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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The older we become, the more aware we are of the specter of death. When we are young, relatively few people whom we personally know die. As we grow older, that number increases.

Many of us grow more aware of death because we realize we have fewer days before us than we have behind us. Youth sees death as little more than a possibility. Young people realize death can and does occur, and sometimes they even have a friend who dies. Still, the young person sees that he or she probably has several decades ahead, and that is probably true.

The older we become, the less theoretical and the more real death becomes. The apparent invincibility of youth becomes gradually replaced with an awareness that our days are numbered.

How do we to deal with the prospect of our inevitable demise? Some have plastic surgery, as if looking younger externally will do anything for one’s aging organs and bones. Others live in denial, refusing to think about death. Still others look to medicine or exercise or nutrition in order to postpone what is coming. And still death comes.

How should a Christian face the prospect of death? It seems that we need to change the focus. Instead of focusing upon death, we need to focus on life. The One whom we follow is life. The apostle John proclaimed, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). We were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), “but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (2:4–5). We were dead. Christ has given us life.

This exchange recorded in John 14:1–6 between Jesus and his anxious disciples should be encouraging to us when we consider death. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas asked Jesus a question that may have been on all the disciples’ minds, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Thomas wanted to know how this was going to be worked out, but Jesus told him to look deeper: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

How we pass from this world to the next is not to be our concern. Our gaze is steadily to be on Christ. The One who is life, the One who conquered sin and death, the One who saved us from our death and gave us life will have us ushered into his presence.

Such a change in perspective is not living in denial of death and it is not a psychological crutch to get us through tough times. Death is real. Unless Christ returns during our lifetime, we will experience death. We shall not escape its reality. The heart will produce its final beat; the lungs will draw their final breath. We may die in great physical agony, or we may go quietly in the night. Regardless, we shall go.

And yet we focus not upon our coming death as though that were a time of doom. We focus upon Christ. He is our life. He has saved us, is saving us, and will save us from our sins and from the tyranny of death (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

So we focus upon life, and that focus means that we dwell not on death but upon living. We are “to glorify God and enjoy him forever” now. We are to live life to the fullest now, intentionally seeking to honor God with our desires and plans and choices. A thought penned centuries ago by London preacher Josias Shute [1588-1643]: “A musician is commended not that he played so long, but that he played so well. And thus it is not the days of our life, but the goodness of our life. . . . that is acceptable unto God Almighty.” The apostle Paul put it another way, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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It is distressing to be led by ungodly leaders, especially when they consistently pronounce as good that which is evil. President Obama continues to do so, as illustrated in his recent affirmation of a woman’s right to choose to end the life of her unborn baby:

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue—no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

Notice the President’s argument. The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision affirmed “that government should not intrude on private family matters.” The ending of an unborn child’s life is a “private family matter.” What if the baby were brought home and the mother decided that there was more involved in caring for this child than she had anticipated? She had thought she could continue her college education without too much of a problem, but now she realizes she had miscalculated. This is “a private family matter,” right? Why is it now suddenly government’s matter to say that taking the life of a two-week old baby is murder, but the government blesses the taking of a two-month old unborn baby’s life?

The President calls this “a woman’s right to choose.” To choose what, Mr. President? Please complete that infinitive phrase? To choose what? To choose to end the life of her unborn child. Then again, putting it that way sounds much less innocuous than simply saying “a woman’s right to choose.”

The President informs us that a woman’s having an abortion is a “fundamental constitutional right.” A fundamental constitutional right? Something fundamental would be spelled out, right? Not only does the Constitution not explicitly affirm a woman’s right to end the life of her unborn child, it does not even imply it. There was never, to my knowledge, a document written in the latter 1700’s concerning the Constitution which even discussed the idea that having an abortion is a legitimate right. Put quite simply, such a notion was unthinkable.

The final sentence in the President’s quote almost defies description: “And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.” Again the President makes an illogical statement based on unmitigated emotion. The lives of our sons are not detoured by bearing a child, so evidently neither should the lives of our daughters. If we want equality, why don’t we make the biological father really accountable for his actions? Why must the unborn child pay the price for selfish pleasure of others.

