Links I like

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Kindle deals for Christian readers

Should We Watch Murders on Social Media?

Russell Moore:

A videotaped massacre can easily be a kind of pornography, turning human beings—made in the image of God–into spectacles, all while giving the illusion of a safe distance between their suffering and the audience. We can justify watching this as “being informed,” but there is a very thin line these days between news and entertainment. The last thing we should ever be entertained by is the taking of human life. That’s why our early Christian ancestors refused to go to the gladiatorial games.

15 Ways to Fight Lust with the Sword of the Spirit

Kevin DeYoung:

The seventh commandment is not just broken in this country; it’s being smashed to pieces.

And sexual sin is not just an “out there” problem. Any pastor will tell you stories about how sexual sin has destroyed people in his congregation. None of us are immune from the dangers of sexual immorality. In a Christianity Today study from several years ago, 40 percent of clergy acknowledged visiting pornographic websites. Another survey found that 21 percent visit regularly. Yet another survey at Pastors.com found that 50 percent of pastors reported to viewing pornography in the previous year. And then there’s the underlying issue of the heart. The seventh commandment doesn’t just forbid adultery and pornography. It forbids every action, look, conversation, thought, or desire that incites lust and uncleanness.

So how in the world, in this world we live in, and with our sex-saturated hearts, can we obey the seventh commandment?

All are welcome here

Ray Ortlund shares a great quote from Octavius Winslow.

Amazon: Easy to Critique, Easier to One-Click

Lisa Slayton:

We may publicly condemn large companies like Amazon and praise small businesses like Hearts & Minds. But when it comes to buying our books and placing our orders, we usually go with the company that offers the fastest and cheapest option—without regard for how it treats it employees.

Who, then, is to blame for “bruising” workplaces, where people are treated like cogs in a machine rather than humans created in God’s image? It may very well be us, the consumers.

Let’s Reach Out with the Gospel to Women Victimized by Abortion

Randy Alcorn:

I encourage you to read through the following perspectives from Diane Meyer, a close friend of ours. In fact, she’s like a third daughter to me and Nanci. She lived with us when our daughters were small and she was a young unwed mother. We had the joy of seeing her come to Christ, and helped her place a baby for adoption.  (Just this last year she was reunited with her 33-year-old son and it was our privilege to be there with Diane’s family and the adoptive parents.)

Links I like

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Kindle deals for Christian readers

Lots of good stuff on sale today:

No Such Thing as Free Porn

Cam Triggs:

In the isolated dark office, sin disguises itself as “free” — free of cost, free of accountability, and free of consequences. Don’t believe the lie. Deconstructing the phrase “Free Porn” may save your marriage, and ultimately your relationship with Christ. Here is a truth we desperately need today — there is no such thing as free porn.

The 7th Planned Parenthood Video + 4 FAQs

Yet another video has been released, this one more horrific than the last (if that’s possible). Justin Taylor provides a helpful FAQ here.

Why I Don’t Blame Planned Parenthood

Camille Cates:

While confessing the sin of abortion may seem like it heaps more judgment and condemnation on you, God’s Word reveals something entirely different. When we turn to Jesus Christ in our conviction of sin—instead of shifting blame over it, justifying it, or simply ignoring it—we find hope and healing in the one who bore God’s wrath for sin on the cross.

Guardian Angels?

Nick Batzig:

“You must have a guardian Angel watching over you!” You’ve either heard it said or have said it to someone after their life took an unexpected and much needed turn for the better. It might seem like an irrelevant question in our post-modern, technological, post-enlightenment, scientific world; but, I care deeply about whether or not there are such things as guardian Angels appointed by God to watch over believers.

Contentment Isn’t Natural, but it Can Be Learned

Michael Kelley:

At that time, what I intended by putting that verse in my locker was to remind myself that I could run one more 40 yard dash through Christ who strengthens me. I could do one more drill through Christ who strengthens me. I could knock one more guy over through Christ who strengthens me. But then one faithful Friday night, my high school football team lined up across from another team – the Dumas Demons. And after the game, I saw a group of those Demons kneeling in prayer on the 50 yard line. And though it hadn’t struck me before, I suddenly came to the realization that there were probably actual Christians who played for the other team. In fact, there might even have been one Christian with Philippians 4:13 taped in their locker. So as I was trying to knock someone over with the power of Christ, so also might someone have been trying to knock me over with the same power.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

B&H has put a number of volumes from the Perspectives series is on sale for 99¢ each:

Also on sale are:

Westminster Bookstore and Crossway are also offering an amazing discount when you buy one or more cases of Russell Moore’s book Adoption (as low as $1.75, though if you want just buy one, it’ll cost you $3) or Scott Klusendorf’s The Case for Life (about $5). Pastors, if you’ve got a bit of money in your budget, grab a few cases of these and give them to everyone attending your church.

