Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pastor Ritch Boerckel: A Single Issue Voter

The following article is by Ritch Boerckel and taken from Bethany Baptist's Broadcaster newsletter.  I think it is appropriate to consider in light of the elections tomorrow.  I share Ritch's conviction regarding voting pro-life and, because of that conviction, I will not be voting for either the Republican or Democratic candidate in several statewide races.

A Single Issue Voter

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Pro 14:34 NIV)

I am a “single issue” voter. Abortion is the issue. I know that many may ridicule me for it as though such a stance is simplistic and unintelligent, but I refuse to be embarrassed by my conviction that I cannot vote for anyone who promotes legalized abortion. Often the pro-life option is found in one party; sometimes it is found in another. My conviction over the years has led me to vote variously for Republican, Democratic and Constitution Party candidates for the office of governor of Illinois. Sadly, in the past 18 years, I have not had the joy of voting for any winning candidate for governor. Happily, I have not had the sorrow of voting for any indicted and convicted candidate for governor. This is a trade off that I can live with.

Why do I defend “single issue” voting when the issue is abortion? I understand that there are other issues of great importance. I think it wise to consider these other issues when choosing between two pro-life candidates. But my understanding of the Bible leads me to believe that abortion transcends every other issue. Let me offer you three reasons for your consideration:

First, abortion is the most heinous sin that this nation presently acknowledges as lawful. The evil of abortion is almost too nauseating for me to consider. Thankfully, in the nineteenth century our nation’s conscience was awakened to the evil of slavery. We decided that we could no longer give the practice of slavery refuge within our laws. (I am thankful for the single issues voters of Abraham Lincoln’s day that voted to remove the blight of slavery from our land.) Today, our moral ground is no better than those before us when we legally sanction the taking of an innocent human life. Abortion is a silent slaughter that takes the lives of nearly 50,000 babies each year in the state of Illinois alone. As an evangelical Christian who believes that the Bible is true, I believe that there is no qualitative difference between a baby in the womb and a baby in a crib. If I would be outraged by the legal murder of infants and toddlers, then I must be outraged by the legal murder of babies in the womb. The heinous nature of abortion is masked from our eyes as we do not see the corpses of the little ones whose lives have been taken from them by someone more powerful than they. But it must not be masked from our consciences or from our voting record. It seems schizophrenic to affirm the heinous nature of abortion and then support it by voting for an elected official who will work to see that abortions continue to be lawful. My conscience does not allow me to participate in the evil of abortion by giving power to candidates who openly declare their intentions to continue this great national sin.

Second, abortion directly and intentionally causes the death of 1.3 million Americans each year. I do not know of any other issue that intentionally targets a specific group of Americans for death. Christians may reasonably disagree on social justice topics or on fiscal issues or on a host of other important concerns. However, I do not know of any other issue in which one side says, “I defend one person’s right to actively kill another person.” The abortion lobby’s entire intention is the killing of little ones. And it is very effective at accomplishing those goals. The most fundamental right given by God is the right to life. If this right is abandoned, then no other right has meaning. There is no value in the right to free speech, the right to freedom of religion, the right to bear arms or the right to a free press IF the right to life is undermined. A government that sanctions abortion is a government that is willing to sacrifice any other fundamental human right if the political winds blow in that direction. This issue transcends all the others. Yes, I am concerned about fiscal responsibility and foreign policy, but if I agree with a candidate on every other issue except this one, then I cannot support them. This is too important. I want to vote on the right side of this defining issue of our age.

Finally, I have a responsibility as a citizen of the United States to vote for representatives who uphold the sanctity of life. Ours is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Our elected officials do not rule over us as kings, but they represent us. We vote for a person that we can honestly say best represents who we are and what we value and how we think. We are the ones responsible for the government that we have. The preamble of our constitution explains what the responsibilities that the citizens of our nation have in governing. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. I do not uphold the Constitution when I vote for a pro-abortion candidate. These candidates deny the blessings of liberty to our posterity. The Supreme Court ruled abortion Constitutional as the Court reasoned that babies in the womb are not “persons”. Justice Blackmun wrote that "the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense alone" to justify abortion up until the precise moment that the infant leaves the womb. The Court understood that if it acknowledged the personhood of infants in the womb, then it would have to declare abortion illegal throughout the land.

