Staying True to the Gospel: More Reminders

Rising Voice Staff

by Jenny Abel

After exploring some of the issues involved with “social justice” in Parts 1 and 2, we’ve taken a look in the last post of rules of engagement when it comes to staying true to Scripture as we engage in social justice activities.  And, we remember that while many social justice issues may contain roots of Christian influence, they also can be in direct opposition to the Christian faith.

Here are the last four recommendations I offer for your consideration:

4.      Doing good things for the wrong reason is … wrong.

Jesus fed the poor and healed the sick, but He did not do so out of a smug, self-righteous desire to look compassionate to others, be patted on the back, feel good about Himself (as a man), add it to His resume, or check it off a list. His works flowed out of the very nature of who He is. And it should be the same with us. He warned those sternly who do their righteous acts “before men, to be seen by them,” saying they have already “received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:1–4). How many of us are tempted to loudly trumpet our good works on Facebook, Twitter, or in our social circles, forgetting God’s promise to reward those who do their good works in secret? Let us remember Paul’s example—of boasting in nothing except the Cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14). Read More »

Staying True to the Gospel

Rising Voice Staff

by Jenny Abel

After exploring some of the issues involving social justice in Parts 1 and 2, there is much more we could say about social justice in the church—like the central role Christianity has played in these values becoming woven into the fabric of our society at all.  In Jesus’s day, fighting for social justice was not exactly as popular as it is today!

Yet, while many social justice issues may contain roots of Christian influence, as we saw in the last part, they can also be in direct opposition to the Christian faith. In addition, these issues will be tackled by nonbelievers for very different motivations than Christians tackle them. And so, as Christians, we need some reminders and “rules of engagement” if we are going to stay true to the Lord on this matter. Here are a few I came up with: Read More »

Social Justice: Slight Shift, Big Difference

Rising Voice Staff

by Jenny Abel

After Part 1 of this series on “social justice in the church,” you might be asking: Isn’t this trend in the church just a correction of past errors—in which churches and Christians failed to respond appropriately to the injustices or inequalities around them? After all, look at how much we have as Americans today—it can’t be a bad thing to be keenly aware of the countless verses in the Bible that talk of giving to those less fortunate or hurting. Indeed, Jesus reserved some of His harshest warnings and judgments for Christians who pay lip service to God but do not follow their words and beliefs with tangible acts of love. (Just for starters, check out Proverbs 14:31, Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 29:7, Amos 5:11–12, Matthew 25:45, and James 2:15–17.)

But is there something more taking place—something dangerous, which we’ve failed to discern in our earnest desire to affirm what is (or at least seems) good? As Christians, we must resist knee-jerk reactions—rushing either away or toward vocabulary like “social justice.” We have a responsibility to take a close look at what’s happening on a global scale, understand the current trend, and measure it against the whole counsel of Scripture as we pray for the Spirit’s discernment and guidance. Read More »

Social Justice and the Church: Preaching the Gospel—Without Words?

Rising Voice Staff

by Jenny Abel

There’s a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi—you’ve probably heard it: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Interestingly, this quote is apparently not found anywhere in St. Francis’s writings. Glenn Stanton points out that the next-closest passage contains an admonition to “make sure your deeds match your words.”

Falsely attributed or not, though, I hear this quote all the time nowadays—often as a defense of a particular evangelism approach, one that says we should concentrate on “loving” people and only use words as a last resort. Read More »

Bro-choice?

Rising Voice Staff

by Landi Taylor

When I was 10 years old, I convinced my younger sister to run away with me. We lived out in the country with no neighbors, and there was nothing but hundreds of acres of avocado trees. I had this immature thought that it would be great fun to run away from my parents and living out in the trees with my 7 year old sister. We grabbed neon pink backpacks, filled them with cookies and candy, and trekked out on our adventure. We got about 50 feet from the house when my mom started yelling for us to come inside and eat dinner. My sister and I hid behind some bushes, so my mom couldn’t find us. My mom wasn’t too pleased once she found us, so we both received repercussions (that’s what my mom called discipline since it was dealing with the consequences of our actions). The repercussions were reflective of how bad the act of disobedience was. I learned from a young age that there were always consequences for one’s actions: good if the act was good and bad if the act was bad. My parents raised me to take responsibility, not just of my actions, but relationships, possessions, situations, chores, and life; this helped me grow into a responsible adult.

