Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

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.

Read Full Post »

It was predictable.  The “chattering atheist class is once again mocking those of us who believe in God,” writes Chuck Colson.  In the wake of the earthquakes and tsunami, they ask: Why would our so-called good God permit such a catastrophe?  Colson observes, “It’s amazing how much time some people spend railing against a God they don’t believe exists.”

My son, Jon, notes, Christianity isn’t for dummies.  We don’t have to leave our brains at the door in order to have faith in a creator God.  Look at what’s happening.  The earth and the physical creation — reflecting its rational creator — is behaving according to observable laws.  Observe these laws and principles, encourages Colson, and you’ll know much about plate tectonics and how earthquakes occur.  They are a result of natural processes.

Can we stop earthquakes?  No.  But, as rational beings created in God’s image (although fallen to sin), we enjoy the opportunity to use the gifts of knowledge God has entrusted to us.  We, as Colson points out, can use that knowledge and good sense.  Perhaps we should not be so arrogant as to build cities on already-known fault lines.  Or homes in hurricane zones.

When an earthquake, tsunami, or tornado claim the lives of thousands, can we complain that God let it happen?  When a hurricane wrecks havoc in a community, can we question or blame God? No.  “Hurricanes are a natural phenomenon that occurs because of climactic changes and shifting winds and temperature gradients,” notes Colson, “all of those things which can now be clearly demonstrated to be physical laws of the universe.”  Has it always been this way?  Nasty upheavals of the earth and killer storms?

No.  Such things did not exist in the beginning.  But, in a perfect Garden, man and woman rebelled against God.  (I hear you atheists… go ahead and scoff.)  When the created thought itself better than the Creator, sin entered the world.  Now we live with the consequences of that sin: an earth in turmoil.

What can we do?  Mourn with those who mourn.  Love our neighbors as ourselves.  Help those in need.  Share our resources.  Give up a new pair of shoes, a steak dinner, or a round of golf and send the money to world relief.

Then, listen.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell  me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements — surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone . . . Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place . . . Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt . . . Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion . . . Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

(Job 38:4-6; 12; 25; 31; 40:1-2)

Read Full Post »

While union members and politicians are “acting up” in Wisconsin, perhaps 10,000 men, women and children have died in Japan.

While we use our time to worship at the altar of “me,” the very earth is groaning.

Even as the earth groans, we seem obsessed with either disposing of or putting our children at risk, destroying marriage, weakening the family, legitimizing all manner of unnatural behavior, collectively bargaining for Viagra, serving ourselves rather than our neighbor, and doing whatever is right in our own eyes.

This is only the third month of a new year.  Think of what has already happened in 2011:  The shooting in Tucson, continued murders along our southern border, civil unrest in Egypt and Libya and Saudi Arabia, a massive earthquake in New Zealand and, last Friday, the deadly tsunami which followed a 9.0 earthquake in Japan.

Even the rocks cry out.   Yet, Planned Parenthood unashamedly begs funds to abort more children.

I wonder what the parents of five-month-old Baxter Gowland would have to say to that.  Baxter was the youngest to die in the Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquake.

I wonder what the Creator and Father God thinks.  After all, He so loved the world that He sent His only Son to value each human life — on a Cross.

Read Full Post »

Want to help make a difference?  Join other voices on March 8 and call or e-mail your Senators.  Respectfully urge them to defund Planned Parenthood.

Why?  We have known for years that Planned Parenthood (PP) is the largest abortion provider in the country.  It endangers the health of women.  Recently, Live Action Films exposed PP officials aiding and abetting individuals posing as criminal sex traffickers seeking abortions for underage girls.  You can view  the YouTube by visiting Live Action Films, Concerned Women for America, or The Susan B. Anthony List.  (See below.)

PP uses our tax dollars to do its work.  But, on February 18, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to defund PP.  In anger, PP has thrown down the gauntlet and is using its significant war chest to batter members of Congress into submission.

