Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

What We Believe (Part 1 of 2)

What We Believe (Part 1 of 2)

Gifted author Frank Peretti brings the foundational truths of Scripture to life, illustrating how the Christian worldview stands apart in a world of moral confusion. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: April 29, 1998



Mr. Frank Peretti: There’s a lot of kids out there who are gonna … kids, grown-ups, anybody. The question’s going to come up. Whenever some kind of rule or authority or constraint or moral, uh, standard is presented to them, the question’s always going to come up, “Oh, yeah! Who says?”  

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Mmm…that’s Frank Peretti and today you’ll hear the answer to that question. When it comes down to right and wrong, who says? This is Focus on the Family and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Uh, John, we live in a culture that is extremely relativistic. Uh, you have your truth, and I have mine. And every once in a while I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we serve a God of absolute Truth, and if you don’t believe that, you’ve got to hear today’s message from Frank Peretti.

Frank is a gifted and prolific author, uh, starting in the late 80’s with his fiction books on spiritual warfare called, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, which together sold almost 4 million copies. He’s authored over 25 titles including books for children. But not many people know he’s also an extremely energetic speaker, as we’re going to hear today and next time.

John: It would be impossible, I think, to doze off during one of Frank’s presentations, Jim. This message was recorded at a Steeling the Mind bible conference sponsored by Compass Ministries. And I’ll give you a clue, real quickly, on the visuals. There’s a single wooden chair on the stage with Frank, and pretty much nothing else. 

Here now, Frank Peretti on Focus on the Family.


Frank: Ohhhhh, what in the world is this chair all about? Some of you probably know … I … I have to … when I … when I teach and talk about things, I usually have to do, you know, diagrams. I have to act things out. It’s kind of what I call an “Italian overhead.” You know, instead of drawing (Laughter), I … I just kind of draw things in space and everything. And I decided I would use this chair, because that’s a really nice illustration.

What I’m trying to explain to you tonight is what I call “The fixed point of reference.” Well, what in the world is it? Well, okay, let’s imagine. It won’t be too hard. You just imagine that I’m in a big, humongous … this dark room. It’s a featureless room. It doesn’t even have corners in it. It has round walls, you know. And the whole point of that is, I don’t know where I am. And I’m feeling my way around in this room and I’m groping around, trying to find my way around and where I am, it’s like, “Aaahhh! Hee! Aha! Oh, what is this!? It’s a chair! Yes! Ah! Oh, boy, yes! It has … it has legs and it has braces and it has a back. It’s a chair. Ah! Good! Ah! Now I can sit here. At least I know where I am. Heh. I’m in the chair. (Laughter) Yeah. Ah, it’s a good feeling!”

You know, now, now, you know, I got this chair. It’s a home base. Yeah, home base. I can navigate from this chair. (Laughter) I can just kind of voo-voo, voo-voo, voo-voo. I can, you know, let’s kind of send out some feelers. (Laughter) voo-voo, voo-voo. (Laughter) 

Why are you people laughing? (Laughter) I’ll tell you why you’re laughing. You realize, just naturally, automatically, you realize that no fixed point of reference is gonna do you any good unless it has two factors. Number one, it has to be separate from you. Number two, it can’t move. (Laughter) As soon as I pick it up and make it a part of my life, make it a part of my consciousness, make it a part of my mobility, it ain’t [sic] a fixed point of reference anymore!

I’ll never know where I am, because the stupid thing moves. Now, as long as it stays right there, pppffftthhhht! Ah! Now that’s security. That’s one of the prime factors of navigation, you know. When you’re out on a sailboat, right? You’re out on the vast, featureless expanse of ocean out there and you have no idea where you are. Well, one way, “bllluuuu, bllluuuu, bllluuuu.” You hear your sexton out there and you shoot through the stars. You measure from the stars.

And the reason you can measure from the stars to figure out where you are is, because the stars don’t move. They’re fixed in space. Now, the earth moves and it makes look like the stars move, but we know all that stuff. (Laughter) They don’t move. But if the stars are (sing-song voice animation), you wouldn’t know where you are. That’s a fixed point of reference.

