Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sanctity of Life

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jer. 1:5)

He set me apart before I was born, & called me by his grace.” (Gal. 1:15) (Eph.2:10)

The following is an article that was published by Baptist Press last week. I want you to read a portion of the article and then I will make a few observations.

Staggering: U.S. passed the 53 million abortion mark in 2010

Jan 14, 2011, by Michael Foust

At some point in 2010 -- 37 years removed from the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision -- a doctor in the United States performed the nation's 53 millionth legal abortion, a sobering stat that ethicists say should drive the public to speak up for the unborn. The statistic is based on data compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice organization whose studies are acknowledged by most major pro-choice organizations.

The nation's abortion rate reached a peak of 1.6 million in 1990 and has steadily fallen in most years ever since, although Guttmacher's latest data, from 2008, showed the abortion rate had risen slightly to 1,212,000 million from 1,206,000 in 2005, the most recent data point. Because Guttmacher no longer releases abortion data every year, the 53 million figure is based on assumptions that the abortion rate remained relatively unchanged in 2009 and 2010.

The 1973 Roe decision, coupled with the companion Doe v. Bolton ruling, legalized abortion nationwide for effectively any reason during all nine months of pregnancy. "Fifty-three million is the population of a medium-size country. Imagine the outcry if the people of Spain (46.1 million people) were destroyed by another nation," C. Ben Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a consultant to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. "Yet most of the world is silent about the destruction of the unborn. Christian love demands that we weep compassionately for the unborn, pray fervently that the killing would stop, work urgently for alternatives to abortion, and become the voice of the unborn in the public square.”

The last part of Dr. Mitchell’s statement provides our four-fold challenge concerning our love for the unborn:

· Weep compassionately for the unborn

· Pray fervently that the killing would stop

· Work urgently for alternatives to abortion

· Be the voice of the unborn in the public square

Now, let me share with you one exciting new ministry that will begin at our south campus as soon as the renovations can be done. Sav-A-Life will be opening a branch in Jacksonville at our south campus. Please pray for Michelle Payne as she leads this great ministry. Sav-A-Life provides some wonderful alternatives to abortion and will allow us to be the voice of the unborn in the public square. I am excited for this ministry to come to Jacksonville and I know God will use it for His glory.

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deep in Sleep

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)

Yesterday I spoke of Richard Wurmbrand, the voice of the Underground Church in Romania, who was imprisoned on two separate occasions, finally being released in 1964. Why? Because he did not fall asleep, he was not Biblically ignorant, and he was not a coward when it came time to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). When one million Russian soldiers walked into Romania and brought Joseph Stalin’s godless communism into the country, Richard Wurmbrand chose truth over error, love over hate and conviction over cowardice. He refused to sit in silence like so many in the church have done when the evils of our world ran rampant through a society.

Richard Wurmbrand, a leader in the Underground Church of Romania both in and out of prison, declared the power of the Gospel in a godless time. He spoke out against communism when other pastors in the church were saying “communism and Christianity were fundamentally the same and could coexist” (Tortured for Christ, p. 15). He, along with many others in the Underground Church, chose to endure all things for the sake of Christ.

In his book “Tortured for Christ” he dedicated a chapter to today’s “Western Christian.” His message to us is simple:

“Don’t abandon us!”

“Don’t forget us!”

“Don’t write us off!”

“Give us the tools we need! We will pay the price for using them!”

He shares how you and I can help the Underground Church that exists around the world.

1. Pray for the persecutors that they may be saved.

2. Send Bibles and Bible portions to our brothers and sisters in the Underground Church. Thousands of Christians have not seen Bibles in Communist nations such as China or North Korea.

3. We must also join hands with the Underground Church in financial support as they continue one-on-one evangelism. One way you can do that is through the ministry “Voice of the Martyr’s.”

I want to encourage you to start praying today for the Underground Church and examine ways you and your family can support our brother and sisters who are declaring the greatness of Christ in countries hostile to the Gospel. I leave you with the words of Richard Wurmbrand:

“When I was beaten on the bottom of the feet, my tongue cried. Why did my tongue cry? It was not beaten. It cried because the tongue and the feet are both part of the same body. And you free Christians are part of the same Body of Christ that is now beaten in prisons in restricted nations, that even now gives martyrs for Christ. Can you not feel our pain?

The early Church in all of its beauty, sacrifice, and dedication has come alive again in these countries.

