On October 24, Mike Yaconelli announced to a Youth Specialties convention in Charlotte, “If I died right this minute, I would be able to say, ‘God, what a ride! What a ride!’” Less than a week later, he was ushered into the Father’s presence following a fatal car accident near his home in northern California. I have little doubt that he was able to proffer that line--and afterward, laughed.
The popular Christian author, speaker, and youth ministry leader was the founder of Youth Specialties, one of the most innovative ministries of the last fifty years. Through his books, articles, journals, magazines, and his passionate preaching and speaking, he ministered to untold thousands all over the world.
In his most recent book, Messy Spirituality, Mike wrote, "I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis.”
He once confessed, “I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like 'He was a nice guy' or 'He was occasionally decent' or 'Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people.' Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. 'Mike was a mess.'" In short, Mike was a humble servant who understood himself and the marvelous character of grace. He communicated that grace at every turn. Indeed, whether he was right or wrong or even when he was, as he used to say, “just Mike,” he was first and foremost, a trophy of grace. He will be missed.
Partners in Crime
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Abortion Federation have joined together as partners in crime once again. The three organizations have long been allied in their assaults on life and liberty in this land and around the world. Now, they have united their efforts in order to defend one of the most grisly forms of child-killing ever devised. Filing lawsuits in federal court jurisdictions in three states, the groups are hoping to block the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as unconstitutional.
At a news conference Friday in San Francisco, these enemies of all that is right and good and true argued that they were seeking "an injunction against enforcement of the act and a declaration that it is unconstitutional" as well as “a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the act from taking effect.”
After a decade-long torturous legislative and judicial process, Congress passed the federal ban October 20 and it has been sent to President Bush who is expected to sign the measure into law this coming Wednesday. But, mere legalities and such trivial affairs as the rule of law and the democratic process have never mattered to such ideological zealots as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the NAF. It appears that for them, the only thing that really matters is that their culture of death be allowed to so dominate an already barren societal landscape. Really. No hyperbole.
So, how should we then live? What should our response be? I do believe it might well be an apt moment for men and women, churches and communities of good conscience to pray through Psalm 83.
All Saints Day
In the earliest years of the church, so many martyrs died for their faith, Christians set aside special days to honor them. For example, when in 607 Emperor Phocas presented the beautiful Roman Pantheon to the church. Pope Boniface IV quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to all the martyrs who had suffered during the Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ--that great cloud of witnesses to the Christian faith. He then called on Christians everywhere to set aside May 1 as a kind of Memorial Day in their honor. Gradually, the commemoration gained stature as a high holy day on the early church calendar. In 832 the festival was moved to November 1 by Pope Gregory IV as a counter to the continuing intrustions of the pagan Samhain celebrations. Of course, it was not long before the conception of the two very different calendar days were comingled--thus, the rather confusing and syncretistic origins of our current All Hallow's Eve or Halloween.