By In Culture

The Morning After or Preparing to Fight the Long War

After all the protests on Saturday, I began thinking, what now? Where do we go from here? This is a post, slightly edited, I wrote before the protests occurred. It is reminder that the war has been going on for a long time and will continue well into the future.  It is particularly a challenge to the under forty generation. Are we ready for a long war? 

As the videos continue to post, I wonder if Christians feel how Jews felt when Allied soldiers entered concentration camps at the end of WWII. Finally, the world is able to see what has been going on. Finally, they will see the ovens and the bodies stacked like cord wood. Finally, they will see the little arms and legs cut up into pieces. Finally, they will see the death of all these little ones.

While this sting operation by the Center for Medical Progress might be a kind of D-Day, it is not the whole war. Even before these videos, abortion clinics were closing on a regular basis. For decades men have been fighting against abortion through sermons, prayers, picketing, and books. Hundreds of pastors, including John Piper, have faithfully preached against abortion year after year. I think of my friends Charles and Al who regularly picket in front of abortion clinics. I think of  R.C. Sproul Jr. who whenever tragedy strikes reminds us of the greater tragedy of the thousands of babies legally killed every day. I think of Francis Schaeffer and his work in the early eighties. I think of pastors who have converted women walking into death clinics and helped them find homes for their newborns. I think of all the older ladies who pleaded with God to end the murder of the unborn.  I think of parents who have many children or who have adopted unwanted children. On and on the list goes.  God’s people have always hated abortion.  Christians are not waking up for the first time. But there is physical proof of what we have always known. Babies are being chopped up for profit. Like pictures coming out of Germany in 1945, these videos vindicate the war. There is a reason we fight.

Thanks to all the brothers and sisters, pastors and priests, mothers and fathers, who fought, often in obscurity, since Roe v. Wade. We are grateful for your faithfulness. May our generation be worthy of walking in your footsteps. May we look to you, our Savior, and the Word to give us strength to endure in this battle against abortion and the other battles we will face in the coming years.

I also think of all those hipster Christians who thought abortion was old news. Who got tired of the war. Who rebuked those who said abortion was wicked. Who were silent in the face of the holocaust. Who loved their reputation more than Jesus. We need to move on they said, after all it is legal. Separation of church and state they bellowed. We should ignore the barbed wire and the smoke and the smell. We will preach Jesus, but we do not need to make a political statement. Ours is a spiritual kingdom.  We love women so much we will let them kill their child. They lost their moral authority when they abandoned the Scriptures. Now they have been exposed as those who ate and drank while members of their congregation and city sacrificed their children to Molech. They are hirelings (John 10:13). May their tribe decrease. May they see their folly and publicly repent of disgracing the name of Christ.

Then I think of us, the under forty generation who are working with renewed vigor to end this atrocity. As we all know, this battle is far from over. Doug Wilson reminds us we to pursue. We must push through to Berlin. We must keep doing the things which matter most such as loving God, telling our neighbors about Jesus, repenting of our sins, praying without ceasing, and gathering for worship. We must persevere in the behind the scenes work we have been doing in our churches, homes, and communities.  We must keep pressing forward in the direct assault on Planned Parenthood as well through sharing the videos, blogs posts, elections, and legislation. We are seeing victories in the fight against abortion, which is wonderful. But these victories did not happen overnight. The war did not start with these videos. The war will not end with these videos. There are years of battle ahead of us, which is the great danger for my generation. We like quick fixes and easy answers. We lose steam fast. A few tweets and Facebook posts and we move on. But three weeks is not very long. Three years is not very long. Three decades is not very long. Besides the abortion battle, there is sodomy, a wicked and corrupt government, a compromised church, evolution, the denial of Scripture as God’s inspired Word, the rampant sexual immorality in the church, and many other battles to fight. Abortion is but one front, albeit an important one, in our work for Christ’s Kingdom. Are we prepared for the long haul?  Will we fight for decades like our fathers did? Can we keep the pressure on year after year? Or will our attention wane and vigor wilt? Will we bend the knee to the world in the end? Will we grow weary and go back to binge watching on Netflix?  I am grateful for the impact these videos are having. I am grateful for the almost 70,000 who protested Planned Parenthood last Saturday. It is nice to win a battle now and then. But we must prepare our churches, our families, and ourselves to fight the long war. Without endurance, all that has been gained will be lost.

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By In Culture

Peacefully Protesting Planned Parenthood

Tomorrow could be a huge day for pro-lifers. All over the United States thousands of Christians will be protesting Planned Parenthood. With over 300 protests planned around the country, several of my friends have indicated that this may end up being one of the largest pro-life demonstrations in history.

