What If I Don’t Like God’s Values

If I don’t like the idea that I have been created by and serve a holy God, I won’t like His values, and if I don’t like His values you won’t like God.  I would be in a cycle that only ends in Hell.

If I look first at my values, and then we look to God and expect the same values from Him, I will find myself on a quest towards trying to defame of God.

Why?

I can think of it this way.  Suppose I am taking a trigonometry class.  Let’s seriously hope not (yikes!), but suppose I am.  If I go into the class thinking I am the unmatched authority on trigonometry because I can draw a triangle somewhat nicely, I am in for a very frustrating experience.  What’s more, I will probably walk out of the class knowing as little as I did when I came in because I elevated myself to a position of “professor” when I should have labeled myself “student”.

I am your servant. Help me understand so that I may come to know your written instructions. (Psalm 119:125, GW)

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Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Is God mean?

Mean by whose standard?

If I say by my standards, or public standards, or popular standards, I am talking about human standards that change with public opinion and culture, and vary from person to person.  So in order for my complaint to work, I must set up my standard as being higher or better than God’s.  I can do this quite simply, if I can create Him. 

Say what?

I can set up my standards as better than God’s if I can move my position from the created to the Creator.  In other words, not only must I be able to create the entire universe by yourself (and no copycatting, I must remember, because that wouldn’t be original creation), but I also must be able to reverse the process of God creating me and I must create God.  Then my standard can be higher.

If I think this is unfair or ridiculous, consider what I would have to do to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the U.S.  If the Supreme Court absolutely refuses to change its mind about a decision–compare this to God with His decision about what perfection is–the only way I could overturn the decision would be to become a higher authority.  That is, I would have to become more powerful, in some way or another, than the Supreme Court.

Even though I can’t become a higher authority than God, I can still have hope–and confidence–that I won’t be treated unfairly.  Not because I can conform God to my standard, but because God is, by His very nature, fair.  I can discover that nature by reading God’s Word.  In our culture there’s a lot of name-calling and slandering going on about God, but every ill word is proven wrong by an examination of the Bible, and most especially by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ written in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

God is no bully; He is not unfair.  He is not a perverse God, but rather a purifying God.  He proves His mercy by sending His Son down to us, not to shred us, but to save us.  Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is  God “mean” or “unfair”.  From the very beginning, He has been just and very merciful.  I can try to convince you with my own words, but the Truth is the Word of God can speak perfectly on God’s behalf in that matter without any help from me.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD; how glorious is our God!  He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair.  He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! (Deuteronomy 32:3-4, NLT)

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Of the Ten

Of the Ten

Tyrone.

Emma.

Anthony.

Madison.

Jayden.

Nevaeh.

Camryn.

Alyssa.

Jacob.

Chloe.

If these children are not miscarried, Tyrone, Emma, Anthony, Madison, Jayden, Nevaeh, Camryn, and Alyssa will have a chance at life.

Jacob and Chloe won’t.

Because 22% of U.S. pregnancies end in abortion[1,2].

Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3, GW)

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[1] Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, Guttmacher Institute, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html#2

[2] This does not include emergency contraceptives, which can prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall.  The term “pregnancy” is defined as after the fertilized egg attaches.  For more information, see Plan B blog.

Note: EMedicine Help,“Abortion”, http://www.emedicinehealth.com/abortion/article_em.htm states that over 40% of women will choose to have an abortion in their lifetime.

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Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Empty Classroom

A teacher stands in front of a classroom of children, who say what they would like to be.  Then they disappear.  Because they never were there.

The Vitae Society made this short video[1].

The video haunts me.  I have had a sense of “the missing” ever since I began researching the truth about abortion.

Looking at photos of the dead and thinking who they might have become . . . should haunt us.

I can describe this feeling best as the “rustling” between realities, the point where time and space become irrelevant.  I remember this feeling when I stood in the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and saw the piles of shoes from victims of the Holocaust.  I saw adult shoes, children shoes, and baby shoes.

I knew I’d missed out.

