Studying the Word of God

Studying the Word of God

Anabaptist Perspectives

Written by: Frank Reed

The Bible waits to be mined for its treasure. God intentionally hid some of these treasures so that they are only obtained by those who really desire Him and seek  His truth. Those who seek, find; to those who knock, the door to the Scriptures will be opened. Frank’s method of Bible study can be adapted and used by any diligent seeker of God’s truth. Get started; try your own hand. Discover what can be found.


“Study to show yourself approved unto God…”

Bible study is one of the most intriguing experiences of the life of a believer. The Bible is the written Word of God. When we read and study the Bible, we experience the voice and Spirit of God that gives life to us.

Bible study can be a chore but does not have to be a chore. It can be the most amazing joy of your life.


Some terms may be helpful to begin:

Revelation – God disclosing Himself in Scripture and in nature.

Inspiration – God’s moving in persons to write Scripture.

Illumination – God opening the human heart to understand Scripture.

Exegesis – the process of discovering and extracting the content of Scripture.

Eisegesis – to impose one’s own beliefs upon the text (this is very wrong).

Graphe – The written text of the Scripture – All Graphe is given …

Logos – The Word spoken by God – Jesus is the Logos of God.

Rhema – The Sword of the Spirit is the Rhema of God.

Guidelines for interpretation of the Scripture

  1. Determine the natural, actual, intended divisions of the text of Scripture.
    • Note repeated concepts, words, and themes.
    • Deal with the text in those groupings.
  2. Derive the outline from the text.
    • Take care not to impose an artificial outline on the text.
    • Message is frequently found in the structure.
  3. Perceive the text as God speaking to you.
    • Receive the message with a sense of awe.
    • Lay aside preconceived notions and presuppositions.
    • Use a Bible that contains text only; do not use “study Bibles”.
  4. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read.
  5. Pray for the direction of the Holy Spirit in this study – I Cor. 2:9-16.

Study in small groups of people who have been reading and meditating on the passage for a week.

Use a white board or paper to outline the passage and make a chart or diagram of the verses.

Read the passage in several different versions of the Scripture.

The Tools

  1. The Scripture text
  2. A concordance
  3. Note paper and pencil 
  4. Vine’s book of Bible words

The Process

  1. Observation – What does it say? 
    • Read very carefully, and read often.
    • Give full attention – turn off distractions, be quiet…
    • Ask questions: who, what, where, why, when, how,…?
    • Is the passage teaching, exhortation, prophecy, prayer, …?
    • Make a list of observations; those expressed and those implied.
    • Organize observations into an outline or diagram showing relationships between the ideas in the passage.
  2. Correlation – What other Scripture passages relate to this one?
    • Use a concordance or references to find related passages.
      • This will give a balanced picture of the passage studied and (hopefully) prevent “proof texting” and errant (wrong) interpretations.
    • Record the cross references in your notes or in Bible margin for future use.
  3. Interpretation – What does it mean?
    • Ask – “Why is this passage in the Bible?”
      • “What does God want us to learn from this passage?”
    • Summarize the passage in one sentence – include all key elements.
  4. Application – What does it mean to my life/What impact should it have on my life?
    • Write the application(s) in form of exhortation, commitment, prayer, Psalm, doctrine, instruction, etc…

Notes

  • Give adequate time to observation before attempting other steps
  • Begin to listen to lessons and sermons with an ear for what step of the process the teacher is emphasizing (without being judgmental).
  • Be careful in your personal study to give appropriate time and attention to the parts of the process.
  • Realize that the Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture and can open your heart to truth. He wrote the Bible and now He lives in each believer.
  • Do not jump to interpretation without having completed observations, 
  • Do not hasten to application without having thoroughly studied interpretation.
  • When presenting a lesson do not woodenly move from step to step.
  • Organize the presentation into a smoothly flowing message.
  • Do not force “pet illustrations” into passages where they do not serve to explain the text. Do not “proof text.”
  • Do not force artificial outlines on the text.
  • Allow the text to produce its own outline.
  • Look for structure in the text. 
  • Do not bring your own structure to the text. Outlines are useful – BUT…resist the urge to always have a three-point alliterated outline
  • Use a “text and concept” approach to presenting the message – What it says and how it applies.
  • See Methodical Bible Study by Robert A. Traina  1952/1980 
  • ISBN 0-9601396-1-3

Personal note:

Bible study has been the greatest joy of my Christian life.  The knowledge that the Holy Spirit, the author of the Word, lives in me and speaks truth and love to me through the Word, gives unspeakable joy and blessings that cannot be taken by any circumstance of life.  It is also a steadying influence of daily life and in times of difficulty.

I have seen people of all ages enjoy and easily grasp Bible Study. In fact, sometimes the least experienced persons see the most profound concepts and truths in the Scripture. God’s Spirit can and does reveal truths to His children according to His will.

The Anabaptist beginnings were based on the study of the Scriptures. Their study directed them to the beliefs that they adopted that differed from the Catholic and Protestant teachings and understandings. For us to continue today as faithful Anabaptist believers means diligent Bible study for all of our lives and especially in our Church gatherings.

Bible study fills your mind with wonderful information which provides content on which to meditate throughout the day. During times of lesser stimulation, your mind can recall the scripture and enjoy the rumination on truth instead of being focused on the problems of the day. This process of truth brings health to mind and body. 

Jesus said in John 6:63 that the words He speaks are Spirit and Life. Scripture is such a huge treasure and untapped source of blessing. It will change your life to invest time in God’s Word. God bless you as you include diligent Bible Study in your life as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.  

Business as Stewardship

Business as Stewardship

Anabaptist Perspectives

Part Two: Entrepreneurs as Servant-Managers

Written by: Marlin Sommers

A business person should steward his business abilities and roles. Stewardship is not limited to managing profits that may be gained through business. In Part 1 of this blog I sketched an overall vision for acting as a servant-manager in business. This second part reflects in a bit more detail on some aspects of the stewardly role of business. I reflect on job creation, on business investment in general, and conclude with a few words about the steward mindset in business.

Job Creators as Servant-Managers 

Some entrepreneurial types are tempted to think that everyone could or should be an entrepreneur. According to this line of thinking no one should need to depend on someone else creating a job for them, because opportunities for profit abound. Anybody prepared to put in the effort should be able to start their own business. But this line of thought, if taken to its natural extent, obscures the fact that job creation is a needed service in society. There are a variety of reasons why it is often good for one person to create a job and another person to work that job. Thus, the entrepreneur stewards his job creating ability for the sake of people who work for him. 

One way to define a job would be as a position that allows one to work for pay. In the big picture, work provides the link between the resources that God provides us and specific human needs. For example, God made cows, while humans tend and milk them. The general principle of compensation for work is that the workers should get a share of the good produced by their work. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul unpacks this with a variety of examples. One who is plowing should have hope of a share of the crop. One who tends cattle should get some of the milk. The worker must get a portion. Of course, we don’t always want a literal portion of what we produce; most people building pallets don’t want their wages paid in pallets. Someone laying block can hardly carry home a portion of the wall as his reward. Generally, we do such jobs with the expectation of payment in money.

