HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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Painting a Different Picture

For some truly wonderful pictures of motherhood, might I suggest you visit the site of Katie m. Berggren http://kmberggren.com/

For some truly wonderful pictures of motherhood, might I suggest you visit the site of Katie m. Berggren

I don’t normally like to do this sort of thing, but someone I care about alerted me to this recent post over on Facebook. As it is a time sensitive issue, and as Facebook is notoriously difficult to comment on (in a meaningful way), I have decided to pursue the issue here.

I’m not sure if you have noticed, but the pro-abortion supporters have been working really hard lately at painting a different picture of themselves. The talking points of choice and women’s freedom are fading into the background as a new tactic begins to take the center stage. Abortion as the kind and loving option!

[Author's note - following the links below will take you to stories that are emotionally disturbing. They do contain graphic and tragic content that is not for everyone ...]

There was the young woman who so bravely (and out of love for others struggling with the shame and stigma of abortion) filmed her abortion to show how empowering and uplifting it can be. There was the couple in Britain who bravely and lovingly poisoned their unborn child so he wouldn’t have to suffer in life. It was after all the only thing a mother could do. And because it was such a hard decision to make you know it had to be the only right one to make.

And then there was this article, about a young woman bravely struggling with her decision to abort her baby [tomorrow] by writing an open letter to the child she is going to terminate. Sarah Burris who writes the article for Blue Nation Review, after accusing those who oppose abortion of thinking all women who get one are selfish, finishes with the summation: “The facts, and this woman’s story, paint a different picture.”

So, just what are the facts here? And what picture is being painted? Best go right to the source and see for ourselves. [Again, my apologies to those who will find this upsetting]

Little Thing:

I can feel you in there. I’ve got twice the appetite and half the energy. It breaks my heart that I don’t feel the enchantment that I’m supposed to feel. I am both sorry and not sorry.

I am sorry that this is goodbye. I’m sad that I’ll never get to meet you. You could have your father’s eyes and my nose and we could make our own traditions, be a family. But, Little Thing, we will meet again. I promise that the next time I see that little blue plus, the next time you are in the same reality as me, I will be ready for you.

Little Thing, I want you to be happy. More than I want good things for myself, I want the best things for the future. That’s why I can’t be your mother right now. I am still growing myself. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a new life into a world where I am still haunted by ghosts of the life I’ve lived. I want you to have all the things I didn’t have when I was a child. I want you to be better than I ever was and more magnificent than I ever could be. I can’t do to you what was done to me: Plant a seed made of love and spontaneity into a garden, and hope that it will grow on only dreams. Love and spontaneity are beautiful, but they have little merit. And while I have plenty of dreams to go around, dreams are not an effective enough tool for you to build a better tomorrow. I can’t bring you here. Not like this.

I love you, Little Thing, and I wish the circumstances were different. I promise I will see you again, and next time, you can call me Mom.

First, lets begin with the seeming confusion in the recipient of this letter. Is it a little thing or a person being addressed? One doesn’t usually write letters to things. But then again, one doesn’t normally go around talking about killing people next friday.

Next, consider that this woman states she wants the unborn to be happy, and that more than she wants good things for herself she wants the best things for the future … but whose future? Obviously not the little thing in question. She wants her child to have everything she didn’t have as a child, but since she can’t give her all that  her only recourse is to kill it instead. This, by  the way, is what Sarah Burris states is one of the main reasons for abortion – no money to raise a child. That and abusive partners. which I think may lead into the next point.

Next this young lady states that ghosts of the life she’s lived would cause too much harm to the child in question. So again, to avoid  the possible victimization of this person in the future the best solution is to kill them before it happens.

Once you get past the emotionalism of the words (which I don’t think you are supposed to do – remember if the person is agonizing over the decision then whatever they decide must be right) … once you get to the heart of what is being said … such words do indeed paint a picture, but one that is very dark and terrifying.

