Archive for April, 2011

My Pastor friend Brad Sherman is involved in a “Walk for Life” to help raise money for the “Choices” pro-life medical clinic located in Iowa City. This has always been an important issue, but is particularly a “hot” subject right now in our state. I consider this an opportunity to be more than just “against” something, but to also work “for” something. As a Christian, I’m more than just “against” abortion – I’m also “for” the support, love, care, and options for those who have an unexpected pregnancy. Whatever situation someone is in, there is opportunity to exhibit God’s love in the midst of it all. Consider giving to Pastor Brad and/or the others involved in this walk as God leads you. You can find the location to give and more info about this by going right here.   

-Eric

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From my personal study in recent weeks of the Biblical “passion” narratives of Jesus Christ, I came up with a list of just the “verbs” used in the story. There are still some that I have likely missed. I’m planning on returning to this post in the future in order to place the scripture references (as well as many of the transliterated Greek verbs with some alternative lexicon definitions) alongside these english verbs at some time in the future. I hope posting these verbs in juxtaposition to one another in this manner is helpful for “looking unto Him” and “considering Him” in your own Christian walk (Hebrews 12:1-3). Remember that all of this was endured – voluntarily… for you and me:

Plotted against

Betrayed

Forsook

(the disciples) stumbled (because of Him)

(the disciples) scattered

(the disciples) fled

(Peter) warmed himself

(Peter) denied (3x) 

Laid (hands on Him)

Seized

Arrested

Accused

Reviled

Mocked

Twisted (a crown of thorns)

Placed (crown of thorns on His head)

Clothed with purple robe (mockingly)

Saluted (mockingly)

Worshipped (mockingly)

Bowed to (mockingly)

Stripped

Sneered at

Treated with contempt

Blindfolded

Beat

Chastised

Struck

Slapped

Spat upon

Divided (His garments)

Cast lots (for his garments)

Delivered (into the hands of sinful men)

Scourged

Bore (His cross)

Condemned to Death

Numbered (with the transgressors)

Blasphemed

Wagged (their heads at Him)

Crucified

Put to death

Cried out

(Jesus) forgave

Breathed (His last)

Yielded up (His spirit)

Pierced

I know I’ve been posting quite a few updates on this subject in recent weeks. I recognize this is not the “only social issue” that exists or that we should be concerned about as Christians. At the same time, this is an issue that’s “hot” right now here in the state of Iowa. As always, read this according to your own God-given discernment, and respond within the framework of how God would personally have you do so. I have, and am, personally doing the same. Here’s an update from friends at the “Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition” dated 4 / 14 / 11:

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In our last report I stated that the House passed late-term abortion bill, HF 657, was assigned to a committee in the Senate that gave us a fighting chance for Senate floor action.  It all depended on whether there would be a sub-committee and, if there was, which senators from the Senate Government Oversight Committee would be appointed to it.

            Yesterday, Sen. Thomas Courtney of Burlington appointed himself and Sen. Steve Sodders of State Center to represent the Democrats.  Sen. Sandy Greiner is the lone Republican on the sub-committee.  Sen. Sodders has indicated he is opposed to HF 657.  Sen. Greiner said she favors the bill.  We had hoped that Sen. Jack Kibbie would be one of the Democrats on this sub-committee since he indicated he favored passage of HF 657. 

            Nonetheless, as it stands, Sen. Courtney is now in a position to move the bill forward, or kill it (which will result in the loss of lives of many “late-term” babies in the future).  

            In the April 6, 2011 Omaha World-Herald, Carhart is quoted as saying, “that he still plans to open a Bluffs Clinic.”  He has not done so yet, in part because he wants to see what action the Legislature takes.  If the Legislature fails to act on HF 657, or a very reasonable facsimile, Carhart has every intention of aborting some viable, fully formed unborn babies.  He would establish an abortuary serving the entire middle of America and possibly beyond.  This travesty, this insult to the good people of Iowa would blemish this state in a way we could never have conceived of in our wildest prognostications about the culture of death which exists today. 

