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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

parents standing w childrenGod entrusts children to parents.

Parents are called by God to guard the innocence of childhood.  This is a serious challenge in today’s society.  From early on, boys and girls are surrounded by the visual images and messages of a highly sexualized culture.  The Christian parent may feel overwhelmed by their role.  But parents today—as always—are equipped for the job.  The Word of God is sufficient.  The Bible provides all that is needed to help boys and girls respect themselves and others, understand why male and female are not the same but complementarily different, resist temptation, and protect human life from the moment of conception.  When sin and failure occur, the Bible points the way to forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ.

One topic that perhaps most intimidates and even confuses parents is sex and sexuality.  Sex education sounds like a good idea, especially if it is taught in a Christian environment; however, the origin of sex education is not biblical.  It is founded on a humanistic and secular theory.

A zoologist and follower of Charles Darwin by the name of Alfred Kinsey concluded that children are “sexual from birth” and can enjoy and benefit from early sexual activity.  He believed that society should reflect his “science” by altering its moral codes.  Thirty years of study by researchers such as Judith A. Reisman, PhD., prove that Kinsey’s research was built on sexual experiments by known pedophiles on children ages five-months to 14 years.  The research was both fraudulous and criminal; nevertheless, it accomplished what it intended.  By the 1960s, Kinsey and his followers were recognized as the “experts” on matters of “sexuality.”  Kinsey associates and students opened the doors of SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and partnered with Planned Parenthood to aggressively make their way into schools and churches.  Pro-homosexual and pedophilia groups were emboldened.  Over the next fifty years, moral codes based largely on the biblical worldview were dangerously compromised.  Never before had anyone considered a child to be “sexual” in the way that Kinsey meant, but today children are sexualized not only by the media but in sex education, health or “family living” classrooms.  The innocence of children is stripped away in classrooms where boys and girls together learn about their bodies, what their parents do in the bedroom and what it means to live a “sexual” life.

God Calls Us to Holy Living.

God does not call His children to be “sexual.”  He calls His children—of all ages— to be holy.  Therefore, the Bible does not educate in sex, but instructs in purity.

Purity is not prudish.  It is prudent.  Purity is not Victorian and antiquated.  It is God’s plan for children and adults whether married or single.

Purity focuses on our identity as redeemed sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus.  God says, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  We are “vessel[s] for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:21).  Daily remembering our Baptism, we see ourselves not as “sexual beings” captive to instinct and desires, but as heirs of the promise and clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Galatians 3:27-29).

Purity is about more than abstinence.  Abstinence says, “No, I can’t be sexually intimate right now.”  But purity says, “Yes, I can be the male or female God created me to be right now.”  Instruction in purity begins with an explanation of biblical manhood and womanhood.  It draws attention to the many ways that male and female, of any age and married or single, can work, worship and serve together without a hint of sensuality.

Purity is about God’s design and order for life.  It is also about mystery and modesty.  God’s Word says, “Do not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (Song of Songs 3:5b).  This is why purity must be nurtured in a special garden tucked safely behind a protective fence.  That fence is the boundary of home.  God entrusts the training of children to their parents.  Children trust parents.  The Church supports parents by equipping them with God’s Word of Law and Gospel, the catechism, and models for instruction.

Purity is nurtured in an environment where modesty is preserved.  This is not a classroom where boys and girls together learn about sex or sexuality.  It is nearly impossible to train in purity when intimate topics are discussed between boys and girls in a common and casual manner.  Why?  Because holy people and the behavior God expects from them are not common but, rather, uncommon.

Modesty emphasizes the importance of the sexual organs (which God placed out of view and behind hair, 1 Corinthians 12:23) reserved for the special and honorable use within marriage.  Rather than trying to remove embarrassment (a natural protection from God in a sinful world), adults should do everything they can to maintain modesty.  A father can best explain to his daughter that there is mystery in more clothing rather than less, and that a girl’s behavior can raise—or lower—a boy’s standard of thinking and behavior.  A father can encourage his son to guard a woman’s virtue and lead him away from the “temptress” (Proverbs 7).

Purity grows from the truth of Genesis.  The first man and woman were created in a complementary but different way, each with a unique and vital role.  Purity understands that a man is a good steward (Genesis 2:15) and defender of life (Genesis 16-17) who takes a stand against evil.  The man is to lead, not as lord and master, but as one who goes first to make sure the path is safe.  Purity understands that a woman, as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18) and a “rib” or “pillar” (Psalm 144:12b), is strong and supportive, yet vulnerable to abuse.  Purity understands that a woman, as the bearer of life, has the most at stake; therefore, it places her within protective, yet pleasant boundaries.