At best these words paint a picture of  someone who doesn’t really believe the humanity of the baby involved, but will play on the heart strings of those who do to show that abortion is not selfish (really?) and is in fact the only loving thing you can do sometimes.

At worst they show (perhaps even more fearfully) someone who does in their heart of hearts believe in the humanity of the child in question and simply doesn’t care. If you or I were to walk up to anyone on the street and say the things this mother says to her unborn child we would rightly be called sociopathic. Why is it criminal in one case and “brave and loving” in another?

I am not saying all this to attack the person struggling with her life and her decisions. I think she is struggling in large part because she, like so many other young women (and men) have been duped into thinking something that their hearts don’t really believe. I am saying all this in the hopes of getting past the brazen and deceptive picture some would like to paint of abortion, to the truths that lie behind the emotion.

Finally, I am writing all of this to ask you to join with me in praying for this young woman, and for her unborn child. Pray for a different understanding of love to guide her actions tomorrow. Pray that this young woman, and so many others like her would come to see that her life is in the hands of  the God who paid everything (even His own life on the cross) for her salvation because cost is never really a consideration when it is someone you truly love.  The very same God who has brought her through the harsh abuse of this cruel and calculating world by sacrificing not someone else but himself. Just as He did for that precious baby He has entrusted to her.


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Thanks for the Lima Beans

give_thanksSee that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
[1 Thessalonians 5:15-18]

This month marks the annual observance of Thanksgiving celebrations here in Canada. Family, Food, Fun and fellowship are high on the list of what most people will take time to be thankful for.

And while sometimes it can be difficult to be really and completely thankful for brothers and sisters who won’t let your childhood discretions go even after all these years, or to be really and truly thankful for things like brussel sprouts and lima beans (even if they are good for you). All in all Thanksgiving is a pretty easy holiday to get behind.

But is that all there is to be thankful for? Food and friends and good cheer? What about being thankful for times of sickness, because it reminds me to appreciate the gifts of health and vitality God normally grants me? What about being thankful for hardships which teach me to trust in God’s grace and not my own meagre abilities to cope? What about being thankful for all those who disagree with me thus causing me to study and reaffirm my beliefs instead of just coasting along giving them little thought?

Can we be thankful for those who hate us? How else can we learn to love as God loved us … without hope or thought of return? Or how about being thankful for the death of a loved one … not that they have died, but that through the gate of death they are no longer burdened with grief and sin and pain as we are, but are resting peacefully in the Lord?

So this Thanksgiving I am going to try and be thankful for the things we don’t normally appreciate. I will be thankful not just for the things that make me happier but for the things that make me better, the things that draw me closer to God … that, and lima beans.


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Back to School

Back-to-SchoolAssemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

[Deuteronomy 31:12-13]

The supplies are laid in, the backpacks stuffed and hanging by the door. The children may not like it, but they are ready to go back to school. Yet even as I write this I know that despite all the protestations and excuses, once they are back even the most dead-set against it, will change their mind and enjoy being there.

Learning is fun! Think about how it felt to learn something new. Like when you figured out that new kind of stitch, or finally mastered that tricky chord progression. Like when you learned how to prepare that dish you only thought you could get in restaurants, or fixed the plumbing in your bathroom by yourself. Remember? It felt great didn’t it!

So, when did we change from being learn-it-all’s (with all the joy of new discoveries and new accomplishments) to know-it-all’s full of only scorn and world-weariness? Why especially with the Word of God? Why all the excuses for not learning? Why continue to miss out on all the joy that could be had? Just think of all the treasures waiting to be discovered. Just think of all the life-changing wisdom to be gained. Imagine the surprises God has in store for you … if you are willing to gather before Him and learn.

Don’t be a know-it-all. It’s no fun. This fall, as the children go back to the joys of learning, make an effort to do the same. In private devotions and Bible reading. In Bible Study. In being more intentional in connecting to the sermon (your pastor has resources to help you with all of these!) Open your ears and eyes to Jesus, and see what He has to teach you. Open your heart to learning and see where He leads you. Once you get past all the excuses I know you will enjoy it!