The smallest scale of business is the solopreneur—the entrepreneur who works by himself and creates his own opportunities to work for payment. But businesses of size rely on entrepreneurs creating jobs for others. Perhaps an electrician hires an assistant to help him complete the work he has contracted to do, or at a larger scale, a business person engages a dozen people to build pallets. In all these cases it is business skills and business roles that ensure the venture is able to provide a “share of the crop” for the business person and all other workers.

Creating jobs for others is a needed role because not everyone should be a solopreneur. Some things in life cannot be done without larger scale businesses. No one working by himself will successfully manufacture cars, for example. Even with simpler tasks, a larger business with a division of roles is often advantageous. Further, some people need jobs they can simply plug into. Perhaps resources are limited, or there is a short time frame and starting a business is not a good option. Others need the freedom that comes with being able to leave work and spend the rest of their life energy on non-business pursuits. Finally, business and entrepreneurial abilities are unevenly distributed, and those especially gifted in those areas, should steward them for the sake of all. Not every business person needs to have employees, much less a large number of employees, but for some this is a calling. Seeing people that need jobs is a motivator to start or expand a business, though acting from pity without a good sense of the business situation is a recipe for trouble.

Investment as Stewardship

Active business investment requires access to resources as well as business connections and entrepreneurial savvy. Creating jobs often means significant investment in machinery and infrastructure. Successful businesses will generate a return on this investment, but the path to the return is much more involved and hands on than passive investments like buying publicly traded stock. Business investment means putting money on the line to put people to work utilizing available resources to produce something of value. The stewardship-minded investor has an eye for the concrete good that will be accomplished through the investment, not just for the abstract ideas of “compounding returns” derived from mutual funds.

Just as an entrepreneur with sufficient business wisdom can be motivated by other people’s need for jobs, so also business investment can be motivated by the needs of the community. Perhaps there is a need for a mechanic shop, a grocery store, or a sawmill. The investor may rightly act out of this sense of need, but again acting out of pity without a good sense of the business situation is a recipe for trouble. The wise investor who is called to invest in a community or place will discern what sorts of investments are viable and helpful. He will also be open to the possibility that some needs should be met through avenues other than business.

Some businesspeople are called to break ground for other businesses. Many industries work best with networks or businesses. For example, to make good use of forest resources, there will likely be businesses specializing in logging, transport, sawing lumber, or making paper, building furniture etc. as well as businesses dedicated to selling and servicing equipment used in the various parts of the timber industry. A business person with a strong vision may see untapped potential for new industries in the resources available in a given region and be able to break ground that opens the door for a network of businesses to spring up. We might think of this as one of the most advanced business roles, one suited only for a few, but one with great potential to benefit many people.

It’s a Mindset

What does this look like in specific business practices and arrangements? I won’t say much about details here because this is not a business textbook, nor am I qualified to write a business textbook. But there is a mindset that goes with thinking like a steward about your business roles and opportunities. Certain goals and aspirations fit naturally with a servant-manager mindset. 

For one thing, many businesses should aim to create multiple positions within the company that allow employees to exercise significant skills and to earn compensation that can amply sustain a family. This is not a criticism of tiny or one person businesses, but an aspiration for those called to be servant-managers of job creation. They are not motivated simply by carving out a good income for themselves, but also care deeply about creating good jobs for other people. Similarly with business investment, the steward investor cares about his own returns, but he also cares about other people’s opportunities to invest and own capital. His goal is that his investment does good and not harm for the community. 

The business steward has a keen eye for risk and profit potential and develops his skills in the various aspects of business management. However, his motivation is not to find the easiest path to the most lucrative returns. A small town business person might  gain more wealth easier if he took a well-paying corporate job and invested heavily in the stock market, but his town would be poorer for his absence. If his true calling is that of an entrepreneur, he will aspire to actively use that capital to create good jobs and utilize available resources.

A COVID-19 Economy and Stewardship.

A COVID-19 Economy and Stewardship.

Anabaptist Perspectives

Note: This is a bonus post Marlin Sommers wrote in response to current events. The second part of the “Business as Stewardship” post will be released next week.

Factories, Gardens, Giving, Guns: A COVID-19 economy and Stewardship.

Jobs have been lost, hours have been cut, and businesses have closed. So far, the economic impact of COVID-19 is enormous. The scale and duration of the slowdown remain to be seen. It hangs not only on the course of the virus, but on the course our various governments take to fight the virus. 

Like any economic difficulty, a COVID-19 economy highlights the need to steward our resources, whether those resources be meager or vast. Hard times can actually clarify our understanding of basic Christian economics. Let’s consider four themes:

  1. Prepare to Share
  2. As Public Health Allows, Maintain Fundamental Productivity and Invest for Good
  3. Lend Righteously
  4. The One who Takes the Sword Will Perish by the Sword.
Pictures used with permission by: Anabaptist Covid-19 Response

1. Prepare to Share

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,” we are instructed; “for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16). Sharing resources with others should be the most obvious stewardship response. It is both a constant biblical theme and an obvious response to seeing people forced to leave their jobs and stay home.

Social distancing requires unemployment to be effective. After all, the goal is to minimize physical proximity and not all jobs can be done remotely. Governments attempt the tricky task of dividing work into essential and non-essential categories so they can keep some people home while others maintain food production and other essentials. Thus some people work feverishly while others can’t work their job. 

Trimming “non-essential” work is not all bad. For the most part, it’s a good thing if people cook more at home and buy less at restaurants. The trouble is that instantly shutting down restaurants deprives many of a means of paying for essential goods and services. We who still have our jobs, or who have significant assets, need to help shoulder the burden they face, whether through organizations or through direct giving. After all, their job loss is for our sakes.

Government action helps distribute the burden of COVID-19 unemployment across society, by providing unemployment compensation, welfare programs, and “stimulus.” We should not resent such government actions, or what they might cost us in taxes. On the other hand, we should not expect the government to eliminate the need for us to share.


2. As Public Health Allows, Maintain Fundamental Productivity and Invest for Good

The ability to share depends on the availability of resources and resources depend on work. Gifts of money will not feed the world if agriculture ceases. Planting, tending, and harvesting must go on. Neither will giving money feed people if supply chains and distribution networks are out of commission. (COVID-19 is unlikely to harm our supply chain, but the possibility is worth reflecting on.) Sustaining food, medical care, and communication requires a vast network of businesses—everything from manufacturing tractor parts, to driving fuel trucks, to IT and accounting. These can temporarily be shut down in strategic areas, but by and large they must go on.

