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How Poetry Might Change the Pro-Life Debate

The moral imagination of literature speaks volumes.

January 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion. What has changed in those 45 years? Well, not a lot. After peaking in 1980, the abortion rate has been on a slow, steady decline (although it’s heartbreaking that in 2014, 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion). While the reasons for the overall decline are debated, one thing hasn’t changed much: public opinion on the issue.

According to the most recent Gallup poll, half of Americans say abortion should be “legal only under certain circumstances,” while 29 percent say it should be “legal in all circumstances,” and 18 percent say it should be “illegal in all circumstances.” These percentages have moved very little in four decades of polling.

Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University, points out that despite the fact that 7 in 10 Americans would like abortion to be illegal after 12 weeks, the pro-life/pro-choice binary reinforced by media coverage makes it even more difficult for Americans on both sides to move toward areas they agree on.

What will it take to move past the abortion stalemate?

We might look to the method of persuasion used by Paul in Acts 17, a passage cited often in Christian apologetics. Here, Paul presents the gospel to the Greek philosophers gathered before pagan shrines at Mars Hill in Athens. He begins, not with words of Scripture, but with words of writers familiar to his audience: “As even some of your own poets have said…” After quoting these lines from pagan poetry, Paul then goes on to point to the one true God who fulfills the truth sought by those poets.

Christian apologists today describe this approach as literary ...

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Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions

Evo Morales announces on national TV that controversial criminal code will be scrapped.

Yesterday, Bolivia’s evangelical leaders led a national day of prayer and fasting in response to their socialist government making evangelism a crime.

That same Sunday, their president went on TV to answer their prayers.

President Evo Morales Ayma announced that he will tell the South American nation’s Legislative Assembly to repeal the entire penal code in the wake of recent changes that, among other tweaks, introduced severe restrictions on religious freedom.

“We have decided to repeal the Criminal Code to avoid confusion and so the Right stops conspiring and doesn’t have arguments to generate destabilization in the country, with disinformation and lies,” he tweeted. “We are going to listen to the proposals of all the sectors that observe the code. The National Government will never approve norms against the Bolivian people.”

He also went on state television to confirm the announcement, one that fell on the 12th anniversary of his becoming the Andean nation’s first indigenous leader.

“I don't want to keep using Banzer’s Code,” said Morales, referring to the system put in place by former dictator and president Hugo Banzer. “I ask the assembly … to rapidly advance a new code. I’m almost positive there will be a few changes and modifications to the articles.”

Authorized last month, the amendments to the penal code criminalized evangelism alongside terrorism. Article 88 stated that “whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom, or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 5 to 12 years of imprisonment,” according to a translation ...

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Don't Just Stand There, Say Something: Intention vs. Action in Evangelism

Simply praying for the lost is not enough.

The church in the West lives in exciting and challenging times. People are truly considering what it looks like to be a missionary in their cultural context now more than in the past 100 years. This has been a great thing for the church, and a large part of this new movement is because pastors are getting excited about missional ministry.

They are leading their churches to think and pray about how to contextualize the gospel in an increasingly post-Christian culture.

However, among the pastors of this new movement, there is concerning statistical and anecdotal evidence that the talk of ‘being missional’ is replacing the actual practice of mission as it pertains to sharing our faith with our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. I am convinced that the pastor drives both the intention and the action behind evangelism in the church.

Not too long ago I shared statistics and thoughts on the difference between intention and action regarding evangelistic efforts with Influence Magazine.

The first statistic I shared in the article was concerning prayer for nonbelievers: 90% of even the least evangelistic pastors of small churches pray for unbelievers by name, whereas 96% of the most evangelistic pastors make that a weekly practice. The statistics are high, even for the least evangelistic pastors.

The second statistic of note is the action of evangelism towards nonbelievers. Only 87% of the most evangelistic small church pastors share their faith on a weekly basis.

There is a nine-point percentage difference between how the most evangelistic pastors pray for the lost, and how pastors share their faith with the lost. As I mentioned in the article, “The intention is there, but the action isn’t matching up. In ...

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The Year Science Took Over the Pro-Life Movement

Even the technology touted at 2018’s March for Life can divide the cause when it comes to abortion policy.

The March for Life has taken place each January in Washington for 45 years, rallying Christian organizations, Republican politicians, and thousands of demonstrators dedicated to a timeless message about the sanctity of life and the need to protect the unborn.

The annual event has always evoked spiritual and political arguments. But this year’s also looked to science and technology to bolster the cause.

President Donald Trump, who spoke to the march by video from the White House, announced that Monday’s Roe v. Wade anniversary would be declared National Sanctity of Life Day (as Republican presidents before him have done).