What to do after you preach

Dave Harvey:

The conclusion of a sermon is a dangerous moment for the preacher. He has just spent 30-45 minutes in an expository deluge, dumping his study and zeal upon his congregation. The 10-20 hours of sermon preparation are now ancient history and he’s climbed in his car for the drive home. Most likely, he is exhausted – emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

If you’re called to preach, you leave it all in the pulpit.

I’ve been there.  And over the last 30 years, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about what I should do and what I shouldn’t do following a sermon. Here are three key lessons.

3 Reasons Not to Homeschool

Christina Fox:

This time of year, as we begin to transition out of vacation mindset back into school mode, you may be considering homeschooling for the first time. And there are many good reasons to consider it. You get to choose the curriculum for your children. You’re able to teach every subject through a biblical worldview. You can take time to study things your children enjoy learning about, at their own pace and on their own level. Homeschool allows for greater flexibility in your schedule. Since it doesn’t take as long as a typical school day to complete lessons, there’s plenty of time for extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, additional classes, and hobbies. Homeschooling also provides more time for families to spend together. I could go on.

But there are also reasons not to homeschool. If the idea of homeschooling has been on your mind, here are three reasons you should not homeschool your children.

Matt Chandler on abortion

Watch the full message here.

The Joy of Meaty Christian Biographies

Don Sweeting on why biographies are great.

Beware the Pride of Easy Education

Michael Kelley:

We live in this age of easy education. Never before has more information been more available to us. You can count on the fact that virtually anything you’ve been curious about, someone else has already been curious about, and has recorded the answer somewhere in cyberspace. It’s a pretty amazing thing when you think about it. And yet the breadth and depth of these facts and figures of all shapes and kinds brings with it a question:

To what end?

Planned Parenthood: There, But for the Grace of God…

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You walk into your doctor’s office for your annual check up—flu shot, cancer, cholesterol and blood sugar screening, blood pressure check—you know, routine maintenance on the ol’ bod. You’ve chosen this doctor because you don’t have health insurance and he’s kind enough to lower his prices and work with you on a payment plan. His office is clean and bright, beautifully decorated, and the staff is always friendly. You even get a lollipop at the end of each visit.

But this year, as you’re walking down the hall to exam room four, you happen to notice that in exam room three, there’s a playpen in the corner with an adorable baby girl in it, cooing away and playing with a toy.

“Odd,” you think, since this is not a paediatrician’s office. You continue to your own room, don that scratchy paper gown, and wait for the doctor. By the time he comes in and begins the exam, you can no longer contain your curiosity. Whose baby is it? Why is there even a baby in the office?

“Oh, yes,” the doctor says matter of factly, “that baby was abandoned by her parents. Nobody wants her, so when I get finished with your check up, I’m going to torture her to death and then sell her organs to medical researchers.”

Your jaw hits the floor. Your stomach turns. You can’t believe the monstrous words you’ve just heard.

“How could you do such a horrible thing?” you scream over your revulsion. The doctor looks surprised that you should ask.

“It’s really no big deal,” he says. “We only do a few of those a week. The vast majority of my practice is providing health care and counseling for patients like you.”

Let me ask you something—would you use that doctor and think that the care he provides you mitigates his atrocious behavior? I hope not. Yet I have heard people defend Planned Parenthood (an organization which has been torturing babies to death for decades, and, we recently learned, profits from the sale of their organs) because Planned Parenthood ostensibly performs a minimum number of abortions and mainly provides health services, such as the ones mentioned above, to women who need them. Somehow, in these people’s minds, the health care Planned Parenthood provides makes up for the heinous murders they commit day after day.

Does it really all balance out? Of course not.

In fact, let’s say, Planned Parenthood had only ever tortured fifty babies to death (instead of the millions they’ve actually killed). And let’s say they provided free health care to everyone on the planet, cured cancer, and brought about world peace. Those are some wonderful things, but does it erase the fact that they brutally ended fifty innocent lives? Do all those good deeds make up for even one murder?

