The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Friday, January 27, 2012

Power Through Weakness - It Might Be a Tough Sell

I read it this morning. "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness," says the Lord, via the Apostle Paul. It's a tough lesson to learn. Evidently took Paul a while, "Three times I begged the Lord to take it away,” the “...thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.”  (2 Corinthians 12:8.9 NLT)
But it evidently paid off. The Lord turned his perspective around, "So now I boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." In fact what he said next sounds counter-intuitive to most of us,
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecution, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.” (verse 10)
But the weakness paid off, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It’s the gospel all over again. Death precedes life. That is the road Christ followed - it’s the only way he could atone for our sin. 
Evidently it’s the only way to follow Him. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).
There’s the secret to life and ministry. His grace and power. Giving Him the right to live through us, “ that the power of Christ can work through me.”
But we keep getting in the way. The battle with the world. It grabs hold of us - through the lusts of our own flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of who we are and what we have - if we play with it. Or the proving ground of character - getting along with people - those God has placed in our lives - our wife and children, our friends, those we minister to and with, and those who live around us.
It’s when our weaknesses take center stage - they stare us in the face, even embarrass us - that Paul says, don’t walk away from them. Turn them into an opportunity to humble yourself before the Lord and others. That is the posture from which you can be rescued, for God’s “...power works best in weakness.” Your weakness becomes your best friend.
Can you imagine consistently living in that truth? What would ministry look like? Success would no longer be measured by size, numbers, personality and prominence. No need to modify the gospel to enhance its appeal, enlarge the audience or mitigate its offense. No need for gimmicks, glamor, sound and stage shows in place of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. He would suffice. 
And we would “...take pleasure in [our] weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecution, and troubles that [we] suffer for Christ.”
It might be a tough sell.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

54,559,615 Abortions and the Valley of Slaughter

The National Right to Life Committee has reported that there have been 54,559,615 abortions since the U. S. Supreme Court sanctioned abortion 39 years ago (Roe v. Wade & Doe v. Bolton). That's an average of 3,832 unborn babies killed every day, for 39 years. 
Listen to God's response to Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, after years of child sacrifice to the pagan (demon) god Molech (Psalm 106:37). 
"...they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it has never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! So beware, for the time is coming, says the Lord, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals. I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters. they will be driven to utter despair.” (Jeremiah 19:4,5,7-9 NLT) 
What makes us think that God views human life as any less inviolate today? What makes us think that thousands of years later, America will escape divine retribution? 
The notion that there is a consequence for the shedding of innocent blood is found throughout the Scriptures - Old and New Testament. (See Genesis 9:5,6 and Revelation 6:10) It is the inevitable retribution of a Holy and just God. He takes the pre-meditated killing of those created in His image very seriously - He always has and always will.
God sternly warned Israel, years in advance, not to engage in the pagan sacrifice of their children to the demon god Molech. But there was also a warning to those who turned a blind eye to the killing. 
“I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community.” (See Leviticus 20:5 NLT)
Our ambivalence and disregard for the relentless killing of human life through abortion, evidenced by our apathy and silence, is not going unnoticed any more than the killing itself. Rev. Flip Benham, of Operation Save America has said,
"It [abortion] is THE major issue. It is why God is draining America's wealth, it is why 19 guys with box cutters can bring this nation to its knees, it is why there are many judgments on this land. We are sacrificing His children."