Missed out on knowing the people in those shoes.

Even if I never would have met them, I know their living would have changed my life.  Every person who is or isn’t a part of this world changes the future.

And it isn’t only them the world is missing.

Their lineage died with them, and the shoes remind us of what might have been . . . where they might have walked . . . and who might have walked with them . . . or who might have followed them.

The next time I remember the feeling of empty loss was when my father died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  I had an instant of “otherworldliness”, a realization that two dimensions were connected.  And then the feeling vaporized, and I was left with my father’s body in an empty, empty room.

I again had that absence of a living being when I saw a man laying on the side of the road.  There had been a bad car accident.  As I watched, medics covered his body with a white sheet, and I knew he was gone.

Then came the day I decided to look at what an abortion actually is.  Abortionno.org started me on a path I know I will never be able to turn from: a path of radical compassion for dead children.

When I saw the dead bodies of little children, there was a colorless horror and a still holiness that is beyond my understanding.  The best way I have ever seen this feeling of ‘the missing’ described is a scene in Schindler’s List.  If you have never seen the movie, it was filmed in black-and-white, except for a few moments.

As Schindler looks out from an aloft vantage point on a hill at the slaughter of Jews all around him, his eyes stop on a little girl in a red coat.  His eyes follow her as she hurries down the street, past all the violence and commotion around her.  She finds her way to a house, and his viewpoint stops there.  However, the camera shows her hiding under a bed.  Later, Schindler sees her coat again, this time in a cart piled with bodies.

The Jewish Holocaust is unfathomable to us now.  But it somehow made sense to the people who looked as the Jewish race as a substandard “species” . . . as a people worth missing.

They are not worth missing.

They are worth finding.

But they cannot be found.

Not here.

And the children who have been lost through abortion . . . they, too, are worth finding.  And they, too, cannot be found.

Not here.

As the Jewish Holocaust could be stopped, this genocide of unborn children can be stopped, too.  Resistance must be non-violent and must focus on educating and empowering mothers to choose life for their children.  Existence is more “expensive” than nonexistence.

For a child to live, we must place more value on life than death: we must give money to pay for the woman’s prenatal care, educational and parenting classes for women who wish to raise their children, and adoption programs with full regard for mother’s rights for those who wish to give their child to a loving family.

The question becomes, like Schindler when he gives his wealth away to save those who have no voice, are we willing to pay the price for a life?

Because if we don’t, what we will have is

empty.

If you falter in times of trouble,

how small is your strength!

Rescue those being led away to death;

hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who guards your life know it?

Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:10-12, NIV)


[1]http://www.vitaecaringfoundation.org/vitaecaringfoundation.nsf/LinksView/8CDF945AA149A21C86256FF900463C48?Opendocument

Photograph by Seth Sawyers, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/sidewalk_flying/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bigot

If I said a race of people should be called by a racial slur name, would I be a bigot?

If I said Asians shouldn’t have any human rights, would I be a bigot?

If I said Muslims were a less “people” than I am, would I be a bigot?

If I said women were less important than men, would I be a bigot?

If I said that my needs take priority over the needs of a child in India, would I be a bigot?

If I said that disabled Americans should be terminated because they are an inconvenience, would I be a bigot?

But . . .

If I said that babies should be called “fetuses”, would I be a bigot?

If I said “fetuses” shouldn’t have any human rights, would I be a bigot?

If I said “fetuses” were less “people” than we are, would I be a bigot?

If I said that those in-the-womb were less important than those out-of-the-womb, would I be a bigot?

If I said that my needs take priority over the needs of a “fetus”, would I be a bigot?

If I said that “fetuses” should be terminated because they are an inconvenience, would I be a bigot?

Let’s get the record straight: It matters when it’s a group we care about.

I want to care about all humans, not just those who are like me.  I believe that life is precious and that we are here for a purpose, that each person is born as a gift and has also been gifted to live and love, whatever ethnicity, whatever religion, whatever ability level, and whatever age.

