I don’t believe there could be a more appropriate theme than “Here We Stand”—based on Ephesians 6:13—as we step into the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation: “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.” It reflects our human struggles as described in the prior verse in Ephesians: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12 NIV).
These struggles drove Martin Luther to search for answers from Scripture for the hopeless, broken, and sinful state of humanity. Luther’s conclusion was that we have a “righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own.”* This is the foundation of the Christian church today.
I was blessed to have Christian parents who brought me to be baptized and shared with me the faith that Luther speaks of. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to study beyond eighth grade—despite both having had dreams of being in the medical profession. But that did not stop them from becoming leaders as a husband, wife, farmer, mother, father, church, and community member. My mother, especially, was a pillar of the faith!
I was inspired and intrigued by the thoughts of Mike Donehey, lead singer of the Christian group Tenth Avenue North, who noted that Jesus did not ask anyone to be a “leader.” Curious, I did some research. I found numerous examples when Jesus invites individuals of the Bible to “follow me”—but with no mention of being a “leader.” Even Jesus didn’t consider Himself a leader. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19 NIV).
With that in mind, that leaves us with only One leader: Our Heavenly Father. We are all followers.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
We are “God’s handiwork” (or “handmade” by God) with work already prepared for us to do. Let us say “yes” to the opportunities before us and say Here I Stand …
to speak the truth, reflecting the love of God.
in defense and protection of the precious, vulnerable, human lives—that are each “hand-made” by 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. We were created by God in His image, fully human, male and female, as spiritual beings—body, mind, and soul. We belong to Him. Losing our way in sin, we were bought back—redeemed—by the blood of Christ Jesus and called to love and glorify Him by living holy and honorable lives.
in defense of marriage as God designed it between one man and one woman and remembering sex is a gift from God to be shared within the marriage bed only.
in obedience to God and His commandments as the “great Leader.”
“[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ … And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39b).
My mother was the leader she was because she was a follower of Jesus Christ—the ultimate Follower of His heavenly Father.
With Jesus as the example, I prefer to be a follower rather than a leader. It takes the pressure and focus off me and my shortcomings and places the focus on the heavenly Father and His will for my life. Leadership is simply the byproduct of being a follower of the heavenly Father.
As followers of Christ Jesus, we will “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might … 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.” (Ephesians 6:10, 13).
Yes, the days are evil, so we pray:
Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way;
Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.
Without Your grace and favor I go astray;
So take my hand, O Saviour, and lead the way.
Lord, when the tempest rages, I need not fear,
For You, the Rock of Ages, are always near.
Close by Your side abiding, I fear no foe,
For when Your hand is guiding, in peace I go.
(Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978, Text: Public domain)
Amen. Here I stand, serving the Lord of Life!
*@Ligonier. “Justification by Faith Alone: Martin Luther and Romans 1:17.” Ligonier Ministries. N.p., 3 May 2016. Web.
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.
If I were a butterfly,
I’d thank You, Lord, for giving me wings;
If I were a robin in a tree,
I’d thank You, Lord, that I could sing;
And if I were a fish in the sea,
I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee;
But I just thank You, Father, for making me, me.
For You gave me a heart and You gave me a smile,
You gave me Jesus and You made me your child!
And I just thank You, Father, for making me, me.
God makes us human. God’s Word is what makes us human. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Almighty Maker of the universe and Lord of history, He created us human. “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people” (Psalm 100:3). “Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created” (Psalm 148:5). “Your hands have made and fashioned me” (Psalm 119:73a). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10a).Sunday School had it right. What makes us human? It’s not what we look like. It’s not what we can do. It isn’t when we were born or where we live. It isn’t laws or choices. It isn’t research or arguments. It isn’t feelings or beliefs. It’s not what we interrupted or how we came about. In fact, like we learned from Abbott and Costello, we won’t know “What?” until we know “Who?” What makes us human is a Who.
Not only has God made us human, He also makes us holy. His Son’s incarnation and His Spirit’s forgiveness are what make us holy. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things … For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers … to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:14-17). “[Y]ou were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God… Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you … for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:11, 19-20).
And God makes us heavenly. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). Created, redeemed, and called; human, holy, and heavenly. Thanks be to God!
The Butterfly Song (If I Were a Butterfly) – Words and Music by Brian M. Howard – Copyright © 1974, 2002 Mission Hills Music – www.ButterflySong.com – All rights reserved. (BMI) International copyright secured. Used by permission.
