Not ambidextrous, just double-minded

Christians, pro-lifers, we have a heartbreaking problem. Yet again today I encountered a familiar name–a governor, one I’ve written about often. A proclaimed Christian. A pro-lifer. One of the good ones, who has signed incredible pro-life legislation. I have found myself writing stories about these folks and declaring “I LOVE YOU!” at the screen, meaning I love what they are doing and uncompromising truth that comes forth, rallying for LIFE.

And then.

Then the nation turned its focus to education. Hear me. Not to teacher greed and fights against administrators, but to the situations of students, classrooms, materials, texts, heating and air conditioning, mold. The nation has been focused on this–especially with Oklahoma’s recent outcry. Now we have Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and West Virginia was before Oklahoma. More will be coming, by the way, just watch.

And then we have social programs, such as WIC, prenatal care, housing for the poor. These are lifelines for the women we plead with to keep their babies.

I could make this an incredibly long post. I could detail every pro-life legislator I used to respect, from our local state house, to governors across our nation. And I could show you how ANTI-life some of them are.

See, life is about more than being sure that baby is not aborted. That is the most urgent of crises because it’s happening this moment and waiting even a day could cost a life. I get that and stand behind that. But after she says okay, she will keep her baby, to cut her programs that help her, to reduce budgets for social services, to underfund and reduce funding year-by-year for schools, and to sign pro-life legislation with one hand and then sign away bills that support life with the other makes these leaders not ambidextrous, just double-minded. And the Bible has some things to say about that.

Here in my state, the strongest voice supporting a funded and equal education in our legislature, a hero to us all, is a Democrat. Sadly, he cannot run again due to term limits.  The entire Democratic platform states its pro-abortion rights stance. But then I found out–from a very reliable source who has worked with him–that this man is a practicing Catholic, and is genuinely pro-life. See, real pro-life is wonb-to-the-tomb. You can’t do one without the other. That is the reason we have accusations railed at us that “they only care about the baby being born.” How dare we? What a despicable shame if our definition of pro-life is simply to prevent abortion. That is step one! You cannot be pro-life and support any abortion. You simply can’t. It is never okay to say a child may die.

However, it is also never okay to say now that the child has lived, we’re done. I am ashamed of these leaders who I thought were on my side, who have signed good legislation, such as forbidding abortion because a baby is diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome. Of course no child should die because of this. But many parents of a special needs child will tell you if not for public school programs, their child would not have made as many strides. When you cut funding to schools, when you hire people who aren’t even real teachers and are so shorthanded, then that the one certified teacher you do have is doing all the IEPs and paperwork all day long (because legally she has to), and the children with profound needs are at the hands of someone who doesn’t have any real teaching skill, who is learning on the job with these precious children as guinea pigs. That’s one of a multitude of disastrous examples that should remind legislators they should stop being so proud they signed that important bill to help the child live, as if that were the end. Yes, that was good, but how are you helping the child live now? What sort of programs will you have in place when he turns 21 and can’t have those special services? If you cut those too, he’s stuck. Surprise, a parent can’t do everything for some special needs children without help, especially a parent without a lot of money. And those poor women are the ones who often go for abortions–and are recruited by Planned Parenthood, I might add, especially minorities. What promise of life can our state, our nation, give these people?

What about those kids in foster care? DHS is both underfunded and shorthanded? To call yourself pro-life and cut these areas that serve and help children is plainly immoral.

To be pro-life is to be pro-child.

We can say “the real answer is that state agencies need to be audited” (they do). Or that “school districts (DHS, healthcare agencies) need to trim the fat off the administrative costs and all that money will exist” (we could all use some trimming, just like the legislature, but that’s an exaggeration that all the money will reappear.

We have a tragic problem. I think it’s both political problem and a church problem; the church is in collusion with bad politics and calls it Jesus when He doesn’t endorse such practices either. I cannot in good conscience call myself a Republican based on what I have seen even in my own state. But I clearly cannot back a party who has abortion rights as a key area of its platform, so I am certainly not a Democrat. Nor do I care much about those labels. To me, the only reason to register under one is to vote in primaries.

We need to be genuine Christians who have a big picture of what it means to be pro-life. That means being pro-education, pro-state human services. Look, you guys, I realize that in some states being pro-education and pro-state human services then crosses the Christian’s moral lines. But looking at many of these conservative states that claim, fallaciously, to be Christian, we see that these moral issues don’t come into play–other than the immorality of what we do to children, the elderly, the school system, et al.

In the recent Oklahoma education battle, many Christians condemned the walkout because OEA was a leader of it,and OEA is the state affiliate of NEA. That much is true. But what no one who cried moral foul ever pointed out was that 1) OEA has no power over Oklahoma schools because they are not unionized. 2) There has been zero debate over issues that compromise Christianity in the walkout; this has been about basics, not sex ed, questionable curriculum, or anything else like that. 3) Thousands of the teachers and principals–and superintendents–these people who supported it–were not even OEA members or supporters. But some threw away the whole movement because NEA has some ideas of propagating perversion. Know what? It DOES. But NEA isn’t running these non-unionized schools. Are we so narrow minded that we cannot critically think and understand the real issue? I read ministry letters that discussed the walkout and had the facts wrong! Things I knew first hand were reported inaccurately and a whole argument was based on it.

