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New Barna Poll

Friday, January 30, 2009

Many of you may be familiar with pollster George Barna, who some "evangelical" leaders view as a guru of how to do church - or is it "be church" in his current vernacular?

Anyway, a friend sent me the following link via email and I thought it was interesting:

Shocking New Barna Poll

Enjoy your read,

Frank

A National Scandal

Thursday, January 22, 2009

(I recognize that this post is extremely long. The topic of the post, however, is very important.)

Almost two thousand years ago, a scandal spread across the country of Israel. It was a scandal that was large in its scope as everyone knew about what was going on, yet no one was doing anything about the scandal. Finally, one man stood up against the scandal. One man understood the need to speak the truth in an age when the truth was unpopular and standing for the truth could cost you a lot. In this man's case, it cost him his life.

The scandal of which I am referring to is referred to in Mark 6:14-29. In this passage, we read the story of the encounter of John the Baptist with Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great and had a half-brother named Philip. As Herod visited his half-brother Philip, he lusted after Philip's wife, Herodias, and took her for his wife (ditching his own wife in the process). To make bad matters even worse, Herodias was also Herod's niece!

John the Baptist stood up against this scandal of his day and it ended up costing him his life.

Today, we live in the midst of another great scandal. This scandal is not one done by one man or one family, but a scandal that is done on a national level and is a scandal that is on a great scale. It is a scandal that we mark today, January 22.

As many of you are probably aware, on January 22, 1973, a court ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Roe v. Wade. While much has been said and written about this case, the result of this case is that it opened the door for abortion on demand to become the law of the land - and the practice of abortion has skyrocketed since then. It is estimated that there have been approximately 50 million abortions in the 35 years since this decision was handed down by the courts.

When we consider the statistics regarding abortion, the totals really are staggering.

In the 35 years since Roe v. Wade, there have been about 50 million abortions. Think of that a minute and let it sink in. FIFTY MILLION. We often hear big numbers today and kind of just skip over them. What does this 50 million mean? As I mentioned in a post on this topic two years ago, this 50 million represents more than the population of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington, D.C. - COMBINED! (This 50 million also represents over 10 million more lives than our largest state, California.)

The Abort 73 Web-site does a great job of listing some stats regarding abortion. Some of these follow:

Looking at some other numbers regarding abortion, we find that in 2000, there were 3,600 abortions per day, 149 per hour, 1 every 24 seconds. As of 2001, there were 246 abortions for every 1,000 live births. On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

While those who support abortion often speak about the "hard cases" - rape, incest, or some health concern with either the baby or mother - only 7% of all abortion cases fit into any of these categories - the other 93% ARE ELECTIVE.

The scandal of abortion is a blight upon our nation. And, as Christians, we ought to speak up against this scandal - even as John the Baptist spoke up against the scandal of his day and exposed the sin.

A couple of thoughts come to mind regarding our need to expose this sin.

1. If we are going to expose sin, we should understand our responsibility to expose sin.

The Bible tells us that we are to reprove - admonish, rebuke - the works of darkness:

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.


Christ also told us that we are to be salt and light - to be different and to make a difference.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.


As Christians we have a responsibility to expose sin. We have a responsibility to explain to others what God has revealed regarding a particular matter. As we expose the sin, we need to do so with a heart of love for the sinner and a heart of obedience to Christ. We also need to be careful that we do not just give half of the story. We need to not only reprove the sin, we need to do so in such a way that we point people to the answer to the sin - forgiveness in Christ.

2. If we are going to expose sin, we should do so with the right character.

If we are to expose the sin and scandal of abortion, we should do so with a basis of right character. Herod understood that even though the message of John the Baptist about his sin was a message that he did not want to hear, the character of John was so evident that Herod actually kept him alive despite the desires of Herodias.

Mark 6:19-20 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.