We need to creatively sustain fundamental infrastructure and production capacity in our sphere of influence. Factory and shop owners should proactively think about how to safely keep up key production and about possibilities for repurposing their setup to meet urgent needs that may arise. The same holds true at the household level. Gardens deserve extra energy in a time when production and supply chain disruption are possible. If we can’t go about our normal work, we would do well to use opportunities to increase household production of various sorts and to scrounge and repair items that we would otherwise replace. Such work provides a little margin against possible economic shutdowns and can reduce, at least a little bit, dependence on the generosity of others.

Creative employment should be sought. While those with wealth must be willing to simply give to those in need, hiring them, when possible, has obvious advantages. The trick is putting people to work without subverting public health regulations. This is easiest to do if you can address actual shortages and essential needs. Otherwise creative thinking is in order. Can you hire somebody to revamp a website or software system remotely? Can you hire a neighbor with a chainsaw to cut firewood on your land or to do a bit of culling and thinning for “timber stand improvement”? Can you have a tenant maintain or improve the rental property they occupy? Think outside the box, but don’t expect creative employment to eliminate all need for giving.

A forced pause from daily activity is a good time to think long term. What can you do, or have someone do that will pay off in the future? Can you do proactive maintenance with materials already on hand? Can you learn new skills or study new topics? Can you invest in a project with a future payoff? It might be a good time to put up the fencing that has been sitting in the barn for years.


3. Lend Righteously

Strikingly, the Mosaic law commands lending and forbids interest. While we are not under Torah, and some forms of interest can be godly, we should attend to the principle behind the command. The principle is intensified in the New Covenant, with constant exhortations to share our possessions and the instruction to lend expecting nothing in return. The gospel puts our principle and assets at risk, to say nothing of interest. Lending things, whether vehicles, tools, or money is a stewardship principle for hard times.

Why is interest so abominable in the Old Testament? Largely, because interest and collateral enabled those with money (or grain) to acquire others’ productive assets. Creditors could claim fields, houses, vineyards, and even the people themselves as slaves. In difficult times, the righteous wealthy will help others keep their dwellings and means of livelihood. The unrighteous wealthy will see an opportunity to buy homes and businesses for cheap, turning homeowners into tenants and business owners into employees. Far from seeing need as an opportunity to force others to sell cheap, Christians are willing to liquidate some of their own assets. Of course, no such urgency applies to helping someone keep a vacation home, pleasure boat, or sole ownership in a business empire.


4. The One who Takes the Sword Will Perish by the Sword.

Recent events have spiked sales of guns and ammo. People want to protect themselves and their stuff. This is, of course, a fundamentally non-Christian response. We would rather give away our last food than shoot someone trying to steal it. 

COVID-19 is unlikely to plunge America into a worst-case economic scenario. Those usually result from war or (very) bad governance.  But perhaps the little bit of panic we see with a COVID-19 economy can get us to think about how we would respond. Wars, famines, and economic devastation happen regularly, even if they are far from current American experience.

So, what would happen if the American food system and distribution channels fell apart? If true disruption lasted very long people with stashes of supplies could quickly face bands of men with guns, and cattle would often be stolen out of fields. In many parts of America gun fights would become frequent. Engaging in a gun fight to protect your stuff is not only anti-Christian, it is also likely to get you killed by a gun. Proactive Christians would instead work to establish alternative market channels for food, give as needed, and seek to peacefully maintain breeding stock and productive capacity. But, where that is unsuccessful, they will accept joyfully the plundering of their property (Hebrews 10:34).

Business as Stewardship

Business as Stewardship

Anabaptist Perspectives

Part One: Business People among God’s “Servant-Managers”

Note: Part 2 of this blog will be posted the middle of April.

Written by: Marlin Sommers


This is not a post about how to handle profits that may be gained through business. Of course, if you do own a business that generates large profits, that does result in responsibilities to use that money well, but that is not the subject under discussion. Rather, the question is what does it mean to be a steward of business giftings and abilities, and of business roles and opportunities?

In my January post on this blog, I examined the New Testament concept of being a steward (household manager, servant-manager) in more detail. This month’s post has two parts. In this first part, I will recap some of that biblical discussion, focusing on business applications, and encouraging business people to recognize themselves as servant-managers of both a set of giftings and abilities and of certain roles and opportunities. In part two I will reflect a bit more specifically on stewardship in relation to job creation and business investment, as well as on the general mindset of the business steward.

The Greek term oikonomos refers most directly to a slave who played a managerial role within his master’s household. The New Testament makes frequent reference to the oikonomos (steward, household-manager, servant-manager) to show Christians how to live. The parable of the faithful and wise manager in Luke 12:42-45 shows the structure of stewardship. As a steward one has:

  1. Someone they are responsible to (human master, God)
  2. Something they are a steward of (wealth, abilities, leadership positions, etc.)
  3. Those they are responsible for (fellow servants, fellow believers, etc.)

One strand of being a servant-manager is using the skill, abilities, and possessions God has given us to benefit others, as indicated in 1 Peter 4:10-11.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—

God gives different skills and abilities to different people for the sake of all. So, the first strand of business as stewardship is the recognition that God provides for human needs by distributing different sets of skills and abilities to different people. The skills that make one good at running a business are among those, and if those are the skills you have received from God, they were not given for yourself alone.

Another strand of being a servant-manager is faithfulness in positions of authority and leadership; the servant-manager in Jesus’s parable had a certain amount of control over his fellow servants. Elders and overseers can be called God’s stewards because of their leadership and managerial role in the church, the household of God (Titus 1:7).  Business too, especially in large and well-established businesses, creates positions and roles that exert considerable power over others, and that must be stewarded to benefit those under one’s charge.

When we think of good stewardship, we might think of things like, generosity, frugality, miserliness, carefulness, or shrewdness. Some of these form part of the biblical picture; others distort it. Fundamentally, stewardship is not just about giving or saving money, but about using our abilities and our roles to benefit those whom God intends for those abilities and roles to bless.

Business as Gifting and Ability 

What do we mean when we speak of distinctive business skills and opportunities? After all, businesses engage in very different tasks. Some clear land, some build houses, some raise cattle, some service computers, some build cars, some distribute risk through insurance, some help other businesses with marketing. What do these businesses have in common that makes them businesses? And what is the difference between being a businessperson in one of these entities and working in one of them as a dozer driver, electrician, cattle hand, robot programmer, graphic designer etc.? 

One way to approach the distinctive focus of business skills is to think about the nested skills and abilities needed to create a house. I will use building a house as an example. Imagine several eager workers standing beside pallets of blocks near a prepared footer. They have the ability to move these blocks, but moving these blocks will do no good unless someone is there with the skill to assemble these blocks into a wall around the crawlspace. The simple action of moving blocks does not accomplish its goal without the coordinating skill of a mason to produce a wall. In the same way the work of laying a block wall can only accomplish its goal if it is directed by a builder who has a plan to build an entire house on that foundation. The coordinating skill of the builder determines the kind of wall and the location of the wall that can contribute to a well-built house. Otherwise, moving and laying block would be wasted effort rather than profitable work. 

