What are the Unborn?

It’s amazing what a difference a few weeks can make.

On July 4th Planned Parenthood was as powerful as ever defending women’s rights to have abortion.  Today a little over three weeks later they are sending threatening letters to reporters claiming the leaked videos were claimed under identification (1) and violated patient privacy (2).

But all the letters in the world couldn’t change the fact that Planned Parenthood is quickly losing power, with the Senate voting as early as today to decrease as much as $500 million funding (3)

Now it’s easy to say this change came from the shock value of seeing Planned Parenthoods Senior Director of medical services talk about selling baby parts while casually eating a salad (4) but I personally think it’s involves more than that.

Last month I started reading Persuasive Pro-Life, a very interesting book written by Trent Horn, a young man who has spent many years debating Planned Parenthood and it’s pro-choice defenders on college campuses.

One thing that I’ve learned from this book is what Trent views as the “core issue” or abortion is different from what many people think it is.

In reality, this is exactly where the pro-life advocate wants the conversation to go, to the one question that matters most: “What are the unborn?”

He proceeds throughout the book to equip the reader with many tools that can bring a conversation with pro-choice advocates back to the question “what are the unborn?”

Mr Horn has a really good point here, because if the unborn are a person (living being) then abortion is taking of a life.  But if they aren’t a person (what planned parenthood calls a “fetus”) then there isn’t a real problem.

Of course planned parenthood knows “what are the unborn?” is a crucial question, so they go out of their way to use terms other than “person” or “human.”  The recently leaked videos emphasize their play on words as babies are referred to as “products of conception.”

There’s just one problem with that…

We don’t view unborn babies as “products of conception”  or “fetuses” but a baby.

Yesterday Joe Carter wrote an excellent article for The Gospel Coalition entitled “She’s Having a Fetus” (5) pointing out planned parenthoods attempt to change our viewpoint of things by using euphemism (6).  He begins by sharing a direct quote from the pregnancy Q and A portion of their website (7).

I’m pregnant. At what point in my pregnancy is it called a baby?  Women have different feelings about when to call it a baby. For some women, it is a baby from the first moment the pregnancy is confirmed or even suspected. For other women, the pregnancy doesn’t become a baby until much later. What’s most important is how the woman feels about it.

Most medical authorities, including Planned Parenthood, agree that it becomes a baby after birth when it takes its first breath. But we value women’s differing feelings about when to use the words embryo, fetus, or baby.

Mr. Carter continues by writing a fictional conversation between two women who meet at the mall using the words:

  1. Fetus instead of baby
  2. Selectively reduce instead of abort
  3. Harvest donor tissue instead of a child who is born only so their organs can be used to save another child
  4. Designer baby instead of genetic engineering
  5. And took a trip to Holland instead of Euthanasia

I love this article (8) because it highlights how women would never use words like this in a normal conversation after learning they are pregnant.  And the words used don’t change the fact that what they’re doing is the killing of children.

It all comes back to the question…what are the unborn?

As Christians wrestle with this very challenging issue it’s important that we stay on track focusing on that one question.  Yes there are many other things that come into the abortion discussion, but in order to change our culture we must constantly return to “what are the unborn?”

  1. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/planned-parenthood-crisis-communications-firm-video–120725.html (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/planned-parenthood-crisis-communications-firm-video–120725.html)

2.  http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/planned-parenthood-tries-silence-undercover-videos-sending-threatening-letters-tv-stations (http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/planned-parenthood-tries-silence-undercover-videos-sending-threatening-letters-tv-stations)

3.  http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/politics/planned-parenthood-abortion-video/ (http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/politics/planned-parenthood-abortion-video/)

4.  http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/07/15/a-lot-of-people-want-intact-hearts-these-days-planned-parenthood-abortion-and-the-conscience-of-a-nation/ (http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/07/15/a-lot-of-people-want-intact-hearts-these-days-planned-parenthood-abortion-and-the-conscience-of-a-nation/)

5.  http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/shes-having-a-fetus (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/shes-having-a-fetus)

6.  a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.

