Why Life is Sacred and What that Even Means

Sacred. What does that word even mean? We hardly use it anymore today. It sounds like a vegetable. “Yeah, we just planted some sacred between the beets and the squash.” But it’s a very important word. Because life is sacred. When our hearts lose the truth of that last sentence, we descend into the very worst of humanity. But when we live that truth, we reflect the best.

Google says sacred means:

  • Connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.
  • Religious rather than secular.
  • Of writing or text, embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion.

Wrong. That’s not even right! We totally don’t know what the word even means anymore. Sacred is not just a synonym for religious.

Wikipedia’s Sacred page starts with: “Sacred means revered due to sanctity and is generally the state of being perceived by religious individuals as associated with divinity and considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers. Objects are often considered sacred if used for spiritual purposes, such as the worship or service of gods.”

Wrong again. “Sacred means revered due to sanctity”? That’s a circular definition! At best, Wikipedia makes it sound irrelevant to everyday life. But nothing could be more relevant to life than an understanding, at the heart level, of this word.

Yes, both Google and Wikipedia capture the way the word is often used, but that’s not what it means. It is used in these ways because of what it means. So let’s find out what it really means.

Merriam-Webster reaches back a little further than the birth of the Internet. While listing similar definitions to Google and Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster also says this, which is the real definition of sacred:

  • Entitled to reverence and respect
  • Highly valued and important

Sacred is often used for religious meanings because we traditionally have considered God, and the things of God, worthy of respect and highly important. But sacred really means entitled to and worthy of reverence and respect, highly valued and important. Irreplaceable. Something you don’t mess with.

That’s your life. That’s my life. That’s our lives. That’s all human life. Human life is sacred, not to be messed with, because we’re created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27). None of the animals were, only people. We alone are this unique blend of physical and spiritual life.

Human life is sacred. You don’t mess with it. When we forget this truth, or ignore it, we make devastating consequences for ourselves. We deal ourselves a huge loss.

During her American visit in the ‘90s, when Bill Clinton was president, Mother Teresa was asked by Hillary Clinton, “Why haven’t we had a women president yet?” Mother Teresa didn’t even blink, “She was probably aborted.” HRC was not amused.

Every life has a tree of life attached to it. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. And that’s just heredity. Think about impact. We all touch thousands of lives. That touch matters, for good or ill. Those lives will never be the same.

Who’s inspired you? Who has pulled you back from the brink? A parent? A teacher? A coach? An author? A friend? Where would you be if that life never existed?

It’s a Wonderful Life, the black ‘n’ white movie with Jimmy Stewart, is more than just a drippy Christmas movie. It’s an amazing example of this concept. You know the story. George Bailey, at the height of his despair over his own failed life, gets the tremendous gift of seeing what the world would be like without him. Turns out he’s not a failure after all. His life held back tremendous evil in his town, hugely affecting everyone in ways they would never know. Hundreds of men would’ve died on the other side of the world during WWII, because his medal-of-honor war hero brother wasn’t there to save them, because George wasn’t there to save him when he fell through the ice when they were children. Every life matters.

Life is sacred. You don’t mess with it.

The worst of humanity comes out when we lose sight of this truth. The Nazis. ISIS. North Korea. Stalin’s purges in the old Soviet Union. Abortion.

We’ve lost over 60 million lives due to abortion in America alone (which is a small number compared to the rest of the world). To put it in perspective, the Holocaust was 18 million. Our numbers are 3 times that, and counting.

If you count not just the deaths, but the devastation left in abortion’s wake, it’s at least 180 million. Because there’s a mother whose maternal nurturing identity was devastated with the death of her child. There’s a father whose paternal provider/protector identity was cut to the heart, replaced by a false identity of failure. And we haven’t counted grandparents or siblings yet, who also lost a family member.

The lie in the culture is about quality of life over sanctity of life. Do any of these lies sound familiar?

“It was for the best, she’s got three kids on welfare already.” It doesn’t matter how poor the mother is. Do we really believe only rich people deserve to live? I thought money couldn’t buy happiness?

“The ultrasound and amniocentesis show the baby has Down’s syndrome. You should abort.” Have you ever known a child with Down’s syndrome? I have. These precious children bless the lives of everyone who meets them. Yet some countries have aborted almost every one of them, to their great loss. The eugenicists of the ‘20s would be so proud. God forgive us and lead us to repent.

“She had her whole life ahead of her. She had to abort. Now she can go to college and her life can get back to normal.” Had to abort? That doesn’t sound like a choice. The truth is, her life will never get back to “normal,” whatever that means. Once she’s pregnant, she’s a mother. She can either be a mother who has a child, or a mother who lost one. But she will never again not be a mother.