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes. Planned Parenthood’s hands are drenched in blood that all the free health care in the world can’t wash away.

They’re hopelessly guilty. Just like we are.

Apart from Christ, we are Planned Parenthood. We come before God with blood on our hands. Not the blood of millions of babies, but the blood of one child. God’s child. Jesus. We are responsible for His death. It was our sin that caused Him to be tortured to death. Our sin that brutally murdered Him.

“Oh, but it’s no big deal. I’m mainly a good person. The vast majority of my life is spent doing good things and helping people. That totally makes up for those few sins I’ve committed. My good deeds outweigh the bad.”

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes.

But, grace… But, mercy… But the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior intervenes and wipes away the guilt. Washes our hands of Christ’s blood. Cleanses us from all unrighteousness, if we only turn to Him in the repentance and faith that He is gracious enough to give us.

Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes, but the grace of God can.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)


Michelle Lesley is a ministry wife, home schooling mom, and women’s Bible study author. Her goal in writing, speaking, and teaching is to train church ladies to be “Mighty Amazon Women” of God. Michelle blogs at MichelleLesleyBooks.com. Follow her at @MichelleDLesley.

Photo credit: Me, myself and my cellphone. via photopin (license)

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today, Karen Swallow Prior’s excellent book, Fierce Convictions, is on sale for $1.99. If you need some encouragement to get this one, be sure to read my review. Also on sale:

Over at the Westminster Bookstore, Kevin DeYoung’s first children’s book is on sale for dirt cheap—get The Biggest Story for $12, or $10 when buying five or more copies. Here’s a look at the trailer:

Finally, at Christian Audio, they’re giving away Compelling Interest: The Real Story Behind Roe v. Wade by Roger Resler until the end of the month. Be sure to download this.

Praying in the Spirit

Colin Smith has a new eBook out, Praying in the Spirit. You can get it free by subscribing to his blog.

The most insane/brilliant political ad I’ve ever seen

I can guarantee I’d never vote for this dude (not just because he’s in British Columbia and I’m not), but dang. Also, mild language warning:

Your move, Donald Trump. (Here’s also an article explaining this whole… whatever this is.)

Sex is More AND Less Important Than You Think

Trevin Wax:

“Sex is everything,” goes the idea in the 21st century. “And sex is nothing.”

This paradoxical view of sexuality in our society requires a paradoxical response from the Church. Our Christian witness must “put sex in its place” – meaning, we will need to take sexuality more seriously and less seriously than the rest of society.

An Introverted Christian

Tim Challies:

There is no doubt that I am an introvert. If we place introversion and extroversion on opposite sides of a line and say that each one of us falls somewhere between the two extremes, I would be pretty far from center along the introvert side of the scale. I may not be as far along as some people, and I still enjoy some exposure to crowds of people, but at heart I gain energy and perspective in solitude and then expend it in a crowd. My default reaction to a crowd is to run away to find a place of quiet. I love and enjoy people, but do better with small groups than large ones. Even after several years of public speaking, it still takes a lot of effort and self-denial to stand in front of a crowd. I walk to the front of a room slowly and, when finished, sprint to the back. That’s just the way I am.

5 Important Theological Pairs

Nick Batzig:

One of the many wonderful things about the Westminster Shorter Catechism is that it includes several extremely important theological pairs (i.e. joint categories) in the opening questions that help us robustly systematize the biblical truth concerning our relationship to God, God’s work in the world, the nature and effects of man’s sin and the saving work of the Redeemer. Much of the disagreement in theological matters, in our day, comes from only holding to one of the two truths set out in each of these pairs. As we labor to spiritually grasp both aspects of these pairs we will find that we become better equipped to spot theological error, defend the truth and to minister more effectively to others with theological precision and care.

ND Wilson on the problem of evil

This is great:

An unshakeable foundation for human dignity

dignity

One of the most dangerous things about fudging on the first few chapters of Genesis—or really, on any part of the Bible—is what you lose. See, I do believe that genuine Christians can continue on in their faith in error, sometimes even in serious error. And I’m the first to admit there are undoubtedly some things that I am in error on, perhaps even seriously.

