a change of heart

interesting story of the conversion of a planned parenthood center director from providing abortions to pro-life. Probably everybody has seen this already, but just in case you haven’t, here it is.

hat tip to just about everybody that I normally read.

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powerful stuff

Timmy Brister posted this video “Choosing Thomas” and like he says it is worth the next ten minutes of your time.

somewhat related, Randy Alcorn talks here about the absolute necessity for Christians to have a well developed theology of suffering to avoid falling into serious error when something like the events in the video above come into our lives.

I wrote If God Is Good because the question of suffering and evil is the most commonly raised and perplexing problem there is. It’s unusual to have serious prolonged interactions about believing in God, with either believers or unbelievers, without them raising it.

I am also deeply concerned with how radically unbiblical viewpoints are being assimilated into the thinking of evangelical Christians. In If God Is Good, I wrote four chapters critiquing the attempts of misguided theologians to resolve the problem of evil by minimizing the divine attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, or love.
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I also wanted to address the issue of mystery and faith, and our need to trust God even when we can’t see his purposes. That used to be a central part of faith, but somehow it seems more difficult for modern Christians. I argue that while the nature of faith is to trust God for what we do not see, we may base our trust in him on many things we have seen—His Word, His creation, and how he has shown himself in others in our lives and throughout history. I point out that if you write down the worst things that have ever happened to you and then write down the best things, there is often, especially when sufficient time has passed, a shocking overlap of the lists, confirming the workings of God’s sovereign grace.

ouch

Shaun Groves makes a diagram of his life that applies to yours too. then he says:

On your first day on the other side of the grave, do you think you’ll look back on this life and be flooded with gratitude for hours spent watching episodes of American Idol and Lost? Will you wish you’d done more of that? Do you think you’ll look back fondly on the effort and money spent remodeling the kitchen? Will you wish you’d had a nicer home? Do you think you’ll be glad you were up-to-date on the juicy details of celebrity lives? Will you wish you’d read more magazines? Will you regret not spending more time at the office? Will you wish you’d logged just a few more hours every week at work? Will you miss your blog or Facebook? WIll you wish you’d just had a couple hundred more readers, just a few more “friends?”

Me neither.

hat tip to Vitamin Z

John 10

I have been spending some time in the Gospel of John lately. It is amazing how reading familiar words can have a new impact on you when you are reading them again.

Just look for a minute at some phrases from John 10.

here are verses 3-5:

3. To him [the shepherd] the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

emphasis added.

Isn’t that comforting? Amazing? the Shepherd calls “his own sheep” by their own name and he leads them. The sheep “know his voice”. What a great and comforting word from God. Jesus calls his sheep by their name and he leads them. Just think about how fantastic that is for a bit.

go on down to verses 9-16:

9. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15. just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

emphasis added
Jesus came to give the sheep that enter by his name abundant life. He is good and proof that he is a good shepherd is that he put his own life on the line for his sheep. Just think about that for a bit. Contrast that with man made gods like Zeus or Money or Fame. Which of these man made idols ever proved their love for us by laying down their own life for their flock?

Jesus knows his own and they know him. They know his goodness. They know of his sacrifice for them. They know him just like he and God the Father know each other. They are part of the God’s family. There are even more sheep out there who belong to Jesus the great Shepherd and they will listen to Jesus’ voice. Why will they listen? Because verse 3-5 above says that he calls them by name and is not a stranger.

then check out verses 24-27:

24. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25. Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26. but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

emphasis added

Very interesting indeed. The Jews gathered around and asked Jesus straight up “Are you the Messiah or not?” Jesus answered by saying that he had told them plainly and had done works (miracles) in God’s name as evidence to prove what he had said with his mouth. Then Jesus says something that should capture much more attention in pulpits than it does. He says “you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.”

Now think a minute. Doesn’t Jesus have that backwards? Shouldn’t he have said “you are not part of my flock because you do not believe”? Wouldn’t the latter be more consistent with the way most of us are taught about salvation?

But he didn’t say it the way we would expect. And when you think about it very much, you can see why. Making our status inside or outside the sheepfold of God dependent on our choosing to believe elevates us. It makes anyone who “believes” smarter/wiser/better than someone who doesn’t “believe.” But Ephesians 1 and 2 make it clear that there is no such possibility. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world to the praise of His glorious grace. We were part of His flock before we were born and before the Earth was created. We were part of His flock before time began. Names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. We are saved by grace through faith and all of it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9

But you say, We must follow the shepherd. We must believe. We must exercise faith. And I agree. Scripture makes this requirement clear such that there is no doubt about it. Indeed we must make a choice (Romans 10:9-10), but the thing to realize is that apart from God’s hand, we are dead and unable to make such a choice. By the providence of God and the love of the Great Shepherd, we were made alive and by grace we are given the faith as a gift that we use to choose to follow the Shepherd who laid down his life for us. Salvation is God’s work from first to last. Salvation is God’s work so that his glorious grace might be seen and praised for the magnificent thing that it truly is.

Jesus says that his sheep are called by their own name. Jesus says that his sheep know his voice and follow him because they know him. Jesus says that he has other sheep in other pastures who also know his voice and will follow him when they hear his voice. Jesus says that other sheep do not believe in Him because they are not part of his flock.

