Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Daily Devo - Tuesday, 06/30/2009

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you,
because your faith is proclaimed in all the world."
Romans 1:8 (ESV)

For several years I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Christians within the Western Michigan area sometimes refer to it as "little Jerusalem" because of its numerous churches. Though no place can beat our current hometown, my family enjoyed our time in Grand Rapids. Its generational godly heritage has provided many blessings. Christian bookstores, book publishers, and religious radio stations abound.

Long before I met my wife, and long before she came to the United States, she had heard about Grand Rapids. As a child living in the remote areas of North East India, she would save money to purchase coveted Christian books. Those books she could not afford to buy were borrowed from pastors and friends. She began to notice something similar in many of the books; many of them said "Printed in Grand Rapids, Michigan". To those of us in the States, we understand that Grand Rapids is home to a number of Christian publishing companies (Baker, Zondervan, Kregels, & Eerdmans; not to mention the publishing ministry of Radio Bible Class). This little girl from India dreamed of what Grand Rapids must be like. In her cultural context, there were few Christians around. But in her hand was proof that there was a place where Christianity was the norm. She once told me that she used to think that "Grand Rapids must be something like heaven."

It certainly is no heaven, and many years later--as we made a home in that city for over 15 years--she discovered its sins and flaws. But what is remarkable is the way God has blessed those who stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ--whether a person, a congregation, or an entire city.

What an honor it is to have a reputation for godliness. Pray that you may have such a reputation.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Daily Devo - Monday, 06/29/2009

"...discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness."
1 Timothy 4:7

Christian moms and dads can easily fall into one of two major parenting errors. Perhaps the most common error today is being far too lax about godliness in the home. Too many Christian families allow their children free reign over the television set, spend countless hours playing video games laced with violence, language, and sexuality, and listen to music which is both sexually suggestive and intentionally godless. The sad result has been an entire generation of "Christian" teenagers who live, think, and act no differently from the pagan culture around them.

Perhaps in reaction to this general trend, a minority of conservative Christian parents understandably feel the need to set appropriate boundaries for their children. In and of itself this is a very good thing--but it also potentially opens the door to another destructive error. Recently I had a conversation with a Dad about his daughter. The daughter was rebelling and it was clear that she had little respect or love for her father. Though he enforced a "godly" home, she took every opportunity to break his rules---including sexuality and drugs. Dad, in response, brought the hammer down even harder. His repeated refrain to me was, "not in my house!"

As we spoke I challenged him with 1 Tim 4:7. Our role as parents is not to push godliness into our children. Rather, it is to teach them to pursue after it themselves. This father had never practiced the art of talking with his daughter and patiently showing her (and challenging her with) the truths of God. Does this mean that a father should never say 'no'? Of course he should! But what it does mean is that we must keep the priority in front of us at all times. Our number one goal is not to get children to obey rules, but to capture their hearts for Christ.

Anyone can make a rule, but a its takes a biblically-minded parent to promote godliness.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chat Room & the Glory of God

Chat Rooms & the Glory of God

Remember the late 90's and the birth of AOL? I can still remember when I first signed up with America On-Line. Internet-access, chat-room, and a bunch of other features I have long since forgotten. In my college years I would spend hours in various chat room "defending" my faith with non-believers and arguing points of doctrine with other believers.

It's been years since I've participated in a chat room. I'm not the one to ask, but it seems as if the chat-room thing is dying out. But, they are still out there. Recently a reader of my blog invited me to join a website that hosts Christian chat rooms. I had posted on the issue of divorce and remarriage, and he wanted me to join the discussion on a similar theme. After reading for a while, I noticed the comments of one contributor. He had made a point that I agreed with, so I added a comment. I said, "Yes, by the way, the Greek text says...". The moment I said this it was as if fireworks were set off. I was accused off 'manipulating the Bible', 'being a pharisee', and being 'one of the so-called wise of this world who would come to ruin'. All because of one-sentence I added in agreement with what was being said.

