The anniversary of Roe v. Wade

I have let this week get by without acknowledging the dark landmark on our culture: the Roe v Wade decision.

It has come around again in intensity because of the exposure of Planned Parenthood and the immoral actions they take in abortion. That has quickly dissipated, however. Something I easily predicted last summer.

Here is the deal: I work from what I call a “pro-life” ethic. And I will NOT allow that term to be hijacked because I am tired of trying to come up with new terminology. When good terminology gets hijacked, there are times we need to yank it back.

This is something in my life that is not “Republican” or “Democrat.” Of course, I don’t have to worry about it being misconstrued by “Democrats” who have already checked out on me because I dared to use that nasty phrase: “PRO-LIFE.”

The pro-life ethic I work from is as close to “womb to tomb” as I can comfortably get it for me. (Which will alienate me from Republicans and Tea Party folks quickly.) And I keep working on pushing it out even further, but there are times when I see evil in this world and I want it truly snuffed out… hard. I’m a work in progress.

On this occasion, though, I do want to remember the horrific decision of this nation to allow the ongoing slaughter of unborn children.

AND, I want to pause in a somber moment to mourn how we just simply treat people in general. There is such a disdain for each other in our culture. In political terms, “pro-abortion” supporters will disdain “pro-life” supporters. And vice versa.

I long for a way to be so PRO-LIFE that young mothers trying to make difficult decisions gain a hunger for LIFE. It’s not a matter of “prosecuting” mothers who decide to have an abortion. It’s being a society that so values life we help people see the high value in key choices they need to make… and they see such value in LIFE they choose to walk bravely with the help of our culture in a life giving direction.

I long for a way to be so PRO-LIFE that we see young families AFTER the birth! We don’t kick the poor to the curb. We don’t just spout off, “Get a job!” to people because we think they are poor without considering what is going on in their lives.

For me, personally, I long for a way to be so PRO-LIFE that I can say one day, “The only person more pro-life than me (meaning womb to tomb) is the Pope!”

May my ethic continually move toward what is life-giving and not death inducing.

 

Advent: The reminder to quit being such suckers!

ISIS.

Refugees and other assorted immigration issues.

Donald Trump.

Racial tensions (especially in my city right now).

Abortion clinic shooting in Colorado Springs.

We clearly have things on our radar… Scratch that. There are things that should probably be on our radar.

It’s our reactions that are too often shameful or puzzling or based on fear that should give us pause. We don’t pause. We just react.

This is why we need Advent.

As believers, we need a buffer zone reminder. As believers, Advent reminds us we are not really of this world. (Of course, this bothers political conservatives a bit because that means WE are the “foreigners”, but again, we need these reminders.)

Events like Advent should be on our calendars and in our daily practices because they remind us that we truly serve a Kingdom not of this world. When we pause and reflect on the more powerful Kingdom of God, we have an opportunity to reflect on the nature of our King and it is quite possible we can then formulate some response that aren’t as shrill as we see in our culture today.

We need Advent. We need the reminder that we’re on a different calendar from the world.

HERE is the one I encourage our church to follow so every day we can be immersed in the Kingdom perspective rather than just waiting for our favorite columnist, blogger, radio personality, etc., to tell us how to react. (Unless, of course, that blogger is me. Then you should pay attention.)

Today’s reading is so needed! Here is an excerpt:

You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. (1 Thess. 5:5-6)

A simple reminder for us: Hey! You know better!

Dear friends, we have a call to walk differently. In this season, let us take that call seriously.

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Gun violence and abortion

Now we have the two hottest hot button issues screaming at each other.

And the hypocrisy is not evident at all. The same ones screaming for more gun control right now are the sames ones that have no problem talking about Planned Parenthood “legally” selling human parts. And, vice versa. Both sides value human life and “rights” at different levels.

The problem persists. We won’t move past the yelling and screaming and inane comparisons of how many vehicular deaths per year vs. gun deaths per year, or the tiny little percentage of abortions at Planned Parenthood, to really look at the underlying issues.

The issue is this: underneath it all we are filled, as a culture, with hatred and death. Which is why we scream so loud about other things. We don’t want to face the silence and what that might mean. We might actually have to face the darkness of who we are when it is far easier to point out the darkness in someone else.

God help us.

The anger of Jesus

I have walked slowly through Mark 1-4 the past few days… over and over.

There is a story of a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6). The religious leaders are all standing around seeing if Jesus would dare to heal a man on … horrors! … the Sabbath. 

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

Jesus was angered by their hardness. Here was a man with a need right among them and they were waiting to trap Jesus on a technicality.

It is that frustration, but I know NOT that level of anger, I feel when we talk about anything in the American Church today.