Tomorrow could also be a terrible day for pro-lifers. We will be on the stage and the world will be watching.  Any minor infraction will be used against us to discredit what we are doing. The media will hunt for a way to destroy our momentum. Here are some tips for making sure the protests honor Christ. These are in no particular order. If you have other suggestions or disagree with a point make a comment.

1. Remember to evangelize. The immediate purpose of the protests is to make a point about Planned Parenthood and to prevent babies from being killed. But our ultimate goal is to bring people to Jesus Christ. Keep that in mind with the women going into the clinics, the doctors, the nurses, and those who oppose you.  Tell them about Jesus and how he can cleanse them from all their sins. Make sure you are not just protesting, but you are also evangelizing. There is blood on the hands of those you will meet. They need to know how that bloodguilt can be taken away. Have brochures inviting people to church. Keep the big picture in mind.

2. Pray before going out, while protesting, upon returning home, and in the weeks that follow. Those of us who cannot go need to pray for those who will be there. Without the Lord’s aid we are hopeless. If we think numbers, resources, signs, organization, videos, or protests will bring us victory we are foolish. Prayer reminds us that this is the work of God. Pray hard, trust God, and then get to work.

3. Sing. Bring sheets with the Psalms on them for folks to sing. If the crowd does not know the Psalms then bring some common hymns that people can sing.

4. Bring your children or grandchildren.  I would love to see dozens of children of all ages at these protests.  Children will do at least two things. First, they are visual reminder that protesters are not just anti-abortion, but pro-children. We love children. Second, they will often keep those who are protesting in check. Let’s be honest if our child is watching we will usually watch our language and actions more closely .

5. Have good options for the those ladies who do not want to have an abortion. Are there brochures you can hand out? Are there people at your church who would adopt the baby? Are there care facilities where a single pregnant mom can get aid? Is there a place they can get a free ultrasound? Make sure there are Christian women there who can counsel these ladies, pray with them, and encourage them. Be ready with solutions for these women.

6. Know what the laws are and follow them. This is not the time or place for civil disobedience or stupid actions. Cameras will be on. Hundreds of protests could be quickly undermined by one foolish decision (I Peter 2:13-25).

7. Stay away from arguments that are a waste of time. People can get belligerent when you interrupt their freedom.  Choose your battles wisely. Avoid any physical altercation. If you are a hothead, don’t go.  If you feel yourself losing control, leave. Try to remain at peace with all men, while still making your point (Romans 12:18).

8. Set up a laptop or other device where people can watch the shorter videos from the Center for Medical Progress.  For us it is hard to imagine not knowing about these videos. But many have not heard of them or seen them. Ask people if they would like to watch what Planned Parenthood has been doing. We have never had this resource before. Use it.

9. I would avoid signs that show dead babies. I would use less graphic signs that make it clear what you are protesting and then have the more graphic videos available.

10. Read sections of Scripture out loud. The Word of God is powerful. Read it before going out. Read it with people as you protest. Read it to those who are going in. Read some after the protest is over as well. Lean hard on God’s Word.

Here is the Protest Planned Parenthood website. If you need to find a protest in your area you can look there. All protests are scheduled from 9-11 am on Saturday, August 22nd.

Here is good article by John Piper on why he will be attending the protest in his hometown.

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By In Scribblings

Contact Your Elected Officials

American Family Association has set up a form to contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to defund Planned Parenthood and investigate the selling of baby parts.  It is easy to use.  If you type in your zip code it will automatically load your elected officials and then you can send them a message. Based on recent choices by our politicians I am not sure this will do much, but it is still worth letting our elected officials know where we stand.

Here is the link to the portion of AFA’s website where you can do this. If you click on the section titled “Advocacy Campaigns” and then click on the first one listed, “Tell Congress: Defund….” it should take you to the right spot.

Below is the message I sent.  The bold part is what the AFA already has in the message. You can delete this portion and put in your own message. Or you can add to it as I have done here. AFA automatically adds a “To Whom It May Concern.”

I am grateful for all the service you perform on behalf of our state and our country. Many of us do not realize the long hours you put in and the difficult decisions you have to make on our behalf.

As a taxpayer, I am deeply disturbed by the recent news and video exposing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practice of selective harvesting and selling of baby parts.

I am equally troubled by the fact that my tax-dollars are being used to help fund Planned Parenthood’s despicable actions. This should not be!