These boundaries are drawn by God to respect the physical and psychological differences between male and female.  Woe to those who attempt to erase these boundaries by pretending that boys and girls are “the same”.  Woe to the adults who remove the protective covering of modesty and desensitize children.  Woe to the adults who dangle the carrot of joyful marital union in front of children but then tell them to “wait” for marriage after graduating college and securing a job.

God Gives a Model to Parents.

God has given all parents and grandparents a model for the instruction of purity in Titus 2:3-8. Older men are to mentor younger men by being examples of sobriety, dignity, self-control, sound faith, agape love, and steadfastness.  In addition, older men are to model the sacrificial love of Jesus (Ephesians 5:25).  This love is shown today by men who defend the honor of women, rescue children from abortion, and guard the door of homes.  For a young man, it means treating all girls as he wants his sister, mother, grandmother, and someday-wife to be treated.

Older women are to mentor younger women by being examples of goodness, self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and respectfulness for God’s orderly design in marriage.  In addition, older women can contrast the “temptress” with the holy woman who calls attention not to self but God (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4).

If there is no father present or involved, mothers can point both sons and daughters to their Heavenly Father who is very present and involved in the lives of His children.  Timothy was raised to purity of faith and behavior by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

Parents can be confident in raising sons and daughters to a life of purity.  They need not be intimidated by the world—or by their own past.  Sins that have been confessed to God are forgiven and forgotten.  Parents can show children the way to the Cross every time a wrong choice is made.  Parents, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can help sons and daughters resist the temptations of a self-focused and sensual world.

It is an awesome thing to know that the God who calls us to holiness also saves us when we are not.    Even when all seems lost to sinful people, we can reclaim our purity in Jesus.

Jesus Christ came to live among us.  He experienced human emotions and feelings.  He knows our weakness.  But for our own sakes, He calls us to lives of purity.  Purity does not seek its own way.  It models biblical manhood and womanhood.  It raises standards for behavior and encourages self-control.  Purity guards body, mind and soul.  It lays a foundation for friendship, marriage and family.

Purity anticipates a future of hope.

(Available in brochure format #LFL903T from http://www.cph.org)

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Bill O'ReillyMany people attempt to speak for God.  But it is a dangerous thing to play fast and loose with God’s Word.  Bill O’Reilly, who consistently reminds his listeners that he attended Catholic school, is one example.  He recently told his guest, a priest, that the whole homosexual thing doesn’t trouble him.  Really?  And, I wonder, why might that be?

Two thoughts come to mind.  O’Reilly is a deceived creature who has raised himself above the Creator. He dangerously follows the example of Eve who, after putting herself in God’s place, spoke for Him.  When Satan asked, “Did God really say . . . ?” Eve responded, adding words that God never spoke (compare Genesis 3:2-3 with 2:16-17). Does O’Reilly doubt that Jesus Christ is The Word (John 1:1-5, 14)?  Jesus, who is God, calls homosexuality a sin in both the Old and New Testaments.

Second, it’s quite possible that O’Reilly has no difficulty with two men or two women living a gay or lesbian lifestyle because of another deception.  It is much easier to accept homosexuality as just a personal form of sexual expression when we are deceived by false identity.  That false identity is sexuality.

Identifying humans as primarily sexual beings is what motivates women to aggressively support “reproductive rights” and an American president who blesses Planned Parenthood.  But with little or no fear of God, men and women worship the created rather than the Creator.

Once we have been deceived to see ourselves as “sexual from birth,” our thinking, speech, clothing and behavior soon reflect the lie.  When we celebrate our sexuality — rather than the God who made us — we are more easily captive to the flesh.  We may, indeed, proclaim: This is who God made me to be!

Homosexuality is accepted when we believe the lie: “my body, my choice.”  At the core of all issues of life — abortion, marriage, homosexuality and euthanasia – is identity.   We will most certainly have an identity problem when we deny or doubt the Word of God.

God identifies us not as sexual beings, but as holy beings.  God is holy.  He calls us to be holy.  Holiness means seeking after the things of God, not the things of the flesh.  It means denying self and, instead, being a vessel for noble purpose.  This goes against the grain of the world’s thinking.  “Express yourself,” we’re told.  “Satisfy your natural desires.”  And, in this present culture, what could be more natural than expression of our sexuality which appears to be the sum total of who we are.

O’Reilly (and the rest of us who call upon the name of Christ) should take care.  It is a dangerous thing to play fast and loose with things of God.  Our identity – and with it, our behavior – is defined by God.

To everyone who is called by God’s name, who has been created for His glory, He says, “. . . I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1, 7).

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viva crista reyWhat do you know of Mexico’s struggle for religious freedom?  Have you ever been told about the Cristero War?  Would you be surprised to learn that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, supported this war against people of faith?

Here in the U.S., many people of faith are asking: “What is the price of religious liberty?”   During the 1920s, people of faith in Mexico knew the answer: Life itself.

