Re-Writing the Bible???

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.   Revelation 22:18-19

ChinaIn the spirit of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – kind of” China plans to rewrite the Bible and the Quran, making modifications to bring them in line with Chinese socialist ideals. Yup, China plans to re-write the Bible.

Um…

China has a resurgent Christian population that continues to grow despite persecution. In fact, you can read an article of mine from 2014, China More Christian Than the USA? You’ll read how China is projected to have a larger Christian population than America by 2029. As of the writing of the 2014 article, there were an estimated 70 million Christians out of at least 1.3 billion people in China! USA total population currently rests at about 327 million with a best estimate of about 239 million declaring as Christian. However, our pendulum is swinging toward declining numbers while China’s is swinging toward an increase!

“A recent study found that online searches for the words “Christian Congregation” and “Jesus” far outnumbered those for “The Communist Party” and “Xi Jinping”, China’s president.”

Fact: Chinese Christians see America has a high potential missionary field and sends missionaries here!

Christian FlagChina obviously has a “problem” on their hands; Christianity. They are certainly losing ground to Jesus, but they have come up with a very insidious strategy – poison the well!

Since they cannot defeat the Chinese Christian movement, they are going to publish “legal” bibles and Qurans that have been altered to their anti-Christ/anti-religion agenda. In doing so, they can cause confusion over true Gospel doctrines as well as the ancient, Old Testament writings the Gospel is founded upon!

First, we should pray for China’s people that they are not confused by the deceit of their government.

Second, we should be careful here at home and guard against translations that may not be completely accurate! There are translations that are not faithful to the word-for-word translations of the past. Word-for-word translations are the backbone of scriptural accuracy over the eons and have been proven time and again. Ancient copies of manuscripts attest to the fact that any differences between different ancient copies and today’s canon are miniscule and do not effectively alter meaning.

I am leery of paraphrased translations. Perhaps well-intentioned, colloquialized and paraphrased translations do not, I believe, meet the strict protocols of word-for-word translating that have been practiced for thousands of years. I am partial to the New King James Version for those that are not comfortable with the thee’s and thou’s.

Bible 2Also, while we do not suffer such persecution here, it is obvious that our secular society and government are already showing a prejudice against Christianity. Who knows how much longer before we start feeling more stringent and even violent adversity than currently?

Full disclosure: The Revelation passage above refers to just the Book of Revelation. That being said, I doubt God would be very happy with anyone deliberately or carelessly altering His inspired scriptures. That’s not a train I’d care to board. The Chinese government will find themselves on a very uncomfortable ride for having done so!

Broken In

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.   Psalm 119:105

That has a comfy sort of feel to it, doesn’t it? Think slippers.  Favorite baseball hat.  College sweatshirt.

I had that feeling this morning as I opened my poor, old…I mean broken in bible.  I had bought a smaller, newer one last year to travel with, because my long-time friend is getting pretty…broken in.

The print isn’t too small. It seems to just willingly open to where I want to go.  Psalm 119?  All I have to do is spot the right place to crack it open, and I’m pretty close.  The same with almost any other part of it.

Between my broken in bible, which dates back before 1980, and the verse above I have a picture in my mind of a traveler at night, walking through a forest with a hooded cape. He holds an old-style lantern in front of him by the looped handle on top.  There is darkness all around, but the lamp gives enough light to keep him from stumbling over anything in his path.  Together, they are a like a gliding snow globe, floating through the night.

The past is dark behind him as memories shift, alter; maybe even disappear. The future is even darker.  He can anticipate when he sees the path start to bend as the light feathers it into view.  He cannot know whether there is a fallen tree, a washout, or smooth track ahead, but continues in the light he has.

I’m getting broken in also. The bible verses come to mind easier than in previous years, even if I have trouble finding them in my paged friend.  God’s lessons, both Biblical and practical, continue to soften the rough edges, loosen the stiffness of habit and pride, making me more and more of what He had intended for me since Adam and Eve.  Whether I always like it or not.

Getting broken in works both ways when it comes to a good bible and its owner.

The Harbinger, Overview Part 2

The Harbinger by Rabbi Jonathon Cahn; an overview

The last installment left off with the USA having it’s start as the destination of those seeking relief from religious prosecution, an Exodus from Europe to start their own New Israel. The first full meeting of our government with President Washington and the full congress was at St. Paul’s Chapel in the nation’s capital of New York City, and Washington’s prayer/prophecy concerning faithfulness to God and His providence for the country.