In Ezekiel chapter five, the prophet warns Israel of the impending judgment. But his warning extended beyond Israel, even to us in 21st century America. 
“So I will turn you [Jerusalem] into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when the Lord punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says the Lord.”  (Ezekiel 5:14,15 NLT) 
We have been warned. As George Mason, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation, stated,
“As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punished national sins, by national calamities.”
Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah Ministries and Operation Save America, has written,
“To those who have ears to hear, it is time to bear the reproach and follow Jesus outside the mainstream camp of American Christianity (Hebrews 13:3). We must unashamedly connect the dots to God’s truth, warnings, and judgments with the corresponding reality facing our nation. These natural disasters, pestilence, plagues, wars and civil strife are not the results of coincidence or a string of bad luck. America has sowed to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.”
As the Church, we should be willing to shoulder the responsibility of ending abortion. First is the need for repentance. Repentance for abortion in the church and repentance for our silence and ambivalence in the face of the holocaust taking place around us. Peter issued the challenge, 
“For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.”
(1 Peter:4:17 NLT)
Will God extend mercy to a nation guilty of the innocent bloodshed of over 54 million unborn? King Manasseh of Judah sacrificed his own son to Molech as he led his nation in the killing. (2 Kings 21:6) He paid a price. The Assyrians put a ring through his nose, bound him in chains as they led him away to Babylon. Later, in deep distress, he sought the Lord and in His mercy, the Lord returned him to Jerusalem and his kingdom. 
(2 Chronicles 33:6-13)   
God will hear our prayer if we repent and seek him. King Asa led the people of Judah in a great spiritual revival, destroying pagan idolatry and seeking God. After God delivered King Asa and Judah from a million man army, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Azariah,
“Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! the Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.” 
(2 Chronicles 15:2-4 NLT)
Secondly, it’s a matter of obedience to the Great Commission. Abortion has always been first and foremost a gospel issue. The gospel elevates each unborn child to the their rightful place as the image bearing creation of God. After all Jesus Christ entered our world through the womb of Mary and died that even the unborn might have eternal life. Why the reluctance of the American pulpit to speak the truth about abortion wrapped in the gospel? After all, it is 
"Godly sorrow that brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret." 
(2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV)
The Gospel is the only power that can regenerate the human heart, transforming it to make life affirming decisions in the face of unplanned or even unwanted pregnancy. It is the only power that can change the heart of those who participate and are invested in the abortion industry - and those in government protecting their practice. And it provides the only hope of forgiveness, healing and restoration for the post-abortive.
"...the time is now,” says Flip Benham, “for the Church to rise up and wait not for political parties, or the president, or Congress, or the Supreme Court to take care of the issue. It is our responsibility. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will end - and not one second sooner." 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Silence Or Hope From the Pulpit

Tomorrow, January 22, 2012, is the 39th anniversary of the infamous U. S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, that essentially legalized the killing of unborn human beings anytime during the nine months of pregnancy and for virtually any reason.
 55 + million unborn children have lost their lives in the intervening years as America has not had the moral courage or political will to end this state sanctioned barbarism. Has the church remained largely silent for fear of man and/or quest for acceptance by the world?

Some churches will remember this tragedy by observing Sanctity of Human Life Sunday tomorrow. A time for public mourning for the lives lost and an opportunity to remind the Church of God’s great love affair with the human race. 
Then there are the 55 + million parents of the 55 + million children lost through abortion - the silent multitude, most of whom are scarred emotionally, spiritually and even physically, by the often repressed trauma of having killed their own offspring. 
They are in the church in great numbers. 43% of women having abortions identify themselves as Protestant, 27% as Roman Catholic (AGI “In Brief” July 2008) Getting a little more specific, it’s not a pretty picture in the largely “pro-life” evangelical church either. It is reported that one out of six women who have had an abortion are evangelical Christians; 5.6 million women in evangelical churches have aborted unwanted children; and 250,000 evangelical women choose abortion each year. (Heartlink - Focus on the Family)
No national sin can rival abortion in its negative impact on society. It is the greatest moral evil of our day - literally eating away at the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation. The blood letting has invited and empowered demonic forces in their quest to steal, kill and destroy human life and reap havoc in human behavior. 
The vast majority of the post-abortive have never experienced the forgiveness, healing and restoration available through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But what is even more sobering is that the gospel message linked to abortion, will not be heard tomorrow in most churches.
One mother who aborted three of her children and subsequently found forgiveness and healing through the gospel, wrote these challenging words,
 “The consequences to women who have had abortions (and men as well) cut deep into the soul… The post-abortive women sitting in church on a Sunday morning need to hear about forgiveness for ALL SIN through Jesus Christ,….abortion is not the unforgivable sin so many think it is...women need to know there is healing and hope in Christ - that they may also forgive themselves.”   
I believe Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America was right when he said,
“Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will come to an end – not second sooner. The responsibility for ending abortion in America rests squarely upon the shoulders of the Church of Jesus Christ.”
Ultimately, the gospel is the solution to America’s abortion crisis. Innocent blood has polluted the land and profaned the name of the Lord. But there is a greater blood shed on Mount Calvary that can transform the heart of a mother and father to choose life for their child and that can cleanse the guilty, forgive, heal and restore those involved in abortion. 
What America needs to hear is God’s truth about abortion wrapped in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To that end we can be silent or give hope from the pulpit tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Civil Rights and the Unborn