With millions of American families struggling to make ends meet, I urge you to do the right thing by cutting off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood and returning the money back to its rightful owner, me, the taxpayer.

In addition, I support House Speaker John Boehner’s call for Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood for the illegal trafficking of human body parts.

I am a minister who believes the Scriptures show that life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16) and that justice dictates that no one be killed who has not committed a crime worthy of death (Genesis 9:6). Therefore unborn children deserve to live. Killing them is not an act of love, but rather the unjust taking of an innocent life.

I also believe that the Scriptures and Jesus taught us to love the poor. Planned Parenthood preys on the poor while their executives make millions of dollars. They tell low income women that their lives will be better if they kill their child. But that is not true. Abortion survivors are racked by guilt and many children born into difficult financial situations grow up to lead full and satisfying lives. The weakest among us, unborn children, are destroyed by the strong. This should not be.

We also know that children are the future of our country. We need more sons and daughters to keep our state and our country growing. These young ones will grow up to build houses, invent things, defeat diseases, run for office, etc. They are the lifeblood of our future. Why would we kill them?

They are people not fetuses. They are poor and weak and therefore need our protection, not laws allowing people to kill them for profit. They are the future of our state and country. Why would we slowly drain our own blood?

Therefore I urge you and exhort you to defund Planned Parenthood, to launch an investigation into the selling of baby parts, and to work for the complete abolition of abortion in our state and country  just as our fathers worked for the abolition of slavery.

With Thanks for Your Service,
Peter Jones,Pastor of Christ Church of Morgantown

Father of Nine

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By In Culture, Family and Children

The Coming Division Between Christ and Family

For many generations Christians or converts to Christianity in the West (Europe & America) did not have to sacrifice much. The reason was Western Christendom. Most of society was built on Christian laws and operated under a Christian ethic. If someone  got saved at a revival meeting they went out into a world, that for the most part, approved of their conversion and the actions that flowed from it.  If a preacher called a man to come to Christ, that repentance rarely meant that the man would lose his family or job for believing in Jesus. Christianity was the air that we breathed. It was not perfect of course. The cracks that were there are now causing the structure to collapse. But for a long time the Western world was a safe place for Christians and those who converted to Christianity.

This is changing rapidly.  Conversion to Christ in the West  will require more and more sacrifice as the years go by. In particular, we will find families divided. There will be other types of loss, such as jobs and money, but few things compare to being rejected by family. Losing family is a deep and painful wound. New Christians will not find their family members approving of them and their actions. Instead they will find themselves in the position of many Muslims who lose all when they choose Christ. Two Muslim brothers who came to Jesus described it this way:

Faith [in Jesus] often means the total rejection of culture, ethnicity, family, and friends. To find heaven’s glory in Jesus Christ, we Caner brothers lost our father. (Islam Unveiled)

Another example is Rosaria Butterfield who was a lesbian professor at a major university when she came to Jesus. In the account of her conversion she notes that not only did she lose her friends, they felt betrayed by her. They put their trust in her. They counted on her to support them. When she came to Christ, they felt like she had stabbed them in the back. While this was not her biological family, the bonds she felt with these people were as strong as natural family bonds.

Stories like these will become common as the years progress.  We will hear of sons being rejected by fathers and fathers rejected by sons. We will hear of children raised in homosexual homes converting to Christ and being rejected by their parents. We will hear of daughters being kicked out of homes for their faith in Christ. We will hear of Muslims rejecting family members for conversion, not in the Middle East, but here in America. We will hear of close knit groups who hate a member for leaving them and following Jesus. The possibilities are endless, but the probability of families, biological or otherwise, being divided by Christ get higher with each passing day.

How can the church prepare for this?

First, we must remind ourselves and tell those we evangelize that Jesus demands absolute loyalty. Family is not the highest good. Jesus is. You can gain your family and lose Jesus. You can hold to all sorts of wonderful family values, like the Mormons and the Muslims, and still burn in Hell. Jesus came to separate.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-38)

Family is important, but it does not trump Jesus Christ.  If we give the impression that family is more important than Jesus people will not make the choice to follow Jesus with their whole heart. They will be divided. We must declare without apology, that if the choice is Jesus or family, Jesus wins.

