June 25, 2017

Greater than Solomon

Greater than Solomon

The Oxalis stricta a weed flower that inspired my poem.

Your rich golden color stands out against a backsplash of green.Too often others observe you as a nuisance,
But this my little friend you are not.
You are a testament to great grace;
A small demonstration of crafted beauty to behold and admire.
If only we would take the time to stop and consider your maker and ours, little yellow flower.

Background: I penned this poem this past summer while sitting on campus as Covenant watching the sunset. I was by myself and as I looked around I noticed a cluster of tiny little yellow flowers. I was mindful that everything I was seeing had been created by God, even this tiny flower. God cares about and crafts the smallest detail of this flower and if He cares about something so small how much more does he care about His children who have been purchased by Jesus’ blood.

Post-Graduation Plans

With less than a month left in my senior year at Covenant I am excited to share where God is taking me next! Beginning in the fall after graduation I will move to Washington State to work on the Yakama Indian Reservation with Sacred Road Ministries (sacredroadministries.com). Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the reservation on a short term spring break trip with Covenant College. On that trip, I discovered a deep love for the reservation and for the people.

Me and Lucy at Kids Club

One of my roommates Cayla went on that first trip to the Rez. I remember telling her I could see myself living and working with Sacred Road. She just grinned and told me she had already thought of that the day before and just hadn’t said anything about it yet. The kids in a very real way stole my heart. This was especially true of one letter girl I met. Her name is Lucy. She is a creative and talkative little girl who was nine at the time. Though she could not pronounce it, Lucy told me that her Indian name meant “beautiful talking bird.” She added, “…which is good because, you know, I’m beautiful, and I like to talk.” We met the first day at Kids Club and played together the entire week whenever she could come. She loves art and drawing so we spent a lot of time playing with chalk, chalk paint, markers, and crafts. She loved piggy back rides and sitting in my lap during snack/story time.

I remember the flight home at the end of the week and feeling like my heart was still on the Rez. When I got home, I talked about little else but the trip, the kids, the needs, and the ways God was working. My passion for the reservation didn’t die, it became stronger and more articulate. I knew I wanted to return  and serve for a year, but  I did not think that it would be possible soon after graduation. One week when the Granberrys were in town, I was able to spend a lot of time talking with them about coming out as an intern. After discussing budgets and possible jobs, I knew I was going to pursue this. God had put the desire in my heart and has been opening the doors to go ever since.

I was able to save the funds to return to the reservation for spring break this semester. On the trip, I was able to assist Mary Granberry with the same things I will be doing when I arrive as an intern. The trip was especially confirming that the reservation is where I need and want to be. When I go out for the year, my role will be primarily in showing hospitality as I prepare meals for the church, widows, orphans, and other community members. I will also assist with mercy ministry and youth discipleship.

If you would like to know more please feel free to contact me directly. I love sharing my heart and what God is doing on the reservation!

If you are interested in contributing towards my financial support to get to Yakama you can do so at: haleydempsey.com/support

 

Food That Restores

I recently learned that, “the word ‘restaurant’ is a French-coined word that means: food that restores.” As someone who wants to go into the culinary industry, I greatly appreciated this, and it affirmed many of the conclusions I had come to believe about food. I love food, and I love making it, and being at Covenant has changed my perspective of what food is and what my relationship to it should be.

The phrase “food that restores” conveys that there is more to food than we might initially think: food is so much more than calories to be counted. It is, as Dr. Kaufmann puts it, “A foretaste of future glory.” Gathering around a table to eat together is one of the ways that we can affirm the image of God in others and experience humanity to its fullest. You may think that I am just a food enthusiast and have overstated my opinion, but I don’t believe that I have. My hope in this article is to help you to see food differently: I hope you come see it as an opportunity to worship God and to enjoy a foretaste of future glory.

Food plays an important role throughout the Bible. It was eating of the fruit of the tree by which Adam and Eve fell. As Christians, Jesus invites us to come to the Lord’s table – a meal. The Israelites remembered and celebrated the faithfulness and provision of God through feasts throughout the year. Food plays a significant role in the Bible, and it should not be overlooked.

