Don’t Miss the Movie, “Unplanned”

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The movie, Unplanned, opens in theaters this Friday, March 29th. As many of you know, it is a true story that boldly confronts every viewer with the raw realities of abortion. It is a rallying point for staunch pro-lifers and a call to action for those on the fence who have never taken up the mantel against abortion. If you’re not a movie goer, be one for this.

The movie is about Abby Johnson who had aborted two babies and was passionate about helping other women through the abortion process. She became the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic director in the nation and oversaw 22,000 abortions. She lobbied for legislation fostering women’s right to choose, the cause she so deeply believed in. Then, one day as she was assisting in an abortion of a 13-week-old baby, she surprisingly became overwhelmed with guilt and walked out. Since leaving, she has convinced nearly 500 former abortion workers, including seven doctors, to leave the abortion industry. She joined her former enemies at “40 Days for Life” and has become one of the most ardent pro-life speakers in America.

Abby Johnson is played by Ashley Bratcher (War Room). Other prominent stars include Robia Scott (CSI), Emma Elle Roberts (Hunger Games), Kaiser Johnson (Sleepy Hollow), and Jared Lotz (Thanksgiving). After Ashley Bratcher began filming the movie, her mother confessed to her that she almost aborted Ashley, deciding against it after she was already in the clinic prepped for the abortion. “I was shocked,” Bratcher said. “But, that means I was born for this role.”

The movie is written, produced, and directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman (God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2, Do You Believe) and produced by Daryl Lefever (I Can Only Imagine). With this star line-up and the successful producer and directer, I believe it will be an under-the-radar box office smash like I Can Only Imagine which caught the industry totally off guard. It will certainly cause many Americans to rethink their position on abortion.

A caution: it is rated R. It has no nudity, no foul language, no gratuitous sex, nothing that usually warrants the exclusion of children under 17 without parents. The Motion Picture Association of America, the rater of movies, claims the movie shows some “disturbing images.” Well, yeah. Abortions are definitely disturbing, so the rating actually advocates for pro-life. Motion picture industry conservatives (a rare find) have described the rating decision as purely political and seeking to scare away some in the Christian community.

Unplanned can be seen in many theaters. However, as expected, some theaters have chosen to not show it because of its controversial subject matter. These theaters will just stay with blatant sex, murder by the minute, incessant foul mouth, horror, and satanic obsession–you know, entertainment that has redeeming value. In my town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Unplanned is not on the schedule in either of the two theaters. It is playing in Little Rock and other nearby cities. However, I have contacted one of the local theaters, Behind the Mall Cinema, and they said they could offer it on short notice if enough interest was shown. I urge anyone and everyone around Hot Springs to contact Behind the Mall Cinema (cinema8@cswnet.com) and tell them that, if they show it, you will come. Everyone whose favorite theater is not showing the movie should hold them accountable for making it a part of next weekend’s line up. This movie could literally save many lives. Please share this post.

 

 

The Threat of the Equality Act

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With celebrity crimes, Democrat primary candidates, the wall, and the weather dominating the media, the looming Equality Act is probably far off your radar. This misguided and toxic proposed legislation, especially from the perspective of conservative Christians, will be introduced in Congress within the next few weeks. Here is why it is bad policy and would establish a dangerous precedent.

The Equality Act, as introduced and defeated in both 2015 and 2017, would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Well, who could be against equality? Truthfully, the seemingly positive title, “Equality Act,” is everything but positive for those who believe in biblical sexuality. The Act includes areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, but is much further reaching than those areas imply.

Certainly, Christians reject all forms of discrimination for all persons created in God’s image including those who identify as LGBT. All people are worthy of our love, respect, and fair treatment. However, this act would codify and essentially guarantee equal access for LGBT persons to all venues in our schools, work places, public facilities, and, yes, churches (think bathrooms, dressing rooms, sports participation, etc.). The 1964 Act guarantees equal access to all races which is clearly advocated in the scriptures. The 2019 Act would provide the same access for homosexuals and transgender people which is certainly not the intent of God as indicated in the Bible. God created male and female with certain natural functions, roles, and helpful partnerships for fulfilled lives. He instituted marriage for a man and a woman. He made it perfectly clear that these relationships were not to be corrupted. The Equality Act would blur if not ignore these principles.

The act would almost surely lead to criminal prosecution of religious leaders and other Christian who speak or write in opposition to homosexuality, transgender, or gay marriage. The courts, in deference to the act, would not likely distinguish between illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation and objection to the LGBT lifestyle, although the distinction is obvious. A restaurant owner refusing to serve a biological male dressed in drag is discrimination; my writing a blog post criticizing that person’s lifestyle is not. The Equality Act’s sweeping impact on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be historic.

Schools, businesses, and all other institutions would likely have to mandate training and programs that would teach LGBT lifestyle acceptance. The law would force a cultural change to sexuality in practice having no core ethical limits other than consent, and to male and female definitions being psychologically based rather than biologically based.

The 2015 bill had the financial support of three corporations–Apple, Dow Chemical, and Levi Strauss. Today, the 2019 proposed bill has 161 corporate sponsors with a combined annual revenue of $3.7 trillion. Obviously, the lobbying efforts of this one will be brutal with unprecedented momentum and funding. The 161 supporting companies include the social media giants of Twitter, Google, and Facebook, so posts in strong opposition to the bill may be taken down. I anticipate television and all other media outlets being bombarded with ads promoting the act. If you show active opposition to the Act, you will be demonized. But it will be the right thing to do.

I urge all those concerned about the Equality Act to be alert for its introduction in Congress and prepared to oppose it aggressively in every area of influence you have at your disposal.

Is Lent Important?

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I am posting this on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a 46-day period culminating with Easter Sunday. These 46 days, minus the six Sundays, are observed by many Christians as Lent. Evangelical Christians who have not practiced this tradition, and those not claiming any religious affiliation, may wonder just how important Lent is. Well, let’s consider its importance with a quick overview of the observance.

First, what is Lent? It is 40-days of personal sacrifice including repentance, fasting, prayer, giving to others, and reconciliation of relationships with God and others. It was established by the Catholic Church Council of Nicaea in the 4th century AD for personal preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus to be observed on Easter Sunday. Easter would subsequently be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. The word, “Lent,” is a shortened form of the Old English word “Lenten,” which meant “spring.” The Council believed this period to be a reflection of the Old Testament practice of repenting in sackcloth and ashes. Thus, the practice of applying ashes to the forehead on Ash Wednesday. The six Sundays of the period would be days of relief from the personal sacrifices for worship and celebration. Therefore, the Lenten season would actually be 46 days.

So, is Lent biblical? As a specific ritual, no. Jesus fasted for 40 days, but did not command us to do so as a sacrament. However, the personal sacrifices of the season are very biblical and are to be practiced by Christians year-round, not just during the 40 days. There is nothing wrong with setting aside these particular days to discipline oneself to be be more sacrificial and to draw more closely to the Lord. It can be much like a time of personal revival–a time for special focus on our relationship with Jesus and His death, burial, and resurrection. However, all Christians should be careful not to just go through the motions in deference to the season without a true change of heart and a spiritual renewal. The elements of Lent should be a constant and life-long lifestyle.

The Bible is specific about praying and fasting discreetly so as not to gain the attention of others. We should be a testimony and an example to others of our faith in Christ. But we must always test ourselves ensuring that we are not “performing” for others to gain their respect or favor.

So, to the question of whether Lent is important, I believe the objective of the tradition is important. What is most important, though, is that we maintain a heart for that objective constantly, not just during the 46 days before Easter.

 

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