            I don’t know whether Sen. Courtney is providing cover for Sen. Gronstal or, as rumored, he is at odds with his majority leader over some other issue and wants to embarrass him by letting this abomination be established in Gronstal’s Senate District.  Gronstal stated in the Omaha World-Herald article quoted above that it was too early to gauge HF 657’s chances and “I would certainly encourage people to talk to members of the Government Oversight Committee,” he said.  “We’ll see what they produce.” 

            His comments fit with either scenario I have postulated.  Either way, Sen. Courtney has the power.  How he uses it may depend on you and the other pro-life people who are contacting him.

            I talked with Sen. Courtney today; so did others of our pro-life coalition and some of his colleagues.  He was non-committal, but my gut feeling was he would not move the bill forward.

Senator Courtney’s contact information:

Legislative Email: thomas.courtney@legis.state.ia.us

Cell Phone: 319.759.5334

Home Address: 2200 Summer St, Burlington IA, 52601

The Senate switchboard number at the State Capitol in Des Moines for calls Monday through Friday is 515-281-3371.

  As I said, he is the only one who now controls the destiny of HF 657.  Contact him this weekend or at the Senate on Monday, but contact him.  Be polite but stand firm.  This is a matter of life and death, and I’m not being overly dramatic.   

            Please let us know if you have made contact with Senator Thomas Courtney (D) by emailing us at webmaster@ffciowa.com .   

PS:  Kansas governor, Sam Brownback today signed a late-term abortion bill for the State of Kansas.

I had the privilege recently of checking out the new film “Soul Surfer” (which opened April 8, 2011). The film is the story of Bethany Hamilton who, in 2003 – right after placing 2nd in a professional surfing competition – was attacked by a shark resulting in the loss of her left arm. She went on not only to recover but to, astoundingly, be able to surf again at the same level of professional competition as before. The trailer for the film can be viewed right here.

After watching the film, what do I think of it? I think this movie is a triumph. I know that a typical film review would include subjects such as “cinematography, screenwriting, quality of supporting cast” – etc ad-infinitum. Without going into all that, and at the risk of overstatement, I’m going to say that this might be the most inspirational film I have ever seen. On the “inspiration” scale, think somewhere along the lines of “Rocky,” “Blind Side” and “Chariots of Fire.”  

Granted, I’m a little biased. One of my obvious, admitted biases pertains to being a Christian. It’s always refreshing for me to see a film portray a professing Christian (along with her family, church, etc) in a positive light (News alert: The positive impact of Christ and Christian practice is a reality for many people even if so many “big-screen” portrayals regularly run this theme in other directions). Imagine that – Christian parents with an awesome relationship with their teenage daughter, a supportive church, and an impactful influence of a church youth minister. Certainly there are no “real life” stories about such things, are there? I know this is hard for many to fathom… but at least try : ). Kudos to mainstream actors (including) Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and Craig T. Nelson for being willing to be part of this project.

Another bias for me in connection with this film is having a daughter who is only a little older than Bethany, and a son who is just a bit younger. This is an exceptionally meaningful film for not only young people but also their parents. If you fit that demographic, don’t bother bringing a “hanky” into the theatre. Just cart in several boxes of kleenex tissue. You will need them, especially if you’ve ever had any “trials” to deal with in your family* (*and who hasn’t? Our own son had a 4-wheeler accident several years ago with a sizable stick being lodged in his right eye-socket. The accident threatened his life and we were also told he would probably lose his eye “globe” and would “definitely” never see out of that eye again. We went through hours of prayer and reflection about what our son’s life was going to be like having only one eye. As with Bethany, in our situation God had definite plans. The depiction of Bethany’s crisis moment, responses, subsequent fall-out and doubts we found to be a virtual replay of our own experience. The presence of God in the midst of it all was also a meaningful parallel to our own situation. For others who haven’t experienced the same kind of “comebacks” – many will note that God does still remain faithful). When I think of my own family, young people from our past, as well as many in our current church home – I get pumped about how God is working in lives. I’m one person who gets tired of hearing naysayers smack “kids these days” and what a “hopeless” future there is for Christianity and the world at large. Maybe the world of Christians (or entire world, period) as we know it will come to an end soon, but I know countless young people within our past and current churches who… rock. The courage, tenacity, and faith exhibited by Ms. Hamilton (portrayed in the film and in real life interviews) reminds me of many of the really great Christian young people I know.   

