Stages of Growth of an Embreyo and thoughts on abortion

I recently watched a video with women singing, “You don’t own me!” Written on the screen between different women singing were statements about Roe vs. Wade, specifically that if Romney becomes President he will overturn that court case.  The point of the video was to say that women have the right to do with their bodies what they will, and the implication is that if a woman wants to have an abortion it should be her choice (i.e., “Romney and the GOP, don’t tell us what to do with our bodies!”)

I get what the video is trying to say, but I think the issue about control is misplaced.  Before I explain what I mean, I feel compelled to ask two questions:

(1) What is the different between a child crying minutes after being born vs. a fetus being aborted a week earlier?

(2) When does an embryo become a human worth protecting? At conception? Four weeks after conception? Eight weeks in utero?

Look at the following pictures, which I think help to answer these questions…

Baby at 8 weeks after conception:

fetal development at 8 weeks

Child at 12 weeks:

Human fetus in utero at 12 weeks

Child at 20 weeks:

Human fetus in utero at 20 weeks

Child at 36 weeks:

fetus in utero at term

A baby just born between 38 – 42 weeks:

Newborn baby at birth

Is it logical to say this child is more human than at 8 weeks?  Let’s go backwards from 8 weeks for a moment…

A developing child at 6 weeks:

A developing child at 4 weeks:

fetal development at 4 weeks

Fertilization:

sperm fertilizing egg

Before this, there was a choice related to self-control.  After this, the sperm and egg turn into an embryo and a new human individual, with sex, and its own DNA and blood type is instantly formed (i.e., 23 chromosomes from the man are added to 23 chromosomes from the woman to develop 46 chromosomes plus the combination of the X and Y chromosomes, which determine the sex of the child,equalling 48 chromosomes — when all this happens a new human being is formed because the embryo has new DNA that is not strictly the mother’s DNA, and hence a new, distinct human individual now exists in the womb of its mother).  At this point the embryo is not a part of the mother’s body, rather the womb becomes an environment in which to protect the new individual as it grows and develops as a human being.  If nothing prevents the implantation of this embryo to the uterine wall, and if nothing removes this developing embryo, then this individual human being will go through the natural stages of human development.

The issue some women are trying to make is that men (like Romney and in the GOP) should not try to control women by overturning Roe vs. Wade; but the real control issue is a matter of self-control before sex and the issue of ownership of the embryo after sex.

To men – we need to control ourselves! Think about it, if a woman doesn’t want to have sex, it is possible she might still be forced upon by the man (please know I do not condone this).  If a man doesn’t want to have sex, sex is not going to happen.  Men, be men and control yourselves! Wait to have sex until you are ready to settle down with a woman, care for her and the children you produce.  If you are not ready for this, you are not ready for sex.  To have sex without being committed is inconsiderate and irresponsible.

To all – who owns who? No one owns anyone! We should not live in a society of ownership and slavery! At the same time, the question related to embryos is this – who has the right to say, “You don’t own me!” The mother to Romney and pro-lifers? Or the individual human embryo that is relying on its mother in the womb for protection?

GODSPEED

The Election

As you know the election is coming up and there are a few things on the ballot we as Christians need to be aware of and there are Scriptures that should shape our Worldview and thus direct us in how to vote on these issues.  The two issues are R74 and Initiative 502.  In this Pastor Chat I will explain the Scriptures related to these issues and point you to a couple very well done videos that should watch.

 

First, about R74 and affirming gay marriage: (1) if you vote to approve R74, you will be voting to redefine the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage; and (2) if you vote to reject R74, you will be voting to not re-define marriage and that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

 

Biblically, Jesus said marriage is between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-5).  Jesus said this goes back to the beginning when God created male and female (Genesis 1:27) for the purpose of propagation and companionship.  Jesus also stated in Matthew 19 (in reference to Genesis 2:24-25) that God instituted marriage from the beginning as the joining together of a man and a woman.

 

Logically, the best case made for natural, man-woman marriage being what is best for society is found in this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPgZ2Mq1Ugw&feature=player_embedded

 

What you need to realize is that if R74 is approved by our voters in this election, same-sex marriage will be taught as normal within the school system and the following may happen in our state, in our city, or even among parents and children within our church community – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKGaXe3q93I&feature=player_embedded

 

Now, biblically we are called to love all people (Mark 12:31), but this does not mean we lay aside our Christian values at the polls, especially when our Christian values have a positive benefit to society.

 

The second issue is Initiative 502 – the legalization of marijuana: (1) if you vote to approve I-502, you will be voting to legalize pot in our state; and (2) if you vote to disapprove I-502, you will be voting to keep pot illegal.

