Pastor’s Report to the New Hope Church Family
                                          2009

                            ...
Blessing Highlights from the Mission of 2009...

God’s Word Taught among Us.
    I’m given responsibility for the teaching...
Pastor’s Report for 2009                                                                                 3

    At the sam...
We’re sure there’ll be many more opportunities to teach these wonderful truths from God’s word
     that shape who we are ...
Pastor’s Report for 2009                                                                                 5

      improvem...
Why now? First, the call of God’s Spirit to share the love of Christ with neighbors & friends has always
been for THIS gen...
Pastor’s Report for 2009                                                                                   7

Frequently, ...
‘salvations.’ It is about being faithful to live Christ’s alternative ways in the world again...
   “‘If Christianity was ...
Pastor’s Report for 2009                                                                                                  ...
“The Manhattan Declaration” – A Call of Christian Conscience
To read the full text of the Manhattan Declaration – http://m...
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2009 Pastors Report 2

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This is the pastor's annual report for New Hope Evangelical Free Church located in the Green District near Roseburg, OR.

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2009 Pastors Report 2

  1. 1. Pastor’s Report to the New Hope Church Family 2009 “Blessed to Be a Blessing” I am so blessed to be the Senior Pastor to the New Hope Church family. You’ve given me personal and ministry support in so many ways that I always say something like this when asked about you: “New Hope has the most wonderful people. They’re my dear friends and it’s such a joy to seek and serve God together, and to see how so many of them are reaching out to those around them in love.” An annual meeting and its budget highlights one of the many ways you so bless Julia and me. We have your financial support. When our neighbors stop by and ask for assistance with casual or callous altitudes, I’m tempted to cry out, “But don’t you know what the Church is? It’s not a tax-funded relief agency. It’s normal, average guys and gals working hard to provide for their own homes and families, and usually sacrificing their own pleasure to provide a bit of relief and help to others.” Brothers and sisters, I know you have sacrificed to keep our church funded and especially to keep Julia and me strong enough to keep wanting to be a blessing here to you and others. We are blessed, so we can be a blessing. Now if funding were the only arena in which your love were being expressed to us, I suppose it could be enough but there’s something greater that causes me to rise up and name you as... God’s People of Blessing! That “something greater” is you’re growing love for others in Christ’s mission to reconcile the world to God. We’re about to start our 16th year together in ministry, and you’re love for the Bible and for worship and prayer is increasing. That thirst for the things of God is what keeps us going and dreaming that New Hope can be used of Him to experience bigger and better effectiveness in ministry – loving our neighbors and introducing them to their Savior. I heard someone on KGRV say the other day that when the Holy Spirit came to the Church after Christ’s ascension to the Father that it wasn’t for our entertainment or amusement, but for mission. Fundamentally, that’s what being on a “ministry team” means. It means we are Christ’s personal representatives wherever we go, in whatever we do and say, and also, that we represent each other as members of the same family. Brothers and sisters, I don’t need your abilities, sense of responsibility, and money – as much as I need your unconditional love and selfless goodwill! And of course, because that’s what you need the most from me as well, how thankful I am that we’re blessed with kinship of spirit and vision. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.) “Mission” has been a key word this past year. Filled with the blessing of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s love we have been motivated to reach out together to our neighbors through our homes, gardens, and especially our prayers.
  2. 2. Blessing Highlights from the Mission of 2009... God’s Word Taught among Us. I’m given responsibility for the teaching during our worship gatherings. That teaching in 2007 & 2008 focused on the goodness of God. Remember how we took note that He had written into every part of Creation such goodness that He Himself called it all “very good”? ENDNOTE #1 – “In God’s Image” Remember how we noted that He is pure goodness, so good that we call Him the Holy One and that His goodness MUST one day triumph over evil? Looking at His goodness set the stage for 2009 in which the Sunday morning focus shifted to our part in reflecting His goodness to our world. The first half of 2009 was designed to help us follow the Lord in transforming our homes into neighborhood lighthouses – each home (and together with other homes) seeking out new ways to love our neighbors as Christ taught us to love. To reinforce that theme of love, God led me to take us through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John throughout the summer and fall months so that we were encouraged to walk more fully in the light of His love. We are taught in those letters that true righteousness in fellowship with God is always directed and shaped by His love as revealed in Jesus Christ. Partnership Together in What God Is Doing in and Through Your Homes to “Close the Gap” Between Our Neighbors and the Christ. As I considered how to spur us on to love and