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When I wrote my first book, “One Great Truth,” not long after my father’s passing five years ago, Chuck Colson was kind enough to write the foreword. Chuck was a wonderful friend and a truly inspiring follower of Jesus Christ. He passed away on April 21.
Chuck, who spent seven months in prison for his part in the Watergate break-ins and the subsequent cover-up, reminded us that in our failings we often discover true peace and God’s will for our lives. He said, “The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure — that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation — being sent to prison — was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life … only when I lost everything I thought made Chuck Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.”
Chuck was given a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis shortly before his imprisonment and it had a great impact on his life. He later accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Chuck later founded Prison Fellowship, which takes the message of the Gospel to prisoners across the world. Visit the group’s website (www.pfi.org) to read some inspirational stories recounting how men and women in prison are being reached with the Gospel.
I am grateful to have known Chuck. He was bold in his faith, compassionate toward others and unapologetic about his faith. That is a great legacy for any follower of Christ.
Thirty-six years ago this week, April 25, 1976, an inspiring event took place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. In the bottom of the fourth inning in a game between the Dodgers and Cubs, a man and his son raced into centerfield where they dropped to their knees and prepared to set fire to an American flag. Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday took quick action, running to where the two were dousing the flag with lighter fluid and snatching it away from them. The crowd, so thankful that Monday had saved the flag, broke out singing “God Bless America.” I imagine that song has rarely sounded as sweet as it did that day.
Monday later stated, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”
The Batesville, Arkansas native, who served six years in the Marine Reserves, was presented that flag later in the 1976 season during a ceremony at Wrigley Field. Now 66, Monday still has the flag and has reportedly turned down as much as $1 million offers from people wanting to buy it. It is a special flag and Monday was a special hero 36 years ago, the day he saved Old Glory.
As announced today at a joint press conference, Thomas Road Baptist Church will serve as the host church for the new film “Finding Faith.” This new faith-based film centers on the work of Bedford, VA Sheriff Mike Brown and DOJ task forces around the country in their groundbreaking work to protect children from Internet predators.
“We are excited to host the film,” stated Jonathan Falwell, Senior Pastor. “Mike Brown and his team have done an incredible job of prosecuting predators and making families aware of this danger. We are eager to support their efforts.”
The faith-based film will star the national spokesman for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, Erik Estrada. Estrada is best known for his leading role in the television series, “CHiP’s”. The filming will take place at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Christian Academy, Liberty University and locations around central Virginia. The casting is underway and will include local talent.
“As a former federal agent, I thought I had seen every conceivable evil that one person could do to another,” stated Mike Brown. “However, the world of child porn is the most horrific crime you can imagine. It causes great harm to children and their families. It is horrible. I am hopeful that this film will help educate children and save young lives from this threat.”
In attendance at today’s press conference: Sheriff Mike Brown, Erik Estrada, Jonathan Falwell, State Senator Steve Newman, Delegate Scott Garrett, Executive Producer Scottie Ward and members of the Internet Crimes Against Children’s Task Force.
More info on the film at http://www.findingfaithfilm.com
GROWING CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE OF TWO YOUNG MEN
Two prominent young Christian athletes have been named to Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin made the list, even though one is a backup (Tebow) and the other will miss the remainder of his season due to injury (Lin).
In reporting the story, The Washington Post wrote of Tebow, “The backup quarterback for the New York Jets has become a polarizing figure in football, in part because of his outward displays of Christian faith.” That’s how the world sees forthright Christians these days — if they talk about their faith, they are controversial or polarizing or divisive. Despite the jabs they often receive, these two young men are willing to keep talking about the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In the midst of a constant barrage of sports controversies, Tebow and Lin remain humble and examples of how Christians should conduct themselves.
Lin wrote about Tebow for the Time magazine feature, saying, “He is unashamed of his convictions and faith, and he lives a life that consistently reflects his values, day in and day out.” That should be how all of us who follow Jesus Christ should be trying to live our lives each day. I’m very thankful that these young men are inspiring others, especially young sports fans, how to diligently follow the living Christ.
