Monday, September 29, 2008

Tender Hearts in the Church

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:12-13)

The following is an excerpt from our minister Ron Babbit's newsletter to supporters of his ministry with the Contact Church of Christ. The Contact Church is an urban ministry, dependent upon the support of individual Christians and congregations who want to support mission work in the inner city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Please read below and 'listen' to a battle of the heart. This is often true of the lives that walk the halls at Contact Church. GOD keeps sending hearts who are searching for acceptance, answers, healing and direction in their lives...

"'Dear Mama, I really don't know where to begin. All I do know is I love you very much and wish things could have been different. The reason I'm writing this letter is to let you know how your drinking, drugging and choices have affected my life and how it affected the choices I've made. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but sometimes it leaves you very scared, confused, and lonely. Sometimes trying to carry out your own death. I can remember the fight when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It's so loud! Screaming, yelling, and you breaking all the dishes. Me, I'm screaming and crying and covering my ears. You guys are so lost in whatever you're fighting about that I feel scared for you, and for me. I'm ignored, maybe I don't matter, but you do, you are my mommy. It's all those big parties at our house. A lot of drinking, drugging and fighting. With me and my siblings, the drinking would start and the fear would kick in because we knew what was coming. So we seemed to act accordingly, arguing, fighting to get attention because we are ignored...By 8 or 9 years of age, I'm already comfortable with the inconsistent chaos in my life. I'm angry and hurt, lonely, afraid and unimportant. I'm to blame and I'm also powerless. I must do what you say when you tell me and not have any feelings or responses or reactions to it or I will be punished. You told me to tell the truth but then taught me to deny my reality. I had valid feelings and you told me to dry it up and stop crying. So I learned to suppress my emotions to the point that I couldn't even figure out any one single emotion. When men started molesting me, I couldn't tell you the truth because I might be punished or you wouldn't believe me. I just needed to talk to you without fear. I needed you so bad and you weren't available. I watched you become something I couldn't attach to! I tried several times seeking that bond with you, the need to be loved, comforted, held and accepted. Somehow I just wasn't good enough. At age 12 you sent me away...I was the problem and if I would go away then everyone else would be happy. Thus I have lived my life feeling responsible for others' behaviors. I've let others' opinions play a huge part in my decisions in life. I finally stopped trying to reach out to you because I was rejected, abandoned and hurt by you! Then I started reaching out to guys because I could give them what they wanted and briefly get a little of what I needed. But it was never enough to take it away.

"'By age 15, full of anger, I was seeking men, drugs, alcohol, attempted suicide, all temporary releases of emotions. All to change the way I feel. By the age of 20, I married someone who didn't drink or do drugs. Surely he was my Knight in Shining Armor. Maybe, but by now I'm the Queen of Chaos. I did everything to destroy that because I couldn't live in a nice stable, drug-free home with family who talked to each other and expressed healthy emotions and trusted one another. Of course I blamed them for everything...When that marriage ended, I was even more abandoned...I tried to take my own life. I had absolutely no value then. But I had my boys who I wanted to be a good mommy to. I read everything I could and I began to fight for them to protect them.

"' I met someone who would abuse me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That's what I thought I deserved. Over 8 years of time, I would lose my boys, give birth to 2 girls, get married, get my boys back, loose all my children, drinking, drugging, fight, scream, yet hate myself, hate him and neglect my children. All during this, I was searching for GOD. Seeking to stay clean, fighting to stay alive, and fighting for my children to be heard. All the while I was fighting for me to be heard, I suffered broken bones. While pregnant I was kicked many times, choked numerous times, and had my life threatened daily. I have successfully created the chaos and the neglect and the emotionally hostile environment. I seriously wanted to change the way I felt the whole time.

"'Finally when my girls were molested, I gave up the fight. I called for help. The only way I know how to live is with the drinking, drugging, fighting, emotional and verbal abuse. I'm at present making better choices, leaving my husband who has no desire to change his life. I have committed my life to the LORD by being baptized into CHRIST. I got my 2 girls back and they are living with me and I am in the process of receiving my education.'