Christianity is about truth, about living an upright life that emulates Jesus. That means not hindering children–in the womb or out. It means speaking truth, whether that is getting the facts, not hiding behind a ghostwriter that we never give credit to but “we always wanted to write a book” or anything else morally questionable. We are to be above reproach, not walking the blurry line of “how far can I go?” The whole WWJD movement wasn’t really a bad idea as far as how we should think. Would Jesus choose to support the oil and gas industry that gave top dollar in election donations over being sure kids who are educated in 105 degree heat are allowed a working air conditioner or books that actually discuss 9-11 because they were published after 2001? Really? Do we have to ask this?

I considered running for state representative this year. My current representative is infamous in our state for being anti-education–despite coming from a family of educators. He likes to vote for positive teacher bills, but will never actually vote to fund these bills because “I have to do right by [the oil and gas industry”; he said that. But if I were elected, unlike some representatives, my job is such that it would be a conflict-of-interest, so I would lose it run for representative I would lose my job, and I know I am making an impact where I am as well and this is not the time to do that. But Christians, if you have a lick of political sense, and you can actually be wholly pro-life and defend the causes of Jesus, not of rich corporate executives, then please consider running. Whether it’s giant border walls that invest unreal amounts of money to keep the alien and stranger out, rather than simply dealing with lawbreakers as infractions occur, or whether it’s choosing to undertax big business, giving them tax breaks that are so high that the common resident actually suffers, these “Republican” and/or “conservative” ideals are anti-Jesus.

I honestly see that our testimony as Christians is suffering nationwide; no wonder other nations send missionaries to us now! A friend recently made a Facebook post of how we are so quick to overlook and forgive President Trump’s repeated sexual affairs, harassment, indiscretions–and foul language. Yet when we in the church make a negative comment about those issues–or even question the testimony we’re making by publicly supporting these things–we are not forgiven nearly as quickly; in fact, a majority seem to receive anger, criticism, judgement (“why are you persecuting him?”) and all sorts of negative responses–so that forgiveness only seems to extend to one side to most.

I don’t know who you hang out with or how much you see going on in the nation, but because of some unique experiences and perspectives I have, I see a lot. Additionally, I am well-read and well-traveled, with myriad friends on both sides of the aisles, as well as in the crevices. And I can tell you, with confidence, the Christian witness has been compromised, is being compromised. It is very easy for me to understand this “progressive” Christian movement. I disagree with it and know it undermines the gospel, but I see the power to draw people because the heart of Christianity is social justice–life more abundant. Salvation is step one, but we are meant to thrive. When we see leaders in bed with both big business, as well as with women who are not their wives–and we excuse it, many seek a more genuine Christianity. Sadly, some are deceived into thinking a progressive gospel is the answer. It’s not. The gospel is an uncompromising truth and must include an inerrancy of Word of God. But the gospel’s real focus on money is about giving it away and helping others. The gospel is founded on “God so loved that He gave.” The gospel is about letting children and families thrive, of caring for the poor, of loving the unlovable–all without compromising truth. The progressive church compromises truth, but an increasing large chunk of the rest of us compromise the spirit of the gospel. Jesus never put the focus on making more money above caring for people. But you’d never know it listening to my representative who is continually introduced as a “man of faith and family… teaches Sunday school….” It almost would be better not to mention our faith if our proclamations of faith causes others to stumble. I have watched person after person leave all organized religion and churches over the compromise. There is a significant difference between the old line of “They are all hypocrites” and expecting perfection out of imperfect people. That won’t ever happen. But that’s not the same as churches, pastors, leaders, elected officials who name the name of Jesus, saying and doing things, not as mistakes but as a justified lifestyle.

Look, people, I like money too. I am raising money right now–or am trying too–we’re stuck at the moment–for a pro-life trip to help orphans. I am paying down a bazillion dollars of student loans and would love is oil and gas could line my pockets. I work for a very poor state, but I am in a fringe group that does not get raises when there is a “state employee pay raise.” My own boss has been here almost 30 years and he makes only about 5K more than I do in base pay. We don’t get raises. I like raises. I need money. But never at the expense of compromising livelihood. I am not a Socialist. I want to keep what I earn. I don’t like taxes, but if I see that children are suffering and a small tax increase can change that, I care more about those children than I do my pocketbook.  To think that public education doesn’t impact us, when in my state alone 92% of all students are publicly educated is a short-sighted view. These are the people working in our communities, who are our society. Same with social services, Meals on Wheels, you name it.   It is not a Socialist ideology that votes for those who will do the most good for all of society vs. the rich. If the gospel is not about us and our wants, why do we change that when it comes to politics? We can’t–at least not if we think we’re walking in truth.

I challenge you: either be pro-life or don’t, but this lukewarm Christianity movement is making us taste like something the world wants to spit out of their mouth.

At the end of the day, when I try to look through this with the eyes of Jesus. I look long and hard at that Democratic legislator who is pro-life and votes for babies, participates in pro-life marches, etc. (it’s legit to be Democratic at the state level and be pro-life; nationally, it would be impossible to be elected and actually maintain that, sadly), who also supports schools, healthcare (no Planned Parenthood or pro-abortion issues in our state healthcare agenda, by the way, so that one isn’t in play). Sure, he probably has some views that need refining. He has flaws, perhaps flaws in how he upholds some areas of righteousness as we all do. But I think Jesus would see him as a flawed but righteous man trying to legislate. I also think Jesus, from what I know of Him from His own Word, would be much less pleased with the Republican who writes pro-life bills every session but votes against everything that would help other people, especially those moms–and doing so at the expense of profiting the rich, not only in legitimate ways since they worked hard for their money, but literally letting them pay less than anyone else so they will come running to our state–causing us to have the opposite of abundant life due to the catastrophic financial situations we end up living as a society.

There is a reason Jesus said it is easier to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And in American politics, I see it more than ever.

