Why Judges?: What can we take from the Judges as we live as Christians today?

samsonblind

This year, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning the Judges: Why Judges?. The lesson was written and presented specifically for Vacation Bible School: Heroes of the Faith. The final area covered in the lesson was What can we take from the Judges as we live as Christians today?

Why Judges?: What can we take from the Judges as we live as Christians today?

People are imperfect. When I was a kid in Bible class, it always seemed that the Bible teacher glossed over the fact that basically every person we learned about was severely broken. Samson was arrogant, spoiled, selfish, and immoral. Jepthah was irresponsible and impetuous. Eli was a bad father. All of the Judges had major issues they had to deal with. We are no different today. Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” We all have sin and problems and disappointments. We all make terrible mistakes.

God can still use us. Even though all the Judges had weak points, sometimes to the extent of being completely worthless, God used them to bring about His perfect will. He saw in each person a hero; someone who could overcome their imperfection and serve Him. This is the story of Israel and of humanity altogether. God takes the broken and small and lifts them up and makes them His servants. Gideon began his service as a faithless coward, threshing meager rations of wheat in a winepress. Deborah, who would have been regarded as nothing since she was female, led Israel in overwhelming military victories. Samson, even though he forsook God and took the many talents and gifts God had given him for granted, returned to God in the end and made a sacrifice that brought about a victory over the Philistines. Now God uses us to do His will. I am a sinful, small, weak human being, disadvantaged by my inability to live a perfect life. But, through Jesus’ blood I am made complete and so are you. God can, therefore, use us to complete His will here in this life and bring about His glory and goodness. We can never let ourselves believe that we can’t do something just because we’re lacking in some way. Each of the Judges we discussed tonight was lacking in some way, but they were mighty instruments in the hands of a perfect God and you can be as well.

We don’t do miracles and fight huge battles on the field against physical enemies today, but we are called as in Eph 6:12 to fight against something far more dangerous. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” God can and will use you to fight and win against evil today. I hope you will join together with Jesus in this battle as he, our Prophet, Priest, and King leads and Judges us in our present fight.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – In the Beginning @Enwrightened

soulbook cover

This is the twenty-ninth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – In the Beginning

You are a soul who is overwhelmingly blessed to have a relationship with a God Who provides ultimate completion of you as a person, if you only take advantage of His blessings through Christ. If you are a Christian, you have reunited yourself with a power and strength unknown to humans since almost the beginning of the world. If you are not a Christian, you lack more than you know. But, you have the opportunity to be a complete person at this moment and every moment in Jesus through His death, burial, and resurrection. There are several things that separate Christians from non-Christians. In the beginning, there was a separation between God and humans and that separation still exists for non-Christians today. The patriarchs were separated from God and so were those under the law of Moses. But, there is a completeness or perfection that Christians have through Christ. In this chapter, we will see how your soul is made complete in Jesus and how Christians are not only complete, but are restored to God’s original purpose in His Creation.
In the Beginning

What was the relationship between God and humans like after He created the Earth? God had a very special relationship to and with His creation, especially with Adam and Eve, who were created in His image. But, how did this relationship end up? Ultimately, it ended in a sad sin that brought death to us all. Since this division took place, we as humans have since needed restoration. This is the key to understanding the reconciliatory power of Jesus blood.

Early in the history of mankind, we see a God who loves His creation so much that His perception of it reflects perfection, much as He is.
Also, humans were a manifestation and representation of this perfection in that God made them in His own perfect form as people containing three parts: soul, spirit, and body. Through this act of creation and the act of giving people a choice to love Him or not, God showed His perfect love. God made people in His own image. And said they were “very good” v. 31. This shows that there was a perfection or completeness that existed in the beginning. This perfection was a true picture of what God originally wanted for us. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

One of the most recognizable ways in which God showed His perfect relationship with human beings was in the way He communicated with them. In the garden, God could commune with Adam and Eve in a way that was never fully grasped after their fall. God spoke directly with people, (Genesis 2:18), indicating that man could approach God and have communion with Him. The act of speaking directly to the Creator of the universe and of man, was only possible when mankind was still in its original, perfected state. That existence allowed a closeness with God that literally placed humans in direct contact with God, such that God dwelt here with people.

