Six (Actual) Pro-Life Action Points (for Emmaus)

Six (Actual) Pro-Life Action Points (for Emmaus)

On Sunday, January 15th, I preached a sermon on the Sanctity of Life. In that sermon, I mentioned the fact that such an occasion was daunting for me, for the specific reason that so much needs to be said. A 45 minute sermon cannot address every aspect of a topic such as this, nor could it include every potential application in response to how God views child sacrifice. So I wanted to follow up with some resources for you. Below, you will find informational resources, and suggested action points. My aim in the sermon was to prick your heart to think about this national sin the way God does, and my prayer now is that we—as a church—will be stirred to display the Gospel.

 

Six Pro-Life Actions Points

These are just a few ideas I invite you and your community group to think through. There’s obviously so much more that can be done, but this is practical start.

 

1. Pray

This is no small thing. God delights to answer the prayers of his people. Prayer is powerful; in fact, your salvation, Christian, is a direct result of prayer! (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) Do you ever pray for the worshipers and victims of this form of national idolatry? Do you pray that God would bring this wicked industry to the ground? Do you pray that God would rescue the men and women who are deceived and working as proponents of this evil? Do you pray for the men and women who are under the crushing weight of guilt and condemnation for their involvement in this sort of thing? You should. We should.

 

2. Get Informed

I have a lot of resources down below. Casually checking out each of them would be a great start. If in your echo chamber, you are never reminded of the fact that your culture champions child sacrifice, it can be easy to forget this reality altogether. Don’t let that happen. Don’t be lulled into lazy indifference. Let your heart break over the things that break God’s heart.

 

3. Volunteer

This would be a great thing to do as a community group: find your local Crisis Pregnancy Center (probably Rachel House), and volunteer your group to work there from time to time. Just getting in contact with the women who are facing down the prospect of abortion will transform this issue for you; we’re not talking about theoretical people. We’re talking about young women, made in the image of God, who have real concerns and real pressures and real doubts and confusions. We should let this issue become visceral for us.

 

4. Stop Looking At Porn

This may seem counter-intuitive but there is a connection. Abortion is one of the many travesties that happen to be downstream from the sexual revolution. The more we separate sex from the covenantal relationship of marriage, the more we will see things like this. “Sex without consequences” is a lie that can only be maintained through abortion. Christian, if you are looking at porn, you are part of the problem. Let this be one of the many existing motivations for attacking this sin with blood-earnestness.

 

5. Sidewalk Ministries

Below, you’ll find a link to Speak for the Unborn, which is a ministry committed to equipping local churches for sidewalk ministries. This is the practice of actually going to the abortion clinics, to pray with these women, to give them informational resources, to share the gospel with them, and to beg them not to murder their children. Obviously, this prospect is terrifying, but again, it would be great for community groups. In fact, taking your children could be potent, both in illustrating that children are in fact a gift, and in teaching your children what it looks like to declare and display the Gospel.

 

6. Adopt & Foster

Young women who are contemplating abortions have many options before them, and the burden in sidewalk ministries is to communicate these options to them with love and care and patience and respect. This action point–namely, adopting and fostering–is to essentially be these options. Again, this is what it actually looks like to be holistically pro-life. It would be an shame if Christians vocally advocated for adoption instead of abortion on the one hand, and yet failed to be the pioneers of adoption and foster care on the other hand. Both of these services are glorious opportunities to demonstrate the gospel, and we should be the ones who are leading the fray in these areas. I thank God for the gospel-loving adopting/fostering parents who are part of Emmaus (here’s just one example) right now, and I pray their tribe would increase. Brothers and sisters, seriously consider this in prayer.

 

Resources Mentioned In the Sermon

  • Here’s the article I referred to in passing about the repulsive event in which 20 “faith leaders” blessed the opening of a Planned Parenthood, affirming their work as sacred: http://tinyurl.com/zdevxqy
  • Here’s the article I referred to on France’s recent attempt to censor their internet to irradiate any anti-abortion content: http://tinyurl.com/jjwa6an
  • Here’s the article I referred to on France’s decision to ban a commercial depicting happy children with Down Syndrome: http://tinyurl.com/znada49
    And here’s the original statement from the French Government on this matter: http://tinyurl.com/zv2jmha
  • Here’s an article in which I argue that abortion is not a women’s rights issue, and that men must concern themselves with abortion toohttp://tinyurl.com/julmyl5

