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Uncompromised | Sanctity of Life

Do you have a biblical view of life, desiring to protect the unborn and vulnerable members of our society, but don’t know how to get started? In the third week of Uncompromised: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Cancel Culture, John Elmore and Bruce Kendrick cast a vision for a world that esteems what God has created and give us ten steps of faithfulness to value life in and out of the womb.

John Elmore, Bruce KendrickOct 31, 2021

In This Series (6)
Uncompromised | Immigration & Persecution of Church Internationally
Oscar CastilloNov 21, 2021
Uncompromised | Race & Racism
Oscar Castillo, John Elmore, Sierra Sanchez, Marvin WalkerNov 14, 2021
Uncompromised | Sexuality: Gender, Sex, and Porn
John ElmoreNov 7, 2021
Uncompromised | Sanctity of Life
John Elmore, Bruce KendrickOct 31, 2021
Uncompromised | Law & Religious Liberties
John ElmoreOct 24, 2021
Uncompromised | Truth & Culture
John ElmoreOct 17, 2021

Summary

Do you have a biblical view of life, desiring to protect the unborn and vulnerable members of our society, but don’t know how to get started? In the third week of Uncompromised: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Cancel Culture, John Elmore and Bruce Kendrick cast a vision for a world that esteems what God has created and give us ten steps of faithfulness to value life in and out of the womb.

Key Takeaways

  • God’s desire for sanctity of life is from the womb to the tomb.
  • God loves those who have made the choice to be part of an abortion, and there is no condemnation or shame. Rather, you can experience freedom in forgiveness.
  • Our goal is not to reduce abortion but to abolish it.
  • There is no hierarchy of faithfulness. We steward the resources He has given us.

Ten Ways to Advocate and Support Life

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • How can you more consistently remind yourself that all men are created in God’s image?
  • From the womb to the tomb, what actions are you taking to express God’s high value for all of human life in our world?
  • If you have not yet taken action, which of the ways discussed in the sermon will you prayerfully consider?

Resources for Further Discussion

Melissa Miller: "If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

In the darkness, God is here. In the darkness, there is light, and in the light there is life. From the days that mankind first walked this earth, it wasn't until 10 years ago that a team of researchers made an astonishing, miraculous discovery. Billions of atoms of zinc are released and explode into light every single second of every single day, but what shocked the scientific community was not the light but rather the location.

That flash of zinc, that light, was in darkness…that flash of exploding light that happens every time at the point of conception of human life. Every life that has ever been began with a flash of light. That was known to God alone until just a decade ago. "Through [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.'" Over the millennia, mankind has done just that, going from a garden to the globe, from a population of two to almost eight billion people. There was a steady increase generation after generation until there was a disruption in the light.

Some six thousand years since that first flash of light, man began systematically snuffing out the light. Fifty years ago, this nation declared a right for mothers to kill their own children, and the miraculous light of life has been darkened 60 million times in the US alone…600,000 every year, 2,363 today, 68 before you leave this auditorium, 3 children killed since I started reading. We worship a God who said the light shines in the darkness and that that darkness has not overcome it, and so, as the church, we do not lose hope.

We pray. We watch. We advocate for life…all life…in every possible way. We proclaim the hope of Christ. We do not lose heart. We love the ones who chose to extinguish the light, because we know that this world and its worries are passing away, but in the end, there will be a kingdom of light, and Jesus himself will be our light where there is no tear, sorrow, or pain. May he find us faithful at his coming to fight for the light, from that flash of light at conception until a person breathes their last.

My name is Melissa, and I chose to extinguish a light. I was scared, I was in rebellion, and I daily live with the horror of that decision and the day that my child died at my decision. I know I'm not the only one. I know there are women here today who have the same regret and pain and anguish. I know there are men here who have been a part of an abortion who have stuffed it down in the recesses of their hearts.

Today is a day of hope, because this Jesus who is the light of all mankind is also the forgiver and healer and restorer of our souls. While that is my story, it is not my identity. I am a child of the light. God said so. If you are in Christ, all of your sin has been nailed to the cross. There is healing in Jesus. There is no condemnation in Christ.