Another bias for me relates to the particulars of my past. Growing up in Southern California – and having been a novice surfer at one time, I can relate somewhat to that “scene.” At one point the film portrays Bethany going surfing before Sunday church. There was a time in my own life when I lived that reality along with some friends (I had to chuckle at that point in the movie). Having some personal background in surfing makes Bethany’s comeback, from my own perspective, that much more incredible. Note: Surfing is not easy. It is not easy with two arms, even when you’re in great shape. There were countless times in my So-Cal “surfing years” (middle/high school – 1980’s) when I was too out of shape (and too out of breath!) to be able to do a lot of catching and “dropping into” waves. Just “getting outside” to the breaking point in large surf can be completely taxing. For someone to be able to do this with one arm… well… it’s one thing if you’re riding long-boards just for fun on 1-3 foot waves – but to do this on short boards, in intense Hawaiian surf, at a level of professional competition (?) (check out the link right here including actual footage of her surfing. Note that she’s not just surfing, she’s… um… shredding). I would have previously considered this to be impossible. Ms. Hamilton, in essence, says – scrap that, I’m going surfing, and we’ll let God work things out according to His plans. 

I love that.

I… really… love that. 

There is an element of the “spirit” of this story and main character which actually reminds me of one of my long-time heroes “Eric Liddell” who was portrayed in the classic film “Chariots of Fire.” Watch out for Liddell. He’s running for reasons that people like coaches don’t understand. The same can be said for “Hamilton.”

Without “spoiling” it by my description, my personal favorite moments of the film take place during the final 8 – 15 minutes, along with the transition into the closing song (the movie has an appropriately killer soundtrack that I hope to get my hands on in the future). During this time there is the inclusion of actual footage (surfing / Bethany and family footage/shots). It is an incredibly upbeat series of moments, and it’s as if the film says… “so what’s your problem?” “With God’s help… “Get up and get on with it.”

I love that.

In light of that, I want to say to Bethany Hamilton, and all the other “Bethanys” (or “Brians” – or whomever fits the kindred likeness)…

In God’s strength and for His glory…

Shred on.

Shred… …on.

As handed out during a recent Cornerstone worship service (April 10, 2011), the following is a list of scripture readings pertaining to the “Easter” season themes of the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These verses can be read any time between now and Easter Sunday (April 24). These are some of the key events of the story of Jesus Christ just prior to the “triumphal entry” all the way through the cross and resurrecton. Be encouraged to ponder and even note thoughts about what each section of scripture “says” (didactically); what it “says” regarding your current life situation (devotionally); and how it can apply to life change (doing). An obvious starting point would be to ask yourself the question – Am I truly a believer in Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and rose again – and have I “believed on the Lord Jesus” in order to be “saved” (?) (Acts 16:31). For more information on this, go here.

A simple help-guide for praying through these scriptures would include utilizing daily expressions of praise, confession, personal prayer requests, and the lifting of prayer needs for others. Be edified, convicted, and challenged as the Holy Spirit guides in truth and application:

Jesus predicts His suffering, death, and resurrection: Matt. 20:17-34; Mark 10:32-52; Luke 18:31-43

Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem: Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38

Jesus “cleanses” the temple: Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46

The withered fig tree – Jesus’ teachings/predictions – His authority questioned –  the plot to betray and kill Him: Matt. 21:18 – 26:16; Mark 11:18 – 14:11; Luke 20:1 – 22:6