I had never heard about the Cristero War until the movie “For Greater Glory” was released in 2012.  I purchased the DVD and companion book by Ruben Quezada (Ignatius Press) as gifts for my husband.  We have shown this epic film three times to family members and plan to show it again… and again.  How fitting that this movie made its debut the same year that our federally mandated health care made its.

Please.  Rent or, better yet, purchase this DVD.  Host a movie night and invite your Bible study, youth, or parent group.  Hear young people raise their voices as one, proclaiming: “Viva Crista Rey!”  (“Long live Christ the King!”)  Understand that what happened in Mexico was an aggressive war on the Catholic Church which resulted in the death of 200,000 people of faith.  But, recognize that what is happening here in the U.S. is an insidious and, thus, potentially more devastating assault on those who seek to follow the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rather than man.

Mexico was the original cradle of Christianity in the New World.  Missionaries were dispatched from Mexico to North and South America.  Yet, this deeply Catholic country was repressed by an atheist-socialist regime.  Following the revolution in 1917, the government vowed to free the people from “fanaticism and prejudices.”  President Calles, clever with his language, spoke of defending “Mexican dignity” against “foreign intruders” (the Holy Roman Catholic Church).  Public displays of faith were outlawed.  Churches, seminaries and convents were desecrated.   Catholic schools and newspapers were shut down.  Priests were tortured and killed, many shot while celebrating Mass.  But, so were fathers, mothers, grandparents, and young people.

Cristiada, the name given to the Cristero movement, was a response to the direct attack on the Catholic faith by the Mexican president and his “Calles Law.”  The Cristiada movement was organized by the National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty.  (Does this name bring to mind our own Alliance Defending Freedom or Becket Fund for Religious Freedom?)  Initially, the League advocated peaceful resistance to the Calles Law in the form of boycotting taxes and nonessential goods.  Petitions were signed, but refused by the Mexican Congress.  It soon became evident that Catholics would have to fight back or surrender their religious freedom.  The Cristero War was costly.  Relative peace may have come after the bloody years between 1926 and 1929, but practice of the Catholic faith in a predominately Catholic country has never been the same.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, supported the Mexican dictator’s war against Catholic people of faith.  Sanger, writes Maureen Walther and Jennifer Daigle, “praised Calles’ campaign against the Church as a strike against intolerance and a step toward making her work easier: ‘With the yoke of medievalism thus thrown off we can anticipate a splendid development of the government work for birth control already begun in Mexico.’” (www.kofc.org “The Voice for Religious Freedom” 4/26/12)

Sanger was a devout advocate of eugenics and a society of the “most desireable.”    She worked tirelessly to promote birth control, most curiously in Hispanic and African American communities.  We should not be deceived.  Birth control has its roots in the eugenic movement.  Sanger, the mother of eleven living children, was a believer in eugenics or a “race of thoroughbreds.”  Her original organization, the American Birth Control League, was quickly renamed Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  Birth control may be masked as a “woman’s reproductive freedom,” but can you tell me why advocates of eugenics would join forces with those promoting birth control?

“Religious persecution,” writes Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, “rarely begins with blood.  It begins with redefinition – redefinition of the religion’s role in personal lives, in ministers, in churches, in society and in government.  In Mexico’s case, the clergy were the state’s first target.  It began with a simple statement: all priests must register with the state.  The problem was that by this law, the state gave itself the authority to determine who was a minister and who was not.  A state that can decide ministers can also decide what doctrines it will permit to be preached. Priests and [the] religious were forbidden from criticizing the government.”  (“For Greater Glory,” p. 95)

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remind us that we, in the U.S., enjoy “freedom of worship.”  But, this is deception.  It is a redefinition.  This is not what was guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  Correctly stated, American citizens enjoy “freedom of religion.”  Freedom of religion means more than just being able to “go to church.”  It means being able to speak and live the faith; to set up schools, hospitals, and agencies of servanthood in the name of Jesus Christ.

Oh fellow frogs in the boiling pot!   Know your history!  Learn from our neighboring people of faith in Mexico while we have opportunity.  Resist evil.  Guard liberty.  Teach the faith.

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make abortion legal rallyI’m perplexed.  Can you help?

When I speak up against abortion and for the rights of unborn children and the well-being of women, I’m told: “What happens in the privacy of a bedroom is none of your business.”

Well, if that’s true, then why should I be forced to pay for what happens there?

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preborn baby 4-D“The battle over human dignity,” writes Eric Metaxas, “is waged not just at the local abortion clinic or crisis pregnancy center, nor merely in the halls of Congress or the Supreme Court.  It is also carried out in our choice of words.”

