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

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Buzzwords … or the “Love” Word?

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. [1 John 3:18]

Tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness are the buzzwords of our modern age. They are the words our culture has decided to use to show their understanding of love. Don’t believe me? Show yourself to be intolerant, or divisive in any way, and people will quickly tell you how unloving you are. The problem is not whether you are living up to these ideals, but that they really have nothing to do with true, real, or genuine love at all.

Tolerance, acceptance, and inclusiveness are just words. Words, which sound loving on the surface, but in reality promote attitudes and actions that are anything but. They are the very words that excuse inaction in the quest to simply “live and let live”. They are words that gloss over problems, sin, and real differences by saying “you have yours and I have mine”.

They are words that are designed to make it easy to feel like you are loving when in fact you are only being selfish. Most who champion such wordy ideals do so because they are happy to let you have what you want as long as they then get what they want.  That’s not love, it’s quid pro quo.

Tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness are finely crafted words that allow us to protect grand hypothetical ideas … all the while ignoring real people in real need. Lowly people who are different from us. Dirty and dangerous people who are disagreeable to us. Angry and offensive people who might never think twice about helping us in return.

We are not called to love in word or in talk, but in deed and in truth. Real love is hard. Real love means doing, giving, and sometimes even suffering, for people we don’t always like very much. Love finds its value in people, not buzzwords. Love is lived out not in blazing emotions but in well-reasoned choices. Love does not ask us to give up and give in but to make difficult (and often unpopular) stands. Love never seeks out excuses or the easy way out, it fights for what it good and right and beneficial, not for the self nor some hypothetical, but for the other.

Love led Jesus not to tolerate our sin, but to pay for it with His own blood. Love moved Jesus to give up His life for those who would never accept Him. Being the recipients of that love in action we are now moved not to tolerate or accept or include, but to love. And love guides us to uphold everyone in our thoughts, prayers, and actions … not because it is easy (it is the hardest thing to do in truth) … but because God loved us first in Christ.


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A Distinct Tragedy

By now you may have heard that there has been a fatal shooting of a well-known late term abortionist George Tiller in the United States.  Such news is tragic for many reasons.  Not the least of which is the loss of yet another life to this ongoing debate.  Those of us who seek to protect the life of every human being at every stage of their life, regardless of the “value” or “merit” of that life, must condemn this action and any other like it.  We cannot EVER make a distinction that some lives are worth saving and some are to be done away with (even of necessity).  This is the very position of those who seek the right of death over life and call it a freedom of choice.  We are never free to take the life of someone else into our own hands and place our choice above their will.

As the issue of abortion continues to be pushed to the forefront, and anger and frustration mount on both sides, such terrible moments as this are bound to come along (though I pray from the bottom of my heart that they wouldn’t!).  My great sadness in all this is that the central issues here have now been clouded once again, and the focus on the one question that truly matters in this debate, has now been obscured to the detriment of many hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.

As a pastor of a Lutheran Church Canada congregation I am also puzzled and dismayed.  I am puzzled that someone who so unapologetically and routinely took human life not only attended, but served in a church where the Lord and Author of Life is worshiped (and His commandments like “Thou Shalt Not Kill” should be understood).   Where was this man’s pastoral oversight – the call to repentance?  I am also dismayed that the devil was able to cause all this to happen in the church (the icing on his diabolical cake).  It blurs so many distinctions and makes the whole thing so much more tragic.

I therefore truly appreciate the both the clarity and the distinctions that the Lutherans For Life news release made in speaking to this terrible crime.

Lutherans For Life Statement on the George Tiller Murder

June 1, 2009

Lutherans For Life (LFL) joins pro-life groups across the country in extending our sympathy to the family of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist who was gunned down Sunday morning in his church. We join other pro-life groups in denouncing this action as evil. No circumstances justify the violent murder of another human being.