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Summertime Symbols

summer-bbqFor you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat …
[Isaiah 25:4]

I’m not one who is a big fan of summer. It’s a dangerous time of year for someone of such fair complexion (some say I make albinos look tanned). And it holds little to look forward to for those of us who don’t deal well with the heat (room temperature is on the high end of my comfort zone). My heart has always belonged to crisp autumn days, or sunny winter weekends. And yet, even during this painfully summery season I do still have a favourite time of day. One that warms my heart in a most pleasant way.

It’s early evening and the heat of day has finally lost its bite. The back yard is now fully in the shade of the maple tree and between the house and the big umbrella, so is the patio. There is cooling breeze blowing off the bay. The BBQ is filling the yard with mouth-watering scents of the coming feast, and there is an ice-cold beverage close at hand. Family and friends have gathered for lively conversation and the laughter of children playing in the pool or sandbox or swing set is the sweetest music to the ear.

That my friends, even if you don’t care for summer, is an almost perfect picture of heaven.

Our days in this world can quickly become one big hot mess of suffering and sorrow. It can be hard and sweaty work with little seeming reward. It is so easy to feel burned out by obligations or suffocated by so many demands. And that’s just when things are normal. It’s even worse when they go wrong.

But God is our shield and our shade throughout. Called to His Word and Sacraments we are sustained and protected. Gathered in His House with our Christian family we are uplifted and encouraged. And when the long and gruelling days of this life are over, He is our promise of rest and celebration. Grab a cool drink, and come on in, the feast is prepared, your place is waiting …

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
[Isaiah 25:6-8]


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Working Hard at Rest

rest areaSo then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
[Hebrews 4:9-11]

Anyone who has had to plan a holiday knows that relaxing takes a lot of effort. Work needs to be wrapped   I can leave it behind for a while. Plans put in place for while I am gone. The vacation itself needs to be planned (where are you going to be and who will you be with?), supplies need to be gathered, time allocated, and people informed.

Is it any wonder that very few of us are able to relax for the first few days of our holidays? We are still wound up, strung out, and in full work mode. The holiday doesn’t really begin until your head joins your body, leaving work and concerns behind. Yes, relaxation takes a lot of work if you are going to do it right. Rest means effort.

But the rewards are well worth it! Do you remember what you did at work last week? Last year? Ever? Of course not. Not really, anyway. But, do you remember that time at the lake with your family? Or that trip you took out of country as a youngster? Or that reunion so many years ago? Of course you do … and fondly too!

For many people work is how they spend their time. The weekend, the summer, the holidays are where they really live! The joy of that rest and relaxation gets people through the frustrations and tedium of 9-5.

But rest doesn’t just happen. That’s important for us Christians to remember. Just as our bodies need rest, so do our souls. It is why God made room for a Sabbath rest right from the very beginning. It is why He rested Himself. Not because He was tired, but because we will be. Our spiritual batteries need to be recharged regularly or we just won’t have what we need to get through this life.

But this kind of rest doesn’t come easy either. It is something that takes conscious effort. It takes planning and committment. It takes a conscious effort. Where are you going to be? Who will you be with? What will you need? How much time should you set aside? All these need to be worked out before the benefit of God’s rest can work its blessings in your life. Your heart needs to be there together with your bottom when you plunk it down in the pew. Being ready to receive God’s Rest means putting in the effort ahead of time to really appreciate it when it comes.

But the reward is well worth it! For where Christ (who is our Sabbath rest) is there God refreshes unto everlasting life. The precious words of Forgiveness, the unconditional love of our Saviour. The blood-bought gift of salvation and a peace that passes all understanding … a peace that even passes the terrible Wednesday slump. All these and more are ready and waiting for you in the Word and the Sacraments. Are you ready to get the most out of them?


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Let’s Get this Party Started!

