Stupak votes for Health Care Bill After Being Promised an Executive Order Banning Abortion Funding

The Democratic effort to secure the 216 votes needed for passage of the legislation came together only after last-minute negotiations involving the White House, the House leadership and a group of Democratic opponents of abortion rights, led by Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan. On Sunday afternoon, members of the group announced that they would support the legislation after Mr. Obama promised to issue an executive order to “ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services.”

Mr. Stupak described the order as a significant guarantee that would “protect the sanctity of life in health care reform.” But supporters of abortion rights — and some opponents — said the order merely reaffirmed what was in the bill.

- New York Times, "House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama"

Pro-abortion lobbies ‘incensed’ at Stupak deal to pass health care
by Catholic News Agency Mar 21, 2010
Leading pro-abortion groups such as the National Organization of Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have harshly criticized President Obama’s decision to issue an executive order to reassure pro-life Democrats that there would be no federal funding for abortion.

The executive order was published by the White House minutes before Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) announced that he and his bloc of pro-life Democrats would be providing the missing votes to allow the health care bill to pass Sunday evening by a 219-212 margin.

During his press conference, Stupak noted there were only 45 votes in the Senate for his language. “We would all love to have a statute that would be stronger. We can’t get sixty votes in the Senate. The reality is we can’t do it.”

“This bill was going to go through,” Stupak said, saying he believed backers of the Senate bill had enough House votes before he and his pro-life colleagues decided to support the legislation.

To protect the sanctity of life, Stupak said, his coalition went for the “best enforceable” option and settled for the President’s executive order.

The order reads: “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.”

The executive order requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to draw up in six months’ time a set of guidelines which states must follow to ensure that federal funds don’t pay for abortion coverage. Any such coverage under the state insurance exchanges to be created would have to be paid for by the person insured.

Before the executive order was announced, NOW, NARAL and Planned Parenthood had felt comfortable with the language of the Senate bill...

...Stupak’s successful pressuring of the president to promise an executive order drew a harsh reaction from the leading pro-abortion groups on Sunday afternoon.

“We are incensed by Obama’s executive order designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women's access to abortion,” said NOW President Terry O'Neill in a statement emailed to reporters.

“Contrary to language in the draft of the executive order and repeated assertions in the news, the Hyde Amendment is not settled law -- it is an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. NOW has a longstanding objection to Hyde and, in fact, was looking forward to working with this president and Congress to bring an end to these restrictions. We see now that we have our work cut out for us far beyond what we ever anticipated. The message we have received today is that it is acceptable to negotiate health care on the backs of women, and we couldn't disagree more,” O’Neill said.

Why the Executive Order Does Not Prevent Taxpayer Funded Abortion
by the Legal Staff of Americans United for Life, March 21, 2010

The White House’s proposed executive order to “deal” with the abortion problems in the Senate health care reform bill reveals that the President will not even attempt to ensure that there is no federal funding for abortion or mandates for abortion coverage in the bill.

The first section of the proposed executive order provides that that “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism” to prevent federal funding for abortions “consistent with . . . the Hyde amendment.” While this acknowledges that the Senate bill is not consistent with the Hyde amendment, the language of the executive order fails to describe accurately and to mirror the scope of the Hyde Amendment.

While the Hyde Amendment comprehensively prohibits the use of all federal funding that flows through Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations for both abortion and insurance plans that cover abortions, the Senate health care bill does not. The executive order does not remedy this problem. First, the executive order only addresses the insurance exchanges (section 2) and the Community Health Center (CHC) funding (section 3). In other words, the executive order still leaves open the possibility that other funds authorized or appropriated through the bill could be used to directly pay for abortions.

Second, while the executive order addresses the insurance exchanges, it utterly fails to apply Hyde to them. Section 2 of the order provides guidelines for “strict compliance” with the provisions in the bill that address how federal subsidies are handled in plans that cover abortions in the exchanges. However, these guidelines do nothing to prevent federal subsidies from going to plans that cover abortions, which directly violates federal principles embodied in the Hyde Amendment and other federal laws, including the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).


Glenn Beck: American Progressivism = Socialism

No, it isn’t. It is actually American Individualism to the Max

Contrary to what Beck would seek to lead his viewers to believe, the driving force behind progressivism has not been communitarianism (i.e., what he calls socialism), but a very individualistic understanding of liberty.