At that moment I remembered something: Oh, yeah! This is why I don't miss chat rooms. They are inherently problematic and I've profited little from participation in them (though I still comment on blogs, which are marred by similar problems). I've noticed the following traits about chat rooms, discussion threads, and comments on blogs:

1. Online discussions remove the personal. Nonverbal language, essential to informal conversation, is impossible or (in the case of video chat) severely limited. More importantly, the relational aspect is removed, resulting in conversation that easily becomes unnecessarily harsh, sharp, and cold.

2. You draw people with varying levels of intellectual ability. Some of quite educated, many are not. Thus, you have a diverse group of people who cannot even frame the conversation in the same way. We speak past or at one another instead of to one another.

3. Though the group is intellectually diverse, it hovers at low-average. Let's face it, intelligent people don't have time for excessive involvement in chat rooms or discussion threads. Smart students are busy studying, smart employees are busy working, and smart ministers are busy ministering. Because the personal is removed (see #1), the focus is only on the content. This becomes a problem when the majority of people in the conversation are not clear, logical, and rational thinkers. (Note: this can be overcome by being much more selective. There are places online where great conversation can occur).

3. The participants have gathered to talk, not to listen. No one goes to a chat room to learn, and few leave comments on a blog in order to discover truth. We makes comments to be heard, not to hear from others (this is true of all of us). Add in a little pride, and we have a whole bunch of people who could care less what anyone else has to say.

So, my advice to myself is "keep chatting--but be selective (and be a little more humble about my opinions)".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How do you handle designated giving?

This question comes from a young pastor friend who has recently taken his first pastorate:

Question: Do you allow congregants to designate their giving, or do you require all tithes & offerings to go into the general fund?

Most congregations only allow designated giving in certain situations. Normally, all funds received are used to offset the general fund regardless if the gift is designated or not. For example, let's suppose a church has already decided to spend $2,000 on Vacation Bible School. Generally speaking, if someone puts a check in the offering plate for $500 designated to VBS this does not mean the church can now spend $2,500. The $500 is simply used to offset what the congregation has already previously decided to spend. The rationale for this is that the congregation and leaders have prayerfully enacted a financial plan and that all monies spent must be in accordance with this plan. Once people begin to "designate" gifts then the idea of a unified and cooperative budget goes out the window. One person should not be able to override what an entire congregation has decided, regardless of how noble the motive.

Most typically we experience this situation with missionaries. Individuals who honestly want to show love and support for missionaries sometimes designate additional funds to a specific individual or missionary family. However, our support level for that specific ministry worker has already been set by the congregation and therefore designated gifts will only offset (and never add) to what a missionary receives. If individual congregants truly want the missionary to receive additional funds we instruct them to send the money directly to him.

However, most churches allow designated giving for certain situations. Our church allows designations to be made for a handful of programs, such as benevolent fund, Christmas missionary fund, and our Bible Camp program. We also sometimes open temporary ways to designate giving, such as a Summer youth missions project (however, the IRS requires non-profits to inform donors that the organization is not required to honor any designations).

Of course, various churches would disagree about some minor details, but this seems to be the general practice of most congregations.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Explain This Verse

A reader of my blog e-mailed me the following: "If Calvinism is true, please explain this verse:"

"But the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book."
-Exodus 32:33

I'm running full speed at Bible camp this week, and don't have much free time to interact. Perhaps some of the blog readers would like to respond. I did look up John Gill's comments on this passage, but wasn't fully satisfied with his answer.

John Gill on this passage:
"...not that anyone that is really in the book of life is ever blotted out, or that anyone predestinated or ordained to eternal life ever perish: but some persons may think themselves, and they may seem to be written in that book, or to be among the number of God's elect, but are not, and turn out obstinate impenitent sinners, and live and die in impenitence and unbelief; when it will appear that their names were never written in it, which, is the same thing as to be blotted."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God-sized hole

In a recent interview Shia LeBeouf, the star from the Transformer films, offered some insight into the emotional difficulties that often plague actors & actresses. He stated, “They’re all in pain. It’s a profession of bottom-feeders and heartbroken people,” he said. “Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy,” he added. “I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew it, I’d fill it and I’d be on my way.” [You can read the Fox News article here].

