by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat President
There’s an old adage, “May you live in interesting times.” Whether it’s a curse, a warning, or a call to adventure, depends on how you read it, receive it, or respond to it.
The brazen political ploy to secure abortion rights, even over other constitutional rights, that just happened in the New York state assembly, followed by several other states, points to the fact that these are, at the least, “interesting times.” The politics of Big Abortion haven’t been this overtly obvious to the nation than since the 1970s and early 80s as the wicked reality of the Roe v. Wade decision. Held at bay for years, the New York politicos beholding to Big Abortion for a big win last November wasted no time in legitimizing the very things that the lead to the conviction of the abortionist, Kermit Gosnell (Philadelphia, PA).
There are three things this tells us about pro-abortion forces.
They’re scared. The recent changes at the Supreme Court of the United States, namely new justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and decisions highlighting protections of liberties, suggest that Roe v. Wade is truly in danger of being reversed for the failed legal framework it is. This is the core reason advanced by Governor Cuomo in order to ensure abortion rights in New York state.
They’re serious. They wasted no time ramming this major constitutional change through. They seized upon the increasing polarization by implementing the far left reality of abortion on demand for any reason, at any age. This is a stark reality that Roe currently protects. And even a simple reversal of Roe, will likely not provide the legal footing to address the egregious moves by the Big Abortion allies in New York and other blue states.
They’re stealing. In elevating abortion so radically they are actually stealing rights not just from the unborn who are obviously “viable” (have the ability to survive outside the womb), but also from women by gutting protections for women from domestic violence. They are stealing the protections provided by previous, and some long-standing, laws that carried these protections.
There is much to be disappointed about. But that misses the larger story in our nation.
When politics, and politicians, fail us (as they inevitably seem to do), the practical remains our primary impact area. The practical manifests in the faithful actions of the pregnancy help movement. From pregnancy centers to maternity homes, from pregnancy tests to parenting classes, we have many practical methods to reach at-risk women and men. New York politicians didn’t inspire the mission field created by abortion—but they did expand it.
In the wake of New York, what do we do?
Get busy. Or more precisely, busier. We need to examine our own service capacity to ensure that we’re optimizing our ministry outreach and impact. Do we have unfilled counseling rooms during current business hours? Do we have under-utilized ultrasound services? Quick gains can be made by getting busy filling unused capacity with more life-saving impact. That likely means looking more closely at our marketing effectiveness in reaching those at-risk for abortions in our community.
Get better. Just like the call to grow in Christ, the call to be better is one of intentional examination and evaluation. We need to be better in reaching those at-risk, stronger in serving those we can, and deepening our commitment to intervention impact. We won’t achieve new results by only doing what we’ve always done. Remember, the manual typewriter and the buggy whip were, at one time, deemed “best practices.” Actively re-think processes and programs for greater effectiveness.
Get bolder. Despite the false accusations that we “only care about the unborn baby,” the pregnancy help movement is positively impacting millions of people each year. We need to be bold about engaging the “mushy middle” that has been reminded that Roe’s full effect is not something to be “moderate” about. Every Christ-follower should be involved in overcoming Roe. Whether directly ministering to clients in the “valley of decision,” supporting those who do, or voting our values, there is something every believer can do. And let’s be bold to invite greater involvement for current supporters. We can, and must, do more. Let’s boldly proclaim the great work of pregnancy help!
In all of this we should not let our “hearts be troubled.” But, instead, we should take heart that where sin does abound, grace that much more abounds. It is that abundant grace that this ministry is built upon, and will thrive upon.
And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also;” Acts 17:6
Paul, Silas, Jason and others caused quite a stir in Thessalonica, where Paul spent three weeks with the Jewish community, convincing many of the good news of Jesus’ identity and mission.