Metaxas points out that “the war on the sanctity of human life relies on bullets of deception and warheads of untruth – in short, on what George Orwell called ‘political language,’ which he said ‘is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’”

Metaxas explains that those who support the legal killing of unborn human beings in the womb “have used political language for decades, cloaking their morally indefensible position in innocuous-sounding terms such as ‘choice’ and ‘women’s health’ – hoping the rest of us will forget about the status and rights of the other person directly affected in the abortion transaction – namely the fetus.”

Planned Parenthood folks typically deny the humanity or personhood of the baby in the womb by calling it a “lump of tissue,” “product of conception,” or “potential person.”  But, writes Metaxas, “it’s hard to keep up the verbal sleight of hand all the time.  A case in point is the considerable elation over the news that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is carrying a child. That’s right, a child, not a ‘product of conception.’  We are told that her ‘baby’ will be third in line to the throne, behind only Prince William and Prince Charles.”

At this point, the pro-life Christian has opportunity to reveal “verbal sleight of hand” and also ask questions that help others think.  The Duchess is in her first trimester.  Is this a baby or not?  Is this a child with a destiny or not?  Is this child special or just like the other non-persons who have been aborted from wombs in Britain, the U.S., and all over the world?  As Christians, we are compelled to answer all questions from God’s perspective, not our own.

As Metaxas (and others) point out, “the language we use matters.  Is the life in the womb a ‘product of conception’ or a person, maybe even a prince in waiting?”

In a response to Metaxas’ commentary, someone named Kevin posted, “Try to imagine even the most staunch abortion advocate being present at a childbirth and, when the head is coming out, saying, ‘Look!  It’s turning into a human!’”  Bearing this in mind, the Christian is compelled to do what philosopher Peter Kreeft suggests.  We need to see the personhood of the fetus as the defining issue for abortion, “for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person.”  The Christian does well to know God’s Word on this matter of human dignity, life and death.

As we reflect on the first coming of Jesus, the Creator and Redeemer of all human life, let us draw near to His Word about life: Job 10:8-12; Psalm 8:4-5; 119:73; 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Isaiah 44:24; Luke 1:15; 1:41-44; John 16:21; Galatians 1:15-16.

Apprection to Eric Metaxas for “The Royal Fetus”  www.breakpoint.org
and The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft

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African American grandmother, mom & daughterThe phone rang.  Almost out the door, I turned to answer.  It was Lauren, the daughter of my friend Jane.  “I’m so glad you’re home.  This call is completely out of the blue, but I wanted you to know that my mom told me.”  There was a pause, then, “She said you would understand.”

I did.  I knew immediately that Jane, after thirty-some years, had decided to confess her abortion to her only living child.

Did Jane have to confess this sin to Lauren?  No.  Did mother risk a changed relationship with her daughter?  Yes.  But, as Lauren talked with me, I sensed she was genuinely relieved to know the truth.  “Suddenly everything makes more sense,” Lauren said.  “Certain attitudes and behaviors of my mom now have new meaning to me.”

Lauren continued, “I often wondered why mom seemed, well, heavy with life”.

“Do you mean melancholy?” I asked.

“Yes,” Lauren replied.  “That’s it.  Melancholy.  And, you know, she doesn’t really want to discuss the tough things out there in the world.”

Lauren explained that birthdays “have often been difficult for my mom.”  There was something else.  “Mom apologized a lot,” Lauren said, “as if she didn’t think she was a good mom.  That made no sense to me because she is a good mom.”

Lauren continued. “She’s a good grandmother, too.  She gives an extraordinary amount of herself — her time and energy — to my children.”  Lauren was expressing what I knew to be true.  My friend provides daycare for her grandchildren during the week.  She returns home tired, but she tells me over and over again how privileged she feels to be a grandmother and how precious the time is with her grandchildren.  This is not unusual for most of us grandmothers.  Lauren agreed, but added that now she sees her mother’s relationship with her grandchildren “in a new light.”

It does not surprise me that it took so long for Jane to confide in Lauren.  It took many years for Jane to tell me her story in bits and pieces.  Only as she learned to trust me did Jane share details of the choices that made abortion thinkable.  But, telling her daughter was different.  Jane was afraid.  The harmony with her daughter mattered too much.  She did not want to lose it.

The phone call from Lauren to me was significant.  It was evidence of God’s work.  He had been strengthening the bond between this mother and child.

“We had our difficult days when I was in high school,” Lauren told me.  She assumed it was the usual stress between moms and daughters made more challenging by single motherhood.  “But, you know what?  I’ve always known the blessing of two parents who love me.”

Lauren supposed that her mother tended to be melancholy about life, in large part, because of the divorce.  But, with Lauren’s knowledge of the abortion came new understanding and opportunity to process certain memories and experiences.  It seemed that Lauren was responding to the surprise of her mother’s abortion in much the same way I had.  Neither of us turned away from Jane.  Instead, the Holy Spirit cultivated a greater love.