I will be the first to admit that food is broken and that we often do not relate to food as we ought. That is a result of the fall; creation is fallen and food now is not what God originally intended it to be. We struggle with gluttony, food allergies, food that is prepared poorly, food that goes bad, as well as unhealthy foods.. But, even with food, we can see how God created it good, and it is broken now because of the fall. God doesn’t leave it there though. He is working through us to bring at least partial redemption to his creation now and will one day completely redeem and restore all things – including food. Even now when we eat good food we can have a glimpse into the glory that is to come.

In a past BagPipe article (Covenant College’s school news paper), Adrienne Siegenthaler made the comments that, “food is broken…” and  “that food is holy.” I completely agree with her. As Christians we are to love what God loves and hate what he hates, and as we enjoy food, we take pleasure in his creation. We must recognize that food is a gift from God, and He has given us the ability to enjoy that gift through our senses. We enjoy the aesthetic beauty of our food, eating with our eyes first and then proceed to enjoy it through our sense of taste. We can see in Genesis 1 that God looks at His creation and says it is good, and then in Psalm 104:31 that God rejoices in it. When we eat we can glorify God. We see Paul charge the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” As I take a bite of an awesome homemade lasagna, I can thank God for his provision and for the ability to be able to take joy in the taste – and worship in that. While we can and should worship and glorify God in our relationship to food, food also plays a huge role in our relationships with one another.

When you think of your best friends, how did you become so close? You probably spent a good deal time together, but chances are that you shared many meals together. Recently on a Sunday evening at LMPC, Pastor Joe Novenson made the comment, “It’s hard to think you’re not welcome, when someone invites you to their table.” He was speaking in regards to the Lord’s Supper, but the principle applies to our everyday meals as well. People are not just objects. They are human beings made in the image of God, and this means that they are multidimensional: they are creative, rational, social, as well as so many other things. When you sit down to a meal together, you have the opportunity to affirm the image of God in people and help them know that they are valuable. I’m not saying this can only be done around a meal, but it is a common opportunity for everyone. Through this process you build and strengthen relationships.

It is my hope that the next time you sit down to eat, you aren’t solely doing so to sustain your body so that you can function. I hope you consider the good gift that God has given us and praise and thank Him for it. I hope that you are intentional to affirm the image of God in those that you share meals with and assure them that they are valuable. God through food restores our bodies, relationships, and joy in Him.

Spiritual Warfare and Missionary Praxis

(This is a paper that I wrote for my Missionary Methods and Problems class this past semester. My topic on spiritual warfare as well as conversations with friends caused me to wrestle with how I look at spiritual warfare. I hope this paper will help you to wrestle with the topic yourself. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.)

As Christians we are taught that we are participants in a spiritual battle. It is a cosmic battle that is not fought with physical weapons, and we fight an enemy we cannot see. Ephesians 6:12 tell us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Growing up in the West predisposed me to a perspective that, until recently, I hadn’t thought much about. As I have been learning, disagreements exist between Christians around the world regarding what spiritual warfare is and what fighting the powers of darkness looks like.  Eugene Peterson has said well that, “There is a spiritual war in progress, and an all-out moral battle. There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain. God is in continuous and energetic battle against all of it. God is for life and against death. God is for love and against hate. God is for hope and against despair. God is for heaven and against hell. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square foot of space is contested.”

What I am going to address are the different beliefs regarding how spiritual warfare manifests itself  in the physical world and how Christians, especially missionaries, should engage in spiritual warfare.
I have learned that my North American Reformed Christianity has tended towards a perspective that separates the physical and spiritual realms. Paul Hiebert in his own writings calls this separation the “excluded middle.” He explains how those who fall into this trap do not see any interaction between the physical and spiritual worlds. Things such as logic and science are distinct from the supernatural and miraculous which are  often experienced in other cultures. Nam Shin Park in his article Hermeneutics and Spiritual Warfare summarizes Paul Hiebert’s viewpoint on what contributed to the change in perspective of the Church. He writes, “ …the viewpoint of the Church regarding spiritual warfare was dramatically changed by the influences of the Enlightenment and modern dualism, which brought separation between the supernatural or spiritual world and the natural world… These two realms are quite distinct and are not involved with each other.”