 

Biblically, we are not to be controlled by a substance (Eph. 5:18), rather we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

 

Logically, there are devastating effects of smoking pot for families and individuals, including health risks, risks to unborn children, and risks associated with being high and driving or operating equipment, plus a person’s job can be affected by continued pot use.  The above does not benefit individuals or society.

 

Proponents say that by legalizing pot this will create revenue for our state, for our schools, and will increase the productivity of our police force as they go after violent criminals.

 

The down side that I see is that more people will have access to this drug and that this drug will create more problems for the police force.  Plus, pot is a kind of a gateway drug to other, harder drugs.  I have heard that candy companies are talking about putting pot into various forms, including Jolly Ranchers; think about the temptation associated with this for all ages.  I know there would be an age limit (no legal purchase under the age of 21), but people often find a way to get around this law.

 

Conclusion – I believe biblically, if you are voting, there is a clear biblical Worldview that should shape not only how we vote on these matters, but how we engage our friends within our spheres of influence concerning these topics in the weeks, months, and years to come.  May we: (1) be true friends to those who agree or disagree with us; (2) may we make Jesus the #1 issues we discuss (because R74 and I-502 are secondary issue); and (3) by our love for the Lord and the resulting behavior, may this be the reason people are drawn to Christ in us, who ultimately is the only One who can change hearts.

 

GODSPEED

 

Losing our children

A few years ago I read a statistic in WORLD Magazine that the average family with traditional values has three children and the average family with progressive values has one child.  Therefore, statistically speaking our nation should be becoming more conservative in outlook, but our nation (seemingly) is swinging in a more progressive direction.

Before I continue I need to define terms so that we all have an understanding of what I mean as I write:

  1. By conservativism I mean conserving the values of Judeo-Christian morality.
  2. By progressivism I mean redefining morality.

The article (in WORLD) went on to say that the reason we are becoming a more progressive society is because those who have a progressive philosophy are in charge of the schools, the Universities, the media, and the world of entertainment.  Hence, it is through the schools (from kindergarten through college) that values are taught that conflict with Judeo-Christian values; it is through the media that these values are presented as enlightened thinking; and it is through the world of entertainment that all values are trivialized and that tolerance and sin is ultimately trumpeted and made to look enticing.  So children may grow up in a Christian home, but what they are taught by our secular culture ends up influencing them as much or more than Christian values, which results in a sort of pragmatism (i.e., a whatever works mentality) and syncretism (i.e., a combining of conflicting beliefs).  This ultimately leads to a life of compromise and apathy concerning living out truth with conviction.

What is the solution? Not only for raising children, but in our own lives?

Well, the obvious answer is more of Jesus.

The more complicated answer is we need to train ourselves and our children how to think and how to discern good from evil.  If we do this, we will set our children up for success by teaching them to think through what they are being taught and make decisions based on conviction that Judeo-Christian values are true and right.

Let me give an illustration of pragmatism / syncretism.  I heard someone say the other day that they are Christian and hold very near to their heart the values of their Christian faith concerning life and protecting the most vulnerable.  The same person then said, “But I believe my beliefs are private, and I do not believe my beliefs should be enforced on Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus and that a woman should have a right to do with her body whatever she chooses.”

The above is an example of allowing syncretism (i.e., the combining of conflicting beliefs) to further the progressivism of our culture (i.e., morality is being redefined because tolerance is being held as a higher value over and against private moral beliefs).

The Sacred / Secular Split – There are ultimately two ways of thinking that have dominated Western culture in the last 2,500 years: platonic dualism and Judeo-Christian theology (for the sake of time I will simply explain the sacred secular split, but if you would like to know how we got to this point see Nancy Pearcey’s TOTAL TRUTH, pp. 74-95).  The combining of dualism and Christian values has resulted in people believing your values and religious beliefs belong in your private life and should not influence what you do in the secular / public sphere (e.g., the workplace, politics, schools, etc.).  Hence, many progressive secularists will cry foul when a Christian says abortion is murder.

The progressive person’s perspective (backed up by the schools, the Universities, the media, and entertainment) is that views on abortion are very personal (Sacred – they belong in the realm of the one’s private life) and that no one should have the right to tell another person what to do with their body since it is their body and therefore they can do whatever they want.  But the underlying assumption in this argument is that only one person’s body / interests are at stake.

