Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why A Pro-Life Witness Outside Abortion Clinics?

Giving public witness to the sanctity of life in this culture is certainly not easy.  And testifying against the horror that is abortion outside a business where preborn boys and girls are actually killed? Well, that is particularly disheartening, disgusting, and disillusioning.

So why do I do it?  Indeed, why have Claire and I and many of our close friends participated in sidewalk counseling and pro-life witness outside abortion mills for 32 years and counting?  Here are 5 quick reasons.

5) The presence of peaceful, prayerful pro-life advocates outside an abortion clinic has a profound and ongoing effect on those going inside, on the workers, on the people walking or driving by.  It provides multiple and memorable messages regarding the wrongness of abortion, the availability of alternatives, and the offer of forgiveness through Christ’s gospel. 

4) A pro-life witness outside an abortion business insures that men and women – even those who ultimately decide to commit the abortion – will forever remember that someone was there to plead with them, “no, don’t do this.”  They will retain in the memory of their abortion experience that someone was standing up for their child…and for the mother’s spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. That provides a tremendous incentive for repentance, a motivation to seek forgiveness and healing from the God Who delivered His Son to die for mankind’s sins.

3) Being regularly at an abortion clinic and coming face to face with the persons availing themselves of the demonic opportunities for child sacrifice fuels, as nothing else can, one’s zeal and commitment to fight against abortion on all other fronts. Political action?  Spiritual intercession?  Crisis pregnancy work?  Pro-life education?  Chastity campaigns?  Efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood?  Conversion of the arts to provide for effective sanctity of life expressions?  All of these (and more) are powerfully stimulated by being there at the very doors of death, being regularly challenged by what the stakes are in this fight.

2) Pro-lifers outside abortion mills save lives by dissuading people from aborting their children.  Even when they are not aware of their impact, pro-life advocates provide an impressive force for life that changes minds.  Would-be abortion clients are challenged in their conscience and end up driving by.  Even clients inside the place change their minds and leave.  And, among the dozens or hundreds or thousands who drive by and see peaceful protestors who carry pictures of babies and words like “Choose Life” and “Mother and Child: Love Them Both” and “Life: What a Beautiful Choice,” there are countless numbers of people whose consciences are challenged. Do you not expect that the Lord will tend those seeds of winsome truth and that they will not be relevant in future meditations, conversations, and especially when people are pressed by abortion temptations? Oh yes, the presence of pro-life advocates provide illumination and spiritual challenge that goes far beyond what we can imagine.

1) Because my honor as a Christian is at stake.  Where such brazen, violent injustice is occurring, how can I refuse the opportunity to testify against it?  What does it mean to the reputation of the Church (not to mention her sense of moral priority) if children are brutally murdered in our neighborhoods without us raising our voices in principled protest?  How much is our evangelism and discipleship tarnished and weakened if we do not take seriously such charges as Jeremiah 22:3 and Isaiah 1:16-17:  “Thus says the LORD, ‘Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.’” And “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow.”

Fewer and fewer American Christians bother nowadays to go in front of abortion mills to pray and give pro-life witness. That is an ominous warning of how far we have been co-opted by the world around us.  We have become indifferent, callous, distracted, and cowardly. Nevertheless, the grace of God remains available to us all – grace that forgives and cleanses, grace that yields wisdom and strength, grace that yet can bring personal and cultural revolution.

Our marching orders are quite clear. We read them in the Scriptures already listed. And in others like Psalm 82:3,4: “Vindicate the weak and fatherless. Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” And Proverbs 24: 11,12: “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.” And James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

As I said at the beginning of this column, giving public witness to the sanctity of life in this culture is certainly not easy.  But it remains extremely high in the values expressed by our Lord.

And that’s why, by the grace of God, we continue to do it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"If You Take Away Religion, You Can't Hire Enough Police"

Clayton Christensen from the Harvard Business School talks about the foundational values to culture that religion provides.

Friday, January 09, 2015

The New Year Starts for "When Swing Was King"

The newest volume of "When Swing Was King" made its debut yesterday at Life Care Center and we're on again today at Immanuel Courtyard as we swing and sway into our regular monthly schedule for 2015. (See the schedule right here.)

The song list is, as always, an impressive one:

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra (Ray Eberle, vocals) -- "The Nearness of You"
2) Bob Crosby & the Bobcats -- "Skater's Waltz in Swing Time"
3) Count Basie Orchestra (Helen Humes, vocals) -- "And the Angels Sing"
4) Benny Goodman Orchestra -- "Let's Dance"
5) Chick Webb  Orchestra (Charlie Linton, Louis Jordan, Ella Fitzgerald, vocals) -- "There's Frost on the Moon"
6) Charley Barnet Orchestra -- "Night Clow"
7) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- "Chinatown, My Chinatown"
8) Artie Shaw Orchestra (Helen Forrest, vocals) "All the Things You Are"
9) Les Brown Orchestra (Doris Day, vocals) "Sentimental Journey"
10) Desi Arnaz -- "The Lady in Red"
11) Harry James Orchestra -- "Deep Purple"
12) Gordon MacRae -- "Oklahoma"

Also impressive are the 250 or so photographs that are part of this "When Swing Was King" volume. Really nice. And then there's the accompanying commentary too. I mean, where else do you get terrific music from the big band era plus interesting trivia about the songs and musicians...and even about Carol Heiss, the Victor Taking Machine Company, National Biscuit Company's part in popularizing Benny Goodman, and TD's Clambake Seven?

