Evangelism

Is it proper, or even helpful, to excuse sick and dying people from worship?

When Life Matters Worldwide's President, Tom Lothamer, speaks in churches, he makes a point of sharing the forgiveness that can be found in Christ after an abortion. He doesn't know who's listening. Perhaps someone with a guilty conscience, or someone contemplating abortion.

God is a defender of the weak and a shelter for the oppressed. Over and over in the Psalms, the psalmist expresses his utter dependence on -- and faith in -- God by saying, “You are my refuge. In You I trust.” It’s wonderful to think of God in this way. No other god has it in its nature to be a refuge (Deut. 32:37-38, Judges 6:31).

She had been taken from her home and they had not allowed her to return. She'd probably seen members of her family killed, or also taken captive. This nameless servant girl probably had no hope of ever returning to Israel. But like Joseph, she maintained her faith in God and adherence to His ways.

Much fine gold

When we give people the Gospel or teach them from the Bible ... when we live a godly life before them and demonstrate its benefits ... we're giving much fine gold.

Are we responsible for the shooting at Planned Parenthood?

As news unfolded of the rampage at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, I prayed there was only a coincidental connection. My heart sank to learn the shooter muttered something about "baby parts" upon his arrest.

Life Matters Worldwide and other pro-life groups disavow violence against abortion providers. By its very nature, being pro-life does not permit killing in the name of life. We've had a policy against violence since 1993, and we highlight it every time a murder is perpetrated by a self-proclaimed pro-lifer. (NOTE TO OTHER WOULD-BE VIGILANTES: SAYING YOU'RE PRO-LIFE DOESN'T MAKE YOU PRO-LIFE ANY MORE THAN SAYING YOU'RE A CHRISTIAN MAKES YOU A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST.)

Is it enough, though, for us to publish position papers? Or should we do more to prevent violence? Let's take this opportunity to again emphasize biblical truth:

• Violence separates people from God. (Psalm 11:5, Isaiah 59:2-8)

• Violent people are not like God. (Ps. 54:3, 86:14; Is. 53:9)

• Violent people should not be envied or imitated. (Proverbs 3:31)

• Violent people often meet a violent end. (Prov. 21:7)

• Violent people will be judged by God. (Ezekiel 7:11, 23; 8:17; 12:19; 28:16; Joel 3:19; Obadiah 1:10; Habakkuk 2:8; Zephaniah 1:9)

• Victims of violence are precious to God. (Ps. 72:14, 140:1)

• God redeems violent people. (1 Timothy 1:13)

• One day, God will bring violence to an end. (Is. 60:18)

While it's doubtful someone who is a bit deranged and bent on destruction would first check with us before shooting up an abortion clinic, we can and will repeat these words: The pro-life movement does not "persuade" opponents by pointing guns at their heads.

Yes, we call abortion murder, and yes, we shared the links to the Planned Parenthood "baby parts" videos. We also said this at the time: God is the Avenger of innocent bloodPP workers need Christ, we need to continue working through legal means to defund PP, and we need to pray our government will do the right thing.

Pro-life rhetoric is not responsible for these murders any more than organizations that hold police departments accountable are responsible for the killing of officers. Abortion clinic violence does, however, give our movement a black eye.

In response to the Colorado shooting, Abby Johnson (former Planned Parenthood director) said, "I am so thankful that the anti-abortionists who made threats against my life when I worked at Planned Parenthood never made good on them. I'm thankful that I have been able to repent from my past and find mercy in Christ...and with God's help have hopefully saved more lives than I took."

And Carol Everett, the former director of an abortion clinic, said, "Thank the Lord that I was not killed before I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He did for even me on that cross!"

Yes, let's keep praying for abortion providers and sharing the Gospel with them.

Related reading --
Noah: Violent or Righteous?
Should We Use Violence to Fight Abortion?

Photo credit -- CTRLF5

Murder mystery

In Genesis 9:5-6, God made killers accountable for the human blood they shed --

Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. 
And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.

Our new Brother's Keeper video demonstrates the importance of accounting for every life:

Brother's Keeper from Life Matters Worldwide on Vimeo. Available in HD on our Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Slideshow DVD -- free!

As our bulletin insert for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2016 points out, God's law differentiated between manslaughter and murder. According to Numbers 35, a person would be charged with murder if he used a weapon against his victim, was known to hate the victim, struck him in enmity, or ambushed him. If the victim was a friend and the killing unplanned, it could be considered manslaughter.

People guilty of murder were handed over to the victim's avenger. Manslayers, on the other hand, could reside in a city of refuge without fear. Thus each death was examined and acknowledged.

But what about when the person responsible for a violent death was unknown? We've prepared a study of Deuteronomy 21:1-9 that shows how God said murder mysteries should be resolved. You're welcome to download The Case of the Unknown Killer for your Sunday school class or Bible study group.

Six truths about disability

Through ignorance and errant belief systems, people have adopted strange views toward people with disabilities:

• Pagan Greek and Roman philosophers advocated abandoning babies who were born with disabilities.

• In medieval times, children with disabilities were considered “changelings” – subhuman, Satanic beings.