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy to America. On January 22, we remember the anniversary of two infamous U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
Abortion is the number one civil rights issue in America. After all it denies unborn human beings their most fundamental right - their right to life. Because African Americans have been targeted by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, abortion has impacted the African American community in disproportionate numbers - in fact with genocidal results. (e.g. 61.5% of PP’s abortion clinics are located in predominately Black communities - see and
In 1977, four years after Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson spoke prophetically when he asked two questions, 
“What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person, and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually.”
The answer to those questions have emerged over the last thirty nine years, and regrettably it has not not turned out as then pro-life advocate Jesse Jackson would have envisioned. Over fifty million American unborn children have lost their lives to abortion, 16 million of them African American.
Andrew Bair, in his article, “What Would Martin Luther King, Jr. Have Thought of Abortion?” ( points out that, 
"Recently released data from the New York City Department of Health shows the Big Apple hitting a 40% abortion rate. As if that number wasn’t appalling enough, when the data is broken down all racial lines, around 60% percent of New York City’s abortions are done on black women. In other words, 1,448 African American babies are aborted for every 1,000 born. Among black teens in New York City, that number jumps to a staggering 72% abortion rate or 2,360 abortions for every 1,000 babies Pennsylvania, the Department of Health has reported that in the city of Philadelphia nearly half of all black babies are aborted. Center for Disease Control data shows that since Roe vs. Wade (1973) abortion has been the leading cause of death among African Americans. More African Americans have lost their lives to abortion than to heart disease, cancer, accidents, violent crimes or AIDS- combined."   
There is no greater risk to the future of the African American community than the death of their unborn through abortion. As the Rev. Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr. ( has written,
“The most dangerous place for an African American to be is in the womb of their African American mother.” 
Because of abortion, death now outpaces life in America’s Black population. Black America is the only minority declining in number.
Why are the vast majority of Black politicians and clergy remaining silent in light of this genocide? Why is there such great support in the Black community for politicians who support state sanctioned killing of the unborn and the funding of Planned Parenthood with federal tax dollars?  
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
“In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
The Scriptures speak to us regarding our responsibility to rescue the unborn and the consequence if we neglect to do so:
“If you fail under pressure, your strength is not very great.
Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death;
Don’t stand back and let them die.
Don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it.
For God knows all hearts, and he sees you.
He keeps watch over your soul, and he knows you knew!
And he will judge all people according to what they have done.”
Proverbs 24:10-12 NLT (emphasis mine)
Over fifty percent of women who have an abortion feel they have no alternative. This is a complex issue that demands a practical and compassionate response by the Church.
Rev. Walter Hoye II, ( spent over two weeks in jail for sharing the Gospel in front of an Oakland CA abortion clinic. His words encapsulate the urgent need to respond to the threat of Black Genocide,
“I can’t quit, my people are dying.                                                                                                
Ending abortion is a matter of survival now.   
Our future depends on meeting the needs of women and children now.”

In October of 2008, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Herb Lusk II, African American Pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, address the annual CareNet conference. Just days before giving the address, under his leadership, Greater Exodus opened a pregnancy resource center in their abortion clinic ridden neighborhood. I will never forget his words,

“If you don’t do anything about the horrors of abortion you’re not part of the solution, which means that you’re part of the long as a baby is in danger we’re in war. As long as the life of one infant is threatened, the war rages on.”
German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hung naked with a piano wire in a Nazi concentration camp for his opposition to the holocaust, wrote these haunting words,
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Pastor Walter Hoye, comments,
“Could it possibly be, that Dietrich Bonhoeffer is right and out silence in the face of evil betrays our collusion, complicity or tacit consent with the forces of evil?”
That is the question each of us must answer - either now - or later.
Rev. Jim McGarvey is head of Church For Life through which he is serves the Church in its response to America’s abortion crisis as it: 
communicates the message of the sanctity of human life; 
ministers healing and restoration to the post-abortive; 
and provides practical and compassionate help to those at risk for abortion.
For the last four years his ministry focus has been in the African American community,  alerting clergy of Black Genocide and seeking to assist the Church in its response to this life threatening epidemic.
He is available as a speaker and consultant. 
Contact him at 954-235-3482 or at

