The Three Victims of Abortion

Proverbs 24:11-12, NLT

Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
    save them as they stagger to their death.
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
    For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
    He will repay all people as their actions deserve.


james draperThis is a rewrite of an article by James T. Draper, Jr. His comments in detail can be found in chapter one of a MESSAGE FOR THE JOURNEY, a book published by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

I have been avidly pro-life from the moment I came to understand the process and nature of abortion. Unfortunately, though I was of age, I did not know what the word meant in 1973. My education came after 1979. Abortion has been legal for 41 years and even today with all the new information on babies in the womb, I see no end in sight. The liberals are adamant about their perceived right for a woman to give consent for her baby to be terminated. I know that no such right exists.

A holocaust is a massive and brutal destruction of human life. Unfortunately, as history verifies, babies have been the victims more than any segment of society. We all remember Pharaoh law regarding the male Hebrew children. I was shocked to learn that many ancient cultures practiced infanticide. In the Roman Empire, it was common for parents to carry unwanted children to the city dump and leave them. The babies would die of exposure or become a meal for wild animals. In both Roman and Spartan culture, parents were selective about which babies they kept. They would not keep any baby that was deformed or deemed unfit. Many babies were abandon to exposure simply because they were girls. In Pharaoh’s and Herod’s case, it happened to be boys.

adolf-hitlerWhen we think of modern holocaust, we think first of Hitler because that is how we have been conditioned but he is one of many. Stalin murdered more Jews than Hitler but it is politically incorrect to speak evil of communism. Mao Tse-Tung murdered millions and so did Saddam Hussein. The Kurdish people would have been annihilated had not the U.S. invaded Iraq. The Kurds live in Northern Iraq. Though they are nominal Muslims, they are friendly to the U.S. and Israel which sets them apart from the Arab world. They of course do not consider themselves Arabs. They do have the ability to rule themselves and should be given Nationhood which the experts say will never happen because the Arab nations are opposed to the Kurds having their own homeland. An estimated 170 million [most of them Christians] died during the last century and most of that number was due to communism. Islam is running a close second. Since January 1 of this year, Muslims have killed over 200 Christians in the Borno State of Nigeria. They are burning entire villages and taking the land. Over 10,000 Nigerians have been displaced because their homes were burned by Muslim terrorist.

The above deaths are talked about some although you will not see these things reported in the lame stream media; all the while, the leading cause of death in the U.S. is not from disease or accident but from abortion. Abortion claims the lives of 4,100 innocent babies per day in the U.S. alone. Every minute, three precious infants are executed violently. Abortion is not a disease or an accident or a medical problem: it is pre-meditated murder. Where do we get the authority to take a human life? Dr. Draper suggest three areas: [1] Human Reasoning [2] Ecclesiastical Fiat or [3] Divine Revelation. As Christians we rely on divine revelation and the bible. Secular humanist operate from reason and reject the bible as the word of God. Secular humanist today insist that collective human reasoning provides an adequate consensus for “morality.” Interesting to note that Hitler and the Nazis used the same logic. Hitler did not break the laws. He did have them changed to his satisfaction. The most consistent protest of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg was “We were only carrying out orders and it was the law.” Despots and tyrants always twist the laws to justify their crimes.

Psalms 94:20-21, NCV

Crooked leaders cannot be your friends. They use the law to cause suffering. They join forces against people who do right and sentence to death the innocent.

The greatest deception has to do with the victims. Who suffers from Abortion?

The first victim is the UNBORN BABY

Psalm 139:13-17

You alone created my inner being.
You knitted me together inside my mother.
14 I will give thanks to you
because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.
Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was being made in secret,
when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book
before one of them had taken place.
17 How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God!
How vast in number they are!
18 If I try to count them,
there would be more of them than there are grains of sand.
When I wake up, I am still with you.

The New Testament was written primarily in Greek which is a more precise language than English. The most common word for child in the Greek is teknon [used 99 times]. A second word for child is paidon, meaning small child. However there is an interesting word found 8 times in the N.T. which throws a lot of light on the what the bible teaches about infants. It is the Greek word brephos. Note their usage:

Acts 7:17-19

“As the time was drawing near to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and multiplied in Egypt until a different king who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt. He dealt deceitfully with our race and oppressed our ancestors by making them leave their infants [brephos] outside, so they wouldn’t survive.

Luke 18:15

Some people were even bringing infants [brephos] to Him so He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  Jesus, however, invited them: “Let the little children [paidon] come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child [paidon] will never enter it.”

Luke 2:12

This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby [brephos] wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

Luke 1:41

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby [brephos] leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:44

For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby [brephos] leaped for joy inside me!

Jeremiah 1:5

I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
I set you apart before you were born.
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

The bible makes it abundantly clear that the unborn are persons just like you and I. It is the highest form of insanity to deny personhood to the unborn.