Second, our churches must be places where broken families integrate into God’s family of brothers and sisters. Single mothers, divorced folks, people recovering from sodomy and abortion, the abused, the sexually broken, etc. when they trust in Christ and are baptized should find a place in our churches to serve and grow. Widows must be cared for and orphans must be adopted. If our churches cannot or will not bring in these people then we are saying biological family trumps God’s family. We are saying you must come from a whole family in order to be part of God’s family. That is a grievous sin and shows disloyalty to Jesus. However, teaching this is not enough. Somehow, and it is not easy, we must create a tone, an atmosphere where broken families are welcome. A church that emphasizes family can make people from broken homes feel unwelcome. We must remember deep in our bones that we  too were broken (Titus 3:3) and outside of God’s family (Ephesians 4:14-22), but God in his grace adopted us and saved us.

Third, we must maintain strong families, but not idolize them. A good Biblical home is a wonderful witness of God’s grace to the watching world. We should teach and model what a Christian husband and wife look like. We should teach parents to raise their children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. We should encourage our young people to get married and have lots of children.  But all of this must be done, not as an end to itself, but as a way to glorify God and build his kingdom. If we build the family for the sake of the family then we have made the family an idol. And God destroys idols. But if we build our families so they might serve Christ and serve His church, including those among us do not have families, then we are reflecting Biblical priorities.

Fourth, we should be grateful for the good relationships we have with non-Christian family members. For many of us, even though our family is not worshiping Jesus, we still get along. The relationship is not completely severed.  Of course, there is always a divide. No matter how much we love our family, if they do not trust in Christ there is chasm that cannot be crossed until they believe.  But God is kind. He gives common grace so we can enjoy their company and they our’s despite their lack of faith.

Finally, we should be thankful when our biological family is Christian. My whole family believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have made me choose between Christ and my family as many Christians around the world have done. But he didn’t. God in his mercy has made my temporary, biological family part of my eternal, spiritual family.  The only proper response to this astonishing fact is gratitude.

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By In Scribblings

Ten Quotes on Leadership

I really enjoyed Al Mohler’s book The Conviction to Lead. I have  read it twice and I am sure I will keep coming back to it over the years. Here are ten quotes from the book. I might post more later. I would recommend the book for any Christian in any leadership position whether pastor, school administrator, professor, leader of a small group, owner of business, father, etc. Mohler’s personal experience as a young leader who reformed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary adds weight to what he says.

“When a leader walks into the room, a passion for truth had better enter with him.”

“I believe that leadership is all about putting the right beliefs into action, and knowing, on the basis of convictions, what those right beliefs and actions are.”

“There are plenty of very intelligent people who have virtually no ability to lead.”

“The most important truths come alive through stories, and faithful leadership is inseparable from the power and stewardship of story.”

“Leadership is the consummate human art. It requires nothing less than that leaders shape the way their followers see the world.”

“Disciplined thought requires the leader to think clearly about how things connect and how reality is to be analyzed.”

“Until conviction is transformed into action, it makes no difference in the world.”

“True credibility rests in the ability of others to trust what the leader can do.” (Emphasis his)

“Every single day, the faithful leader must be aware that credibility is the essence of leadership, and that it can be both earned and lost.”

“Leadership doesn’t happen until communication happens.”

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By In Theology

Triumph, Worship, and Humiliation: Three Quotes on Calvin’s Birthday

Few theologians and pastors have had such an enduring impact on the church as John Calvin. His work continues to be studied, followed, critiqued, built upon, and condemned. Today is Calvin’s 506th birthday. Here are three quotes from him. I have bolded certain lines that struck me.

Reformed theology has divided the work of Christ up into three different roles: prophet, priest, king. Here is Calvin on the comfort which comes from understanding that Christ is king and that his kingship is permanent and heavenly, not temporary and earthly. This is from his Institutes Book II, Chapter XV.

Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles-content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph. Such is the nature of his rule, that he shares with us all that he has received from the Father. Now he arms and equips us with his power, adorns us with his beauty and magnificence, enriches us with his wealth. These benefits, then, give us the fruitful occasion to glory, and also provide us with confidence to struggle fearlessly against the devil, sin, and death. Finally clothed with his righteousness, we can valiantly rise above all the world’s reproaches; and just as he himself freely lavishes his gifts upon us, so may we, in return, bring forth fruit to his glory.

What a great passage about Christ’s preservation of his people, which allows us to fight to the end and give all the glory to Christ when the battle is finished!

Here is a quote from The Institutes, Book II, Chapter VIII. He is explaining why the worship of God (the first four commandments) is the foundation for righteous living (last six commandments). It is easy to focus on moral living without focusing on the worship of God. Calvin is not fond of this approach. By religion in this passage he means right worship of God.

