Monday, December 17, 2007
Christmas should always be a special time. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I know all too well that Christmas can be a painful season for the lonely, the discouraged and for the depressed. Here in Washington I make an extra effort to reach out to the homeless, most of whom are mentally ill. Let’s all say prayers for these needy souls and do what we can to help them in practical ways. But for most, Christmas is a season for celebration and a festive time with family and friends. For true believers it’s an occasion for worship.
(For my brother, Paul, and me and our families, our Christmas this year will be saddened only by the departure of a dear, dear friend and Faith and Action supporter, the Reverend Dr. Samuel Farina of the incomparable Christian Assembly, one of Columbus, Ohio’s truly great churches. Sam and his wife, Paulette, and their entire church family have always been so gracious to us. Sam stuck with me through thick and thin, always a wise voice and kind heart, even during our most difficult days. Sam went home to heaven this week after a protracted illness. His life-long Addison’s disease rendered him incapable of fighting multiple infections. Sam’s a great gain for heaven, but a huge loss here on earth!)
Christmas has historically been one of the two high points on the Christian calendar. The other, of course, is Easter. These are the two anchors of our faith: Christmas marks the arrival, or Advent, of Immanuel—God with Us—our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The other anchor, Easter, marks the Resurrection, without which Saint Paul says our “faith is in vain.” In many ways I think of Christmas as 50% of the Christian Gospel. (The other half comes in the Resurrection!) That makes both seasons pretty important. It’s between Christmas and Easter we live out all the implications of these two cardinal doctrines: The arrival of Christ and His Resurrection.
Think about it: What does the world need most? God and Hope. Christmas is God, Easter is Hope! Many think God has forgotten them, or that He is inaccessible, uncaring or unknowable. They long for contact with something larger, deeper and more powerful than themselves. We all desire to connect with the transcendent. It’s a primordial need to link back to The Creator. Christmas is the announcement of that longed-for reunion!
“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
This Christmas I pray you and yours will know and celebrate this Great Joy. If you do not know the Savior, this is a wonderful season to call out to Him in repentance. To repent means to turn—turn away from our own devices and towards the God who made us and loves us. God has a plan, a purpose and a design for your life, both in the here and now and beyond into eternity. Our greatest happiness comes when we embrace His will for our lives. This is why Jesus Himself taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus took his own advice when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) Here’s to making this Christmas about more than just good food, fellowship and gift-giving. It’s about surrender to the will and plan of God for our lives!
While we’re on Christmas, our ever-busy partner Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, spent this weekend in New York City where he set up the only approved Nativity Scene on public property—in the middle of Times Square! Maybe you saw it on one of the network news shows. We’ve joined with Rev. Mahoney in his Nativity Project, encouraging folks to obtain permits for Christmas displays in public spaces. We’ve also partnered with another friend of many years, Dr. Charles Nestor, who’s spearheading Operation Nativity, encouraging folks to display manger scenes on their own private property. These are easy, practical ways to bring Christ back into American Christmas observances, something badly needed!
And, speaking of bringing Christ back into Christmas, I had a talk with one of my covert accessories to ministry here in Washington. (We work with many people whose jobs are so sensitive, we keep their identities anonymous.) He’s a relatively new Christian and he expressed his growing distress over the utter commercialization of this season. He urged me to pray about a movement that would take us back to a more simple time when Christmas was exactly that, Christ-mas. He’s right—even Christians have succumbed to a supplanting of the real focus of this Holy Day with a bottom-line, profit-driven, frenetic earth-bound extravaganza. Please pray with me about this. Perhaps the Lord will grant us insight into how we can pull our American civilization back from the brink of neo-paganism, starting with reclaiming Christmas from Kris Kringle and Santa Claus and giving it back to Jesus Christ!
This post would not be complete without thanking all those who are sending in generous end-of-year gifts to help us balance the books here at Faith and Action. We’re just $50,000 away from being in the black. Please help us end this year strong so we can enter ’08 ready to go. It’s going to be one of the most intense years we’ve spent here on Capitol Hill, and we can’t let red ink weaken us! (The best way for you to help is to make your tax-deductible gift online using a credit or debit card at our website, http://www.faithandaction.org/.) Otherwise, you can mail your check or money order to Faith and Action, 109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002. So long as it’s postmarked before December 31, you can deduct it from this year’s taxes!)
By the way, a huge heart-felt thanks to all our friends at the marvelous Believers Life Family Church of Gretna, Louisiana, on the West Bank of that storied city of New Orleans. Pastors Randy and Cathy Cilluffo always make me feel like family. They did again this weekend when I preached there. The church's over-the-top offering comes like manna from heaven to us at this time of the year. Thank YOU, one and all, for your wonderful Christmas gift to this ministry!
For now, I’ll leave you with my prayers for you and your family—that God will grant you a peaceful, joyous time for sharing His love with your loved ones. May you all enjoy a blessed Christ-mas and New Year filled with His hope!
Be back in ’08!
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Monday, December 10, 2007
Read on to get the answer to the banner question on this post!
I’m a little late because last week was a whirlwind. It was delivery week for our annual Congressional Christmas Outreach: 535 hand-delivered Christmas packages. Every single member of the United States Congress (435 representatives and 100 senators) received a special Christmas card (to get their attention), a personalized letter from me (to warm their hearts and open their minds) and a colorful, well-written, crystal clear Gospel tract explaining the true meaning of Christmas using the appropriate scripture texts. In-other-words, everything a member of congress needs to know in order to find the Savior! Thank you to each who helped fund and pray for this all-important Christmas season ministry to our nation’s top elected officials!
That wasn’t all for last week. There were several planning meetings, including with our number one ally on Capitol Hill—the friend without which we could not do the most important aspects of our ministry work. (He remains nameless to protect his delicate position.) While this may sound oh-so-mundane, strategic planning is more and more a vital part of our work. Navigating the difficult waters of Capitol Hill has never been easy, but since the changes in leadership here—and the resulting escalation in hostility towards things Christian—it’s gotten that much more challenging. It reminds me very much of the frosty reception I got when I first arrived here back in those anti-Christian Clinton days in late 1994, just before the “Republican Revolution” brought so many Christians to Washington. The Bush presidency brought even more Bible believers and the spiritual winter here turned to summer. But alas, as the seasons change, so does the climate on the Hill and the cold winds blow again! All this is to say the current and more difficult environment demands more than ever we be as “wise as serpents.” It’s not as easy, so it takes better strategies, and we are busy prayerfully putting those strategic plans together for 2008.
Speaking about 2008, that was another part of last weeks’ frenetic activity. Just after recording my Faith and Action Live! weekly audio and video pod cast (get it at our website: www.faithandaction.org), I was invited to join Jay Sekulow and other Christian leaders at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, for a speech by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney, as you well know, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), otherwise known as “Mormons.” Mormonism, as you also know, differs significantly from “orthodox” Christianity on a number of points, not the least of which include the nature of God and Christ Himself, the reliability of the Bible and the way of salvation. Yet, Mormons are deeply religious and morally conservative people. There have been several recent instances of vitally important alliances between Evangelicals, traditional Catholics and Mormons on paramount moral issues, like the sanctity of traditional marriage. I believe this new alliance is so important I’ve begun a formal dialogue with LDS church leadership.
In any case, Mitt Romney’s religion has become such a big distraction in campaign media coverage, he felt it necessary to address the subject straight on. I’m glad he did. In fact, I had advised the Governor to do so more than a year ago, before he was a declared candidate. Whether I had anything to do with his final decision on going with this speech, I don’t know. In any case, it was a good speech; perhaps one of the greatest in campaign history. “Faith in America,” as Governor Romney titled it, was modeled somewhat after John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association defending himself against suspicions about his Roman Catholic faith.
I say Romney’s speech was great because it was extremely well-crafted, delivered sincerely and exquisitely, and touched on all the right dimensions of this difficult issue. (Not to mention the prestigious venue complete with an introduction by a former president!) The speech is also virtually unique because Governor Romney is the first Mormon to give such an address. (He’s not the first Mormon to run for president—that was LDS founder Joseph Smith in 1844! Other LDS candidates include Morris Udall in ’76, Mitt’s own father, George Romney, in ’68 and my friend, Orrin Hatch in 2000.)
