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Denethor Lord of the Rings

Over lunch and a glass of Merlot, Dr. Deborah Nucatola detailed the harvesting of body parts from partially aborted babies. She explained the “crushing” procedure of the unwanted parts of the baby, including the child’s head, followed by the gentle extraction of valuable organs. She quoted the price per heart, liver, and kidney while swirling wine in a goblet and dining on an elegantly served meal.

You can watch Dr. Nucatola, Abortionist and Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood, and listen to her explain the business of abortion in this edited, eight minute video clip. If you can stomach it, you’ll find the three hour video entitled “Planned Parenthood in the Business of Selling Baby Parts FULL FOOTAGE” on YouTube.

My daughter-in-law, Alison, watched the video. Gut wrenched and with heavy heart for the children, she began to pray. But, Alison told me that her prayer was interrupted by an image from Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King. After you have watched Dr. Nucatola casually explain the purposeful killing of children (for a profit), Alison would like you to watch this movie clip.

“Please watch carefully,” says Alison. “Listen to the words of Pippin’s ballad. (You can read the lyrics on the screen.) Ponder the meaning. Then focus on the character Denethor, the greasy man with food dripping down his chin while death is all around.”

Alison asks, “Do you see light and darkness, good and evil?” If you are familiar with J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King, then you, like Alison, might have wondered, “How dead on the inside does someone have to be to have such a voracious appetite at a time like this? He eats with not a care in the world, yet there is blood on Denethor’s hands.”

Dr. Nucatola, is younger and much more attractive. But, Alison wonders, what about her appetite? What about her soul? How can she so casually detail the slaughter and sale of innocent human life while enjoying her fine feast?

“I pity her,” Alison told me. “What has been stripped away from her heart and mind to leave her in such an icy state of callousness? Is her conscience so dulled or deadened that she can discuss the price of a human child’s body parts and the crushing of that child’s skull in much the same manner as she might discuss the price of furniture or office supplies?”

Tolkien probably never imagined that his work “would be tied to abortion or the profit motivations of the human tissue industry,” Alison said. “But, while I was praying, the comparison between Dr. Nucatola and Denethor came so clearly to my mind that I cannot be silent.”

Alison believes that Jesus forgives women who repent of their abortions. He forgives the repentant boyfriends, husbands, or parents who insisted on abortions. He forgives the doctors who repent of doing abortions. Upon forgiveness, the Lord Jesus wipes the sinner’s slate clean so that he or she is as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). With true repentance and sorrow, the Lord Jesus freely gives His mercy and the gift of salvation to all, no matter the offense (Psalm 86:5).  Then, He says, “Go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

But, she asks, what of those who do not repent? What of those who not only do evil but defend evil? What of those who call themselves Christian but support Planned Parenthood or refuse to acknowledge what happens on the surgical table in a Planned Parenthood facility?

Alison is concerned about the spiritual health and salvation of people that you and I know—people in our families, our congregations, our neighborhoods who continue to insist that abortion is a “woman’s choice.” She wonders: If a person defends Planned Parenthood while forsaking the “little children whom Jesus wants to come to Him” (Matthew 19:14); if a person champions the death of their littlest neighbor—the babe in the womb, then does God turn His face away?

Alison is right to be concerned.  There is a spiritual battle that rages for our very souls. During prayer, Alison was moved to compare the callousness of a Planned Parenthood abortionist with that of Tolkien’s lord of death. The powerful imagery brought to Alison’s mind should leave you and me as gut wrenched and soul sickened as it did her. “There is a burden on my heart,” Alison told me. “This burden causes me to ask a hard question to all who call themselves Christians: Will God forgive any of us—whether we have sinned by defending abortion or by keeping silent—if we have not confessed sorrow and repentance of that sin?”

Alison knows that “choice” is the word used by those who seek self-gratification and lordship of their own lives. But “choice,” she points out, is something we all really do have. We can choose evil… or good. We can choose to serve ourselves and the world… or God. To the Israelites, freed from captivity, Joshua said,

Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

Alison asks, “Will we, the people who proclaim Jesus Christ, ignore Dr. Nucatola, Planned Parenthood and the imagery of Tolkien’s Denethor? Or will we say, ‘No more! My eyes are open! I will speak!  I will speak for my littlest neighbors, the ones Jesus calls by name.”

