Reading Erwin Lutzer's Hitler's Cross (Moody Publishers, 1995) over the past week, I came across a passage that underscores the reason Life Matters Worldwide has always focused on the primacy of evangelism in pro-life ministry:

For years evangelicals have cooperated with a broad spectrum of religious groups to fight such scourges as abortion, pornography, and the imposition of special laws that favor homosexuals. They have worked together to form crisis pregnancy centers and provide food for the hungry. That work is of course commendable since in a democracy we must join forces with all those who hold to family values, regardless of their religious commitment or lack of it.

We can organize a moral crusade, raise a flag, and work with anyone who will salute it. But let us not be so naive as to think that this is America's great hope. Darkness can only be dispelled by light, and light comers through the gospel of God's grace. Let us never forget that the world's greatest need is always to see Jesus, to understand why He alone can reconcile us to God.

Even when we engage in our cultural and political battles our primary objective should be that the world might see Christ. Yes, we can be grateful for our political and legal victories, but what have we won if people are not introduced to a Savior who can reconcile them to God? That does not mean that we preach a sermon every time we attend the PTA or help a young woman choose to give her unborn child life. It does mean, however, that we conduct ourselves in such a way that we have credibility in sharing the Good News.

And if the choice should be between winning our "cultural war" and maintaining our commitment to a pure gospel, we must let the cultural battles take second place so that the Cross gets a hearing in the hearts of men and women. Of course the choice is never that clear-cut, but we must remember that God did not put us on this earth to save America but to save Americans.

When eighteenth-century England was decadent, with alcoholism, the exploitation of children, and rampant immorality raging, God graciously sent a spiritual awakening through the preaching of George Whitefield and John Wesley. Some historians believe this revival spared the nation from a fate similar to the French revolution.

While we pray and wait for a revival we can do nothing better than to revive our confidence in the power of the Cross to do what moral reform cannot. Let us remember that the reentry of evangelicals into politics is commendable, but it is not the answer; it is only a means to the answer. Whether evangelicals act as lawyers in a court of law, protesters in a pro-life demonstration, or politicians, every vocation if s bridge to witness to the saving grace of God in Christ. (pp. 202-203)

Related: What is the Gospel?

For the most part, our mailbox at the Post Office contains checks, bills, and advertisements, but very little personal correspondence. That's why a pink, hand-written envelope stood out this week. Inside was a thank-you card. What had we ever done for Crystal in West Virginia?

Turns out she wanted to express gratitude to us "for defending our unborn neighbors," and to share her testimony. She wrote:

I am a birthmother in open adoption. I placed my only child with a wonderful adoptive family I chose for him at the time of his birth 11 years ago.

Since then we have formed a loving, open relationship. We stay in touch by email and snail mail, telephone, and visits a few times a year. They consider me a part of their extended family. He knows the "whole" story and calls me by my first name. He won't have to wonder who he is biologically, or suffer the "primal wound" symptoms that those in the closed adoption system endure.

I chose adoption for his life because I have no family here. . . . He is safe, loved, and has a beautiful stable family that love me too.

I saw the hand of God move during my crisis pregnancy and my prayers are for every unborn child and person in a crisis pregnancy on this earth.

I pray that our story will move others by giving them an option of life and still being able to show love to their child.

I thank God my son is safe.

We thank God too! What a wonderful testimony of the blessing of adoption. As she noted from Deuteronomy 30:19, "Choose life so that you and your children may live."

A friend in Zambia wants to know why Christians in his country haven't led the way in caring for people with disabilities. He related abuses by religious and political forces. As recently as the 1990s, the disabled were considered tormented and demon possessed. The ruling political party herded the blind and handicapped off the streets and into remote rural areas where they had to compete with monkeys for food.

Nsomekela Daniel, of Disability Integration Initiatives for Africa, says, "We believe and acknowledge the impact the clergy has on our communities and if they deliberately turn a blind eye to issues of disability then how will the disabled be integrated in the mainstream society? Today, there are many churches that have AIDS/HIV programs and some have even prison ministries but none has ministries for the disabled. Why? . . . How are they going to live?"

Sadly, this isn't just a Zambian or African problem. In Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities, I trace historical perspectives from northern European folk legends to social Darwinism, eugenics, and Nazi Germany. It's not a pretty picture. 

The account of the man born blind in John 9 is indicative of attitudes toward people with disabilities in Jesus’ day. The disciples supposed that blindness was a punishment for sin, either the man’s or his parents’. This idea flowed from an Old Testament explanation of blessing for obedience and curses for unconfessed sin, as found in Deuteronomy 28. 

