Entries for April 2013

Last week, President Obama closed an address to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America with these words:

“Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America.”

We can understand why he would thank them, having received from them substantial campaign contributions (over $4 million), but an invocation of blessing is hard to swallow. This group is the largest abortion provider in the nation.

You can read more about the triangulation of Obama, Planned Parenthood, and the scandal of Kermit Gosnell's "house of horrors" abortion clinic at links below. What we want to invoke from the Lord is conviction of sin in all their hearts. 

Only the Holy Spirit can bring true conviction. And it would be a true blessing, because conviction of sin leads to regeneration and repentance and faith. So please pray with us to that end.

Related reading:

Mari Bowers of Compassion Pregnancy Centers of NE Indiana tells about a recent phone call from a client. Months ago, she'd been turned from abortion by a caring volunteer's counsel and the center's practical support. She'd given birth, but nonetheless struggles with guilt. Whenever she looks at her baby, she feels sad about having seriously considered abortion. Now she wanted to know if the center had a program to help her with this problem.

Does a request like this pose a challenge for PCCs? Should they create new ministries to meet this need, or invite women to join post-abortion support groups already in place? Is this a common feeling among other women who've considered abortion, or something unique to this woman? 

I can only speculate about what's going on in her mind. Apparently the temptation had been more than fleeting. Mari said this client had returned repeatedly to the center over the course of five or six weeks. The idea of abortion had taken root and was difficult to dislodge, yet something prevented her from that irrevocable mistake. Was it God? And is the source of her current discomfort also God at work?

What would you say to her? My advice might focus on discerning true from false guilt. And on the freedom we have to air any emotion with God. 

As a convicter of sin, the Holy Spirit is reliable and accurate. The believer can ask God to show definitively whether there is actual guilt attached to guilty feelings, and what the nature of any sin is. Sin must be identifiable, otherwise how can it be confessed and rooted out? 

This presupposes that the inquirer belongs to God, has the Holy Spirit resident in her. Religion won't help. The gospel must be declared as the only remedy for sin. If a person wants to be delivered from sin and declared righteous before God, she must "confess with [her] mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in [her] heart that God has raised Him from the dead." (Romans 10:9)

Further, if she confesses her sins, "He is faithful and just to forgive [her] sins and to cleanse [her] from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) God is reliable and faithful; no one loves the sinner more. It is safe to go to Him with any sin. I would introduce her to Psalm 103.

But is it wrong to consider abortion? I've known deeply pro-life married women who regret abortion is legal because the thought crossed their minds regarding an untimely pregnancy. Yes, abortion is a blot on all our consciences as Americans, but one might as well ask, "Is it wrong to be tempted?" 

I don't believe the Bible teaches that being tempted is sinful, but it does tell us our thoughts are significant. Perhaps what this woman needs to confess is a thought-life, belief-system, or world-view that runs counter to God's ways. She might need to figure out which patterns must change in order for her thoughts to be aligned with His.

Then there are behaviors and attitudes related to thoughts of abortion that could require confession: sexual sins, idolization of a lover, lying or hypocrisy, covetousness or greed, pride, denial of God, other acts of carelessness with life. 

Most people don't set out to kill, but their choices put them in the way of doing it. They might drink and drive, associate with criminals, participate in petty crimes that get out of hand . . . or engage in promiscuous sex leading to the possibility of abortion. Without a doubt, sexual sin puts people in danger of abortion.

God is clearly at work in this woman's heart. A person does not convict herself of sin (John 16:8). The average person excuses and justifies her own sin. But the Tempter is also our accuser. His lies can only be overcome by the application of God's truth (Matt. 4:1-11).

We don't know this woman's name, but we can pray for her tender soul. We hope she learns to rejoice that God helped her escape a sin that would have bound her in a dungeon of shame, darkness, and despair. He has already been gracious to her:

  • He led her to the center and blinded her eyes to the abortion provider. 
  • He led a group of people to establish pregnancy care centers in Angola and LaGrange, Indiana, and enabled others to support them. 
  • He called people like Mari and the volunteers so they could be in place when she needed them. 
  • He equipped them with training, and with materials to share.