7.  http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/ask-dr-cullins/pregnancy-q-a (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/ask-dr-cullins/pregnancy-q-a)

8.  http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/shes-having-a-fetus (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/shes-having-a-fetus)



Why the World Needs Workhorses

IMG_0056Yesterday I helped some close friends out with a big “moving job”, you know the kind of job I’m talking about

  1. The kind that has enough work for six people and three are showing up
  2. The kind that you dread for at least a week
  3. The kind that you can’t really prepare for ahead of time
  4. In other words, the kind that decides who your friends really are!

I’m going to be honest and say I wasn’t really excited about helping out yesterday while running out the door and gulping down a cup of coffee….but something pretty awesome happened.

the job ended up being a lot of fun

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post referring to myself as a workhorse [1]. Basically that means I prefer getting actively involved in a job and doing it as quickly as possible instead of taking a lot of time to think about it. As you can imagine that doesn’t usually work very well, since almost every job needs planning or thought ahead of time.

But every once in a while God allows us to be workhorses.

Now that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any stress involved [2] or hard work (the whole job took about 5 hours), and some planning about how to pack or load things was definitely needed. But yesterday reminded me there’s a blessing found in being a workhorse.

Countless people go home from their jobs every day frustrated because they didn’t seem to accomplish anything. This isn’t surprising because countless things keep them from accomplishing their goals.

Like many of you I’ve had days when falling asleep I couldn’t think of something…anything that had been accomplished.

Yesterday was not like that.

At around 3:00 yesterday afternoon I was able to look at stacks of boxes, books, and furniture in a garage and say with a sense of pride (and weariness) “I did this!” Let me tell you, there is something immensely gratifying about seeing something you accomplished or built with your own hands.

But the greatest blessing of workhorse jobs isn’t a sense of accomplishment…it’s being able to revive a dying breed of worker.

As someone who spends a lot of time ministering to teenagers I can tell you many of them have never had jobs, and the ones who do have jobs are very specific about what they won’t do [3].

There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is in their opinion workhorse jobs are beneath them [4].

When understanding this it’s easy to condemn our culture lack of a work ethic. However at the same time this gives Christians a great opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ.

The thing is, displaying a very strong work ethic that embraces workhorse jobs will seem strange to an unbelieving world. And when they ask where that difference comes from, we can share Christ.

I’m incredibly grateful God allowed me to get over my bad attitude yesterday morning and enjoy a day of hard work. Because it reminded me carrying boxes or loading a truck with a smile (and sweat) on my face is one of the greatest witnesses we can give for the Gospel.

  1. http://wilburninmelbourne.com/2015/07/when-god-calls-a-workhorse-to-be-a-surgeon/  ↩
  2. as with any moving job it was definitely stressful  ↩
  3. I had a teen I was mentoring and never had a job explain in detail all of the jobs he would never do including work at a fast-food restaurant, and a grocery store  ↩
  4. it’s becoming more and more common to see this belief in adults as well  ↩

From the Archives: Why Caitlyn’s Bruce Needed to Go

Editors Note:  I watched about ten minutes of Catilyn Jenners new reality show “I am Cait” to see how they would bring up the Christian view that her surgical procedure was rebellion against God, her mother represented this by asking about the Bible verse that said men shouldn’t wear women’s clothes (Deuteronomy 22:5).  This is an absolutely ridiculous argument that I saw through at the age of twelve since the same chapter in the Bible says you can’t wear a cotton blend shirt.

I’m not surprised they portrayed Christians as out of touch idiotic people who can do nothing better than take one verse completely out of context.  But there is a better answer.  A blog post I wrote in early June after Caitlyn’s first interview kept coming to mind, so wanted to reshare it this morning with the hope we as Christians can present a better answer than Deuteronomy 22:5.

June 4, 2015

It’s been impossible this week to go on the internet (social media especially) without encountering reactions or thoughts on the recent Vanity Fair article and cover photo of Caitlyn Jenner.