God’s Word tells us not to fight evil with evil but to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Based on that same Word of God, LFL believes that abortion is a great evil, the violent murder of another human being that deeply grieves the Author and Redeemer of life. But we oppose the use of evil to overcome this evil. We have the greatest “good” there is to use against it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. LFL strives to apply the Gospel to the life issues, to change hearts and minds so that people will turn to the Lord of Life and not the god of death as the solution to difficult circumstances. We want to make the killing of children in the sanctity of the womb as unthinkable and deplorable as the killing of George Tiller in the sanctity of his church.

While George Tiller was a member of a Lutheran denomination that does not officially oppose abortion, it should be noted that almost all other Lutheran denominations do take an official stance that opposes abortion and asserts the God-given value of human life from conception to natural death.

We commend the Tiller family and all affected by this tragic event into the loving arms of a crucified and risen Savior. May He be at work in all of this according to His good and gracious will.

I also appreciate the discussion of this same matter on the Issues Etc. Radio Program of June 1.  In particular I found the comments of Dr. John Warwick Montgomery to be very helpful and insightful.  I encourage everyone to listen.

A Discussion of these tragic events, with John Warwick Montgomery


The Abortion Question (Part II)

Here, as promised, is the second part of my discussion on the question of abortion.  In the first part I did what I could to answer just the latest of the so-called unanswerable questions posed to those who support the right to life.  In this post I would like to make things a little more personal, with a story and a question of my own.

samuel-1What you are looking at is a picture of my son, Samuel.  This picture was taken only an hour or so after he was born prematurely.  It was an unexpected surprise for all involved.  He decided to come some 5 1/2 weeks early.  One evening at home my wife’s said “Uh-oh!” and hurried into the bathroom.  Minutes later we were already pulling into emergency.  By the time we got her to the hospital things were well underway.  The doctor barely got there in time to deliver him.  Because the birth was so fast (and early) he had trouble breathing on his own.  He needed to be taken to the NICU in a neighbouring city.  He spent the first few days of his life hooked up to tubes and wires.  It was something straight out of a sci-fi movie. I didn’t get to hold him until he was 6 days old.  But he recovered quickly and by two weeks old he was out of the hospital and back home with us.

Now you should also know that I live in Canada, which has a great health care system.  I truly believe that.  They were there for my wife and my son every step of the way.  I have nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses who did so much to help us get through it all.  But something else you should know about Canada is that there is absolutely NO restrictions on when or why a woman may have an abortion.  The very same morning of the very same day my son would be born, it was well within my wife’s legal rights to have walked into a clinic or a hospital that performs abortions and to have had the pregnancy terminated.  In fact, by law she still had upwards of 5 1/2 weeks to have gotten around to it (if he had not come quite so early)!  In my country, while abortions this late in pregnancy are not the norm, they are done.

Now MY question … and this is not meant to stump anyone or prove anything … I’m just asking it because I think it is important to ask and answer truthfully, openly and honestly … My question is this:

“What changed in the couple of hours on that fateful day in September when in the morning what you see in the picture above was (to so many) just a lump of cells, a bit of tissue that could be discarded on a whim, and just a few hours later when he was now very obviously a human being that so many dozens of people were going to so much effort to save?”

What happened?  What changed?  What was the all important difference (legally, and morally speaking)?  He had not changed physiologically over the intervening minutes and hours – he had not grown a head or a heart or anything like that.  He was not any bigger, not any more developed.  In the morning he was disposable flesh, something less than human under the law and in the eyes of so many.  In the evening a person, a citizen of Canada with all the rights and privileges thereof.  … What changed?

Furthermore, on the day he was born he was not technically looked for or wanted (not right then at any rate, not under those circumstances).  He was not able to breathe on his own.  He needed machines and tubes and round the clock nursing care.  Yet not one person in that delivery room for even one second questioned whether he was a human being or if he was worth saving!

So what changed?  He didn’t.  His circumstances didn’t (not in any meaningful way).  His “viability” didn’t.  His need for care and support didn’t.  His life looked very much in the evening as it had in the morning, and was lived very much as it had been that morning – completely in the hands of (at the mercy of) someone else.  So what changed?

I’m just asking …