Roe v. Roe: How one abortion article might save some lives

Last week, around the 40th anniversary of the controversial Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand, I came across an article written for the online magazine Salon.com.

The article was written by Mary Elizabeth Warren titled, “So what if abortion ends a life?”.  The sub-heading sums up what you will read, jaw ajar, from the rest of the article.  The sub-heading is, “I believe life starts at conception and its never stopped me from being Pro-Choice.”

Here let me let the author speak for herself.  She states:

“Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.

When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?”

You can read the whole article here.

I must admit this article sent chills down my spine, but not for the reasons you might think. In some small way I admire Ms. Warren, at least she is being honest about what she believes, even if brutally.  I was shocked because she is saying what we in the pro-life camp have been arguing all along.  That, at the moment of conception, there now exists a life, not cells, but a unique life.  She is conceding to the fact that we have been right.  We are right to see that life begins at conception and what is really at stake is what we as a free society chose to do with that life and how far we are willing to go to protect it.

Her argument seems to be: “Yes, its life.  So what?  The mother still has the ability to choose for that child whether it should live or die”.  The rights of the mother, some how mysteriously gain more value, than the child.  This is a chilling admission.  You could say it a different way, though I believe she would try to wriggle her way out of being put into this corner.  The rights of the more powerful, outweigh the rights of the weaker. (Hello Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Jung Ill, etc)  She is in many ways trying to change the nature of the debate, and she might succeed in doing so, but for the time being, I think there are two main reasons that her article gives hope to those who work with women on the cusp of making a real life changing decisions.

1. I hope that this article will embolden Pro-Life workers in pregnancy resource centers around the country to see that science, logic, and 40 years of abortions have come to the conclusion that, yes, we are taking the life of a child when we commit abortion.  I hope that pro-life advocates will see Ms. Williams’ article as an admission to that fact. We won that battle, but the war is not over. Hopefully, that admission will embolden counselors all over this country to pursue their work with continued vigor.  I hope that it will give pro-life workers a renewed boldness as they sit across from a young woman contemplating abortion that there are truly wrestling with a matter of life and death.  I hope it will give them renewed boldness to delicately, but confidently affirm the importance of the decision this woman is getting ready to make.  I hope they will have the boldness to lay the argument out in a loving way, but not be afraid to say to a women or a man if front of them, “What you do from now on will not change whether you are a father or mother, it will only change the nature of your relationship to your child. You will either be a giver of life or a giver of death.”  Hard truth, but doesn’t that child deserve from us the willingness to say hard things even if they make others uncomfortable?  I hope this article gives people the ability to say bold things in the cause of life.

2. The other, more important aspect of this article, that may just save some children’s lives is that this article removes the moral ambiguity that the pro-abortion (yes, pro-abortion not pro-choice) movement has used to medicate women with.  Let me explain.  Not all women who get abortions first walk into a pro-life pregnancy resource center, but many do. Those who don’t are wrestling with the decision enough to see what all these pro-life people might have to say. This article probably doesn’t help those women and children.  But many women do walk into a pro-life pregnancy center to get a second opinion. I have first hand experience of this.  I have talked with men and women wrestling with this decision, some choosing life for their child others choosing death by abortion.  And I think this article will help stir those that are wrestling with this decision, who come to pro-life pregnancy resource centers to be more likely to choose life. Why?  Because many of the men and women I have met in my experience aren’t staunch pro-choice supporters.  Many of them find themselves in a situation in which they don’t know which way to turn.  I would say that many of them are pro-life in general, but given their unique circumstances are leaning more towards abortion.  What often times seemed to push them more towards abortion was the ambiguity of the pro-choice movement, the pro-choice pain-killer you might say.  Their conscience told them it was wrong, they felt some pull towards carrying the baby to term, yet their life circumstances and the fog of this decision was pulling them in another direction.  What this article does, and why it helps the pro-life movement is that it removes the pro-choice ambiguity that so many men and women use to muffle their conscience.  It removes the pro-choice pain-killer that muddies the waters and numbs these women.  It doesn’t allow that young man and women the ability to hide behind their decision as if they aren’t doing what they are really doing.  It removes the vague virtue of being pro-choice and boils it down to this:

Is this baby inside you a unique life?

Pro-Choice says: YES

Pro-Life says: YES

Then what are you going to do about it?