The taking of the life of an unborn baby, unless the physical life of the mother is unquestionably jeopardized, is murder. Those who seek it and those who agree to it, as well as doctors and abortion clinic owners who profit by it, have blood on their hands. Do not legislators who approve and defend abortion on demand have blood on their hands? Does not a president who defends abortion have blood on his hands? Does not an America which refuses to raise its voice about the barbarism of a “woman’s right to choose” have blood on its hands?

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Here are two YouTube videos which comprise Gianna Jessen’s 2008  address at Queen’s Hall, Parliament House in Victoria, Australia. Her testimony is incredible and puts a face on the debate over abortion.

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A thoughtful post entitled “The Role of Law: It is reasonable and necessary for society to outlaw certain ‘choices'” on abort73.com takes issue with the commonly accepted mantra that abortion is simply a matter of a woman’s choice.

The fundamental role of every government is to provide security for its citizens and to maintain public order. This cannot be done without legislating against certain choices. Even in free countries, citizens are not free to choose in any absolute sense. Some choices are lawful and some are not, which is why it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be “free to choose”.

This, of course, has not stopped people from building their defense of abortion on the abstract defense of choice. You’ll hear things like, “This is a free country…You can’t legislate morality… My body, my choice!” In fact, many abortion-rights advocates will openly admit that abortion is “bad”, only to turn around and argue that women must be free to make their own decisions, even if they’re bad ones. On the surface that might sound noble. You’re giving people a choice. You’re letting them decide what’s right for themselves, even giving them the freedom to fall.

The problem is, there is a big difference between a “bad” decision and a “criminal” decision. Getting sunburned is a bad decision. Burning your neighbor’s house down is a criminal decision. Refusing to study for a big test is bad. Refusing to stop when there is a pedestrian in the street is criminal. The law generally leaves people the legal freedom to make bad choices, but the law must do all it can to prohibit criminal choices.

Read the rest of this post here.

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These are words often repeated after death has ended the physical suffering and mental anguish of someone who has endured much for an all-too-long period of time. Loved ones, having witnessed horrific suffering, feel relief that the ordeal is finally over for their parent or sibling or friend or whomever. “Well, at least she’s in a better place.”

That may be true, and then again, it may not be. As one who has presided over many funerals and graveside services, I neither preach someone into heaven nor into hell. I believe in the reality of both, but the eternal Judge determines that deceased person’s fate.

We must not be glib about eternity. Our loved one may be in a better place, but he is in the presence of God only because he is God’s child, having turned from his sin and believed on the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The person in that better place than this fallen world is there only because Christ bore his sin upon the cross, taking the wrath of the thrice-holy God for the repentant one’s sin and pronouncing the believer righteous.

For our sake he [God the Father] made him [God the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).

Otherwise, that loved one will languish in hell for eternity, separated from God and from all hope. This reality, though pooh-poohed by atheists and “Christian” liberals alike, will not fade away like a bad dream simply because one believes it unthinkable that a loving God, if indeed there is a God, would cast anyone into hell. Jesus himself spoke without ambiguity.

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, ESV).

A better place? I sincerely hope so, but it isn’t so just because we wish it. May our loved ones know the only One who will receive them unto that better place, in his presence, for eternity.

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November’s free audio download from Christian Audio is Desiring God by John Piper. In a cultural Christianity that too often sees God as a means to an end, we need to understand that God is the end, and in him alone is true joy.

Insert NOV2009 into the coupon code in order to receive the book free. Enjoy!

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It seems that evangelicals are falling all over themselves to become accepted by mainstream American society. Discussions about creation in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis are deemed “distractions.” The plight of the unborn is considered “yesterday’s battle.” It is considered fashionable to support a United States President who pontificates about the need to defend the weak but turns his back upon the most defenseless of humanity–the unborn.

It is encouraging to see concerted efforts to recover the biblical gospel and to emphasize a biblical view of doctrines such as justification. It is discouraging to see that many of those rightly concerned about the gospel accept the tenets of old-earth creationism and are deafeningly silent about the slaughter of the unborn.

Many rightly see that evangelicalism has been more concerned about culture wars than about the gospel. Far too many pro-life evangelical church members are relatively clueless about the gospel. They may be staunchly anti-homosexual while remaining quite fuzzy about salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

That said, it is wrong to neglect what has been emphasized in order to emphasize what has been neglected. Conceding creationism today will result in conceding the atonement tomorrow. Forgetting the unborn today will result in forgetting justification tomorrow.

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