“Science continues to support and build the case for life,” his proclamation states, referencing the advent of more detailed sonograms and the new possibilities for procedures done in utero as important medical advances for the pro-life cause.

“Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy,” Trump wrote.

Following his remarks, the first-ever offered by video from a sitting president, House Speaker Paul Ryan shouted to a cheering crowd at the National Mall.

“Why is the pro-life movement on the rise? Because truth is on our side,” the Catholic lawmaker said. “Life begins at conception. Science is on our side!”

Bolstered by a young generation of pro-life millennials and new developments in prenatal treatment, advocates see themselves in a better position than ever to change minds on abortion. The Atlantic details this trend in an article out Friday that asks, “Does the pro-life movement have science on its side?”

Science came ...

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Overreach Is the Part of Obama’s Legacy That Trump Should Undo. And He Is.

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

Today, the Trump administration rolled back some Obama administration rules and changed how the government would approach religious and conscience objections.

The Washinton Post reported:

The document released describes an approach to conscience and religious protections that is significantly broader than current regulations. The number of entities that would be covered by the new rule is massive — as many as 745,000 hospitals, dentists offices, pharmacies, ambulance services and others — and the steps any entity must take to show it is in compliance is increased.

The Obama Overreach

The Obama administration, as many of us know, was seen as less-than-accommodating to individuals and groups with deeply-held religious convictions when those conflicted with new politics and laws. Instead of expanding opportunities for conscience-based objections, the Obama administration approach was one that stifled thoughtful conversation and prevented compromise. And, most importantly, they did not make appropriate accommodations for religious beliefs—picking unnecessary fights with groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Rather than seeking to find reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious belief, the Obama administration consistently overreached with unhelpful mandates and more.

In response, a host of religious leaders—from Rick Warren to President Obama’s own former staffer Michael Wear—composed a letter in 2014 asking President Obama to rethink his practices. They affirmed the need to protect human dignity and advocate for just policies. They agreed that ridding our nation of discrimination was, in fact, a noble endeavor. Nevertheless, they asked that “an extension of protection for ...

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It’s Official: Trump Turns HHS from Pro-Life Antagonist to Advocate

Department of Health and Human Services reverses Obama-era policies on Planned Parenthood funding.

The Trump administration continued to move toward pro-life policies and against Planned Parenthood with further guidance issued today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The department has rescinded an Obama administration memo warning states against blocking Medicaid funding for providers that offered abortion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now consider that 2016 letter to have overstepped federal regulations; they have restored their position to allow states to regulate their programs within reasonable standards.

While federal funds cannot be used for abortions, Planned Parenthood reports that half of its patients use Medicaid to cover other services like birth control.

“Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries,” said Charmaine Yoest, assistant HHS secretary for public affairs and former Americans United for Life president, according to The Hill.

“This is part of the Trump administration’s effort to roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion.”

Last year, President Donald Trump signed a law that reversed an Obama-era policy barring states from withholding Title X funds for abortion clinics, and reinstated a ban on federal funding for organizations performing abortions abroad.

The Hill reported that Friday’s move further demonstrates the administration’s support for state efforts to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid programs, as Southern Baptists and other pro-life Christians have hoped for years. A Justice Department request in 2017 led abortion opponents to believe the ...

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Are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Women Any Closer to Finding Common Ground?

A year after the first Women’s March, politics continue to splinter the women’s movement.

Last year’s record-setting Women’s March—filling Washington D.C. and hundreds of other cities with streams of pink hats and feminist placards—launched an important discussion about the place of pro-life and conservative women in the movement, after multiple women’s groups opposing abortion were barred from officially participating.

But a lot has changed in the year since President Donald Trump took office, particularly when it comes to women’s issues. In 2017, America saw women across industries, faith groups, and political persuasions speak out in an unprecedented way against the ongoing endemic of sexual harassment.

The issue proved sadly universal; the #MeToo movement prompted stories from “liberal” Hollywood to conservative Fox News, from “secular” Silicon Valley to Christian congregations, with the launch of #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual hashtags.

The shared concern over abuse at the hands of men in power, now discussed with more openness and urgency, seems to have the potential to bring women together. But ahead of this upcoming Women’s March, the event maintains many of the political divides Americans have come to expect between women.

Though marches will still take place in Washington, New York, and at 250 other local affiliates, the main demonstration is being held Sunday in Las Vegas, marketed as a get-out-the-vote rally for women in swing states, with the tagline “Power to the Polls.” Adding to the political tension is that it falls on the very same weekend as the annual March for Life in Washington—the country’s largest demonstration against abortion and increasingly a destination for evangelical groups.

While public ...

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The Humble Leader

Lifeway Senior Vice President contributes to a new series

Leadership is often very humbling, and leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be. Here is what I mean: Leadership is humbling because it is extremely challenging. Being a leader can be deeply sanctifying because humbling opportunities abound.

The messiness of life gets in the way of the vision leaders articulate. Plans rarely go exactly as they are outlined. And the daily burden of responsibility for caring for others is enormous. When one signs up, or is drafted, to be a leader, the person engages in a very humbling endeavor.

Leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be humbling, when success comes to the leader. When a leader starts to thrive, when the Lord grants success, or when things go better than planned, the leader can easily drift toward pride.

And pride always precedes a downfall.

David, Israel’s second king and the man after God’s own heart, walked humbly with the Lord. As David led with a pure heart and skillful hands, the Lord granted him success. But like the king before him (Saul) and the kings after him (Uzziah), pride corrupted David’s heart.

When David asked who the beautiful woman was—the woman who lived in the house he was able to see from his roof, the woman he wanted more than he wanted his own integrity—he discovered she was married. One of his servants sheepishly asked, “Isn’t this the wife of Uriah?” David’s response was to send for her anyway. After all, David was king, and the king got whatever he wanted (2 Sam. 11).

Earlier in his life, David humbly asked God to keep him in the shadow of his wings, as he was grateful for the Lord’s provision of a cave for his residence (Ps. 57). But on the roof of the palace, David trusted himself ...

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Luis Palau Reveals Stage 4 Lung Cancer, Asks for Prayer

‘It would literally take a miracle,’ says renowned evangelist ready for heaven.

In a 12-minute YouTube video, international evangelist Luis Palau revealed yesterday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

After Palau, 83, and his wife Patricia “had a super busy fall … traveling around the world sharing the Good News like they always do,” explained his son Kevin Palau, the evangelist returned from a long trip to the United Kingdom in December “with kind of a chest cold … that wouldn’t go away.”

“We finally got Dad to go into the doctor,” said Kevin, president and CEO of the Luis Palau Association. “And to our surprise, the early report we got, just before Christmas, was that there was some cancer in one of Dad’s lungs.”

A few days ago, the family learned that the cancer is in stage 4—the most advanced stage, which for lung cancer has (in general) a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent.

“That’s the reality we are dealing with now,” said Kevin. “[We’re] praying about what that means. … Mostly we are asking for people’s prayers.”

“It was a shock,” said Luis. “I haven’t been in a hospital one night, except when I broke a bone back in 1984 after Mission to London.”

“The first thing you do, in my case, is cry. I think, ‘oh wow, I could be gone in a few months,’” said the senior Palau. But he doesn’t feel “panic or horror.”

“Many people are praying that the Lord would do a miracle,” he said. “It would literally take a miracle. Medically speaking … stage 4 is big time.”

On the ministry’s website, Palau wrote in a health update:

As we seek the best medical advice ...

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Why Ralph Winter’s Missions Mobilizer Is Up for Sale

Shift in global evangelism prompts downsizing of US Center for World Mission’s famous Pasadena property—but not all alumni are ready to say goodbye.

The late missiologist Ralph Winter envisioned a place to “awaken” a million evangelicals to the world’s unreached people groups. It took nearly 10 years of fundraising, and donors big and small, to pay off the $15 million property in Pasadena, California, that became the US Center for World Mission (now Frontier Ventures) and William Carey International University (WCIU).

More than four decades later, with the missions landscape evolving and the Southern California cost of living continuing to skyrocket, Frontier Ventures and the university are in a non-binding agreement to sell the majority of the property their forebears had rallied to buy.

Frontier Ventures president Fran Patt and WCIU president Kevin Higgins confirmed to CT that they’ve been in talks with a potential buyer for the past month. Up for sale are roughly 15 acres of campus, a 2.5-acre soccer field near the Frontier Ventures office building, and a yet-to-be-determined portion of surrounding property, which includes homes, dorm-style residences, and office space owned by WCIU.

The partner ministries plan to maintain a smaller footprint in Pasadena, keeping the Frontier Ventures building known as Hudson Taylor Hall and, at this point, at least half the homes they own. Patt and Higgins declined to discuss the estimated value of the property or the amount of the offer.

“There are still a number of challenges: we need to agree on all the exact details, and that will take time,” Higgins wrote in a blog post in December. “Even once we get to that agreement, there will be significant time needed as the buyer would need to secure their funding.”

The ministries’ leaders have considered selling off a portion of the property ...

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