Friday, September 19, 2014

Naked Came I out of the Womb

In the first chapter of the book of Job, much happens that pretty much every Christian is at least partially familiar.

The Devil comes among the "sons of God" to report on what he has been doing with his time. After giving God a vague answer (as if he could hide anything from the all-knowing God), the Lord asks him,
"Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"

We all know how Magneto would respond to this question. But Satan has an agenda to support. He wants to make Job turn his back on God. Satan is convinced that if Job didn't have so many blessings in his life, he would not be as grateful to the God who provided them.

After all, it is easier to be grateful to the Lord when one is enrolled in an excellent institution, surrounded by tons of loyal family and friends, and generally, everything is going well. But is it as easy to thank the Lord when your friends hurt you, when your circumstances just keep seeming to not go your way?

So Satan is granted permission to be able to go back to Earth, and takes the lives of his sons, servants, and livestock. Ultimately, when that doesn't cause Job to turn his back on God, Satan petitions the Lord for permission to touch Job's health. After the Lord grants His permission, Job is now so overwhelmed by how God turned His back on Job that he cannot help but to curse God and die.

Except that's not what happens at all. Job is asked by his not-so-Proverbs 31 wife to curse God and die, and his response is recorded for us in Job 1:21,
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

You see, Job understood a simple concept that I tend to struggle with. The Lord was under no obligation to give us any blessing in this world. He was under no obligation to even give us life to begin with. Thus, He is under no obligation to maintain and continue to provide those blessings that He has provided. (Caveat: because the Lord promised in the Bible that once saved is always saved, that blessing He is obligated to continue to provide.)

Job illustrates that we can't take for granted what the Lord has given us, and ultimately our thankfulness to Him needs to be less based on the material things He has provided, and more based off of who He is, and what eternal blessings He has promised to those who call upon His name.

Monday, September 15, 2014

No Mr. Nice Guy in Politics

Politics is not a very nice game. It never really has been, and probably never will be. Politicians will continue to lambast their opponents with hyperbole and accusations.

Even during the days of a more intellectual politics at America's founding, one can find some pretty biting rebukes. In the debates between the proponents of our new constitution (Federalists) and its opponents (Anti-federalists), there seems to be much shaming on both sides. 

One of the most prevalent examples of this is Anti-Federalist Paper No. 9. Written as a satire from the perspective of a proponent to the constitution, this paper details that the "author" desires the people to have a limited voice in the government, so the better suited elite can have complete control of the government. 

This agenda is allegedly evidenced throughout the entirety of the Constitution, where the republic vests power as far away from the people as possible. 

It is an argument that one would expect from an Anti-Federalist that ultimately, the Constitution would provide power less for the people, but it is totally uncalled for to accuse the Federalists of intentionally trying to essentially leave the entire population out of the process because they think they are more qualified than the public at large. 

Yet that is what Anti-Federalist Paper No. 9 directly does. It's not a very nice argument to say the least. 

My simple point is today, don't anticipate or expect that the world of politics is going to change. There will not be a sudden revival or change that produces a completely different atmosphere in this nation. Since its very beginning, our nation has been dealing with this problem, and I honestly don't think it is the Lord's will to stop the problem before He comes. Level your expectations accordingly then, as we head into midterms this November. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why only the Parade?

A man by the name of Mordecai once saved the king's life. Naturally, such a consequential event is recorded in the chronicles of the land. However, the king's right hand man, Haman, doesn't care about this good work, when he demands that all of Mordecai's people, the Jews, be destroyed.

Yes, we're going to that book in the Bible, where the name of God is not actually mentioned once. In relationship to it though, I have decided to challenge myself with not saying the name of the book once. This could be fun.

Mordecai is now in fear of his life. He sees a providential hand in allowing his cousin to become queen, so maybe she could act to save the Jews.

During the tale, Haman starts to hate Mordecai so much that waiting for Mordecai to die along with the other Jews is not going to work with Haman. He decides to ask the king in the middle of the night to kill Mordecai now.

Unfortunately for Haman (and fortunately for Mordecai), the king could not sleep that night. He is read from the book of the chronicles specifically where Mordecai pointed out a conspiracy to take the king's life.