(Ron Babbit concludes with his own comments)

"Thanks for praying for the Contact family. Our friend travels by public transportation and some of the Contact family members are also stepping up, getting involved, helping with transportation and loving others. Since our friend isn't bashful, she has invited many to services and we are currently reading the WORD with other families because of her love for the LORD. Praise GOD for HIS healing of her heart. Thanks again for your partnership of souls. GOD bless you. We love you,
Ron and Judy Babbit"

Thanks for reading this post! If you are a supporter of the Babbits or our other ministers, thanks for the support!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Abortion and Urban Ministry

The World Magazine blog had an interesting post about abortion and urban ministry this week at The post emphasizes the need to reach "da hood" and "the trailer park" in efforts to reduce the abortion rate. (Just a side comment: Having grown up in a trailer park, I did not even realize at the time that people might look down on me for where I lived.)

At the Contact Church, Mary Lasarsky leads a great ministry for pregnant girls and young women as a part of the urban ministry. More information can be found at She has been making a difference for years now.

Friday, September 26, 2008


"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).

We saw a good romantic movie this afternoon. Fireproof tells the story of a firefighter and his wife who are going through difficult times in their marriage. The husband neglects his wife, saves his money for his own entertainment, ignores his wife's needs, is addicted to Internet pornography, and demands respect from his wife. The wife disrespects her husband, engages in a flirtatious emotional affair with a co-worker, whines about her husband's lack of communication, and pursues a divorce.

In an effort to save his marriage, the firefighter seeks his father's advice. The father encourages his son to take a 40-day love dare, in which the son learns to selflessly seek to meet the needs of his wife. When the dare is not working at the midway point, the son nearly gives up in frustration. He is tired of trying to gain his wife's love. His father explains that he needs Christ's help, the help of the One who knows what it is like to pursue the love of ungrateful and selfish people. The firefighter realizes that he has been selfish. He becomes a believer in Christ and seeks to show his wife unselfish love from that point on, seeking but not demanding her love in return.

I will not give away the end of the story, but it has a few surprising twists with themes respecting marriage,unconditional love, and parents.

The movie was made on a small budget with mostly amateur actors and actresses, but it was emotionally engaging with its good storyline. Guys, your wives will love this movie. Take her out and enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Making a World of Difference

"He...must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28).

Every year at this time, federal employees (both civilian and military) have an opportunity to designate a portion of their pay checks for the next year to a variety of charities of their choice through the Combined Federal Campaign. The theme of this year's campaign is Making a World of Difference. These are my choices and recommendations for this year:

Christian Relief Fund (CFC#11862)--The Christian Relief Fund is an organization dedicated to "fighting hunger and poverty internationally by providing food, medicine, educational support, Christian disaster relief and humanitarian aid to children and families in developing countries." More information can be obtained at

Pioneer Bible Translators (CFC#11481)--Pioneer Bible Translators "work in nine countries to assist native language speakers in translating the Bible, providing literacy training, establish/strengthen churches, and train nationals for partnership." More information can be found at

International Justice Mission (CFC#85320)--International Justice Mission "rescues victims of violent oppression including slavery and sex trafficking, ensures aftercare services, pursues perpetrator accountability in local courts and encourages preventative structural change." More information is available at

If you are a federal employee, please consider these charities. Each organization helps people in need in different, but necessary, ways. If you know a federal employee, please let him or her know about these organizations. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Infanticide and Politics (Part 2)

I read an interesting article today in USA Today (which can be accessed at The article focuses on the practice of infanticide among Indians in Brazil and the efforts of Christians to stop the murders. While the Christians receive criticism, they continue their efforts to protect those children.

I have a few observations about the story.

1. Christians have a long history of rescuing children who have been left to die. The tradition dates back to the early days of Christianity in the ancient Roman Empire.

2. Love compels Christians to care for the children who have been left to die. We cannot ignore such sins when we know about them, and we certainly can't justify them. We must act.

3. It is not racist to save the disabled children of Indians. It is anything but racist.

4. Despite what others write, it's okay to oppose sin within one's culture. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have read Christian leaders cautioning their followers against being known for opposing sin. They warn us not to speak against abortion, homosexuality, and other culturally popular sins, because it presumably hinders church growth. Nonsense. If we oppose sin because it hurts people...and if we offer forgiveness and a new start to life through Christ...we are not harming the cause of Christ. We are being faithful and loving. We are honoring our Savior.