Millions of healthy women take a powerful medication every day from their mid-teens to menopause.  We call it “The Pill.”  Feminists defend it because it “evens the playing field” for men and women.  They defend it, but without explaining the effects this hormone has on a woman’s mind and body.

Contrary to cultural myth, the birth control pill impacts on every organ and function of the body, and yet most women don’t think of it as a drug.  Depression, anxiety, paranoia, rage, panic attacks… these are a few of the many effects of The Pill on half of the over 80% of women who pop these tablets during their lifetimes.

We talk about this at Titus 2 Retreats.  But what about you?  Do you know the facts about The Pill?  Does your daughter or granddaughter?

Holly Grigg-Spall authored Sweetening the Pill in 2013.  But the documentary film is in the making.  It won’t be popular.  There will be a powerful push against it.  Funding won’t come easy.  Please watch the trailer below… order the book… and pray for the filmmakers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.  Lake and Epstein produced the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born.  “What we did for birth,” says Lake, “we want to do for birth control.”

Women deserve to be informed with the facts.  This isn’t a political issue.  This is a woman’s health issue.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/92756815/sweetening-the-pill-a-documentary/widget/video.html

supreme court gavelThis morning, when I woke up, nothing had changed. God is still in heaven and the Supreme Court of the United States is not.

Yesterday, June 26, 2015, a majority of nine men and women in black robes made an attempt to redefine marriage, but they cannot. God created marriage, therefore, only He can define marriage. That is just the way it is.

This morning, when I woke up, nothing had changed. I am still living in a fallen world moaning under the weight of sin. Here in this world, my neighbor might choose to call his dog a cat. But when he tells me I must do the same, I cannot join him in calling something what it is not.

Some of us may feel completely unnerved and shaken to the core. We ask: What now? How shall we live?

In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion for all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason. Black-robed judges made an attempt to redefine the killing of an unborn child, but they cannot. Some church-attending folks decided to accept the court’s decision and tolerate a practice they did not “personally support” so that women could have “the right to choose.” But many of us never accepted the decision even though we embraced the women who mourned their aborted children.

That is how it is in this world. Until Jesus comes to take us from this earthly place to our heavenly home, we will see wrong things called “right,” evil marketed as “good,” and what is contrary to nature called “normal.” That is how it is in this world when the truth of God is exchanged for a lie (Ro. 1:24-27).

So, how shall the people of God live here on earth under the court of this nation?

  • With continued trust in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some may say the Court’s ruling will draw down divine judgment; others may say the ruling is divine judgment but either way, we are called to a life faithful to God in every circumstance.
  • As people of God unafraid to be set apart or different as we speak what Jesus Himself said about marriage from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6) and live in a way that may cause others to ask: Why do you do what you do?
  • With confidence that marriage is not government recognition of two people who love each other, but the complimentary union of one man and one woman. We can literally say that in this union part of man flesh joins with part of woman flesh to become the one flesh of a new life. This new life— son or daughter—is not the by-product of a sexually romantic relationship, but the connector of mom and dad in the institution created by God for that child’s benefit.
  • As men and women who strive to honor the covenant of our own marriages and seek after the best interests of generations of children.
  • As people who affirm the sanctity of all human life, including those who see themselves as gay, and who love our neighbor as ourselves, speak well of him, and no matter the disagreements, discuss everything in a kind and thoughtful way.
  • As praying people who ask God to turn hearts toward Him and nurture a desire to rebuild a culture of marriage and life.

Suggested reading:
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(Amazon.com) Our Identity Matters

swordEllie is a 30-something wife and mom. Last fall, she came to hear a book presentation, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, followed by a panel of pastors. She was attentive during the discussions about created order, biblical manhood and womanhood, and purity in singleness and marriage.

