October 17, 2017

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

 

The Youth Sub-Culture By Haley Dempsey

(Below is a paper I wrote for a competitive scholarship called the Wilberforce Scholarship at Covenant College. I had to write a paper and identify something that I saw as wrong in our culture and explain how I would address that problem through my desired career.)

When her father departed for the West Indies, Eliza Lucas was left alone with the daunting task of managing her father’s multiple plantations while also caring for her three younger siblings. Eliza met the task with great determination and eventually became one of early America’s greatest business leaders. Through her innovation she developed strains of indigo that could be exported to England and helped to increase trade in the American colonies. Her achievements with developing the indigo plant, from an unsuccessful crop in the South to the second largest export out of the colonies, earned her the place as the first woman inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame. Because of the contributions she made to the American colonies, both economically and during the American Revolution, none other than President George Washington requested to be a pallbearer at her funeral. What is even more amazing is that Eliza Lucas began this remarkable journey at the age of sixteen!

For the first time in history, those who fall between the ages of thirteen and eighteen – rather than experiencing a rite of passage into adulthood – are caught in the cultural norm where little to nothing is expected of them. These years are often wasted by teenagers and seem to be a vacation from responsibility, characterized by a youth subculture that caters to the whims of teens with their own dress, language, music, vocabulary and identity – completely separate from their parents and adult responsibilities.  This mindset has hurt our nation by extending childhood into the adult years and producing a generation of children in adult bodies.  Unlike Eliza, today’s teens are ill-equipped to face the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood.

What happened in our culture to create such a low standard of expectations for teenagers? In the 1900’s laws were passed that protected children from dangerous work conditions and required them to get an education. While these laws were necessary and the writers had good intentions, they produced unforeseen consequences for the future; they created a new category of people known as teenage adolescents who are stuck in a stage between childhood and adulthood. This group eventually became characterized, for the most part, as rebellious, irresponsible, and juvenile. In the past – in every culture around the world – parents raised their children to become adults who were prepared for life and ready to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Today, however, many children are encouraged to continue in their childhood for as long as possible and do their best to avoid assuming the responsibilities of an adult.

To reform the thinking of parents and teenagers is a formidable task: it stands in direct opposition to the media, entertainment, educational and societal influences that constantly reinforce the unbiblical idea of the youth subculture. God’s calling on my life, to teach middle school English and history, will enable me to have an impact on the way our society thinks of teenagers – and more importantly the way they view themselves.

The first and most important way to see teenagers become mature young adults is by encouraging parents to lead faithfully in their homes. Parents define standards, enforce rules, set expectations, and can restrict the negative influence of the youth subculture at home. As a teacher I can work with parents to view and treat their children as young adults and bring that same mindset into the classroom. I can also provide newsletters to parents with ideas on adult responsibilities to give to students and organize workshops designed to help parents equip their teens for adulthood.

The most significant way I can influence teenagers to become young adults is in the classroom. Many teenagers – even Christian teens – have never been challenged to consider God’s calling to put away childish things and seriously pursue excellence in everything they do. This was the admonition of Paul to young Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:12 when he wrote, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” This can be applied practically in everything from writing papers, giving speeches or how students converse with each other. Requiring a standard of excellence in the classroom will stretch students beyond their comfort zones – but not beyond their capabilities – and show them that they can achieve more than they would have expected.

Another way to influence my students as a teacher would be by organizing mentoring relationships through the school. These relationships would pair older, responsible young adults with younger teenagers. This would give younger students role models to follow, provide accountability, and give opportunities to be influenced by exceptional young people rather than simply going along with the crowd. This mentoring program would also reinforce the importance of choosing wise friends and counsel as the Bible says in Prov. 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

One of the final ways I could have an influence on teenagers through my career would be to require involvement in extracurricular activities that shift the focus of teens from themselves and onto other people and stretch them beyond their comfort zones and perceived capabilities. Examples include volunteering on a political campaign, working on community projects, providing meals for the homeless, spearheading a fundraising campaign for a worthy cause, taking on a home project, running errands for elderly neighbors, or adopting an underprivileged family for the holidays. As teens are involved in activities that help others, they will see beyond themselves and learn that the world does not revolve around them. This is critical in order to overcome the natural self-centeredness of today’s teen. These activities can be coordinated through multiple sources such as parents, schools, churches and community organizations.