good deeds at the beginning of 2009, I was approached by Chloe McKinley, Jennifer Trayes, and one of their good friends who shared their vision for neighborhood, cooperative gardening. Their vision resonated deeply with the desires God was laying on my heart for us. It confirmed the direction my teaching would take. With the agreement we were experiencing in our elder’s meetings, and new insights into the breadth of life and dreams of our small group leaders, I became convinced that an emphasis on closing the gap with our neighbors was possible, ENDNOTE #2 – Closing the Gap Overview and that Mission America’s lighthouse movement was a model we could adapt to our particular situation. Growing Conviction That Christ’s Kingdom must Be “Tangible.” When Les Albjerg returned from the EFCA national conference, he brought with him a burning desire to help us change so that we are more “missional” (postured to, and active in (1) leading our neighbors to hear the Gospel, and (2) becoming instrumental in redeeming our culture from paganism). Les introduced our elder’s group to a book by Bob Roberts, Jr., Transformation. That book asks several key questions that deeply impacted our thinking. 1 We concluded that we must begin to open our minds and hearts to changes that would help us to become a mission outpost along Highway 99, for the Church at large. We were challenged to think that whatever our missionary partners might be doing around the world, we should be doing the same right here through our occupations, homes, and groups. Examples of questions Roberts asks from pp. 8 & 9: (1) What would it be like to be a part of a church that exploded with growth, but it didn’t merely benefit the single church that God was moving in? (2) What would it be like for a pastor’s chief job to be to mobilize the church to reach the ends of the world? (3) What would it be like if every year 10 percent of a church membership left to become missionaries and church planters all over the world?
  3. 3. Pastor’s Report for 2009 3 At the same time that Les was challenging us with Robert’s book, I had been meeting with E-Free pastors considering a change in our Pacific NW District’s ministry, and the launch of a church plant in the Medford area. Eventually, the district did go on to appoint a church planting specialist to our district leadership whose name is Bruce Martin. Bruce is a brother who has been the senior pastor for several years to our sister church in Eugene (River Oaks Community). Knowing Bruce’s growing expertise in church-planting in an increasingly secular culture, I asked him what the single, most important book in promoting missional changes might be. He recommended The Tangible Kingdom, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. ENDNOTE #3 – Ancient/Now Kingdom Currently, our elders are reading that book and prayerfully discussing ways that we might be led of God to better serve His purpose for us at 5995 Old Highway 99 South. Awesome Weddings. Congratulations! again to these wonderful couples from our church family who celebrated the formation of marriage covenants this past year: David & Angela Hutton, June 27; Andrew & Kayla Oltman, July 10; Pete & Bronwyn Brady, September 20. Bittersweet Sending. This year has been full of stresses to personal finances and health. Many have sought the mercy of the Lord for healing, and many others have sought His grace to make the best of job losses or job changes. One of those who lost his job is Les Albjerg, who was the Spiritual Care Director at Mercy Hospital. That loss has led him to accept a position at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, ID. We are thrilled that we can send he and Becky and their family to the Boise area as our mission representatives. Les has served as elder and deacon, a leader full of faith and humility, and a teacher of great wisdom and doctrinal purity. Becky has served as church hostess, being our head deaconess and Tuesday morning women’s Bible study leader. Both Les and Becky have been involved in other Bible study leadership as well. Their son Luke has been a mirror to our souls, and their son John, a servant- helper in the kitchen and among our kids. We will miss them terribly, and pray that the transitional stress their under now will soon end. Another bittersweet parting is with Que Montgomery. She and her husband Darwin are waiting on the sale of their home so they can move to West Virginia to live near one of their daughters. We thought they were leaving about the time of Thanksgiving, but the sale fell through and Que is still with us. It’s wonderful to have the extended time with our sister who has been so much a part of us over the years, being one of the first from our area to call New Hope “home.” Que has faithfully participated in a prayer triad with two other sisters, taught Sunday School and led our children’s program. She has shown us Jesus in so many ways, including her part in the ministry of Safe Haven Maternity Home and her life-coaching of teens at South Umpqua High School over the years. We believe that we are preparing to send Que to WV as our missionary representative as well. She’ll bear our smiles and our love with her. Thanks again, Que, for that wonderful spaghetti dinner provided for our church family in November! Roots of More to Come. At the beginning of ‘09, our church adopted the revised Statement of Faith for the Evangelical Free Church. Already in Membership Orientation classes the new statement has proved to be a blessing.