One of the reasons God could dwell here is that people were sinless. As clean, perfect people, God could look on us without having to recoil due to sin. Man was sinless and had no reason for shame, (Genesis 2:25). God had no reason at this point to be separated from Adam and Eve. They were in His presence on Earth in the same manner that angels could be present before Him in Heaven. God evidently walked among Adam and Eve in the garden habitually, (Genesis 3:8-10). There was a closeness to God. They had contact with Him. This contact allowed them to learn from Him and draw life from Him that allowed them to live eternally in His presence. The sustaining power of God was all they needed.
All in all, the life before sin was perfect. But, after sin, humans lost part of themselves. They lost the walk they had with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (Elohim – the plurality of God). Can you imagine the horror of the loss of God? Is there any way for us today to truly know what it was like to be in the presence of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and then to have that beautiful, perfect relationship taken away for the rest of our lives? Probably the only thing close to such a loss would be the death of a spouse, child, or parent. However, this loss was of their Creator. For all intents and purposes, Adam and Eve were left alone to fend for themselves in the world. Of course, it was not Adam and Eve who suffered the most from this situation. God was the One Who had been wronged and He has been the One Who has worked for millennia to bring that relationship back.

Everything is a Gift

gods-grace

Throughout my upbringing, I have been confused at times about how salvation has been brought, not just to me, but to everyone. Unfortunately, it seems that many people share the same confusion. As a Christian, I see many different views that are disparate in their understanding of what scripture tells us is the truth and the Way. But, one area I believe that everyone can agree on is that we can’t earn our salvation and we can’t go around thinking there’s some reason we deserve salvation.

I’ve been teaching 6th grade Bible class this quarter and have been able to open up some discussion about Jesus and salvation and grace. What I have found is that the kids in my class have some great ideas about these issues, but also don’t fully grasp what they mean in a scriptural, conceptual way.

For instance, I asked this question on Sunday morning: “Did Jesus have to die?” Now what I didn’t ask was “Did Jesus have to die for us to be saved?” However, what people usually hear is the latter question when asked the former. The discussion from this question took almost the entire class time, which was excellent! One of the reasons it went on so long was that there was a disagreement among the students about whether or not Jesus had to die. Ultimately, we came back around to the conclusion, which I will not share here, and it was amazing to see how the students learned and grew from that simple question. The ultimate outcome of the discussion was that grace was placed in laser focus by Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. No one deserves it, that’s why it’s called grace. It’s an undeserved gift. And that’s what brings us to the title of this article…

One of the major arguments that perennially occurs between people who claim Jesus as their savior is whether or not one must “do” something in order to be saved. Most of the disagreements come to light based on whether or not things like Baptism are a “work”. Another question I asked my class was “Is there anything you can do to save yourself?” Predictably, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, some of the students said things like “Be baptized…” or “Obey God…” Now, while God does command baptism and obedience, do those things save us? Are they works? If so, whose are they? All of these questions must be answered to get to the bottom of what grace really is and how we have salvation in Christ.

Christians have understood through scripture that there is a logical process through which someone understands salvation and how this gift is imparted to someone. First, a person hears God’s Word. Roman 10:17 says this well, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” When you hear something, in this case, the Gospel, you are paying attention to it. You are listening to something actively and taking it in and trying to process it. There is action being taken. If you process it logically and decide it makes sense, you do something else that is referred to as believing. Believing is spelled out well in John 8:24 “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” When someone believes something, they are incorporating into their life a system of understanding that causes a change in the way they live. This incorporation is an action that leads one to turn away from their old way of doing things and turn toward a new way. This action of turning is call repentance. Luke 13:5 gives this interesting quote on repentance, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Then, there is a follow-on to this in Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Finally, Revelation 2:10 makes a huge statement about how Christians should live. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Now, if I were someone who only looked at what these passages said, I would almost have to surmise that in order to have salvation, I would need to do something. But, it might surprise you that none of these things mean that you do anything. But, don’t let this upset you. In fact, this fact should comfort everyone. Now, here’s something else that might sound contradictory, but it will become clear as we discuss further; these things are ALL works!

“But, what about grace?” I know this is going through your mind or coming out of your mouth and it should! Grace is what saves us! Ephesians 2:8 says it very clearly, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” But, we also see that people hear, believe, repent, confess, are baptized, and live faithfully. So, what do we do with these scriptural facts?

