The End of Abortion, Part 2

“Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. It is going the way of slavery and segregation, sooner or later.”

That was my prediction in Part 1 of this series, and it was based on more than just wishful thinking. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “Support for making abortion broadly illegal [is] growing fastest among young adults” (gallup.com/poll/126581/generational-differences-abortion-narrow.aspx). That is a good sign for the future.

Moreover, in 1996, 56% of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice,” while only 33% considered themselves “pro-life.” As of May, 2016, that gap narrowed to 47% and 46% respectively (gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx).

The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels, however, fall short of identifying the various stances people hold regarding abortion. The truth is, many people who consider themselves to be pro-choice actually hold views that are pro-life to a degree, and vice versa.

The End of Abortion, Part 1

If someone had written an article in the London Times during its first year of publication, 1785, titled, “The End of the Slave Trade,” no reader would have taken it seriously. Britain had dominated the Atlantic slave trade for 200 years. Slavery was an entrenched institution.

In 1787, however, a tiny Quaker and Anglican abolitionist society began working to influence public opinion. They were eventually joined by a born-again politician named William Wilberforce, and in 1791 he introduced his first bill before Parliament to abolish England’s slave trade. That bill was soundly defeated.

Just about every year thereafter for the next 20 years, Wilberforce introduced a motion for abolition that was voted down, a drawn-out battle that is well dramatized in the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace. Wilberforce’s persistence was finally rewarded in 1807, when Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the slave trade. Slavery itself was not abolished by Parliament for another 26 years, in 1833.

It was a 46-year struggle. During the first 45 of those 46 years, the consciences of every British Parliamentarian sided with Wilberforce, but the majority clung to their justifications for slavery—all based on the various lies they employed to suppress the truth. In the end however, the truth, which had not changed in 46 years, prevailed.

The End of Misogyny, Part 2

Charles Darwin concluded that women were inferior to men. He wrote in The Descent of Man, “males are more evolutionarily advanced than females,” and he believed that children and women had smaller brains and therefore were led more by instinct and less by reason. Darwin concluded: “Men attain a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women—whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands… We may also infer from the law of the deviation from averages, that the average mental power in man must be above that of women.”

In Darwin’s evolutionary-advanced brain, such thinking was obviously justified. If you are a member of the “more intelligent gender,” you naturally have an advantage over the “less-intelligent gender” to know that your gender is inherently more intelligent.

In last month’s e-teaching, however, I tried to show that the Bible is not so misogynistic. On the contrary, the first female whom God created was custom designed to rescue the first male, turning his “not good” predicament into something “good.” Eve was the original Superwoman. (In fact, when Adam first laid his eyes on her, he gasped and said, “Whoa, man!” No doubt it is from Adam’s stunned reaction, repeated every time he looked at his wife, that the modern word, “woman,” evolved.)

What should you focus on every day of your life?

Today I wanted to focus on a very significant question: What is the most important thing that you and I should be focused on every day of our lives? And in my humble opinion the answer to that question is: We should be focused on loving God.

I base that opinion upon something that Jesus said. Jesus, the son of God—Jesus, God in the flesh—said that the most important commandment is that we love God (see Luke 10:27). So that’s obviously extremely significant. I want to take note that Jesus didn’t just stop there, but He said that we should love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. So obviously by adding those specifics He’s telling us something about the degree to which we should be loving God.

Now, everybody loves somebody to some degree, and when you think about it, even if you love somebody a little bit there’s going to be some evidence of that love, right? Of course, if there’s no evidence of that love, there’s no love. A person who says, “I love you,” but shows no other evidence for this claim than just that verbal profession could very well be and probably is just fooling themselves.

But we probably all know people we love very much, to a much higher degree than just a little bit. People like our spouses if we’re married, or your boyfriend or girlfriend if you have one of those. Maybe your mother and father or your children. Those are the people that we naturally tend to love more than anybody else. Of course. Because we love them, there’s evidence for that love. We’re trying to please those people and we’re focused on those people. We don’t just have casual relationships with those people. We have much more intimate relationships. They’re much more important to us than other people. We prioritize them above other people, right? Right. Okay.

So back to the commandment now. Jesus said we should love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. So obviously, He’s conveying that we should love God supremely, right? More than anybody else, and we should love Him passionately because we love Him with all of our heart. And we should be thinking about Him a lot because we love Him with all of our mind. We should be doing things that we know please Him with our bodies because we’re to love Him with all of our strength.