Philip Jenkins discusses how North American Christians often view Eph. 6:12 as “superstition and irrelevant” but he says, “However superstitious and irrelevant it appears to mainstream Northern Christians, the passage makes wonderful sense in most of Africa as it does for believers in Latin America or East Asia.” My own perspective has tended toward viewing spiritual warfare as an internal struggle and fight and has excluded how demonic warfare against God is manifested in the physical world.
Problems arise when missionaries from a Western context with a perspective like mine travel to other cultural contexts and are confronted with the reality of supernatural powers at work through systems, false religions, and demonization. Because of their perspective they have no way of understanding or explaining what is happening. More often than not, these missionaries will explain these instances away as being imagined or happenstance. Michael Pocock summarizes this well, “The orientation of Western missionaries was less supernatural than the worldview of those they were trying to reach… They believed that all difficulties stemming from what they regarded as either wrong belief and practice or possibly demons, would disappear when new converts realized they were fearful of forces that did not exist or played a minor role in life.”

Critiques from the non-western world can help teach and broaden the Western understanding of spiritual warfare. Here I will look at and analyze two contrasting views which critique the Western and majority world perspective on spiritual warfare. This will demonstrate ways other Christians believe spiritual warfare is manifested and engaged. The first perspective that I want to examine is that of Nabeel T. Jabbour, an Egyptian Christian. In his work entitled, An Unseen Reality, Jabbour discusses five instances in which Satan has influence in the world. These include demonization, cultures, laws and basic beliefs, structures of power, and thought life. Before discussing these, Jabbour emphasises the fact that the devil has already been defeated by Christ Jesus and will be completely destroyed at Christ’s second coming. This is important to keep in mind as we look at what I think are three of the most important instances which Jabbour brings out. These are Satan’s work through demonization, cultures, and laws and basic beliefs.

A summary of Jabbour’s thoughts regarding demonization is that he believes in the casting out of demons, but he emphasizes “power with truth encounters” in which the glory of God is demonstrated through the event and the purpose is not the amazement of the people around. An overview of his position regarding Satan’s work in cultures is that, “This is what the Devil is set on doing—slowly polluting every culture until humanity is destroyed without its realization or resistance.” His suggestions for Christians is that we be circumspect and watchful, but not to the point that we become incapacitated by fear and ineffective to reach our culture. Finally, Satan’s third influence in the world is that laws, which should be good boundaries to protect us, can be inadequate as well as formed because of evil intentions.

Jabbour concludes all of this by encouraging Christians to take seriously the schemes and plots of the devil, but as we do, to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, because he has given us the power to overcome the evil one. At the end of the article, he charges Christians to “be careful to put on the whole armor of God and close firmly every door and window against our enemy.” He also encourages Christians saying, “As you read your Bible, underline the passages that help you to gaze at God and only glance at the Devil.”

A second perspective I am going to look at is that of false religions as a form of spiritual warfare that Satan uses to keep humanity captive. One example of this is folk Islam. Rick Love states that, “More than three-fourths of the Muslim world, of approximately 800 million people, are folk Muslims, who are doctrinally Muslim but in practice are animists. Folk Muslims confess Allah, but worship spirits. They are more concerned with magic then they are about Muhammad.” Millions of people are ensnared in fear to pagan ritualist practices. Love observes that, “Because they live in a world of magic and miracles, they are not always awestruck by demonstrations of God’s power. On the other hand, if we demonstrate no power they are even less impressed!” In this instance of Folk Islam, Richard Love suggests that power encounters are necessary in evangelism, not solely truth encounters. Rick Love defines a power encounter as, “the demonstration of God’s power, through God’s servants, over the work of Satan and demons, based on the work of Christ, the Great Commission and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, resulting in the salvation of the lost, the upbuilding of the Body and the glory of God.” Love deliberately mentions that he does not believe that power encounters are the key to winning the Folk Muslims to Christ, but he most certainly believes that these demonstrations of power, especially through healing and exorcism, should be practiced in evangelization. Rick Love concludes his discussion by saying, “Power encounter is not the only key to reaching the hearts of Folk Muslims, but it needs to be an essential factor to effectively evangelize Folk Muslims and plant the Church of Jesus Christ in their midst.”

