Here's a challenging thought I just read this week. If we want our lives to get the results that Jesus' life did, we should live the way He did.
No, we don't need to wander around the middle east. We all know that we should know the Scriptures and pray, but how about fasting?
Do you fast regularly as a part of your faith (not just on special occasions when you need God to do something)?
Do you practice solitude - getting away from EVERYTHING? (Yes, the world will get along fine without you for a few hours or days.)
Do you ever practice silence? (Try listening without speaking. It's quite an exercise.)
Do you practice simplicity? (Jesus said he didn't even have a place to lay His head. How much STUFF do we have in our lives?)
I'm thinking pretty seriously about engaging this "Jesus lifestyle" in some forms or another - practicing some new spiritual disciplines. (If this is a new concept, here's a paraphrase from a smart guy I love to read - Disciplines are practices we can choose to do with our bodies by which we receive that grace to do what we cannot do by direct effort.) For example, we cannot just will ourselves into better character. However, we can do other things (reading Scripture, meditating on the life & words of Jesus, prayer, fasting, etc.) by which we are likely to receive God's character forming grace.
I would love to hear from you additional observations on the spiritual disciplines you've observed of Jesus in the gospels. What was He doing (as a man) that kept Him always in the way of the GRACE that He would need to touch those around Him?
Like the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt, freedom is an amazing thing. When our lives become free from things that once enslaved us, it is always miraculous and worth remembering and celebrating. Following that time of slavery, God leads us on an amazing journey of freedom: following His presence wherever it leads us, being sustained by supernatural manna. Few decisions must be made, few responsibilities are given.
Then comes the time to answer the call. The time to fulfill the purposes for which God has set us free. The time when everything changes. The time when, teetering on the border of the Promised Land, the manna disappears (Joshua 5:12).
If you want to eat, wander out in the morning and gather manna...
If you want to eat, you better plant some crops, herd some livestock, or grab a spear and go kill something.
You were once led about with a man carrying a staff...
You are now led into war by a man carrying a sword.
You once moved around without thought, led by a cloud and fire...
You must now seek God's direction, make some strategic plans, and execute those plans.
You once experienced God as the God of freedom...
God is now experienced as the God who fights by your side.
You once wandered about in a foreign land...
Now the time has come to take ownership of the land, put down roots, and fight to make it a kingdom of righteousness and justice.
You were once free...Now you are responsible.
What will it take for you to grab a hold of God's promises? What direction must be sought? What strategic plans must be made? What will it cost you?
Hmm. If only there was a better way...
We all know that talk is cheap. Perhaps talkers are also easily deluded. Perhaps there is in talking the potential for travesty, for deception, for confusion, for distraction. Perhaps evil is found in a multitude of words.
For example, take a person who talks a lot about God, who talks about Jesus, who talks about the Bible, who talks about church, who talks about being a Christian, but whose life is a far cry from Jesus' life, whose actions are not consistent with Jesus', whose attitudes are not like Jesus', whose relationships are a mess, whose finances are worse, and whose life is generally undesirable...
What is the result of this person's life?
The result is a goodless and Godless and powerless and changeless and costless and lifeless "gospel" which is not even a gospel at all because it is not even good news.
On the flip side let's talk, for example, about abortion. Let's talk about women's rights, let's talk about the right to choose, let's talk about politics and party lines, let's talk about "fetuses", about Roe V. Wade, let's talk about terminating a pregnancy, let's talk about the woman's body, let's talk... talk... talk... talk...
The result of this talking is an evilless and intellectualized and murderless and shameless killing of an innocent baby.
The truth is, causing a premature delivery of a baby so that it will set aside to struggle for breath and die is a kind of evil hard difficult to believe it is real. The truth is, pulling a baby part way out of her mother in order to kill her is a kind of raw evil I cannot imagine any person or society can come to accept. The truth is, finding a baby's heart and fingers and toes and nose on an ultrasound in order to inject her heart with drugs that cause cardiac arrest and death is an heinous evil that does not allow any person to sit idly by and claim innocence.
The truth is, in Jesus Christ is found life, hope, peace, redemption, power, love, purpose, future, security, and joy. The truth is, Jesus Christ transforms relationships, brokenness, attitudes, bondage, addictions, pain.