The first thing a person must realize is that none of the works above are our works. But, how is that? Don’t we have to “do” those things? The answer is unequivocally “No!” While all of these works are things that appear to be done by someone who is seeking God, none of them are works of human righteousness, but of God’s righteousness. We cannot hear unless we have something to hear or even have ears to hear with. Those are gifts and works of God’s righteousness. Can you believe if there is nothing to believe in? God’s grace is evident in the fact that we have anything to believe in or any way to believe it. Can you turn away from sin if you have nothing righteous to turn toward? Repentance is a gift. Baptism by its physical nature is where many people get confused and hung up, but again, this is not a work of human goodness, but of God’s perfect greatness in that He gave us baptism as a grace through which we enter into Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection where we contact His blood and are washed. Finally, when we live faithfully, it is tempting as Christians to get the idea that we are somehow earning our right to be called Christians. But, this goes back to the discussion of whether or not Jesus had to die. Jesus said himself in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” He doesn’t say this only here, but many times in scripture. The fact is that Jesus had every right to dust his hands of our filth and underserving lives and say, “You don’t deserve salvation and eternal life.” And He would have been fully correct and justified in His decision. I don’t know what would have happened after that, perhaps an ascension or some other translation similar to Elijah or Enoch. But, what is definite is that He made the choice and decided on His own to save us.

So, what does this mean? Are there things that are done for our salvation? Yes. Are any of these things works done by us? No. Are they all works? Yes. Are they grace? Yes. They are all inseparable components of the Gospel just as joined together and important as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Paul said it well in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Soulbook: The Soul and the Whole Person – Strength @Enwrightened

soulbook cover

This is the twenty-eighth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Soul and the Whole Person – Strength

Strength

Strength is the part of us that we can all relate to since we all have physical bodies. But, how does God want us to use this physical nature He has give to us? Strength is usually referred to as the physical part of us, but can refer to fortitude or perseverance, as well. When we stand firm against something wrong or show perseverance in some matter of faith or goodness, we are showing strength. Of course, this strength is drawn from places inside of us that allow us to last through whatever problem or test may come, but the physical limits we ultimately reach are determined by how much strength we have in our bodies. That strength can be greatly enhanced and bolstered by the other properties God has endowed us with, including our soul, mind, and heart.

The heart is one aspect of every human that we all feel is tied directly to our strength. If our heart is sad or angry, our body can feel weak and frail. The feelings we have concerning many different things can have an immediate and, sometimes, lasting impact on our physical being. Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Here, we see a differentiation between the strength of the flesh and the fortitude God gives; the strength of the heart. In this strength, we can hold on longer, understand more, and relay more about how God supplies our needs. The primary point of this passage is the understanding that ultimately, God is the strength we need to make it through difficult situations in live and also to endure into eternity. Even when our strength fails, God can uphold us in our hearts, which gives us the strength to brace our bodies and throw the weight of physical existence off, allowing us to continue into the more important spiritual life God wants us to live.

If you have ever been sick or physically limited, what does it do to your heart, soul, and mind? How do you move out of that sickness or illness? In the case of many people who have cancer, they report that their spiritual lives through prayer and faith allow them to make up for what they lack in physical strength and fortitude. This comparison is made to great effect in Judges, where the writer contemplates the spiritual strength needed to overcome difficulties: “The torrent of Kishon swept them away, The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. O my soul, march on with strength,” (5:21). The Soul displays fortitude and strength in physical manifestations in many cases. Through the soul, the body can be upheld in ways that many people don’t understand. However, this type of endurance happens regularly in the ordinary lives of ordinary people. It’s truly amazing how God has made us with the innate ability to draw strength from multiple sources in order to live purposeful lives for Him!

The mind is part of strength in more ways that we can comprehend. Anyone who has ever heard the phrase “mind over matter” understands that there are instances where the human mind can add to, or even, override the body to accomplish feats of strength or agility that may have seemed impossible. While some instances of the mind taking over during emergencies might be attributed to adrenaline or other naturally occurring hormones or chemicals, the reports of such instances show time after time that in the midst of performing the physical act of strength, the person was thinking with clarity and laser pointed focus that can only be attributed to the single-minded task to accomplish the goal at that discrete moment in time.

This same purpose and focus apply to mind and strength in the life of a Christian, as well. Isaiah 17:10 says, “For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered (kept in mind) the Rock of your refuge (strength).” If we do not use our minds, our strength will fail. We will lack fortitude and drive due to lack of purpose. Through the purpose given to us by God, we have fortitude, perseverance, and strength to accomplish any goal He has given us. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13).
Probably the most important thing to remember is Psalm 90:10, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” While the physical part of us is important, it will fail; but, the Soul goes on forever. Our strength sometimes is what we consider to be the most important thing to us, but without the soul, mind, and heart, it is non-existent. As people of God, we must realize where our true strength originates and put our faith there. Only then will we have the strength to endure.