It takes quite a lot to spare a person from sin. Her story is a reminder we all need prayer to avoid temptation (Luke 22:40, Matt. 6:13). 

Related -- A close encounter with abortion: One life that wasn’t snipped short

Even though spring is taking its time establishing itself in Michigan, the calendar says it's here. Not only are flowers attempting to bloom, but our prayer calendar is bursting with prayer requests concerning springtime events hosted by centers all over the nation, like these from this past week and the coming one:

  • Pregnancy Resource Center of Shiawassee County (MI) - banquet this past Tuesday
  • Shared Pregnancy Women's Center, Lansing, MI - banquet Thursday (yesterday)
  • Rachel's Hope in Austin, MN - abstinence rally at a local high school
  • Life Walks and other fundraising events at Havelock PRC and HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center in North Carolina
  • BBB campaigns for Flint Crisis Pregnancy Services (MI) between Mother's and Father's Day
  • Beginnings Care for Life in Coldwater, MI - Life Walk coming up May 4
  • Pregnancy Helpline of Three Rivers, MI - banquet April 29
  • Modesto Pregnancy Center (CA) - Life Walk next Saturday and June volunteer training
  • Metro Women's Center, Crystal, MN - Life Walk next Saturday
  • Hope Women' Resource Clinice (Beaumont, TX) and Alternatives of Kalamazoo (MI) - praising the Lord for the outcome of fundraising events in April

In addition, we learned about four banquets going on to benefit the Lakeshore Pregnacy Centers in Holland, Grand Haven, Allegan, and Allendale (MI). What a lot for executive director Carolyn Doyle to manage in one week!

Events like this require a lot of preparation by staff and prayer by supporters. The centers not only want to raise money and recruit volunteers, they also want to create greater awareness of abortion, the needs in their community, and the potential for ministry.

Please access the current prayer calendar and get involved with these and other centers by praying they will succeed in all their goals for these events.

Our culture is increasingly hostile to a grammatical/historical reading of the first three chapters of Genesis. Consider what would be lost if we agreed to ignore them:

Chapter 1 – God made the universe, creating male and female humanity in His own image. He called His work “very good.”

Chapter 2 – God gave woman to man. He said their union was indissoluble.

Chapter 3 – Sin brought shame, blame, and death. God promised a Savior.

Because these passages imply we’re all answerable to our Creator, it’s no surprise the world opposes the truths they contain. What’s shocking is that more and more Christians are willing to question or reinterpret them. But consider this:

Without Genesis we forget it’s God who gives life. Scientific and medical advances are alleged to generate or prolong life, but lack ultimate power.1 

Without Genesis human beings are just another form of animal life. Science and technology help us admire and respect the human body and give us a “window on the womb,” but they don’t tell us why we’re special.2 

Without Genesis humans have no basis for dominion over other creatures or stewardship of the earth.3 

Without Genesis we equate animal and plant reproduction (“after their kind”) with human procreation (“in his image”).4 

Without Genesis any kind of family life will do; yet it and other Scriptures teach that any sexual act outside marriage (one man/one woman for life) is immoral.5  

Without Genesis we don’t know the origins of suffering and death. Life as we know it now isn’t as God intended it to be, and He is not to blame. We brought pain on ourselves by disobeying Him.6  

In short, this foundational book is not only vital to current controversies but also to the Gospel message – which is amply proven by the number of references to Genesis in the New Testament. 

Consider that without Genesis we lose perspective on our wretchedness before a Holy God and the magnificence of our hope in Christ. He died and rose again to loosen the chains of sin and squash the power of death. He comes again to establish the New Heavens and the New Earth, where we’ll live forever with Him.7  

Forty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the sanctity of human life. Today, it’s poised to do away with the sanctity of marriage. What should we do? 

We should respond the way Christians always have: advocating and defending Truth in the public square for the good of our neighbors while being careful not to neglect the Gospel or erect barriers to it. 