• Social Darwinists and the Nazis sought to eradicate disability through eugenics and the death camps.

Thankfully, God frees us from hateful, superstitious, and deadly beliefs. His word urges us to treat the disabled person as our neighbor, to watch out for them as a brother. As it says in the law, "You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14)

Jesus, of course, fulfilled and expanded on this law. He made a point to minister to disabled people, and there are many examples of this in the Gospels. In particular, Mark 10:46-52 gives us six principles concerning them:

1. Society sidelines disabled individuals and hinders them from coming to Jesus. We should not take our cues from the world.

2. Disabled people are spiritually capable. Just as blind Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was, we must recognize that people who are disabled and follow Christ have spiritual gifts.

3. People with disabilities need Christ and fellowship with other believers. We who have no disability have a duty to help them.

4. Jesus does not pass by people with disabilities. In fact, He characterizes the people He calls into His kingdom as "crippled, blind, and lame" (Luke 14:21).

5. Jesus "empowered" Bartimaeus to articulate his own need, and we should not presume to know what a person needs or wants. 

6. Whether our bodies are whole or not, we are broken by sin. We all need Christ, in Whom we find healing, acceptance, and purpose.

It's wonderful that the early church's immediate response was to rescue disabled infants from the trash heaps of Rome. They knew these truths and responded accordingly, even when it meant danger and self-sacrifice.

Read more:
Jesus Loves People with Disabilities
Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities

I'm always fascinated by the glimpses of missionary life in Bill and Lori Smith's weekly newsletters. They serve in Papua New Guinea -- he with national pastors through a Bible college and she through a medical clinic. Life Matters helped the clinic obtain ultrasound equipment that has saved several babies' lives.

In a recent newsletter, Lori related how they'll be taking an evangelistic mobile clinic to Sagifa this Friday. Safiga is the home village of one of Lori's patients who died recently of cancer. Lillian accepted Christ before she died, but her village remains in deep bondage to the forces of evil. 

"Sorcery is the iron band that chains her people in fear," Lori writes. When Lillian died in Bill and Lori's home, the village sent a witch "to try to decipher the person responsible for her death so they could be killed." 

While this practice is shocking to Western sensibilities, when I consider it in light of the biblical pro-life ethic, I find surprising similarities. 

Genesis 9:5-6 says -- 

For your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
 
“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed;

for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Note that the fact man bears God's image is the reason for the death penalty and not a reason for prohibiting it. 

It's amazing to me that a seemingly primitive or "backward" culture sees human life as distinct from that of animals and important enough to avenge.

The difference, however, between the PNG tribal understanding of "the sanctity of human life" and the biblical pro-life ethic is that God's word presses societies to determine the cause of a death -- whether it is natural, accidental, or homicidal. The penalty, if any, depends upon the cause. Accidental deaths are treated differently than intentional and, of course, natural deaths caused by old age or disease are not avenged at all.

Instructive passages:

Exodus 21:28-32 - what to do if an animal kills a person

Leviticus 20:1-5 - what to do if someone offers a child in sacrifice to an idol

Numbers 35:6-34 and Deuteronomy 19 - distinctions between murder and manslaughter

Dt. 21:1-9 - what to do in the case of an unsolved murder

It's also very important to note, furthermore, that the biblical way of determining a cause of death relies on evidence -- not intuition, hearsay, or sorcery. The witch's method serves the agenda of the Enemy, leading to more deaths of innocent people in an endless cycle of revenge and superstition.

God's law requires careful investigation, public inquiry, and the testimony of more than one witness. So we see how societies can pervert God's intent and how biblical justice prevents witchhunts.

Find out what happened when Lori's mobile clinic team went to Safiga

The answer to that question is so relevant to this weekend's celebration of Resurrection Sunday, and to our proclamation of the Gospel every day, I hope you don't miss it. 

What does the sanctity of human life matter have to do with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Our Savior perfectly reflected God’s image (Hebrews 1:3). Sinless himself, He bore our penalty of death and rose again so we could have eternal life. We who believe are created anew to bear His likeness! (Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:10)

As we saw in an earlier blog post, bearing the image of God is the key reason all human beings are special, and why we're given dominion over the rest of creation. Christians bear the added responsibility of showing the world what God is like in our character and behavior.

When we respect the sanctity of another person’s life -- especially someone who is small, weak, despised, or under attack -- we mirror His holiness and His compassion for people. We bring glory to Him (Proverbs 17:5, James 3:8-10). 

This is a message running through Scripture, and the reason Life Matters Worldwide exists. As we are confronted with old and new threats to the sanctity of human life, we hold them up to the mirror of God’s Word. And as we take pro-life ministries with us across the country and around the globe, we teach the biblical values that inform right attitudes and behavior.

  • We help churches teach the biblical pro-life ethic and train leaders to implement services like LIFT.
  • We help missionaries develop pro-life ministries to enhance church-planting efforts. 
  • We help establish and sustain pregnancy care centers as effective Gospel outreaches.


The Christian . . . must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ. . . . God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them. It is the law of Christ that was fulfilled in the Cross. [Gal.6:2]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Related: Click the image above to download the latest edition of our copy-ready bulletin insert, Why Does Life Matter?

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