The technical term for the political ideology that exalts the sovereignty of the individual is “Liberalism.” Liberalism, as classically construed, contains both the “conservative” and “liberal” ends of American politics, for both of these have, as their central tenant, the personal liberty of the individual.

As David Koyzis writes in his excellent book, Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (2003, IVP),

__Today, we Westerners live in a world where it is taken for granted that people cannot enslave other people, that people can practice their respective faiths without harassment, and that intellectuals can promote controversial ideas without fear of at least legal if not social reprisals. All of these are the ripe fruit of liberalism, whose positive side cannot be denied. So thoroughly has this liberalism come to suffuse our political culture, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, that virtually all of us can be said to be liberals in some sense, even if we explicitly repudiate the label.” (pp. 44-45)

But the Liberal political ideology (i.e., of individual liberty) also has its flaws, according to Koyzis.

__“It is not only unable to account for the ontological status of community; it also ignores the connectedness of individuals to previous and succeeding generations. It pretends the individual is an isolated runner in the race, whose success of failure depends wholly on herself.

__“When it becomes apparent that this is not the case—that is, when liberals bump up against reality—they are often driven to pursue policies quite at variance with classical liberalism’s initial antistatist orientation."

The reason that the “Progressives” (like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, and Lyndon Johnson - all the people that people like Glenn Beck say they "hate") initiated changes was not because that they were “socialists” but because they believed in individual liberty.

What they were actually trying to do was subsidize people's ability to make personal choices. For instance, "children growing up in the south Bronx or the west side of Chicago lack the sorts of opportunities available to the child raised in suburban New Rochelle or Oak Park. If life is indeed a game, then the contestants have by no means got an equal start. Some have taken off from the starting gate with an extra advantage... Given their heightened sense of fair play, liberals seem driven to reexamine the rules of the game if some contestants are unjustly handicapped from the outset" (Koyzis, p. 59). The desire of American individualistic political theory is for each individual to get a "fair shake," an equal opportunity to the American dream. This is why the welfare state came into existence - it was an attempt to give individuals their liberty from the unfairness of what they inherited from their parents.

Koyzis shows that Beck's equation of today's progressive politicians to socialists is not quite right.
__“It is perhaps one of history’s ironies that liberals came to be identified with government programs so thoroughly that in North America the ‘liberal’ label is almost always used to describe someone favoring the expansion of the welfare state to ensure greater economic equality. Elsewhere in the Western world such policies are usually labeled ‘social democratic,’ thus indicating a connection to socialism. It must be noted, however, that while socialists might favor the welfare state for distinctly communitarian reasons, liberals favor it for basically individualistic reasons. The welfare state is simply a means to enhance and expand the range of free choices available to the individual, not a weapon of class warfare.”

The Classical Liberals of Glenn Beck's ilk are responding to the expansion of government by the New Liberals by espousing that we revert back to an unregulated free market (what Koyzis calls the "Night Watchman State" - see my last post). But Koyzis has these wise words for us:
__"However, the classical liberal response to the bloated state...is fundamentally inadequate because it seeks merely to reverse a lengthy - and possibly inevitable, given liberalism's presuppositions - historical process, rather than to question in the first place liberalism's reduction of the state to a mere voluntary organization charged only with fulfilling the shifting terms of the social contract."

__"There is a seemingly vast distance between the classical liberal night watchman state and the late liberal bureaucratic state undertaking to subsidize freedom of choice. Yet what they have in common is that both are reducible to the aggregative wills of their constituent members. To the extent that this is so, liberals are unable to recognize the state to be essentially different from the church, the school, the business enterprise, the labor union, or the amateur baseball team. In this vision government exists not so much to adjudicate properly the multiple diverse interests in society, as to fulfill the aspirations of individuals, whatever form these may take at a given historical moment." (pp. 64-65)


Is “Progressive” as evil as Glenn Beck makes it to be?

Glenn Beck: “We’re declaring war on the progressive movement.”

Beck’s latest move has been to tap into the fear that radical conservatives have of change. He wants his audience to see anyone but those in the Tea Party Movement as dangerous because they want to change things, they want to “progress.” He has said on numerous occasions that he sees the “progressive movement” as a “cancer” that is eating away at both political parties. He says that his war is not just against Obama, but against what Obama epitomizes – the whole progressive movement. He contends that his viewers should fight for getting America back to the way the country was originally founded, when individual liberty meant a limited government that stayed out of people’s lives.

