Archive for August, 2011

Elizabeth Skoglund and I have met only once.  But, our friendship grew by way of phone conversations over a period of years.  Elizabeth is the author of over twenty books.  One of them caught my eye in a bookstore when I was researching end-of-life issues.  That book, Life on the Line, proved to be powerfully helpful to me.  Elizabeth and I share the same worldview on life issues, but her experience as a counselor in private practice and as a gifted researcher and writer equipped me to be a better defender of the sanctity of human life.

Life on the Line was so helpful to me that I wanted others to be encouraged by her, too.  I invited Elizabeth to be a workshop presenter at one of our Lutherans For Life conferences.  Illness prevented her from coming, but some time later, I asked Elizabeth if she would author a short handbook on decision-making at the end of life to be published by Lutherans For Life.  She did.  The book is titled Before I Die.  I highly recommend both Life on the Line and Before I Die in this time of technological advances, shifting standards, and babel of confusing and often contradictory voices.

Elizabeth notes that volumes could be written on all the “what-ifs” of medical technology.  “But,” she writes, “we are on much safer ground if we follow certain general Biblical principles . . . whether or not we like them.  If we do not, we are in desperate danger of trying to become gods and making our own rules based on what we feel and what we want at any given time.”

Those Biblical principles, writes Elizabeth, “can be summarized in three phrases: the sanctity of human life; the sovereignty of God, including His timing in matters of life and death; and the goodness of God, who will not fail to do right.”

Elizabeth explains that questions like “What would Aunt Sally want?” are not designed to find out the will of God in bioethics.  They merely express what we want or feel.  The Christian believer does better to ask, “What is the will of God?”

There are gray areas in times of decision-making.  Use of the respirator, for example, is troubling for many of us.  The respirator is uncomfortable.  It’s use is controversial among doctors.  Elizabeth admits that being on a respirator is one of her own great personal fears.  She expresses sympathy for those who let it be known that under no conditions do they wish to be put on a respirator.

But, writes Elizabeth, if a respirator can be a bridge back to life, she believes we have an obligation to try to live.  On the other hand, if the respirator is used when death is inevitable, simply to slow down the dying process, then it is wrongfully keeping a person from being released to be with God.

I haven’t spoken with Elizabeth for some time.  A good visit is long overdue.  In these times, we need to challenge one another to think.  To encourage one another to trust our Creator God and Savior Jesus Christ.  To work where we’ve been placed in helping others respect the dignity of human life — that of the preborn and that of a loved one nearing their death.

Our last moments on earth are important ones.  For some, it is a time of decision.  For others, it is a time of transition from this life to the next.  It is a valuable time for the family who gathers at the bedside of one who is so close to going home.  Elizabeth quotes John White (Decision, May 1989):

“In life we are on a stage.  Angels and demons watch as we enact the drama of our earthly existence, and it is important that the scene close properly.  Christ has shown us how the lines should be uttered, as a cry of joyful triumph: “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!”  (Luke 23:46 RSV).  We will only die once and will therefore have only one chance to die properly.  We must learn our lines well beforehand so that the curtains fall on a note of triumph.”

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When disaster strikes, when health fails, when confusion seems to reign, when the earthly things I cling to fall away — I am left in awe and wonder by God’s Word to Job.

Job had everything taken from him.  Wife.  Children.  Home.  Possessions.  Job longed for days gone by.  For days when his life was good.  When he was blessed.  Having lost everything, Job was in misery.  Terrors overwhelmed him.  His days were marked by suffering.

Why?  For what purpose?  Was Job now abandoned?  Cast aside?  A righteous man cut off?

Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm, saying,

Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge?  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions?  Surely you know!  Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?  Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?  Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?  Can you loose the cords of Orion?  Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

Do you send the lightening bolts on their way?  Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?  Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south?  Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?”

And so, at the end of a tough day — when I am weary or disappointed, weak or doubting — I remember the Creator’s Words to Job.  They are His Words to me as well.

They are my comfort in the storms of life.

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It’s possible that very soon my friend, Gladys, will be called home.  Poison in her system cannot be contained.  Her kidneys are shutting down.  Her lungs are weary.  She is in pain.  My friend is impatient to go home, yet — a faithful servant of God to the end — she does not ask anyone to send her before her time.

