On the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I’m wondering where Norma McCorvey is today. Who is Norma McCorvey? Well I’m glad you asked. Norma is the woman who took the legal pseudonym of Jane Roe in the landmark case which made abortion legal for any reason in the United States back in 1973. I wonder where Norma is and what she is doing today because she is not the same woman that she was then. In fact, Norma holds a very different position today. In 1995 the world changed for Norma when some simple Christ followers and a leader from Operation Rescue did something radical; they loved her. It took some time, but eventually Norma fell under the weight of God’s love and surrendered her life to Christ and now experiences freedom and purpose. While I don’t know exactly where Norma is today, I know what her agenda is. Norma is given to spreading the truth about what a choice for abortion really means and the healing that can be found in Christ. Check out the quick clip on Norma’s story below and then a few ways that we can expand the love of Christ in relation to this modern abortion challenge. How will you bring “life” and love into your world today on this issue?
Well we’ve come to the conclusion of another year. I’ve thought about a number of ways to close things up for 2012. I’ve pondered a few ways to kick off 2013, but nothing really resonated. Then I came across this video link below. It has some huge application for my leadership friends and followers of Christ in general. There is also implication to the American society as a whole. The take away challenge I’d give from this clip toward the New Year is to intentionally invest in the lives of others. The particular challenge would be for older godly men to purposefully take 2013 as a year to build into the lives of two or three younger men with the hope that they would do the same in years to come. This is so fitting for the Church and the culture at large today. The answers that our world is looking for are not found in government, but in Christ and the Kingdom mentality He called us to. The answer is to actually do what Jesus said . . . “go and make disciples.”
It’s Monday morning after the evil tragedy in Newtown, CT and I’m still somewhat at a loss for words. It’s funny as I work with words on a regular basis. But sometimes they just don’t come. I’ve not been glued to the news and I’ve actually just shut it off a few times. You see, I know what they’re going to say. No, not the specific details that are coming out, I don’t know those, but I know the bottom line. The story will be the same and I just want to cry when I hear the fine points of little children being cut down in a safe school classroom in a quiet community. The story will be the same that has been played out in all kinds of places in all kinds of scenarios since the day Cain struck and killed his bother Abel. I just saw from a friend’s email that the story was played out again last night in another shooting. The story of evil in the world will be the same. While the magnitude will rise and fall; the story of evil will always be the same.
I’ve been reminded by some friends that I’m falling behind in my Kingdomology posts and they’re right. Why the delay? Well it’s partially because I’ve had a ton of irons in the fire. But I have to admit that it’s also because I’ve just been meditating a lot on the present spiritual environment of the American culture since the presidential election last month. The root of my observation is not centered on the victory of Obama over Romney, but rather something deeper. The simple truth is that the American culture we know today is light years away from what the writers of the Mayflower Compact envisioned for this new land. Obviously America still enjoys more religious freedom than most countries on the globe especially when you think of places like China or the Middle East. But the American culture at large appears to be mirroring the Roman Empire of the first century much more than the philosophy of the Pilgrims.
Now I’m not saying that the Pilgrims were perfect nor am I suggesting that we should go back to their religious dress code or imitate their legalism. Indeed they got off track in many areas like we all do. But there was something different in their core nature that is missing today in so many camps.
Today the United States will change. After Americans go to the polls and ultimately the Electoral College vote is cast, one direction or the other will be set in motion. Either the governmental philosophy of President Obama will be fully confirmed or the direction of Governor Romney will set another course. Either way, we are looking at monumental change. I have friends who are cheering for each side of this debate. I have friends from all across the political spectrum who will either be throwing a party tonight or settling in for a somber night’s sleep. Indeed this is a serious election. But after you go to the polls, here are two main principles followers of Jesus Christ need to keep in mind at the end of the day.