Subsets of humans have been marginalized throughout human existence, but despite all the efforts for personal freedoms, there is still a group being marginalized, being made to feel less than human, and it’s happening in legislatures all over the United States!
The vast majority of “pro-life” legislation comes with a bitter pill to swallow for many who are left to believe that their lives are not worth sparing—those who were conceived in rape and incest. By the measure God provides, these sons and daughters are no doubt human beings that God designed, adores, and sent His Son to die for.
Offering up a rape or incest exception in legislation has become standard protocol with many groups citing the concept that saving some is better than none—but is it? By allowing exceptions into our belief, aren’t we truly agreeing with our opponents that some human life is worthless? Is that the argument God would have us make?
Consider Matthew 18:10-14 (NIV): “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
A child conceived in rape or incest is not just “The Child of a Rapist,” he or she is the Child of a Rape Survivor, and more importantly, he or she is a Child of God. Society, by allowing these exceptions, is telling the rape victim that there is no value in her son or daughter’s life, and we expect she will want to have the baby killed! What an incredibly disheartening message to send to the victim of a crime—a crime which by nature leaves many victims doubting their own self-worth in the first place. We compound the wound to the victim by expecting she will want to kill the child she now carries—a child that is a part of her.
To make matters even more pressure-filled, many states allow a rapist to use his parental rights as leverage to get criminal charges dropped. Can you imagine? A rape victim’s choices become: kill her baby and pursue a rape charge, give birth to her baby and attempt to place the child for adoption just to have her rapist intervene and leverage his voluntary termination of parental rights in turn for her dropping any charges, or give birth and parent her child, in which case the rapist could try to trade his visitation and custody rights in exchange for her dropping the rape charge. Is there any justice?
In Iowa, Lutheran Family Service has been working on legislation that would terminate the parental rights of rapists and would not allow them to use their paternity as leverage for dropping criminal charges. Many other states around the nation are enacting similar laws! The Iowa bill unanimously passed the house and senate and was signed by the governor. This law allows a woman both a clear path to choose life for her child without the threat of her rapist having visitation, custody, or any part of their lives and a clear path to seek justice.
We are proud to have been a part of legislation that protects rather than marginalizes the sons and daughters of rape victims. They are our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and their lives are not exceptions!
Kim Laube, B.A., is director of pregnancy counseling and adoption at Lutheran Family Service in Urbandale, Iowa. www.LFSiowa.org
The 2015 Lutherans For Life National Conference is coming up soon! Here are 10 reasons you should join us!
It is a wonderful place to meet new friends and build relationships! You will find many FOR LIFE-minded folks from around the United States and Canada. (Some say an LFL conference is like attending a family reunion.)
An LFL conference is spiritually uplifting and encouraging. The speakers and worship service focus directly on God’s Word and how it applies to the life issues.
Knowledgeable and engaging speakers will address a variety of life issues. Read on to find out more.
Lots of learning. There is so much to learn that you will want to buy the CDs and DVDs just to take it all in!
Great exhibitors will be sharing wonderful resources, products, ministries, and organizations.
It is a wonderful opportunity to meet national LFL leaders, the LFL Life Center team—and for all of them to meet you!
You will be able to meet Rev. Michael Salemink, our new executive director. He will be installed at the Friday evening worship service. This will be a very special event!
Our 2015 conference will also be a chance for you to personally thank Dr. Lamb for his many years of faithful and dedicated service to Lutherans For Life. Dr. Lamb officially retires at the end of the year.
ZIP LINES! A visit to our conference is also a great time to check out the Creation Museum’s new Zip Line and Canopy Adventure Tours! It features "over two and a half miles of zip lines and sky bridges, it is the biggest and best zip line course in the Midwest!" RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Even if zip lines are not your thing, kids--and grand kids--love them! (Please note that the zip line is NOT included as part of your your Creation Museum ticket.)
Prepare to Believe is the theme for Answers in Genesis’ Creation Museum and that was the purpose when Lutherans For Life of Iowa took 23 passengers on a bus trip to the museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, in October. Understanding Genesis is essential to understanding the sanctity of life and the Creation Museum presents a walk through history of the first chapters of the Bible. Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 70,000 square-foot museum as well as the spectacular outdoor gardens and petting zoo bring the pages of the Bible to life!