Information Resources

  • Guttmacher Institute: guttmacher.org
    Guttmacher Institute is Planned Parenthood’s Data website, so, “straight from the horse’s mouth,” as it were.
  • National Right to Life: nrlc.org
    Abortion news and stats.
  • The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: erlc.com
    This is a great resource; you’ll find a lot of biblically informed articles on the topic of abortion, and many other issues that we will discuss in our Gospel & Culture series.
  • Abort73: abort73.com
    This ministry describes abortion procedures and takes a biblical, convictional stance against it. You’ll also find testimonials of people who have committed abortions, and of those who have almost committed abortions here as well. A fantastic resource. **This website contains gruesome pictures**
  • And Then There Were None: abbyjohnson.org
    Abby Johnson is a woman who used to work for Planned Parenthood and is not a very vocal pro-life advocate. She has a pretty amazing ministry and she focuses specifically on individuals who are working for the abortion industry.
  • Abortion Recovery: abortionrecovery.org
    Honestly, I don’t know much about this ministry, but I’ve heard great things about it. It basically focuses on helping women who have committed an abortion recover after the fact.
  • Speak for the Unborn: speakfortheunborn.com
    I cannot speak highly enough about this resource. It’s a ministry that equips churches to do “sidewalk ministry.” This looks like actually going to abortion clinics and walking with the women who are entering in, offering them resources, praying with/for them, and begging them not to murder their children.
  • Center for Medical Progress: centerformedicalprogress.org
    If you haven’t watched the videos these heroes have made, that is your homework. Do it. These are the individuals who filmed and released the string of investigative journal videos exposing Planned Parenthood for its illegal practice of selling the body parts of aborted children.
Gospel-Centered Reading

Gospel-Centered Reading

This post is part two in a series on “Reading for the Glory of God and our Joy.” See part one here.

One of the greatest evidences of God’s grace toward his church is the recovery of the gospel over the last decade or so. In the last ten years there has been a movement to recover what’s been called, “gospel-centrality.”

The reason this is important is because the gospel is the foundation of the Christian faith. For some time, many churches have been preaching anything from self-help sermons to cross-less behavior modification sermons. These are not Christian sermons. It’s been said before that if a sermon can be true even if the death of Jesus Christ didn’t happen, there is still work to be done.

By God’s grace this is changing. “Gospel-centered” is just about everywhere you look. Here are a few books that I recommend to get a better grasp on the life-altering news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it can lead to joy in all areas of your life. These books are in no particular order:

Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-8-04-17-pmJared Wilson is one of my favorite writers in the “gospel-centered” movement. I’m not sure of any writer alive who has pushed the gospel into every crevice of my life like Wilson has. This book is at the apex of that reality. I know I said order doesn’t matter in regards to this list, yet if you can only read one on this list, make it this one.

The Gospel by Ray Ortlund

This work by Ray Ortlund is a gift to the Church. In very few pages, Ortlund gives great insight into the gospel and how it’s for all of life. You’d be hard-pressed to find a book that packs as much beauty into as few of pages.  This would be a great book to give to a new believer or someone interested in what it means to live life centered around the gospel.

Gospel by J.D. Greear

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-8-06-26-pmIf you are looking for an entry door into gospel-centered thinking, this is an extremely helpful book. Greear talks about what it means to be gospel-centered in many areas including relationship, missions, service, and many others.

The Plight of Man and the Power of God by Martyn Loyd-Jones

This is another short, yet powerful work. Loyd-Jones in just five chapters expounds on the biggest problem facing mankind and how the gospel resolves this issue. This book is a classic, and because it’s focused on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it will be timeless.

The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton

This book comes after Horton’s, “Christless Christianity,” which is also a very helpful book in its own right. Horton picks up on how the gospel should be the driving force behind all that we say and do in our lives.  He convincingly explains how the gospel is the purpose that drives us, and nothing else.

ronni kurtzRonni Kurtz is the Pastor of Teaching and Equipping at Emmaus Church. His passions center around the gospel, his wife, historical and systematic theology and helping the people of Emmaus treasure Jesus. Ronni and his wife Kristen have been married for 3 years.

Reading for God’s glory and our Joy

Reading for God’s glory and our Joy

I haven’t always loved reading. In fact, when I was young, I despised it. In my youth I was much more pleased to be outside with a bat and a ball or a skateboard then inside with a book. This was true for me all the way through a majority of my high school years. I missed the great novels growing up, I wasn’t well acquainted with the classics, I couldn’t tell you who Mark Twain or Oliver Twist were. That just wasn’t my upbringing.

All of that changed when I was handed a book in my dormitory of my freshman year of college. I was given a copy of, Knowing God, by J.I. Packer and was told I had to read it. I hesitantly opened the volume and began what I was sure to be an uneventful time. I was wrong. Dead wrong. That book changed my life on many levels but one of the ways was that I was noticing something strange happening. I started my way through the book and realized a few chapters in that I was deeply enjoying myself. I even found myself thinking about how to get back to my dorm between classes so I could get a few more pages in.

So then, what changed? How could I go from a boy who didn’t ever have the desire to read to one who couldn’t find an excuse good enough to stop reading? In my reflection of this time, I can think of a few things:

The distance between my head and my heart isn’t far.