This extinguishing of lights is a national tragedy. For me, and possibly you, a personal tragedy. But God, through the church, will have the light of Christ shine forth through the darkness as we proclaim the sanctity of life for all people of all ages, of all needs, of all ethnicities, for all time. My name is Melissa. I have been healed by Jesus from a past abortion, and if this is your story, you can be too. Thank you.

John Elmore: Well, I'm crying. That's Melissa Miller, a dear friend of mine, sister, fellow coworker, on staff here. She has been on staff for 20 years at Watermark…17 in the students' ministry, then Community, and now oversees all of the women in the Watermark Institute. Melissa, thank you so much.

Today, we are continuing our series Uncompromised: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Cancel Culture, and today we're going to be talking about sanctity of life. This is also an ongoing effort of our elders to equip the body for an ever-changing world, that we would be able to walk out in salt and light, bearing and speaking the truth in love.

You've also noticed we have a couple of friends of mine onstage. This is Meredith Hall, an old friend who now works with Thrive Women's Clinic that's bringing hope and availability and options to women who are coming in carrying children, afraid and vulnerable, and shepherding them toward life and all of the resources they can to raise those children.

So, our heroes at Thrive, Meredith here with us. And this is Laura Jones, who is the wife of our producer Jonathan Jones, with us today. They are going to introduce us to the Jones' fourth child today. So, we're going to get a chance to hear and possibly see their fourth, who is 12-1/2 weeks along, I understand.

There's the heartbeat and the child. Of women who hear that heartbeat, 73 percent will not have an abortion. Once they hear that sound, they realize, "This is not my body; therefore, it is not my choice. There are now two heartbeats within me. One is mine, and one is not." With the distinct genetic DNA altogether different from the mother's… It is scientifically impossible to say it is the mother's body because of the DNA and genetic coding there.

The reason we had Meredith and Laura here today is because I think as we talk about life and abortion and choice, these become political ideas. It's a check mark on a ballot. We forget that every single time those words are uttered, there's a life. It's a child. It is not a political ideation; it is a living human being whom the Lord has given life to through that flash of light at conception. So, this is to take us out of the political field and spectrum and remind us, "Oh, yeah. This is what we're talking about. We're talking about children and babies."

Jeremiah 1:4-5: "The word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'" Then you have the angel speaking to Mary in Luke 1:31. "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus."

There's a grammatical phrase here. It's called an apposition. It's when the angel says, "You will conceive…" You can tie that verb to the noun son. "You will conceive a son. You will give birth to a son." Both verbs are pointing to that noun. So, life at conception right here in the Scriptures. So, with this child in view… This is the incredible thing. With unseen hands, God, at this very second, is knitting the child together in Laura's womb.

We can't see it, but that is the reality from Psalm 139, that right now, every millisecond that passes, God is knitting and knitting and knitting the child, and we thank him for that. I want to pray, and I want to pray for the heroes at Thrive who are fighting on behalf of life and supporting women and men as they choose, and I want to pray for Laura and her child, and I want to pray for every mother, whether they are terrified that they just found out they're pregnant or if they're celebrating.

I want to pray for mothers who have miscarried and are living in the reality of that anguish, and I want to pray for would-be mothers who are struggling with infertility, and I want to pray for women who long for that but maybe are not yet married or are married and haven't had the opportunity. Also, someone just walked out these doors from the first service, Ken Paxton, who is the attorney general of the state of Texas.

He had to leave to board a flight with his wife and the solicitor general, because tomorrow, in Washington DC, they will be arguing for life before the nine Supreme Court justices and Attorney General Merrick Garland. They will be standing there. They were here in the first service. As Esther said to Mordecai… Mordecai said, "You have to go and speak to the king on behalf of lives." Esther's response was, "I will, but you must pray and fast."

So, church, this is not a political statement. This is not a partisan statement. We have many individuals who are going before the Supreme Court justices of this land, and I want to invite you to pray and fast now through all day tomorrow…eat dinner tomorrow night…an invitation just like Esther and Mordecai on behalf of people, on behalf of life, these children, that we would not be guilty of passivity. Let's pray.

Father, I thank you and praise you for Meredith and all of the other heroes at Thrive and those who are fighting for life as the blood cries out from the ground, the injustice. Thank you for Laura and Jonathan's baby as you knit him or her together in their mother's womb, that you would bless this child, that they would be a follower of Jesus, neither a Pharisee nor a prodigal but walk with you all of their days, that as you called Jeremiah you would call this child from the womb.