The church had a sycamore tree planted on the property near the church. It grew over the years until September 11, 2011.  It died that day, killed by falling debris from the Twin Towers.  As it took the punishment of the wreckage, it’s end protected the church itself from any damage.  Not so much as a window was broken.  That church is known as The Miracle of Ground Zero, the only structure in that area to escape any real damage.  It was used for months as a staging area for rescue and relief, which I find appropriate.  Ground Zero itself was, at the time of Washington’s prayer, part of that church’s property.

So, on the very soil that saw the first meeting of our government, a shaking occurred to hopefully call the country back to God. For three weeks, the country’s churches were filled with frightened citizens looking for…something.  An explanation?  Reassurance?  No one can really say for certain, other than it was not for penitence.  After three weeks, attendance dropped back to previous levels.  The shaking God sent caused no more than a collective snort of a snore before we rolled back over and to sleep.

How do we know this was a shaking sent from God and not just one of those lousy things that happens in an increasingly rotten world?

The answer lies in Isaiah 9:10. Isaiah was the prophet sent by God to a rebellious Jewish nation to deliver a shaking in the form of prophecy.  God would send disaster.  It was also predicted that Israel would pay no heed.  Isaiah 9:9-10:

“9 All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria— Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: 10 ‘The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.’”

Bricks refer to inferior building materials, as they were made of straw and mud. Hewn stone means they would take native rock out of the hills and use that.  Likewise, the cedar is a much stronger tree than the sycamore.  The meaning is that Israel would rely on its own strength and ability to plant and quarry instead of relying on God.

So what happened on September 11? The sycamore was destroyed.  Its remains, including its roots which contained a brick, were displayed as a memorial to the disaster.  What happened later?  A conifer tree of a cedar type was planted in the exact same spot the sycamore had stood!  I also recently learned that the cedar that was planted in the place of the sycamore is withered away.  They tried to prune it, hold it up with ropes…anything to keep it alive.  But it continued to wither along with the plantings around it.  It is a symbol of America’s continued withering as it refuses to return to God.

So that takes care of the sycamore, the cedar, and the brick. Now, the hewn stone.

When the new tower was set to get started, a 2 ton block of hewn store, cut from the mountains of New York state, was laid as a ceremonial cornerstone for the new tower, which our country would build bigger and better than what had stood there before.

Sound like a familiar refrain?

Other connections are the speeches given by our government leaders regarding September 11, 2001.

Senator Tom Daschle delivered a speech before Congress on September 12 to rally the nation. In it he quoted Isaiah 9:10, omitting the verse 9 which condemned the attitude of verse 10.  He used the same words of defiance the Israelites used to proclaim our coming ascendency.  He thereby invited judgement on the nation as he spoke on its behalf.

President Obama did the exact same thing, employing a paraphrase of Isaiah 9:10 years later in a speech observing the anniversary of September 11.  As if one government official unwittingly inviting judgement was not enough.  Obama also WROTE those defiant words on the final beam to be placed at the top of the new tower at Ground Zero.  This placed those defiant words at the highest point of the highest building in America.

Altogether Jonathon Cahn, a Christian Rabbi, cites nine harbingers sent to warn the United States of the destruction it faces without repentance of its ways:

And there is more to come in The Mystery of the Shemitah.

Squirm

“When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;…

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”                                Psalm 32: 3, 5b

You can usually tell when you – or anyone else – is on the wrong side of an issue. First, there’s the vehemence with which they state their position and attack their opposition.  Recall William Shakespeare’s observation that “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

Second, we squirm. Intellectually and sometimes even literally as if a little “body English” will straighten out an argument we know we shouldn’t be making.  We squirm.

A former theatre colleague from my days in Detroit friended me on Facebook. I started seeing his posts about this and that.  He’s of a liberal bent, so I don’t always agree with him, but he posts a lot of nice, inspirational items.  He recently went on a bit of a tirade against the Roman Catholic Church, as he watched an interview with a cardinal.  He was trying to defend something that clearly goes against God’s Word, but his argument was poor and his logic was tortured.