The ideas that I talk about are not simply theoretical, but they have been practically worked out in my own life. From the time I was old enough to sit on a pew by myself, my dad took my brothers and me to a local homeless mission where he preached several times per month. We did this every month for almost eleven years. When we would go, we would arrive an hour early to talk to the men and stay an hour or more after the service to eat a meal with them and really get to know them. We went even though there were never other children there. Although I did not realize it at the time, God was preparing my heart to have a desire to help other people and to become more focused on others rather than myself. In more recent years our church has had a ministry at a retirement home where every Lord’s Day evening one of our pastors goes to preach to the elderly. God has given me a great love for this ministry to the elderly folks who I am able to talk to and get to know. The Lord has used these experiences to help shape my thinking and fuel my passion to see teenagers rise up to be godly young adults.

And along with this desire, he has given me several opportunities to be an influence in the lives of many teenagers right now. One of the ways he has done this is through my Facebook page called “I’m A Teenager Living for Jesus.” Through this page I reach over 1,200 fans on a daily basis – and call teenagers to higher aspirations than what the world today expects or thinks they can achieve. Another way God has opened a door for me to have an influence in the lives of teens has been through starting an accountability group with some friends from church. Once a week we email each other what we have been reading in the Bible as well as prayer requests. It has been an encouragement to connect more deeply with girls who have a desire to pursue God and live for Him when so many in the world desire to only live for themselves. And through our example other friends have started similar groups in their own churches. I pray that as I continue to grow, the Lord will open more opportunities for me to encourage others to live their lives as young adults right where God has placed them.

God is calling young people to a higher standard than what the world has set for teenagers. He is calling them to stand against the culture, to be young adults like Eliza, and to demonstrate character, integrity, and a wholehearted desire to pursue the things of God right now.  Through teaching I want to help change the thinking of not only teenagers, but the thinking of parents, schools, churches, and local communities to see that the group between the ages of thirteen and eighteen should be viewed and treated as young adults. If even one community changed its thinking on this issue, it would have radical results.

How I Became a Christian

God blessed me to be born into a Christian home with parents whose desire was to see their children walking with Christ. I have grown up both home-schooled and in Christian school, learning Bible verses, and going to church whenever the doors were open. I had always heard about Jesus but never really considered my own standing before God because I was a good kid by outward standards.

When I was about eight years old, God began to do a work in my heart to draw me to himself. I do not remember everything, but I remember having a lot of questions about God, Heaven, Hell, sin, and salvation. Nearly every evening for weeks, when my dad got home from work, we would sit and talk about the things of God, and he would answer my questions. I do not know the exact day and month when God saved me, but I do know that at some point I began trusting in Christ and not in the fact that I was better than others, or went to church, or had Christian parents. I had a desire for the things of God that I never had before. I wanted to read my Bible, pray, fellowship with God’s people, and worship God and I pray God would give me grace to continue to grow in intimate knowledge of him.

I believe God is calling me to serve him in missions. I want to be able to teach – on the mission field. I don’t know what this looks like or where the Lord will lead, but my desire is to prepare myself – the best I can – for whatever the Lord has planned for my life

[Read more…]

No Matter Who is President, Jesus is King

I just heard the announcement this evening that President Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. When I first heard the news, like many others I was disappointed – an understatement, I know. Then my thoughts were turned back to God and how He works everything according to His will, the good of His people, and how He is in absolute control of what is going on. I am afraid that many Christians will be of the mindset that because our chosen presidential candidate did not win, all hope is lost. But what is that really saying? It is saying that a man, who happens to have won a presidential race, is bigger and more powerful than God, and therefore we will place our hope in an office and not in God.