It all sounds so easy: Let’s go back to better times. Let’s reverse the trend of progressivism.

Beck wants to go back to the beginning of the country, when private liberty was based on limited government and a totally free market.

The United States was founded as an experiment in John Locke’s ideas concerning the State. Thomas Jefferson’s words in the first part of the Declaration of Independence are almost a paraphrase of Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government. The idea was a simple one: Individual liberty. Every individual has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A government needed to be established that did not curtail these rights. The United States Constitution was written for this purpose.

The right to private liberty was intimately connected to the right to private property. Here was a very progressive idea in its time: that every person has the right to private property. The American value of individual property rights was a major progressive development from previous feudal systems, and even a progression on the earlier Hobbesian view of the Commonwealth. Therefore, this new idea of individual liberty mandated that the government’s main task was to provide the security needed for individuals to own their own possessions. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (written the same year as Jefferson penned the Declaration) laid out the economic implications of John Locke’s individual liberty: a capitalistic market of unrestricted free competition, a market in which the government must not interfere.

This was a major part of why there was an American Revolution: The colonists desired to be free from the British Mercantile System, in which England provided manufactured goods in return for taxes and raw materials from the colonies. With the American experiment in individual property rights, England’s monopolist East India Company could now be in competition with innovative privately owned companies.

The Free Market brought about the Industrial Revolution. The benefits of this progression of Capitalism included the advent of the factory system, mass production, and of mind-boggling inventions. Goods could be created much more efficiently and at lower costs.

But the ideals of Private Liberty were at risk as well. As a result of an unregulated Free Market, the economy was ruled by a few large companies with their urban factories filled with workers who were paid small wages and worked long hours. At this time, the evolutionary ideas of Darwin moved from biology into economics – that it is appropriate for the economically fittest to survive, and everyone else should rightfully perish. Because of the ruthlessness of the free market, members of the working class who had entrepreneurial dreams did not have a chance to get started while smaller, family owned businesses were at risk.

Ironically, the dream of the being freed from the evils of the Mercantile System (where monopolies were protected by the King) led into something very similar to it. The “Robber Barons” like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt had manipulated the economic system and in the process effectively curtailed the private liberty of the American citizenry.

This led the nation to begin regulating business for the common good.

  • Without "Progressive" ideas, would the United States even exist?
  • In what ways does the idea of "Individual Liberty" have shortcomings?
  • As I understand Beck, he wants the United States to revert back to this age of American history. What problems did we experience then, and why would we want to relive those days again?


Do Not Pledge Allegiance to a Political Party

“(We can) understand why the apostles were subjected to torture and imprisonment by the powers-that-be: they were ambassadors of a rival king, acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar precisely because they had pledged allegiance to another king (Acts 17:7). The gospel that Paul preached was politically subversive

“The gospel that Paul preached was not a message about some private, interior transformation of the heart. It was a message about a new allegiance to a King-in-waiting. As such, there was something radically political about the gospel—which didn't mean, of course, that Christians sided with a political party. In fact, there was a sense in which Christians, who pledge allegiance to a resurrected King, could never find themselves at home with any party of the empire.

-James K. A. Smith
"Christian Worship as Public Disturbance" from The Devil Reads Derrida and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts, pp. 71-77


Senate Health Care Reform Bill is Not Good Enough

Senate Bill is Not Explicit Enough About Abortion Funding

So, the Senate Health Care Bill is going to be reconciled with the House Bill. But there's a problem. The Senate Bill does not have the same language as the House Bill, which has the Stupak Amendment in it explicitly keeping federal funds from paying for abortions.

The majority of Democrats are trying to tell us that the Senate Bill reflects the Hyde Amendment (Hyde is not a permanent law, but a rider that must be passed each year to bar the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services from appropriating funds toward abortions). But the fact is this: our tax dollars will be used to pay for health plans that cover abortions under the Senate health care reform bill.

Our tax dollars must not pay for that which violates the consciences of so many American citizens. We should not have to pay for another person’s choice to have an abortion. However, that is exactly what happens when pro-life individuals must pay into an insurance plan that covers abortions.

Sure, the might appear that my tax dollars are not paying for abortions, but in reality, I am going to be subsidizing insurance plans that cover abortions, a radical departure from the Hyde Amendment, which explicitly prohibits the use of federal funds to support plans that provide abortion. It has been a long-held understanding that subsidizing plans that provide abortion is tantamount to supporting abortion with federal funds.