For a person to say, “But I believe my beliefs are private, and I do not believe my beliefs should be enforced on Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus and that a woman should have a right to do with her body whatever she chooses.” That person is ultimately saying they do not believe (on a conviction level) that the embryo, the fetus, the baby inside a woman is a vulnerable person worth saving.  What they are saying is, “I don’t want so and so to get mad at me so I will compromise what I say I believe for the sake of peace.”

Friends, if we continue to live this way and do not challenge people in their thinking, and if we do not train our children, but rather go with the flow, we will continue to lose our children to secularism.

I know it is difficult to stand for Christ and His values; it was difficult for Jesus to stand for His values and He was ultimately put to death for them.  As Glenn Barker put it in his commentary on 1 John –

“The hatred of the world for the community of faith must not surprise the believers.  The author does not say that the world always hates believers.  It did not always hate Jesus.  But whenever the community of faith acts so as to expose the greed, the avarice, the hatred, and the wickedness of the world, it must expect rejection; and if it should go so far as to interfere with its evil practices, as Jesus did in the temple, it may expect suffering and brutal death (cf. John 15:18-19, 25; 17:14).”

Friends, may we live for Christ; may we train ourselves to think biblically, and may we develop the fortitude to stand for values once held with conviction by many in this nation.

GODSPEED

Jesus 2nd Coming

You’ve heard of Harold Camping? Left Behind? More like leaving your mind behind (that was a joke in seminary).

So what are we to believe about Jesus’ 2nd Coming? Will it be a literal return? Will it be a figurative return? Will there be a “rapture” of the church? What about the resurrection? When will all this take place?

Let us begin with Jesus own words in Matthew 24 – Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and that the disciples would be handed over to tribulation, that many would fall away during this time and that the love of most would grow cold, but that the ones who endure to the end will be saved (vv. 4-13).  Jesus said the gospel would be preached to the whole world and then the end would come (v. 14).  His warning to His disciples was to look for the Abomination that causes Desolation, which will be set up in the Temple (v. 15 – see also Daniel 9:27) that when you see this, flee (vv. 16-20) for the Great Tribulation is about to begin (v. 21).  Jesus goes on to say many false “christs” will try to lead people astray and that the coming of the Son of Man will come like lightning (v. 27), that He will come on clouds in glory (v. 30), and He will send His angels at the sound of the great trumpet to gather together from the four ends of the earth all those who are the elect (v. 31).

Jesus was clear in this passage that there would be tribulation, Christians would exist on this earth during this time, and that He would return at the end to gather those that are His.

The letters of 1 and 2 Thessalonians are also instructive about these events.  Notice in 1 Thessalonians that at the end of every chapter the topic of Jesus’ coming is mentioned.  The word “coming” is important; the Greek word for coming is parousia, which “…was used to describe the festivities attendant on a monarch’s arriving for a state visit.  The early Christians anticipated the Lord’s return as being no less joyous and majestic.” (Glenn Barker, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 John.  P. 328).  This word used in combination with believers being “resurrected” and those who are still alive being “caught up” together to “meet” the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17) signifies there will be a rapture of sorts and that those who take part in this event will join the Lord in escorting Him back to earth for His rule and reign (see also Rev. 19 and Matt. 24:30-31).

A key word in the 1 Thessalonians 4:17 passage is “meet” – it describes a delegate going out to meet a monarch and escort him back into the city.  So Christians are those who will meet the Lord as He prepares to ride His white horse into battle against the armies of the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” in the battle at the plain of Mtn. Megiddo (i.e., the Battle of Armageddon – see Revelation 19:11-21).

Those who lived in Thessalonica 2,000 years ago had heard conflicting reports about when this would happen and so the Apostle Paul wrote to them a 2nd letter to clarify what would happen surrounding these events.  In chapter 2:1-4 he states that this will not happen until the apostasy happens and “man of lawlessness” is revealed (v. 3).  Paul states that this man will oppose every so-called “god” or object of worship and will take his seat in the Temple displaying himself as “God” (v. 4).  This passage is referring to the Anti-Christ who will claim to be the Christ (see also Matt. 24:15, Daniel 9:27, and Revelation 13 and Jesus warnings about such men in Matt. 24:23-26).  In Revelation 13, the “Beast” is the Anti-Christ who will make war against the saints during the time of the tribulation for 3 ½ years (Rev. 13:5-18).

Some of the passages listed above sound like apocalyptic, allegorical language meant to be spiritualized.  But many of the passages listed above are written as if these events were expected take place in time-and-space history.