As the book of Job makes clear, however, there’s not always a one-for-one relationship between sin and its consequences. Jesus corrected the disciples by saying that sometimes a person has a disability in order to show the glory of God. This is exactly what happened when Jesus healed the paralytic (Luke 5:25-26).

Jesus encountered many people with disabilities during his sojourn on earth. One notable instance was when he healed Bartimaeus, a blind man (Mark 10:46-52). Points to ponder:

  • Society hadn't figured out how to help a blind man, other than letting him beg by the side of the road.
  • This blind man was capable of greater insight than most sighted people. He knew who Jesus was!
  • Jesus called Bartimaeus to Himself. He truly does fill His banquet hall with "the crippled and blind and lame" (Luke 14:21).

The early church adopted a gracious and sacrificial response toward people with disabilities, literally rescuing them from the trash heaps of the Roman Empire. How do you think we're doing today?

Which of the following are being immodest?

  1. Zach is loud and demanding. He acts up in class and loves being the center of attention. Every story he tells is about him, and he’ll interrupt your story to try to top it with one of his own.
  2. Samantha is always concerned about how she looks, and usually dresses better than everyone else. She spends a lot of time on her hair, and money on her clothes, and is always asking her friends, “Do you like my new outfit?” and “Does it look good on me?”
  3. Brett doesn’t care how he looks and expects others to “accept him as is.” He’s known for dressing like a slob no matter what the occasion is. It doesn’t look like he brushes his teeth very often, and sometimes his body odor is offensive.
  4. Aaliyah studies fashion magazines so she can copy the styles of her favorite celebrities and she likes dressing older than her age. Now that her body is starting to mature, she wears clothes that show it off – short skirts and tight-fitting, low-cut tops.

If you answered "all of the above," you'd be able to proceed to the next activity on our Powered by God website for children. It reflects the idea that modesty is about more than how you dress. It's a virtue for all Christians -- not just women and girls.

I bring it up because there's a controversy brewing in the world of modesty programs. A Facebook posting of a Dannah Gresh's Secret Keeper Girls blog post -- Does Teaching Modesty Harm My Daughter's Body Image? -- led me to other entries in the conversation. 

First, way back in December 2011, Sharon Hodde Miller raised the issue in How 'Modest is the Hottest' is Hurting Christian Women (Her.Meneutics blog, Christianity Today). Then came Jonathan Merritt's question, Is the Modesty Movement Harmful to Women? (3/11/13), with a response from Dannah Gresh in A Modest Proposal to My Critics. Emily Timbol's Modesty Culture's Hidden Victims appeared in the Huffington Post August 6, 2013. 

The main concern is that modesty programs not further objectify women and girls by making them ashamed of their bodies. Dannah Gresh, to her credit, yields to that criticism.

This controversy differs from another raging over whether Christian women should wear yoga pants. To get a sampling of that debate, go here and here. Some of the arguments sound like the ones Muslim men use for enwrapping their women head to toe. Frankly, I'm more concerned about Christians attending yoga classes than what they're wearing to class.

I'm glad Powered by God -- both website and curriculum -- has its focus on the attitude of modesty and not on feminine body parts. The Bible uses the word only once (in 1 Timothy 2:9-10) and, according to Strong's Concordance, the Greek term indicates "a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect." The passage warns against drawing attention to oneself through displays of wealth -- not necessarily sexual provocation -- urges propriety and moderation, and advocates the adornments of godliness and good works instead.

While our clothing choices should not accentuate body parts, we'll be truly modest when we consider other questions as well: 

  • Does my clothes-sense overshadow the good works I'm doing? 
  • By copying the clothing, hair, and makeup styles of ungodly celebrities am I sending a mixed message? 
  • Is more time and money spent on how I look rather than on helping others? 
  • Do I assume that looking good is more important than being good? (Or that a person who looks good is good?) 
  • Do I care more about "expressing a personal style" than about the feelings of others?
  • Must I always be the center of attention?
  • How much gratification do I receive when someone says I look nice?
  • Do I have to make every occasion about me and what I'm wearing?
  • Do I show respect for the needs of others with my grooming habits and clothing selections?

Perhaps all modesty programs could benefit from that emphasis. 

Helpful addenda to the discussion:
Is Feminine Modesty about Sex? on Desiring God
The Gospel on our Sleeves: Where I went wrong teaching about modesty on The Gospel Coalition

  • Suicide or assisted suicide?