What Gladys does ask is that she be kept as pain-free as possible.  In an article I wrote years ago, I quoted Dr. Matthew Conolly.  He acknowledged that the greatest fear of most patients — and, thus, the reason that “mercy killing” or euthanasia grows ever popular — is pain.  Too many physicians believe their most important role is to heal or cure.  When they cannot, the patient may become a reminder of the doctor’s “failure.”  At such times, some physicians abandon the patient.  What they could do, as Dr. Conolly pointed out, is learn the art of caring for the patient even when the prognosis is not good.  What they could do is to learn the art of pain control.  Appropriate pain control does not hasten death, but brings dignity to both patient and family.

Today, my friend’s daughter — my dear friend, Rita — is talking to the hospital chaplain and hospice care workers.  Rita does not want to decide when her mother should die.  That is up to God.  But, she does want to do all she can to keep her mother comfortable.

I am reminded of a story I’ve shared when speaking about end-of-life issues.  A pastor’s wife, in her battle against cancer, was undergoing extensive treatment.  She was placed on a rubber cooling blanket to keep her temperature down.  It was very uncomfortable.  “I don’t know if I can stand this,” she told her husband.  “If you cannot,” he told her, “tell the nurses you want to discontinue this treatment.”  Then, anxious and exhausted, he left to get a few hours sleep.  When he returned, he was greeted by a nurse.  “Boy, does you wife have something to tell you.”  The pastor rushed in to his wife’s room where he found her smiling.  “What happened?” he asked.  “It was wonderful,” she said.  Sometime after you left, I could bear it no more.  I prayed that God lift me from this suffering.  And, you know what?  Angels appeared.  I felt warm; snug as a bug.  I slept.”

Does God know our pain?  Does He hear us when we ask for comfort?  For strength to endure?  For courage?  Think about Jesus as He was preparing to take on the sins of the world.  On the night He was betrayed, He took His disciples with Him to the garden.  He told them, “Do not fall into temptation, but pray.”  Then He went off by Himself.  He was in anguish.  His sweat was like drops of blood.  “Father,” He prayed, “if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Do you know what happened?  An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  (Luke 22:39-43)

When our physicians cannot heal, may we encourage them to comfort.  To seek better pain control.

And, when we feel that we are falling into temptation — ready to ask someone to end our life and send us on our way home — may we, instead, call upon the Great Physician.  The One who knows pain.  Who carried sorrow.  Who endured every whip and lash for our benefit.  If God heard the plea of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ, and sent an angel to strengthen Him, won’t He also hear us?  Won’t He give us exactly what we need, when we need it, until His work through us is done?

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My friend, Rita, is sitting at the bedside of her mother.  It has been Rita’s great joy and blessing to have Gladys as her mom.  Now, as mother battles life-threatening infection, daughter wants to serve as she’s been served.  She is doing that by faithfully remaining at her mom’s side… reading to her, praying with her, and re-counting treasured memories.

It is at such times, however, that even the most faithful believers ask, “God, where are You?  Why do you allow our loved one to endure this?”  Gladys has lived a full and good life.  “She has been faithful, Lord.  Isn’t her work done?  Dear Jesus, why don’t You just take her home with you?”

Our family asked similar questions not long ago when my father-in-law battled bacterial brain infection.  We were given opportunity to hang on to and put into practice every pro-life conviction on which we stand.  For years, I had been speaking to others about the value of one life — the life in the womb and the life in a hospital bed.  So, I had to ask myself, what value was I going to put on the life of my husband’s father?  After all, he was 80 years old.  (Gladys is 91.)  His life was blessed.  Full.  Active.  He knew Jesus as His Savior and I knew my father-in-law, Max, would be taken to heaven when he died.  I knew I would forever appreciate the wisdom he had shared and the lessons he had taught.

I remember days and nights when Max, almost catatonic, could only thrash fitfully in bed.  I remember spoon-feeding him and begging him to swallow before a feeding tube was inserted.  Without really meaning to, Max pulled it out three times.  Three antibiotics were flowing into his bloodstream by IV.  No one knew for sure what the side-effects of those toxic chemicals might be.  So, when the brain surgeon said there was no more she could do, and the infectious disease team told us the odds of beating this infection were not good, and the social worker encouraged us to “take your dad home to hospice,” we could have said, “It has been a good fight.  We did all we could.”