We don’t even hold our anger very long. It was just a few weeks ago those horrid Planned Parenthood videos started coming out and for awhile they finally outraged social media enough it became something of a “sensation” for about 2 minutes. We just don’t sustain a holy anger very long any more.

Instead, when something comes along that should cut our souls and call us to action… we all tend to be more like the religious leaders than Jesus.

The horrifying reality of the Syrian refugee situation came home this week with the photos of a little boy’s body washed up on a shore in Turkey. It outraged the world… for about 2 minutes. Most don’t even know about any picture yet.

We get “horrified” in a social media way… but then we go back to our trenches and lob our theological grenades. And we don’t help anyone. We don’t act.

We stand around with our Pharisaical rulers and make our judgments. From the “right” and the “left.”

“Well, those Planned Parenthood videos were heavily edited.” (Like that makes us feel better about the taking of a human life.)

“Well, that child was probably the son of a terrorist.” (So we feel better… how?)

Like the Pharisees watching the actions of Jesus, it’s all we do these days. We think we act like Jesus, but here’s the reality: we don’t even ACT. We just sit around and watch and then lob our ideologies out there on Twitter. 

And for the American Church, we need to wake up with a realization: Jesus is looking around at us… all of us… self-righteous evangelicals, self-righteous liberals and progressives… All. Of. Us. And he is NOT happy.

While Syrian refugees drown, while babies are still be sliced up, while people slog around in horrid conditions of life and ACTION is needed, we’re all standing around sniffing at whoever might dare to take action because somehow, in some way, they just don’t believe something right.

There are people who just hate the idea of a Republican being nice because, doggone it, it wrecks their view of Republicans being EVIL. And vice versa for Republicans not liking a Democrat. We’re just not allowed. So we’re sniffing at each other and no action is taken. 

More babies will be sliced up. More refugee bodies will wash up on shore. And the Church capable of doing SOMETHING will continue to turn their noses up at any action because, somehow, it’s not the RIGHT action. (Excuse me… the correct action. I sure don’t want any LIBERALS mad at me!)

I don’t want to “feel” justified about my political positions anymore. I don’t want to sit and feel good about my correct theological beliefs anymore. There are actions I need to take. Specific actions that may not solve a deep crisis like abortion or the slaughter of people in the Middle East, but action that none the less can make a difference for someone.

It’s awful when we can’t take action and would rather criticize because our “position” is more correct. I think how long that man with the withered hand had to suffer in that condition because no one wanted to break a rule…

Dear Lord, forgive me for my political, theological, philosophical stubbornness. It is an offense to you. You are angered by my inaction. And I understand.

Help me to ACT.

The church that is… and is to come

On a hike through a state park on Madeline Island (part of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior) I took a couple of pictures where the Lord spoke specifically to me about the American Church and our spiritual condition.

Blown down tree on Madeline Island.
Blown down tree on Madeline Island.

This blown down tree came from a huge wind storm in 1991. Winds reached 100 mph hour off Lake Superior and ripped up old trees right from their roots.

The Spirit spoke to me about how the American Church, without prayer, has lost its roots. We are far more easily blown over than this majestic tree that was taken down 20 plus years ago. We have been without prayer. When we’ve prayed we’ve prayed for ourselves. We’ve lost intercession. We’ve prayed for more self-preservation than for the simple presence of God.

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I posted this one a couple of days ago, but it was part of what the Spirit spoke to me as well. This is where we SHOULD be. That tree grew up out of sheer rock right out in front, facing the harshest winds the lake could give it. And it stands. It’s not pretty. You wonder how in the world it stands at all… but there it is. THIS is the Church Jesus sees for our time in this land.

We’ve tried to look good. We’ve tried to be the ones to be liked and have sold ourselves down the river in this culture. We need a new sense of prayer. A sense TO STAND. We won’t look “pretty” in so many ways, but there we will stand.

Cultural winds will blow… there we stand.

We will look like fools for being pro-life, standing for the unborn AND the margins of society, but there we stand.

We will look like fools for standing for a LOT of Kingdom issues which will confound both “the left” and “the right” but there we will stand.

Facing the harshest of winds. Ready to take on all the enemy may have because we long for the presence of Jesus, and we long for his Kingdom to come in reality on this earth as it is in heaven.

It is time for the next wave of radical intercessors to rise up. To pray for healing once again. To pray for addictions and bondages to be broken again in the lives of those so lost in this crazy culture. To pray down the strongholds of our death culture as well as pray down the stronghold of racism. To face the stiffest winds, to not really look so good doing it, but in the end… to stand.

THIS is the Church Jesus sees and longs for in our current culture.

May it be so, dear Lord.

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.