I spent lots of time this week trying to look at Caitlyn’s change and new life from a Christian worldview. Not because I don’t view this as sinful (not accepting our God-given roles is sin) but in order to understand WHY she needed the change to take place.

One of the best articles I’ve read while wrestling with this issue is Alex Dukes “Caitlyn Jenner and Love in the Future Tense.” It gives some very important points on how we can speak the truth in love within the kind of conversations that are bound to come because of the growing transgender community [1]

Two statements in his article were very meaningful to me. The first encouraged Christians to actually connect with those who either struggle with transgender issues, or are part of the transgender movement. “telling the truth in love means saying so not via juvenile online jabs but over a meal or the phone, not through clenched teeth but sad eyes. [2]

The second statement was the one that haunted me though because I believe it goes deeper into the actual reason for transgender procedures.

You see in the end it’s about more than just feeling like a male or female.

Daniel Davis in a very insightful article points out Caitlyn’s claim to find her identity in being a woman goes directly against a foundational part of the transgender movement.

For years, a major aim of the sexual revolution has been to deconstruct gender differences as being “social constructs,” mere cultural projections of what maleness and femaleness are and mean. This critique evacuated gender of any physical meaning and reduced it to an existential feeling—a feeling of being male or female, regardless of one’s sexual biology.[3]

In other words being male or female or just archaic ways of looking at a person that have nothing to do with the real world…so for Caitlyn to embrace being female (and be celebrated for it) is actually taking a step backwards. Or as Davis puts it;

To celebrate Jenner’s femininity is actually to commit a liberal heresy: to revert back to a form of gender essentialism.

Back to the statement that I can’t get past. Here is what Dukes says about Caitlyn’s change.

Telling the truth means telling the world what it just might already know: that no amount of surgical reconstructing or dexterous Photoshopping will re-make or beautify Bruce’s self-inflicted wounds on his way to becoming Caitlyn. But telling the truth in love means listening, really listening, when other Caitlyns tell you why their Bruces needed to go, why they always felt like impostors in their own skin until that skin was sovereignly rearranged and knit back together, fearfully and wonderfully made another way, their way. [4] (emphasis added)

I personally believe Alex is onto something here because he moves past the physical part of the discussion (gender reassignment) and asks the deeper question. Why did Bruce need to go?

Caitlyn actually answers that question for us in recent interviews by saying as Bruce she wasn’t a very good parent.

““I have made a lot of mistakes raising the four Jenner kids,” she tells the magazine. “I had times not only dealing with my own issues but exes. It was very traumatic and there was a lot of turmoil in my life, and I wasn’t as close to my kids as I should have been.” [5]. Editors note: There is an expletive towards the end of this article with one letter removed. I kept it in the footnotes as a source for my quotations.

This was echoed by her daughter Cassandra who states that when Caitlyn began the transition in the 1980’s that’s when they found a caring and loving parent, explaining that Caitlyn was a better parent when she “was moving towards his authentic self. She added, “I would happily have traded a distant father for a loving, involved mom.” (emphasis added)

Cassandra’s older brother Burt while celebrating the change says that he has high hopes, “Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce” [6].

Caitlyn herself enjoys talking about how she is a much better person than Bruce ever was:

”Even my son, actually, Burt said that to me one time. He goes, ‘To be honest with you, I think Caitlyn is a lot better person than Bruce,’“ Jenner said. ”And I really have to – I think he’s right, because Bruce always had to tell a lie, he was always living that lie, every day, he always had a secret from morning till night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets.” [7]

When the interviewer remarked on how cheap Bruce used to be, Jenner replied, “I know. What I told her: ‘Isn’t Caitlyn a much better friend?’ Bruce, he would never send a plane. No, no, no, what a jerk the guy was, OK, Caitlyn is like, ‘Send the plane. Mom, we’re sending a plane, we’re going to go pick you up and bring you down here.’” [8]

She is always very excited about having a better relationship with her mother.

