Since I can remember, I have been around pets. I remember my grandma having a dog named “Fu Fu” when I was barely walking. I remember a cat named Smokey when I was in pre-school. And there is a list of dogs and cats and rabbits that extends the past 27 years of my life; a list that I will not attempt to re-create here. I have had the best pets anyone could ever ask for (with the exception of the God forsaken rabbit that attempted to sever my hand when I was 11). They have all been playful, protective, well trained, well behaved, family centered pets. But each and every pet that I have had has had the same problem: they die far, far too early.
Now when I say they die too early, I do not mean that they all have “untimely” deaths. Most of them, I would say, have actually lived a full life expectancy for their particular breed/species. When I say too early, I mean it is like losing a beloved member of your family once every 10-15 years (And if you are like me, much more frequently than that if you grew up with many pets that were staggered in age.)
Most of us, hopefully, will only experience a handful of close family deaths in our lifetime. But pets? It is conceivable for a child to experience the death of several pets before even their high school graduation (Obviously, I understand that many people have grandparents, parents, and siblings die prior to this event as well. But I am certain a far greater number of people lose pets. And for the purpose of this post, that is our focus. Please do not view this as me equating the death of a dog to somebody losing their mother.) And if you are a multi-pet family, it will only compound this problem.
I have cried many tears in my life over the death of a pet. We had a cat die under our house, one dog just got old and wandered off, and several have had health complications and had to be put “to sleep.” But nothing has ever hit me like my most recent loss.
3 years ago, my wife and I got married in mid-May. By the end of that month, we had gone out and got a puppy. Around this time, my parents had to get their last remaining Rottweiler put to sleep. It was a rough time for them, as he had been around for a while. They had literally raised that dog from the moment he was born.
Shortly after my wife and I got our puppy, my parents had a neighbor who had a few extra mixed lab puppies that they needed to give away. My mother was reluctant, but they went ahead and took one of the dogs in. Instantly, my dog (Piper) and my parents’ dog (Dixie) became best friends. They would play and run and fight until they literally fell down out of exhaustion. Dixie would grow up to be quadruple the size of Piper, but they played constantly like they were still little puppies.
And then 2 years ago, our son was born. And that boy loved his dogs. As mentioned above, Dixie had grown to be quite a large dog. About the time that he learned how to walk, and maybe even before that, our son decided that it would be great to try to ride Dixie. She did not seem to mind at all. He would then come home and assume that he could do the same thing with Piper, who was roughly the same size that he was. But that never deterred him. He loved both of those dogs.
2 weeks ago, Dixie was tragically killed in a car accident. My mother- devastated. My dad- speechless. My wife- sympathetic. Me- in tears as I type this post. I don’t ever remember being this emotional for the death of any pet that I have ever had. But even apart from the suddenness of it, this one is just different. My son hasn’t the slightest clue what has happened.
It brings us to tears every day, because he is constantly asking where Dixie is. When my dad tells him that Dixie died, and that she has gone to heaven (theologically debatable, but not today,) my son asks when she’s coming back, and if we can go to get her. It is the most heartbreaking part of being a parent that I have had to experience so far. And then just last night, while we were praying, out of nowhere he says that he misses Dixie. It has been a very trying week for our family.
You would think, that after revealing all of this, I would be drawing the conclusion that the ownership of pets is vanity, and painful, and thus should be avoided. But I do not think that is my conclusion at all. On the contrary, I think that inviting a pet into your home is one of the most beneficial things a family can do. If it were not my dog, or my parents’ dog teaching my son about death, it may very well be me or my parents death that teaches him about death. I think that introducing children (and ourselves) to pets gives us the satisfaction of a friend who is always glad to see us, depends on us, and gives us all of the joy and the happiness that I described above that comes with having a pet, and then one day they just die. And it is over. And we have to be able to deal with that, and it might as well be a dog that we learn to cope with before we are struck with the much more serious death of a relative or close friend. To turn away from having a pet just to avoid the death would be denying yourself and your family of all of the joy that comes for however long they are with you. Most things that fill us with joy tend to come with some type of pain or sacrifice.
Death is a very unnatural thing. It is not right. I think that is why we fumble for words and try so hard to comfort those who are left surviving when somebody dies, because there is just a void and a sense of longing that is left. We know that this is not right. This is all part of the fall of man, and sin that dwells in each of us. While death is still a part of life, we can rest assured that while Christ tasted death, He conquered it, and crushed its head, and currently reigns over it and all things. For those who have faith in Christ: Death is temporary, but life is forever.