The Passover observance / Lord’s Supper “communion” instituted – the “Upper Room Discourse” – His betrayal and arrest – Peter’s denial: Matt. 26:17-75; Mark 14:12-72; Luke 22:7-62; John 13:21 – 18:27

Jesus before Pilate (on through) His sufferings, crucifixion, and burial: Matt. 27:1-61; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 22:66 – 23:55; John 18:28 – 19:42

The tomb is secured – rest on the sabbath: Matt. 27:62-66; Luke 23:56

The discovery of the empty tomb – the appearances, dialogue, and commissioning of the resurrected Christ: Matt. 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1 – 21:25

HF 657 Passes in Iowa House – April 2011

Posted: April 7, 2011 by pastorerichann in Social Issues
Tags: , , ,

Here’s an update note from our friends at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. As always, be prayerfully discerning – and respond according to your own conviction:

HF 657 (WAS HF 5) LATE-TERM ABORTION

Last week, the Iowa House, with four Democrat votes, passed HF 657.

Yesterday, it was messaged to the Senate, read for the first time and passed on file.  Today it was assigned to the Senate Government Oversight Committee. 

 I say that because several weeks ago the pro-life coalition (the Iowa Right to Life Committee, Iowans for Life, the Iowa Catholic Conference, and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition) surveyed the membership of the different Senate committees to which HF 657 could be sent.  We decided our best chance of getting the bill on the calendar in the Senate was having it assigned to Government Oversight.  Although it is not a done deal, we do have a fighting chance to get HF 657 debated in the Senate.  A lot will depend on you and every pro-life advocate in the state. 

Please begin contacting the five senators on this committeePray over each contact and praise God for His goodness

Every state around Iowa is in the process of enacting legislation, similar or identical, to HF 657.  Without this law, Iowa will have the dubious distinction of being a late-term abortion oasis in Middle America.  We cannot let that happen.

A list of the senators on this committee and their contact information appears at the end of this alert.  Ask them to support HF 657.  Please be polite and respectful when contacting senators.  In other words, be Christian. 

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Government Oversight Committee Members:

Thomas G. Courtney (D, District 44), Chair   E-mail: thomas.courtney@legis.state.ia.us
Home Address: 2200 Summer St, Burlington, IA, 52601 Cell Phone: 319-759-5334

Steven J. Sodders (D, District 22), Vice Chair E-mail: steve.sodders@legis.state.ia.us
Home Address: Box 723, 202 Fifth Ave SE, State Center, IA, 50247
Home Telephone: 641-483-2383

Kent Sorenson (R, District 37), Ranking Member E-mail: kent.sorenson@legis.state.ia.us
Home Address: 1104 E. Salem, Indianola, IA, 50125
Home Telephone: 515-962-2192

Sandra Greiner (R, District 45) E-mail: sandra.greiner@legis.state.ia.us
Home Address: 1005 Hwy. 92, Keota, IA, 52248
Home Telephone: 641-636-2293

John P. (Jack) Kibbie (D, District 4) E-mail: john.kibbie@legis.state.ia.us
Home Address: 112 Oakwood, P.O. Box 190, Emmetsburg, IA, 50536
Home Telephone: 712-852-4140

The Senate switchboard number at the State Capitol in Des Moines for calls Monday through Friday is 515-281-3371.