LFL of Iowa’s trip to the museum consisted of four days (two days on the bus and two days at the museum) and three nights traveling from central Iowa to the museum outside of Cincinnati and back. Those attending were from age 12 to 80+, from across Iowa and from Missouri, and included LFLers and friends interested in learning how to defend their faith in biblical creation. While at the museum, guests were able to attend a show in the Stargazer’s Planetarium, listen to AIG’s renowned speakers explain how Genesis is still relevant in today’s world, watch videos that strengthen the Christian worldview, tour the beautiful gardens, visit the petting zoo, and of course spend plenty of time studying the museum exhibits covering Creation, the Fall, the flood, the confusion of Babylon, and Christ’s redemptive act on the cross for our salvation.
Time on the bus was also used to present videos, listen to audio presentations, and play games that taught the wonder of Creation and the inerrancy of God’s Word. No time was wasted and we may have learned as much on the bus as at the museum!
There were many comments from people on our trip. “Wow” was the most common! “I’m ready to go again” echoed through the bus on the way home. Learning how Creation and the flood can be proven by scientific evidence was fascinating. Connecting with Dr. David Menton, AIG staff member and a long-time friend of LFL, was an added bonus and his presentation was, as always, entertaining and informative.
LFL of Iowa would encourage others to consider sponsoring similar trips to the Creation Museum. Here are a few points we learned that might help get your planning started:
Give yourself plenty of time to plan, advertise, and get commitments from people interested in attending. If possible, use advertising and videos from the museum and get testimonials from people who have been there in order to capture people’s attention. LFL of Iowa was blessed to have the help of Ellen Bauer of Waverly who has planned several Iowa trips to the museum and has a passion for getting Christians to Petersburg! I’ll be glad to give you her contact information if you are interested in speaking with her.
Know the cost of the trip and the minimum number of attendees it will take to cover the expenses. We charged people for the bus ride, the hotel stay based on the number in each room, and the museum tickets. Individuals covered their own meals and any purchases (the book store is full of resources to bring home to your family and congregation). Covering the cost of the bus was probably the most challenging aspect of planning the trip. We looked into smaller passenger buses when we knew our numbers were lower than expected and our bus company brought the price down to match a competitor’s bid.
Know your group. We spent two full days at the museum and three nights in a hotel. One day at the museum is definitely not enough time but a younger group of people may only need one and a half days at the museum and may be willing to board the bus for home right from the museum on the second day, eliminating the cost of one night’s motel stay. Meal costs vary on the type of food you choose. There is plenty of room for coolers in the storage area of charter busses and this can also reduce costs.
Don’t give up if your original plan doesn’t work out! The first time we planned our trip we didn’t think we had enough people but decided to only postpone, not cancel, the trip. As the second deadline approached we had approximately the same number of people but were determined to go! We worked with the bus company to lower their bid, found a donor to cover the cost of museum tickets (which also happened to be half price the month we were there), and LFL of Iowa made a commitment to cover unmet expenses (only $50!). God might have worked some miracles for us once He knew we were determined!
Everyone can benefit from a visit to the Creation Museum, but I believe we should target our young people and provide opportunities for them to experience all the museum has to offer. I recently heard a campus pastor state that our young people struggle most with defending Genesis 1-11 on college campuses. We have a resource just outside Cincinnati, within a day’s drive of almost 2/3 of the U.S. population, where one can gain a greater understanding of the tenets of creation and redemption through the Bible itself! I pray that fellow LFL chapters and individuals will consider organizing a trip to the museum. It can be done! Please contact me if I can be of assistance in your planning. ( or 641.691.1884)
Text: Genesis 1:1
The first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible is foundational to all of the rest of Scripture. It is foundational to this For Life Bible. It is foundational to your understanding of your dignity and worth in God’s eyes and why this book, the Bible, was written for you.
If God through his Son, Jesus Christ, (See John 1:3.) did not create “heaven and earth” in six days, then the rest of Scripture is based upon a myth and has nothing upon which to stand. If God did not create human life in his own image on the sixth day, then there is no ultimate source that gives intrinsic value and dignity to you or any other human being. If everything came into existence through evolution, then “death” is the operative word. The theory of evolution requires millions and millions of years of death to bring about life as we know it. If everything came into existence through God’s creative Word, then “life” is the operative word. God created everything to support and enhance human life. As Dr. David Menton writes, “Christians should be particularly careful how they treat Divine Creation because it is foundational to the whole Bible and Christianity” (The Lutheran Witness, vol. 117, no. 7, 1998). You are invited to read this article in order to grow in your understanding of the critical foundation Creation plays in God’s Word for Life.