Lord, I pray for those struggling with infertility, that you would strongly support and comfort them, and that you would comfort and minister to those who have had miscarriages and those longing for children. Lord, I pray for those mothers who are terrified who just found out they're pregnant, that they would choose life. And, Lord, we pray for Attorney General Ken Paxton and his solicitor general who will argue on behalf of life before the Supreme Court justices.

Lord, I pray, because it is according to your will, that you would lead the land, lead these justices over our land into your will, which is life, the life that you have ordained and sustained (you are the Creator), and that anyone who is willing would pray and fast until dinnertime tomorrow night, just as Mordecai and his people did as Esther went before the king. Lord, we love you. We thank you. In Jesus' mighty name, amen.

Y'all, let's give a round of applause to Meredith and Laura. Thank you so much. It's important, as we talk about sanctity of life, to note that we're not just talking about babies. As we talk about sanctity of life, that encompasses the whole of life. The Lord cares about from womb to tomb, every heartbeat, those we have just heard until the very last, and not just ending there, but rather, he has created us body, mind, and soul, all intertwined.

It says in Hebrews 9:27 it is appointed for man to die once and then face judgment, and to spend the rest of eternity in heaven or hell, because we have an immortal soul. So, God cares about all, from conception all the way, Lord willing, through trusting in Christ, sanctification, glorification, to when we're forever at home with the Lord. He cares about all of it because, as he said in Genesis 1:26-28, "Let us create mankind in our image." Male and female he created them, and nothing other. "Let them be fruitful and multiply, rule and subdue the earth."

He has given this ordained command to mankind, so we do fight for life…all of life. That's what we believe, but what does culture say? From the Center for Biblical Worldview and the American Worldview Inventory, they report that here in America, 7 out of 10 Americans profess that they are Christians, but the statistic declines as they ask, "Do you hold a biblical worldview?" Then it reduces to 1 in 2. Now we have 5 out of 10 who say they have a biblical worldview.

A biblical worldview being like, "When I look at the world, when I look at culture, when I look at media, when I consider my thoughts, they first go through the lens of Scripture. I have a biblical worldview. Whatever I think, say, do, or hear all goes through the inerrant, eternal Word of God before I consider it." That's a biblical worldview. Five out of ten.

But here's the reality. As they did a further study ("Do you align with these biblical principles and theologies?") it went from 50 percent to 6 percent. Only 6 percent of professing Christians actually have a biblical worldview, which is why only 4 out of 10 adults here in America value sanctity of life. No longer the majority. One-fifth, 2 out of 10, would say there is inherently no intrinsic value in life.

So, as such, as we talk about the sanctity of life, we have to talk about the holistic picture of life, which is not just babies and children, as we've said, but this would include homelessness. When you see someone on the street, you don't see poor decisions, mental illness, addiction, or whatever you might say, but you're like, "That individual is created in the image of God. They have worth, dignity, and value. They should know they are loved by the Lord and by the church."

My friend Wayne Walker began OurCalling, which ministers to over 10,000 homeless people just within Dallas every single year, which has risen so much because of the pandemic and joblessness. It's not just "three hots and a cot," giving them meals and a place, but rather this is discipleship along with all that provision and connecting them to a network. It is the nation's quintessential homeless ministry.

Not just that, but race. We're discussing race in a public forum all the more in this day and age, and praise God for that. The church should be leading that, because we see in Revelation every tribe, tongue, and nation will worship Jesus forevermore. Jesus, as he taught his disciples to pray, said, "Let it be done on earth as it is in heaven." That we would usher in the unity and beauty of the diversity of God's creation made in his image here within the walls of the church and within the world.

Then mental illness, as we talk about sanctity of life…mental illness, anxiety, depression, which also are skyrocketing and leading to suicide rates that have never been seen before, that we would care about that. So, we have re:generation, which is the spiritual emergency room for DFW for people coming in who have mental illness, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, that they can be shepherded and loved here and find healing and hope in Christ.