PERSONHOOD INITIATIVE HITS ROADBLOCK
The pro-life organization Personhood Oklahoma reported on Thursday that Republican members of the Oklahoma House abandoned the Oklahoma Personhood Act (SB 1433), which would have defined the beginning of human life at conception and established that unborn children are possessed of the same rights as all persons.
The bill reads, “The life of each human being begins at conception. The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state. ‘Unborn child’ and ‘unborn children’ shall include all unborn children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.”
The state Senate earlier passed a version of the Personhood Act and said it would have approved the House version. Some reports stated that it was the House Republican Caucus that determined not to hear the bill. But Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City) contested that notion, saying, “The idea that this was a caucus decision is bogus. It is my understanding that there was no vote in caucus. Even if there had been one, many members were not present.”
Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, stated, “Not voting on the Personhood Act with majorities in the House and Senate and GOP governor begs the question: if they won’t vote pro-life, why should we vote for them?” It is too bad that political infighting has halted this important bill. As I have noted, I believe that personhood initiatives are critical in the fight for unborn life in our nation.
Mr. Mason says the Oklahoma Personhood Amendment petition drive, launched in March in anticipation of inaction in the state legislature, will attempt to gather the necessary 155,000 signatures that will send the personhood amendment to a vote by the people in November. Let’s be in prayer that the people will vote to protect the unborn in Oklahoma. Follow the action at this website: www.PersonhoodOklahoma.com
BIBLE PURGING AT WALTER REED?
With the aid of Judicial Watch, the Family Research Council (FRC) has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Navy, asking for access to records concerning a policy announced last September in which the use and/or distribution of the Bible or other religious materials was banned by the Commander of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Judicial Watch (www.judicialwatch.org) reported that on September 14, 2011, Col. Chuck Callaghan, Chief of Staff of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, issued a memorandum on behalf of the facility’s commander with the subject heading, “WOUNDED, ILL AND INJURED PARTNERS IN CARE GUIDELINES.” One of its stipulations regarding “Partners in care guidelines” stated “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.”
After obtaining the memorandum, FRC officials divulged it to members of Congress. Later, Walter Reed issued a statement retracting the policy, stating, “Bibles and other religious materials have always been and will remain available for patient use at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The visitation policy as written was incorrect and should have been more thoroughly reviewed before its release. It has been rescinded.”
But the FRC wants to know how the policy was instituted in the first place. FRC President Tony Perkins said, “We filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Walter Reed Military Medical Center in hope of understanding who authorized the Bible ban and why. Although the center’s spokesmen assure that the policy has been rescinded, we have yet to see the revised policy. Until then, we’ll push forward with our investigation to see who or what is driving the religious purging. This is yet another troubling instance of Obama administration hostility toward religious liberty, a liberty that is guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Thank God for the FRC’s bulldog mentality in getting to the bottom of this troubling Bible-ban policy. If government officials want to cancel out our religious freedoms, they need to come out of the shadows and explain their rational for their actions.
My new book, “1,000 Days: The Ministry of Christ,” (click here to order) published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, was released this week. All proceeds from this book will go to church-planting efforts, so I want to encourage all of my friends to pick up a copy this week, on-line or at your local bookstore, to help us in our national and international church-planting ventures.
Anyone who knows me knows that one of my true heartbeats is global church planting. I believe this is the most viable way we have to reach lost souls with the message of Jesus Christ.
In our nation, polls reveal that non-believers are much more likely to visit a new church than they are an established one. That’s why we have, through our Liberty Church Planting Network (LCPN), established many churches across the nation. A new church gives great opportunities for sharing God’s Word.
As international chairman of LCPN, I am involved in planting and sustaining new churches across the globe. In recent months, we have keyed on Kenya, India and Haiti, as I have reported in this column. Thomas Road Baptist Church, where I serve as pastor, has planted over 1,000 churches since July 1, 2011, in these nations. We partner with The Timothy Initiative to establish effective and vibrant churches, some in warehouses and some literally in people’s back yards. We establish many of these churches as community outreach centers, supplied with food, water and other supplies, so that people get used to going there. By opening doors through humanitarian aid, we earn the right to share the Gospel with those we serve.
