Top Honors

(According to the deathscorts website,   $138.10 was  donated because of me to pro-death causes.    I think it would be great if several of you would help counteract her donation by matching it and giving it to P82ministries.  We could use your donations to buy more signs, tracts, and to have to give to expectant mothers.   If you are interested in donating to a ministry that is on the frontlines of battle,  you can contact P82 ministries on our facebook page or you can contact me through email at Jspurgeon524@students.sbts.edu)

This week I received a high honor.  I was declared by the pro-abortion clinic deathscort blog “Every Saturday Morning” to be their “top fundraising hateful anti of the day.”    What an honor!

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:14

 

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A Word on “Discernment Blogs”

There seems to be this unwritten rule that if you disagree with someone theologically, be it on minor or major issues, it is now fair game to use whatever tactics you like to take that person down. You can take comments or quotes out of context, rely on hearsay or anonymous “sources”, look for any innocent mistake, and impugn motives or positions that the person doesn’t hold to as long as it makes your “opponent” look bad. A whole cottage industry of “discernment” bloggers has risen looking for controversies to stir up and people to take down.   They find heretics under every rock and a “downgrade” daily[i].   It is the ultimate in Monday morning quarterbacking and the online equivalent of the bitter old lady in church who has nothing good to say about anything that happens in her church.

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I would remind us all that the Holy Scriptures command us to be loving and just (1 Corinthians 13:1).   Discernment is meant to be done for the sake of abounding in love as Philippians 1:9-10 says : “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”     There is nothing loving about nitpicking and causing division among brothers.   There is nothing loving about stirring up foolish controversies.   There is nothing loving about looking for “gotcha” quotes or taking your opponent’s quotes out of context (1 Peter 2:1). We are to judge righteously.  There is nothing righteous about making judgements without knowledge of the facts.   There is nothing righteous about using misquotes or only hearing one side of the story (Proverbs 18:17).

We should seek to be unified in Christ. We should give brothers the benefit of the doubt and assume that their motives are pure even when they slip up. We must guard against a knee jerk reaction to respond to something that someone said in a sermon, on a podcast, or online without doing due diligence of first checking the context, secondly asking the person for clarification and thirdly being willing to overlook minor errors or disagreements.   Sometimes true Christian discernment means overlooking a brother’s faults.

None of what I am writing is meant to excuse dealing with error, gross sin, or heresy. We must be discerning to guard our doctrine and practice. Yet even to those who are in sin, error, or heresy we must deal  fairly and represent them accurately.   This does not mean that there won’t ever be times to break out the serrated edge by using satire, humor, and even tough language.  But in all things the believer should grow in love with discernment so that they may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.

 
[i] I would like to remind everyone that while Charles Spurgeon faithfully stood strong against what he called “the downgrade” among the Baptist Union, he ,however, did so with sober thought, reluctantly dividing only when he saw no way forward. This is a far cry from some who have appropriated the “downgrade” term today.

Every Saturday Morning

Tomorrow morning is Saturday morning, the day where most people look forward to so that they can sleep in.   It’s not like I enjoy hearing the alarm go off at 5:45 A.M.  I hit the snooze once or twice before rolling out of bed, hopping into the shower half awake, getting dressed and heading out to the car. Putting the car into reverse so I can back out of the apartment parking lot, I look forward to the day when this will not be necessary.   I turn the music up and collect my thoughts as I try to prepare for what will be a battle. It’s not that long of a drive before I turn onto Market Street in Louisville, KY.   The sun is still coming up but this street already has plenty of action.   Lining the sidewalk dressed in blaze orange vests, the deathscorts have already beat me to some of the best parking spots. What motivates the orange vests to come out every Saturday is a bit of a mystery to me.   They are faithful in a way that puts to shame a lot of those on my side including myself.   I drive past looking for a parking spot as they are lined up in front of the death mill.

It is an unsuspecting place, 138 West Market Street. The official name is the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, a name that masks its actual purpose.  The initials in the title stand for the last name of the three co-founders of the place. Two of them have already passed on to see their maker; the third still lives an exuberant lifestyle that the money from this place can provide. Just as understated as the name is the look of the building.   It has an awning that extends from over two glass doors to the sidewalk and two windows with the blinds drawn.   There is really nothing from the looks of the outside that would draw much attention to the horrific acts that occur inside.

Every Saturday morning, actually every day except Sunday, women come to EMW to have their pre-born child slaughtered. So I find my usual parking spot and head out of the car.   I meet up with a few other like-minded Christians, though there are far too few of us here. We pray and ask our Father in Heaven to shut this place.   We ask God to change the hearts of the women and men who come to this place. Around 7 AM, the doors to the death mill open up. Fortunately there are not any official parking places for customers of EMW so most of them have to park on the road and walk a distance to get to it.   And this is why I am there.   I notice a brand new Camaro sports car pull up to a parking meter. Inside is a man dressed in designer clothing and a young lady dressed in sweats.   Both of them get out the car.   I approach, with the hope of being able to offer assistance and some persuasive words that will help them decide not to go the abortion mill.