Evangelicals like me have enormous differences with the LDS on matters of doctrine, but that wasn’t really the point of this speech. Whether you feel you could vote for a Mormon is a matter between you and your conscience as it is best informed through prayer and the Word of God. (But do keep in mind our American Founders wisely ensured there would never be a religious test for office when they passed the Sixth Amendment.) As far as making a case for those things we hold in common with many Mormons, especially the paramount importance of religious freedom and its place in public life, “Faith in America” was a bell-ringer. I encourage you to review the speech for yourself and make your own judgment. (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/12/faith_in_america.html) I’m glad I was there, if for no other reason than to watch history being made! Do check out our soon-to-be posted religious profile of Romney as candidate, again at our website under “Presidential Candidates” along the left-hand menu.
Mentioning any of the candidates—and especially Mitt Romney—begs the above question, So what do you think of Huckabee? As I’ve said and will say over and over, I do not endorse candidates. That being said, I don’t know much about Mike Huckabee. I won’t make the mistake many did with Jimmy Carter in 1976 and assume that because he testifies to being “born again,” all is well. The big question with a presidential candidate is not simply are his principles right, but can he win an election and, once elected, can he (or she) govern effectively? Personally, as I examine each candidate I ask what does he believes and based on what? How do those beliefs express themselves publicly and privately? Is this person equipped to conduct a successful campaign? Once elected, is he able to translate those beliefs into action in office? There is no monster larger, more complex, more potentially dangerous or more stressful than the executive branch of the United States government. A candidate may be well-intentioned, properly oriented spiritually, possess a pleasing personality, good looks and all that, but in the end be an ineffective leader on such a grand scale. We saw that in Bill Clinton. He carried a big Bible; told of walking the aisle of a Billy Graham Crusade; golfed with a Pentecostal pastor buddy; could preach with the best of them, even in a black church pulpit; was the darling of so many—yet, Bill Clinton was a disaster in office.
All I can tell you on this one so far is pray, do your research. (You can’t make the call on this one based on 20-second sound bites and sensational headlines!) Ask the hard questions, know who and what your voting for, and find out what a president does and must do. What I will say is you must be fully engaged in the process. If we do nothing, we deserve anything. If we don’t do our part, we have no right to complain afterwards: Pray, research and act!
Last word: Yesterday I had a rare Sunday home with my wife at my own church. (I'm out preaching somewhere in the country the rest of the weekends.) Our pastor brought a powerful message on repentance. This is the theme I've been praying on, preaching on and acting on for the last several months. "Repent!" is the cry of the hour. If we're counting on the Lord giving this nation the righteous leadership it needs, it must begin with the people humbling themselves before Him--and that begins with God's people! Judgment begins in the house of the Lord: "If MY PEOPLE will humble themselves . . . turn from their wicked ways . . ." I'll have more to say about this in future posts. Pray with me!
Happy 7th night of Hanukkah! (View my Faith and Action Live Hanukkah special report at http://www.faithandaction.org/video/Faa_Live_Season_2_Broadcast_10.wmv)
Back with more . . .
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Friday, November 30, 2007
(The parenthetical comment above begs another little sidebar: Some years ago I had a staff member who was white, but she was born in Africa. She still carried her native passport. My chief administrative assistant at the time was a black woman whose family had been in the US for many generations. The two got into a spirited but jovial debate over who really qualified as an “African American!” It was never resolved!)
Sponsored by LEARN (The Life, Education and Resource Network), the two-day event includes a panoply of speakers, musicians, medical professionals and church leaders. Among those on the program will be noted author and mega-church pastor Wellington Boone of The Father’s House in Norcross, Georgia. Well-known jazz hymnist Philippe Fields will give a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, will be there. She’s a tireless campaigner on behalf of post-abortive women. Pastor Barney and I will have platform time as well.
The founding national director of LEARN is dear, dear friend to my brother, Paul, and me, the Reverend Dr. Johnny Hunter. Johnny and his wife Pat have been very big parts of our lives and ministries for nearly 20 years. We’ve been through thick and thin together; I’d like to say to the gates of Hell and back! We’ve shared many experiences together: on our knees crying out to God, tag-team preaching in pulpits, leading prayer vigils on sidewalks in front of abortion mills, done jail time together for saving babies and their mothers, and even shared more than one podium in the United States Capitol!
There are few people with whom I share such a deep brotherhood. Johnny is like a triplet to my twin brother and me. (To use a hackneyed joke: He likes to say he’s the black sheep of our family!) But there are also few people I respect as much as Johnny. He’s gone where angels fear to tread. Taking a passionate pro-life message into the realm of prominent black churches is challenging enough, yet Johnny’s done far more. God has used him to mobilize large numbers of black pastors, some of whom lead their people right to Hell’s door. It’s astounding how many of the pastors Johnny has reached out to now take their people to pray, witness and minister outside the doors of abortion businesses. As a result many women, babies and men have been saved—spiritually and physically!
Please take time to learn about LEARN. This is the breakthrough in the minority community for which so many have prayed for so long. Minorities, especially African Americans, have a moral platform white folk just don’t have. The LEARN conference will be broadcast live over the Internet at www.prolifenews.tv beginning tonight, Friday, November 30, 2007, 7:00 PM and tomorrow, Saturday, December 1, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. For a rebroadcast schedule visit http://www.learnsummit.org/.
Please pray for Pastor Johnny Hunter and the good people with LEARN. And pray for Pastor Barney and me as we work to support and strengthen them.
Back with more . . .
Monday, November 26, 2007
I didn’t get out of town until late Wednesday night. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons I remotely guest hosted my friend Adam McManus’s daily talk radio show, Adam McManus Live! broadcasted out of San Antonio, Texas on KSLR. Over the years I’ve been a frequent guest of Adam’s. His is one of the most professionally produced shows of its kind in the country. While it’s getting tougher to take on extracurricular assignments like this one, I do enjoy Adam and his audience. Until I did these “gigs,” I could not appreciate the considerable mental and physical energy required to keep a three-hour talk show format going. Hats off to all the many hosts I’ve taken for granted all these years. You people really do work very, very hard!
On Tuesday’s program I was alone in the borrowed studio just a couple of blocks from our ministry center. (In case you’re wondering, it’s in the nearby Heritage Foundation building.) Sitting here in Washington in front of a microphone, I may as well be in San Antonio. The listeners there hear no difference. I am always deeply appreciative to Adam’s production staff in Texas and the local studio personnel. They keep me on track by barking directions to me through my headphones and on the computer screen!
Wednesday I had with me my old friend, Charles Nestor, whom I mentioned in last week’s post. Charles and his wife, Belinda, were here for our 25th Anniversary Gala. We got talking afterwards about his Operation Nativity, an effort to remind Americans of the true reason for the Christmas season. Charles retired from being a very successful pastor after he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but that’s hardly put him out of business. He remains one of America’s great preachers and Bible teachers. He’s also senior fellow for public policy at the National Clergy Council and, of course, is spearheading this new initiative in promoting Christmas nativity scenes on private property. We talked about Operation Nativity for two hours on Wednesday’s broadcast, fielding lots of interesting phone calls. I think you can listen to the archived broadcasts as www.kslr.com.
As a result of our Thanksgiving Day appeal, my brother, Paul, and I received hundreds of praise reports from all over the country. With them came an equal number of prayer requests. We now have over 32,000 supporters from all 50 states and several foreign countries. This year we will have mailed almost 3 million letters and 1.5 million E-mails to our growing ministry family. As we continue to increase in size, we don’t want to decrease in our depth of friendship with you. I promise you—you will never become simply a database record number here! You are a friend, a brother or sister in Christ and literally God’s lifeline to us! That’s why we invited you to send in your praise and thanksgiving reports over the holiday, so we can join in thanking God with you and for you.
Please keep in touch. We’re certainly grateful for your generous financial support and prayers for this ministry. One way to express our gratitude to the Lord and to you is to join you in prayer—in the good times and the bad. Please always feel free to send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We’re your extended family in Washington, DC!
Thank you—and thank God for you!
More later . . .
Monday, November 19, 2007
I’m not often caught short for words, but I am in describing how wonderful this past Saturday was for my brother, Paul, and me, our families and our ministry team. Nearly 350 friends packed the ballroom of the Washington Renaissance Hotel for an evening of good food, fellowship and challenge as Paul and I celebrated 25 years of unbroken Christian service.
Just walking into that elegantly decorated room made obvious all the very, very hard work done by our co-chairs, Faith and Action supporters Wayne and Melissa Newsome, and, of course, our dedicated staff team led by Peggy Birchfield. Joining them were many, many volunteers. What a table they set!
Perhaps you were there to hear the fabulous 60–voice New Antioch Baptist Church choir ensemble. They lit up the place! So did our long-time friend Pat Mahoney, the most energetic, entertaining and edgy MC we’ve engaged for an event like this. Pat was perfect—and hilarious!
