Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Science & the Sanctity of Life

Baby in the WombOn April 19, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed a new state law banning abortions at and after 20 weeks. This isn’t just another abortion restriction — it has the potential to be a major breakthrough in the fight for the sanctity of human life.

The Nebraska law is called the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. As Marc Thiessen writes in the Washington Post, it’s based on reputable scientific studies that tell us “that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, and possibly as early as 17 weeks when a portion of the brain called the ‘subplate zone’ is formed.”

And, according to the widely respected Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, who has been studying infant pain for 25 years, unborn infants may feel pain more keenly than those already born.

Of course, the Nebraska law faces court challenges. Why? Because it restricts abortion according to when a fetus can feel pain — at 20 weeks—instead of when a fetus can survive outside the womb — usually 22 to 24 weeks. Already the Center for Reproductive Rights has called it “unconstitutional” and hinted that they’re planning litigation. No doubt other pro-abortion groups will be lining up to help.

But, as Thiessen says, “regardless of the legal outcome, a national discussion on the topic of ‘fetal pain’ can only help the pro-life movement.”

It’s easy to see why. As science and technology develop ever more sophisticated ways for us to study the child in the womb, it’s getting harder and harder for the pro-choice movement to argue in favor of snuffing out that child’s life. And who would want to argue in favor of deliberately causing the child pain on top of that?

What we’re talking about here is no less than the humanity of the fetus, and science is making that subject harder and harder to avoid.

The scientific studies are backing up what our faith had already told us: that the life in the womb is indeed a human life, with the same qualities that make us consider our own lives sacred — a beating heart, brain function, and sensitivity to pain being just a few of them. And so we believe that a child’s life is a gift from God and worthy of protection and care.

Abortionists can lie all they want to about the development of the fetus. Undercover videos recently taken at a Kentucky abortion clinics show that they’re still lying to women and girls about the development process. But those lies are getting easier and easier to disprove. And the facts are on our side.

The more we talk about those facts, the more the law will come to be on our side as well. Nebraska took the lead in this case because the state government wanted to prevent infamous late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart from following through on his stated intentions to carry on the work of the late George Tiller. If the Nebraska law holds up in court, other states are likely to follow.

Even the pro-abortion forces can’t plausibly deny what our own eyes and ears are telling us about the life in the womb. In this case, seeing is believing — and what we’re seeing, by the grace of God, could finally put a stop to the wanton destruction of unborn human lives.

Related features:

Abortion: You Are Not Alone

Pregnant? Looking for Help?

Book: Her Choice to Heal - Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion

Abortion Survivor Finds the Grace of God

Abortion Recovery Resources

More from Breakpoint Online

More from Prison Fellowship

More from ChurchWatch

More Evangelism Resources on Spiritual Life

Resources to Share Your Faith

More from Spiritual Life

More from CBN News

More from Craig von Buseck on CBN.com

This commentary originally appeared on Breakpoint, a ministry of Prison Fellowship.

© Breakpoint Online. Used with permission. Learn more at Breakpoint Online.

Print Email to a Friend posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 3:44 PM

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bits & Bytes... May 2010

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~ Bits & Bytes for Bagley Backers - May 2010 ~
Africa Area Missionary Retreat

Easter weekend we had the privilege of sharing time with all of Global Partners' missionaries in Africa at the annual missionary retreat held in Livingstone, Zambia. What an honor to work with some of God's most prized servants!

Jerry & Jody Manwaring did a superb job of arranging the details of the retreat which was designed to meet three major needs of the missionary family:

Rest & Relaxation: Many of the missionaries serve in remote areas under difficult living conditions. The daily stress of managing life without reliable electrical service or water supply or the frustration over difficulty in locating essential basic supplies can build up over time, without even considering the stress of ministry demands. To provide relief the retreat was held at a relaxing retreat center and missionaries relaxed with activities such as a visit to Victoria Falls, a morning game drive in a nearby reserve (photo above), and a short "cruise" up the Zambezi River (below).


Professional Development: As with any profession, missionaries need to continue to develop their skills and work on increasing the effectiveness of the service. During the retreat Bob led a series of workshops to introduce the new MUME (Mutually Understood Measurable Expectations) process that Global Partners is using with all personnel to help with goal setting and ministry evaluation.

