Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Real Jane Roe

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Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth.  Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)

Three-thousand years ago, David wrote the above psalm having never seen an ultrasound image of a mother’s womb. Yet, the Psalmist knew that there was something sacred about life. It’s tragic to think that today with all the marvels of modern medical science we would snuff out that life that has been “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Since 1973, the name Jane Roe has been at the forefront of the abortion debate—as in Roe vs. Wade, the landmark SCOTUS decision which legalized abortion in this country. However, not many know the real story behind Jane Roe.  Her actual name was Norma McCorvey and in 1969 she discovered she was pregnant again. Norma wanted an abortion, but at the time Texas law only permitted abortion to save the mother’s life.

McCorvey was not what legal scholars would describe as a sympathetic litigant. The product of a troubled and sometimes violent childhood, she was an abrasive, alcoholic drug user who was disowned by her own family. She already had two children by different men, and she had signed over both children for adoption. Pregnant for a third time and divorced at age 22, she sought an illegal abortion but found that all abortion clinics had been shut down by the authorities.

She contacted an attorney with the purpose of making adoption arrangements. After hearing McCorvey’s story the attorney put her in touch with two ambitious lawyers who were looking for “the perfect case” to challenge the state’s law regarding abortions. They had found their “victim.” The lawyers coached her to falsely claim she had been gang-raped, hoping to make her circumstance more sympathetic. When her request for a legal abortion was denied due to lack of credibility, they ran her case for the next 3 years all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ironically, McCorvey never appeared in court and her third baby was born in 1970 and given up for adoption. She later testified that the team of feminist lawyers never made an effort to help her after they secured her “Jane Roe” signature.

In the years that followed, Norma McCorvey became a high priestess of the same false religion that had used her and spit her out. She helped lure in young women to the Dallas abortion clinic where she worked for minimum wage and even comforted them with words she knew to be lies.

For a season, Norma basked in the notoriety. Caught up in the leftist feminist agenda, she declared herself to be an avowed lesbian. Anyone observing Norma McCorvey's pro-abortion attitude and ungodly lifestyle would have declared her to be “unreachable.” But, its not over till God says its over.

While working at an abortion clinic, McCorvey met pro-life Christians who witnessed to her. Instead of condemning her as a “baby killer” those compassionate Christians prayed for her and spoke often of Jesus’ unfailing love towards her.

Finally, two events broke through to her hard heart. First, an 8-year-old girl named Emily Mackey, who lived on Norma’s street, told her one day, “Miss Norma, God loves you and so do I.” That simple statement made her realize that she had never experienced such grace and love — totally unexpected and undeserved. It melted her heart.

The other experience that caused her to reject abortion was seeing a baby on a modern ultrasound. No longer could she fool herself and others into believing the lie that a fetus is merely a clump of cells.

In 1995, Norma McCorvey gave her life to Jesus Christ and renounced her former lifestyle and occupation. McCorvey became an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement until her death in 2017.[1]

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Norma’s radical transformation should remind us of two truths. First, no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, and second, no one is too small to be used as an minister of God’s grace. Think of the little girl who simply let her light shine and didn’t know how it would make a difference.

Norma later said, “The holocaust against the unborn is the greatest sin we could ever do or participate in . . . I think it’s safe to say that the abortion industry is based on a lie. I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” 

Friends, we must not remain silent on the issue of abortion. It is this generation’s great human rights battle. Let’s keep witnessing, praying and believing God for the impossible.


[1] Tim Moore, “Do You Know Roe,” The Christ in Prophecy Journal, March 20, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Enoch: God's First Prophet

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The story is told of a lawyer who was on his deathbed.  He asked his wife to go bring him the Bible.  She thought this was a strange request because as long as she had known him he had never read the Bible seriously. She pulled Bible off the shelf, blew the dust off its cover and brought it to the dying man. A few moments she came back and said, “What are you doing?”  He said, “Looking for loopholes!”

            It’s natural for man to seek a loophole when it comes to death, but according to the Bible there were only two men who never tasted death—Elijah and Enoch. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Enoch, but what it does tell us is very profound. In fact, the Bible says more of him in the New Testament than the Old Testament.  In many ways Enoch is a model believer because of the closeness and intimacy he enjoyed with God.    
First, notice that Enoch walked with God. Twice in Genesis we read that Enoch walked with God (5:22, 24). What does this mean to walk with God? Whenever the Bible uses the term “walk” it refers to the daily pattern and behavior of a person. To walk with God means you are going to the same place, on the same path, at the same pace. Eugene Peterson once said that the Christian life is “a long obedience in the same direction.” That’s a good description of Enoch, moreover he walked with God in the midst of a terribly wicked and perverse society (Gen. 6:5). Enoch is proof that you can be righteous in a world gone completely wrong.  In the journey of faith God is looking for walkers, not sprinters. 