So, if we really love God as He should be loved and He deserves to be loved, it’s going to show up in our lives in a big way. That’s what I want to get across so crystal clear. You can’t really have a casual relationship with God. If you’re half-hearted in your relationship with God, something is really wrong and it might be even ‘wronger’ than you imagine. Because there are a lot of people who are deceived, thinking they’ve got a relationship with God when they don’t really have any relationship with Him at all.

The Scriptures speak of such people, that they profess to know God but by their deeds, they deny Him. That is, they’re not loving Him with all their strength. Their bodies aren’t being engaged in the kind of things that He says that they should be doing with their bodies, and so that’s an indication they don’t really, really love Him.

All right, so what is it going to look like if you love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? Well, obviously if you love God supremely, if He’s the center of your life, the center of your affections, it’s going to show up every day and all day long. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). So there’s the supreme test of whether we love God or not, or whether we’re just fooling ourselves. Do we keep His commandments? In order to keep His commandments, we have to know His commandments, so we’d be obviously diving into His Word to see what we can learn about what He expects of us.

You know, Jesus does expect and He does deserve to be loved supremely as God. He at one time said “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). So you see He expects to be loved more than the people that we naturally love the most. Of course, only God deserves that kind of love and commitment.

In another place Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26, emphasis added). Of course, nobody thinks that Jesus literally meant that we ought to be hating those people, because other parts of Scripture tell us we should be loving those people. At bare minimum Christ is trying to show us that our love for Him has got to be supreme.

When we compare our love for Christ with our love for the people we naturally love the most, well, then it’s evident by our lifestyle, by our practices, that we love Jesus the most. Our love for Him compared to our love for them makes our love for them almost look like hatred because He’s so preeminent in our lives.

That is what God wants. It’s what God deserves, and that’s what we ought to be focused on more than anything else every single day of our lives.

The Original Test

Why the Tree?

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Jesus, Luke 16:10).

I once heard a story of a wise, elderly man who owned a dry-cleaning business. Periodically, he would hire young men to help him run his shop.

The first day on the job, every new employee was instructed by the shop owner to carefully check the pockets of each bundle of dirty clothing. Unknown to that new employee, the owner secretly placed a quarter in the pocket of one pair of trousers that he was to check.

If the new employee, upon discovering the quarter, brought it to his employer so that it would be returned to its rightful owner, he was hired permanently. If the trainee pocketed the quarter, at the end of the day he was asked not to return, and for good reason: The owner knew that the man who can’t be trusted with small things is not going to prove himself trustworthy with larger things. If an employee would steal a customer’s quarter, he certainly couldn’t be trusted to operate the cash register when the owner was absent.

The End of Misogyny, Part 1

Misogyny is a word it seems we’re hearing more often these days. It is derived from two Greek words, miso, meaning “hatred,” and gunē, meaning “women.” But you don’t have to hate women to be a misogynist, as the modern definition has been expanded to include “the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women (or girls).”

Misogyny is a pervasive evil that has existed from very early in human history, and it is alive and well in the world today. (I’ll shortly provide you with some examples.)

The good news is that misogyny is something that Jesus is in the process of eradicating from the earth. At present, that eradication is limited, because Jesus only transforms those who believe in Him.

Faith Defined

The Biblical Definition of Faith

The biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

From this definition, we learn several characteristics of faith. First, one who has faith possesses assurance , or confidence. This is different than hope, because faith is the “assurance of things hoped for.” Hope always leaves room for doubt. Hope always says “maybe.” For example, I might say, “I sure hope it rains today so that my garden will be watered.” I desire rain, but I’m not sure if it will rain. Faith, on the other hand, is always certain, the “assurance of things hoped for.”

The End of Racism

Have you ever observed a fly trapped behind your car’s windshield, futilely fighting to find an escape? All of your car’s side windows might be wide open, but it never occurs to that frustrated fly to try anything different than continuing to search for a way through an invisible, impenetrable barrier.

You can’t help but feel sorry for such a fly and, if you are bent towards mercy, you might try to swish him towards an open side window. Most flies, however, will resist your effort to help them, and your attempts only make them more determined to do the impossible. Eventually, they’re lying dead on your dashboard.

The pity we all feel for such frustrated flies is analogous to what followers of Christ feel every day for everyone else. We observe people’s recurring misery and frustration, and we know full well that so many of their problems could be resolved if they would only submit to Jesus. He would forgive them, open their eyes and set them free, fill them with His Spirit, and teach them His ways.