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January 31, 2016

Thanks Cd’A Press for the article, “The Right to Life” on the front page (1/24/16)! Your photographer took time to get some good shots of a variety of pro-life signs at the march. And thank you people for getting out to protest this worldwide tragedy of the killing of children; well over one billion children in the last 50 years (or about 44 million children worldwide per year).

The actor Jack Nicholson, who might have been aborted if his unmarried Mom had gotten pregnant today, said, “My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life (1984).” One sign that our family has not seen in about 38 years of attempting to stand up for the Civil Rights for unborn children and against the exploitation of their moms (and dads) is, “I have noticed everyone who is for abortion has been born.”

Elie Wiesel who survived the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz says, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Regarding “signs depicting graphic abortion images,” Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower had German civilians forced to visit Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of WWII. When looking at the depths of depravity to which their Nazi leaders had sunk, many said, “We didn’t know.”

Conversely, German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the courage to speak out against Hitler’s murder of millions of innocent human beings and became a martyr at the age of 39 (1945). After the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946), guilty Nazi leaders were hung.

For the rest of the post…

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No, A Christian Cannot Recognize Muhammad as a Prophet

Posted January 29, 2016

Islam has an ally in the Roman Catholic Church. Allah, the god of Islam, is the same as Jehovah, the God of the Bible, according to Pope Francis. Wheaton College Professor Larycia Hawkins appealed to Pope Francis when she donned a Hijab to show “support” for Muslims and asserted that the god of Islam and the God of Christianity are one and the same (my response). Now Craig Considine, a Roman Catholic Sociologist, argues that Christians can recognize Muhammad as a legitimate prophet of God—similar in status if not quite equal in status with Jesus in this article.

Considine attempts to justify his recognition of Muhammad as a true prophet by defining a prophet as “a messenger of a Higher Power who works on earth to bring justice and peace to humanity.” As a Roman Catholic Considine it is not surprising that he does not appeal to scripture to support this definition of a prophet, but it would have been helpful if he would have provided at least some explanation of how he arrived at this definition. Even if we do not appeal to scripture, Considine’s definition of a prophet proves to be untenable. The assumption seems to be that anyone who seeks “to bring justice and peace to humanity” is a messenger from a “Higher Power,” that is, a prophet. What if a member of the occult becomes a humanitarian leader? Would Considine be willing to recognize a devil worshipper as a prophet? Probably not. Clearly Considine’s definition of a prophet is too broad.[1]

But the basic problem with Considine’s argument is not his definition of what a prophet is. His basic problem is that he is not a Christian. Considine anticipates that his recognition of Muhammad as a prophet  might cause people “to question my credibility as a self-professed Christian.” He explains, “People might say, ‘Jesus is the only way. You’ve turned your back on God. You’re no longer Christian.’” It does seem that Considine is indeed contradicting John 14:6 by teaching that Muhammad offers a way to God in addition to Jesus. However, Considine more clearly demonstrates that his claim to be a Christian is false in statements that do not have to do with how he views Muhammad.

For the rest of the post…

Tennille Richard   Jan 19, 2016

So I prayed about it some more, trying to figure out what God was calling me to. I eventually came across a post on Take My Hand, Not My Life that they were looking for a new administrator. It was started by a group of Filipino students for a class project, and the project was done and they weren’t able to keep up with it.

So I contacted them, and a few months later, I took over. I floundered around quite a bit, and then I noticed that a page from British Columbia was “liking” and commenting on a lot of the stuff that I was posting. So I contacted Heather Sudnik from British Columbia, realizing that she had just started up a page for her community, and made a new friend at the same time. We supported each other and helped each other out while we floundered along. A few other pro-life Facebook page administrators from different parts of the world also started asking me how to do certain things. So I started a support group of different pro-life page administrators. Eventually, out of that came the theme days for pro-life social media.