But one of the things we can’t back away from, even when we consider all the weird and wonderful stuff we read in the Bible, is this important passage in Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Upon these verses, Christianity’s concept of human dignity cling. They are central to what we believe about human beings (even the awful ones). And the fact that Jesus—God the Son, the second person of the Trinity—would come to earth and take on human form… well, my goodness, that just compounds humanity’s value, doesn’t it? God’s plan of redemption stems even from these verses—they give us the reason why he would send Jesus. He redeems because he loves us in a way that is unique from all the rest of creation. He loves us because of how he made us. And he redeems us in order that we might be as he intended us to be. Russell Moore captured this truth so well in Onward. This is how he puts it:

A Christianity that doesn’t prophetically speak for human dignity is a Christianity that has lost anything distinctive to say. The gospel is, after all, grounded in the uniqueness of humanity in creation, redemption and consummation. Behind the questions of whether we should abort babies or torture prisoners or harass immigrants or buy slaves is a larger question: “Who is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?” If Jesus shares humanity with us, and if the goal of the kingdom is humanity in Christ, then life must matter to the church. The church must proclaim in its teaching and embody in its practices love and justice for those the outside world would wish to silence or to kill. And the mission of the church must be to proclaim everlasting life, and to work to honor every life made in the image of God, whether inside or outside the people of God. A vision of human dignity can exist within the common grace structures of the world, but a distinctively Christian vision of why humanity should be protected must emerge from a larger framework of kingdom and culture and mission. (138-139 [ARC])

You don’t have to be a Christian to be opposed to abortion, for alleviating the suffering of those living in poverty, or wanting to see the end of sex trafficking. But what that conviction is grounded in matters. For the pro-life—and whole life—Christian, we truly do have an unshakeable foundation. Let’s not forget that.

7 books Christians should read on abortion and adoption

books-abortion-adoption

One of the most frequent charges laid against Christians who oppose abortion is that we care about a child’s life before they’re born and once they die, but don’t really give a rip about anything in between. This, of course, is absolute bunk, especially when you consider the number of Christians who are passionate adoption advocates, who are assisting those in need through organizations like Compassion International.

But even though the charge is bunk, it persists. And Christians would do well to educate themselves about the realities of abortion and its alternatives. Here are a few books I’d recommend to help in this area:


Innocent Blood by John Ensor

Here’s what I wrote about this book in my review from 2011:

Innocent Blood is perhaps the most personally convicting and challenging book I’ve read—so much so that I’m still wrestling with what needs to change, of what I need to repent and how to move forward. You will not enjoy reading this book, but you would do well to do so.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon | Cruciform Press (download half the book)


The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf

The Case for Life provides intellectual grounding for the pro-life convictions that most evangelicals hold. Author Scott Klusendorf first simplifies the debate: the sanctity of life is not a morally complex issue. It’s not about choice, privacy, or scientific progress. To the contrary, the debate turns on one key question: What is the unborn? From there readers learn how to engage the great bio-tech debate of the twenty-first century, how to answer objections persuasively, and what the role of the pro-life pastor should be.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul

In this book, Dr. R.C. Sproul employs his unique perspective as a highly experienced pastor-theologian and a trained philosopher to provide well-considered and compassionate answers to the difficult questions that attend termination of pregnancy.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Adoption for Life by Russell Moore

The doctrine of adoption—God’s decision to adopt sinful men and women into his family—stands at the heart of Christianity. In light of this, Christians’ efforts to adopt beautifully illustrate the truth of the gospel. In this popular-level and practical manifesto, Russell Moore encourages Christians to adopt children and to help other Christian families to do the same. He shows that adoption is not just about couples who have struggled to have children. Rather, it’s about an entire culture within evangelicalism—a culture that sees adoption as part of the Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

Here’s what I wrote about it in my review:

Reclaiming Adoption packs a convicting punch. As Cruver unpacks the importance of the doctrine of adoption over his four chapters, he shows readers just how much it impacts everything. To understand the love of God for His people—those He chose to adopt before He even created the universe—completely transforms how we think, live, feel and act.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Orphanology by Tony Merida and Rick Morton

Orphanology unveils the grassroots movement that’s engaged in a comprehensive response to serve hundreds of millions of orphans and “functionally parentless” children.

You’ll see a breadth of ways to care with biblical perspective and reasons why we must. Heartwarming, personal stories and vivid illustrations from a growing network of families, churches, and organizations that cross culture show how to respond to God’s mandate. The book empowers:

  • churches—to plan preaching, teaching, ministering, missions, funding adoption, supporting orphans;
  • individuals and families—to overcome challenges and uncertainties;
  • every believer—to gain insights to help orphans in numerous ways.