What I was falling in love with while reading Packer’s work wasn’t the act of reading per se; it was the act of learning. With every page I read I could feel my understanding of who God was grow and grow. I vividly remember saying to myself about 3/4’s into the book, “It feels like I worship a different God than Packer does, and I want his God.” The book was removing some cloudy mystery around God that existed in my mind and I found myself gazing at the glory of God a bit more clearly through reading what Packer had to say. What I realized while reading this book was that my head and my heart weren’t that far apart. I was seeing that the more I learned about God, the more I saw He was beautiful, and the more I loved Him for it. This ignited a hunger that by the grace of God hasn’t ceased.

Books can be much more than pages glued and bound together to take space on a shelf. Books can be an invitation to learn about the God who breathed out stars and tells the oceans where to stop. You might feel I’m overstating the role of reading here, yet I’m convinced I’m not. Few things have helped my affections for Jesus Christ soar then time-spent reading about His wonder.

The Conversation we don’t deserve to be a part of.

A second reason that I have fallen in love with reading is that it allows me to be apart of a conversation that I should have never been invited to. I had a professor once say that, “God has been up to something in between the time of Jesus and your Grandma, and you should care to know what that it.” Though his statement can be taken as trite, there is a deep truth to what he said. Christians have been talking about God for thousands of years. Some of the most brilliant men, as well as some not so brilliant ones, have taken to the task of describing God through books for years. When we crack open a book, we aren’t in a vacuum. Rather, we are entering into a cosmic conversation about the One who upholds all things and we get to observe and even partake in the dialogue. Reading should be thought of as the ability to walk through the halls of a school with permission to peek into any room. We are welcome to listen to Augustine lecture on humility and sin. We are welcome to partake in Luther’s monologue on justification. In another room we can sit at the feet of Calvin as he instructs us to worship a big God. This is a gift that should not be taken lightly.

We know because of our sin that we deserve condemnation and abandonment from God. What we don’t deserve is to be able to commune with God and other Christians through the act of reading. So hear this, reading is grace. This conversation is one that, because of your sin, you shouldn’t have been invited to. Yet, through the blood of a son and the grace of a Father, you can share in the task of learning about the Lord.

The ability to place myself in a story.

I’ll admit, the first two points seem to give themselves to non-fiction (theological) reading. Yet for the Christian, fiction should be considered a great gift as well. There are a number of reasons for this truth, but I will share just one that has blessed my soul. When you read a great fiction book (or really good non-fiction books) you can feel the weight of the story. If you’re reading about a superhero you can feel the weight of the responsibility to save the damsel in distress and rid the city of villains. If you’re reading a romance novel you can feel the wonder and hardship that comes with love between two characters. Fiction has a way of pulling you into the story sometimes in capacities when it’s hard to remove yourself from the plot or the characters. I would argue, this is a good thing.

You see, the reason I say this is because when I feel the bravery of a superhero saving a town and selflessly helping others I can’t remove myself and I begin to think, “it would be incredible to actually be able to experience something like this.” Yet, the crazy thing about the Christian narrative, is that our story is better. Yes, Superman might save a few people and rescue Lois Lane. You, Christian, have been chosen by the one who created life and have been given a mission to proclaim news that will bring dead people to life, free prisoners, ransom captives, and usher in a Kingdom. Superman’s story is phenomenal, but it is nothing on the story of a Christian who’s been saved by grace and commissioned by the King of Kings. Fiction helps me feel the weight of stories and helps me realize that they all, even the greatest of them, pail in comparison to the story God has chosen for His Church.

You, Christian, have been chosen by the one who created life and have been given a mission to proclaim news that will bring dead people to life, free prisoners, ransom captives, and usher in a Kingdom.

Conclusion

Needless to say, I’ve become a reader. I count books more valuable then gold. I believe within the task of reading is an invitation to see God more clearly, partake in a cosmic conversation, and feel the weight of the gospel story. These are things that we do not want to miss, and therefore we cannot miss reading.

There is so much more to be said about reading, yet I want this post to serve as an introduction for a series of post – In the future, you will see on this blog book recommendations from me. They will come in all shapes and sizes: theology, topical, fiction, non-fiction, seasonal, etc. I hope that these will serve the people of Emmaus and give all of you a starting point on what books to engage in. I’ll be writing post like, “5 books to better understand the gospel”, “10 books that stirred my affections for Jesus.” Etc.

Emmaus, reading is an avenue where we can gaze upon the glory of God and have our joy stirred deeply. May we handle this responsibility with deep gratitude and diligence. Let’s read to the glory of God and for our joy.

ronni kurtzRonni Kurtz is the Pastor of Teaching and Equipping at Emmaus Church. His passions center around the gospel, his wife, historical and systematic theology and helping the people of Emmaus treasure Jesus. Ronni and his wife Kristen have been married for 3 years.

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