Tags: Abortion, Christ, glory, God, margaret sanger, planned parenthood, racism, Roe v. Wade
Tags: Abortion, Christ, glory, God, margaret sanger, planned parenthood, racism, Roe v. Wade
On January 22, 2013, America reached a significant milestone. Forty years prior to that day, in 1973, the US Supreme Court weighed in on a decision in Roe v Wade, ruling that the “the emotional, mental, and physical life of the mother” justified the right of a woman by her own choice to end the life of a child growing inside of her. I have read several interesting and shocking articles that have been written on the occasion of this 40th anniversary, and I would encourage you to do the same (DG-Killing Children, DG- Racism and Abortion, and Washington Post- Silent Evangelicals).
I had so much to say concerning this topic, that on the date of the anniversary, and even the week surrounding it, I was unable to write something less than a novel to explain my thoughts. In this post, my aim is just to shed some light on what abortion is. I have some other opinions, mostly directed at the Church, but will likely just give a few observations, facts, and two horrifying videos for those of you that may be interested (Warning: These videos are not for the faint of heart, and are disturbingly graphic.)
What prompted me to ultimately write this post were the pictures posted at the top of this page. This is the right arm and side profile of my daughter, who will be born in late June, if the Lord wills. These pictures were taken in late January, when my wife was 18 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Since I had just read so many articles on abortion less than a week prior to seeing these beautiful pictures of my baby girl, I thought: Certainly, with the development I see in these pictures, we are well past the point that anyone could get an abortion, right? So I looked into it.
The majority of abortions occur prior to week 13 of the pregnancy (like the one in the Youtube video below, which was conducted at week 12.) However, 11% do occur after week 13, and still over 5% occur after week 15 (approximately 142,000 and 67,000 abortions, respectively.) While most sources say that week 20 is the latest an abortion can be performed, there are some places where it is allowed up to week 24, or what they call the age of “viability” (Now considered a real human baby, because it has an increased chance of survival if removed from the mother’s womb.)
This was fascinating to me. At this point, I have heard my daughter’s heartbeat (several weeks prior to getting these images), I have seen her move positions at the laughter of my wife (on the ultrasound), and have seen the outline of her beautiful head and body. Her heart has four chambers. Her brain is functioning. Nearly all of her bones are formed. Her nervous system is in place. She can hear sounds from outside of the womb and would react to light if available. She is very much alive while dwelling amidst my wife’s inner organs. And it is a beautiful thing.
Planned Parenthood is often seen as the culprit of perpetuating the popularity of abortions in the US. This organization, founded by Margaret Sanger, is a group of clinics spread throughout all of the US with the intent to “improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices.” Sanger was a woman who considered lighter skinned races to be superior to darker skinned races, and curiously chose the poor and minority populated area of Harlem in NYC to open her first birth control clinic. For more on this, read the “DG- Racism and abortion” link in the first paragraph. Currently, Planned Parenthood’s abortion services section markets abortion as a “a safe and legal way to end pregnancy.” It is odd to me that any procedure that involves the death of ½ of the patients entering into it would ever be considered “safe.” Also, according to the PP website, 1 out of every 3 women in the US have had at least one abortion by the time they turn 45. That is a huge number. And I understand that those of you who disagree with my overall view of the procedure would argue that it is a fetus, not a patient and not even a human. And I guess that is the ultimate point I am trying to convey here: These are simply tiny humans.
Another odd statement from a Planned Parenthood site comes from their Chapel Hill, NC clinic webpage. Here, they state that abortions at this clinic can only be performed up to 19 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, just under that 20 week mark I mentioned earlier. The logical assumption that I made from this cutoff is that somebody deemed it unsafe, unwise or unethical for an abortion to be performed past this date. At some point, the pregnancy just must go on. However, further down the page, they inform inquiring patients: “If your last period was after 19 weeks and 6 days, we can still help. Call us for a referral list of health care providers in your area that offer other abortion services.” Essentially, you can sum that statement up like this: “We are uncomfortable actually doing this procedure at this point, but know people with lower ethical and health standards than we have. We would be glad to get you in contact with them.” At best, this is a questionable business practice.