Here's a helpful chart of how the funding in the Senate Bill works:
(click on image for pdf of chart)

Call and write your Representative today! (follow this link to find your Representative)


Glenn Beck: If Your Church Teaches "Social Justice," Leave It.

I guess Glenn Beck is ignorant of the biblical truth that Christ's redemptive plan is for all aspects of the fallen world, including bringing social and economic justice to it. But as an evangelical, I must stand up and say, "NO!" to his latest tirades against churches that teach that Social Justice is a major part of why we exist.

I feel strongly about this, especially since so many evangelicals listen and watch Glenn Beck and seem to agree with him most of the time. I fear that in the coming weeks and months, when pastors seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and lead their congregations toward a renewed sense of call toward social justice, it will not be politically correct because of the insidious ideas that Beck has been telling those that attend our churches.

Beck believes that words like "Social Justice" and "Economic Justice" are "code words" for Communist and/or Nazi ideas that will take over the country. No, they are biblical concepts that we must not allow the likes of Beck to distort and malign.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that Christians engage in justice issues. As members of the Kingdom of God, we seek to cooperate with our Lord and Savior to bring God's kingdom values into this fallen world, bringing redemption to all of society's fallenness - serving individuals to help them find the righteousness offered by Christ, as well as serving society to bring about social justice. This is the fullness of the redemption that Christ offers in the New Creation, initiated with his death and resurrection. This is the "Gospel of the Kingdom of God" that Jesus taught.

Now, listen to what Beck said last week:

__"I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can! Social justice and economic justice, they are code words... Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes. If I am going to Jeremiah Wright's church - Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, 'Excuse me - are you down with this whole social justice thing?' I don't care what the church is - If it is my church, I'm alerting the church authorities, 'Excuse me, what's this social justice thing?' And if they say, 'Yea, we're all in that social justice thing,' I'm in the wrong place."

Beck then went on to compare these churches' desire for social justice to the evils of Communism and Nazism.

Listen to his remarks from the radio program here:

Later, on his Fox News program, he explicitly equated Communism and Nazism with Social Justice.

This cannot go unchallenged. And it hasn't. Roman Catholics have found his words offensive. Joe Carter at First Things wrote,
__"Although many Protestant denominations express concerns about social justice, the term is most closely associated with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. A Jesuit priest, Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, coined the term in the 1840s and based the concept on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.
__According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 'a large part of the Church’s social teaching is solicited and determined by important social questions, to which social justice is the proper answer.' Social justice is even given a section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
__Could Beck’s claim be construed as 'anti-Catholic?' Yes and no. I think if anyone else had made the remark it would have been hard to dismiss the anti-Catholic undertones. But Beck is a special case: He is too prone to say any dumb thing that pops into his head and too ignorant about history and religion to truly understand the implications of his statement. This doesn’t excuse him, of course, but it certainly is reason not to be too shocked when a self-professed 'rodeo clown' advises people to leave their churches over Catholic 'code words' like social justice.
__Still, I’m curious to see how Beck’s loyal defenders will excuse his latest outrageous remarks. If we’re not supposed to take him seriously when he says stuff like this, when exactly are we to take him seriously?"
And James Martin, SJ, wrote in Amercia: The National Catholic Weekly,
__"Social justice is an essential part of Catholic teaching. It's part of being a Catholic. So Glenn Beck is, in essence, saying 'Leave the Catholic church.' Or, if you like, the Catholic church is a Nazi church. (Which would have surprised Alfred Delp, Rupert Mayer and Maximilian Kolbe.) Or a Communist one. (Which would have suprised Jerzy Popieluszko and Karol Wojtyla).
__But Glenn Beck is saying something else, which might get lost in the translation: Leave Christianity. Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus points to our responsibility to care for the poor, to work on their behalf, to stand with them. In fact, when asked how his followers would be judged, Jesus doesn’t say that it will be based on where you worship, or how you pray, or how often you go to church, or even what political party you believe in. He says something quite different: It depends on how you treat the poor."
Evangelicals should be upset with Glenn Beck as well. We should shout "AMEN" in agreement with James Martin. Social Justice is not just Catholic teaching; it is biblical teaching. Check out what Scot McKnight just wrote in response to Glenn Beck:
__I find these sorts of statements so far from an awareness of Jesus (not to mention John the Baptist), so I post here the first words of Jesus in public preaching. This passage can't be read without thinking Jesus was here to bring justice. After the jump, I've got John's words, which have to be seen as some form of voluntary economic sharing as a form of creating justice.
__But instead of turning back kind for kind, we shall commit ourselves all the more to telling the truth of the gospel and urge churches to make sure, because of their commitment to following Jesus, their website does mention justice.

Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the regaining of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to tell them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read." All were speaking well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth. They said, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" Jesus said to them, "No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself!' and say, 'What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here in your hometown too.'" And he added, "I tell you the truth, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's days, when the sky was shut up three and a half years, and there was a great famine over all the land. Yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to a woman who was a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But he passed through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:16-30)

John the Baptist:
So the crowds were asking him, "What then should we do?" John answered them, "The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He told them, "Collect no more than you are required to." Then some soldiers also asked him, "And as for us - what should we do?" He told them, "Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay." (Luke 3:10-14)

I have my own beefs with the word "social" with justice, thinking it too often gets lumped with the US Constitution, but all justice will manifest itself in social and economic ways.

Jim Wallis, a representative of the politically left side of evangelicalism, wrote,
__"Of course, Christians may disagree about what social justice means in our current political context -- and that conversation is an important one -- but the Bible is clear: from the Mosaic law of Jubilee, to the Hebrew prophets, to Jesus Christ, social justice is an integral part of God's plan for humanity.
__Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck."
And don't forget that, as I've been writing here at Vanguard Church, that Glenn Beck is a Mormon. He said, "If it is my church, I'm alerting the church authorities, 'Excuse me, what's with this social justice thing?' And if they say, 'Yea, we're all in that social justice thing,' I'm in the wrong place."

Well, here you go, Glenn (courtesy of a Mormon who invites you to leave his church):
__"Being that I happen to be a devout member of Glenn Beck's faith (yeah, there are Mormons out there who are embarrassed to death by Beck) I thought we ought to apply Beck's "socialist" "communist" "progressive" litmus test to the Mormon faith itself.
"It is unfortunate that it is taking so long to bring full ECONOMIC JUSTICE to women. The feminization of poverty is both real and tragic. That is why you should work very hard to prepare for your future by gaining some marketable skills." ~James E Faust, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September, 1986 (Link can be found here).

__And let's not forget President Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church who created a 4th official mission for the church: "Care for the Needy."

"This can only be a positive...to bring SOCIAL JUSTICE to those in need." (Link here).

__And let us not forget some of the teachings of the Book of Mormon itself:
__From the Book of Alma 1: 27-28, 30:
__“And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely. __And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. __And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.”

And Mosiah 4: 16-19:
__And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. __Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just— __But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. __For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

HT: John Fea


GiftCardGiver.com - A Great New Way to Help the Needy

The Gift Card industry has risen to be a 60 billion dollar industry. Ever wonder how many gift cards are unused?

More than 10%!

That means billions of dollars are waiting to be used for good on Gift Cards.

"How many gift cards do you have sitting in your wallet? We guess you have at least $5 of unused gift cards in your wallet or purse right now. What’s 5 bucks going to buy you? Five bucks in Gift Cards may buy you a pair of socks…but 10 people giving 5 bucks will buy a kid a winter coat or 1000 people giving $5 from may give that same kid a warm bedroom to sleep through the night."

It is very simple to get involved:

  • STEP 1: Use as much of your card as you want (or send a full card).
  • STEP 2: Write how much is left on your card using a permanent marker.
  • STEP 3: Place the card in an envelope and send it to us at:

Gift Card Giver
PO Box 17628
Atlanta, GA 30316

750 Glenwood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30316

The folks at Gift Card Giver collect and distribute the cards to appropriate Non-Profit Organizations that can use those cards to help others. This is a grass roots campaign that has created a new form of giving and you are an important piece to the idea coming to life.

Linda and I are planning to have a "CARD PARTY," where everyone gets "carded" to get into the door. Every house party is simple and you can make it unique, you can do it for a birthday party, church function, or just a fun night of games.

FIND OUT MORE at giftcardgiver.com


Reggie McNeal: The State of the Church in North America

Here's a video from Fuller Theological Seminary in which Reggie McNeal explains the exciting change going on in the North American church toward a missional model.

I've been reading his book, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, and I find myself nodding a lot in affirmation.

