Prayer Targets: Christian Martyrs; Taxpayer-funded Abortion; Dr. King; Reagan; Ben Shapiro
April 04, 2018
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. John 12:24
Dear Praying Friends,
In 1563, John Foxe (1517-1587) published what we call Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It described the deeds of notable Christians and martyrs from the time of the Book of Acts to the Protestant Reformation in England and Scotland. Despite its volume (2,000 pages), it was widely owned and read, and it profoundly influenced England and the Colonies. These are edited excerpts from a section entitled "The Last Roman Triumph."
After a fortunate Roman victory over the Goths a "triumph," was celebrated at Rome. For hundreds of years successful generals received this honor on their return from victorious campaigns. The city was given up for days to the marching of troops laden with spoils, dragging after them prisoners of war, captive kings and conquered generals. But this would be the last Roman triumph, for it celebrated the last Roman victory. After these occasions were bloody combats in the Colosseum, where gladiators, armed with swords and spears, fought as furiously as on the field of battle.
After the first of the bloody entertainment was finished, the bodies of the dead were dragged off with hooks. After this the gates in the wall were thrown open, and tall, well-formed men in the prime of youth and strength came forward. Some carried swords, others three-pronged spears and nets. They marched around the walls, and stopping before the emperor, held up their weapons at arm's length, and with one voice sounded out their greeting, "Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute thee!"
The combat began, and the gladiators with nets tried to entangle those with swords. When they succeeded, they mercilessly stabbed their antagonists. When a gladiator wounded his adversary, he looked up at the spectators, and awaited the pleasure of the audience to kill or to spare.
If the spectators held out their hands with thumbs upward, the defeated man was taken away, to recover, if possible, from his wounds. But if "thumbs down" was given, the conquered was slain; and if he showed reluctance to present his neck for the death blow, a scornful shout came from the galleries, "Receive the steel!" Privileged persons in the audience would descend into the arena, to better witness the death agonies of an unusually brave victim before his corpse was dragged out the death gate. The show went on; many were slain, and the people, madly excited by the desperate bravery of those who survived to fight, shouted their applause. But suddenly came an interruption.
A rudely clad, robed figure appeared among the audience, then boldly leaped into the arena. He was of rough but imposing presence, bareheaded, with sun-browned face. Without hesitating he moved toward two gladiators engaged in life-and-death struggle. Laying his hand upon one he sternly reproved him for shedding innocent blood, then, turning toward thousands of angry faces he called upon them in a solemn, deep-toned voice which resounded through stadium. "Do not reward God's mercy in turning away the swords of your enemies by murdering each other!"
Angry shouts and cries drowned his voice: "This is no place for preaching! -- the old customs of Rome must be observed! -- On, gladiators!" Thrusting aside the stranger, the gladiators would have attacked each other again, but the man stood held them apart, trying in vain to be heard. "Sedition! sedition! down with him!" became the cry! The gladiators, enraged by the outsider's interference with their chosen vocation, stabbed him to death. Stones, and whatever missiles could be found, rained down upon him from the furious people, and thus he perished, in the middle of the arena.
His dress showed him to be one of the hermits who vowed themselves to a holy life of prayer and self-denial, and who were reverenced even by the thoughtless, combat-loving Romans. The few who knew him told how he had come from Asia on a pilgrimage to visit the churches and keep Christmas at Rome. They only knew he was a holy man, and his name was Telemachus. His spirit had been stirred by the sight of thousands flocking to see men slaughter one another, and in his simple-hearted zeal he tried to convince them of the cruelty and wickedness of their conduct. He died, but not in vain. His work was accomplished at the moment he was struck down, for the shock of such a death before their eyes turned the hearts of the people: they saw the hideous aspects of the vice to which they had blindly surrendered themselves. From the day Telemachus fell dead in the Colosseum, no more gladiator fights were ever held there. (John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Chapter III)
Culture change requires much prayer, but also obedient acts of great courage and sacrifice!
Federal Taxpayers Funding Planned Parenthood, Again! -- On March 23rd, right before a two-week Easter Recess, Congress passed the $1.3 trillion Omnibus spending bill. The House voted 256-167, and the Senate in the wee hours of Friday morning voted 65-32. Friday was the deadline for passage to avert a partial federal government shutdown. The next funding fight will take place right before the midterm elections in November. President Trump threatened to veto the bill, but ultimately decided to sign it, saying he would do so only because national security was at stake and the bill substantially increased desperately needed military spending. But it also increased domestic spending and will increase the national debt by $1 trillion. Of course, deficit "hawks" were distressed and the Dow dropped over 700 points. The president promised the he would never sign a spending bill like this again.