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. (James 2:1, NIV)

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism. (Acts 10:34, NIV)

There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:9-11, NIV)

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Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 12:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Story of Sicily

I used to have two dogs I loved, Gus and Sicily.

One day, when Gus was just two years old, and Sicily only about one, Gus died.  I was at work.  He lay down on the couch, curled up, and died.  I still don’t know what happened.  He was a runt, and I think he might have had heart problems.

I was stunned and horrified.  I can’t tell you in words how sad I was about losing that puppy.  I loved him as I have never loved another dog.  My grief was terrible.

Sicily was miserable without Gus.  She had no friend to play with when I was at work.  She had no pal to curl up with when it was bedtime (or nap time).  She had no friend to chase her around the house (and catch her).

I couldn’t quit my job.  I knew my home wasn’t a good place for Sicily.  I knew she was sad and lonely.  I knew she needed more than I could give her.

Let’s go into what-if mode for a moment . . .

What if . . . I killed her.

One day, I came home, and I lovingly took forceps and ripped her legs off her body.  Then I placed the forceps on her head and crushed her skull.  Her brain oozed out.  I was happy because I knew nothing bad could happen to her ever again.

Of course that is not what I chose.  Of course.

The reality . . .

One day I came home and I put her and her flock of toys and her warm baby blanket in my car, and I drove her to a foster mom’s house.  That foster mom found her a home with a man and a woman and a son and two dogs, one another rescue dog, and a cat.  Every once in a while, the woman who adopted Sicily sends me a snapshot of her or a little letter “from” my puppy.  Turns out, Sicily loves her new home, and the other rescue had lived a hard life before his adoption and needed a buddy just like her.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Sicily for sure.  One day, the woman might accidentally let Sicily outside and she might get hit by a car.  One day, Sicily might find a bottle of pills and eat them and die.  One day, Sicily might jump off the couch and break all four of her legs.  Or one day, Sicily might get heart disease or parvo.

But would the forceps have been safer?

I don’t want to stir up anger or inflame wrath.  But I do want for us to think about what we say is humane.  If not for a puppy, then surely not for a baby.

Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. (Psalm 119:73, NIV)

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Personal photograph.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Instruments

Instruments

What’s the first instrument that comes to your mind?  A violin?  A drum?  A piano?  A flute?  A cello? A tuba? A tambourine?  A guitar?  A harp?

What about forceps?  A manual vacuum aspiration?  A pair of blunt scissors?  A uterine currette?  A syringe with a spinal needle?  Destructive hooks?  Embryotomy forceps or scissors?  Van Huevel’s destructive forceps with chainsaw?  The lollini?  The cranioclast?  Simpson’s improved cranioclast?  The embryotome?  A crochet or a wide-edged crochet?  Modified crochet?  Smellie’s double crochet?  Jaquemier’s decapitator?  Thomas’ serrated edge scoop?  Vectus with destructive attachments?  Dubois’ embryotomy decapitating scissors?  Abortifacient and baptismal syringe?  Levret’s head extractor?  The decapitator?  Mauriceau’s head extractor?  Jacob Fried’s Steel Dagger?  TracHellorHector Destructive tool?  Luer’s cranial perforator?  Holmes’ perforators?  The Pullhead?  Tarnier’s basiotribe?  Auvard’s basiotribe?  Blot’s cranial perforators?  Leisnisch’s Kiewich perforator?  Davis’ guarded crochet?  Blot’s cephalotribe?  Braxton and Hick’s cephalotribe?  The cephalotribe with crane and ratchet?  The British decapitator?  Vicarelli’s trephine cranial perforator and other cranial perforators?  A.R. Simpson’s Basilyst and Improved Basilyst.  The guarded hook and crochet?  Dr. Bedford’s double crochets?  Levret’s tire-tete and other tire-tetes?  L.J. Hubert’s Transforator?   The Bergamini perforator?  A cranioclast?  Braun’s cranioclast or trephine cranial perforators?  The conquest cranioclast?  The spear perforator?  Craniotomy forceps?  Mauriceau’s head extractor?

