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Archive for January, 2007

In the month of January, churches worldwide are called on to reflect upon the sanctity of human life during Sanctity of Human Life week (January 21-28).  On Sunday January 21st, we took the day at FBC to reflect upon the significance of this day.  Ironically, this day was also my 32nd birthday.  Because it was the day that I celebrated my birth, this year’s Sanctity of Human Life Sunday held special significance for me.  I reflected upon the tragedy of legalized abortion in our country and I thought about the entire generation that has been lost since the legalization of abortion on January 22, 1973.  I thought about the thousands each day that die in the
US because of legalized abortion and it troubled me.  It also made me very thankful that my mother decided to bring me into this world! 

 

But there are many other issues that Christians must be aware of today concerning the sanctity of human life.  Today, the church must be informed about issues such as Euthanasia, health-care for the poor and elderly, Embryonic Stem-cell research, genetic-engineering, starvation, Genocide, and many other issues.  For the most part, many Christians are content to remain silent while allowing government institutions to decide the morality and legality of such issues. 

 

The church must begin to be informed about these issues and speak out from a Biblical perspective.  We must remain silent no longer. 

 

We live in a culture of death where life is no longer held to be sacred by many.  The term “sanctity” means “of a sacred or hallowed character.”  To say that Christians believe in the sanctity of life is to say that we still believe that all human life is special, sacred, and deserving of protection.  It is to say that we believe in the dignity and special-nature of all human life because life comes from our Creator and from the moment of conception until natural life, every individual deserves to be cared for and treated humanely.  This worldview is admittedly built upon a few Biblical presuppositions. 

 

First, we believe that life is a gift from our Creator, God.  We are not the accident of evolutionary processes as so many would have us believe today.  Evolutionary humanists would have us believe that human beings are merely the most advanced of animals, here by accident and with no real eternal purpose.  This is completely anti-biblical and goes against the very flow of scripture which proclaims that God created human life in the beginning “in His image” (Genesis 1:26-27) and that every life is formed by God in the womb with special purpose (Psalm 139:13-16).  When we forget this, or begin to view human beings as mere accidents of evolution, we will forget the special nature of human beings.  This is evident in the culture of death in which we live, where horror films regularly portray horrific murders and acts of violence as if they are ordinary occurances.  It is evident by the fact that every day an estimated 4000 babies are aborted in the womb.  It is evident when there are discussions at the highest levels of legalizing the euthanasia of our elderly and sick.

 

We also believe that life is sacred because God ordained that human beings alone, among all the created order, would be His “image-bearers.”  Though humanity has been marred by the fall, we still bear the image of God.  This is true for all human beings, whether they be sick, physically handicapped or terminally-ill.  Because man is made in God’s image, we as human beings should have the utmost concern for the well-being of our fellow man. 

 

Finally, the belief that life is sacred is borne out by the fact that God loved human beings so much that He sent his only-begotten son to die for humanity and provide a way of redemption and reconciliation (John 3:16).  In the incarnation, Jesus Christ came to mankind as one of us.  He took on human flesh, lived among men demonstrating mercy and compassion to all, and ultimately died so that fallen man could be reconciled to a Holy God.  If human beings are that important to God, why should they be any less-important to us today? 

 

God is still concerned about human life and I believe that He weeps when he sees the way that human life is so devalued in our present culture.  It is high time that Christians stand up and let their voices be heard.  We believe that life is important and that it should be protected, nurtured, and valued from conception until natural death. 

 

This is not a political issue.  No political party has a right to claim this issue as theirs exclusively.  For Christians, it is a Biblical issue.  We must return to a Biblical view of the sanctity of human life and not be afraid to stand firm upon life-issues. 

 

Today, pray for an end to abortion.  But also pray for (and be informed about) the many other issues that our society must confront daily concerning the sanctity of human life.  Call your representatives, make your voice heard, support pro-life groups and be informed about sanctity of life issues.  Above all, begin practicing what you believe about the sanctity of human life by reaching out to your fellow man today and seeking to improve their quality of life.  If God values us and considers us special, should not we value one another? Reflect upon John’s words in I John 3:15-18 and ask God what you can do today to show your fellow man that he or she is special in your sight. 