Foster care and adoption, which you're going to hear more about a little bit later in the message. There's a person on staff who you and your giving are supporting, Lyn Pollard, whose passion is for special and additional needs persons, whether minors or adults, family members, caregivers, to love well all of those created in the image of God.

Then you have euthanasia, which is legal in 18 states now. It's a Greek construct: eu, meaning good, and thanatos, meaning death…a good death. Let me tell you, according to the Scriptures, there's no such thing as a good death that is ordained and chosen by man. It's murder. It's self-murder or, if it's medically assisted, murder, but it's murder. There's no such thing as a good death as ordained by man, but rather, God has ordained every single day before yet one of them came to be (Psalm 139).

So, from conception to babies to eternal life, God cares about it all. Thus, we do too as the church, because we have the mind of Christ as we walk in accordance with the Spirit. Church, this is not a pro-life activist thing; this is a Christian thing. To care about life is to be a follower of Christ. That's just what we do as we live out his Word.

The reason we're talking specifically on sanctity of life about life and against abortion is because, generally, in our country, no one is against helping homeless people, like, "We shouldn't do that." When you talk about mental illness, depression, the suicide rates, no one is against that. No one is saying, "We probably shouldn't be doing that." Or race, like, "Really, we shouldn't engage in that." But there's one our nation falls divided upon, and it's life and what they call choice.

So, for that reason, we're going to spend the remainder of our time talking about that very thing, that we might live, speak, love, and be uncompromised as we live in this world. Now, before we do, I want to address, as Melissa did in her reading, some people in the room. If you, like Melissa, have chosen to have an abortion as a woman or if you're a man who contributed toward that decision financially or by action or by passivity, we want you to know that we love you.

In this place, you are loved, and you will not receive condemnation or shame or a heaping up of guilt. You need to know that we love you because God loves you. He is not mad at you. His arms are extended for you to receive you, that you could walk out of that secret shame of sin and be free. Today, you could be free. You could have healing in your life, because it's why Jesus came.

He didn't come for 99 percent of our sin; he came for 100 percent of our sin…every single one of them…which is what Colossians 2:13-14 says. "He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." When Jesus died for your sins, he died for all of them, abortion included, and today can be your day of freedom and healing.

Now, to continue the discussion and to walk us through many ways that we can advocate and support life, I want to invite a friend of mine and a fellow staff worker to the stage. This man is not just well learned, because he is a genius on the topic, but he is also well lived. His life is a living example of what he's about to talk with you about. So, everyone, welcome to the stage director of Life Initiatives, Bruce Kendrick.

Bruce Kendrick: Hey, friends. If we have not had the privilege to meet, I would love to get to shake your hand. This is a picture of the family. It's what John is talking about when he says I'm well lived. My wife and I, for the past 10 to 15 years, have looked at our home as a resource to steward the vulnerable in our community, to care for them. Usually one child at a time at first, and then sometimes three children at a time, where God just stretched us to care for a lot of kids.

God allowed us to be a light and be hope and healing to children who had been neglected and abused and then help them be restored back to their families, and to the ones who could not be restored, we got to become family. I got to become Dad for five of my children. Some of the privileges of that are a lot of fun, and some of them are obligations, like teaching your kids how to drive. Currently, my oldest biological son, Shepherd, is learning how to drive.

We were out a few nights ago. He has to get nighttime hours in. I thought while we were driving down the feeder of 75, that would be as good a time as any to learn how to drive on the highway, so I said, "Hey, Shep, you're doing great. We're going to get on the highway now. You need to slide over into that left lane, and you're going to need to speed up a little bit and get that on-ramp. We're really going to have to get moving."

As we were passing the on-ramp still on the feeder, he goes, "Oh, that one?" I was like, "Yeah, that one." I was like, "Hey, it's okay. I get it. Let's just go up to the next light. We'll catch the next on-ramp." You could see the wheel shaking in his hands. The lights are going by 85 miles an hour. You likely remember that time if you're driving.

We come up to the next on-ramp. I go, "Hey, bud, right here." I reach over, and I grab the wheel with him, like, "We're in this together." I gently start to move us over into that far right lane. We get on, and admittedly, he's only going about 45, so my apologies to all those 75 drivers. But eventually, he gets over a lane, and we're moving. He's up to 65 and 70. I'm like, "All right. You're good right here." Cars are flying by.