I do not pretend to be unbiased on this topic. As the child of a teenage mom, I find it hard to excuse anyone on the basis that having a child is just inconvenient or unintended. I am not sure that a pregnancy can be more unintended than when it occurs between two 14 year old kids. But, by God’s grace, my mom made a responsible decision and accepted the consequences of her actions: me. People know that child bearing is a very real possibility following sex. Just like people know that jail is a very real possibility following a crime. That is why even contraceptives give percentages of effectiveness. Abortion is faulting the unborn child for a lack of judgment and short sightedness on the part of the parent(s). ***I am not condemning abortion in the case of rape. In that case, while the baby is still a living human, the choice was not that of the mother to initiate the process. I do know that there is still emotional harm done to women who undergo abortions after they are raped, but understand the delicacy of that situation. This scenario accounts for less than 1% of all abortions.*** This is a cruel and unjust penalty to these children. Since Roe v Wade, 50 million children have been killed prior to their first out of womb breath. CS Lewis, though writing about contraceptives rather than abortion, wrote in 1944 in The Abolition of Man: “And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer.” By our generation’s desire to have selective pregnancy and “family planning”, we have possibly and probably handicapped our next generations the very thing that would make them successful and fruitful generations: existence. It is a dangerous game we are playing. And one that should not be taken lightly.
Videos: Warning- These videos show very disturbing and very graphic content. While they certainly add perspective and value to the conversation brought up in this post, they are not suitable for everyone. If you decide to continue, I would recommend keeping a tissue close by. They are horrifying.
The Silent Scream (28 minute video. If you do not have this kind of time, fast forward to around minute 13 or 14. Also know this video was made in the 80s, and while the statistics have changed some, the procedure is largely similar.)
Tags: Bible, bruno mars, Christ, Church, glory, locked out of heaven, Marriage
Tags: Bible, bruno mars, Christ, Church, glory, locked out of heaven, Marriage
6 weeks. In the musical era that has given us Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” has somehow spent the past 6 weeks at the top of the Billboards’ Hot 100. It has been critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone, Billboard, and several other music critic outlets. I have several feelings about this song, and I hope to address most of them in something longer than a paragraph and shorter than a novel.
I know that for many Christians, listening to “secular” music, and certainly admitting such actions in public, is very much taboo. However, I have a 30 minute commute both ways to work, and enjoy a variety in my music. While I think there is a lack of musical creativity in our generation as a whole, there are some great artists out right now, and some less than great artists who happen to be very entertaining. Bruno Mars, for me, typically falls into the second category. I’ll be honest with you, I love his music. I do. I’m a Bruno Mars fan. For my money, I don’t know if it gets any better than when he sings “The Lazy Song” (10 points if you get that movie allusion). However, I am thoroughly disappointed in his latest “hit” “Locked out of Heaven.” To me, apart from the blasphemous references, which I will address later, the song displays lazy songwriting and a lack of creative thought.
A quick word count shows that of this song’s 293 words, 67 of them are either “yeah” or “oh”. Don’t worry about busting out your calculator, I did it for you: 23%; nearly ¼ of the entire song consists of one of these “filler” words. They add nothing of value but to take up additional space. Maybe this does not bother anyone else, but if I’m going to hear a song 3 times a day, I typically expect more. The chorus then essentially repeats two lines: “Your sex takes me to paradise” X2 and “You make me feel like I’ve been locked out of Heaven” X2. According to Mars, (Wikipedia. I know that MLA format frowns upon using Wikipedia as a source, but fortunately I’m a college dropout and can do what I want.) the song came to him out of the blue one night in a studio session. My guess is that it was written, forgotten about, and turned into a single apart from any additional work after that one night. Over half of the composition of this song has already been mentioned in this paragraph, and I have not even gotten to a single verse. And it is the verse lyrics that have led me to write about this song to begin with. This concludes my three paragraph introduction.
Despite Mars’ clear efforts to equate some of God’s most beautiful truths to the sexual pleasure of a particular woman, I think that this song (accidentally) points to a deeper spiritual truth that we are told about in Romans 1: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse… Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man…” This song is filled with comparisons between something beautiful that God has given with us for the intention of worshipping Him that Mars has instead decided to attribute to his lover. Indirectly, Mars, while blaspheming, is actually proving this passage in Romans to be accurate.
All men, in the depths of our hearts, know that God is the creator of all things. We know that the intricacies of a baby developing in the womb, or the perfect gravitational pull of the cosmos cannot be mere coincidence or the result of a random explosion and the joining of cells. Mars demonstrates this swap of glory when trying to describe his lover. His feelings of her love are indescribable. He is trying to find just the right way to explain what it is that he feels, and in doing so, he can think of nothing else but things that he has undoubtedly heard or read about God himself. He uses the lines “Never had much faith in love or miracles… but swimming in your world is something spiritual. I’m born again every time you spend the night.” and “You bring me to my knees, you make me testify. You could make a sinner change his ways. Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light…” Obviously love and miracles are themes and demonstrations throughout all of Scripture. The concept of being born again and seeing the light are also references to New Testament truths (particularly in the book of John). However, the picture that they are meant to portray is the beautiful picture of God, and His great love for His people. That even when they were consumed in their own ways and were enemies of Him, He did not spare His own Son, but sent Him to die so that their sins could be forgiven, and that through faith in Him they may be born again and the light of the gospel of Christ would shine through to the darkness of man’s heart. Bruno Mars has missed this point. While he thinks he is complimenting his lover, he has actually exchanged God’s beautiful glory for something much less beautiful. Fortunately for us, God has given us a great gift for when we find someone that we “want to spend the rest of our days” with (another quote from this song): Marriage. The proper way to honor your lover in this situation, rather than exchanging God’s glory for theirs, is to display God’s covenant love for His people, and a man taking a woman as his bride, and laying his life down for her, as Christ laid his life down for His church. This is indescribably greater than anything that Mars is attempting to display here.
