Monthly Archives: January 2011
One of the most frequently repeated canards (unfounded accusations) of the abortion debate is that pro-lifers really don’t care about life. As much as they talk about protecting the unborn, we are told, pro-lifers do nothing to support mothers and infants who are already in the world. Liberal writers such as Matthew Yglesias are given to observing that pro-lifers believe that “life begins at conception and ends at birth.” At Commonweal Magazine, David Gibson, a journalist who frequently covers the abortion debate, asks how much pro-lifers do for mothers: “I just want to know what realistic steps they are proposing or backing. I’m not sure I’d expect to hear anything from pro-life groups now since there’s really been nothing for years.
If it is only an accusation, what are you doing? What can we do one person at time, right where we are?
In Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers, Randy Alcorn gives us thirteen suggestions (pp. 116-120). I added the last one.
1. Open your home. Help a pregnant girl or welcome an “unwanted” child for foster care or adoption.
2. Volunteer your time, talents, services. Stillwater Life Services has a number of ways that you can serve and care right here in Stillwater. They serve over 1,000 clients yearly. They could use your help.
3. Be an initiator. If you don’t have a pro-life ministry nearby, start one.
4. Become thoroughly informed. Know why you believe that life is the right choice for every mother and unborn baby. Buy Alcorn’s book or go to a website like Abort73 to educate yourself. You can’t help others if you don’t know why you believe that all life is precious.
5. Talk to your friends, neighbors, coworkers. Graciously challenge others to rethink their positions. Explain to them the stages of pregnancy. Explain to them what actually takes place in an abortion.
6. Promote discussions of abortions. Post articles on Facebook. Write a blog. Retweet pro-life stories and even abortion stories.
7. Write letters. Be courteous, concise and clear and write to your local paper. Write your congressperson and governor.
8. Encourage business boycotts of abortion clinics.
9. Be active in the political process. Politics are not the answer but neither is ignoring politics. Vote.
10. Join or organize a pro–life task-force in your church. Build a team that can constantly be supporting mothers and unborn babies through a local crisis pregnancy center.
11. Utilize excellent pro–resources. Videos, pamphlets, pictures, etc.
12. Pray for pro–life ministries.
13. Give financially to pro-life organizations. Give $5 or $10 a month to a Christ-centered crisis pregnancy center.
14. Share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t expect unbelievers to acts like Christians. We need people to be transformed, so that they will no longer live for themselves but for Christ who died and rose on their behalf (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
“Ask yourself, five minutes after I die, what will I wish I would have given on behalf of the helpless while I still had the chance?” Randy Alcorn
I normally don’t script my notes quite like this but with such an emotional and sensitive topic I want to be especially careful with my words and argumentation. These are the notes that I preached from yesterday and thought they might be helpful for those who were curious about sources I used, how I prepare, or something I said.
P. 53 “I was exceedingly vile. I not only sinned with a high hand myself but made it my study to tempt and seduce others upon every occasion.”
P. 70 “My life, when awake, was a course of most horrid impiety and profaneness. I know not that I have ever met so daring a blasphemer. Not content with horrid oaths and imprecations (curse) I daily invented new ones so that I was often seriously reproved by the captain of my ship.”
P. 228 “My wonderful unsought deliverance from the hopeless wickedness and misery into which I had plunged myself, taken in connection with what he has done for me since seem to make me say with peculiar emphasis, ‘Oh to grace how great a debtor!’”
In 1788, 34 years after he had retired from the slave trade, Newton broke a long silence on the subject with the publication of a forceful pamphlet “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade”, in which he described the horrific conditions (Pathos Interest Material: The story of a crewman, a mother and her baby in a longboat) of the slave ships during the Middle Passage, and apologized for. He says it was “a confession, which… comes too late….It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”
In a 2006 the movie Amazing Grace was released that summarized the story of William Wilberforce, who spent his entire political career in the British House of Commons working to abolish the slave trade in England. In the film there is a powerful scene in which Newton is speaking to Wilberforce about “His confession” of all that he did and witnessed. In the movie Newton says, “This is my confession, Names, ship records, ports, people, everything I remember is here. I wish I could remember all their names, my 20,000 ghosts. They all had names. Beautiful African names. We called them with just grunts, noises. We were apes, they were humans. I’m weeping. I couldn’t weep until I wrote this. I once was blind but now I see.”
This is snapshot of Newton’s Life is the context for the hymn Amazing Grace, which he authored. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.”
Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday, (January 22, 1973 Roe V. Wade 38 yrs. Later) the day we take the time stop and affirm created, human life – whether born or unborn. Both mothers and unborn babies. All human beings from all countries.
I begin today with Newton because I know that in this room there are people who have directly or indirectly experienced the pain of abortion. The pain of a decision they wished they had back. Newton shares something with those who have experienced the trauma of abortion, he shares the memory of his sin but he models for us that God’s grace is magnificently sufficient. “He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that in Christ, we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus………. Rom. 8:1
God’s grace is amazing for those who are in Christ. John Newton loved God’s grace passionately because he realized how horrible his sin was. Some of us will not and cannot know the riches of God’s grace because we will not own up to and deal with the wickedness of our sin. Let us all, let us liars, adulterers, thieves, abusers, hypocrites, murderers, gossips, slanders, glory-robbers, blasphemers, doubters, idolaters, proud-hearted people, Let us all run to the mercy seat of Christ and embrace the God of grace through Christ. God’s grace is enough for those who acknowledge their sin, turn from sin to Christ and rest in His grace that is extended to us in his finished work on the cross.
As we talk about abortion, if you have messed up, God has cleaned your mess up in Christ.
Since 1973, when abortion was legalized, there have been over 47 million abortions in the United States.
Last year there were roughly 1.2 million abortions in the U.S. alone and roughly 42 million in the world last year.
22%, 2 out of 10 pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. In NYC, 40% of all pregnancies end in abortion.
Abortions happen for many reasons:
- Some men and women don’t know how they will take care of a baby. Can’t take care of themselves. They are in college or even high school.
- Some women and men don’t want the inconvenience.
- Some men and women don’t want a specific gender.
ILL: Australian Couple (Jan. 11th) aborted two twin boys because they already had 3 boys and wanted a girl.
- Some women and men don’t believe they can financially afford a baby, a child.
I believe this is the biggest cause of abortions. Money. The Movie “Bella” by Metanoia Films
Abortion in recent years has declined, but the numbers are starting to creep back up again because of the economic down turn.
Why is abortion wrong? 1) Go to the podcast and listen to last year’s sermon. 2) Buy Randy Alcorn’s book “Why Pro-Life”
The question I want to answer today is, “What should we do and what are we going to do besides agree that it is wrong?” If we say it is wrong, what are we going to do about it? This is such massive problem, what can I do, what can you do?
From CT on Friday, January 21 “One of the most frequently repeated canards (unfounded accusations) of the abortion debate is that pro-lifers really don’t care about life. As much as they talk about protecting the unborn, we are told, pro-lifers do nothing to support mothers and infants who are already in the world. Liberal writers such as Matthew Yglesias are given to observing that pro-lifers believe that “life begins at conception and ends at birth.” At Commonweal Magazine, David Gibson, a journalist who frequently covers the abortion debate, asks how much pro-lifers do for mothers: “I just want to know what realistic steps they are proposing or backing. I’m not sure I’d expect to hear anything from pro-life groups now since there’s really been nothing for years.”
May that never be said of this church family. What would Jesus have us do?
Turn to Luke 10:25-37
If you put Jesus to the test, Jesus is up for the challenge.
Mark this, if you put Jesus to the test, He is going to test you. He is going to push you.
Jesus is not a pushover. Jesus to the law expert, what does the law say?
The Lawyer, the law expert gives him the law (Deut. 6:5 – shema and Leviticus 19:18)
- “Do this” Imperative you shall live (promise).
- V. 25 “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” V. 28 “Do this”
There’s a word play here and an emphasis on the application of knowledge and belief.
Just stop while you are ahead.
Let me ask you, Is this hard? This Is not that complicated, yet this guy, just like many of us look for loopholes, we do biblical gymnastics to avoid doing what we know we ought to do.
We try to soften the command. Make it easier. Look for ways not to do it.
We try to shrink wrap God and compress him and make Him manageable. We try to domesticate Him and His ways. .
What is God saying to you right now, and you are looking for ways to get out of it, and you use the Bible to do it?
Catch this, this scholar is all for loving God, but he wants to know who He has to love. Who is his neighbor?
Who is your neighbor? Who should you be loving? What is love? It’s doing what is best for someone else.
The guy won’t stop and so Jesus tells an explanatory parable or story.
This story is surprising in at least three ways.
1) Those we expect to be a neighbor are not neighbors.
2) The one we least expect to be a neighbor is.
ILL: The homeless man who found a student’s backpack with several Thousands of dollars in cash. He returned it.
3) The lengths the Samaritan went to in compassionately serving the helpless man.