It can be helpful to talk about good and evil. Of the utmost importance, however, it that good and evil must never be reduced to talk.
UPDATE IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT:
In the comment, there was a well-said conclusion to remember that what this is all about is a person's soul. I am in complete agreement. Talk is cheap. Talk is also a travesty. All the TALK about abortion has conditioned us not to be too offended at it. Perhaps the least offensive method of abortion I know is to find a baby's heart and inject it with poison to kill it. Worse yet is to have a live birth and just watch her die in full view of the mom and/or medical professionals who could comfort and save the baby. Equally revolting is to deliver the baby part way and then kill her before she is fully delivered. There is no way around the severity of this evil.
I know people get scared. Bad things happen. However, without glossing things over - what kind of soul can do this to their own child? Typically, I think even scared and overwhelmed people's hearts melt at the sight of their child. Our culture has whitewashed this issue with all the talking. It has shifted our attention from what abortion really is and focused us on the mom, who may very well be in a bad place in life, or other extraneous circumstances. However, one way or another, every time an abortion takes place, a mom enters a facility and agrees with a medical professional on a very practical way to kill the baby growing inside her. There is ultimately no sugar coating this issue. It becomes very down-to-earth, very practical, very simple, and very ugly.
By no means do I have my life altogether. I am in need of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ every day. Apart from Him, I would be adrift in confusion, hopelessness, and darkness. Abortion, like other sins, puts us in need of forgiveness. And even abortion can do nothing to separate us from the love of Christ. What is not reasonable, however, is to go on with our heads in the sand. Forgiveness is contingent upon repentance and confession. Finally, the travesty of talk is in masking the true nature of abortion so that repentance and confession are clouded (and perhaps removed from many people). If we no longer "get it", we're not in a place we can confess it and turn away.
This is so disturbing I don't have it in me to pray, "God have mercy on us ." What is screaming in my heart is this: "God, make it stop! Stop us!"
I pray that I will not forget. I pray that I will not fall asleep to the plight of these children.
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Hearing on H.R.4292, The "Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2000"
Thursday, July 20, 2000
10:00 a.m.; 2237 Rayburn House Office Building
Hadley Arkes, Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions, Amherst College
Allison Baker, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jill L. Stanek, Mokena, Illinois
Matthew G. Hile, Ph.D., St. Louis, Missouri
Gianna Jessen, Franklin, Tennessee
Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)
Kenneth Thomas, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, Congressional Research Service,
The Library of Congress
Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School
F. Sessions Cole, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington
University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
Watson A. Bowes, Jr., M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Department of Politics, Princeton
Testimony of Jill L. Stanek, RN
Hearing on H.R. 4292, the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2000"
July 20, 2000
I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for the past five years. Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimesters of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies being aborted are healthy, and sometimes they are not.
The method of abortion that Christ Hospital uses is called "induced labor abortion," also now known as "live birth abortion." This type of abortion can be performed different ways, but the goal always is to cause a pregnant woman's cervix to open so that she will deliver a premature baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward. The way that induced abortion is most often executed at my hospital is by the physician inserting a medication called Cytotec into the birth canal close to the cervix. Cytotec irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open. When this occurs, the small, preterm baby drops out of the uterus, oftentimes alive. It is not uncommon for one of these live aborted babies to linger for an hour or two or even longer. One of them once lived for almost eight hours.
In the event that a baby is aborted alive, he or she receives no medical assessments or care but is only given what my hospital calls "comfort care." "Comfort care" is defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until he or she dies, although even this minimal compassion is not always provided. It is not required that these babies be held during their short lives.
One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down's Syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about 1/2 pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I couldn't tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.
Other co-workers have told me many upsetting stories about live aborted babies whom they have cared for. I was told about an aborted baby who was supposed to have Spina bifida but was delivered with an intact spine. Another nurse is haunted by the memory of an aborted baby who came out weighing much more than expected ~ almost two pounds. She is haunted because she doesn't know if she made a mistake by not getting that baby medical help. A Support Associate told me about a live aborted baby who was left to die on the counter of the Soiled Utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel. This baby was accidentally thrown into the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor.