A week later, Ellie attended a Titus 2 retreat. She scribbled notes as we disproved the feminist myth that “equal” means “being the same,” proclaimed God’s Word that male and female are not interchangeable, and contrasted the worldly sexualized identity with our baptized identity as daughters of God in Christ.

Winter and spring passed. Ellie was aware that in schools across the country dangerous decisions were being made in the name of sexual identity. For example: The Fairfax County Public School Board in Virginia voted to add “gender identity” to its nondiscrimination policy in spite of massive protests from parents. Boys who identify as girls would be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice—and vice versa. This school also announced changes in the family life curriculum for their 2016 school year. Lessons will be included on “sexual fluidity” and “spectrum,” the idea that there’s no such thing as 100 percent boys and 100 percent girls. In other words, girl parts and boy parts are really just the same.

When Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, Ellie went public with her concerns. She posted an article describing Jenner as “not a hero” on her Facebook page. Many women responded. Some posted Scripture passages or brief statements of faith. It was a woman “pastor,” however, who increased the intensity of the discussion with two primary claims:

  • Jenner is courageous because he knew there would be judgmental people like you who need to remember that Jesus said “Judge not.” And, by the way, there are upwards of 40 different gender possibilities.
  • You have your truth, but it’s not the only truth in the world.

Ellie did not despair. She explained that she was not judging. As a sinner, she was not depending upon her own feelings but on The Word which is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Ti. 3:16 ESV).

The woman “pastor” persisted with her insistence of multiple truths and warned that Ellie should not pass judgment on a Scriptural interpretation different from her own. At this point, Ellie beseeched the shepherd of her congregation to engage. And he did. A few days after Holy Trinity Sunday, he posted “The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Holy Scripture.” It began,

“My Church has recently been called into question on Facebook for holding to the Scriptural truths regarding the creation of man as male and female. This does not surprise me nor do I think that it is an isolated occasion. When one holds to absolute truth in a relativistic age, one should expect nothing else than retaliation and attacks from those who raise the banner of ‘tolerance.’ When considering how best to address the questions raised by those who would attack my members and their confession of faith, I realized that the issue revolves around one thing: inspiration. That is, are the canonical books of the Old and New Testament breathed out by God in a pure form, or are they merely the thoughts of men wherein one might find truths intended by God? Also included in this discussion is whether we should take all of the New Testament as God’s Word, or only include those ‘red letters’ spoken by Christ.” (Complete document.)

“Red letter editions” of the Bible can be helpful but, at the same time, our doubting nature may tempt us to think: If the Scripture passage isn’t in red, then Jesus didn’t say it and, therefore, if Jesus didn’t say it, then it’s just the opinion of the men who wrote that chapter or verse. But, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1-5; 14). Jesus is the Word. All of it. Old and New Testament, from Genesis 1 all the way through Revelation. To deny any part of the Word is to deny Christ.

Church-going people in this present age seem to have a particular struggle with the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture when it comes to identity issues. When considering abortion, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus identify a fetus as His own?” Yes! The Word, “the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb” probes, “Will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?” (Is. 44:24; 45:9-11)

When considering gender, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus really say there are only two genders?” Yes! The Word Jesus, second Person of the Triune God involved at creation, says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Gen. 1:27; Mt. 19:4-5)

When considering behavior in singleness or marriage, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus really define who I am and, if so, what does this mean?” Yes! The Word, Jesus, defines baptized Christians as “temples of the living God,” “my people,” and “sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:14-18) called to be “obedient children” who are “holy” because God is holy (1 Pt. 1:14-16).

We may often feel overwhelmed by a world gone mad. Even some church leaders re-interpret Scripture in light of “new” information and their own inspiration. But, this is idolatry! Jesus says: “In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:9).

Human reason is not equal to divine truth. Where God has spoken, the right of personal judgment ceases. The Apostle Paul was inspired to put it this way: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

We will surely be troubled by those who distort God’s Word. But Jesus is the Word made flesh. Nothing else can be Truth, not even if preached by an angel (Gal. 1:8).