Pro-Choice says: Your rights are more important than the baby’s. Do as you please.

Pro-Life says: That life is worth protection and you have a moral duty to protect it. You are not alone. We will help you.

It at least makes them have to face up to the moral decision before hand rather than spending a life time trying to quiet their conscience inside them with some trumped-up pro-choice justification.

I am sure Ms. Williams believes that the time is right to take this debate further down the road.  I am scared to see where her logic leads us.  But in the meantime, I believe that there will be some women and men, when the moral ambiguity of their decision is removed, when they won’t be sheltered by the pro-choice pain killer of abortion not taking the life of another, when the virtue of abortion really comes down to a wrestling match of the more powerful over the weaker, will see fingers and toes.  Will see a baby and not a tadpole.  Will see themselves as a lover and not a killer.  And just might disagree with Ms. Williams and act upon the notion that their life is not more valuable than the life inside them.

Posted in abortion, pro-life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What to Post in a Post-Christian World?

My head is spinning. As a Christian reading the news, I can hardly keep up with the rapid change that seems to have overtaken the country. Fast-Food Companies being demonized for the beliefs of their CEOs, Louie Giglio asked not to pray because of a sermon he preached 15 years prior, a president that went from denying the validity of homosexual marriage, to approving of it (using Scripture to boot), to using it as a platform issue of civil rights for his upcoming term in office, women now being allowed to serve on the front lines of combat, and the celebratory nature of many in this country over the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade. And most of that has happened in only the last few days and weeks. What is a Christian supposed to make of all of this?

I would like to try to flesh out where my thoughts have gone as I try to digest all of this and what I feel like, we as Christians, should do about it.

The Post-Christian America

The Post-Christian America is on us whether we like it or not. Ready or not it is here and as Christian we have to be ready to deal with it. What I mean by post-Christian is that from the founding of this county America has always been built on a Judeo-Christian ethos that guarded and guided much of what we did in this country from politics, to the free-market, to education, and so on. We may have had our differences of opinions on how that ethos worked itself out in the certain arenas of politics, representative government, education, welfare, business, etc but by-in-large there was always a guiding principle of a nation based on Judeo-Christian beliefs that held it all together. But slowly over time those principles were stretched, redefined, until the point they have finally snapped and our compass, as a country, is no longer pointing to “that city on a hill”. We have enlarged our tent more and more as a country to allow for competing ideas until there is no longer room for anyone under the tent. We have thrown off its protection all together. We’ve moved from “One Nation Under God”, to One Nation with many gods, to One Nation, all beliefs being equal, lets exclude god, to One Nation of gods. We’ve replaced transcendent Truth as a governing principle with translucent tolerance. And if the Greek myths teach us anything, it is that in a society of many gods, the most powerful gods get to make the rules.

Yet, we have still remained a democracy. Which means that “We the People” get what we deserve and what we want out of our government. Barack Obama isn’t doing damage to our country as an evil dictator having his will. We voted him into office. We the people elected him to represent our values and ideas. He is only the personification of a population that believe his leadership is what this country needs.

I realized this after the last election. After four years of Obama, I was certain that the American people would see the mistake we had made in electing him as President. I believed that there was still enough Judeo-Christian ethos running through our American veins to see that the agenda that this president acted upon was not in the best interest of America going further. I was confident that we would elect Mitt Romney who, I thought, embodied more of a traditional, conservative approach to governing and leading this country. I believed that the contrast between the candidates could not be more stark. Obama was not trying to hide (maybe reword and redefine), but not trying to hide his liberal agenda. I believed people would see, that even if they were somewhat liberal-leaning, Obama’s politics were a stronger cup of coffee than they wanted to swallow.

I woke up the day after the election sobered. Obama had won. And while it was not with as much support as he did the first time, he still won. The apathy on the right is as telling to the state of the nation as the support on the left. This was a turn-out election and those who might hold a more conservative view of politics were not energized enough to see that their vote would really matter. Apathy and inaction are just as telling barometers of sentiment as is focused action. America wanted Obama, either through their voting or their lack of voting. They spoke that day.

So for me the election of Obama wasn’t the problem it was a symptom of a post-christian worldview that had spread en-masse to the electorate. Mitt Romney wasn’t a savior. The election of Obama, given his record of leadership or lack thereof, his divisiveness, and the ego-centric tone of his speeches, numerous TV appearances, and general tone, was simply a sign post to me showing me the direction that the country was headed.