I am grieved to my core when I see leaders in our states who claim to love Jesus, speak of their faith, and then, apart from the “big two” issues of faith that merge with government, do everything to undermine the heart of God for the people they are elected to serve, lead, or minister to.

When the history books are rewritten and public schools can afford to buy them, which chapter will you appear in:

  1. Democrats and their rule in the land?
  2. Republicans and their rule in the land?
  3. Jesus followers and their rule in the land?

Hint: only one is eternal.

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Every Christian must be involved in adoption—without exception

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”- Galatians 4:4-6

Adoption is a legal contract in which a child not born of DNA becomes as real as one who is. Unfortunately, the Christian church mostly sees adoption in the same way as Islam does.

Those of us engaged in the pro-life movement can recite some of the core scriptures we use in advocating adoption. In particular are these (All scriptures cited in this blog are ESV):

  • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” –James 1:27
  • “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” –Malachi 4:5-6

While these verses may seem overused, they also are foundational for orphan and family ministries. I’ll come back to these in a minute. But let me shift to the religious differences between Islam and Christianity. I doubt I have to lay out much of an argument showing how these top two world religions are so different. “Of course they are different!” most Christians would exclaim. “Jesus is the truth and Islam is a lie.” The chorus from Christians sounds something like that; however, sans the remnant who is adopting and working to expand this area in the church, much of the church lives with an Islamic ideology when it comes to family.

Bear with me as I take us all back to the very basics of the Gospel. Again, these are phrases and verses we hear so often, we often take them for granted. Few would disagree that the single verse that encompasses the gospel is John 3:16:

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

That core verse that is the essence of our salvation is only part of God’s family story. To understand the entire gospel is to understand adoption, for it was in Jesus that we were allowed to be “grafted in” (See Romans chapter 11 for an in-depth explanation of this reality). Familiar refrains of scripture remind us of the truth of the gospel as it related to adoption, as well:

  • When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)
  • You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15-17)
  • He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

These verses are only a few of myriad examples of the reality that the gospel has adoption at its very core. Without adoption, every Gentile would be without access to the Father. When Jesus died, He made a way for all Gentiles to become sons and daughters. A legitimate, real, legal son or daughter. Perhaps no piece of writing about adoption has impacted me as much as John Piper’s essay, “Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel”—please lay aside any opinions you have of the man or his doctrinal beliefs about other things because his teaching on adoption is 100% biblical. If you only want to skim, please focus your attention on these two of the eight points he makes:

  • Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.
  • Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.

I return you to James 1:27 and Malachi 4:5-6 now, where I began. The Bible implores us to care for orphans (and widows, but that’s a point for another post). The Bible is clear that God is going to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of their children to their fathers. The Bible is also clear that without these things happening, we’re in trouble—whether it be “stained by the world” or worse, having the earth stuck with a “decree of destruction” (some translations say “curse,”) these are not multiple choice questions for God the Father.

To care for the orphan, to care for the fatherless, we must give them status as a son or daughter. If they cannot be reconciled to their families and are able to be adopted, to do anything less is to shortchange them.

 

Family is our core. Even if we had a rotten family experience, it’s still our core. Our identity was forged in family—or from lack of it. If we had a healthy and godly family experience, it probably shaped our view of God in a positive way. Seeing God as Father was a natural extension. Sadly, that’s not the reality for many in modern times, but that’s why there are so many inner healing ministries focus on mother and father issues. We were destined to be in family. God’s plan was family, on earth as it is in heaven.

Adoption is truly a legal contract. There’s no way around it. When a child is adopted, he or she becomes as much of an heir as the children birthed who share DNA. There is absolutely no distinction in the law, or in the hearts of adoptive parents; all their children are their children. For parents, bringing children into their family, their “labor” included home studies and legal paperwork; for others, it was 32 hours of labor with or without an epidural. But there was still labor, as Piper posits.

For the church to understand the gospel we must understand adoption. This is not a side ministry for a few committed pro-life Christians. This is the core of being a Christian. While every single member of the body of Christ is not called to personally adopt, every single one is called to be a part of adoption in one way or another; adoption is the very heart of Christianity. For some, it’s financial, supporting a family as they, on a moderate income, navigate the legal costs involved in adoption. Some provide nannying, babysitting, or respite care to adoptive families. Whether it is serving an adopted family or becoming one who adopts, real Christianity has no out clause on the adoption question. Adoption is the central theme of the gospel. Further, James makes it clear that “faith without works is dead.” Thus, to understand the gospel core and not act on it is an indictment of our faith.

Christian Islam?

Now let’s shift gears to the opposite of Christianity: Islam. We know some basic differences. We’ve certainly heard the scare tactics preached about Islam. We tell stories of bombs and destruction, neglecting to acknowledge the many Muslims who actually do live in peace—at least socially speaking, for Islam is antithetical to Christianity. This is evident in multitudinous ways, but none is as obvious as Islam’s views on family and adoption.

I have shared with many about my own adoption from the Middle East. I was born in Bethlehem to an unwed mother. In that society a woman is not allowed to keep her child, even if she desires to do so. It is a scandalous shame to the culture. If the family is Christian, women will often be allowed to birth their child and place the child in an orphanage. In Islam, the woman can be killed to “avenge the family honor.” In fact, Jordan only recently banned honor killings. It is an astounding fact to us here in the United States, but it’s reality in Palestine, Jordan, and surrounding regions. Whether it’s legal or not, honor killings still occur today, but usually if the baby lives, he or she is given over to an orphanage. And it’s what happens then that feels so hopeless.