  4. 4. We’re sure there’ll be many more opportunities to teach these wonderful truths from God’s word that shape who we are in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ENDNOTE #4 – EFCA SOF We have an agreement with the Red Cross to be a “managed shelter,” i.e., to provide our facilities to the Red Cross to run a shelter here in case of a widespread community emergency. At the beginning of October, our Church Council agreed we need to move to the position of a “Partner Shelter.” That’s a shelter that we would staff with those from our congregation trained by the Red Cross. Would you consider being trained and becoming prepared to be part of that staff? Wilma Farmer and Vicki Weaver, along with myself, would like to point us in that direction. “From ‘Woe is me,’ to ‘Wow, God!’” Week of Prayer near the end of October gave us a much deeper thirst for united prayer than we’ve had for some time. Taking our model from Joshua 6:1-5, we prayed one hour each day for six days, and on the seventh day, set aside seven hours seeking a breakthrough from God in several areas (unemployment, emotional stress related to financial and political uncertainties, sickness, and low church finances). This month, on January 31, we’ll begin another week of prayer at 6:00 every evening. On Saturday, February 6, we’ll meet for prayer from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Please plan on joining in for all or part as we ask God to reveal next steps for us in becoming a mission outpost. The Harvest Party for families of Charley Company, a National Guard company that is deployed to the Middle East war zones, proved to be a tremendous blessing for all concerned. We look for more opportunities to support these wonderful men and women and children, serving our country both by going and by staying home. In November, I signed and urged you to sign the Manhattan Declaration – as Jim Daly observed, “a remarkable expression of collective Christian conscience and commitment. ...intended to make clear a significant point: As Christian Americans who believe each person’s life is a gift of infinite worth, we have an urgent, ongoing responsibility to continue standing for biblical principles in the public square.” This is only one example of taking a radical stand for Christ that many of us will be called to make in the days ahead. It is a call away from the middle road of inactivity. It is a call for whatever religion you have to become earnest faith, a faith that changes lives and reaches out in ways that change our world. I don’t encourage you and me to be a little committed to Christ. We must take seriously the fact that He is the supreme Lord of the Church and of this universe, and serve Him alone. ENDNOTE #5 – Manhattan Declaration Our deacons are considering setting aside soon a planning time that hopefully would lead to a comprehensive development plan for our church’s property. There are many projects on the list of things to do, one of the main things being the re-routing of electrical service to our worship center and construction of a sound system booth. Other projects waiting for more work include addressing the need to expand our fellowship hall and possibly re-locate the entrance to our property as road development progresses along Highway 99. All of this points to the need for a comprehensive plan, and our deacons need your prayerful support to make that happen. It is my pleasure to announce to you that we set up a designated giving fund at the end of 2009 called the New Hope Foundation (in cooperation with the EFCA Foundation). With the first $5000 invested in the fund, we will have established a continuing source of income for the church. Fifty percent of the increase on those funds is to go for outreach ministries and fifty percent to capital
  5. 5. Pastor’s Report for 2009 5 improvement. If you know anyone who is going through estate planning, and would be open to hearing about this opportunity to invest in the long-term growth of Christ’s Kingdom through New Hope, please let us know. I am looking for a few individuals who would volunteer to help us finalize changes to our Scholarship Committee guidelines so that we could launch that ministry once again. Brothers and sisters, it is my pleasure to be identified with you. And I know that if together we trust God with our lives, and give our unconditional love to each other the best we know how, we will make difference for Christ in 2010. With all my love and earnest prayers! Pastor Dave ENDNOTE #1: In God’s Image Being created “in God’s image,” we were given special gifts of the spirit so that we can do two things: reflect through our lives the one true God to our world, and reign in His place as stewards of His creation (so that Creation is brought into conformity to God’s design and purposes, not our own fleshly passions or Satan’s schemes). The gifts we were given were... (1) those that enable us to enter covenant relationships with one another (represented in Genesis by notations on gender and marriage), (2) those that help us to reason or communicate together with God (e.g., to walk in the garden with Him), and (3) those that help us to choose a particular course of action out of love for Him and surrender to Him as Lord of heaven and earth (e.g., “you shall not eat of the tree...”). Mankind threw all of that overboard when Adam and Eve put love for themselves ahead of love for God, and the world was cast into a state of anarchy and disobedience to God. Christ’s mission is to reconcile a world gone bad to God and to His perfect, acceptable and good will for this world. This world was designed to be the home for the Son of God when He took upon Himself our nature, and we were designed to walk with Him in spirit and in truth forever. Our role now as His stewards of our bit of Creation is to trust Him completely, and to follow Him as He moves to complete His mission. ENDNOTE #2 – “CLOSING THE GAP!” Closing the Gap is a way of speaking about the life and ministry of New Hope Church in the years ahead. This vision looks forward to the day when an awakening to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ over all things, and His all-sufficient grace for all of life, is within reach for every home within our community. It is a vision that depends on closing the gap between us and our neighbors so that the gap between them and the Lord Jesus Christ might disappear.