I knew I could pick it apart and try to explain things to him. Having studied logic and debate in college, I recalled how one could take an argument, reduce each item of the syllogisms to a symbol and essentially create a math formula to see what equaled what, to see if the argument made sense.  But, again, I doubt he’d listen to me.  And I think I’d probably just set him off worse.

Then I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Let him have it out with God.  Have him set himself against the Final Author and Arbiter over what is wrong or right.  Otherwise, I would just have made myself another ill-chosen target for him to struggle against.

Aside from the fact that I’m lousy at math, I knew it would be very difficult to dissuade him of his errors. I also needed to keep it from getting personal between us.  So I referred him to God.  I posted the following to his piece on the Catholics:

“After giving these posts some thoughts, I realized what it really is I want to express to you. And let me start it with some words from Mother Theresa:  “…in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”  You see, you are arguing with the Roman Catholic church.  They are not the ones who finally determine what is right and wrong.  Who is going to hell and who isn’t.  That is solely the purview of God.  Much as we like to say “My house, my rules,” so God rightly says “My creation, My rules.”  Only God’s Word matters on what is acceptable and what isn’t.  God gives us His Word in the bible.

I often use http://www.biblegateway.com/ to search out as many pieces of scripture as I can on an issue before trying to decide what God is saying and whether I am aligned with His will. Choosing just one passage is never enough, because “scripture interprets scripture,” as is taught in seminary.  And just reading that passage by itself is not enough – read all around it for context.  One might even read a commentary on the book of the bible being read to understand the reason for writing it.  St. Paul’s reasons for his different epistles are particularly important to understanding them.  I would encourage disengaging from measuring yourself against one church or another, whether favorable or unfavorable to your viewpoint.  Instead, measure your position against God’s.”

He made no more posts on that issue. Neither he nor his friends.  I don’t know if anyone cared what I wrote or did anything with it.  I know he unfriended me shortly after.  But, then, I need to remind myself yet again, “…in the end, it is between (me) and God. It was never between (me) and them anyway.”

Feed It!

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”   Hebrews 5:12

Your soul is a living, breathing thing. It needs nourishment like any other living thing. Don’t settle for second best for your soul. Get the best. God’s Word!

Feed your soul. Feed it!

Ham-handed paraphrase of Scott’s lawn care. This, however, is today’s blinding glimpse of the obvious. How many of us read God’s Word daily? Sure, we go to church on Sunday. Only a fraction of those in church attend a bible class. Even fewer read and study God’s Word on their own.

What if you filled your body’s need for food as well as you answer the hunger of your soul? Now there’s a diet that might work! But that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Our bodies need food every day. So do our souls.

I started out just reading a daily devotion, Portals of Prayer put out by Concordia Publishing House. Every day I read the short verse, the selected Psalm, and the short thoughts regarding the verses for the day. I learned a lot doing that over the years. I was surprised that the Psalms were nowhere nearly as dry as I thought.

Most devotions, however, recycle the more familiar passages. Later in my spiritual growth, I started reading whole books of the bible, working on reading the whole thing cover to cover. It’s amazing how much more I learned!

With the debate over how old the earth is, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to make my own bible timeline from creation through the Gospels. I’m not yet done, but pouring over God’s Word for all of those clues has been an education.

Quick! How long was The Flood? Forty days and nights? Wrong! The waters rose for that long, but, door-to-door, so to speak, The Flood lasted just over a year. Noah and company were in the ark that long before stepping out on to dry land.

Try reading Revelation. Yeah, I know; the language is difficult, and the symbolism is intimidating in many cases. I gave that up years ago. Then I read some materials about The Olivet Discourse. That’s Jesus’ prophecy to His disciples – and us – about the events of the last days. That’s in Matthew 24. Give that a good read, get it firmly under your belt, then head for Revelation. I found it to be more open than I had thought.

When you get stuck, ask your pastor about the passage that stumps you. Maybe buy him lunch in exchange for some Bible talk! You might buy a good commentary on the Bible, but I would use that judiciously! Those commentaries may be flawed. They are not authoritative, God-breathed scripture. I have one I use sparingly, mostly looking for historical context. Interpretations I tend to take cautiously, testing it to see how it feels in light of overall scripture.

Remember that scripture interprets scripture! Are you concerned about the end times in light of current events? Are you wringing your hands? Buying guns? Stockpiling food? Reading your Bible? Check, check, check, and…oops!

C’mon, man! Feed your soul. FEED IT!

