Thursday, August 20, 2015

For What Life's Worth

Ive been listening to this song a lot lately. I believe it can apply to a lot of things these days. I kept picturing scenes from Pro-Life events Ive been to along with the recent Planned Parenthood videos released by the Center For Medical Progress. So Stayed up till 4 AM yesterday finding videos and editing them together.

I decided to brand this with the Ministers For Life logo. Ministers For Life is a site and resource I created for Ministers last spring. You can check out the site and the resource guide here.

For over 40 years the United States has been legally killing over 3,000 innocent human beings a day. This has amounted to the death of over 56 Million helpless children. Their crime: simply existing. It's time we stop and and look around with an open mind to see what is really going on and stand up against the injustice and bring an end to this American Holocaust

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Missing the Counsel of my Friend

Last night while driving home I started thinking about some things that my mentor and good friend Butch Simmons taught me about how to deal with people who don't teach a clear presentation of the gospel, which is extremely common in the "church" today.

It frustrates me so much to hear people say the gospel in one sentence, "to be saved you must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and rose again." But then turn around a few minutes later and add works to the simple faith by saying, "if you are doing certain sins, haven't turned from sins, or if you don't see yourself doing good works, you were never saved at all." This is the works-based false gospel that is rampant in our society. Should we do good works and turn from sin? ABSOLUTELY! But that is all part of our Christian life, walking in fellowship with God, which is what we do after we are saved. It is the next phase of our life, which lasts until the day we die physically and go to be with the Lord. It is important to do good works and to confess and turn from sin, but those have nothing to do with our initial salvation (justification) which is by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. No works can be added to that faith, or it ceases to be the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 11:6). 

For the past four years I have intensely studied the theologies that teach that false gospel to better understand where they are coming from in order for me to know how to share the true message of the gospel with those who follow it (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31). Upon studying those beliefs I come across well known pastors and authors that teach this stuff. To a new believer, lay Christian/normal church goer, or one who has not studied the differences in those teachings and contrasted the to scripture, these dynamic speakers and pastors seem great and spot on. And I admit, I once really liked some of them. And most of them are great brilliant people who know the word of God, yet they have been led astray by man-made theologies and are not clear on the gospel. I have lost count of all the people who follow these well known pastors and authors. We would talk about the gospel and I would share the essential verses of the gospel to them (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31) and these people would say, "simply believing isn't enough. Thats too easy. There has to be more to it". It saddens me to hear people say that, to hear that so many people have been taught that the simple gospel of God's grace wasn't enough. They were led to believe that there had to be something that they contributed, whether it be a contract/commitment or certain works to add to it. They miss the simple concept that Christ paid it all on the cross. He did every good thing for us, he paid for all our sins, and he tells us that if we simply believe in Him that we will have eternal life. Once we are saved, we are then called to live a life that glorifies Him.

What does this have to do with Butch?

I get very angry and frustrated when I hear the gospel being resented unclearly or when people add works to it. I want to call out those well known pastors and tell people that even though those pastors are solid on most of scripture, they do not teach God's grace, they instead teach a gospel of works. I always look to Paul's letter to the Galatians. The church of Galatia, though they were saved, they started adding works onto salvation, saying that to be saved you needed to do good works as well. Paul very harshly reprimands them. He especially calls out those who taught them those things, calling them (Galatians 1:6-10). I would always find myself calling out those well known pastors and authors.

I would always express my concerns to Butch about thisHe agreed with me on those things and about those pastors but I never once heard him call those people out or point fingers. Even though he thought the same as I did, he would always quote Ephesians 6:12 to me. 

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms". 

He would tell me that the anger that I felt about those teachings was "righteous anger", meaning I had every right to be angry about things that contradicted scripture, but he was quick to quote that verse and he reminded me that my anger and frustration should not be with those pastors, because they have been led astray and do not know it. My anger and frustration should be with the forces that led them astray, the deceptive theologies that distort the gospel are from satan. He would tell me that even though he disagreed with them on soteriology(study of salvation), he wouldn't call them out by name.  He would tell me that by calling those people out, it would only cause arguments with other believers. We should speak the truth of the gospel. Calling people out isn't always profitable.