Does anyone see what is wrong here? Our hope should be in nothing but in God alone! Apart from God we have no hope of anything! We cannot expect change to come to this nation through the election of a man, no matter which candidate. The only way our nation can truly change is through Christ. Only Christ can change men’s hearts and lives.

A post I saw on Facebook sums up what I am saying quite well:

“While I obviously don’t agree with the presidential outcome, Christians need to remember this: voting a moral man in as President will do nothing for this country. Only Christ can change the hearts of wicked men; and don’t be mistaken our country is defiantly wicked. How much more should we evangelize the lost around us. Is Christ not more capable of changing this country than a man behind a desk? I know I’m guilty of this, but how many people could we have reached with the gospel if we shared it as much as our political posts…the only “hope for change” this country has is Christ and Christ alone.”

In the following days remember that Christ is our only hope, and God holds the hearts of kings in his hands and turns them as He wills. (Prov. 21:1) Also consider Psalm 118:8-9, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” I hope this is an encouragement to you.

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!

“All Things Work Together for Good…”

Romans 8:28

Christian, does it ever seem that things going on in your life aren’t going on for your good? The Bible says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” But how can that be? How can things like the death of a close family member, losing one’s job, or developing a serious illness be for the good of the Christian? Many Christians today have the wrong definition of good. When Paul in Romans 8 talked about “good,” he was not talking about our comfort, health, or wealth. For the believer good means to be made like Christ and in the process accomplish the plans God has for us as well as for others. So when the Christian loses a close family member God often uses that situation to teach the believer certain truths, to refine him, or to draw him closer to Himself. The apostle Paul was no stranger to hardship and endured stoning, imprisonment, and rejection which would not seem to be for his good, but they were. Paul was imprisoned in Philipi and that is where the Philippian jailer was converted. In prison Paul was also able to write to the churches that he was not able to visit as well as spend more time in prayer for them. God used Paul while he was in prison and Paul knew God had a purpose for him there. From prison Paul was instrumental in the Gospel going throughout the world. So when you are in a trial wondering how it could possibly be for your good, remember God uses it to accomplish his will and to make you more like Christ.

The Missionary Call Book Review

The Missionary Call by M. David Sills

M. David Sills in his book The Missionary Call does an excellent job of helping Christians to, as he says, “discern their place in God’s plan for the world.” Dr. Sills’s book brings insight to many of the questions and struggles Christians today have about world missions. The things that made this book so enjoyable to read were its readability, its logical flow and its practicality.The author’s mission in writing The Missionary Call is to help the reader better understand the place God has called him to in regards to missions.

The first thing that stands out about Dr. Sills’s book is its readability. While he has his Ph.D and is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Sills’s book is not highly technical or academic. Joe Martin said of The Missionary Call, “Can a book be brief and thorough? Clear and Scholarly? Simple and profound? Practical and heartwarming? This one is. It will be a great help to many.” When Dr. Sills deals with topics such as understanding God’s will or defining the missionary call, he does so without adding unnecessary commentary or information that would otherwise clutter his thoughts. This is an important aspect that I appreciated about The Missionary Call.

The second thing that I noticed about The Missionary Call was the flow of the book. Dr. Sills has done a terrific job of ordering the book in a logical fashion. He separates the book into three sections: (1) What is the Missionary Call, (2) Understanding Your Missionary Call and (3) Fulfilling the Missionary Call. In the first section Dr. Sills deals with defining the missionary call and how to know God’s will. The second section builds on the first by helping a person understand his specific missionary call. Finally, in the third section he deals with the mission field, hindrances and challenges of the field and answering the missionary call. Dr. Sills wrote the book in such a way that each section builds on the section before it giving it a clear, logical flow.

The final thing that stood out to me in the book was its practicality. Dr. Sills’s book provides the reader practical help and information in regards to missions. This includes things such as: how to prepare for missions, hindrances to getting to the field, challenges on the mission field and many others examples.  And he does not make these topics difficult but highly accessible for the readers of all ages. The Missionary Call will help readers discern God’s will for their lives regarding serving the Lord in full time missions.