Pastor Martin Niemueller was arrested in Nazi Germany for preaching the Bible, and speaking against Hitler, consequently he was one of only a handful of German Christian leaders who did speak out. A Lutheran chaplain visited him in jail and asked him, “My brother, what did you do? Why are you here?” To which Niemueller replied, “My brother, given what is happening in our country, why aren’t you here?”

So I would urge you to consider voting only for those candidates that affirm life. May God bless our nation with a heart of repentance and revival.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Greatness of Grace

This Sunday, Lord willing, we will explore Jesus’ encounter with someone Luke describes as “a woman…who was a sinner.” The story that transpires in Luke 7:36-50 vividly depicts the graciousness of a loving Savior who receives all who come to Him.

I'm excited about preaching on this text because it serves as a nice balance to what we've been discussing in previous weeks.  We've talked a lot about repentance and the essential part in plays in the life of the believer.  But as we discuss repentance, we need to consider the attributes of the One whom we are seeking forgiveness from.
God’s forgiveness is not granted reluctantly. It is bestowed with eagerness as He proclaims the greatness of His name. I would encourage you to be meditating on this Scripture in preparation for Sunday. Consider how you can grow in your love for Christ as you grow in your realization of your own sin.

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV) 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vote on November 2

I believe that for the Christian, voting is not only a right and a privilege, but a sacred responsibility. God has sovereignly placed you in a unique position of authority. You have the ability to help determine who our leaders will be. You have the ability to affect who will lead you, your family, your children and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you fail to exercise your right to vote, you are perhaps even more culpable for the type of leaders who are voted in.

Therefore, I encourage you to vote on November 2 and, to assist you in that endeavor, here are a few tools to help you make an informed decision.

First, I like to know who is going to be on the ballot before I step in the booth. Here is an excellent site that allows you to see exactly what your ballot will look like: This helps me focus my research and not get bogged down with races that do not affect me.

Second, voting guides can be helpful. The Illinois Family Institute’s voting guide can be found here: (if Aaron Schock is your congressman, you are in Congressional District 18).

Finally, viewing endorsements of other groups can help you find out more about candidates. If it is important to you to find pro-life candidates, The Illinois Federation for Right to Life endorsements can be found here: If you like to read about candidates understanding of local issues, the Peoria-Journal Star’s endorsements can also be helpful: (these endorsements are provided for your research and should not be read as my own personal endorsement for any candidate).

May God bless you as you seek to glorify Him in the voting booth this next month!

By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pastor Ben Davidson, Guest Blogger

In my absence, Ben Davidson is guest blogging today:

Last week, I was watching a group of birds outside my office window. There were five of them gathered together on adjacent branches. At once, 4 of the 5 went together to higher branches--leaving the fifth behind. They stayed this way for a few minutes. I watched and wondered if the fifth would join the rest of the group. Suddenly a sixth bird landed near the fifth, and they flew together to join the group.

It reminded me of our roles in the church. There are going to be those in our church who are with us, then maybe because of the growing pressures around them, stray from the group, not looking like they'll connect to Christian community. Nevertheless, our role, like the 6th bird, is to go to them and shepherd them back to where all need to be--in the community of faith.

As I typed this out, the group of birds landed on the gutter directly by my window...then flew away...together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Let us not neglect,

Ben D.

For more insights on Christian community, go to Pastor Daniel's blog entry at:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts from a Rookie

Recently, a friend who works in the publishing industry asked me to write an article for his blog, He asked me to write about my experiences as a first time writer. Below is what I wrote:

The following are three inter-related applications that I have found helpful as I am nearing the end of what has been a rewarding and enjoyable process.

1. Be humble.

I doubt there are many writers who submit a manuscript to a publisher without wondering “what if.” In “the writer’s daydream,” the would-be wunderkind begins to fantasize about future fame and glory: What if the publisher accepts my manuscript? What if it does really well? What if I become a best-selling author? What if J.K. Rowling, John Grisham and I begin to hang out?

The writer’s daydream is majestic, but the writer’s reality is far more mundane. Most books are not best sellers, and there’s no reason to believe your book will be the exception. As my friend and fellow pastor said to me when I told him I could get some copies of my book at a discounted price: “That’s OK. I’ll wait a month and get it at clearance prices.” Odds are that he has hit upon a pretty-good strategy.