Such statements are heartbreaking, because they testify to mankind's amazing ability to correctly diagnose the problem, yet refuse the very thing that will cure them. If the thing that is causing the emotional void in our lives is God, then the only rational solution is to allow God to fill that void deep within us. Blaise Pascal, in his magisterial
Pensees, wrote: "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself. "

Admittedly, LeBouf was probably using the term "God" in the sense of "really big" or "colossal". But even in this sense his statement is tragic. Though he recognizes the solution is beyond his ability he still searches for something within his ability and grasp for a cure.

Augustine beautifully described the wholeness only found in God when at the beginning of his
Confessions (1.1.1), the great African saint said to God, "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in you."


Friday, June 12, 2009

Green Living: Vermicomposting

The Benefits of Vermicomposting: Vermicomposting is a composting method utilizing worms. Vermicompost, also called 'worm casting' (aka...'worm dung') is a nutrient rich, organic, and pesticide free compost excellent for gardening. The most common worm used is the Red worm, also called the Red Wriggler. Small-scale vermicomposting can be as simple as a a bucket or rubbermaid tube with small holes drilled for air and drainage. The container should not let in light, as worms need darkness.

There are few food wastes that vermicomposting cannot compost, including:
  • All fruits and vegetables (including citrus and other "high acid" foods, though in moderation)
  • Vegetable and fruit peels and ends
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags (even those with high tannin levels)
  • Plate scrapings, moldy bread
  • Eggs and eggshells
  • Leaves and grass clippings (though green grass clippings can heat up and burn the worms, so use in moderation).
  • AVOID: Oils, dairy/cheese, and meat.
Worms will also compost shredded newspaper and cardboard! Rather than throwing this refuse away, allow worms to turn it into valuable nutrient-rich compost for your indoor plants, starter seddlings, or garden beds.

Special Note: If you are planning an outdoor bin keep in mind that manure is one of the best foods for worms. However, since ours is in the house I didn't even bother asking my wife if I could bring shovels full of horse manure into the kitchen.

My worm bin: A few days back I set up my worm bin using a standard Rubbermaid "Roughneck" container (which I got for free).
  • I drilled 6 small holes in the bottom for drainage, and a dozen or so on the top and sides (the side holes are very near the top, just below the lid level).
  • On the bottom, I placed a layer of cardboard (flattened pizza boxes).
  • Next, I ripped more cardboard into small pieces, making a pile about an inch or so thick.
  • The next layer was about an inch of coffee grounds (including filters), which I got for free from a local coffee shop (also check with popular restaurants in town). We also save our coffee and filters each morning (a simple can under the sink). What doesn't go into the worm bin will go to the outdoor compost pile. Worms like coffee even more than humans!
  • A thin layer of grass clippings (too thick and it will produce too much heat).
  • A layer of corn husks (left over from the previous nights dinner).
  • A little bit of soil and compost, not even a full layer.
  • Some shredded newspaper & ripped-up cardboard (for this final layer I used a spray bottle to moisten, until it had a "damp rag" feel.
On a side note, my kids LOVED this project, particularly my youngest (7 years old). He even earned three bucks when I dared him to eat one of the worms (though I haven't told my wife about this yet). He did feel a little ill afterwards (mostly psychological), but despite this he was rather proud of himself. I should note that eating worms is technically not part of the vermicompisting process, though I leave that decision to you.

Ordering worms: There are several places online where you can order worms. Make sure they are Red Worms. I ordered mine through www.redwormcomposting.com, and was very pleased. The company was reasonably priced, communicated wonderfully with customers, had excellent packaging, quick shipping, and their website is one of the most helpful on the internet (including several "how-to" videos).


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making unpopular decisions

As someone who is often thrust into the role of public decision-making, I've made my share of unpopular decisions. Some of these have been in the context of church ministry. Others have come through my involvement with various non-profit boards. Still others are due to my service as an elected community official.