“We had a conversation the other day, we were talking about a lot of things, and, you know, she goes, ‘You know what, I think I can have a better relationship with Caitlyn than I can with Bruce,’ because we’ve always had a little tension in our relationship throughout the years,“ Jenner explained. ”And so when she ends the conversation, she goes, ‘OK, goodbye, Caitlyn.’ It was very funny, very cute.”

I’m not doubting that Caitlyn did have a real struggle in her life. However her own words prove that this transgender reassignment was about more than just becoming a woman.

It’s about escaping Bruce the absent parent, liar, and cheapskate.

It’s about running from the person that she is ashamed of.

And in that sense we are all Caitlyn’s whose Bruces need to go.

We each have that part of us that we hate.  The sin-nature that reveals our brokenness and inability to live a life that’s honoring to God.  The Apostle Paul, known as the greatest Missionary who ever lived, struggled with this problem.

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells ain me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing

Romans 7:23 but I see in my members fanother law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

I can echo the words of the Apostle Paul

  1. I’m stubborn
  2. I’m Lazy
  3. I only focus on my own desires, and not the desires of others

Thats why we can be thankful for Romans 8:1-2

Rom. 8:1   There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.* 2 For the law of the Spirit of life ihas set you* free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 

Through the power of Christ our hearts are changed, and the Holy Spirit residing in us gives the ability to live a Holy life.

Most of us are like Caitlyn because we try to hide or remove our brokenness so others can’t see it.  But the truth is for true hope to come we must openly confess our brokenness, and accept the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

May God give us the grace to display a life that finds our identity in Christ before a culture filled with Caitlyns.


  1. “The future tense gave room for breath, room for thoughts and prayers and well-postulated arguments. But that time’s gone now, so somewhere—and likely sometime soon—you will be asked, “Did you see that Vanity Fair cover? What did you think?” Alex Duke  ↩
  2. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/caitlyn-jenner-love-future-tense  ↩
  3. http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/03/bruce-jenners-transformation-is-a-lose-lose-for-leftists/  ↩
  4. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/caitlyn-jenner-love-future-tense  ↩
  5. http://www.eonline.com/news/662030/caitlyn-jenner-talks-family-regrets-i-wasn-t-as-close-to-my-jenner-kids-as-i-should-have-been  ↩
  6. http://www.eonline.com/news/661879/caitlyn-jenner-makes-her-debut-on-vanity-fair-cover-has-high-hopes-that-caitlyn-is-a-better-person-than-bruce  ↩
  7. http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/caitlyn-jenner-person-bruce/story?id=31498295  ↩
  8. http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/caitlyn-jenner-person-bruce/story?id=31498295  ↩

Genesis 3:9-12 Learning to Say “Help” and “Thank You”

wilburnsquareforsocialmedia9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

In Genesis chapter three we see a dramatic change in the relationship between God and man. Given the choice between obeying the Lord’s command of not eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15–17) or choosing to make their own decisions, Adam and Eve both chose to rebel (Genesis 3:6).

Friday we saw how shame immediately filled their heart that caused Adam and Eve to hide from the Lord (Genesis 3:7–8) [1]. Amazingly instead of calling them out for hiding from Him (God could obviously see them behind the tree) asked Adam where he was (Genesis 3:9).

Why would God do that? Because He wanted Adam and Eve to confess their sin willingly instead of being forced to do it.

God like every parent knows there is a big difference between a child who comes immediately after breaking the lamp and apologizes for doing it, and the child who only confesses after the lamps remnants have been discovered underneath their bed. So He gives Adam a chance to confess what had happened.

But this kind of confession involves much more than just saying sorry:

  1. It involves a confession (truth-telling) about that specific sin without excuses [2]
  2. It involves admitting weakness that sin may reveal [3]
  3. It involves “repentance” which literally means turning away from that sin so it doesn’t become a habit
  4. And within repentance we must ask God for help, admitting we cannot survive the Christian life in our own strength

If you will allow me to simplify all of this…God wanted Adam to admit he needed help.

