Echo’s of Forgiveness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Have you ever wondered why some people fall away from their faith, and others, despite great difficulties and suffering in their life, remain strong in their Christian belief? Let me share an analogy I heard not long ago that address that question.

There was a man who was on an airline flight. After the aircraft took off and reached cruising altitude, one of the stewardesses came to him and offered him a parachute. She explained to him that it would improve his flight in many ways. Grateful, the man took the parachute and secured it to his back, adjusted the shoulder straps, and checked various ties to make sure it was secure. He sat back down, but quickly realized it was very uncomfortable to wear a parachute and attempt to sit in a small airlines seat. He was hunched forward and very uncomfortable. He got up again and made several adjustments. He began to question what the stewardesses said about it improving his flight. He took off the chute and just held it in his lap, which was more comfortable, but really not very practical. What good is a parachute that you hold in your lap if the plane goes down? After a while people began to look at him and ask him questions about why he had a parachute. He explained that it was supposed to improve his flight, but everyone just rolled their eyes and went back to doing their own thing. Some passengers even began to laugh at him for being so foolish as to carry a parachute on an airlines. The man tried to stick the chute under his feet, but it was way too large for that to be practical. He finally put it back on and just stood with it. The straps hurt and were uncomfortable in a very short time. Everyone was staring at him, some laughing and even mocking him. Finally, he just ripped off the parachute and threw it on the floor and announced quite loudly how stupid it was to think it would improve his life.

Another man on the very same flight in the back of the plane was also offered a parachute. The difference was this time the stewardess said the parachute was something he was going to need. That in a short while the aircraft would crash and he could jump out and save his life. Wide eyed and thankful, he took the parachute and strapped it on. He double and triple checked the straps to make sure it was properly and securely attached to him. He sat back down and quickly realized it was uncomfortable and not very practical to have on and sit in a small airline seat. Nevertheless, he sat forward concentrating on the fact that in a very short time this would save his life. The straps began to hurt his shoulders and even across his sides, but he did not worry about such minor irritations. He was focused on what was going to happen and how thankful he was to have such a life saving device. People around him began to talk and point, some even laughed at him, but he remained steadfast and focused on what lay ahead. 1

What was the difference with the two men? Both were on an airplane. Both were offered a parachute. The difference was that one was offered a parachute with the suggestion that it would improve his flight. The other was offered a parachute as a life saving device. Obviously, for the first man the parachute did nothing to improve his flight. It caused all kinds of inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment. For the second man, it caused the same inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment, but he had entirely different motives or mind set for wearing the parachute.

People who become Christians often have one of the two similar mind sets, and depending on which it is will determine if they remain a Christian or step away from their faith. Think back to when you became a Christian. What were your reasons or motives for accepting this particular faith? So often, those that become Christians thinking that Jesus will improve their life leave their faith, frustrated, disappointed, and hurt. Sorry folks, but if you become a Christian, you have no promise of a better standard of living. You can still get sick, have accidents, lose your job, have over whelming debt, fights with your teenage children, your husband or wife, arguments with your mom or dad. You can still get F’s on exams you REALLY have to pass, but did not study for. Your computer can crash and you can lose all your work. Your car can still break down and make you late for your appointment, or have really lousy days where nothing seems to go right. Accepting Christ into your life is not about improving your life, but about saving your life. If you have expectations about Jesus making all things right in the here and now, you may be in for some serious disappointment. We do though have the promise that He helps us get through everything.

I remember quite well when I was saved. It was after listening to Hal Lindsey, author of the Late Great Plane Earth, give a talk to a large congregation. After his talk, I was so scared I practically ran down the aisle to be saved when he gave an altar call.

William Lane Craig wrote in his book, Hard Questions, Real Answers, “The Chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.” “…people tend to naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view, this is false. We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God-which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment.” 2

Look at marriage for example. What is the primary reason people get married? If people get married to increase human flourishing and raise children to better society, then a culture would make divorce more difficult. If people get married for personal happiness and emotional satisfaction then divorce would be, (and is), much easier. 3 Look at students who do homework. Most do homework because they have to, because they are motivated in various ways, (reward or punishment), to get it done, while a select few are self motivated and a parent rarely has to encourage them. They are all doing homework, but the reasons why they do homework will range over a wide area, and their reasons will often determine how successful a student will be academically.