Below are a few lessons I'm in the process of learning when making unpopular decisions (mostly gleaned from the Book of Proverbs):

1. Allow the opposition an opportunity to speak. The only thing lost by listening to the opposition is time; but what can be gained is insight, which is by far the more precious commodity. "...in the abundance of counselors there is victory" (Prov 24:6b).

2. Earnestly listen to those you trust. Surround yourself with individuals marked by wisdom and competence. In the midst of a storm, their counsel and advice will be reliable guides. "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel" (Prov. 27:9). Also, heed the rebuke and criticism from trusted friends. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).

3. Be guided by reason and facts. Good leadership requires a commitment to intelligent thinking. Things can quickly become clouded by emotions, competing perspectives, and relational loyalties. A leader must strive for objective decision-making. "The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly" (Pro 15:14).

4. Don't take insults personally. Unpopular decisions will make people angry with you. Insults will come from unexpected sources--even by those with whom you thought you were on good terms. Leadership requires individuals who are able to put their own hurts aside, and see the bigger picture. "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult" (Prov 12:16).

5. Don't be surprised by irrationality and anger. Most people are guided by their emotions, and few have learned to master them. "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back" (Proverbs 29:11 NKJV). "...The mouth of fools pours out folly (Proverbs 15:2).

6. All you have is your integrity. The temptation will be to try to please some individual or group (however, if your in leadership long enough you will soon find yourself in a position where you cannot please everyone). A man of integrity will do what he considers right and wise, even if all turn against him. "The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them" (Prov 11:3)

7. You'll never lose a true friend. Though perhaps many will privately and publicly attack you, true friendship survives difficulty and disagreement. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

8. If you have integrity, you will be hated. Though honesty and integrity will win many, there are certain individuals who will hate you all the more. Your integrity is a living, breathing reminder of what they lack. In your presence they feel guilt and shame towards themselves, which they redirect into bitterness towards you. "Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright" (Prov 29:10)

9. Stop trying to convince everyone. Proverbs 18:2 tells us that "a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind." Certainly there are other wise individuals who happen to see things differently, but it is also true that there are fools who simply refuse to listen to reason. Your job is to be an effective leader marked by wisdom and integrity, not a zookeeper who constantly attempts to remove the ostrich's head from the sand.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Codex Vaticanus B available for sale

Finally, a dream has come true. It is now possible to own a full color copy of Codex Vaticanus B. This particular Codex is one of the oldest and most valuable extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible (it has been dated back to the fourth century). The codex is named for its place of housing in the Vatican Library. It is written in Greek on vellum (animal skin specially prepared for writing) and is one of the best manuscripts of the Bible in Greek. Codex Sinaiticus is its only competitor in terms of significance for textual critical analysis.

And now I can own a fascimile copy-----that is, if I can come with an extra $6,935. Published in Rome by the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, only 450 copies have been made. It even comes with a plexiglass slip case!

Somehow I doubt my church--or my wife--will cough up 7k for a single book, but an ancient language nerd can still dream...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Worshipping with Harry Emerson Fosdick

Read the following hymn, written by Harry Emerson Fosdick:

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.

This hymn is found in many hymnals across the United States, including my own. Conservative, and even Fundamentalist, churches sing this hymn on a regular bases--praising it for its beauty, piety, and God-centeredness. The only problem is that the man who wrote it was one of the most notorious liberals of his time.

Fosdick became a central figure in the conflict between conservative and liberal forces within American Protestantism in the 1920s and 1930s. While at First Presbyterian Church, on May 21, 1922 Fosdick preached a sermon titled Shall the Fundamentalists Win? where he repudiated the core beliefs of historic Christian faith. For example, he held hat belief in the virgin birth was unnecessary; the inerrancy of Scripture, untenable; and the doctrine of the Second Coming, absurd. In that sermon, he presented the Bible as a record of the unfolding of God’s will, not as the literal Word of God. He saw the history of Christianity as one of development, progress, and gradual change.