Listening to Lauren, I wondered.  With her carefully guarded secret now exposed, would Jane’s energy be better used?  In knowing her mother’s restlessness, doubt, and unfaithfulness in marriage before the decision of abortion, would Lauren better avoid temptations?

“My marriage is a struggle,” Lauren told me.  “I was nearly tempted away from my husband.”  But, her mother recognized the signs.

Oh, what a difference is made when one generation mentors another!  When a mother is not afraid to act her age or revisit the mistakes of her past, she becomes an invaluable teacher.  She can steer the younger woman away from foolishness and despair.   Jane identified her daughter’s marital frustration and impatience.  She knew the consequences of doubting God and determining for herself the way life ought to be.  She had searched for a more preferable love.  She allowed herself to be wooed by another man.  And, to “fix” the resulting “problem,” she scheduled an abortion.

Jane knows the generational effects of her abortion.  That decision influenced the way she sees her own mother.  Her daughter.  Her grandchildren.

I’m sure that, on occasion, Lauren will ponder her mother’s seemingly strange apologies, but she will also know wisdom gained through her mother’s experience.  There is every reason to believe that, from now on, both mother and daughter can bear witness to one another of the divine order and amazing grace of their heavenly Father.  In this, there is hope for generations to come.

Lauren was at ease during our phone conversation.  She had only one question.  “Did the abortion happen before or after me?”

“It was after you were born,” I told her.  “But, please believe me when I say that the decision had nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with you.  Your mother loved you before you were born and she loves you now.  One of her greatest fears, I think, was that she could never be the kind of mother to you that her mother was to her.  The love, however, that your mom has always had for you is as real as the love God has for you both.”

Lauren had not shed a tear to this point, but now she gave way to emotion.  Between sobs, she whispered, “Thank you.  I needed to hear that.”

Can a daughter find comfort in her mother’s failures?  I believe so.  It was helpful for Lauren to realize that her mother had struggled with a marital frustration and impatience similar to her own.  It was instructive for Lauren to know that doubting God and putting ourselves in His place leads to danger.  It was protective of Lauren when her mother chose to remember the sins of her past.  When she did not resist using lessons learned the hard way, mother was equipped to lead daughter and grandchildren away from harm.

Lauren has been granted a new perspective… one that will serve her family well.  But, just as time was needed for Jane to trust me – little by little – with her story, time was also needed for mother to trust daughter.  Jane and I talk often about God’s faithfulness in her life.  I believe it is that faithfulness on the rocky road of life that nurtured trust between mother and daughter.

A long time ago, Jane gave me permission to share her story with women wherever I speak.  “I can’t tell my story,” Jane said to me.  “But you can.  So, please.  Tell young women not to do what I did.  And tell older women that Jesus loves them no matter what the sins of their past might be.  The forgiveness of Jesus is real.”

I have done what my friend asked.  And, in doing so, many women have approached me privately with confessions of their own.  Christian women in every family and congregation are carrying heavy burdens of disappointment and guilt.  They see the Cross.  They know what Jesus did for them.  They may even trust His forgiveness.  But, like Jane, they are unable or unwilling to forgive themselves.

It is my prayer that Lauren will help her mother forgive herself.  God is the God of relationships… and of the healing that comes through tenderheartedness.  He uses parents and children, friends and even strangers to bring us closer to Him.

Perhaps this Christmas will bear a gift never before found under my friend’s tree.  As Jane looks into the eyes of her daughter and grandchildren, may she find confidence in her confession of Christ.  Confidence that emboldens her to proclaim:

He who is mighty has done great things for me.  Holy is His name.  His mercy is for those who trust Him… from generation to generation.

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For some time, I’ve been corresponding with a young man who is serving time in a federal penitentiary.  He is serving time in prison, but the weight of his guilt has been lifted by the Lord of his life.  He is physically under lock and key, yet no longer captive to the sins of his past.  He is in prison, but not imprisoned by his circumstances.

This has not been so with a dear friend of mine who, for all practical purposes, lives a free life but is captive to the circumstances of her abortion.  Jane knows the forgiveness of Christ.  She lives a life of prayer and supplication.  But, contrary to what abortion advocates claim, my friend’s choice was neither her right nor for her benefit.  No one is more painfully aware of this than Jane who has a hard time forgiving herself.  The guilt that she carries has affected the relationship she treasures most on this earth.  That relationship is with her living daughter.

I don’t believe it is mandatory for a woman to confess the sin of abortion to anyone but God.  But, experience with Jane and so many other women has proven to me that the silent grief of this particular sin creates an environment of conditional love between a mother and her living child.  Do those who favor abortion rights acknowledge this?  No.  Abortion advocates claim that if a woman suffers at all following an abortion, it is because of the guilt placed on her by the pro-life community.  Jane and other women in my life who’ve made an abortion choice prove differently.  On countless occasions, Jane has reminded me that she could move on in her life as well as she did, in part, because of our friendship.  It has taken years for Jane to tell me her whole story but, in revealing each painful part, she learned she could trust that I would walk with her away from despair to the Cross.