 

My desire to engage in political debate changed that day as well. Poking holes in people’s logic or worldview wasn’t going to solve our problems.  What good does it do to debate someone about massive debt that we are burying our grandchildren under if that same person holds to a view that it is legal and even a virtue to be able to kill those grandchildren in utero? If they don’t first protect a child’s right to life, whether wanted by their mother or not, than why would they care about how much debt their government is handing them, supposing they make it to “personhood” in the first place. Their logic and mine are at odds. My worldview and theirs share little to nothing in common. My worldview was formed through a transformed life of the Gospels of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, and understanding that I am responsible to God to glorify him through my actions to be more like His Son. Their worldview, many times, is created on the spot, not as a way to inform their actions, but many times as a way to insulate their actions from any moral intended or unintended consequences. How else do you coalesce a worldview that allows for the killing of an innocent child, while desiring that we take aways guns, or spend more money on education, or give health care to protect children? If your worldview doesn’t first protect a child’s right to life, than how can it have any moral basis to try to protect them from poverty, rising health care costs, violence in school, or national debt? This is just one example of many.

All that to say, the problem isn’t education, its salvation. The problem isn’t debate, its discipleship. The problem isn’t that they understand my logic, it that they understand the Logos.

 

How then shall we live?

 

This is a tough question. I think Christians in America are in an “in-between” generation.  We still remember when most of America had some shared values at their core and yet we see this rapid change.  We remember when the cultural shift wasn’t so seismic and wasn’t so fast.  I say all this and I am only 33 years old.  If it feels fast to me, I can’t imagine what it feels like to older Christians.

I suspect many people will leave the church.  Those that have been hanging on to the church by its fringes will see no advantage of associating with a organization/religion that is so maligned by the culture.  Some people will just find more sanitized version of church.  The will look for themselves a church that less and less talks about anything that would shake the cultural apple cart.  They will be Christian in name only.

 

I also think we will see more and more Christians realize that America is slowly becoming a mission field.  We have always been cozy here in America, that is not becoming the case.  Sure we’ve talked about missional living before, but more and more it will become a reality.  Faithful Christians will have to ask hard questions about their lifestyles and begin to reorder their lives around a more robust view of living as if this place is not your home.  If things are to change, it won’t be because of a charismatic political leader, it will be because the Gospel is shared from person to person.  The Gospel is witnessed to, suffered for, and spoken of in all that we do.  This is a macro-problem with a micro-solution.

This is already happening.  People are leaving the church, people are carving out their own brand of sanitized church, and faithful Christians are reordering their life around the Gospels.  It will only intensify in the coming years.  In all this our great hope is that Christ will never leave us or forsake us.  He is with us always and that should give us great comfort, no matter the America we wake up to tomorrow.

What are your thoughts?  Do you see the same rapid change in America and How as a Christian do you think we should respond?

Posted in Christian Life, gospel, politics, salvation, worldview | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

3 Jobs Every Teenage Boy Needs To Have

I was blessed to grow up with parents that forced gave me the opportunity to work through high school and college. It taught me invaluable life lessons and helped to keep me out of trouble. It helped teach me various life lessons that I have kept with me and that have served me well to this day. If I could have my way totally I would force give my sons the same opportunity that I was blessed to have. I would make it apart of their growing up and have them get 3 certain jobs in a specific order as they pursue their studies and future careers. Here’s how it would go and why:

1. First Job: Fast Food Industry

While they are in high school, I want my boys to work in the fast food industry. I want them to make minimum wage for most of the time they do it too.

Why: I want them to start at the bottom. I want them to learn that they don’t deserve any job. They earn it. I want them to learn how to serve people and how to make an honest dollar. I want them to be humbled by serving their friends and school mates. Its a hard lesson to learn when you have to serve your friends their dinner on their way to a movie on a Friday night. I want them to learn the hard lesson that sometimes you have to work while others play. I also think it important to have them work while they are still at home so, as a parent, I can walk them through things like; asking off from work well in advance, how to schedule priorities, how to handle criticsm from a boss or manager, and how to save and spend their money. I would also hope that working in fast food would spur them on to further themselves through their studies.