5. Good works will be opposed. We will make enemies. Opposing infanticide and caring for abandoned children seems like a no-brainer. It seems like it should receive no opposition. However, obviously some people favor infanticide. Our job is not to please our opponents. Our job is to continue to do the most good we can despite their opposition.

Thanks for reading! And please don't let anyone intimidate you into apathy and inaction when you are motivated by love for God and people.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Infanticide and Politics

"Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, 'But we know nothing about this,'
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24:11-12).

I cannot pretend to be neutral. I am pro-life. Please check out to find out about Senator Obama's record on infanticide. It is disturbing.

(Thanks to fellow blogger Christy Ellis for alerting me to the web site.)

(After reading this post again, I realized that I needed to explain my pro-life convictions and why I am not neutral on this issue. My explanation can be understood best by reading two of my previous posts:

In those posts, you will see why this issue affects me so personally and why I am so committed to opposing the unnecessary killing of children.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


(After my last post, my blogging buddy Mitchell Skelton asked me to write an article about racism and the church. The following post is my attempt to provide the article for him. Thanks for the request, Mitchell!)

Across millennia, the people of God have faced the problem of racism in their midst. Moses dealt with racial prejudice within his family "because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married" (Numbers 12:1, New King James Version). When the apostle Peter began to practice racial segregation because of peer pressure, the apostle Paul "opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" (Galatians 2:11). In American society, a racially integrated church has been the exception, rather than the rule, throughout our history.

Why is racism wrong? Fundamentally, racism is wrong because it's an insult against God.

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

As a descendant of Adam, Eve, Noah, and his wife, every person on earth enjoys the family heritage of being made in the image of God. Each person is special to God. Everyone is valuable to him. When we devalue a person based on race, we are insulting and devaluing the Creator.

In addition, racism interferes with Christ's mission in the world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). God does not leave out white people, black people, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians, or any other racial group. His Son died for all kinds of people. When Jesus sent his church into the world with his message of eternal life, he commissioned his people to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Literally, he told us to "make disciples of all ethnic groups". Racism stands in the way as a major obstacle to fulfilling the will of God among our neighbors.

What can Christians do about racism? First, we must become aware of the problem. Few white Christians may realize that racial minorities carry a social burden unknown to the majority. Minorities will be suspected of causing problems and committing crimes simply because of their race. A young black man will be more likely to face disciplinary problems in school because of his race. He will be more likely to be pulled over by the highway patrol. He may be innocent, but he will be suspected of wrongdoing. Few minority Christians may realize that white Christians are unaware of this stress-inducing aspect of their lives.

Next Christians need to stand with the person who is being treated unjustly due to his or her race. Speak out. Defend the innocent. Comfort the victim. Minorities are rightfully bewildered and repulsed at the silence of white Christians in the face of obvious injustice.

Christians must make friends with people from a variety of ethnic groups. Loosen up and enjoy being with people of different backgrounds. Have a sense of humor. Purposefully mispronounce Spanish words so that your Hispanic co-workers can tease you. Tease them back. Good-natured humor builds bridges and cuts tension.

If single, date Christians of other races. If married, adopt a child of a different race. Allow your children to date Christians of different races, and be prepared to have grandchildren of a different race.

Finally, churches need to seek both members and leaders from a variety of races. Use church buses and vans to pick up children, parents, and others from minority neighborhoods and bring them to church services. If a ministry position opens, intentionally look for candidates of different races to fill the position. Christian universities and Bible colleges should be able to help. Seek racially diverse Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, deacons, and elders. A racially diverse leadership can build a racially diverse membership more easily.

The early church mystified its world through the reconciliation of ethnic enemies (Ephesians 3:6). Our society would be just as amazed today if it were to see true racial reconciliation within God's church. Let's rise to the challenge.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Anniversary of the Birmingham Church Bombing

"...mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four young black girls were murdered in a hateful, racist attack.

John Piper shares hits thoughts about the bombing at

Mart De Haan raises the question of whether it is appropriate to forgive the unrepentant murderers at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bibles and Churches

"Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?" (Acts 2:8)

From the first day of the church, God has made it clear that he wants people to hear the good news of Christ in their own languages. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to proclaim the message in a wide variety of languages to a diverse audience.