Without the Gospel we tend to lose sight of the absolute goodness of God and focus instead on our own goodness.8 

Without the Gospel we leave people with half-truths. Yes, physical life is God’s gift, but an even greater gift is new life in Christ.9 

Without the Gospel we make the mistake of thinking death is an escape from painful existence. Unless a person repents and turns to Christ in faith, death brings ultimate suffering and pain.10  

The pro-life ethic is rooted in Genesis and propelled by the Gospel. It is fleshed out in the daily lives of believers . . . or ought to be. 

This is why Life Matters Worldwide has developed the Powered by God curriculum for 4th through 6th graders. It’s also why we work to establish pro-life ministries around the world. Pregnancy care centers and our LIFT ministry of respite care uphold the sanctity of human life and marriage by teaching these truths, by sharing the Gospel, and by demonstrating Christ’s love in practical ways. 

1) Gen. 1:20-25; see also Job 12:10 and 1 Samuel 2:6. 2) Gen. 1:26-27; see also 9:5-6. 3) Gen 1:28, 9:1-4. 4) Gen. 1:11-12, 20-22, 24-25 and 5:1-3. 5) Gen. 2:24 and 3:20. 6) Gen. 2:16-17 and 3:16; see also Romans 5:12. 7) Gen. 3:15 and 12:3; see also 2 Peter 3:1-13 and Revelation 21:3-4, 22:3-5. 8) Rom. 2:4, Titus 3:3-6. 9) John 5:24-27, Rom. 6:23. 10) Hebrews 9:27, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

This post was recently published as a Life Matters copy-ready bulletin insert. Download that format here.

We've been focusing on the sanctity of marriage as it relates to the sanctity of human life. This Musing follows up on that theme and is a preview of our Powered by God curriculum that comes out in June. This is taken from the teacher preparation portion of lesson 10 and demonstrates how the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of marriage are intertwined:

Some people look to the animals for clues about human sexuality. They see that some animals reproduce asexually. Other creatures may attempt to mate with the same sex. Still others may switch genders in the course of their development. 

Is this a model or pattern for humans? Do we take from this information that homosexuality or bi-sexuality is normal? Did God create animals this way, or have they deviated from His plan? (One might also ask whether it's progress or regress to behave like animals?)

First of all, animals are amoral. Nowhere in the Bible is an animal spoken of as being moral or immoral, evil or good. Animals just are, and their behaviors are instinctual. They don’t have a choice about how they act. Therefore we can conclude that their sexual or reproductive activities are amoral. They are as God planned them. As far as we know, man’s rebellion did not change the way various kinds of animals reproduce, just as it did not fundamentally change the way human beings procreate.

Furthermore, patterning our lives after animals is dangerous. It’s an idea that flows from the evolutionary belief that mankind is just a higher or “more evolved” form of animal, that we are part of the animal kingdom. As we have seen, the Bible clearly teaches that human beings were created by God to bear His image, and to exercise dominion over animals and the rest of creation. No animal was given that distinction.

Also, when God created the animals, He did not specify they would be male and female (unlike what He said about the creation of human beings), only that they would reproduce after their kind (Cf. Genesis 1:21-28). We must conclude that whatever way animals reproduce, whatever behaviors they display, it is as a result of God’s plan for them.

If God planned for animals to reproduce asexually, to change genders, or to mate with more than one partner, does that mean it is His plan for us, too? No; we were created male and female. Human procreation is meant to be between male and female. In it’s pure form (within marriage), human sexuality reflects God’s image.

Even though we now have all sorts of techniques for procreating in test tubes and laboratories, it still requires male and female gametes (egg and sperm). Even if a homosexual couple “has children” (through surrogacy or adoption), the child is still the result of a union between male and female gametes.

Finally, human beings are moral creatures. Our actions are described as being either moral or immoral, good or evil. In the Bible, God is very specific about the sexual practices that are moral or immoral. 