2. Waiting Tables

After high school and when they reach college, I would want them to wait tables. Waiting tables is hard work. It is stressful. You have to learn how to work on your feet for long hours at a time. You have to learn how to time and manage things well so that all your tables get served in a timely manner. If you are good, you learn how to read people, their body language, and you learn how to anticipate needs before anyone asks. Great lessons for marriage.

You also learn a valuable economic lesson. Rather than getting paid a certain amount per hour of work, your compensation depends on the amount of hours you put in, the quality of the work you do while there, and how hard you are willing to work during all that. Two people can be waiting tables, one guy puts a smile on his face, picks up extra tables when possible, and hustles to make sure his tables are happy. The next guy tries to make it through his shift, gives up tables to the first guy, and tries to get cut as soon as possible so he can get home to play Xbox. The two guys might be there for the same amount of time, but the first one is going to walk away with more money in his pocket 99% of the time.

Also, waiting tables teaches you a valuable life lesson. Sometimes your hard work isn’t always rewarded. Most people do a pretty good job at tipping their waiter depending on the service they receive, but not always. From my experience, it is about 60/40. 60% of people tip well based on the service, while 40% are bad tippers no matter how well you serve them. But to let the 40% affect your work negatively is to give up on the 60% that will reward you for your smile. Hard work in the end does always pay off.

Going out to eat is a pretty big staple of American life and if I learned anything by waiting tables, it was to remember that waiters are people, not servants. That waiter at your favorite restuarnt is a person, with a life outside the restuarant, with their own problems and struggles. Remember that the next time your water doesn’t come with a lemon. Hopefully my sons will learn that same lesson by being on the other side someday.

3. Construction or a Trade

After waiting tables for most of their college days, or in the summer, I would want my boys to work as a laborer in the construction industry.

Why?: I want them to see the value of working long days, full of hard work, on something they can see and build with their hands. They might work in an office someday sitting at a computer for long hours, so I think that the experience of actually building something with their hands is important. Of course, they wouldn’t really be building anything as laborers as much as they would be just around it. They would be moving large amounts of lumber, carrying sheetrock to the actual ones hanging it, or hoisting roofing shingles up a ladder, oh and in all probability getting yelled at a lot while doing it. I think this will show them the value of getting up early to a job and staying late. They will see the value and skill in not just working with their mind, but the talent it takes to work with their hands. They will work with some rough people, sometimes, not always, and will have to learn how to be a positive witness to Christ in the midst of that. Hopefully they will learn to fix things on their own or to at least not be afraid to try. (This will provide ample fun family stories about “The time dad tried to fix…) And most importantly, they will learn how to work till they are exhausted and dirty, in freezing weather and scorching heat, go home proud of a hard days work, only to get up at 4:30 am the next morning and do it again.

So what jobs would you add to my list and why? What jobs as a teenager help form you the most? I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted in Christian Life, Parenting, Raising Boys | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Husband and Father: A Man’s Greatest Calling

I was reading a book the other night and came across a quote that struck me to the heart and got me thinking, and subsequently blogging.

The book is Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography of Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls is the famous adventurer most known for his hit T.V show, Man vs. Wild. It’s a family favorite in our house. Bear Grylls is definitely on my list of people I’d like to hang out with. He was talking about his upbringing and remembering his father, who was a politician in Great Britain. He said of his father, “He worked to make a difference and to better people’s lives, but his ambitions lacked the ruthless drive so common in politics, and our lives were so much richer for it. I guess his career was being a good dad.”

Amen to that. It helped remind me that history is filled with great leaders that were not great fathers. Politics, business, and sports are filled with men that did mighty things at the expense of their own families. Ministry is not except from this trend as well. Church history is also filled with men that did mighty things for the Lord, yet left family life to suffer in the wake of the success. King David was a great king, but how much did his people suffer from the familial strife that would tear apart and split the kingdom he worked so hard to maintain. I remember seeing a quote from Jullian Lennon, son of the famous Beattle Jon Lennon that sums up what I am talking about,

He [Jon Lennon} walked out the bloody door and was never around. I’d admire him on TV- listen to his words and opinions. But for someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn’t able to show that at home… That’s hypocrisy.”