Both of these positions challenge me to expand my Reformed perspective that miracles are not performed today and that the devil and his demons are inactive in our world today. I do not agree with everything both authors have to offer, but I can glean and grow from their understanding. I agree with much of Jabbour’s perspective because of his emphasis on Christ’s victory over the devil and the ultimate goal of the glory of God. I am reminded of Colossians 2:15, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Although Jesus has conquered Satan, we experience the “now and not yet” of this truth. Satan knows he will ultimately be conquered, but the effects of mankind’s fall have not yet been completely eradicated and will not be until Jesus returns again. Until then, the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” As Christians we are called to wage war against the devil and push back the kingdom of darkness. Paul urges the church at Ephesus to, Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” These positions have helped me see the deficiencies of my own tradition: that God is not able to work powerfully through his people, my tendency toward self-reliance rather than dependence on God to work in and through me, and that Satan is at work both in overt and subtle ways.


I have learned that the despite the Western tendency to think of the spiritual world as superstitious, non-existent, or irrelevant, the Bible says a lot about this realm and how we are to engage in this spiritual battle. It started in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted Eve and after she and Adam fell, God cursed all of them. In Genesis 3:15 God curses the serpent saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and then tried to shift the blame off of themselves. They were not deserving of any favor from God and yet, even in his curse of the serpent, he gave a promise to Adam and Eve. God said there would be antagonism and animosity between the offspring of Even and the serpent, but despite being struck by the serpent, the seed of Eve would ultimately crush and destroy the serpent, the devil. Hebrews 2 deals with Jesus being the founder of salvation by bearing our death for us. Hebrews 2:14 continues by saying, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” This verse shows us how Jesus became a human and experienced the same things we experience. He did all of this so that, in His death, He could destroy and conquer the devil. When Jesus came and died on the cross, it appeared as though Satan has won. But when Jesus was raised from the dead, he conquered sin, death, and the devil. This gives us hope in resisting the devil because we know that he is already defeated and that with Christ we are victorious. Also, because we are in Christ, he has given us the Holy Spirit who enables us  to resist sin and overcome Satan.


One thing we know for sure is that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Paul gives us insight into what our armor and weapons are in Ephesians 6 when he charges us to, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” We engage in spiritual warfare with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. As Paul concludes the book and chapter 6 of Ephesians by exhorting the church the stand firm, but to do so not in their own strength, but the Lord’s. All of these weapons that Paul lists in the passage are God-centered and therefore require constant dependence upon God. The views held by Nabeel T. Jabbour and Rick Love demonstrate this dependence. Christians have applied these truths in different ways throughout church history, but what we all can learn is that the discussion and engagement in spiritual warfare is something that can only be engaged and overcome by the power of God.

The lack of knowledge and understanding Western missionaries have of the spiritual battles they are stepping into must be addressed. If it is not, they will not be able to adequately provide the answers the gospel gives to the questions of evil, pain, and suffering local people are asking. There are a variety of approaches that missionaries can and will use upon encountering these problems. The first is that they will write these encounters off as non-existent spirits and therefore not declare Jesus Christ as the one who is victorious and more powerful than the forces of darkness. As a result people will return to their former way of life to solve their problems. Another possible response is “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare” which Scott Moreau defines as, “praying against territorial spirits, seeking to ‘map’ their strategies over given locations by discerning their names and what they use to keep people in bondage, and then binding them so that evangelism may go unhindered.” This response does not have much biblical support. It focuses on actively finding, mapping, and naming demons and engaging them through prayer and power encounter when there are no biblical examples of these activities for Christians to follow. Rather we are called to “stand firm” under the attacks of the evil one not seek out and engage. To do so is presumptuous of the power that demons possess. Craig Keener offers another response for a way to engage saying, “If by spiritual warfare we mean particular prayer practices such as “casting down” heavenly powers, we have little biblical warrant. If, however, we mean by spiritual warfare what the image means in the New Testament, missions and the Christian life are spiritual warfare. This spiritual battle includes but is not limited to prayer.” Keener is saying that power encounters are not the only form of spiritual warfare. Rather, he is saying spiritual warfare takes place in the everyday life of the believer as well as the extraordinary.

As much as Christians would like there to be a one-size-fits-all answer regarding what to believe about spiritual warfare, there is none. Despite this, we can see that spiritual warfare is real, and it’s important to consider all that the Bible says on the subject and to be prepared for the battle. Missionaries need to be aware of the culture they are entering and what that culture believes in regards to the spiritual realm. They should prayerfully evaluate their own positions regarding the topic and be teachable. The scripture plays a huge role as missionaries approach this topic of spiritual warfare. The Bible teaches us who God is and how we are to to live, as well as how how to engage the world in a gospel-driven way. This issue is one in which it’s easy to gain a lot of head knowledge, but that is more difficult to internalize. It requires the grace of God to teach and grow us as does all of our Christian life. May we be ever teachable in this area and in every area. 

