ATLANTA – The weather was exceedingly raw on Friday, Jan. 22. Rain lashed down on those gathered in Liberty Plaza (across from the State Capitol) in cold icy pellets from a sky that was a foreboding grey. The relentless squall combined with the frosty temperatures must have had the wind-chill factor in the 20s, perhaps even the teens. People were crouched under their umbrellas as if they were seeking asylum from some ominous antagonist. And meteorologists were broadcasting a more formidable weather forecast of snow and freezing rain looming on the horizon.
Those nearly intolerable conditions did nothing to deter the rather significant hardcore pro-life advocates who had gathered for the Georgia March for Life. The event lasted three hours, beginning with a season of prayer and ending with a one-mile silent march to protest the tragic loss of life to a culture of death.
The prayers were passionate as those who led in intercession and supplication asked God to deliver America from the god of convenience and the spirit of Moloch (the followers of the false God, Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire – II Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6). One intercessor prayed, “God, may we no longer have a nation that is chained by sexual sin;” and “We take a stand against the spirit of Jezebel.”
One prayer was repeated seven times by all those in Liberty Plaza: “Jesus, I plead your blood over my sins and the sins of our nation; and God, end abortion in our land and send revival to America.”
If you don’t like the sermon …
Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear and chairman of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Executive Committee, brought the keynote address to the crowd of approximately 600. Stone has never been known to mince words, cut corners, or take prisoners in his sermons and that was certainly the case on Friday at Liberty Square. It is almost certain Stone has encountered opposition, ridicule, and slander because of his bold, straightforward proclamations, but he has never wavered in his convictions.
The story is told of a woman coming out the door at the end of a service in which the great pulpit orator, Dr. R.G. Lee, had spoken and said to him. “Well, sir, I did not like your sermon today!”
Dr. Lee reportedly responded, “Neither did the devil, so classify yourself and come back next Sunday.”
At Liberty Square, Stone likely ruffled a few feathers, but the vast majority, those on the right side of the right to life issue, were extremely vocal as they affirmed his message with “amens” and shouts of “glory.”
Stone based his address on the question David asked in I Samuel 17: 29, “Is there not a cause?” Young David, as a shepherd boy, had traveled to the Valley of Elah to take supplies from home to his older brothers who were on the front lines of battle. On the other side of the river were the Philistines – the enemies of Israel. Goliath, the giant and the champion of the Philistines, appeared on the other side of the river each morning and evening and challenged the army of Israel saying, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” It was a winner-take-all challenge.
David was appalled no one in the Israelite army would accept the giant’s challenge, so he asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Stone insisted that David’s question “Is there not a cause?” implied three indictments. First, it was an indictment against his brother, Eliab, on the sideline. The Emmanuel pastor exclaimed, “Eliab was such a big strong man that some had assumed he’d be the next warrior king of Israel, but here he is – a brother on the sideline with a criticism in his mouth when he should have had a sword in his hand.
“David might well have said, ‘I’m very troubled with what I see the Philistine doing … but I am also troubled with what I see the army of God not doing.’
“I intend,” explained Stone, “to do what Isaiah 58:1 tells me to do, ‘Cry aloud and don’t stop now. Lift up your voice and show the people their transgressions.’ We will not stand down. We will not shut up. We will not go away. We refuse to be on the sidelines!”
Then Stone asserted that David’s question was an indictment against the leader in the background. When King Saul learned that David was willing to fight the giant, he offered his armor to David. But the only way King Saul could put his armor on David was because he wasn’t wearing it himself.
“May I remind you that Saul was elected King by a vote of the people? And may I remind you that the sole reason he was selected was because he was the biggest, strongest, bravest man in the whole country?
“Now, he was selected because he looked like a giant killer. He sounded like a giant killer. He campaigned like a giant killer. But when it came time to act, Saul was anything but the warrior he had promised to be.
“Nestled in his (Goliath’s) little barbs was the invitation, ‘King Saul, if you’re going to be a leader, put your big boy britches on, get down in this valley and lead.’
“I charge Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Ralston, if you’re going to be in leadership … lead. To every senator and representative, Georgia did not send you or any of your colleagues up here to be followers. Don’t sit back in the tent of comfort and cowardice, waiting on someone higher than you, or more powerful than you, or some other branch of government to tell you what you can and cannot do. Leaders are out front for a reason. That’s where you have to stand if you’re going to lead.
“I can’t speak for you, but I’m tired of the church in America being treated like a cheap mistress by the Republican Party. Far too many politicians across the nation, and even in this state, come knocking on the door of the church house every two or four years because they have an itch in their political loins that needs to be scratched … but they’re not really interested in a long-term relationship.
“I cite for example: The fight for religious liberty in this state should not be the uphill battle that it has been when every aspect of our government is controlled for over a decade by those who were put into office by conservative people of faith.
“The fight for liberty cannot be separated from the fight for life. Without life no one has liberty. And without liberty, we cannot stand for life.
“On the issues of LIFE and LIBERTY, I often hear that we need elected officials who will respond when we call. While I agree, I am actually praying for men and women to serve in Atlanta and Washington who don’t have to be called … and coddled … and pressured on how to vote on the critical moral issues of our day.”
The final indictment was against the murderer in the valley (Goliath). David picked up five smooth stones to use as weapons against the giant, but Stone concluded, “Giants are not typically killed with slingshots and rocks.”
The powerful preacher stated that the five stones were symbolic of five weapons the Christian has in his/her arsenal: (1) the Word of God, (2) the Gospel of Jesus Christ, (3) compassion (4) prayer, and (5) our political voice.
Finallly, Stone thundered, “I am convinced the fight for preborn life is a just cause. May God grant us victory for the sake of the unborn, the sake of our nation, and for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ!”
This sermon and others by Stone can be found at the Emmanuel Baptist Church “sermons and music” page.