Instead of admitting his weakness Adam gave a partial confession telling God that “he hid because he was scared” without explaining why. The Lord responded with the pointed question “did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?” which gives a great opportunity for Adam to confess.

All he had to do was say yes, and embrace the truth that was painfully clear (they needed God’s help).

But instead he does something much worse.

Lets read Genesis 3:12 again and ask the question “who did Adam blame?”

3:12  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

If after reading this you think Adam is blaming Eve sorry, but your wrong.

Lets look at it again shall we?

3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (emphasis added)

Did you see it?

Adam doesn’t blame Eve, he blames God!

Think about that for a minute. Instead of being a man and taking ownership for his mistake Adam says “well if you hadn’t given me Eve in the first place everything would be fine!”

Now we can blame Adam all we want but the truth is it’s still hard for us to confess sin and weakness to God (or anyone else for that matter). Oh we won’t go out and blame God directly for the temptation, but have found a much more subtle form of rebellion.

Dr. Ed Welch in his book Shame Interrupted makes a huge point about the words “help” and “thank you” no longer being a part of our daily conversation.  The reason for this is both of them share a weakness or inability to survive on our own.

But he shows this is exactly what God wants to happen when shame or embarrassment over sin [4] comes into our lives instead of trying to hide it (Genesis 3:7-8) or refusing to admit it (Genesis 3:9-12). In this way it becomes a form of worship (takes our eyes of ourselves and back on God, off our circumstances and back on His character).

  1. “Help” is one of the most human responses we can have. It is the essence of faith. It is the essence of prayer. It is also a direct assault on shame’s tendencies to hide and self-protect.
  2. “Help” is the first thing we say to the Lord. “Thank you” is the second. Then we say them again and again.
  3. Pray “Help.” Pray “Thank you.” Confess the ways you have dishonored him. Enjoy obedience.

Dr. Welch is pointing out this is the way it should be. Mankind (the creation) continually coming to the creator (God) and crying out for help [5]. I’m not saying this is an easy thing (trust me I know) however when we have learned to say help and thank you to God, an amazing thing starts to happen.

That shame that completely controlled our lives (Genesis 3:7–8) loses it’s power.

Now we view shame and embarrassment about sin and weakness as an opportunity to worship God (after experiencing His forgiveness). As the burden of that rebellion is taken off, now we can display confidence in our relationship with others instead of trying to cover up every weakness with fig-leaves (3:7–8).

Dr. Welch explains it this way:

No longer does failure, sin, or victimization keep them in shame’s purgatory. For them “Help” is becoming the language of the kingdom rather than the language of darkness and shame.

Every once in a while I will go through what I call a “funk” but it’s actually a really mild form of depression. When going through a funk my mind and heart will only focus on the bad things happening in life instead of all the good God brings which makes them sin.

Usually my response to a funk involves way too much Netflix, french fries, and tons of junk food (easier than asking God for help).

Last Thursday while going through a funk though I took a long walk instead and talked with the Lord about the struggle in my heart while asking Him for help. The discouragement didn’t go away right away, but on Friday I was able to use it as part of a blog post on what the Lord’s teaching me about faith.

So confessing my weakness and asking for God help opened the door to confessing that weakness towards others for His glory.

Again I’m not saying that it’s easy to confess our sin to God. But when the word “help” becomes a part of our daily lives it will change the way we view that weakness.

  1. http://wilburninmelbourne.com/2015/07/theproblemwithfigleaves/  ↩
  2. we ate the fruit that you told us not to eat  ↩
  3. we aren’t strong enough to withstand Satan’s temptation  ↩
  4. inability to obey God’s Commands  ↩
  5. this isn’t just about confession of sin, but a normal response to every challenge of life  ↩

Understanding instead of Condemning the Reality of a Non-Christian World

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 4.48.20 PMI hate watching the news

No seriously I hate watching it because the news is always depressing.