  • Experiments with animals or embryos?

  • Having sex outside the bonds of marriage or having a baby out of wedlock?

Since about 2001, the Gallup News Service has been tracking American beliefs about various moral issues. They ask people whether an issue is morally acceptable, morally wrong, or not a moral issue at all. Not only is it interesting to see how viewpoints have changed, but how responses can be ranked in relation to one another.

For instance, the latest results reveal that only 19% of Americans think suicide is acceptable, but 52% agree assisted suicide is okay. Essentially this says if a young, healthy person wants to kill himself we should try to prevent it, but if someone old or sick is suicidal we should help him die. Do you see what’s wrong with that picture? 

It's fairly obvious that Americans have become tolerant of what was formerly unthinkable. Would it surprise you to learn that people are more comfortable with medical research that destroys human embryos than they are with experiments on animals (65% to 57%)? 

According to recent results, having a baby outside marriage is less acceptable than the act between unmarried partners that leads to such a pregnancy (58% to 66%). The implication is that you can have sex outside marriage, just don't bring any resulting babies into the world. 

Something is out of whack. Our nation’s moral compass is clearly “off.” We do not value human life the way we once did.

Jesus looked at a crowd of people one day and likened them to “sheep without a shepherd.” Our society fits that description, doesn't it? And, while we might be tempted to shake our heads and mutter "tsk, tsk," we don't have that luxury. We must do as Jesus did -- feel compassion for the lost and carry on teaching them.  

Support for Life Matters Worldwide enables us to produce teaching materials addressing matters of life and purity. I invite you to browse store.lifemattersww.org for resources such as Powered by God curriculum for children and LIFT (Living in Faith Together) for end-of-life caregiving. And if we can help you another way, please let us know.


Source material -- Gallup Poll Social Series: Values and Beliefs, Gallup News Service, May 8-11, 2014, http://www.gallup.com/file/poll/170798/Moral_Acceptability_140530.pdf, http://www.gallup.com/poll/170789/new-record-highs-moral-acceptability.aspx; accessed 7/7/2014.

The good news: being pro-life is no longer the number-one reason Christians are disliked. The bad news: that ranking has been replaced by another of our dearly held beliefs -- the sanctity of marriage. Throw in our "anti-science" viewpoints -- doubt over evolution and man-made climate change -- and it certainly looks as though we're going to continue to be "on the wrong side of history" (according to opinion shapers) and unlikely to win future popularity contests.

That isn't such a bad thing.

Consider how the ancient Egyptians felt about God's chosen people. Twice in Genesis (a major source for our troublesome worldview) Hebrews were said to be "loathsome" to the dominant culture (NASV). Even though they were linked by blood to a national hero, Gen. 43:32 basically says Egyptians detested the thought of eating with Hebrews. 

Their occupation was another strike against them. Gen. 46:34 says, "every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians" (NKJV). Note that every shepherd was repulsive, no matter the nationality and no matter how agreeable or well-connected the individual might be. Too bad shepherding happened to be the Hebrews' main livelihood.

The third strike against the Hebrews is found in Exodus 8:26, where Moses acknowledged to Pharaoh that their worship practices would also be abhorrent to Egyptians.

How did it feel knowing your very existence was an offense to polite society? That you were considered lowest of the low, disgusting, and even revolting? We may be about to find out.

That could be a good thing. In the case of Israel, prejudice kept them separate and distinct from the surrounding culture. Jacob's family was already predisposed against intermarriage, but even if they'd chosen to assimilate, the Egyptians' disdain would have kept it from happening. 

The result? Somehow, the Hebrews found a way to thrive amid the contempt. Allowed to live apart in their own little corner of the country, they were able to increase in number and grow strong -- so much so that an eventual ruler would become severely alarmed. 

Success brought its own persecution. Oh that this would be the reason American Christians are ill-treated. 

May what was said of them be true of us: "The more [the Egyptians] afflicted them, the more [the people of God] multiplied and spread out." (Exodus 1:12)

Maybe you heard that Google is attacking the free speech of pregnancy care centers by dropping their ads. This may be a case of more smoke than fire, since we are aware of no centers who’ve suffered this loss. But it is one more attempt by NARAL Pro-Choice America to do what they love to do -- portray all PCCs as “deceptive.”

Here's how the story played out --


Another way to look at this challenge is to see it as proof PCCs are succeeding. Their effectiveness and very existence cause trouble for abortion clinics, whose numbers are steadily decreasing in the face of pro-life laws and their own shoddy practices. Let’s not forget who the real deceivers are! (Read this article for examples of what abortion providers are really like and how major media cover up for them.)  

