Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christian, Through The Eyes Of...

What is the first thing you think of when you hear, “Christian?” What word, picture, or phrase comes to you?

I am sure everyone has their own opinion or thought about Christians, whether it is positive, negative, or neutral. When you are on the outside looking in, your perception of Christians can be seen in all sort of different ways. What concerns me is when I hear others talk negative towards Christians. However, what really concerns me the most is when that negative perception came from the source itself, Christians misrepresenting Jesus Christ.

For example, you have the “Christians” protesting at funerals, claiming that unexpected death comes to those who do not serve God or you have the so-called “Servants of God” who bomb abortion clinics and say they are doing God's work, apparently both of these groups need to catch up to their Bible and read "love thy neighbor." These people as you can see are extremist, who take a verse or phase completely out of context to justify their hate-filled agenda. My opinion is that these so-called Christians are clearly darkening the light that Jesus Christ wants us to shine as Christians. With that said, I do not believe willful acts like the bombings and the protesting at funerals have anything to do with Jesus, but have everything to do with a distortion of satan to tarnish the name of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. Think about it, what better way for satan to steer unbelievers away from Jesus, then to corrupt within the very faith he despises and oh, how well our adversary, in so many ways, is doing that today.

Personally, the name Christian has made a transition with me over the years. I grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and faithfully, my family attended a local Baptist church. Being directly involved with Christianity including the high standards the Baptist church taught about being a Christian was a lot to live up to. The Baptist church like I said, taught high standards for Christian living: girls were to dress proper--no pants and no exposed cleavage, only dresses with a covering top, everyday and all the time. For the guys--no long hair, no piercing, no tattoos (if you have one do not get another one), and dressy pants and a button up shirt at all times in the church. To break it all down, anything that is a style or a trend in the world, stay away from it, which included any and all music that has a beat.

Sadly, though, after graduating from high school my commitment and passion for Christian living started to fade. I found myself face to face with the outside world no longer under the “security blanket” of the church and school. Everything seemed to hit me at once and my conviction for Jesus Christ became dark. During the next eight years my life spiraled into a world of drugs and alcohol, and a slu of bad decisions; however, I did manage to find a great wife and have three healthy boys--not all bad. Well, it was not until a conversation with my neighbor, when I was twenty-seven, that I finally listened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to get my life back on track with my Savior Jesus Christ.

It has been four years since that life changing day, now I am thirty, my life has once again found purpose and passion in every aspect of my life. As a result of coming back to the Lord: my family and I attend a great Vineyard church in the community, finally, after a year of praying and church "jumping," my prayer life is strong, the increasing desire to study The Bible has followed, my love for music has expanded, and a true joy to write encouraging words has became a new found passion. I am not bragging here, it is all just a true joy and I want to share it; moreover, it is not all glorious, I have my low times, but my new found hope in Christ keeps me going through the rough times--like the old hymn says, “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”

Growing up when I heard the name “Christian,” my first thought was a person with a high code of standards mixed with an abundance of life sacrifices, but now, my thoughts are not so dramatic. Through out all of my experiences over my life (the good, the bad, and the ugly) I see the world in a whole new light--the clouded eyes of my past of “religious codes” and bad choices has transformed to a clear new set. Now, when I hear “Christian,” I think of a regular everyday person, with a regular job, a regular family, and a regular life. There is no dress code, no particular look--none of that really has anything to do with a Christians relationship with Christ. A Christian is one who earnestly desires more of Christ in there life; lives by faith, hope, and love and lives to spread the Gospel to all who need it. That is Christian, through the eyes of me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

November 4th, Abortion, And The Christian

Now this is not my usual type of blog as I usually do not get into political or controversial issues, but due to this election time, I feel it is necessary to point out to some Christians that our vote breaks down to more than just economics, health care, taxes, or American jobs. I am not saying that those issues are not important, but as a Christian, I believe all of those issues should come second to moral issues such as abortion because Christ and His apostles taught us to think and act as moral people in all things and I have never read that Christ nor His apostles told us to worry about economic issues. Therefore, we as believers in Christ must ask a critical question, first, when it comes to our vote. Where does each candidate running for President stand on the moral issues (local and state elections included)?