 

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Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)

 

In my reading today, I came across a passage from 18th/19th century Baptist pastor Andrew Fuller that encouraged me and motivated me to meditate more about what the church of the Lord Jesus Christ should look like. Hear his words and allow them to paint a picture of a Christ-honoring congregation in your mind. He writes:

“The primitive churches were not mere assemblies of men who agreed to meet together once or twice a week, and to subscribe for the support of an accomplished man who should on those occasions deliver lectures on religion. They were men gathered out of the world by the preaching of the cross, and formed in to society for the promotion of Christ’s kingdom in their own souls and in the world around them. It was not the concern of the ministers or elders only; the body of the people were interested in all that was done, and, according to their several abilities and stations, took part in it. Neither were they assemblies of heady, high-minded, contentious people, meeting together to argue on points of doctrine or discipline, and converting the worship of God into scenes of strife. They spoke the truth; but it was in love: they observed discipline; but, like an army of chosen men, it was that they might attack the kingdom of Satan
to greater advantage. Happy were it for our churches if we could come to a closer imitation of this model!”

What a needed and timely vision for the church! In Fuller’s exhortation, he describes many elements of the ideal New Testament church. Notice the attention that he gives to the following characteristics:

*The church is not to be meeting out of mere apathetic ritual
*Preaching should be more than “lectures”
*The church should remember its reason for gathering; personal growth and evangelism, both to the glory of God
*Membership participation in every area of church life (not merely ministers doing the work of ministry)
*Unity rather than division
*Holiness rather than hypocrisy
*Active engagement in spiritual warfare

The irony is that although Fuller wrote this letter over 200 years ago (1806), he could, with his above description, be describing many churches today which have degenerated into social clubs, focused only on their own needs and spending most of their time arguing, dividing, or criticizing others while giving little or no attention to reaching the lost or growing in holiness.

Let these words prompt us to meditate upon exactly what the church exists for and what her mission in the world is to be. When we come to a consensus on what the role of the local church is, then we must readily take upon ourselves those very responsibilities that we would assign to the church and hope to see in her, for we are, after all the building blocks of the local church. One cannot speak of the local church without assigning all responsibility for her growth and health to the individual members who constitute such body.

What contribution can you make today or this week that will help the church to look like the holy, committed, called-out people of God that we see “turning the world upside down” in the book of Acts?

Could you help to make the church look more like its ideal? How so?

“To Him (God) be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21)

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Where are all the superheroes with letters on their chest in church life today?  Maybe the greatest saints aren’t those who have written some recent book, or coined some phrase or led some enormous revival meeting. 

Tonight, in our church, we honored the service of three individuals who have given a combined total of over 160 years to our church’s Sunday School program.  What an amazing accomplishment.  The first two (a married couple) have served for almost fifty years as teachers, administrators and all-around workers in our SS program.  The third, a woman (my neighbor) who is 92 years old and still teaches SS each week.  These kind of workers are truly a dying breed and it is their faithfulness and commitment that the church today lacks. 

Every aspect of these individual’s lives demonstrates the characteristic of faithfulness that so few demonstrate today.  The couple has been married for over fifty years, raised numerous children and have been pillars in their community for years.  The other lady, a widow (who is incidentally my neighbor), was married to the same man for her entire adult life, until he died some years ago.  She taught in the same local school district for 36 years and raised a family, all while living on the same street and teaching SS faithfully at the same church. 

Why is it that I fear that my generation has no sense of how it feels to be this committed to a single thing for this long (unless its their favorite sports team)?  In church ministry today, I struggle to find individuals under 50 who will commit to the slightest task.  Ask someone to commit to filling an office or serving in a position for even a year and its like pulling teeth to get them to say yes.  Even then, they are usually not faithful to fill the role that they promised to fill.  And we wonder why our churches are stagnant. 

I don’t know all the answers. I know it has been frustrating through the years to try to find disciples who are as committed about church work/ evangelism/ church growth as I am.  My wife tells me that I can’t expect people to be as pumped about visitation or discipleship as I am…after all, I’m the “professional,” and I’m supposed to like that stuff. 

Maybe I’m asking the wrong question though.  Maybe it’s not that we lack commitment in today’s world, but rather that we lack commitment to the right things…which I guess we would categorize as misconstrued priorities.  I know plenty of Christians in the church today who are committed to their children’s soccer teams, dance class, hobbies, etc…  We live in the era of 12 month per year sports, and many parents have all of their kids in all 3 or 4 major sports, taking them to practice multiple nights per week and showing up at games every weekend religiously.  There are plenty of people who are committed to playing Powerball religiously, and will spend boucoup dollars chasing that brass ring but give nothing to their church.  If you want to see the true test of faithfulness, see how faithful the men of your church are to things like summer fishing trips, golfing, softball leagues, camping trips, NASCAR races, etc… and then try to get those same guys to commit to being in church and small groups EVERY Sunday for even six months.  Maybe it’s really about priorities… and today’s Christians just don’t prioritize worship and service before the Lord the way previous generations did?@!!#

Whatever the case, I was proud tonight to honor the faithfulness and service of some folks who really know the meaning of the word “faithful.”  May God send us more like them.   

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