While his idolatry is being sung by millions and praised by critics, the reality is that no person can live up the billing he is trying to fill here. The greatest woman or man in the world cannot satisfy us spiritually. And Heaven is far greater than any sex this world has to offer. If anything, sex is merely a small taste of the glory that God has in store for his people. The joy and the pleasure of the Lord are everlasting.
Ultimately, Bruno Mars is right in his analogy. If we are trying to describe something to be incredible, and want everyone to know that we have indescribable love for something, there is no greater example than that of the way that God saves sinners and gives them new birth in Christ. However, in doing so, he has fulfilled Romans 1 in his efforts, and exchanged the glory of God for an image that resembles mortal man. And does so with poor song writing.
Tags: Amendment One, Bible, Christ, Church, election, Gray, Grey, LGBT, Marriage, politics
Tags: Amendment One, Bible, Christ, Church, election, Gray, Grey, LGBT, Marriage, politics
Please read this in its entirety before commenting. Some of you will disagree with the first paragraph; the rest will disagree with the following passages; and everyone will equally dislike the conclusion. I have put much thought into this, and wish I could explain this and more in a blog friendly format. Unfortunately, this has turned into a novel.
This has been a topic of much debate, and for much of the debate (online, at least), I have been on the sidelines; the subject being Amendment One/The Marriage Amendment. In this amendment, North Carolina is seeking to define marriage as between one man and one woman, thus protecting current marriage laws prohibiting same-sex marriages from being overturned by an individual judge or appellate court.
There are many things that are being said: some true, some false, some a slight mixture of the two. I have read the amendment, several news articles, a dozen or so blog posts, and countless Facebook posts and threads. As I am with most things, I have thought very long and hard about my own views on this amendment. I am not easily influenced, and do not change my view without a great deal of evidence. My goal here is not so much to change anyone’s view, nor persuade anyone to vote one way or another. My effort is to try to shed some light into both camps, and hope for people to realize that there is, in fact, gray area here.
1.1. God created Adam and Eve, man and woman he created them. Genesis 1 and 2 outline God’s creation, and His institution of marriage. A husband should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. This institution was a lasting one, being practiced by every civilization in recorded history. The Old Testament defines this union further, in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, as prohibiting same-sex intercourse, thus outlawing homosexuality for Jews. In the New Testament, we see Christ endorse marriage, in Mark 10:9, saying what God has joined together, let not man separate. We also see him celebrating in John 2 at a wedding in Cana. After Christ’s resurrection, the apostle Paul likens the relationship between a husband and a wife to that of Christ and His Church. Paul also condemns same-sex relationships, outlining in Romans 1 that these relationships are a result of humanity turning against God repeatedly, and God giving them over to a debased mind. The case against homosexuality within the church and its standing as a sin is indisputable for Bible believing Christians.
1.2. In a 2012 America, there is much more to a marriage than a commitment to a couple and God (not within the church; but remember, there is a large group of non-Christians who live here as well). In the United State, couples are married by pastors, rabbis, monks, dead rock and roll singers, yoga trainers and magistrates. Divorce occurs in nearly 50% of all marriages (no official source.) The government encourages marriage by offering tax benefits, health benefits, and welfare benefits based on a person’s marital status. In a time of civil rights, it seems hard to justify denying these benefits to 8 percent of the US population (per a 2010 study by The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior). Marriage, in a legal/state perspective, is about much more than the God ordained union between a husband and a wife.