Africa  Trip 418_199x150

Spiritual Renewal: Missionaries often get home sick to hear a sermon in English or to sing familiar hymns and choruses. Regular worship times were held during the retreat with missionaries leading devotional sessions; Pastor Gary VanRiper from Camden, NY bringing solid Biblical messages; vigorous singing of choruses and hymns; and the celebration of Easter with a sunrise service. Pastor-to-missionaries, Phil Nettleton, was present and available throughout the weekend for individual counseling, prayer, and encouragement.


The four days flew by rapidly and now everyone has returned to their places of service seeking to exalt Christ by ministering to physical needs in hospitals and clinics, training up a new generation of Africa leaders in Bible colleges, and mentoring and encouraging emerging young leaders on the rapidly expanding "front lines" of African church growth. (Click here to see a slide show of the retreat.)

In This Issue

Our Event Calendar

May 23 -- Bolivar, OH - Bolivar Wesleyan Church

May 25 -- Indianapolis, IN - Theological Education Consultation

May 26-28 -- Indianapolis, IN - Leadership Council

June 6 -- Shokan, NY - Wesleyan Community Church

June 8 -- Brockville, ON - International Partnership Team for Ghana

June 13-18 - Indianapolis, IN, Missionary Training Institute

June 27 -- Bellaire, OH - United Wesleyan Church

July 2-11 -- Browns Flat, NB - Beulah Camp

Aug. 23-Sep. 10 -- Manzini, Swaziland - Emmanuel Wesleyan Bible College (Brenda)

Aug. 26-29 -- Lusaka, Zambia - National Conference

Sept. 16-19 -- Likasi, Democratic Republic of Congo - National Conference

Support Team

We are grateful for all who have made a commitment to become part of our regular prayer and/or financial support team. If you haven't done so, you can join the team by clicking the link below. Thanks!


Bob  and Brenda2_185x266

Forward to a Friend

You can help us by forwarding "Bits & Bytes" to friends who will be interested in the work of Global Partners in Africa. Just click on the link below.

Friends who receive the email will also be given an opportunity to sign up to receive it in the future.

An easy to print version of this email can be found here.

Home Ministry Suspended

Global Partners has given approval for us to suspend Home Ministry activity for August through October so we can spend that time in Africa giving attention to important ministry matters there. Among other things there are two national conferences scheduled, consultations with church leaders needed, and Brenda will be teaching a course at Emmanuel Wesleyan Bible College in Swaziland.

Since we still have not reached 100% support, the plan is for us to return to North America in November to continue support raising. Churches can contact us about scheduling a missions service or conference in November or early December.

Prayer Requests

Please help us pray for the following needs:

  • Pray for the meeting of Global Partners' Leadership Council May 26-28 as they meet to refine GP's vision and strategy for ministry.

  • Please continue to pray for God to supply the support that is needed so that we can give our full attention to the work of giving leadership to GP's work in Africa.
  • On their way home from the DRC, missionaries Mike & Cindy Helvie received word that their home in the States had been destroyed in a fire. Pray that God will comfort them and guide them as they work on rebuilding from thousands of miles away.
  • Mrs. Thabsile Thwala, Director of the Fortress and the Children's Village in Swazilan has recently had serious surgery. Please pray that God will grant her a full recovery.

Praise Points

  • Randal and Candy Cheney have just been appointed by Global Partners to serve as career missionaries in Africa. Praise God for this wonderful addition to the Africa team.
  • The missionary team that visited the Democratic Republic of Congo reported a very productive time of ministry. In Selinda Ingalls' words: 2704 km driven, 12 police checks, 8 churches visited, 6 nights stayed, 6 tolls paid, 4 languages spoken, 4 feasts eaten, 1 speeding fine, 1 driver (me), meetings with national church leaders, countless pictures taken, lots of fellowship and friends made... all in all the trips was a success and we are very thankful to be safely home!
  • Jim Pickett reports recently having baptized 53 new believers in a service in northern Mozambique. Praise God for the advance of His kingdom!
Bob & Brenda Bagley | rbagley112@gmail.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Memorium

