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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's All About Worldview

For several years now I have been serving the Church in its response to America’s abortion crisis. I have wrestled with the question, “Why does the Church seem unwilling to respond to the greatest threat to human life in world history - the killing of unborn children while still in the sanctuary of their mother’s womb?”

55 million unborn children have been killed in the United States since 1973, and an estimated 40 - 50 million unborn are killed annually worldwide. That’s one in five pregnancies.

The Church, however, with rare exception, has remained paralyzed, immobilized, by an apparent myriad of excuses, in its response to Satan’s growing attack upon human life. (John 8:44; 10:10)

As I have sought the Lord’s wisdom, one explanation has emerged. The lack of response by the evangelical Church, is largely the result of a less than robust Biblical worldview.

S. Michael Craven of the Center for Christ & Culture, in one of his weekly Commentaries, points out,

"In 2001, researcher George Barna warned, 'The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy.'" Craven continues, "According to Barna’s research, the most widely known 'Bible verse' among adult and teen believers is ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Seriously!" [BTW that is not even in the Bible.]
He continues, "Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview, meaning practically that 90 percent of professing Christians neither comprehend or know how to apply the most basic Christian theological understanding to their lives. (Among young adults ages 18-23, it’s less than one percent.)”

Craven cites, church historian, Dr. David Wells (who taught me church history forty years ago), who writes,

"I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy." (No Place For Truth)

Craven writes, "I would add, this theological illiteracy extends to our understanding of the gospel itself, which has adversely affected the Christian’s understanding of his very purpose and mission in life. This, as much as anything else, is likely responsible for the church’s continuing decline, both in numbers and affect."

If the Church fails to embrace a Biblical worldview, what chance does it have of
being “the salt of the earth” or “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13,14)?

Without a fully informed worldview, the Church will participate in, rather than expose, the deeds of darkness, failing in Paul’s exhortation to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:12 NIV)

In a recent interview with WND, Pastor Carl Gallups pointed out that,

"About 60 years ago, our culture decided it didn't need God or the mention of His Word anymore. So, we have raised several generations of children to believe that they are the 'me' generation. They were taught that there is no God, there is no 'higher authority,' there are no moral absolutes, and that they are nothing more than a cosmic happenstance based upon sheer random luck. I have an entire chapter about this phenomenon in my new book." (The Magic Man In The Sky: Effectively Defending The Christian Faith)

Gallups then goes on to point out the relationship of that secular worldview to the moral decline of our culture,

"With such a worldview thoroughly ingrained within the institutions of our culture we now reap what we have sown. The abortion holocaust could not happen without first convincing the nation to believe that we are nothing more than a mere animal. The radical homosexual movement could have never risen to its current level without first persuading the nation that there is no standard of right and wrong concerning our sexuality. Homosexual marriage would have never been considered until first the nation became convinced that marriage is nothing special or divinely ordained, and that marriage can be defined anyway in which man finds pleasing to his flesh and lust."

Focus on the Family ( reports 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.

I believe both the Church’s complicity with abortion and its ambivalence to the abortion crisis parallels society’s moral free-fall and even more tragically, for the same reason - lack of a Biblically informed worldview.

The Apostle Paul outlined a powerful protocol for the Church in its apologetic dialogue with an unsympathetic audience.

“23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26 NLT)

Don’t fight. Don’t quarrel (disagree angrily). Be kind and patient. Gently instruct, recognizing the need for God to change the heart - for it is a spiritual battle - Satan has literally, drugged those who oppose the truth.

There needs to be a revival of this process in the Church before the Church will be prepared to apply it to a society hostile to truth.

In his High Priestly prayer for the Church, Jesus identified the inevitable conflict of worldviews.

14 I have given them [the Church] your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. (John 17:14-19 NIV)

It’s all about worldview. Jesus gave us the truth - to make us holy in a world that hates Him. It is ours to embrace or to squander in the Church or in the world.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Tale of Two Words

In America many preachers will not speak about “abortion” for fear they might “offend” someone. As one pastor told me several years ago, “If I spoke about abortion, half of my people would leave.”

Let’s think through that response.
What is abortion?

Every abortion takes the life of the youngest, most innocent, defenseless and vulnerable human being, while living in his or her mother’s womb, meant to be the safest place on earth.

Death by abortion is an inhumane death. It is gruesomely violent, indescribably painful, and brutally barbaric.

If you have never seen an abortion or the result of an abortion you will never understand what abortion really is. Go to What you see will anger you, perhaps sicken you. You might weep, you might mourn, even repent of your ambivalence. But you’ll never be the same.

Abortion is repulsive. Abortion is offensive! Abortion should “offend” us!

Will silence remove the "offense" of abortion? Not likely, because every abortion is meant to kill an unborn human being.

A silent pulpit does not mitigate the horror nor does it empower the righteous.
And tragically, a silent pulpit does not extend hope and help to the post-abortive, most of whom suffer a deep, dark, haunting, life long battle with shame and guilt.

In fact the silent pulpit takes the risk of communicating heresy: “Your sin is too horrible to speak about - it is beyond the reach of the Gospel!” In other words, "I am silent because there is no hope for you!"

As one who has spoken many, many times to church audiences about abortion, I suggest that there is no sin more appropriate to wrap the Gospel around, than abortion. The burden of killing your own offspring, when seen for what it is, carries with it the deepest kind of shame. And only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ can the post-abortive find forgiveness, healing and restoration.

