It’s All About Him


It’s easy to forget that life isn’t all about me. I would like it if it were. Everyone would cater to my every desire, worry about keeping me happy. They’d make sure they didn’t offend me, be quick to encourage me, tell me how kind or smart or talented or helpful I was.

OK, OK, you all can get up off the floor now and stop laughing.

The old saying is that babies are born into the world thinking they are the center of the universe and spend the next eighty years learning they aren’t.

Pretty true. Kids tend to think every toy they want should belong to them. When they’re hungry, it’s time to eat. When they wake up, it’s time to get up.

When we become adults, of course, we realize we need to take into consideration the “others” in our lives.

But if we stop with that realization, we are still woefully wide of the mark. Life isn’t all about me, and it isn’t even all about other people.

Why I am here–why we all are here–isn’t about us. No matter how great an impact a person has on society, how many people he helps, he will soon be gone, and another generation may not even remember his name.

I suspect when President McKinley, the twenty-fifth President of the US, was assassinated, people throughout the country thought he would never be forgotten, that his death was one of the most tragic events in the history of the US. Of course, that was before two world wars, the rise and fall of Communism, the Great Depression, Vietnam, or 9/11. Today he is little more than a footnote in history books. And he was the leader of the nation!

Men of wealth don’t fare much better. Once the names of Rockefeller and Carnage demanded the kind of respect we give Bill Gates and Steve Jobs today. Or what we once gave Steve Jobs.

The Apostle James is right about Mankind. We are just a “vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

How silly, then, for us to believe life is all about us?

It ought to be abundantly clear that our comfort, ease, security, happiness is transitory and cannot be the ultimate purpose of our existence since we ourselves are temporal.

Who wants to draw bucket after bucket of water to pour into the gutter? Why would we spend our time in such a futile effort?

Yet that’s what we so often do when we make life all about us. We spend our precious hours trying to shore up a sandcastle. We might even landscape and furnish it with elaborate, expensive pieces, but in the end, it all washes back out to sea.

How much better if we spend our time on what lasts!

Life, after all, is all about God, not about us. He is the Creator, and we, the creatures made in His image. We exist for His pleasure, not the other way around. We glorify Him, exalt Him, worship Him. He’s the One who is high and lifted up, whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours, whose name is above every name.

How far we have fallen, to think that we should only read the Bible or pray if we feel like it, or that we have a right to complain if in church we sing too many hymns or not enough or if we stand too long or the lighting is too low or too bright.

If life is not about us, worship is certainly not about us either. How different our days would be if we remembered that we exist for God; in fact, life, creation, all He made, exists for Him.

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in June 2012.

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Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 5:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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A Quiet Conversation About Purpose, Meaning, And Destiny


115898_twins_1One day twin brothers were having a quiet conversation, and the meaning of life came up.

What do you suppose it’s all about? the first brother asked.

It’s about getting what you can in the here and now, brother number two answered. There’s nothing else after this.

Seriously? His brother wrinkled his brow. You mean, when we leave, we …

Go into oblivion. What else could it be? I mean, when you’re gone, you’re gone. If you go first, I won’t see you again and vice versa.

It all seems so pointless.

That’s why you have to make every minute count while you’re here. Grab what you can. Live for the moment. Eat and sleep like there’s no tomorrow, because there really might not be one.

I don’t know. I have this feeling that there’s more.

Crazy talk.

No. It’s talk that makes me think there’s more. I’ve heard things.

What kind of things?

You know, voices. One especially. Over and over I hear, ‘I love you boys.’

Your imagination.

I don’t think so.

Look around. You see any mysterious person who might be talking to us?

Well, no.

All right then.

But why couldn’t this person, you know, be somewhere else and when we leave here we join them there?

Because there is no other place.

How can you be sure?

Do you SEE another place?

Well, no.

Case closed. If you can’t see it, taste it, smell it, feel it, or taste it, then it doesn’t exist.

You said ‘taste’ twice and you left out hearing.

Do you hear anything now?

No.

All right then.

But I’ve told you, I hear this voice almost every day. Sometimes it even sings.

You’re losing it. And I’m stuck with a crazy for a brother.

Why is it so crazy to think there’s a world beyond the one we know?

Because you have no evidence, no proof.

I’m telling you, I do have proof. I’ve heard the voice of one telling me how much we’re loved.

That’s nothing but your wishful thinking tricking your mind into believing something that has no basis in fact.

How do YOU know there’s no basis in fact?

Show me this mysterious, invisible person. Where are they, huh?

Next time I hear their voice, I’ll wake you up.

