Christian Responsibility article posts

Charlie Gard

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: July 10, 2017

Category: Christian Responsibility

Charlie Gard turned eleven months old on Independence Day. He may not make it to twelve months. Charlie has a terminal diagnosis. Medical experts believe infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS) will end his life. This rare condition remains incurable. Charlie has suffered seizures and brain damage. He can’t move his limbs on his own, and his muscles grow progressively weaker. He needs a tube to feed him and a machine to breathe for him.

Some months ago, doctors recommended removing the ventilator. “Let him go; he needn’t keep living like this.” Dad Chris and Mom Connie requested their baby’s release from his London hospital. American physicians were ready to attempt experimental therapy unavailable in the U.K. Eighteen people in the U.S. have been treated with an oral medication of natural compounds to remedy MDDS. An internet appeal even raised 1.3 million pounds to pay for it. The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) refused. Multiple British and European courts endorsed that decision to deny. They concluded that seeking the treatment wouldn’t “serve Charlie’s best interests” but only “expose him to prolonged suffering.” Magistrates have ordered life support removed—against the parents’ will (and against Charlie’s will also).

“We just CAN’T let our baby die when there is something that might help him!” Connie pleads. “We won’t give up on him because he has a rare disease. He deserves a chance and he deserves a life.” “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting,” Dad adds. The Vatican Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome has offered to assume Charlie’s care. But GOSH persists in retaining custody (even though nobody has assigned them that authority). Chris and Connie aren’t even allowed to take Charlie home to die. “We want to give him a bath at home, sit on the sofa with him, sleep in the bed with him,” Charlie’s parents explain. “But now we’re being denied that.”

Such situations involve weighing subjective judgments. Does any slim chance at improvement justify certain side effects? What course of action—or inaction—achieves Charlie’s overall welfare? Experimental treatments represent only educated guesses and best estimates. But so do terminal diagnoses. Both science and Scripture testify that biological parents are best positioned to protect and provide for their children, unless the parents prove patently incapable. The Almighty Maker has entrusted fathers and mothers with these deliberations and decisions. He has equipped them not only with minds but also with hearts for the duty.

Chris and Connie are obviously not incompetent. They are not careless. They are not acting out of malice or being abusive. Businesses like hospitals operate with profit, public perception, apportioning resources, and satisfaction of the greatest percentage of customers as highest priorities. Governments best serve the populace when they safeguard the sacred family relationships rather than subvert them. This month’s holiday observance reminds us of the importance of maintaining these strict limits. Forcing doctors and hospitals to participate in procedures they oppose undercuts the usefulness of their expertise. But neither ought the institutions compel the parents. They love Charlie more than medical practitioners do. They love their son better than legal professionals. And parental compassion imparts comforts in difficulty that chemicals, devices, and verdicts can neither replace nor approximate.

Abortion activists want unwilling doctors to refer. Assisted-suicide enthusiasts likewise would make physicians who decline taking part in such a procedure to connect patients with providers who do practice it. Two states obligate pregnancy resource centers to inform their clients about the availability of government-funded terminations. Why aren’t these same voices calling for Charlie Gard’s transfer, or at least his discharge? What about Charlie’s autonomy? What about his parents’ rights and choices? Where has the opposition to bureaucratic interference in health care gone? Critics often accuse the for-life community of interest only in babies before birth and ignoring them after. Yet we fight for Charlie and stand alongside Chris and Connie while almost all others fall silent and sit still.

We ask the real question because we are not afraid of the right answer. Is a life beset with suffering really still worth living? In the fallenness of humankind, no life can escape affliction. Creation’s brokenness makes surviving without suffering impossible. Everybody hurts. Yet under God’s grace, pain never occurs without purpose. Christ Jesus crucified and resurrected portrays, proclaims, and performs greater goods for humankind than painlessness or even pleasure. No one hurts hopelessly. God’s Son incarnate among us redeems the most awful experiences and gives us community, sanctity, and dignity in the midst of them. Every life, every human being in every state and at every stage, enjoys this infinite preciousness because our Father and Savior has made and died for and joined to each one eternally. And Lutherans For Life will keep speaking truth to change hearts and keep showing love to save lives.

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POW 1523: Captured, But Not Captive

By Linda Bartlett

Date: June 28, 2017

Category: Christian Responsibility

Howard Linn was born an Iowa farm boy. Today, at 94, he confesses that he was also born a sinful creature. Indeed, he had inherited the sin of his ancestor Adam. But on his Baptismal day Howard was washed clean by water and the Word. The gift of faith was given to him, and his identity was forever changed. He was marked with the sign of the cross, and, because of what Jesus Christ did for him, Howard became a son and heir of God.

Did Howard think much about his Baptism and its effect on his identity? Did he fully understand the significance of Jesus’ invitation to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven”?

From childhood on, Howard prayed, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Did Howard understand that he was asking God the Father to strengthen and preserve him and, through times of suffering, keep him steadfast? What would this mean?

Howard has vivid memories of going to church with his parents and family. Like most Lutheran children, he was catechized in the Christian faith. Would he ever appreciate the liturgy, hymns, and Scripture verses he committed to memory?

On May 19, 1944, Sergeant Howard A. Linn was forced to evacuate the gun turret of his B-24 Liberator while on a bomb run over Germany. Under attack from a group of German Faulke-Wulf 190s and with engines engulfed in flames, Sergeant Linn had no choice but to parachute. “Our Father who art in heaven.” His prayer was answered when Howard landed safely, undetected by the enemy.