The sad truth is that, under current laws in Palestinian areas, a child is destined to forever be illegitimate. Up until a few years ago, some of those children could be adopted, but an immigration law a few years ago changed that. This law means certain paperwork must be generated for the child to be adopted, and some of that paperwork deems the child Muslim. And there is no adoption in Islam. This was the horrible reality I faced when I began searching for answers about my own adoption, that led me to go back and fight for the right for those orphans to be adopted—despite Islamic law.

But if there’s no adoption, why are there Muslim “adoption” agencies? You have to read the fine print to understand why these agencies call themselves “adoption” agencies. For the sake of making a point here, I’m going to provide information from one of these places, New Star Kafala, which calls itself “A Muslim Adoption And Child Advocacy Agency.” However, a closer look at the fine print explains what “adoption” means in Islam. The link to the explanations is here. I encourage you to read it further, as it’s impractical to quote it all here, but it’s all worth reading and understanding. Here’s the summary, directly quoted from the aforementioned link, though I have added bolded emphasis to highlight some aspects:

“According to the Sharee’ah (Islamic law), there is no legal adoption. It is prohibited for a person to legally adopt a son or a daughter of whom he is not the biological father… According to the Quran, one cannot become a person’s real son merely by virtue of a declaration; Allah Says (what means): “…And He [i.e., Allah] has not made your claimed [i.e., adopted] sons your [true] sons. That is [merely] your saying by your mouths, but Allah says the truth, and He guides to the [right] way. Call them [i.e., the adopted children] by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, they are your brothers in religion…” [Quran 33: 4-5]

“…[A] figure of speech cannot make the blood of a man run through the veins of the adopted child, produce natural feelings of affection found in normal parent-child relationships, or transfer the genetic characteristics, or physical, mental, or psychological traits. Islam views adoption as a falsification of the natural order of society and reality. The prohibition of legal adoption in Islam was ordained to protect the rights of the adopted, adopter, biological parents, other individuals affected by the adoption, and society as a whole.

“The child is an extension of his father and the bearer of his characteristics. He takes his name and increases his progeny. Likewise, the child in Islam also has the equally inalienable right to legitimacy. The principle of legitimacy holds that every child shall have a father and one father only…. adoption cannot be used in Islam to hide the illegitimacy or the paternity of the child.

By adopting someone’s child as one’s own, the rightful and deserving heirs to the property of a man are deprived of their shares. Hence, Islam has made it Haraam (forbidden) for a father to deprive his natural children of inheritance. Allah has established the distribution of inheritance in order to give each eligible person his or her share. In matters of inheritance, the Quran does not recognise any claim except those based on relationship through blood and marriage. The Quran stipulates (what means): “…But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah is knowing of all things.” [Quran 8:75]

“If the adopted child were to receive a claim on the inheritance of the adopter, the real relatives may become rightfully angry feeling that the adopted child has received something that is not rightfully his, depriving them of their full inheritance. This could lead to quarrels, fights and the breaking of relations among relatives. Therefore, adoption is not conducive to family solidarity and overall harmony and peace, which are necessary for social stability.”

The post goes on to explain “Allowable Forms of ‘Adoption’ in Islam,” including “orphans” and “foundlings”:

“[Orphan adoption] is a completely different form of adoption, which is not prohibited by Islam – that is, when a man brings home an orphan and wants to raise, educate, and treat him as his own child. In this case, he protects, feeds, clothes, teaches, and loves the child as his own without attributing the child to himself, nor does he give him or her the rights which the Sharee’ah (Islamic Law) reserves for his natural children.

“A foundling or abandoned child is also regarded as an orphan, and one may apply the term ‘wayfarer’ to him as well. In this case too, as in that of orphans, the child’s lineal identity must be unchanged and parenthood to the natural parents should not be denied.

“If a man is childless and wishes to benefit such a child (orphan or foundling) from his wealth, he may give him whatever he wants during his lifetime.”

What this all means should cause a startling awakening for the church. In Islam, adoption is a violation of the law of Allah, and the only real and legitimate families are those born from the parents’ DNA. Blood family is the only “real” family in Islam. While Allah considers it a noble act to take in an orphan and raise him or her, there is a limit. That limit means the orphan is always second best to the natural born child. What a horrible burden to put on the adopted child, to walk his whole life, knowing he can never be a real son, knowing he is second best, an impure reflection of family. It is the opposite of real adoption, and the opposite of what God the Father ordained through Jesus. We are not second best because we are Gentiles. We were given access to the best, without restrictions or limitations. It cost God everything, but our adoption was worth everything to Him. Islam says the opposite.

We are quick to acknowledge that Islam is the opposite of Christianity, but much of the church lives with the Islamic paradigm about family. “Us four and no more,” “My blood is my family,” “I mean, I’d love to adopt but I can’t do that to my children…,” “I just don’t think I could love someone else’s child as my own the same way,” “It’s just different when it’s your own child,” “It would mess up our family dynamic to adopt an orphan, especially one who is older,” “I might consider it if I can’t get pregnant and all the fertility treatments don’t work, but that’s the only way I would” (second best). The list goes on. Many believers shudder at having an outsider over for a family gathering or holiday, let alone bringing that non-blood person into the family legally. They are afraid, they tell me, of how their birth children would feel if, for example, someone outside the family were invited to spend Christmas with them. These are phrases and ideas (excuses) I have actually heard people say over the years. While those comments have always grieved me to some degree, the impact of those phrases, those reflections of Christians’ very hearts, took on new meaning when I discovered what the Quran said about adoption.