Don’t bother. If I have a sour stomach, I can imagine things too. Hearing voices of invisible people is not proof.

Then what is?

How about an actual person, right in front of my face?

I don’t think it works that way. Somehow, I think we need to go to the I-love-you person, not the other way around.

You’re making this up.

No, actually I’m not. I’m on my way now.

And with that the first of the twin boys was pushed through the birth canal and born.

– – – – –

This post first appeared here in May 2013 as a rebuttal to the atheist notion that there are no “invisible beings with superior powers,” by which they mean God or any other spiritual beings. Of course what they miss is the limitations we humans have: how can we know of things beyond the scope of our ability to investigate? And they discount revelation simply because it contradicts their presupposition.

Abortion And The Bible


human_fetus_10_weeks_-_therapeutic_abortionI’m not quite sure why some people think abortion is so different from killing babies. The claim is that a baby, to be recognized as human, must be “viable,” meaning that it can live outside the womb. But “live” by what means? A newborn is still helpless. He can’t feed himself. She can’t tell anyone what she wants. She can’t acquire covering or run from danger. He is as helpless and dependent as a newly formed life in his mother’s womb. And science has left no doubt that the fertilized egg is a life.

For hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, killing babies was the culturally accepted way of dealing with unwanted children. Take China for instance. [China has] “a history of female infanticide spanning 2000 years.”

During the 19th century the practice was widespread, readings from Qing texts show a prevalence of the term ni nü (to drown girls), and drowning was the most common method used to kill female children. Other methods used were suffocation and starvation. Leaving a child exposed to the elements was another method of killing an infant, the child would be placed in a basket which was then placed in a tree. Buddhist nunneries created “baby towers” for people to leave a child. In 1845 in the province of Jiangxi, a missionary wrote that these children survived for up to two days while exposed to the elements, and that those passing by, would ignore the screaming child.[13] Missionary David Abeel reported in 1844 that between one third and one fourth of all female children were killed at birth or soon after. (this and the previous quote from “Female Infanticide In China”)

With the one child per family rule instituted in 1980, infanticide is once again on the rise in China, though many babies—girls or ones with birth defects—are also aborted.

So what does the Bible have to say about abortion? Some professing Christians have taken a stand that the Bible is silent on the subject. But that’s not true. The Bible actually says a great deal about life in the womb. For instance, God speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, said

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born, I consecrated you. (Jer. 1:5)

So God not only made Jeremiah, He also set him apart to be a prophet “to the nations” before he was viable.

Other Bible writers call attention to the fact that God creates life in the mother’s womb: Job (31:15), David (Psalm 22:10), Isaiah (45:24; 49:5).

Others also mention God’s call on their life before they were born. Isaiah, speaking prophetically said this, likely about the Messiah:

The LORD called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me. (Is. 49:1b)

The writer of Judges recounted Samson’s prophesied birth. The angel who met with his mother before his conception, told her to follow certain guidelines because “the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb.” The Nazrite was someone set apart and dedicated to God, but usually this was to fulfill a vow and was for a short period of time. Samson was different. He was to be a Nazirite from the womb throughout his life.

The Apostle Paul was similarly aware of God’s call on his life before he was ever born:

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . . (Galatians 1:15-16a)

Perhaps the most dramatic example of life and spiritual activity in the womb is John the Baptist who was filled by “the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Not only did he have the Spirit in his little life, but his spirit responded to the presence of the life of the Messiah in Mary’s womb, and as a result the baby “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44).

Just as compelling, for me is the statement David made, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Psalm 58. This is one of those imprecatory psalms, “those psalms that contain curses or prayers for the punishment of the psalmist’s enemies” (from Theopedia). They can be hard to read for those of us used to an emphasis on God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. But the significance here is that God identifies the spiritual life of individuals before they are born:

The wicked are estranged from the womb;
These who speak lies go astray from birth.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent;
Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,
So that it does not hear the voice of charmers,
Or a skillful caster of spells. (vv 3-5)

The point seems clear: not just certain special individuals are alive and fully formed spiritually as they grow physically, but even the wicked have their spiritual direction set in the womb.

Of course, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)—and apparently He does so from the womb on, throughout a person’s life.

What does all this mean for abortion?

Throughout Scripture, God informs us of the value of human life. In particular He came down hard on people groups, including Israel, which incorporated child sacrifice as part of their worship of false gods.

[Jerusalem] should be removed from before My face, because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their leaders, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction. But they put their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Abortion is today’s version of child sacrifice. We don’t offer children on an altar; we don’t make it a ritual incorporated into worship, but we certainly take the lives of helpless humans for the benefit of the mature adult making the decision. Those we should protect, we destroy for our own purposes.