After a brief night of forested sleep, Howard began walking toward a village where he could get his bearings. About noon, two-thirds of the way through town, a boy sighted Howard just as a policeman on a motorcycle came around the corner. The boy flagged the policeman down and pointed to the American soldier. The policeman took Howard into the boy’s house. Calls were made. Then Howard was placed in a barbed-wire enclosure where people from the village came to look at him. “Our Father who art in heaven.” Later, Howard learned that if he had been shot down near a town that had suffered a bombing, he might have been beaten and tortured by angry citizens. The people of this village, however, had never experienced a bombing. They were curious about this American flyboy, but not hateful. Around 4:00, Howard was picked up by a German Luftwaffe officer and delivered in a Volkswagen to a forced labor camp.

The following day, Howard and two other American airmen were transported to an interrogation center in Frankfurt. Every two hours, Howard was taken from his basement cell to be questioned by a stern German officer. Howard knew how to answer: Name. Rank. Serial number. And he knew how to pray. “Our Father who art in heaven.”

“Our Father … give us this day our daily bread.” Howard was given a loaf of heavy, dark, sour bread before he was packed into a railroad car with other U.S. Airmen. That bread sustained him for four days as the train carried him to Stalag Luft 4, a prison camp about 100 miles north of Berlin in Stettin, Pomerania.

On June 1, Howard’s parents were notified that their son was “reported missing in action since nineteenth May over Germany.” On June 30, they were informed that their son was “a Prisoner of War of the German government.”

That young man, known as Prisoner 1525, continued to receive “daily bread” in the form of barley cereal, ersatz coffee, and sour bread in the morning; thin soup at noon; and boiled potatoes at night. The camp was crowded with allied soldiers and was heavily guarded. Police dogs were turned loose every night.

There was plenty of time to think in prison. Howard often thought about the day he was shot down. He was acutely aware that many of his fellow crew members were married men. Why was he, an unmarried man, allowed to survive? A buddy in the turret where Howard was usually positioned had been killed. Only two other crewmen and Howard lived. He grieved for his buddies, and, although he had borne for them no harm or ill-will, he suffered under the weight of guilt for a long time. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There was peace for Howard in knowing the merciful forgiveness of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

There wasn’t a German chaplain to pray with Howard or strengthen him through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. But he could draw upon all that he had been taught as a child. The liturgy and hymns that Howard had grown up singing, the Scripture verses that he had been encouraged to memorize, and parts of the Catechism that he had not fully appreciated as a boy served him well.

This was true for many of Howard’s Christian brothers in that POW camp. Men who had been involved in their congregations back home helped lead worship services on Sundays for anyone who wanted to attend. Everything was done from memory. There was opportunity to ponder the things that really mattered most and to come to grips with the fact that earthly life is short in comparison to eternity. There was a visible difference between the men with faith and those who didn’t appear to have any. Those men constantly worried about not having any control of their lives. They had little hope of getting out alive. As a result, there was a ward full of guys who were mentally unstable. Perhaps they didn’t know the Lord who invited them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” One day, Howard watched a man run for the high barbed-wire fence. He was given a warning but persisted in climbing halfway to the top, knowing full well what would happen. There was a single shot. The man fell to the ground, dead.

In times of suffering, Howard learned that we do one of two things. We either depend on ourselves, or on God. Howard knew God. He had grown up learning to trust his Heavenly Father; therefore, he had hope outside of himself. Suicide wasn’t an option. A son of God can pray, “Our Father who art in heaven … lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.”

Today, when Howard thinks about the circumstances he endured, the prophet Elijah comes to mind. Elijah was threatened by an intimidating enemy, the evil King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. In fear and loneliness, Elijah asked the Lord to take his life. The Lord’s answer was a cake of bread and jar of water. Elijah was strengthened for 40 days and nights. Howard admits to feeling very much like Elijah, alone and far from home. Countless times he wondered, “Will I be shot? Will I be put through more than I can endure?” But, for Howard, there was always a cake of bread. A jar of water. And then, a Christmas Eve.

On the night before Christmas in 1944, the German commandant told the prisoners they could stay outside their barracks until midnight with floodlights on if they promised not to try to escape. The singing of Christmas carols filled the night and comforted troubled souls.

Howard was held in Stalag Luft 4 for about nine months. Life had been miserable, but it was going to get worse. His stamina and will to live were to be sorely tested. On February 6, 1945, with the Russian army quickly approaching, Howard’s compound was evacuated. The men were told they would be on the road for three to four days, but the forced march across frozen land extended to 87 days.

The guards, among them the hated Gestapo, marched the prisoners as many as 18 miles a day. Destination was unsure. Nights were spent in barns, sleeping on hay atop manure, or outside in the rain and snow. Food consisted of bread, thin soup ladled into a can, and powdered milk from Red Cross parcels. Sometimes, vegetables were stolen from a farmer’s winter stockpile. If possible, prisoners scrounged for wood and built a fire. Latrines were trenches dug by the prisoners. Many of the men had dysentery. Howard was sick with such terrible cramping that he felt he wouldn’t make it, but at the end of three days, the illness was removed and never plagued him again.

The forced march paused to camp in Hanover but continued advancing when rumors that General Montgomery and the English army were getting close. Passing through cities that had been heavily bombed, Hitler Youth spit and shouted at the POWs. In April, some of the guards fled, but others stayed with the POWs because they didn’t want to be captured by the Russians. On May 2, 1945, after marching some 600 miles, Howard learned that the war was over. Two thousand men had started the march. Howard was one of the 1500 who survived and were granted freedom.

