As promised, here are the notes from my session, "10 Things That Will Kill Your Church's Orphan Care Ministry" at CAFO 2015Read More
As the time of our election draws near, even those of us who have been at the margins of this presidential election conversation are being drawn into the fray. The temperature for many Christians is reaching a fever pitch as we enter this last month before Election Day. In that vein, here are a couple of things that I have been thinking as Election Day approaches:
Consider the example of the early church
We have to value the example of the New Testament Church as we reflect on our situation. Recently at Lifeline, we have studied through 1 Peter as a staff. The churches that Peter wrote to were established because their members fled Rome under the intense persecution of Nero. They had lost everything because the government was against them and had poisoned the minds of society against them. Sound familiar?
So what did Peter counsel the believers to do? He reminded them that their citizenship was in heaven and challenged them to act like it.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:8
Perhaps the most troubling thing in this election cycle for me is seeing the number of "conservative" Christians, especially pastors, who by all appearances are treating this election like it will sway the balance of power in the Kingdom of God. It should not be a newsflash for us to be reminded that it will not.
God will still be in His throne on November 10 regardless of the outcome of this election. The mission of the Church to make disciples of all nations, and it will still be our prime directive no matter who our president is. The blood of Jesus will still be effacious. The Holy Spirit will still comfort the hearts of those who are in Christ. And, we will still (and maybe more intensely) anticipate the imminent return of Jesus to establish the fullness of His Kingdom. We have it on good authority that we will prevail ultimately even if we suffer currently.
I must admit that I do not want to suffer. It's scary, but I also have to realize that my flesh betrays me in that fear. I have to remember and rest in what Paul wrote to the Roman church:
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:15-18
Our adoption is secure regardless of our circumstances. Our inheiritance is guaranteed by the work of Jesus, and if we suffer because our country falls apart morally under the weight of morally bankrupt leadership then we can and will endure for Jesus' sake.
Consider our difference from the early church
A striking difference that we enjoy, in contrast to the early church, is that we participate in our own governance. They lived under the hand of Rome and had no voice. On the other hand, we as American Christians have a loud and powerful voice in the politics of our nation. The question is for what are we using that voice?
I am afraid that we are losing our voice and our credibility by selling out to fear and by supporting candidates that are morally reprehensible. In doing so, we are telling the world that we are mere pragmatists whose hope is in this world. Pastors far and wide have become evangelists for candidates whose lives reflect a disdain for Christ and have marginalized their ability to stand before the world and point to the gospel by clinging only to the hope found in Christ.
I agree this election is pivotal for Christians in America, but I am not sure it is because of who we will elect. It may well be because of Whom we are failing to represent, and no win or loss of a mere election is worth that.
This past weekend, I returned from a 10-day trip to Africa during which I attended orphan care leadership forums in Uganda and South Africa as well as the Southern Africa Orphan Summit 2014.
The Lord blessed greatly during the Summit which was attended by representatives from 20+ African nations as well as speakers from Canada, Ukraine, and the US. The focus of the Summit was upon orphan care within the nations of southern Africa and included sessions on best practices, sustainability, public health, human trafficking, discipleship. local church orphan care, adoption, and much more.
I love living in the State of Tennessee, and I enjoy so much about our great state. I thank God that the Volunteer Sate has been home for the majority of my life. From the mighty Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee is a wonderful place to visit, but recent years have seen a spike in visitors coming to the state for a reason that is neither fun nor recreational. Increasingly, women are coming to Tennessee from across the southeastern U.S. seeking abortions.
Why has Tennessee become an abortion destination?
Simply put, Tennessee has an almost unrestricted abortion industry. In the early 1990s, the Tennessee Supreme Court made a radical ruling in determining that the state constitution’s guarantee of privacy rights supersedes the state legislature’s authority to regulate abortion. As such, the legislature’s hands have been tied in enacting laws regarding everything from informed consent to inspection or regulation of abortion facilities to mandating hospital stays for more risky procedures.
The lack of regulation and liberal access to abortions without waiting or informed consent has resulted in Tennessee becoming the go-to destination for abortion proponent organizations advising and aiding women to abort from outside Tennessee. In fact, Tennessee is being used by abortion advocates to skillfully trump the abortion limits of other most other southeastern states. For example, Alabama abortion rights advocates have begun to raise funds through crowdsourcing to pay for women to come to Nashville for abortions. Kentucky abortion advocates have been arranging transportation for women to the less restrictive Tennessee clinics some of whom even advertise discounts for out-of-state clients. Like water flowing along the path of least resistance, the tide of easily obtained abortions is rising in Tennessee.
The bottom line is that abortion rights advocates are using the liberal abortion regulations in Tennessee to send upwards of 4,200 women a year (1/4 of all abortions committed in Tennessee) to Tennessee for abortions that have been deemed to be illegal, unadvised, or unsafe by nearly every other state in the South.
Tennessee Voters Can Effect Change
On November 4, 2014, Tennessee residents will have the opportunity to go to the polls to vote to amend the state constitution to give legislators the ability to regulate abortions. Amendment 1 proposes to change the Tennessee Constitution to read:
"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
God calls himself the “Defender of the Defenseless” and the “Voice of the Voiceless,” and as Christians, we are called to join Him in this work to show the world His character. Voting to place the regulation of abortion into the hands of elected officials is a step in defending the defenseless that is practical not political.
To pass Amendment 1, Tennessee voters have to have majority of votes cast on the amendment with a total number of votes cast that is at least equal to the number of votes cast in the gubernatorial election. We cannot afford to sit this one out. Voter turnout is key to giving the legislature the necessary authority to regulate abortions in Tennessee.
How can you take action?
- Make plans to vote on Amendment 1 on November 4.
- Use your influence to encourage others to vote through word-of-mouth, social media, and other avenues.
- Use tools available to www.yeson1tn.org to help educate people you know and encourage them to vote including people in your church.
The gospel requires that we acknowledge and act upon God’s heart for the defense of defenseless, yet-to-be born children. Supporting Amendment 1 is a step toward valuing life and acknowledging God is its ultimate arbiter and defender.
For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made, Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
Psalm 139:13-16 (HCSB)