The culture of LIFE

It’s is incredibly unfortunate that “pro-choice” people are now recycling a quote from Catholic nun Joan Chittister from back in 2004:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
—- Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B

It’s a huge mistake for “pro-choice” people and especially Christians who don’t like the 1980s version of the Pro-Life Movement. The reason it’s a mistake is it only puts the conversation back into the political trenches where it DOES NOT BELONG. We all go back to our trench warfare lobbing our bumper sticker grenades at each other.

So, the “pro-choice” answer to “pro-life” people who really seem to only be concerned with allowing babies to be born is: KEEP ABORTION. It’s foolishness.

What’s more, it fails to understand the deep underpinning of a true PRO LIFE ethic. It’s not a political answer alone. So, for my 1980s style “pro-life” friends, PLEASE don’t make this about “electing the right people so we get the right judges who will overturn Roe vs. Wade” and be done. Let’s not stop there.

And for “progressive” Christians who are hiding in the shadows and whisper oh so quietly, “Um… I’m pro-life,” but not too loudly, I invite you to a better discussion as well.

And let’s start here: Sister Chittister’s remark about tax money alone is stupid. I said it. STUPID. If you think all it takes is tax money… PUH LEEZE.

So, to my 1980s pro-life friends… it DOES take some tax money. And to my “progressive” friends hiding in the weeds, it takes MORE than tax money.

I beg all of us to get out of the bunkers as believers. QUIT the Republican and Democrat mantras! PLEASE!

It’s being horrified by these Planned Parenthood videos. PLEASE allow yourself, my progressive friends, to be horrified. Let something sear your spirit once again.

THEN… let’s get to work. For a true PRO LIFE ethic to work, we have to demand better use of our tax dollars. When it comes to “funding” I think it doesn’t just mean defunding Planned Parenthood. It means FUNDING another source.

For my progressive friends, think more broadly. Since you want to parrot back, “How many so-called pro-life people are adopting?” I will challenge you: more than you want to admit or research. And I ask this favor: YOU have the ear of the Democrats right now. And while you have it, why not lobby them for better adoption laws? Why not make lobby them for easier adoption procedures… and CHEAPER adoption procedures? Why does it have to be so doggone expensive to adopt a child in America?

For my 1980s pro-life friends, quit making the public schools your enemy. Get in there and help. To my “progressive” friends, quit squawking. There are PLENTY of true pro-life people IN the public schools slogging it out. It’s true. So, for ALL of us, let’s demand better education and let’s HELP with delivering better education. Mentor some at risk kids. Every week. Don’t just go for the big splash events or school rallies and feel good. Make a difference. One kid at a time.

This is way too long, but I am so tired of the trench warfare we’ve been engaged in for 40 plus years. It’s time for a better way, and it’s the CHURCH who should rise up and lead the way.

Please… let’s do this.

Culture of death

When I watch people say incredibly threatening things to a dentist who hunts a lion… (which, by the way, would be terroristic threats in some other situations)… and then say NOTHING when videos are shown of Planned Parenthood doctors talking of selling off body parts (or worse, defending the actions as “legal”)… and when I realize that many of the people doing these two actions would call themselves Christian…

It only confirms we have a culture of death. Not life.

Whether it’s being “pro life” politically and then not caring about the poor once they are born, or you care nothing for the unborn and are willing to look the other way why their body parts are being sold off… it’s a culture of death. Not life.

To cry out in supposed compassion for “reproductive rights” and then scream about killing a dentist for killing a lion (and then going and protesting a death row inmate being executed would be the next “logical” step) is hypocrisy at its highest.

We have made it an either/or world and in doing so all “sides” have welcomed in death… not life. We are not a culture that lifts up life any more. Not really.

The way forward is not to defund Planned Parenthood or kill a dentist (or even extradite him). The way forward is not to make killing animals a capital offense, and the way forward is not to make sure everyone is carrying a weapon. That’s all futile and only perpetuates a death culture.

It’s not all that I have left… it is the way forward: It is the way of prayer. This is our grand invitation as believers… believers who see and understand LIFE in the Kingdom… PRAY.

William Wilberforce was a man of political action and prayer. Yes, he acted politically, but through his prayerful journey he was able to end the slave trade in Great Britain without firing a shot decades before the United States ended slavery by a bloody war.