And just like that, God has used a case of insomnia to save Mordecai's life. Instead of Haman's visit to the king's court solidifying the hanging of Mordecai, Haman (quite ironically) becomes the reason Mordecai is given the highest honor in the kingdom.

Paraded through the city in royal garments with Haman proclaiming, "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour," Mordecai was experiencing a rather pleasant time.

But one has to wonder why did Mordecai accept only this temporal parade as reward. Why did not he specifically ask for the salvation of his entire people? Why did he decide to leave it up to the nerve of his cousin?

Instead, in Davidic fashion, he went right back to where he came from, figuratively and literally. Back in the king's gate, Mordecai was still a man with a death sentence carried over him. Why did he leave that death sentence in place?

I know it might be a bit disappointing to hear, but I actually don't have an answer for you. It is a peculiar question that I want to meditate on further, and I thought that you might enjoy such meditation as well, or might have some information that makes it seem absolutely clear in my mind. Thus I have shared it with you today. Feel free to comment, or ignore at your own leisure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why the Bible should not be used to Support your Viewpoints

James 4:4 proclaims,
"Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

This clearly indicates that we need to completely isolate ourselves from the world, and have nothing to do with that which it includes. We can't be trying to get enjoyment out of that which the world produces. Hollywood is evil, Doctor Who is evil, and generally speaking, the Lord hates television!

This is further corroborated by I John 2:15 when it says,
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

So yes, all those people who would have the audacity to quote Doctor Who in their blog posts about God are great heathens and heretics, and you shouldn't listen to them at all.

Obviously, I'm using satire. As a guy who spent too much of his weekend catching up on Doctor Who, as opposed to planning his campaign for Freshman chaplain, I clearly do not believe that all television is evil and shouldn't be watched.

But how do I keep that opinion in light of these verses, which many have used to make similar arguments to the ones that start this post? The answer can be summed up in one word - context. This prior Friday, we examined the context of James 4:4, so you know that by world, it means our sinful nature. The same poetic language is indeed at work in I John 2:15, as evidence by examining its context in I John 2:15-17,
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

So how is it that educated individuals tend to use these verses in ways that disagree with their context? It is quite obviously incorrect to say that James and John were stating that the culture of the world is entirely inappropriate, so how is that mistake made?

In my opinion, it is because of a phenomena called "proof-texting." Now proof-texting does not just imply the use of a single verse out of its context for communication purposes. If the verse has the same meaning without its context as it does with it, then it is legitimate for you to save time in your communication by quoting only one of those verses (I certainly do from time to time). However, if you go out trying to prove an agenda, and you take a verse from a Google search that seems to prove your point without actually paying attention to the context, that's proof-texting.

That is what I am calling out today because it actually highlights a deeper problem. No one should be going to the Bible to support HIS ideas about life. The Bible is not a stockpile of evidence to be used to build our cases. The Bible should not be conformed to our mold of the world; our mold of the world should be conformed to the Bible.

Yet proof-texting doesn't seek to find what the Bible says about certain issues. It just seeks to find any Biblical evidence in which the argument the user has is supported. That's how we can get arguments such as the ones above.

It's also how we can get an even more heinous argument often used by pro-abortion Atheists.

Christians get so wrapped up about abortion and how we MUST protect life, but I wonder whether they even read the Bible they support so often! It says clearly in Psalm 137:9,
"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

Well, yes, that would seem a bit problematic if this verse actually meant that people should be happy about themselves when dashing little ones against stones. Rather, we see simply a statement of fact that just punishment is being placed upon Babylon. Indeed, the evil of Babylon is being returned upon its own head, evidenced in the way that some other evil people will rejoice when they dash the little ones of Babylon against the stone. So you see, quite to the contrary of condoning this atrocity, the Bible is using this as an obvious example of a damnable act.

When you truly see how proof-texting can be used to support such unbiblical agendas, it should make you think twice about utilizing it as evidence for what you think are Biblical agendas. No matter how great your intentions, it is wrong to use the Bible for the purpose of just looking for support for your pre-established viewpoints.