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
may be ordered from Amazon.com.
Learn more at Our Identity Matters

DSC05973With appreciation to Karen Frohwein, Titus 2 Talk offers Chapter One of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  Author Linda Bartlett reads it in three sections:

parents teachingOn Memorial Day, we remember the men and women who died serving their country. With patriotic music in the background, we talk about them. We praise them. We applaud them. And then we return to life as usual.

We talk about their brave deeds. We praise them for their courage. We applaud their service. And then we return to the kind of lives that can only be lived because those men and women invested everything they had.

In my family, men left home to face America’s enemies in Europe, the Pacific islands, the jungles of Vietnam, and the mountains of Afghanistan. If they did not sacrifice their physical life, they certainly sacrificed their youth, their innocence, and relationships with loved ones. Why did they do it? Because they vowed to defend life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

On Memorial Day, we remember the heroes who looked in the face of evil and dared to triumph. Their lives were made difficult. There was pain. They suffered physically, psychologically, and spiritually. If they returned home, their lives were forever changed. They invested a great deal so that we might have a safer and more hopeful future.

And so we honor them with our words. But… do we really honor them with our actions? Do we honor them by raising the standards of our behavior and being better people?

A very high price has been paid by those who believed in the sanctity of life, marriage, family, honest labor, and freedom of speech and religion. But what is the price we are willing to pay? Are we willing to sacrifice for our children and generations of children?

Do we expect to receive prosperity, blessings, and personal freedom but invest very little ourselves?

Do we assume that we will always have freedom, or do we stand guard knowing that evil is always prepared to steal, kill, and destroy?

Do the choices that we make in our daily lives honor the ones who made those choices possible?

One of my uncles endured the hell of WWII in the Pacific islands. He lost the vibrancy of his boyhood. At age 97, he is still tortured by nightmares. He said to me, “When I look around and see the way so many Americans choose to live, I wonder if what I did for my country really matters.”

How do I respond? Does my life show that the price paid by my uncle really matters?

How do any of us respond? Do our attitudes and behavior show gratefulness?

Are we willing to speak against things that are wrong so that our children and grandchildren will not lose the freedom to do things that are right?

Memorial Day gives us opportunity to remember the sacrifices of others, but it is also an opportunity to ask ourselves: What is our role? What noble part do we play as fathers, mothers, grandparents, neighbors, workers, and citizens in a very blessed nation? In what way are we willing to respect life, defend liberty, and pursue the happiness that comes from helping others as much as we help ourselves?

Men and women who put on the uniform of their country are heroes, but I think they want us to be heroes, too. Heroes are soldiers in foxholes, but heroes are also moms and dads who maintain the fortification of their homes. Heroes are public servants who remain humble on the front lines of government. Heroes are teachers, doctors, lawyers, pastors, farmers, and tradesmen who stand at their posts without compromise of truth. Heroes are men and women who persevere with goodness and hope in the trenches of daily life.

It is not Hollywood or Wall Street or even the White House that shapes this country. It is you and me. In one way or another, we shape our families, neighborhoods, and communities by what we choose to do… or not do. I would like to believe that each of us values this “one nation under God” so much that we will choose to do the right things… the hard things… that strengthen America.

Men and women in uniform have believed that this country was worth dying for. I’d like to believe that you and I will not disappoint them.

Memorial Day 2015 at Union Cemetery, Iowa Falls, IA
Address by Linda Bartlett upon request of
the Hyman-Peavey Post 188 of the American Legion
Photo credit: gracefuledblogspot.com

woman reading bibleSome might believe that Cardinal Francis George was prophetic when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Although blessed my entire life with religious freedom, these words challenge me to ponder civil disobedience. The reason why is explained by C.P. Krauth who said, “Error first seeks tolerance, then it seeks equality, then it seeks dominance.”

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue another ruling on same-sex marriage as it pertains to states’ rights. The Court could: 1) Leave the issue of same-sex marriage up to individual states; or 2) Rule that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or that states must recognize the same-sex marriage of out-of-state couples.

Do we who profess Jesus Christ really understand the implications of re-defined marriage? Do we understand the impact on our children, employment, church, community, and daily life in general?