Do you realize that PP:

  • Is a $1-plus billion business that rakes in one-third of its budget from government grants and contracts at both the state and federal levels?
  • Makes an $85 million profit?
  • Fails to report many cases of sexual abuse and statutory rape involving girls under the age of 16?
  • Aggressively advises pregnant girls under 18 on how to avoid telling their parents about visiting their abortion clinics through a process known as “judicial by-pass”?

On February 18 — and with all common sense — members of Congress voted against giving our $363 million (tax dollars) to the largest abortion provider in the country.

Years ago, two other members of Lutherans For Life and I “toured” PP in Des Moines, IA.  I have no doubt that many who work at PP truly believe they are helping women.  That day, during the tour, our “guide” expressed thankfulness that young girls, married and unmarried women, and even older mothers could be “helped” by way of an abortion.  Today, I could share with you countless stories of friends and acquaintances who were “helped” by PP, but then fell to depression, eating disorders, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, and anger.  Some distanced themselves from God.  Others wrote letters to their aborted children asking for forgiveness.  All confess to me that abortion did not improve their lives; rather, quite the opposite.

A woman entering a PP clinic in 2009 was 42 times more likely to have an abortion than to receive either prenatal care or be referred for adoption.  Through its “award-winning” website, Teenwire, PP normalizes teen sexual activity, peddles their “family planning” services, offers homosexuality as a “choice” and form of birth control, practically ignores the physical and moral consequences of abortion, scoffs at the psychological consequences of abortion, and actually helps build a wall between parents and children.

So, on March 8, please call your Senators and respectfully encourage them to defund Planned Parenthood, the taxpayer-funded organization that does not respect women, protect children, or  honor the Creator of Life.  You can find more information by visiting Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Focus on the Family, and The Family Research Council.

Then, please pray that we all have mercy on our littlest neighbor — the unborn child — and his or her mother.

After all, Jesus Christ calls us to mercy, not sacrifice.

Read Full Post »

In January, a trial opened for Faleh Almaleki.  Mr. Almaleki is an Iraqi immigrant accused of murdering his 20-year-old daughter, Noor.  Noor’s father was upset that his daughter dressed and behaved like a Westerner.  He was angry that she was about to marry, not the man he had chosen for her, but an American.  And, so, on October 20, 2009, he ran over her with his Jeep in a Peoria, AZ., parking lot and injured her so badly that she died.

Noor’s father killed her because she had dishonored her family.  Her murder is called an “honor killing.”  It is justified by Muslim tradition.

Abigail R. Esman, a self-defined “liberal,” wonders why her liberal peers, journalists and activists, are not reporting this “honor killing” as well as thousands of others.  Esman writes, “U.N. statistics of 5,000 honor killings per year are generally recognized to be grossly understated.  In the Netherlands alone, the official number of honor killings per year stands at 13, or more than one every month — and that does not include the growing trend of ‘honor suicides’ — girls and even boys who take their own lives knowing that if they don’t do it, others will, that they’ve been marked for death.  In England and Germany, the numbers are about the same.”

Esman continues, “These are not — as often is claimed — your standard cases of domestic abuse.  Honor violence, unlike the domestic abuse we know, is often supported, sanctioned and even encouraged by the local Muslim community.  Indeed, parents frequently feel they have no other choice.”  (The Washington Times Weekly Edition, 2/14/11)

There is another way.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life . . . (Deuteronomy 31:19-20).”

Jesus Christ does not call us to “honor killings.”  He calls us to honor Him with our defense of human life, no matter the circumstances.  No matter the failures or disappointments.  No matter the inconvenience.  No matter the embarrassment.  After all, He died in our place — to remove the failures, disappointments, inconvenience, and embarrassment. To remove the stain of sin.

We disobey our Father with our daily sins, but He does not attempt to kill us.  Instead, He has mercy on us.  His mercy is new every morning.  It is given and shed for us.

Jesus sacrificed Himself on our behalf.  We are created, loved, and redeemed by God.  We are treasures of great value.  For this reason, Jesus says:

Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Read Full Post »

The man had been taken captive to sin.  It would seem that the man tightly grasped Jesus’ robe of righteousness and let it be his cover.  But, he did not seek help when his marriage and family suffered.  He did not confess sin’s hold on him.  Was there no one to whom he was accountable?