Second, Enoch witnessed for God.  The name Enoch means “teacher” or “dedicated.”  We find out in the brief epistle of Jude that Enoch was a preacher and a prophet.  Jude 14-15 reads, “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Enoch was given incredible prophetic insight to see far down the corridors of time to the Second Coming of Christ. Enoch may have been the first “hellfire and brimstone” preacher because he frequently warned of God’s judgment.

James Boice has written, “At this point the texts in Genesis and Jude come together, for why do you suppose Enoch was so conscious of the ungodliness of his generation and so strong in preaching against it?  It was because he walked with God.”[1] The closer you walk with God, the more you will become sensitive to sin, and the longer you walk with God the more of an alien and a stranger you will feel like in this world. The more fellowship you have with God the more you will long for heaven and your appetite will become less and less for this earth.

Enoch’s prophetic ministry not only spoke of Christ’s return, but it also included warning his generation about an even more urgent judgement. In Genesis it says that Enoch began to walk with God, after his son Methuselah was born (5:22).  In other words, when his son was born something changed in Enoch. What was it? It had something to do with the naming of his son. The name Methuselah in Hebrew means “When he is dead it shall be sent.”  This raises the question, “When Methuselah died, what shall be sent?” 

Interestingly, when you go through all of Genesis 5 and you figure-up a timeline of the birth and death of these patriarchs you find out that on the very year that Methuselah died was the very year the Flood came and drowned the whole world.  Warren Wiersbe wrote:

“If we make the year of Adam’s creation the year “1” and calculate the years in the genealogy of Genesis 5, we discover that Methuselah was born in the year 687.  Add the number of years he lived (969) to that and we arrive at the year 1,656—the year Methuselah died.  Then, by doing some more addition in the genealogy we discover that Noah was born in the year 1056 from Adam.  He was 600 years old when the Flood came which meant that the flood came in 1656—the very year Methuselah died.”[2]   

Methuselah was a living reminder of judgment. Enoch was God’s prophet to the pre-flood generation, and one of his his jobs was to warn the world that judgment was coming. 
Apparently, Enoch was made to understand that the death of his son would signal the destruction of the world.

On the other hand, Methuselah became not only a living testimony of the coming judgment of God but a living illustration of the grace of God. He lived longer than any other human being ever lived at 969 years old.  Thus, God extended the maximum grace period for all people to call on His name and escape the Flood (Ez. 18:23, 1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). What an amazing picture of God’s grace and patience with the human race.      

Third, Enoch was well-pleasing to God.  The writer of Hebrews thought that Enoch deserved a mention in the Hall of Faith, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God (Heb. 11:5).”  There is nothing better that can be said about a servant of God than to have as their final assessment, “they pleased God.” Every true follower of Christ longs to hear the sweet words of Divine accolade, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”   

We can only theorize as to how God took Enoch.  Maybe it was like Elijah.  Perhaps God took him in a chariot of fire, or maybe his body just vaporized through his clothes.  Imagine the surprise and shock when the family of Enoch discovered that their father/husband wasn’t coming home for dinner.  As they went out looking for him maybe all they found was Enoch's footprints stopped abruptly in the sand, maybe his cloak and sandals were left in a pile. I like the way one little boy described it to his parents after learning about Enoch in Sunday school.  “One Sunday God and Enoch took a walk together until Enoch said it was getting late.  And the Lord said, “We are now closer to my home than yours, why don’t you just come to my house tonight?” 

Enoch shows us that you don’t have to get to heaven to begin enjoying God.  You can have God right now. -DM

[1]James Montgomery Boice, Genesis, Vol. 1 (1-11) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 288.  
[2]Warren Wiersbe, Run with the Winners (Chicago: Tyndale House, 1986) 37-38.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Felix Manz: The Battle over Baptism

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                                                            (Felix Manz 1498-1527)

When protestants reflect on the Reformation, we usually focus only on the hero moments—like Martin Luther boldly nailing his “95 Theses” to the church door in Wittenburg or William Tyndale’s battles against the bishops to get the Bible translated into a common tongue.

However, there is a dark side to the Reformation that is seldom talked about. Some of the Reformers persecuted other Christians. Such is the case with the Anabaptists, who emerged out of Zurich, Switzerland. One of the leading reformers in Zurich was a man named Huldrych Zwingli. Like Luther, Zwingli had serious beef with the erroneous teachings of the Catholic Church. In fact, Zwingli published his own diatribe against the Pope listing 67 points of contention. Zwingli’s fame quickly spread, and he attracted other young men who believed as he did that the Gospel had to be rescued from the clutches of the corrupt Catholic Church.