I start with that because many of us consider ourselves pro-life, yet we are paralyzed on the feeder road, not knowing how to get up to speed. We find ourselves relegated to doing little more than voting every four years and "liking" some posts on social media. I want to grab the wheel of your heart and mind this morning and gently say, "Hey, let's stir our affections for Christ. Let's on-ramp to whatever your next faithful step is." I want to give you a vision and help you grow in your anticipation and preparation for the day that abortion is abolished in our country.

I think some of us can't even fathom it. We can't even imagine it. We've just kind of rested in "Well, this is all we can do." I realize that, just like the history of abortion and how it dates back to a time when our culture was in tremendous change and shift… Evolutionary theory was being popularized. Slavery had been abolished. Racism was rampant. World wars, economic upheaval with the depression… The women's suffrage movement was going on at that time. We are living in an incredibly similar era with an opportunity to be uncompromised.

We have the heartbeat bill that is in the news, and the New York Times just came out with an article that showed some of the statistics. In the first month the heartbeat bill was in effect, abortions dropped by half. While I want to celebrate and lock arms and be hopeful regarding the efforts of legislators and judges and leaders working to save lives today, I don't want to stop at progress, because the reality of that graphic is there were still over 2,000 legal abortions last month.

I want to spur us toward the abolition of abortion, because what happens is we end up moving the goal posts on the issue, and right now, we're moving from abortion clinics to at-home abortions, where pills are mailed directly to a woman, and the influence of lies and half-truths and softened language, like abortion care or fetal tissue, continue to feed the narrative that "If that's what you need to do in order to accomplish your dreams, then that's what you do."

I know there are other issues to talk about. I don't want to just stand up here and say, "Hey, let's just talk about abortion." Certainly, there are things the government can and should do in order to support moms with unexpected pregnancies, in order to uphold the responsibility and the opportunities of fathers to parent their children. We could talk about things like expanding Medicaid, and we could talk about things like paid family leave or making sure every child's birth certificate has their father's name on it.

Yet what I find so often is we are looking at the government and saying, "If only the government would do this. If only our politicians would do that." We at some point have to step back and say, "I'm not entirely sure the government is the problem here." It might be that we're passing off our responsibilities onto them rather than being a good partner. So, what can we do? I think Job has a word for us. If you have your Bible out, turn to Job 31:13-23.

"If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless—but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow—if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things."

What I want you to hear there is not a God who is standing over your shoulder going, "You'd better give. You'd better respond. You'd better share the gospel right now," but that as we have experienced the abundant grace and mercy of God, as we see opportunities before us, we would turn and go, "I want to give and share the hope of Christ with someone who is hurting." What an opportunity. That we would respond out of a love for God's glory, reflecting his patience and endurance and kindness, and not just a passion for truth that communicates anger.

On occasion, I'll be out at the Southwestern Women's Surgery Center, which is an abortion clinic about three miles from here, just standing outside the clinic, maintaining a passion for truth. I would say, "Hey, that's life," yet calling out in kindness that just says, "Do you not know that your life is worth more? Has no one ever shared the beauty of who you are as a mom, even right now, or who you are as a woman, even right now…not externally, but as someone who is bearing God's image?"

I want to remind us, as we think about some of the things I'm going to share, what we can do… There's no hierarchy of faithfulness. We steward what God has given us, knowing that he has given us limits for a reason, that we might be drawn together to lock arms and say, "I love that you're giving to that. I'm serving in this way. How can we partner together that we would bridge the gaps, that we would jump into the trenches with those who are hurting and use whatever resources God has given us?"

I have 10 ways you can respond that we're going to run through, and I want to simplify your response. I want to make it super clear. So, really quickly, if you would, just in your mind's eye do a little virtual tour of wherever you lay your head at night, your home. As you go through wherever the bedrooms are, if one of those bedrooms is either empty or has a place that someone could sleep, for you, I want to ask you… Maybe you've already kind of gone like, "Hey, we're not doing this. We've already decided this. We're going to do this thing this other way."