Pro-Life, Pro-Abortion, or Pro-Choice

There are two main candidates running for President, which most of us will be voting for one of them on November 4th. One candidate has a history on the issue of abortion of being completely against it (pro-life) and the other has a history of being for abortion (pro-abortion). Well, you might say that I am incorrect about the one who is pro-abortion and correct me by saying that he is really pro-choice. Okay, but isn't pro-choice really saying pro-abortion--let us break down each terms and then you will see that there is no difference between the two. Pro-life, of course, is one who is completely against abortion, Pro-abortion is one who is for abortion, and Pro-choice is one who believes that the choice of keeping the baby or aborting the baby is completely up to the woman. Now, think about, if one states to being pro-abortion, they are obviously for the woman's right to choose abortion, but are they totally against the woman's right to choose to have the baby--of course not, they just want the right of abortion to be available. So, is that any different from being pro-choice? The rights for a woman to choose either to keep her baby or aborting her baby are both seen by those who are pro-choice and pro-abortion. With that said, there is no difference between being pro-abortion or pro-choice. If you are pro-choice, you are also pro-abortion. There is no "gray-area" with abortion--you are either against the option of abortion or you are for the option of abortion. I guess, pro-choice is just a more "user friendly" term to take on than the harsh term of pro-abortion.

The Abortion Debate

Now, there is much debate within the medical and scientific fields concerning when life truly begins; however, even that debate is be voided by a new hanis procedure called "partial-birth abortion." No matter the debate, there is one issue that the medical and scientific fields do agree on and that is when a sperm and an egg come together they form a living cell. Now, does that living cell have a heart, a set of lungs, or a brain, "No." But will it? "Yes"--sounds like the beginning of life. In addition, common sense tells us that life begins with that living cell or upon "conception" based on the vast amounts of contraceptives out there to prevent pregnancies--it seems pretty obvious that life begins the moment of conception.

The majority of pro-abortionists argue that the abortion issue is not solely based on when life begins, what it boils down to is the "Freedom of Choice." Now, knowing that this living cell is human, what about the fetus/baby's rights. Because it is not a "breathing" human outside of the womb that takes all rights away from it. Humanity has always put a high importance on life along with searching for new ways to prolong it. One cannot help to take notice at the world today and see all the medicine, technology, and "health pushes" that are out there to help sustain and prolong life. Is it so hard then to apply that same importance on life that most hold, so dear, to a fetus or baby?Freedom of choice is a great thing for many reasons, but if the voice of the pro-abortionist is that it is the woman's right to do as she pleases with her body and no one can force her to do anything she doesn't want to do. Why can't we apply that same freedom of choice for a fetus/baby? To give freedom of choice for one and not the other, to me, is a complete contradiction. Who gave anyone the right to make a forceful and deadly choice for the baby, especially taking into account, that the baby has, absolutely, no ability to voice a defense of any kind--true cause to help defend their life.

The Christian Position

I was reading several pro-choice/pro-abortion articles on the internet and one particular article said this about abortion in The Bible, "The word "abortion" does not appear in any translation of the bible!" Well, this article amongst the other pro-choice/pro-abortion articles site Genesis 2:7 as the conclusive verse of when life begins, with the "breath"--Genesis 2:7, "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Now, I grant that this verse says a lot about life, but have some forgotten that God created Adam not through the standards means by which God set up of birth through the womb. In addition, God Himself breathed life into Adam, if one recalls there were animals already around breathing oxygen. This verse not only states how God gave life specifically to Adam, but also tells us there is a specific quality found in humans and not in animals. This argument clearly does not hold up Biblically to base any justification concerning the right to abortion. Of course, there were other verses used in these articles, but most as I predicted, were horribly taken out of context and/or the writers of these articles used misleading terms and statements to back up their arguments. Oh yeah, the idea that our God given "Free Will" of choice some how justifies abortion--nice try. Clearly, that thinking contradicts so many Biblical principles including The Ten Commandments. Moreover, our God given "Free Will" is the choice to either serve God or serve man, which is clearly pictured by the two trees in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9-13).