When reading or hearing others opinions as well, you should be careful to know that the context actually supports what the scholar says it does, and that he is not guilty of proof-texting. Because sometimes, arguments can sound Biblical, and while not being denied by the Bible, not actually be supported by it either.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Adulterers!

I have committed the cardinal sin of blog writing by titling my post for today as a shout of accusation to my readers. That's not how to win friends and influence people, apparently, but hey, it grabbed your attention to read what I said so you could like, scoff at me or something.

Our text for today is James 4. My message is simple. We must be of one mind and one focus upon God and not look outside of God for our satisfaction. Let's look at James 4:1-8,
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."

According to what we see in these particular verses, any division or argument within the church come from us seeking our own lusts and seeking satisfaction from places absent from God. Instead of that response, we need to show our humility by submitting fully to God and allowing Him to bring us closer to Himself.

(Now of course we hear a lot of these verses taken out of context to prove various parts of agendas that people are trying to scripturalize, but I am not going to be discussing that until this Monday.)

That summary is great, but it seems a bit pie in the sky. Perhaps, we should bring this down to more practical understanding. As such, I reserve the right to (without divorcing any of the verses from their context) focus in on a portion of them for communication purposes.

You are not feeling content with yourself and the way you live your life. You read your Bible and you serve in your church from time to time, yet you don't feel as if the Lord is satisfied with the way you are living your life. Your prayers aren't being answered if you are even praying at all.

Feeling as if your best efforts mean absolutely nothing, you lose all hope and think that maybe you should just give up on God, and just live the typical apathetic Christian life. If what you're doing isn't pleasing to God, you mise well stop wasting your time on it and find happiness somewhere else.

Naturally, you're not going to find anything to make you happy. Whether you remain in your casual service to the Lord, or you become apathetic, you will find the same thing - your life doesn't seem to have much value.

Now the all important question - why? Because your friendship with the world, your friendship with that which the Lord has saved you from, namely your own natural sin nature, is causing you enmity with God. That explains then the root of all your problems.

The Bible in this passage would use the term adulterers to describe this particular allegation. The concept of adultery is a simple one. Without being crass, adultery is when a marriage is tainted by divided loyalty manifested in a physical form.

When we became in Christ, we became the Bride of Christ. We had a loyalty to Him for what He had done for us, what He is doing for us, and what He will do for us in the future. Yet when we hold onto our own will and volitions, when we hold onto our own fleshly sin nature, when we hold onto to our friendship with the world, we are dividing our loyalty away from God, and our actions in the physical world begin to taint the marriage of the church and Christ. (Just for the record, it would be impossible for the marriage to be cancelled, so don't worry there.)

The obvious solution then is to become completely loyal to God, which is incredibly easy to put into practice, right?

Yeah, not really, which is why James 4 explains to us this following step-by-step process in verses 6-8,
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."

The solution that I want to tell to you today is simply this - exercise true humility. By seeking God's will and God's strength in our lives, rather than trying to do OUR best to serve the Lord, we'll be able to come to truly have the proper loyalty to God.

We must get to the point where my shout of accusation in the title does not describe our attitude toward the Lord. We can do this by resting within His strength, by submitting to Him alone, and by seeking Him completely.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Let's Celebrate the Workmen!

It's Labor Day! You know what Labor Day is all about! Let's celebrate the work that others have done to make the products that we use on a normal basis, by you know, not working! Because that's not ironic at all.

Yet that is what we have here today. When I walk the streets of Cedarville later today (in a crowd, Mom, don't worry), I will be bombarded with claims that Labor Day was invented right here in Cedarville. I doubt we'll ever be able to actually verify those claims, but I probably shouldn't say that to a local.

But on a serious note, why do we celebrate labor day? I don't get the purpose. Sure, I understand a little of the history regarding the workmen going underappreciated in the past, but I still don't see how Labor Day actually solves that problem. Does Labor Day serve to incite gratefulness in our hearts to these workmen, better than Thanksgiving serves its purpose to incite thankfulness for everything?

I'd have to say that no, it does not. I don't think many of us care much more about Labor Day than just to joke at the irony in like manner as I did at the start of this post. But should we care?