Each of these instruments represents lives, lives that form a silent symphony of lost music.

The photos of these instruments are on abortioninstruments.com.

The first set of instruments I gave—the violin, the drums, so on—play music.

The second set of instruments end music.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 12:17 am  Comments Off on Instruments  
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Save a ladybug. Save a kangaroo rat. Save a baby.

A hotel in Birmingham protects ladybugs.  The hotel’s sign said, “ladybugs are our friends.”  Father Frank Pavone, after staying there, made a little video blog about his thoughts.

I like ladybugs.

I heard a story about kangaroo mice being saved by prohibiting farmers from running their tractors over land.  Not sure that was the best idea.  But still—

I like kangaroo rats.

If you want to name me an animal God has created, I’ll show respect a Proverbs 12:10 respect for that life, even for creatures I don’t like so much, because God made them.  And, before our sin, they were perfect.

But let me tell you about a very special creature God made.  A creature I really, really love.

Us.

That’s right.  You and me.

People are my friends.

I like ladybugs, but they are not my friends.  And I like kangaroo rats, but they are not my friends.

People are my friends.

Just like ladybugs and kangaroo rats, people have bodies.

But unlike ladybugs and kangaroo rats, people have souls, too.

I like ladybugs.

I like kangaroo rats.

But I love people.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”  So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV)

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Ladybug photograph by Sudarshan Vijayaraghavan, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/chitrasudar/

Kangaroo mouse (rat) photograph by Nick Bonzey, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/thebonzey/

Hand photograph by Josep Ma. Rosell, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/batega/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Why do I have to be 100% perfect to get into Heaven?

Is there a ‘Heaven exam’?  If so, why isn’t 70% a passing grade?  70% lets you move on in an algebra or philosophy class.  But God expects us to get an A+.   Why an A+? Why not a C-?

I’ve come to realize that the question of why we must have perfection to be with God is only confusing to imperfect people (like me).

Even if I take educational grading standards as ‘the way to determine qualification into Heaven’, the question becomes, whose educational standards standards?  Standards vary widely and are even subject to change.  For example, in some educational settings, you can be promoted with a 60%.   In some education fields, you can’t stay in the program unless you make at least an 80%.  For still other programs, you can’t even apply or be considered if you make less than a 90% or even a 95%.

Sometimes the acceptable percentage depends on other classmates.  For example, in one class, the highest grade may be an 80%, so an 80% becomes a 100% and a 60% becomes an 80%.  Or, in a competitive program, a 97% might knock you out of qualifying because someone else got a 99%.  On a spelling bee, you can miss words so long as all the contestants miss their words, too.

But is this about a standard of perfection or a ranking system?

In our culture we see shades, degrees, and combinations of right and wrong, rather than what is really there:

right

and

wrong.

There’s no surprise, then, that our culture (myself included before God opened my eyes) has difficulty understanding the chasm between right and wrong, Heaven and Hell.

We have difficulty distinguishing right and wrong in ‘circumstantial’ and ‘ambiguous’ (and especially hypothetical) situations.  Philosophy works hard to create extremely complex and convoluted scenarios in which right and wrong are not easily seen, when, truly, if you lived out those scenarios and you were perfect, you would know exactly what to do.  It is the very reason that we are not perfect that we have so much trouble sometimes telling right from wrong!

It’s easier in real-life examples to tell right from wrong, but easier doesn’t mean easy.  Still, even with all our confusion and mess, we still at least sometimes exalt people who give their lives to helping the poor, protecting the weak, and caring for the sick and we still at least sometimes condemn people who murder, abuse power, and mistreat the defenseless.

The more extreme the example, the more we tend to agree on right and wrong.  For example, while not everyone might agree that downloading music illegally is wrong, almost everyone would agree that killing a ten-year-old child is wrong[1].

While we may leave some or even most things to wallow in ‘moral ambiguity’, we don’t leave the things that really matter to us to such ‘interpretive’ paths.  When something matters to me personally, I seem to suddenly know just exactly what is right and wrong!