Business skills provide another essential level of coordination. If a builder creates a fine house, but it is not valued highly enough to pay for materials, pay all the various workers, and, at a minimum, sustain capital, the result will be a degree of wasted effort and unprofitable labor. Producing a house does no good if a house is not needed, and it does but limited good if a house is not needed as badly as other things workers could have produced. One of the primary functions of the business person is to direct work and the use of resources toward products and services that people value. More specifically the business person finds and takes opportunities where people are willing to pay enough for the goods or services provided that a profit remains for the business after paying all expenses.

Not all matters or decisions should be left to business criteria. Some profitable ventures should be avoided, because the “good” or “service”that people would gladly pay for is actually harmful or evil. And some needs in life are better provided through non-profit organizations or taxes and governments. However, for large swathes of life, business people with a keen eye for profits and losses do a great job hiring people for good and beneficial work to supply human needs. The stewardship-minded business person sees what he does as one skill and one role among the many that God has provided for the flourishing of humanity.

Business as Opportunities and Roles

While we have emphasized business as a skill, it is also a societal role. When an entrepreneur has been successful, a business structure is developed that shapes work and commerce. Those managing this structure may not have the same insight and abilities as the founder, but they have similar responsibilities. A business can shape life for a number of people purely because it exists and manages to survive. Running a business involves choices that affect customers, employees, and even outside parties to various degrees. A businessperson may be quite literally one who gives fellow servants their portion of food at the proper time (Luke 12:43). Being an owner and manager of a reasonably successful business also opens opportunities that may not be available to others. One may have access to capital, familiarity with the community, business infrastructure, etc. that allow him to pursue new ventures or address problems. The stewardship minded business person will feel a certain weight to these opportunities and roles and a desire to perform them well for the sake of various stakeholders.

To be continued…

Learning from our Neighbors

Learning from our Neighbors

Uncategorized

Introduction:  I would like for you all to meet Lavern & Rosanna Yoder.  Rosanna is my cousin and I used to work with Lavern with Choice Books in Sacramento, CA.  Lavern, Rosanna & their 3 children live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a 600+ apartment complex.  Lavern’s have been dedicated to the kids there for years and they have been using their talents in having kid’s clubs, ESL classes, tutoring and more.  All of this is run through their non-profit called Streetlight Christian Ministries.  Head on over to their website to read what they do, sign up for their newsletter and more!!  In working with them, I have been amazed with their dedication to the kids and in living the way God called them to live.  

Is living in a 2 bedroom apartment in a city the calling for everyone to do?  No, however my encouragement to you is to read this article with an open mind.  Many of us have been sheltered to the point that we think it is crazy to live in the city.  However, regardless of where we live, we can always learn from our neighbors in some way. They have a lot to teach us if we just let them.

– Dave


When my wife and I got married and moved into an apartment complex in Sacramento, CA, my neighbors began to give me an education.  Several years after this education began, I was reading the Bible and read the story Jesus told in Matthew 25 about the king and the servants who were given talents.  It struck me how much I am like these servants and how I also have decisions to make regarding my talents.

Growing up, I never worried about my father coming home from work.  Now I work with boys whose parents never came back to pick them up from daycare.

I took for granted that family gatherings are a fun time with my cousins until I talked with my neighbor and discovered that she won’t go to a family gathering for fear her uncle would try to harm her.

I didn’t know I had a safety net around me until my neighbor was evicted because her child was taken away by Child Protective Services, and she no longer had child support to pay for her apartment.  Right now, I have dozens of people I could call, and they would send me $1,000 with almost no questions asked, if I had a legitimate need.

I grew up enjoying acapella 4-part harmony singing.  I come from a musically inclined family and singing came almost naturally for me.  Now I go visit elderly friends with a group to sing and they can’t believe how we “sing like angels”.

When my neighbor’s car wouldn’t start, I pulled jumper cables out of my trunk and helped them out.  How did I learn that? I’m not really sure. I think I was born knowing how to do that.

My neighbor asked me, “Why do you work so hard?  You don’t have to. That’s what the government is for.”  But I know a secret. Work not only provides income, it also changes how I feel emotionally, physically, and in some ways spiritually.  But I only know that because I was taught to work hard.



One of the first questions many Anabaptist people ask me is, “Is it safe to live where you live?”  I have learned that safety is of the Lord. But it surely helps that I don’t do drugs or sleep around or drink or wander aimlessly at 3:00 AM.  Those are personal decisions I make, but they are greatly influenced by my Anabaptist heritage.

When my wife and I were going out on our first date, no one had to take my wife aside and make sure she had pepper spray in case she needed it.  It had never occurred to either of us that assaults are not unusual on first dates.

Sometimes when I travel to speak or go to a conference, I stay at a complete stranger’s house.  I might even arrive after they are in bed. But they trust me because of my family or someone I know or their pastor.  That is not normal!

My neighbors would line up down the sidewalk for my wife’s homemade cookies.  One of our neighbors said, “When you start a bakery, I will come every day for a cinnamon roll!”  Why does Rosanna know how to bake like that? She was taught by her mother.

Recently there was a knock on our door.  When I opened it, there was a neighbor with a jacket.  She wondered if Miss Rosanna would be able to sew extra patches on it since Rosanna sews her own clothes.

One of my Muslim neighbors is afraid something bad happened to her son because he went under a tree after dark.  All the Muslims in my neighborhood know that demons are in the trees after dark. And so, she lives in fear. I am so thankful I don’t have to fear superstitions!

Several years ago, my phone rang.  It was Life Matters, a ministry that works with people in apartments.  We work with them in doing our kid’s club. The person on the other end asked if I knew how to garden.  Well, I don’t really have a green thumb, but I know what a garden looks like and my parents had a garden.  That is enough. The person says, “You and Rosanna seem like that kind of people.” So, now we are in charge of a community garden for anyone in Logan Park Apartments where we live.


The thing that I realize with many of these blessings is that my wife and I were not given the choice to be born where we were born.  We did not choose to learn many of the skills we know. We have been handed a tremendous gift. It is a terrible shame when we throw these good things out just because we don’t understand the value of our heritage.

I want to be fair.  My children are growing up in a very different environment than I did.  They will have a very different view of the world than I did. They are learning very different things than I learned.  We don’t talk about cows very much around our dinner table. We discuss people and cars and who was at the park and what tricks you can try on a skateboard.  And yet, I want to give my children the same values I have been given. The surroundings will look different, but the values can still be there.

Those of us who grew up in Anabaptist homes have been given such a head start in life.  A good work ethic, good singing, and safety are not what makes us Christians. But these things give us huge advantages in life.  But we are given a choice like the servant with the talents in Matthew 25. We can either bury our talent and pour all of our energy into protecting what we have, or we can invest in the lives of others and give the talents to the “exchangers” so God can receive His own with interest when He returns.