Creation, Evolution, and Jesus
The Bible is first and foremost about Jesus. “Then [Jesus] began with Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets to explain to them what was said about him throughout the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Jesus was there in the beginning chapters of Genesis. “In the beginning the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The need for Jesus and the rest of the Bible is given in the beginning chapters of Genesis. “So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6). “Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Again quoting Dr. Menton: “Most important, there is an integral relationship between Creation and our salvation. The first three or so pages of the Bible reveal both man’s accountability to God through his Creation and man’s subsequent fall into sin and death through his disobedience. All the remaining pages … deal directly or indirectly with God’s solution to man’s sin-problem documented in the first three pages.”
Sin and death came into God’s perfect Creation through the first Adam. Prior to this there was no death. This creates a problem for Christians who try to hold to some form of evolution. Evolution requires millions and millions of years of death. There had to be death before there were people according to evolution. The evolutionist would say that death is a natural part of the evolutionary process rather than something unnatural that resulted from sin. Such thinking eliminates the need for a Savior from sin and death. No literal Adam who sinned in Eden means there would be no need for a second “Adam” born in Bethlehem. But Adam was real and his sin was real. The reality of Adam and his sin foreshadowed the reality of God becoming man but without sin. The reality of Adam’s death foreshadowed the reality of Jesus’ death on a cross but without staying dead. Jesus’ resurrection assures that all who believe in him will live even if they die (John 11:25). The beginning chapters of Genesis are necessary to understand the need for the rest of the Bible and for the One the rest of the Bible is about—Jesus.
Creation, Evolution, and Human Life
The theory of evolution does not offer anything that gives inherent dignity and value to human life. Consider some of evolution’s main teachings about human life. Evolution says life is the result of a chance combination of chemicals in some primordial slime pit. In other words, life came from non-living things. This contradicts the scientific principle of biogenesis that declares that life comes from life.
Evolutionists say that human life gradually evolved as the result of billions of years of random mutations of lower life forms. This hypothesis is held even though scientists know very well that mutations typically make things worse, not better. There is a scientific law called the Second Law of Thermodynamics which says that, left to themselves, things decay and move toward disorder. (The two-week-old banana or the iron pot left in the rain are familiar examples.) The claims of evolution that things have become more orderly and complex directly contradicts this Second Law.
Evolution says one species evolved from another over billions of years. If this were so, you would think that the fossil record would reveal transitional forms, creatures that were half fish and half amphibian for example. But even evolutionists admit there is little evidence in the fossil record of transitional stages.
Creation, however, offers quite a contrast! Creation says you are just a little lower than God himself! (Psalm 8:5) Because God created human life in his image in the beginning, human life still has value even though sin has marred that image. (See Genesis 9:6, James 3:9.) God gave special value to human life in the way they were created. It was very “hands on.” God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:22).
God remains the hands-on creator of life. He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13). If you have something your grandma made by hand, it has special value even if it is worn and torn. Value is given by the hands that made us, not by our stage of development or the condition of our health. The embryo in the Petri dish has as much value as the Olympian. Grandma with Alzheimer’s has as much value as the neurologist who studies her disease. It is who made you, not how well you work, that gives your life value!
Added value is given to human life because God sent his Son Jesus to redeem what his hands had made after sin entered the world. When Jesus died, he paid the price for the forgiveness of sins for all people for all time. “You were bought for a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20) applies to every human being whether they believe it or not! Every human life from the Petri dish to the nursing home bed is a life for whom Jesus died. For those who do believe in Jesus, there is the certain hope of everlasting life in perfect joy and peace.
Thus, creation says that human life comes from God and, in Christ, will return to God. You do know where you are from and where you are going! It follows that you can live your life knowing that you do have purpose and meaning! For God promises to be at work in the lives of those he has created and redeemed.
What a contrast! Evolution is about death and hopelessness. Creation is about life and hope!
It was to be a wonderful life—designed perfectly. The star players were intimately created for their key roles—man for his and woman for hers. The harmony between man, woman, and their Creator God would be forever enjoyed. Ahhh … sweet, sweet life!