When we take on the awesome task of exposing sin, we need to do so with the right character. We read that John the Baptist was just and holy. We also find out that he was bold (Luke 3:7-9) and humble (John 1:27 and John 3:30). We can have this delicate combination of boldness and humility when we understand that without Christ we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

3. If we are going to expose sin, we should have clarity in our message.

When John the Baptist confronted Herod, he clearly laid out the nature of Herod's sin. In regards to abortion, we need to present clearly two important truths. The first truth is the fact that murder violates God's law. For most people, this is obvious. The second truth is establishing the fact that a child in the womb is a person - and thus murdering that child in the womb is a violation of God's command not to murder.

Some of the facts that point out the truth that a child in the womb is a person includes the following Biblical evidences.

1. Children in the womb are described with the same terminology as children outside the womb.

Ge 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.

The word children used here is the normal word for child or son, even though the children are still in womb. It is not a word that refers to a fetus or even an "unborn child."

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

The word translated babe in Luke 1:41 is the same word used in the next chapter when we read that Mary laid the "babe" in the manger.

2. Children in the womb are shown as active and alive.

For instance, in Luke 1 - John the Baptist recognized that the other baby was Christ. This baby (in the womb) was active.

By the way, we see this when we consider children in the womb today. Many of us have seen the photograph where a baby being operated on grabbed the finger of the surgeon.

3. Children in the womb are described as persons.

In Psalm 51:5, the Psalmist writes: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Note that it is "I" that was shapen - not some "pre- I"

In Isaiah 49:1, the prophet declares: "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name." Again, it was "me" that was called, not some "pre-me." (Similar examples can be found in Psalm 139:13, Job 31:13-15, etc.)

The reality is that the world inherently KNOWS that the unborn baby is a life. Some may have been able to plead ignorance in 1973, but with the advances in technology (including the awesome 3-D sonograms), it is beyond reaonableness to claim that this child is not a life. That is why most states have laws that if you kill the child that the mother is carrying, you can get arrested. (Remember Scott Peterson a few years ago - he was convicted of two counts of murder, Laci and the Baby.) The only time when killing a child in the womb is considered acceptable is when the killing is done by a doctor in the name of "choice."

The reality is abortion is taking an innocent life and the image of God is being destroyed by this act. (See Job 1:21 and Genesis 9:6)


4. If we are going to expose sin, we should do so recognize that exposing sin is compassionate.

It is compassionate because exposing sin helps people to recognize their need of forgiveness. Galatians 3:24 reminds us that the law is a "schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

In our society today, we are often afraid to directly confront sin and to tell someone that their actions are a sin against a holy God. In not directly confronting sin, people think they are being compassionate and kind. In reality, this is not compassionate. Allowing those involved in sin (in whatever form the sin might be) to think that they are okay and just making a "choice" can lead them into a complacence of not recognizing their need of forgiveness.

Instead, as we point out the sin of abortion, we should do so while sharing with them the compassionate truth that there is forgiveness for sin - even for the sin of abortion. That forgiveness is only found in the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from all sin.

So, as we mark with sadness this important anniversary, may we step forth boldly and stand against this scandal in our nation. And doing so, may we compassionately point people to the One who can forgive even this sin - Jesus Christ.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

(Some of the these thoughts are adapted from the Abort73 web-site.)

Change I Wish We Didn't Need to Believe In

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In less than five minutes today, the message of the White House (through its official website - www.whitehouse.gove) changed from a message that celebrated life and family to a message that supports a radical view of abortion and a radical twisting of the family.

It is amazing how quickly the desire was to get rid of words like these:

All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.


In about five minutes, the White House website went from defending innocent life to touting President Obama "a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration [sic]."

Not only is the hopeful message that celebrates a "culture of life" gone from the official White House website, the hopeful message regading the importance of marriage between one man and one woman is gone as well, replaced instead with one that supports the repeal of the Defesnse of Marriage Act (which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996) and one that opposes the federal marriage ammendment.