Last night I had an argument with a fellow believer and he didn't think that the pastors and authors were teaching anything contrary to scripture. I know him and we both agree that salvation is by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, not by works. He just didn't think that they taught that stuff. I tried to explain their beliefs that I studied for the past four years but, as usual, it didn't come out clear when I tried to explain it. He thought I was talking about something else entirely. He went on to tell me that I shouldn't point fingers at pastors. 
After I got in my car, I was immediately reminded of those wise words Butch used to tell me every time I got upset. The truth and conviction hit me and I realized just how much I missed Butch. He has ben a big part of my life for about a decade now. For the past 2 years he had been meeting up with me every week for one on one discipleship/mentoring. 

A little over three weeks ago Butch went into the hospital for a routine surgery for a hiatal (stomach) hernia. The surgery went well but 3 days after the surgery he started having complications and they had to rush him to the Critical Care Unit for emergency surgery. When they opened him up they found that the top half of his stomach had not been getting any blood pumped to it since the surgery and that it was dead.  He was also septic. They removed that top section of his stomach but because of that, his esophagus was no longer connected to his stomach. For about a week the doctors didn't think he would make it. But here we are 3 weeks later and he is still with us and is slowly improving. The doctors say that if he continues to do better, in about six months they will do surgery on him again to reattach his esophagus to his stomach.

I started crying when I thought about the last time I saw Butch. When I saw him last, he was wide awake and looking around, but it was like he was trapped in his own body. It was pitiful. Seeing a man who was so in love with the Lord who lived literally day to day to serve the Lord, the strongest most dedicated man of God that I had ever met, so helpless and trapped. I just broke down. I know that I shouldn't worry because the lord will work everything out in His will. And I know that regardless of the circumstance Butch is trusting Him too. But I just can't see how having one of his faithful servants who served him diligently every day for decades who still has plenty of life left to live, trapped and confined to a room not being able to communicate is profitable. How is his current state bringing glory to God when he could be out there serving God?  I know the Lord has a plan, but in the moment I have so many questions and am so depressed about the situation. 

I guess the only thing to do in the moment is to trust the Lord and his promises, and know that God knows what he is doing. He has a purpose and reason for everything that happens to us. And He reminds us that everything works together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). 

Butch doing karate "back in the day"

This is one of the most impressive
pictures of him! HA

Butch with the MSU Egg Bowl trophy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Conversation with CNN Journalist Chris Cuomo

“If you want to be a leader of the future, that’s a question that deserves an answer that is definitive beyond your faith. When does life begin?”

Last Friday, August 7, 2015, Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Marco Rubio was on CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s show discussing abortion.  After an excellent defense of his stance on abortion in the cases of rape and incest, Rubio went on stating that protecting human life under the law is a timeless principle.

Rubio: “The idea that human life is worthy of protection is a timeless principle, I don’t care how much the world changes.”
Cuomo: “You are deciding when it is human life
Rubio: “No! Science has decided when it is human life!”
Cuomo: “Science has not decided that it is at conception”
Rubio: “Let me correct you. Science has. Absolutely it has. Science has concluded that. What else could it be?”

They continued bantering back and forth with Cuomo stating at least 4 times that science does not say when life begins. He kept interrupting Rubio telling him that that was his faith telling him when life begins, not science. Rubio calmly restated that it was science. Towards the end Cuomo made a statement that I agree with. He said, “If you want to be a leader of the future, that’s a question that deserves an answer that is definitive beyond your faith? When does life begin?”

As much as I am a man of faith, I agree with Cuomo that if you are governing a nation of people with many different beliefs, you cant always make decisions and laws justified by just your religion. Not everyone will agree with you and there will be many issues. I personally believe that it is impossible to rightly govern a nation without the morals of the Bible, but there are many specific issue that are not covered much in scripture that we deal with in America. Abortion is alluded to in scripture and it is listed as a sin, murder. But to someone who doesn’t believe in the Bible, that doesn’t mean anything to them. Thankfully science backs up scripture on this matter.