The great invitation is prayer because there is an accounting God will bring to each one of us in a final day. So even if Planned Parenthood kills a million more unborn and sells off every part and the White House prosecutes anyone posting a video showing it… Planned Parenthood will stand before God on that day. And it’s not Cecil the Lion. It’s the Lion of Judah. They’ll only be wishing for Cecil the Lion.

The great invitation is prayer because it is changed hearts that will begin to make wiser choices. Life will start to mean something. All of life. Unborn and living. All can be sustained. God forgive us for our weak arguments! God forgive us for our vain efforts!

Let us PRAY.

Two bold prayers I have on my list every week now, and I ask you to prayerfully put them on your list:

1. End racism
2. End abortion

Call it a fool’s errand. No problem.

But my heart is challenged to pray… and keep on praying.

I weary of this culture of death and how many ways we can keep people from gaining life, and then how cheaply we take it. There is something so much more grand for us all. But we’re blind.

God help us.

The gods of our culture and the mark of the beast

I was listening to a teaching on eschatology given at a church camp by one of my favorite all-time teachers. Gordon Anderson has been president of North Central University for many years, but I was privileged to have him as a teacher when I was a student in my undergrad program before his appointment as president. Listening to his teaching on “end times” reminded me of his teaching as his student.

One thing he would constantly talk about in those days was the symbolism and how we get it wrong. We go around looking at our right hands and checking our foreheads saying, “Whew! No mark of the beast today!” But, he speculated, what if it wasn’t a “mark” but a selling out to the world’s system? We can go around all day long saying, “No mark yet!” and have sold out to the allegiances of the gods of this world.

I reflect on that today as I continue to be stirred by the insanity of our culture and what gets us upset… or not. And quite frankly, what gets us upset in one area often dictates we somehow can’t get upset in another area. And THAT, I would contend, is a sign we’re wavering in our allegiances and we may have a bit of the “mark” in us.

For instance:

Why is it we can’t be horrified by the actions of Planned Parenthood selling human body parts AND be upset by “Cecil the Lion” being killed?

Why is it we somehow have to “choose” between being ALL for the police or ALL for #BlackLivesMatter?

What is it we have to be ALL for Israel (as evangelicals) and never for Palestinians?

Why can we not be deeply concerned by poverty in our country and still desire people to earn a good living and live a good life?

Maybe the “mark” of the beast is seen in blind loyalty to such marks as “Planned Parenthood” and the “NRA” and yet we go around thinking we’re still somehow totally loyal to Christ at the same time.

Maybe the “mark” of the beast is seen in blind loyalty to a political party or being labeled “progressive” or “liberal” or “conservative” and that has become more of our “mark” than our allegiance to Christ.

We are really struggling in our Christian walk these days and it’s not because Christ is confusing. It’s because we’ve allowed marks to be applied to identities other than that what is the “mark” of Christ… and we’re confusing “brand” loyalty with “CHRIST” allegiance.

If we don’t get this figured out soon, those identifying too closely with any other allegiance than Christ will find themselves swept under in the next wave of whatever liberal or conservative garbage that washes ashore.

My greater fear is so many may have taken a mark and just not realized it yet. Then, the cost will come. Not a pretty day.

God help us.

Imagine this…

Imagine these signs outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and how the media would react.

Instead, these signs are outside the office of a Bloomington, MN dentist who probably poached a lion in Africa months ago.

Today, Planned Parenthood gives thanks for the Minnesota dentist taking the spotlight further off of their own atrocities.

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The simple work of transformation

Meditative prayer is a wonderful tool to utilize in our walk with the Lord. I highly recommend Richard Foster’s little book, Sanctuary of the Soul, as a guide.

He finishes his teaching with this:

This transforming work does not happen all at once and not completely perhaps. But it does happen. The old games of manipulation and control begin losing their appeal to us. Guile becomes less and less a pattern of our daily life. A new compassion rises up within us for the bruised and broken and the dispossessed… We are becoming friends with Jesus (Jn. 15:14).

This is a work I am very weak in with my own prayer life. But the Lord favors me with beautiful moments. This last Sunday I didn’t have to preach and so as I worshiped with my parents at their church, the Lord spoke so clearly to me about ministry that is ahead. I was able to catch a moment to hear, to listen, to be transformed. Those are wonderful moments of grace I cherish so deeply.

Transformation is a slow process. Walk in it.