Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Resources to Help Understand Pro-Life Issues and Arguments

In trying to narrow down a list of resources, I have opted to include just a few books and some web links that will take you much further in this subject.  It is certainly not an exhaustive list; however, these are good resources for understanding, assisting, and articulating a consistently pro-life view.

Life Training Institute Blog:  http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/
Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives Ministries:  www.epm.org
Two of Randy’s books on the subject:

Focus on the Family has many resources available at www.family.org
Care Net—a network of pro-life pregnancy centers.  www.care-net.org
National Right to Life, the oldest “pro-life” advocacy group  www.nrlc.org

Two more books:

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

And here is an amazing apologetic video from Ray Comfort that tackles the issue through a historic perspective.  WARNING: This is not for children, and has some disturbing images.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Resources on Racial Reconciliation

Since I am  no expert, but have just staked out some ground regarding the challenge and choice to pursue racial reconciliation, I figured I better let everyone know about resources that I believe are helpful in this discussion.  I'm listing  a few books, articles, and links, below.  In the Amazon tool to the right, I will seek to put links to the books so that you can get them if you wish.  I have also made book titles links to other sites where they are available.  I'm not saying every line of every book or article or sermon is something I might say or endorse, but these are very good resources to get us thinking, and hopefully moving.

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christianby John Piper (you can also order the book or get a free PDF file for download here)

One Race, One Blood, by Charles Ware and Ken Ham, available through Answers in Genesis.

A Credible Witness, by Brenda Salter NcNeil (highly recommended by Dr. Jeff Cook)

One, but Not the Same: God's Diverse Kingdom Come Through Race, Class, and Gender, by Chris Williamson (Pastor Williamson is a Trustee at CU)

Prejudice and the People of God, by A. Charles Ware (president of Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana)

More than Equals, Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel, by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice (these men have worked to establish a multi-racial church, and Perkins' father is John Perkins, a legendary Christian leader in civil rights).

The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss.  Yes, this is a children's book that deals with differences, and was recommended by Jessica Dyson on behalf of her father, and my friend, Greg Dyson.

Web resources:
John Piper, "I Was a Racist."  This excerpt from his book, Bloodlines, (listed above) tells of Piper's own story in the journey from boyhood in the racially segregated South to a passion for racial reconciliation.

"Every Race to Reign and Worship," audio sermon by John Piper.

Desiring God Ministries has a number of resources from the Racial Harmony Sunday sermons preached by John Piper.

"What Carlton Banks, Ice Cube, and Denzel Washington Teach Us About Hiring," by Bryan Loritts.  I include this as a helpful reflection on what this process needs to consider, especially in church leadership.

"Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  If you have never read this, you should.  If you are a pastor, it will especially prick the conscience as you ask yourself, "Where would I have been in 1963?"  I know where my church, in the North, was in 1968, when Dr. King was shot, and it was not a God-honoring stance.

If you have other good resources to recommend, you can let me know!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Absence of God

Imagine having a walk with God so sweet that at times you are swept away by a sense of being in his glorious presence and enveloped in his love.  Such was the experience of David Brainerd, famous missionary to American Indians in the 18th century.  He writes of such ecstasies in his journals.

But just as profound and powerful, in a negative way were times he went through where God was lost to him.  Read his journal entry from one of those times.
"My spiritual conflicts today were unspeakably dreadful, heavier than the mountains and overflowing floods. I seemed enclosed, as it were, in Hell itself; I was deprived of all sense of God, even of the being of a God; and that was my misery. I had no awful apprehensions of God as angry. This was distress, the nearest akin to the damned's torments, that I ever endured; their torment, I am sure, will consist much in a privation (lack) of God, and consequently of all good. This taught me the absolute dependence of a creature upon God the Creator, for every crumb of happiness it enjoys. Oh I feel that, if there is no God, though I might live for ever here, and enjoy not only this but all other worlds, I should be ten thousand times more miserable than a reptile. My soul was in such anguish I could not eat; but felt as I suppose a poor wretch would that is just going to the place of execution."
No wonder Brainerd gave his life for the effort to bring the gospel to native peoples who were in danger of such a permanent state.  May God grant us both passion for his presence and abhorrence of the sense of his "absence."

(Quote taken from a short biographical article from Christianity.com.  The fuller article is here.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy Epiphany!

I meant to mention this in services today, but forgot to do so in the 9:15 service.  Today is Epiphany Sunday on the traditional Church Calendar.  This day marks both the end of the 12 Days of Christmas (also a season in the Calendar), and celebrates the arrival of the Magi in response to the appearance of the Star.  The word "epiphany" means "appearance" or "revealing" or "manifestation," and the appearance of the star led to the appearance of the Wise Men.

What makes the day worth celebrating is that it reminds us the Messiah was not just King of the Jews, but was truly for all people--the Magi, after all, were all Gentiles.  If you want an insight into how they might have known in Persia what this Star meant, read my previous post below.

Since the story in Matthew tells us that the Magi visited a house and a young child in Bethlehem, not a baby, it is most likely that the Magi did not arrive until after the birth, and possibly much later than just 12 days!  This is why I liked to put the Wise Men from our manger set on the other side of the room when the kids were small!

In any event, rejoice that the Messiah has come, and that he has come for all people!