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And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  [Acts 2:46-47]

When you think of the earliest Christian Church, the word party probably doesn’t come to mind. Trials, persecution, martyrdom … sure, but party? Not usually. But read again the above passage from Acts, describing the life of that early church and it doesn’t sound all that bad to me! Food, and fellowship, glad and generous hearts … it sounds a lot like a party to me. If only we all had to suffer such trials more often.

This month marks what many consider to be the birthday of the New Testament Christian Church. It also, as it just happens this year, to mark the beginning of what we in my household like to call our little season of birthdays. First up is Dad (me) followed in pretty quick succession by Daughter #1, Daughter #2, and the one and only Son. It is safe to say that our house will see its share of parties over the next couple of months.

And the parties will be as different as the birthday boy or girl. Mine will have lots of chips and some quiet activities (board games anyone?). Others will have lots of sweets, no cake, extra ice-cream, NO chocolate, plenty of friends, swimsuits, movies, outings … and who knows what else!

And each will also come with its own set of trials. Some of us are getting older and finding it harder to keep up with (and relate to) the younger ones. Some are still trying to find a place to fit in. Others are trying hard to carve out their own space, separate from their siblings. One is the lone male (except for dad) in a sea of estrogen and hair accessories, and princesses.

Yet there is one thing that they will all have in common. For each, true happiness is enjoying where you are and what you have. Thankful for those around you, and sharing the blessings that make you unique with those who have helped to make you who you are. That’s what makes parties so interesting. Even if you have all the same elements, no two parties will be identical.

It is much the same for the Church and her celebrations too. She may face trials (as she always has) but these don’t define her. She may struggle to find her place in this ever-changing world, carving out her own space in the public square. She may have to stand alone in a sea of changing opinions. She may feel her age from time to time. But still she knows how to party!

With glad and generous hearts, through time together in prayer and worship and fellowship. Sharing all the gifts that makes her unique, with those who have made her who she is. There may be many guests, or only a chosen few. The celebration may be quiet and contented, or exuberant and busy. Yes the celebrations may be as different as the congregations who hold them, but the underlying joy is the same.

And if we approached this thing called church, more like we do our own birthday celebrations (and less like a chore), people will be drawn to it! They were back then. After all, who doesn’t like a party?


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Winter is Past

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
[Song of Solomon 2:10-12]

101_2567Are you ready for the Victoria Day long weekend? Who am I kidding? After a winter like this last one, who isn’t? For many people in Canada this annual holiday marks the unofficial start of summer … or at least the summer mindset. Sometimes I think that we try to hurry the warm days of summer along by all agreeing to use our barbeques all weekend long. It couldn’t hurt, could it?

Even though the actual start of summer will still be a full month away, people all across our country will use this coming Victoria Day weekend to live like its summer already. Along with the aforementioned backyard cooking will come patios with all their long-forgotten furniture, music, family get-together’s and just a general feeling of happiness that the worst is finally over.

And lest you think I’m upset that people would be “jumping the gun” and letting loose too soon, let me assure you I am not. In fact, if anything, they’re late to the party! For we’ve already begun our celebrations in Easter. We’ll still be celebrating when the long weekend comes around. But we’re not celebrating the end of winter and the coming of summer. We’ve got bigger things to be joyful about. For Easter marks the end of death and the beginning of everlasting Life!

In Easter we throw open the doors and windows of the cold and oppressive life of sin and joyously step into the bright sunshine of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. From the open and empty tomb flows a refreshing breeze full of the promise of new life and beautiful days ahead. In Easter we are guaranteed the food of everlasting life, at a banquet table that never empties. In Easter we look forward to the grandest family reunion ever seen. All our long lost and distant relatives together again for a backyard party at God’s own house.

But aren’t we jumping the gun ourselves in celebrating all this already?

No!

For where the bright summer promises of meteorologists must always be taken with a handy umbrella and a backup plan, the promises of God in Christ are iron-clad. They are already ours. The moment the angels announced the good news over the rolled away stone and the empty grave clothes the party was already well under-way. And it is only picking up. Never feel bad about enjoying it now … it’s been a long time coming!

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