The Closet Christian

“Daughters have secrets from their mothers — the unsuitable man, the vodka habit, the misspent night…But what I really did not want her to find out, what I could never bring myself to tell her, was that I go to church — and not just at Christmas. My mother, Marion, was an atheist — a genuine one with no hedging of bets at the last minute when she died, no keeping her options open just in case.”

So begins an article for The London Daily Mail by Sarah Foot, novelist. Her mother was an atheist due in large part, if not entirely, to her multiple sclerosis. Wheelchair bound and helpless for decades, she saw no reason to believe in any God. Right through to the bitter, eternal end.

After reading many books about different faiths, Sarah settled on Christianity, specifically The Church of England “…thanks to an Anglican priest. He believed that different faiths were just different ways of reaching the same end.” However, the church she attends is rife with the same problems discussed in my recent posts on the book Already Gone by Ken Ham.

She regularly attends, albeit with a shrinking group of parishioners: “There are so few of us, we sit in a tiny side chapel. Even on a good day numbers rarely exceed 20. The faces are nearly always the same. And though I won’t see 50 (years old) again, I am invariably the youngest, sometimes by a decade or two. Who will sit with me when I am the age of my fellow communicants, I have no idea.”

She could not confess her “sin” of going to church to her mother. She felt guilty over the idea of telling her mother that there’s a loving God when she herself can walk about freely in an undamaged body. That very fact calls her faith into question. She wonders why she believes and even whether she believes. She struggles with her faith. As I read her, I hear a cry for a reason to believe in the One True God and to look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come even as she repeats the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It sounds as if it would be so easy for her to let go, to escape the seemingly unanswerable questions that vex her faith.

But there is hope. Her soul is crying out to God, and the Holy Spirit is still calling her to a strong faith in that One Eternal God: “…if I was told I could not go to church again, I fear something in me would completely wither and that despair would then set in.”

Here’s the real question for her and the reason why she, in her fifties, is by far the youngest attendee at her small church. It’s the Anglican priest himself who is letting her down and destroying his own parish. How? It’s right there in the quote above. He preaches that all faiths are merely different routes to the same end.

If that same priest himself would preach the unadulterated Word of God, his attendance would grow. Sarah’s faith would become firmer, and she would know the answers to her misgivings.

She would know that sin, not God, is responsible for her mother’s ultimately fatal MS. She would not have to feel guilty about her faith, as if she is the weak one who relies on a possible fairy tale. She would know that the stirring in her soul, the part she says would wither and die if she stopped altogether, is crying out for solid, spiritual food. She would know she is still alive spiritually, albeit faintly.

I am saddened to see such a graphic example of what Already Gone is all about. I am heartened that she still listens to the small voice of her soul seeking that which is wants so desperately.

“…I seek that reminder more than once a year — even though, intellectually, I can demolish my church-going in seconds, having no rational explanation for it…I desperately want to believe that there is a peace beyond my understanding, a place of infinite tenderness, that, in the end, I am — that we all are — always loved. So I will be on the side of the angels — and not just at Christmas — in the hope that they are not just a figment of my imagination and yearning, but genuine tidings of comfort and joy.”

Please join me in praying for her and all of those like her who are being let down by weak clergy and still seek. Pray that she finds her way to really know that One True God she doubtfully confesses every Sunday in the Nicene Creed.

Pray.

Please see the article in its entirety: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2885809/Secret-scared-tell-mother-Millions-pay-annual-visit-church-tomorrow-daughter-zealous-atheist-reveals-finds-solace-pews-week-despite-agonising-doubts.html

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” 1 Corinthians 3:19

I recently read an article in which shows IQ trends that indicate human beings are getting dumber, not smarter. These are based on IQ tests given to military inductees in several countries as well as standard tests in the UK and Australia.

“The most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak.”

Average IQ scores have risen 3 points from the 1930s to the 1980s. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but if you’ve ever dealt with averages, low numbers tend to suck things down faster than larger numbers bump things up. So a 3 point average gain is pretty good. Once again, this is across multiple countries and cultures.

Better food and living conditions are credited for this climb. It is called the “Flynn effect” for Dr. James Flynn who documented this correlation in post-war Japan and other places.

“Some believe the Flynn effect has masked a decline in the genetic basis for intelligence, so that while more people have been reaching their full potential, that potential itself has been declining.”