  • God brought the first heterosexual couple together in marriage (Genesis 2:22-24).
  • Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana with His gift of good wine (John 2).
  • Jesus differentiated between cohabitation and marriage in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:16-18). Note: She was of another culture, yet he held her to the biblical pattern for marriage.
  • Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” (John 8).
  • The sexual practices that God condemns are delineated in these Old Testament passages: Genesis 19; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:6-24, 20:10-21; Deuteronomy 22:13-30; 1 Kings 22:46. They include rape, sodomy, adultery (pre- or extra-marital relations), prostitution, and incest. These actions were associated with the pagan cultures that the Israelites replaced in the Promised Land.
  • Old Testament prohibitions of sexual immorality are reiterated in numerous New Testament passages: Romans 1:26-27; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 7. 
  • The New Testament upholds sexual purity as the standard for all believers: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 and 6:9-20; 2 Thessalonians 4:1-7.
  • God exacted severe punishment for sexual immorality committed by the ancient Israelites in conjunction with idolatry in Numbers 25:1-9. Paul uses the incident as a warning to Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 10:8). A final warning is found in Revelation 21:8 (NKJV) – “The sexually immoral . . . shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
  • Hebrews 13:4 (NASV) says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” 

From this preponderance of biblical evidence, we conclude that sexual sin is any sexual act outside the marriage of one woman and one man.

This morning's email brought an urgent prayer request from Metro Women's Center in Crystal, Minnesota. A particular baby's life is in danger of abortion. Pray, pray, PRAY!

Director Colleen Tronson went on to write: "As you pray for this baby, please remember ALL babies who are at risk of abortion around the state and around the world." Yes, and amen!

Colleen is a longtime friend of Life Matters. We had helped a group of churches open the center, and I believe Colleen took the helm from the beginning. My first knowledge of her was through her testimony (click 'my story' in the 3rd paragraph), which I believe we published in our newsletter. She's quite a woman -- a great leader, an able speaker, a passionate advocate for adoption.

Metro recently had the thrill of seeing a dream realized -- the opening of the Amazing Grace Maternity Home. Now they can offer pregnant women housing in their own facility and continue caring for them through ongoing nurture and discipleship.

Like them on Facebook.

Dear friends,

Biblical morality is taking another beating. Forty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the sanctity of human life in favor of freedom and equality. Today, that same body is poised to abandon the sanctity of marriage for the same reasons.

While upholding marriage wouldn’t seem to be a top priority for Life Matters Worldwide, it’s really impossible to separate it from what we do in defense of life. Strong marriages between one man and one woman for life are God’s design for raising children. 

All over the world we see the effects of abandoning biblical principles: promiscuity, adultery, divorce, abuse of women, sex slavery, sexually transmitted infections, neglected children, and so on. Where is freedom and equality? These effects look more like bondage and fear.

There’s a lot to be done. People need to hear that salvation in Christ is the source of true freedom and equality (Colossians 3:9-11). They need to be taught the full counsel of God’s word, no matter which way the world is going. Read more in "Are the foundations crumbling?"

The pro-life ethic is rooted in Genesis and propelled by the Gospel. It’s our mission to articulate that ethic in word and deed. Thank you for your donations that make this all possible.

Carrying forth the Name,

Tom Lothamer, president

The world cannot hear us on marriage
Monogamy, Exclusivity and Permanence?
Question: Why are Christians opposed to marriage equality?

Our intern Amanda is helping me send out our latest copy-ready insert . . . she by mail and me by email. It's been called "Life Matters" for 13 years, this being volume 13, number 1. It comes out three times a year (April, July, and October) and is meant to supplement the full-color printed insert that we produce for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday each January.

This issue is called, "Are the foundations crumbling?" and deals with our culture's attack on the sanctity of marriage as seen in the cases currently before the Supreme Court. What does it mean that only 40 years before that same body judged the sanctity of human life to be irrelevant?

And what should Christians do in response? Cave in? Protest? 

Truly, the pro-life ethic is rooted in Genesis and propelled by the Gospel. It is also fleshed out in the daily lives of believers . . . or should be. Click here to read the rest.

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