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Archive for January, 2012

Why do we too often go along with the crowd, even when we know it’s wrong?  Instead of voicing what we know to be true, we remain silent when we should speak up.  Is it because we’re afraid of being different?  Ridiculed? Ill-equipped to defend the truth?

Polls reveal that the majority of people don’t like abortion, but let it be a “private matter.”  Biology proves that human life begins at conception, but the majority of people resist asking the questions that help make other people think.  A national silence has denied over 53 million babies the right to life and left their mothers in denial, depression, shame, unhealthy lifestyles, and grief.

Once we have seen, however, it is difficult to un-see. Abby Johnson’s conscience wouldn’t let her deny the facts any longer. As the director of a Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic in Texas, she had seen too much. Her book, Un-Planned speaks to everyone willing to hear.  Abby is not alone.  Sue Thayer managed a PP clinic in Storm Lake, IA., about two hours from where I live, until 2008.  Her clinic was scheduled to start doing telemed abortions.  Sue voiced her concern even though, as a single parent, she was uneasy with the possibility of losing her job and the benefits and health insurance that came with it.  Sue couldn’t be silent.  So she was fired.

Sue became a PP center manager in 1991.  It was required that she and staff observe at least one day of surgical abortions.  She did just that at the Central PP Clinic in Des Moines.  During that eight hour day, the doctor performed about 30 abortions.  Some of the women were further along in their pregnancies than they had reported.  “Contents of the uterus” were placed in glass bowls, then examined under a light.  Sue explained, “One bowl clearly contained three perfect, tiny arms.  I asked why there would be a third arm.  ‘Twins’ was the response and because it might upset the mother, this information wasn’t shared.”

Sue set about trying to prevent the need for abortion during her next 17 years at PP in Storm Lake.  But, in 2008, PP of Greater Iowa announced that all PPGI clinics would be offering telemed abortions.  Sue said, “A doctor in Des Moines would be connected via webcam with a patient at any one of the PPGI’s 17 centers.  According to PPGI, this constituted a doctor’s visit.  After speaking briefly via webcam, the doctor would push a button in the Des Moines office whereupon a drawer in front of the patient at the remote center would open.  Inside the drawer were two different medicines — one to kill the baby, taken immediately at the clinic, and a second one to take later at home which would cause contractions and eventually expel the dead baby.”

Sue continued. “PPGI ordered that all staff, medical and non-medical alike would be required to do vaginal ultrasounds.  I asked what qualifications were required to perform this invasive procedure and was told that ‘if you are breathing, you can do a vaginal ultrasound’ . . . I asked if they would be notifying doctors and hospitals in each community and was told that they definitely would not be sharing any information . . . PPGI wanted to establish a ‘standard of care’ with the goal of 500 to 1000 [telemed]abortions completed before any public announcement was made.”

Telemed abortions, Sue was told, would be done through 63 days from conception. “We were all familiar with using the morning after pill (“Plan B”), but this was only given up to five days after unprotected intercourse.”  Now, patients seeking abortions wouldn’t have to drive to a surgical center.  And, no waiting. Sue was told “forty five minutes, in and out.”  She remembers one PP manager commenting, “It’s about time women can get an abortion whenever and wherever they want.  It’s no different than getting a Pap smear.”

Sue was concerened about safety — for the patient, staff, and herself.  What would the complication rate be?  Would women be alone when they took the second pill at home?  Sue continued to insist that “we were all about preventing abortions.”  Now, she was being forced to be involved in every aspect of an abortion.  There were more questions for Sue.  What about the local doctors who might have to attend to women coming in with symptoms of an incomplete abortion?  Sue’s boss explained that telemed abortion patients are told that if they do have to go to the ER, not to mention the two pills they’ve taken.

But, once you have seen, it is difficult to un-see.  The new ultrasound machines, Sue explained, “were so high-tech that even little fingers and toes could be seen.  Long time surgical staffers struggled when they would see images of the baby they were about to abort . . . [yet] this amazing image of the baby is never shown to the mother.”  Sue voiced what she knew to be wrong.  She expressed serious concerns.  She was willing to be different.  To take a risk… for life. 

There are many like Abby and Sue.  Several years ago I invited Joan Appleton,  a former abortion nurse, to tell her story during a national conference.  Joan and hundreds of soul-weary and sick-at-heart men and women like her are part of the Society of Centurians.  They left the abortion industry to speak up.  Contrast right with wrong. Today, former abortion doctors and nurses, PP employees, and women who’ve had abortions are silent no more.  They know that the truth sets people free.