Planting churches is urgently needed. Some might say, “With about 350,000 evangelical churches in North America, we don’t need new churches.” Not true, I say. In fact, the Ephesians 4 Network (www.e4network.org) reports that for every new church that opens in North America, four close. The organization also notes that church attendance has declined 19.4 percent in the past decade. Further, only 28 percent of people ages 23-37 attend church regularly.
I say that it is apparent that we need many new churches that proclaim God’s Word to hungry hearts and call people to salvation through Jesus Christ. We need churches with bold agendas to reach young people with the Gospel and then to train them to be confident apologists for the Savior. I repeat: we need a lot of new churches.
If you believe as I do that church planting is the key to reaching our lost world, join with me. You can help us plant an international church with a gift of $250 (this literally pays for the training of a Kenyan, Indian or Haitian pastor, as we use our own materials). Please visit our website (https://trbc.org/resources/plant-a-church/) to partner with me and many others who have already joined this great cause.
Remember, proceeds from my new book, “1,000 Days: The Ministry of Christ,” go entirely toward our church-planting projects in America and abroad. If your heart is in church planting, as mine is, we could use your help today. Thanks, and I pray the book is a great blessing in your life as we delve into the heart of Jesus in His days of earthly ministry.
Saddleback Community Church Pastor Rick Warren is not a real political guy. But he continues to decry the Obama administration’s contraception policy that he says affects the religious freedoms of institutions that have pro-life standards. On Sunday’s “This Week” broadcast on ABC, the veteran pastor and author said he is not pleased with the token compromise on the administration’s requirement, saying that religious freedom is at stake over the issue.
NewsMax.com reported that “the original ruling from the administration required religious-affiliated universities and hospitals to offer health plans that cover contraception; under the compromise, insurance companies have to pay for that part of the coverage.” Critics say the compromise simply shifts responsibility for the abortion coverage.
Warren noted that there are plenty of hospitals that perform abortions and that there is no need to compel pro-life religious institutions to directly or indirectly provide them. On “This Week,” he drew an effective correlation, saying, “I would be just as opposed to someone making a law that says every Jewish deli now has to serve pork … I would protest that. Why? There are 100 other delis you can get pork at. Why do I have to insist that the Jewish delis also serve pork?”
I appreciate Rick Warren continuing to press for the preservation of our religious freedoms. He is on the front lines of this effort to ensure that pro-life ministries are never compelled to fund abortion services. We all owe him a debt of thanks and the support of our prayers.
In the past few years, my team and I have truly enjoyed hosting our REFUEL Conference at Thomas Road Baptist Church. As I prayed about this year’s conference, I determined that I do not want to have a conference that just goes through the motions, so to speak. I want to hold a conference that is unique, special and truly life-changing for those attending.
So, after much prayer over the past few weeks, I sense from God that we need to gather together as pastors and church leaders to be refreshed, to encourage each other and to seek God’s face together at this pivotal time for the church. “Refueling” is something that all pastors need and that is what we try to provide for all who attend our special gathering.
This May, I am inviting pastors and church staff members from across the country to join us for two days (May 15 and 16) for a special time of encouragement, planning, sharing, worshipping and refueling. Our special guests will be Ed Stetzer, James MacDonald, Lance Witt, Daniel Floyd and many othersh.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, is a great speaker, a true innovator in church planting and contemporary evangelism. He has a heart for ministry and ministers. As always, all pastors will want to hear what Ed has to say about effective church ministry and the key responsibilities of pastors who want to serve God to the best of their ability.
Dr. James MacDonald is the renowned host of “Walk in the Word,” which now reaches more than three million people weekly. His Harvest Bible Fellowship is responsible for planting 70 churches. He is praying that God will allow him to plant 1,000 churches in his lifetime. This will be James’ first time at our Refuel conference and I am very excited to be inspired by this true servant of God.
We will also have the opportunity to hear from some great young leaders in the church today. Daniel Floyd, an LU graduate and church planter in Fredericksburg, Virginia, will share some of his lessons learned along the way. Lance Witt and others will open God’s Word to help us all be encouraged in ministry. I know that you will be blessed by attending this conference. And, it’s free!
Visit our website (http://refuel.org) for more details and registration information. I hope you will plan to join us for this year’s conference.