Yet, whenever there is good news some will find a problem. So it was in Thessalonica, where the Jewish leaders became jealous as more and more were persuaded Paul was right by saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:3)
Because of their jealousy, the religious leaders of the day formed a mob (Acts 17:5), then dragged Jason and some of Paul’s friends in front of the city authorities, falsely accusing that “. . . they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:7)
Paul probably made it clear that Jesus was not on earthly king, so why the false accusation? What was the real problem?
The real problem was about power. The religious leaders enjoyed being served by those they ruled over. They had full authority to make proclamations regarding not only religion, but about how the world around them (in this case, the Jewish community) would function.
No one was allowed to question their leadership or their authority. In short, they had a great life—and all of the power they could ask for. Until Paul showed up.
Paul, Silas, Jason and others were offering something new. This good news challenged the one thing the leadership held dear: Their power base. For if Jesus is king, the religious leaders were subject to him and suddenly, everyone was on equal footing.
To the religious leaders, this “turned the world upside down,” – their world.
It’s no wonder they were angry and jealous, creating mobs and making false accusations. They would do anything to protect their personal kingdoms.
For us and those we serve however, the good news is truly Good News. When we see Jesus as King, there is joy in knowing our King is one of reconciliation, hope and promise. Our King’s decrees aren’t those of a dictator (“Do this or else!”) but one of love (“Love your neighbor as yourself”).
And just like Paul and his friends, when we embrace this good news and share it with others, some—like in Paul’s day—won’t be happy. But if we’re faithful, we might see the results Paul did, where many choose instead to join with us in proclaiming the greatest news ever told.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
by Terri Fox, Grant Writer
On a recent trip to Israel to participate in the L’Chaim 2018 International Pro-Life Conference, I had the opportunity to tour some historical biblical sites. We floated on the Dead Sea; sailed on the Sea of Galilee singing songs of praise; and saw the Dan stream that is fed by rain and snow from Mt. Hermon which feeds the Jordan River.
One of our stops was to the presumed site of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.
Approaching the baptismal site, there are signs in different languages instructing one to respect the site and obey the listed rules. Two of the rules were unexpected and caught my attention:
Down the center of the river is a rope-like barrier that identifies the border between the two countries.
Two armed Israeli soldiers stood guard on the Israel side of the river and two armed Jordanian soldiers stood guard on the Jordanian side of the river. I thought about the great divide between them, even though the distance before them wasn’t that great.
Several of our group stepped into the waters of the Jordan for a full immersion baptism; some sprinkled water over their heads and on their arms, while others just stood in the water.
I walked the grounds, being mindful to stay behind the fencing, pondering the significance of this site. It was okay if I wasn’t standing in the exact spot where Jesus was baptized, but I was in the neighborhood.
Then I thought about the neighborhood: two countries, four armed soldiers, a rope, a fence, landmines dividing. In a place that brings Scripture to life I was fascinated by the contrast of reverence and rivalry.
As I sat down on a step to further reflect, I thought about Jesus’ birth in this land, how he walked this land, how he lived in community in this land, how he suffered and died in this land, and how he rose to new life defeating death.
I thought about how Jesus did this for the soldiers on both sides of the Jordan River.
And then I thought about what we face in our work in pregnancy help: two sides, lies used as weapons, a dividing line of choosing life over death.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s try to think about our neighbors. Let’s try to remember what brings us together. And let’s remember that Jesus was born to bring reconciliation to even those who oppose us.
Let’s not be afraid but share the “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
Who knows, maybe someone will lay down their weapon, cross the barrier that divides and walk into great joy.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
It was Ghandi, well-acquainted with challenging cultural norms, whose philosophy is often summarized as the following: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
It started, in earnest, more than a year ago, in July 2017 with the launch of the Lady Parts Justice League “Expose Fake Clinics” campaign. The negative campaign started with a splash (ambushing a Heartbeat affiliate in Pittsburgh using fake clients) but wilted as Heartbeat’s Pregnancy Help News and Academy helped educate pregnancy help organization leaders in a timely fashion, as well as our Extend Web Services team’s expertise helped push back on the digital attack.