  • At conception, the new life is composed of hundreds of cells and has developed a protective hormone to prevent the mother’s body from rejecting it as a foreign tissue.
  • At 7 days the new life has developed it own blood cells; the placenta is a part of the new life and not of the mother.
  • At 19 days the heart begins to beat. [amazing]
  • At 20 days, the foundation of the entire nervous system has been laid out. [Wow]
  • At 24 days the heart has regular beats and pulsations.
  • At 30 days there is a regular blood flow within the vascular system.
  • At 35 days the eyes begin to develop and 40 pairs of muscles are present.
  • At 40 days the heart energy out put is 20% of an adult.
  • At 42 days brain waves are detectable.
  • At 49 days the skeletal system is developed.
  • At 50 days all internal organs and external structures are identifiable.
  • At 56 days all organs are functioning.
  • At the 9-10 weeks the teeth and fingernails begin to form.
  • At the 11-12 weeks the baby can grasp objects placed in his/her hand, can have hiccups, urinates, and recoils at pain.
  • At 13 weeks the baby’s sex is identifiable.
  • At 16-20 weeks the baby hears external voices, sleeps and dreams.
  • At 21 weeks the baby can survive outside the womb. [Remember this article is 7 years old]

The process of abortion is not a simple medical procedure; it is brutal and invasive. The head is usually crushed and the body torn into fragments so it can be sucked out by a tiny vacuum. The saline abortion is just as barbaric. The saline solution is injected into the protective compartment in which the baby lives. It burns the skin of the baby and poisons the infant at the same time. There is no term too offensive to describe this violent procedure. In truth, abortion is more violent than the most brutal murder committed on the street. Attorney Mark Belz argues this very point:

  • The victim is the most innocent member of our society.
  • The victim is helpless, cannot defend him/herself.
  • The order to kill comes from the biological mother.
  • It is a calculated, premeditated, intentional act.
  • The person doing the killing gets paid just like a hit man.

The Second Victim is the Parents, Presumably the Mother

We know the father shares the responsibility and in some cases he may be the one who pressured the mother into the abortion. However, in our present culture, it is the woman’s decision and the man cannot legally stop her and neither can grandparents. Abortions not only take the lives of the innocent, they destroy marriages and people. The number one problem with abortion [second to the baby] is guilt. Sometimes it is 15-20 years before the emotional melt down but it is coming in one form or the other. Most women will not talk about past abortions but every now and then, women speak out and tell us about their experience. One mother wrote Dr. Draper, “I was 16 when I had my abortion. I really didn’t want the abortion but felt like I had no choice. As I lay in the clinic, I could hear my baby being sucked from my body. Immediately I felt a sense of loss and I cried. I started having terrible nightmares every night. I was obsessed with doubts and questions: What would my baby have looked like? Was the baby a boy or girl?”  She had the abortion in 1975 which means she is probably a baby boomer. She said, “I came to realize that an abortion does not just kill the baby, it kills a part of you. Had I not come to know Jesus as my Savior, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t think I would have made it.”

In my early days as a pro-lifer I was an advocate for the baby; it was 12-15 years later that I began to realize the untold damage it does to women. I have also met grieving fathers who lamented the death of their sons or daughters. I had one man tell me that he thought about his child every day and was anxious to get to know him or her in heaven. I have come to understand that although I abhor abortion, it is not an unpardonable sin. I know some sweet women who made the mistake. Every honest woman that I have met who would talk about the subject said that there was tremendous grief and guilt; much more than they imagined possible. I have also come to realize that to some extent, we are all guilty which I am about to address in length.

The Third Victim is the Conscience of the Nation [Culture]

This is the subtle thing about sin, it is so deceiving. We live in a nation of idiots. These folks support abortion on demand and are fully convinced that abortion bears no consequences. We are a nation of fools.

harry BlackmunWhat Harry Blackman and a misguided not so supreme court did was legalize the murder of the innocent unborn. Most Americans were in the dark at the time. Very few people knew what was going on. Our Catholic friends were fighting this battle alone. By and large, the Protestant world was in the dark. The liberals knew that what they were doing was unethical but they pushed their agenda even though it meant misrepresenting the truth which they don’t have a problem doing. Sarah Weddington, the lawyer for Jane Roe was informed by Norma McCorvey [Jane Roe] that she had lied about being raped. Weddington told her to keep her mouth shut that the truth had nothing to do with this case. Now there is so much more knowledge with ultrasound and modern technology that practically every American knows that what the liberals call a fetus is actually a baby. We have transgressed a fundamental principle that God holds dear, THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE. We have not only offended God, we have seared our conscience to the point that we are becoming insensitive to any transgression. There is no way you could have gotten same-sex marriage to fly in 1973 but Obama pulled it off before the last election. My son came to me as soon as Obama went public with his support of gay marriage. He said, “Daddy, he has messed up this time, this will do him in. He will lose the support the African American Christian family.” I prayed that my son was right and he usually is in matters of politics but not this time.

Sarah Lied and Million Have Died

Sarah Lied and Million Have Died

One of the big arguments put up by the liberals, including Foy Valentine [past president of the SBC Christian Life Commission], was that we don’t take proper care of the children we have. We need to exert our effort in raising the quality of life for the children already born. Now 800,000 children per year disappear and much of this is proliferated by pornography which is supported by the left. Child abuse has not gone down, it is on the increase. A little girl was abducted yesterday [Feb. 17, 2014]in broad open daylight and they found her body today. Things are not better folks, they are deteriorating before our very eyes.

From time to time I bump into one of these bleeding hearts who say, “Abortion is legal, it is the law of the land, deal with it.” This is where liberals underestimate the resolve of the church. We have no intention of living by this malicious and cruel law. Let me remind you that the Nazis legalized everything they did. They passed over 400 laws and decrees against Jews alone. They made exterminated Jews legal just like we have made exterminated babies legal. There is not one bit of difference between what they did and what we are doing. I am not a Hank Williams, Jr. fan per say but this is exactly what made his treatment by T.V. networks so hypocritical. He was simply pointing out that we are doing some of the same things Hitler did.