In the years since then, the message has been preserved in the Bible. Missionaries have traveled the globe, translating the gospel into many more languages.

In the English-speaking world, we have been blessed with numerous translations of the Bible, from the old King James Version to the newer English Standard Version. Some versions have been excellent. They have been accurate and understandable. Some versions have been horrible. They have altered the meaning of words in order to deny key doctrines such as the deity of Jesus Christ. Some versions have been very good, but with an ever-changing language, they have become difficult to understand. No translation has been perfect. Some have been great. Some have been atrocious.

In a similar way, churches translate the gospel into their circumstances with varying degrees of success. Some churches present an accurate and understandable message about Christ. They reach people around them without changing the gospel. Some churches present a terribly inaccurate message, even misleading people into obvious heresy. Other churches present the right message, but in a difficult form for people to grasp.

As with Bible translations, no church is perfect. Some churches are great. Some are awful. The goal is to be a church with credibility, a church with an understandable and accurate message that is being lived out in the lives of its ordinary members.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


"Are you tired of walking on eggshells and jumping through hoops in trying to please God? Relax. Come to me. We'll walk through life together. I'll do the heavy lifting while you watch and learn. I'll be a patient and kind teacher. I will lighten your load, and you will grow stronger. Together, as you depend on me, we will approach my Father with confidence and joy."

--Jesus Christ (paraphrased from Matthew 11:28-30)

Merging the Message with the Ministry

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Sometimes we have a tendency to separate what God has joined together in our lives. We can be so consumed with the spiritual condition of the world that we exert all of our energy on spreading the message of salvation in Christ, neglecting people in physical need. On the other hand, we can be so consumed with the physical needs of our world that we exert all of our energy on relieving physical suffering, neglecting spiritual needs among the people. We can even attempt to justify our neglect by saying, "The only real good that can be done is by preaching the gospel" or "I preach through my actions." Neither excuse justifies us. When we proclaim the good news, we are not exempt from caring for people's physical needs. When we show mercy, we are obligated to point people toward Jesus Christ, the source of true mercy. Otherwise, we are tempted to show mercy for the wrong reasons: to make ourselves feel good about ourselves or to enjoy the praise of people.

Harold Shank, Anthony Wood, and Ron Bergeron wrote, "Jesus served people in holistic ways...He sought to serve people physically and spiritually. Only when we adopt his mission, casting aside our own world-supplied agendas that fracture our ministry, can we hope to find a holistic approach to the lost and the poor. Anyone who claims that the Christian mission includes only the spiritual, needs to read again the simple conclusion of James about spiritual ministry: 'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world' (Jas 1:27). Any who limit the Christian mission to the physical must note Jesus' own calling: 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose' (Luke 4:43)" (Up Close and Personal: Embracing the Poor, p. 85).

John Piper wrote, "(Y)ou dare not choose between the motives to love people and glorify Christ. They are not separate motives. Acting on one includes acting on the other. Thus, if your aim is to love people, you will lay down your life to make them eternally glad in God. And if your aim is to glorify Christ, who is God incarnate, you will also lay down your life to make people eternally happy in God.

"The reason for this is that any good-hearted goal, without the desire to give people eternal joy in God, is condemnation with a kind face. Love always wants what is best for the needy, and what's best is enjoying God fully and forever" (Don't Waste Your Life, p. 159).

Let's care about people in every way possible while giving God the credit in every way possible. In doing so, we will also be loving God in every way possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jesus, the Community Organizer?

Radio talk shows have been receiving calls from listeners saying, "Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor." Of course, those listeners have been attempting to equate Senator Barack Obama (a former community organizer) with Jesus Christ, and Governor Sarah Palin with Pontius Pilate (the governor who allowed the execution of Jesus).

Although a clever line with slanderous innuendo, it doesn't quite work. The problem? Jesus was not a community organizer. A community organizer lives in a community and organizes social programs or activism. When Jesus lived in a community, he worked as a carpenter. When he began his ministry, he wandered from place to place preaching. He did not organize a social program or initiate social activism.