Honestly, I haven't the foggiest idea, and I think in the spirit of the holiday, I'm going to leave it like that for now, and go celebrate without a teensy bit of labor. (Ok fine, I'll likely be studying because I can...)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Inward Oppression: Compassion over Usury

Nehemiah. Yes, I know what you're (hopefully not but) likely thinking. How many times is he going to draw devotional posts from the book of Nehemiah? I thought that maybe since we hadn't heard from it in a while, we would be safe from hearing about it again.

In answer to your (potential) question, as long as the Lord continues to speak to my heart through it, I will continue to share some thoughts about it.

By now, you are all familiar with the chain of events in the book of Nehemiah. The wall of Jerusalem is torn down, and the people are in great affliction. Nehemiah mourns. Nehemiah takes his emotional burden to the Lord in hopes that the Lord will provide him an opportunity to rebuild the wall. 4-5 months later, Nehemiah still visibly saddened by the trial is given permission by the king to go to Jerusalem and work to rebuild the wall.

Nehemiah heads to Jerusalem; Sanballat and his team of evil villains mock the wall, knowing that it will not come to anything. Sanballat and his team start to become fearful as the wall's rebuilding is progressing remarkably better than they had presumed. Sanballat and his team unsuccessfully try to cease the work on the wall.

Encouraged perhaps by Nehemiah's success in defending from the outward threats, the people come to Nehemiah regarding the persecution they are receiving from within.

And the story progresses, but I will be ending my detailed, yet brief summary of the book here, as this internal oppression is what I would like to talk about today.

So, prior to the events of Nehemiah, the people have undergone some trials and tribulations. During a time of famine and want, the people have been forced to take desperate measures to be able to so much as eat. Nehemiah 5:1-5 explains,
"And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards."

This of course is a distressing situation. Yes it would likely have continued had the wall never been torn down because there seemed to be no compassion on the parts of the nobles and rulers of the land.

On the contrary, the nobles and rulers were a large part of the reason the people found themselves in this particular situation. They had begun to work to charge interest upon the people to the point where they had to sell their children in order to pay their debts, taxes, or just to eat.

It's the typical greedy "Capitalist" who forgets that the people with which he is doing business are actually, you know, people. Instead, the nobles and rulers have begun to see them as means to a particular end. Their needs aren't important; what I need to do is to make sure that I use them to serve my agenda.

Thus, when the problem is brought before Nehemiah, he is touched, he is angry, he shakes his lap because apparently that's a thing (literally refers to the shaking of his garments), and he rebukes the nobles and rulers in his typical bold way. We see simply in Nehemiah 5:8-11,
"And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury. Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them."

Nehemiah has rightly critiqued these men according to the works that they have done. But do we ever do the same thing. Sure, we're probably not going to force anyone to sell their children into slavery due to our business practices. But let's just take this to be a bit more relatable.

You're running for some sort of elected position in your school. Suddenly, you start to talk to people more openly than you were before, because each person who likes you is a vote for you in the election. There are obviously other examples, but time does not permit me to discuss them right now (read: I didn't care to think of any additional ones).

So we shouldn't follow in the footsteps of the nobles and rulers. People should be people, and we should care about their needs and work to supply them. What does that look like?

I think Nehemiah shows us quite well. Nehemiah was governor of the Jews at this point in time. Lawfully, he had the authority and liberty to tax the people to take from them some food, so as to furnish his own table. Yet throughout the entirety of his time as governor, he exercised grace on the people, forgoing this particular opportunity.

Even still, Nehemiah went out of his way to consistently host a 150 people at his dinner table daily. He saw the needs of the people and went out of his way to both passively and actively seek those needs.

That's what we should do too. Let's not view people we interact with as objects to further our own agenda. Let us instead look to heed the words of Philippians 2:3,
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Don't Nominate Me! I won't be Pouring a Bucket of Ice Water on Myself Anytime Soon

I am not the person most in touch with social media hype, so it comes as no surprise to any of my friends that prior to a few weeks ago, I had never heard of the ice bucket challenge. But my ignorance was pushed away as I watched one of my fellow freshman drench himself with ice water from his trash can.