My young friend in prison shows me that a man can be set free from the captivity of lies and deception even within the four walls of a locked cell.  Soon, I want to tell more about this young man.

My dear friend Jane shows me that while a woman may appear to enjoy the rights and benefits of abortion, this deception ultimately imprisons the soul and affects the ones we love most.  Soon, I want to tell more about my friend.  About the way that God is working to heal the relationship with her beloved daughter.  A relationship that has, for so many years, been unnaturally shaped by the lie of “my right, my choice.”

Be patient with me while I gather my thoughts and find the words to tell these stories of amazing grace.

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There are two things (we’re told) we should never talk about.  Religion and politics.  That’s difficult… and silly.

A few days ago, two women and I – standing in a very public place – avoided the “safe” topics found in the pages of People magazine to enter into dialogue about the election and matters of faith.  I don’t know either of these women very well, but I believe that when we are attentive to facial expressions and body language, we can usually recognize another person’s willingness (or unwillingness) to dialogue.  Experience proves to me that a great many people are hungry to talk about issues of faith and life, but they need an invitation to speak whatever might be on their mind or hidden in their heart.

Dialogue is sadly becoming a lost art.  Perhaps we feel ourselves ill-equipped to speak about what may be emotional topics.  Perhaps we’re afraid of conflict.  But, it’s o.k. to disagree.  Two people who don’t agree on something can learn from one another during the polite exchange of thoughts and ideas.  If we keep silent and don’t speak about controversial issues of life from the Biblical perspective, we might miss the opportunity to comfort a hurting soul… to share a word of hope… to point to forgiveness and healing.

We need to break the silence and, with a caring and careful manner, talk about abortion, cohabitation, same-gender “marriage,” health care and, yes, the election.  That’s what happened quite unexpectedly in a public store with two women I’ll call Ellen and Diane.

I know Ellen only because of family connections.  I know Diane because she is a supporter of the pregnancy center where I volunteer.   At a recent fundraiser for our center, Diane told me she didn’t think she could vote this year, “neither for a Mormon,” she said, “nor for Obama.”  That comment stayed with me so, after greeting her in the store, I took the opportunity to tell her that I’d been giving some thought to what she had said about not voting.  I asked her if she had ever considered that Thomas Jefferson, while not a believer in the deity of Jesus Christ, was nonetheless a defender of religious freedom and encourager of virtuous people.  Diane admitted this might be applicable to this year’s election.

“It seems to me,” I said, “that we should vote for the man who will keep us the farthest from the edge of the cliff.”

At that moment, Ellen leaned in to the conversation.  She smiled at me, then said to Diane, “Linda should be out speaking!”

That was an invitation to continue the conversation.  With the invitation, however, also came a memory.  A faint memory of Ellen’s past.  After high school, Ellen left home in search of something different from the life of her parents.  There were some rough years.  I don’t know specifics.  But, this memory prompted me to respond to Ellen.

“I am a speaker,” I said.  “I’ve been a pro-life speaker for a long time.”  But, I explained to Ellen, “it was only when I became a listener that I really learned.”  Often, in a hallway or the restroom after my presentation, women would approach me, wanting to confess their abortion.   The pain in their voices, I told Ellen, compelled me to dig beneath the symptoms of promiscuity and abortion to the real problem.

“We’re in spiritual battle, Ellen.  It seems to me that Satan and our Savior both desire our attention, but what they have in store for us is very, very different.  Trusting ourselves, we are deceived and bound for trouble.  Satan offers no comfort when we fall.  But, even after our sin and in the midst of consequences, Jesus stands close with arms open wide.”

Ellen’s eyes never wandered from mine.  Her cheeks were moist.  I suspicioned that she was thinking about her own life.

“We all have a story,” I said.  “We all have a story.”

At that point, we needed to go our separate ways.  Ellen and Diane went to one part of the store for coffee, I to another.  Within a half hour, one of my closest friends walked in the door.  Jane was in town to visit her mom.  We had not planned to meet, but apparently God had a different idea.  “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” I asked.  We settled into chairs at a table across the room from Ellen and Diane who were enjoying their time together.  When they got up to leave, Diane and I waved to one another.  Then she headed for her car.

Ellen, however, approached our table.  “That conversation we had mattered,” she said.  “This afternoon has been good.”

She kept looking at Jane.  “There’s something familiar about you.  Do I know you from high school?”

Jane looked surprised.  “Oh, my goodness,” she said.  “We graduated the same year, didn’t we… but that was a long time ago.”

Ellen pressed on.  “Weren’t you in a serious car accident?  I remember reading about it in our class reunion book.”