Actions he took Summarized in this way:
- Met an obvious, right in front of him need.
- Compassionately loving.
- Inconvenient “Ministry is hardly every convenient.”
- Costly/Sacrificial/Above and Beyond the call of duty.
- Personal (v. 35b “I” twice = emphatic) Ownership. ILL: University Student at Wal-Mart who was helping a homeless family and buying a Bible.
- V. 36 – The original question:
Who is my neighbor? V. 29
Who proved to be a neighbor? V. 36 question
Application: Everyone is your neighbor because you are a neighbor. Are you a neighbor?
This is our privileged job to help people. To care for people. “To rescue the perishing, care for the dying, to tell them Jesus is merciful, Jesus can save.”
Implication: If you are not a neighbor, you really don’t love God and you very well may not be a Christian. It is both.
- V. 37 Go and do the same. Here is the word “do” again.
V. 25 – “What should I do?”
V. 28 – “Do this.”
V. 29 – “Who should I do this to? Who is my neighbor?”
V. 37 – “Go and do the same. Be a neighbor by meeting needs.”
If we are going to help people, the mother’s of the unborn and the unborn, then we must be a neighbor for God’s glory. It won’t be easy. It will be messy. It will cost you something. But you should want to serve and love others.
What kind of disciple-neighbor are you?
There is so much need in the world. “How do you help millions of needy people? One at a time, right where you are.” Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn, in his book, “Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and their mothers.” Gives 13 suggestions to help mothers and their unborn. I want to give 5.
1.) Be a neighbor for yourself. Have compassion on yourself. Get help. Attend CR.
2.) Become thoroughly informed and educate yourself. Buy Alcorn’s book. Go to www.abort73.com
3.) Thoroughly inform others. Educate. Watch for articles on twitter and yahoo news and wisely post them on facebook. Write a blog to process the material. Writing helps us to systematically think and place our thoughts.
4.) Support Stillwater Life Service. Give financially today or monthly. Ask, what can I do? Watch this video of how two in our own church family are being a neighbor.
5.) Share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should not expect unchristian people to live like Christ. We should however expect believers/disciples to live like Christ. We need a 2 Cor. 5:14-15, 17 Revolution. We need an awakening. We need transformation that only the Spirit can induce.
Spiritually dead people (Ephesians 2:1-3) don’t make good neighbors.
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him whom died and was raised again our behalf.”
John Newton, the blasphemer, the slave trader, the fornicator, the witchcraft participant, the drunkerd.
p. 350 Newton’s Epitaph “John Newton Once an infidel and libertine (unrestrained by morality). A servant of slaves in Africa. Was By the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Preserved, Restored, Pardoned and appointed to preach the faith, He had long labored to destroy. “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.”
“Ask yourself, five minutes after I die, what will I wish I would have given on behalf of the helpless while I still had the chance?” Randy Alcorn
What if every person came together in human solidarity for the sake of a common cause. Most of us can not even imagine such an event and as hard as it is to do so, the Bible records such an event.
At one time in history, the Bible tells us that the all the people of the earth were uni-lingual. To be honest I have never even heard the word uni-lingual used, which might indicate the rarity of the idea. After all we live in a multilingual world with thousands of languages. But then the earth was unified in language. There were no translators, no language barriers, just a language. Why would anyone want to break that up?
At one time in history, the Bible tells us that all the people of the earth were living together in one place. There were no countries, no governments, no distinct and conflicting cultures, just everyone living together with one language. Why would anyone want to tear apart human solidarity like this?
At one time in history, the Bible tells us that all the people of the earth had a unified goal. There were no competing societal agendas. There was just one goal for all people. Why, why would anyone want to undermine the plans of such a wonderful group of people with a wonderful and singular plan?
Doesn’t the Bible teach unity? Doesn’t Paul repetitively champion the need to get along for the same cause? Would we not love to say that this, that this is the story of our church and Christians everywhere?
And yet at one time in history, the Bible tells us that God blows up the good plans of a people who were unified to carry out their plan instead of God’s perfect plan.
The great problem is that their great plan wasn’t God’s plan, and His plan is always the best.
Genesis 11:1-9 tells this incredible and yet sad story of how even the best human intentions are often corrupt and perverted. In verse four the Bible records for its readers the motivation for being unified to make a city with a tower that reaches into heaven. What was their aim? It was to “make for ourselves a name.”
To which God says in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give my glory to another, Nor my praise to graven images.” One of the their primary recorded motivations was in direct conflict with God’s primary motivation for all that He does.