The men were instructed to continue walking and hitchhiking west. No encouragement was needed. Upon arrival at British command, the clothes Howard had worn for 87 days were burned. There was a trip—no, maybe three or four—through the delouser. A haircut and a shave. Gentle food for his shrunken stomach. A pillow for his head. Slowly, human dignity was restored. With the white cliffs of Dover in the background, Howard set sail for Boston harbor. Hearing the song “Sentimental Journey” stirs his emotions to this day.

Howard shares this and so much more with family, friends, and groups who invite him to speak. He is held in high regard by members of his Lutheran congregation. Do we listen to Howard but then say, “I could never endure such things.” Do we hear Howard describe atrocities, but then respond, “I do not know such evil.” Do we applaud Howard, but then walk away, asking, “What is his story to me? He was held captive by the enemy. I have no such bondage.”

Howard would respond: You can endure such things. Evil does exist today. In this earthly life, we are too often held captive. The only Savior from Satan, ourselves, and any false hope to which we cling is Jesus Christ.

We can endure “such things” as indignity and suffering. Jesus knows our suffering because He, too, suffered. During the indignities of war—or cancer, bullying, or false rumors that stain a reputation—we can look to Christ who suffered humiliation, hatred, and death for us. Jesus does not promise ease of life, but says, “If you would be My disciples, pick up your cross daily and follow Me.” Jesus does promise to be with us in every circumstance. He promises to be in His Church. He is in the Word of Divine Service, in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Communion, and in Absolution.

Howard found himself in enemy territory, and so do we. Satan, the world, and our sinful nature assault us every day. Howard endured by remembering his baptismal identity and praying, “Our Father who art in heaven.” We can do the same. The faith given to Howard provided light in the darkness. His childhood catechesis and familiarity with Scripture as sung in liturgy and hymns comforted and renewed him. He was grateful, and we can be, too. Howard could trust that an ascended Jesus had kept His promise to send a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who interceded for him in times of weakness. We have that Helper, too.

Evil does exist today; it comes naturally in a fallen world. We are vulnerable people because we are corrupted by sin. Cain killed Abel. Hitler and his Nazis killed six million Jews and five million Christians, gypsies, “useless eaters,” and so-called “undesirables.” The United States has sanctioned the killing of over 56 million little boys and girls by the hand of abortionists since 1973. Human life is at dreadful risk when we do not believe that God is our Father and we are His children.

Howard confesses to being born a sinful creature, and so are we all. In war, Howard learned that our corrupted nature is reality. We are capable of terrible evil. Until we recognize our sinful nature, we cannot resist it; instead, we do awful things out of fear, or for power, or to gain control. We raise ourselves above God. We love ourselves more than our neighbor. Freedom to resist evil and do good comes only in Jesus Christ. His mercies are new every morning for the repentant sinner who looks to the Lord for his salvation. Evil has no dominion over a child of God.

In this life, we are too often held captive. It is not barbed wire but our own sin that binds us. Whenever we cling to human desires, fears, false hope, guilt, and bitterness, we fall into the despair of slavery.

One would think that Howard sees a better world than the one he saw during WWII, but he does not. We seem to think we are entitled to happiness. We trust our own feelings first and, if God is needed, it is to make our life trouble-free. We make a vow on our wedding day, but the commitment is too quickly dishonored when things become difficult. Human life has value when it pleases us, but not when we are inconvenienced by it. There was nothing convenient about being a POW on an 87-day forced march, but Howard could see even unsightly men covered with lice and bent over with dysentery as children of God for whom Christ died. That made them his brothers.

But could Howard ever accept the German people as his brothers? Yes, but only with the example of Christ before him. In forgiving Wilfried Beerman, the German boy who alerted the police, Howard was free of bitterness. Today, the families of Howard and Wilfried enjoy an abiding friendship.

Howard was physically taken captive by his enemies, but they could not threaten his identity or imprison his spirit. He was always a free man in Christ. Looking back, Howard knows that he was always under the protection of his Heavenly Father. Strength was given when he was weak, bread when he was hungry, a cup of water when he was thirsty. War raged all around him, but Howard’s spirit was at peace.

Seventy-two years later, Howard still trusts the promise of his Heavenly Father:

Even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save. (Isaiah 46:4 ESV)

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2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers”

Date: June 15, 2017

Category: Christian Responsibility

Photo above: Current LFL Executive Director Rev. Michael W. Salemink (center) with former executive directors Rev. Ed Fehskens (l) and Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb.

On June 9, the Lutherans For Life board of directors, state federation presidents, and national staff, held their 2017 retreat at Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

2017 LFL Retreat Photo Album (Facebook)

The current Lutherans For Life organization stands on the shoulders of wonderful people to whom God gave a unique vision and vocation. As we, this year especially, are endeavoring to discern God’s plan for LFL going forward, it’s also important for us to look back. So, we brought together a few of the “LFL Pioneers” to learn from them and to give thanks to God for the work that He did through them.

Listen to and watch retreat presentations below. 

2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers” – Opening Devotions (audio/video)

2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers” – Rev. Dr. Sam Nafzger (audio/video)

2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers” – Rev. Ed Fehskens (video)

2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers” – Rev. Don Richman (audio/video)

2017 Retreat – “LFL Pioneers” – Panel Discussion (audio/video)

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It’s a New Year and Interest Rates Being Paid Are … Well ….