But, God wasn’t through with Max — and He wasn’t through with me or my family either.  There were so many more lessons yet to be taught and learned.  From a bed not of his choosing, Max challenged his family to make words real in deed.  Not by accident he became my teacher, model, and witness.  My journal is filled with lessons taught by a man who was ready to meet Jesus; yet so desperately clung to the life he loved.  Here are a few of those lessons:

SERVICE: How can we make a difference when we are helpless?  Max had always been a hard worker.  His hands tilled the soil and planted the seed.  But God does not need our hands or anything else we have to offer.  His work is accomplished in spite of us.  God said to Max Bartlett, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.”  This power was witnessed by family, friends, and the medical community.

DETERMINATION: Although we were willing to let Max be with Jesus, we weren’t ready to give up.  Nor was a man named Ravi Vemuri, a physician who seemed to have developed a personal interest in Max and his ever-present family.  Dr. Vemuri, a practicing Hindu, loved life too, and he had one more antibiotic to try.  In addition, perhaps moved by our involvement, he granted our request to compliment his chemical approach with nutritional supplements.  The determination of doctor, family, and the patient Max was not lost on those who watched.

CONTROL: Desiring some kind of control, I wanted to work with a plan.  On the days when we nearly lost Max, I planned for death.  On the days when he rallied, I planned for life.  But, through Max Bartlett, God showed me that He has a plan not like my own.  He asked me only to trust.

INCONVENIENCE: If asked how I would handle sometimes 15-hour days in a hospital room and shared sleeping quarters with assorted family members, I’m not sure how I would have responded.  But God did not ask me how I felt about such things.  Through Max, He simply asked me to be faithful.

SELF: During my first long stay at the hospital, my thoughts turned to self.  Does anyone appreciate what I am doing or realize what I’m giving up?  In a private moment I will never forget, God used the patient, Max, to help the caregiver, Linda, adjust her attitude.

WORSHIP: One evening, alone with my father-in-law, I asked, “Sometimes, when you appear to be sleeping, you are really talking to God, aren’t you Max?”  Squeezing my hand even tighter, he simply said, “Yes, you know, don’t you?”  What soul work was being done.  A frightening brush with death brought a humble man of God named Max Bartlett into an even closer relationship with His Heavenly Father.

So, what is the price of one life?  Is it the price of helplessness or suffering?  Is it the price of sleepless nights and frightening days?  Is it the price of inconvenience?

The price of one life is what God puts on it.  He planned that life.  He knit that life together in the secret place of a mother’s womb.  He promised to be with that life whether dependent on bottle-feeding or tube feeding.  He loves that life.  The greatness of that love is evidenced by the Cross on which His own dear Son, Jesus Christ, was sacrificed for one life — yours, mine, a preborn child, Max, and Gladys.

God wants us to love one life, too.  He wants us to protect one life and speak up for one life.  Early in my pro-life ministry days, I predicted that the generation that ushered in abortion would be ushered out by euthanasia.  This culture has been shaped to value human life only if it is wanted.  Convenient.  Not a threat to our own.  But, the value God places on the life He creates and redeems is priceless.  God wants us to be an advocate for each life.  To leave ourselves open and willing to learn every lesson taught by the “least of these.”  To trust.

If God gives us one life to love, He will also give us what we need — for as long as we need it — to care for that life.

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The sun has gone to bed.  So should I.  My mind wanders.  I tap the keyboard, then delete.  Somehow, I want to put into words what my eyes and ears see and hear.   So that maybe, just maybe, one person out there will be encouraged to take the high ground and stay the course.

Ever since my eyes were opened to the holocaust of abortion, I’ve been on the go.  It’s as if God’s own Spirit has nudged me: Get involved!  Lend a hand!  Offer a shoulder!  Make a difference while there is light of day!  In the midst of it, I heard the whispers: “She’s a bit too intense.”  “Why doesn’t she lighten up?”

I remember the older woman who, most kindly, said, “Thank you for your message about abortion, but my children are all grown now and this issue really doesn’t affect me.”  My emotion wanted to scream, but my better judgment took control.  I sighed, smiled… then tried to explain.  Abortion is the slippery slope to euthanasia… and so much more.