However, this does not imply that anything is necessarily wrong with community organizing or with governing a state. Both can be done honorably. Both are needed. We need community organizers to deal with community problems. Where would we be without the community organizers who have initiated neighborhood watch programs to combat burglary, drug dealing, and gang violence? We need men and women who will organize to close down strip clubs and pornographic retail stores within neighborhoods with children. Where would we be without governors who take the lead in attracting decent businesses to a state, increasing teachers' salaries, and balancing budgets? We need leaders who will look out for the best interests of citizens. We do not need to demean honorable occupations or honorable volunteer activities in an effort to get our favorite candidates elected.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stop the Presses: Preacher Believes Jesus Saves!

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Is this so rare that it's newsworthy? A preacher who believes that only Jesus Christ saves people has been found in Alaska (

(Thanks to Albert Mohler's blog for alerting me to the story.)

I Could Use Some Help

"If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death" (1 John 5:16-17).

How do you handle those verses? I have never completely understood them, and I have no idea how to apply them to my life. How do you know the difference between the sin that leads to death and the sin that does not lead to death? As far as I can tell, the apostle John never defined those terms in his writings. Have I overlooked something? Did his student Polycarp ever mention those terms in any of his writings from the second century of the church? What am I missing?

In addition, how do I know when I'm wasting my prayers on someone? I have seen people become Christians whom I would have written off as unreachable. I have seen people return to Christ who looked like they had rejected him forever. However, the apostle John indicates that it's a waste of effort and time to pray for people who have committed the sin that leads to death. How do I know when I should not be wasting my emotional energy on people who will never turn to Christ for life?

I would appreciate any help my readers could provide. Please leave a comment if you can help me with this in any way. Thanks!

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Best Thing is Helping People

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).

We have returned from a good evening at the Parkview Terrace apartments. The Contact Church (with help from some friends from the Garnett Church of Christ) held a cookout for residents of the apartment complex late this afternoon and evening. We grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, played with the children, and talked with the adults. Our son Christopher loved participating. He had the time of his life playing basketball and running around. Then he helped serve hotdogs to other kids. On the way home we were talking about the good time we had enjoyed with the people at Parkview Terrace, when Christopher commented, "The best thing is helping people!" I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Aggressive Mercy

I want to begin the week with a concerted effort to show mercy every day. I want to find ways to help someone every day. This passage from Harold Shank's Children Mean the World to God always inspires me to pursue mercy in life:

"Lydell Thomas leads a large inner city ministry in Nashville. He taught me about 'aggressive mercy.' Often we wait for people to come to us. Begging destroys dignity. People who ask for a handout must submit to our tests of efficiency before we will engage mercy. Lydell urges us to be more aggressive in showing mercy. He told about a young mother and her children who attended church one Sunday for the first time. A visitation worker called on the family the next day. The worker noticed the woman and her children had no furniture and passed the word on to a minister who dropped by later to confirm the report. While there, the minister asked the young mother a question.

"'Would you mind if we brought a couch, a couple of chairs, and a bed over to your apartment? We can have the truck stop by tomorrow if it is convenient.'

"The young mother and her kids stared in disbelief. Pure mercy is a rare commodity. After saying 'yes,' questions started coming to their mind. Who are these people? Why do they care? Why are there no strings? Why is there no interrogation? They went back to church and came to know God.

"We need aggressive mercy. We must be looking for children in need and finding ways to serve them, not waiting for them to come to us. We should be seeking them out, standing at the gate looking down the road to see if there is someone we can share our compassion with today" (p. 207).

A Wife of Noble Character

"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).
Everyone loves my wife Janet. With her friendly personality, compassion, and sense of humor, she makes friends easily.
She also has great integrity. She displayed it yesterday on a pop culture Internet discussion group. She has made several long-distance friends among the members, sending gifts at the births of children or grandchildren, making personal phone calls, and sending notes of encouragement during difficult times in members' lives. Yesterday, the discussion turned to politics. Nearly everyone in the group has voiced support for Senator Obama's presidential bid. However, Janet admitted to the members, "I LOVE Sarah Palin's pro-life/family stance!" It took a great deal of courage for her to admit to a pro-life stance among friends who oppose her views, but she displayed a winsome and noble character in doing so.
I'm grateful for a wife who will go against the flow when it's easier either to remain silent or to express mild support for something against her proper convictions. I'm thankful for Janet's example for our son, who will grow up seeing a mother willing to resist peer pressure for the right reasons. He will need to develop such backbone as he matures and faces peer pressure, too.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Favorite Radio Programs

I listen to a variety of radio programs on a regular basis. However, I try to listen every weekday to two outstanding programs: FamilyLife Today and Discover the Word.