Additionally, they built this city and tower together so that they would not have to be “scattered over the face of the whole earth.” That’s a bit of a problem. Why? Because already in the previous ten chapters, two times it has been stated that God created and blessed mankind to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28; Gen. 9:1). This rejection of God’s plan by settling seems to be the thrust of the passage because in verses eight and nine, it twice says that “the LORD scattered them abroad over the whole face of the earth.” Even when the didn’t want to do it.
One other thought about God ruining, or messing up our “good plans”. In Genesis chapter 1, the author uses the Hebrew word “Elohim” to denote God’s awesome power as a creator-God. The English translation simply uses the designation “God” to denote the Hebrew word. In every reference to God in these nine verses the inspired author uses “LORD” as God’s name. “Yahweh” is the Hebrew word that is translated LORD in the English Bible. This word is used to represent God as a good and covenant creator.
God is both powerful and good in regards to His creation, but the author wants us to know that the LORD God (despite what our understanding of the text might tell us) is doing what is best for these people in thwarting their plans. Sometimes God blows up or prevents our “good plan” to lovingly force us to participate in His perfect and best plan. And sometimes what we think is good and for God’s glory is really only for our good and our glory.
For whose sake are you making plans? Why are you doing what you are doing? We should all make daily practice of asking these all-important questions. But let us also remember this, when things don’t go the way we planned, God is always using it for our good (Rom. 8:28), to direct us and channel us to live for His plan and His glory. Sometimes this is a painful and difficult process, but we can be sure that God’s plan and glory are always the best for others and for us.
The LORD God is right and loving to blow up what we think is a “good plan.” So let’s make sure His plans are our plans.
The question above is all wrong to begin with. The church belongs to Jesus and then we can rightly belong to each other. But titles have limitations.
But do you? Do you let others who are a part of your church family preach?
Why is it healthy for the church family when someone besides the Senior Pastor preaches? This Sunday Kevin Zacharias, a member and Elder in our church family, will be explaining God’s word and persuading us to obey it for God’s glory and our joy. Here are 7 reasons why this is good for any church family.
1) Because it is right to share. Not everyone in the church is gifted to preach, but for those who can explain and proclaim God’s word, it is biblical to share the privilege of preaching with them.
2) Because it is good to let others wrestle. Preaching is hard work and it is good for our church family to see others take on this privilege and responsibility of rightly dividing God’s word. It is also good for the lead pastor to share the burden that preaching can sometimes be.
3) Because it corrects preacher misconceptions. Some people think that only “trained preachers” or “professionals” can study and correctly teach the word of God. Education is important and so is calling, but empowering lay people to preach demonstrates that it’s not just the pastor’s job to love God’s word and share it. The pastor is not the only person God can use.
4) Because it is biblical to equip others for the work of the ministry. Paul says in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God has equipped people to equip other people. The church is a people where gifts should be identified and exercised for the building up of the body.
5) Because God uses diversity in the body of Christ to reach and teach a diversity of people. Not all people learn the same way or think the same way. Sometimes it benefits people to hear from someone who speaks truth in a unique way. Listening to a different person can be a good thing.
6) Because it helps maintain a biblical continuity. When the pastor is gone it is good to have others from our church preach and continue to follow the book or section we are currently going through. If others can preach, it keeps us from always having a guest preacher who preaches a sermon that may have little to do with where we are in the life our church family.
7) Preaching is not about one man being a Bible hero. God-fearing, Christ-centered pastors who love others with God’s precious word are worthy of appropriate honor (See 1 Timothy 5:17-22). But the Bible is about glorifying God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Letting others preach is a healthy safeguard that keeps the Senior Pastor from thinking preaching is all about him. Others can and should preach. The pastor is not the hero. Jesus is.
Not everyone in the church is gifted or qualified to preach, but the “preacher” is not the only one who can and should preach in a healthy local church. Pray for Kevin this Sunday and pray that God will raise up many preachers and teachers in the body of Christ for His glory.
A caveat: I certainly do not mean that just anyone should preach. It is the responsibility of the Elders and the primary teaching pastor to make sure that qualified men who can handle the text are the ones who are holding out the words of life. The preaching of God’s word is not to be a free-for-all, and great caution should be exercised in deciding who can preach and who can’t. Just as it is true that the one who teaches will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1), so also the one who allows another brother to preach to the people whom Jesus shed His blood, will also be incur a strict judgment. So let others preach on occasion, but be careful. Preaching about the creator and redeemer is not to be taken lightly.