Written by:  Lavern Yoder

March 2020

Religious Dualism

Religious Dualism

Guest Blogger

Written by: Chester Weaver

Preface:

In the following article Dualism will be understood as separating Wholeness into two distinct parts in order for practitioners to feel good about themselves while not being Whole. The two separate parts may or may not include truth as part of each whole. Religious Dualism is a widespread Christian problem inherited from the Gnostic heresy. The Apostle John directly deals with the Gnostic heresy of his day in his first and second epistles.


Religious Dualism provided the justifying framework for the Roman Catholic Holy Wars, including the Crusades. After butchering Muslims, the crusading butcherers could take the Mass, be forgiven for any and all sins, and return to their work of butchering more Muslims. The consecrated wafer was, to them, Christ within, grace provided by the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The pattern had been long established by this authority: commit sin, deal magically with the sin, commit sin again, deal magically with the sin, repeat continually until death. 

Martin Luther discerned the wrongheadedness of the process. He discovered that the Epistle of Romans teaches that salvation comes by grace alone, by faith alone, The just shall live by faith. There is no magic in the Mass; the Roman Catholic Church does not have all the authority that it claimed; the Pope is Antichrist. Faith in the finished work of Christ qualifies a soul to have his name recorded in the Books of Heaven. Salvation is by a forensic declaration of God. All past, present, and future sins are forgiven.

The early Anabaptists noted that Luther’s position, which became Reformation Theology, remained Dualistic. People still sinned regularly but the method of removing the sin was transferred from the Roman Catholic Church to God who kept declaring sinners to be righteous. Once again personal sin was no big deal because the sin counted for little as long as the soul was continually being declared righteous. Thus, the German morals on a broad social level declined with the passing of years. Martin Luther was distressed with the fact.

Any serious-minded, thinking person is repulsed by such dichotomy. Furthermore, the New Testament simply does not condone Religious Dualism; in fact, it repudiates it. The first Epistle of John zeroes in on the problem, noting that Religious Dualism is an expression of the Gnostic Heresy. Jesus Christ did have a material, fleshly body which practiced righteousness. He was Whole, Complete, One; He had no hypocrisy about Him. He expects the same wholeness to characterize the lives of His disciples. Apostle John labels Religious Dualism as the spirit of antichrist, which it truly is. 

Gnosticism teaches, among other things, that the spirit is good but the material is evil. It separates soul from body. Soul/spirit is really real but the flesh is evil, unredeemable. The only way to live successfully is to think and to live on two levels. The spirit/soul desires goodness and truth but the human body cannot really behave in good and true ways. It must be excused. 

Fallen human nature naturally gravitates to Dualism as “The Fix” to human failure. Throughout history religious people have been practicing Dualism as their religious Fix. But early on, the Almighty God commanded that His people worship only Him, no other. That kind of Fix was not OK. We know the record of human failure to obey that command. Idolatry has been mankind’s besetting sin, its traditional Fix.  

Even before Gutenberg’s printing press, prevailing Religious Dualism in medieval Europe disgusted people and motivated many earnest, truth-seeking souls to adopt the Waldensian faith and later to become Anabaptist. Religious Dualism in any form is phony, a religious game, unworthy of Christ or even of serious contemplation. Religious Dualism, in essence, claims that humans cannot be wholly redeemed, a slap in God’s face. And, instinctively, people know that doubleness is false; wholeness/oneness is true. Universally, people admire Jesus Christ as a living model of Wholeness. In His earthly experience Jesus Christ scathingly denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, giving them no space to justify any part of their dualism.

No one really respects hypocrisy; it is simply disgusting. It did not take much time for the people listening to Jesus to note that He spoke with authority, not as the scribes. Wholeness/oneness carries its own authority. The only real way for Dualism to deal with Wholeness is to persecute it. Three and one-half years were all the Dualists of that time and place could take of Jesus’ Wholeness and then they proceeded to get rid of Him.  The non-Dualistic followers of Christ have suffered with Him now for two thousand years. Universally, Wholeness exists as a threat to Dualism; it always has and it always will.

Why do the Dualists persecute Wholeness/Oneness? Hypocrisy has been the refuge of mankind for thousands of years. Anybody who breaks out of the Refuge exposes the Refuge as fake. People hate being exposed as fake. Human beings feel comfortable when other human beings are similar to them. Anybody who steps out of the Sameness of Dualism causes discomfort. Thus, the charge of Dualism cannot be tolerated because it unmasks the entire comfort system, exposing Dualism fakeness.

Idealistic young people are strongly attracted to Wholeness for its Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. At the same time, they struggle with their own fallenness. History repeats and repeats the story that eventually youthful idealism is lost to the pressures of Dualism. In other words, idealistic young people eventually learn to play the Human Game – Dualism.

However, no one really needs throw up his/her hands in despair. God Himself understands the human problem and addressed it directly in the New Testament. Jesus Christ both demonstrated and taught Wholeness. But to become Whole, a human soul must lose itself in repentance so that the Miracle of Resurrection to Wholeness can happen. Most people have been unwilling to do that. But throughout history some people have been willing and thus have discovered the deep and rich liberation of Wholeness.

The forgiveness of sin upon genuine repentance is the first qualifying miracle. Struggling with doing what one does not want to do and failing to do what he/she does want to do then follows. This Romans 7 experience is necessary in order to convince human beings that it requires miracles of grace to do right. The flesh cannot please God. But dropping off the end of the Rope of Despair into the Hands of Grace requires great faith, exactly what is necessary for grace to kick in and be effective. The Miracles of Resurrection power create an entirely new worldview, a whole new dimension to life because Wholeness is exactly what each human soul desires. Personal Dualism and Dualism everywhere become repulsive.

Wholeness is quite liberating! Fear of exposure is simply gone because there is nothing to hide. The light and the joy of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness energize and motivate the soul constantly! Christ smiles over the Healed Whole Soul. And the Healed Whole Soul smiles at the world.

February 1, 2020

Managers in God’s Household

Managers in God’s Household

Guest Blogger

Written by: Marlin Sommers

Managers in God’s Household: How to be a steward.

Fourteen-year-old Bob has the rather grandiose title, “Steward of the Woodpile”. While Dad is gone, Bob is in charge of the woodpile. Bob is thrilled. He promptly messages his friends and says, “Hey nobody’s home tonight, come over and we will have the biggest bonfire you ever saw.” The next morning the firewood has been consumed. The temperature is well below freezing. Bob’s mom and siblings are miserable, and Mom is left with some dangerous makeshift heating methods till Dad returns a week later.


A few miles away, sixteen-year-old Bill has a similar responsibility. Reckless consumption of firewood is not his style.  Rather, he only lets Mom put one piece on the fire every three hours. The house stays quite cold, especially for the toddler, but the wood pile is staying full. When the neighbors ask to borrow or buy wood since their gas furnace is out of commission, Bill lends them wood only on the condition that they will return twice the amount within a month. As a result, when Bill’s dad returns, the wood pile is a little larger than it was when he left.