How did the Nazis pull it off? How can you make a law and enforce it when it calls for the extermination of an entire race?

  1. First, Hitler changed the definitions and the language. He was a master at propaganda. Does anyone come to mind? Does a political party come to mind like the Democrats who sense they may be in trouble so they make “Minimum Wage” the new debate. The democrats are for higher wages making them look good and positive, but in reality raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy and cripple many small business. It is estimated that over 500,000 jobs will be lost. What gives the democrats an overwhelming advantage is that they have the support of the media. They and the media are propaganda artist and the American people are ignorant and gullible.
  2. Secondly, Hitler changed the laws. He redefined “Personhood” and Jews were excluded. Does that sound familiar? The unborn are not persons, just globs of tissue.
  3. Thirdly, Hitler had the brass and resolved to enforce the bad laws. What did Hitler promise? A better society. Liberals don’t read history evidently because Hitler did not make good on his promise. We were told in 1973 that abortion would up our quality of life.

Any sane person who is willing to look at facts can see that abortion has not made us better. Child abuse has not gone down, it has gone up. Overnight, abortion became abortion on demand but that is not what they presented plus it is a multi-billion dollar industry. Should we profit over the killing of the unborn? What has happened to our conscience? As a society, we have seen our morals decline at a rapid rate since 1973 and where is it going to stop. AMERICA’S ONLY HOPE IS JESUS.  Dr. James Draper said, “A part from genuine repentance, America has no hope.”

I think he is right. I know he is right. I think God is already judging us for our sins. I think He is using Obama to do it. You think things are bad now, you haven’t seen anything yet. Two years into Obama-don’t-care and you are going to hear some howling. There is going to be some moaning and groaning. We are going to want to go back but it’s going to be too late. I think the mid-term elections are our last hope.

The Kingdom of God

Richard Foster says, God’s aim in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God Himself at the very center of the community and the prime Sustainer and most glorious inhabitant [Eph. 2:19-22; 3:10]. God’s plan began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and it will ultimately be fulfilled with Jesus return and a new heaven and new earth.

Under the reign of David, Israel expanded its territory all the way to the Euphrates to the North and to the Red Sea to the South; from the Mediterranean to the West to the Arabia wilderness to the East.  David subdued and subjugated all his enemies on all sides. He did such a terrific job that his son Solomon had a 40 reign without one war. This golden age of peace and prosperity became the benchmark for Israel. The kingdom of David was destroyed by Rehoboam’s folly and the good old days became a thing of the past. All Israelites longed for the Kingdom of David. They wanted to go back to the way things were when David was king but for Israel, the glory days never returned. The divided kingdom were never that strong. The Northern Tribes [Israel] had 19 kings and one wicked queen–none of the kings were good. In the South [Judah] things were not a lot better although they had four kings that were like David. Israel fell first in 721 to the Assyrians and Judah fell in 586 to Babylon.

The Israelites [descendants of Jacob] were scattered all over the known world. Little did they know that God would use the despair and the oppression of foreign powers to accomplish His purposes. During the exile, in the midst of the despair, the Israelites receive assurance through the Prophets that Israel has a hope and a future [Jeremiah 29:10-11].

During the 70 year Babylonian captivity, the Israelites [now referred to as Jews] stopped worshipping idols. This had always been their achilles heel. Abraham abhors idols but his granddaughter brought idols with her when she came from Haran. It is my belief that the women secretly kept and worshipped idols and the men were prone to follow suit. They also were influenced by the idols in Egypt. Joshua said,  But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”  So they were hit by idolatry from three different sources [1] Beyond the Euphrates [Abraham ancestral land], [2] the Egyptians and [3] the Amorites. It is amazing but some unknown reason, the Jews stop worshipping idols during the exile. For the exile to this day, Jews do not have a tendency to worship idols.

The second point I wish to make is that God gives them a new hope but it is not hope in a militant nation that dominates its enemies, it is the promise of a new order, new age, a kingdom of peace, ushered in by the Messiah. God does not want His children depending on Government or military might, it wants us to depend on Him. The new order will not be like the old. We know that even in N.T. times there were still Jews looking for God to restore Israel as a military power. I don’t think that is God’s plan. When Jesus came, He made it clear that His Kingdom was a new order, a different kingdom from that of David. A kingdom that has authority but one that does not use force. Not so much a kingdom of military might but a kingdom of righteousness.

What are lessons we learn from the Jews experience of reformation during the exilic period?

  1. When things seem utterly hopeless, there is hope in God. “Declaring a situation hopeless is to slam the door in God’s face” says Charles Allen the great Methodist preacher. Wolfgang von Goethe said, “In all things, it is better to hope than to despair.” Those who lose hope are dead while they live. Vichtor Frankl noted that once a man loses hope, it is a matter of time before he expires.

  2. We must learn to depend on God, not on a king, president, political leader or government. In exile, the Jews had no government, no country and no king yet God was real and they learned to depend on Him, not government. Our hope is not in an earthly kingdom.

  3. Living in a foreign land, among their enemies, the Jews learned to stick together. The synagogue was born during the exile. The Jews learned that they did not have to have a temple to worship YHWH. The Eternal is omnipresent. They discovered that God was as real in Babylon as He was in Palestine.

  4. The Jews became more family oriented during the exile. The family became a big part of the community.

  5. A New Order is coming for all beleivers. The old heaven and earth are going to pass away and we will see and new heaven and new earth. This new order will not be anything like we have seen. God is going to do somehting new and exciting, something He has never done before.