What’s more, we violate God’s first command: Be fruitful and multiply.

Ah, some will say, it’s the multiplying that is the problem. We need to curb human reproduction because the planet can’t sustain us all.

But now we come to the real issue: humans think we know better than God. We don’t know how He could possibly have dealt with overpopulation if we didn’t step in, violate His command to be fruitful and multiply, and solve the problem ourselves.

That’s been the issue from the beginning. Man doesn’t think God is capable of dealing with the problems. God, in His infinite wisdom, says, OK, we’ll try it your way for a while, and when you’re ready, you can come back to me and we’ll get things straightened out.

I don’t see the problems of our times reversing themselves, but who knows? We can only walk in the light of the knowledge we have, and that knowledge points to babies, alive both physically and spiritually in the womb, and God who wants us to protect the vulnerable and to preserve life. To me that’s a pretty clear case against abortion.

Published in: on January 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm  Comments (17)  
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Death Is A Vacation


cell phone2Recently a friend told me he’d taken a “stacation,” meaning he wasn’t working but didn’t go anywhere. It’s kind of a strange language invention, a neologism that may or may not catch on, but the term got me to thinking about vacation and its root.

The word came from late Middle English, according to the Oxford American Dictionary, and its root is either Old French or Latin “vacatio(n-), from vacare ‘be unoccupied’ (see vacate).” It’s the translation of those root languages I noticed: unoccupied. So when we go on vacation, our homes are unoccupied.

And then it hit me. The same is true when a person dies. Their house is no longer occupied. Scripture refers to our physical bodies as “earthen vessels”: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7)

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah referred to we humans as clay vessels. Pots. Our bodies are designed to hold something, then. But they are somewhat fragile, quite common. And temporary. They don’t last. At some point, that which the vessels hold will leave. Our bodies will be vacated because we’re all going on vacation.

But death is not an end. People who think it’s an end apparently think our bodies are not vessels at all, that our bodies are not made to contain something but are something on their own.

Well, they are part of something—the outer layer, if you will, the visible representation, much the way the case of a cell phone houses the internal computer elements that allow for texting and phone calls and hundreds of apps. The case itself is the phone, and when we’re looking for it, we aren’t looking for the internal elements. We’re looking for the physical representation of all that our phone can do.

So the vessel is and it isn’t the thing. It’s not really part of the thing—the case isn’t the source of picture-taking or music or phone conversations or text messages. It actually contains the thing, but the thing needs a place where it can be housed. And if we’re smart, we take care of the case. We protect the screen. We’re careful not to drop it.

Why? Because we think the case is so perfect? So beautiful? No. We care about the case because of what’s inside it.

Sadly, when it comes to us humans, we’ve gotten our thinking skewed. We want to take care of and preserve our vessel because we think that’s all we’ve got. We don’t get that the clay pot is the house, and that one day, we who occupy it will go on vacation.

But just like vacations in the here and now, there will be a coming home which the Bible refers to as resurrection. The cool thing is, while we’re on vacation, our houses will receive a make-over. When we return, the mortal will have taken on immortality, the flawed and frail will be clothed in newness of life.

Imagine going on vacation as those people who were on the show Home Make-over used to do, only to come back to a mansion. Their gorgeous new homes were on the same tract of ground as the old one. They still had the same address, the lot was still the same size, their neighbors still lived on either side of them and across the street. But the new buildings were state of the art, rebuilt models. Beautiful, stocked with brand new appliances and furniture and techno-gadgets.

In much the same way, our resurrected bodies will get the much needed make-over.

We only have Jesus as a model to know what resurrection looks like. No one before or since has gone on vacation and come back home. Oh, sure, we have examples of people who did stacations. They stopped working for a while, but then took up right where they left off, in their same body, without the make-over. Lazarus is probably the most famous example of this.

But Jesus received His new body, His glorified body. He still ate and drank, still had recognizable features (when he wanted) such as the nail prints in his hands. But His new body didn’t have to obey the laws of physics we know. He could vanish from sight, could appear in a locked room, could ascend to Heaven.

That’s the kind of body those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have to look forward to.

Honestly I don’t know what those who reject Christ or who deny God have to look forward to. We don’t have a model to look at so that we can know with any clarity what they’ll face. What we do know is that they’ll face judgment.

God, being just and fair, won’t cheat anyone out of anything they deserve. In reality, what we all deserve is death and death and death—of our body, soul, and spirit.