Buy it at: Amazon


After They Are Yours by Brian Borgman

Christians considering adoption should also be aware that not everything is smiles and sunshine.

After They Are Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption talks transparently and redemptively about the often unspoken problems adoptive parents face. Combining personal experience, biblical wisdom,  and a heart for people, Borgman recalls the humbling and difficult lessons God has taught him and his wife. This is not a success story, rather it’s a story of struggles and failures set in the broader context of a God who is gracious and continually teaches us the meaning of adoption.

Buy it at: Amazon

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Openness Unhindered

Westminster Bookstore’s got a really great sale going on for Rosaria Butterfield’s latest book, Openness Unhindered ($11 each, $10 each if you’re buying five or more copies). There are also a number of other books on sale including What Does The Bible Really Say About Homosexuality? and The Accidental Feminist.

God Made All of Me pre-order special

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s new book for kids,God Made All of Me, is coming out very soon and have put together a great set of bonus resources if you pre-order between August 7 and September 7. Just order God Made All of Me from Amazon or any other online retailer, submit your proof of purchase and you’re set.

There is No Pro-Life Case For Planned Parenthood

Ross Douthat:

So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

The giant iMac wheel

This is pretty rad:

What’s It Like to Abort Your Own Child?

Bethany Jenkins:

To achieve that goal, Nathanson would later admit, they “pursued dubious and in some cases straightforwardly dishonest strategies,” noted Robert George. They promoted the idea that abortion was about medicine, not morality; lied about the number of illegal abortions performed annually and about the number of women who died from them; suggested that opposing abortion was a “religious dogma” imposed by a Catholic hierarchy; and argued that abortion was an effective means to fight poverty.

“Shocking Videos!” and the Art of Looking Away

Trevin Wax:

Many pro-choice people in our country are uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, but don’t want to see it outlawed. They can see a doctor talking callously about the unborn and they think, “How insensitive!” They see another video or two, with the haggling over fetal body parts being severed for sale, and think, “Well, this is disturbing, but they haven’t broken laws, have they? Isn’t this ultimately for a good cause?”

The Sound of Silence

Kevin DeYoung offers some thoughts on the problem of people not singing in church. While I might not agree with everything said here, DeYoung offers some real food for thought.

Links I like

Links

Every year I’ve taken a month off of blogging to rest up, recharge and catch up on a number of other projects. During that time, I’ve asked a number of friends from around the Interwebs to team up and provide great content for encouragement and enjoyment of everyone who takes the time to read this blog.

This week I’ll begin my break in earnest, popping in only for the occasional post should events warrant it, as well as handling the regular “Links I like” feature. During my time off, I’ll be catching up on a few major projects (including proposals for two books), working on a small group study for teens (more on that in a while), and maybe trying to get to bed before 1 am.

See y’all soon!

Kindle deals for Christian readers

B&H has a huge sale going on right now, with volumes from the Holman Commentary series on for $2.99:

Old Testament:

New Testament:

Also on sale are:

3 Pieces of Advice for Rural Church Ministry

John Powell:

Ministry in the modern church is growing ever more urban.  But there are still a significant number of pastors who will fight in the trenches of kingdom warfare from a rural church.  Here are 3 pieces of advice for those who would consider going to the hard places and farming communities of rural America.

Away With Utilitarian Arguments Against Abortion

Jared Wilson explains why we should stop using arguments like this one: “You should be pro-life because what if you aborted the person who would go on to cure AIDS or cancer, or end poverty?”

John Piper Reflects on Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Implosion

This was an interesting Q&A with John Piper regarding Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Some undoubtedly will take issue with Piper’s comments regarding abandoning the institutional church (but they shouldn’t).

Pray for the Third Wave

John Ensor:

Almost eight years ago, I wrote to encourage the church to pray for the Third Wave. I argued that the end of abortion as a business would be in sight when the prolife movement was not only joined, but led, by Black and Latino Christians.

I was wrong, at least partially. And I am so thankful.

Fractured Christians

Tim Challies:

…what if Jonah was a book with three chapters instead of four? A three-chapter Jonah is a powerful story of a man running from God, being transformed by God, obeying God, and witnessing a great and unexpected revival. But Jonah has four chapters, and it is in that final chapter that everything changes.