I believe Ghandi’s quote has been on display in our movement. Initially Big Abortion, largely, ignored the pregnancy help movement. Even a sustained, multi-jurisdiction push for anti-pregnancy center laws and ordinances, has been defeated in the courts. In this past year, the NIFLA SCOTUS case win was preceded by a seven-year victory in Baltimore. In that case, Judge Wilkinson found, “After seven years of litigation and a 1,295-page record before us, the City does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there. What the record does show is affirmative advocacy of abortion alternatives by a lawful non-profit group.”
With their strategy of bullying by legal means blocked, the “Expose Fake Clinics” public relations campaign has become the repository of Big Abortion attention, energy, and funding. Dozens of pregnancy help centers across the country have reported Handmaid Tale type protesters. The American Medical Association’s, so-called, Journal of Ethics published an article (by pro-abortion doctors) with the headline “Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are Legal but Unethical”.
Even HBO weighed in, with John Oliver devoting an entire episode of “Last Week Tonight” (HBO) to slamming "crisis pregnancy centers" delivering the requisite half-truths, outright lies, and biased perspective in a foul-mouthed sarcastic way so as, apparently, to qualify under both “they laugh at you” and “then they fight you” portions of the philosophy.
Media reporting on pregnancy help centers now leverages a myriad of articles, scholarly research (from a pro-abortion and anti-pro-lifer academic community), and various “investigative journalism” (written by Big Abortion allies). The effect – certainly intended by Big Abortion – is that Googling crisis pregnancy centers returns a mountain of negative posts, publicity, and periodicals.
And yet, Heartbeat’s Option Line numbers are at all-time highs (360K in 2017, tracking to eclipse 400K in 2018). Abortion Pill Reversal Network numbers are increasing significantly. More pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and others, are uniting under Heartbeat International affiliation, than ever before. Charlotte Lozier Institute’s recent Pregnancy Center Services Report, 3rd Edition, touts amazing accomplishments for 2017 alone, as well as achievements and milestones over “A Half Century of Hope” from the beginning in 1968 to 2018.
Despite the frenzied activity of our increasingly shrill opposition, the Lord of Hosts is clearly with us. We are winning. Even if the other side doesn’t know it yet. Though I suspect that’s what they fear. So take heart, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1 Timothy 2:7).
“Now there was a certain man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.” Acts 10:1-2
There are times in our when we see God working elsewhere, but for whatever reason He doesn’t seem active in our own life. Others appear to be in the middle of God’s work and us? We’re watching, wondering why we don’t seem to be included.
Whenever we find ourselves thinking, “God doesn’t notice me,” let’s remember Cornelius in the Book of Acts.
We know Cornelius’ story, but have we looked closely? Cornelius was a Gentile (non-Jew), an Italian centurion—a soldier. Even though he had no connections to the Jewish nation, he gave financially to the Jewish people, and in this narrative, Luke also points out he “feared God with all his household . . . and prayed to God continually.”
Yet, even as God worked among the Jews and we see God sending his messiah, Cornelius was not part of anything. He kept praying. Kept teaching his family about God. Kept giving. But day after day, nothing. We don’t see the Jewish people welcoming him as one of their own. Cornelius was on the outside looking in.
Though he wasn’t seeing tangible results from his prayers, Cornelius—out there on his own regarding faith—stayed committed. Still, we can forgive Cornelius if he ever thought, What about me, God?
Then one day Cornelius received a visit from an angel, who told him his prayers had not been wasted at all. “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God,” the angel told him. The angel then asked our friend Cornelius to send men out to find Simon Peter, and, smart man that he was, Cornelius obeyed.
We know the rest of the story. Peter went to Cornelius’ home, where a mighty move of God brought the Good News to the Gentiles for the first time. Cornelius—the man who stayed committed even when he could see no real results—was likely the first Gentile in the history of planet Earth to be able to call himself “Christian.”