Let’s go to Acts chapter 17, [for] those of you who have your Bibles. If you didn’t bring your Bible, that’s okay. You can just read my lips. I always move my mouth when I read, so, okay. (Laughter) We’ll get there in just a little bit. I want to kind of give you an idea. This is that passage in the book of Acts where Paul the Apostle goes to Greece! Goes to Athens. And he’s gonna talk to all these philosophers and all these thinkers and all these discussers and debaters there on Mars Hill.

And now, I gotta kinda set the stage for you. In Greece, that was kind of the … one of the ancient fountainheads of modern humanism. The idea … and modern rationalism. The idea that, “Well, man, by himself, with his own reason, can discover truth.” And uh, remember old Plato. Plato was out there thinking, “Well there’s a big transcendent truth up there. It’s true for everybody. And, but we just gotta find enough reflections of it and shadows of it and we’ll find out what it is.” And then Aristotle was saying, “Well, if we find this piece of truth here, and this piece here, and this piece here. And if we put enough of ’em all together and we’ll finally get THE TRUTHHHHH….[echo effect] …uth-uth-uth-uth-uth. They alone will have it.” And uh, the Bible says there, “These guys spent their time in nothing other than hearing or learning a new thing.” They were after knowledge. They were after truth. They figured they could do it all with their heads.

And so, they’re getting together. “Oh, I believe…” “Oh, it’s my opinion … ” “I’ve always felt that … “. “Well, I don’t know. I used to think that …” “Whhhrrrr!” (Laughter)

So, in the middle of all this, in comes this Jew. Paul the Apostle. He says, “I have an idea!” “Hey! Let’s hear what he has to say.” So, they stand up and they say, “Speak!” Now, this is where we come into it, where Paul is trying to, (heh-heh)… Here’s a challenge for ya. For him. It’s easy when your kind of an Apostle, and you’re traveling around and you want to kinda share the gospel and prove that Jesus is the Messiah. He always first would go into a Jewish Ta….uh, uh, uh, synagogue, k? And he’d, he’d begin to argue from the Scriptures that the Jews already had, that Jesus was the Messiah….or is the Messiah.  And he had some place to start, because all the Jews who were sittin’ in that synagogue, basically, they’d all been to Sunday School. You know, they knew the language, they could kinda relate. Uhbut the thing I wanna underline for ya, and this is somethin’ we all need to be thinking about, is there’s a whole world out there that hasn’t been to Sunday School.  We have kind of a unique culture among ourselves. A unique language, you know: “Praise the Lord!” “He’s Good!” “Hallelujah!” “The Body of Christ” – all these phrases we just throw around so easily.  You go up to someone on the street, you know, “Pardon me” “Yes?” “Are you born again?” “Oh yes, I have lived many lives…” (laughter) Mmmm, no. What I meant was, are you washed in the blood? “Man, I hope not! What are you talking about?”  (laughter) 

Well Paul comes up against that very thing. He can’t speak Christianese to them. He can’t even speak good ol’ fashioned Jewish (he-huh). Now…there’s a whole lot in there, but I’m gonna skip right down, ah, to verse 24 of Acts chapter 17, because I want to give you what I would like to define as the Christian’s “fixed point of reference. “These are the foundation stones of the Christian worldview.

Verse 24. He says, “God, who made the world and everything in it …” Eh! Okay, we’ll stop right there. We’ll leave Paul. (Laughter) Put him in freeze-frame. He’ll be fine. (Laughter)

The very first thing that Paul addresses is the big question of origin–origin. “Where did we come from?” “How did we get here?” “Why are we here?” Isn’t it funny that people wonder about those things? The Greeks didn’t believe in the God of Israel, but they still wondered about those things. They were still looking for the answers and they were looking for meaning and they were looking, you know …

Let me tell you something. I used to raise chickens. I like chickens. (Laughter) They’re funny. God had a sense of humor when He made chickens. (Laughter) Yeah. They’re the dumbest animal on the face of the earth. (Laughter) I shouldn’t say that, though because, you know. I used to wonder … “when I’m not there, I wonder what they talk about?” (Laughter) You know, maybe it’s all an act or something, you know. (Laughter) I’d … I’d sneak down there with their food, sneak up behind the fence, you know and I always wondered if maybe, just maybe, one day I’d hear them in there, you know, “Aaaawck! What does it mean to be a chickEN!?” (Laughter) “What is the purpose of being a chickEN!?” (Laughter) What are we doing inside this fence?” What is the destiny of all chickens?” (Laughter)