Wilberforce didn’t quit. Neither will we

wilberforce

Forty-six years.

That’s how long William Wilberforce labored to see the end of slavery in the British Empire. His work began in earnest in 1787 when he first came into contact with abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. These activists found a kindred spirit in Wilberforce, whose conversion to the Christian faith had given birth to an abiding concern for social reform—so much so, in fact, that he wrote in his diary, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”

The long road to abolition

The dark and dehumanizing practice of slavery weighed heavy on him. He first introduced a bill proposing the abolition of slavery in 1791,1 which was soundly defeated. He brought it forward again in 1792, and it was again defeated. And again in 1793. And again in 1794. And again and again and again, each time finding new support and gradually making more and more progress until in 1807, the Slave Trade Act was finally passed by the British Parliament, which put slave trading to a formal end. But that victory was only the beginning—slave trading was not yet truly illegal. So Wilberforce’s campaigning continued through the end of his time in politics in 1826, until his death on July 29, 1833.

One month after his death, the Slavery Abolition Act was finally passed into law and the slave trade was truly finished in the British Empire.

How Wilberforce’s example can encourage us today

On August 3, 2015, the United States Senate voted on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, the corporation responsible for the deaths of more than 300,000 babies every year. The bill was narrowly defeated, falling only seven votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

The events leading up to this bill even being voted on have been incredibly dramatic (and terrifying), as Westerners have increasingly been forced to realize they cannot turn a blind eye to the abominable practices of the abortion industry. And despite the unlikely event that this first bill would have advanced, today’s pro-life advocates, like their abolitionist forbearers, should not see this as a defeat.

Rather, it is a beginning.

The whole deal with a Wilberforce moment, as my friend Josh called it, is it’s not a one-and-done event. One can only imagine how many sleepless nights Wilberforce endured during those 46 years; how each defeat led to new renewed vigor because the cause was just. Wilberforce didn’t quit, and neither will we.

His moment, like this one, was a first step—the beginning of a long road which will see many defeats. In our day, another bill will come. It might be defeated. If it does, another will come forward. It might advance. If it advances, the President (whomever is in office) may veto. But another will come. And another. And another. Until eventually, we will finally see the end of one of the greatest atrocities committed of our age.

And make no mistake, it will end.

It’s just going to take a little while.

Changing opinions on abortion when legislation isn’t an option

armstrong-kids

I hate abortion. But I didn’t always.

Prior to my mid-20s, I was fairly certain that abortion was good for our society. My arguments were the typical “woman’s right to choose/health” related variety, but I doubt I would have been able to articulate any position terribly well. Why? Because the truth is, my conviction really had less to do with the good of another, and more for my distaste for “those people”—the ones who would be on the sidewalk outside the hospital with signs with Bible verses, ultrasound pictures and the occasional picture from an abortion (which I’m not entirely sure help, by the way…).

I didn’t know them, but I didn’t like them. And because I didn’t like them, whatever they were talking about was obviously wrong (because that’s how logic works, right?). I was the type that would make obscene gestures driving past, who would probably make a comment about being on “the wrong side of history”.

Then I meet Jesus.

After becoming a Christian, no one really had to tell me that abortion was wrong. No one had to convince me that life began at conception, and that the life growing inside a mother’s womb was a person. But I also didn’t realize my own complacency about the issue. I didn’t see my support by virtue of my distaste for people of conviction on this issue as participating in the sin of abortion, but also a sin against those people.

What woke me up, really, was a book I read a number of years ago, Innocent Blood by John Ensor, which I still feel is one of the finest books on the subject published to date. This was one of the passages that made me realize that I could no longer be privately pro-life, but publicly silent:

Being personally pro-life but otherwise passive is a cowardly and shameful position. Christ is trying to show this in the way he describes the behavior of the priest and the Levite in his parable (Luke 10:25-37). Seeing a man beaten and about to die, they let it stand unchallenged. They might well comfort themselves, “That is just horrible. I do not believe in that.” However, merely believing that murder is wrong does not qualify as obedience to the commandments of God… When you can live with death, work around it, or let it go unchallenged, you are not pro-life. (53)

Reading that hit me like a ton of bricks all those years ago, and it still does even now, particularly that last line.