Now, The Bible does not specifically dabble with the subject of abortion, maybe because abortion/legal abortion was not prevalent then or was so widely "taboo" it wasn't even a issue a back then--just my thought. However, The Bible does offer enough information to give us a sound Biblical position on the issue of abortion based on the sanctity of life. In The Old Testament book of Amos, the Ammon people were about to be judged by God for several transgressions (sins), which one of those sins was a form of abortion and God surely did not take it lightly--Amos 1:13, "Thus says the LORD, 'For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders."

There are also several verses in The Bible that state life or a life calling begins in the womb; plus, preciousness of children. Funny, I never once saw any of these verses below in any of the "Biblical pro-abortion" articles I read on the internet. And Why? To simply put it, "The proof is in the pudding."

Life In The Womb

Judges 13:7, "But he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'"

Job 31:15, "Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb?"

Psalms 139:13-16, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. (14) I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (15) My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; (16) Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."

Isaiah 44:24, "Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,'"

Isaiah 49:1 (Jesus prophecy), "Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me."

Luke 1:15, "For he (John the Baptist) will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb."

Galatians 1:15, "But when God, who had set me (Paul the apostle) apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased"

Our Precious Children

Psalms 127:3, "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward."

Proverbs 17:6, "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers."

Luke 1:42, "And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"

I believe it is apparent and casts no doubt on God's position about life, where life begins, and how precious children are, after all, The Bible is God's Holy Word (I Timothy 3:16). Therefore, our position should be no different and we should never be willing to entertain any debate on the issue of abortion or compromise any standard on the subject. Yes, there is death from diseases, death from famine, and death from war, but does this mean that God contradicts Himself for the love He has for humanity--not at all. We must remember that is was by one man's (Adam) sin (Romans 5:12) that caused the "domino effect" of sin throughout all of humanity and along with that sin the once perfect earth was cursed (Genesis 3). However, God did show His ultimate love to all of humanity by sending His only Son, Jesus--John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." God through His wisdom intelligently designed a system in which life for humanity can live on and thrive. Do you honestly think He intended it to be a place for death? Unfortunately, natural miscarriages do happen, but it is not our place or choice to make it unnatural.

Conclusion--November 4th

Dear Christian, when it comes to November 4th remember that our vote should not be based on "We Need Change" (all politicians say that), politics, or economics, but a moral vote for what is right morally. Yes, abortion is legal in this country; we all know that, but that should never give reason to "throw our hands up" and give up--perseverance and hope should always be our fuel. Remember, one man can influence abortion legislation that is a fact, especially, when I hear and see pictures of this horrific procedure "partial-birth abortion," which one of the main candidates for President supports. Therefore, are you going to vote for the man that has proven to have no conscience or issue in destroying God's greatest creation and a helpless one at that or are you going to vote for the man that has proven a firm stance on protecting God's helpless creation. I know none of them are perfect, neither are we; both have pasts, so do we--just please make the right choice.

We all have been in the womb, came from the womb--are you glad your mother chose to keep you? I am.Lastly, I did not write this to condemn anyone who has had an abortion or to anyone who participates in decisions for it. Really, all of us deserve to be condemned, we are all sinners, but fortunately Jesus Christ has given us all away to escape condemnation and that is through Him--Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Furthermore, I do not advocate for or agree with the extremists that use slander and/or violence to promote their anti-abortion agenda. Sadly, most of these extremists call themselves "Christians" and if they truly are Christians, they need to "clear the fog" in their mind and eyes, read The Bible, and see that Jesus' message is that we do all things through love and compassion--not hate. Truly, our main agenda as Christians is to be a proper witness (attitude and actions) in spreading The Gospel and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ our Savior.

All Scripture quoted from the New American Standard Version (NASV)