So more people have been reaching their full potential, but at the same time the average potential for the human race is in a steady, if slow, decline.

Some also credit more intelligent/educated people for producing fewer children than less educated folks, thereby diluting the gene pool. There are a whole slew of politically incorrect assumptions baked into that one, so I’ll just leave that for private discussions/boxing matches.

Dr. Richard Lynn from the University of Ulster predicts that we’ll drop another 1.3 IQ points by 2050. Another scientist from Belgium claims we have slower reaction times than our Victorian age predecessors. While I can hear voices asking how he might have deduced that, I can say my own research in graduate school indicates to me very heavily that the human race is overall weaker and slower than it was hundreds of years ago. This is based on eye-witness accounts I’ve read of physical feats performed.

“Michael Woodley, of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, claims people’s reactions are slower than in Victorian times, and has linked it to a decline in our genetic potential.
It has previously been claimed that quick-witted people have fast reactions and Dr Woodley’s study showed people’s reaction times have slowed over the century – the equivalent to one IQ point per decade.”

“Jan te Nijenhuis, a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam, says Westerners have lost an average of 14 IQ points since the Victoria Era.”

So humanity would seem to be in decline and a number of experts in their fields are in agreement on that point. It also is in keeping with Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that “the entropy (commonly understood as a measure of disorder) of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, a state with maximum entropy (maximum disorder).”

I will admit that I have read differing interpretations of this argument, with variable definitions of the terms, but I think entropy/degradation is an observable phenomenon. Things are born and grown, etc., but there is always the inevitable death. Buildings decline. Rivers erode banks. Entropy applies to both the living and inanimate.

The overall point is that there are scientists who see decline in the human race – something I’m sure will be debated – and that Newton’s Second Law arguably supports that.

The question becomes obvious: Who says evolution, the continuing improvement of man, is a fact and beyond debate? I find it ironic that the scientific community, so hell-bent on supporting the theory of evolution, ignores its own evidence against it.

I’m just sayin’.

See the article for yourself: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2730791/Are-STUPID-Britons-people-IQ-decline.html

The Exodus Case – Sodom and Gomorrah

“The Exodus Case” by Dr. Lennart Moller – Book Review, Part Two of Seven

After the introduction to the premise and process for his book, Dr. Moller begins with what he calls the pre-Exodus period; who was Abraham? Where was he from? He touches areas of Genesis to lay the groundwork for the meat of his book, the investigation into the veracity of Exodus.

He spends some time on Sodom and Gomorrah, because Abraham’s story is strongly connected to these two doomed cities. He believes he has found the site. First, it’s geographically sited where the Bible locates it. Secondly, this 2 x 3 kilometer area is burnt to a crisp. He describes how the entire area is covered by a thick layer of a finely grained substance that is apparently some sort of ash that even drifts in some spots like snow. It clung to their clothes like ash, and smelled of sulfur It appears there could have been a town there, but the destruction is too great to be certain. There are some walls which are not affected. He believes they are a quartz based rock not affected by burning sulfur. Why did he specify burning sulfur?

Here is where it gets interesting. There are round stones all over the place, and all appear to have been plugged. Curious, he cut several in half so that he cut into the plug. The profile shows a hole into the center where he found a ball of sulfur of such purity that a chemist friend of his at first couldn’t believe it was sulfur. When he decided it definitely was sulfur, he couldn’t believe Dr. Moller found it as he said he did. He thought it could only have been manufactured to be that pure.

Such sulfur balls were found not only in round stones but in blocks of stone as well. I won’t attempt to reproduce the technical discussion Dr. Moller gives in the book, but I will share the analytics that were performed on samples in the lab: “X-ray crystallography, liquid chromatography, and atom absorption spectrophotometers, by qualified geological and analytical laboratories, who knew nothing about the identity of the samples to be analyzed.”

How did those sulfur balls get into the stones? Already alight, they apparently hit, burned their way in, and melted the host rock to form a plug. Starved of oxygen, the sulfur ball extinguished and was preserved inside the stones.

Did I mention he touched off a few in the field to see what would happen? They burned like hell.

“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” Genesis 19:24

He also found what appear to be skeletal remains that had been exposed to high heat. Again, I’ll leave the technical discussion for you to read in the book. I will say that the skeletal portions he believes them to be – pelvis, for example – are those that are the most resistant to destruction by heat.