We claim to be radical Christians. We will obey God, even when the world doesn’t, we boldly proclaim. We are not like “those Muslims.”

Except we are.

Every time we have a similar attitude about adoption—legal, authentic, heir-granting, costly adoption—every single time, we are channeling the spirit of the antichrist. We eschew movies with magic and demons, we homeschool to avoid the “evils” of public school, we have “trunk or treat” to avoid Halloween—but we live with the spirit of the antichrist in our own hearts with the way we view family and who can be legitimate.

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Tim and Janette with their daughters, Hannah and Bekah

God the Father gave His only son for the sake of adoption. This is not a feel-good memory verse we got a sticker for reciting in the second grade: this is reality. God, the creator of everything that exists, the One with all power, that same God gave His only son, His heir, His DNA, to allow us to be legally adopted into His family. Jesus was the legal contract—sealed with blood, written in the Word. Adoption is not merely a human declaration; it’s not a feeling. It is a legal contract, sealed in court records, stretching the family, creating heirs to the name, giving new identity to the adopted child.

The question we must ask ourselves, the question we must honestly answer before the Lord, is this: How can we truly love Him and not have a heart for adoption? We cannot reject what God has not only ordained, but given His son’s life to do for us. Jesus died to redeem us from the law that left us as orphans. This isn’t just a Bible story. It is reality.

When we reject adoption, when we call it second best, when we say “you’re just like family,” but we won’t pay the price to “make it real” if that person needs a family, when we refuse to give an orphan a birthright, we are reflecting Islam and the spirit of the antichrist.

Many of my friends are pioneers in the adoption revolution, which is small but mighty; there are two phrases I’ve often heard them say, which have never made more sense to me as they did upon discovering what Islam teaches about adoption and family.

  • Adoption is spiritual warfare.
  • The greatest evangelizing I do is through adoption.

Several years ago many teachers and preachers seemed to land on warning the church about the rise of Islam as it related to the growth of Christianity worldwide. We’re not talking “First Assembly of God in Anytown, USA” church growth, but the growth of Christianity worldwide versus the growth of Islam worldwide. Repeatedly, Islam was deemed the fastest growing religion, and the reason for that is related to family demographics: “Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups” and “In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.” Thus, to battle the rise of Islam and its ideology, while ignoring adoption as a key in the process, we miss a key weapon of our warfare and reduce our evangelistic reach. If the heart of Christianity beats because of adoption, and the heart of Islam is opposed to it, what a force of spiritual warfare it is to be a key player in the adoption movement.

You know what happens to the kids in the orphanage where I was? They age out of there after a few years and go to children’s homes. Most of those homes are Islamic homes since the church is the ruling body in Palestine, where there is no national government. Therefore, they are set on a path to be Muslim orphans. Forever. And we, ourselves, were set on a path to be Gentile orphans forever. But God said otherwise. And He did otherwise when He gave His only son, his DNA, His seed, and let Him die so we could be reconciled to Him and no longer be orphans. We’ve heard that truth all of our Christian lives, yet I suspect we don’t really understand it. If we did, there wouldn’t be an orphan eligible for adoption. In the United States alone, about 100,000 orphans are eligible to be adopted just from foster care (and, sadly, adoptions in the United States are declining); worldwide, there are an estimated 140 million orphans. When we refuse to give a child a birthright and share our family, we proclaim the mindset of Allah, rather than that of God the Father.

Spiritual warfare and life-changing evangelism starts right in our homes and hearts. Adoption is not only for a select few who are called to it; we are all called to be a major player in adoption if we are children of God.

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Jonathan and Lisa with their daughter, Piper Rose

As Christians, we have a responsibility to be an active player in adoption, and, above all, we must support adoption boldly and vocally. We must eschew the ideologies of Islam, which is the spirit of the antichrist, and we must proclaim the truth of Christianity and the reality of adoption through Jesus Christ.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

Selected Resources (feel free to add your own in the comments)

Yes, Mr. Blogger, LifeWay most certainly is pro-life

If you know me, you know that people joke I can make the Pope look pro-choice. I am pro-life to the nth degree, so much I irritate other pro-life Christians sometimes. There are places I won’t shop and things I won’t be involved with because of abortion ties. I research, read, write, and breathe LIFE. I say all this to say that the last thing you will ever find me doing is covering up for anyone in this arena.

That said, I am disturbed by a blog that is going around social media, in which the writer, Mike S. Adams, asserts that LifeWay’s book division is not pro-life. In his critical blog, Rightly Offended, Mr. Adams details his shopping trip to buy the new book on late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, entitled, Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer. After his attempt to order the book on Amazon was met with a lengthy shipping delay, he goes to Barnes and Noble to purchase it. Critically commenting on the store itself, he remarks his journey to a far corner of the store that held only one copy of the book, which was not discounted like other new releases (since it is on the main B&N site, he doesn’t say if he asked for the discount in case it was a store mistake). Upset, he headed to his local LifeWay store, which is the real subject of his blog—using the missing book to make a parallel with the church’s silence on abortion. He says:

After looking through the small section and not finding Gosnell, I approached the woman working at the register and asked her to direct me to the pro-life section. I was disappointed when she told me Lifeway doesn’t have a pro-life book section. All they have is a section called “current issues.” She assured me that I could find the pro-life books there.

I took a look through the entire “current issues” section. There were a few books on homosexuality and a few dozen by authors telling us they were sure the world was about to end. But there was no Gosnell and only one book on the issue of abortion. It was on how to share the gospel with a woman after she had an abortion. It was only about 100 pages long. Just to the right of the book, I found a “finance” shelf with close to fifty different selections.