Now of course I understand if only encouraging things were aired, the nightly news would have gone out of business a long time ago. But thirty-minutes filled with bad news around the world and events viewed from a non-Christian worldview is enough to make anyone change the channel.

Yet when I do change the channel it creates a serious problem;

Dr. Albert Mohler in his awesome book “The Conviction to Lead” uses a quote to describe the need for leaders (and all Christians)to become what he calls thinkers. A big part of this is being willing to not only face a painful reality, but examine it closely [1], and confess weaknesses it may reveal [2].

“We believe that God created us as rational creatures who have the real, but partial, capacity to understand reality. We can be certain that we are to devote ourselves to understanding reality rather than denying it.” Albert Mohler

His quote highlights the problem because when facing painful realities Christians (myself included) do two things:

  1. We ignore it
  2. or we condemn it

Now let me be clear that according to Biblical principles the majority of what happens in our culture SHOULD be condemned because it is sin [3]. However when my first response is to condemn reality (culture) instead of trying to understand it [4] I lose an opportunity to deal with the real problem using Scripture.  

One of my College professors made this point using the illustration of a teenage girl who would go home after school and eat Doritos all afternoon which her parents didn’t like.  Their response was to demand she stop eating Doritos, so now she eats lay’s potato chips all afternoon.  This girls parents dealt with a coping mechanism linked to a deeper problem (eating Doritos) but didn’t figure out why she was eating junk food all afternoon.

In the same way taking the time to understand how the non-christian worldview works, and why it makes certain decisions helps us meet their deeper problem instead of a response to it.

As an illustration of this allow me to use an interesting article on July 18th entitled, “what does the rainbow mean for Gays?” In it Brian Baker, the man credited with making the rainbow flag a symbol of the LGBT describes why they have chosen it to represent them.

“The rainbow’s in the Bible. It’s a covenant between God and all living creatures.” According to Baker, the God of the Bible knows the struggle of gays and lesbians, and that is where he finds hope.”

In other words Baker and other members of the LGBT community view this flag as a symbol of a God who loves everyone [5]. In their mind, if God viewed homosexuality as sin, He would have judged it a long time ago.

The Christian article does an excellent job of explaining God’s patience has nothing to do with acceptance of sin, but an offering of mercy so that individuals can escape His judgment.

“God is patient. The fact that he has refrained from sending another flood to destroy the world does not mean that he accepts homosexual practices, or any other kind of sin. God’s covenant with creatures and the rainbow in our sky do not mean that sinners have nothing to fear. Rather, this kind of mercy shows us that God is patiently waiting for all, including homosexuals, to believe. God’s gracious display of patience is meant to lead to repentance from sin (Romans 2:4), not celebration of sin.” Dieudonne Tamfu (What does the rainbow mean for Gays)

Do you see how this article looks past the issue we see [6] and deals with the deeper problem…a flawed view of God.

Does this mean we should just sit by and do nothing as our nation celebrates sin? Of course not! Instead we are called by God to become “students of reality” who look past the sinful actions of our culture, and understand it flows out of a heart trying to fill itself with something other than God.

The bottom line is we can tear down all the rainbow flags in the world, but if we haven’t changed a false view of God behind those flags with the Gospel of Christ, we haven’t truly brought change.

  1. The leader faces the facts, and this means that the facts must be determined and known (pg.61)  ↩
  2. “History is filled with generals who refused to admit they had been out-maneuvered, captains who refused to admit they were lost, and CEO’s who refused to admit that no-one was buying their products”  ↩
  3. rebellion against the commands of God  ↩
  4. why are they acting this way? what is the REAL ISSUE here?  ↩
  5. he gives a deeper explanation in a separate article on CNN…I’ve included it in the footnotes even though there is some profanity and it’s from a definitely pro-gay standpoint because it illustrates their need for Christ http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/30/us/rainbow-flagmaker-gilbert-baker/  ↩
  6. White house lit up with colors of the gay flag  ↩