A Dark Room: My Heart & Abortion

Having held my lifeless stillborn daughter in my arms almost 35 years ago can bring a rising level of emotions to my heart when I consider the current scenario being played out in the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade “leak” and upcoming ruling.

My heart. Yes, . . . that’s the key word in the previous sentence. Years ago, I heard someone say, “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.” What gives that principle gravity is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). What Jesus describes here is the fallen condition of our heart.

Described in Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

The heart, as referred to in the Word of God, is not the vital human organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies; that keeps us going, moving, breathing. The heart is summed up in all that we are . . . our emotions, our will, our mind. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that the heart determines the course of your life (NLT).

The whole of the abortion issue is one of the heart. Man by his very fallen nature has a heart that is selfish, short-sighted, manipulative, greedy, lazy, hedonistic, irrational, unreasonable, murderous, wicked, covetous, sensual, proud, corrupt, deceitful, faithless, ruthless, confused and much more.

Romans 1 describes the heart that refuses to acknowledge God as “foolish” and “darkened” (1:21).

The world’s response to abortion, those who perform abortions and those who have an abortion are simply . . . following their heart. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

Now, I have just described my own heart. All of the above characteristics dwell within me, too. The only difference . . . at the age of five, based upon the truths of God’s Word and by His grace alone, Christ came to live in my heart, took up residency within me, and now I do not live the Christian life, Christ lives His life through me (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13; John 14:17-23; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:27).

As a disciple of the Lord Christ Jesus, the worst decision I can make each day and throughout the day is to follow my heart, to go my own way. Man left to himself destroys himself and those around him.

The only way to overcome the battle that rages within me, my heart wanting to have its own way, is to surrender to Christ within me. He is life and has the words of life (John 6:68-69; 14:6; Matthew 11:28-30).

The answer to the abortion issue and the downward spiral of my heart is the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ.

As I think back to those days after the stillbirth of Ashley Marie, I am oft reminded of the dear lady who Denise visited in the hospital three months later who had experienced the same. When my wife walked into that room filled with sorrow and pain, she entered into the darkness of that dear mom’s heart when she said, “I just went through the same thing three months ago.” Then and there, Denise was able to share Christ with her.

Because of the condition of my heart, I can empathize with all in this world who are for abortion at any level. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Each of these need Christ. Each of these need someone to share the message of the gospel with them.

Especially needed is the dear mom who now lives with a broken heart, the painful scars of her decision to have an abortion. For you dear lady, there is forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [God] made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:6-7).

Today, may we have an opportunity to enter into that dark room of a heart filled with sin, sorrow, pain, and brokenness and share the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Today, will you turn to the light in Christ alone and be set free from the dark room of your heart?

Don’t Come Home

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know that I have done a series on The Empty Nest, Part 2, Part 3—-words of encouragement, help and preparation for when your children leave home to launch out on their own.

Today, I’m sharing the testimony from a son whose parents are an example of handling the empty nest.

“Eighteen years ago, we moved [north]. I’ll never forget the firm words my dad had for me. It seemed out of his gentle character as he nearly made me promise to do what he requested. ‘Son, one of these days your mother and I will get old and sick. Don’t come home! The Lord has a work for you to do in [up north], and we don’t want to get in the way’.”

“My family has been so supportive for all these many years. Dad got cancer, had other health struggles then passed away. Mom has had health ups and downs over the years. She is currently at home having been recently released from the hospital due to many health issues.”

Denise and I met this son and his wife three years ago. They ministered to our hearts in a very special way and have continued to do so. Their love and sacrifice for the gospel, the ministry of Jesus Christ and his parents are quite evident. Even though they moved miles away from parents, what a blessing to serve the Lord knowing that family was “in their corner” praying and cheering them on!

Parents, don’t hold your kids so tight that they feel guilty serving where God has called them if they can’t get home as often as you think. If you are all born again believers, you will spend forever with them. Let them go! Trust the Lord for their well-being. God is always a better parent, refuge, and source of wisdom than we can be.

Release them, love them, remind them often of your support, and most of all, pray fervently for them!!

This son is currently visiting with his mom, and he wrote, “Even though Daddy said not to move back home, I’m pretty sure he’d be ok with a visit.”

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 3

In the previous two posts, I have suggested that you can prepare for the empty nest by making daily investments in your marriage, by making your home a joyful place and by preparing your children to leave home.

Today, I submit to you that the greatest step in preparing for the empty nest is to release your children into the hands of God!

Truth is, we do not own our children. They were created by God and belong to Him. Parenting is His work, not ours. Grace to raise our children and send them out only comes from the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10). Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward (Psalm 127:3). For you (God) formed my inward parts; you (God) knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14a).

Since this is true, He knows what is best for our children. Therefore, as they go from the “crib to college” or the “Johnny-Jump-Up to a job,” your goal is to . . .

