Guest Post : You can be Pro-Life and Missional

Today’s post is by guest blogger Daniel Darling. Darling, along with Dillon Burroughs and Dan King, are the co-founders of the dynamic Activist Faith movement (ActivistFaith.org). You can join these men as they shine the light on Christians who are moving beyond politics and opinion to actively engage 12 divisive social issues. Activist Faith shares biblical contexts, personal stories, and practical guidance for a new generation of Christian activists. Daniel blogs at DanielDarling.com

Activist Faith goes on sale today. If you would like to purchase Activist Faith, you can buy it by clicking here

One of the more popular criticisms of the evangelical church is its seeming obsession with politics. And in some ways this criticism is justified. At times we’ve become like Phariseeical moralists, pointing the finger at the culture rather than engaging it with the good news of the gospel.

Abortion is one of those areas where the Church has been loudest. And while there have been extreme and shrill voices, I believe this activism is justified. If we accept what the Scriptures tells us about the unique dignity of every human life, we must stand up for the innocent, as long as we have a voice. But this effort can be discouraging. Politicians and parties rise and fall. And while public opinion seems in our favor, there is no guarantee that it will translate into actual law.

But there is another way to stand up for the unborn, outside of the heat of politics: crisis pregnancy centers. While we are waiting and praying for Roe versus Wade to be overturned, there are opportunities to snatch babies from the precipice of death—in our own neighborhoods, one life at a time. And we have an opportunity to apply the grace of the gospel to young unwed mothers, helping them care for their children well after they give birth.

I’ve had the chance to work with a crisis center in our community. I’m amazed at the compassion, the love, and the effectiveness of this outreach. Though most young evangelicals might not see it this way, to serve and support a local CPC may be the most missional thing you can do. Not only are you shepherding a young girl through the biggest decision of her life, it provides an opportunity to share the good news of God’s love with someone who may feel as though their choices have left them ineligible for God’s grace.

CPC’s are surprisingly effective. In my book, Activist Faith (coauthored with Dan King and Dillon Burroughs), I shared some of the recent research:

According to a recent survey conducted by a consortium of national pro-life organizations, it is estimated that perhaps ninety thousand lives have been saved by the nearly twenty-three thousand crisis pregnancy clinics across America. Most offer ultrasounds to clients, which is highly effective, as an estimated 60 percent of women who view an ultrasound choose life. These clinics not only walk women through their various options but also offer parenting support and training, free resources such as diapers and food, and even post-abortive counseling. According to a recent survey of post-abortive women, seven out of ten said that if they had been given the opportunity to review their options, they would have chosen life.

Incredibly, the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers run on a shoestring budget. Most are staffed by volunteers and funded by local churches. They see an estimate of about 2 million women every year, with each center averaging about 350 to 400 women. Despite being largely understaffed and underfunded (twenty-nine out of every thirty CPC workers is a volunteer), they serve on the front lines, rescuing people from the edge of death. (info taken from: A Passion to Serve: Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report, Second Edition: http:// downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A47.pdf.)

Most Christians I know are fed up with politics. And while I don’t think we should abandon the public square, perhaps it’s time we put more of our emphasis on pro-life solutions that really work, like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The women who come in are not Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. They are simply people whom God loves. When Christians stand read to offer them compassion and hope through the gospel, not only are babies saved from death, but entire lives and even families are transformed. This is meeting the needs of our communities, one life, one decision at a time.

We should still prayerfully engage our politicans to create laws that protect innocent life. But after the elections are over, when the legislative seasons are adjourned, there is likely a frightened, lonely, pregnant young girl somewhere in your community. She is contemplating the biggest decision of her life, often with little or no support from her family.

The question is this: will God’s people put their arms around this girl and show her God’s love?

 

 

 

 

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Books that Inspire – Spiritual Formation

I love to read. There are few things that shape the human race more than the influence of good writing. This has been true in my life in significant ways. Specifically in relationship to my spiritual formation, I can think of four books that have challenged me, encouraged me, shaped me and helped create who I am today. I thought it might be helpful/encouraging to some to grab a copy of these books as well, so if you are interested, here you go.