Some of you may have recently noticed billboards in the city of Des Moines which read “You Know There is No God! We Know You’re Right!” Even though I am a Christian “theist” – I am in some ways thankful these billboards have gone up. For one reason, this opens doors of dialogue. For another reason, the thrust of the “know” message suggests we really can “know” something as opposed to the prevalent “postmodern” notion that objective truth either doesn’t exist or can’t actually be “known.” When talking with an atheist, one item I try to respectfully note pertains to my own personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ – and what this relationship “experience” means to me. This is an important and powerful element of the dialogue. In some respects, this can be the most important part of the conversation. I can attest that knowing God through Jesus Christ has had the utmost impact on my life in countless ways. In fact, more than anything else, this defines who I am and my entire life outlook. Still, “experiences” can fall into the realm of the subjective. One person’s “testimony” can contradict someone else’s. One person says he has felt a certain “peace and joy” while praying to God and reading the Bible. Another person says “I’m glad that works for you – but my peace and joy is derived from waiting for the mother-ship which will appear with the coming of the Hale-Bop comet.” When thinking down these vistas, thankfully the foundations of Christian belief also transcend mere subjective, personal experiences. As Christian author Paul Little once wrote; “The Christian experience is not like a man with a fried egg on his ear who claims the egg gives him peace and joy.” Regarding just the “existence of God” many would likely say they’ve personally experienced God – and at least some others would say they haven’t. Although this can fall into the realm of a “willful” choice to disbelieve, even the Bible refers to ways “general” revelation evidences for the existence of God can point to Christian truths about both God and the need for Jesus Christ (see the Apostle Paul’s witness to Athens in Acts 17:22-34).

Therefore, are there any objective evidences for the existence of a “God” of some kind? In one class study we recently had here at Cornerstone, the notes of Australian Christian author John Dixon referenced these simple, objective evidences – which have correlating truths found in the Christian Bible:

 –God is the best explanation for why there is something here rather than nothing   Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3; Romans 1:20

The universe’s complex arrangement/intelligence suggests a plan as opposed to “mindless chance” Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1

The reality of human conscience (a sense of right and wrong – that what we do matters, reflecting some kind of standard and accountability) Romans 1:18-19

Having a desire for a sense of meaning and purpose (with most affirming that the world and universe is meaningful, as opposed to being meaningless) Romans 1:19; Romans 8:28

A fear of death, and a sense of eternity (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3, 11; 3:11)

Based on the outworking of some of these “general revelation” evidences, various people in history have come to the conclusion that a “God” – of some kind – exists. One example was the former Oxford Atheist debater Antony Flew who subsequently wrote the recent 2007 book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Another example is an Oxford Scholar named C.S. Lewis who came to believe first that there is a “god” – and went on eventually to become a believer in Jesus Christ. Still yet another example is Chicago Journalist Lee Strobel who sought to apply his legal expertise skills to disprove Christianity, only to end up converting to Christ and authoring the 1998 book The Case for Christ. Although the motivation for the timing of the Atheist billboards and convention in Des Moines seems to be to counter the Christian Easter season, their timing couldn’t be more appropriate. Jesus, “The Christ” (“Messiah”) is the most important “special” revelation given from God to the world. Even outside the Christian Bible there are historical references to the life of one known as “Jesus” (Greek “Yesous” – Hebrew “Yeshua”) who lived; made distinct claims about being God’s unique, divine, representative; performed certain “acts” – and who was put to death in 1st century Palestine. History also notes that this person’s followers claimed He rose from the dead, and that this message spread in spite of the resultant persecution to suppress it. The veracity of the witnesses is detailed by the Apostle Paul in a very early document of ancient scripture found in I Corinthians 15:1-11. Based on the strength of this witness, people “believed” this Jesus could “save” them eternally from their sin, and because of the objective truth of Christ’s resurrection, their “faith” was not “futile” (I Cor. 15:17). In summary, as a Christian author named Bernard Ramm once put it… “If one could be reasoned into faith, then Christianity would have sacrificed its moral and spiritual dimension. But if there were no evidences at all, then our faith could not be differentiated from gullibility. Because Christianity is in part an historical and in part a spiritual decision, Pascal reasoned that God gave enough evidences to satisfy the mind of the man whose heart was surrendered to Christ, but not enough to tempt a man into Christianity by pure reason alone.” Thus, based on the objective facts of the existence of God and the truth of Jesus Christ – who died for our sins and rose again – take a “leap of faith” today! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (John 3:16; Acts 16:31).  

For more on this subject, go here and read part 1 of the “IS” articles.

Go here to read part 2 of the “IS” articles.

Go here to read part 3 of the “IS” articles.