What God offers is life and life and life, so that death becomes a vacation. So that we return to new mansions stocked with more good things than we can imagine and which will allow us to do what we’ve always wanted to do. In the center of our desires will be our joy at seeing and knowing and praising our God eternal who we’ll know with more clarity than we’ve ever known Him before.

It’ll be a great homecoming.

Published in: on November 4, 2015 at 6:31 pm  Comments (3)  
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Death Is Never OK


wheat-1431691-mWhere was God when terrorists gunned down Christians in Kenya? Where was God when a sex trafficker snatched a pre-teen? Where was God when a drug dealer started selling product at the middle school or the frat guys gang raped a co-ed or a career criminal opened fire on the cop who pulled him over. Where was God when a three-year-old was diagnosed with cancer?

Atheists would have us believe that evil things happen with no purpose and purely for random, unplanned reasons. A good many others blame God, either for causing evil or for doing nothing to stop it.

The thing we rarely take into account is that, short of creating humans without the freedom to make up our own minds, God did put up the stop sign to evil here on earth. Humankind simply ran through it.

God said, Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will die. Adam essentially said, If I die, I die, and he ate. The result was similar to uncorking a deadly airborne pathogen in a sterile room. Once it’s uncorked, there’s no calling it back into the vial it came from.

But God didn’t create humans for death. He made us for life. Consequently, death, no matter when it comes, seems wrong.

We might think a person who has lived a long, fruitful life is ready to go. But why? If their life is fruitful, why should it be limited? Why should someone who has gained a life-time of knowledge and experience not be able to capitalize on all that learning and wisdom?

Is it right for a fifty-year-old mom to die of cancer instead of the three-year-old toddler? Wouldn’t it be better for her to live and mentor her children through their own marriages and child-bearing years?

How about the thirteen-year-old who’s killed in an accident on the way to school? Is it better for him to die than for that three-year-old cancer victim? Or maybe the three-year-old should live but the thirty-something school teacher with cancer should die instead.

The point is, it’s never “right” to die—except that God has our times in His hands.

I don’t know what that means exactly, except that God looks at the big picture. His perspective takes into consideration eternity, not just the few temporal years we live on earth.

Most of us focus on this life and bemoan a life taken “prematurely.” We think about the high school prom she’ll never attend or the promotion he’ll never receive, the wedding they’ll never have, the first steps of their children they’ll never get to see. In other words, we think in terms of the good things in this life that they’ll miss out on.

But I think our perspective is too small. Part of this, of course, is that we don’t know what life after this life will be like—not really. We’ve been fed a lot of false images—people turning into angels with wings, walking around in a fog (when they’re not sitting on a cloud), all dressed in white, talking to Peter a lot or playing a harp. Frankly, those are undesirable snapshots. I can’t think of very many people who would think, Oh, boy, I get to trade in this life for that one.

But that’s the falseness of it. The bit we do know from Scripture lets us know that life after this life will be exceedingly better. For one we’ll trade in the “corruptible” for the “incorruptible.” We will no longer face the limitations of illness or aging because we won’t be fight off death any more. We won’t deal with suffering and sorrow—gone will be the injustices and the wickedness that infiltrate this life.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:53-57)

Scripture uses the image of a seed and the plant that comes from it as a metaphor to explain life after this life. This body is the seed that “dies” only to produce a lush, fruitful plant. So the body and the life we know here and now are the equivalent of a seed. The body and the life we will know for eternity are the equivalent of a flowering plant. So we’re comparing a single grain to a stalk of wheat.

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” . . . It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:35. 42b-44)

If we could choose, who would say, But I really, really prefer the single grain. It’s so satisfying, so filling. I’d rather have it than a full shock of wheat that produces an unending amount of grain.

Clearly that’s a foolish position, but that’s precisely what we do. We are so in love with this life that we can’t imagine what life will be like beyond what we see here and know today.

typewriter-2-334983-mI remember when I got my first electric typewriter. I could not imagine personal computers, email, the Internet, smart phones, or tablets. I was content with what I had because I didn’t know about what would be. If you’d told me you were going to take away my typewriter, I would have balked. I can’t do my work without my typewriter, I would have said. Wrong. That view was simply shortsighted, based on my limited perspective.

So too with life after life. We certainly weren’t created to die, but death is not the end of all good things.

When we rail against God for allowing death, we have it wrong. God has given us life, at the cost of His own suffering and sacrifice.

Leaving this life doesn’t mean the end of all good things. In fact, leaving this life for those who accept the work of Jesus Christ, who believe in Him, is the beginning of life that is life indeed!

Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 6:31 pm  Comments (10)  
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Is Your Dog A Person?