Which boy was a good steward? The correct answer is neither. Everyone can agree that Bob’s behavior epitomizes bad stewardship. But unfortunately, we sometimes think that good stewardship means acting like Bill. In the words of one of my friends, many see stewardship as “merely saving and frugality.” A deficient notion of stewardship is sometimes used to defend miserliness, the pursuit of personal wealth, and questionable practices of the financially shrewd. These misunderstandings exist because we have often missed the point that stewards are responsible to act for the benefit of others.

Household Managers: Stewards are responsible for other people.

Steward is an older word sometimes used to translate the New Testament Greek term oikonomos. In addition to the cumbersome literal rendering of “household manager,” the term may appear in our Bible’s as “servant manager”, or simply as “manager.” While we might think of a household as consisting of mom, dad, and some children, households of the sort that had an oikonomos were much larger social units. They were likely to include multiple generations of family as well as slaves. The role of the household manager involved power and influence over a substantial number of people. It carried almost a governmental dimension.[1]

Stewardship has three parts.

1.       God has entrusted me with certain things. I am a steward of these things, which might be money, possessions, personal traits, spiritual gifts, or positions of power or influence.

2.       I am responsible to God for those things he has put in my control. 

3.       I am responsible for certain other people. God intends them to benefit from what I am entrusted with.

Popular teaching on stewardship trumpets the first two statements, especially when it comes to money. But too many times the third statement is neglected. Without the third dimension stewardship teaching can easily be warped. We must remember that a steward exercises a managerial role with respect to both possessions and other people.

Notice how the following parable emphasizes all three dimensions of stewardship.

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.  But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. (Luke 12:42–46 ESV)

The household manager here is entrusted with control of the food supplies. He is responsible to his master for how he manages those food supplies. He was responsible for his fellow servants, and his master intended them to benefit from those food supplies. The manager who acts like Bob and consumes for his own reckless pleasure can expect a fearsome punishment. The one who does his job well can expect commendation and promotion. Doing the job well does not mean acting like Bill and clinging to the stash; rather, it means using the stash for its intended purpose and intended beneficiaries. 

You are a manager in God’s household. God has given you resources and abilities to manage for the benefit of other people. This gives you both responsibility and dignity, responsibility to God for others and the dignity of playing an important role in God’s provision for humanity.

New Testament Applications

Besides the parable above, the figure of the household manager appears in Luke 16 with the parable of the unjust manager.  These parables emphasize stewardship of physical wealth for the benefit of others and faithfulness in positions of leadership or social power.

Paul calls apostolic workers stewards of the gospel (I Cor. 4:1-2). God entrusted them with the disclosure of the gospel, and they were responsible to God to make this available for others. Stewardship drove evangelism, teaching, and church planting. As churches formed, God raised up elders, or overseers from within them. Paul calls these elders or overseers[2] stewards. “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” (Titus 1:7a) The emphasis here is not on stewardship of possessions, but stewardship as a position of responsibility. The church is often pictured as an ancient household. God is the master or lord of the house. Human leaders can then be no more than household managers who are responsible to benefit their fellow servants by their use of their church position.

Fortunately, the exercise of stewardship is not limited to those with specific church positions any more than it is limited to those with great wealth. Peter speaks of all believers acting as stewards of the gifts God has given them.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

You are a manager in God’s household

So, you are definitely a steward since you can minister to other people through words or deeds. The church is a body with different parts, and we must make our unique contributions for the common good. (1 Cor. 12). We should see ourselves as administering our gifts and abilities as well as our possessions and positions of influence.

What does this look like in practice?  Answers will vary. Most of you have some money to give. You have some knowledge to share with others. Perhaps you can write an article or put extra thought into leading a Bible study or presenting a topic. Maybe you can introduce children in your community to the outdoors, or teach them to sing. Whether you serve on a school board or teach a child how to drive a nail, preparing the next generation is one of the big jobs for stewards.

Another big piece of stewardship is your daily work and daily roles. Parents and leaders of any sort are obvious examples. Are you helping your children, employees, or church members flourish by the way you do your job? Work that seems mundane is also stewardship. Building houses, changing diapers, pumping septic tanks, and processing financial transactions are indeed ways of doing good in the world.

Perhaps the biggest thing is how you approach life. You may or may not be able to sit down and figure out exactly what God has entrusted you with. However, if you cultivate unselfishness and service, if you do your work well, both physically and intellectually, and if you proactively pursue the good of your communities, then you will be a good steward. The Master will commend you, and that sure beats getting cut in pieces!


[1] Indeed, a city treasurer could be called the oikonomos of the city (Romans 16:23).

[2] Traditionally rendered bishop. The term bishop has picked up many connotations that should not be read back into the New Testament. 

Thank You God for Answered Prayer – Relaunching the Blog

Thank You God for Answered Prayer – Relaunching the Blog

Uncategorized

1 Chronicles 29:13: “And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”

Hello everyone.  We are excited to announce that Anabaptist Perspectives will be relaunching our blog emails starting in January 2020.  We are grateful to God for His direction in the past and are praying for his direction for the future as well. We have been praying for some time that God would lead someone to Anabaptist Perspectives to fill this calling. We praise God for His perfect timing in leading a brother to us that loves managing this type of ministry.

My name is Dave Eshbach.  Some time ago, I came across the Anabaptist Perspective’s website and YouTube channel.  I was extremely inspired by what I read and watched.  Later on then, I saw that they were looking for someone to help start the blog back up and to manage all the details.  After some talk and prayer, I felt God leading me to accept the position.  Growing up, I often desired that others would teach me how to study the Bible, how to have a deep relationship with God, and so on.  Because of the longings that I had growing up, I was determined to do something with my life.  Do something for God to impact others and to show others God’s love for them.

Our little family of 3 lives in Richmond, Virginia. We recently moved here to spread the Light of Jesus to this dark city. Living in an apartment, we have close neighbors and love the opportunities that come up to witness for Jesus.

My desire for this blog is that God would receive all the glory.  We as humans are nothing compared to God and His universe.  Isaiah 40:15 says:  Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Currently, our goal is to send out a blog at the beginning of every month starting in January. Please pray for myself, the board, and the proofreaders as we together with God’s help use our talents to share God’s Truth with the world each month. We feel the weight on our shoulders to teach the whole truth so no-one would be led astray but be drawn closer to Jesus.  Also, pray for the writers that they would be open to God’s voice as they they write what is on their hearts.

Would you like to see a certain topic be covered?  Please feel free to email me at [email protected].

May God be praised in everything we do!!

1 Chronicles 29:13: “And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”

Supporters Update #1

News

Think About It: Let’s put the internet to work!

I am not old, but I am old enough to remember when preachers warned against bad magazines and unhealthy books rather than against dangerous websites and unhealthy social media use. But I don’t remember anyone suggesting we avoid all books and magazines. Even if there was a lot of junk out there, no one bemoaned the invention of the printing press. Rather, Christian publishers put those presses to work, and leaders urged us to embrace wholesome literature. The time is now for Christians to put internet media to work. We cannot merely try to keep bad stuff off our smartphones and out of our browsers. We must diligently create and promote positive content on new media frontiers.