The Lighthouse, a caring pregnancy center that I co-founded with two other moms, is a place where we do more than speak up.  We walk with young women in times of difficulty.  Why?  Because once we see, it is difficult to un-see.   Then, it is time to help.  Shed light into darkness.  Equip with truth.  Risk being different…. for the sake of another.   

For more information on PPGI and Sue’s story, please visit Iowa Right to Life

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“Myinnermostthinking” responded recently to “Religion, Sex & Biology.”  It would seem that he wants very much for his god to approve his chosen lifestyle.  Christian or not, how many times do any of us try to make God in our image?  Tell ourselves that He, the Creator of life, would certainly accept our self-shaped world… and make us happy in it.  Imagine that!  The pot telling the Potter the way things should be.

Taking the time to respond may not be as productive as I’d like because “Myinnermostthinking” and I don’t speak the same language.  I trust that the Word of God is what God says it is.  “Myinnermostthinking” does not.  Regardless, I’d like to take a stab at this.

Three women, so far, have responded to “Myinnermostthinking.”  What strikes me about their responses is that none of them are heckling a man who thinks and lives very different from them.   Each one of these women have uttered not a single word that could be interpreted as “hate speech.”  Each one has taken the time to study God’s Word and respond in a way that honors that Word.  Each one has responded to a person different from them with patience, kindness, and words of hope.

These women speak from a worldview “Myinnermostthinking” seems to reject.  It is the worldview that determines how I identify myself and make the choices I make.  That worldview — the Biblical worldview — is this: Creation — The Fall — Redemption.  That worldview explains the origin of my life, why things go wrong in my life, and where I’m going when this life is over.  The Biblical worldview trusts that God really did say what He said, when He said it, to whom He said it, and why.

There is one thing that I would like to clarify based on this worldview.  There is a fine line between saying God created us the way we are and saying that He allows us to be the way we are.  MommyLiberty stated that, personally, she thinks “God did allow for some people to be straight and some people to be gay . . . some to be prone to addiction and others not . . . some to struggle with anger, pride, gossip and worry.”  My husband appreciated her husband’s observation: “He gave everybody a different car to drive.  Some  people’s cars are harder than others’ to steer.”  🙂  But, here’s the thing.

God’s original creation was perfect.  Happily, joyfully perfect.  Anything imperfect, unhappy, or without joy is the opposite of God.  God would not create us to be in opposition with our own anatomy.  To be tortured by feelings we shouldn’t have.  To be at risk physicially, emotionally, and spiritually.  But, after the first man and woman sinned, everything changed.  The relationship between God and His creation changed.  The relationship between men and women changed.  We live in a sinfully changed world.  A struggling world.  An unhappy world.  Unhappy, not because God doesn’t want us to be happy, but because we keep doing the things that put us at odds with Him.   Hetero.  Homo.  Bi.  Trans.  Focusing on our “sexuality,” our flesh side, we are hard pressed to find happiness.   Because of sin, we all die. 

But God, in spite of sin, chooses life.  He allowed Adam and Eve to go on living.  He allowed them to do so, — not by changing His design and intent for them, not by throwing all warnings and caution aside — but by mercifully covering their new emotions of embarrassment and shame.  Never before had their nakedness embarrassed them.  Never before had they felt shame.  God covered their embarrassment with clothing (neck to knee) and their shame with the promised Robe of Righteousness, the Savior Jesus Christ.  All of the Old Testament points to the Christ who did, indeed, come to be our Robe of Righteousness.  To cover the sins of the world (all of us) and then ask: “Will you follow Me?” 

Jesus Christ died.  Conquered death.  And returned to the right hand of God.  But, God in Christ will return.  Will He find us striving to follow Him… or doing what is right in our own eyes? 

“My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord.  So, I guess it comes down to this: How we see the Lord Jesus — who calls Himself the Word for life — determines how we choose to live.  Do we seek His way to happiness… or our own?

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Sex is protectively positioned between religion and biology.  Otherwise… well, let’s take a look.

“The Obama Administration,” writes Chuck Colson, “has decided to promote and emphasize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered rights – and it is doing so at the expense of everyone’s God-given freedom of religion.”  (Breakpoint 1-17-12)

Colson backs up this strong statement by quoting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  In an address entitled “Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century,” (12-9-09), Clinton said people “must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose.”

“Did you catch that?” Colson asks.  “In one sentence, little noticed at the time, Mrs. Clinton showed the Administration’s true priorities.  In one fell swoop, she changed our God-given right to freedom of religion, a public act, to a much more restricted ‘freedom of worship,’ a private act, which any Chinese official could go along with.  At the same time, Mrs. Clinton, speaking for the administration, elevated the quote ‘right to love in the way they choose’ as a fundamental human right.”