By John Hawkins

Date: May 9, 2017

Category: Christian Responsibility

When most folks planned to retire, it was their hope, if not expectation, that they’d live at least in part off the interest earned on savings deposits. Then the great recession hit, and interest earned dropped dramatically. As of press time, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice in three months. Still, interest on a six-month certificate of deposit averaged 0.14 percent. Last year at this time it was 0.13 percent. Meanwhile, many folks wonder if there’s some way—indeed any way—to get a higher return on their money. The answer is yes, there is, and it can also be designed to let you do some good in the Lord. This can be done through either of two vehicles: a Charitable Gift Annuity or a Charitable Remainder Unitrust.   

Now before I describe them, let me explain one thing. You’ll notice that both of these begin with the word “charitable.” That is, they were created first and foremost to leave gifts to charitable organizations (or in a narrower context, ministry—such as Lutherans For Life). That should be the main motivator in entering into an agreement to do one of these vehicles. Other benefits, such as income, tax incentives, etc., should be secondary motivators. While charitable intent should predominate, the secondary benefits have never been more attractive, in my opinion.

First, let’s look at a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). Conventional wisdom has always held that these shouldn’t be done unless you’re in your 70s (and preferably your later 70s or even 80s). That’s because one of the key variables—income paid—just wasn’t that much, relative to other things. However, let’s look at a sample CGA for a husband and wife who are both 69. They have a variety of assets, including a $25,000 certificate of deposit that’s up for renewal. Instead of renewing that CD, however, they establish a CGA to benefit Lutherans For Life (which they’ve also supported financially in the past). Here are the benefits they will receive:

  • Annual interest rate: 4.5% (Please note that the rate will be reduced by slightly over 1% because of a management fee that will be levied by the administering foundation.)

  • Annual income of $1,125 (of which $848+ is tax free, making the return actually higher than the percentage rate cited above)

  • Charitable deduction of $6,839+ (also positively impacting their bottom line)

The couple would continue to receive income from the CGA guaranteed until both husband and wife die. The remaining principal will then be sent to Lutherans For Life. (Note: it’s likely that this amount will be less than the original $25,000, since part of the principal will be used to pay income.) Of course, no one can predict the future when it comes to fiscal policy or interest rates. All things being equal, however, CGA payments alone as illustrated, even without the future gift, would be very positive. Even if interest rates edge up a bit higher, they will still fare comparably.

Second, let’s look at the other option—a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRT) with the same basic variables: husband and wife both age 69 using $25,000 in cash. Here are the benefits they will receive:

  • Payment Rate: 5% of fair market value or $1,250 (Please note: This payment rate percentage would be reduced by slightly over 1% because of a fee that will be charged by the managing foundation. In addition, legal fees may be incurred in setting up a CRT. Lastly, annual dollars received may be reduced in future years if principal needs to be tapped to help make payments.)     

  • Charitable Deduction: $9,863

Because of the charitable deduction, a CRT may be considered the more attractive of the two options for people under 70 years of age, particularly for those with higher incomes (e.g., if they are still working).   

Of course, as with a CGA, charitable intent must be an integral factor in establishing a trust. In that regard, a CRT also has a distinct advantage over a Charitable Annuity. With a CRT, you can likewise leave the principal to a charity or ministry upon your death(s). However, after that time you can also elect to have payments continue for five, ten, or even up to 20 years to (a) loved one(s) such as children, grandchildren, etc. Once this time is completed, the principal remaining would then go to your chosen ministry.     

So, the time may be right to consider either a CGA or CRT, both for financial and charitable reasons. In the case of the latter, this may also allow you to do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t—leave a portion of your assets to a charity, a ministry, or specifically to Lutherans For Life before you pass on.

If you would like to know more about Charitable Annuities or Trusts, and possibly have a personalized illustration run for you (with no obligation and in complete confidence), feel free to contact me at 888.364.LIFE (5433) or .

May God bless you today and always!

Note: this article is not intended as legal or financial advice. For assistance with specific issues, you are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional advisor.

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Easter Guarantees That God's Love Works and Wins

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: April 5, 2017

Category: Christian Responsibility

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34b).

Affirming life is hardly a party. Speaking the truth of God’s Word is no mere hobby. Showing the love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t just some preference or lifestyle. Our mission is more than personal interests or political issues. This service we undertake is struggle and battle. This labor we engage in is warfare. Respecting and protecting the gift of life is THE war, and it is OUR war. We are fighting for our culture, our conscience, our civilization. As Lutherans For Life we are fighting for our country, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our future. The time for simply standing by has passed. The luxury of only looking on left long ago.

God has entered our world as Jesus Christ! He has achieved victory of life over death for us. Now we get to announce it. And we get to enact it.

You and I have become witnesses and participants. Evil makes itself barest and boldest right in the middle of the matters we attend to. Souls entangled in these injuries and scars lie within our reach, with no less than their salvation at stake. Hearts strapped to failures and trapped by fears suffer beside us, with their very lives on the line. The devil’s deceptions about a person’s preciousness endanger the identities and realities of those near to us. They feel ashamed and anxious, artificial and all alone. They are our own flesh and blood—and there but for the grace of God go we.

Yet joy—relentless Christian joy—belongs on this battlefield. And hope—fierce Gospel hope—is made for these frontline moments.