Resources:

  1. Hiebert, Paul. Spiritual Warfare and Worldview. Web. Nov 13, 2015.
  2. Hiebert, Paul G. “The Flaw Of the Excluded Middle.” Missiology 10.1 (1982): 43.ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 4. 2015.
  3. Shin Park. 2011. “Hermeneutics and Spiritual Warfare” Didaskalia (Otlerburne, Man.(2011): 85-103. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials. Web. 4 Nov 2015.
  4. Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. 2002.New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Pocock, Michael. The Changing Face of World Missions Chapter 7. (197) (Grand Rapids:Baker Academic, 2005)
  6. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (20-59) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  7. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (33) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  8. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (40-41) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  9. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (67) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  10. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (193) (1996).
  11. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (194) (1996).
  12. Love, Rick. Muslims, Magic and the Kingdom of God: Church Planting Among Folk Muslims. (113). (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2000) Web. Dec. 03, 2015.
  13. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (195) (1996).
  14. 1 Peter 5:8, ESV
  15. Ephesians 6:11, ESV
  16. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, ESV
  17. Lawless, Chuck. Spiritual Warfare and Missions. (37) Web. Nov. 13, 2015.
  18. Keener, Craig. Paul’s Missionary Method. (107) Web. Dec. 06, 2015. Site: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2013/02/Keener-chapter-from-Pauls-Missionary-Methods-2.pdf

 

An Eternal Dichotomy

2 Corinthians 4:18

2 Corinthians 4:18

The dichotomy between a life lived for the glory of God and a life lived with no thought or concern for God could not have been any more clearly illustrated than it was to me this week. In the past month I have attended the funerals of two men. One, whose purpose and goal in life was to become more like Christ and glorify God through his life. The other lived his life to gratify the deeds of the flesh with no concern whatsoever for the things of God. This is an eternal dichotomy between a person whose trust was in Christ and a person whose trust was not in Christ.

The first man I mentioned was a member of our church; his name was Mr. Roney. Christ was the center of his life. By God’s grace alone, because it cannot be mustered up by man, Mr. Roney lived his life in light of eternity. Mr. Roney had Christ, not in some abstract way, but in the reality of a relationship with him. Now his trust, which was once by faith is now by sight. Even in the sorrow of his death, I know that he is with the Lord and have the hope that he will one day rise again from the dead, and have a body like Christ’s. (Phil. 3:20-21)

The second man of whom I spoke was my Grandfather. My grandfather’s life was characterized by a willful rebellion against God and by the gratification of the deeds of the flesh. He did not live with eternity in mind but rather his own pleasure. As far as we know, my grandfather passed away without Christ. To know Christ as your savior and have a relationship with him is the most important thing we can be concerned with because whether or not we do has eternal implications.

There are only two options for people: you are either in Christ or you are not. You either spend eternity with Christ in glory, or you endure the wrath of God forever and ever. The lives these men lived are in stark contrast, and their deaths show us the consequences of their spiritual states. I would encourage you if you are reading this and you don’t know Christ, seek after him! Pray that he would save you from your sins. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” If you are reading this and you are a Christian, I would encourage you to give your everything for Christ. Don’t live your life serving Christ half-heartedly. He has called us to give up everything and follow him.

Related Books
A Taste of Heaven   The Forever People   Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell   The Secret Key to Heaven

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

20 Week Fetus

The topic of abortion is a big deal in our country today. On the one hand there are the pro-choice supporters who say a woman has the right to choose whether she has an abortion, and on the other hand there are the pro-life supporters who say that abortion takes the life of an innocent, defenseless human being . Which position is right? In this post I want to explain why I believe the pro-life position is right.

One of the biggest objections to the pro-life position says that a woman has a right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion, and pro-lifers should not try to take that right away from her. At this you might ask, “Well, where does the right to have an abortion come from?” To which they would reply, “The government.” “If abortion used to be illegal and the government gave you the right to have an abortion then the government has the right to take that right away.” “Well, we have an intrinsic right to an have an abortion!” What people who argue this way do not realize is that they are denying the humanity of the unborn in the womb. If the unborn is NOT human then of course we can abort it, but IF the unborn is a human being it has a right to life because all human beings are valuable and are made in the image of God. The right to ‘chose’ does not justify the killing of millions of innocent human beings.