FamilyLife Today features Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine. Most of the time, the two co-hosts interview experts on family issues. Sometimes they present a message from a marriage conference or a sermon from a church, but most of the time, they interview people. Topics include:
*communication in marriage
*disciplining children
*leaving a legacy
*balancing work and family responsibilities
*roles of husbands and wives
*and many other life issues.
Even when the topics do not directly affect me, I have found the programs to be interesting and useful. Most (if not all) of us need a little good advice from time to time. FamilyLife Today provides consistently biblical advice every weekday. It can be heard in Tulsa at 9:00am every weekday on 970AM and 95.1FM. Information about podcasts and broadcast times and stations in other locations can be found at

Discover the Word is a 15-minute daily program. It has a unique format. Gordon Conwell Seminary president Haddon Robinson, Gordon Conwell Seminary professor Alice Matthews, and RBC Ministries president Mart De Haan sit around a table and interact as a small group engaged in a friendly and informative Bible study. Since everyone in the group is knowledgeable and brings different life experiences to the table, I have learned to see things in the Scriptures that I had overlooked in my personal studies. They can move through a passage slowly--I think it took 4 years to cover the 10 commandments--but they keep it interesting, and they cover a passage or topic from many different angles. You can't help but learn more about God, the Bible, and life as you listen to this program on a regular basis. Discover the Word can be heard weekdays at 10:00am on 970AM and at 10:30am on 95.1FM in Tulsa. Information about podcasts and broadcast times and stations in other locations can be found at

If you are not a regular listener, I hope you will give these programs a try. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Influencing the Powerful on Behalf of the Weak in the Name of Christ

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed" (Psalm 82:3).

A co-worker has been passing around a video tape of the Saddleback Civil Forum, the series of interviews by Saddleback Church's Rick Warren with presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. This week, Janet and I had the opportunity to view it.

Both candidates did fairly well in answering difficult questions. I liked the nature of the questions posed by Rick Warren. "Does evil exist? If so, do you believe it should be ignored, contained, or defeated? When should a baby's life receive legal protection? How do you define marriage? Whom would you not have nominated to sit on the Supreme Court?" Such questions are important. The answers reveal a person's values and approach to life.

However, I was most impressed near the end of each interview when Rick Warren mentioned that 148 million orphans in the world are needing parents today. Then he asked each candidate, "Will you commit to making it easier to adopt those children? Will your administration make it a priority to remove barriers to helping these children?" I loved that question! Finally, someone has brought the plight of the world's orphans to the attention of our national leaders. Of course, both candidates were predisposed to answering favorably. Senator Obama has made it a point to advocate for help against the AIDS crisis in Africa, where millions of children are AIDS orphans. Also, Senator McCain and his wife Cindy have adopted a daughter from Bangladesh. So both candidates committed to look into what they could do as president to help the orphans of the world to find families to protect and nurture them.

Rick Warren honored Christ by letting the leaders of our country know that Christians want to help the weak and needy orphans of the world. He has done a great thing, something that I have not heard about in the news coverage of the event, but something important to the lives of many people around the world. He has used his fame well in advocating on behalf of the weak and fatherless.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Time for Mercy

I felt uncomfortable listening to callers and commentators on National Public Radio yesterday morning. The day before, the entire world learned that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's unmarried 17-year old daughter, Bristol, was carrying a child due to be born in about 4 months.

Bristol had sinned. She had violated God's standards of sexual morality.

Critics were quick to condemn her and her mother, but for some reason the baby's father was ignored.

However, Bristol had admitted to her sin. She had resisted any temptation to cover it up by aborting her child. She was planning to marry the father of her child. She was not lying about her sin. She was not promoting her sin as something others should do.

I could not join in the chorus of condemnation. I could not remove the account of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 from my mind. I could hear Jesus' words in my mind, "If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." I could hear him tell Bristol, "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."

An honest and responsible young woman who has failed morally does not need the condemnation of the world. If she were dishonest and irresponsible about her failure, she would need to be confronted for her own good, but that was not the case. She has admitted her failure and has been seeking to make the best of a difficult situation in dealing with the consequences.