Last December, Mrs. Clinton told a gathering of diplomats that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”  She also said the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human right of LGBT citizens.”

President Obama told a pro-gay-rights group, “Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally before the law.”  Colson rightly asks, “Does that include marriage?”  There are those in this present Administration who have expressed their support of so-called same-sex “marriage.”  This Administration has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.  Where is the threat to religious freedom?  If so-called homosexual “marriage” can be defined as a civil right, then those who oppose it on Biblical grounds could be branded as practicing “sexual discrimination.”

So, how did we come to this place?  How is it that sexual liberty trumps religious liberty?  That sexual freedom is the one right above all rights?  The one right upon which no one else dare tread?

We were taunted with one question, “Did God really say . . . ?”  We doubted divine creation.  Put ourselves in place of God.  Raised our will above His.  Determined our own identity.   When we see ourselves, first and foremost, as “sexual beings,” then one might assume the right to express that sexuality according to personal preference.  But, God created us to be more than our flesh side.  We are each a soul.  We are created in His image and, though fallen from that perfect image, we are not captive to sexual instincts.  The Savior, Jesus Christ, pulls us out of ourselves and away from harmful choices.  His Spirit equips us to avoid sensuality and, instead, pursue purity and holiness.  Things of God.   When we fail, all is not lost.  We are not destined to despair, but invited to confess.  Ask for forgiveness and help.  Start over.  And over… and over…and over.

A good way to start over is to leave foolishness behind.  We have been too long in “human sexuality” class and not nearly long enough in Biology 101. 

Heterosexual is a biological term describing how a mammalian species reproduces.  The “higher” species reproduces sexually.  The lower invertebrates reproduce asexually.  Therefore, the suffix “sexual” refers to reproduction.  The prefix “homo,” which means “same throughout” with “sexual” is an oxymoron.  Mammals can’t reproduce with two like genders: male with male or female with female.  For the sake of civilization, let’s get our biology straight. 

Who better to consult than the Master of biology.  When He finished speaking animals into existence, God put His hands to work on His greatest masterpiece.  Humans.  He made two genders: male and female.  Count them.  Not three or four or five, but two.  He shaped man, then built woman from man.  He made them equal, but different.  Gender is determined by our anatomy.  (If you’re not sure which one you are, look down.)  An individual male or female, not paired, might be lonely, but they can actually survive without sexual involvement.  However, if they want to continue the human species, they must “fit together.”

God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).  “Fit for him,” taken literally, means “like his opposite.”  Do you comprehend this?   Male and female are compatibly different.  Their different anatomy allows husband and wife to “fit together” in order to bring new life into the world.  It is for our physical, emotional, spiritual, and generational health to live as male or female in a way that honors God rather than self. 

God tells man and woman to avoid sexual immorality and sensuality, but never once does He tell us to avoid being male or female.  As a man or a woman, single or married, we have a choice.  We can live in a way that glorifies God and makes the world a better place… or not.

Mock God, Mr. President.  Re-define creation, Mrs. Secretary of State.  Replace freedom of religion with “freedom of worship.”  Disregard biology and let people “love as they choose.”  Claiming to be wise, you lead many on a path of foolishness.

The Holy God stands in contrast.  “My ways are not your ways.”  While we have opportunity, let us speak of holy things.  Oppose foolishness.  “Fit together” in marriage.  Grow children.  Explain what it means to love.  To be human.

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I’ve always been rather fond of Girl Scout Cookies.  My favorites?  Thin mints. But, no more.  

There’s something dark and twisted about Planned Parenthood receiving some of the profits.  It goes deeper.  If you have a few minutes, you might want to read the following article from the Washington Times.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/16/say-no-to-girl-scout-cookies/?page=all#.Txo__z6o8wk.email

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Jackie Burkle gave birth to twins at home.  But, on January 11, she was charged with the killing of her daughters.

Jackie is a 2008 graduate of a high school twenty miles from my home.  She was a music major at my local community college.  As of this writing, she is incarcerated thirty miles from my home.  She is facing two counts of first degree murder and being held on a million dollars bond — half a million dollars for each child.  The Judge told her that she will face “a mandatory life sentence in prison if convicted.”

Police found Jackie’s twin daughters in the trunk of her car.  She confessed to the crime.  The DCI special agent handling the case said, “She acted to terminate the lives of both of her newborn infants.  She also stated that she intended to end their lives and was not at any time intending that these children would live.”  Police were called to check on the 22-year-old mom after someone noticed that she wasn’t pregnant anymore.