Of course, some of them found out about that (Laughter). But they couldn’t go back and tell the others. (Laughter) But the point I’m making is, those creatures out there, be they chickens or even be they apes or be they porpoises, I don’t care how intelligent they are, they are not–are you ready for the word?–“self-aware.” There is something unique about the human species. He asks all these tough questions, “Why are we here?” Chicken’s never worried about why are they here. (Laughter)

I’ve got a dog at home. His name is Reuben. He doesn’t even have a brain. It’s just one big drool gland in his head. (Laughter) So, I don’t expect a lot of deep thoughts (Laughter) from Reuben. He never wonders, “Why am I here?” All he wonders is, “Am I gonna get pets? Am I gonna get food? Woof, I got to bark at the coyotes.” That’s about it.  A man of very simple needs, you know. 

Man is self-aware. He is a unique creature. He is a “person.” He is a person and because he is a person, he asks the big questions. Now, of course, you know I’m saying “he” generically. 

Paul answers that first big question of origin. Ahh. But now, now it gets sticky, you know? Even if you want to agree that God is the source of all things, here is where it gets sticky.

“God, who made the world and everything in it,” here it comes, “since he is,” ooh” … since he is,” whoa… “since He is Lord. Lord of Heaven and earth.” That’s one thing that rubs man the wrong way, whenever you present an authority higher than he is.

But Paul presents this idea, that there is a moral standard in our universe transcendent and above all of us and by that fixed moral standard, we can determine the right way to live. 

Now these are, like, foundation stones. Vhew, vhewoowoowoowoo, prgh! Number One:  God’s the origin of all things. Bbvvvhhh, bvoom, oom. Number Two: He is the Lord of all things. Now, okay. It’s easy at this point to say, “Yeah! Hey! Amen! I agree with that! I believe that!” But I’m tryin’ to point out to you tonight, it is that basic foundational assumption about reality that guides the way you think. It guides the way you work at your job. It definitely guides the way you raise your children.

There’s a lot of kids out there who are gonna … kids, grown-ups, anybody. The question’s going to come up. Whenever some kind of rule or authority, or constraint, or moral, uh, standard is presented to them, the question’s always going to come up, “Oh, yeah! Who says?”  You better have an answer.

And through the generations we’ve kind of missed that a little bit. It used to be that a family was raised on godly principles and even the … the kids would see that even mom and dad were subject to a higher authority. Of course, after a while, maybe the kid grows up and he has kids of his own and he’s saying, “Well, you should do what I tell you and you should be good, because that’s how I was raised.”

So, now he’s kind of appealing to some moral value system that’s been torn loose from its moorings. 

And then those kids grow up and they say, “Well, son, daughter, you should do what I tell you!” And the kid says, “Oh yeah? Who says?” “Well, I say! And you have to do what I tell ya!” “Well, that’s your truth. I have my own reality.” (Laughter)

It’s real nice if you can say, “Son, Daughter, God has placed me in authority over you to raise you according to His standards of moral behavior. I want to tell you something. The authority chain doesn’t stop here. I have to answer to Him, as well, for how I raise you. So, the Ultimate Authority in the universe has passed the authority down to me, He’s passed His laws and His precepts and His principles down to me. I have to pass them down to you, because you and I are both accountable to Him. Now, take out the garbage.” Okay? 

Program Note:

John: You’re listening to Frank Peretti on Focus on the Family. 

And a quick reminder: you can get a CD of this program with a lot of extra content when you call 800, A FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request that at our website: 

Let’s go ahead and return now to Frank Peretti.

End of Program Note


Frank: Let’s move on. We’ve got two foundation stones. Here we come up on the next one. Ooh, I like this one, too, okay. “He made the world and everything in it. He is Lord of heaven and earth.” Okay, look at this. Ha! “He does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath and all things. This God, who is the origin of all things, who is the moral authority over all things,” I like this part, “this God is self-existent and self-defining.”