Brothers and sisters, here we stand, with the sword of our Creator and Savior in hand! We are raising it up—as He has raised us up—not to smite opponents or slay competitors—but to sever chains and set oppressed and even condemned prisoners free!

You know what struggling, suffering, and crumpling sin’s smoldering gravity causes. And you know what deliverance, what emancipation, what blessed abandon the Gospel voice brings.

Will you enter the action alongside us? With your gift, we can plant the flag of Christ’s unconditional acceptance in their hearts!

Your gift sustains the jubilant resistance by enabling us to further equip Lutherans with greater Gospel motivation as voices for life. Your gift amplifies our message that the Lord’s loving actions—rather than any human abilities, efforts, accomplishments, or offerings—make every person priceless. Let’s lift high the cross in every congregation and every community until all together uphold the God-given blessing each human life is!

The attacks against life are launching quicker, landing closer, and claiming casualties among people we know.  

  • A politically driven study, conducted by a major university and published in a prominent journal, concluded in December that being denied a desired abortion affects women’s mental health more adversely than undergoing the trauma of abortion.

  • The city of Washington, D.C., succeeded in January at sanctioning physician-assisted suicide, making it the sixth jurisdiction (and the third in the last two years) to decriminalize intentional death.

  • French legislation enacted in February threatens fines and prison time for websites offering information about abortion’s negative physical or psychological aftereffects. (In November, French television officials forbade the airing of a video celebrating individuals with Down syndrome because it might “disturb” women who aborted because of such a diagnosis.)

  • Research collected in 2016 indicates that 76% of church-going post-abortive women felt their church had no influence on their abortion decision, and only 5.5% of Protestant pastors identified a life-affirming ministry in their church.

We are striving for more than stopping abortion and embryo destruction. We are aspiring to a higher aim than the end of suicide and sexual license. Our message and ministry proclaims a dying and rising with Christ that creates new hearts and new lives—and Easter guarantees that God’s love works and wins. 

  • As many as 300 callers a month (from women and men) find Gospel-healing through our counselor, Grace, at Word of Hope’s post-abortion hotline (630.990.0909; www.word-of-hope.org)!

  • Support for unborn life has decreased the demand for abortion so much that 76% of abortion clinics open in 1991 have closed—and six states have only one clinic left!

  • Lutherans For Life is recognized in more churches now than at any other time in our 40-year history as we work with seven life-affirming American Lutheran bodies—and others around the world!
  • Y4Life, our youth initiative, formed student-led Life Teams on six college campuses and has started developing similar relationships with Lutheran high schools!

The biblical Lutheran belief that God’s grace, not one’s own works, determines a person’s worth has not gone silent even after 500 years. In fact, it has only grown clearer! With your gift, we will improve and expand this life-saving voice and its harvest!

The enemy has gotten so weak that he only has force and violence left. Meanwhile, we continue to invite, embrace, encourage, and care for the victims and vulnerable ones. We rejoice to share with them the Gospel perspective that every life is a sacred gift and privilege—whether prebirth, post abortion, pro-choice, in pain, or approaching death. We’d love you to unite with us!

P.S. A gift to Lutherans For Life in a loved one’s name or in someone’s memory makes an elegant tribute. Our online giving tool makes such designations easy—along with monthly sponsorships, electronic transfers, and a variety of other options!

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After the Election

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: November 9, 2016

Category: Christian Responsibility

Good government, devout rulers, and faithful leaders—at any level—are always gifts from God. In our nation, elected representatives and public servants serve us as His blessing and on His behalf. One of the primary responsibilities of civil government is respecting and protecting human life. We thank our heavenly Father for a peaceable and lawful voting process yesterday, especially where it has resulted in offices being occupied by advocates for affirming every human being’s God-given value.

We commend all Christians who put their faith and vocation into practice by exercising the precious right to participate in cooperative democracy that is free and fair for everyone.

Please join us in praying for those who make, administer, and judge our laws to reflect the truth, love, and life of our Lord Jesus Christ in their policies and actions until the Savior returns to bring our redemption and resurrection to fulfillment in new creation and everlasting kingdom.

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2016 LFL National Conference - Here We Stand

Date: October 25, 2016

Category: Christian Responsibility

2016 LFL National Conference Booklet

Over 200 Lutherans gathered October 21-22 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minnesota, from across the United States and Canada for the 2016 Lutherans For Life National Conference. The theme: Here We Stand.

In her welcome to the conference, LFL President Lynette Auch said, “Could there possibly be a more appropriate conference theme than ‘Here We Stand’ as we step into the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation or a more appropriate verse than Ephesians 6:13: ‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm’? There is no doubt that the days are evil and ‘every one of us is in need of the righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own,’ as [Martin] Luther came to understand. We need to put on the whole armor of God to stand firm in that faith … So, let us say yes to the opportunities before us that God has prepared for us to do! To say ‘Here We Stand’ … in defense and protection of the precious and vulnerable human lives that are the handiwork of God from the moment of conception to natural death … to teach our children and grandchildren who they are and WHOSE they are. Scripture reminds us that we are NOT our own … in defense of marriage as God designed it between one man and one woman and sex as a gift from God to be shared within the marriage bed only … Your presence here means that you support the life-affirming ministry of Lutherans For Life. May God bless you and challenge you as ‘Here We Stand’ For Life!”