But Christians and social Conservatives were set back by Congress's funding of Planned Parenthood, yet again, with a half-billion dollars in Title X grants, Obamacare, and Medicaid subsidies. Pro-life leaders feel like they've gotten a knife in the back, as multiplied thousands more will lose their lives because of the abortion business's government slush fund. Pro-lifers have been assured time and again that Congress would defund the abortion giant. This is the same Planned Parenthood that is under congressional investigation for damning evidence of trafficking in aborted organs and tissues, has promoted prostitution, has ignored the law to provide underage girls abortions without their parent's knowledge or consent, and has pushed immoral, anti-Christian, and anti-family ideology on America's youth everywhere, whether it be welcome or unwelcome, among other horrible things. But with 60 votes required to pass a defunding measure in the Senate, and with at least two Republican members voting against the pro-life position, and despite all three branches being led by Republicans, Congress is limited in what it can do. More recently, the organization announced that it will become a go-to provider for transgender persons seeking hormone therapy to change their gender. Your federal tax dollars at work!
Tony Perkins has proposed that President Trump use his executive authority to defund Planned Parenthood to the degree that he has authority, pointing to action Ronald Reagan took to prohibit Title X funds from going to organizations that have abortion facilities in the same building where they say they conduct family planning activities. (BTW, talks are underway in Congress to rectify the Omnibus's failure to protect life. See Trump: "Never Again"; House; Senate; CNS: Dysfunctional; Congress Can't but Trump Can)
- May God continue to move states to pass laws to reduce abortion and to hold abortionists accountable. May Crisis Pregnancy Centers be protected and enable even more moms from making a decision they will regret. May government promote adoption, not abortion. May President Trump use his full authority to stop the use of taxpayer dollars to support abortion providers, and may Congress quickly stop this evil that God will not forever endure. (Dt 19:10; 19:13; 24:17, 19-20; Lev 20:1-5; Ps 106:38; Acts 5:29; Rom 13:1-5)
Dr. Martin Luther King's Assassination -- President Trump issued a powerful video statement to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, who was assassinated 50 years ago today on April 4, 1968. King was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize and hundreds of other awards for his faith, leadership, preaching, and practical demonstration of the principle of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience as the only moral means by which to effect cultural change when other legal means had no effect. Congress and President Ronald Reagan designated the third Monday of January as a public holiday to remember King, and we celebrate his birthday annually. And in 2011, a National Memorial to Dr. King was opened adjacent to the National Mall here in Washington. The news of King's murder prompted riots that resulted in untold property damage in over 100 cities across America. James Farmer, a friend of King's and founder of the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), famously said,
Dr. King would be greatly distressed to find that his blood had triggered off bloodshed and disorder. I think instead the nation should be quiet; black and white, and we should be in a prayerful mood, which would be in keeping with his life. We should make that kind of dedication and commitment to the goals which his life served to solving the domestic problems. That's the memorial, that's the kind of memorial we should build for him. It's just not appropriate for there to be violent retaliations, and that kind of demonstration in the wake of the murder of this pacifist and man of peace. (See UPI article and audio)
- May God continue and accelerate the use of Dr. King's sacrificial ministry and his too-short life to quicken the consciences and harden the commitment of all Americans to pray and work toward true racial unity and equality until Dr. King's dream has been fully realized: "That my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!" (Dt 25:1; Ps 133; Jn 7:24; Rev 5:9; 12:11; 13:7, 10; 14:13)
Finally, please put these matters on your prayer list: 1) May more and more Christians get involved (see Ronald Reagan on God & politics; 2) See Ben Shapiro address FRC supporters and pray that Americans everywhere will be motivated by it (nearly 700,000 people have viewed it so far); 3) The Maryland Senate has passed a bill to make it illegal for licensed mental health professionals to offer therapy to help minors who identify as homosexual or transgender who want to voluntarily change their sexual orientation. One Senator, Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County, asked, "I wonder if Jesus would have been banned i f he had been licensed in Maryland." The bill is now in the Maryland House(HB 902). Such bills are being considered in other states; 4) Contrast President Trump's Easter message with Google's 18 year-long practice of not mentioning Easter on its search page; 5) In some news that seems to be justification for last week's call to evangelism, Barna learns that 51 percent of American churchgoers are unfamiliar with the term "Great Commission." Pray God will change that! And thank you for praying!