My Top Ten Men of The Bible

David Wood asked me a question last week that has generated quite a bit of thought. He asked me who I thought the top five men were in the bible and I could not give him a top five. I gave him my top three but it is hard to do a top five. The top three are men of great character. They all have impeccable integrity. In other words they were well turned, integrated, void of duplicity with few or no visible flaws.  The term used of Job comes from the lathe, it means to be well turned without visible flaw. The LORD Himself says of Job [Job 2:3] “There is no one like him on earth, a blameless man, an upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he holds fast to his integrity.” The words integrity and blameless are very close in definition. Job may not have been perfect but it is very hard to find fault in him. There is no question about it, not as far as scripture is concerned: he was straight as an arrow, well turned, he feared God and hated sin plus he had that impeccable integrity.

In light of this: my top three [put them in any order you choose] are Joseph, Job and Daniel. All three are upright, God-fearing men who put a high premium on integrity. These guys were honest to a fault and they had such great integrity until you could put them under a microscope. In other words, these men could have lived in glass houses whereas folks like King David [and myself] needed some walls to hide behind. By the way, all three of these guys had an enduring strength that refused to give in to the circumstances. All three endured a lot of suffering. Joseph spent time in prison for refusing to have sex with the wife of his boss; Daniel was thrown into a Lion’s den for praying and Job lost all ten of his children in one storm for no earthly reason.

My second three come under a different heading. With the first three, I considered their entire life, body of work but with the second group, it is what they accomplished after conversion [so to speak]. My second three are Moses, Paul and David. Again, put them in any order. It would be hard to say who is four and who is six. These men all had glaring faults which is what separated them from the group above. Moses had a violent temper and it cost him–it did not get to go into the land of promise because he lose his temper, threatened the Israelites and struck the ROCK in anger. Moses was one hundred times greater than myself, I am just telling you what is in the bible. Paul was a little bitty fellow who wanted to be a big man. They named him Saul [big] but God changed his name to Paul [little]. John Chrysostom believed he was a dwarf. All legends have him painted as a very little man. I think this is why he was such an over achiever. I asked Joe David a week or so back: “If you were going on a mission trip, who would you prefer to go with, Paul or Barnabas?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Barnabas”. The boy knows his bible. Barnabas was easy to get along with, compassionate and patient. If Paul’s patience was gun powder, he wouldn’t have had enough to blow his nose. He was highly driven. Light the every ready bunny, he went night and day and expected everyone else to do the same. I think it would have been hard to relax in his presence. People who work with me say that I don’t beleave stress, I create it and they may be right but I am mild compared to Paul. Paul worked with a lot of people: John Mark, Barnabas, Silas, Aquilla, Apollo, Peter and on and on but Timothy is the only one that stayed with him from start to finish. I think you and I know why: Timothy was a mild-mannered young man who could work with anyone. All that said, I do not question Paul’s devotion to Christ. In my opinion, he lived next door to Jesus. What I really appreciate about Paul is his contribution to scripture and his explanation of the doctrine of Grace. This puts Paul either four or five on my list.

Moses was a great leader. He was meek and that does not mean weak. Meekness is strength under control. Moses was the meekest man on earth. God worked miracles through Moses. God gave us the law [Torah]  through moses. Through Moses, God taught the Israelites how to approach Him in worship. I heard a very intelligent man make an idiotic statement a month or so ago on talk  radio. He said, “The bible had no influence on the founding of our country or any of our laws”. The man is not a liberal, he is a pagan conservative. He cannot see the forest for the trees. Practically all the old laws and the constitution can be linked to scripture and the Laws of Moses. Moses has a thick portfolio. His influence is still being felt world-wide and that was 6,000 years ago.

David is unique. He was a man after God’s heart. He had a passion for worship that in unmatched in scripture and his greatest contribution is to praise and worship. Can you imagine life without the PSALMS. I cannot, I absolutely love the Psalms. I read them almost everyday and sometime twice a day. Our strength is also our weakness. David was passion driven but sometimes he allowed the wrong passions to drive him and he committed some atrocious deeds. He took another man’s wife and life. The LORD did not wink at that and He never accepted Bathsheba as David’s legitimate wife [Matthew 1:6]. David would be much closer to the top had he been a man of integrity. He wanted to be and at times he thought of himself as a man of integrity but that was his lacking, not his strength. You cannot put him in the same class with Job, Joseph or Daniel. He was a great man and Israel’s best king from top to bottom. I think Josiah was there best king in terms of integrity and purity but David was a little wiser and a stronger leader.

So there are my top SIX, so where do we go from here? Number 7 is tough because I have two people in mind. ABRAHAM and  JOHN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST. He was from the South, check it out. I’m not sure he ever went as far North as Galilee. We will go with ABRAHAM as 7 and John as 8. Abraham’s contribution is unquestionable: he is our father in the faith. We all [those that believe] go back to Abraham. Abraham’s faith was off the charts. He had the ability to visualize the unseen. He did have a bad weakness: he was a used camel salesman. Just kidding but he was known to deceive on occasion and it was not a good witness. It was also a character flaw that was passed to succeeding generations. Issac would lie if you got him in a tight and Jacob became better at deception than his father or grandfather. Joseph had to break this curse. I guarantee you, you did not want to buy a camel from Jacob. Despite Abraham’s flaw, he has to be in the top ten. He was a great man of faith.