Norma J. (Farley) Franz Boonville Dateline – Norma J. (Farley) Franz, 81, left her earthly home on Thursday, May 13, 2010 to be with her Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Mrs. Franz was a devoted member of the Otter Creek General Baptist Church. Her life was her family and her church. She never met a stranger and she loved to talk. She enjoyed cooking and she wrote the Otter Creek News for the Boonville Standard for many years. She enjoyed singing at her church and was a member of the Pleasant Hill Homemakers Club. Surviving Norma are a son, Stephen Franz and his wife, Cindy of Boonville IN; a brother, Elmer Farley of Chandler IN; six grandchildren and three great grandchildren; nieces and nephews and her special church family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward in January 2010, a daughter, Sharon Brown in May 2010, a sister, Lila Christian and her parents. Services for Mrs. Franz will be held at 10 am, Tuesday, May 18, 2010 from the Otter Creek General Baptist Church with burial in the Maple Grove Cemetery. Rev. Gene Koker will officiate. Friends may call from 2 to 8 pm, Monday at Bradley’s Colonial Chapel in Boonville IN and from 9 am to 10 am Tuesday at the church. Contributions in memory of Norma may be made to Relay for Life, Southern Care Hospice or her church. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.bradleyscolonialchapel.com.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We Welcome Six New Members...

Top Center-L-R: Keith and Sue Lochmueller, Gary and Theresa Bratcher, Becky Besing, (Pastor Ames)
(not pictured Kristy Kiper)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Memorium

Thursday, May 13, 2010
2:00 PM until 8:00 PM
Bradley's Colonial Chapel
1005 E Main St.
Boonville, IN 47601

Friday, May 14, 2010
10:30 AM
Otter Creek General Baptist Church
Boonville, IN 47601

Sharon Kay Brown Boonville – Sharon Kay Brown, 57, passed away Monday, May 10, 2010 at the Deaconess Hospital in Evansville after a very short illness. Sharon was a very active member of the Otter Creek General Baptist Church. She lover ceramics and gardening and she especially loved her family. She was very easy to get along with and was a true caregiver. Sharon was a bus driver for Tri-Cap and had worked at TJ Maxx. She is survived by her husband of 42 years, Rick Brown; her mother, Norma Franz of Boonville IN; sons, Keith Brown (Melonie) of Boonville IN, Brent Connaway of Boonville IN and Kevin Brown (Tiffany) of Evansville IN; a brother, Stephen (Cindy) Franz of Boonville IN and four grandchildren, Steffany, Alyssa, Thomas and Trevor. She was preceded in death by her father, Ed Franz in January 2010. Services for Sharon will be held at 10:30 am, Friday, May 14, 2010 at the Otter Creek General Baptist Church. Friends may call from 2 to 8 pm, Thursday at Bradley’s Colonial Chapel in Boonville IN. Rev. Gene Koker and Rev. Mike Brown will officiate. Burial will be at a later date. Contributions in memory of Sharon may be made to the Otter Creek General Baptist Church. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.bradleyscolonialchapel.com.

God Never Changes

Rev. Robert D. Shofner, Jr.

St John's UCC Boonville

As I was working on this sermon, it struck me that all sorts of things have changed in our neck of Southern Indiana since we moved here. The Lloyd has been extended all the way out to Newburgh. Hospitals and surgery centers are sprouting up like mushrooms after a rain. The Executive Inn is gone, to be replaced by a huge stadium. The new highway from Chandler into Evansville cuts a lot of time out of a quick trip to Kight Lumber.

Even here in sleepy little “BoonVegas” we see things changing all the time. For instance, there used to be an old house on the corner of E Sycamore and 4th Street. One day I noticed it was gone. Where did it go? And when did it go? Since Debbie and I have moved into the parsonage, the house next door and two houses across the street have disappeared. Promise me you won’t tear down our house the next time we go on vacation!

Change causes stress. Dr. Thomas Holmes has said that there are 43 different life changes that cause stress, and when too many pile up, it makes us unhealthy. People today are looking for stability in their lives. They are asking, “Is there anything that is reliable and never changes?” The answer to that is, yes. The Bible tells us; “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The Phillips translation says that with God there is never a shadow of change or inconsistency.

Today we want to talk about God’s immutability, which simply means God never changes. God assures us in Malachi 3:6, “I, the Lord, do not change.” God is always the same. He always has been; He always will be. Let’s look at three things about God that never change. They will add stability to our own lives because they are things we can always count on.