Now my question to you after you read John 10 and think about it and pray about it is: Do you agree with what Jesus plainly says? Or do you find yourself saying some version of “yes, but….”

hat tip to John Samson for the John 10:26 rephrase

legislating morality

Kevin DeYoung has a post up on his blog about why he believes it is not only permissible but necessary to legislate morality in the case of abortion.

First he makes the point that I was making to Jesurgislac in comments to this post. This point is that if the unborn fetus is human, you can’t kill it:

The question is not whether a woman has a right to choose what do with her body or whether a woman might suffer greatly if she brings the child to term. The question is whether “the unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community”, to quote Francis Beckwith. If the fetus is a human person, then abortion is prima facie morally wrong, and a moral wrong that ought to prohibited by the state. If the fetus is not a member of the human community, then we can debate whether the mother can terminate the pregnancy or not. But this would be to conclude that the unborn child is nothing much more than a mass of flaking skin cells. We don’t talk about a man’s right to choose to shoot his wife, or the right of a parent to suffocate her 4 year old, or the right of a 55 year old to push his aging mother in front of a car. These are not rights because in each case an innocent human person is being killed. If the fetus is a human person, then how can abortion be a right?

emphasis added

Resolution of this question in favor of the mother’s right to terminate the pregnancy necessarily entails a decision that whatever is growing inside of the mother’s uterus is not a human baby. That is why Jesurgislac feels that my calling unborn children babies “fatally weakens” my argument. Much better to call it a zygote, blastocyst, fetus etc than a baby. keep it safely dehumanized so that selfish decisions can be made about his or her future without legal or moral consequence.

That is why I wondered if a live debate would have been better. I wonder if we would all agree that if a fetus is a human person, then abortion is not an acceptable moral option? If so, then we could narrow the focus of the debate to the question of why the fetus is or isn’t a human person from conception onward. If not, then we are in Peter Singer land where any weaker person is subject to termination at any point that someone else determines that person’s marginal utility to the world is not worth their marginal cost. The remainder of the debate at that point would be to draw out as much evidences as possible of the monstrousness of that position

Then Kevin gets to the heart of why abortion is different and should be the subject of laws protecting the unborn children:

Abortion is different. Here we have some people saying “unborn life should be protected.” Others are saying “the fetus does not need to be protected.” The debate is about ends, not means. The abortion argument is not about how to best helpo the child, but whether they child deserves to be helped at all. The plain fact is millions of Americans argue for the right to terminate the unborn. Perhaps they think the fetus is not a human person. Perhaps they think small persons does not have a right to live. Perhaps they haven’t thought through the issue very carefully.
…..
……My wife and I had our 20 week ultrasound last week for our fourth child. We had an earlier ultrasound around 12 weeks because we feared a miscarriage. At both ultrasounds, and every other one we’ve had with our other three children, we’ve seen a little child rolling around, kicking its legs, moving its head, bending its arms. We’ve seen the baby’s spine, 10 fingers and 10 toes, and a little heart racing. If my wife went into preterm labor right now (heaven forbid), our doctors and hospital would do everything to save the life of our child. And if the child died (heaven forbid), the nurses and doctors and staff would mourn with us, and no one would think such a loss to be a small grief.

And yet, many Americans, and not a few professing Christians, would think nothing of ending this child’s life on their own. And still others would think it a travesty not to have the “right” to do so. Almost every state has fetal homicide laws for the prosecution of those who harm a child in the womb. And yet, every state allows for abortion in all three trimesters for any reason. It is a sad and terrible kind of blindness that sees no contradiction in praying for safe pregnancies while still defending the right to kill the child of that pregnancy.

Either the unborn child is a human person or not. And if the fetus is a human person, then it is has a right to live whether we want it to or not. Which brings me to the main point: the government has no greater responsibility than protecting the lives of those who do not deserve to die.

emphasis added.

If the unborn child is a person (what else would it be?) then it has the right to live whether we want it to live or not. Read jesurgislac’s comments here and here very carefully. You will see a consistent dehumanization of unborn children. You will also see a consistent refusal to engage on the question of how the unborn child came to be in the womb.

Kevin is right. Abortion is different.

discussion

I don’t how many of you have noticed the discussion that has been going on in comments to this post, but I encourage everyone to take some time and go check it out.

I have a some questions though for everybody:

Is pregnancy and childbirth the same thing as giving up a kidney for another person? Why or why not?

Is the fact that a small number of women will choose to terminate pregnancies illegally and harm themselves as a result a compelling argument for continuing to allow wholesale abortion of over a million small humans for any reason during the full nine months of pregnancy?

Is it a denial of the full personhood of a woman to “force her” to “endure” pregnancy and childbirth after she becomes pregnant by choosing to engage in voluntary sexual activity that results in a pregnancy?

Isn’t there more we can do to help women in a crisis pregnancy situation? Shouldn’t we be finding out what we can do and doing it? Check out this post by Justin Taylor and get started.

Above all, I would ask that you pray for people like jesurgislac that God will exchange their heart of stone for one of flesh. God is the one who can change our perspective and does so regularly for his glory.

Check out again this word from a fetus who became a baby.

imagine the potential

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hat tip to my lovely wife and her friend Robin