When I first started getting involved with Pro-Life work almost 5 years ago, all I knew was that scripture says life begins at conception and that murdering another human being was a sin. It was pretty straightforward to me. But I quickly found out that that argument wasn’t good enough to those who didn’t believe in scripture. I was faced with an angry college student demanding scientific evidence, and I had nothing to give him. Thus began my journey looking into what science said on the issue. That summer I attended Summit Ministries’ Christian Worldview Conference. During those amazing two weeks I met and listened to two men who changed the course of my life. Dr. Mike Adams, an atheist-turned-Christian Criminology professor, and Scott Klusendorf, a pro-life apologist. It was by listening to them speak and later talking to them and reading their books that I realized that science was conclusive as to when life begins. The science of embryology and fetal development as well as all the leading medical text books in those fields tell that human life begins at conception. To quote Scott Klusendorf, Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading Embryology Text books confirm this”. 

I have spent the past 5 years reading material from textbooks, scientists, and expert medical testimonies, all of which have confirmed that life begins at conception. So, knowing that, I was taken aback when Chris Cuomo said that science did not say when life began, and that he wasn’t stating his view on the matter. Well, Chris, it seems like that you WERE quoting your view, and it is a view that is out of line with what science has concluded.

I took to Twitter and sent him the following in a span of 32 tweets (curse the 140 character limit) :

"I just watched the abortion interview with Rubio. You should do your research. Science tells us when life begins. It's not faith. You shouldn't make such rash statements on TV based on your opinion when they are completely opposite of what science says. When life begins is NOT a matter of faith its a matter of science! Its answered with clarity by the science of human embryology.

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading Embryology Text books confirm this. TW Sadler's "Langman's Embryology", Moore's "The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology", and O'Rahilly & Muller's "Human Embryology and Teratology". Just to name a few. The facts of reproduction are straightforward. Upon completion of the fertilization, sperm and egg have ceased to exist, what exists is a single cell with 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) that is called a zygote. The coming into existence of the zygote is the point of conception--the beginning of the life of a new human organism. The terms zygote, embryo and fetus all refer to developmental stages in the life of a human being. The preborn meets all the biological criteria for life: metabolism, cellular reproduction & reaction to stimuli. The preborn is human. She possesses a human genetic signature that proves this beyond any doubt. She is also the offspring of human parents, and we know that humans can only beget humans. 

The preborn is genetically and functionally distinct from (though dependent on and resting inside of) the pregnant woman. Her growth & maturation is internally directed. Her DNA is unique and different from that of any other cell in the woman's body. She develops her own arms, legs, brain, central nervous system, etc. To say that a fetus is a part of the pregnant woman's body is to say that the woman has 4 arms and 4 legs. Also if you say that then you are saying that about half of pregnant women have penises. 

The preborn is a whole or complete (though immature) organism. That is, she is not a mere part of another living thing, but is her own organism--an entity whose parts work together in a self-integrated fashion to bring the whole to maturity. Her genetic information is fully present at conception, determining to a large extent her physical characteristics she needs only a suitable environment and nutrition to develop herself through the different stages of human life. Thus, the preborn is a distinct, living & whole human organism--a full-fledged member of the species Homo sapiens, like you and me."

In 1981 a U.S. Senate judiciary subcommittee heard expert testimony on the question of when life begins. "Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being--a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings."

The report also noted "no witness [who testified before the subcommittee] raised any evidence to refute the biological fact that from the moment of conception there exists a distinct individual being who is alive and is of the human species. No witness challenged the scientific consensus that unborn children are 'human beings,' insofar as the term is used to mean living beings of the human species."

There are plenty of groups that are NOT religious and believe life begins at conception based solely on science Secular Pro-Life as well as Life Matters Journal. It's time you look into what science says rather than stating your opinions.

