Category Archives: Life Issues

Guilt, Grace, and Galileans

The Gospel Lesson for this Lord’s Day is from Luke 13:1-13. Pilate’s brutality is fully on display right in verse one: “Pilate had mingled Galilean blood with their sacrifices.” “Are these Galileans worse than other Galileans because they suffered in this way?, was the question our Lord posed.

Jesus did not spend his time in Luke’s account offering a philosophical exegesis of theodicy.[1] Rather, he simply “said, “If you don’t repent, you will likewise perish.” “But Rabbi, I want a more profound answer to this intellectual dilemma. I want to know the ins and outs of your divine and decretal will. I want to be able to rationalize every detail of your purposes in life and in death.” Jesus had a different agenda. Jesus sees death, as Richard Hays observes, as “an occasion for metanoia.[2] Jesus did not offer words of religious comfort to appease the inquirer, no; he used it as an opportunity to express something very central to his Kingdom Gospel: repentance. The word repentance implies turning away, or a change of mind. But biblically, it is more than that. Repentance means turning away from something and embodying a view of life diametrically opposed to the one previously expressed.

It is not enough to turn from something without knowing where you are turning to. Otherwise, that turn might lead you back to the sin that entangled you. Jesus wants us to avoid this vicious cycle.

Suffering and pain are caused for a host of reasons that many times are unknown to us in this life. But one response is absolutely sure: repentance. The tragic events that occur in this life are tragic because they expose the mortality of humanity.[3] The sudden difficult events that shake our very beings (and in some cases our faith) deal with the uniqueness and temporariness of the un-resurrected corporeal nature.

The human tendency is to compare sinners so that we may excuse ourselves. After all, it is easier to point to someone else’s sinfulness than our own. But Jesus wants Israel to consider her sins, and as a result, our own, and see if repentance is being expressed in light of what has happened.

The patience of God endures, but it is not forever. Historical tragedies of great and small proportions should cause us to seek forgiveness and to consider whether we are bearing fruits of repentance.

[1] Though the prophets before Him and the New Testament provides a healthy theology of good and evil, and God’s Just and Perfect ways.

[2] Hays, Richard. On Hearing Bad News, Living by the Word; The Christian Century.

[3] Bock, Darrell, The NIV Application Commentary, 365

In Defiance of God: Inhaling the Poisonous Gas

This morning a group of us from Micah 6:8 joined to read Scriptures and pray at the only abortion clinic in Pensacola. It was a short time of reading and prayer. As the cold weather froze our bodies we realized that we were witnessing young women entering what I would assume was a pleasantly heated building. As they entered they were most likely treated kindly. As they waited they were most likely reflecting on the freedoms they would enjoy with this thing called “a human being” out of the way. Perhaps they were struggling with their decision. Perhaps they were forced into this concentration camp. And like a concentration camp they were led to a place that they thought was a refreshing shower, but instead turned out to be poisonous gas. As a “doctor” performed his surgery, the patient was slowly being seduced by the gas of death. “The right-winger and evangelicals can’t be right about this. They just want to take away our ability to choose over our bodies,” they rationalize. “My boyfriend will leave me if I decide to keep this child.” Whatever reasons they choose, and however detailed they may be, the telos is still the same: a living, breathing, God-formed human being was being obliterated without a chance.

I was struck while listening to the reading of Psalm 10 that  “in secret places he doth slay the innocent.” How appropriate to our situation. This building is well-hidden to those who pass by. The Psalter says also that “they lie in wait to catch the poor.” Those in poverty are those who have relinquished their roles as mothers. In this case, the one in poverty of heart comes willingly to the trap set before them.

When that woman raised her fist at a pro-life activist this morning she was in defiance of God. “Those who defy verbally still have a chance,” opined the experienced activist near us. They are actually fighting with their decision was the implication. The ones who walk in quietly inhaling their first cigarette of the morning is set on their duty. Just as they puffed away on the cigarette, they were about to experience that unborn child puffed away from planet earth.

There is much work to do. I don’t do enough. I don’t pray enough. There is so much I can learn from those who have given their lives to declaring the message of life. To them I am grateful. John tells us that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. In this clinic, it is in the darkness of the early morning that evil operates. As these ex-moms recover from their surgery, their consciences will never recover. May they never recover until God grants them repentance and their hearts find rest in the God of life.

Luke 4:16-30 and the Implications for the Defenseless in the Womb

The good news to the poor Jesus came to preach (Luke 4) is the good news to the defenseless in the womb by implication. The poor is usually swallowed by those who take his life by force. The good news of Jesus is the news that those oppressed from without have an advocate within. The God who sees all things and who does all things well (Ps. 139) delivers His good news and men and women despise it (Luke 4:29).

The recent attempt to celebrate the 40 years of Roe V. Wade by sexualizing an ad is not just “creepy” as so many have observed, but also a strategic move. Secularists and pro-death advocates know that the only way to make a position attractive is by desensitizing  us to the ugliness and horrors of its practice.

But God is not mocked (Ps. 2).

