The Only Path to Societal Renewal – Reblog by Dan McConchie (The Gospel Coalition)

The Only Path to Societal Renewal (see original here)
May 26, 2015 | The Gospel Coalition

As recent attacks against religious liberty have demonstrated, it is increasingly difficult for Christians to speak truth in the public square. The temptation is to respond by withdrawing, turning your faith inward, and warming yourself in quiet communion with like-minded faithful. However, even if this were a legitimate response, the purveyors of societal change have demonstrated they will not be satisfied with acquiescence. In the end, they will demand cooperation, which is why the fight over religious freedom and conscience has become so toxic, so vitriolic, so quickly.

despair_351_234_90

It’s easy to point to the culture wars and see them as a proxy for living out our faith. There are real dangers to a nation when the powers-that-be succumb and embrace societal sin. But fighting these battles, while important, is not enough to spread the gospel. The church, having turned in to itself in so many places, no longer provides the moral yardstick by which people measure cultural norms. While we must continue to stand for truth and religious freedom, it is not enough to get us back to a path of societal renewal. We must also return to the basics of personal holiness and care for the physically, morally, and spiritually destitute.

When the tyranny and paganism of Rome was at its height, James assigned in his epistle a surprisingly simple role to the church. He wrote that a “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). In applying his words to today, we can and should continue our fight for truth in the public square, but only as long as we continue to live in holiness and demonstrate that Jesus lives within us by caring for those who are suffering, doing so with both love and in truth.

Saving by Serving

Who are the widows and orphans today? Perhaps the question is better stated, “Who most needs the church to stand in the gap for them?” The answer, whatever it is for your church, will likely make you uncomfortable. When we stray from our comfort zone in meeting the needs of the lost the Lord tends to use us most effectively.

Journalist D. C. McAllister recently told her story of redemption, how 15 years ago she was a single, destitute mother with two young children and another on the way. She went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion but sat alone in the parking lot never getting out of her car. She writes that she realized she couldn’t “sacrifice my child on the altar of my own selfishness.” She drove away.

Impoverished, she applied for welfare but didn’t qualify because she was “able-bodied” despite being single with children who needed her care. With no place else to turn, she despaired. Then:

I went to a local church and asked for help. They gave it to me, no judgment, no condemnation. Only love. I sat in the pastor’s office and wept uncontrollably as I told him my story. He said it didn’t matter. God’s grace is sufficient. They would help me get through the next year or so until I was on my feet. They gave me counseling and accepted my daughter into their preschool so she could make friends. The women at the church took me under their wing, giving me clothes for my baby when she was born and encouraging me when I felt overwhelmed.

If the government had given me welfare, I doubt if I would have gone to the church for help. And if I hadn’t, I would never have benefited from their love and grace—and that’s what I needed most. I needed physical help, but I desperately needed spiritual, emotional help. And they were there for me. Loving me, supporting me, encouraging me, and counseling me. They saved me.

In reading her story, I was struck by both her bravery as well as her admission that she would have likely never gotten the help she truly needed if the government had given her a handout. The absence of government action enabled her to find healing. A stingy government program’s failure to help led her home.

Giving What Government Cannot

Starting in the 1930s with the New Deal, federal and state government supplanted the church as the central societal organ caring for the needy among us. In an effort to help the poor, the state inadvertently severed bonds that helped hold society together for centuries, one where faith and spiritual change were central in the healing of a broken, needy person.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Public Economics found that “benevolent church spending fell by 30 percent in response to the New Deal, and that government spending can explain virtually all of the decline in charitable church activity observed between 1933 and 1939.” True, the government can spend more money on programs to help the poor. But money alone does not change the heart. In fact, direct governmental payments can crowd out the opportunity for spiritual change, for the holistic support so often needed to address the real roots of material poverty.

Holistic support only comes from the Christ-centered mission of a healthy, vibrant local church that can introduce the broken soul to the healing that only comes from Jesus. He provides the healing of heart and mind that fully enables the downtrodden to attain a state of health that enables them to fully exploit the opportunities God gives in a free society such as ours.

At the same time the government supplanted the church in benevolence, the church lost the maturing, sanctifying effect that the poor had on the church. As Arloa Sutter, leader of inner-city Chicago’s Breakthrough Urban Ministries, once told me, “The poor need us, but even more than that, we need the poor.” Those of us who have wealthy, unencumbered lives need to be pulled out of our comfort zones back into a world of grit and pain where once again we can see and experience Jesus as the only answer to the trials that assail us all.

And when we experience Jesus on this level, when we have experienced that revival of mind and soul that only he can bring, we cling to the Word of God as the only bedrock on which to renew a nation and people.