Listen. There are more than 400 children waiting to be adopted in Dallas County alone right now, and on top of that, we need 400 more foster homes. So, I just want to ask: Would you begin to prayerfully consider or reconsider using your home to restore a family through foster care? If it's not foster care, that you might consider…

We just started a partnership with an organization called Safe Families that works more preventatively, going upstream, not waiting until the government has gotten involved and had to remove a child, but going upstream to care for a family that's dealing with housing instability or a child who is at risk of being removed into foster care or a mom who's pregnant who's going, "Look. I need somewhere to stay." That you would open your home and give of yourself if that's a resource you have to give.

I don't have kids waiting in the Town Center or anything. You're not signing up. That would be really weird. This isn't a spiritual guilt trip or any kind of manipulation. It's just reflecting our Father's glory. In Psalm 68, he says that he is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. He sets the lonely in families. He leads the prisoners out with singing, but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched earth.

If you just listened to all that and are like, "Look. I took my little virtual tour, and I live in a dorm" or "I live in an apartment with some really filthy people who do not clean up after themselves; we're not bringing children into that environment," then you may have checked out on that piece, but there are still incredible ways for you to get involved, because it's not just you foster, you adopt, or we don't really have anything for you to do. I want to share about some ways you can on-ramp.

Hopefully you were here last week, but if you weren't, I'm going to give you another swing at this. Pull your phone out. Hit on that little clock app. Go to set an alarm for 1:39. If you're in high school and at 1:39 every day you're circled up with your friends, you're in a class, you're at lunch, or wherever it might be, you just go, "Hey, Teach, we need to pause. We have some of us who are going to pray real quick. It's going to take about 30 seconds. We'll be right back with you. I'm sure this English lesson is very important."

That we would pray at 1:39 every day, "Lord, end abortion in our land and in our lifetime," that as we're walking past each other, we're sitting in coffee shops, we're at work, or wherever we might be, we would petition our God that he would end abortion in our land and in our lifetime. Secondly, that we would learn to have the conversation… I realize this isn't like, "Hey, so, what do you think about abortion?" You don't just bring that up casually.

You're about to be at Thanksgiving, and all of us have that aunt or uncle who absolutely crosses the line of civil discourse at Thanksgiving and jumps right into politics or the heartbeat bill or whatever it is. We have some links and some resources in our sermon notes that I want you to check out. If you don't know how to have that conversation, if you don't know how to keep that conversation centered around the most critical question, which is "What is the preborn?" or maybe "Who is the preborn?" that you would consider that, that you'd become comfortable and articulate as you have that conversation.

Additionally, one of the things I love about our church is how incredibly generous we are. Not just like, "Hey, I don't want to get my hands dirty, so I'm just going to make a bunch of money, and then I'm going to pay you to do it," but, like, I am evidence of the generosity of this church that has said, "We want somebody to be the tip of the spear to help organize and mobilize our body, so we have a whole continuum of care addressing the needs of women and men with unexpected pregnancies."

Even going up ahead of that is "How do we impact students and children to help them understand, so we're not just waiting until somebody is considering abortion to jump into a crisis moment?" As well as going downstream as we think about youth who are aging out of foster care and as we see the cycle repeating itself over and over and over again. And organizations that we partner with, like Thrive and Human Coalition and Buckner and CK Family Services and Safe Families and Watermark Health.

Oh my goodness! What a wealth of riches and privilege we have, that we would steward it well. Our Watermark Health team is delivering services around sonograms already and thinking beyond that. Our Watermark Community Development Corporation helps people transition out of jail, get jobs, understand finances, and just understand their dignity and value again, because for so long they've been sold "You have no worth."

My friend Lyn, who John mentioned earlier, serves children with additional needs, because studies show that up to 90 percent of moms who get a life-limiting diagnosis while their child is still in utero will abort…up to 90 percent. That on a Sunday morning you would just go, "Hey, once a month, I would love to be a buddy to a child in Kaleidoscope who has additional needs," and just hang out with them and befriend this family so their mom and dad can come and worship and be refreshed or might be able to drop their kids off at rEcess, which is a regular opportunity that these families with additional needs have to get a break to go reinvest in their marriage. We just get to have a ton of fun with these kids.