Most of what I posted is from Scott Klusendorf’s books “The Case For Life” and “Stand For Life”. Both books are amazing and I highly recommend reading them! I’m a stickler for facts, and if someone is quoting something to be true and it is not true, I will correct them on it. I do it to help them and to educate them on the truth, not to shame or embarrass them. (My grade school teachers called that talking back and being disrespectful, but I beg to differ. If they would’ve stated the truth to begin with we wouldn’t have had those discussions). I seriously doubted that he would respond, but lo and behold, the great Chris Cuomo DID respond. This was his response:

I quickly responded:

On the program you said nothing about personhood.  You said science. You said science hasn't said whether it's human or not. You won't find the issue of personhood in science. That's an opinion that people have when they don't want a group to be human. Hitler's views on personhood were that Jews were lesser of people. Slave owners' views on personhood were that blacks were lesser of people. Pro-choice people's view of personhood is that the preborn babies are lesser of persons. Science says that Jews, blacks, & preborn babies are all equally human. Oppressors of them are the ones who say they aren't people. Science has come to the consensus that the life of a human being begins at conception. That's a scientific fact.
Can you name any other group of human being that isn't considered a "person"?

As expected, I received no further response from him. As like many reporters and journalists, he misspoke and instead of admitting his mistake and then clarifying what he meant to say, he dodged the question and brought up an entirely different argument.

I know the “personhood” debate is big among pro-life and pro-choice debaters, especially those who like philosophy. After all, it is a philosophical issue. But, as much as people love philosophy, I never could understand it. The only thing I can remember in my college philosophy class was that we spent weeks discussing the question of  “do we really exist? Or are we just robots programed to think we are humans and exist? And if we are robots, how are we aware that we are robots programed to think we are humans?” Honestly, I think that many of the philosophers we studied were as high as a kite when they came up with some of these theories and questions. In fact, my crazy professor told us that most of them were in fact on opium or drunk. (Go figure!).  I tend to go by a simple logical approach. (Yes I know that can be considered philosophy too, but whatever). My simple logic approach tells me to look at the definitions of words. Lets look up “Human”. According to Merriam-Webster, a Human is “a person: a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens)”. And a Person is “a human being”. Wow! Pretty straight forward, the two words are synonymous.

As I told Mr. Cuomo, the main three groups of human beings in our history that have been declared as a lesser type of human beings or persons are black slaves, Jews, and the preborn humans. It's always the oppressor who comes up with the claim that the people they benefit or profit from aren't equal humans. The slave owners and the Klu Klux Klan, the Nazis, and Pro-Choice people each began by systematically dehumanizing an entire group of people to justify savage acts of violence. The slave owners and the KKK called black slaves “3/5 of a person”, “Apes”, “property”, “weeds”, and “parasites”. The Nazis called the Jews “inferior persons”, “rats”, “swine”, “vermin”, and “parasites”. Pro-Choice advocates call preborn babies “non-persons”, “potential persons”, “tissue”, “clumps of cells”, “tumors”, “parasites”, and “products of conception”. All three of these groups of human beings are equally human to each other and equally human to their oppressors. They were given dehumanizing names so that the oppressors could treat them unlike humans. All three were not considered persons under the law, and they had no rights.

I have yet to legitimately see or hear of any other groups of people that qualify as humans but not persons.

Although I am honored (I use that word lightly) and glad that Mr Cuomo responded to my tweets, this exchange goes to show that not only does Cuomo not speak truthfully on air, but that he also holds to radical views that were prominent among the KKK and Nazis. He holds to the same ideologies that they do about the value of human life. It is quite sad; although an increasingly popular view today.

The conversation with Chris Cuomo only reinforces my view of reporters and journalists. I’ve been interviewed in local and national publications, both liberal and conservative, and they have all misquoted me or twisted my words in some form or another to fit their story. They don’t care about the truth; they just want a good story. To quote film director and screenwriter Joss Whedon, “The news isn't there to tell you what happened. It's there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear.”

By the time you have finished reading this post, approximately 24 innocent human beings have been killed by abortion, adding onto the current 56 million killed since 1973. Regardless of one’s political party, religious beliefs, or occupation, we should all agree with what science says and we should all agree that all human beings have value and should be equally protected under the law. That, as Senator Rubio says, is a timeless principle.