Our speakers were dynamic and exceedingly generous in their comments about Paul and me and the ministries we’ve led. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and one of the top constitutional lawyers in America (and around the world), spoke very kindly about our partnership over the last twenty years. Dr. Charles Nestor, one of the truly great pulpiteers left in this country, reflected on the 30 years we’ve walked together. (I say that with every bit of irony, because Charles doesn’t do much walking now. His body is bound to a wheelchair by MS, but his spirit is unquenchable!) Charles was as electrifying as ever once his elevated automatic chair brought him back to the sacred desk!
Others who spoke Saturday evening included pro-life champion Fr. Frank Pavone, senior United States Senator Orrin Hatch, Ambassador from Morocco Aziz Mekouar, Christian philanthropist and radio talk show host Steve Peroutka, former Navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt (who fought a victorious battle for the rights of chaplains to pray in Jesus’ name) and Pastor Kenneth Barney of the New Antioch church. Somebody said it well at the end of the night, “You held a dinner and church broke out!”
Speaking of church, we had plenty of churches represented in the room. Many of our supporting churches were there; congregational representatives from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Utah, just to name a few of their home bases.
And there were plenty of old and new friends who lead great ministries themselves: Wendy Wright of Concerned Women of America, Bill Murray of Religious Freedom Coalition, Joe Griebowski of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, Johnny Hunter of Life, Education and Resource Network, and precious Norma McCorvey, the once and former “Jane Roe” of the infamous Roe v. Wade case. Today, Norma is a tireless champion of the Gospel of Life!
A few other notables who joined us Saturday:
- Dr. Jim Hutson, premiere U.S. historian and top authority on Jefferson and the truth about the so-called “Separation of Church and State.”
- Rev. Pierre Bynum, pastoral ministry coordinator at the Family Research Council
- Harry Valentine of Capitol Hill Prayer Alert
- Ohio Judge Randy Rogers whose book, From the Bench, tells heartwarming stories of adoption miracles from his own courtroom.
- World War II hero General Mil Roberts, who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, surviving against incredible odds to penetrate deep behind enemy lines.
Paul and I will never be able to say enough to thank so many for making one night so memorable. But as I said in my short remarks afterwards, “it’s nice to look back, but it’s always challenging to look forward. It’s not so much what’s gone before, but what lies ahead that concerns us.”
Capital Club financial supporters will soon receive a CD compilation of Paul’s and my messages at the anniversary gala, together with the other speakers and photos from this special evening. Others will be able to order it online or obtain it for a contribution by calling 202-546-8329, extension 104. You’ll also see it at our materials table when I’m out in speaking in churches.
Thank you for making this first quarter-century possible through your prayers, friendship and partnership. I keep saying over and over, we couldn’t do what God has called us to do if you didn’t faithfully do what God has called you to do. God willing and delaying Jesus’ return, Paul and I now embark on our next quarter-century and longer. There’s still so much work to do!
Be back later . . .
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
It sounds obnoxious to many non-New Yorkers, but the phrase, “You have no idea!” fills my childhood memories. Mom said it a lot—still uses it, though she doesn’t talk much these days. I still find it useful, but after 13 years as a resident of Northern Virginia (we live 35 miles east of Washington, DC), it’s beginning to wear off.
I used it here to get your attention. I want you to know that “you have no idea” how important you are to my brother, Paul, and me and our ministry team! Because you do what God has called you to do, we’re able to do what God has called us to do. It’s that simple. It takes a team to do ministry; not one or two, or even three or four, but a whole team, to get it done.
In just 10 days, Paul and I will host our ministry’s 25th anniversary Silver Celebration here in Washington. (I hope you’ll be with us! You can still get tickets—and very cheap rooms. Visit www.faithandaction.org for details!) When I think of the people who will be in that banquet hall on November 17, I am speechless. I wonder sometimes why they’ve been so generous with their time, talent and treasure. Then I realize it has nothing whatsoever to do with us or our ministry. All these friends are the provision of God to get HIS WORK done on this earth. God is the great chess master—developing His strategy and lining up His moves long before any of this enters our minds.
As we approach the Silver Celebration gala, my mind goes to a car ride with Ed Schoonmaker in 1977. I was in Bible college. Ed was probably in his fifties; I was still a kid. We talked theology, ministry and life. He handed me a check for $1000 towards the work I was doing then. It laid the groundwork for what would eventually lead to the ministry we have today. These 31 years later, Ed and his precious wife, Marian, still send us financial support, including a recent check for $1000. It’s more precious to me now than it was then—and that’s saying a lot!
I think about Dr. Dave Martinke and his family. Dave was still in medical school when he first sent us support. He later volunteered for various ministry outreaches we did. Then, he virtually gave himself to leading and developing our international work through Operation Serve; not only funding much of it, but training short-term missionaries, supervising the work in the field and developing an overall strategic plan. Dave was the first to accompany me on my fact-finding visit to Washington, DC, in 1994. He and his wife, Daryl, remain among our most faithful prayer and financial supporters.
There’s Pastor Myke Crowder of Layton, Utah’s amazing Christian Life Center. Myke’s been flying back and forth from Utah to Washington ever since we got started here on Capitol Hill. He and his wife Marsha and their wonderful church have backed us financially since our very first endeavors here. I’m often in his pulpit to give a report from the field. What can you say about that kind of generosity and faithfulness? I can’t find the words.
The list goes on and on and on. The night of November 17 there will be people present who have gone to the gates of hell and back with us for the cause of Christ and His Gospel:
. . . Pastor Johnny Hunter, our dear, dear brother and friend—one of the first African-American church leaders to take on the cause of Life, and he has paid dearly for it.
. . . Rev. Pat Mahoney, who is always there for us—and with us, even in the really dangerous moments; when we feel like crying, Pat always makes us laugh! (And he’ll do plenty of it November 17!)
. . . Mike and Steven Peroutka, whose enormous selflessness and generosity pay completely for our National Pro-Life Action Center. What can we say?
. . . Don and Gayle Wright, whose giving of themselves and their resources knows no end.
. . . Wayne and Melissa Newsome, the most selfless, invisible and kind financiers of God’s work you will ever meet.
. . . Christ and Dolly Lapp (yes, that’s how he spells it!), quiet, unassuming, never letting their right hand know what their left hand is giving—and it’s doing a lot of giving!
. . . Bernie and Lee Reese: You name the Christian endeavor in this country, and it’s got their fingerprints all over it!
. . . Fr. Frank Pavone—with us since the very first National Memorial for the Pre-born in 1994 and still with us in every way; as if Fr. Frank doesn’t have too much to do running America’s largest pro-life organization!
. . . Dr. Charles Nestor, a genius and one of the greatest pulpiteers in American church history. Now bound to a wheelchair with MS, Charles remains our stalwart friend and companion in all we do. (What did he see in two baby-faced teenage preachers those 32 years ago?)
The list could go on and on and on, filling more space than I have here. You are on the list, and we are more grateful for you than words can ever tell.
Thank you for all you do for the Lord, for His work and for us. There will never be enough time this side of eternity to say adequate thanks.
Monday, October 29, 2007
What you read in the newspapers, hear on radio or see on television isn’t everything that goes on around here. While my primary responsibility is to lead Faith and Action in its mission to “Challenge Capitol Hill with Biblical Truth and Change the Nation One Policymaker at a Time,” there’s plenty more seats I occupy for the sake of the Gospel.
Here are just a few:
- The National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC). As a board member and past president, I advise and do some work for this virtually unique organization. Its aim is really two-fold, to pray and work for a pro-life witness within major Christian denominations and provide an alternative voice to apostate, pro-abortion, liberal “churches.” The NPRC is now the prime sponsor of our National Memorial for the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers, the only full-scale pro-life Christian worship service held inside the US Capitol complex here on Capitol Hill. “The Memorial,” as we call it, is a remembrance of all the victims of abortion—babies, mothers and fathers—as well as a celebration of God’s gift of Life. It coincides with the annual March for Life. Both events fall on January 22, the exact anniversary of the infamous Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the blood gates of abortion. Watch for more information at our website, http://www.faithandaction.org/.
- The Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP). As a board member and member of the President’s Circle, I advise the IRPP on achieving its objective of promoting Religious Liberty as the foundation to all human rights. The Institute under its founding president, my friend, Joseph Grieboski, does unparalleled work. It was Joe who first invited me to Morocco, the beginning of our ongoing Christian Friendship Mission there. That same delegation of Evangelicals included Faith and Action trustee and founder of the huge Creation Christian music festivals, Harry Thomas. He has put together the only two large-scale Christian music festivals in the Arab speaking world, both in the fabled Moroccan city of Marrakech. The last festival drew some 200,000 attendees!