That pretty well sums up the state of the American church. For every Christian committed to defending the unborn, there are fifty “Christians” who are only committed to defending their 401k.

I wish Lifeway would make a statement by putting a pro-life apologetics section in all of their stores. But they are a just a business that serves and reflects the interests of churchgoers rather than proactively shaping the Christian culture.

Regardless, the book selection at Lifeway is a crude reminder of the indisputable fact that abortion only exists with the consent of the church.

Some of you may be surprised to hear me counter this blog because I absolutely agree that the church, overall, is silent on the issue of abortion. But LifeWay isn’t. Let me take you back to the day I made history without even trying. LifeWay had published a Here’s Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Bible, but it donated some of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, who funds the nations number one abortion provider, a fact LifeWay, like many at that time, did not know. I wrote an article about this—and suddenly it was on the front page of every major media outlet in the nation (and some outside the nation). So horrified was LifeWay to realize they were funding a direct abortion connection that the pulled the Bible off every retailer and ceased the sales taking a heavy financial loss. LifeWay head, Thomas S. Rainer issued an apology:

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That action became a catalyst for Komen making a decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The head of Komen at the time Karen Handel wrote about it in her book Planned Bullyhood, saying that article was one of the last straws. (Eventually Komen caved to the bullying and reinstated the abortion giant’s funding, and Handel left and wrote her book).

I have to admit, I was stunned that LifeWay did what they did because Adams is right that usually even Christian businesses can tend to focus on the bottom line of the almighty dollar in cases like this, but not LifeWay. I realized then that this was a corporation that was truly Christian. The moment they realized the connection with abortion they apologized and reversed the action—true corporate repentance.

But the story didn’t end there. Many months later, it turned out that some employee in a Walmart warehouse found a box of the Bibles that were to be sent back and somehow got overlooked—and he put them on walmart.com for sale. I can’t even recall how I came across it, but I did. I was shocked. I ordered one (with the intention of returning it for a full refund) to be sure it was a legitimate order and not leftover. It shipped, and I contacted LifeWay, ready for a fight if they went back on their word. But there was nothing to fight about. They got to the bottom of it, the employee error, having those Bibles sent back, as they were supposed to be. I had managed to come across it the very time the rogue employee found them, so the Bibles were never sold. Except the one that got through to me.

During this time, I had a conversation with one of the heads of LifeWay. I had left the company a voicemail the night I found the Bibles, and he called me back at 10 a.m. the next day—apologizing for taking “so long” to get back to me. Of course, it wasn’t long at all, but that’s how urgent he saw it. When he received my message—which had to be sent from whomever checked the voicemail on to him, he headed to meeting of the leadership team at LifeWay who would be the ones to contact about the issue. He explained he finally found the leadership team and they were in a prayer meeting so then he had to wait longer while they finished. He was offering this by way of apology for his “delay” in returning my call. Then he explained how they had tracked down the Walmart mystery and there would be no sales of that Bible. Either way, they had pulled out of Komen, so the pink organization wouldn’t be getting anymore blood money, Bible or not.

I forget some of the details of our talk, but for some reason he had to email me something related to it later in the day. I will never forget that afternoon. It was a Wednesday. I was in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, laptop open, getting some work done, but enjoying the atmosphere. I can recall where I was sitting and the “feel” of the room based on the Wednesday regulars I would always see at the 4 p.m. intercession set. I have such sensory memories of that day because of the email exchange between the LifeWay leader and me. We had a brief email conversation the afternoon of our phone call, and then at the end of it, he added something I will never forget. He thanked me. He thanked me for writing the first article and exposing the connection because they would not have known otherwise. Because of that, he said, they were able to get that book off the shelves and not be a party to funding any place connected with abortion.

The man who is a leader in a business thanked me for costing him money and horrible publicity. I wrote an article that got them criticized and had the media descending on them. My article was quite critical, though it was also quite true. It cost them publicity, popular opinion—and cold hard cash. And that afternoon one of the heads of that organization thanked me for doing it because they had more interest in the truth and being no part of abortion than they did money.

And I cried.

Right there in the prayer room, with happy music coming from the stage, and intercessors pacing as they prayed, tears flowed from my eyes. They thanked me. They loved truth.

I’d just come out of a season of losing friends and even ministry because I had been so determined to stand pure in the area of abortion that I eschewed eating or drinking foods connected with its funding. I had refused to be associated with compromise, and it cost me (by the way I don’t regret that either). And people were upset with me because they felt “judged” or that I was too “self-righteous.” In truth, I could do nothing else because the Lord had drawn me into the pro-life movement with a powerful and unmistakable call. And then He gave me both a voice and a pen to speak. But it costs you to do that. And on that day, here was a man whom I had cost thousands of dollars, and he and his organization loved truth more than cash. He helped heal some of that pain with that thank you.

Let me be clear: He got nothing out of it. The stories had been written; the tale was complete. It was all after-the-fact conversation. He wasn’t thanking me to get good spin on a new story, for there wasn’t one left. In fact, this is the first time I have publicly written about that event.

Since then I have gone out of my way to buy from LifeWay when I am in areas that have their stores. Every time I see a LifeWay store my spirit soars a bit as I remember the bold witness they took for LIFE.

So tonight when I saw that blog from Mr. Adams, I felt righteous indignation. I don’t know all the facts. LifeWay may not be carrying this book, but I assure you the reason is not that they are afraid to take a stand for LIFE. The publisher of the Gosnell book is Regenry, a conservative book publisher, but not an overtly Christian one. Maybe Lifeway doesn’t have regular connections with them or a distribution contract. Maybe they only sell Christian or inspirational books since they are a niche store and not a general bookstore. The Gosnell book is an important work and a best seller already. But a Christian bookstore doesn’t always carry secular best sellers. I actually would not expect to find it at a Christian store. That doesn’t even make sense to me.