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Before I can get out the words “my name is,” two of the orange vested people barge in front of me. They do everything they can to try to ensure that the couple will not hear anything that I or other sidewalk counselors have to say.   And so begins the march to the death camp. We walk beside the couple, pleading for the life of their child. The deathscorts sometimes mock and sometimes swear.   Every once in a while a new deathscort will get too excited and try pushing us or use force in some other way.   Often those who are heading in to kill their child will get angry at someone pointing out the obvious fact that they are heading in to kill their child.   I am not motivated out of hate for them. I love them and their child.   I do hate though.   I hate that they are going to pay someone with the title “doctor” to tear their baby limb from limb.   I hate that Satan has so blinded the minds of the deathscorts that they actually think they are doing good instead of evil.   I hate that this place exists.   I hate having to get up early Saturday Morning.

I love Christ, my King, however. He has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves.   He has called us to stand up and speak out for those who have no voice. He has called us to speak out against injustice.   So I stand with signs, tracts, and other believers.   We call to those headed toward death. We call for them to turn back.   We offer assistance. And most importantly we offer the good news that Christ died for them so that they do not have to continue on the path to destruction.

This particular Saturday, twenty-five women go into the clinic.   The deathscorts take off their orange vests and go home, job well done.   They don’t have to think about the guilt and pain those women will feel later that day, later that week, later that month, and for years after. Twenty-five women will have their womb robbed of the precious joy that God created, twenty-five mothers who through their own actions will not experience the joy of their little one smiling up at them.

Some Saturdays, not this particular one, in the midst of this tragedy there is joy to be found. Sometimes the deathscorts are not able to drown out our message of hope and love.   Sometimes, a child is saved from the gruesome grip of death. God works in the heart of a mother and she changes her mind. Sometimes she leaves before getting out of the car, other times she comes out of EMW.   But it is joyous and worth every 5:45 alarm. My prayer is that every Saturday morning, will see more and more of these stories.   My prayer is that no Saturday ever again will contain the horror of abortion. Join me in that prayer.
(For more information about becoming a side-walk counselor or getting involved in abolishing this modern day evil check out Abolish Human Abortion or the Abolitionist Society of Louisville.

Jesus, Philemon, and Illegal Immigration

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Yesterday evening Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed through a budget bill to the disappointment of some Republicans.  The bill according to The Daily Caller included a loophole that would allow illegal immigrants to acquire welfare benefits. The bill also imposes cuts on retired military members’ pensions.   Sen. Jeff Session(Alabama Republican) along with other Republicans were unsuccessful in offering  amendments to the legislation that would have used money saved from closing the illegal immigrant welfare loophole to keep from cutting military retirees’ pay.   It seems to border on treasonous to put welfare benefits for illegal immigrants above keeping the promises made to people who have served this country honorably.  That said, this bill is just a microcosm of the larger illegal immigration debate.

How should Christians view the debate?  Should Christians be pushing for the current immigration reform bill going through congress that offers amnesty.    What does the Bible have to say in regard to this?   The Old Testament is filled with verses written to the people of Israel teaching them to treat immigrants well.  In Exodus 22:21 it says “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”   Deut. 10:19 says “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  What does the word “Sojourner” and how does it apply to the current situation?

Jame Hoffmeier in his book “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible”  provides  an understanding of the word, Sojourner.  The word is used for “a person who entered Israel and followed legal procedures to obtain recognized standing as a resident alien.”    There actually is another Hebrew word used to refer to people who did not have legal recognition.  The bible would describe these people as “foreigners.”    Understanding the difference in terms will lead to a better understanding of what the Bible has to say.

Hoffmeier comes the conclusion that

“Illegal immigrants should not expect these same privileges(of citizens or legal immigrants) from the state who laws they disregard by virtue of their undocumented status.  The bible clearly distinguishes between the status of a legal alien and a foreigner, and one consequence is that there really is a difference between the legal standing of a present-day documented alien and an illegal immigrant.” (pg 156-57)

This confusion among terms has often been a problem for those calling for Amnesty.  Dr. Russell Moore, a former dean of my seminary and current president of ERLC, has been one such person pushing for illegal immigrants to receive amnesty.  In one of his blog posts , he wrote that, “our Lord Jesus himself was a so-called ‘illegal immigrant.'”   Well certainly if it is the case that Jesus was an illegal immigrant than we must give some credence to the idea that our immigration laws need to be changed to allow for amnesty.    The problem with this statement by Moore and others is that it fails to distinguish between legal and  illegal immigration