How do we make this kind of behavior unthinkable?

Believers in the Creator of life need to ask ourselves some important questions.  Why?  Because we are all part of Jackie’s human family.

  1. Did Jackie know about Iowa’s Safe Haven Law?  If a parent takes an “unwanted” baby to a hospital or health care facility and leaves the infant there with staff, no questions will be asked.  Fourteen Iowa newborns since 2001 have been dropped off at a safe place. 
  2. Did anyone tell Jackie about the Lighthouse Center of Hope (a caring pregnancy center close to her) or any one of the many life centers in Iowa?  Did anyone discuss making an adoption plan?
  3. Did Jackie have anyone who cared enough to ask her questions about her pregnancy?  How she was doing?  If she was in need of emotional, financial, or spiritual help?
  4. Did anyone invite Jackie to a support group, Bible study, or even out for lunch?
  5. Did anyone explain to Jackie that she and her babies are “fearfully and wonderfully made?”  That each is a treasure for whom Jesus gave His life?
  6. Was Jackie schooled by years of sex education, made comfortable with her “sexuality,” and taken captive by a sensualized culture?  Had Jackie been convinced by Planned Parenthood-style education that she could separate the act of sex from procreation?
  7. Did a man use words of love to lead Jackie into intimacy and then abandon her?
  8. Was Jackie influenced by billboards that read: Children are loud, smelly, and burdensome… unless you want one…?
  9. Did Jackie rationalize that if it’s o.k. to take a baby’s life days before birth then what can be so wrong with a few days after?
  10. Will anyone help Jackie confront the evil of her action and tenderly lead her to the mercy and healing forgiveness of Christ?

Maybe Jackie will be found “mentally incompetent” or traumatized.  Maybe she will be spared one kind of prison.  But, there is another.  It is the guilt of our sin.  Of doing something that goes against creation itself.

Jackie is my neighbor.  Your neighbor.  Jackie did not have to choose death for her daughters or suffer the consequences of aborting them after birth.  She had other choices.  There are many.  But, we are part of those choices.

For the sake of all the other Jackies — confused, frightened, lonely — and their babies, we need to be watchful.  Willing to lead away from danger.  Offer a better way.  A hand.  A shoulder.  A safe place.  A new beginning.

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Would you please take a moment to watch? 

Alexander Tsiaras, author of From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds, provides evidence of the divine. 

Be still, and know that I am God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70&feature=player_embedded

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Centennial, the 1970s mini-series, is viewed in our house every ten years or so.  It is the movie version of James Michener’s novel and the re-telling of history as he thought it might have happened.   Many of the events are historically accurate, but the characters are fictional.  The loosely woven story has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Each character in history plays a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them

My brother and I have a special interest in the movie because three of our cousins played bit parts with actors Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, and Lynn Redgrave.   There is humor in Centennial.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions clearly defined as right or wrong.  Hopeful or deadly consequences result.

Centennial is more than just a good movie.  It’s evidence that modern people want a connection with their past.  Their heritage.  Their roots.  Then why, I wonder, do so many modern people reject their history as documented in the Bible? 

The events recorded in Scripture are documented by Jewish and non-Jewish historians.  The characters are real.  The tightly woven historical account has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Adam told of his creation to his sons and grandsons and great-grandsons.  Living long in those days before the flood, a 500-year-old person would have a lot to tell!   Characters in the Old Testament played a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  The brothers of Joseph were so jealous they sold him into slavery, but Joseph became the most powerful man next to Pharoah in Egypt and rescued his family and a nation from famine.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them.  King David murdered so that he might take a fellow soldier’s wife as his own but, before confessing his sin, his bones wasted away and his strength was drained.

There is humor in the Old Testament.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions that are clearly defined as right or wrong.  Life or death consequences result.

Some people say, “The New Testament speaks to me, but the Old is, well, just old.”  They may say, “I like the story about Jesus.  I like knowing I am loved and, if I sin, have the promise of forgiveness.  I like  knowing that Jesus was a friend of the poor.  That He healed the sick.”   But, every bit of recorded history in the Old Testament leads to and prepares for Jesus Christ.  Without the Old, there is no New.  

Most of us long for a connection to the past.  To know from where we come.  Why we are the way we are and do what we do.  To know hope in each new generation.  That is the reality of the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture.  It is the eye-witness account of men and women who knew the Promised Savior before and after His death and resurrection.  They told their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren… who told us. 

The Bible is His-story:  History.  Real people in history.  Their stories connected to ours.  As real characters connected to His story, we choose to pass it on —  or not.  To connect others to their history — or not.  To tell them who they are and why they matter — or not.

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