  6. 6. Why now? First, the call of God’s Spirit to share the love of Christ with neighbors & friends has always been for THIS generation. Second, there is increasing urgency to share Christ created by a growing expectation of His imminent return in the face of sweeping worldwide changes morally, politically and environmentally. And third, God’s Spirit has been consistently leading us to share the Good News of Jesus by way of our loving attitudes and actions in serving others. This fits New Hope Church!! FUNDAMENTAL REALITIES OF OUR LIVES: GAPS. There IS often a gap between us and our neighbor, widened by gaps in friendship, personality, culture, and beliefs about truth and the reality of God. JESUS CHRIST. It is because Jesus Christ’s mission is to reconcile this world back to God, that by His grace and mercy reconciliation can and DOES take place so that the gaps disappear! APPOINTMENT TO WITNESS! Christ’s mission must become our own life mission, and His purpose in loving and serving others must become our own purpose in sharing life with others. Of course, how that is worked out is dependent on the kind of personality He’s given each of us, the location where He has placed us in life, and the people that He gives us the opportunity to live and work with. 2 Corinthians 5:14, 17-18 The Christian’s part in the mission of Christ, is to ask Jesus to shine His light of reconciliation through us as we love our neighbors – as if we were standing in their shoes, and WE were the ones needing the light. CONSENT NEEDED. The Light of Christ is seen through us only by our consent to Him – to His lordship over us and to His compelling love within us. Matthew 5:14-16 LIGHTHOUSE HOPE. The Christian’s home and those he shares it with, when united in the task of becoming a “lighthouse” filled with the light of Christ Himself, will explosively multiply the blessing of that home-life by thousands (Mark 10:27-30; 2 Corinthians 4:5-7). So, “every home a lighthouse” is our challenge today! Everyone in the home looking in the same direction – toward the Light, hand in hand! – together giving up our home to Christ and His purposes! Lighthouses give out their light through three colors of lens: clear, red, and gold. The unique combination of the three different colored lens in each lighthouse, the strength of light behind the lens (along with the frequency with which that light is shown through them), and the location of the lighthouse on the landscape gives each lighthouse a rescuing, guiding purpose that no other lighthouse can fulfill. The lighthouse ministry of every home is similar, in that, the light of Christ in our lives shines through 3 “lens” – prayer (clear, or white), caring (red), and sharing (gold). It is the unique combination of these things in your life give your home a rescuing, guiding purpose that no other lighthouse can fulfill! 8 Lighthouse Home Ministry Models Hospitality
  7. 7. Pastor’s Report for 2009 7 Frequently, intentionally, and even regularly sharing your home with others to provide food and shelter, and/or spiritual encouragement. Garden Working with friends and neighbors to develop garden, farm and ranch resources that can be shared liberally with one another. Block Development of fun activities, projects, etc. to enhance the beauty, safety, and friendliness of a particular street or block – connecting and uniting neighbors in positive, healthy vision for their neighborhood. Hobby Participation, or creation of a group to pursue a specific recreational or life-development interest. Age Group Participation, or creation of a ministry of service to a particular age-group in ways that are relevant to that age-group’s prevailing culture and unique needs. Bible Study Participation, or creation of a home (work, or school) Bible study group designed to introduce interested friends to Jesus Christ. Service Project Participation, or creation of a service project that benefits your community in some way. Support Group Participation, or creation of a support group for a particular life-challenge or need for life-recovery. Who is adequate for a life that reveals the Christ? The need for it... The work & fun of it... The “light of Christ” in it... How have I involved my home in carrying out this ministry? What have I sacrificed of my home-life to make this happen? What has benefitted my home-life because of this ministry? Sharing the Gospel with our lives brings glory to God (not ourselves)! Acts 2:46-47 ENDNOTE #3 – This ancient-now Tangible Kingdom “What we’re returning to has always been and must still be revolutionary. What we need to dig up, recover, and find again is the life of the Kingdom and Jesus’ community . . . the church. As we do, we’ll find that its’ not American . . . it’s ‘other world’; it’s not evangelicalism, it’s much more holistic an integrated into real life. It’s not anti-church; it’s pro-church. It’s about the type of church that Jesus would go to, the type he died to give flight to. It’s not about success, size of buildings, budget, or