There was a way that this sweet life could continue. God shared that wisdom with the man, saying, ”You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16 NIV). Fair, and with the desire to lovingly protect, God gave to man the instruction for life and the warning away from death. Later, the Creator lovingly shaped woman and brought her to man. Ah, sweet life! Now all was very good! The man could cover his beloved “rib” with the Word of Life and pass its instructions and warnings on to their children and children’s children. What a wonderful sweet, sweet life!
Not so sweet, however, to one who watched from the darkness. The very idea of life was sour grapes in the mouth of Satan. God’s love for the human beings—creatures made in His own image, no less—was despicable. The very thought of more life—more little creatures coming into a loving relationship with the Almighty God—made Satan nauseous. So, into a perfect garden crept life’s one great enemy: death.
As a “thief,” Satan was bound to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He spied an opportunity and, ignoring the created order, slithered not to the defender, but the bearer of life. He engaged the woman with a single question, “Did God really say …?” The woman, perhaps flattered to be placed in a role of leadership, sinned by speaking for God. Turning to the man, she became his temptress.
Life, oh, sweet life! Would man choose to guard it? He had been given a Sword to protect the bearer of life and generations of life to come! But, in failing to use this Sword—the very Word of God, man left his “rib” unprotected and generations of life at risk.
There, under a tree, was the first battle for life. Man and woman, vulnerable without their Sword, were dealt a fatal blow. Death had come to steal away the sweetness of life—but not life itself.
To be sure, death stung, but life continues. Sweet? No! Far from it. God told woman there would be pain in bringing new life into the world. God told man that life would be hard.
Yet, life wins! Generations of life prove it!
Over and over again, throughout the Old Testament, we read the words: “Beget!” “Descendants!” “Families!” “Genealogies!” “Generations!” These are words of life! God’s hands have not stopped creating! Each new human life bears witness of His amazing and faithful love—even for fallen, sinful creatures. Life continues! Why?
Because there was another tree. A tree not in a perfect garden teeming with sweet life, but in a sinful world on a hill named Golgotha where a Man was brought to die. It was from that tree—a Cross—that Jesus Christ, both Man and Son of God, engaged the “thief” in one last battle for life—and won the victory! He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and promised to come again—this time to restore the sweet, sweet life.
We await His coming. And, while we wait, we live! Words like “beget,” “descendents,” and “genealogies” prove that life goes on! The enemy strikes at life; he steals, kills, and destroys, but he cannot stop the Creator’s hands from creating. Life—in the womb or out—is dealt constant blows by the enemy, but eyes focused on the promise of sweet life see victory.
Satan desired woman to be the mother of death, but God inspired Adam to name his wife Eve, which means “mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20 NIV) Countless “begets,” “descendants,” and “clans” later, “generations” give evidence of God’s amazing love for life! Our bodies may feel the sting of death but, in Jesus, our souls claim the victory of sweet life!
“Father.” “Mother.” “Children.” “Genealogies” of life! Death stings, but it has not conquered.
Thanks be to God! His hands have not stopped creating! His love is still amazing! And His promise of sweet, sweet life is new everyday in Jesus! The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus says, ”I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
Jesus is victorious!
Ahh … the promise of sweet, sweet life is ours!
Linda Bartlett, former president of Lutherans For Life, is the founder of Titus 2 for Life, a mentoring ministry that encourages Biblical manhood and womanhood in today’s culture. Young Titus, living in a pagan culture, was in need of a model that would contrast the world’s ideas and effect positive change for generations to come. That model is found in Titus 2. For more information go to our Titus 2 page.
“Spread the word,” (4:2) Paul directs Timothy. The Lord summons those who are called to Christ’s holy ministry to deliver his message. Whether it’s convenient or politically correct or not, we are to be faithful preachers of God’s word. “Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them” (v.2). The holy Scripture is useful “for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval” (v.16). God speaks to our own generation in the words written here.
God’s word calls us to “Speak out for the one who cannot speak, for the rights of those who are doomed” (Proverbs 31:8). Especially today, when the God-given right to life itself has been left unsanctioned for unborn children, we must speak up for these “little ones” created by God’s hand and redeemed by God’s Lamb. God wants these also to be saved and to learn the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
The life issues present a wonderful opportunity to proclaim God’s word to the nations. These issues-abortion, embryonic stem-cell harvesting, the use and abuse of our sexuality, euthanasia-go to the heart of our identity and our need for God’s restorative kindness. God’s word is addressed to all of us in these matters.