The key word throughout all these passages is “coming” – it is used to describe Jesus 2nd Coming and our being gathered to Him.  This was written about in the New Testament and attested to in the earliest creeds compiled by Christians to affirm the Orthodox and Apostolic Faith.  Take a look at the Apostle’s Creed written in the first few centuries of the church:

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to the dead.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Notice the statements, “from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead” and the idea of “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”  These phrases all demonstrate to us that the historically Orthodox view is Jesus would return and that we would be raised and transformed to live in eternity with Him.

When this will happen, no one knows except God alone.

Come Lord Jesus!

GODSPEED

Pot & Gay Marriage

We are in the middle of a political season and as Pastor of Grace Church I would like to guide us through this season in unity and truth.  There are things I am allowed to say as a Pastor on behalf of a church and there are things I am not allowed to say.  First, I am allowed to speak about moral issues and guide our church how to vote for certain subjects.  Second, I am allowed to give biblical principles that guide Christians in how to vote.  Third, I am allowed to personally endorse a candidate.  Fourth, our church is not allowed to endorse a candidate.  And finally, I am not allowed, in the pulpit, to tell you which candidate to vote for.  That being said, this email will be dedicated to two moral issues on the ballot this fall: Initiative 502 and Referendum 74 (i.e., legalizing marijuana and gay marriage).

First, should you vote to pass Initiative 502? If you vote to approve I-502, you will help to legalize marijuana.  What I find most interesting about the ads trying to convince you to approve this measure is they have a middle class mom who says at first she felt uncomfortable with this measure, but then changed her mind when she realized it would take money out of the hands of drug dealers, that marijuana would be taxed, and that the money would be used to help fund schools.

This sounds reasonable, but what does the Bible say?

The Bible teaches that since the fall of humanity from God’s Grace (Genesis 3) human being’s flesh, eyes, minds, and souls are tainted by sin and therefore turn away from God in decision making using their sin tainted reasoning abilities to justify just about anything (Romans 1:18-32).  Paul says humans claim to be wise and prove to be fools (v. 22) and that because they turn away from God when making such decisions that God gives people over to depraved minds (v. 28) sinning in ways that are unimaginable and approving of those who participate with them (vv. 29-32).  Biblically we are not to be controlled by substances, but rather we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

What’s my point?

The ad on TV of a mom reasoning that legalizing marijuana has positive affects has probably never seen first hand the negative affects of drugs on a family.  To legalize marijuana will lead to more, not less problems in our culture.  As Pastor I firmly believe we are to vote no on Initiative 502 for moral and practical reasons.

Second, should we vote to affirm Referendum 74 (R 74)? To vote to affirm R 74 will legalize marriage between same sex couples in Washington State.  If you watch the ads instructing us to affirm gay marriage, there are clergy in robes speaking about this like it is a right and that it would be unloving to vote to reject R 74.

What does the Bible say?

God invented marriage as between a man and a woman for companionship and the propagation and raising of children (Genesis 1:26-27 & 2:23-25).  Jesus affirmed marriage as between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6).  When I was in Seminary my Greek professor and my Theology professor pointed out there are two forms of the wrath of God when people don’t follow His ways: (1) active wrath and (2) passive wrath.

First, the active wrath of God comes in the form of a flood (Genesis 6) or plagues and fire from heaven (Exodus 7-11) or things like Judgment Day and the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19).  When active wrath comes, there is no escape.

Second, the passive form of wrath comes through natural consequences.  In other words if you do the opposite of what God’s will is, then you face the natural consequences.  In Romans 1:18-32 it says that when people turn away from God and His ways, God gives them over to their depraved desires such as sexual immorality (v. 24) or homosexual behavior (vv. 26-27) or malice and disobedience of parents, etc. (vv. 28-32).  What Paul is saying in Romans 1:18-32 is that we in Seattle are living in a depraved culture because people have turned from God and therefore our society is facing the natural consequences of turning from God.  If we as a culture in Washington affirm gay marriage, we will face more consequences such as: (1) children being adopted or conceived outside of marriage between a man and a woman and raised by two dads or two moms; (2) the schools teaching homosexual behavior is normal; and (3) children growing up thinking this is normal and experimenting.

Basically, all sex outside of the marriage covenant has consequences emotionally and often times physically (STDs, pregnancy, and choice about abortion vs. single parenthood).  These consequences have lasting effects on our economy (did you know in 1960 that 5% of children were born to a single mom? Now it is 41% in the USA and 65% in the White Center / West Seattle Area – this leads to poverty, a lack of life skills, the trap of welfare, etc.).

What is the solution?