What about us? Whenever we feel as if we’re on the outside looking in, let’s stay committed. Let’s keep praying. Let’s keep looking for God to make His move. Though we may not see the results today, the fruit of our devotion may be closer than we think.
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International Chairman of the Board
We can all take heart from the findings of the latest report on the amazing work of pregnancy help centers, clinics, and maternity homes across the USA, A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition, which notes that pregnancy help centers trace their beginnings to 1968, 50 years ago.
Having discovered our local Birthright in 1973 and Heartbeat International in 1978, I have been an eyewitness to the growth of this movement for 45 years. What a privilege to experience what God is doing through ordinary people who can accomplish the extraordinary when He is calling and equipping.
I want to reflect briefly on three things this report highlights.
First of all, the heroism of the mothers who are choosing life over abortion, despite the incessant marketing and promotion of abortion in American culture and organized attempts to stifle the voices for life, especially in pregnancy help centers.
We do not save babies – mothers do, once they have the love, support, care, knowledge, and new vision they need to overcome the pressures leading them toward abortion. We are woman-centered, and women are choosing life over abortion at higher rates than ever since 1973.
As the pregnancy center report shows, the abortion rate in this country in 2014 (the latest year for which numbers are available) has gone down to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women from a high of 29.3 eight years after the Roe v. Wade decision (according to Guttmacher Institute).
Additional research underway now is looking at the hypothesis that even more than state laws, clinic closures, or political changes the major factor in this decline in the abortion ratio could well be the work of pregnancy help organizations! We will not rest from our labors until every woman who needs help can find it at her local life-affirming pregnancy help organization.
Just one more reason our Life Launch Grant to help start pregnancy centers in areas primed for more life-saving outreach is such an important recent initiative.
Second, the Footsoldiers Armed with LOVE – those working in pregnancy help organizations, and their supporters, throughout the USA (and the world) who provide the love, support, and help so women can choose life for their babies.
From the handful of volunteers that started, supported, and worked in each of the original pregnancy help centers (there were about 100 locations in 1971 when Heartbeat published our first Worldwide Directory), God has raised a mighty army!
In 2017, in 2,600 pregnancy help locations, there were 67,400 volunteers, along with a much smaller number of dedicated staff members, who served 2 Million people!
The tools available for this army have multiplied in the last 50 years, as the pregnancy center report illustrates. Centers are utilizing valuable tools that are becoming more and more available and prevalent. Just look at how many centers are expanding their services: 70% offer ultrasounds, 41% provide sexual integrity and sexual risk avoidance education with evidence-based curricula and materials, 97% offer material aid, 87% provide prenatal and parenting support and education, and 75% host after abortion support and healing programs.
Life affirming crisis intervention, prevention services (sexual integrity), support, and after abortion healing ALL save lives. Each provides, at some point in a woman’s life, a life-affirming vision, a hope, and perhaps some practical help, so some women will never be faced with a difficult pregnancy, and those who are know that abortion is NOT their only alternative.
To me, this continues to prove that the best alternative to abortion is another person – armed with the love of Christ, offering women a new vision of hope and life.
My third thought – my passion for the vision and mission of Heartbeat – the network of centers, clinics, and housing ministries that make up Heartbeat International, plus the programs and services of “Heartbeat Central” (our headquarters).
Heartbeat International was founded in 1971 by a diverse group of the original pregnancy help organizations (from California, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and other states). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these centers were starting up all over the USA because of the push to de-criminalize abortion state by state. The founders knew that, once abortion became legal, women would need help and support to withstand the pressure for abortion.
These centers were diverse, influenced by local needs and the vision of their founders – entrepreneurial and creative. And they still are!
There never was one Heartbeat model – there were MANY models. And there still are, as the pregnancy center services report makes clear! It highlights the continuing diversity and creativity, the local, personal, and God-led nature of pregnancy help, while it is, at the same time, professional and sophisticated in the most positive senses of those words.