“I was,” Jane said, “and God sent mighty angels to protect me that day.”  She gave a few details.  Then paused.  Ellen could have excused herself and said good-bye.  But, she didn’t.   This was another invitation.

“Ellen,” I said, “the fact that Jane is here with us today is God’s amazing grace, but she has another story to tell… a powerful story of Christ’s work in her life.  She doesn’t tell this particular story publicly, but . . .”

At this point, Jane interrupted.  “No, I don’t tell my story, but I’ve given Linda permission to tell it.”

“And it’s so important that I do,” I continued.  “It’s after I share Jane’s story that other women are more willing to come up to me and share their own stories.  They tell me they feel more welcomed and less alone and vulnerable.  Jane’s story is one of hope.  It reminds others of how patient God really is and that He never turns His back on us.  We may walk away from Him, but our Father never abandons us.”

“There is so much fear,” Jane spoke up.  “It can be overpowering.”

“It is,” Ellen agreed.  “It is overpowering.”

“I’ve come to believe,” I added, “that every one of our wrong choices is made out of fear… fear of being out of control or unloved or insignificant.”

It was long past time for Ellen to go be with her family, but she lingered.  She seemed to be searching for words.  “I came home to visit my parents, but never would I have imagined meeting up with the two of you or having a conversation like this.”

Ellen continued.  “Do you know what this afternoon has meant to me?  I’ve been close to losing my faith . . . I was told by my parents that my life and the lives of my children have been difficult because it’s punishment for the sins of my youth, but you have reminded me that God doesn’t work that way.”

No, He doesn’t.  “There are consequences of our choices – good or bad,” I said, “but rather than punishing you, it seems that God is staying the course with you.”

Jane nodded and said, “I thank God every day that He never lets go.”

Ellen hugged Jane.  Then me.  “Thank you.  Thank you for this visit.  For the honesty.  What a difference this has made for me.”

Jesus makes the difference.  Jesus – the very Word of Life – speaks to every important issue of our day.  Trusting Him, we can dare to break the silence.  Ellen was hungry to hear someone speak to the concerns she has about our nation.  Even more, she was hungry to get personal… to hear someone remind her that sins of the past may affect our lives, but do not have to bind us.  Newness of life in Christ is real.  We are forgiven and set free to start our lives over.

What do you think?  If we who claim to know the Lord of life are afraid to dialogue in the public square about issues of life, what will happen?  What won’t happen?

We may not want to make waves, but what about a ripple here and there?

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More Americans now commit suicide than die in car accidents.  “People are despairing in America,” writes Joseph Farah, “more than ever before.”

It would be easy, notes Farah, to blame the suicide epidemic on the economy.  But, that’s not how he sees it.  People may be struggling financially, but they’re not ending their lives because they lack food and shelter or toys and gadgets.

“I believe the trend reflects a deep and growing spiritual emptiness in a culture that is more depraved than ever before,” writes Farah.  “Too many people just don’t find any meaning in life.”

We should all, as Farah advices, “think about it.”  He continues:

We are told from the youngest age in state-run schools that human beings are merely the result of billions of years of evolution from lower life forms and random mutations.  There is no God who loves us and to whom we are accountable.  There are no laws higher than those that government imposes on us – no sin.  No ultimate, objective moral code.  In fact, human beings are a blight on the planet.  It would be better off without us – or at least with a lot fewer of us polluting the air with carbon dioxide and overheating the earth.

. . . Prayer and Bible reading are prohibited, but explicit instruction on how to have promiscuous sex without consequences is mandated.

Abortion is subsidized, while adoption is prohibitively expensive in the unlikely event you can find a child to adopt.

Increasingly, the state is sticking its nose into what we eat, what we say, how we raise our children – even what we believe.

Government is fine with pornography.  But purity and abstinence are discouraged.

In other words, right is wrong, up is down, black is white, left is right.  And we sit here and wonder why people are killing themselves.

When government replaces God in the lives of people, their lives become empty.  They become subjects of the state, rather than citizens endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights – among those being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When government becomes the ultimate authority in our lives and practices lawlessness, disregarding routinely the Constitution from which it derives its limited authority, I would suggest to you this is a much bigger cause for despair and powerlessness.

There is a solution to this problem.  But it’s not a top-down answer.  It’s a bottom-up solution.  Americans need to get right with God.

They need to find out what He requires of them, why He created them, and how much He loves them.

They need to have a genuine repentance for having turned away from Him and whored after false gods and pursuits.

If Americans did this, they wouldn’t be taking their own lives in record numbers.

Thank you, Joseph Farah.  It is a privilege to reprint a portion of your column.  May it be used to spark dialogue in families, neighborhoods, schools, places of business, law offices, and congregations.