I am also troubled by the fact that Adams’ n=1. He went to one store and then wrote a blog. Did Mr. Adams call LifeWay? I can assure him that LifeWay is responsive to bloggers’ inquiries.

Mr. Adams is correct about the lack of books on abortion. But that’s not LifeWay’s fault, nor should the Christian company be the scapegoat for Adams’ frusrating shopping experience. A few years ago, I was in a private meeting with the publisher of a major Christian imprint and a Christian speaker who is a household name in the church world, who wanted to write a book about abortion. I was going to help write it. The major publisher (whose name you would also know) told us that people don’t want to read books about abortion. And while I found that a sad fact, it was not surprising to hear.

Indeed, our pulpits are all-too-silent. I was in Christian ministry before I ever heard a sermon about abortion. It surely did not happen in my local church, though my churches would acknowledge abortion was bad, but that was the extent of it, usually. Last year I was privileged to be part of a pro-life apologetics class at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I read multiple books on abortion for that course—and none was easily available in the mainstream. This crisis of knowledge does not exist because of isolated incident like one LifeWay store not selling a secularly published book.

I agree with the indictment of the church’s silence and have said as much many times, but I vehemently disagree with singling out a business of great integrity in the pro-life arena over one incident that probably has more to the story than he sought to discover.

My friends, LifeWay is not the problem, and Mr. Adams is not “rightly offended,” as the title of his blog says. LifeWay most certainly is pro-life. Its leaders have great integrity and love Jesus more than money. Someday I hope to meet them in person because the last email with that man was an invitation to contact him if I were ever in the Nashville area so he could give me a tour of LifeWay and meet me in person. Know why? Because LifeWay loves LIFE.

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The LifeWay leader pointed out to me that I could keep the Bible from Walmart.com because Komen wouldn’t be getting “one more cent” from them. So I ended up with a memorial stone from the Lord Himself. The book reminds me every time I see it that one blog can make a difference and alter many things, and the Bible reminds me that there are bold witnesses of truth and LIFE who care more about Jesus than money.

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The kangaroos have left the zoo: Supreme Court chooses bloodshed again

Today was the kind of day where food pictures were making me angry. Sometimes there’s a heaviness in the land that can’t be dismissed by hamburgers and heart emojis. Sometimes we have to stop and cry out in repentance, cry out for mercy, and stop pretending it’s all going to be okay when we have refused to take up our call to make it so. Today was that day.

It was Saturday night as I was processing with a friend about the pending Supreme Court decision. I had been telling people it was unusual of me to not have a feeling of which way it would go. With all the big SCOTUS decisions the past few years, I wasn’t always happy, but I was never surprised. Often the questions the justices ask in the oral arguments give us an inkling of where the ruling will go, and that was the case here. As I processed with a friend, I suddenly knew what was going to happen. It made sense. Not sense to a pro-life mind, of course, but sense as I put myself on that bench with their questions and views. They didn’t see proof the law had benefited women, so it would be an “undue burden.” I had 36 hours to prepare myself mentally. It always helps, but it never lessens the blow when you see the words. “Supreme Court strikes down Texas law.” That was all it took. I inhaled sharply. That was it.

Now to be fair, the entire law was not struck down. Only the two parts in question in this case—hospital admitting privileges for abortionists and ambulatory care center requirements for the surgery itself—were struck. But it was about more than that. It was the biggest challenge to abortion in many years; it was the first real indicator that this nation might take a hard look at the crime of child sacrifice again. In 1973 when Roe was decided, we didn’t have the knowledge and technology we have today. Back then people didn’t get 4D sonograms where they could see their babies’ faces in the womb a few months into pregnancy. There was still some mystery in pregnancy. But now we can see through the uterine veil, and yet we still destroy what’s inside it.

In this case we have decided that being an enlightened and progressive society means not making it difficult for women to kill their babies, nor to inconvenience the abortion clinics too much to get it done. As usual I have a few observations and opinions, so here goes.

  • I’ve noted for years that safety regulations like those struck down are standard for most surgical procedures. Abortion is a surgical procedure. Arguing that it is a safe one is irrelevant. Appendectomies are safe. Hip replacements are safe. Hysterectomies are safe. Just because the surgery might be one with a high success rate doesn’t mean it’s not a risk. If I were a supporter of abortion and thought I needed one, I would consider myself a fool to entrust my entire reproductive system to a doctor who would not even be able to admit me to the hospital if I had complications, whose office did not even have the right sized doorway to get me through it if I were needing to be moved in an emergency. It is a terrifying reality that the abortion industry has so manipulated women into thinking an abortion is as simple as getting your teeth cleaned. It is a risky procedure. Granted, not many women die having abortions (though all their babies do), but many have had terrible complications, sometimes resulting in emergency surgery for those complications. What a travesty of justice for everyone to say having safety regulations in place is an “undue burden.” If all medicine were run like abortion, we’d have a land filled with maimed and dead people. Striking down such safety regulations is like saying it’s an undue burden to have to swallow penicillin four times a day. Why the heck would you not want as much safety as possible in a procedure that affects your uterus, for Pete’s sake? It’s astounding to me how afraid people are to regulate a medical procedure with risks.
  • Justice Kennedy has proven he is not a conservative anymore. Whatever happened to shift him, we may never know, but his track record for a season now has been to side with the liberal justices. We have believed that we had a 5-4 conservative court, prior to Scalia’s death. In fact, we now have a 5-3 liberal court, and what hangs in the balance does not bode well for the future of this nation.
  • Scalia’s death did not affect this ruling. Had he lived and voted, the ruling would have been 5-4 rather than 5-3. In some ways that helps me digest it, knowing his death did not impact this, but it’s still a bad ruling that glorifies abortion above life and health.