The harsh realities of the publishing world should protect a writer from hubris. A first-time author, such as myself, should be particularly humble as he or she receives guidance from a publisher.

From the very beginning, my publisher has had specific suggestions for how to improve my book. It would have been very foolish of me to believe that my original proposal was so incredible it could not be improved upon!

By the way, this principle is important at all phases of the publishing process. As I have researched more about the publishing world, I hear authors make all sorts of complaints about their publishers: they should have a higher initial printing, they should do more to market my book, they should display my book more prominently, etc.

In the end, the reality is that the publisher wants your book to do well almost as much as you do. The hard truth to accept is that maybe your book is getting the attention it deserves. It’s good enough to be published, but maybe it won’t change the universe in quite the way you thought it might!

2. Have something to write about.

The remedy to the discouraging realities of the publishing world is to be confident that you have a contribution to make. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that of the making of books there is no end. What you will say in your book has already been said before. You are simply repacking ideas that have already been thought and perhaps you are expressing them in a new way.

It is incumbent upon you, therefore, to make sure that the ideas you are repackaging are of worth, that they are those timeless truths that will serve to build up Christ’s kingdom.

3. Keep your ultimate goal in mind.

Our ultimate goal in writing, as in life, is to glorify God. There is only one way to ensure that your book or project has an impact that reaches into eternity and that is to make it a work that exalts our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When that is your passion and aim in life, your book need not be published at all to be considered a success!

Call to Ministry

I am occasionally asked how a person knows whether or not they are “called” to ministry. This relates somewhat to the discussion that has been going on in our Sunday School classes on God’s will.

Obviously, there are both subjective and objective elements to a decision to pursue ministry. My call was a slow one. As I tried to be obedient to God’s Word and participate in ministry, He continued to direct me to vocational ministry.

In the process of trying to determine whether or not I should pursue vocational ministry, I read a great chapter on the call to pastoral ministry from Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, a book that the Master’s Seminary faculty put together, that I found very helpful. In it, James M. George identified four elements of a biblical call to pastoral ministry that we find in Scripture: Confirmation, Abilities, Longing, and Life (CALL).

First, there is a confirmation of one’s call to ministry from both God and His church. In Scripture, we often see God confirming a call to ministry through providential circumstances. As George puts it: “God’s sovereignty provides for the calling of certain men for leadership in the local church. God gives them the gifts to carry out the functions of the ministry, gives them the desire to serve in this capacity, and then orchestrates the circumstances to provide for the place of ministry” (108). In 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 Paul speaks of the door God has opened for him to remain at Ephesus. Timothy serves as an ideal model of how the confirming from the church body should take place. The elders in this young man’s church recognized God’s work in his life and publicly recognized his calling. Later, in both 1 & 2 Timothy, Paul would refer to the public ordination of his young friend to exhort Timothy to persevere.

Second, there are abilities that one who is called to the ministry must possess. For example, Scripture tells us that the pastor must be able to teach and shepherd the flock (e.g. Acts 20:18; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2). Therefore, if he does not possess the abilities necessary to perform these very vital and basic tasks, a young man can be assured that he is not called to the ministry.

Third, there must be a longing by the pastor who is called by God. At first, I identified most closely with the type of longing Jeremiah describes. He writes in Jeremiah 20:9, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” There was a longing to do what God desired me to do—indeed, I could not help it—but it was a longing that filled me with dread as well. Though I felt the joy of being involved in ministry, I was also reluctant to trust God with the long and difficult road that I knew ministry would be. As time has gone on, I have felt more the joy implicit in 1 Timothy 3:1. Not only is it impossible for me to be involved in any other vocation, there is no other vocation that I would desire to be in. I long to be with the people of God, serving them and aiding them in their walk with Him.

Finally, there must be a lifestyle that is above reproach. Even if others confirm him in his calling, a contentious man may be assured that he is most certainly not called into ministry. I believe that, by the grace of God, my lifestyle is consistent with what Scripture mandates concerning the one called by God.

One final thought: while discerning whether or not God has gifted a man for vocational ministry can be difficult, what is clear is that each believer has been called for some work of ministry. The Holy Spirit has give “to each one” gifts for the body’s benefit (Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 12:11).