Joseph Farah is a nationally syndicated columnist.
I excerpted  from his commentary,
“What happens when government replaces God”
which appeared in October 1 edition of The Washington Times

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I have never met Paul and Jenn.  But their story, featured on the front page of my hometown paper, caught my attention.  The way I see it, Paul and Jenn have been living with dying.

In July, Jenn gave birth to Logan.  He was two months premature.  Jenn called her son a miracle who, literally “fit in the palm of my boyfriend’s hand.”  I want to talk about her boyfriend Paul’s hand but, first, we need to understand this “miracle.”

In a way, and right up to Logan’s birth, Jenn was living with dying.  She is a young woman with Crohn’s disease who was told she would never become pregnant.  In October of 2011, Jenn has an ileostomy.  In November, she had it reversed.  Early in 2012, she learned she was pregnant.  The prenatal specialist told Jenn at her 20-week checkup that she should “terminate [the] pregnancy.”

There was “something wrong” with her baby’s brain.  There was “evidence of a hole in his heart.”  He was not growing correctly.  Jenn was told that her baby “wasn’t getting enough blood flow.”  He was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction.  What was Jenn’s reaction?  “His heart was always strong,” she said, “and I never lost hope.”

Worried about a chromosomal mutation or a genetic deformity, the doctors performed an amniocentesis at 24 weeks.  There were no signs of a birth defect; nevertheless, the doctors told her there would be no chance of survival.  It was explained to Jenn that her baby wasn’t growing because she had a full placental abruption.  The placenta was not attached to the uterus.

Jenn had planned on giving birth at our local hospital but, on July 20, she woke up in a pool of blood.  “I didn’t really want to go all the way to Des Moines, but Paul’s mom . . . insisted I go.”  Doctors explained to Jenn that she had two choices: let the contractions take their course or risk a C-section.  She chose a C-section when Logan’s heart rate dipped.  There was a ten percent chance that he would survive.

Logan was born at 29 weeks, 2 days gestation.  He weighed 15 ounces.  “I didn’t know what to think or if he was OK . . . I didn’t really get to see him until the next day.  I was in shock.  I cried.  I was so happy and scared at the same time.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually a mom and he was so small.”

On his 2-month birthday, Logan weighed almost three pounds.  Jenn explained to the reporter, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with his brain or heart.”  He is small, but “perfectly healthy.”  Doctors told Jenn there is a higher risk of cerebral palsy, but Logan has good muscle activity.  Jenn is a mother with hope.  And, for good reason.

Her boyfriend, Paul, has a six-year-old son who was also born premature at 29 weeks and four days.  He was three pounds at birth.  Today, in Jenn’s words, this little boy is “tall, healthy and fine . . . he’s perfectly fine.”  By the time you read this (and God-willing), Paul and Jenn will have brought Logan home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to meet his half-brother.

My pro-life eyes help me see that Jenn has been living with dying for quite some time.  I’ve never heard Chrohn’s disease described as “fatal,” but I know people who have it and how much they suffer.  Perhaps, at times, it might feel a little bit like dying.  But, with life and breathe in them, these people persevere.  Perhaps, in the face of adversity, they treasure life even more.

Jenn lives with her own poor health, but let me tell you what pierces deep to my pro-life soul.  Every day of Logan’s life in her womb, Jenn lived with the possibility of his death.  She was told to abort him.  When she dared not, she was told her son’s life was incompatible with life.  Logan’s mom persisted in hope.

I am a stranger to Jenn and her boyfriend, Paul.  Yet, at the same time, I am their neighbor.  Though they may never read this – I offer a plea… an encouragement for the sake of their son.

Jenn and Paul, in spite of adversity, you have stayed the course for life.

Jenn, when voices cried: “Abort him,” you defended the personhood of your son.  When voices cried: “Your baby will never make it,” you defended his right to try.  You lived in the face of dying.

Paul, I’m guessing that some voices hinted your girlfriend might be “crazy,” but you defended her sense of motherhood.  When voices cried, “You’ve been through this before, why would you do it again,” you stayed the course and lived in the face of dying.

Will you go the distance, Paul and Jenn?  Will you please consider another act of courage?  In a time when marriage is being rejected and children are paying the price, will you dare to build a better foundation for your “miracle?”  Will you show Logan how much his life matters?  Whatever your reasons for not marrying might be, will you consider the benefits for Logan of having a mommy and daddy who have committed themselves – hard work as it is – to the faithfulness of marriage?

I was captivated, Paul, by the front page newspaper photo of you holding your 15 ounce son “in the palm of your hand.”  That’s what a father does.  He holds the miracle of life very tenderly in his loving care.  A father gives both his child and his child’s mother the covering of his name.  I speak from experience because both my Heavenly and earthly fathers have called me by their name.  The covering of that name bestows great value on my life.

Will you, Paul and Jenn, join with God in bestowing great value on Logan’s life “in sickness and health ‘til death do you part?”

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