Fosdick was staunchly against any form of creedal Christianity, which he felt would hinder theological innovation and development. Later in life he boasted that he had never repeated the Apostles' Creed. He also rejected what he called a pessimistic Christianity that held to the idea of personal sinfulness. In Fodick's faith, man was essentially good, Christ was no atoning Savior, and Scripture was little more than the (sometimes very errant) spiritual experiences of one generation of believers. Only this attitude towards faith was, in Fosdick's words, "intellectually hospitable, tolerant, [and] liberty-loving".

Fosdick blatantly attacked those Christians who refused to allow Christianity to be defined by anything other than the historic tenants of the faith. He believed such pastors were saying little more than “come, and we will feed you opinions from a spoon. No thinking is allowed here except such as brings you to certain specified, predetermined conclusions." For Fosdick, such "spoon fed" and "predetermined conclusions" were those articles of faith written in the Word of God. A person could be a genuine believer, in Fosdick's mind, even if he repudiated every historic doctrine of the Christian faith.

Recently, I instructed our worship director to no longer include any hymn written by Harry Emerson Fosdick in our congregational worship. Though faithful believers may understandably take his words in a biblically-faithful sense, the facts of history demonstrate that Fosdick made it his life's mission to undermine true biblical belief. Wolves shouldn't be given access to the flock, even if they happen to be wearing their finest coat of wool.

J. Gresham Machen once asked, "The question is not whether Mr. Fosdick is winning men, but whether the thing to which he is winning them is Christianity."


Friday, June 5, 2009

Why we need an hispanic Supreme Court justice

Alarming as this post may be to my die-hard fellow conservatives, I strongly advocate appointing an Hispanic judge to the Supreme Court. Now, whether or not I support Judge Sonia Sotomayor remains to be seen. For this post I would like to look at the broader issue of judicial ethnic diversity.

Conservatives generally veer strongly away from the concept of ethnic quotas, and for good reason. Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. To be denied a promotion, raise, or an opportunity simply because the color of one's skin or the accent of one's speech cannot be tolerated.

In the educational arena this battle has been fought numerous times. The 1978 Supreme Court’s decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke concluded that “the goal of achieving a diverse student body is sufficiently compelling to justify consideration of race in admissions decisions . . .” More recently, the Bush Administration legally challenged the University of Michigan's admissions policy that not only took race into consideration, but also weigh it more than other factors. In a split decision ruling, the Supreme Court validated UofM's admissions policy, though it did strike down certain elements.

Essentially it works like this: schools are allowed to take race into consideration, as long as race is only one of several factors. I see this as a fair-minded and common-sense approach to a difficult issue. All other things being relatively equal, race can be "a" determining factor in graduate school admissions, but never "the" determining factor.

The Supreme Court is the highest legal body in the United States. Though not a 'representative body' such a Congress, the individuals serving on the Court have been commissioned to uphold, cherish, and protect the legal interests of the entire nation. A diverse nation calls for a diverse Court. Our nation has already broke ground with the appointment of women and African-Americans. While race (or gender) should never be the sole factor in such appointments, to refuse to allow it to be a significant factor is to ignore the very diversity which forms the American heartbeat.

For example, the Hispanic growth rate is almost three times more than the overall population growth rate. Most studies suggest that there are over 44 million individuals of Hispanic origin living in America. Placing an Hispanic judge on the Supreme Court isn't designed to protect the interests of Hispanic-Americans. Rather, it is meant to protect the interests of America itself, and to ensure that our leaders remain our equals. Though caution must be taken and boundaries must be set, a commitment to diversity protects our nation from the quiet tyranny of neglect.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Phenomenon called 'Porn Creep'

'Porn Creep' is a term used in the media industry to describe the intentional infusion of pornography into mainstream culture. Time Magazine online recently featured an article by Belinda Luscombe discussing this phenomenon.