People, in general, contain four properties, or attributes: heart, soul, mind, and strength. These four components allow us to accomplish the work God gives us to do in this life. All of these properties are tied together in several different ways and overlap to allow us to have no gaps in our lives if they are all kept strong in Christ. Through Him, these attributes allow us to compensate to make up for weaknesses in other areas and, thus, accomplish His work. Giving all of these to God is the best way to keep them all strong and for us to live eternally.

Why Judges?: Where did God get the idea to use Judges to lead His people?

samson

 

This year, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning the Judges: Why Judges?. The lesson was written and presented specifically for Vacation Bible School: Heroes of the Faith. The second area covered in the lesson was Where did God get the idea to use Judges to lead His people?.

Why Judges?: Where did God get the idea to use Judges to lead His people?

He had basically already been doing it this way for a while:

  1. Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all spoken to and handed laws and promises directly from God. He used these chosen men to carry out His will in very much the same fashion he had the Judges carry out His will. Even Noah and Adam were specially used for His purpose, so using Judges is in close keeping with the way God interfaced with humanity.
  2. Moses – Moses was specially called as the patriarchs had been. However, the law was imparted to Moses, introducing a written code by which His people were to operate. This written law stood as an addendum to the inherited laws of the patriarchs. Gal 3:18-19 “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.” The law stood as an agreement or covenant between God and His people so that they could continue in right standing with Him.
  3. Joshua – Joshua, while a transitional figure after Moses’ death, was effectively “Moses 2.0”. He carried the law and mission of Moses forward and gave Israel its first push into the Promised Land. He was chosen by God through Moses and was present for many important events and changes in Israelite culture, history, and religion.

God knew what would happen if He gave them a king:

  1. Sin – What happened when Israel got their first king? Saul almost immediately messed up by disobeying God. David was called a man after God’s own heart, but even he was an adulterer and murderer. Solomon was led away by his wives. Then, things got REALLY bad…
  2. Selfishness – 1 Sam 8:11-18 “He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
  3. Worldliness – 1 Sam 8:19-20 “But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
  4. He would no longer be king. 1 Sam 8:5-7 “and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’”

God knew exactly how Israel should be led, but He, as most parents do, allowed them the freedom to make a choice for themselves. God still allows us to choose for ourselves who we will serve as Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Dissertation: FREE Download

Dissertation: FREE Download

ATTITUDES CONCERNING COLLABORATIVE E-LEARNING TOOL USAGE FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND INFORMATION ASSURANCE ORGANIZATIONAL EFFICIENCY

Dissertation_Final_Sipper

Academics! Feel free to download and use my dissertation for research and statistical tools. I hope it helps you in your research and education. Select the link above to download or visit my Sipper Books page.

ABSTRACT

Information Assurance (IA) is a relatively new field in the Information Technology (IT) construct. Strategies for establishing standards, training, and evaluations for IA are still developing and growing across the IT field. As new threats and vulnerabilities are identified in IA, new information, policies, and procedures must be established and maintained. Organizational efficiency is one of the areas in IA that is understood and implemented the least within government and commercial organizations. E-Learning tools and concepts offer a conduit for effective collaboration between IA professionals for the purpose of establishing increased organizational efficiency through information sharing and baselining for standardization, training, and evaluation synergy. The purpose of this study was to ascertain IT/IA professionals’ attitudes concerning eLearning tools and their effect on organizational efficiency. The Research Questions (RQ) relate directly to this purpose: RQ 1: What are the prevailing attitudes of IT/IA professionals concerning eLearning tool usage? RQ 2: What is the prevailing attitude toward organizational efficiency of IT/IA professionals concerning eLearning tool usage? Findings revealed evidence that IT/IA professionals who show increased use of eLearning tools tend to have an elevated attitude toward eLearning tools for IT/IA and organizational efficiency. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that age, gender, work area, and experience level play no significant role in attitudes toward eLearning tool use for IT/IA and organizational efficiency. The findings also indicated there was an overall positive attitude toward eLearning tool use in IT/IA and for organizational efficiency, revealing a possible area of growth for such technologies within the IT/IA sphere. Additionally, the research revealed applications of the study for use of additional eLearning tools in the IT/IA sphere as well as implications for future research for additional eLearning tool use.