There are three "Missional Shifts" of the "Missional Renaissance":
  1. The missional shift from an internal to an external focus
  2. The missional shift from program development to people development
  3. The missional shift from church-based to kingdom-based leadership


Who Am I? Rooting Your Identity in the Image of God

Comment Magazine's Third Annual "Making the Most of College" Issue

The wonder of being a human being is that you are created in the "Image of God" ("Imago Dei" in Latin). However, sin has cracked the image in humanity so that we have deviated from the original plan for our development, no longer living out the wholeness and beauty of being image bearers. The Gospel places those with faith in Jesus Christ back on course toward God's intended goal for us—to be fully human, glorifying God as the Imago Dei.

This article, targeted at college students but applicable to all Christians, details how the imago Dei explains the purpose for being a human being. Humans were created to represent God, to cultivate the world through vocation, and to relate with God and other humans. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of God restoring His image in humanity.

Thanks to Scot McKnight, Mike Wittmer, Byron Borger, and Dan Turis for reading my article and providing crucial suggestions to make it better. And a special thank you to Gideon Strauss, editor of Comment and president of The Center for Public Justice, for asking me to write it and then making it the cover story for the issue!

Read it at the Cardus website here: "Who Am I?" by Bob Robinson - Comment magazine, from CARDUS - equipping and connecting the next generation of Christian leaders


When Evangelicals are Missional, Their Witness to the World Gets a Hearing

Even The New York Times notices

The evangelical church is finally turning the corner. For most of the 20th Century, we were embroiled in the fundamentalist/liberal fight, in which “real” evangelicals were defined by those who repudiated the “social gospel” and concentrated exclusively on the saving of souls. But from within the movement, leading evangelicals called into question this false dichotomy.

Thanks to the likes of Lesslie Newbigin, Ron Sider, and many missionary agency leaders within evangelicalism, we now understand that we are not actually living the gospel if we do not have a holistic approach to solving problems and overcoming injustice in the world. The gospel of the Kingdom of God has come back into the vocabulary of the evangelical church, a gospel that says that God’s “good news” is about the universal flourishing (shalom) of all in his creation.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition: either saved souls or social justice. No, the corner has been turned. It’s both/and: God wants to redeem his creation, through those who have been transformed by the power of Christ.

The premise of "Missional Community" for which I advocate here at Vanguard Church is this: When evangelical Christians live for the purpose of joining with Christ in his reconciliation of all things to himself (see Colossians 1:20), when we seek justice and shalom for the world, when we join in the work of the Kingdom taking part in God’s redemption of a fallen world, then we are actually doing the work of evangelism. Our witness of the incarnational love of Christ through our good works is the means by which we can tell people of God’s plan to make all things right through Christ. We offer people to move from being a part of the problem and being a part of the solution when we ask them to yield to the Lordship of Christ.

So, how refreshing it is to read an Op/Ed piece in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof that applauds evangelicals for our love for our neighbors! Kristof wrote,
__Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.
__A pop quiz: What’s the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization?
__It’s not Save the Children, and it’s not CARE — both terrific secular organizations. Rather, it’s World Vision, a Seattle-based Christian organization (with strong evangelical roots) whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade.
__World Vision now has 40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries. That’s more staff members than CARE, Save the Children and the worldwide operations of the United States Agency for International Development — combined.

Kristof reports that, once again, it is a missionary agency leader that shows the way for the rest of evangelicals:
__A growing number of conservative Christians are explicitly and self-critically acknowledging that to be “pro-life” must mean more than opposing abortion. The head of World Vision in the United States, Richard Stearns, begins his fascinating book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” with an account of a visit a decade ago to Uganda, where he met a 13-year-old AIDS orphan who was raising his younger brothers by himself.
__“What sickened me most was this question: where was the Church?” he writes. “Where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these ‘orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion?
__“How have we missed it so tragically, when even rock stars and Hollywood actors seem to understand?”

I thank God for the witness of Stearns and World Vision! Their love for those suffering must not be the exclusive practice of missions agencies, but should be the model for every church, seeing their witness for Christ being the missional work of embodying the love of God. Listen to the impact of Christians living as Christians had on Kristof:
__One of the most inspiring figures I’ve met while covering Congo’s brutal civil war is a determined Polish nun in the terrifying hinterland, feeding orphans, standing up to drunken soldiers and comforting survivors — all in a war zone. I came back and decided: I want to grow up and become a Polish nun.