So when I read an article called “Bro-Choice: How #HB2 Hurts Texas Men Who Like Women,” it grated on my sensibilities like sandpaper. If you haven’t read it, it’s an article written by Ben Sherman on why men should be pro-abortion. He argues that a bill pending in the Texas legislature, which puts common sense limitations on abortion, cramps his style and could hamper his sex life. He writes: Read More »

Wendy Davis is no Hero of Mine

Rising Voice Staff

by Cortland Bobczynski

When my mom was pregnant with me, she considered having an abortion. I was born out of wedlock, and my mom didn’t have the means or resources to take care of a baby. She was young, scared and others had encouraged her to get an abortion. It might have been easier to dodge responsibility and to abort me, but eventually she chose a better path. It was that decision that gave me life; however, others haven’t been so fortunate.

Because of this part of my story, the past few weeks have had quite an impact on me. I cannot say it has been easy for me to hear about Wendy Davis and the pro-abortion protestors in Texas.  Wendy Davis, a pro-abortion senator in Texas, filibustered for 11 hours to block the passing of SB5 – a law that would put common sense safety regulations on abortion centers and ban abortions after twenty weeks of gestation.  Read More »

Responding Well in the Face of Defeat

Rising Voice Staff

by Landi Taylor

The Supreme Court handed down decisions on same-sex marriage last week and I cannot help but feel defeated. For me, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Between issues like abortion, sex-trafficking, same-sex marriage, and the attacks on religious freedom, I am beginning to think that this country is doomed…. done for… kaput….gone! The morals in our country, especially in our government, remind me of Isaiah 5 where injustice reigns  and where grief is prophesied for those who say evil is good and good is evil. Sense no longer makes sense. It’s a hard place for a young, Christian conservative to live and make a difference. My fiery passion to make a difference and take a stand has been doused with a very cold splash of despair over the choices made by the leadership in our country.

Why take a stand? Why speak up anymore? It only feels like fighting a losing battle. I feel like a salmon swimming up the stream of moral relativism. Sometimes I question the difference I can make with my vote, my words, and my aspirations. Sometimes I would love to throw in the towel. It would be so much easier than having to face the cruel words and the illogical rhetoric of the other side. (Side note: why can’t people play nice?) I’m not the only one who feels this way; I’ve had this conversation with at least a dozen other people, especially friends in California who are reeling from the Prop 8 decision the Supreme Court handed down.  “Why vote?” I’ve heard people ask. Read More »

What Do You Take for Granted?

Rising Voice Staff

Sometimes I take my life for granted. I focus on all the ‘don’t haves’ and ignore all the ‘do haves.’ I think to myself, “if only I had ______ [fill in the blank] my life would be better.” I can get worked up and stressed out when I think about how much better other people have it; yet I forget about those who have life far worse than I do. Recently, I found myself so self-centered on my own problems that I failed to stop and think about those who are living lives stripped of all beauty.

Being confronted with the issue of sex slavery has made me acutely aware of my own selfishness. As I’ve researched the topic, I am shocked at the brutality and the nightmarish surrealism of it all. Never has a human injustice hit me so hard. As I’ve researched, I dove into the experiences, feelings, and thoughts of sex trafficked victims all over the world. Read More »

Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court’s Decisions

Rising Voice Staff

by Landi Taylor

This morning the Supreme Court ruled on two greatly anticipated issues: the constitutionality of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and whether a state (California) can define marriage as only between one man and one woman. I have excitedly been awaiting both decisions. For me the issue of same-sex marriage is a bittersweet issue. I am a young adult from California and the first time I voted, Proposition 8 (an amendment to California’s state constitution that would uphold the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman) was on the ballot. I was a sophomore in college and everyone my age was radically opposed to my political stance on same-sex marriage. I was reviled for my stance that marriage should be between a man and woman. Grotesque names were spewed at me and I almost feared for my life. Eventually Proposition 8 passed and the heated issue subsided a bit, but it’s never quite abandoned its place in the political spotlight. Read More »

(Maybe) God Wants My Voice

Rising Voice Staff

by Cortland Bobczynski

My legs are trembling underneath me. My throat is dry and it’s hard to swallow. I feel a little nauseated and my head is spinning. I am all too familiar with this sensation:  I’m about to speak in front of a group of people.  The thoughts in my head are being formulated like a well-built machine, all the cogs coming together and creating all sorts of logical and extraordinary points – so why is it so hard to articulate my thoughts?  As soon as I open my mouth, the words stick in the back of my throat like the jumbled bag of wooden letters in the game, Scrabble. I watch as arguments glide out of others’ mouths like a well-made Lamborghini emerging out of the garage. “Why couldn’t that me?” I pray silently, “Why couldn’t I speak more like them?” Read More »



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