Proclaiming of God’s Word of Creation
God speaks, and his word instructs us that we are amazingly and miraculously made. All preaching presupposes this truth and must make it explicit. Proclaiming God’s word for life should leave the hearer in a state of awe and instill a certain sense of wonder at the astonishing facts of our creation. “From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made” (Romans 1:20).
The lie of evolution dethrones the majesty of God in human estimation and leaves people blind to his intelligent design of every creature. This lie deceives people so that they neither thank God for the blessings of their creation nor acknowledge God in their view of this world and their place in it. As a result, a cancerous culture of death has developed. It eats into the fabric of society, giving the strong “rights” over the weak, and leaving the old and the infirm expendable.
In spite of popular opinion, part of the task given to proclaimers of God’s word is to point out error and to warn people of the consequences of holding on to that error. Preaching in the name of the God of truth exposes the error of evolution by proclaiming a positive message of the wonder of God’s creation which restores value to human life and promotes the healing power of a culture of life.
Proclaiming God’s Word of Law
God speaks, and his word of law condemns sin. Sin happens in our relationships with others-husband and wife, parent and child, sister and brother, neighbor and neighbor. Sin disrupts and destroys those relationships. Within a generation after our first parents rebelled and disobeyed, Cain murdered his brother Abel. God’s judgment is directed against all that would cause harm to the life of his creation, specifically against that which is created in his own image. “Never murder” (Exodus 20:13).
These hurts must be named not only so that the hearer feels them, but so that every attempt at self-justification is brought to an end. The proper preaching of God’s word of law leaves us no excuse for the wrongs we have done and permits no way for us to earn God’s approval for ourselves.
Here the preacher must take particular care. Guilt over God’s commandment that addresses the life issues runs particularly deep. The mother who knows her actions have robbed her offspring of life may now be suffering a post-abortion trauma which no other person may fully measure. The purpose of preaching God’s word of law is not to drive someone into absolute despair, but to make the hearer receptive to the help they really need. This help can be found nowhere else other than Christ.
Additionally, God’s word of law must not be proclaimed in such a way as to give the impression that only the particular sins of some are condemned by it and that others who are not involved directly in these sins are left unaddressed. We must not become hardened in our hearts toward those who have had an abortion while we have not. We must identify ourselves as fellow sinners who always stand in need of the same divine kindness as those who have made a particular wrong decision against life. The law always accuses. None are left untouched by that accusation.
Proclaiming the Good News of God’s Word
God speaks, and his word of kindness, brings forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. The Christian faith is not, “It’s good to be good, and bad to be bad.” It’s not enough to be against abortion. A defense of moral causes can be found outside the Church. The real heart of preaching is something quite distinct from the preaching of the law. It is the blessed Good News of Jesus Christ. We are to announce that in Christ God has come near to us. He brings help for the helpless, solace and comfort for the abandoned, pardon and approval for condemned sinners. He brings a life that is complete and enduring-life with God and his people forever.
In the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has acted decisively to reclaim his lost creation. He has taken our past into himself, to strip it of its guilt, and to make us right with himself. In the cross of Christ, God disarms the powers arrayed against us-sin and death, law and judgment, devil and hell-restoring the balance between his creature and himself as rightful Lord. Paul’s appeal to Timothy is based on this fact, that Christ who died for all, comes to judge the living and the dead, and will come to rule over us. That is Paul’s—and the Christian’s—worldview.
Jesus came so that we might have life in God and with that life everything we really need. The proclamation of God’s word of life is centered on the incarnation, on the One who is praised as the Church sings the Te Deum, for he “did not abhor the virgin’s womb.” By that greatest of mysteries, God the Holy Spirit brought it about that God the Son should become tiny and helpless tucked away in the womb of his earthly mother. God made it this way, so that Jesus should pass through all those stages of life through which we ourselves grow, sanctifying them all in his holy life.
Jesus gave his life for ours. “My life for yours”—that’s the motto of his people. The proclamation of God’s word for life is incarnational in this sense also, that in such preaching God the Holy Spirit is truly speaking, using what Christ has appointed as a means of divine kindness, to bring life to the dying, and set them on paths of gratitude, joy, and service for his own name’s sake. So preacher spread the word!
