God patient? Yes, he was. Was he tolerant? No, he wasn’t. He gave them mercy for a time, but he did not get along with them. What about with God’s own people? Was he tolerant of their sin? Nope. He showed a patience with them that we still cannot grasp, however when they sinned, God took them behind the shed and gave them a whooping. God never turns a blind eye to sin, and he can’t.

Now, please do not read what I am not saying. I am not suggesting that God seeks to wipe out and punish any who sin on a whim. He desires mercy. Jonah understood this. That is why he did not want to go to Nineveh. He wanted to see God wipe out the city and he knew if he preached the message of doom that God would spare them. That’s exactly what happened. Jonah did not preach a message of repentance. He simply proclaimed that Nineveh had 40 days before the doom would come, and they repented. God spared them, for a season. The city fell not long after to the Babylonians. When Josiah lead the revival during his reign, God said he would spare him, but the judgment to come would be through his children. God does not tolerate sin.

We love the idea of God being tolerant of who we are and what we are like, because that means we don’t have to change. However, that is completely opposite of what the Gospel actually is. The Gospel is not about God getting us out of hell. That is part of the picture, but that is not what it is about. The Gospel is about taking a wicked, sinful human, completely changing his/her nature, and conforming the person into the image of God. The problem with the idea of just getting out of hell is that it suggests we can still get to heaven in our sinful state and God will just ‘tolerate’ us. This idea really does not understand or know God. God is holy and pure and just. Sin is not a sickness that needs curing; it is a crime against the Creator of all things. God spoke the universe into being and the winds and waves obey him at his voice. And we have the gall and audacity to tell God, “No!” when he commands us and then ask him to tolerate us. He will have nothing to do with any sin in our lives.

As children of God, he is going to work out all that sin that is in our lives. This is called sanctification. It is a process of purifying us, so when we come to meet Christ face-to-face we will be a pure and spotless bride, and God is going to use whatever means he needs to in order to get the job done. God will discipline his children. It will come in different ways, shapes, and forms. Just like a parent who disciplines each child differently based on how they respond to it, God does the same with us. One of my siblings only needed to be shown the spoon to stop what was going on. Spanking never made a remote difference on another of my siblings. With some, God just needs to tap and remind them to get back on the path. With others, God needs to break and shatter them so he can start them over from scratch. For the longest part of my life, I sought to be moldable. I did not want God to break me, so I sought to be in a position to mold and move as God needed me to be. However, I am starting to learn and understand what being broken means. What I do know is that I still have things in my life that God does not tolerate, and I know God wants them out of me more than I do. He loves me too much to tolerate any sin in my life.

We like to call upon God to be tolerant because we have flab and we like it. God has no tolerance for flab because he knows it leads to death. If God is intolerant of sin and the flesh, so should we be, because as long as we are associated with sin and the flesh, God will not tolerate us and he will let us know the hard way on judgment day. But if we learn to love what he loves and hate what he hates, we will find ourselves as tools God can use for his Kingdom purposes. Our sins separate us from God. The only way he can spare us while we have sin is to remove himself from our presence. If he did not, his holiness would annihilate us. Isaiah saw God on his throne and cried, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!” The more we learn who God is, the more we will realize what sin really is and why he will not tolerate it.

Saul failed to wipe out the Amalekites. He was tolerant of the cattle and the king. He got rid of the stuff he didn’t like, but he tolerated the stuff he did like. As a result, God left his presence and his line would never regain the throne. If we are going to be tolerant of sin, God will not be tolerant of us. Jehoshaphat removed all idolatry from his land, except he allowed his son, Jehoram to marry the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel who I believe is Athaliah. Jehoshaphat saw God’s glory in seeking him, but his son fell into such wickedness that his people did not even give him a proper burial. Jehoshaphat tolerated the sin of his daughter-in-law, and when he died, that sin showed its full fruit. If we tolerate sin, it may not affect us directly and instead will affect our children. That is also why we must be very careful about what teachings we allow in and which ones we don’t. This is especially true for church leaders. It may not affect you, but it certainly can affect your congregation, and you will be held responsible for it. God loves us too much to be tolerant of the sin in our lives. Likewise, when we speak against sin (for we must), we must also do so in love, knowing that the sin leads to death. We must be genuine in our care for them. This is not legalism. This is life and death and too many of us, myself included, do not take it seriously enough, because we have become tolerant of sin. Tolerance of sin has fatal consequences and it never involves just us. Be watchful of what you allow in the door.

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.