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLK and Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

In 1963, Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the CONSCIENCE of the state. It must be the GUIDE and the CRITIC of the state, and never its TOOL. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” 
Next Sunday, Januart 22, is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. If he were alive, I wonder what Dr. King would be preparing to say next Sunday in light of the fact that death outpaces life in the African American community as a result of state sanctioned abortion? 
Over 16 million black unborn babies have been killed by abortion since 1973. Black babies are being aborted at a rate of over 1,200 a day against the back drop of a deafening silence from Black clergy and political leaders. African Americans are being targeted by Planned Parenthood (PP), the nations largest abortion provider, and the abortion industry. Most Black politicians support the 350+ million dollar a year federal tax dollar give away to PP. The result: Black women represent 6% of the population but are having 30% of all abortions. I would think African American pastors would be incensed and speaking out on behalf of the millions of victims of this holocaust. I think Dr. King would be.

Pastor, Speak Up For Life - It’s Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Next Sunday, January 22, is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Will you be giving your congregation a chance to hear what God's Word says about America's greatest moral evil, the murder of over 3,000 unborn human beings every day by state sanctioned abortion?
According to Lutheran pastor Dr. Lawrence White, 
“The great reformer Martin Luther once declared that the preacher who does not rebuke the sins of the rulers through God’s Word spoken publicly, boldly and honestly, strengthens the sins of the tyrants, and becomes a partaker in them, and bears responsibility for them.” (The Sin of Silence)

Was the Apostle Paul a “Seeker Sensitive” Preacher?

Was Paul a "seeker sensitive" preacher? You decide. In Iconium, Paul went to the Jewish synagogue "...and preached with such power that at great number of both Jews and Gentiles became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God's message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them...Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycoania...And there they preached the Good News." (Acts 14:1-7 NLT)
Note Paul and Barnabas’ strategy: they entered the synagogue, not always friendly to the gospel, but Paul’s custom (see Acts 17:1-7), evidently not concerned about preaching to a “seeker sensitive" audience. After all Paul “was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16) and was convinced that gospel was “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Their ministry was fruitful and divisive - a pattern you find in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.
Note the results: many were converted but their ministry incited great opposition - in other words their proclamation of the Gospel "divided" the audience. Evidently no concern for popularity, acceptance or prestige on their part. Even though there was organized opposition to their ministry, they “stayed there a long time,” boldly preaching a message of grace and God’s power confirmed their message. They did not leave Iconium until they learned of a death threat against them. If you think things got better for Paul, read Acts 14:19 where in Lystra, his next destination, Paul was stoned and left for dead by those offended by his message.
Where is the similarity with today’s “seeker sensitive” movement? 

Paul’s Preaching - He Was On To Something I’d Like to See More of Today

I wonder what would happen in our churches and nation, for that matter, if we preachers  modeled the Apostle Paul's preaching?
"...I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness - timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:2-5 NLT)
His methodology seemed to be driven by his understanding of the nature of the Gospel,
"...when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NLT) 
Right up front, Paul conceded that there would be push back from his audience. He knew that some wouldn’t just ignore the message, they would be offended by it, (his preaching caused enough riots to warrant that assumption) and others would write him off as a fool.
That didn’t lead Paul to adjust the message or the delivery. It didn’t prompt him to rely on gimmicks or other stage events in order to create or maintain an audience or following. No need for smooth public relations or media hype in developing a mega ministry. He felt no need for personal recognition, prominence, prestige or power.
He evidently did not measure his success by how popular he was in the community to which he brought the gospel. He didn’t measure success by how many red carpets met his arrival.  
“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5 NLT)
On the contrary, success was measured by his faithfulness not his acceptance.
“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” (2 Corinthians 6:6-8 NLT)
His ministry model stands in stark contrast to the boastful pride of America’s worldly and commercially driven ministry empires and personality cults promoting personal success, materialism and prosperity.
“We are ignored even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT)
Paul’s secret? His acknowledgment that ministry he was not about him but about the glory of God.
“We now have this light [the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ] shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
Paul’s example continues to fascinate me in its stark contrast to how many preachers play church today. He was on to something I’d like to see more of today.