April 17, 2016 • Discipleship Panel
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
January 16, 2019 • Samantha Wichman
This Sunday, Park Hills and hundreds of other churches across America will celebrate the sanctity of human life. National Sanctity of Human Life Day began in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan instituted the national observance. January 22, 1984 was the eleventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe vs Wade case. Not all presidents since Reagan have continued to observe this day, but many have. Roe vs Wade was a landmark court case in which the Supreme Court essentially legalized abortions in America. More specifically, prosecutors in the case targeted a Texas state law that banned abortions and the Supreme Court ruled that banning abortions violated a woman’s right to privacy, as established in the 14th Amendment. According to Life Matters Worldwide, National Sanctity of Human Life Day is meant to “celebrate God's gift of life, commemorate the many lives lost to abortion, and commit themselves to protecting human life at every stage.” It may not be an easy stance to hold publicly, but Scripture is absolutely clear about life in the womb: Psalm 139:13-16 says: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Although babies in the womb are somewhat of a mystery, God knows each one of them personally. In His infinite power and wisdom, He knows who each unborn child is and already has plans established for them. Unborn babies are quite possibly the most vulnerable group of people on the planet. They cannot speak for themselves and are completely at the mercy of the communities around them. While it is important for believers to stand up for the rights of unborn children, it is vital that believers understand that they are called to do much more than simply vote for a pro-life candidate during the election season. Throughout history, countless women sought abortions even when they were dangerous and illegal. What makes us think that women in the 21st century would be any different, should abortions become illegal again? Voting for pro-life candidates is just the start of really being pro-life. Being pro-life means caring about both the mother and the child. It’s about befriending the mother, supporting her, guiding her in making the right choices and providing material needs when required. Being pro-life also means supporting adoption when it is best for the mother and baby. Just because a mother can’t care for a baby on her own doesn’t mean that no one can. Adoption honors life, and honors Jesus as the author of life. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission believes that “the greatest strategy the local church has is to create a culture where this cause matters and real action is taking place. If a church is seeking to be pro-life, there are proactive ways to accomplish this.” Here are five actions that the ERLC believes will have real and lasting impact: 1. Talk About It: Pastors and those in leadership roles have an obligation to educate and equip their congregation to be clear-minded, confident, and on mission. 2. Speak with Justice and Justification: Believers must not only condemn the practice of killing unborn children, but also whole-heartedly proclaim the gospel’s message of redemption and forgiveness. Both truths must be proclaimed together. 3. Create a Church Culture that Respects and Reveres Women: Many pro-choice women believe that pro-life rhetoric is aimed at oppressing women. By creating a culture where women are valued and respected, believers can push back against this belief. 4. Get Involved at a Local Pregnancy Center: These organizations need so much help carrying out their powerful work. They are the people helping women practically understand that abortion isn’t the only option. Give them your time and resources. 5. Be Pro-Life in All of Life: Don’t confine your pro-life believes to election season.
Awaiting Jesus' Return
January 9, 2019 • Samantha Wichman
Acts 1:11 (ESV) “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Do you remember the last time you eagerly awaited the arrival of a specific day? When you were a kid, maybe it was Christmas, a birthday party, or that magical day when the school year ended and summer break finally began. Maybe more recently it was that special vacation you spent months saving and planning for. If you think back to the time right before that special day arrived, can you remember how everything felt a little different? Right before summer began, walking down the hallway at school didn’t feel quite as mundane and dreary as it normally did. Before Christmas, the icy winter air wasn’t so horrible to deal with. Before your vacation, your coworkers didn’t irritate you as much as they normally do. The excitement with which you waited for that special day changed the way you interacted with your everyday surroundings. You cherished the little things more, you treated people with more patience and kindness. You weren’t as quick to say that something was pointless, or a waste of time because you were looking forward to something exciting! Now that you’re thinking about a special day, think about this too: Would not knowing the specific date of the event have changed the way you waited for its arrival? If you didn’t know that Christmas fell on December 25th, but knew that it was coming; If you didn’t know when the school year was going to end, but knew that it would end one day; If you didn’t know when your last day at work was, but knew that you would be getting a marvelous break very soon: how would things have changed? Acts 1:11 tells us that Jesus will come again one day. While we know that He will return, we have no idea when that day will be. In light of this fact, believers are left to eagerly anticipate the arrival of that special day for an indefinite amount of time. When I was little, I remember being so excited for summer break to start that I couldn’t imagine having the school year extended by even another hour. If someone had come onto the school’s PA system and announced: “students, please remain in your seats until 4 pm instead of 3 pm today,” I think I would have seriously imploded. The difficult part about waiting for Jesus’ return is that we are constantly being asked to wait just a little longer. We can’t make a paper chain to count down the days until He comes again. We have to figure out how to eagerly anticipate Jesus arrival without the time constraints we are so used to relying on. And yet, while we wait, we are supposed to be on mission! We are to be actively working and at the same time waiting for his glorious return. In some ways we should be caught in the tension between our mission to reach the lost and looking forward to Jesus’ return. We are to be eagerly awaiting his return, but also living life with a purpose: sharing Christ with those who do not know Him, so that they are able to rejoice upon his return instead of dealing with the consequences of unbelief. Here are some questions to think about this week as we prepare for our next message in the Book of Acts: 1. Would you be okay if the Lord returned in an hour? Or, in the back of your mind, are there a few more life events you’d like to conquer before He does? Be honest with yourself; real growth won’t occur if you say “yes” just because you know that’s the Sunday school answer. 2. What items are on your bucket list? How many of them have any eternal significance? If you think about your bucket list and realize it’s nothing but a list of international destinations you want to see, take a few minutes and try to create a bucket list with sharing the gospel in mind. What or who would be on that list? 3. When Jesus returns, who is going to be ready for his arrival directly because of you? 4. Are you more concerned with Jesus returning so that the wrongs of the world will be corrected, or so that believers will finally be reunited with God? 5. If Jesus came today, would you be concerned that you didn’t take advantage of the opportunities you had to share the gospel with people around you?