I’ll be honest. This election season has been a hard one for me. It was just over four years ago while planting a church in Northern California that I made the firm decision to never run for political office. While that commitment has been relatively easy to keep, the question of debate has been quite another story. The last 2012 Presidential debate has come and gone. But many of us are still debating with our friends, enemies, and even sometimes with our own souls. Debate is a great principle in our culture. However, it seems to be a whole lot easier to simply debate than actually do something. It’s easier to debate about what the government should do than actually getting out and doing something ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not turning Amish here and as noted in a post from a while back, I do believe that sometimes folks are called into public policy molding just like someone might be called into law enforcement. The great William Wilberforce from the UK is a prime example. But as a Christ follower we are all to be Salt and Light in our world even if we are not in public service or making public policy. We are called to be his hands and feet from wherever we stand on the political debates. So while this debate could take off in innumerable directions, let me simply ask what it is that we are all going to do ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do for us. Consider these to begin with:
Although I often talk about Deb and the kids on Face Book, I don’t usually write much about my family here on the blog. Maybe I should. But something interesting went on over the past few days which I suppose warrants a change in practice. John, my oldest son, was asked by his High School English teacher to write a short paragraph along with the rest of the class describing what they use as their moral compass to live by. Fair enough. But then she finished her assignment by stating that they couldn’t answer the assignment by talking about “God or something like that.” When I was taking John to his Cross Country meet later in the day he told me that for the first time he was “disobeying” one of this teachers. I asked for an explanation and then got the whole story. John did write something in accordance with his convictions and I’ve included that below from Deb’s blog where she also wrote about it. I love the way Deb described our oldest son in all his glory. (Actually, he gives all that to God) But read on and ask yourself, “when was the last time I made a stand for Christ?” Yup, that’s my boy.
It was never so clear as the day the young couple walked into my office. They were in their early 20s, not yet married, with a wonderful little daughter at their side. I had spoken with the mother on the phone but had not yet met the father. So this was our first meeting together. As they came in, the young man addressed me as “Father” from his Catholic tradition to which I gave him a fun laugh, a big hand shake, and we set down to talk. The reason for their visit was to ask if I would baptize their little girl of two. In essence, the mother was Methodist and they wanted someone in between to do the spiritual deed.
After some fun introductory conversation I dove into the “theological stuff.” I tried to make two main points. 1. The Bible does not teach infant or toddler baptism and it is actually the product of Catholic doctrine which did not originate until about the 4th or 5th century. The little girl was not aware of her sin or her need to come to Christ. 2. That there was nothing special about me which would raise me to a “Holy Father” status. I tried to point out that while we do see leadership roles in the Church, the Bible does not make a distinction between the “Holy” Christians and the regular Christians. “We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” I quoted to them. But no matter what slant I tried to bring into the discussion, it was clear that I was getting nowhere. I tried to point them as individuals directly to Jesus and Jesus alone. I gave them a Bible in modern English and encouraged them to read the gospel of Mark and then call me back. I never heard from them again even after I tried to follow up.
So what was so clear that day?
If you’re like me you’ve probably heard people quote or refer to Jesus in backing up their conversations. You know; “Jesus said this which agrees with what I’m thinking so I must be right.” The funny thing, though, is that I have friends from all over the theological, social, and political spectrum who throw out the “Jesus said” card when they think He helps their case. But I often wonder how much we really read the words of Christ or simply refer to cliff notes prepared by someone else in our own camp of thought. On the other hand, if we value His truth as much as we let on, then wouldn’t it seem that we ought to be willing to go to His words first without preconceived ideas? This is of course true for Kingdom citizens who have already stepped out in the journey of being a Christ follower. But for all of us, skeptics included, my challenge this week is for everyone to take in a heavy helping of Jesus directly from His own words. The challenge is for everyone, me included, to simply read the words of Christ with fresh eyes and then readjust our world view to His teaching rather than forcing Him into our own paradigm.
What makes a Christian? Glad you asked. That is a wonderful question in our present American and Western Culture. Does going to a “church” service once or twice a month make a person a Christian? Does renouncing all worldly happiness and becoming a Catholic nun or priest make one a better Christian than others? Does picketing abortion or signing a petition against same sex marriage make a person a Christian? What about feeding the poor and working to eradicate world hunger? That’s a good one that both my right and lefty friends like. Does that make one a Christian? What’s on your list of your personal requirements for being a “Christian” in the West? I wonder how the Christians in persecuted China and other parts of the world would answer that question.
Going back 2000 years, the first question was probably not, “what makes a Christian” but rather, “who are these people who live so differently?” Answer, “Those are the folks who follow Christ” and thus the term was born. In sermonizing for Sunday, I camped out a bit on Acts 11:26b which states that the “Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Looking at the greater context what we find is that this group of early believers were so marked by the character of Christ that people took note. Some scholars debate as to whether this was a term of endearment or ridicule. To me that doesn’t really matter a whole lot. The point is that these people were just doing life seriously devoted to Jesus and change happened. Who were these first Christians in Antioch? From the text here are a few points to ponder.