It reminds me of what Paul teaches in I Timothy 3. On discussing the qualifications for an overseer/elder Paul gives Timothy, and the church at large these instructions:

“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

Now at this point this list looks like any good list any organization, business, or political party might draw up. But then Paul adds another important qualification with an added commentary on its importance. Paul states’

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Paul is saying that those that lead the church, the Bride of Christ, an eternal organization that will forever exist, must first lead their homes well. The home is the petri dish of God’s eternal kingdom. It is the proving ground for leadership in God’s eternal organization. To state it another way, a man’s leadership in the home has more eternal purpose than his leadership of a fortune 500 company.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find God calling your business or organization a “blessing”, or a “heritage from the Lord”. Nowhere does the Lord call your vocation a “reward”, or liken it to “arrows in the hand of a warrior”. But the Lord does speak that way of a man’s children. Your family, the children in your care, not the name plate in your corner office is his reward to you. Steward that blessing well. It has eternal implications.

We live in a day and age where many are blessed to be able to pursue whatever vocation they feel they would enjoy the most. The culture tends to push us towards pursuing careers that try satisfy us for the money it brings, fame it lends, or power and influence it has. Pursuing vocations that we are good at or that bring us satisfaction are not in and of themselves wrong. In this, we enjoy something almost unprecedented in the history of the world. We should not take that for granted, thank God for that freedom and opportunity. Pursue those opportunities as they arise, but realize they are not of first importance.

When Christ returns, no matter how noble the organization or the company, He is coming after a bride, his church. A church led by men whose qualifications for leadership will not be found on the New York Stock Exchange, or in the Hall of Fame of some sports organization, or in Silicon Valley. It will be found in the home of ordinary men, living ordinary lives, with extraordinary families.

Posted in Christian Life, church leadership, Parenting, Raising Boys | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Grace > Penace: My Take on Les Miserables

My wife and I went to see Les Miserables last weekend. We got the rare chance to see the movie on a Friday afternoon when the only other patrons were a handful of elderly couples. Which gave us the opportunity to hear this beauty yelled out during the preview, “Tell Harold with it being this loud he won’t need his hearing aids.” Not all elderly couples liked Les Miserables. One elderly couple walked out halfway through the movie. I heard them say to their friends, “It wasn’t what we were expecting.” I am not sure what they were expecting, but to each his own.

Much has been written about Les Miserables and better reviews are out there. Like this one:

I have about as much ability to review this movie as Sam Richardson does. (Whoever that might be), but there are some things I really liked about the movie.

1. The Music:

Either you’ll love it or hate it. I loved it. It made sense to me. It gives me hope that I can still fulfill my life-long, boyhood dream to sing horribly off-key on a Broadway stage.

Some have criticized Russel Crowe’s selection as Javert, mainly because he seems too stiff and his singing is nasely and stale. But what represents the rigidness of the Law more than someone stiff, stale, and lacking the Technicolor that represents the spectrum of life’s experience.

“I Dreamed and Dream” Until the movie, I had never realized that song was actually quite sad and void of much hope. Susan Boyle surprised us all with her, now famous, rendition of it on American Idol, or was it Britain’s Idol, some Idol show. Either way, although Susan sang it beautifully, we were all miss led by the way she sang it. Seeing how Anne Hathaway sang the song in the musical brings the emotion of the situation and the lyrics of the song into new light.

2. Grace or Penance

There was one thing that I loved about the movie above all other things and that was the way in which Grace was portrayed in the movie. Law vs. Grace is an obvious major theme of the book and musical. If the story is anything it is about the stark contrast between a life impacted by the Law and a life changed by Grace. This is weaved, by and large, through the lives and interactions of Jean Valjean and Javert.

What I thought the musical/movie did so well was portray how a life can be completely changed by Grace. Grace, loosely defined theologically, is the unmerited favor of God onto sinful humans through, in, and by Jesus Christ’s saving work on the cross. The movie did a great job of portraying this on the big screen. While there wasn’t a stong present of the Christ exalting grace, that most evangelicals would identify with, it was still more than most any Hollywood movie has dared to put on the screen in a while. I was so surprised by this in the movie because so often, instead of giving us a character changed by Grace, Hollywood gives us a character pursuing penance.

My definition of penance is an act whereby one tries to absolve themselves of past sins and wrongdoings by performing some morally good act to even up the scales hoping in the end the good will outweight the bad. Often times in movies and tv shows when a character goes through a transformation from bad to good, we see this character living with this dark past and trying to make it right through good acts. This has less to do with Grace that transforms a life and more to do with the idea of earning God’s favor through good deeds.