In other words, He’s up there because of Himself. He is the great I Am that I Am. And Paul is trying to point out to these Greeks; these Greeks have a way of working from the ground up, you know. “Oh, we’re gonna create our own God today. (Laughter) They go out and they get a big old hunk of rock, you know. And they bring in their forklift or something. They set it there.

Then they decide, “Okay, what kind of a God do we want?” “Well, I want a God who’s real fierce.” (Tink, tink, tink, tink) They put big muscles on him. “I want a God who can know all things,” so (Tink, tink, tink, tink) they put eyeballs all over it. (Laughter) They stand that thing up there, and they go, “Oh, good,” [and] bow down and worship it and everything.

I got a little question for you. Between the two of them, who created whom? (Laughter) They created their God. What does that mean? Well, who’s really God between the two of them? They are. So, what are they really worshiping? They are worshiping themselves–a projection of their own personality, which is humanism all over again. But Paul is pointing out, “This God, whom I serve, doesn’t need you to form Him.”

Now, I want to tell you something else very important. If God were not self-existing and self-defining, He would not serve as a fixed point of reference, because He would be changing as often as you do.

It’s kind of like [if] somebody said, “If you’re looking for truth, don’t search within yourself. You’re the one who’s confused.” Ha, ha, ha. (Laughter and Applause)

Oh! God is self-existing. God is self-defining and He doesn’t need you to define Him to figure what He is. Well, let’s go on. This is where we really get into the heavy stuff in terms of your personal view of yourself! “Since He gives to all life, breath and all things,” verse 26, “He has made from one blood every nation of man to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”

What Paul is saying here is, “This God who is the origin of all things, who is the moral authority over all things, who exists in and of Himself and is self-defining. This God created you. He knew when you’d be born, why you’d be born, where you’d be born. He knew everything about you. He created you for a purpose. He gave you a destiny. He has a plan for your life!” 

What does that mean for you? That means a lot. It is that basic–vroooom! boom!–foundation stone that gives Christians the weird idea that human life is sacred. That every life is sacred. That every life is important.

Now we have a whole world out there and it’s really big in the schools, you know, you heard about that earlier today, “self-esteem, self-esteem. Self-esteem.”

“Kids, welcome to Biology 101. We’re gonna learn lots of fun things in this class. We’re gonna learn how … we’re gonna cut up frogs and we’re gonna pick flowers and we’re gonna learn about pistils and stamens and all kinds of fun things. But the first thing you need to know, boys and girls, above all else, is that you are an accident! You have absolutely no reason for being here. (Laughter) There is no meaning, no purpose to your life. You’re nothing but a meaningless conglomeration of molecules that came together purely by chance billions and billions of years ago.” (Laughter)

“All the dust and the gas in the galaxy floated around for who knows how long and … and they bumped into each other and they said, “I know, let’s be organic.” So, they became organic. (Laughter) And they became little … little gooey, slimy things, you know, swimming around in the primordial soup. And then they … they finally grew little feet and then they crawled up on the land and they grew fur and feathers and they became higher forms of life and they finally became, you know, a monkey and that monkey developed into an ape. And then the ape decided to shave, so he shaved (Laughter) and became what you are today. It’s, you know, from goo to you by way of the zoo.” (Laughter and Applause)

“Now as such, you don’t really have any reason for being here. (Laughter) Your existence is pointless and the universe won’t mind a bit when you die. (Laughter) And when you die, you just become so much compost. (Sound effects), “Oh, okay, class dismissed. Head on down the hall now, kids, down to that new class they’re starting this week on self-esteem.” (Laughter and Applause)

The foundation of a Christian’s self-esteem … oh, listen to me, because so many of us have heard the lie and we’ve believed the lie. The foundation of a Christian’s self-esteem is not in what you can do or how good you look or how athletic you are or anything else or how you can wow the girls or whatever. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the fact that you are here for a reason, that God created you for a purpose. He has a plan for your life. You are worth the life of His Son.

Audience: Whoa! Amen!