The first foundation of righteousness undoubtedly is the worship of God. When it is subverted, all the other parts of righteousness, like a building rent asunder, and in ruins, are racked and scattered. What kind of righteousness do you call it, not to commit theft and plundering, if you, in the meantime, with impious sacrilege, rob God of his glory? Or not to defile your body with fornication, if you profane his holy name with blasphemy? Or not to take away the life of man, if you strive to cut off and destroy the remembrance of God? It is vain, therefore, to talk of righteousness apart from religion. Such righteousness has no more beauty than the trunk of a body deprived of its head. Nor is religion the principal part merely: it is the very soul by which the whole lives and breathes. Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves. We say, then, that the worship of God is the beginning and foundation of righteousness; and that wherever it is wanting, any degree of equity, or continence [self-restraint], or temperance, existing among men themselves, is empty and frivolous in the sight of God.

I recently preached on suffering, which led me back to Calvin’s sermon on Matthew 5:11-12, which can be found in this book. In that sermon I found this quote about how it is easier to endure death than humiliation, which I thought was easily applied to our current situation.

Moreover we are not only encouraged to put up with personal injury and trouble, but also with criticism, slander, and false report. This is perhaps the hardest thing to bear, since a brave person will endure beatings and death more easily than humiliation and disgrace. Among those pagans who had a reputation for courage were noble souls who feared death less than shame and dishonor among men. We, therefore must arm ourselves with more than human steadfastness if we are to calmly swallow all the insults, censures, and blame the wicked will undeservedly heap upon us. That, nevertheless, is what awaits us, as St. Paul declares. Since, he says, our hope is in the living God, we are bound to suffer distress and humiliation; we will be objects of suspicion; men will spit in our face [I Cor. 4:11-13]. That is God’s way of testing us. We must therefore be ready to face these things and to take our Lord’s teaching here [Matt. 5:11-12] as our shield for the fight.

Calvin understood that often our greatest fear is not loss of life, but loss of reputation. For those of us fighting the battle against sexual immorality, gender confusion, sodomy, the traditions of men, our government, and increasing compromise in the church, we know this is true. Would you rather live branded as a bigoted, hateful, man ostracized from society like a leper or malignant sore or die a hero? I think we would all rather die heroes. But our reputation is the first thing that will be lost in this battle. In the end the question will be, Do we love Jesus more than we love our good name?

Finally, if you would like a summary of Calvin’s view of courtship, engagement, and marriage, at my personal blog I have been working through Robert Kingdon and John Witte’s book Sex, Marriage and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva. I enjoyed the scholarship in this book, as well as how it helped me to look at contemporary debates through a different lens. Here is the latest blog post on the book. At the bottom of the post you can find links to more posts on the book.

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By In Scribblings

Stop Playing the Victim

There are few characteristics as central to American culture today as that of being a victim. We automatically assume in most situations we have been victimized. There are real victims, of course. There are people who have hurt, maimed, harmed, reputations destroyed, families broken, children abused, etc. But what I am talking about is that American mindset of being perpetually offended. The students blame the teacher. The teacher blames the students. The parents blame the children. The children blame the parents. The conservatives blame the liberals. The liberals blame the conservatives. We lost the game because of the referees. We lost the election because it was rigged. Our grades are low because our school district doesn’t have enough money. We could pick any race, any economic category, any social status, any topic and we will find the same pattern. We are united in our belief that someone else is to blame.

For Christians, this is a devastating mindset because it causes us to excuse our sin and keeps us from repentance. We look out at all the things someone else has done to us, real or imagined, and then we say, “It is not our fault.” I was raised by bad parents so the command to honor my parents does not apply to me. My neighbor played loud rock music last night, so the command to love my neighbor does not apply to me. My seminary professor gave me a low grade therefore the command to give honor where honor is due is excised from the Scriptures. My wife was sharp with me last night therefore the command to be kind is cut out of the Bible. My husband does not love me well enough so I do not need to respect him. And on and on it goes. Even if the sin against us is real, it does not excuse our own sin. We can never place the blame for our sins upon someone else. But this is exactly what a victim mentality does. We ought to know better.

Stop shifting the weight of your sins onto the shoulders of your parents, children, teachers, government, spouse, pastor, congregation or whoever else you think is at fault. Stop blaming others for your sins. Stop evading responsibility. Realize that the blood is on your hands because you plunged the knife in. Then flee to Jesus, the sinless victim, who carried the weight of your sins. Only at the Cross can your sins be rolled away. Trying to place them on others will only end in bitterness and pain.

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