  1. The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges
    While in college, an older classmate, Shawn, asked me if I would be interested in walking through this book together. Eager to learn, I agreed and we began to meet weekly as he helped mentor/disciple me using this book. This book radically shaped my view of holiness and my need to walk in it, yes even to pursue it. This is one book that I would recommend to every believer, to be read on an annual basis. It is that powerful.
  2. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don Whitney
    Dr. Whitney served as the co-pastor of a house church that I attended for a few months when I was 17 years old. He patiently helped me to understand some of the aspects of the sovereignty of God that I was struggling with as an eager, but frustrated teenager. Later he became my professor in seminary, and challenged me as few do. To this day, when I am struggling with specific aspects of church life, he is one of the first people I will pick up a phone and call for wisdom.This specific book, among the many he has written, has shaped the way I practice the spiritual disciplines. I am forever grateful for the influence of this book, and Dr. Whitney personally, helping shape my commitment to discipline alone, but more specifically the spiritual disciplines. This is the other book that I would encourage every believer to read on an annual basis. It is that influential.
  3. George Muller: Delighted In God (HistoryMakers), Roger Steer
    I love biographies. Simply put, I believe learning from the lives of others may be among God’s greatest tools to shape later generations. Among all the biographies I have read, none has impacted me quite as significantly as that of George Muller. There is a good chance you have never heard of him, and that is a travesty. Do not wait any longer. Run over to Amazon and buy this book. Now. You will be glad you did.
  4. The Prodigal God, Tim Keller
    I have struggled my entire life with the need to perform for God. I had become a walking modern day pharisee, and was not even aware of it. I did know, however, that my spiritual life was more drudgery than delight, and I knew that was not right. Enter Keller’s magnificent book. Today no living writer has influenced my life and theology quite as much as Tim Keller, aside from the possible exception of John Piper. This book literally transformed my life. If you grew up in religious circles, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

So, those are the four books that most significantly shaped my spiritual formation. What books have shaped you?

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Bloodlines : A Review





John Piper, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian (Crossway, 2011), 295 pages.

I’m glad to hear it, that’s another N*&!$* off the streets.” These were the horrific, hate filled words my neighbor spoke to me as a 13 year old boy while growing up on 5th Street in Chipley, Florida, after a young, 6 year old African American boy was accidentally, and tragically killed after being hit by a vehicle and so my introduction to racism was complete. Obviously this wasn’t the first time I had experienced racism, but it was certainly the first time I had seen its ugliness in person and had felt its sad venom up close and personal. The memory from that conversation has never left me. Spending the next decade in north Florida and lower Alabama would continue to give me a close, and uncomfortably personal view of the inherent evils of racial division. Over and over I would see new ways in which racism had not just influenced, but had in fact often driven the culture of the south and it was disheartening. Maybe most discouraging was learning of Southern Baptist churches (my particular denominational tribe) within a 30 minute drive of my home who had clauses in their constitution which preclude minorities from joining. It was the height of gospel rejection – and that it would come from people who claim to be a gospel people is not just tragic, but is in fact demonic.

In this fantastic book from John Piper, he lays out a biblical claim that racial division is not just a horrible historical fact, but is in reality an example of demonic influence and must be rejected as sin, and beyond that, racial reconciliation is a necessary gospel step for the people who call themselves the reconciled, adopted children of God.

Piper breaks the book up into two parts, each of which feature a number of sections. Truthfully, it can get a bit confusing as you read through the book and attempt to sort through which part and which section you are in, not to mention then determining what chapter you are on. On top of that, it seemed to me that it took a bit longer to get from the introduction of the book to the actual biblical/theological content that I am used to from John Piper. Now, having said that, I do not really have much else to say about the book that would be negative in the least. This is a fantastic, and much needed, book.

Starting with the introduction offered by none other than Tim Keller, and weaving its way through the rest of the book, this is a tremendous book that lends itself well to the biblical resistance of racism and its claims on the American populace, in particular. Weaving stories and responsibility from his own racism childhood, Piper strikes back against this inherent racism with a knockout combination of scripture, theology & church history. Using Piper’s own testimony and then driving home the theological perspective opposing racism from scripture, and paying particular attention to the response dictated by gospel embrace, Piper blows apart any invitation to feel comfortable with racism on behalf of those claiming to be children of God.