Sprint

The current world record holder for the mile time is Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco, with a 3 minute and 43 second time. Imagine you stood in line to run with mile with several others. You happen to represent Christianity, different runners in line representing their own religions, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, New Age, Buddhism, and others. Everyone was told that if they ran hard, ran fast, gave it a good effort, had a good attitude, treated the other runners kindly, then one of them who met the conditions would get into heaven, (Sorry pluralists, not all religions can be right).

But then the judges all gathered around you, the Christian. They explained you will be judged differently, and you only had one condition to meet. Great! For a moment you’re thinking you have it easy, and the others were to be the losers for sure. Then the judges told you your single condition. You had to run the mile in under one second. Before you could protest, with your mouth open in shock, they stepped back and fired the shot to start the race. That is the difference between Christianity and all other religions. In other religions, we must work toward God and make efforts to bridge the gap that is between us and God. In Christianity, Jesus bridges the gap, because without him it is impossible for us to meet the conditions. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever use the Lord’s name in vain? In Matthew 5: 27-29 it says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old,‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” None of use can meet these conditions, any more than someone can run the mile in under one second. Thankfully, with Christ, in the above set of conditions, the next moment we would experience would be our standing next to Christ, across the finish line. After a moment, you would hear the echo of his grace and forgiveness, sounding like the shot of a gun fired a mile away.

 

 

1. The Way of the Master. Dir. Duane Barnhart. Perf. Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort. Way of the Master.com, 2005. DVD
2. Craig, William Lane. 2003 Crossway. Wheaton. Print.
3. Keller, Timothy. 2008, Penguin Group. New York. Print.

Mommy can I kill this?

Mommy can I kill this?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above image by Nicci Coertze-Kruger from Pixabay

On the first day of school a little boy whose father owned the local apple farm brought his teacher a gift in a box.

Many others had done the same, but his was the largest and last to be opened. It was a game they were playing, and before she opened each gift, she had to try to guess what it was. The boy placed it on her desk and stood waiting for her to open it. All the other little boys and girls were gathering around to see what it was because children are naturally curious about things, and the little boy had refused to tell anyone what it was.

The teacher, who was young in years and to the profession, stood up and noticed the bottom of the box was wet, and a small puddle was forming on her desk. She exclaimed, “Oh Johnny, I think it must be broken!” Johnny said, “Oh no, it can’t be broken.” The teacher dipped her finger in what looked like apple juice, tasted it, and asked, “Is it apple juice?” The boy smiled and said, “Nope.” The teacher again dipped her finger in the puddle, tasted it again and asked, “Lemon-ade?” Again the boy smiled and said, “Nope!” Unable to contain his excitement any longer he exclaimed, “It’s a puppy!”

It is so important to know what things are before we take action. The above story is an amusing example of someone taking a simple action, (tasting what she thought was apple juice), and it turns out to have been a poor idea. Hollywood often runs with that kind of theme where aliens, (the kind from another planet, not just south of the border), come to visit earth, and they encounter someone who assumes they are hostile invaders. Inevitably, someone takes a shot at an alien and starts a war, when all along everyone could have been best of friends.

New hunters are reminded never to pull the trigger unless they know what they are shooting. I know about this first hand, having been shot myself. 

Swat teams have the same mindset and can’t just kick in doors and start shooting at anything that moves. Members of the sheriff or police departments can’t just start banging away at every bad guy they think they see, not with the valid concern of shooting innocent people, or worse yet, children.

I know Hollywood does not portray these kinds of actions very accurately. Most often, in Hollywood shootouts, hundreds of rounds are zipping through the air, the majority of which hit buildings, cars, and windows because everyone is such a lousy shot. Anyone that does get hit is often just an expendable good or bad guy. It is important to know what someone is shooting at before they pull the trigger.