Well, it’s so “much more” later.  Here we are, mired in a culture that defends government-funded abortion and wonders why acts of violence increase,  calls homosexual behavior a civil-rights issue, sexualizes children but bemoans an epidemic of STDS and troubled teens, arrogantly re-defines marriage and family, seriously considers the transfer of American parental rights over to the United Nations, positions itself to deny freedom of religion, and sets up government health care that may judge some of us as “too burdensome.”

Narcissism rules and chaos reigns.  Or, does it?

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,” God asked Job.  “Tell me if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements . . . or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Or who shut in the sea with doors . . . and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?'” (Job 38:4-11).

God, the creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who “binds the chains of the Pleiades” and loosens “the cords of Orion” (v. 31); the God who sends “forth lightenings, that they may go and say to you ‘Here we are’ (v. 35), and the God who put “wisdom in the inward parts” and gave “understanding to the mind” (v. 36) is the God who “provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food . . .” (v. 41).

Does chaos reign?  No, there is evidence of order and Truth at work.

I was reminded of this fact while captive on board a gated-plane.   Maintenance crews took three hours to service an engine, but captivity turned into opportunity for me to read the observations of John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, authors of the book God Is Back.  Both agree that Christianity is poised to do well — and better than Islam — in the 21st century.  For example, “The Quran can’t be translated into any other language.  So most people that Muslims are converting do not understand a word of what they are taught to recite . . .”  Contrast that with the fact that the Bible is published in 95% of the languages of the world.

Here’s another example.  Have you noticed the growing number of bestsellers by atheists during the past several years?  Micklethwait says, “You do not suddenly wake up in a panic about God being bad or terrible if you think you’ve already won the argument.  If you went back 10 or 20 years, the idea that Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens could write a bestseller on the subject would have seemed odd, because — certainly in Europe — most of the educated elites would have assumed God was disappearing anyway, so what’s the worry?”  (WORLD, June 20, 2009, “Q & A” by Marvin Olasky)

Does chaos reign?

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision'” (Psalm 2:1-4).

“God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne” (Psalm 47:8).

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.  For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told . . .” (Habakkuk 1:5).

We may fear that an immoral culture will absorb us.  We may feel powerless to resist.  Paralyzed.  But, while God is doing His work, there is something for us to do, too.  We can live.  We can live as men and women eager to glorify God while He transforms the culture.  God gives us a model for affecting the lives of others.  It follows the order of creation and can be found in Titus 2:1-8.  A young pastor named Titus used this model to help believing men and women push back against the culture while raising a new generation of hope.

Narcissism may seem to rule.  It may appear that our world is spinning out of control.  But, did you notice that my fingers aren’t paralyzed anymore?  The darkness overpowered me for awhile last night… but the Lord’s compassions are new every morning!  Because of His great love, we are not consumed.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)  Rather, we are re-energized and equipped to re-engage.

Hope rises up in unexpected places.  How can it not?  Hope is Jesus Christ.  He is the Word.  And, the Word is at work. Therefore…

Narcissism does not rule.  Chaos does not reign.  God does.

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Bob Morrison is a friend — for life.  Our pro-life paths crossed many years ago.  Bob is both a student and teacher of history.  He quotes the Founding Fathers with ease — and due respect.  When he served as Director of the LC-MS Office of Government Information, he arranged an educational day with speakers on Capitol Hill plus a servant event exclusively for my youth group.  Today, he serves with the Family Research Council.

Like so many of us, Bob is looking for leadership that will help build a culture of life.  He is quite sure he has found that man in a young senator from Florida named Marco Rubio.  Rubio is not running for presidential office.  Bob believes he should.  I asked Bob if he would explain why.  In addition to sending me YouTubes of Rubio’s speeches, Bob sent the following:

“Many agree that Marco Rubio is a rising star.  I believe he’s a risen star.  Ten years of productive service at the state level, including his Speakership of the Florida House, give him exactly the experience we want to effectively send most domestic issues — like education — back to the states.  If we believe in federalism, we need to trust proven state leaders.  Rubio, paired with Jon Kyl, would easily beat Barack Obama.  Americans, I believe, are hungering for the kind of principled, conservative leadership Rubio and Kyl can provide.

“Rubio will give those who supported Barack Obama in 2008, but did not vote in 2010, a way to make history again.  Those voters believed they were doing something new and hopeful in American politics.  They were.  But sadly for them and us, Barack Obama has disappointed their hopes.