The Missionary Call is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic of world missions. I would recommend Dr. Sills book to anyone who has a heart for missions, desires to be a missionary or just wants to learn more about “God’s plan for the world.” Dr. Sills’s book is a great help in understanding what part you play and where God has called you in His plan for this world.

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Book Description:
Christians of all ages recognize the heartbeat of God to take the Gospel to the nations and wrestle with the implications of the Great Commission in their own lives. The Missionary Call explores the biblical, historical, and practical aspects of discerning and fulfilling God’s call to serve as a missionary. Pointing the reader to Scripture, lessons from missionary heroes, and his own practical and academic experience, Dr. Sills guides the reader to discern the personal applications of the missionary call.

About the Author:
 M. David Sills (D.Miss. and Ph.D., Reformed Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He joined Southern Seminary after serving as a missionary in Ecuador. While with the International Mission Board, he served as church planter and general evangelist among the Highland Quichua people in the Andes and as a seminary professor at the Ecuadorian Baptist Theological Seminary. David and his wife, Mary, have two grown children.

Faith in Testing, Provision in Lack

Maranatha Logo

The following is a paper I wrote for school. It is a true story and I hope it is an encouragement to your faith!

I  could not believe that someone would steal the much needed funds from our Christian school! In May of 2009 when I was in eighth grade my school, Maranatha Christian Academy, was broken into and the safe containing twelve thousand dollars was 4 stolen; that money was supposed to go to pay the teachers’ end of the year salaries. Through the godly example of Pastor Bell, my principle, and witnessing first hand the provision of God I learned two very important things. First, how I should be thankful and trust God in every situation and secondly that God can and does provide for the needs of His people.

 As mom pulled into the school to drop my brothers and I off at on that early Monday morning I noticed a couple of police cars in the parking lot. That was unusual and wondered what the police would be doing there. As I walked to the lunch room I saw police tape roping off the computer lab down the hall. I joined my friends and our discussion revolved around what had possibly occurred.

Then, suddenly, the bell rang dismissing my classmates and I to our homeroom class. I took my seat in one of the front row desks and wondered what my teacher, Mrs. Tipton, was going to tell us about what had happened at the school. Mrs. Tipton crossed the classroom to the yellow wooden podium in front of the class; in a clear, serious voice she informed us that someone had broken into the school over the weekend and stole nearly twelve thousand dollars out of the school office. Later, I learned that the person had come in through an unlocked window in the computer lab, had broken in one of the office doors and stole the safe from the office. As we were dismissed to our next class we all could not believe that such a thing had happened to our school.

When I heard that Pastor Bell’s first response to the theft had been to pray a prayer of thanksgiving and to give the whole situation over to God I was surprised, but encouraged to see his faith and trust in God. Furthermore, I was encouraged when Pastor Bell in an interview with a local newspaper said “This instance is not just about a safe … God will use that person for his glory. This is the Lord’s doings. It’s marvelous in our eyes. We’re going to thank him. It’s his safe. It’s his money. It’s his school that sits up on this little hill and we’re going to trust him.” Even in such a desperate time for the school, teachers, and students Pastor Bell remarked to my Bible class that week that he was not angry with the person who had done this but rather was praying for whoever it was that God would change their heart. As I would go throughout my school day, Pastor Bell would be totally at peace, his faith placed firmly in Christ and seeing that helped to strengthen, grow and encourage my own faith.

Before long word got out about the burglary and newspapers and news channels were at the school interviewing teachers, administrators, students and parents about what happened. As the story made its way online and onto multiple television news stations calls began  flooding in with people wanting to know how they could help. The community was coming together to help our little school in need.

Amazingly, less than a week after the twelve thousand dollars was stolen God provided and began to restore back to the school almost two times what had been lost! As I waited in the office the Tuesday after the theft waiting to go somewhere after school I saw and heard God working marvelously to provide for the school. As I sat in one of three green vinyl chairs available in the front office I heard the secretary on the phone with someone wanting to donate to the school. Also, a person came into the office with a donation to help, but it did not stop there!