Too often movies and tv portray a life transformation through the life of a character pursuing penance, not transformed by grace. It makes sense. Grace is hard to comprehend. Unmerited favor from the God of the universe? Let me absolve my guilt by earning it. That seems more in line with my human sensibilities and experience.

I was glad to see Les Miserables the movie, display more grace rather than penance. Through Jean Valjean, we see on the screen, a life touched by unmerited favor at the lowest point in his life. This grace changes him from an angry, bitter man to a man giving grace to all those that cross his path. He does hide his past, but it seems less about guilt and more to continually protect those he loves. Jean Valjean seems to be a man living a life of freedom that only Grace can bring and not constantly dragged down by the guilt of past sins.

All this begs the question to my fellow Christians: Are you living a life changed by grace or are you pursuing penance? Have you let the full weight of God’s unmerited favor through His Son Jesus Christ change your life or are you daily trying to pursue penance, as if your “good works” could bring balance to God’s scale of justice?

Posted in Christian Life, movies | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m back…

You know that feeling that you get when you are sitting in the dentist office? You rehearse what you are going to say when they eventually notice that plaque on your teeth or that cavity starting to form in the back of your mouth. You might be the Navy Seal stud that pulled the trigger on OBL, but even he feels guilty and awkward walking into the dentist office if he doesn’t have perfect teeth.

You want so badly for there to be a good reason that you haven’t flossed daily, or used that tongue scraper they sold you last time, or have cut back on all that enamel staining coffee, tea, and soda. You want for some reason to be able to tell them it wasn’t your fault. You are a clean person. But there are no good excuses at the dentist. That should be on their front door. “Welcome to the Dentist, Where there are no good excuses!”

You just know that they talk about all the dirty teeth and gums during their lunch breaks and your mouth will be the highlight. You realize it was 9 months between your last cleaning, not the industry standard 6! In short, you want your mouth to be healthy and clean, you want them to do their job, you just don’t want to face the awkwardness that comes along with getting back into the dental swing of things. What you really want to do is go into the dental office and say. “Look, you know and I know I didn’t do everything right. Floss everyday, yeah um no. Brush, my teeth, I am sure I could do better. Lets make a deal. You clean my teeth and fill any cavities. I’ll pay you to do that. And we will let the guilt thing slide right on down that toilet bowl-sink thing I spit into. OK?”

Dental Office Awkwardness is a part of life and the same feeling can show up all over the place.

 

And so it is with a blog.

Let me shoot it straight first. Lots of people write blogs. Most people stop after 6 months. I started writing. I haven’t written in 6 months. I want to start writing again. No good way to really introduce yourself back into the blogosphere. Writing about dentist office awkwardness as way to transition into the awkwardness I feel starting this blog up again. BOOM.

 

I haven’t written since this summer. (Probably around the last time I was at the dentist). But I have wanted to. We have been busy around here. Moved, got some more kids, had some kids move out and on, got more kids again, and just tried to keep my head above water enough to scream to onlookers, “Its okay! I am still here! Still treading water! Please continue on with your life as normal.”

We’ve come through the holiday season with our sanity intact, mostly intact at least. So I wanted to start the old blog back up and start writing again. Why? Well, not because I am good at it or have anything unique to say. I don’t like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, so this is what I have found keeps my mind sharp…well semi-sharp…okay, slightly above the intelligence of Swiper on Dora.

Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I will get some more blog post rolling out. Until the next one, don’t forget to floss daily.

Posted in blogging, social media, trying to be funny | 4 Comments

Invited, Excited, But Are You Going…

Imagine yourself as a peasant in a small village. The king of the land delivers to you an invitation to his royal feast through one of his couriers. You can’t quiet understand how or why you received this invitation. You think at first that this must be a mistake. A peasant at a royal event? This doesn’t make sense? You’re not royalty?

On top of that you owe the king a huge debt for land he loaned your family years ago. A debt you can never repay, but one for which you have to work in vain to honor. In stunned disbelief you ask the courier if there has somehow been a mistake. The courier reassures you that the king has not made a mistake. This king doesn’t make mistakes. The King is aware of the debt. That is why, the courier informs you, he has already seen to it that the debt has been repaid in full. The King has decreed that the debt is resolved and has even gone so far as to make a legal proclamation of its resolution. One of the reasons you have been invited to this royal feast was so that he could make this action public. Not only has the king cleared you and your family of the debt owed him, but he wants to make you a part of his royal family.