I live in Canada, and one of the difficult things about being pro-life in this nation is how it’s more-or-less a non-issue here. Keep in mind, we are the only nation in the western world without any laws regarding abortion. Globally, we’re on par with North Korea on this issue. (And can we just agree that we shouldn’t be in the same category as North Korea on any issue at all, ever?) All but one of the major political parties in this country are staunchly pro-abortion, and the other party has no official position (which is, of course, a position).

In the hospitals where our children took their first breaths, innumerable were (and are) never given the chance to take theirs. Christians and all Canadians who are opposed to abortion have no ability to challenge our government to reconsider. We are forced to live with death. We might not be happy about it. We might accompany a small group of people and hold up a sign, but we also recognize that doing so won’t change the fact that there’s (currently) nothing we can do to change the legal situation.

So where does that leave us?

Interestingly, with an opportunity. We can’t legislate change here, but we can influence opinions. We can help people recognize the value of children (not merely the evil of abortion) through our love for children—which starts with having children in our lives! Our church, for example, is very pro-baby, with a nursery that’s bursting at the seems. More than a few guys have had certain procedures reversed (and paid for it out of pocket) because they’ve been convicted they ought to have more children. There’s even one family that, every time I see them, I smile because they are a living, breathing preview of the new creation.

But is also happens through showing true compassion to those considering abortion, or those who have had one. The last thing a woman who’s dealing with the emotional fallout of an abortion needs is to be told how what she’s done is wrong and evil. She already knows this. Instead she needs to know there’s hope for her and to have genuine love extended. Our city’s crisis pregnancy center—founded and run by evangelical Christians—provides alternatives for women considering abortion and counselling for those who have had one, as well as tons of education for prospective parents (including dads), and real sex education (the kind that talks about four new cases of Chlamydia being diagnosed daily, almost exclusively among high school and post-secondary students). Ministries like this one are not only helping people deal with the chaos of a surprise pregnancy, but helping them come to know Christ.

And no doubt there’s more going on that I’m unaware of and much more that could be said. There are lots of families who are doing pro-life things, and honoring Christ, but just don’t make a big deal of it. It’s just what they do, and what we should do as well. When we demonstrate that children really matter, and when we help people who are facing the decision to know they are loved by us and by God, that they and their babies have value and dignity, that’s our best opportunity to really make a difference. We can stand against the culture of death by actively engaging with those lives that matter.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

No Kindle deals for you today, but I do have a couple of notable books (and Bibles) worth considering:

Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice a new book edited by Owen Strachan and Jonathan Parnell will be released at the end of the month. It features chapters by Denny Burk, Brandon Smith, Joe Rigney, Trillia Newbell, Gloria Furman and a whole bunch of others. The paperback edition doesn’t release until the end of the month, but you can get the Kindle edition right now.

Also worth checking out is Westminster Bookstore’s sale on the Psalms in the ESV translation.

Will Millennials Be the Generation to Ban Abortion?

Chris Martin:

The turning-a-blind-eye approach to abortion that has persisted for decades, and there is real reason to think that will only continue among Millennials. The idea that individuals are not allowed to impose their religious, ethical, or otherwise convictional opinions upon others has never been stronger. Science may advance, minds may change, but Millennials continue to compel each other to keep their convictions to themselves.

 

Is Your Faith the Right Kind of Simple?

Mike Leake:

Sometimes I wonder if Skynrd’s mama hasn’t counseled many within the church. After all how many times have you heard something like this: “I don’t need none of that fancy book learnin’, just give me a simple faith.” What we mean by that is that we want a faith that we can understand—that we can wrap our minds around. We want just a plan and simple type of faith.

A Both-And Woman and Her Bible

Allison Burr:

I have sat alongside many puzzled Christians in Bible studies over the years, and I used to be the first among them. These struggles often center around the hard providences of God — how God wields his power and authority — either in the Scriptures or in the difficult corners of our lives. We begin by asking, “Well, if [insert painful, confusing, awful, inconvenient reality] is true, then how could God . . . ” The ellipses are replaced with “be good” or “allow this to happen” or “also declare this other seemingly contradictory reality to be true.”

This setting is where a both-and hermeneutic brings clarity and comfort — and not just to our minds, but into virtually every situation in life.

 

The evolution of Chuck Jones

How Should Christians Respond to Attacks and Insults?

R.C. Sproul:

Years ago, I received a letter from a friend who is a pastor at a church in California. In it, the pastor included a copy of an article that had appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Although the article included a photo of him standing in his church and holding his Bible, it was basically a vicious personal attack against him.