Want to get in on the fun? And, by doing so, give your spirits a lift by visiting seniors and other residents of care facilities who would love to have you come by? Then just check that schedule link above and give us a call or e-mail. Claire and I would love to have you join us too.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thinking of the Christian Brotherhood, Grace, and Darrell Scott

Darrell Scott, a former pastor, exemplary mentor, and dear friend of many years is undergoing serious health trials right now and a few of us, in addition to stepping up our prayers for he and his wife, sent along notes of encouragement and thanks. My letter, including as it did reflections on the Christian Brotherhood, Grace Bible Institute, and Pleasantview Berean Fundamental Church may be of interest to those with connections to those organizations. It may even be of limited interest to those who remember the "Jesus movement" of the late 60s and early 70s.

Also, if you would like to share your own testimony about Darrell Scott's ministry in your life, please send it along to us and we will forward it ASAP. Please send it to vitalsigns@vitalsignsministries.org

Dear Darrell and Barb,

We are so sorry we couldn’t set it up to get together before Christmas but our plans to do so ended up alerting a lot of prayers in your behalf.  That’s a good thing.  Still, we hope (and pray) that you feel well enough soon for us to put that little party back on the schedule.

Until that happens, however, we thought you would like to hear from a few of those folks.  Some of them may have already sent a note while others may do so now that the hectic pace of Christmas has slowed down.  But there are a few who sent brief testimonies to Claire and me so that we could send them over to you guys.  They are enclosed with this note.

But Claire and I wanted to share a few reflections also for we have been so profoundly affected by your ministry, Darrell.  We are honored to be among that very large crowd of people whose lives have been inspired, educated, exhorted, and encouraged by yours.  We will be forever grateful.

I first made your acquaintance in those heady days of the Christian Brotherhood.  It was late spring 1970 and I had just hitchhiked into Omaha from my home in Denver.  Providence took me to the Brotherhood and, within days of my moving in with Buddy Medlock, I attended the Sunday service at Pleasantview Berean Fundamental Church and was captivated by your sermon…and by your warm, engaging hospitality.

I was a new believer and I hadn’t heard much of solid, expository Bible teaching. But I loved it and knew instinctively it was what I needed.  So, right from the beginning I was listening carefully, taking copious notes, asking questions afterward, and as you always encouraged the audience to do, studying the text on my own also. You provided excellent content in the sermon but also a terrific example of how to carefully, patiently study the Word myself.  You also taught me much about the qualities of a disciple.  Humble yet confident in Christ. Winsome but uncompromising with the truth.  Kind-hearted and servant-oriented. Cheerful. Hopeful. Active in evangelism.

Over the years, many people have wondered about the remarkable impact that the Christian Brotherhood had on so many lives.  Particularly, the question comes up of why the Brotherhood had such lasting effect, much more than most of the “Jesus movement” communes and organizations. The sheer number of young believers who went on to formal theological training and professional ministry, for instance, is impressive. But even more so is the steady growth and Christian service of all the others.  We were not only a “thoroughly converted” bunch – we were wonderfully trained and equipped and sent forth as lights into the world.

But what made the Brotherhood so different from the other “Jesus People” places?  My answer has always stressed two things.  1) We had the incredible resource of Grace College of the Bible available to us with such stellar Bible scholars as Abe Penner, Chuck Nichols, Reuben Dick, Bob Benton, J. Doss Quinelly, and Norm Rempel teaching us three or four nights a week.  It was ironic but wonderful – established fundamentalist scholars graciously coming into the city to teach unchurched, counter-culture, sin-scarred youth the glories of the Bible.

But 2) we had another grand resource available to us besides Grace.  And that was Pleasantview Berean Church with its personable and capable pastor, Darrell Scott.  There at the church, we were able to see how this new life we had in Christ was to be lived in practical, social, and long-term ways.  The heavy theology we were learning in those Brotherhood classes and in reading books by Ironside and Pentecost and Chafer was made alive for us in the persons of Berean’s pastor and other keen saints in the church.

Darrell, your teaching was practical theology at its best.  And you lived what you preached.  You were also so patient and kind to us as we learned.  Never did we feel like freaks at Pleasantview.  Never were we treated with anything but acceptance and hospitality and inclusion.  Indeed, Brotherhood youths were welcomed not only into the front pews of the church (we were so happy and eager to learn) but also into the choir, the fellowship suppers, member’s homes, and, for Gene Jost, Phil Miller, John Foster and myself, into the starting ranks of the slow pitch softball team.  We had all found a church home where our Christian discipleship was intensified and encouraged.

Through God’s merciful provision of both Grace Bible Institute and Pleasantview, we young Christians (many of us with sordid backgrounds and lousy educational records) were transformed by the love in action of patient and skilled mentors.  And that’s why so many of us are still pursuing godliness to this day.  And that’s why so many of us owe you such a grand debt.  We love you very much, Darrell, and we are so grateful for your investment in our lives in those years. And we’re grateful too for all the sweet years of friendship that followed.

Denny & Claire