In part two Piper begins with the story of William Wilberforce and then takes off from there to specifically highlight the influence of the gospel on racial attitudes and racial engagement. His exegesis at this point is incredibly strong (what else would one expect from Piper?) and his treatment of God’s destruction of racial preference is so needed in the church today. Finally Piper ends with a couple of practical issues, namely prejudice and interracial marriage, and in clear terms points us to Jesus while drawing biblical conclusions, conclusions that are necessary when so many Christians attempt to make arguments that circumvent biblical teaching in an effort to support their quasi racism in a manner that is culturally acceptable (i.e.e arguments such as “interracial marriage may not be a sin, but it’s not a good idea to mix cultures/races). Piper instead shows us a gospel response that reminds us that not only is interracial marriage ok, but it is a good picture of the gospel, much like interracial adoption would also be.

In a time when public perspectives on racism have increasingly improved, but private racism is still alive and well, I am glad to commend this book to you and would encourage you to swing over to Amazon and pick this book up soon. You will be encouraged in your walk with Jesus as a result of it; and you will be challenged to fight against racial division, but your fight will be encouraged with gospel tools which are ultimately the only tools worth having that will effectively accomplish the change necessary.

Click here to purchase the book.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Blog Madness lives on…

Alright, somehow I have thoroughly mutilated my March Madness bracket and the Gators are unfortunately playing in the N.I.T. so I don’t have much to root for this March. Thankfully Tony Kummer, over at SBCVoices.com, has given me something to enjoy. Tony hosts the annual Blog Madness tournament to see which blogs in Southern Baptist life are the most influential/popular. Thanks to your support, I was able to move past the first round into the Sweet 16. Now, however, I really, really need your votes. If I win, I get a $300+ gift card to purchase books with, and I’ll do just about anything for free books! 😉 So, if you have a minute, if you would run over and vote for me in the 2nd round, I would really appreciate it. To be honest with you, winning this round is incredibly unlikely. I am the big underdog in this round, for sure. None-the-less, I’d love to be this year’s George Mason, so if you have a second, please help me out!

Click here to vote.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Better Books :: Vintage Church

 The good folks at Crossway Books are wonderful to send me books from time to time to read and review. As something of a “bookophile” getting free books makes me about as happey as a guy can be! This time they sent me Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church (VC). As someone who is admittedly a fan of much of Driscoll’s ministry I have been looking forward to reading this new missive and I was not dissapointed. 

VC is essentially an ecclesiological handbook and the beauty of this particular book is that it is particularly helpful for the uneducated layperson who might be interested in strengthening their personal theology of the church. The book is laid out in a series of 12 chapters that deal with topics such as “Why is Preaching Important?”, “What is Church Discipline?”, “How is Love Expressed in a Church” and What is a Missional Church?”. These chapters, as well as the rest, really seem to speak powerfully to a biblical understanding of the church. At the conclusion of each chapter Driscoll’s partner, Dr. Gerry Breshears (Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon) provides a series of questions and answers that might be asked in response to the points that Driscoll raises in each chapter. 

One of this book’s greatest strengths is the accesibility it offers for the average layperson who might pick it up. While it is tremendously theological and thoroughly biblical, the authors have written it while avoiding much of the colorful theological language often used in the academic environment which often finds its way into books on topics like theology, or in this case, ecclesiology. 

If there is a negative that I would mention it would simply be that it is not comprehensive enough. While a number of specific topics are dealt with, I for one would have enjoyed more detail but it’s probably nit-picky to try and argue that as a dissapointment. 

While there are a number of chapters that I found helpful and compelling, and have recommended the book to multiple people already as a tremendous resource, there are three chapters that I specifically found most helpful. Chapter 3, “Who is Supposed to Lead a Church?” is one of the best descriptions I’ve read concerning the characteristics of biblical leadership. That chapter alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of the book. Chapter 9, “What is a Missional Church?” and chapter 10 “What is a Multi-campus Church?” are both incredibly helpful as I am personally thinking through the application of biblical theology in the life of my church. I’ll be honest enough to admit that I’ve asked some hard questions about the biblical support for multi-campus ministry and even as I read through chapter 10 I found myself challenged and encouraged in ways I had not been previously. 

All things considered I would highly recommend this book to you. It has been fun to me, as I’ve watched Driscoll’s ministry, to see his growth and maturity as a pastor, theologian and finally as a writer. This book is another beautiful example of how God continues to mature and use Driscoll. I personally think this book may be Driscoll’s most significant literary contributions to date. I give it 3 out of 4 stars!

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.