John the Baptist grades high on Integrity, very high. He grades high on spiritual disciplines. He was the model witness, always pointing away from himself to Jesus. He was humble, common, frugal, plain, and as down to earth as you could want. He never wore a suit and tie. Gray Allison and Teddie Turrentine would never allow John the Baptist to preach a revival in their church because he did not dress like a preacher but he was a preacher. I would use him. Tim Keenum would use him. Not only would he not wear a tie if he came to your church, he might not wear shoes either. We know exactly what he would preach every night: repentance from sin and turning to Jesus. He would get on Obama every now and then just as he did Herod in his day. I heard a black preacher say once, that “John’s political views caused him to lose his head”. I didn’t appreciate the statement then and I don’t now. A real prophet will denounce sin, even if its living in a white house. Preachers, we don’t get our orders from the world, the Capitol or the Vatican. If a politician is corrupt and if they promote the wholesale slaughter of the unborn, we are to denounce them. Jesus also denounced Herod. Preach the whole bible not just the parts you like. God can’t get you out of something that you don’t have the courage to get into.

Nine and Ten are really hard: some many names come to mind. I think I will go with STEPHEN and JOHN THE APOSTLE but there are so many that are on my mind like: Jeremiah, Samuel, Hosea, Barnabas, Simon Peter and many, many more. STEPHEN makes my top ten because of his INTEGRITY. I am just high on men of integrity. I’m like David, I don’t have much but that is what I want…I want to be a man of integrity. Stephen was full of faith, wisdom and the Holy Spirit–not a bad combination. He knew the bible from front to back. He was a man of courage and he faced the same hateful mob that cried for the crucifixion of the LORD. Stephen lived well and died heroically. He gets straight A’s across the board.

JOHN THE APOSTLE was the only mystic and theologian among the disciples. Peter did delve into theology some but he was mostly an evangelist whereas John was a thinker, a writer and a teacher. The gospel of John is out of this world. Chapter one is unbelievable. John uses light as a metaphor for Christ. Light gives life. Light is pure–cannot be contaminated. You can corrupt water, air, any substance known to man but you cannot contaminate light. John believed that every natural created thing mirrored a spiritual reality. God created this visible world to reflect the world that is coming. All the gospel are great but I love John. Hey, I love them all.

Well folks, the above is what I think–put it with $1.60 and you can get a diet root beer at Gregg’s Grocery on 157. I am publishing this without it being proof read. If you see any mistakes: call me and I will correct them. I sure you will find some.

A Mary Who Was A Martha

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. {Matthew 10:41, J.B. Phillips} I think we are all familiar with the story of Mary and Martha. Mary was the more passive, contemplative one while Martha was the worrier, always battling her OCD. Mary didn’t let anything bother her while Martha was bothered about many things. When we came to Danville in 1979, Mary Chaney and her twin Brother Gary were juniors at Speak High School. I attended their graduation in the Spring of 1980. Guy Hunt, then governor of Alabama, was the speaker and he did a very good job. He was no Jack Bailey by any stretch but he did fair. His secretary asks him where he was going and he said, “I am going to Speake”…she said, “I know you are going to speak but where are you going to speak?” The governor said, “I am going to speak at Speake”. When Mary and Jimmy got married, I performed the ceremony. Usually the mother of the bride is the most difficult one to please but of course Joyce was no problem. Mary was a perfectionist and she was plenty worried about me and the ceremony. She almost got an ulcer over that wedding but we made it. A few years later, Joyce had a heart attack and spent a week or more in UAB. Mary was so worried about her mother that she would not talk. You could not talk to her and she would not talk to you. Then she became a mother and she worried constantly about her child. Three years ago, she became a grandmother and then she started worrying about her child’s child. Our Mary was a Martha: she was a server, a care giver: she wanted to fix things for everyone. She was dependable. If she made a commitment to do something, you could consider it done. She was faithful not only to her family but she was faithful to her church. She served as Sunday School secretary for over 20 years and she rarely missed. Mary was a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife and a good mother but she was a “great” grand parent and she loved that role as much as any. When she found out how sick she was, her greatest sorrow was not seeing her grandchildren grow up. She wanted to live for their sake. When I came home today around 4:00 [after being at hospitals for two days and nights] I collapsed in the recliner. I sat down to rest but I fell asleep. I woke up wondering if these last few days had been a dream. June said, “I cannot believe that Mary is gone.” I said, “It is unbelievable”. The most shocking thing is the speed in which the cancer worked.  I thought we had more time. I talked to Brian and Nancy on Thursday and Friday and in talking with them, I knew she was worse but I had no idea that the cancer had progressed to this stage. For the record, I hate cancer. I was there Thursday when Nancy was carrying Mary to the doctor. I knew she felt really bad but looking back, I believe she was in some pain. They say that her liver was contracting and that could cause a great deal of pain. My guess is that Mary was being her noble self…she worried about others but she didn’t want others to worry about her. It was one year ago today that I got a call from Nancy telling me that Milton had been promoted on Christmas Eve. Joyce wouldn’t let them call me Christmas Eve. She said “Wait until tomorrow; I want Bro. Jack to have Christmas with his family before we call.” Now, one year later on Christmas day, Mary is promoted. She slipped slowly and gently away from the pier of this on sin cursed world and drifted out into the current of God’s grace that carried her to a world where there is no cancer. I have been trying to pastor churches for 42 years and I never met a family that is tighter than the Chaney’s. They stick together like glue in thick or thin.  I have told Joyce and Milton on multiple occasions, “I don’t know what you two did, but whatever it was, it must have been right.” Church, I want us to undergird Joyce with our love and prayers. This is the third child that has preceded her. Joyce is the most gracious lady that I have ever known and she deserves our support. Her outstanding character is no doublt a product of her suffering, which she does graciously. I know we will support her and her entire family–Jimmy, Logan, Gary, Janie, Nancy and all the rest. They all loved Mary and they did everything humanly possible to care for her. Mary Chaney Asherbranner will be greatly missed because she was greatly loved.