Frank: He loves you.  (Applause)

(Sigh) This is what builds the Christian’s worldview. This is what keeps a human life from becoming a mere product, a mere machine part in a Christian’s thinking. You see, if God did not create us, if we are not His unique creation put here for a purpose, then I suppose abortion is okay. Because imagine… all of us are just parts to a big machine anyway…society is like a big engine. That’s what the socialists would tell you, you know. “We’re all just part of the collective.”

Imagine I’m a piston and I just go up and down. (Laughter) I’m doing my part in the collective machine. What happens if suddenly I break my connecting rod and I don’t work too well anymore? (Laughter) Well, what do you do with an auto part when it breaks down? You take it out. You throw it away. You get another one. Our society is beginning to treat human life that way. If a particular life doesn’t fit into the machine, we kick it out. We get rid of it. Sometimes we cancel the order before it gets there. (Groans)

That’s why, you see what’s starting to happen here, you see what I’m telling ya about, there’s a certain foundational scheme to how you think and why you get into trouble ha-ha, with a world that (sigh) doesn’t have this guy right here.

Frank: Last part of this (page turning). Verse 27: “So that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He’s not far from each one of us.” (Sigh.)

This God, Who is the origin of all things. Who is the moral standard and authority over all things? This God, Who is self-existent and self-defining, this God Who created each and every one of us for a purpose, this God is not just a God who created us and then, you know, wound up the world and (Brrrr) set it spinning and then went out for coffee or something. Left His answering machine on, you know. You try to call Him: “Hi. This is God. (Laughter) I hope you like yourself today. (Laughter) I’ll be back in a millennium.” (Laughter) You know. “If you’ve got problems, hey, the answers are within you. Go for it, Baby.” (Laughter) You know. (Laughter) This is a God who desires day-by-day, moment-by-moment intimate fellowship with you.

That’s the kind of God I’m glad to know. That’s the kind of God I’m glad to serve and I’m glad that, that God is unchanging. Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus Christ is the same. That chair is fixed in space. You can always navigate by it. It’s always there. 


John: Hmm. And that chair was Frank Peretti’s visual aid as he spoke, representing the immovable, foundation stones of our faith. And we’re going to have the conclusion of this incredible message for you next time.

Jim: Uh, John, we do have a great sense of security in our unchanging God. That He is our firm foundation. That, as Frank said, we can rely on to navigate through life. We know who we are because we know Whose we are. And in this world of confusion, on all sorts of fronts, isn’t it nice to know that God isn’t going to change the rule on us halfway through the game? 

He knows the design because He’s the Designer. And that’s what we need to communicate to people who don’t know the Lord. But we need to do it with compassion and the grace of Jesus Christ. 

And here at Focus on the Family we’ve been very intentional about speaking up in the public square and promoting a Christian worldview. We’re trying to do that in a friendly and engaging way. In the way that, I think, the Lord requires us to do it.

So, we’ve developed a DVD curriculum called The Truth Project, which is a comprehensive look at the importance of living out the Christian worldview in your daily life. It features 13 one-hour lessons taught by our friend and former colleague, Dr. Del Tackett. And he does a great job – it’s very engaging. 

John: Yeah, he has so much passion about this, and we have shared that personally with our small group and our teens even watched the series and got a lot out of it.

Jim: Yeah! We did, too, John. So let me encourage you; if you want to be a part of this movement to strengthen families by strengthening their faith, please get a copy of The Truth Project DVD curriculum, and we’ll ask you to help us cover our cost with a gift of a hundred dollars or more as you support the work we do here at Focus on the Family. 

We’ve got the tools here to help families thrive – we just need your help in getting those tools into the hands of the people who need them. So, join us today.

John: And you can do that by calling 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or donate online and get The Truth Project at

When you get in touch, also request a CD of this two-part message from Frank Peretti. It’s going to have quite a bit of additional content that we just couldn’t squeeze into a couple of radio broadcasts. 

And if you enjoyed today’s program, be sure to join us next time as Frank Peretti explains that relativism actually began in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve.


Frank: “Eve, if you eat of that forbidden fruit, you shall be as God. You will be numero uno in your own private little universe. All you gotta do is eat the fruit!”

So, Eve thought about it and, “Welllll, OKAY!” (Laughter) 

End of Teaser

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