While our Lord Jesus Christ agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, James, and John were a mere stone’s throw away in the greatest drama of history – but they were deep in sleep. How much of your own Christian concern is directed toward the relief of the martyr church? Will you sleep while your brethren in Christ suffer and fight for the gospel?

Will you hear our message: Remember us! Help us! Don’t abandon us!”

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Heart

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

A story appeared several years ago (Jan. 7, 1986) in the Dallas Morning News of a 14-year-old girl named Donna Ashlock, who lived in Patterson, CA. She was a bright girl, very popular in school, athletic in nature, with a charming personality. But there was one thing wrong with Donna Ashlock. She had a very diseased heart.

The doctors decided that a heart transplant was the only thing that could save her life. And if there was no heart available to transplant, she would probably die. The story gets more involved. There was a 15-year-old boy by the name of Felipe Garza who fell head over heels in love with Donna. He loved the way she looked. He loved the way she talked. For a long time he just sort of swooned every time she walked by.

One day he heard that she might die, and he told his parents that he wished that he could take his heart out and put it in Donna so that she would live, even though it meant that he would die. The story goes on. One day Felipe Garza, the picture of health, had a blood vessel rupture in his brain, leaving him brain dead, but all of his organs healthy. In their grief, his parents decided to give his organs away.

Among the organs that were donated was his heart, and it now beats inside the body of Donna Ashlock. His parents said, "He gave his heart to his girlfriend. I know that is what he wanted to do. The way we look at it he gave her his heart twice, and both times he really meant it."

Ezekiel tells us in chapter 36 of God’s promise to restore Judah to Its rightful place of prominence. Judah’s neighboring nations devoured the Lord’s people, and God pledged to restore and vindicate his people. The pagan nations possessed Judah’s land and devoured its inhabitants. Yet God, in his holy jealousy, swore that he would bring shame upon the nations and restore Judah to her former glory. Despite her sin, God will revive Judah. God will gather them and bless them for the sake of his own glory. He will cleanse them from their sins (v. 25), give them a new heart (v. 26), place his Spirit within them (v. 27-28), deliver them from their uncleanness ( v. 29-32), and reverse the desolation of the land (v. 33-38).

What I love about this text is the picture of God giving them a new heart. As he has done for Judah he has also done for his new creation, the church. He has removed our stone heart and replaced it with one that reveals his incredible love for us. Just as God restored Israel for the sake of His holy name, He has redeemed us with precious blood for the sake of His holy name.

The Lord has given us a “new heart” and a “new spirit” so that we might walk in newness of life. His Spirit we receive at conversion enables us to follow His leading in our lives through the application of His Word. In essence, our every step is to be an indicator of His control over us. We are the exclusive ownership of a new Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why would God take such drastic, bloody action to restore us to a right relationship with Him? 2 Corinthians 5:15 says we have been given a new heart so that “we should live no longer for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf.” We live for the sake of Christ. We love others for the sake of Christ. We grow to spiritual maturity for the sake of Christ. I don’t know about you but that sure makes me thankful for my “new heart.”

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Year

As I look back over 2010, I stand amazed at God’s faithfulness to our faith community. Here are my Top 7 ministry highlights for 2010:

· Conducted our very first “Ministry Fair”

· Trained more servants than ever for ministry

· Blessed with a record attendance of 1350 at Easter

· Saw 654 profess faith in Honduras

· Raised $15,000 to clothe 216 kids in Santa Elena, Honduras

· Overwhelmingly adopted our 10-year vision plan

· Baptized more teenagers than in any year since 1993

Wow!! Our God is so faithful. Like you, I realize that we cannot sit back and rest while the lostness of humanity grows. We must hear Paul’s advice to the Philippians as if he were speaking directly to us:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

I am making this passage my life verses for 2011. I want to “press on.” I want to be a man who, like Paul, is expectant and positive about the things which are before him. Most people are afraid of the future. Uncertainty and insecurity about the days that lie ahead fill the heart with fear and anxiety, but you and I need not fear! Jesus is on the throne. He is in control. He is powerful enough to do anything.

Let’s look to the future with expectancy and excitement. Let’s Look to the future in a positive light, because we know that there is a God in heaven who says, "If He be for us, who can be against us", who gives us the confidence to say; "I can do all things through Christ Jesus which strengthens me."

Let’s “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." What greater achievement in life can we have than to give our all in this life, knowing that one day we will be crowned by Christ on that day and hearing Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant" (2 Tim. 4:7-8) This is the high calling of God in Christ. I look forward to our journey together!

Dr. Derek