The remains, the ash, and the sulfur balls were all subjected to rigorous laboratory analysis by scientists who were asked to do their analysis in the blind so as to not prejudice results. Dr. Moller’s discussion includes a chemical analysis of the types of rock on the site vs. the surrounding area and how the burning sulfur would yield the composition of materials on site.

“But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’” Luke 19:40

Here is what is so impressive about Dr. Moller’s style; he does not claim that this is definitely the site of Sodom and Gomorrah. He puts it forth as his theory which currently fits all known facts. As with any theory, he acknowledges he could be proven wrong with the introduction of new data. This is how he writes the entire book. He is very careful to differentiate between theory, speculation, and fact. He is not a Christian with an agenda to prove Exodus. He is a scientist who is a Christian, following sound principles of investigation. His conclusions are drawn with extremely conservative reasoning and an abundance of data.

Intrigued? The book is available on Amazon. I’d also recommend getting the two DVDs that Amazon will suggest you buy along with it. I got them and, I’m glad I did. The book is 400+ pages with tons of documentation, but VERY readable.

I Love You Enough to Kill You…?!?

OK. Here’s the article headline and link:
“Aborting my baby Oscar was the kindest thing I could do for him: Woman who made the agonising decision to end her child’s life after discovering he had Down’s syndrome”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2787202/Aborting-baby-Oscar-kindest-thing-I-Woman-agonising-decision-end-child-s-life-discovering-Down-s-syndrome.html

I have to start this with the caution that I think these sorts of situations can really be difficult. Emotions, love, and, yes, even logistics all play a huge part. The problem is that – and this is very difficult – emotions and fears can prevent us from really discerning what the goal is, what the base issue is. If you can properly distill a situation down to its essence, the decisions become clearer, if not any easier.

I mentioned in my previous post that a lot of this end-of-life discussion – whether abortion or euthanasia – revolves around mis-naming what’s going on. People find and insist on using words that allow them to feel comfortable with doing something that is not something you should feel good about.

Suzanne was having a troubled pregnancy. Aggressive testing finally determined what they had feared; their un-born son had Downs Syndrome plus life-threatening heart problems:

“the test results were conclusive: our baby — a boy — had Down’s syndrome as well as a host of serious health defects including one with his heart which meant he had only a 1 per cent chance of survival. We were warned, even if he was born alive he’d be rushed to a special care baby unit, a very poorly little boy.”

They also discussed that they felt they could possibly cope with a Downs Syndrome child, but agonized over whether that would be fair to their first child. He would require a lot of attention. The daughter might feel neglected. It doesn’t sound that they considered if their daughter would learn to love and help in any small, sisterly way, to help her brother. Their deliberations were based more on fairness to her, which we all know the world isn’t anyway, than to their unborn son. To put it succinctly, this was a rationale of what’s convenient. Not to dismiss something as spectacularly inconvenient as a very handicapped child, but inconvenient nonetheless.

Suzanne goes on:

“Yet here I was, facing this agonising decision, one which was no longer so black and white, moral or immoral. It is an agony so intense that you feel physical pain and whatever choice you make, it is laden with guilt.”

If it hurts so much, if there is so much guilt, isn’t that a good indication of the rightness of what you are doing?

She and her husband Tim, racked with the difficulty of their situation, decided to name the unborn son they decided to kill – sorry, abort – Oscar.

She continues:

“I’d delivered Oscar naturally after taking medication to end his life, and bring on labour. Yet that didn’t stop us loving him with all our hearts and believing we had done what was best for our family, and indeed for our son.“

First, medicine doesn’t kill. And what is natural about inducing labor to give birth to the corpse of the child you just killed? Again, we use words and pictures to make the wrong seem right. Almost noble, even.

“One in 1,000 babies in the UK — about 750 a year — is born with Down’s syndrome. But with better screening, increasingly it is detected in the womb, and of those couples who receive an ante-natal diagnosis, 92 per cent choose to have a termination — that’s around 1,000 pregnancies a year, or three a day….Tim and I hugged, sobbed and talked till we were exhausted. How could we bring a child into the world knowing he would suffer and, given his host of serious health problems, would soon die?”

This is going to be a lousy analogy, but it’s all I’ve got, so please bear with me.