Shortly after The Center of Medical Progress released their first video from my heart’s desire was to have a theme day about Abortion Survivors. Just about everyone in the Pro-life community knows Gianna Jessen’s, Melissa Ohden’s, and Claire Culwell’s stories. However there are lesser known abortion survivors in the support group such as Carrie Fischer and Nik Hoot’s adoptive mother. I wanted to share their stories too. I really wanted the world to hear their stories, alongside with Gianna’s, Melissa’s, and Claire’s. That theme day turned out to be a big day all around.

CMP released video #4 that day, Planned Parenthood’s website was “hacked by extremists”, and RU-486 was approved by Health Canada. Satan was working overtime to block these people’s stories from being brought to light. The only good thing that happened that day (beside our first theme day) was the new release of CMP’s latest video. And God had ordained that day long before any of us were born. I was reminded of His Grace and remembered that He is much bigger than this; so let’s see what He has for us.

Since then, we have had many theme days, which included Adoption Stories Day, Pregnancy And Infancy Loss Awareness Day, Sibling Saturday (which was about siblings that lost other siblings due to abortion), and Father’s Friday (which dealt with father’s who lost children to abortion.) Over the years, it seemed like every time I shared a story or a meme on my page about how it’s wrong to abort babies who were conceived in rape, I would get some backlash about it. That is why it’s been on my heart to do a theme day celebrating the lives of those conceived in rape for quite a while. I just wanted the ideal timing for it.

Kevin Albin (one of my wonderful co-administrators) and I have been talking about it since November. I had the March for Life in the back of my head, thinking that the two should be close together. I remembered reading an article written shortly after the DC March For Life last year.  Women who were conceived in rape or had given birth after rape were marching together; so it seemed like a natural fit to put the two side by side. That’s how we chose January 19th, 2016 to celebrate the lives of those conceived in rape!

I have been friends with Juda Myers of CHOICES4LIFE for a while, and familiar with Monica Kelsey’s work with the Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and learning more about Rebecca Kiessling’s (pictured above) organization Save the 1. They have all been extremely supportive in what I am doing. I think that it’s so important to share their stories, to tell the world their lives have value and to end the stigma around babies conceived in rape and incest.

Kevin shared his thoughts:

“My reasoning behind wanting to celebrate the rape-conceived, is because A. No child deserves to live with the stigma that they are unwanted or a demon for their mother due to someone else’s evilness, and B. No mother should have to relive the nightmare by ‘correcting’ one vicious deed with another evil! I know three people personally who are rape conceived, and while they are the greatest people in the world, they are still too ashamed to talk about it because they are constantly being put down by family members and treated like a mistake!! I want to do my part to help erase this most unfortunate stigma”

Monica, Rebecca and Juda also shared their thoughts:

“As a person who was conceived through rape and almost aborted, I am reminded everyday how precious life is. As we celebrate the thousands of lives who were conceived through rape, I pray for a day when we value ALL life, every day, and that our worth exists simply because we do.  As a firefighter/medic that saves lives for a career, I am thankful that my life was saved so that today I may save others!” Monica Kelsey, Conceived in rape
“I’m very grateful to Tennille and Kevin for wanting to celebrate the lives of the rape-conceived in this way. I’m always in awe of people who aren’t in this people group themselves, but are able to empathize with the plight of all of those born and preborn who are. Save The 1 is thrilled to be participating in this special day!” Rebecca Kiessling, Conceived in rape

“Working with moms/children of rape conception my heart breaks hearing stories of abuse & rejection. It brings me to tears that Tennille, J.R. and Kevin would want to celebrate our lives when most are calling for our death. I was conceived in the mind of God not the loins of man. I’m so grateful to all who understand & do everything to defend our lives. You & our mothers are true heroes.” Juda Myers, Conceived after 8 man assault

So here I am, 2 years later, a girl still on her couch, reaching people she never would have imagined, meeting people from every corner of the world through her laptop, spreading the word on abortion in many different ways and sharing how it affects everyone. And now I am reaching you as well.