What’s Happening

Someone told us: “I want to be a Mennonite or Anabaptist so bad. I have no idea how to even begin.” Jaran encouraged her to seek to love God first and to develop relationships with Anabaptist people and a church near her. He also offered to help her locate such a church. She said that she found a local Mennonite church and would call them soon to inquire about visiting.

In response to Merle Burkholders’ episodes someone told us: “This is the kind of thing I need to hear while I try to leave atheism.” And “How he explains doubt is what I’m going through as I try to leave atheism behind.”

Boston and New York

Last month Jaran and Reagan made a fruitful filming tour in the northeast. They interviewed a number of staff from Destinations International in NYC and Sattler College in Boston.

Jonathan and Annlyn Kulp from Followers of Jesus Mennonite Church are participating in an interview.

From these interviews, we will edit and produce around 16 weekly episodes on topics like how to support missionaries and why the study of Hebrew and Greek is worthwhile.

Looking Ahead

We operate by seasons. We release content weekly for approximately 50 weeks and then take some time away from publishing to get ahead a bit on recording and editing before starting the next season.

Season two is going well. Since we kicked off in June our audience has grown significantly. On the production side, we already have enough content filmed to last through May; editing is the major task remaining.

Blog Manager Needed

We are looking for someone to manage the our blog. This man or woman will be responsible for recruiting authors and columnists and working with our proof readers to ensure that articles are posted to the blog on a regular schedule. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information or to recommend someone else for the job.

Prayer and Praise

  • Praise: We’ve been able to work far ahead with our filming schedule and only need about two episodes to finish season two. Jaran and Reagan traveled to Boston and New York City to record about 16 episodes with several different people who are committed to Christ and his truth.
  • Praise: God has used Anabaptist Perspectives’ episodes as one tool in aiding people on a journey toward closer discipleship. Recently, we’ve heard from various people seeking God and fellowship with his people. Some of these we’ve been able to put into contact with local churches.
  • Prayer: With the most intense work on season 2 behind us, we’ll be thinking toward season three. We’re asking God for guidance and wisdom to best represent his ways to the world and serve his church.

Audience Numbers

  • YouTube: 7988 views in July, 1566 subscribers
  • Podcast: 4523 listens in July

Finances

As of this newsletter we have paid for quite a bit more filming and travel costs than reflected in the second quarter report. It looks like we will need an additional $4000 in support to finish season two (episodes running through May 2020). We would also like to begin filming episodes for season three as funds allow.

Supporting Anabaptist Perspectives

Patreon.com

Patrons (our subscribers on patreon.com) give a monthly contribution of $3 or more. In return patrons have access to a variety of extras such as raw footage while we are filming episodes and an exclusive Q & A podcast with AP staff.

Donations

Since we are a project of Wellspring Mennonite Church, donations are tax deductible and tax receipts will be issued. Checks payable to “Anabaptist Perspectives” can be mailed to 279 County Road 617, Athens, Tennessee, 37303. Secure online donations can be made via credit card, PayPal, or bank account. This includes an option for monthly recurring donations.

Anti-Abortion or Pro-Lives? A Call to Redemptive Engagement with the Abortion Crisis

Anti-Abortion or Pro-Lives? A Call to Redemptive Engagement with the Abortion Crisis

Uncategorized

Charis Kauffman, along with her husband Kenneth and and their 2-year-old daughter, lives in Brooklyn, NY. As a family they are discovering that their passions are bigger than their energy. If the Kauffman family is not at home when you stop by for a visit, you can likely find them in one of the many coffee shops throughout NYC, sipping on a mug of craft coffee.

***

The recent passing of the Reproductive Health Act by the New York State Legislature has served as a chilling wake up call to many Christians. The passing of this Act removed a long-standing ban on abortion after twenty-four weeks, effectively making it possible for a full-term abortion of any child if sanctioned by a healthcare professional. New York joined eight other states that provide no legal protection for infants inside the womb. However, the public reaction and emotion surrounding this bill have seemed to be stronger than when previous states enacted similar laws. The political climate may be partly to blame for this response, but two other factors contributed to this as well. One, the Act was signed into law by a governor who is affiliated with the Catholic Church. Two, the passing of the bill was celebrated by lighting up famous sites in NYC with pink.

My heart is heavy. I have wept over this tragic decision here in my state. I ache deeply over the evils of abortion and the millions of human lives this horror has claimed. I hurt for the thousands of women who are merely seen and used as pawns for political power on all sides of the issue. I grieve for how little value we, as a nation, are putting on human lives. And, quite frankly, I am troubled by the responses of many conservative Christians to this issue. In writing this article, my desire is to confront some common misconceptions and counter-productive attitudes surrounding the abortion issue while casting a vision for a more redemptive response.

As Christians, we believe that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His own image. This is a dignity that we must value, defend, and promote for all humans, born or unborn. All humans are created for purpose, for relationship with Jesus, to be known and loved by God. We must be pro-life!

Too often, followers of Jesus equate pro-life with only being anti-abortion. I too was guilty of this. It was while volunteering at a holistic pregnancy crisis center as an older teenager that my eyes were opened to the complexities surrounding the abortion issue. As I heard women’s stories, saw their pain, and prayed with them, I came to understand that I had to embrace much more than an anti-abortion stance before I could claim to be pro-life. I realized the Christian’s duty surrounding this issue is not cookie-cutter clean; it necessarily is messy because it is inherently broken. Pro-life means being pro-baby, pro-mom, and pro-dad. It means holding up a standard of morality while being willing to wade into the messiness, joining Jesus in His pursuit of cosmic redemption. Prettily packaged answers of abstinence, adoption, and the need for new laws are not enough. There is a place for Band-Aids (thank God they exist), but our primary focus should be on limiting the wounds.

Confronting Common Misconceptions and Poor Responses

We often need to clean up our own core assumptions and reshape our own mindsets before we can begin to engage in healthy, redemptive ways with contemporary issues. The abortion crisis is no exception. Here are some troubling mindsets and responses that I (and others who gave input for this article) have heard or noticed among conservative Christian circles.

#1. The Baby is Unwanted / The Mother is Selfish

While this may occasionally be true for abortion cases, it is often not the case. Many women who feel like they must choose abortion come from horrible situations. As a mother, I would shudder to have my child grow up in the generational clutches of brokenness and evil that many women are caught in. These women often feel the same way . They have no desire for their child experience the horrors with which they live. Many are caught without finances, resources, and limited opportunities and they see no way out. There is often incredible shame alongside pregnancy and these mothers have no desire for their child to have to carry the shame of how it was conceived and the situation it was born into. When this is all you know and the only “hope” you have for your child, it doesn’t take much to convince yourself, or to be convinced that abortion is the loving option.

Friends, please be careful of assuming or using language that implies that an aborted baby is an unwanted baby. This mindset and these accusations only serve to create a culture of judgment and shame that will drive women away when they most need our love and support.