And let’s not forget that PCCs are non-profits that do their work with limited resources and (for the most part) volunteer labor. Centers do face the perennial challenges of securing funds and recruiting volunteers. These tasks become more difficult during the summer vacation months. 

This month we host our annual Summit to strengthen and encourage them. For two days (the 15th and 16th) we bring together directors, staff, volunteers, and board members for workshops, plenary sessions, and discussion groups. They enjoy fellowship, networking, and consultation with experts in the field. 

Please pray with us for this event, and for our faithful partner centers. They need to be both "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Wise in their use of advertising and wary about the tactics of our opponents. PCCs are, by nature, harmless but perhaps they need to be more assertive about defending the integrity they do maintain. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/13/14 - Turns out centers are reporting their ads being "limited" or dropped by Google and Yahoo. Some have also been "warned" by Bing. Jim Sprague, executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Grand Rapids, comments:

In practical terms, this determination from Google means if someone is considering an abortion they will have much more difficulty finding a place online that truly empowers a woman to make an informed decision and (most importantly) has no financial stake in her decision. 

The decision means now only the groups profiting from the procedure are allowed to purchase the ad word “abortion.” This clearly favors abortion providers and at the same time seriously restricts groups like PRC who offer life-giving alternatives to abortion.

Darren Arnofsky’s film Noah is turning out to be one of those cultural touchstones that divide viewers according to worldview. It not only calls the authority of Scripture into question, but also explains other crucial themes -- the sanctity of human life, man’s relation to the environment, the nature of sin and salvation, God’s purpose in creation, and God Himself -- in a way quite different from how they are rendered in Genesis and the rest of God's word. 

Here are a few insightful critiques from those who've seen the movie:

  • In Sympathy for the Devil, Dr. Brian Mattson points out its disturbing Gnostic/Kabbalistic/mystic underpinnings.


Apparently, the movie even gets the meaning of the rainbow wrong.

We "happened" to write about Noah in our latest Life Matters copy-ready bulletin insert -- Noah: Violent or Righteous? The Bible teaches that Noah stood out as someone who was "other than" the status quo, while the movie depicts him as a killer. Movie Noah believed his mission was to destroy all the people on the ark after they had saved the animals!

Another resource that you can use in your church, Sunday school, youth group, etc., to teach biblical truths is Noah and the Last Days, from the makers of 180 and Evolution vs. God. View it online and download a free ebook.

A year ago, a team from Life Matters Worldwide ventured to the Philippines to conduct trainings for LIFT ministry. One of the participants was Lalaine Mirasol, a widowed mother with two sons. 

From that training, God lit a fire in her -- or as she would say -- LIFT became part of her DNA.

Working with Dr. Mae Corvera (in light blue), Lalaine (far left) helped start the Ruth Foundation for Palliative and Hospice Care in Manila. She serves as its Community Relations Officer. Now based in Baguio City, similar work is underway. 

She tells the story of helping an elderly cancer patient. "A month ago, I regularly visited her to share the Gospel, and she received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. During her last breath, I asked her, is there anything you want, or that you want to see? She smiled and said, 'I'm happy now. Thank you so much, Lalaine!'"

Even though she's not a singer, Lalaine sang for her:

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow." Then, with a smile on her face and holding Lalaine's hand, the woman took her final breath. Tears of joy filled Lalaine's heart.

Is it any wonder that, with experiences like this, LIFT would become such a passion in her life? 

You can help Lalaine by praying for her. In addition to caring for her own mother (pictured with Lalaine at right), she has many hopes and dreams for LIFT to flourish in Baguio. As she waits for God to guide and provide, she prays He will lead her to "the right local church and people who are interested and have willing hearts to obey the Great Commission through LIFT training."

In life, there are really only two things to do: Pray or praise. When you think about it, almost everything fits on one of two lists: prayer requests or answers to prayer. 

If something induces fear, doubt, anger, stress, worry, pain, or sorrow -- it's cause for prayer. If it provokes feelings of joy, peace, gratitude, or hope -- take it to the Lord in praise!

People who follow Life Matters Worldwide on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn will notice that our messages often fall along these lines. As we relate prayer requests and answers to prayer from partners around the world, we're growing in our own habit of communicating with God and also encouraging you in that practice.

Over 1200 people have signed up to receive our monthly prayer calendars. Build your communion with God by joining them!

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. --2 Cor. 1:11 ESV

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