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.

The 4th video from The Center for Medical Progress is available, and also quite graphic. Please, don't let that stop you from viewing and sharing it.

Planned Parenthood does not deny trafficking in baby body parts, but insists they’re within the law. It’s just another of their many services to women. 

That statement came after the first video. Here's the third in the series from The Center for Medical Progress (warning - graphic content):


What will they say now?

Don’t be fooled by their tactic of shifting blame. As you watch this and subsequent videos from CMP -- due out on a weekly basis for the next few months -- keep in mind the government regulations to which PP refers.

• Many research regulations assume there’ll be some benefit to research subjects. 

Comment: When cells and tissues are derived through in vitro fertilization or abortion, there obviously cannot be any direct or indirect benefit to the donor embryo or fetus.

• Regulators admit that “[r]esearch involving the human fetus raises special concerns,” presume that “[t]he fetus has a unique and inextricable relationship to the mother,” and acknowledge a fetus “cannot consent to be a research subject.” 

PP, though, doesn’t dare recognize any unborn child, at any stage, as a human being.

• Regulations insist that “[r]esearch activities involving the dead fetus, macerated fetal material, or cells, tissue, or organs excised from a dead fetus are governed by state laws and regulations” and recommend “research involving dead fetuses be compatible with commonly held views about respect for the dead.”

This is not happening at Planned Parenthood or research labs.

• Further: “The decision to terminate a pregnancy and procedures of abortion should be kept independent from the retrieval and use of fetal tissue” and “[t]he timing and method of abortion should not be influenced by the potential uses of fetal tissue for transplantation or medical research.” 

From the videos we see clearly that doctors at Planned Parenthood are aware of the mother’s decision to donate fetal tissue and that they are tempted to alter procedures in order to facilitate retrieval.

• The regulations do get a little crazy: “If abortion is involved, … no change in the abortion procedure that would present more than minimal risk to the fetus or its mother can be introduced for research purposes.” 

Huh? 

Take action via "Baby parts for sale, part1"

Baby parts for sale, part 1

Thanks to investigative videos produced by The Center for Medical Progress, we’ve learned that what we thought had ceased a decade ago is still happening, and that the country’s largest abortion provider is deeply involved.

Whether or not this campaign results in Planned Parenthood’s demise, we must continue steering attention toward ultimate truths:

• It doesn’t matter if the sales are legal. The real outrage is abortion on demand.

• It doesn’t matter if Planned Parenthood is profiting by the sale of baby parts. They’ve been feeding at the federal trough for years. These are your tax dollars! We've participated by silent consent. (Calculate how much you've given them over 10 years.)

• Tax dollars also support the research that uses aborted baby parts ($76 million last year, according to the Washington Post). 

• PP isn’t the only source of aborted baby parts for research, just the largest and most well-known. 

• Planned Parenthood workers are people who need Christ. They are blinded by the god of this age. Hatred and vitriol won’t help the Kingdom's cause. 

What will help is bookmarking the CMP website so you can access unedited versions and transcripts for skeptical friends. And educating yourself on how baby parts are used in research.

OTHER ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

1. Pray – This fight will not be over without a struggle. PP and other pro-abortion forces are hitting back, accusing CMP of fraud and illegal activities

2. Defund PP – Bills have been presented in both houses of Congress. Read "Senate Will Vote Soon on Bill to Immediately De-Fund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz" and then contact your U.S. Representative and Senators. You may also sign an online petition here or here, but I believe personal communication that identifies you as their constituent is more powerful.

3. Personally defund PP - Boycott companies and charities that support Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research. Learn more here and here.

Practice makes perfect

Compassion isn't a natural instinct. It's an attitude with corresponding behaviors that must be learned.

Jesus' disciples shared fallen humanity's default pattern of selfishness, pride, narcissism. He knew it when He called them, but neither overlooked it nor left it be. He both modeled compassion and forced them to practice it.

When He said of the 5,000, "You give them something to eat," he meant it literally: "You take a basket and serve people. You bow low so those seated on the ground can reach inside. You pick up the leftover crumbs. You eat last." 

This must have been a posture to which they were very unaccustomed, but it was good for their spiritual muscles to be stretched. It served them well as leaders of the first church (see Acts 6:1-7).

Compassion is hard for humans because it's a god-like characteristic (Exodus 34:6-7). We welcome it when it's shown toward us because we know we're so undeserving. We stand in awe of God's grace because we know without it we would never be saved. Still, we can be so stingy with it.

Yet it is for the very purpose of showing compassion to others that we are saved! He wants us to imitate Him, but we must admit that without His help learning compassion is impossible?

Pro-life ministries are excellent vehicles for displaying God's wonderful compassion. They serve the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Pregnancy care centers (PCCs) “suffer alongside” those caught in the web of sexual immorality, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. LIFT volunteers “suffer alongside” the dying and chronically ill. 

Meanwhile, what the world offers -- abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia -- is often made to look like compassion, but they are counterfeit solutions that lead to death.

Download the latest copy-ready Life Matters bulletin insert to share with your church family: Practicing Compassion.

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