One of Zwingli’s disciples was a youthful and zealous student named Felix Manz. However, after a few years their relationship began to sour over a doctrinal disagreement about infant baptism. Infant baptism had been practiced in Christendom for over a thousand-years by this time and Zwingli still supported it as a viable sacrament. However, Felix Manz along with a few other disciples of Zwingli could not find infant baptism anywhere in the Scriptures.

So on January 21, 1525 Felix Manz and a dozen others decided to form their own sect by baptizing one another as adults. They called themselves “Anabaptists” which means, “rebaptizers” since they argued that believers baptism must come after repentance and a profession of faith in Christ.  They saw infants as incapable of these spiritual conditions, thus the need to be baptized again. The Anabaptists insisted that a child could not be made a Christian even if an ocean of water were poured over his or her head.  

Felix Manz and his friends were ordered by Zwingli and the city council to recant and practice only infant baptism. Manz refused and was soon arrested. On January 5, 1527 Felix was led from prison to a boat in the Limmat River. On the way he gave praises to God and preached to the people gathered to watch him die. One of Zwingli’s priests went along, still trying to convert him. Manz's brother and mother were there as well, urging him to stand fast for the faith.

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                                                          (The Execution of Felix Manz)

With hands and feet bound, Manz was taken to the middle of the river and thrown in. Eyewitnesses say he was neither fearful nor despairing. His last words were, “Father, into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” As for Zwingli, it is said he was on the shore, and with more than a touch of sarcasm said, “If he wishes to go under the water, let him go under.” In other words, if Manz wants to be baptized, let us baptize him by drowning!

Manz was not the only “radical reformer” persecuted by his own during this time. Historians tell us that more Anabaptists were martyred after the Reformation that Christians who died in the early persecutions of Rome![1] The sacrifice of men like Manz and other Anabaptists highlights the Church’s long and bloody struggle for doctrinal purity.

The Bible is abundantly clear of what baptism is, who it is for, and what it accomplishes. In the New Testament, only believers who had placed their faith in Christ were baptized - as a public testimony of their faith and identification with Him (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4). An infant cannot place his or her faith in Christ, nor can they understand the symbolism. Moreover, the Bible does not record any infants being baptized. At the same time, baptism does not produce salvation. Only faith alone in Christ alone saves a person (Eph. 2:8). Baptism before a profession of faith and repentance is merely an exercise in getting wet. -DM

[1] Erwin Lutzer, Rescuing the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2016), 158.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Amelia Taylor: A Praying Mother

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Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) grew up in a God-fearing home. However, at the age of 15 he began to rebel against his mother and father when he took an apprenticeship to learn the ins and outs of banking. It was in this environment that he first encountered people who openly mocked the Christian faith. He soon joined them in scoffing and swearing. The job also opened his eyes to wealth and “the love of money, which is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Young Taylor soon found himself drawn to the playboy lifestyle and the pursuit of pleasure.

As Providence would have it, at age 17 Hudson suffered from an eye infection. He had to resign his banking job and move back home with his parents to recuperate. His suffering only made the young man’s anger towards God worse. Hudson’s mother, Amelia, noticed the turmoil that her son was in. She knew that the only way his heart would be changed was if he had a radical encounter with Jesus.

Amelia was a strong mother who believed in the power of prayer. Amelia decided to leave the home for a few days and go on a spiritual retreat, where she determined to pray for Hudson until she came to a sense of assurance that God would save him. She locked herself in a room and for hours pleaded that God would extend mercy to Hudson. And then, all of a sudden, she believed that God had answered her prayer. Her heart turned from pleading to praise, and she worshipped God that he had, indeed, saved Hudson.

Meanwhile, Hudson had been at home. Bored and discontent, he began looking for something to do. He wandered into his father’s library and, though he pulled book after book from the shelf, found nothing of interest. Finally, he spotted a tract titled “Poor Richard.” He read the story, then came to the simple words “the finished work of Christ.” In that very moment, Hudson understood that Christ had done all that was necessary for salvation and the only right response was to accept that work by faith. Right there, he fell to his knees and committed his life to the Lord, promising to serve him forever. He soon learned that as he was on his knees praising God for his salvation, his mother was doing the very same thing, though many miles away.

A few days later, he and his mother were reunited, and he immediately exclaimed, “I have some news to tell you.” Before he could say anything more she replied, “I know what it is! You have given yourself to God.” She explained that for days she had already been rejoicing in his salvation.  

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Taylor’s life was forever transformed. He soon committed his life to missionary work, trained as a doctor, began to preach, and at last departed for China in 1853. Taylor would spend 51 years in China and found the China Inland Mission. Hundreds of missionaries would follow him to China and thousands of Chinese would come to know Christ. Taylor is known as one of the great Christian missionaries and his story cannot be told without giving due credit to the power of a praying mother.[1] -DM  

[1] Robert J. Morgan, From This Verse (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), Sept. 21.