Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life as a Gift

Sunday I spoke on the sanctity of life as I do every year. Every year I prepare to speak, and every year I continue to learn things I did not know. This year, I was surprised to learn how in 1973, when Roe vs. Wade became law, there were very few voices in the church who condemned this barbaric law. Most leaders even stated that they were alright with the law. Although there were a few exceptions, it took over a decade for the church to get its act together and openly condemn this law.

The law was passed by the Supreme Court and of course never voted on by the people's representatives, because it would never have passed in that manner. Deception was used to ensure its approval by the court, and that same deception has been continued by the media for the past 40 years. They have been good at twisting the truth to keep the public in the dark about the stark truth of abortion.

The primary argument of when life begins has been lost by the proponents of abortion due to the marvelous technology that allows a woman to see the little life in her womb. The new argument that now is sucking up all the oxygen is about quality of life. They propose that abortion is still the best option, because it allows the mother to reject the baby because of the lesser quality of life this baby will have.

I'm disturbed by surveys that indicate that Christians are being influenced by the secular and godless arguments of the proponents of abortion. A large percentage of Christians when asked if abortion is wrong will answer yes, but when asked if Roe vs. Wade should be overturned, they answer no. Here is a disconnect if I have ever seen one. If Christians truly believe as we profess that God is the author of life, then we cannot at the same time believe that there is any moral room for Roe vs. Wade to stand.

To date this horrendous practice of abortion has murdered over 56 million lives in the United States alone. We are all aware of the increased concern for animals in our world today. People everywhere are dedicating their lives to save stray animals, and more and more people are prosecuted for cruelty to animals. At the same time there is a devaluation of the importance of human life. As Brian Fisher writes, "In a culture that increasingly devalues and demeans human beings, we tend to forget just how special we are. We save the whales but abort our children. We get excited about the possibility of a single-celled organism on Mars, but we refuse to acknowledge the value of life in the womb. If you destroy a bald eagle egg, you may be fined up to $ 250,000. But a woman can destroy her own child for $400."[i]

[i] [i] Fisher, Brian (2015-01-18). Deliver Us From Abortion: Awakening the Church to End the Killing of America's Children (Kindle Locations 1121-1132). Brown Books Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Plain Talk About Giving

Becoming a generous person who loves to give begins with recognizing the grace of God. Paul cited the Macedonian churches as examples of people who had experienced God’s grace and consequently, became givers (1 Cor 8:1). Though they were poor, they gave far more than anyone expected. The apostle says that these people really comprehended what Christ did for them and came to the conclusion of “How can we hold anything back?”

Until you have really experienced God’s grace, you don’t recognize opportunities to give. Isaiah said it like this, “Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD” (Isa 26:10).

Grace only impacts our lives and inspires us to share what we have if we recognize the grace of God. For the one who has been touched by grace—the majesty of God can be seen in a thousand different ways every day.

When the Antioch church grew rapidly, the Apostles in Jerusalem wanted to know what was going on there, so they sent Barnabas. His response is recorded in these words, “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:24). Had they sent another, they may have gotten a completely different report.

Generosity has nothing to do with how much one has, but it has everything to do with how much one cares. Jesus cited an example of a poor widow who displayed great liberality though she gave only a fraction of a penny (Mark 12:43-44).

Here are some principles of good stewardship:

·         God entrusts to us what is within our ability to accomplish (Matt 25:15).
·         Our giving starts with what we have, not with what we don’t have (2 Cor 8:12).
·         God is the owner of what he has placed in our hands (Matt 25:19).
·         God disapproves of laziness and expects obedience (Matt 25:28-29).
·         God rewards faithfulness and fruitfulness (Matt 25:21).
·         Giving our tithes and offerings is a privilege, not an obligation (2 Cor 8:4).
·         Strive for contentment, and manage well what you have (1 Tim 6:6-10).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Free to Serve

Fear is a paralyzing thing. It can give us that frozen response to something frightening, cause us to run away, or cause us to fight. Fear actually cripples us in so many ways. Take for example someone who fears not being accepted. This fear is the fear of rejection, and it is one of the most common fears known to humanity. This is an enslaving fear because it controls how we think and act. There is the fear of failing which is also a powerful force that can fetter us. Often we will not attempt something we would really like to do because we are afraid of any possibility of failure. The fear of not having enough is what feeds our scarcity mentality. There are fears of not having the ideal body, fear of losing our health, the fear of harm and on and on the list goes.

Zachariah sang about Jesus’ ministry before he was born a babe in Bethlehem. He said that he would “rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and …enable us to serve him without fear” (Luke 1:74). We need to be rescued from our fears and delivered from them, to be able to live our lives with purpose and meaning. Jesus can do that for us. Instead of living in depression—confined by fear, Jesus will set us free and enable us to serve. Once we have been delivered from fear, we can use our gifts and talents in creative ways that benefit others for his glory.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Learning to Be Brave

The best parents are the ones who are trying to be authentically true to their core beliefs. To say it in another way, I believe the best parents are not the ones who are concentrating on parenting all the time; instead, they live life by their convictions. Our children have a way of catching these beliefs from us if they see their value and benefit.

Parents today often do everything possible to seek the happiness of their children. Although their intentions may be good, the outcome often is not. They make the happiness and pleasure of their children their primary goal of parenting, going so far as to spend money they really don’t have—giving their children the false impression they can have anything in life, whether they can afford it or not.  Parents often work tirelessly to remove any painful or uncomfortable situations from their children’s lives as soon as they arise—never allowing them to learn from those tough challenges. This is something that God doesn’t even do for us. They shield their children from anything fearful—failing to help them learn to be brave in the face of fear.

Desiring our children to be brave and humble means that we have to teach them discipline, and removing every painful situation is not the means to learn how to be brave. Every child needs discipline in the form of boundaries and principles of how to react to the varied situations they encounter. Discipline is like the forms that we pour concrete into so that it has form and usefulness. Though discipline requires a lot of work, believe me, when I say that an undisciplined life is in the end much more work.

I want to encourage parents to resist the temptation to say to your child, “If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.” Say rather, “Let’s pray about it and think about it, and we can talk about this again.” In this approach you are teaching your child to consider God in every situation and learn dependence upon him.