Heartbeat Central – your team at the Heartbeat headquarters – also remains entrepreneurial and creative plus professional and sophisticated as we lead and equip this dynamic movement. Starting like most pregnancy centers do, as “all volunteer” in 1971, we now have over 50 dedicated staff members with diverse expertise.
Let me highlight just 3 areas, mentioned in the pregnancy center services report, where Heartbeat International is advancing the pregnancy help movement, areas that I am personally passionate about.
Reaching women, particularly minorities who are targets of abortionists. Heartbeat’s original 1971 vision for a toll free number (called a Watts Line in ancient times!) is now our Option Line, answering more than 1,000 calls for help EVERY DAY and sending these people to the amazing network of local pregnancy help.
We know that women search for help primarily online, and Option Line is the only web-based helpline – “answering the call” via text, email, live chat, and phones. As the pregnancy center services report notes, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists target minority and immigrant women for abortions. Option Line is staffed by loving and caring bilingual consultants, fluent in English and Spanish, 24/7, 365 days per year.
In the not too distant future, the number of calls for help answered by Option Line yearly in the USA will surpass the number of abortions!
Rescuing women and their children from the Abortion Pill. With perhaps 1/3 of abortions now done by the “abortion pill,” according to the pregnancy center services report, Heartbeat is countering with our APR network – Abortion Pill Rescue. Option Line is answering calls from women who change their minds after taking the first pill of the two-pill chemical abortion process.
These women are desperately seeking help. Heartbeat is growing the present network of over 450 physicians who use the APR protocol to save babies (over 500 born so far!) and the centers that refer to this network in an effort to help even more women save their babies and themselves from the effects of abortion.
Renewing training and service efforts with the latest technology. From a handful of training pamphlets that we could provide by snail mail in the 70’s – the first and only training materials available to all centers – Heartbeat International now uses the latest distance-learning technology in our online Academy to provide APR training as well as over 200 different courses and webinars, any place and any time to more than 4,300 registered students in the pregnancy help movement.
To advance the medical emphasis in pregnancy centers, as noted in the pregnancy center services report, our Academy provides CEU’s for nurses and even a full ultrasound training course online. For staff and for volunteers, still the heart of the movement, we also provide a Life-Affirming Specialist (LAS) certification to help keep up crucial skills and learn best practices. LAS continuing education credits can be earned online through our advanced online class ConCERT, online webinars, or in-person training opportunities such as the Heartbeat International Annual Conference.
In fact, almost the only technology employed by Heartbeat’s first pregnancy help affiliates in the 70’s – and by Heartbeat International too – was the telephone (even pregnancy tests had to be done by cooperating doctor’s offices)! Now, Heartbeat leads with a variety of technology training and solutions for centers – from Option Line (to schedule appointments within cooperating centers), to website design and local search marketing from Extend Web Services, to a complete center management system, Next Level.
All of this, Heartbeat makes available to serve the broader pregnancy help movement, not just to our affiliated network.
We see Lord’s hand here – in the way He has provided the vision and resources for us at Heartbeat to serve the pregnancy help movement over these many decades – and in the amazing success story of pregnancy help in the USA, so well documented in A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition.
THANK YOU – to all of YOU whom God has called to be part of this story, and Praise be to God – from whom all these blessings flow! Let us all Take Heart.
by Callie Neff, Family of Restoration Ministries
Luke 12:25-27 (CJB)
25 Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life? 26 If you can’t do a little thing like that, why worry about the rest? 27 Think about the wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread; yet, I tell you, not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these.
We have a beautiful little Ruby-throated hummingbird that comes to the feeders in our backyard and has taken to sitting on the Black Eyed Susan's. That little bird on a flower reminds me of how my grandmother would always greet us with "how is every little thing with you". I miss that greeting and the sincere love and care that came with it; I knew that my grandmother loved me and cared about my answer. As I watch "Ruby" I think of what a gift he is to me... and I reflect on my love for flowers, hummingbirds and our backyard and I hear Abba Father ask me "how is every little thing with you". I know that even more than the sincere love and care of my grandmother, that my heavenly Father loves me and cares about me and that He is the only one able to meet my needs and address "every little thing."