During most of the school day Pastor Bell had not been at the school. He had gone to Atlanta to meet with a businessman who had called him wanting to meet. He arrived back a little after school let out at three fifteen. He was on the telephone for a while but when he hung up I walked to his office door and saw tears flowing down his face. For a second I was concerned about whether everything was okay. Pastor Bell relieved my concerns saying that everything was okay and that he had just been overwhelmed by God’s goodness and provision. He told me how amazing God was and how He had worked. He told me about donations coming in and the businessman he had met with who gave him a ten thousand dollar donation for the school. Seeing and hearing first hand of God’s provision and Him restoring back two times what had been stolen had a tremendous impact on me and made me start crying there in his office. All I could respond with in absolute amazement was, “God is so good.” and “Praise God!” God was doing something amazing that no one could have imagined!

As Pastor Bell reflected later, he said, “I think as things developed throughout the day, what blew my mind was just how much people were saying, ‘OK, how can we help?’ “They said, ‘In this day of bailouts and people not recognizing their responsibility, you committed to help these families and stick to it and we want to help you.’” The community came together and gave over two times what had been stolen from the school. God provided and showed us how powerful he is and that he takes care of his people.

Because God allowed me to witness thankfulness in trial and His provision in He showed me how I should be thankful and trust Him in every situations and to know that He can and does provide for His people, often in ways not expected. When trials and hardships come my way I know that I am to be thankful because God is working in the situation to accomplish His goals. In future trials I can have confidence that God will take care of me because His word tells me so, but also because I have witnessed His provision and care for those who have put their trust in Him.

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!

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A Character Analysis From the Scarlet Letter

The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a well respected man, but in spite of his apparent godliness and purity he refuses to reveal himself as Hester Prynne’s lover for fear of public reproach. In “The Scarlet Letter” Nathaniel Hawethorne does a wonderful job of bringing Arthur Dimmesdale to life through dramatic scenes and his captivating personality. While the Reverand appears to be a pious man, he hides his sin trying to make it right himself. If he reveals his sin and repents, he will find peace that he cannot have any other way. Reverend Dimmesdale is an example of the effect of sin upon a person’s life, how any person can be hypocritical, and that no matter how hard a person may try to hide his sin, your sins will always find you out.

Reverend Dimmesdale is an man with a very sensitive conscience in regards to sin, but chooses to conceal his sin of adultery from the public. As a result of remaining silent, the minister’s health declines drastically over a period of seven years and he is seen with his hand constantly over his heart. The narrator of the story remarks, “Poor, miserable man! What right had infirmity like his to burden itself with crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have their choices either to endure it, or if it press too hard, to exert their fierce and savage strength for a good purpose, and fling it off at once!” (pg. 169) The Reverend is too feeble and weak to carry the guilty weight of his secret sin; it is a greater burden than if the whole world were placed upon his shoulders. Dimmesdale’s refusal to confess ultimately brings him to his death, where in his last moments he confesses his sin and reveals the letter “A” that is on the skin where he holds his hand over his heart.

In addition to the effect of sin on Dimmesdale’s life, he is seen to be extremely hypocritical . Even in Hester’s public sentencing, Dimmesdale pleads with her saying, “Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him-yea-compel his as it were to add hypocrisy to sin.” (pg. 74) The Reverend pleads with her to reveal her lover to the crowd, but instead of stepping forward himself and speaking up, he leaves it up to Hester. Dimmesdale refuses the idea of public shame and therefore does not reveal himself as Hester’s lover. Dimmesdale’s hypocrisy is revealed again by Hester’s daughter Pearl when speaking to her mother in the following, “‘What a strange, sad man is he!’ said the child, as if speaking partly to herself. ‘In the dark night-time, he calls up to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood with him on the scaffold yonder! And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strips of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss! And he kissed my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off! But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! A strange sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart.’” (pg. 267) The Reverend’s life is seen as being one of hypocrisy; he is the godly, esteemed minister in public, while in reality he is a guilty adulterer hidden beneath his public position in society. [Read more…]