March for Life, Billings, MT (1/20/2019)

Yesterday the Yellowstone Valley Christians for Life sponsored the 12th annual March for Life at Billings, Montana. We met and marched together to the Court House for prayer and singing. I was one of the three speakers: Dick Pence spoke on supporting and voting for pro-life candidates, Teresa Hagestad spoke on adoption, and I had the privilege of speaking on prayer. Below are my notes.

Sunday, January 20, 2019
March for Life
Billings, MT

Consider Luke 18:1-8, the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. We are told explicitly that Jesus told this parable that men ought always to pray. This parable impresses upon disciples to not grow weary in approaching God in persistent prayer.

If you aren’t familiar with the parable, a widow goes to an unjust judge seeking justice (because that is what judges are supposed to do—administer justice). She asks, Avenge me my adversary. She is asking for deliverance and justice.  But the unjust judge doesn’t care about her afflictions at the hands of her adversary. Accordingly, the judge delays justice. However, he eventually decides to execute justice on the behalf the widow, but we’re told it is for selfish reasons. He doesn’t want this widow to continue to inconvenience him by continually coming to him. The widow, we observe, was persistent in crying out for justice even to an unjust judge.

The point of the parable is this: the unjust judge, in the final analysis, did a good and just thing, albeit, he did not do what was just because he was good or for good reasons. The contrast between this unjust judge and God absolutely compels disciples of Jesus to be diligent and persistent in prayer. Why? Because God not only does what is good, but God is good. God is perfectly just and does all according to his perfect and holy will. Psalm 119: 68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. Psalm 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

So, think about this parable which exhorts disciples to pray with persistence, and let’s relate the privilege of persistent prayer to this issue at hand – legalized abortion in our nation – and consider this question: Does God ordinarily preserve life by the appointed means of persistent prayer?

Yes. The Psalms of David confirm this. Again, and again, and again we see David crying out to God for deliverance and help when he is being pursued by murderous enemies. But we should also consider what the Spirit wrote in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. In Acts 12, the evil ruler Herod Agrippa had already arrested and executed the Apostle James, and it gave him a figurative bump in the political polls and increased his favor with his constituents who opposed the Christians. So Herod arrests the Apostle Peter with the intent of executing him, too. But in Acts 12:5 we’re told that while Peter was in prison the church made prayer without ceasing.  Again, we are told Peter is in prison and the verge of execution and the church made prayer without ceasing. And many of you know the rest of the story: the angel of the Lord appears to Peter in prison and there is a miraculous jail-break. Afterwards Peter goes to the house of Mary the mother of John, and in Acts 12:12, we’re told that when he goes to the house there were many gathered together praying. Surely, they were praying for Peter. Elsewhere Scripture teaches us that the prayers of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16). Indeed.

Circling back to the issue at hand—abortion. Has the church offered up persistent prayers for the preservation of innocent lives since 1973? Yes, and we have seen God answering our prayers.  According to one source, in the past 45+ years, ever since Roe v. Wade, now almost half of the States are extremely hostile to abortion, e.g., various State legislatures have put into effect hundreds and hundreds of laws to attenuate the abortion industrial complex legalized and sustained by Roe v. Wade. Additionally, abortion issues are coming to the courts again and again across many of the States. Our prayers have not been answered in full, that is, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but through both legislatures and courts we see the ability to legally murder children has, is, and, Lord willing! will continue to be diminished.

Also, think about the longevity of March for Life. Ever since Roe v. Wade there has been March for Life. Think about the longevity of that. Think about the longevity of March for Life in Billings—this is our 12th year. And think about how the pro-life movement has grown both in numbers and vocal-witness over the past 45+ years. People standing up for truth, for justice, for the sanctity of life, it has now become a multi-generational concern. Indeed, God is answering our prayers.

I was born in 1983, ten years after Roe v Wade, and I grew up attending pro-life rallies. And looking at this crowd I think it is safe to bet that I’m not the only one who was raised that way. The fruits of persistent prayer aren’t only evident in the legislatures and courts across our country, but they are especially evident here, where parents have brought their children to stand united for life, and in bringing our children, we are catechizing them into the culture of life, into the holy habit of persistent prayer, which has become a spreading flame throughout the darkness of our nation’s culture of death.

We are called to persistent prayer.

May God give us grace to pray continually, looking forward to when God shall wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more death (Revelation 21:4).

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New Year, New Devotional Plan

Please read the prior post by Pastor Barnes, and if you don’t already have a plan for systematically reading your Bible in 2019, then I encourage to make one. Plan your work, work your plan. If something is important, then you will make time to plan what you intend to execute and accomplish. Professor Grant Horner’s reading plan is the one I’ve been using the past couple of years, but I like the one drafted by Pastor Barnes, and I plan to use it in 2019. Thanks for the plan, Jonah!

I thought I would also suggest a supplement to whatever daily reading/devotional plan people choose to adopt. In the Fourth Commandment, God tells his children to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy. A simple suggestion for brothers and sisters in Christ to prepare for and anticipate to keep the Sabbath holy is for them to incorporate into their daily reading/devotional plans the Scripture read and preached on the Lord’s Day in their local church. You can do this two ways: (1) you can read and meditate on the Word from the prior Lord’s Service, or, (2) if your local church publishes in advance liturgical information for corporate worship, you can prepare by reading and meditating on the Word of God that will be read and preached on the upcoming Lord’s Day.

For practical suggestions on preparing for, receiving, and practicing the Word of God that is read and preached on the Lord’s Day, I recommend the section on “Listening to Sermons” in The Family at Church by Joel R. Beeke. Corporate worship is the only ordinary time throughout the week that God calls all his children together to catechize and care for them. If you incorporate your daily reading/devotional plan into the 52 day reading/devotional plan for the corporate body, then I suspect you will begin to look at the relation of Word and Worship with newfound meaning and importance.

In 2019, may the Lord with Word and Worship open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of His law.

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 4)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 1)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 2)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 3)

Summer came and went, but circling back to this series on pre-marriage counseling.

In the final pre-marriage counseling section I discuss with the couple practical household duties, e.g., principles for household budgeting and financial wrangling, duties and balance of family life and employment, the labyrinth of all things insurance (car, renter/home, health, life, disability), etc. The number one goal is to highlight biblical wisdom and the couple’s deep need to seek and apply God’s wisdom to the milieu and circumstances of their (married) life.

If the couple is starting off their marriage with debt, I recommend Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Gary North’s website Deliverance from Debt. If the couple is debt-free, then I recommend something akin to Brady and Woodward’s Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, and Playing Field of Personal FinanceOne of the things I emphasize during this session is that the couple needs to plan accordingly for death, i.e., eliminate personal debt asap, take out life insurance policies on one another, discuss all things future and financial like retirement planning and financial investing . . . the point is to plan and prepare beforehand, so you can bless your spouse with being emotionally and financially prepared for an unexpected and untimely death.

We conclude this session with preliminary discussion on sexual fulfillment and the joys of the marriage bed, and I assign reading from Wheat & Wheat’s Intended for Pleasure. As my marriage counselor said over 12 years ago, you hold this off until the end because it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. There is typically a 5th and final meeting, during which I circle back and give advice and offer instructions regarding sexual fulfillment and the marriage bed, but typically we are down to the wire and finalizing and ironing out details and logistics for the wedding ceremony and reception. My advice is for the ceremony to be sober and short (which typically means traditional service), and the reception to be long and joyous.