When I feel lonely and isolated in our work and family life he reminds me of a kindred friend with whom I can pour out my heart in prayer and tears. When I am angry He reminds me with a gentle nudge from one of our creatures or a kind word from my child that holding that anger will not get me anywhere. When I feel tired He sends my husband to remind me to rest and to turn off all that demands my attention. When I need quiet...when I need answers...When...He hears my heart cry and He cares about "every little thing" and there is "no thing too little for Him."
Psalm 91:14-15 (CJB)
14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; because he knows my name, I will protect him. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble. I will extricate him and bring him honor.
Psalm 34:4-5 (CJB)
4 (3) Proclaim with me the greatness of Adonai; let us exalt his name together. 5 (4) I sought Adonai, and he answered me; he rescued me from everything I feared.
"How is every little thing with you?"
Callie Neff is a founder and housing support specialist with Family of Restoration Ministries. This original blog post was reprinted with permission from the Family of Restoration Ministries blog.
“So from that day on they planned together to kill him.” John 11:53
What was the moment when the religious leaders decided to take the life of Jesus? Oddly, it was just after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
Interesting, isn’t it? Jesus saved a life, rescuing a good man from the grave . . . and the miracle was too much for the scribes and Pharisees. They convened a council to discuss the matter and said, “If we let him go on like this, all men will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
The central issue? Raw power. If they allowed Jesus to continue doing good, no one would look upon them with awe and reverence. Jesus would take their place. The chief priests and Pharisees would no longer rule the people; Jesus would take pre-eminence. And they couldn’t stomach the thought. Too much—their riches, their livelihood and their places of honor—was at stake.
So, they plotted to kill Jesus. All because he rescued a good man.
Things are no different today. Many of us are trying to do something good—rescuing the innocent from death—and there are those who wish to eliminate our voices, our ministries (“fake clinics,” anyone?) and our effectiveness.
They mock us; and they demean us. Though we find it hard to believe any of them would kill us if given the opportunity, is it so far-fetched to consider? If we were in Jesus’ world, where show trials could be convened against anyone the powerful deemed a menace, do we believe the results would ultimately be different?
Jesus’ response to this plot however, is a teaching moment for us. For one, Jesus continued to serve and to teach his disciples. When Jesus was confronted with betrayal, instead of rebuking Judas, Jesus simply said, “What you do, do quickly.”
When faced with false accusers, Jesus was never defensive, always holding fast to the truth. And on the cross, Jesus asked forgiveness for those who sought to kill him.
In Jesus’ day, the rich and powerful thought they won a victory when Jesus went to the cross. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, the cross was the beginning of a mighty movement still growing today.
What about us? When the powerful—with millions of dollars, paid-for lobbyists and PR machines running 24 hours a day—come after us, how do we respond? Like Jesus, we can respond with calm, with truth and with love.
When we do this, the world takes notice. And a movement—one of life and hope—continues to grow.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
The other day I was tasked with keeping the scorebook for my son’s 8-Under baseball game, where the coaches pitch, the ball gets tossed all over the place and somehow, the umpires keep track of it all.
Keeping the scorebook is not difficult in this league. It’s a chore in “real” baseball, because scorers must track “official” hits, decide on errors, describe every out in detail (but with numbers only) and more stuff I can’t fully explain.
For instance, if a major league player hits the ball to the third baseman who bobbles the ball before making a throw and the runner reaches first, it’s scored E5 (Error on the 3rd Baseman). In our league, if all ten (we need an extra) players in the field throw the ball over each other’s heads for 15 minutes and the runner—exhausted—finally reaches home, it’s a home run. Easy peasy.