512px-Cheddar_CheerleaderIn the recent discussion about abortion at author and friend Mike Duran’s site, the pro-abortion commenter asked more than once when a baby (he said fetus or one of his other preferred scientific terms) was a person.

To me that was an obvious—we’d established, and all agreed, that life begins with conception. However, in his mind, that just-conceived life was not yet human, not yet a person.

Another commenter, a pro-life advocate in Canada, highlighted the question of personhood as central to the discussion:

the more pressing question and one perhaps that we could have engaged him on more fruitfully was , “But when should they be assigned a right to life, and why?”

In other words, for what reasons do we assign “personhood”, with all of its attendant rights, on a human being?

I’m a little stunned. I should think when they’re alive would be a good enough answer to the question, “When should they be assigned a right to life.”

But ultimately this discussion comes back to belief in God. Man cannot create life. Yes, I know, that’s somewhat under review, what with the advancement of cloning. But in reality, unless there is life to begin with, there is no cloned life, so Man still can not create life.

God creates life, and even if Man someday figures a way to produce life apart from “natural causes,” that doesn’t change the fact that God is supreme, and still the giver of life. I don’t look at this issue as any different than a person taking antibiotics as a way to recover from an infection. Man did not heal him. God still healed, but He used the medicine.

But let’s say we agree that a person gains personhood at conception—that a life is considered a person when he first becomes alive—what about the life of an animal? Shouldn’t a dog’s life be preserved and protected the same way as an unborn baby’s life? In fact, if life determines personhood, is my dog a person?

No, the issue isn’t simply the preservation of life, any life, in any form. Setting aside the fact that plants are also alive, I’m addressing the Hindu idea that animal life is sacred, an idea that is gaining traction in the US and perhaps in other places in western society.

Of course evolutionists who ascribe to the common descent theory—in which all life descended from a common source—don’t see human life as unique. For them there is no reason to protect an unborn child over against a titmouse. Both are alive but society has not recognized either as persons. In other words, society gets to decide who is a person and who isn’t.

Except, society does recognize the unborn as a person when the mother wants to give the child birth. The irrationality, then, is with society. Why would a woman wanting a child or not wanting a child change his personhood?

In essence this view says slave owners were right—if they didn’t recognize the personhood of a slave, then he wasn’t a person.

Today we think that view is hateful. And it is.

Why, then, would society choose another class of people and determine they are not persons?

The frightening thing is that this rationale carried to its logical extreme means other groups of people can be stripped of personhood—homeless people or those with Down Syndrome or the schizophrenic or those with Alzheimer’s. If society gets to say who’s a person, why should we think there will not one day be a determination that an undesirable group is stripped of personhood.

At the same time, since human life is viewed as no different from animals, why not elevate our pets to the place of personhood. We already call them our children, and more and more owners are putting clothes on their dogs. It’s a natural leap for us to give them the “right to life.”

We Christians need to understand this issue. More than the lives of the unborn are at stake, and that’s saying a lot since so many babies lose their lives to abortion.

The real issue is the evolution-creation divide that so many Christians seem to be wearied with, and since children are, by mandate, taught evolution in school, in one generation our country will no longer think human life is separate and distinct from animals.

Unless we teach our children otherwise. Purposefully. Clearly.

Creation isn’t just about genesis. It’s about God breathing life into Man, giving us a spirit which He did not give to any of the animals. Why do you suppose no suitable helpmate was found for Adam? It wasn’t because of sexual comparability. It was at the level of personhood. No animal was created in God’s image, after His likeness.

Man is more than what the animals are. We have capacities animals don’t have. We can reason, we can sin, we can worship, we can forgive, we can judge, we can aspire. These are not things we’ve learned or gained because of superior intellect. These are part of our personhood, part of our moral fiber, our spiritual makeup. They are part of human life.

Consequently, all human life should be valued. The taking of life should not be something done for convenience or comfort. Today, a woman can kill her unborn baby because it’s inconvenient for her to be pregnant at this point in her life. Tomorrow will she be able to kill her aging parent because it’s inconvenient for her to be a caregiver at this point in her life?

And will our dogs be given more rights than our unborn children?

Maybe we’ll simply stop giving birth since we have these dog children who don’t have all those irritating tendencies to think for themselves as human children do. Maybe we’ll simply let the culture go completely to the dogs.

Published in: on February 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm  Comments (4)  
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Abortion


A History Lesson
Sometimes the bits of culture I look at are things I don’t like. Abortion is one of those. Friend and fellow writer Mike Duran recently addressed the issue and a surprising (to me) discussion unfolded, started by someone who took a strong stand in favor of abortion.