The devil wants Jesus to turn a stone into bread. He wants the final Adam to eat of the fruit before it is time. He wants to make power and authority sexy. But our blessed Lord knows that cross comes before crown. Authority is God’s to give (Ps. 72) not Satan’s to distribute. Similarly, the pro-death movement offers satanic bread to young women. “If only you bow down to the culture of death, then you will be free. If only you go through with this abortion you will live happily with no burden.” These are all lies, and as my fundamentalist brothers like to say, “they are straight from the pit of hell.”

The Edenic temptation did not fail in the garden, and it will continue to succeed unless young women, by the power of the Spirit enlivening the Church in her message and charity, change their attitudes and worldview about the nature and meaning of life.

At the heart of the Lucan reading in 4:16-30 is Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 58 & 61. Isaiah 58 concludes with a promise of Sabbath rest to the people. This is a fitting picture of Jesus’ promise for deliverance and liberation of the oppressed. Indeed the Church’s prayer is that life would find its Sabbath rest from the death grip of Roe v. Wade and the culture of death. The good news of the Gospel Jesus proclaimed that caused so much fury among the Nazareth crowd is the same message preached today. The Herods of old are alive and well. They still seek to imprison and kill little infants. But by God’s grace, the year of the Lord’s favor will stop the crying of Rachel, and console her and many others with life, and life more abundantly.

Death No More: A Brief Exhortation on the 40th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

The incarnation is the miracle of divinity becoming flesh without losing his divinity. Jesus is fully God and fully man. The incarnation is the miracle of birth. Birth, which is despised in our culture, is actually God’s gift for men to replenish the earth with his likeness. The Psalmist refers to children as blessings from God.[1] In a day of fruitlessness, it is only through the ill-conceived desires of men that they should desire more fruitlessness, rather than the blessings of children.

It has now been 40 years since the Supreme Court’s momentous Roe v. Wade ruling by a landslide 7-2 vote on Jan. 22, 1973. The Supreme Court established a nationwide right to abortion. After more than 55 million abortions since then, Christians are still fighting through every means possible to abolish this crusade against the unborn.

We believe that birth begins at conception, but also that birth truly begins in the mind of God. And to take away a life is not merely to commit  crime against mankind, but also against the God of life. This is why we need to speak for life by proclaiming it with our own lives, and by being outspoken, not only in word, but in deed, on behalf of the unborn. We need to give of our monies, and to set time aside to pray that God would change the hearts of young women who are confused and often plagued by unbelief, that they would bring life into the world, and not destroy it.

History has not been kind to children. No wonder Jesus’ statement in the gospels is such a reversal of the ancient, wicked practices when he said:

“Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.”

The Incarnation is the reversal of barbaric practices; practices, which still continue to this day, but which will one day be abolished from earth by the power of the gospel.

We remember on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade that our Lord Jesus came for such as these. He came that little ones might have life and life more abundantly. As George Grant ably summarizes:

The Gospel therefore came into the world as a stern rebuke. God, who is the giver of life (Acts 17:25), the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9), and the defender of life (Psalm 27:1), not only sent us the message of life (Acts 5:20) and the words of life (John 6:68), He sent us the light of life as well (John 8:12).  He sent us His only begotten Son—the life of the world (John 6:51)–to break the bonds of sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).

Let us Pray:

Most merciful and tender Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day we are reminded of the sacredness of life. We are reminded that life is precious because You have declared it precious. We pray for the reversal of Roe v Wade. We pray that abortion clinics in this country, here in Florida, be put out of business because of the prayers and protest of your people. Restore our society to a vision of life. Remind our culture that no one has the authority to terminate the life of the unborn. Do not forget your promises, O God. But be speedy to help us and to reverse the ugliness and misery of a culture of death.

We are especially grateful for the love you have given us for children in this congregation. May this love increase each day. May our lives be testimonies to the blessings of children and the joys of nurturing them in truth. O, Triune God, may death no more reign, but may life be the theme of your ever increasing kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

[1] Psalm 127 & 128.

Respecting Pregnancy

Douglas Wilson in his challenging book The Federal Husband observes that in traditional conservative Christian circles there is a common lament that modern women are not eager to have children. Wilson continues,

Women are too eager to rush off to a childless career; women are disgruntled about the calling which God has given them, But then, look at how pregnant women are treated in their midst. Why are we surprised? Why should women honor what their men treat with contempt? (Federal Husband, 85)

This is a sharp rebuke to a culture that has learned to not only trivialize children, but also to despise pregnancy. There is, I believe, a parallel between a culture that disposes of the bodies of unborn human beings and a culture that despises children.