This announcement stuns you even more. A king has just pardoned a peasant and furthermore he wants to give a peasant royal blood? This is almost too much to bear. You continue to stare at the courier in stunned disbelief waiting to hear further explanation. No further explanation comes. The courier only asks that you let the king know of your intentions to attend the royal gathering. There you have it. You have been invited to a royal feast, legal action has been taken to remove any debt between you and the king, and on top of that the king desires to make you a part of his royal family.

Now imagine that this peasant, after sitting with this good news, begins to accept what has happened. Begins to live as if it were true. Begins to tell others of this great news and the generosity of the king. Imagine that this peasant devotes his whole life going around to the village and other places telling others of the marvelous deeds done for him. Imagine that this peasant gets so excited by this news, that he forgets the most important part of the invitation. He gets so wrapped up in what was done for him by the king that he forgets to actually go to the royal feast. He loves and honors the king for what he has done. He just doesn’t have time to attend the royal ceremony. He is too busy delighting in what has taken place. He is too busy sharing the good news of his new status that he doesn’t make time to actually go to the party.

Okay, so I am not John Bunyan and the incompleteness of my analogy is a mile wide. Let me illustrate my point, yes I am actually trying to make one, another way. This illustration is a little closer to home.

I am a foster dad. My family is made up of biological children, an adopted son, and 3 foster children. We are trying to knit together our family as best we can, with God’s grace. My organization has taken legal steps to bring our foster children into our family. We have signed papers and received rights so that we can raise these children as our sons and daughters. We have removed the legal barriers so that we can care for these children in our homes. When my foster children arrived in our home we made known to them the fact of these legal arrangements. No lawyers were present, no legalese was used. No, it was much simpler than that. I said, you can call me dad. I will refer to you as my son or daughter. I not only gave them the title as son or daughter, but began to act like a dad and treat them like my son and daughter, which included love, discipline, teaching, and structure. So I overcame the legal requirement to make that possible and I also gave them a title as part of our family.

Overnight magic didn’t happen, but day by day they are accepting me as dad, not in title alone. That came early and easier. But relationally they are beginning to treat me as “dad” and less like “male adult authority”. They are starting, themselves, to feel less like strangers and more like children in a family, albeit a sometimes crazy family. Legally and by way of title, they are my sons and daughters, but relationally it is taking time.

What’s my point in all of this? Sometimes I think we act like the peasant in the first analogy and my foster children in the second, when it comes to our “gospel-centeredness”. We delight in the invitation that the Gospel brings. We worship God for what he has done on the Cross for us. We see and share the work of Christ on a bloody cross and empty tomb, but stop short of the full purpose of the cross. Was the cross for our salvation? Yes. Did the cross remove a legal requirement we could not pay? Yes. Did the cross bestow upon us a familial title of sons and daughters? Yes! There are an infinite number of things the cross did for us. Yet if the good news of the gospel stops us there, I believe, we have stopped short of the full glory of the cross. Yes the cross removed a legal debt we needed to pay but couldn’t. Yes, the cross gave us the title of sons and daughter to the Most High. Yes and Yes. But the cross of Christ and the Gospel did those things SO THAT…

So that we could have a relationship with God. So that we could love His Son more fully. So that we could delight in the King. So that we could boldly approach the throne room of grace as sons and daughter. Don’t miss the “So that” of your Gospel-Centeredness. The Gospel is the good news of Christ. The Gospel removes the barriers to loving Jesus. So that we can love him, not only for what He has done for us, but love Him for who He is beyond the cross.

I have legally bound myself to my foster children to make them my sons and daughters. I have even given them the title of son and daughter. But I did those things, so that the way would be open to a deeper relationship. I did that in the hopes that they wouldn’t just call me dad, but love me as dad. I did that so that we could have a relationship, not strained by some awkward duty, but as a son to his loving father.

So you’ve been invited. It’s worth getting excited about. Its worth telling other people about. Its worth sharing. But don’t forget to go to the royal gathering. Don’t forget that the glory ends not with what has been done for you, but the glory entails what has been done for you SO THAT the way is open for a deep relationship with the one who makes it possible. Yes, love Jesus for what He has accomplished for you, but also love Jesus because He is Jesus. Let your Gospel move you past what has been done for you so you can see clearly the one who did it.

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