When it comes to the rape-conceived, my husband J.R. puts it this way:

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood in the cross-hairs of persecution and stigma. And yet the Grace of God maintained him. The truth is hardly deniable by his wise words, and yet he survived, flourished and blessed us, despite being appointed to die. We are told that it is acceptable to abort the children of rape victims because they are appointed to die. They stand in the same cross-hairs as Bonhoeffer did, but should be allowed opportunity to the same grace as he was. These children conceived in rape are viable, sacred and valuable.”  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his own words:

“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”

For the rest of the post…

Note: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop George Bell were good friends.

Highly respected Church of England bishop was a paedophile

Lambeth Palace Libray

A highly-respected 20th century Church of England bishop was a paedophile, it was revealed today.

The shocking revelations about the late Bishop of Chichester George Bell came when the Church of England disclosed it had apologised and paid damages following a civil sex abuse claim against him.

The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.

Bishop Bell, born in 1883 and who died in 1958, became Bishop of Chichester in 1929. He was revered as a leading light on the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church and at one time was even in the running to be Archbishop of Canterbury. He had been a Queen’s Scholar at Westminster School and was elected after that to a scholarship at Christ Church Oxford where he studied theology.

He was a prolific author and also appeared in works of fiction by others, most notably in the best-selling novel Ultimate Prizes by Susan Howatch and as Francis Wood, Bishop of Cirencester in Anthony Horowitz’s TV series Foyle’s War. He was also a character in Alison McLeod’s novel Unexploded.

The current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said the news had brought “a bewildering mix of deep and disturbing emotions.”

In its effect on the legacy and reputation of George Bell, it “yields a bitter fruit of great sadness and a sense that we are all diminished by what we are being told,” Dr Warner added. “We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties. We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.

“The revelation of abuse demands bravery on the part of a survivor, and we respect the courage needed to tell the truth. We also recognise that telling the truth provides a legitimate opportunity for others to come forward, sometimes to identify the same source of abuse.”

For the rest of the post…

Earlier this month, I posted that on June 17, 1940 (the day France surrendered to Germany), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was with his close friend Eberhard Bethge “in the Baltic village of Memel. They were relaxing in an “open-air café when suddenly a special announcement came over the loudspeaker that France had surrendered. This moment was a defining point for Bonhoeffer! Bethge “asserts that Bonhoeffer’s ‘double life’ truly began. This Confessing Church pastor and theologian became deeply involved in the resistance movement against Hitler and the Nazis.”

Also:

For the next three years, until his arrest on April 5, 1943, Bonhoeffer lived an unsettled life. He became a courier for the resistance group operating out of the Office of Military Intelligence (the Abwehr), even as he continued to teach and minister to the young seminarians and pastors of the Confessing Church.

DB was a seminary professor and involved in the resistance movement against Hitler. He was dedicated in preparing young men for the ministry and he was dedicated in stopping the Fuhrer.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment 1940-1945, 1-2.

 

An interesting read that ties DB with “The Donald”!

Justin DaMetz

I just started reading The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I knew the bare outlines of his life and death, but the edition I have had a great foreword documenting Bonhoeffer’s life and beliefs. Obviously, there was much about his principled and faith-filled stand against Hitler, the Nazis, and consequently, his own country.

This knowledge coincided this week with the visit of Donald Trump here to Tulsa, appearing at Oral Roberts University with Sarah Palin in tow yesterday. To me, Trump’s candidacy and the following he has inspired over the last year is positively fascist in its outlook, rhetoric, and goals.

Now, I don’t mean to say this for reasons of provocation, nor do I mean to intimate that I believe Trump supporters are fascists or Nazis. Far from it. I think the infatuation with Trump, and more specifically, with the message he is spreading, is appealing to…

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On Saturday, Saeed Abedini and four other Americans were released from an Iranian prison. Here is what you should know about Abedini, his imprisonment, and his release.

Who is Saeed Abedini?