First and foremost, no matter what happens with R 74 we have a responsibility of how to engage culture and a great opportunity to do so (Luke 10:2 & Matt. 28:18-20).  The solution is we need to respectfully introduce people to Jesus by being Jesus to people in word and deed (cup of cold water in Jesus’ name – Matt. 10:42) and let Jesus’ morality and ethics change a person after they meet Jesus.  So in your conversations with people who are not Christian, do not focus on gay marriage for this is a secondary issue.  Rather, focus on who Jesus is and help the person to wrestle with this and the implied consequences of not devoting your life to Him, for this is the primary issue.

Second, as Christians we have a responsibility as citizens to vote based on morality and ethics as endowed by our creator.  Therefore I believe Christians who vote are called to reject R 74.

Third, pray for and respect our government leaders (Romans 13:1-7 & 1 Peter 2:13-17).

GODSPEED

Who is Jesus?

God is Elohim – Deut. 6:4

God is LORD – Deut. 6:4 & Ex. 3:14

LORD = Yahweh –YAHWEH_blue_sm1 Deut. 6:4 & Ex. 3:14

Yahweh is the “I AM” – Ex. 3:14

Jesus is the “I AM” – John 8:58

Yahweh & Jesus are the Alpha & Omega – Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:12-16

Jesus = Yahweh Saves – Matt. 1:21 & Rev. 22:20-21

Jesus is the First & Last – Rev. 1:17-18

Jesus is the Door (the Gate) – John 10:9

Jesus is Servant – John 13:1-17 & Isaiah 42:1

Jesus is the Way – John 14:1-6

Jesus is the Truth – John 14:6 & Psalm 25:4-5

Jesus is the Life – John 14:6

Jesus is Teacher (Rabbi) – Matt. 5:2 & John 14:26

Jesus is the Root of Jesse – Isaiah 11:1-5

Jesus is the Vine, the Branch, the Cup – John 15:1-16

Yahweh is Eternal God – Deut. 33:26-29

Jesus is Eternal God – John 1:1-3

Jesus is the Morning Star – John 1:4-9 & 3:19-21

Jesus is the Rock – Matt. 7:24-27

God is the Holy Spirit – John 14:15-27

The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Comforter (the Paraklete) – John 14:16

God is the Living Water – John 4 & Isaiah 55

God speaks with a Gentle Whisper – 1 Kings 19:9-18

Jesus is the Last Adam – 1 Cor. 15:20-25 & 45-47

Jesus is Redeemer – Isaiah 44:6-8

Yahweh is Merciful God – Exodus 25:10-22

Yahweh is like an Eagle – Deut. 32:9-14 & Isaiah 40:28-31

Yahweh is Author of Salvation – Eph. 1:3-14; 2:10; & Rom. 8:27-28

Jesus is the Author and Perfector of our faith – Hebrews 2:10

Jesus is the Great Shepherd – Psalm 23, Matt. 18:12-14, John 10:1-18, Hebrews 13:20-21

Jesus is the Chief Shepherd – 1 Peter 5:1-4

Jesus is the Lamb of God – John 1:29-34 & Rev. 5:12

Jesus is Immanuel (God with us) – Matt. 1:18-25 & Isaiah 7:14

God is the Potter – Romans 9:21 & Isaiah 64:8

Yahweh is a Consuming Fire – Malachi 3:1-4

Yahweh is Abba, Father (God the Father) – Luke 15:11-31

Jesus is One with the Father – John 10:30

Yahweh is Creator – Psalm 8; Psalm 19; Isaiah 40:25-26, 27; & John 1:1-3

Jesus is Creator – John 1:1-3 & Col. 1:15-20

The Holy Spirit was the agent of Creation – Genesis 1:1-2

Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah – Jeremiah 49:19; Amos 3:4; & Rev. 5:5

Jesus is the Man of Sorrows – Isaiah 53

Jesus is Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53

Yahweh is El Shaddai – Genesis 43:14 & Psalm 131:2-3

Jesus is our Advocate before the Father – Hebrews 2:16; 4:15-16; & 1 John 2:1-2

Yahweh is Bridegroom of Israel – Isaiah 62:5b

Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church – Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 21:1-5

Jesus is Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is the Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6 & Eph. 2:11-18

Jesus is the Manna from Heaven (Living Bread) – John 6:1-14, 25-59 & 1 Cor. 11:23-24

Jesus is the Word (Logos = the explanation of God) – John 1:1-18 & Rev. 19:11-16

Yahweh is Holy, Holy, Holy – Isaiah 6:1-8; Ex. 33:17-33; 1 Peter 1:15-16; & Rev. 4:6-11

Jesus is friend of Tax Collectors & Sinners – Luke 7:34-50

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Rev. 19:16

 

GODSPEED