My latest foray with the IRPP was to Sudan and its deeply troubled Darfur region. Joe and his team do a masterful job engaging even the most hostile governments. We met with high-level officials and toured refugee camps, talking at great length with local tribal leaders.
- The National Clergy Council (NCC). I serve as president of this organization, originally founded by my brother, Dr. Paul Schenck, as a pro-life action group of pastors in Western New York. The NCC quickly grew into a much larger network with a more expansive set of concerns including the Sanctity of Life, the Sanctity of Marriage and the Family and the Public Acknowledgment of God. Today the NCC involves thousands of church leaders from all traditions including Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant. In fact, we now have a denomination represented for every letter of the alphabet! The NCC is a powerful force here on the Hill. Elected officials know how powerfully persuasive the pulpit is—and that the average pastor shakes hands with hundreds of people (read that voters) each week.
- The Evangelical Church Alliance (ECA). The ECA is America’s oldest association of Evangelical Christian clergy, dating back to the late 19th century and the archetypal revival movements of D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey and I am in my third term as a board member and in my second term as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society. We also maintain the largest number of active duty military chaplains from Evangelical ranks. The ECA not only provides for me a place of rich fellowship, but also Biblical accountability. My involvement with the ECA is a great asset as it adds substantial credibility to my opinions here on Capitol Hill and throughout the country, particularly with the media.
- The Capitol Hill Executive Service Club. As an active member and past board member, this 35-year old networking group provides much needed friendship, mutual encouragement and incomparable access to people and places here. The Club hosts a weekly parade of unique leaders that address our Thursday morning breakfast meeting. The seven years I’ve been with them have been some of the most memorable and worthwhile I’ve sent with any particular group. On any given week we may host a Supreme Court justice, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a world-class author or senior United States senator. Here in Washington, people equal access and vital information. A get a lot of both—not to mention quality friendships and alliances—from this unique collection of America’s finest!
- The Council for National Policy (CNP). Feared by every liberal, the CNP is one of the oldest and most influential culturally and politically conservative groups in the nation. I can’t say much about who sits among its members, but I can say it has had an unparalleled role in shaping public policy and opinion since the days of Ronald Reagan. Thought not an exclusively Christian group, it includes many of America’s top conservative Christians. As a new member of the CNP board of governors, I now have an unmatched opportunity to play a decisive role in preserving what is best about America.
As you can see, with this and so much more—my regular preaching schedule, frequent media interviews, routine consultations with many more groups—I’m anything but bored!
More later---for now, I’ve got to get to work!
Monday, October 22, 2007
This past week was a whirlwind. In order of importance it involved clear direction from the Lord on a number of issues; big family matters and, finally, big presidential race issues!
I’ll start from the top: We’ve prayerfully settled on a five-year plan that includes some very big developments on the ministry front. You’ll hear all about them at our upcoming 25th Anniversary gala, Saturday, November 17. If you haven’t already secured your tickets, please do it now as seats are filling very fast!
On the family front, my Mom and Dad are in a wonderful Catholic nursing facility back home in Buffalo, New York. (Their preference!) Both need round-the-clock care and they feel much more secure in a medical environment. It’s excruciating to be more than 500 miles away, so my brother and I get up there as often as possible. (Our two older sisters live near to the home and look after my folks, which is a huge relief. That’s in addition to the Sister who runs the place who sees each resident as her ministry charges!) Never-the-less, this past week was a crisis.
It was one of the few Sundays in the past several months that I wasn’t out preaching somewhere in the country. I thank God I wasn’t out because when I got the call that Mom had plunged into a sudden and deep dementia, I immediately ran for the airport. Every affordable flight was sold out but my Dad’s tutelage in how to get things done paid off again. I offered a young college student a handsome sum of money to take a later plane, which opened one seat for me on the earliest possible flight!
I found Mom in a disturbing psychotic state when I arrived. She saw fires in her room, talked with imaginary people, uncharacteristically barked in anger at everyone, including my Dad, her husband of 52 years, whom she no longer knew. It was painful to watch, and even more painful to be unable to do anything about it. But it didn’t take long for my sisters and me to determine things just didn’t add up. For one, dementia doesn’t usually come on so suddenly. We looked elsewhere—to her many prescription medications. We narrowed it down to one new drug that had recently been introduced to help control her worsening Parkinson’s disease. I asked for a PDR (Physicians’ Desk Reference, a sort of pharmaceutical encyclopedia) and discovered the drug can have psychotic side effects. We demanded she be weaned off of it immediately. Within hours Mom blossomed back into the joyful, lovely, happy woman she has always been with full cognition and recall! Praise God!
Here’s my thanks and prayers for my fellow middle-aged “sandwich” generation members who, like Cheryl and me, are helping launch adult children while saying hello to elder parent care. It ain’t easy—and boy, don’t I know it! (What do I have to complain about? My brother, Paul, still has four under-age kids at home while sharing this responsibility for our parents!) May the Lord help us all to do right by those He gives us!
OK, now onto the presidential race: Last week I attended the Values Voter Forum here in Washington. All the candidates were invited, but only Republicans showed up. I won’t comment on all of them, but I will tell you the ones who really impressed me.
First, the winner of the Values Voter straw poll, Mitt Romney: You know I met with the former Massachusetts governor back in March. (I had actually talked with him one-on-one a year earlier, but only briefly.) He impressed me before and again this past week. Romney’s speech to the attendees focused on family, for which he is a shining example of convincing personal experience. (Married 37 years to the same woman; five outstanding sons and ten grandkids!) Gov. Romney rightly said the family is the building block of society. (See my book on the Ten Commandments, Ten Words That Will Change A Nation, chapter 5.) He stated unequivocally that he will be a pro-life president; he will re-instate President Reagan’s family impact statement for all government programs, policies and initiatives; he will use the presidential bully pulpit to promote chastity until marriage; and he will back a constitutional amendment defining marriage as limited to one man and one woman. It really rang true—and it rang the bell with attendees. (In the audience were many of the most significant pro-life, pro-family and pro-religious freedom advocates in the country.)
The other outstanding presentation was little known former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. He’s an unquestioned Evangelical (a former Baptist pastor) with an illustrious record of leadership in his home state. He has an unbroken history of being absolutely right on all our critical social and moral concerns. If you saw his recent appearances on any of the talk shows, you know he’s also a fabulous communicator—a critical skill he shares with Mitt Romney. Still, with all those important elements, there was an air of doubt among the people I spoke to about whether or not Huckabee has the internal drive and organizational ability to pull off a victory in the most difficult, challenging and demanding contest on earth. It’s looking more and more inevitable that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee. Let’s be gut-level honest: The real question is, Does Mike Huckabee have the dynamism, charisma, star-power and good-looking contrast to go up against her celebrity stature? That remains to be seen.
As far as the other would-be nominees who appeared at the Values Voter Forum, I can’t identify another “player.” Rudy Giuliani’s recalcitrant pro-choice position presents a virtually insurmountable obstacle to winning any appreciable percentage of pro-life votes. Fred Thomas did not seem to excite the room and I wasn’t there for the others, but neither was there much post-event chatter about them.
This is a difficult and challenging political season for all of us. I haven’t endorsed anyone—and I probably won’t. For now I am following Jesus’ instructions to His disciples, “Watch and pray.”
More later . . .
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002
P.S. After I wrote the above post, I received this from Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt (or "Chaps," as so many know him), famous for being thrown out of the Navy for praying publicly in Jesus' name. I didn't know anything about this incident regarding Ambassador Alan Keyes, but I include it here for your assessment: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58265.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Believe it or not I recently spent nearly an hour at Democratic National Committee headquarters here in Washington in a private meeting with DNC chairman Howard Dean. You probably remember the former governor of Vermont and past presidential candidate because of the mocking notoriety he received after his 2004 “I Have a Scream” campaign speech.
Many will ask, what was I doing there with Dean? The short answer is: seizing and opportunity for Biblical Truth.
The Democrats—just like the Republicans—are courting as many religious leaders in this country as they can; particularly Evangelicals. I’m regularly targeted because of our high profile here at Faith and Action, as well as my position as chairman of the committee on church and society for the Evangelical Church Alliance.