One of many sports cliché’s is, “That’s why they play the game.” In other words, on paper we know who is likely to win in a particular sports match-up. But we don’t know everything. We don’t know that someone will trip and give the underdog the victory. We don’t know that the weather – an act of God, if you will – won’t have a significant impact on the results.

That’s how it is in life. Several years ago I “knew” I was going to die in 1-2 years. I could just feel it coming. The stress of having lost a promising career and the resulting financial slide and then working a stressful, low-paying job were eating me up. I could feel it happening. I had lost count of how many job applications I’d submitted. I just couldn’t see it ending any other way.

Then I got my current job. I’ve been getting stronger and happier year after year. Not bad considering I would’ve bet money I wouldn’t be alive in 2014. I KNEW what was going to happen. It would have been easier to commit suicide.

But God had other plans, despite my weak faith and pessimism!

That’s why we play the game, sport fans! That’s why we “Never give up! Never surrender!” That’s why we keep on living and help other people keep on living. Whether they are unborn, old, retarded, or anything else, we keep up the effort.

Suzanne and her husband, Tim, got a horrendous, mega-volt shock to learn their son, Oscar, was struggling in the womb with Downs Syndrome and other ailments. They made the mistake of using words, euphemisms, to rephrase a negative choice into a positive one…and make themselves feel as good as possible about it.

My heart goes out to them. It truly does. They made a bad decision and are trying to talk their way out of the guilt. Don’t believe me? Read the whole thing for yourself. The pain is palpable. Even now, she’s speaking out about this in an effort to assuage her guilt under the guise of “promoting a dialogue.” Maybe she doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing.

She’s finding a way to believe herself, and help others to believe themselves, when they say, “I love you enough to kill you.” At least in more comforting words.

St. Paul’s Funnel

“21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” Philippians 1:21-26

St. Paul was in a bit of a pickle. He was personally commissioned by Christ Jesus to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He had travelled extensively, starting fledgling churches in Europe and Asia. He’s stoned, left for dead, flogged, shipwrecked, and more. He just kept on going. He was the Energizer Apostle…so to speak.

Paul was in jail, in chains, in Rome, at the writing of this letter to the church in Philippi. In verse 12 of chapter 1, Paul reassures his readers that his current state is really serving to advance the Gospel of Jesus. The entire palace guard has heard his witness. Others have been encouraged to be even bolder in their preaching of the Word.

Paul knows that, if he dies while in chains, his martyrdom will advance the kingdom. He also knows that sitting in prison and writing one letter after another will also advance the kingdom. Furthermore, he knows that his death will be a blissful release from his pains and anxieties of being in prison and not being sure of his destiny. He writes the passage above, saying plainly that he’s not sure which way he wants things to go. He longs for the final union with Christ in heaven. He knows he has a job here on earth.

To be or not to be. That is the question. He leaves it in God’s hands, deciding that his earthly life is of value to his readers.

And here’s the trick – his readers include us. I doubt Paul was looking that far into the future, but his letters continue to reach many more people than those in Philippi, Rome, Ephesus, and others.

Yes, Paul was – and is – the apostle to the Gentiles of all times. How did that happen? God sent Paul on journeys to various places, establishing new churches of brand new believers. He went after it with the same passion he had as a devout Pharisee, determined to stamp out Jesus’ message. Then, when he had plenty of reasons to want to talk to these people, to keep on encouraging them, God leads him to appeal to the emperor as a Roman citizen while on trial before his king. HE COULD HAVE GOTTEN OFF! So he’s then bound over to Rome where he languishes – and writes a lot of letters, which become our a big part of the New Testament!!

He was in God’s Funnel! It started with his early education, which was top shelf, to his zeal as a Pharisee, to his extensive missionary trips, to his trial in Judea, and ended in what may have been a fit of pride when he demands his case be heard by Rome instead letting of the Jewish King sweep events under the rug and LET HIM GO! Paul was in God’s Funnel. He made the most of it. Even if, in my humble, non-apostolic opinion, he gaffed by appealing to Rome. He could have stayed free and made many more missionary trips.

But then we wouldn’t have the New Testament as we know it. So maybe being in God’s Funnel included using a character flaw of pride, a hold-over from his self-righteous Pharisee days, to produce our Bible. Purely a guess on my part, by the way. But no matter what, God has a way of making things work out.

It happens a lot…in The Funnel.