Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Results

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is on trial for 7 counts of first degree murder.  According to the testimony of former employees, his abortion clinic was responsible for the unlawful deaths of many premature babies.  Abortions performed way past the length of time considered legally permissible, done in atrocious ways, occurred regularly.  His practice is also accused of being unsanitary and downright filthy, using and distributing illegal drugs, employing untrained or unlicensed staff, and even killing at least one patient.

You might have seen the headline on this story and looked away rather than read the details. It would be understandable.  It is uncomfortable, to say the least, to read.

Personally, it just kills me.  Not because the thoughts of some of these so called "procedures" strike me as inhuman.  Not because I mourn for the mostly underpriveleged women who have resorted to an abortion in this dirty clinic.  Not because I grieve for what they went through afterwards.  Not because of the murders of living infants, who were induced to existence by birth and allowed to squirm and breathe and live only to die viciously and reprehensibly and brutally.  

No.  It just kills me because it brings me to this:  These are the results.  The results of us making a decision we were never intended to make, the decision of where life begins.  The results, ALWAYS, of when human beings take authority over things that only God should own. And because abortion is becoming more and more commonplace and accepted, the trend is that our law continues to loosen it's boundaries on it.  Does the legality of abortion mean that all clinics operate like this Dr. Gosnell's?  Probably not.  But it certainly did help.  If abortion were illegal, would this clinic have been in operation for over 30 years?

I guess we could have claimed ignorance about abortion at one point.  When Roe vs Wade paved the way for the legality of it in all 50 states, we didn’t know the things we know now.  But now, we know.

We know that the fetus develops a heart in the fifth week and the heart begins beating around the 6th week. We know that every individual human heartbeat is so unique and specific to that person that researchers in Taiwan are currently developing an algorithm to use it as a security system. People would be using their palms to get into their computers with the passcode of their hearts, because heartbeats are unique enough to secure encrypted data. And DNA? Consider for a moment how complex and unique and specific that is to a person, when does that begin?

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

                                                      Psalm 139:14

So what defines life? A heartbeat? DNA? A developing brain? What defines a human being? Where do we “begin,” because the complexity of human beings is astounding!!  And more and more research indicates that HUGE things are happening right from the beginning.

In the initial weeks, we may be a "clump of developing cells," but a human blastocyst is dividing those living cells at an alarming rate to form the most complex species of life on the planet. Blastocysts become embryos, forming neural systems and circulatory systems and “clumps of cells” that will be our eyes, our faces, everything that makes us unique as human beings in those first weeks. So the question is: Do we really think we can say definitively that abortion is not the termination of a human life? 

Personally, I think we are rather brazen to even ask the question of where life begins!!! How do we have authority to determine what life is or where life begins when we are subject to the power of life and death ourselves? Did we decide when we would be made alive and when we would die for ourselves?  How can we assume we have authority over that, or put any sort of definitive answer on things we continue to learn about?

Humanity is such a mess.  There are an estimated 27 million people living as sexual slaves.  World leaders are threatening our national security.  Millions and millions live in poverty and starvation around the world, with very little regard or help from prospering nations. We are selfish and hedonistic.  Depraved and wicked.  Dying daily. Even our physical bodies outwardly waste away like wisps of grass, soon to wither and be gone. Who are we to think we could decide a question as important as what is and what isn't murder? 

These are the results of our decision on that.  God, help this great nation and save us from ourselves. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Letter to my Girls, Part 2

Girls, I am thinking today about something we simply brushed over last night in prayer request time...have been thinking about it all day. It's about inwardly following Christ. I'm thinking about what that really means, especially when it comes to us in our specific circumstances. And I am thinking about the very real things we talked about last night, things that affect us now--our thought lives, our eating habits, our relationships with our boyfriends, our work. I am thinking about how Jesus would have us handle those struggles. I am thinking on this story:
37 While Jesus[e] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. Luke 11:37-41

When He says "give as alms those things that are within," he means for them to give offerings from their hearts. Usually, an "alm" refers to food or money that you give to the poor, something material, but in this instance, Jesus means the gifts that come from within. Their good will. Their love. Their heart motivations, their thoughts, their everything inside, should be gift worthy. Make these things within you clean enough to present as gifts, and then the outside of you, your behavior, will be clean, also.
The Pharisees were all about cleanliness on the outside. They were big on religious rituals and ceremonial cleanliness and rule following. And from the outside, they looked good. But they thought their outer obedience outweighed what was going on in their hearts. They thought that by putting on good behavior, they were excused to think and feel whatever they wanted.

But the problem with that is: whatever is in your heart, whatever is in your thoughts and your motivations and your innermost being, that will eventually come out in your behavior. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) For the Pharisees, their sinful hearts, not checked or cleaned internally, resulted in them excusing the things they thought were ok--pride, taking advantage of the poor, judging people, haughtiness. They figured they could rely on their appearances and it burned them.

We criticize the Pharisees for being religious and more focused on their own rules rather than Jesus, but like we mentioned last night....aren't we guilty of the same things? Excusing idolatry that comes from within? Justifying our impure thought lives with our good external behavior? Being so focused on food or exercise or fitness and allowing that to trump our dependence on God for our needs? Putting other things or people in a place above Him? Truth is, we have just as much issue with cleaning the inside of the dish.
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26

The key word in this scripture is FIRST. First, clean the inside. Then, the outside may also be cleaned. Because if you try to clean the outside first, you wind up in the same religious boat as the Pharisees. Obedience and appearance driven, rather than grace driven. Miserable and never being good enough, rather than joyful and knowing Jesus was more than enough. Dying in your sins rather than living a life of hope and joy.

Jesus wants our hearts first, so He can clean us from the inside out. That's when obedience means something means redemption.
It is for our freedom that He wants redemption for us. He wants us to be free of obsession from food, from insecurity, from idolatry with people or love, from thought lives that hurt us. Jesus says these things are death for us and He wants to protect us from death, that He might show us life. The blessing and the beauty and the glory of life in Him.

It's not easy, but we have to surrender. We are part of the process of redemption. We have to surrender to what we know is freedom for us, and agree to help Him clean the inside. We trust Him and rely on His grace and His strength to help us peer into the darkness He wants to heal. Don't try to do it on your own, and don't try to to do it halfway--you will be dying in your sins. Don't settle for less than all of what He could do in you. Give Him everything. I encourage you to give Him the gift of your whole heart and know what it means to be made fully clean.
It is my prayer that you will do this, and that His light will consume you. You will find freedom from things you never thought you could be free of. His healing and His blessings will be evident in You. (I am already starting to see this in our group and it's incredible!! :-D) His joy and peace and love will overwhelm you and spill out of you. And ultimately, this redemption and change in you will speak to others. He will use your testimony in healing others!!! I pray you experience the joy and awe and wonder of that.
Love you girls,