Until now I’ve declined many invitations to meet with campaign and party operatives. In fact, I spend a good chunk of my days fending off approaches. But this meeting proposal was different. First, I was assured it would be a “no-holds-barred” conversation; nothing taboo; no limitations. And, it was arranged by a very good friend who’s been a huge help to our Morocco Christian Friendship mission. Just to be sure I wasn’t used though, I insisted on taking along my trusty friend, Rev. Pat Mahoney. Pat’s great. He’s from New Jersey. Nobody gets away with anything when Pat’s in the room!
The intermediary agreed and told me Pat and I would be in charge of the agenda. We were credibly assured there would be no holding us captive to a lecture on how the Democrats were the real party for religious Americans or anything like that. We wouldn’t be pitched to support a candidate, or even support a Democrat at all. And, we’d get to talk; to share our testimonies of faith in Christ; to put anything we wanted on the table.
So, after getting prayerful counsel, Pat and I went over to DNC Headquarters on South Capitol Street. I must admit to some trepidation. After all, to Christians activists like me, the DNC has stood like a Nebuchadnezzar’s image above a fiery furnace. It’s been a symbol of massive, organized and powerful hostility to the three things of paramount importance to us: The Sanctity of Life, the Sanctity of Marriage and the Public Acknowledgement of God. What’s more, the DNC’s been our tormentor: It was a Democratic president that used his first day in office to strike down even the most modest restrictions on abortion. It was a Democratic attorney general that dragged an endless number of completely innocent pastors, pro-life advocates and their financial supporters before a secret grand jury, accusing them of aiding and abetting violent extremists. It was a Democratic White House that opened an official office of gay and lesbian liaison, bolstering homosexual political groups in their quest to re-shape American sexual mores. And, it’s now a Democratic Congress that has all but completely excluded morally conservative groups from using US Capitol facilities.
Yet, like Daniel’s own experience, there comes a time when even the most hostile king will show a crack in his armor; a chink that starts as genuine curiosity, albeit mixed with self-serving motives. (That self-serving part is true of everyone here in Washington. It’s just reality. You learn to work with it, rather than against it. I call it the “Christian jujitsu” technique!)
When I was approached for the meeting with Dean, I sensed a “Daniel-and-Darius-Moment." (See Daniel, chapter 6) I’m not sure this one will end with a decree that all Democrats must “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,” but stranger things have happened!
I told Governor Dean our main proposal was for a public “conversation” on the core principles that drive morally conservative Christians when it comes to public policy and elections. This would not be a shouting match, angry debate or mutual lecturing. It would be a civil discussion, held in a public venue, with ample time to give real answers to hard questions. (Think of Paul before Festus or with the pagan philosophers at the Areopagus.) Much to our surprise, he immediately accepted our idea and our terms!
If you’ve heard me preach, you know I often begin by saying, “I’m not here to say God is a Republican. But neither do I say He’s a Democrat. His ways are far above our ways, and His thoughts are far above our thoughts, including our vulgar politics.” (In Deuteronomy 17:20, God even instructs us not pick civil leaders who turn to the “right hand or to the left.” I don’t think this means God always likes an Independent, but one thing I do know, God’s Word has the answer for any Democrat or Republican who’s wondering which direction to go!)
If any candidate, any party leader or any public official wants to know why we believe what we do—and they’re prepared to let us give the answer from God’s Word—I’m ready to do it:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
We’ll see what really gets accomplished in this never before face-to-face with Chairman Dean and His party, but I know what I’m praying for! (I’ll let you know how it goes, or if it goes at all.) For now, all this means is we have an agreement to meet again with Dean, in a very public way, and engage in a civil exchange on the really, really important questions of what and why Christians believe. And Pat and I have agreed to reciprocate with how and why we may or may not be able to work with Democrats in the future.
Most importantly, we will give an answer for the hope we have.
Back later . . .
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The question I’m asked most these days goes something like, “So whad’ya think of that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism?” More times than not, they mean, “I like some things about him, but I’m afraid of his religion.”
The first thing I tell people who ask me this is when it comes to political candidates—especially for president—religious affiliations mean nothing. Just remember the two Southern Baptists we’ve had in office: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton! (If that doesn’t surprise you, George Bush is a United Methodist that attends a liberal Episcopal Church!)
What matters is not the religious label people wear. Barack Obama is a member of the same denomination as that of the great 19th-century revivalist and abolitionist Charles Finney. (This week on Faith and Action Live! I’ll talk about Obama’s recent comments at Redemption World Outreach Center in South Carolina.) What really matters is the “fruit” of a person’s whole life. In fact, it’s not accurate to look only to the past because people do change while in public office, often drastically. If we looked back on Bill and Hillary Clinton, at one point in their careers they were actually pro-life; Ronald Reagan was pro-abortion; and Barry Goldwater, whose campaign reignited both the Republican Party and political conservatism, arranged for his own daughter, who was pregnant out of wedlock, to have an illegal abortion in 1955.
What matters is what a candidate credibly stands for now, is willing to be held accountable for in the future, and whether he or she has a realistic program for achieving those outcomes during his or her presidency. For me, the litmus test is easy: Does the candidate credibly stand for the three great pillars of morality and culture, especially the sanctity of life (which includes security for all Americans from the womb on) the sanctity of marriage and the family and the public acknowledgment of God?
I’m not suggesting we look for the perfect candidate because you’ll never find one. (Ronald Reagan was married twice and First Lady Nancy consulted the Zodiac.) But on the whole, does this person’s life, values, platform, the company he or she keeps, suggest this candidate can strengthen the moral and cultural foundations of American civilization? And if so, does he or she have a credible plan and an apparent capacity to actually get it done while in office? These are the operative questions.
Whether it’s Rudy Giuliani’s or Sam Brownback’s Roman Catholicism, Hillary Clinton’s or John Edwards’ Methodism, Barack Obama’s United Church of Christ membership (and I’ve actually preached in some good United Churches of Christ!), Fred Thompson’s church of Christ background (the one with the small “c” in “church”), Mike Huckabee’s Baptist ordination, or so on and so forth, it’s the core principles and credibility that count—not the labels.
There are good Christians and bad; good conservatives and bad; good "others" and bad. Mitt Romney’s church label means nothing as far as his fitness for president, just as is true with all the rest. When it comes to a person’s convictions, capacities and credibility, church labels can mean everything and they can mean nothing at all. In fact, in many cases they mean the exact opposite of what we might think. Church labels may even mean two different things at once: Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Harry Reid are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but they espouse very different political views.
The Founders made it quite clear in the Constitution: There would be no religious test for public office: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI) That was supremely wise.
I’ll make a confession to you: I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 because he was the “born again” candidate who taught the Bible in his Baptist Sunday school. That was the last time I let a church label mean anything, one way or the other.
My best advice is to judge Mitt Romney and the rest of the candidates on the factors that matter; but don’t judge him or anyone else on church affiliation. That would be a mistake.
Have you got your tickets yet? My brother Paul and I hope to see you at our 25th ministry anniversary on November 17! This will be more than a Washington gala; it will be a show of strength as we approach the ’08 election season, what will surely prove the most intense moral struggle of modern times. We really need you here! Get your tickets online now! You’ll find helpful travel advice at our website: http://www.faithandaction.org/!
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-546-8329, ext 104
**For those who don’t know me, I am a minister to elected and appointed officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I hold dual ministerial affiliation with the Evangelical Church Alliance and the old-line conservative Methodist Episcopal Church. I also serve as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of Evangelical clergy. I hold degrees in Bible and theology, Christian ministry and divinity, all from Evangelical institutions.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Imagine six U.S. Supreme Court justices sitting in church pews as the Word of God is read, the Gospel is proclaimed and the sermon includes a pro-life message. Sound fantastical? It’s not—I saw it yesterday. I was there. It was marvelous.
The setting was the annual “Red Mass” at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle here in Washington, DC. The service, in its 54th year, is organized by The John Carroll Society, made up of lay Catholic Christians and named for the first Catholic Bishop in the U.S. (Carroll’s brother, Daniel, played a prominent role in the Constitutional Convention). It’s held on the Sunday before the First Monday of October, which always marks the beginning of a new Supreme Court term.
This year’s Bible readings at the Mass were Genesis 1:1, 26-31, selections from Psalm 104, I John 4:11-16 and John 14:23-29. (All read aloud, of course.)
The liturgy also included this musical recitation:
“Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God the Father. Amen.”
And these words in the Profession of Faith:
“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God . . .
For our sake, he was crucified . . . he suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
And his Kingdom will have no end.”
The six justices present—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Breyer —definitely heard the Gospel at the Red Mass and were challenged with Biblical Truth. The first four enthusiastically embrace and practice their Christian faith; Justice Kennedy needs some prayerful prodding; and Breyer appears to adhere to a largely non-religious and quite liberal Judaism. (An interesting side note: Justice Breyers’ daughter experienced a religious “conversion” and today is an Episcopal priest.)
I know some Evangelicals and others might doubt a Catholic Mass could truly be Gospel-centered. That’s never been my experience. While a non-religious Jewish teenager, I was partly introduced to the Gospel by Catholics—and through the Catholic Mass. The Red Mass, celebrated as a “Solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit,” gets its name from the red vestments of the celebrants, symbolizing the tongues of fire that settled on the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended (Acts 2). Sitting in the sanctuary yesterday, I thought of what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8) The Word of God needs no help—it does its work all by itself. Yesterday the Justices had everything needed to know that reproof.
I commend the John Carroll Society, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl and all the others who make the Red Mass possible. It’s one of the few times that some of the Justices are confronted with unvarnished Bible Truth!
Considering what’s at stake in the selection of at least two justices by the next president, Rev. Pat Mahoney and I will put even more into our customary prayers today in front of the High Court as it opens its 2007-2008 term. (See our article at www.faithandaction.org) I’ll let you know how it goes.
Speaking of Biblical Truth, pro-life and Judaism, this past week I met Orthodox Jewish pro-life activist “Richard Nadler, who writes under his Hebrew name Reuben-Lev ben Herschel. Nadler’s book, Feticide and the Birth Cycle (2005, Pakad Press, Overland Kansas) cites religious authority to reveal the Jewish tradition’s reverence for life. Famous Orthodox rabbi and ally of moral conservatives, Daniel Lapin, says this book “belongs in every believer’s library.” I agree.
We don’t need anything more than Biblical Truth to rest our case for Life on, but it can be helpful to come at the argument from several different angles. People get bored and distracted after they’ve heard “the same old thing” one more time. A little new information can reclaim their attention and pique their interest. This book is for serious pro-life apologists willing to do a little extra work beefing up your argument. While the book is pretty friendly to the non-Jewish reader, you’ll probably still need to do some background research to comfortably make your way through it. If you’re one of those serious students, you can get the book from Americas Majority, 8640 Travis Street, Overland Park, KS 66212.
Finally, I wish I could tell you where I was this past week, but I can’t. (Talking about certain things can tip off opponents and do more damage than good.) Suffice it to say I spent time with some of the greatest Christian leaders and moral conservatives in this country; many of them young—like me! (OK, today I cross the 49-year threshold, but I’m still this side of 50!)
I know the recent passing of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, along with the fragile health of other luminaries, has left some wondering who will pick up the mantel. I’m convinced those new leaders are already in place. If anyone knows how to manage succession challenges, it’s God Almighty. Don’t worry; He’s prepared well for the transition! (I’ll write about these emerging leaders in future posts to this blog.)
Gotta go for now. Be back soon.
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE
Washington, DC 20002
Monday, September 24, 2007
This week begins already quite full. In fact, it got rolling Saturday as I was privileged to attend the elevation of our dear friend Pastor Wesley Cherry of Manassas, Virginia, to the seat of Bishop in the fellowship of the Full Gospel Baptist Churches, International. Pastor—now Bishop—Cherry is a great leader, a kind soul and avid supporter of our ministry here at Faith and Action. His congregation, Word Alive Church, is one of our anchor churches. They pray up a storm for us and send us their monthly missionary support. It always arrives like manna from heaven! I met the Bishop through my former administrative assistant, Mrs. Ruby Carter. When she retired several years ago, she left an indelible stamp on our critically important administrative operations. I was delighted when Ruby told me her pastor was from my native Buffalo, New York. It turned out he and I have common roots in a church back home. It is an honor for me to be among Bishop Cherry’s missionary partners. God bless him and his rich ministry!
Speaking of great ministers and churches, the weekend was a two-for! I also had the joy of preaching again for Dr. Kenneth Barney of the extraordinary New Antioch Baptist Church in nearby Randallstown, Maryland. (It’s a rare thing for me to be at local churches period—but two leading churches in the metropolitan African-American community was twice as significant.) Dr. Barney is just one of the most capable pastors I know. His burgeoning congregation—built from scratch into one of the largest churches in the Greater Baltimore Area—is a warm, spiritually vital, evangelistic, discipling and service oriented body of committed and mature believers. New Antioch has for years hosted classes of the Capital Bible Seminary, lending an unusual depth to the Biblical education of its members. I was honored to preach their annual ushers’ anniversary service. God gave me a word from 1 Chronicles 9:17-21 on the importance of ushers as the doorkeepers of the House of the Lord. It’s their duty to actually usher souls to the Savior! The message was a bell-ringer and the Lord helped us to send those ushers—young and old—out to do their important jobs. They were impressive in every way, and unforgettable for the intricately choreographed march down the aisles that bedazzled the congregation!
Finally for today, I want to remind you—no, urge you—to come to our November 17 Silver Celebration 25th anniversary here in Washington! My brother Paul and I want to share this milestone with you. God by His grace has allowed us to enjoy a quarter century of uninterrupted fruitful ministry and we want to mark it with you in attendance! If you haven’t already read about the 25th Anniversary Celebration, please visit our website now: http://www.faithandaction.org/. Scroll down to the banner. Your presence with us will be more than just sentimental; it will send a strong signal to the government officials we minister to that we are all quite serious about this mission. Your attendance will be a show of strength for the ministry of Faith and Action and will get their attention in a way nothing else can!
So please, make your plans now to visit your nation’s capital city, pray for this nation, and join Paul and me for an unforgettable evening. You’ll meet movers and shakers from Capitol Hill, see a side of Washington, DC few people ever see, and hear what God is doing behind the scenes in answer to your prayers. Our keynote speaker will be long-time friend and Faith and Action ally Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice. Glorious music will be provided by the choir of the New Antioch Baptist Church. The venue is the elegant Marriott Renaissance Hotel, located mid-way between the White House and the US Capitol. Click here now to order your tickets to the Faith and Action 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration, Saturday, November 17!
Back soon with more . . .
Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I’m a little late posting this. Normally I do a week-in-review on Fridays, but last week was just too busy. I flew out Friday for a conference in Nashville, and then from there to Columbus, Ohio, to minister at a wonderful church called Trinity Family Life Center. (It’s actually in a town called Pickerington.) As I’ve told you before, one of the great joys of my ministry is visiting different church pulpits throughout the year. Trinity was very special for two reasons: First, it is a dynamic, Bible-based, Spirit-filled, born-again missionary-minded and evangelistic fellowship that, believe it or not, is part of the United Methodist denomination! For more than 30 years, Pastor Kelso has been a leader in spiritual renewal among United Methodists. Which leads me to the second point: This church has the same name as the United Methodist Church where my brother, Paul, and I first heard the Gospel and responded publicly to an altar call 34 years ago. (Our Trinity United Methodist was in Grand Island, New York, just outside Buffalo.) Visiting Trinity in Pickerington brought back a lot of wonderful Buffalo memories.
Paul and I look forward to soon hosting a group from Trinity Pickerington. I invited Pastor Kelso to bring a busload to Capitol Hill. You’re also invited to bring a bunch from your church. We enjoy showing Christian hospitality and consider it a ministry in itself. It’s important for Christians to see their nation’s capital at work—especially from a ministry perspective. We enjoy greeting brothers and sisters in Christ and telling you what God is doing behind-the-scenes among our country’s top elected and appointed officials. For our Capital Club members, we’ll also arrange special VIP tours of our own ministry center and the nearby Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol and even the White House. You’ll see things from a perspective no tourist group ever gets to see! Just contact Allyson Black, our supporter relations director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 202-546-8329, extension 104.
Did you get your tickets yet? Speaking of visiting Washington, why not time your visit to coincide with our 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration Gala this November 17? We really need you here to mark this watershed year—and to prayerfully look to the next quarter-century of outreach to the leaders of our land! Paul and I will review where the Lord has taken us these last 25 years together with you, our extended missionary team. (Our “EMT” for short!) More importantly, we’ll look to the future—the Lord willing and delaying His return. Our good friend and ally of many years, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, will be our featured speaker, along with many others VIP guests. Please order your tickets on line—and consider sponsoring the event. Click here to do it now!