  • Teach the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), live out the gospel, and teach your children how to live out the gospel. Our prayer was always, “Lord, may (name) come to know you as personal Lord and Savior at the earliest possible moment/age.” (10 Ideas For Living Out the Gospel In Your Home)
  • Make Christ preeminent in your home as you live out the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:15-18).
  • Live with your sights set on the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and eternity (John 14:1-3) not the world’s values.
  • Teach your children to love God’s Word, to know God’s Word, to speak God’s Word and to apply God’s Word (Psalm 119). A great way to do that is through the Inductive Bible Study.
  • Teach them to follow Christ all the days of their life (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 14:26; Philippians 1:21; 1 Peter 2:21)
  • Give your children the best gift . . . parents who Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4). If our children have left home and are following Christ, give Him praise, for it is all of His grace. Enjoy your empty nest and fill it with much love and prayer together.

If your child has left home and is not walking with the Lord, certainly that will be a burden to your heart, but our sovereign God can do greater things than we can imagine. Make your empty nest a place of prayer and submission to the omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God. Lean hard into His promises. Perhaps this will encourage you: Comfort For Weary Parents of Troubled Children

May you all find comfort and encouragement in the Truth as you face or live in the empty nest of parenting. Wherever you are and wherever your children are, God is there. Rest and rejoice in Him (Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-8). Husbands, enjoy the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Release your children to God.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 2

One of the most critical times in a marriage is when the only child or children begin to leave home, especially when “the baby” departs. My wife and I have experienced this, but can say with confidence, “You can look forward to the empty nest!”

Yesterday I began what I hope is a helpful set of posts on this subject of preparing for The Empty Nest. Here’s another step as you move toward that day.

Prepare your children to leave home. Denise and I had a dear lady in our church watch our second daughter for a couple of hours one month after she was born so we could continue our habit of dating. Certainly, Alli did not know about us being gone, but it set the stage for when she did understand, and it was an ongoing example to her older sister. You see, Denise and I were preparing our own hearts for when the girls would leave home. How?

  • Send your children to junior and teen camp. We highly recommend The Wilds.
  • Get your children involved in sports, 4-H, Sunday School, youth group and its activities, college trips, ministry within your local church, etc.
  • Teach them how to work and to have a godly work ethic. Let them get a job as soon as possible, but refuse to let them accept a job that will keep them out of church.
  • Train them how to clean up their room, do laundry, set the table, cook, wash dishes, vacuum, drive a car, mow the lawn, plant a garden, build a fire in the outdoor firepit, be financially responsible, how to dress for the occasion, how to treat and respect the opposite sex, etc. In other words, do not let your children grow up dependent on you.
  • Do not give your children everything. Let them learn the value of waiting on certain privileges as well as the value of earning certain privileges.
  • Allow your children to make mistakes within reason. They need to learn how to rise from failure and how to lose with a gracious heart yet be competitive.
  • Teach them to respect, honor and obey authority.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing one of the most important steps in this preparation process. Stay tuned!

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest

One of the most difficult times of parenting comes when your children are ready to leave “the nest.”

I distinctly remember when we left our firstborn at college. The drive out of town was absolute silence for at least 30 minutes with some sniffles, tears and the need for Kleenexes.

When our second child, our last one here on earth, left home for college, this too did a major tug on our hearts.

Nevertheless, this is the way God planned. Genesis 2:24, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Our children cannot “leave and cleave” if we as parents are still cleaving to them.

How can you be prepared to release your children and eventually enjoy the “empty nest”?

Make daily investments in your marriage. Remember parents, you did not marry your children. Your spouse came first and hopefully your spouse will still be there after the kids depart! Therefore, portray before your children a transparent, honest, grace-filled, forgiving marriage that will be a model for them to follow (Ephesians 4:17-5:33). Continue to date your spouse. Be lovingly demonstrative toward your spouse in the presence of your children. You want your children to grow up with the undoubtable knowledge that their parents love each other! Moms and dads, when your marriage is strong, your children will find an element of security in their own lives because they know their parents will be okay.

Make your home a joyful place. Parents, enjoy the Lord, enjoy life, enjoy your children, and enjoy each day. Even in the midst of sorrow, difficult parenting days, Covid, financial strain, the Spirit of God produces joy (Galatians 5:22-23) and gives us hope (Romans 15:13). Here are three ingredients for a joyful home that come with the grace needed for daily fulfillment—Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Recently I heard someone say, “Our home should be such that our children are prepared to leave but look forward to returning, not for what they get or to be a shelter enabling their laziness, but for the atmosphere that is set in the early years of child rearing.”

Yes, when the time comes for your children to move on in life, it will bring a dramatic change for you and your children. No matter, the grace of God and preparation today looking toward tomorrow and the future will enable this transition to be God-honoring and a blessing to your children. Remember, you left home and your parents, too, right?

More tomorrow.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!

21 Days of Prayer (Day #18)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“This is the Great Commission—the making of disciples. The touchstone of a thriving church is that it is making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 152)

“The essence of ‘vine work’ (people ministry as opposed to “trellis” ministry which includes the upkeep of the building and running programs) is the prayerful, Spirit-backed speaking of the message of the Bible by one person to another (or more than one). . . . The goal of all Christian ministry, in all its forms, is disciple-making.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 153)

The past two days I have asked us to pray for the children and the senior saints. Today, I am asking us to pray again for our children and senior saints and all in between . . . to be involved in the continuation of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.

When we make the mission of the church simply reaching the lost or growing church attendance or teaching biblical information—or anything other than making full-fledged disciples of Jesus—we form shallow churches, leave people stuck in immature, un-Christlike patterns of living, and fail to be a city set on a hill.

Our mission is disciple making. And making disciples includes two components: evangelism (implied by the reference to baptism in Matthew 28:19) and teaching people to do everything Jesus commanded.

It’s all aimed at helping people become disciples and live as disciples, which means they have to rearrange their life to become like Jesus.

So, here’s a subtle shift in thinking that makes a massive impact on our ministries: Disciple making isn’t something we do; it’s everything we do.

The purpose of every meeting, every program, and every activity of the church is to either help people become disciples or to help them live as disciples.

If we’re making lots of converts who aren’t learning how to do everything Jesus commanded (i.e., live as disciples of Jesus), we’re failing to carry out the mission Jesus gave us.

If we have lots of active, involved church members who are attending, serving, and giving but not becoming like Jesus in character and life mission, then we’re making church members not disciples. And that means we’re failing in the mission Jesus gave us.

We have one mission: make disciples.

Every pastor is a disciple making pastor.

Every volunteer leader needs to see their role as a disciple maker and understand how they can help the people in their charge live as disciples of Jesus.

For every activity we should ask: How does this help people either become disciples or live as disciples?

As Curtis Erskine demonstrated in his substantive blog entitled “Conversion, Theology, and Discipleship,” discipleship is the key criterion by which everything is evaluated.

And this isn’t just true for the church corporately. This is true for each individual disciple as well—we are to live as disciples and seek to make disciples.

Raising kids? One of the greatest discipleship opportunities for our own discipleship and for helping our kids become—and live as—disciples. Martin Luther called family life the “school for character.”

Career? An incredible training ground for becoming like Jesus, and one of the best places to display and impart the way of Jesus to others.

Friends? They are key relationships for spurring one another on to love and good deeds.

Discipleship to Jesus should shape every facet of our life as individuals and every activity in our churches.

It’s everything we do, and it’s the greatest opportunity any human being could ever have because Jesus is the true source of life. (Disciple Making Is Everything the Church Does; John Whitaker)

Would you join with Pastor Andrew and myself in submitting to the Christ within every one of us as believers in Christ by following His mission to make disciples?

  • Pray that BCBC would become more and more a disciple making ministry. (Titus 2)
  • Pray for a greater understanding of what it looks like to be a disciple for Christ. (The four gospels; the life of Christ)
  • Pray for courage, conviction, and concern for people. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Pray that we will be growing daily in Christ through prayer, scripture, and fellowship with other believers. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • Pray that we will encourage one another, carry each other’s burdens, and work together in order to make known the Gospel of Jesus to the children and families who cross ours paths. (I Thessalonians 5:14)
  • Pray for our discipleship small groups to grow in such a way that it produces more disciple-makers whose desire would be to spend intentional time in conversation with others in the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Let’s pray expectantly with surrendered hearts! Who’s all in with me?

Pastor C

21 Days of Prayer (Day #16)

What a delight to see those precious children waving palm branches and saying “Hosanna!” as they walked down the middle aisle in yesterday’s morning gathering!

Another blessing is seeing dedicated believers teaching the children in Sunday School, and adults in church speaking to the children and interacting with them.

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

The example of Jesus is a guide for our prayer time today in reference to one of the ministries at Boones Creek Bible Church, the children’s ministry.

  • Let us pray that parents will intentionally and faithfully bring their children to Jesus. In particular, bringing them to where the body of Christ gathers. The children need to hear about the life of Christ. They need to be taught the doctrines of Christ and salvation, such as regeneration, redemption, adoption, justification, etc.
  • Let us pray that our children will be touched by Christ early on in life receiving the greatest blessing of life, salvation, and then live the Christlife all their days on earth.
  • Let us surrender to pray by name for the children at BCBC.
  • Let us pray that we will see the kingdom of heaven expanded through our children’s ministry.
  • Let us pray that our example as adults does not “forbid” the children from coming to Jesus. May we make Christ attractive to them.
  • Let us pray for the teachers and nursery workers as they minister Jesus to these precious ones.

Thank the Lord for our faithful children’s workers who have a passion to present Christ to our children in a loving, welcoming way! Thank you for serving!!

If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God. -D.L. Moody