Focusing on the conference theme in his opening worship service sermon, Rev. Michael W. Salemink, executive director of Lutherans For Life, said, “You cannot slip beyond the reaches of the long arm of the Lord God Almighty … We carry grief so heavy and guilt so haunting that we believe it a freedom to end our own lives. We haul fear so chilling and failure so choking that we tolerate terminating our sons and daughters and advocate euthanizing our mothers and fathers. We hold hearts so broken and divided that we accept lust rather than aspire to love. We drag underbellies so vulnerable and blind sides so exposed that we separate children from marriage. We lug spines so stiffened and skin so hardened that we settle for human rights instead of insisting on heaven’s gifts … We should know better … We all require armor, a Savior, deliverance, redemption. We all crave compassion, forgiveness, mercy, grace. Here we stand. We do not stand alone. We never stand alone. You do not get to stand alone, but you do not have to stand alone. Another One stands in your place … Jesus Christ is the armor of God, the whole armor of God, for you and for us all. He shelters, sustains, protects, and defends any who have not and cannot do so for ourselves … Here we stand, neither stampeding nor strutting. Here we stand in joy and not out of anger, in hope and not out of fear, because we stand to forgive and not compare, to save and not compete. Here we stand to relieve and release, not to accuse. Here we stand to listen, assist, accompany, embrace, and befriend, not to attack. Here we stand speaking truth and sharing love because we stand overcoming sin and selfishness, death and the devil, and not against one another. Here we stand firm but gentle, strong but humble, even after so long and before such odds. Here we stand, Gospel-motivated voices, Lutherans For Life, because we can do no other, God help us.”

In his keynote address, actor Frank Runyeon, who starred opposite Meg Ryan on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns and has appeared in more than 1,000 television episodes and movies along with hosting his own comedy radio show, spoke on “Hollywood vs. Faith – The Struggle to Live Faithfully in the Media Age.” He focused on some of the biggest “funhouse mirror” distortions that Hollywood presents as truth but which are, in reality, lies, including the idea that buying more and more things can make one happy and having the perfect body will bring contentment. He shared how it is very hard for the Church to share the Gospel message in a culture saturated with self-centeredness and indiscriminate sex and violence but encouraged Lutherans For Life to continue to reach out, stay faithful, and focus on the gift of positive relationships with each other and with God.

In her plenary address, co-founder and former president of Lutherans For Life, Dr. Jean Garton, said “I’m going to make sure I’m with the right group … If you read the media, they’ll tell you that people who are ‘anti-choice’ are rabid, rigid, ranting, raging, radical rebels. But I know that you are patient, pious, peaceful, prayerful, passionate, patriots. That’s you … The naysayers have tried to bury us many times. But the truth is that this great pro-life movement of which Lutherans For Life has been a part since the very beginning, this great movement is alive and well and growing. But with our public, persistent pursuit of protection for the unborn and now, increasingly, the ‘long-born,’ there is a price to pay—and no surprise about that. When Jesus sent out His disciples … He said He was sending them out like sheep among the wolves. And not much has changed … We need to be prepared for the incredible battle ahead.” She thanked those in attendance for the “natural, needful work that all of you do.”

Dr. Garton was also the recipient of the newly revived Dominus Vitae award now given to a Lutheran who has made notable and significant contributions to the For Life movement. In presenting the award, LFL President Lynette Auch said, “At 88 years of age, Dr. Garton still travels hundreds and thousands of miles from home for speaking engagements and has devoted 47 years of her life to the pro-life movement. Why? She is quoted as saying … ‘I am always fishing for brothers and sisters in the faith that we might strengthen one another and share our joy in the Lord,’ and because ‘in the pro-life movement, I have the opportunity to meet the finest people throughout the world … I do what I do because I cannot NOT do it.”

Pre-conference events included a pastors’ luncheon featuring a talk by Col. John Eidsmoe on “Preachers, Politics, and the Two Kingdoms: What Does the IRS Allow?” as well as workshops on “Helping Your Church Stand For Life” with Rev. Doug Merkey and “Giving ‘Unusual’ Gifts to Ministry” with John Hawkins, and a tour of the City Life Center in Minneapolis.

Other plenary speakers included Jānis Diekonts of LFL of Latvia and Rev. Don Richman, LFL’s international representative, who spoke on what is happening in Russia and Latvia with life issues.

The two winners of the national essay contest sponsored by the Council of Federation Presidents (COFP) shared their winning essays on Friday night. Brooke Fandrich is an eighth grade student and member of St. John’s Lutheran School and Church in Portage, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of David and Jessica Fandrich. Her essay was titled “Many Shapes and Sizes.” Amanda Dressel is the high school category winner and is a sophomore at Watertown-Mayer High School. She is the daughter of Robert and Melanie Dressel and is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Watertown, Minnesota. Amanda’s winning essay is titled “The Truth Behind Abortion of the Handicapped: What Our Society Isn’t Seeing.”

In 2017, Lutherans For Life will be having four regional conferences (instead of one national conference) in Ft. Wayne, Indiana; New Braunfels, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Pekin, Illinois. The next national conference will be in 2018. Watch for more details at a later date.

2016 LFL National Conference Summary Including Audio and Video

2017 Lutherans For Life Regional Conferences Video Invitation

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Welcome Hilary Murray

By Hilary Murray

Date: October 5, 2016

Category: Christian Responsibility

Hilary Murray began serving as mission and ministry director of Lutherans For Life this week! Please welcome her. She would love to hear from you. 

Greetings in the name of the Lord!