I know there’s a lot of concern for the future direction of our country. Christians are worried, but we ought not to be. God is sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted. Of course, we get what we deserve. Last night’s Values Voter Forum in Fort Lauderdale reminded all the candidates of what’s important, especially to Christian Americans. The Sanctity of Life topped the list. Our good friends “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore of Alabama, Phil Jauregui of the Judicial Action Group (which meets regularly at our ministry center) and former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenshmidt, played major roles in last night’s questioning. (You can read about the forum at our site: http://www.faithandaction.org/.) Of course, I was disappointed that our friends did not get to question the “leading” candidates. Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney had other engagements. I’ve met and talked with all but Giuliani, so there wouldn’t have been anything new for me, but I’d hoped others could see what I’ve seen in these candidates. There’s no mystery in why Rudy found an excuse to skip the Values Voters Forum—he just doesn’t share our values in the least bit. But Thompson is a mystery when it comes to his faith, McCain has a love-hate relationship with moral conservatives and Mitt Romney has so much more to say on all the paramount issues of concern to us. Too bad they missed this advantage enjoyed by Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and newly declared candidates Alan Keyes and businessman John Cox. Still, these so-called “second tier” candidates play mainly a “prophetic” role in the campaign by holding the first tier candidates’ feet to the fire on the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and the family and the public acknowledgement of God. I don’t expect the second tier to rise to first tier, but stranger things have happened in political campaigns, of course. Remember the unknown Arkansas governor who spent two terms in the White House?
I’ll talk about the Values Voter Forum on my Faith and Action Live Report available at our website each Wednesday. Oh, and while I’m on Wednesday events, let me tell you about last Wednesday and every Wednesday evening between now and November 14: I’m teaching at the New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown, Maryland, at the invitation of Pastor Kenneth Barney. This is an outstanding church and one that’s making a big difference for the Gospel in their city and in the world! Pastor Barney has hosted me in his pulpit a number of times, and we’ve traveled together to Africa twice. New Antioch is one of America’s truly great African-American congregations, and I’m delighted and humbled to serve them in ministry. My subject is “Thinking Biblically,” on how to form a worldview shaped by the Word of God. You’re invited to join us! Check out the church’s website at http://www.newantiochbaptist.com/.
For all the stuff that’s happening in Washington, watch our website. It’s a very active season of ministry for your missionary team at Faith and Action. Be back soon!
President, Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Friday, September 07, 2007
This week included a visit from Bill Murray, president of the Religious Freedom Coalition and author of The Pledge. (I’ll also talk to Bill on KSLR today—2nd hour.) Bill brought three executives from AMG Publishers, the communications arm of AMG International, an evangelical missionary organization. These are important alliances, as the task of evangelizing is beyond any single ministry.
We also had a visit from Dr. James Hutson, chief of manuscripts for the Library of Congress. Dr. Hutson is one of America’s premier historians. He's been with us for the Reese Roundtable. Dr. Hutson spends his days prattling through original documents related to virtually every American president and an endless number of other luminaries from our country’s past. His groundbreaking work analyzing the original draft of Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter to the Danbury Association of Baptists has completely debunked the prevailing notion of the so-called “separation of church and state.”
This week I was back with our regular Thursday morning breakfast group that had been evicted from the US Capitol by the new congressional leadership. This assemblage of God and Country heroes (literally—many are war heroes) was unceremoniously kicked out of the room they had met in for over 35 years. No one was really mystified though. Our group was “notorious” for opening meetings in prayer and with the Pledge of Allegiance to “one nation, under God.” After a Herculean effort, the group is back, but only once a month.
Things wrap up today with another one-on-one with a leading US senator—then guest hosting the McManus show. Tomorrow I'll convene a ministers’ fellowship here at the ministry house. Monday will be very busy with an all-day prayer and fasting retreat only interrupted for me when I sit in on US Commander David Petraeus’s Iraq Report to Congress. At night I’ll help lead a vigil of prayer in front of the White House for threatened Iraqi Christians. If you haven't signed our petition , please do so before Monday!
See you next week!
Monday, September 03, 2007
The summer is a difficult time for your team at Faith and Action. We enjoy our vacations as much as anyone, but it gets a little frustrating when some of us are on, some are off and the people we engage in ministry are doing the same! You may know that the entire US Congress goes on break in August, the Supreme Court justices leave town (and often the country) and even the President leaves for Camp David or Crawford, Texas. (That is, if he isn’t flying to Iraq—as he did this past week.)
Everybody’s back starting Tuesday, though, and that means we go into full swing here on Capitol Hill. Most of the day hours will be filled with meetings—getting back on track and up to the minute on all major developments, tracking ongoing ministry efforts and launching new ones. Most importantly, we will kick off our fall season with two major prayer emphases: All day Monday, September 10, for national repentance beginning in the church—with the people of God. Then, the same night, I will join Rev. Pat Mahoney outside the White House to lead a vigil of prayer for the situation in Iraq, our troops and especially the small community of Christians in that land.
Speaking of prayer, please remember Senator Larry Craig and his family. He did the right thing Saturday when he announced his resignation effective the end of this month. I hope he did it for the right reasons. In my public statement on the matter last week, I advised the Senator to seek help. Anyone struggling with this besetting sin, and who doesn’t understand its nature, is sure to fall again and again.
Unlike other sexual transgressions, this one is particularly harmful to spouses and other family members. Above all else, the Senator needs to give careful, prayerful attention to his interior life and family. While he emphasized that the country needs the full attention of a senator, I say he and his family need his full attention to resolve this very damaging behavior. The Senator needs spiritual and psychological help, while his family needs restorative pastoral counseling. All this takes a lot of time; years, not weeks or months. So I hope and pray that’s just what Senator Craig will do after he leaves office.
On this same subject, there’s been quite a lot of commentary on whether the set-up of Senator Craig by police was legitimate. Some have asked whether it’s even proper for police to be skulking in bathrooms. I see it differently. I think the police acted appropriately. Men hitting on strangers in public restrooms is far more than a nuisance. I don’t know about you, but I would find such cavorting in the stall next to me deeply disconcerting. Worse, let's say I was a teen-aged boy and the foot of a much older man crept under the stall wall and bumped mine, followed by the flash of a hand, I might be terrified. Given the compromising circumstances, it wouldn’t be so easy to “tell the guy waving his hand under the stall to buzz off,” as Slate national correspondent William Saletan wrote.
None of this is to mention the other dangers involved in restroom cruising, from irate “wrong hits” to sexually transmitted diseases. And again, I emphasize, all this in a bathroom—a place where people need to feel relatively safe, private and clean. (On that last point—well, I won’t even go there!)
I publicly asked Senator Craig to do the right thing. Whether that contributed in any part to his ultimate decision to step down, I don’t know. But since I asked him, I will also thank him: Thank you, Senator, for doing the right thing in this instance. You have my prayers and the prayers of countless others. Our greatest hope is that you will find freedom from whatever has you in bondage, that you will no longer perpetrate harmful acts, and that any who have been hurt by you will find healing and wholeness.
‘Nuff said. Let’s move on.
Two exciting opportunities to bring to your attention:
1) It’s unusual, but on Wednesday evening, September 12, I will begin teaching a ten-part weekly series of classes on “Thinking Biblically: How to Conform Our Lives to God’s Word.” (I’ve done this once before, for our friends at the Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey.) This time the venue is the dynamic New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown, Maryland. Senior Pastor Kenneth Barney is a dear friend and ministry partner with Faith and Action. I’m delighted to take on this vital subject in the context of such a vital church. If you’re within driving distance, please join us—Wednesday evenings, September 12 – November 14, 2007, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, New Antioch Baptist Church, 5609 & 5616 Old Court Road, Randallstown, Maryland 21244.
2) I’ll say it over and over—You, your family and friends are invited—no, urged—to join my brother and me and our families as we celebrate 25 years of uninterrupted service to our Lord Jesus Christ, Saturday, November 17, 2007. Special guest will be Jay Sekulow. Location is the Renaissance Hotel, downtown Washington, DC. See our website for details: www.faithandaction.org. Be there or be square!
That’s all for now. Over and out!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I wrote this today and sent it out on the newswires. I thought you might like to read it.
WHAT SENATOR CRAIG SHOULD DO.
By Rev. Rob Schenck
President, Faith and Action
The spectacle of a Washington figure caught in a sex scandal is always painful. Of course, before saying any more about Senator Larry Craig’s crisis, it goes without saying that in America, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The problem here is the Senator’s admission of guilt that remained in place for six weeks. After all, he is a lawmaker—a legislator of the highest order, a U.S. Senator. One would think a professional like Senator Craig would understand the ramifications of pleading guilty in such a case. To reverse his admission now reminds me more of King Saul who was not sorry for what he did, but rather that he got caught doing it.