My job as a scorer then, was simple. All I had to do was track who made outs, and whether a kid got around the bases for a run. That’s it. No errors, no fancy scoring. If at the end of the game my book matched the score book for the other team, all was good. No nuance in this league, believe me.
Sure, when errors are made, the kids are corrected. But we’re not tracking this stuff. We’re just happy they are out there. We’re happy they are playing.
Our game is about encouragement, hits and scoring. And even the word “hit” can have a different definition. Heck, when my kid hits the ball, we’re cheering whether he is safe at first or headed back to the dugout.
One night, the only time he connected with the ball it rolled a few feet into foul territory. He told me later, “I got one hit tonight!” Good enough for me. We’re flexible in 8U baseball.
Which tells me something about God. If we—being the somewhat decent parents we are—are such encouragers, what about God?
Sometimes we see Him as a taskmaster, recording our sins and constantly chiding us for our failings. It’s as if we see Him with a score book, noting nothing but errors and—to take Isaiah 64:6 out of context—seeing anything good we accomplish as nothing but “filthy rags” in His sight.
Yes, we make errors. And a good parent gently corrects a child who makes a mistake—either in the field or in life. But we don’t spend much time keeping track. We focus on the good, celebrating those times when our child hits the ball or performs an unselfish act.
Maybe God is more like a good parent than we realize. Perhaps He is cheering us on, even amongst our errors, urging us to “Go!” and change our world.
One kid on our team cries every time he doesn’t make it to first base. His head drops, he drags his bat back to the dugout and then collapses on the bench in agony. Each time this happens, a coach tries to cheer him up and get him “back in the game.” Almost always, it works.
What about us? Do we focus on our failings?
Perhaps God focuses more on our scoring than on any errors we make. When He closes the book on our day, it may be true that we bobbled the ball of life and threw it the wrong direction. He will correct this at the appropriate time. But I wonder if He turns to His Son at His right hand and says, “Wow, he sure hit the ball on that one play, didn’t he?”
And maybe, like an 8U baseball parent, He smiles.
But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus—Luke 6:11
We know wherever Jesus went, many loved him and followed. But some—almost always the cultural and religious leaders—despised him no matter what he did.
In the verse above, the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue were filled with rage because Jesus did the unthinkable, healing a man’s withered hand . . . on the Sabbath. How dare Jesus do such a thing? Couldn’t he have waited until Sunday?
No, Jesus could not wait. He had a point to make. Over the years, those in charge of all things religious had been adding to the law of God, creating extra rules regarding what it meant to “keep the Sabbath holy.” These rules were relatively easy for those in authority to keep; they didn’t have to worry much about tending flocks, finding food and getting oxen out of ditches.
But for those under their religious authority, keeping all the man-made Sabbath rules was an incredible burden.
Jesus then, asked a question when he saw the man with the withered hand. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do harm, to save a life, or to destroy it?”
Like every one of Jesus’ questions, this was a good one. It boxed the religious leaders in a corner, pointing out the hypocrisy of their thinking.
Therefore, they were “filled with rage.” To Jesus, it was not surprising to see leaders of his own culture angry with him. He appealed to normal people, and this was too much for them to stomach.
Today, it’s no different. In our culture the “leaders” are those who preach to us about what we must think and how we must behave. They are in Hollywood, the media, and some are in the political realm. They tell us we are to bow down to gods like “choice” and “tolerance.”
Over time, these leaders created their own commandments; commandments which seek to impede—or even stop us from reaching those who need all of us in the pregnancy help community. According to these commandments, we are to cease talking about faith. And, we must desist from speaking honestly about the wonder of human life.
As those who serve in the pregnancy help community, we understand the opposition Jesus faced. Like him, we ask ourselves, “Is it lawful in our society to do good? To save a life?”
Our answer is always “Yes.” Because just like Jesus, we realize there is never a wrong time and never a wrong situation . . . to do good.
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