After several rounds of comments, Mike finally asked him to stop because he was not saying anything new. Before I read Mike’s request (which I took to heart as much as I expect the pro-abortionist did), I’d posted what I consider to be a blistering comment, in which I called some of the things the pro-abortionist said ludicrous, insulting, and wrong and his position despicable, reprehensible, and unconscionable.

The thing is, I had more to say! I didn’t address some of the worst of what this commenter said. In response to Sally Apokedak who related that she had had two abortions but knew of God’s forgiveness, he said

Maybe you had two abortions and killed two of your fetuses, but Sally, you didn’t do anything wrong for which you need to be forgiven! You did the morally right thing under the circumstances. Let’s face it – you weren’t ready to be a mother. If God exists, you did exactly what he would want you to do. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

That he would claim the moral high ground for killing human life. He didn’t want anyone calling the unborn babies. Rather he wanted us to use precise scientific language in a discussion like this, calling these unborn zygotes and fetuses. But he pretends to know what God would think (if he exists!).

Well, Scripture, not this man’s imagination, shows us what God thinks. One such instance is the conception of Samson. His parents were childless until one day an angel appeared to his mother who then related to her husband his message:

But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death. (Judges 13:7)

So, before she conceived, she was to observe the conditions of a Nazirite because her son, Samson would be a life-long Nazirite. And that life started in the womb, at conception, deduction leads us to believe.

Job, in one of his discourses makes clear statements about his own life:

“Did not He who made me in the womb make him,
And the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 38L15)

His comment is reminiscent of David’s:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)

Or how about this clear statement of faith:

Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.
Upon You I was cast from birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb. (Psalm 22:9-10)

Isaiah echoes what David says about a person’s conception:

Thus says the LORD who made you
And formed you from the womb (Isaiah 44:2a)

And again a few verses later:

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb (Isaiah 44: 24a)

Some chapters later, he speaks of God’s hand upon him:

The LORD called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me. (Isaiah 49:1b)

Just as Samson was set apart as a Nazarite, so Isaiah was set apart spiritually. Clearly God not only physically formed the unborn, but He interacted with them spiritually!

God also gave Isaiah purpose, while he was still in the womb:

And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant (Isaiah 49:5a)

Jeremiah’s experience was much the same:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)

Shall I go on? There’s more!

It’s upsetting to me when someone slanders God’s name and lies about Him, and I felt a need to set the record straight. Far from approving of abortion, I suspect God looks at these unborn aborted babies as orphans who He takes special notice of.

Here’s another piece of intolerable disinformation from this same commenter:

The right to life begins wherever the human community decides to assign it!

In short, people like this commenter put “the human community” in the place of God. Mankind has simply made himself into an idol. It’s the very thing Satan tempted Eve with: Don’t you want to be like God, knowing good from evil? Some scholars suggest that idea of knowing good and evil was the desire to determine good and evil for ourselves, just as the pro-abortion people do.

Killing life is not good. This commenter conceded that after conception, the union of the sperm and egg is life. He simply didn’t want to call it human life. As if the product of two humans could be some other kind of life. It’s so illogical, it’s hard to believe intelligent people hold to these views. Yep, they are heinous, reprehensible, and unconscionable ideas. I don’t know how a civilized society can hold to such selfish savagery as abortion!

Published in: on February 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm  Comments (7)  
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Life Is Too Big


fortress-of-stone-5-979165-mI have a little life. By that I mean, my life is pretty uncomplicated. I work from home, don’t have a mortgage, live a fairly simple life with no ex’s or in-laws or extended family putting demands on me. And yet, at times I feel life is too big.

And that too needs explanation. For one, there’s so much to do. I’m certainly not saying I have more to do than other people, but the fact is, I’ve gotten myself into a variety of roles—administrator for the CSFF blog tour, regular contributor at Spec Faith, judge of an ACFW contest, organizer of the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction, freelance editor. and now workshop instructor at the Oregon Christian Writers conference.

Each of those roles—and I didn’t even include writing, either my fiction or non-fiction, or blogging—has various “stuff to do” attached to it. Sometimes, it all feels too big.

But more than that, I have a friend whose father just passed away, a couple I know who are both in the hospital—she with cancer and he with serious respiratory issues—another friend who’s husband is looking at a lung transplant, a neighbor whose daughter has an undiagnosed illness. Sometimes just the physical needs of people make life seem too big. Who can visit or write notes of consolation or even pray for everyone in need?

I haven’t even gotten to the spiritual needs or the emotional needs of people I’m privileged to have in my life.

