In my hotel room in Columbus this weekend, I caught a glimpse of the televised trial for the murder of George Tiller, the abortion doctor from Kansas City. At the moment I was watching, Scott Roeder (the defendant who admittedly shot Tiller) was on the witness stand.
Roeder attempted to justify his pulling of the trigger by claiming that he was protecting the lives of the unborn, saying that life starts at conception and that God the Creator was the only one in charge of the beginning and ending of life (not Tiller). He quoted the familiar phrase that “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” (which is found in the Book of Job, chapter 1, verse 21).
This is a great example of my previous post in how the Bible can be used for evil as it can also be used for good. I believe that Mr. Roeder used a Biblical passage and twisted it to fit his unjust actions. He used the Bible for evil.
The double-standard in Mr. Roeder’s logic cannot be more blatant. He is defending his act of murder by saying that only the Lord is allowed to take life away from someone. Think about that for a second. “I’m going to kill you because you’re a child-killer and I believe that only God can end someone’s life, not you.”
For the record, I happen to believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is taking the life of a child. But there is a right way and a wrong way to respond to those with whom we disagree. I believe that Mr. Roeder chose the un-Christlike way to respond to someone with whom he disagreed. Some right ways to respond include patient prayer, loving compassion for struggling mothers, peaceful engagement and dialogue with people of opposing viewpoints, and voting for legislators who seek to protect the lives of the unborn.
If Mr. Roeder knows his entire Bible, he would come across the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, verses given):
21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment.
38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you,
Thankfully, justice was served and Mr. Roeder was convicted of murder. Looks like he’ll be in prison for life, with a possibility for parole after 25 years.
Heavenly Father, please protect the lives of the unborn, grant support and wisdom to young mothers who are struggling with tough decisions, and please help us to respond lovingly to those with whom we disagree.
Tomorrow morning, the Scripture lesson for Godz Kidz at Commonwealth Chapel is going to be the same as what the adults will hear in the adult service – 2 Timothy 2:14-21. I’m going to focus in on verse 15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
Part of my juggling show (which I’ll show the kids tomorrow) is juggling knives. Now, a knife is an interesting object. It is sharp, deadly, and dangerous. At the same time, a knife is also useful, helpful, and life-saving. The Bible (which metaphorically refers to itself as a sword) is the same way. It can be used for harm or it can be used for good.
Many people wrongly judge others using Bible passages taken out of context. Many cultures throughout history have used the Bible to justify evil and hatred. On the same hand, the Bible, when properly handled (like a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon) brings life, hope, peace, and justice to a world full of darkness and hatred.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about rightly handling the Word of Truth. That means reading it, studying it, interpreting it contextually, and asking the Spirit of God lead us in understanding it.
Lord, help us to properly understand your Word and always handle it in ways that bring the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to this world. Amen.
“…no man ever hated sin without being previously enamored of righteousness.” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book 3, Chapter 3, Number 20).
Last night, Sarah and I went to Bottoms Up Pizza in the Shockhoe Slip area of downtown Richmond for something called “Spiritual Shots.” It is a forum for people to discuss matters of faith in a bar setting. Run by a Christian organization, Spiritual Shots features interesting topics each month such as “Suffering”, “Sex”, “Hell”, “Science and the Bible”, etc. The speaker is a local pastor (there are two that usually rotate back and forth) and they get 30 minutes at the mic with the topic. Then, the floor is completely open to questions, challenges, debating, and dialogue. Though many Christians come, there are also people who are not Christians and I’ll just say that sometimes, the discussions get pretty lively. Meanwhile, everyone is treated to complimentary pizza and water (you can purchase drinks and food for yourself at the bar beyond the complimentary stuff). If someone feels uncomfortable asking a question in front of everyone, then they can jot it down on cards provided and turn it in at the end. The speaker will then follow up with those questions via e-mail. The topic last night was about suffering. The issue discussed was the atheist claim that so much injustice and violence has been done in the name of religion. Instead of writing about it here, I’ll let you listen yourself. You can hear some of the messages (not the Q/A afterwards, unfortunately) at the following website: http://www.spiritualshots.com/spiritual_shots.html#audio
This is a repeat of my response to this immensely networked question on Facebook.