Lutherans For Life is the best organization in the world! I am overjoyed and humbled by the opportunity to serve as mission and ministry director.

I was born to Rev. Dr. Scott Murray and Mrs. Maryann Murray in Gretna, Louisiana, in 1992. Shortly thereafter, my father took a call to Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, where I was raised. I attended Memorial Lutheran School through eighth grade and graduated from Lutheran High North in Houston in 2010. The stellar choral department and challenging music program of Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, were my life until I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in choral conducting. Music, however, was not the only passion that took up my time in college.

In January of 2013 I attended the first-ever LCMS Life Conference (after some convincing words from my pastor). That conference taught me that I had been terrifyingly ignorant of the awful reality of abortion in this country. Through founding Bulldogs For the Unborn (now Bulldogs For Life), attending the March for Life—the largest annual peaceful protest in the country—three times, witnessing women driving into Planned Parenthood clinics alone, working with crisis pregnancy centers, and attending various other conferences, I have learned that there are many more issues at large in the life arena that are just as frightening and as pressing as abortion.

The most valuable information I have learned is that these issues desperately need to be talked about and addressed within our own Lutheran churches. Praise be to the Father who sends the Holy Spirit to work through His Word. I pray that the Holy Spirit continues His work of equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life through me in the coming years.

Your Sister For Life and In Christ,

Hilary Murray
Mission and Ministry Director

713.677.1881

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The Need Is Great, Now’s the Time

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: September 12, 2016

Category: Christian Responsibility

Now’s our chance!

Life’s sanctity is seismically shifting our culture. More than 40 years of grace and truth are nearing critical mass. The message of every human being’s preciousness is wobbling windows and walls and storming doors and floors throughout death’s most secure strongholds. Rather than silencing the earthquake set in motion by God’s crucified love and resurrected salvation, society’s trembling selfishness has only allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to amplify. This whole land is seeing how the value He gives to all persons—by creating, redeeming, calling, and connecting us—is snowballing its most skeptical opponents.

States are honoring marginalized lives with their laws:

  • In 19 states lawmakers resisted extremist pressure to allow physician-assisted suicide (and five more states will have done so by end of the legislative session), and New Mexico’s Supreme Court affirmed killing a terminally ill patient isn’t a “fundamental right” even with consent.

  • 334 life-affirming regulations have taken effect in the last five years, reducing annual unborn deaths by 500,000 and leading to widespread facility closures.

  • 23 states have filed suit against federal threats to withhold funding from schools that distinguish bathroom use by birth gender.

Students—the leaders of the future—are enthusiastically celebrating endangered lives:

  • Students for Life campus groups now outnumber their Planned Parenthood counterparts by 1,043 to 275 (almost four to one!).

  • 53% of young adults oppose abortion on demand, an increase of nine points in only four years, and less than half support public funding for Planned Parenthood.

  • Less than half of high school students surveyed report being sexually active, which is 13% fewer than 25 years ago, and the number of abstinent young adult men has doubled (women tripled!) since the 1960s.

Almighty God is moving His hand! Lord Jesus Christ is accomplishing His mission in us! Not only has He made this message of ours important, but He is making our work effective as well! Seize this opportunity with us and sustain the intensity with a special financial gift to Lutherans For Life. You are investing directly in heaven’s own treasury of changed hearts and saved lives. Together let us show our joy and gratitude at being forgiven, relieved, and delivered by lovingly sharing our Father’s forgiveness, relief, and deliverance with our neighbors.

The Need Is Great, Now’s the Time

Indeed, we dare not let up. We’d better not delay or hesitate. Our labors must remain unrelenting. Evil and the devil are not stalling. Deception and death will not decelerate:

  • The United Nations is exploiting the Zika virus to urge abortion in countries where it’s currently illegal.

  • Studies report persons in same-sex marriages commit suicide three times more often than others.

  • National Institutes of Health may fund injecting animal embryos with human stem cells.

  • Use of abortion-causing LARC devices (long-acting reversible contraceptives) is rising.

  • U.S. Supreme Court ruled women’s health concerns place “undue burden” on abortion access.

  • Those raised by same-sex parents suffer twice as much depression and abuse as those from traditional families.

  • State governments have begun forcing doctors and pregnancy centers to promote abortion services.

  • Teens attending schools that distribute condoms get pregnant (and contract STDs) more frequently than teens attending schools that promote abstinence.

Suffering people are buying the lie that sometimes death offers the only solutions. Someone you know, somebody you love, needs us. They need the same Jesus we can’t live without. God’s love and Christ’s forgiveness CAN and WILL rescue them. Lutherans For Life reaches and touches so many of them with the life-giving Gospel. It will take us $981,000 to meet such needs nationwide this year. We have $459,000 so far. (That’s less than half!) Please send a gift today so that you can keep being our heart, and we’ll keep being your voice. Together we bring the body of Christ—the feet and fingers of Father, Son, and Spirit Himself—to these desperate ones.

Lutherans at the Epicenter

Gifts like yours have enabled us to apply God’s Word right to the pressure points. Our resources and services intersect your community—and hundreds of others—where death pounds fiercest. Rather than ignoring altogether or observing from a distance, Lutherans For Life takes God’s fight and Christ’s victory to all the ground zeroes:

  • Y4Life, under the direction of Laura Davis, united, equipped, and energized thousands of Lutheran students with activities and exhibits at Higher Things and the LCMS National Youth Gathering this summer.