When we sin, we create a debt that is incurable unless cured by perfection, our original state as created beings.

The book of Romans warns us that we cannot get 100% on our own.  It also gives us promise that Christ has come and has fulfilled the Law for those who believe in Him.

There is no such thing as 40% perfect and you are 65% perfect.  There is either perfect or not perfect: 100% or 0%.

But why do we often accept less than 100%?  The reason why less than 100% is acceptable in programs is 1) we are imperfect and we know it and 2) the information is hopefully not life-or-death.

If I get a 70% on a philosophy test, the school counselor probably isn’t going to tell me I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life in failure.

But what if I’m studying to be a doctor and I have a test on only essential questions that I must know to perform a surgery correctly?  Would the people I’m going to one day practice on be all right if I got 91%?  Or even 99%?

There’s going to be no attitude of, “Try, try again.”

My sin drops me from 100% to 0%, on my ‘life exam’, because it destroys my relationship with God and makes it impossible for me to do good, something like if I cut off my arms and then tried to wiggle my fingers.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”   The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”  Christ redeemed us from that curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:10-14, NIV)

Jesus Christ becomes our 100% when we trust Him.

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. (Romans 8:1, NCV)

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[1] I put an age on the child in this example because not everyone agrees that it is wrong if it was a ten-week-old child developing inside the womb.

Photo by Amboo Who?, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/amboo213/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why does God expect perfection? Part 1

This goes something like, “God, I don’t expect the people around me to be perfect (and, may I say, how generous I am in that, because some of them are real lousy).  Why do You expect me to be perfect?” or, more simply, “Why do You expect perfection when we’re clearly in a world that doesn’t have it?”

Before we look at this question, though, I want us to look at the assumption I’m holding with this question: I do not expect perfection from those around us, and therefore God should not expect perfection from us.

Here’s one problem (though not the biggest[1]): I do expect perfection.  Just to a different standard.

But wait a minute.  How can I expect perfection to a different standard?  Isn’t perfection is always 100%?

I’m not talking about objective–that is, a perfect being’s–standard of perfection.  I’m talking about subjective–that is, an imperfect being’ (my)–standard of perfection.

My perfection is subjective, capricious, and usually somewhat secretive.  But all people, whether they believe in the Christian God or another god or even if they don’t believe in any god, have a standard of perfection.  It’s impossible not to.

Everyone has things they will accept and they will not accept, and if you fail to meet that standard of perfection, you (at the very least) fall out of that person’s favor.

Fallen human beings all have different standards, but we always have standards.  I’ve tried to pick a few that just about everybody has:

  • People should not call me derogatory names.
  • The waiter or waitress serving me should not spit in my food.
  • My friends should not punch or kick me.
  • My parents should not boss me around after I have grown up.
  • My children should not get drunk when they are preteens.
  • People should not drive slower than the speed limit and then speed up when I try to pass them.
  • People who take care of my children should not beat them up.
  • People should not scratch unpleasant words into my car.
  • When I am in the nearly eternal line at a department store on Black Friday holding a five-pound Blu-Ray system for five hours, a total stranger on a cell phone with a cart full of goods should not butt in front of me.

Even the most psychotic egomaniac has a standard of perfection (e.g., You should let me butt in front of you in the five-hour line).  Everybody has standards of some kind, even if they are the opposite standards of other people (e.g., I should be allowed to murder you–the serial killer’s viewpoint.)

Before I examine God’s standard of perfection, I need to get one thing straight: we all have standards of perfection.  Some of us are just sneaky about not admitting it.

They [those who don’t have God’s law] demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:15, NLT)

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Follow-up: Why do I have to be 100% perfect to get to Heaven?

[1] The biggest problem is that tiny little speck-of-dust me should not be challenging Almighty God.  Reading any part of the Bible, I see how God is boss, and I am absolutely, positively not.  And that is a very good fact.

Photograph by Nic McPhee, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/nicmcphee/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 9:47 am  Comments (1)  
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