If you go to the White House website to look for the page that contained the words that proclaimed January 18, 2009 as "National Sanctity of Human Life Day", you will not find the page. Instead, you get a 404 message which tells you -"The page you requested wasn't found at this location. The Obama Administration has created a brand new White House website, and it's possible that the page you were looking for has been moved. Please take a moment to explore our new site, learn more about President Obama and his team, and read about their plan to bring about the change America needs."

Unfortunately, it seems that very few (if any) on the Obama team (or perhaps in Washington altogether) even have a clue about what constitutes "the change America needs." The change America needs is to recognize our sinfulness before God, to repent and to turn to Him. Certainly it is not a change that hearkens back to the days of the Ammonites who sacrificed their children to the false god of Molech.

In regards to praying for the President, while I don't agree with Dr. Al Mohler on everything, I appreciate the following words from his post on "A Prayer for President Obama."

Father, may this new president see that human dignity is undermined when human embryos are destroyed in the name of medical progress, and may he see marriage as an institution that is vital to the very survival of civilization. May he protect all that is right and good. Father, change his heart where it must be changed, and give him resolve where his heart is right before you.

Father, when we face hard days ahead -- when we find ourselves required by conscience to oppose this president within the bounds of our roles as citizens -- may we be granted your guidance to do so with a proper spirit, with a proper demeanor, and with persuasive arguments. May we learn anew how to confront without demonizing, and to oppose without abandoning hope.

Father, we are aware that our future is in your hands, and we are fully aware that you and you alone will judge the nations. Much responsibility is now invested in President Barack Obama, and much will be required. May we, as Christian citizens, also fulfill what you would require of us. Even as we pray for you to protect this president and change his heart, we also pray that your church will be protected and that you will conform our hearts to your perfect will.

Father, we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the ever-reigning once and future King, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He and he alone can save, and his kingdom is forever. Above all, may your great name be praised. Amen.


Here is an article at Baptist Press that gives some additional details about the change in the White House website: With Obama in power, Whitehouse.gov now backs abortion rights, 'gay rights'

Some thoughts on Spiritual Leadership

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yesterday, I had the privilege of addressing some Pastors from the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches at a Pastor's Prayer Breakfast in New Jersey. We met at the Cracker Barrel in Pennsville and then headed over to Bethel Bible Baptist Church in Carneys Point (Pastored by Ron Whitehead) for the message and time of prayer.

While the fellowship was enjoyable, it was unfortunate that more Pastors could not have made the Prayer Breakfast.

I know I have not written much on here lately, but I thought I would post some of the key thoughts from the message for my readers. Feel free to comment, adapt, criticize, etc.

We live in a day and age in which leadership is talked about often, but demonstrated much less often. A search on Google for leadership shows about 164,000,000 (that's 164 MILLION) hits. An Amazon search shows over 300,000 results when that term is searched for in books.

Even if you narrow the focus to spiritual leadership, there is still much that is said about this important topic.

I have appreciated some of the resources that men of God have written over the years on this subject. J. Oswald Sander's book, Spiritual Leadership, is one of those books that I try to read at least every other year.

In Mark 10:35-45, we find some important teaching regarding Spiritual Leadership.

The context, of course, is the request by James and John for positions of authority and leadership at the right and left hand of Christ in His glory. The Matthew passage adds the details that the mother of James and John (Salome, the sister of Mary and aunt of Jesus) was also involved in this request.

When Christ responds to James and John, He does so by reminding us all of some important truths about spiritual leadership.

I. Spiritual Leadership is Burdensome

Jesus' initial comments draw them to the fact that rather than Spiritual Leadership being something glamorous, it is, in fact, something burdensome.

Mark 10:38 - But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?


Both the drinking of the cup and the being baptized with the baptism refer to the concept of suffering and difficulty. Remember the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane, where he asks to "let this cup pass from me."

While their are great joys in spiritual leadreship, Christ also reminds us that there are great burdens in spiritual leadership as well. There are joys when "my children walk in truth." But there are heartbreaks when those you love and give your lives to choose to walk in disobedience and make wrong choice after wrong choice.