An Incredible Love Story

Well it is the night before Christmas and while there are millions of children excited about Christmas, there are many who are having a hard time getting in the spirit. It seems that in the past few years, I end up spending part of my Christmas in a hospital. This morning, I set out for my Christmas Eve visitation, realizing that it just might be the last time I would get to visit with some of my old friends including two of my mentors. Two men had a huge impact on my life: one impressed me with his spiritual disciplines and the other nobility and integrity. One was a pastor and the other was a Probate Judge and farmer. Time is like a giant river, it must with force to its appointed destination. You cannot stop it nor can you slow it down. The swift current of time changes the landscape and boy has the landscape changed since last Christmas. Before I could get on the road this morning, I got a call that one of my friends had been rushed to the hospital: he was unresponsive. I kept track by phone as I made my way toward Athens. I tried to make all my visits ASAP so I could get to the hospital which I did at 4:00. He had stabilized to some degree and had been moved from ER to the ICU. When I got there he was in X-ray. The nurse allowed me to wait in the room until he and his family returned. I was speechless when I saw him. I could tell that he had lost weight and he had a bruise where he had fallen. I had just seem him in October and I could not believe the difference. He has a form of dementia, probably alzheimer’s. He has to have constant care and has been this way for a long time. His wife of some 50 plus years is his primary care giver. She was tired but not complaining. She was worried about him. Every aspect of her conversation was about him. I asked the doctor if she could spend the night in the room because I knew that she could not rest elsewhere. She is right there by his side speaking in gentle tones; loving him, encouraging him and waiting on his every need. I’m standing there observing this incredible example of agape love while wondering where she gets her strength to serve him with such delight and patience. You would think that she would be relieved to see God gently take him home to heaven but she was visibly upset that she almost lost him earlier in the day. He is totally helpless. He cannot do one thing for her; to the contrary, he depends on her for everything but she delights in serving him and grieves the thought of being separated from him. Kind of reminds you of someone else we know, does it not–His name is Jesus. I left that hospital tonight thinking–“Lord, I need that kind of love. A self-sacrificing love that delights in meeting the needs of others. I do wish that there was no pain in this sin cursed world but that is wishful thinking, not reality. I know the pain and suffering are real but the love of Christ is just as real.

Christmas Is Coming, Don’t Miss It!

Frank S. Mead wrote a story entitled the “THE VIP”. The setting of the story is the small town of Mayfair. The entire town is excited about the visit of a wealthy tycoon by the name of Henry Bascom. Henry has told the city fathers that he will be coming to spend Christmas with the fine citizens of Mayfair. The citizens gather at the local airport, awaiting the flight from the big city and the billionaire on board. When the plane lands, the people don’t see Henry because they are looking for a man dressed in expensive clothes. A simply and gentle man walked right through them unnoticed and hails a cab for town. This quiet and very simple man does not seem to be a man of wealth and he being a stranger, the people of Mayfair shun him. As a matter of fact, he is either ignored all together or mistreated by the insensitive people of Mayfair. Finally, one old gentleman feels compassion and invited Henry home for dinner. After dinner, Henry graciously thanks his host, orders his cab, returns to the airport and flies back home. He was among them and they knew it not. They were looking for a billionaire dressed in an expensive suit with an entourage of people. They were looking for pomp and circumstance not simplicity and humility. In the same way, many miss Christmas or at least the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

Many years ago there was a serious coal mining accident in Pennsylvania. There was an underground explosion and miraculously most of the miners escaped but three were trapped hundreds of feet below the surface. The noxious gases delayed rescue efforts for two days but then, even though risk were still high, a team of rescue workers got on to the elevator and were about to descend into the darkness of the mine. A local T.V. Station was there reporting and the reporter stuck a microphone in the face of one of the rescue workers about to descend. “Is it safe for you guys to go down?” asked the reporter. “No” Came the answer for the rescuer. “Are you still going down?” Asked the reporter. “Yes” came the reply, “three men are trapped and they may still be alive, we have to go” and without another word, he puts on his gas mask and gives the signal to lower the elevator.

Just imagine, Jesus takes off His glorious heavenly garb and puts on the rescue outfit. He is standing in the portal between heaven and earth when the angels gathered around in curiosity and say, “where are you going?” Jesus said, “Down on earth, man has lost his way. He is trapped in sin and held in cold black darkness. I am going to offer him away out”. “But didn’t you give them free will LORD? What if they reject your offer? What if they refuse to let You help?” says the angels. Jesus replies, “Yes they do have a free will and it is true that they can and may reject my offer.” Now do you think that it is possible that the angels could have said, “Are You still going down?” If they did, we know what Jesus said, “Yes, I must go down, there are millions who are lost and need a Savior.