Some might object and say that the fetus in the womb can’t be human. I’m pretty sure you all would say that a newborn is a human being. There are four differences between fetuses and newborns that people use to argue for abortion. They are: Size, Level or Development, Environment, and Degree of Dependency. The acronym to remember this is S.L.E.D. Let’s look at each one of them.

Size: Would you agree that the fetus is smaller then the newborn? Yes, it is! Many people would ask how something that is the size of a dot be a human being. I would say so you believe large people are more human than smaller people. Men are typically larger than women are, so do they have more rights than women do? No. Therefore size is not a factor in saying that the unborn is not human.

Level of Development: A question to keep in mind with this is, “Does self-awareness and intelligence define us as human beings?” Pro-Choice supporters would argue saying, “How can you call something human that is not self-aware and does not have a functioning brain human?” If self-awareness and intelligence define who we are as human beings that means those who are more intelligent  have greater rights over those who are less intelligent. When we are born we have very little intelligence and self-awareness; as we grow we gain more, and as we age we begin to lose our intelligence and self-awareness. Do we therefore become more and less human throughout our lifetime. This is not true and therefore the level of development is not a factor in the humanity of the fetus.

 Environment: Another common objection to the pro-life view is that the fetus is not human until it is born. Does “who” you are have anything to do with “where” you are? If I were to place you on the moon would you be any less human there than you are here on earth? You get out of bed in the morning and go to work: are you any less human because you changed your location? No! How does it follow, then, that the travel of the unborn fetus down the birth canal transforms a non-human clump of cells into a living human being who has the right to life.

Degree of Dependency: Yet another argument used to support abortion is that until the fetus is viable it is not human. If our ability to live independent of anyone or anything is what makes us human, there is a big problem. What about the people in the world who are dependent on things like insulin or pacemakers? According to this logic we may kill anyone who is dependent on insulin, a pacemaker, or anything else because they are not completely independent and therefore are less human than everybody else.

There are only these four differences between the unborn and those who are born and none of these different justify the killing of the unborn child.

Scott Klusendorf Arguing Against Abortion Using the S.L.E.D Acronym 

Related Books

Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue

Healing after Abortion: God’s Mercy Is for You

Abortion: Open Your Mouth for the Dumb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please keep a look out for part two of this important series on abortion!

The Power of Communication – A Call for Bold Christians

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Speak Out!

Hey everyone! Well, as expected after returning home from Summit there are so many topics that I could and want to write about. Things that I learned at Summit or things I have become aware of since coming home. I hope to write them all eventually but will deal with just one today! In this post, I want to talk about the power of communication.

Have you ever wondered why it is that those who are the minorities in the United States such as atheists or supporters of homosexuality are able to get their agendas passed and completed? Have you ever wondered why the Christian values that you believe in that used to be promoted in our culture are disappearing and are often looked down on? I believe the reason for this is that Christians are not standing up and speaking out for what they believe in and are not proclaiming the truth of the scripture. While at the same time these other groups who represent a small portion of Americans loudly proclaim what they stand for -whether it be for pro-choice, for the legalization of marriage of a couple of the same sex or whatever it be- and cause change toward their goals because they are the only ones heard and they are heard loud and clear. What we need to do as Christians is to be bold and have courage to stand up for what we believe in. Our boldness as Christians to proclaim what is right and true does not come from the facts that we have a right to say what we think in this country or we are passionate about what we are sharing. Our boldness comes from the fact that when we speak up with the truth claims of God we know we have a God who is sovereign and who uses His truth to change the hearts on men. Those who would make claims apart from what God has said in His word do not have the power of God behind them.

Some might say, “It won’t matter if I speak out anyway. It won’t make any difference!” If standing up for and speaking out for what you believe in does not have any affect then why is it that speech has ever been restricted in any nation? Why was free speech censored under the Nazi Germany? I saw one website that answered the question like this, “The aim of censorship under the Nazi regime was simple: to reinforce Nazi power and to suppress opposing  viewpoints and information.” If the people have no power to speak out against something they have no power to prevent or change it.  If we do not speak out against evil when we are permitted to we are not better than those who did not speak because they were forbidden to.