“Here’s fact: The one we like must be liked by someone else.  There are simply not enough pro-life, pro-marriage Christians in the general electorate to create a wave election.  And it will take a wave election to give Rubio and Kyl the kind of Congress needed to pull our country back from the brink.

“Marco Rubio is the only man who can create the kind of excitement necessary to motivate volunteers . . .  to bring the campuses back to life.

“Marco Rubio knows why America is exceptional, because he believes that God has uniquely blessed this Great Republic, and because he can communicate great principles to all Americans — in eloquent English and in powerful Spanish.  The hour is late.  We all hear that Marco Rubio has a great future.  If we nominate him now, we too will have a great future.”

The future  matters to Bob because he is a grandfather.  Bob is one of many grandfathers who wants to leave something for — not take away from — his children and his children’s children.  With that in mind — and for God and Country — Bob says: “Write in Rubio-Kyl.  Let’s rescue the future.”

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What you are about to read is not this ezerwoman’s attempt to campaign.  It is, however, an opportunity to point out personal convictions.  Ideologies.  Worldviews… and why they matter.

Rick Santorum is the former senator from Pennsylvania.  He is the father of seven and, together with his wife, homeschools his children.  I have the Santorum book, It Takes a Family, in my library.  Santorum understands the roles of family and government in light of a particular worldview.  That worldview puts him at odds with the media and many other politicians.  But, it also compels him to run for high office in spite of the odds.

Many will not consider Santorum electable; nevertheless, he needs to be heard.  Here’s what I heard him say at a recent townhall meeting:

We have an out-of-control entitlement program.  Santorum believes “Obamacare” will rob the U.S. of its soul.   Freedoms are removed when citizens become dependent on government.  Citizens are not to be “hooked” and then made captive.  Santorum believes that The Constitution without the Bill of Rights is a hollow document.  We are not granted happiness — or the right to instant gratification; we are gifted with the pursuit of happiness.  (See my previous blog.)

We are Americans not ethnically, says Santorum, but because we believe in the ideology of America.  Students of history remember John Adams who said democracy can stand only if the people are moral.  Parents, not government, are responsible for children and our education system needs to see parents as the customer.  Leadership needs to urge parental involvement and accountability.  Character development, perhaps even more than academic, is necessary.  A person of character, notes Santorum, can be mentored into leadership.

Santorum does not waiver on the sanctity of life and marriage.  God is the creator of life.  He is the creator and, thus, definer of marriage.  Marriage existed before government.  Santorum believes that God reveals Himself in nature and in us.  He is not distant.  Marriage is what it is, what God created it to be and what natural law confirms it to be.  To treat marriage other than what it is, says Santorum, will have a huge impact beyond marriage; it will have an impact on freedom of religion.  We have now created a right, he says, a “super right” to sexual freedom that isn’t in the Constitution — but the courts have created it and it will, let me assure you, with future court decisions, trump religious rights.  So, if you are a marriage counselor in Iowa you have to get a license and you won’t counsel for same sex couples; well, maybe right now there are laws in place that say you won’t lose your license, but that’s just for now.  Once this becomes more accepted then we will say: You know what?  We really shouldn’t give bigots licenses.   Look at what’s already happened in Boston . . . the Catholic Church, the biggest adoption agency in the state of Massachusetts, was told gay adoptions are legal and, therefore, if you don’t do gay adoptions, you can’t be legal.  The Church got out voluntarily, but they didn’t want to . . . And, what if your church says “no” to doing a same-sex “marriage”?

The above is offered simply for your personal pondering because I believe worldviews matter.  There is a hopeless and generationally-damaging worldview in the White House right now.  Therefore, in my role of citizen, I am obligated to carefully study the people who seek leadership.  I am doing that — right now.

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My husband and I believe in exercising our minds while enjoying a meal.  If at home, Paul grills.  I steam veggies, broil some garlic bread, and mix a salad.  Plates in hand, we settle by a window overlooking a forest of hickory and oak.  Or, on a less humid day, we move out onto the deck.  We discuss matters of family, theology, and culture.  At some point, we slip on our worldview glasses.  There are only two pair: God’s — and any other.