1. A perpetual habit I have is running my fingernails through the seams and edges of blankets, clothing, and sheets of paper. I certainly got this habit from my childhood, when I naturally did the exact same thing with my precious “blankie.”
2. I have spent the night in a homeless shelter.
3. I have never been skiing, even though my wife is from Denver, Colorado.
4. I have been working on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for over two years – and I’m only halfway through it!
5. My blood type is B positive. I always thought of myself as an optimistic person.
6. My wife and I do not own a TV, which caught the door-to-door cable saleswoman off guard when she came by last year.
7. Speaking of door-to-door salespeople, I used to be one.
8. I’m in the process of collecting all the state quarters (from both mints). I’m only missing three from the Philadelphia mint and a handful from the Denver mint.
9. I am currently reading through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion – and loving it (despite being a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary).
10. Since the day I got my driver’s license 12 years ago, I have never gotten a moving violation of any sort.
11. I’m allergic to cheese, but I love pizza.
12. I am a chainsaw juggler.
13. When I was first dating Sarah, we were in different states for a summer, and I mailed her a handwritten letter every day of the summer except for one day. Her responses were not quite as frequent, but she still ended up marrying me.
14. I once got Sarah a clothes-drying racks as a Christmas present. I quickly learned that such practical gifts are not her type for Christmas and moved on to more sentimental things.
15. I have never broken a bone in my body.
16. I am left-handed, along with Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama.
17. I would rather spend 45 minutes alone in a room with 1,000 elementary schoolers than with 10 “too-cool-for-school” teenagers.
18. As I write this, my wife is feeding me freshly cut grapefruit.
19. I am very picky when it comes to board games and card games. I tend to like ones that require more strategy and less chance.
20. I am a lifelong Mac user.
21. When I played little league baseball, I once played on a team with some players that had just returned from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
22. I have lived for at least 3 months in 8 different states (MA, RI, PA, VA, IN, KY, OH, TX). The year 2008 was the first year in a decade where I resided in only one state for the whole year (that made state taxes much more simple).
23. When I lived in Israel, I got to attend a Shabbat Dinner, a Ramadan meal (after sundown, of course), and help out with a Christian food charity.
24. I sometimes call my sister Sarah and my wife Rachael (it’s really the other way around).
25. My wife sometimes calls me Josh and her brother Jesse.
This morning, I experienced a “Wow” moment after reading a story in the Bible. Here I am, 27 years old, just graduated from seminary, the son of a pastor, currently serving in ministry – and I read a Bible story about which I was totally unfamiliar. I’m in Children’s Ministry, so I am used to teaching kids the stories of David v. Goliath, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus and his parables, etc. But I think kids could get into a story about a guy riding a donkey who gets mauled by a lion and then the lion just stands there over the dead body without doing anything to the donkey. The fate of this unnamed man was brought upon the Lord because he was a prophet who disobeyed the Word of the Lord. This story is found in 1 Kings 13. We have two prophets – one is called an “old prophet” and the other is called a “man of God.” The “man of God” from the Southern Kingdom hears the Word of the Lord to go across the border of the Divided Kingdom and tell Jeroboam, the king of the Northern Kingdom, some bad news about God’s judgement against his wickedness. Meanwhile, this “man of God” was told by the Lord not to eat anything while he was in enemy territory.
Of course, the inevitable happens: the “man of God” is stopped by an “old prophet” from the Northern Kingdom who invites him over for some food. The “old prophet” tells the “man of God” that God said that he should come over and eat (which was a lie). The “man of God” obeys the lie and eats with the “old prophet.” The punishment for disobeying the Lord was death by lion attack. And the man’s donkey just stood by the lion after the killing.
“Wow.” How cool is it to find new and exciting stories (at least to me) in the Bible. There is a reason for every word in this Holy Book. And this is one stop along the way of the narrative of the Kings of Israel (including the time of the Divided Kingdom after Solomon and before the Babylonian captivity). One moral of the story is: listen to the voice of God and stick to it even if someone tries to tell you otherwise (even if they say, “God says so”). Perhaps this will be woven into a lesson for kids. They like animals. And the boys really like it when lions are involved.