  • A renewed Life Teams program is soon approaching completion and publication to invigorate and outfit congregation-based squads (we already have over 100!) for serving and saluting life locally and individually.

  • Owen’s Mission is capturing the imaginations of children from California to Connecticut by giving their Lutheran school Touch of Life fetal models so they can feel how God loves life—including theirs.

  • LFL’s National Conference (October 21-22, 2016, Bloomington, Minnesota) features a wealth of expert sessions about life advocacy and activism in the distinctively Lutheran spirit—a gathering of life-minded brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Brand new and relevant Life Sunday materials prepare your pastor and congregation for a special occasion of proclaiming the good news of God’s highest blessing—lives!

Join us! Jump in! Visit the website and find and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo to see the pictures and get all the scoops. Drop us a line and find out what we can do for you, or let us know what Lutherans For Life means to you. I’m looking forward to your gift and your partnership!

We’ve been receiving frequent reports of how our Gospel conversations are rescuing and protecting lives. I humbly but boldly ask you to help us gather the remaining $522,000 necessary to continue this vital ministry. Our God magnifies it and multiplies it into His miracles, so feel confident giving generously!

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Seven Quick Specifics about Christian Citizenship

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: August 31, 2016

Category: Christian Responsibility

The Supreme Court’s recent decisions leave Christians reeling. Presidential policies appear to target our freedom to act according to conscience. Important elections are approaching. Culture’s “progress” pressures our relationships and our core beliefs. Should we fight back and take over society or step back and let society overtake itself? We don’t have to attempt either! The Gospel of Jesus Christ invites and enables us to neither attack nor abandon, but engage. Here are seven quick specifics of exercising Christian citizenship:

  1. Jesus rules both Church and world.

Jesus is Lord—period! His dying and rising have exalted Him above all places and ascended Him over all people. This God of ours has purchased the whole universe for His own. Incarnate King of hearts is also King of kings. Atoning Lord of lives is also Lord of lords. Risen and forgiving Judge of living and dead has history and eternity under His feet. The good and gracious will of God is done around the world as it is across the heavens, apart from either our cooperation or request. Civil authorities serve as His ambassadors, and God establishes every government as His instrument. In spite of appearances, He orders all happenings for preserving and benefitting life.

  1. We enjoy responsibilities and privileges in both Church and world.

Baptism unites us to Christ Jesus and seats us with Him on high. Heavenly Father bequeaths us His whole kingdom, above and below. As Adam’s descendants and heirs of Eve, we rightfully subdue and rule over this earth that produces our daily bread. Heaven holds us its citizens, but we live yet as residents in this realm, caretakers and brothers’ keepers. We whom God calls His sons and daughters know best both how to manage nature and govern nations because we have seen God’s will and received His Word. We have access to His own mind and heart. For our neighbor’s good, we cannot neglect any speaking and acting that will direct and defend our common life.

  1. Human governments keep order to make possible Gospel ministry.

Father, Son, and Spirit’s ultimate goal remains saving every human soul. His left-hand rule of earthly life facilitates His right-hand rule of everlasting life in new heavens and earth. Using governments and laws—even citizens and politics—He creates a safe environment and establishes the suitable context for His Gospel and His people to have free course. The Lord’s Law of love, written and reflected in the Ten Commandments, furnishes the framework for the more important Savior-message.

  1. Expect tensions and persecutions.

The nations of creation lie broken because humankind has fallen into sin. Satan proliferates temptations, and selfishness runs rampant. Men and women wrestle to become masters over the entire earth, making enemies of each other and viewing God as rival. Pride and greed, lust, indulgence and laziness, jealousy and revenge often prevail even in the lives of baptized believers. In this world we will have trouble; indeed, the world hates us as it did Jesus. Representatives of humility and peace meet violence, crucifixion even. Our struggle rages against sinful nature and Satan but also against a world of foreign mind and hostile spirit.

  1. When commands conflict, we obey God rather than men.

Divine authority is exercised by sinners. Sometimes governments demand ultimate and unrightful allegiance from Christians in contradiction to our Gospel confession. Sometimes leaders and laws threaten to take the goods and fame, safety and freedom, family or life God has given us. Such rulers no longer function as deputies of Almighty Maker but agents of hell. In those matters we may and must resist and rebuke, using whatever influence our goods, fame, safety, freedom, family, and life can obtain. We trust that anything God allows us to lose He will more than restore, and we stay secure in the truth of Christ.

  1. Faith can’t be legislated.

The Bible speaks no “separation” of church and state—and neither does the U. S. Constitution. Nevertheless, we recognize that God ordains a distinction of manner between them. The one He rules according to His Gospel and the other according to His Law. This Law, by force and coercion, commands, sets conditions, threatens consequences, and rewards obedience. It does nothing for souls or salvation. In Gospel, God does for us and gives freely unto everlasting resurrection. Law has to be permitted to precede, without interference from Gospel, in order that Gospel may supersede all. If God does not bully faith out of us, then government has no place either opposing or obligating Christianity.

  1. Love, joy, and gratitude compel us rather than anger, fear, or guilt.

Our failures won’t undermine the Lord’s reign. Others’ successes can’t overthrow it. This world will go on as long as God wills and will then give way to new creation. In Jesus we are guaranteed inclusion in it, as well as having the privilege of participating in His activity—not to assert superiority but to save our opponents from the devil’s deceptions and our neighbors from final destruction. Let’s exercise our majesty enthusiastically!

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