Reading Psalm 139 can be a little frightening because you quickly realize God knows all about you! He knows where you are, what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and what you’re going to say before you say it (v.1-4)! You also realize that there is no place you can go to escape this all-knowing God. “Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run to get away from you?” (v.7). It is almost like Psalm 139 is God’s version of George Orwell’s 1984 poster, “Big Brother is Watching You”!
Intimate and Delicate Language
God is not watching as “Big Brother,” but as your Creator. God knows you because he made you. “You alone created my inner being” (v.13). Here David uses very intimate language. ”Created my inner being” is a Hebrew idiom that could be translated, “You made my kidneys”! The kidneys were the last organs removed in the sacrificial process. They denote the very depth of who you are-your “inner being.” Clearly, God was intimately involved in making you who you are from the beginning.
Next David uses delicate language. “You knitted me together inside my mother” (v.13). ”Knitted” means to “cover” or “fence in.” There is a progression. God created your very essence (your inner being), and then wove or knitted a covering for “you”-your body. This also seems to confirm the biological process for procreation that God established. You were uniquely “you” at the moment of your conception. Cell division begins and your “covering”—your body—develops.
We know, of course, that God does not have tiny little knitting needles that he uses inside a uterus. However, guided by the Holy Spirit, David paints a picture of God’s intimate and delicate involvement in the formation of life from the moment of conception. As many people know, weaving or knitting is delicate work. It takes concentration to make sure the right strands go in the right place to produce the pattern that will lead to a recognizable whole. The scarf that your grandma knit is not only beautiful because of the amazing pattern of the woven threads, it is beautiful and valuable because of the hands that made it. Your life is amazingly beautiful and valuable, not only because of the miraculous complexity of your body, but because of the hands of your Creator.
The Awe of It All
David was awed by this. “I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this” (v.14). Are you “fully aware” of how amazing and miraculous you are? It doesn’t matter what you look like, or how good you are at math, or whether all your parts still work! You are the work of God’s hands! As such, don’t ever question your value. God himself says, “Are you going to give me orders concerning my handiwork?” (Isaiah 45:11). From the moment of conception, God has been involved in your life.
That brings David back to God’s intimate knowledge of you and me. “My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop” (v.15). “Underground workshop” is a reference to the womb. Adam was made from the earth (Genesis 2:7). So the idea of earth, dark, underground, secret place, womb, beginning of life-these would all go together for the Hebrew. David’s point is clear: God knew us even before we were born. He is our “Skillful Weaver.”
In verse 16, God’s knowledge of you before you were born is repeated with an addition. “Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus. Every day of my life was recorded in your book before one of them had taken place.” God not only knew you while you were being formed inside your mother, God had a plan and purpose for your life! It just makes you want to say, “Wow”! That’s how David continues.
“How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast in number they are! If I try to count them, there would be more of them than there are grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with you” (v.17-18). In other words, you are always in the thoughts of God! You have been from the very beginning of your life. God knows you because he was intimately involved in your formation. The reason God is always present in your life is because what he made is precious to him.
The Comfort of Being Watched
That brings us back to the idea that God is watching over you as your Creator, and not as “Big Brother.” Yes, he sees and knows everything you do and that’s not always good! But don’t be afraid! God has provided a means of forgiveness. His Son, Jesus, took our place from the very beginning. He, too, grew and developed in the womb of his mother, Mary. He lived a perfect life in our place. Then he took our sins upon himself and suffered and died in our place on the cross. He satisfied God’s justice and endured the punishment for sin for all people for all time-including you! Through faith in Jesus, whom God brought back to life from the dead, we are seen by God as holy and pure. Therefore, it’s not frightening to think about God knowing us and watching us. In fact, it is very comforting. He sees you as the work of his hands. He sees you as reclaimed by the outstretched hands of his Son. You are indeed precious to him! Wow!
Facing a Terrible Reality
Although Psalm 139 describes so amazingly God’s involvement in human life from the very beginning, it also provides a platform upon which to face a terrible reality. Not everyone sees the preciousness of human life in the womb. There are those who favor invading this “knitting room” of God and killing the life God creates there. Abortion has been around so long that many have become desensitized to what it really is and does. Even many Christians ask, “What’s so wrong with the right to choose?” Read on and see what defending the “right to choose” is really all about.