In an era when government policy so often limits opportunity for the church to be the witness it was assigned to be, the church must be vigorous in reclaiming its vital societal role. With chronic overspending by the state and a burgeoning debt crisis, that job may be easier than we expect in the coming years. But even if the state fights the church for the role, it is essential that the church win that fight.

And when the church regains its central position as the place of first resort, again serving as Jesus’s hands and feet to those in need, it will again have both the platform and the moral authority to reclaim its place as the stick by which cultural norms are measured again.
_____

Dan McConchie, MA, is a national pro-life lobbyist and board member of a Informed Choices Pregnancy & Parenting centers in suburban Chicago. He received his MA in Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and attends Harvest Bible Chapel – Lake Zurich. You can follow him on Twitter @danmcconchie.

A Charism of Life – Sisters of Life (YouTube)

A Charism of Life "to lay down our lives that others might live"
A Charism of Life
“to lay down our lives that others might live”

Peanut Gallery: “What will we do with the rest of our lives?”

That was the question asked by Deacon Kandra in Sunday’s homily.

These women have found their vocation.

What’s yours?

Sisters of Life: click here for more information. 

Avengers 4 Life in DC – Official Video – “Where’s Arturo?”

Peanut Gallery: The large presence of young people at the 2013 March for Life was most heartening. The numbers of Pro-Life young people are increasing while the old guard,  radical, pro-death feminists are fading into the sunset as their numbers decline. The demographics are with the Pro-Life movement.

"Avengers 4 Life"
“Avengers 4 Life”
2013 March for Life, Washington DC

Biltrix described this Pro-life Generation in a recent post. And Students for Life were everywhere. Check out their web sites to see what they’re doing to reach young people for Life.

As part of that youth movement, RC Mission Corps Volunteers made their missionary presence known with Avengers 4 Life.” Here’s a picture I took of them along the March on the way to the Supreme Court.

Arturo Mid-March
“Arturo” Mid-March
Are we there yet?

"Arturo" Pre-MarchReady to go.
“Arturo” Pre-March
Let’s roll.

The funny thing is – they took a picture of me taking a picture of them in their official video. What are the chances of that happening with 650,000 marchers?

So, here’s the challenge – “Where’s Arturo?” – that’s me. Can you find me in their video? If you take the time… and find me – click like. Trust me, I’m there… and the video is well worth watching all by itself.

Walk for Life West Coast Videos – Public Catholic re-blog

walk for lifePeanut Gallery: The “West Coast Walk for Life” in San Francisco can easily get lost with all the attention given to the “March for Life” in Washington, DC. Special thanks to Rebecca Hamilton for bringing these videos to our attention.

The Pro-Life movement is growing… from sea to shining sea.

Sanctity of Life Sunday Readings: Psalm 139.13-17 NLT – made by God

Psalm 139.13-17 NLT – Made by God

fetus 1You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

Genesis 1:26-28 NLT – Made like God

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NLT – Made for God

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

“But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

John 10:10 NLT – Made for Life

“My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Matthew 25:40 NLT – “Precious to God”

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
__________________________

Prayer for Changing the Culture by Fr. Frank Pavone, M.E.V.

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we come into your presence in His name. We have heard the voice of your Son, and therefore we can make our voices heard. We have been justified in the blood of your Son, and therefore we can oppose every form of injustice.

We have repented of our sins, and therefore we can lead the sinner to repentance. We have done battle with the power of evil, and therefore we can have compassion on those still within its grip. We have been freed from the kingdom of darkness, and therefore we can bear witness to your Kingdom of Light.

Lord, as we come before you today, we repent, we resolve, and we rejoice.

We repent of every instance in which fear has made us silent when we should have spoken. We repent of the ongoing bloodshed in our land, and for ever daring to think that we can deprive the unborn of protection but keep it for ourselves.

We resolve that we will work more generously to advance your Kingdom. We resolve that we will advance the cause of righteous candidates for public office, and that we will be more afraid of offending you by our silence than of offending the IRS by our speech. We resolve that we will declare boldly to our people that no public official who fails to respect the life of a little baby can be trusted to respect our lives.

Father, today we rejoice, because we are not simply working for victory – we are working from victory. The victory of life, truth, and grace has been won by your Son’s death and Resurrection. Today we hear his voice again. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I hold the keys of death and of hell. Behold, I make all things new.”

Father, we rejoice that we have been made new, and as we work to renew our culture we look forward to the great day of his coming, When every eye will see him, even of those who pierced him, and every knee shall bend, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

In his Blessed Name we pray. Amen!
______________________________

Spiritual Song: “He Knows My Name” (YouTube)