Abedini is an Iranian-born former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000. He reportedly converted after becoming severely depressed from undergoing suicide bomber training by a radical Muslim group. After his conversion he became involved in the house-church movement and is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities. He later moved to the United States, became an ordained minister, and in 2010 was granted American citizenship, becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen. Iran, however, never acknowledged his U.S. citizenship.

Why was Abedini jailed in Iran?

Since 2009, Abedini made a half dozen trips back to Iran. He had travelled back to the country in 2012 to finalize work on an orphanage when Iranian revolutionary guards detained him and said he must face criminal charges because of his Christian faith. He was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for “compromising national security.”

“Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam,” Lisa Daftai notes. “Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council declared in 2013 that Abedini’s imprisonment was “arbitrary” and violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Why was he released now?

The Obama administration had reportedly been meeting in secret with Iranian counterparts for 14 months to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Five Americans, including Abedini, were released in exchange for seven Iranians being held in the United States for violating sanctions. The sanctions were being lifted anyway as part of the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Last September Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a procedural vote that would block President Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran under the nuclear deal until Iran publicly released Abedini and three other Americans being held in Iranian prisons. That effort failed after 42 Democrats in the Senate voted to block the amendment.

Although the Obama administration says the timing wasn’t intentional, the release occurred on Religious Freedom Day.

What was the controversy with Abedini’s wife?

Since 2012 Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, had been working publicly to secure his release. But in November 2015, Naghmeh suspended her public advocacy citing “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography)” in her marriage.

More recently she said the timing of her emails, which were leaked to media, was unfortunate, and that, “When he gets home, we can address the serious issues that have happened and continued.”

For the rest of the post…

Earlier this month, I post that on June 17, 1940 (the day France surrendered to Germany), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was with his close friend Eberhard Bethge “in the Baltic village of Memel. They were relaxing in an “open-air café when suddenly a special announcement came over the loudspeaker that France had surrendered. Bethge wrote:

The people around the tables could hardly contain themselves; they jumped up, and some even climbed on the chairs. With outstretched arms, they sang “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles” and the Horse Wessel song. We stood up, too Bonhoeffer raised his arm in the regulation Hitler salute, while I stood there dazed. “Raise your arm! Are you crazy?” he whispered to me, and later: “We shall have to run risks for very different things now, but not for that salute!”  

This was a turning point for DB! Bethge “asserts that Bonhoeffer’s ‘double life’ truly began. This Confessing Church pastor and theologian became deeply involved in the resistance movement against Hitler and the Nazis.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment 1940-1945, 1-2.

Wow! I have had numerous discussions with people over the years about why a Christian like Bonhoeffer could take an active role in the resistance. Many are troubled because Jesus said to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43).

I have struggled other it was well. Yet, we were not there. DB was! And somehow, he joined the resistance to stop a mad-man from murdering innocent people. Somehow, DB reconciled being a disciple of Jesus and plotting to kill Hitler.

While beginning to sense God’s call to ministry in February of 1998, I joined a car full of college-aged men to travel north from Mobile, Alabama, on I-65 to Birmingham, to attend the Conger Lectures on Preaching at Beeson Divinity School. ‘The Supremacy of God in Preaching’Friends described that year’s lecturer as the “John MacArthur of the North.” His name was John Piper.

So there I sat in the Hodges Chapel at Beeson, hanging on his every syllable. With each word, my call to ministry intensified. The Minneapolis pastor spoke as one having authority—an authority rooted in God’s Word and accentuating God’s glory.

It was an introductory dose of what all who’ve heard Piper have come to expect—an unveiling of the majesty and supremacy of God. That day I grabbed a copy of his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker). I quickly devoured, marking up every page. I’ve since re-read it every few years, and now, 25 years since its initial publication, it deserves renewed attention. (Baker recently published a revised and expanded edition to mark the anniversary.)