He brought a variety of movies into his home, but was there a reason he avoided “The Passion?”  Many times, I asked his help in equipping us  for spiritual battle.  He didn’t.  Maybe he couldn’t.

Publicly caught in his sin, he did confess — to one time of foolishness. To his wife, he confessed to more.  The public showered mercy and forgiveness upon him.  His wife found herself homeless.  Some tried to hold him to the higher standard of a man who had taken a vow before God, but he maintained that his private life didn’t affect others.

One day, the man told me that his grandson didn’t know how to respond to him.  So, as a grandfather and role-model, the man wrote his beloved grandson a letter of encouragement:  “I understand that you don’t know what to say to me.  Let me offer three suggestions.  You can say, ‘I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf!'”  After sharing this with me, I feared for the man.  Could this be the summation of his theology?

There was no way I could speak to this man except by using the Word of God.  What follows is part of my letter to him:

My dear friend . . . Moses spoke to the Israelites about the covenant made by God with His people.  No other people had ever received such a promise.  But, in Deuteronomy 29:19, Moses was inspired by the spirit to caution,

Beware  lest there be among you . . . one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’

A commentary on this passage of Deuteonomy reads: “To continue willfully to sin while claiming eternal security in Christ is a dangerous, perhaps even fatal, presumption.”  (One can read the continuing verses 20-29.)

My friend, you have always said that God’s Word changes lives.  For this reason, I proclaim with King David that I love the Word.  It gives me confidence.  It provides instruction.  It leads me to a future of hope.  But, like King David, our bones will waste away and our strength drain away like in the heat of summer if we do not acknowledge, confess, and turn away from our sins (Psalm 32).  You have confessed… in part.  Sadly, I believe you have covered so much repetitive sin with: “I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf.”

I am as much a sinner as you.  I have my confessed and unconfessed sins.  But, I am called by the Father God to repent and, after I have repented, stop repeating the sin.  I need to be held accountable.  I need others to hold me accountable.  I have and will continue to fail in being righteous.  Thankfully, the forgiveness of God in Christ has been poured out for you and me.  We are washed white as snow for eternity.  But, as one called to be holy, I cannot — must not — cheapen the priceless gift of Jesus Christ by asking for forgiveness and then boldly returning to bad habits, old ways, and repetitive sin.  Such actions carry powerful consequences that reach children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

That being sad, God’s mercy is to thousands of generations of those who love Him.

There is opportunity in this moment.  God has allowed some of your sin to be exposed.  You have expressed sorrow and remorse.  But, confess it all.  Don’t persist in the theology of: “Forgive me.  Love me.  Let’s play golf.”  Confront the pain and grief that years of a repeated sin have caused.  Mourn the loss of the wife that, while sinful herself, remained loyal to your high calling as a Christian leader.  Grieve the loss of damaged relationships with your children.  Confront the reality of your choices.  Be heartsick.  Be sorry.  Be shamed.  Then, turn from your sin… and sin no more.

Watching you these past years, I fear that your bones have been wasting away and your strength drained as in the heat of summer.  Has God’s hand been pressing down on you?   I want this to stop.  Don’t you?

Stop with the “Forgive.  Love.  Let’s play golf.”  Start  new by proclaiming: “Yes, I am forgiven.  yes, Jesus loves me eternally.  Now I must not only face but live with the consequences of my sins.  With the Spirit’s help, I can change my ways.  I beg for mercy and discernment to properly handle the Word of Truth.  I put on the armor of God for continual battle against evil and remind others to do the same.”

This is part of a letter I wrote to my fallen friend.  “Two are better than one . . . for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up . . .” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).  This letter is also a reminder to me.  My doubt of God’s Word and the sins that follow bear consequences, too.

It’s a mucky and twisted road we travel.  Danger lurks at every turn.  False security leaves us more vulnerable and places others at risk.  Therefore,

Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed . .  .

(Hebrews 12:12-17; 1 John 1:5-10)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts