Much fine gold

When we give people the Gospel or teach them from the Bible ... when we live a godly life before them and demonstrate its benefits ... we're giving much fine gold.

Keep the "human" in the "sanctity of life"

Human life is special. We are the only form of life which is said to be made in God's image (Gen. 1:26-28). That's why we talk about human life as being "sacred" or having "sanctity." We are set apart from every other form of life.

Walk in the light

People don’t make it an aim in life to kill their own children. In fact, when such a thing happens accidentally, it’s a great tragedy. 

As the pro-choice side puts it, “No one wants to have an abortion.” Yet there are an estimated 50 million abortions a year worldwide. How is it that so many of us arrive at that choice?

Many explanations are given, but Jesus said evil comes from our hearts (Mark 7:20-23). Abortion is a grave spiritual matter.

We come to the brink of abortion by following the “counsel of the ungodly:”

It’s your life; no one can tell you what to do.

You don’t owe God anything.

Nothing bad will happen to you.

God doesn’t hear you, or see what you do.

God can’t (or won’t) help you.

God doesn’t know what your life is like.

There is no God.*

So, while a person may not set out to get there, he or she may wind up in a situation where abortion “makes sense” . . . is “the only thing to do” . . . seems as though “it will save me from a lot of other problems.”

How do we avoid abortion? By tracking closely after God (Psalm 17:5, 23:3). The person intent on walking in “paths of righteousness” -- following hard after God, familiarizing herself with His ways, conforming to His patterns -- will be spared horrible choices.

What if you’ve had an abortion? The good news is Jesus died for people who follow ungodly advice, and even for those who give it (Romans 5:6-8).

While we were still unrepentant sinners, He paid the penalty for sin. In Him, we have eternal life and freedom from sin. This promise includes people who’ve had abortions.

Since abortion begins in the heart, its remedy begins there, too. Psalm 32 recommends quick and thorough confession. Because he knew firsthand the shame of guilt and the joy of forgiveness, David advises everyone to be open with God about sin.

If you’re thinking about having an abortion, ask God to show you another way (1 Corinthians 10:13). Your local church or pregnancy care center can help, too, with good counsel and support.

*Psalm 1:1; 2:3; 3:2; 10:6, 11, 13; 12:4; 14:1; 22:8; 42:3, 10; 53:1; 59:7; 64:5; 71:11; 73:11; 78:19; 79:10; 94:7; 115:2.

This text originally appeared on our bulletin insert for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2009. It sold out, but is worth revisiting here on the blog.

Are we responsible for the shooting at Planned Parenthood?

As news unfolded of the rampage at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, I prayed there was only a coincidental connection. My heart sank to learn the shooter muttered something about "baby parts" upon his arrest.

Life Matters Worldwide and other pro-life groups disavow violence against abortion providers. By its very nature, being pro-life does not permit killing in the name of life. We've had a policy against violence since 1993, and we highlight it every time a murder is perpetrated by a self-proclaimed pro-lifer. (NOTE TO OTHER WOULD-BE VIGILANTES: SAYING YOU'RE PRO-LIFE DOESN'T MAKE YOU PRO-LIFE ANY MORE THAN SAYING YOU'RE A CHRISTIAN MAKES YOU A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST.)

Is it enough, though, for us to publish position papers? Or should we do more to prevent violence? Let's take this opportunity to again emphasize biblical truth:

• Violence separates people from God. (Psalm 11:5, Isaiah 59:2-8)

• Violent people are not like God. (Ps. 54:3, 86:14; Is. 53:9)

• Violent people should not be envied or imitated. (Proverbs 3:31)

• Violent people often meet a violent end. (Prov. 21:7)

• Violent people will be judged by God. (Ezekiel 7:11, 23; 8:17; 12:19; 28:16; Joel 3:19; Obadiah 1:10; Habakkuk 2:8; Zephaniah 1:9)

• Victims of violence are precious to God. (Ps. 72:14, 140:1)

• God redeems violent people. (1 Timothy 1:13)

• One day, God will bring violence to an end. (Is. 60:18)

While it's doubtful someone who is a bit deranged and bent on destruction would first check with us before shooting up an abortion clinic, we can and will repeat these words: The pro-life movement does not "persuade" opponents by pointing guns at their heads.

Yes, we call abortion murder, and yes, we shared the links to the Planned Parenthood "baby parts" videos. We also said this at the time: God is the Avenger of innocent bloodPP workers need Christ, we need to continue working through legal means to defund PP, and we need to pray our government will do the right thing.

Pro-life rhetoric is not responsible for these murders any more than organizations that hold police departments accountable are responsible for the killing of officers. Abortion clinic violence does, however, give our movement a black eye.

In response to the Colorado shooting, Abby Johnson (former Planned Parenthood director) said, "I am so thankful that the anti-abortionists who made threats against my life when I worked at Planned Parenthood never made good on them. I'm thankful that I have been able to repent from my past and find mercy in Christ...and with God's help have hopefully saved more lives than I took."

And Carol Everett, the former director of an abortion clinic, said, "Thank the Lord that I was not killed before I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He did for even me on that cross!"

Yes, let's keep praying for abortion providers and sharing the Gospel with them.

Related reading --
Noah: Violent or Righteous?
Should We Use Violence to Fight Abortion?

Photo credit -- CTRLF5

Murder mystery

In Genesis 9:5-6, God made killers accountable for the human blood they shed --

Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. 
And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.

Our new Brother's Keeper video demonstrates the importance of accounting for every life:

Brother's Keeper from Life Matters Worldwide on Vimeo. Available in HD on our Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Slideshow DVD -- free!

As our bulletin insert for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2016 points out, God's law differentiated between manslaughter and murder. According to Numbers 35, a person would be charged with murder if he used a weapon against his victim, was known to hate the victim, struck him in enmity, or ambushed him. If the victim was a friend and the killing unplanned, it could be considered manslaughter.

People guilty of murder were handed over to the victim's avenger. Manslayers, on the other hand, could reside in a city of refuge without fear. Thus each death was examined and acknowledged.

But what about when the person responsible for a violent death was unknown? We've prepared a study of Deuteronomy 21:1-9 that shows how God said murder mysteries should be resolved. You're welcome to download The Case of the Unknown Killer for your Sunday school class or Bible study group.

WHAT DOES YOUR CHURCH DO TO MARK SOHLS? We'd love to know. And to include your creative ideas in our Fearfully & Wonderfully Made pastor's handbook. Put them in a comment below, or in an email

OUR THEME FOR 2016 -- What do the cities of refuge teach us about God and the sanctity of human life? It's carried out in our bulletin insert, slideshow DVD, two new sermons, and one Bible study/SS lesson. And it touches on larger biblical themes of bloodguiltiness, vengeance, brother-keeping, and forgiveness.

CHECK OUT THESE ITEMS FOR YOUR CHURCH:


PASTOR'S HANDBOOK UPDATE 2016 - for those who already have the 3-ring binder Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

  • 2 new sermons - "But I've Never Killed Anyone!" and Project the "Image"
  • 1 new Bible study/SS lesson - The Case of the Unknown Killer
Six truths about disability

Through ignorance and errant belief systems, people have adopted strange views toward people with disabilities:

• Pagan Greek and Roman philosophers advocated abandoning babies who were born with disabilities.

• In medieval times, children with disabilities were considered “changelings” – subhuman, Satanic beings.

• Social Darwinists and the Nazis sought to eradicate disability through eugenics and the death camps.

Thankfully, God frees us from hateful, superstitious, and deadly beliefs. His word urges us to treat the disabled person as our neighbor, to watch out for them as a brother. As it says in the law, "You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14)

Jesus, of course, fulfilled and expanded on this law. He made a point to minister to disabled people, and there are many examples of this in the Gospels. In particular, Mark 10:46-52 gives us six principles concerning them:

1. Society sidelines disabled individuals and hinders them from coming to Jesus. We should not take our cues from the world.

2. Disabled people are spiritually capable. Just as blind Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was, we must recognize that people who are disabled and follow Christ have spiritual gifts.

3. People with disabilities need Christ and fellowship with other believers. We who have no disability have a duty to help them.

4. Jesus does not pass by people with disabilities. In fact, He characterizes the people He calls into His kingdom as "crippled, blind, and lame" (Luke 14:21).

5. Jesus "empowered" Bartimaeus to articulate his own need, and we should not presume to know what a person we're

 helping needs or wants. 

6. Whether our bodies are whole or not, we are broken by sin. We all need Christ, in Whom we find healing, acceptance, and purpose.

It's wonderful that the early church's immediate response was to rescue disabled infants from the trash heaps of Rome. They knew these truths and responded accordingly, even when it meant danger and self-sacrifice.

Read more:
Jesus Loves People with Disabilities
Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities

Oh hold them back!

With the stroke of a pen, California governor Jerry Brown on Monday approved assisted suicide in his state. With Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana, 10% of the country now has the right to expect doctors to help them die.

This is not only a problem for doctors. Patients – especially the disabled – will be more vulnerable. They will feel a duty to die. This is why doctor groups and disability advocates oppose assisted suicide.

Death is insatiable. We know this as a spiritual reality, but it’s also a historical phenomenon. In Europe, the euthanasia slippery slope looks like this: It began with the legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, and then involuntary euthanasia for the mentally incompetent was added. Later they allowed anyone age 12 and over who’s suffering to request “aid in dying,” and now a Dutch pediatrician wants to erase the age limit.

As we know, death is not the answer to suffering. We live by God’s grace; by His compassion, we assist those who are struggling.

This is why it’s so crucial that churches be equipped to offer support to the elderly and terminally ill. Through LIFT, Life Matters Worldwide offers a Christian response to suffering. LIFT is Living in Faith Together. Churches adopting the LIFT program help each other live out their days without fear and without succumbing to the world’s “wisdom.”

We've used the passage from Proverbs 24 to urge action on abortion. It fits here, too:

Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?

And will He not render to man according to his work?

Related reading:
Assisted suicide increases other suicides
What's really needed is access to palliative care sooner: here and here

Psalm 58: When government goes awry

In Romans 13:4, Paul says rulers are God's avengers carrying out His wrath on the wicked. What, then, if they instead applaud and abet evil, as our government does concerning Planned Parenthood and same-sex marriage?

It helps to look at people in authority as David did in Psalm 58 --

Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity?

No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.

Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.

Those in power believe they're doing right, are in the right. David did not question their right to rule, but he did question their actions and enumerated their wrongs. He warned and confronted.

Unless their hearts are changed by a miracle of God, wicked rulers will continue down their wayward paths. They'll kill innocent people, pervert justice, and spread false ideas.

They will also turn a deaf ear to wise advice. But God can get through to them and thwart their efforts. And He will hear our prayers, even when they're bitter and angry like David's:

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions! 

Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.

May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Have you ever prayed a prayer like that? Let's ask God to make the evil intentions and actions of our rulers ineffectual -- toothless, painless, soon forgotten. And then let's make David's affirmations our statement of faith:

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.

The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.

Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

Baby parts for sale, part 4

Yesterday in the U.S. Senate a bill was defeated that would have reallocated funds from Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health centers that do not perform abortions. Like the legion that possessed the wild man in Mark 5:1-13, PP will do whatever it takes to avoid being cast out.

Few places in Scripture describe pro-death forces as profoundly and accurately as Psalm 10. Verses 8 through 11 say:

[The wicked man] lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent.

His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait.

He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.

He says to himself, “God will never notice; He covers his face and never sees.”

But the truth is, God does see what is done in secret (v. 14). He does take every human death into account, despite the unbeliever’s denial (v. 13). In view of the ridicule heaped on pro-lifers when we scrutinize PP, this emerges as a vital article of faith.

This is a fundamental principle going back to Genesis 9:5-6. At that time, God promised Noah and his offspring: "For your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind." 

Three times: "I will demand an accounting." As loudly and insistently as Abel's blood cried out to God from the ground, so too does the blood of all innocents (Psalm 106:38, 2 Kings 9:26, Joel 3:21). A day of reckoning is coming.

Despite injunctions against the Center for Medical Progress, a 5th video has been released. It contains further proof against PP and disturbing footage of what remains of babies after abortion. 

Yes, God has always had His eye on what goes on inside Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. Some prefer not to watch these disturbing videos, but if we don't see AND share them, babies will continue to be heartlessly crushed by the wicked.

Scholars point to links between Psalm 9 and 10. In 9:11-12, David alludes to Gen. 9:5-6. He also reorients our perspective toward worship of a sovereign God and comforts our distress over failed efforts to defend the unborn:

Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; 

proclaim among the nations what he has done. 

For He who avenges blood remembers; 

He does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

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