The saddest part of this story is that it’s public at all. My pastor’s heart wants this to be a quiet matter between the Senator, his wife and family, the reporting officer and, most importantly, the Lord. But once you choose public a life as a U.S. Senator, you are vulnerable to virtually everything going public. It’s a risk you accept when you declare your candidacy, let alone win the office.
So, here it is; another public scandal. Though he hasn’t asked for it, my advice to Senator Craig would be to go back to square one. As I taught my kids, it’s never too late to correct a mistake. First, he must repent of any hidden sin in his life; second, confess it to his wife and family; third, beg their forgiveness and pardon; and fourth, commit to both long term pastoral and psychological counseling. After these steps (which don’t take very long) the Senator should make this public statement:
“I am deeply humiliated and ashamed. I hope you will understand this has been a painful and complicated struggle in my life. I have sought forgiveness from God and my family. Now I ask for forgiveness and understanding from the people of Idaho, from the people of this great country and from my fellow members of the United States Senate. Please pray for me and my family during this very difficult time for us. In order to give proper attention to those I love and to my own healing, I hereby resign my seat in the United States Senate. Thank you.”
This could be a great lesson to all people in how to handle our many failings, public and private. If this is what it appears to be, I ask Senator Craig to help us all by doing the right thing: Fess up to God and man, step aside and seek help.
Rev. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) is an ordained Evangelical minister and a missionary to elected and appointed officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Mr. Schenck is chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance and serves on the boards of numerous religious organizations and institutions.
Monday, August 27, 2007
All the talk here on the Hill is about the upcoming Iraq report to Congress by General David Petraeus. Although it’s yet to be made public, our inside contacts tell us the U.S. commander will likely address a rare joint session of Congress on or around September 11. Our friend and colleague, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, had presciently secured a permit for a prayer vigil at the U.S. Capitol on the evening of September 10. I’m not sure it makes Pat a prophet, but the timing could prove divinely strategic! I’ll be with Pat that night to lead in prayer and read scripture. Our focus will be the small number of Christians who remain in Iraq.
When Pat was in Baghdad just a couple of weeks ago, he met with leaders of the Christian community there. He asked them what will happen if American troops pull out of Iraq. They answered without hesitation, “We will be exterminated.”
Extermination is a powerful word in my lexicon. As you may know, I was born into a Jewish home. My father raised my brother and me and our two sisters with a thorough education in the Holocaust. “Extermination” was a key word in everything we learned about that terrible time in human history. As a child I was told some distant family members were “exterminated” by the Nazis. I was shown photos of emaciated bodies stacked like cord wood in mass graves; and skulls emerging from the ovens in the “extermination camps.”
God forbid we should ignore the specter of another atrocity. Following Viet Nam, millions of innocents were “exterminated” in the Killing Fields. (If you haven’t seen the film Killing Fields, you need to. While you’re steeling yourself, why not see Hotel Rwanda, too?) Hollywood and liberals are all abuzz about Muslims in Darfur (and rightfully so), but they apparently care nothing about Christians in Iraq!
Rev. Mahoney said after talking to these precious believers—a community that goes back nearly 2000 years in Christian history—he had no doubt a horrendous slaughter will occur should America pull out of Iraq prematurely.
No matter where they stand on the war, Congressional leaders need to know if they force the President’s hand for their own political advantage, the streets of Baghdad will be littered with the decapitated bodies of our fellow Christians.
For this reason we’ve launched a petition drive aimed at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The petition demands they consider the safety and security of Iraqi Christians as they contemplate their political strategies.
Please take time to sign the petition and pass it along to everyone you know who will care about the Christians of Iraq—your family, friends, fellow church members.
WE MUST FILE THESE PETITIONS IN ADVANCE OF GENERAL PETRAEUS’S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS. THE SOONER YOU SIGN, THE BETTER!
Sorry to start your week off with such dire news, but I can’t sugarcoat it. We’re talking about thousands of innocent men, women and children who are sitting ducks. Without the protection of American troops now and a well-trained, seasoned Iraqi military in the future, these poor souls will be the first to die.
YOU CAN PROTECT IRAQI CHRISTIANS FROM A WHOLESALE SLAUGHTER BY DEMANDING THAT NANCY PELOSI AND HARRY REID BACK OFF AND LET THE ARMED FORCES DO THEIR LIFE-SAVING WORK.
Please act now.
Be back later . . .
Sunday, August 19, 2007
This is a blog posting on how I spent my summer vacation. That’s right, vacation! Cheryl and I actually managed to break loose and take a literal sabbatical—seven whole days of rest. I even surprised myself when I kept my mobile phone off for the entire time and checked my E-mail only once! This is groundbreaking for me—the hypocritical Sabbath breaker himself! I wrote about the importance of God’s Seventh-Day rest—oddly, seven years ago—in my then newly released book on the Ten Commandments, Ten Words That Will Change A Nation. The second edition of the book will soon be released (watch for news at our website: www.faithandaction.org )—and it’s taken me all this time to begin living out that fourth chapter, aptly titled Holy R&R!
OK, enough confession, and on to what Cheryl I did after we stowed away to Nassau in The Bahamas. Cashing in on all my travel points we booked into the British Colonial Hilton with its very nice and private beach and downtown location. You can walk out the front door into a mid-day traffic jam as bad as anything in Metro Washington, DC, or out the back door onto some of the whitest sand and bluest water you’ll ever see. The Bahamas are as friendly, but not nearly as clean, as I imagined them to be. One thing that clearly stood out was the absence of the acute anxiety Americans exhibit over the so-called “separation of church and state.” There aren’t many religiophobes in The Islands, mahn! Everything is “Gaud bless you,” “Have a blessed day,” “Praise Gaud,” and “Tanks Gaud!” Such unapologetic public acknowledgments of God were refreshing.
We punctuated our days of sunning, swimming, touring and boating with two important worship experiences: Sunday morning at the Zion Baptist Church in the pink building on Shirley Street and a Wednesday noon mass at the historic Anglican Cathedral. Zion Baptist is the largest church on New Providence Island. The congregation has a rich history of ministry to the black population, beginning as a mission in 1837 to newly freed slaves. From where Cheryl and I sat in the nineteenth-century sanctuary, we were the only white faces in the crowd. It’s a healthy exercise to turn that feeling around once in a while.
We actually happened upon the Wednesday mass, originally intending to simply tour Christ Church Cathedral, established in 1670. The present building on George Street dates to 1841. It’s every bit the classic stone Gothic Revival structure I saw so much of in England while on preaching tours years ago. Sculpted memorial plaques also decorated the sanctuary, as they do in the Motherland. When I asked the church secretary if there would be a service of Holy Communion we could attend, she said pleasantly but laconically, “It’s at 12:30 if we can get a priest; in the chapel.” I thanked her and Cheryl and I sauntered into the quaint chapel. There were only two others in the pews and we waited about 15 minutes until the priest entered, ringing a chime made of nine bells. (By then one more soul had joined us.) The priest was the Very Reverend Patrick L. Adderly and he led a very warm, Evangelical-friendly service, including some old-time favorite Gospel tunes like “Love Lifted Me” and charismatic choruses popular in the 1970’s like “Spirit of the Living God.” The miniscule fellowship, congenial hospitality, inspiring homily and my opportunity to recite the litany of prayers made for a delightfully surprising afternoon.
We returned late Friday just ahead of Hurricane Dean that was never expected to hit our island. As of this writing the storm is quite a bit south of the Bahamas, heading for Jamaica. May the Lord spare those in its path.
Now I turn my attention back home to the work of Faith and Action and to the team that kept everything moving while I was gone. We’ve got a great group of gifted people here with unique talents, God-given abilities and a real commitment to this mission. I’m grateful to the Lord for each one. They--and you--are the reason I could relax as I did.
Foremost on the agenda is our upcoming 25th Anniversary Gala at the Renaissance Hotel, November 17. Hard to believe we got underway a quarter-century ago. We moved to Capitol Hill in 1994 and launched our present work with a rally in the Renaissance’s ballroom. A lot has happened during all these years, and it’s in answer to your prayers and as a result of your generosity and encouragement. Be sure to be here to celebrate with us all that God has done and will do! Get your tickets now online—and, please, consider being a sponsor of this memorable event!
And watch the postings at this blog—there’ll soon be more surprises to write about . . .
Grateful to be back in the saddle,
Rev. Rob Schenck