#2. The Mother Needs to Get Her Life Together and Stop Sleeping Around with Men

As was mentioned above, many women who choose abortion are living in hopeless situations without anybody in their life to give them love and support. Many times sex is the only path for them to feel at all wanted or loved. Or sex may be “forced” on them as a way of staying in a relationship and having housing and a place to belong. Carrying a baby full-term often means losing a job, embracing shame, losing a boyfriend/husband, and possibly homelessness.

It is much easier for us to judge and give advice than to engage in the mess with love and support. If we want to save children, though, we must be willing to love and support mothers. I cringed recently when I heard the testimony of a mother who chose an abortion after being shamed by her pastor but felt loved and understood by the people at the abortion center. This was the reason she was willing to choose their advice. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated scenario.

#3. Adoption is the Abortion Alternative

Please, don’t get me wrong! I am all for adoption. I have close friends and relatives who have adopted. I wish more people would choose to adopt. I think adoption is heroic.

But…adoption is not the cure-all, or even the best solution for the abortion crisis. As mentioned above, a woman who chooses to carry her child full-term and adopt, is still often likely to lose her job, face rejection, and stay caught in the same terrible lifestyle. So often the cry of “just give me the baby” is coming from an attitude that forgets or disdains the mother and the father of the child. Adoption is beautiful and good but it is a reflection of brokenness. It is only an option because of sin in this world. While it may be a beautiful answer with beautiful stories, I fear that sometimes we see adoption as the only alternative to offer because it is the cleaner alternative to the messiness of caring and supporting the mother, the father, and the child. Adoption is a Band-Aid and I’m grateful for it. But friends, please don’t promote it as the primary alternative/cure or use it as a way of helping from a sanitary distance.

Pursuing Redemptive Responses

So, what is the cure? Ultimately, the cure is for Jesus to return, fully eradicate evil, and bring to completion His desire for a pure, redeemed world. Until then, the whole cosmos continues to groan in brokenness, longing for redemption (See Romans 8). Jesus does not stand at a distance simply observing this groan until the time of consummation; He is active! Our Savior went into the heart of brokenness, getting bloodied and enduring the worst torment imaginable in order to provide a path of redemption. He emerged victorious and stands as a gigantic figure of hope for a broken, sinful world. But He still wears a bloody robe and is on a redemptive campaign (Revelation 19). He calls us to join Him, the bloodied King, on this redemptive quest into the middle of this groaning, cosmic mess.

Can we as people of Jesus be His light, His hope, His hands and feet in practical ways? Messy ways? Painful ways? Jesus-like ways? There are so many practical methods to engage with and support redemptive ministry. Here are some suggestions.

Photo by Charis Kauffman

Engage In Redemptive Relationships

If we are going to help change the narrative of abortion, we must begin with local relationships. Advocating for new laws, sharing opinions on social media, and writing blog posts (like this one) have their place, but these are not the primary way to make a difference.

The narrative really begins to change:

  • When a mother in crisis is loved, supported, and shown a new path. When she finds a real friend that she can rely on and gives her hope.
  • When fathers and men in broken situations are pursued and befriended. When we help them learn the value of love and, through loving them, they learn how to love their wives/girlfriends, and their children.
  • When we engage with broken families, inviting them into our homes and adopting them into our families, providing new circles of friends.
  • When we learn to listen to an individual before we judge their situation or motives.
  • When we adopt children and do foster care, changing the narrative for the next generation. When we are willing to pursue the messy situations like adoption or foster care of babies with medical conditions, helping to show the medical world and the parents that there is a way to love and care for these children.
  • When we stop shaming unplanned pregnancies, inside and outside our churches, and instead celebrate the gift of life. Yes, sin must be addressed, but nobody involved should have to carry that burden of shame. God is a God of redemption.

We, the people of Jesus, should be able to show much better love than the worker at an abortion center. People in crisis go to and trust people that understand and love them. The onus to put abortion centers out of business does not have to rest on politicians; it is our task! Let’s be willing to get messy, risk pain, and follow our redemptive Lord into redemptive relationships.

Provide Redemptive Opportunities

Alongside redemptive relationships should be a pursuit of providing redemptive opportunities, giving a tangible path to a new life.

Here are some ideas:

  • Provide good job opportunities for single mothers and low-income families. We have many incredible, untapped opportunities in our businesses to change the abortion narrative. Be willing to embrace the mess and risk of hiring ladies in crisis and fathers of unplanned pregnancies. Too often we have embraced the lie that they just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, not recognizing the incredible ways that they are limited through lack of connections and opportunities.
  • Provide safe houses for women in crisis with opportunities for education and learning new skills. There are some incredible ministries that are doing this and we could learn from them.
  • Provide care centers for women that offer holistic, free, and judgment-free care as an alternative to abortion clinics that often offer other free services for women.
  • Provide childcare for single mothers so that they can hold jobs and not be faced with homelessness or forced into abusive situations to provide food and shelter for them and their children.
  • Provide inner-city schools and after school programs to help change the story for the next generation.

Support Redemptive Ministries

I am so encouraged by the hundreds of individuals and ministries who are involved in holistic, redemptive causes. These are grueling, messy pursuits and these people need our support, both physically and emotionally.

  • Support your local PCC (Pregnancy Crisis Center). Be willing to volunteer and get involved in caring for women in crisis. Many times these centers are struggling for financial means to stay afloat and need our financial assistance.
  • Support families in foster care and those who are adopting. These are draining ministries both financially and emotionally.
  • Support the families who receive a grave medical diagnosis for their unborn child. Families facing this are often given the option of abortion by medical professionals as way to spare their child from suffering. These people need our support and help to face the life-altering changes that often comes with these diagnoses. I asked a friend with a medically fragile child for suggestions on how people can help in these situations. Here are some of her ideas:
    • Money Gifts
    • Simple encouragement
    • People to help with household chores during long hospital stays
    • Inviting them to birthdays, after church meals, and special events. Even if they can’t make it due to medical reasons it means the world to be remembered.
    • Having one or two people to learn the special needs of the child and provide babysitting for date nights, assistance with doctor appointments, etc…
  • Give people involved in abortion ministry or women’s ministry a platform to share about their work and opportunities to educate others for this ministry. Spend time with them in their work, learning from them.
  • Support inner-city schools and children’s ministries.
  • Support organizations that are involved in holistically confronting the abortion crisis and caring for women or families in crisis. Here is a list of some organizations doing this well:
    • The Archibald Project
    • Save the Storks
    • The Esther House
    • The Morning Center
    • Show Hope (providing adoption aid, post adoption support, and care centers)

Friends, the abortion crisis should be a call-to-action for us. This call-to-action is much more than simply taking an anti-abortion stance or raising our voices in protest from a distance; it means being pro-life for all. What our country really needs is a massive human wave of Jesus followers going straight into the mess of broken relationships and evil that has caused this abortion crisis. We follow a Savior who offers redemption and hope to the broken and the evil. Let’s wade in with Him. There is hope!