6 Takeaways from an Enduring Volume

How has the volume stood up over a quarter-century? It remains as powerful, convicting, and encouraging as at the outset.

Here are six takeaways:

1. To preach is to put one’s deepest beliefs on display.

For better or worse, what comes out in the pulpit each Sunday will, over time, reveal what the preacher truly believes and prizes. At the most foundational level, this begins with his theological presuppositions. Mark it down: the preacher’s presuppositions always shape the sermon. Luther and Spurgeon’s Christ-centered hermeneutic impacted their exegesis and their preaching. Calvin’s God-centered approach did the same.

Piper’s God-centered “Christian hedonism” radiates throughout his preaching. It also drives this book. Piper puts preaching on a higher ground—pointing preachers to engage the true, deep longings of the human heart. As he observes, “People are starving for the greatness of God, but most of them don’t even know it.”

2. The preacher should point his people to the grand truths of God.

In doing this, it is not that the preacher dismisses felt needs; he eclipses them. Piper writes:

My burden is to plead for the supremacy of God in preaching—that the dominant note of preaching be the freedom of God’s sovereign grace, the unifying theme be the zeal that God has shown for his glory, the grand object of preaching be the infinite and inexhaustible being of God, and the pervasive atmosphere of preaching be the holiness of God. . . . Then when preaching takes up the ordinary things of life—family, jobs, leisure, friendships; or the crises of our day—AIDS, divorce, addictions, depression, abuses, poverty, hunger, and, worst of all, unreached peoples of the world, these matters are not only taken up. They are taken all the way up to God.

3. The preacher should be relentlessly and precisely biblical.

After all, the preacher is to be God’s mouthpiece—his human spokesman—and it is high treason to misquote, misrepresent, or under-dignify the King and his Word. When the preacher vaguely references Scripture, Piper warns:

We are simply pulling rank on people when we tell them, and don’t show them from the text. This does not honor the Word of God or the work of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to rely on the Holy Spirit by saturating your preaching with the Word he inspired.

4. Balance gravity and gladness in the pulpit.

Reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching is a refresher on the majesty of God and the gravity of preaching. It is simply impossible for a warmhearted, thinking preacher to finish the book without sensing anew the weightiness of the preaching task. But Piper couples the call to gravity with a plea for gladness, rooted in the character of God:

Gladness and gravity should be woven together in the life and preaching of a pastor in such a way as to sober the careless soul and sweeten the burden of the saints.

There is a difference between being glad and being giddy, between being weighty and being dour. Strive for the former; reject the latter.

5. Preach to stir up holy affections within your people.

Piper perceptively observes:

Good preaching aims to stir up “holy affections”—such emotions as hatred for sin, delight in God, hope in his promises, and tender compassion. The reason is that the absence of holy affections in Christians is odious.

For the rest of the post…

2 Chronicles 7:14 Isn’t About American Politics

rsz_statue_of_libertySometime around the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, you might see a sign advertising a “God and country” rally or prayer breakfast. I can almost guarantee that, if you attend, you will hear, at least once, 2 Chronicles 7:14. For those of you who don’t know it, this passage reads: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will heal their land.”

Often, the way this verse will be preached in many evangelical pulpits is as a rallying cry. In so many sermons, the “people” referred to in the passage are the American people, and the “land” is the American land. The meaning of the text is understood as an invitation to 21st century America to “return to God” and then enjoy God’s blessing once again. It’s no wonder one scholar said that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is “the John 3:16 of the American civil religion.”

If nothing else, the question must be asked of this kind of sermon: Where should we “take America back” to? Do you mean back to the era of the Founders, or back to the 1950s, or 1980s? When, exactly, in America’s blip of an existence did everything fall apart?

But the fact is 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t talking about America or national identity or some generic sense of “revival.” To apply the verse this way is, whatever one’s political ideology, theological liberalism.

This verse is a word written to a specific people–the people of God–who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power. At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God.

After all, it seemed as though the house of David was gone.

For the rest of the post…

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