Christmas is about Jesus coming down, the Word becoming flesh and pitching His tent among us. This world was cold and dark until Jesus came. He changed everything. You can’t think of anything He did not make better. C.S. Lewis understood the horror of a world without Christmas. In his imaginary world of Narnia, under the curse of the Great White Witch, it is Winter all the time and Christmas has been banned. Santa is a fugitive. No Christmas lights, gifts or celebration. When Aslan shows up, He breaks the curse. Folks, that is what Jesus did: He came to this cold world of endless Winter and broke the curse. The way some professing Christians act around Christmas time, you would have thought He did the opposite. Come on folks, Jesus came to bring us JOY, PEACE and HOPE. He brought us LIGHT, LOVE and LAUGHTER.  He was no wet blanket. The incarnate Jesus celebrated with His friends; he went to parties, I think He probably drank some eggnog. He is not grieved that you rejoice in this season or that you spend more time with family. It does not grieve our Lord that you think of others, even to the point of getting them a gift. Jesus is not upset that you spent $200 on a widow and her son who are struggling to make ends met. Jesus didn’t come to tone it down; He came to brighten it up. It breaks my heart that some folks have never experienced Christmas. Some because they are misers and others because they are miserable and it is all so unnecessary. Lighten up for Pete’s sake, have a little Christmas, what about a cup of cheer. Don’t give me this…”I hate Santa…I hate commercialism…I hate the tinsel, the traffic, etc.” None of these things are the problem: your rotten attitude is the problem. So, what if a real Christmas celebration cost you a few bucks, is that such a big deal. Don’t give me the Judas line…”The money you waste on Christmas could have been given to the poor”. How much money do you think Judas gave to the poor? I think we all know. Judas gave advice not money. Judas was a complainer not a contributor. He didn’t deck the halls, he stacked the deck. He was greedy, he lived a miserable life and died a miserable death which is the fate of all misers like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Don’t give me this bologna about Christmas being just another day of the year. That is like saying, “Jesus was just another Jew”. Pardon my French but I don’t buy that crap. Jesus is not just another Jew and Christmas is not just another day. Jesus gave us Christmas. Without Jesus, there would be no Christmas. Life on this planet is not perfect but it is a lot better than it was before Jesus came. Aren’t you glad He came. How could anyone not get excited about God coming to earth and dwelling among us because He loves us and wants to save us from our sins.

My brother Hal was in the Berlin crisis. He saw the wall and the effect it had on the German people. It wasn’t long until he and everyone who visited Berlin could see a huge difference between the East and the West. The one thing that visitors to the wall noticed more than anything else was the dim lighting on the East side [communist side]. The East had no billboards, no lighted Marquees: everything was dim and gloomy while the West was right the opposite. People risk their lives to get from the dark gloomy East over to the light and glorious West. You cannot blame them. The poor victims trapped on the Eastern side didn’t have a choice unless they wanted to risk their life, which many did. You don’t have to live in the dark and the gloom. You don’t have live with the fear that someone is going to need your financial assistance. You don’t have to live with the resentment that wells up in you every time you hear the Salvation Arm bell. Your problem is that your are selfish and you are not focused on Christ or the needs of others. This Christmas, do something for someone who has less than you do. Don’t try to impress your friends with expensive gifts–give to someone who cannot give back.

I read a story just last week about a man in a nursing home. He had no one that came to see him on a regular basis. Someone asks him about Christmas and he said, “I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. I sit here all year and no one comes to see me but at Christmas, carolers come, church groups come: I get lots of company at Christmas. Most of the year I am nobody but at Christmas, I am somebody.” Hey there is some lonely person waiting for you to make them feel like somebody. You find them and have a Merry Christmas.

The Big D And We Are Not Talking Dallas

One of the most painful and destructive things that can happen to a family is divorce. As a pastor and preacher, I have to address the subject; it would be morally wrong for me to ignore it all together. As a pastor, my primary task is to prevent divorce. I cannot do anything about the past even though I know that some have painful memories. Once a divorce is finalized there is not much I can do but hope for the best. I say hard and shocking things from the pulpit in an effort to get people to thing about divorce and the devastation that comes with it. Divorce can be a solution at times but in most cases, it does not solve the problem, it creates a new set of problems. Practically everyone who has endured the experience feels that their case is an exception. There are exceptions but not as many as folks pretend. Most divorces can be prevented.

The honest truth is that although most Divorces can be prevented, it is generally one of the two involved that can prevent it. I don’t even accept adultery as a reason for divorce. I think things can be worked out even in a case where one or both have been unfaithful. The problem is: when one or the other sets their eye on a new mate, you have major problems. This particular person wants out of the old relationship so he/she can get into a new relationship legitimately [most of the time, they are already into the new relationship]. So here is the scenario in many cases: one spouse is committed to the marriage and wants to work things out, the other has found someone else and does not want to work things out. It is the one wanting out of the relationship that can prevent the divorce. The spouse that is committed to the marriage is helpless. He or she may not want a divorce but it is impossible for them to make a relationship work when their spouse has found someone else and is bound and determined to get out of the marriage.

I want you to understand what I am saying: Many of us would be divorced if it were not for the grace of God and a spouse that is committed to the marriage. It really helps when both husband/father and wife/mother work together to stay together. What I try to do is make people face reality and that is not an easy task. I bumped into a woman in her 60’s a few years back. I had not seen her in a good while. During that time her husband had passed away. I would guess that it had been two or three years since his physical death. The woman came out of a department store that I was about to enter and she looked like she had been eating bananas side ways, she was grinning from ear to ear. Matter of fact, I think she had lip stick on both ears. I said, “What on earth is going on?” She said with the voice of elation, “Bro. Jack, I am in love and I feel like I am 16 years old”. She had that inverted, she was 61 years old. Now her case was legitimate. She was a widow marring a widower but the point is this: you don’t get to old to fall in love and when it happens, you don’t think straight.