Family, theology and culture take on a different perspective depending upon one’s worldview.  The same is true with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This Saturday is the Iowa Straw Poll.  I plan to go, not so much to cast a vote, but to meander through the crowd.  To listen.  Watch.  Learn which pair of glasses the people have chosen to wear.   Most eyes are focused on the economy.  But, my worldview tells me that our economic problems have deep moral roots.  America may be collapsing on itself because its worldview of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is hopeless.

Life.  Abortion fails to see the value of life created by God and redeemed at high price.  Abortion is about “me.”  “My” fears.  “My” needs.  It sees no future.  It acts in desperation.  Legalized abortion is a root cause of our social security and health care woes.  I have long been concerned that the babyboomers who ushered in abortion will be ushered out by euthanasia.

Liberty.  To worship at the altar of sexual freedom is to eventually loose religious freedom.  “Righteous” folk who “tell me” that I have no “right to liberated” behavior, but must instead practice self-control, are “bigoted” and “must be silenced”.

Pursuit of happiness.  Some Americans think we are entitled to happiness or the right to instant gratification.  But, wearing his worldview glasses, former Senator Rick Santorum disagrees.  We are, he says, “gifted with the pursuit of happiness.”

Santorum, speaking in my town earlier this week, asked, “What is the pursuit of happiness?  Is it doing what we want, or doing . . . .”  He paused, waiting for someone to finish the sentence.  From my place in the back of the room, I did so:  It’s doing “what we should (ought).”  Correct answer.  I think many in the audience agreed.  But, as citizens, have we correctly pursued happiness?

America has given its citizens the freedom to pursue happiness.  But, believing happiness to be “my right to do whatever I want,” leads us to pursue wrongly.  Selfishly.  Dangerously.  Right down a slippery slope into despair.

So, my husband and I remind each other to polish our worldview glasses.  Clarify hope and change.  Look for leaders who pursue not what they can, but what they should.  And, correct our own pursuit of happiness.

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“Am I the only one who thinks government-mandated health care telling me that my children are ‘targeted diseases’ is utterly revolting?”  This is a fair question asked by Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life.

To what is Kristin referring?  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has decided to re-define women’s health care, mandating that by 1-1-13 insurance providers give women a range of new “preventative services” free, no co-pay or deductible.

These “preventative services” are to include all FDA-approved birth control.  This means even proven abortion-causing drugs such as ella and Plan B.  To be given “free” to married or unmarried women.  So, with Kristin, I ask: Since when is pregnancy a “disease”?

On July 19, the IOM released a Consensus Report: “The IOM defines preventative health services as measures — including medications, procedures, devices, tests, education and counseling — shown to improve well-being, and/or decrease the likelihood or delay the onset of a targeted disease or condition.”  Under these conditions, insured women will have access to free birth control because pregnancy has been redefined as a ‘targeted disease.”

This presidential administration wants women to have free access to abortion and cancer-causing birth control in order to fight the “disease” of pregnancy, notes Kristin, yet “medication that literally keeps my 2-1/2 year old son, Gunner, from dying costs my husband and me hundreds [of dollars] every month.”  Gunner has cystic fibrosis.

HHS announced new preventive-care guidelines will require all health insurance policies written on or after August 1, 2012, to offer contraceptives and other women’s health services without copays, coinsurance, or deductibles.  Included in the guidelines are voluntary sterilization procedures, breastfeeding support and equipment, annual well-woman visits, counseling on HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and screenings for human papillomavirus, or HPV, gestational diabetes, and domestic violence.

There are many individuals and organizations who protest on moral, ethical and economic grounds.  Supposedly, “religious” employers may “opt out” of the mandate.  However, NARAL — the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws — is urging its members to write HHS, saying, “I am concerned that certain religious employers may be allowed to opt out of the requirements.  All women should have access to contraceptive coverage, regardless of where they work.”  Has NARAL forgotten?  Birth control is widely available and publicly funded programs already provide it for women who cannot afford it.

Is pregnancy a “disease?”

Pregnancy is the carrying of one or more offspring.  New human life.  To be pregnant means to be “with child.”  Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made by God.  Every child is knit together in the secret place of his or her mother’s womb.  Within the womb, and not by accident, the placenta nestles around the child to nurture and protect.

Pregnancy is not a disease.  Were it true, what would that make each of us?

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A group of judges took it upon themselves to re-define marriage in Iowa.  Within the year, a new definition was given to the Holy Family in my neighboring town of Cedar Falls, IA.,  when two women posed with Baby Jesus in their congregation’s “living” Nativity.