Referring to a recent Bud Light ad featuring a man buying a pornographic magazine, Luscombe writes , "the ad, which quietly appeared in February as part of a viral campaign, has attracted little notice so far, but because it comes from a highly-respected American brand, it seems to mark some kind of cultural tipping point, where pornography has soaked so far into the fabric of mainstream culture that it's no longer seen as a stain."

For example, a recent Quiznos' commercial, called 2 Girls and Sub, features two playboy models feasting on a sub sandwich in a blatantly sexual way (an online article actually provided a link where the commercial could be viewed on Playboy's website--for obvious reasons I choose not to provide that link here). Secular critics have also accused the company of homoerotic subtext in its "Toasty Torpedo" commercials. Print ads for companies like American Apparel feature full nudity as well as bisexual and homosexual images. Carl Jr, a West-coast fast-food chain, is also notorious for hypersexualized commercials. Budweiser has just released a television ad portraying a man buying beer and a pornographic magazine. In the ad, unwanted (but clearly intended to be humorous) attention is draw to the man's pornography and the commercial includes crude pornographic language and images of sexual 'toys'.

What is interesting about this phenomenon is how mainstream media itself is taking notice--and some are even voicing softly-spoken concerns. Donna Rice Hughes, an anti-pornography advocate states, "The line has gotten really blurred. There's a whole generation that has been pornified. They don't think it's a big deal."

For Christian families and individuals the increasing pornographic content of mainstream media is troubling. The issue here isn't a Christian's desire to force Christian morals upon society, but rather of having pornographic values forced upon Christians (as well as society as a whole). It is one thing for a pornographic image to be regulated to a special room at a video rental store--it is another thing entirely for that pornography to appear in a commerical during an episode of American Funniest Home Videos. The first allows access to anyone who wishes to indulge, the second forces the content upon all regardless of age or willingness. Quite literally, there are few safe havens for Evangelical Christian families wishing to steer clear of the influences of "porn creep".

Father, Thy kingdom come...and in the present time protect my family's eyes from evil.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Killing the Killer, Betraying the Cross

With the entire nation, I have been listening to news related to the cold-blooded murder of the abortionist Dr. Tiller. Tiller had been an highly outspoken proponent of late-term abortions, and one of its few providers.

In the strongest possible terms I condemn this attack. It now appears that it was an act by a radical militia-type individual, undoubtedly believing he wase serving "God and country". The hypocrisy of his position is as staggering as the murderous intent of his heart is terrifying. Far from saving lives, the killer has simply added to the death toll. This "self-appointed hand of God" is nothing more than a hate-filled man who has shut both the truth and love of Jesus Christ out of his heart and mind.

This killing weighs on my heart, as does the genocide of abortion. Yet what troubles me most about this situation is neither of these two issues. Frankly, we live in a non-Christian world and I therefore expect evils such as abortion, slavery, and discrimination to take place. We also live in a world full of self-righteousness, and so I am (unfortunately) not surprised to hear of some religious fanatic going on a murderous crusade. These situations sadden me, but underneath this story is something that angers me--a so-called 'church' which has abandoned the teachings of Jesus and openly endorsed the actions and philosophy of abortion.

True Christians everywhere have denounced the horrendous murder of Dr. Tiller, even as the ELCA denomination condoned abortion and even allowed the nation's most notorious abortionist to become a member in good standing. Abortion is not reconcilable with true Christianity. For a church to accept abortion--or an abortionist as an honored member--is only possible when they consciously and decidedly walk away from the truth of the Gospel.

Killing an abortion doctor is an inexcusable wrong. Killing an unborn child is an unfathomable act of evil. But, for a "church" to condone the act of abortion is nothing less than a betrayal of the life and mission of Jesus. Everything surrounding this story is heinous, but the greatest evil was committed by a congregation and pastor that choose years ago to abandon the cause of Christ.

As a citizen I demand that Dr. Tiller's murderer be punished.
As a patriot, I urge for our nation to end this human-rights violation called abortion.
But, as a Christian I call upon the ELCA to turn from their open apostasy from Jesus Christ.