How about the notes or emails or phone calls to those I care about—some friends I don’t want to lose, some relatives I dearly love.

All this in my little life.

Add in concerns, and even responsibilities as a good citizen, for my state and my nation and yes, the world. To be honest, my involvement at this level is small, mostly concentrated in prayer, though I try to stay informed, make every effort to vote, and do pay my taxes.

The sum total of it all makes it clear to me—life is too big.

I think it’s gotten bigger in the last two decades, what with the Internet and social media, which also carry wonderful advantages even as they increase the bigness of life.

I spent three years as a short term missionary in Guatemala and went for months not reading a newspaper (they were in Spanish and I’m not fluent) or watching TV. I didn’t know who was in the Super Bowl, what the President said in his State of the Union speech, or what movie had just been released.

I didn’t know what was happening in France or Israel or Cuba. Life was considerably smaller, and I suspect that’s the way life in the US used to be, too.

But now we are global and instant and connected.

It all feels too big to me.

It’s times like this that I am so thankful I have a big God. It’s sort of silly to call God “big” because He has no limit. Can Someone unlimited be measured and compared so He can be described as “big”? It doesn’t quite feel right, but the point, I guess, is that God is over, above, beyond, outside of all the other bigness of life.

He’s bigger than my concerns for my sick or grieving friends. He’s bigger than all the activities I’ve got on my to do list. He’s bigger than my concerns for the spiritual well-being of our nation, for the spiritual well-being of my neighbors and family and friends.

In many respects, I’m glad I’m aware that life is too big for me to handle because it presses me into the cleft of the Rock Who is higher than I.

I am so much more aware of my need for God when I am aware of how life is too big for me to take on by myself. Honestly, I can’t imagine how anyone manages without God. I mean, friends and loved ones can support and encourage and help, but life is too big for them too, so in the end we’re doing little more than shuffling the furniture around and hoping that makes life easier to manage. It doesn’t.

Only God, with His strength and understanding and plan and purpose, can make it all come out right. I don’t even know what “right” looks like. He does. He’s got the whole thing in His hand.

Published in: on January 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Atheism’s Unanswerable Question


Evolution_tree_of_lifeChristianity and atheism, which of necessity requires belief in evolution, are two contrasting worldviews, not only because they have opposing views about God but also because they have opposing views about humankind. While the focus of discussions and debates often concentrates on the existence of God, it is the view of humankind that leaves atheists with an unanswerable question.

There are two specific ways that Christians and atheists view humankind differently. First, Christians believe that humans are unique from animals because we have an eternal soul. Atheists believe instead in the “common descent” principle:

In evolutionary biology, a group of organisms have common descent if they have a common ancestor. “There is strong quantitative support, by a formal test”[1] for the theory that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor.[2]

Charles Darwin proposed the theory of universal common descent through an evolutionary process in On the Origin of Species, saying, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one”.[3]

Second, Christians believe humans, though created in God’s image, have a fallen, or sinful, nature passed down through Adam who turned his back on God when he intentionally disobeyed Him. The only way to change society is to point individuals to Jesus Christ who provides a way of escape from sin, guilt, the law, and death.

Atheists, on the other hand, believe humans are morally neutral at worst and might even be considered “good” by virtue of the fact that what exists has survived.

Right and wrong, good and evil, then, are not existent apart from the perception of a group or community. Hence, homosexuality is wrong until the group determines it is right.

Infants come into the world as blank slates or even as good slates and only turn toward evil if they are influenced by societal patterns (racism, for example) or errant views (such as religion). The way to change society is simply to re-educate people.

One atheist puts it this way:

So if we are determined, then how do we define evil? If our minds come from our brains, and our brain circuitry is out of our control, then is anyone responsible for anything – no matter how courageous, no matter how innovative, no matter how good or evil, that the person is? (“An atheist’s view of evil”)

Another atheist discussing evil concludes with this:

For atheists, a better explanation for the presence of evil in the world is that God does not exist. (“Atheism”).

A number of others discuss evil only as an argument against the existence of God. But here’s the question that atheists can’t seem to answer: where did evil come from? If life has a common descent, if we’re born with no natural bent toward evil, what injected evil into the equation?

In reality, the atheist scenario is one that would seem to result in utopia: humans, evolved from a common and not evil descent, growing toward their full potential without any negative force to intercede.

Except for society. Which teaches gender differences and racism and encourages belief in mythical gods which motivate people groups to hate.

But society is nothing more than people interacting with one another. So how and why did humans start acting in hateful ways toward people who were different from them? Why did the strong decide to take from the weak instead of using their strength for the greater good?