Bristol Palin and girls like her around the world need mercy. Those without supportive families need others to help them through their difficult times. They need forgiveness and guidance. Some will need a home in which to stay. Some will need families who will adopt their children. They will need encouragement in continuing to pursue honesty before God and responsibility toward others.

I don't want to be among the people eager to throw stones at such girls. I would rather show mercy and help them.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A More Accurate Image of Christ

This will conclude my 3-part series of posts about the willingness of Christians to stand firm for the faith.

Paul Coughlin has written, "I have a non-Christian friend who says he can spot Christians at Hollywood parties: 'They worship at the altar of other people's approval.' He's fascinated as to why Christians think Jesus was so wimpy and gentle, when even he can read that Jesus wasn't" (No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women, and Children, p. 45).

Sometimes we have an unbalanced view of Jesus. We see his kindness, compassion, and generosity. We see his willingness to touch the leper. We see his gentleness with the woman caught in adultery. We see his eagerness to embrace a child. We hear his words of love, forgiveness, and mercy.

However, we may be blind sometimes to Jesus' more rugged qualities, the characteristics that prompted men to call for his execution. He became angry with religious people who enforced their petty rules to the harm of needy people. He made a scene at the temple when vendors were distorting the temple's purpose. He stood his ground against conservative Pharisees, liberal Sadducees, and secular Herodians. He refused to entertain a corrupt politician who had no interest in his message. He launched into a blistering criticism of his opponents, because they were pretending to be holy while opposing God and taking advantage of people.

The Christian is destined "to be conformed to the likeness of (God's) Son" (Romans 8:29). In Christ, we see a man who acted with justice, loved mercy and kindness, and walked humbly with God (Micah 6:8). We are to embrace each characteristic of our Savior. We cannot ignore the need for justice, the need for mercy and kindness, or the need for humility as we walk with our God. He is calling us to live freely in the Spirit of the Son of God by becoming more like Jesus Christ in how we approach life. We cannot ignore any aspect of God's character as we develop toward our destiny as children of God.

Thanks for reading this series!

Counter-Intuitive Wisdom About Convictions

In their book Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg offer some counter-intuitive advice about the attractiveness of Christians with convictions:

"I'm not ashamed to admit that it strikes a cord deep inside of me almost every time I see someone stand up and take a risk or pay a price for something they believe in. Even if I don't agree with the cause they represent, I find myself moved and impressed by the depth of their commitment and their willingness to get off the spectator stands and onto the playing field.

"I've learned through the years that seekers are not impressed with spinelessness. I need to emphasize this because so many Christians are so afraid that if they state what they really believe, if they come out of the closet, or if they live by biblical priorities, then they'll automatically alienate those outside the faith. But that's almost never the case.

"Most of the time, seekers, whether they admit it openly or not, respect and admire Christians who aren't afraid to take a stand. Don't forget, many of them are trying to make up their own minds about what to do with the claims of Christ. So when a believer speaks up for what is right, defends Christianity intelligently, or lives his faith openly and authentically, seekers are forced to deal with the implications for their own lives.

"They ask themselves, 'What do I believe? What would I be willing to take a stand for? Do I have the courage to do what is right like my Christian friend does?' Over time, questions like these often lead to answers found in Christ...

"Let me say it once more: Seekers have little respect for weak Christians. Deep down they're looking for somebody--anybody--to step up and proclaim the truth and then to live it boldly. And I've just got to ask, why can't that be us? Why can't we live authentically and boldly on our job sites, in our neighborhoods, at our schools, and in our world? What are we so afraid of? What's holding us back? We have the Holy Spirit, we have the Word of God, and we have the church.

"We want to be contagious Christians, don't we? Then let's be real with people. Let's manifest an authentic identity and not be more or less than God made us to be. Let's be emotionally authentic and grapple with whatever life throws at us. Let's humbly admit errors when we make them.

"And let's boldly stand up for what we believe. Let's declare it and live it out, without apology, in order to provoke the kind of decision the centurion made (when, at the death of Jesus, he saw a man who lived out his convictions, the centurion cried out, "Surely this man was the Son of God!").

"That's the power, attractiveness, and potential of an authentic Christian life" (pp. 63-65).