I want to encourage you, that as we where we have the right to free speech to exercise that right. I am getting tired of hearing Christians today bemoaning the state of our country but do nothing to change it! They sit at home and watch the news and just hope Jesus comes back soon. Stand up against the evils in our nation and tell people the truth of the gospel. Our desire in confronting evil is not for political or that through speaking the gospel people would come to know Jesus Christ as their savior for “the gospel is the power of God unto Salvation.” (Romans 1:16) As we proclaim the truth of God’s Word we do so in love desiring to see souls saved. Christian, realize that being a child of God He will strengthen you and be with you. Speak boldly, speak the truth, and speak it in love.

A few related verses are:

  • “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,” -Psalm 46:1-2
  • “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” -Psalm 27:1
  • “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” -Isaiah 41:10-13
  • “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” -Ephesians 6:10

Thoughts on Prayer

Do you pray?

I don’t mean, do you say your prayers; I mean, do you pray? The two are very different. And I don’t mean, do you pray before you go to sleep at night, or when you wake up in the morning; I mean, do you pray at all times?

I get the feeling that God is trying to teach me something about prayer. My pastor spoke a lot about prayer this Sunday. Much of my Bible reading has been on prayer lately. My C.H. Spurgeon reading has had a lot to do with prayer. I’ve listened to a dozen sermons on prayer in the last couple of weeks. Clearly, God is teaching me about prayer. While I don’t pretend to know nearly everything about it, or claim to be a prayer warrior, I would nevertheless like to share with you a handful of the life-lessons that I am learning. I hope they will bless you as they have blessed me.

First, I would like to notice The Time Set-Apart and Devoted to Prayer in a given day. I am a firm believer in having prayer times in the early morning. I hate missing that time of communion with God. It sets my day off on the wrong tracks. When I begin my day in the shadow of His throne, I find that I have a greater tendency to linger there throughout the remainder of the day. I would like to share with you some quotes on this matter by several of my favorite puritans and other Reformed men;

“If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” ~Martin Luther

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” ~E.M. Bounds [Read more…]

The 1 Timothy 4 Teenager

1 Timothy 4:12Hey everyone. I wanted to write about something I have been thinking about recently. Young adults (teens) I am talking to you. Even as Christian teens we are looked down upon and expected to be disrespectful, rebellious, lazy and irresponsible. It has become the cultural norm to expect little or nothing from someone between the ages of 13 and 19 just because they fall in that category. This is NOT what we are called to as Christian teens. Our teen years are years when we learn, grow and prepare for the years ahead of us. The verse I am sure all of us have heard or memorized, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

Matthew Henry explains this verse in his commentary on 1 Timothy saying, “To conduct himself with that gravity and prudence which might gain him respect, not withstanding his youth: “Let no man despise thy youth; that is, give no man an occasion to despise thy youth.’’ Men’s youth will not be despised if they do not by youthful vanities and follies make themselves despicable; and this men may do who are old, who may therefore thank themselves if they be despised.

To confirm his doctrine by a good example: Be thou an example of the believers, etc. Observe, Those who teach by their doctrine must teach by their live, else they pull down with one hand what they build up with the other: they must be examples both in word and conversation. Their discourse must be edifying, and this will be a good example: their conversation must be strict, and this will be a good example: they must be examples in charity, or love to God and all good men, examples in spirit, that is, in spiritual-mindedness,in spiritual worship,—in faith, that is, in the profession of Christian faith,—and in purity or chastity.”

It is hard as teens in this world to live like this when so little is expected of us. We need to step up and be what Christ has called us to be: examples of love, spiritual mindedness, purity, and edifying in our discourse. We can not do it of our own will or might but only through God working in us to make us more like His son. I hope this is an encouragement to you!

Related Books

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris

Renew Me, O Lord by Haley Dempsey

I thought I would post a new poem I finished today. It is based from a verse in Romans 12; “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” -Romans 12:2a. I hope this is an encouragement to you!

Renew Me, O Lord by Haley Dempsey
O Lord, my God, hear my plea;
Renew my hear, for Thee to beat.
Make me more like Christ to be,
For Thou are strong while I am weak.

Help me to Thy word transform,
My hear to yearn for Thee alone.
I will not to this world conform,
But through my life let Christ be shown.