I was recently told about a situation by a nurse who said, "I can't stop thinking about it." She had a patient who was 23+ weeks pregnant, and it did not look as if her baby would be able to continue to live inside of her. The baby was healthy and had up to a 39% chance of survival, according to national statistics. But the patient chose to abort. The baby was born alive. If the mother had wanted everything done for her baby, there would have been a neonatologist, pediatric resident, neonatal nurse, and respiratory therapist present for the delivery, and the baby would have been taken to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for specialized care. Instead, the only personnel present for this delivery were an obstetrical resident and my co-worker. After delivery the baby, who showed early signs of thriving, was merely wrapped in a blanket and kept in the Labor & Delivery Department until she died 2-1/2 hours later.
Something is very wrong with a legal system that says doctors are mandated to pronounce babies dead but are not mandated to assess babies for life and chances of survival. In other words, our laws currently say that babies have no rights to medical oversight until they are dead. We look the other way and pretend that these babies aren't human while they're alive but human only after they are dead. We issue these babies both birth and death certificates, but it is really only the death certificate that matters. No other children in America are medically abandoned like this.
Abortion is a cancer that is literally killing America. It is killing our children while it is killing our consciences. It began when we took God out of our decision making and proclaimed that the little beings growing inside of women were "products of conception" and not little girls and little boys. Who should be surprised that we keep pushing the envelope so that now we are aborting these "products of conception" alive? I even work at a hospital named "Christ" that does this very thing! It is beyond me to comprehend that we're doing what we're doing now, and so I can't even imagine what horrible ways we will think of next to torture our children. Please help put an end to this by proclaiming infants as American human being homo sapiens with the same legal and medical rights that you and I big people have. Thank you.
Added to second-to-last paragraph of Jill's oral testimony:
"I am also very uncomfortable with the fact that the very doctors who may be miscalculating due dates and fetal birth weights, or misdiagnosing fetal handicaps, are the same ones deciding that these babies should not be assessed after delivery. Shouldn't these babies be given the simple opportunity for second opinion, just like you and I?"
Statement of Allison Baker, RN, BSN
Hearing on H.R. 4292, The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act
Subcommittee on the Constitution
July 20, 2000
In August of 1998 I began working in a high risk labor and delivery unit at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. When I was hired, I was informed of a procedure called "therapeutic abortion" which was performed in the unit. This procedure was reserved for babies with particular conditions such as Down's Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Potter's Syndrome and many others. It was explained to me that in these cases, the mother would have an induced labor to expel the fetus in order to discontinue growth and life. This was an elective procedure and the patient was to be informed of all the details it involved.
Between August of 1998 and August of 1999, I witnessed three particular cases of therapeutic abortions at Christ Hospital first hand. The first occurred on a day shift. I happened to walk into a "soiled utility room" and saw, lying on the metal counter, a fetus, naked, exposed and breathing, moving its arms and legs. The fetus was visibly alive, and was gasping for breath. I left to find the nurse who was caring for the patient and this fetus. When I asked her about the fetus, she said that she was so busy with the mother that she didn't have time to wrap and place the fetus in the warmer, and she asked if I would do that for her. Later I found out that the fetus was 22 weeks old, and had undergone a therapeutic abortion because it had been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. I did wrap the fetus and place him in a warmer and for 2-1/2 hours he maintained a heartbeat, and then finally expired.
The second case involved a couple who had requested a therapeutic abortion for their 20 week fetus with Spina Bifida. My shift started at 11:00 PM, and the patient delivered her fetus about 10 minutes before I took her as a patient. During the time the fetus was alive, the patient kept asking me when the fetus would die. For an hour and 45 minutes the fetus maintained a heartbeat. The parents were frustrated, and obviously not prepared for this long period of time. Since I was the nurse of both the mother and fetus, I held the fetus in my arms until it finally expired.
The third case occurred when a nurse with whom I was working was taking care of a mother waiting to deliver her 16 week Down's Syndrome fetus. Again, I walked into the soiled utility room and the fetus was fully exposed, lying on the baby scale. I went to find the nurse who was caring for this mother and fetus, and she asked if I could help her by measuring and weighing the fetus for the charting and death certificate. When I went back into the soiled utility room, the fetus was moving its arms and legs. I then listened for a heartbeat, and found that the fetus still was alive. I wrapped the fetus and in 45 minutes the fetus finally expired.