Gay columnist Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times that it’s time Christians get with the program and “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Bruni suggests that we free “religious people from prejudices that they can indeed jettison . . . rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.” (Quoted by Eric Metaxas http://www.breakpoint.org 4-13-15). But I take my stand with Rev. Richard Eyer who writes, “It is not our human prerogative to redefine marriage for the sake of political correctness, social justice or as an accommodation to the changing times. As God does not change, but is ever faithful, so marriage does not change and ever proclaims the faithfulness of God to His people . . . Marriage cannot be whatever a society wants it to be. We as Christians bear witness to the truth, and the dark ages of sin will not change it.” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

I am free to take such a stand but, soon, will it require opposing Caesar? As laws on marriage, parenting, and hate speech are set in earthly stone, what will happen when I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, cannot obey them? What will happen when I’m told I can’t mentor a young woman at my local pregnancy center because, like the Navy Chaplain was told, it is “inappropriate counseling” to use God’s Word on sex outside of marriage or the practice of sodomy?

Black Americans once engaged in non-violent civil disobedience in the face of Jim Crow laws. If I would have been old enough, I think I would have joined them. I have joined the ranks of non-violent pro-lifers who rallied in public witness against legalized abortion. While we have opportunity, Christ-followers should speak with confidence and refuse to compromise biblical faith as a parent, student, employee, or business owner.

The Christian photographer, cake-baker, and florist did not compromise their faith. When asked to provide their services for the wedding receptions of gay couples, they refused to participate in something they believed contrary to God’s Word. Law suits quickly followed. We will see more of this as marriage deconstructionists and the media try to intimidate and silence Christians. But if the Supreme Court rules that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize the “marriages” of same-sex couples from other states, will I urge my pastor to teach in the way of Christ and contrary to the Supreme Court even if it means his possible arrest? Will I continue to publicly mentor using God’s Word even if it means speaking against “Caesar”?

Silence is preferable to many Christians. “I believe in Jesus,” I’ve been told, “but my faith is a private thing.” Or, “I don’t want to know what’s going on out there. It’s too overwhelming. I just want to be left in peace.” A follower of Christ will find contentment on this earthly journey because of the Holy Spirit within him, but he will most surely never be at peace with a world that despises the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Why is it that homosexual activists who used to be somewhat libertarian (“all we ask is that you recognize our affection for the same-sex”) have become more boldly totalitarian (“participate in our wedding or we will shut down your business”)? Is it possible that in seeking friendship and peace with the world, Christian denominations that were already acceptant of child sacrifice through abortion and now ordain practicing homosexuals and bless same-sex marriages offer no resistance?

But when Christians refuse to submit, will the anger of those seeking dominance turn to persecution? Even genocide? It has in the past. It is today in Iraq, Egypt, and Kenya. It may be coming to America soon. And what then? My pastor reminds me that the Church grows stronger under persecution. Unlike with any other religion, hope abounds as people live for Jesus Christ.

Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Then he continued, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the Church has done so often in human history . . . God sustains the world, in good times and in bad . . . only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, Savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb . . . are on the right side of history. Those who lie about Him and persecute or harass His followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up bringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about sin, even when it is promoted as ‘enlightened.’”  (www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed)

Will I be willing to disobey Caesar if it means obeying Christ? I pray for courage to do so. For now, there are things I can do that don’t oppose Caesar. I can pay attention to my own marriage and, as Rev. Eyer says, “make it an example of truth.” I can openly discuss the fact that children do best, not with two dads or two moms, but when mentored by a faithful mother and father. I can point out that man and woman are distinct and complementary, yet they are one: so also are Christ and His Church (John 17:22-23). I can be active in my church and encourage my church to be active in the world through its members. “If we can’t be bothered to attend church when there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of doing so,” writes Rev. Peter Speckhard, “can we credibly complain if it becomes slightly more difficult to attend the church we weren’t attending anyway?” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

The error of redefined marriage demands tolerance and equality. But if the Supreme Court allows this error to dominate, then civil disobedience may be required. Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

Marriage is of God. I must resist its counterfeit.

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