1.3. The singling out of a single group of people to exclude from marriage based on their lifestyle being a sin is incredibly hypocritical. If this amendment is to pass, what would stop the state from creating future amendments to restrict the actions of a particular group of people (i.e., Christians)? The arguments that I have seen most are that marriage is about kids and family and same-sex relationships are just not what God intended. Well with the divorce rate in the church, and the number of single-parent families, it doesn’t appear that we as a church or society are pushing to outlaw divorce or re-marriage. These are at least equally harmful to the family and God’s plan for marriage, yet is just accepted. (Disclaimer: My parents were young teenagers when I was born and my mother raised me as a single mom for many years. There is a lot of divorce in my family. I am not saying that we should outlaw divorce or excommunicate anyone, I just think we should be consistent and not pick and choose what sins should be tolerated.)
Disclaimer: Paragraph 1.3 in not worded as well as I would like it to be. Marriage in the Biblical sense should absolutely be restricted from same sex couples. A church should not endorse or perform such a union. However, the offering of civil and state benefits to people for getting married, and then neglecting the 7 or 8 percent of the population that are restricted from being married is just inconsistent, in my opinion.
- 2. Benefits-
2.1. One common thing that I have read is this statement: “Well the marriage amendment only defines marriage. There are no other consequences or additional strings attached. It is just straight forward; define marriage as one man and one woman.” I agree with this statement on the surface. However, obviously the legislators did not, because they deemed it necessary to include this statement: “This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.” Well that’s funny. If all we are doing is defining marriage, why all of the extra jargon? Simple- because politicians lie, lawyers are crafty and people are cheap. There was something like this passed a few years ago. A bill was passed through the NC congress for a never-ending stream of revenue to pay for the public school system and stop tuition hikes at UNC schools. This of course, was the NC Education Lottery, raising 2.3 billion dollars since 2005 according to the homepage. Yet 2 passed bonds and hundreds of layoffs and 4 years without teacher raises (and a 1% raise this year…what a joke. Different topic though), money is still flowing out of tax payer money despite what was intended by the law.
2.2. There is definite potential for unintended consequences in this instance. While I don’t believe health insurance will be affected by this amendment, contrary to popular propaganda, I do believe there will be additional hurdles for gay couples to cross to do very essential things. This includes making life-saving decisions at hospitals, hospital visitation, adoption (potentially, depending on how a judge interprets that extra clause in the amendment), and I’m sure a few others. Homosexuality is not trending down. People will not choose to be straight just because a law is upheld. There are laws in 30 states outlining the same definition, yet the LGBT community is growing exponentially. There needs to be further definitions or rights granted to same sex partners in the event of an emergency and/or other scenarios.
- 3. Conclusions-
3.1. I decided months ago that I would not vote against this amendment. I came to this conclusion after much thought, and coming across the passage in Romans 1 that condemned people not only for participating in ungodly acts, but giving approval for those who practice them (I will also note that pride and being disobedient to parents is breathed in the same breath as sins against God in this passage, along with homosexuality. I pray we don’t start legislating against pride.) I decided a few days ago, that with the amendment being worded as it is, and incomplete in my eyes, I’m not entirely sure that I can vote for it. I have laid out several thoughts here as to why I could potentially see voting against it. I have many views on how the church should react and view issues like this one, but that will be for a different post. Romans 14:23 says this: “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
3.2. I have heard it said that not voting for this amendment is a vote against it. Romans 14 calls that statement a lie. If there is a doubt in your mind, or something that you cannot reconcile in your heart to be correct, to go against that is to proceed apart from faith, which would be a sin. For those in Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us, and our conscience bears witness to Him. The beautiful thing about the Bride of Christ is that we are all quite different. Some of us feel compelled to restrict how we live; others take to the book of Galatians and live in the Liberty that has been given in Christ. To believe in the liberty and continue to follow the Law is sin, just as one that is attempting to follow the Law and delves into liberty apart from faith is in sin.
3.3. In reading all of this, I hope that it has been beneficial to some. I know many will disagree with what I am saying here, and since I am writing for and against both sides, I fully expect to take heat from all sides. I urge everyone to vote by faith. If you are convinced that this issue needs to be legislated, then you ought to do it. If you are convinced that this amendment is going too far, and current laws are good enough, then you should vote against it. As for me, my conscience, and the evidence before me, will not allow me to vote one way or the other. And to do it in doubt would be, a sin. Maybe that too could be legislated…
I do not envision posting on here a great deal, but there are a few times when I just feel compelled to speak my mind, and this is a more desirable forum than a fb note. My writing is not overly eloquent, my grammar is not perfect, and my vocabulary could be better, but I try to choose my wording and phrases carefully. I intend to be honest, transparent and God glorifying in all of my writings. I encourage comments. I will try to respond to everything that I can, my request is that everyone can be as dignified and civil as possible. Grace and peace, I hope your life is enriched by what I have to say, and that you will be inspired to read the Word of God and let the peace of God rule over your life.