It also fails on another point.  When Moore refers to Jesus as an illegal immigrant he is referring to when Joseph and Mary fled the region of Judea when Jesus was an infant.  Mark Tooley in writing for the American Spectator explains:

“(W)hich Egyptian immigration laws did Mary and Joseph violate when they fled there to protect the Baby Jesus from a murderous King Herod? Neither Scripture nor non-canonical sources reveal any such violations. Joseph, Mary and Jesus remained in Egypt until Herod was dead, when they settled in Nazareth. They were essentially temporary religious refugees who fled persecution.  Besides, if both ancient Judaea and ancient Egypt were under the Roman Empire, was moving from one to the other an act of “immigration,” much less “illegal”?”

Thus  Jesus was far from being an illegal immigrant.   Pointing to the fact that Jesus moved from one region of the Roman Empire to another does not equate to the act of illegal immigration today.

There is an area of the Bible which may have more to say about this rather than trying to paint illegal immigration into the  Christmas narrative.  The Epistle to Philemon is a letter from Paul written on the behalf of a fugitive slave or bond-servant, Onesimus.  Paul had met Onesimus possibly in Colossae and had shared the Gospel with him.  Onesimus accepted Christ as his savior and had become a useful brother to Paul.   Paul however sent Onesimus back to Philemon.    Paul wrote Philemon to encourage him to receive Onesimus as a Christian brother and to forgive him for any offense that his abandoning Philemon had caused.  Paul even offered to pay for any expense that Philemon may need.   Without getting into the issue of slavery and all that it entails (It may make for a good blog at another time, however.  Doug Wilson in his book Black and Tan does an excellent job trying to discuss the issue of American slavery and the Civil war though it is not without controversy.), the Epistle to Philemon provides an excellent biblical case study for our understanding of the Christian response to illegal immigration.

While Onesimus was not an illegal immigrant, his status as a runaway slave would put him in a similar situation. We notice from this letter that there are several things that Paul does.  First of all, he shared the Gospel with Onesimus.  Paul did not treat this man with any less dignity or respect than any other person.  He cared for him deeply because he shared the love of Jesus with him.  Paul considered him a Christian.   Christians when they come into contact with immigrants, illegal or otherwise, need to remember this.  ( My wife is a legal immigrant and so it is especially important to me that we get this correct.)   Christian love and charity is to be shown to everyone.

Yet Paul’s love for Onesimus did not excuse the situation.  Onesimus had wronged someone and was illegally away from where he was committed to be.  Paul then sends Onesimus back to Philemon.   There are a lot of questions as to the exact nature of the slave situation for Onesimus but we can imagine that for Onesimus it would probably have been financially and politically better to be with Paul than to go back.  Yet, Paul sends Onesimus back.  ( There does seem to be some intent by Paul for Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a bond-servant any longer.  Phil 1:15-16 “(O)r this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservantbut more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”)

This passage fits in with teaching of Romans 13 that calls for Christians to be obedient to the rightful authorities.  It also gives good reason for illegal immigrants who have been converted to return to their home countries willingly.   This is a hard teaching but yet is in full accord with the Bible.  It would also be just then for the government to enforce its immigration laws.   There are great many reasons why this should be the case.  For one, it would be unjust to those who immigrated legally to give amnesty to those who did mot.
Lastly, from the book of Philemon we notice that Paul did not just sent Onesimus back empty-handed.  Paul was willing to pay for any expenses that Onesimus might need.   Christians should be willing to help illegal immigrants return to their home country.   Christian charity can help provide resources that an illegal immigrant might be lacking in order to help them return safely.    Christians in the home countries of the illegal immigrants must be willing to receive their brothers and sisters back with open arms.  They may also push for political reforms in their own governments.

To borrow a phrase that I don’t really like, the “Socially Just” thing to do for  Christians is to obey immigration laws.  They should not call for rewarding those who have broken them.  Christians should obey the laws of the land if they have been rightfully put in place.  There may be times when Christians must disobey laws in order to obey God but the immigration laws as they are do not rise to this standing.

To summarize, arguments that try to squeeze illegal immigration into the Christmas narrative are uncalled for.   The Bible encourages Christians to obey the rightful authorities.  When one becomes a Christian, their faith pushes them to repentance.   This repentance will entail that Christians who have broken immigration laws will attempt to obey them.   Christians have no moral duty to push for the breaking of immigration laws.  Christians do have the duty to treat all people with dignity and to share the gospel with everyone they may come in contact with.   The case for amnesty and rewarding those who have broken our laws is not one required from scripture.