It would be a week or so later that I would learn that this ice bucket challenge was formally called the ALS ice bucket challenge as it was intended to raise awareness to those suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called, Lou Gehrig's disease. The challenge is doing a phenomenal job of awareness, ain't it?

According to ALSA, the sponsors of the ice bucket challenge, ALS is,
"a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed."

The ALSA could also work on their sentence structure a bit. But I digress, primarily because it is something of far more importance that the ALSA should really be considering changing than just the way that they are able to bring awareness to the disease.

The ALSA funds research for the noble cause of researching this disease to look for treatment, but they do so by use of embryonic stem cell research. Yes, there have even been cases where these embryonic stem cells have indeed come from victims of abortion.

Those familiar with the history of this blog will immediately call to mind that I had previously started another website specifically geared to attacking this process as it appeared in food and pharmaceuticals. The boycott method (though not through my efforts) was effective in this area, but it's difficult to boycott specific research mechanisms such as this.

That is why my Human Scavengers website was left stagnant. But that never changed my opinion on the subject. I don't care if you participate in the ice bucket challenge. I don't care if you nominate me to do so. It doesn't matter because I won't do it.

For no cause, no charity, will I compromise my Christian principles for the sanctity of life. I will not promote an organization that would be willing to utilize the parts of a murdered baby as if it were nothing more than a machine. I will not pour a bucket of water on myself to support research with aborted fetal cells. Who will stand with me?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Internet, Iron Man, and Indebtedness

I get to write this blog post from the comfort of my desk in my dorm room. That shouldn't excite me that much, but let's just say it took going to the Tech Help desk again to get that rolling. Let me tell you, I didn't think it was possible to go anywhere with inferior wi-fi to that of my house. I was wrong.

Still, it has given me a greater appreciation for the internet in general. Knowing that much work was put in place by the Technology personnel to fix the internet connection on my computer has given me an appreciation for how I should use this particular benefit appropriately, and not waste time playing with my lanyard in front of an open blog post. The internet was worked for, and so I must take the advantage of it.

But this magical bit of internet I have here from the comfort of my desk is limited in comparison to some of the other gifts that have been worked for on my behalf. You know, there are many things that happen in life that change us directly and just make us have to respond in a different way.

For this internet's purpose, it is a small change in my life. I desire to be more responsible and not waste time looking at social media (I'm on a fast as of writing this anyway; it will be over by the time I publish it though). But for other gifts, it can be more significant of a change.

Take, for instance, the great hero Tony Stark. In the movie Iron Man. Mr. Stark is fatally injured and should very well die. Through the surgery of one Yinsen, Tony's life has been saved. Stark and Yinsen plan a daring escape from their imprisonment (by the way, they've been imprisoned), and in the process, Yinsen dies. His last words to Tony are simple.
"Don't waste it. Don't waste your life." 

Tony's life has been spared twice by the man Yinsen, and the last words seem to have an effect on Tony. He understands that he is greatly blessed, and responds accordingly. In an important point of the film, he tells Pepper simply,
"I shouldn't be alive... I'm not crazy, Pepper. I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it's right."

I know the deepness of what I'm about to say is going to blow your mind, but here goes anyway. Jesus gave Himself to give us a blessing far greater than Tony's. Instead of having a chance at happiness in temporal life, Jesus died to give us guaranteed happiness for all eternity.

Tony responded to his blessing with a changed outlook and different behavior choices to pass on a better world to those around him. We as Christians should respond to our blessings with a different focus in life, and a strong desire and great boldness to better people's eternal (and temporal) situations.

But do we? Are we truly living lives that express gratitude to God for saving us? Are we trying to serve Him in all that we do? Or does our every moment become occupied with thoughts of work, fashion, culture, or community?

Not one of those four things I mentioned are bad, but my goodness is there more in life! I think we've all heard this quite clearly a gazillion times, but just think a moment. When I got my internet fixed, I set to work on getting tasks I needed to do done. When Tony's life was saved, he wasted no time turning his life around.

But do we react the same in response to our great blessing of eternal life? That's really all I want to challenge you with today. Look at your response to the almighty God's most gracious gift. Is it living a life of gratitude or do your actions say you just don't care?