Number 1 – the Bible says God’s love for us never changes. In Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” God made us to love us, and God’s love is consistent and continual.

One of the reasons we find relationships frustrating and stressful is because people change. They can be pretty fickle. They can change from one day to the next. The husband says to his wife, “My dear, you have certainly changed since we got married.” She asks coyly, “For better or for worse?” He replies, “You could only change for the better, of course!” The mother complains, “My sweet child has turned into this rebellious teenager. I don’t even know her anymore!” The child sighs, “I can’t figure out my Dad. One day he’s nice, the next he blows up over the dumbest little things.” People are unpredictable and inconsistent. That causes stress in our lives. But the Bible says that God always acts like Himself. He never has a bad hair day. He never acts out of character. Psalm 119:159 says, “Your love never changes, so save me!”

So we never need to doubt God’s love. No matter what happens; no matter how we feel; no matter what we do; God’s love for us never, ever changes. Romans 8:38 tells us, “Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”

Number 2 – God’s Word never changes. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” That means God’s Word is ever relevant, always up to date, and never obsolete. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away.”

No other book in history has been more attacked, ridiculed, criticized, burned and banned than the Bible. Yet, all those dictators, fanatics and monarchs who attacked the Bible … they’re all dead. The Bible is still around. It’s withstood the test of time because God’s Word never changes. Psalm 119:152, “Long ago I learned from Your statutes that You established them to last forever.”

Allen Shepherd was the first American to reach outer space. As he was preparing for his flight, a reporter asked him, “What are you depending on most in this space flight?” Shepherd answered, “I’m depending on the fact that God’s laws never change.” Good answer. Can we imagine what it would be like if the earth’s rotation was inconsistent? If gravity reversed itself every day?

Just as God has established the universe to operate within physical laws, there are moral and spiritual laws that God has established that don’t change, and when we try to ignore them we have chaos. Remember being a kid, playing a game, and having the other kid changing the rules all the time? The only way to win is to play by the rules. God has established rules and they don’t change either. There are some things that will always be right and some things that will always be wrong. Contrary to our “post-modern” thoughts, God doesn’t change the rules for every generation. He has established them to last forever.

But the temptation is to question God’s Word. We don’t like what we read in the Bible, we just say, “Well, God is still speaking.” My question is for those who throw that out … when you don’t believe God’s Word is final and authoritative, and then you say, “God is still speaking, you know” … my question is, how do you know? How do you know God’s got a fresh new word for you if you can’t check it out against the Bible? You might just be schizophrenic or something!

Let’s think about this. When we go up to a stop sign, how do we interpret that? How many ways can we interpret S T O P? It’s the same thing for God’s Word. The UCC slogan a couple of years back was, “Never put a period where God put a comma.” As far as I’m concerned, we never want to put a comma where God put a period. When He finished the Bible, He put a period. The last verses of His Book say this: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19 NIV) Anyone care to add a comma to that?

God’s Word doesn’t change. You can build your life on that!

Number 3 – God’s purpose for our life will never change. No matter what happens to us, no matter what happens in us, no matter what happens through us, God’s purpose for our life will never, ever change. Isaiah 14:24 tells us; “The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely as I have planned it, so it will be. And as I have purposed it, so it will stand.’” That means that God is at work in human history. History is really “His Story.” Every once in a while, someone will say, “What’s the world coming to?” I know. It’s coming to the climax that God has planned from the very beginning. And, guess what? We are on the winning side! And that’s really Good News! Psalm 33:11 tells us; “His plans endure forever. And His purposes last eternally.

Now, since God is omniscient, which means He knows everything; and since God is omnipotent, which means He can do anything … in other words, since He has all knowledge and all power … His plans never have to change. Get it? Good!

1 Samuel 15:29 says; “God is not a man. He does not change His mind.” Now, aren’t there some places in the Bible where it says God changed His mind? Yes. But when we look at those passages closely, we see it’s not God who changed His mind, it’s the people. For instance, God told Nineveh, through Jonah, that if they didn’t repent, He would destroy them. They repented and He didn’t destroy them. So it’s clear that God never changes His mind, His will, but He does will a change.