Beyond these facts, here’s what really concerns me: This is bigger than two parts of a law that became a political game. Spiritually, it’s a disaster. The shedding of innocent blood is a big, big deal to God. If you have never read the Bible for the phrase “shedding of innocent blood” and considered abortion as one of the main ways that happens, I challenge you to do so, but be prepared to have your spiritual life shaken—as it should be, for this is vital to God. One of my favorite authors, John Ensor, has this to say in his book Innocent Blood:

God always presents the shedding of innocent blood to his people as a matter of the highest priority. It comes to us in a way that knocks us off stride (or ought to). It messes with our schedules. It is arresting. It interrupts our normal patterns, at least temporarily. When life-saving actions are required to prevent the shedding of innocent blood, it falls particularly upon us, who believe, to suffer the imposition and take whatever preventive steps are necessary, lest innocent blood be shed and bloodguilt stain us all.

Bloodguilt? Seriously? Yes. Very seriously. God didn’t change his views in light of current culture. Ensor says:

“Bloodguilt” is a blunt, almost vulgar term. It hits rudely, like a slap in the face. It is God’s chosen term to arouse godly fear and compel decisive action. It is a word of awakening, forcing us to recognize an unbreakable linkage: God’s image is debased and his wrath justly incited every time a person made in God’s image is unjustly destroyed. There is no debasing of God’s image without consequences.

Bloodguilt requires God’s vengeance and vindication. It stands as an indictment against the sin of shedding innocent blood, but it is also a promise, of sorts, to victims. These are they who cried out to God and received no immediate answer. To them, it may have seemed either that God did not care or was powerless to intervene. Psalm 9:11-12 reminds us that neither of these options is true—this is a false choice: “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” … And while he has his own reasons for delaying avenging wrath, he will not pardon it—he still has ample time to repay, and there is no statute of limitations.

Indeed, Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” And in Revelation, Jesus says of Jezebel, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:20-21).

We are fools who do not understand the ways of God if we think His mercy means no judgment will come. His mercy gives us time to repent, to turn and save ourselves and others, but God would not be a just God if He did not bring justice to those who are oppressed, and of all the people who need justice, no one is more innocent or helpless than a child who cannot speak. All these babies can do is squirm and try to get away from the vacuum that has come to suck them from the womb. And as that child shrinks back, to no avail, Jesus weeps and aches. He must avenge these innocent ones. Or He’d be a liar. If I may, I’d like to leave you with one more Ensor quotation to explain why we can reconcile the love and mercy of God with the justice and vengeance of the shedding of innocent blood:

Love is moral in nature. If this is still hard to grasp, consider this: If I come across a man raping a woman, I cannot love them both in the same way: in that circumstance, love to the woman will look like rescue while love to the man may look like violence. This is because love is inherently moral in character.

Suppose I approach the terrorized woman and her brutal assailant and say, “I love you both equally and must express that love in the same fashion. God does not want you to violate this woman, but please do not think he is angry: because God is love, he does not get angry. Isn’t that amazing!”

The woman would denounce my faith as cowardly, irrational, and evil. So would you. Love must love righteousness and hate evil. Love must be passionately committed to right over wrong. It must pick sides. It must fight for the weak and the innocent and oppose the violent and the wicked. Therefore, I must scream my lungs out, push the man off of her, shout for a neighbor to call the police—do something. If the rapist turns on me with his knife and I lose my life in the process of defending the woman, what will they say? There is no greater love than to risk your life for another (cf. John 15:13).

You see, if the unborn baby is a person that God created, whom He knew before He formed him or her, then His love for that person must also be expressed by dealing with those who would destroy him or her. It would be unloving for the Lord to not deal with that.

We have been silent too long. We have let abortion be a back burner issue, a political issue. We have cared too much about who we might offend, rather than caring about offending God Himself who will not be mocked.

On January 22, 1973, this nation turned on God in a blatant and despicable way as it sanctioned the shedding of innocent blood on a national level. On June 27, 2016, this nation had the opportunity to reverse some of that course by offering a token of restraint, a voice that says “anything goes is not okay.” Today’s decision would not have reversed abortion, though the many shuttered clinics would have saved lives. Don’t let the back-alley abortion lies fool you. And frankly, to not put common sense and ordinary safety standards on abortion clinics doesn’t make them much better than back alley abortions anyway.

The bottom line, however, is that bloodshed sanctioned on the national level has far more harsh consequences than the individual choice of one person to kill her child. Remember this: people are eternal, but nations are not. A nation that kills its own and refuses to regulate any part of that process in the name of progress has actually become a nation of barbarians who have chosen being their own god while acting like Satan.

Is it too late? Of course not! But it’s time to get serious, Church. It’s time to stop sidestepping an issue that God has under the spotlight. Joel 2 says it far better than I could begin to when he writes:

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent…

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord…

In short, stop your ordinary lives and pray. Churches, pray. Cancel the tea and call a prayer meeting. For real.

This is serious stuff. It’s not a political issue, and while good laws and righteous politicians help the cause, it is our responsibility as a church to take up our mantle and do the job with which God has entrusted us