In other words, where did evil come from?

This is the atheist’s unanswerable question.

As I mentioned, a number of professing atheists lay evil at the feet of God, then declare that its existence proves He couldn’t possibly exist. That he doesn’t eradicate evil shows either that he’s too weak to do so (and therefore, not God) or too evil himself or too undiscerning to know evil from good (and therefore not God).

The argument, of course, ignores what God Himself has to say about evil and its existence. But more so, it offers no alternative, no explanation for the virulent presence of evil in the world.

In fact, some atheists deny the existence of evil:

Atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim that evil doesn’t actually exist. In his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life Dawkins writes: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (David Robinson, “The problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheists than Christians,” Christianity Today)

Of course such a view collapses the argument that evil disproves the existence of God, because something that does not exist cannot itself be used to disprove anything. So either evil exists, or it doesn’t. And if it exists, but there is no God, then where did it come from? How did it come to be included in this mix of materialism?

Actually the atheist I quoted above, was on the right track. Evil comes from the absence of God. He does exist, but He doesn’t force Himself on our lives. Humankind, having chosen to leave God out, now experience the world with the absence-of-God component a reality.

Sweet Aroma


grilled-chicken-legs-745038-mI’m sitting here enjoying the aroma of barbequed chicken. I don’t think anyone is actually barbequing, although it’s certainly warm enough that they could. It’s just that most people, even in SoCal, don’t think about barbequing in January. (This may be quite different for those living in the Southern Hemisphere, however. 😉 ) I suspect I’m smelling the aroma of roasted or fried or broiled chicken from another apartment in my building.

Nevertheless, the scent is tantalizing. I’m having meatloaf tonight but am sitting here thinking, Why couldn’t I be having chicken? Never mind that I had chicken all last week!

It’s that mouth-watering scent lingering in the air, that sweet aroma that induces a desire for a chicken dinner. It’s almost enough to prompt me to hunt down the nearest KFC. Almost.

But that’s what a sweet aroma is supposed to do, isn’t it—entice a person to draw closer. When I smell the salt-water breeze, for example, I know I’m close to the ocean, and I’m honed in on reaching the beach. The scent of evergreens does the same for me when I’m heading for the mountains.

Fresh baked bread draws me, too, and so does apple pie. Or chocolate chip cookies. Pretty much grilled anything can start my stomach growling, and here I am—back at that aroma of fried chicken.

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul refers to the knowledge of Christ as a sweet aroma.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (2 Cor. 2:14-16)

I find this passage a little hard to digest (pardon the pun—I just couldn’t resist), but the main point seems to be we believers carry the aroma of God to other Christians first but also to non-Christians. To Christians, the scent is sweet—it’s the aroma of life—but to the latter, it’s the odor of death.

Several commentators connect this image Paul used, to the aroma of burning incense in the Roman triumphal parades. To the Romans the scent was a sign of victory, but to the prisoners and newly acquired slaves, the odor was the mark of death or the end of all they had previously known. Notice, what the two groups smelled was exactly the same, but because it meant something entirely different to each, they reacted in diametrically contrasting ways.

So, too, the aroma of Christ. To the Christian, He is life. To the non-Christian? Not so much.

And yet . . . I can’t help but wonder if the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ isn’t as enticing to non-Christians as to Christians. Enticing, but perhaps because it isn’t compatible with other odors, it becomes a hated thing. Or perhaps an odor is too weak or, worse, identified as one thing, when actually it is something else.

I’ll never forget one of Christopher Hitchen’s last articles in which he mentioned all the notes he’d received from Christians who said they were praying for God to miraculously heal him. Truly, he seemed touched. Of course he also mentioned the ones he received that said he was dying of cancer as payment for his atheism.

That last is not the sweet knowledge of Christ. I don’t know what that kind of ugliness is or where it comes from—maybe a white-washed tomb.

The knowledge of Christ is His life of ministry and His death “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” The knowledge of Christ is His resurrection power and His promise to return as our King.

Whether the words of life He spoke or the deeds of life He performed, whether the death He suffered that gifted us with life if we belief, whether as the first alive from the dead, or whether fulfilling the promise of life everlasting, Jesus is all about life.

That’s a sweet aroma. That’s the enticement He offers. I’m not sure how that beauty and truth can do anything but attract. I guess it does. God’s word says it does.

Like that fried chicken, the aroma we transmit permeates the air. The job of every believer is simply to make sure we’re not smothering it or diffusing it beyond recognition. How those around us respond is their responsibility. How we permeate our world with the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ, is ours.

Published in: on January 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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