You might tutor or disciple a student who's aging out of foster care. We have a new relationship with Lincoln High School, which is a stone's throw from our South Dallas Campus. The school and DISD have reached out and said, "Yeah, Watermark. We will open our doors for you to come in and mentor and tutor and disciple these kids" through a partnership we've developed with an organization led by a lady here called Together We Thrive.

That you might mentor a mom with an unexpected pregnancy, knowing that this heartbeat bill… I mean, when I talk about preparing ourselves for the day abortion will be abolished, that's not like we throw up a "Mission accomplished" sign and go, "Well, that's done." We know there are moms who are still going to be hurting. We know there are men who are still going to be twisted and lost in the lies they've been sold for 50-plus years.

That we might disciple the parent of a child who has been removed into foster care so we might restore their family. We've invested time in developing a parenting curriculum we call Path to Restoration that walks alongside moms and soon dads, that we would go, "Hey, we know you love your child. Let us help you get your kids back and then stay together."

I was talking to a friend of mine in Alabama who was adopted. She's now an adult. She was sharing with me how much her church just loved her, loved her family when she was adopted, kind of paraded her around and just celebrated that. Now as an adult she looks back and says, "I wish the church would have cared for my mom as much as they cared for me."

I know I've just shared a lot of opportunities for you to jump into, and you probably have some decision fatigue right now, like, "That was a lot. Thank you for all of those options. I've forgotten most of them. I have an alarm on my clock, but besides that, completely over my head. It was really good, though. Thanks." We just want to simplify it for you. If you will shoot an email to externalfocus@watermark.org, we've already created this list of things that we'll send back to you with links and ways you can get connected.

If you have questions, you can meet our team out at the Welcome Center to just ask, "Hey, could you unpack or nuance some of this stuff? I don't want to be stuck on the feeder road. I want to on-ramp, and I am willing to stay on rather than go 'Oh gosh! There's a lot of uncertainty here,' so we off-ramp." Church, what an opportunity.

The last thing I'll say… It's not cliché. It's not like, "Hey, anytime we're going to talk about abortion, we really want to make sure we mention it." I know Melissa mentioned it, and I know John mentioned it. I'm going to say it again just because I want to communicate this to you in a loving way.

If abortion is a part of your story and you've healed from it, our Worth More ministry to women and men with abortions needs the work Christ has done in your heart and in your life to walk alongside others, to call them in out of the shadows, to remind them there's no side door into the church where we can be like, "Hey, talk about these sins, but don't talk about this one."

If abortion is a part of your story, that today might be the day shame and secrecy lose their power. There's no better time than now. If this entire time you've had a death grip on the armrests of your seat, that today would be your day, that you would share with somebody who loves you, "Abortion is a part of my story." That Romans 8:1 would ring true. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who have had an abortion and are in Christ Jesus."

If you're a family member or a friend or you're somebody who's sitting at home and somebody turns to you and says, "That's part of my story; I did that," that you wouldn't say a word, that you would just follow them down and you would get to be the arms of Christ to that woman or man, that you would get to embrace them, that you would get to encourage them, and that you would get to tell them, "God loves you. He sees you. He did not abandon you. You are still not abandoned. He loves you, because he sets the prisoners free and leads them out with singing." Would you pray with me?

O God, I don't want to build up an echo chamber for us where we pat each other on the back for how pro-life we are. I lament where we have hurt the hurting, where we have passed the on-ramp to care for women and men with unexpected pregnancies and vulnerable children and families and compromised on abolishing abortion and not even imagined how able and willing you are to do more than anything we might ask.

God, I want to remind us that we can hold fast to truth and love, knowing there are going to be women and men who will still make choices that oppose God's design and then tell us we're not loving because we won't affirm those choices, yet that doesn't excuse us from continuing to speak truth and extending love, because we know that from the first spark of light, you have created us in your image, deserving of equal protection and dignity.

As we reflect your image and grow in our affections for you, we extend invitations to those who are hurting, even those who might be opposed to us, by illuminating the gospel and opening our homes and living alongside those in need. God, what a moment for us to be alive and here in history. God, we are called out of darkness to be salt and light for such a time as this. God, would you make it so? We know you are faithful. Continue to go before us and move our hearts. God, we love you, and we ask these things in your Son's holy, powerful, and splendid name, King Jesus, the crucified and resurrected King.