I leave you with a quotation from C.T. Stubb,
"If Jesus Christ be God, and He died for me, there is nothing too big for me to do for Him." 

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm Ashamed of my Quality Education

God can use anything and anyone for his purposes! We all know this to be true. Indeed, I wrote in my last "Ethics" post proclaiming that true humility is being comfortable with your own weakness because it is not your ability, but the Lord's that does all the work.

I have grown up my entire life hearing about how God uses the people who are weak specifically to show His strength all the more. The implication created by this was that the Lord can get more glory out of Joe Schmoe, a high school drop out, than with Dr. G.I. Feelbetter with three Ph.Ds and an IQ off the charts.

This implication is just flat out wrong! Yes, it is totally true that since all that is needed to serve the Lord is submission, the Lord will get glory out of a submissive Joe Schmoe. But it is nonsensical to say that a submissive Dr. G.I. Feelbetter would not meet the same end.

You see, the way I understand it, submission is all that is needed to serve the Lord, and a weak education has nothing to do with it.

Now I know some people here are thinking that I'm crazy for making this a blog post. After all, isn't it obvious that education is not a hindrance to service? One would think so, but I see in some of my Christian circles a startling rejection of education.

Though certainly not universal, when I was starting to work deeper to further my education through means such as debate, or even heading here to Cedarville University (it's pretty swell here by the way), there was limited support not for me as an individual, nor for my particular ways to further my education, but for the whole process of education in the first place.

I'm seeing a society emerge in the church where true education is simply unnecessary and dangerous. But I never see the Lord tell us that we need to be ignorant in order to be used by God. I cannot find one verse in the Bible that can even be misinterpreted to mean that the Lord wants us to be stupid. Such a verse does not exist.

Indeed, if we look to one of the greatest men in the early church, we see clear evidence that God can and will use the educated - the great apostle Paul. Paul had, of course, what we would consider today a secular education. Trained as a Pharisee, he understood the ins and outs of all the reasons why some Jews would not accept Christ.

Rather, than being an impediment to his ministry, his education was able to greatly increase it. Along his journeys, he had to deal with several belligerent Jews and answer their arguments accordingly. Thankfully, the Lord had equipped him to do so with his formal training.

Paul was even able to communicate formally to several government officials and actually have them listen to him. Now if government officials were anything like they are today, that is quite an impressive feat! If Paul hadn't been educated, God certainly could have used him still, but not in the same way. Perhaps Paul would have had just as much of an impact, but it wouldn't have been the same impact.

It is important to note that Paul's education was God's equipping tool, but Paul understood that he still needed God to wield it correctly. Paul wrote several of the verses we quote to remind us that God's is whose strength we need. Take a look at some examples:
"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." ~II Corinthians 12:8-10
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." ~Galatians 5:16 
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." ~Philippians 3:3-8 

As if Paul wasn't enough, we can take a brief glimpse at the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel follows the lives of "Daniel and his fellows" (specifically, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago) from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to that of King Darius of the Medo-Persians. Through this, there are many stories that show God's strength and protection.

But let's remember one thing - not one of them was likely to happen had Daniel and his fellows been poorly educated. Look at Daniel 1:3-7,
"And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego."

Note from these verses that Daniel and his fellows were placed in their position because of natural beauty, yes. But also because they were "skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science... and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans."

The Lord orchestrated that these four would have these particular positions, so that we can have the message about "purposing in your heart" from Daniel 1, the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, even the story of the writing of the wall in Daniel 5, and of course, the story of Daniel and the lion's den in chapter 6. Had these men not been educated, the book of Daniel would have looked completely different.

So yes, God has used the uneducated. But no, God does not only use the uneducated. Submission is all that is needed for one to serve the Lord, and if that takes you to getting three Ph.D.s, fantastic. I will be scared to speak with you, but it's still pretty fantastic. If submitting to the Lord causes you to drop out of high school, hey, that's pretty fantastic, too!

Let's not be caught in a delusion either way. Let's not focus so much on education being unnecessary for serving the Lord that we consider it a detriment. If used for the right reason, it can pay great dividends in our service to the Lord.