Romantic love [Greek word is eros] is highly conditional. Don’t confuse eros with agape. Agape is divine love, or love from above and it is unconditional. God does not love us because we deserve to be loved. He loved us because he choose to love us. It is a committed and unconditional love. Romantic love is not that way. Although it can be committed at times it is never unconditional. Eros is like a fire: if you want to keep it going, you better put a little wood on from time to time, stir the embers and fan the flame or eros will go out. Men are horrible when he comes to romancing after the wedding ceremony. They consider that the romance is over, they have their catch and she is legally bound plus the fact that she over achieved and could never find anyone better. Guess what, men of full of it! Go ahead guys, treat her like she is a piece of property, a maid, a child, or a prostitute and you will destroy her love for you. She will slowly but surely fall out of love. Most new relationships get started because certain needs are going unmet. Needy women as well has needy men are vulnerable to new relationships because they are starved for romance and intimacy. If you are more passionate about hunting wild game than you are romancing your wife, you have problems. The older guys may get by with it but you younger men had best be careful. You treat your wife with respect, you love her mother and her family, you treat her like a queen and you will most likely have a partner for life. You mistreat her or take her for granted and someone else may come along and win her heart. Whose fault is it? What I am saying is that most divorces can be prevented if we act in time.

There are exceptions. Hosea married a whore and she returned to her ways like a sow to a mud hole. One man was not enough and children were a distraction and a nuisance. When a woman has no affection for the fruit of her womb, you have major problems. Most mothers are going to love their children but there are exceptions like Gomer. She abandon her three children, never wrote, never called, never remembered their birthday, etc. Meanwhile she moved from motel to motel sleeping with every man who would provide for her needs. She lived like a prostitute until no one wanted to sleep with her. After she became a slave, Hosea redeemed her and carried her home. There is no doubt that some have mis-married. They did not pray nor think: they followed their heart and got attached to the wrong person. Gomer was not wife or mother material. occasionally this happens. The spouse comes home one day and says, “I don’t want to be married” and there is nothing you can do. They hear the call of the wild and they are gone, leaving you with the kids, the bills and all the responsibilities. This however is the exception, not the rule. In most cases there are going to be custody battles and the kids are going to get caught in the middle.

Whereas many divorces could be prevented, it is impossible to prevent them all. I know of cases where the spouse who walked out was being literally begged to stay. In this case, we have a victim. We have a person who has been rejected and abandoned. The emotional scaring from this experience is harrowing. Some people never rebound. Divorce is not only hard on the rejected party, it is hard on the children and the parents. Divorce will destroy the holidays. It can all but destroy the security of the children involved. They have to move every 10 days to two weeks. Everything in our judicial system protects the rights of the father and mother but the children have no rights and grandparents certainly have no rights, not in a court of law.

Most cases that I get involved in are resolvable. Pride can be a factor, the third-party is always a big factor but if people had a mind to do it, they could work through the difficulties and save the marriage and the family. Little children are devastated by divorce even though they don’t understand what is going on. As kids grow up, they learn to put two and two together. Eventually, they will figure it out, you left their mom or dad for another person and when you did, that person became the focus of your life. Even women can get so preoccupied with their new lover that they forget their children. What I tell them and what I am telling you is that the apple is going to lose its shine and it has an ugly worm at the core. You are going to die with regret because you are going to be a lonely old person. Don’t expect your kids to make you a priority because you did not make them a priority. These nest jumpers are not looking twenty years down the road, if they did, they would stay in the nest.

The one thing that you do not need to tell me if you are thinking about a divorce and you have children is…“I’m just not happy and I think the Lord wants me to be happy”. Oh really, show me that verse. I’ll tell you what the LORD wants, he wants you to grow up and be responsible. He wants you to be holy and that mean that He wants you to do the right thing, not the selfish thing. One other thing and I will cease and desist: women are smarter than men. Sorry about that men but it is true. Men do not think with their brain. Another part of their anatomy overrules the brain unfortunately. Women think! Men fish, women catch! Women calculate, they always have a plan. You did not accidently bump into her at the water fountain. She knew what time of the day you go to the fountain.  Men fly by the set of their pants; their plans are immediate, like what are we going to do tonight but women think long-term. They think future and security. Generally speaking, they are not looking for a one night stand, they are looking for a long-term plan. If he has a good job or pension, that makes him all the more attractive. Younger women may yield to vanity but they learn fast and eventually they are attracted to kindness, gentleness, sense of humor, position, and of course things that they associate with security such as possessions. Even an old man has no trouble finding a wife if he has a huge bank account.

A businessman was attending a convention several hundred miles from home. His wife called him four and five times a day. Finally, one of the other men said, “What is up with your wife? Why does she have this need to call every few minutes? The man looked up and said, “She is not my first wife and we met at a convention.” Read between the lines folks. Don’t make me have to spell it out. The wife was deeply insecure because she was afraid that another woman would do to her what she had done to the first wife. It is simple logic: if he did it once, would it not do it again. If you are in a second marriage, you better talk about these insecurities. I promise you, they are real. First marriage, second marriage or third: stick it out, don’t quit. By the grace of God, make it work. Most of all you must remember that when I am on the subject of divorce, I’m not trying to beat you down, I am trying to get the others to think before they too make a painful mistake.