So, what’s the point? Habakkuk 3:6 tells us; “His ways are eternal.” God does not have a plan B for our life. Did we get that? God does not have a plan B for our life.

Now, let’s think of the biggest mistake we ever made in our life. That shouldn’t be too hard. And then let’s think of the biggest sin we’ve ever committed, the thing we regret the most. Then let’s think of the biggest disappointment we’ve ever had. Now, think about this. Do we think God knew about those things before we even did them? Yes. Yes, He did. And since He knew those things were going to come up, He has woven them into His plans for our life. He included them! Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good.” Even the things that are bad, God can somehow redeem them, turn them around and bring good out of them. They all fit into His plan. God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections!

That means no matter what happens in our life, we’re still on plan A. God doesn’t change His mind, and His purpose for our life still hasn’t changed. There’s no second best. God knows everything that’s going to happen in our lives and He has fit it all in to work for the good in our lives. Even the mistakes and the tragedies and the sins we’ve committed … God can teach us through those things, and it will build our faith and love for Him.

So, what is God’s plan for our life? Two things. John 10:10 says that God’s plan for our life is that we have true life. Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life.” God wants us to enjoy life, to truly live it, not to just exist. Then in Romans 8:29 it says that God’s plan for our life is that we become like His Son, Jesus Christ. We learn to think like He thinks and feel like He feels and act the way He acts. And this all begins with a relationship with Him. Romans 10:9 tells us; “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Another thing that’s never changed. There’s only one way to know God; through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus said, “I am the way.” That’s God’s plan since before the foundations of the earth. And His plan has never changed. And God’s invitation to us has never changed. He says, “I want you to come to Me, and establish a relationship with My Son, Jesus Christ.”

To wrap this up.

In our lives, between this morning and the time we die, whenever that is, we will experience many stressful changes. So the question for this morning is, how are we going to respond to those changes? We can’t prepare for them because they’re unpredictable. So, how are we going to handle them? What’s going to be the source of stability in our life?

Three things to cling to. One – when we’re under stress, we want to remember that God will never stop loving us. He will never, never, ever stop loving us. We may not understand what’s going on, but no matter what, God will never stop loving us.

Two – when we’re under stress, we want to remember that God’s Word never changes, and it’s always right. What He says in the Bible is the right thing to do; even though it seems hard or unpopular or unpleasant, it is the right thing to do.

Three – when we’re under stress, we want to remember that God’s purpose for our life never changes, and that God’s purpose is a whole lot bigger than our problems.

Psalm 125:1 says; “Those who trust in the Lord are as steady as Mount Zion, unmoved by any circumstance.” Security and stability and confidence comes from being anchored to an unchanging God. No matter what happens to us, we can trust in God.

Let’s pray.

Father, we pray this day that You increase our faith in the truth that You truly love us, and always will, no matter what. We pray that You will empower us to commit ourselves to learning and obeying Your unchanging Word. We pray that You will strengthen us to cooperate with Your plan for our lives. Help us to learn from the mistakes we have made. Forgive our sins. Heal our hurts. Make us more and more like Jesus.

And the people said, “Amen.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Suzzana Wesley's Rules for Raising Children

Suzanna Wesley was the mother of nineteen children, among them were John and Charles Wesley. It has been said that the Methodist faith was born on the lap of a mother, Suzanne Wesley.
She spent one hour each day in prayer. That's seven hours each week! She spent one hour per week with each child individually imparting spiritual life and wisdom. That's nineteen hours!
Suzanna Wesley over two hundred years ago formulated sixteen rules for raising children. They are still pretty good rules!

1. Eating between meals is not allowed.
2. As children, they are to be in bed by 8 pm.
3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.
4. They are to subdue their self-will so that they might be open to God's salvation.
5. Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.
7. Give them nothing they cry for, and only that which they ask for politely.
8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented.
9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
10. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
11. Commend and reward good behavior.
12. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed should be commended.
13. Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
14. Strictly observe all promises.
15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
16. Teach children to reverence God.

One of Suzanna Wesley's prayers gives a glimpse of her faith:
"Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Your presence... May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity of exercising some goodness and daily learning and growing toward Your likeness."
Although she lived two hundred years ago, Suzanna's faith lives on today. The important things in life have not changed. It still matters that parents stay in the Lord and spend their lives leading children to do the same.