Easter 4 – Acts 20:17-35
Easter 4 – Acts 20:17-35
On this National Day of Prayer, one cannot help but think of Genesis 22.
Genesis 22 is commonly referred to as The Sacrifice of Isaac.
One can easily imagine that Abraham routinely prayed for a stronger faith in God. After all, God had really stretched the bounds of Abraham’s comfort zone, taking him from his father’s house and having him wander around, sometimes aimlessly, in search of this Promised Land that God would give him.
Abraham surely would have prayed for faith when God pointed to the stars of heaven and told him that he, childless Abraham, would have more descendants than these. Abraham surely prayed for faith as the years passed by and he and Sarah grew older and ever more barren.
On this National Day of Prayer, people are surely praying for all sorts of things, many of them indeed good and beneficial things. But there is often a disconnect between how we pray for things and how God answers those prayers.
Abraham’s prayer for greater faith was answered in the command to go and sacrifice Isaac. Now don’t get me wrong, what better way to strengthen your faith in God than to take the son you have long prayed for and sacrifice him and see how God provides for all those descendants now, without an actual descendant.
Yet this was surely not how Abraham envisioned God answering his prayer; and one can only imagine the heartache, when Isaac asks in verse 7: Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?
Abraham gets his prayer answered: his faith was strengthened; just not in the fashion he may have wished.
So on this National Day of Prayer, are you ready for the answers to your prayers that God may give?
If you pray for God to strengthen the faith of the believers in this country, are you prepared for God to bring the nation to its knees in an effort to turn hearts toward Him?
If you pray for God to raise up strong and faithful voices to defend life and natural marriage; are you prepared to be that voice, that must endure mock and ridicule?
If you pray for God to correct the many wrongs in society, are you prepared to endure the suffering that such repentance would require?
If you pray for God to tear down the idols that are in front of your eyes, are you prepared to drink the bitter water that their ashes are mixed with?
If you pray to the Lord for anything on this National Day of Prayer, are you prepared, like Abraham, to endure the answer to your prayer?
Because in the end, Abraham definitely had stronger faith in God than when he started.
Saturday, opening weekend, I went and saw the movie Unplanned, in a theater that was surprisingly full, and perhaps not so surprisingly, made up of a mixture of mostly senior citizens and teenage girls.
Much has been said about the movie; particularly its R rating. What follows, are my own thoughts.
I found the movie, and the book which I finished reading at midnight on Friday, to be particularly well done, and also particularly personal. And in many ways, I felt I could relate to Abby Johnson, even though as I have been alerted to many times in an internet discussion concerning the movie, my anatomical make up does not allow me to carry a child, or to actually be faced with the decision of having an abortion.
Abby Johnson’s story starts as a college junior at a career fair, where she meets a Planned Parenthood representative, who convinces her to volunteer at Planned Parenthood. The story continues over the course of several years, with Abby following along with the Planned Parenthood mantra that abortion is necessary, and that their goal is safe, legal, and rare. Abby believes all of this, and by her own admission, is rather naïve and gullible.
And that is where I come in, and perhaps most people as well. The media, the government, Planned Parenthood, and countless others prey on that misinformation. Growing up, right until I was in Seminary, I was indifferent at best on abortion, because I was blind to what was going on. I believed the arguments of how bringing unwanted children into homes of unprepared parents was wrong. I believed that sick children should be aborted, because their lives would be miserable anyway. I believed that abortion was safe; that it was being done in only extreme cases; and that after all, it was legal, and if it was legal, it must be ok.
Like Abby Johnson, I was naïve. I was left out in the open, where I would one day be cast down and shown the truth of what abortion truly is: murder.
For me, it was in a Seminary classroom, watching a video, hearing from women who had undergone abortions, and the gruesome way in which it was carried out; the babies butchered like animals, and then sucked out with a vacuum. A friend recounted later how he had to assist a vet with such a procedure on a calf stuck in a cow, and how even that was dreadful for all involved; how much more so on a child?
You can say Abby Johnson should have known better working for Planned Parenthood; and maybe she should have. I was a Seminary student preparing to join the Ministry of a church body that was unapologetically pro-life, and I should have known better. One day, a whole lot of people will admit that they should have known better too.
Unplanned shows the lie that the safe, legal, and rare argument truly is. It is definitely not safe for the child, and this movie proves that the mothers are not safe either. It is hardly rare; Johnson recounts how the clinic she oversaw did 40 surgical abortions on a typical Saturday, and gave out who knows how many pills for a chemical abortion. That is common, not rare. And while it may be legal, the question should be asked, why?
Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer showed essentially what a back-ally abortion clinic would look like; a dump, filled with cats, and garbage. Ironically, during the trial the ‘good abortion doctor’ was put on the stand to show the contrast to Gosnell’s clinic. The clinic in Unplanned is spotless; and yet the result is exactly the same: children are murdered, and women are left scarred physically and emotionally.
There is one other thing that Unplanned shows; and it again relates to my own time at Seminary. Every Saturday, a group would meet early in the morning, about 100 yards from my dorm room, and go the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic and pray for an hour. I never went; I wish I had. Unplanned shows that prayer works, maybe not always immediately in the case of the mothers going inside, but in the case of Abby Johnson, and countless others who work in these slaughterhouses, prayer works in opening their eyes to what is going on.
May we all join in prayer, that one day the eyes of all America, will be opened to the horror that abortion truly is.
Lent 2 – St. Luke 13:31-35
Lent 1 – St. Luke 4:1-13