When I saw that picture and read that article, I felt a great deal of empathy for my friend because I had recently had a similar experience. A person I believed was my friend made some very unkind statements about me publicly, and word had gotten back to me. My feelings basically vacillated between despondency and anger, even though I knew I needed to respond with joy (Matt. 5:11–12).

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

This week the 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series is on sale for $4.99 each:

Also on sale:

The Pastor and Social Media

Nick Batzig:

…I have observed a somewhat disturbing trend among ministers in recent years. If a man posts links to his own sermon audio, things about the church he pastors or to books, articles or posts that he has written then he is often painted by the social media police as being driven by self-aggrandizement, opportunism and desire for celebrity status. Judging the motives of others is an extremely spiritually unwise and unhealthy practice. The Scriptures say, “Let another mouth praise you and not yourself,” not “Let another man post links to your sermons, books and writings and not yourself.” We need to guard our hearts against sinfully judging the motives of those who do. In short, we must guard against setting ourselves up as self-appointed social media police.

The Pastor’s Dilemma

Nicholas McDonald:

I began ministry at a grand $36,000 a year, until I finally pinned down some of my theology and decided the place I worked didn’t share it. I then transferred to a church that paid significantly less, we had our first child, and the “graduating payment” plan kicked in generously, asking us to donate to our local loan officer a grand $400 a month payment.

The story does get better, but before it does, I need to be honest about the fact that “ministry” during this the time felt less like changing people’s souls and more like I was a cat trying to claw its way up drywall. I was struggling to breathe, to work, to think straight – my debt was an insurmountable burden, like I was pregnant with a child who would never breach the womb.

How ISIS Helped Salmaa Become a Christian

Garret Kell:

Seeking to know Him came with many obstacles and danger, but Salmaa continued to pursue Him. The longing to have peace, righteousness, and nearness to God could not be quenched. And in recent days, her longing to know Jesus has intensified by the most unlikely of circumstances.

As Salmaa watched the news and saw the murder of 21 Ethiopian Christians by the hands of ISIS, she was strangely drawn to the peace she found on the faces of the men who knelt in honor of Jesus.

How could they be at such peace with God?

The Grass Isn’t Greener

Stacy Reaoch:

Whenever I step foot in the mall I realize how many things I “need.” The enticing window displays of shiny leather shoes, the latest fashions, and giant red SALE signs draw me in like a moth to a flame. All of a sudden, I realize how dingy my boots look, how out of style my coat is, and why I had better jump on this clearance sale before it’s gone. What I had been content with 10 minutes ago now urgently needs to be replaced.

Discontent has set in, and it leads down a windy path to a host of other sins.

House votes to ban abortion in the U.S. after five months

Although it could be defeated in the Senate or struck down with a presidential veto, this is still news worth celebrating (and praying that this would be made into law).

Links I like

Bacon_Ads_Blue_Logo_1000x458

The best thing to happen in advertising since bacon

Advertising is a necessary evil for many bloggers who want to keep their sites up and running. Today, Beacon Ads is making advertising easier—and more delicious—than ever as they become Bacon Ads!

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Lots of great deals today:

Also, Westminster Bookstore has just started carrying eBooks from the fine folks at Reformation Heritage Books with more than 100 titles priced at $1.99 until April 13th. You can also get A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones for $4.99 as part of this sale.

America’s muddled morality about the unborn

Trevin nails this.

Helping Children Benefit from the Sermon

Erik Raymond:

As a pastor I often get the question, “Do you have any advice for helping my kids to benefit from the sermon?”

This is a question that I really appreciate because it recognizes the importance of the preaching of the Word of God and our reception of it. It recognizes that even the children are to hear, and to best of their ability, understand what is being preached.

What follows are some things that I have done as a Dad and also as a pastor.

Theologians to know and read

This is good:

The many hairstyles of David Beckham

I saw this on Twitter last night; it is a delightful piece of artwork:

beckham-hair

You can also buy prints of it here.

A Clean House and a Wasted Life

Tim Challies:

I love productivity. At least, I love productivity when it is properly defined—as effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. By this definition, each one of us, no matter our vocation, ought to pursue productivity with all the vigor we can muster. And if you do that, it is inevitable that along the way you will accumulate some mess. You cannot focus your time, attention, gifts, energy, and enthusiasm toward noble goals while still keeping every corner of life perfectly tidy.