Guarding Children in a Sexualized Culture

Sam Black offers some sound advice on protecting our children from the dangers of a sexualized culture. Here are ten practices:

  1. Set clear rules for how the Internet and technology may be used in your home. That will vary based on the age of family members and the personal beliefs of parents. Remember the goal is to teach kids how to use the Internet wisely, not to simply put up barriers. Teaching them now will prepare them for when they are older.
  2. Become knowledgeable. Parents need to put effort into learning about websites and how the Internet is used. Internet Accountability reports from Covenant Eyes can help parents keep up with their kids. After all, a new website is launched every second.
  3. Many sites and social media require usernames and passwords. A parent should know all password information, including that for e-mail, social networking, chat, etc. And parents should log in and review these accounts on at least a weekly basis. Being your child’s friend on Facebook is not enough as social networking sites allow the user to hide interactions.
  4. Many sites are interactive and allow kids to personalize the web content. Work with your child to create online nicknames that don’t give away personal information, such as a real name, date of birth, or address.
  5. Everyone in the household, including adults, should serve as good role models.
  6. Kids should never share personal information, such as their real names, their phone number, address, or school name, etc., with someone they meet online. And tell your kids to never agree to meet someone they met online.
  7. Video chat should only be allowed when accompanied by a parent.
  8. Monitoring and good conversations will also help you know if your child is engaging in or the victim of cyberbullying.
  9. Out of the box, many smartphones and handheld devices are nearly devoid of parental controls. Learn the facts about how to monitor smartphones and handheld devices.
  10. Spam can be a source of pornography and scams. Tell teens not to give out their e-mail address or respond to junk mail.

{Read the entire article}

Planned Parenthood’s Radical Agenda

Robert George addresses the radical nature of Planned Parenthood, and the recent debacle  over Komen’s de-funding and reversing their decision. There is nothing moderate about this organization’s vision:

Planned Parenthood has spent millions fighting even those legislative initiatives that command extremely wide public support, such as laws requiring parental notification and informed consent for abortions, and those banning late-term abortions when the child developing in the womb is fully viable. Planned Parenthood even opposes a bill recently introduced in Congress to ban abortions for the purpose of sex selection.

While the media minimizes just how little Planned Parenthood focuses on abortions, the truth is that abortions alone bring over $164 million dollars of revenue per year. The real story is far to factual for the modern media.

Exhortation: Sanctity of Life Sunday

This morning we have baby bottles available for you to take home. For many American Churches this is Sanctity of Life Sunday. One tangible way of fighting for the un- born is to help financially those who are gifted in counseling young mothers considering abortion, and who are capable in providing care for those young mothers who at times are clueless as to what to do.

The session of Providence hopes that you will be able to add your change to that bottle, and by doing so also teaching others the value of all life. God is the God of life. He values life. He cares about life. He is the Preserver of life. This God sees the complexity of life, and He declares it to be valuable, precious, and worthy. A life in the womb is a living soul; a person.

I was pleased to hear that Pensacola no longer has a functioning abortion clinic. This is a great victory for this city. We hope with many others that Florida and every other state in this country will recognize the biblical truth that the Creator has established an unalterable law. And this law dictates that the unborn is fearfully and wonderfully made.

The Bible says that judgment begins in the house of God, so let us not be guilty of failing to defend life at all times, and in all places. It is interesting that churches that have abandoned the orthodox gospel began not by an outright denial of the creeds, but an outright denial of when life begins. May God be gracious to His Church and may she never falter in her prophetic message.

Let us pray:

O heavenly Father, strengthen us against the mounting forces of anti-life; enlighten those who walk in this deadly way that they may see the enormity of their sin and return to the generous observance of the divine law. We pray, too, for mothers, that they may prize the great privilege of motherhood; and that they may bring up their children in the holy love and fear of God, thus saving their own immortal souls and furthering the honor and glory of their Maker. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Abortion and Roe v. Wade

Schaeffer and Koop in Whatever Happened to the Human Race? said: 

 Let it never be said by historians in the latter days of this century that—after the Supreme Court decided on abortion in 1973 and the practice of infanticide began—there was no outcry from the medical profession….Let it never be said that the extermination program for various categories of our citizens could never have come about if the physicians of this country had stood for the moral integrity that recognizes the worth of every human life….All Christians know why people are different and have value as unique individuals—sick or well, young or old.  People are unique because they are made in the image of God.  What has happened to the human race?  Why are we afraid of being people, of being human?  Of enjoying the greatest blessings that life can bring—being alive and being people of love, tenderness, gentleness, care, and concern? It is vital that we put first, not economics or efficiency charts and plans, but being  people—real flesh-and-blood people.  We are not to be materialistic robots who think and act like machines and will even kill to maintain their lifestyles.

{Quoted in Ron Paul, Abortion and Liberty, pg. 36}

Childermas; The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Triumph of the Innocents, by William Holman Hunt, 1883-4On this day we solemnize the innocent who have died at the hands of tyrants (Herod the Great) and through the barbaric practice of abortion. George Grant summarizes this day:

It has always been the focus of the Christian’s commitment to protect and preserve the sanctity of human life—thus serving as a prophetic warning against the practitioners of abandonment and infanticide in the age of antiquity, oblacy and pessiary in the medieval epoch, and abortion and euthanasia in these modern times.  Generally set aside as a day of prayer, it culminates with a declaration of the covenant community’s unflinching commitment to the innocents who are unable to protect themselves.


Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, once Thou embraced and placed Thy hands upon the little children who came to Thee, and said: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and their angels always see the face of my Father!” Look now with fatherly eyes on the innocence of these children and their parents’ devotion, and bless them this day through our prayers.