With that in mind, it would also be important for someone to ‘know’ what they are aborting in an unwanted pregnancy. If it is just a ‘mass of cell tissue’ or a ‘lump of flesh’, then we have nothing to discuss, but if it is more than that, it would be valuable to know.

I did hear Greg Koukl give this example of a boy walking up behind his mom, who was doing the dishes. The boy was behind her and asked, “Mommy, can I kill this?” 1 Well, what is the first reaction out of the mouth of the mother? She would turn and look, or she would ask, “What is it?” Now, if it was an unwanted household pest like a spider or a cockroach, most of us would give permission. If it was a snake or a bird, then probably not. If it was a dog or a cat, definitely not. If it was the infant from next door, emphatically not!

I don’t know if it was Greg Koukl who came up with the acronym SLED, or if someone else had thought of it first, but it can be a simple tool to make your case for the right to life. SLED stands for:
Size
Level of Development
Environment
Degree of Dependency

Let’s take a moment and look at each one. Starting with size and equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is foolishness. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. Are basketball players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? How many of you remember William Perry, aka The Refrigerator, who played for Chicago Bears after being hand-picked by Mike Ditka. In high school, he played at 295 pounds! Those of you over the age of 40 might remember the song by Randy Newman, “Short People”.  A song I would play for my girlfriend back then, (she was short). We can laugh at songs like that, especially those of us who are tall, but in all seriousness, height or size has nothing to do with the inherent value of a person.

Level of Development is another consideration for those considering an abortion. Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 16 year old boy more valuable than a 6 year old boy? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, or a newborn to an infant. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 2nd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone. Obviously we can’t, so level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.

What about environment, or location? Does your value increase or decrease depending on where you are located? Do you have more or less value because you are at work, home, in your car? Do you have more value on the left side of your sofa then on the right side of your sofa? How about those in another country? Do those that live in third world countries have less value than those in developed countries? Does the value of an astronaut change if he is orbiting the earth or walking on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, though the birth-canal, to the hands of a waiting physician? Absolutely not. Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are found.

Finally, we have the degree of dependency which again is a point some might argue. If you look at this issue sensibly, then you will see it has nothing to do with the value of a person. How many of you know someone with skills or talents that have allowed them to be less dependent on others, in particular parents, sooner than others. Is the young adult who is pro-active and finds a job right out of high school have greater value than another who has not found a job? As a child grows and matures, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? Do those that collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? Do those working full time have more value than those working part time? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their value less due to the medication they need? Obviously the answer to this is no, and to suggest the value of a person is dependent on their level of dependency is foolish.

After hearing these reasons, someone might respond, “So what? I agree with all this, but you still should not take away a woman’s right to choose.” I would respond, “Choose what?” Think about it, a woman’s right to choose what? Do women have the right to choose to kill an innocent human being? No, they don’t and neither does anyone else, because if size, level of development, environment, and level of dependence does not make a difference in the value of a person, then abortion is the killing of innocent human beings.

Someone might respond, “So you believe even in the case of rape, you would take away a woman’s right to choose?” Again I would ask, “A right to choose what?” “Because a woman was raped, does that give her the right to kill an innocent human being?” Ray Comfort asked, “Which is worse, rape or murder?” 2

Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 3

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)

Psalm 127:3-4 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. (NIV)

1. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion-Only One Question”. Ambassador Basic Curriculum. Signal Hill, 2003. Lecture.
2. Comfort, Ray. “180 Movie” YouTube Video. YouTube. 21 September. 2011. Web. 25 July. 2013.
3. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion: One Key Issue” str.org. Stand To Reason, 30 March. 2013. Web. 20 July. 2013.

Sources:
http://standtherefore.com/blog/sled-the-case-against-abortion/
http://www.nrlc.org/NewsToday/SLED.html
http://www.str.org/videos/women-will-die-from-back-alley-abortions-if-abortion-was-made-illegal#.Ue8aJW3akQk
http://www.prolifetraining.com/five-bad-ways.asp
http://hopeafterabortion.com/?p=103
http://www.safehavenministries.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI
http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/abortion-one-key-issue#.Ue8adG3akQk

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