Paul also speaks of the burdens of spiritual leadership, speaking of the "conflict" (agon) he has for the Colossians and Laodiceans (Col. 2:1) and mentioning "the care of all the churches" as the concluding aspect of his list of difficulties he has faced for Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:28.

When we think of spiritual leadership and when we experience burdens in spiritual leadership, we should not be not be shocked or disappointed, but rather recognize tht this is part of the package - and rejoice that we can heed the admonition of Peter in 1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.


Not only is Spiritual Leadership Burdensome, Christ also reminds us that Spiritual Leadership is Bestowed.

II. Spiritual Leadership is Bestowed

While many often seek Spiritual Leadership and clearly, "if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work" (1 Timothy 3:1), the reality is that ultimately, Spiritual Leadership is not something that we strive to for ourself, but rather is something given or bestowed by God.

Mark 10:40 - But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.


This truth should help to remind us to be careful of not seeking promotion or great things for ourselves, but rather to seek to be obedient to Christ and to live according to His will and recognize that God is the one who places us where He will.

Psalm 75:6-7 - For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Jeremiah 45:5a - And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not:


The final lesson is one about which there has been much talk, but is one that is essential if we are to function as spiritual leaders in whatever roles that Christ has given to us.

III. Spiritual Leadership is backwards from the world.

Mark 10:42-44 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.


While the world often encourages us to "look out for number one" and views roles of leadership as symbols of power, Christ encourages us to understand that spiritual leadership is backwards from that model - that spiritual leadership focuses on service rather than on being served. Spiritual leadership is concerned with ministering rather than being ministered to.

There is always a danger of believing that being a leader somehow makes you superior or should give you an advantage, but the reality is that being a leader gives us responsibility and should force us to focus on serving.

As a Pastor, we must serve those in our church and in our community as we serve Christ. As a husband, we must serve our wives and be sensitive to their needs as we lead them. As a father, we must serve our children and lead them to what is best, not just to what is easy or desired.

The easy way can fall towards two extremes. The first extreme is to give in to our desire to be served and fail to heed Peter's warning not to "lord it over God's heritage" (1 Peter 5:3), the other extreme is just give those we serve what they want instead of what they need in an attempt to not make waves. We would be wise to avoid both extremes in our role of serving others.

The closing verse of this section remind us of the Perfect Spiritual Leader - Jesus Christ Himself.

Mr 10:45 - For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


May we seek to follow His example of spiritual leadership.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Some Good Thoughts on Retirement

The Ohio Bible Fellowship is a strong group of churches in Ohio that take a strong position for Christ and Fundamentalism. They put out a nice little paper entitled the OBF Visitor and about a year ago or so, they began to publish an OBF Visitor Blog with featured articles from the newsletter. The site (and the paper) are definitely worth your time to read and check out.

Pastor Chris Anderson (an OBF Pastor and blogger over at My Two Cents) has written an excellent article entitled Rethinking Retirement that is now available over at the OBF Visitor Blog.

Below is an excerpt:

Whatever specific ministry (or ministries!) you pursue, resist the mindset that says the goal of life is to work now and play later—both for Christ’s sake and for your own. Many a retiree has stopped working only to fall into an emotional, spiritual, or physical funk. There’s a reason for that. God created us to be productive for His glory. The church needs the ministry of retirees, and retirees need to minister.

Retirees, use your newfound freedom to serve the Lord! Retire from your job, not from life or ministry. Workers, minister now and plan to minister with an even greater focus when the Lord allows you to stop working 40-plus hours a week for your employer. Finally, pastors, teach your flock that their greatest usefulness may actually lie ahead: help them plan for their futures with an open mind and an open Bible. Help them rethink retirement.


You can find the entire article at the OBF Blog - Rethinking Retirement.

Just Chris' thoughts,

Frank