  8. 8. ‘salvations.’ It is about being faithful to live Christ’s alternative ways in the world again... “‘If Christianity was only about finding a group of people to live life with, who shared openly their search for God and allowed anyone, regardless of behavior, to seek too, and who collectively lived by faith to make the world a little more like Heaven, would you be interested?’... “To get from where we are today to this ancient-now Tangible Kingdom, let’s start by taking a sip of old stale wine – a hard look at where we are now. What we have collectively invested in without seeing much return. What has kept us busy without giving us very good results at what Jesus asked us to accomplish: the proliferation of global blessing and making of apprentices of Jesus. People that look, act, and sound like he did!” Basic Concepts (The Tangible Kingdom Primer ) Gospel: the good news of Jesus, capable of transforming everything about a person, their community, and their world. Missional People: individuals actively committed to living a “sent” life in the context of community. Sojourner: a spiritually curious God-seeker; a traveler who has intersected the missional community. Incarnational Community: a group of people with the posture, tone, motives, and heart of Jesus; those who physically represent him in a particular location. Posture: the attitude of the body, the way a person or community expresses itself to others, especially in nonverbal ways. Apprenticeship: Moving beyond knowledge-based discipleship to action-oriented followership, with the goal of living like Jesus lived. This comes through regular practice, faith-oriented action, and personal devotion to know the ways of Christ. Living Out: the natural and deliberate process of living among, listening to, and loving people in culture with the desire to connect them to the Christian community. The Intuitive Life: a lifestyle guided by a capacity to sense and respond to God’s direction; a habit of living that is prayerful, artful, and intentional. Adapted from Hugh Halter & Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom –Creating Incarnational Community: the Posture & Practices of Ancient Church Now (San Francisco: Josseybass, a Wiley Imprint; ©2008 H Halter & M Smay), pp. 10-11 ENDNOTE #4 – Evangelical Free Church Statement of Faith The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of autonomous churches united around these theological convictions: God 1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.
  9. 9. Pastor’s Report for 2009 9 The Bible 2. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises. The Human Condition 3. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed. Jesus Christ 4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel's promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate. The Work of Christ 5. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation. The Holy Spirit 6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service. The Church 7. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer. Christian Living 8. We believe that God's justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed. Christ’s Return 9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission. Response and Eternal Destiny 10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen. ENDNOTE #5 – Introducing...
  10. 10. “The Manhattan Declaration” – A Call of Christian Conscience To read the full text of the Manhattan Declaration – http://manhattandeclaration.org/ [A summary version of the declaration is available in the Welcome Center.] To sign the Manhattan Declaration – http://manhattandeclaration.org/sign-the-declaration "We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriage or the equivalent or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family...” Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, writes... “As many of you already know, I, along with Dr. Dobson and more than 150 Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant clergy, academics and organizational leaders, recently signed a remarkable expression of collective Christian conscience and commitment. It’s called the Manhattan Declaration, and it’s intended to make clear a significant point: As Christian Americans who believe each person’s life is a gift of infinite worth, we have an urgent, ongoing responsibility to continue standing for biblical principles in the public square... It is important, first off, to note that the Manhattan Declaration is not a partisan or political statement – I shared the podium last Friday at the National Press Club with Republicans and Democrats alike. Instead, it addresses and elevates four specific areas of universal consensus. Some have referred to these as ‘threshold issues,’ meaning they represent the foundation of our faith and the pivot point from which everything else flows. This is the bedrock. If we can’t agree on these areas of doctrine, everything else will be of reduced value. Four threshold issues: The sanctity of human life. The sanctity of marriage. The protection of religious liberty. The rejection of unjust laws. “The document is a fresh and lively presentation, a renewed rallying cry to those who have been engaged in this historic effort of spiritual and cultural conversion. This is not a manifesto for culture war; it is a prescription for cultural change. It is also a thoughtful invitation to those who might be sitting on the periphery, perhaps hesitant to join this effort, maybe because they’ve never been fully aware of the consequences of inaction. As a unified body, we are acknowledging that our faith is strong and redemptive, but it’s not necessarily a comfortable and easy pursuit. Standing up for our beliefs can often come at great cost. But as Dr. George highlighted at last week’s new conference, even the secularist philosopher Socrates once posed a relevant question Christians should easily answer today. ‘Is it better to suffer an injustice,’ he once asked, ‘than to commit it?’ By affixing our signatures to the Manhattan Declaration, we are answering an unequivocal ‘yes.’ “Although many Christians understandably feel under assault, the degree of faith-based domestic persecution cannot compare with the ghastly violence perpetuated against believers in other parts of the world. In the Sudan, for instance, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been slaughtered not because of what they’re doing, but because of the One in whom they believe. It is a wise people who act to protect the freedoms they enjoy.”

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