Could our hesitancy to speak of abortion reflect a failure to appreciate the power of the Gospel? If we are relying on the personality, popularity or “cultural relevance” of the preacher to help the post-abortive, perhaps it would be better to remain silent. But if we believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, then boldly and graciously wrap abortion in the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to heal wounded hearts.

But, apparently, the fear of man overpowers the fear of God. As a result millions of post-abortive languish in unresolved guilt which manifests itself in virtually every emotional and behavioral problem a pastor could face in the counseling room. Some estimate that as many as forty percent of women in the Church are post-abortive. Whether that figure is high or low, the killing of 55+ million unborn since 1973, has left millions of post-abortive parents sitting in Church pews each Sunday.

The silent pulpit coarsens the conscience of the culture, empowers the abortionist and soothes the moral sensibilities of the politician as the domestication of abortion continues.

Michael Spielman ( points out that abortion has become so commonplace that “...we seem to have lost our ability to be outraged by it.” He goes on to ask, “How is it that even we who oppose abortion are not more overwhelmed by the fact that it is legal in the United States of America, to tear apart the tiny bodies of helpless unborn children?”

We should be concerned about who abortion offends. Fear of man might prompt silence, but I fear the silence that offends God. Our closed lips obscure the heart of God for the unborn and deny His mercy to those who have harmed the unborn.

Every unborn child killed by abortion is the casualty of a war between Heaven and Hell. The battle lines were drawn early in human history. After Adam and Eve were lured into sin by the Serpent, God responded,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 ESV)

This is the spiritual backdrop of abortion. It’s about good versus evil. It’s about life and death. It is ultimately about the Gospel.

Pastor Randy Alcorn, "…there are demonic forces behind child killing. Abortion is Satan's attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God's image. We are not dealing here with 'one more social issue,' but a unique and focused evil in which Satan has deep vested interests…"

The silence of the pulpit obscures that truth, denying justice to the unborn, withholding God’s grace to the post-abortive, and ultimately, dishonoring God and the Gospel.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Are You Thirsty? Take the Plunge

Tomorrow I will be preaching at the 8:30 and 11:00 am services at First Christian Church Wilton Manors where Dr. John Stauffer is the pastor. My message is entitled, “Understanding the Destructive Power of the World” is from 1 John 2:15-17.

How does the "world," that is ruled by Satan (1 John 5:19) and is in conflict with God and the Church (1 John 3:1), constitutes a threat or a danger to the believer? Through the “desires (lust) of the flesh,” the “desires of the eyes” and “the pride of life.”

Think it of in this way. It is as though there are three ways in which we can give the world access into our lives. Three doors through which we can invite the world into our mind and heart, three ways that we put ourselves at risk to a system that is opposed to God, satisfies our sinful nature and serves Satan.

That is where many Christians are living. They are playing in the world's playground where they are indulging the desires of their flesh, perhaps not even aware of what is happening to them. The world is subtly and slowly conforming them into its mold.

Jesus met a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in the Samaritan village of Sychar. (John 4:13-14) She evidently was thirsty because she had come to Jacob's well to draw some water. Jesus asked her for drink of water, and in so doing engaged her in a conversation about another kind of thirst.

You see, He knew the circumstances of her life. He knew that she was looking for answers in all the wrong places. She had turned to the world to find fulfillment. She was seeking satisfaction by fulfilling the desires of her sinful nature. And she had come away desperately empty.

Jesus knew that she was in the grip of the world. In His conversation, He said to her, "The fact is, you have had five husbands, And the man you now have is not your husband."

But perhaps what was more significant was the fact that Jesus knew her heart.
He knew that she was not finding what she was ultimately looking for in her relationships with men. She was looking for fulfillment down a dead end street.
She was driving around one of those "no outlet" neighborhoods trying to find her way out. She was lost, seeking happiness and satisfaction in all the wrong places and coming up empty over and over again. She was very, very "thirsty." Her heart was empty, and Jesus knew it.

So, He offered her something. He offered her Himself. Using the metaphor of thirst and water, He said,

"Everyone who drinks this water (of Jacob's well)
will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water
I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them
a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:37)

If you are looking to the world for fulfillment and satisfaction by indulging the
desires (lust) of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, or pride in possessions, any fulfillment or satisfaction you are experiencing is temporary, fleeting, here momentarily but quickly gone, leaving you empty and spiritually thirsty.

As the songwriter Chris Rice has written, “Other waters I’ve been drinkin’
But they always leave me empty like before...Could I really feel this thirsty if there weren’t something more?” (“Thirsty” in the album “Past the Edges”)

There is more. Here is His offer,

"If anyone thirsts,
let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'
Now this he said about the Spirit,
whom those who believed in him were to receive……"'
(John 7:37-39 ESV)

As Chris Rice continues,

“I’m on the shore now of the wildest River

And I kneel and beg for mercy from the sky
But no one answers,
I’ve gotta take my chances
‘Cause something deep inside me’s cryin’

“This is why you are alive!”

So I plunge into the River with all that I am
Praying this will be the River
where I’ll never thirst again

I’m abandoned to the River

And now my life depends on the River”

Are you thirsty? Take the plunge.