We used “the youngest baby in the congregation to play the role of Jesus,” said Rev. Linda Butler, pastor of St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls.  “The parents just happened to be two women.”

“What we emphasized was that this was two parents,” she said, “and this is our baby and this is our story.”  Butler continued, “It does fit so well biblically,” noting that Jesus had a human mother, but Joseph was not the Savior’s actual father.  “If He was born of a virgin, then Joseph is not the father.  He’s not part of the conception.”

In an interview with WND (WorldNetDaily), Butler explained that her church welcomes all sexual orientations and gender identities.  In his article for WND, Joe Kovacs quoted from Butler’s sermon of December 26:

“In the midst of this Christmas joy,” she said from the pulpit, “when God appears to us in human form, the gospel reading reminds us . . . we have to shout at church actions . . . that do not affirm God’s holy work among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  We have to shout [that] the government shifts money away from the prevention of AIDS and HIV to abstinence-only policies . . . We have to increase our efforts to strengthen LGBT youth who come out, and are thrown out of their families so depression and suicide do not become their modus operandi.  We have to advocate against local schools . . . that have attempted to eliminate books on multi-dimensional families from curricula and libraries.”

Kittredge Cherry, who calls herself a lesbian Christian author and minister from Los Angeles, promotes her own style of “gay” Nativities on YouTube.  “What if the child of God was born to a lesbian couple or a gay couple?  Because, after all, love makes a family.”  Cherry admitted, “Obviously this is not about historical accuracy, but I believe that [it is] true to the spirit of the Christmas story in the Bible: God’s child conceived in an extraordinary way and born into disreputable circumstances.  Love makes a family . . . including the Holy Family.”

God’s Word, the Bible, never once describes or mentions same-sex “marriage.”  The opposite is true.  The Old Testament, rich with the history of civilization, records warnings against homosexuality, calling it an “abomination” and a “sin.”  God’s Word in the New Testament is consistent.  Romans 1:26-27 explains that the “unnatural relations” and “shameless acts” of sodomy bring dire consequences.

Ms. Butler doesn’t want depression and suicide to become the modus operandi of young people.  Nor do I.  But, for that not to happen, two things must take place.

First, we have to expose the modus operandi of those who deceive young people.  GLSEN and other LGBT advocates work feverishly to mentor girls and boys because, as Dan Savage (founder of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign) writes, “. . . Gay activists want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality” because “our future depends on it.” (Salon magazine)  Daniel Villarreal is just as candid as Savage in his article that appeared in the homosexual blog Queerty in May.  He wrote,  “I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach and expose children to queer sexuality.”  So who, Ms. Butler, is putting young people at risk for depression and suicide?  And, for what reasons?

Second, God loves all of His creation.  Each one is precious in His sight.  In a fallen and sinful world, however, we struggle against our own passions.  We desire to do the things we shouldn’t and fail to do the things we should.  But, once again, God’s love appears for our benefit.  In Jesus Christ, we have an advocate before the Father.  In Jesus, we find strength to leave dangerous ways behind and, with the help of caring parents and community, move patiently forward on a safer and more hopeful journey.  God is not cruel.  He does not create people to be homosexual or lesbian and then laugh because they don’t “fit.”  Can’t procreate.  Are at higher risk for anal cancer and HIV/AIDS.  No!  God wants all of us — those tempted by homosexual or heterosexual sins — to practice self-control.  Turn away from the cliff of despair and toward new beginnings.  Leave old ways behind and shed burdens at the foot of the Cross.

Ms. Butler, we prevent HIV/AIDS by helping people abstain from sex apart from real marriage.  We show compassion not by tolerating harmful behavior and calling it “good,” but by involving ourselves in the lives of young people and leading them away from deception, predators and profiteers.  Young people rarely ask to be restrained.  But, responsible adults do it anyway – for the sake of the boy or girl.  As a Methodist in your position, Ms. Butler, you serve your people best with God’s Word rather than improvised words of your own.

And, Ms. Cherry, contrary to what you may think, love doesn’t make a family.  God makes a family.  He uses the love of a man for his wife in the procreational act of sex to bring new life into the world.  That is a family.  In His Book, it always has been.  Always will be.

My appreciation to Joe Kovacs and WND, 8-5-11

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