All of these common excuses for abortion reflect quality of life, not sanctity of life. Life is sacred. You don’t mess with it.

If one life, especially the most vulnerable—the unborn who have no voice of their own to stand up for themselves—is not valued, then no one’s life is safe.

The culture of death does not stop with abortion. It starts there. Here’s the slippery slope:

  • Abortion
  • Assisted suicide
  • Euthanasia for the comatose
  • Euthanasia for the elderly
  • Euthanasia for the disabled
  • Euthanasia for the “undesirables”
  • The Final Solution

Sound familiar? Have you seen this movie? Haven’t we already had this nightmare? How many times do we have to stumble blindly down this road?

Let’s not let history repeat itself again. We can stop this.

Speak up for life. Support your local crisis pregnancy center. Help an unwed mother. Be the change we want to see. God will always strengthen us for this and answer that prayer. Perhaps we were born for such a time as this.

If you have had an abortion, or fathered an aborted child, get healing. Jesus loves you and has so much healing for you, but you can’t walk through it yourself. You need help, and it’s so available, just waiting for you. Here are some resources to help you find a Christ-centered, post-abortive recovery program in your area. And if you can’t find one, email us. We’ll walk through it with you.

http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/weekend/sites.aspx

http://hopeafterabortion.com

https://optionline.org/after-abortion-support

http://afterabortion.org/help-healing

https://www.healingafterabortion.org/mission–vision-statement.html

So who’s made a significant impact in your life? Where would you be if that person wasn’t there? Tell us in the comments. And please share on social media if you think this post would bless someone els

How to Honor Someone Else’s Identity

Most of you remember the free ebook I gave to our subscribers as a Christmas present, Midget: A Fable of Giant Inner Healing. I plan to sell it later this year on Amazon and wanted you, our subscribers, to have it first for free. (It’s available on the downloads page; click the “Free Stuff” link above.)

A friend pointed out that “midget” is a pejorative term among little people. So I emailed the LPA (Little People of America) and asked them (1) if that was so, and (2) for suggestions about how to fix it. I said I’m not averse to changing the title (and the name of the main character), but would prefer to include a disclaimer with their approved wording.

Cuquis Robledo, the Public Relations Director of Little People of America, sent me a very timely and polite response. She congratulated me on the ebook and thanked me for reaching out to them. I believe they were sincerely touched that I cared enough to ask.

They suggested a title change and a disclaimer educating people against using the word “midget” at all, which they call the “m-word.” The LPA is trying to remove usage of the word from our vocabulary in general; for example, working with the USDA to rename certain food products. I confess I originally thought this was a little extreme, but then I actually listened to them. I listened to why from their point-of-view. Here is what I learned.

The m-word was used in the Freak Show era to de-humanize little people. “Come see the bearded-lady! Come see the elephant man! Come see the midgets!” I think little people have a right to be angry over the use of this de-humanizing word. Working in post-abortive recovery, I feel the same anger when pro-abortion advocates de-humanize a child as a “fetus” or as a “product of conception.”

When my dad grew up in Oklahoma, Brazil nuts were called “n-word toes”. They didn’t mean anything bad by it, and my dad was not a racist. It was just the thing’s name as they were taught. But I think it’s good that today we no longer use that de-humanizing word. I never realized the m-word was in the same category, but it is.

So this is not about political correctness gone mad. This is about respecting real people and their identity. It’s about sensitivity to not hurting other people unnecessarily. (Yes, there are times when we need to say painful truth, but this isn’t one of them.)

Even if the term doesn’t hurt me, and I don’t think it should hurt them, the fact that it does hurt them should be enough for me to not use it. Especially a word that was used in the past to de-humanize them.

While there’s certainly no constitutional right to avoid offense, we as Christians answer to a higher authority. We can voluntarily choose to follow the moral compass Jesus laid out for us in, among other places, 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 25 (especially the sheep and the goats parable). We can choose to walk in love.

So, all that to say, I’m voluntarily changing the name of the ebook. The question is, To what? This is the exciting and fun part! This is where you come in. I’m asking for your help. What’s a good name? Here’s some guidance to think about:

  • The words “midget” and “giant” are clear opposites. In changing the title, I’ll also have to change the subtitle, “A Fable of Giant Inner Healing.” Help me also find a word for the subtitle that’s the opposite of the new name.
  • I veto “Dwarf” right out-of-the-gate because, with the popularity of LOTR, people will expect something quite different from an ebook called “Dwarf”.
  • It should be mildly disrespectful or snarky. When the “tall ones” call the main character by the m-word, they aren’t complementing him. They are limiting him and his identity. It was meant to be a mild put-down.
  • Ideally, it would still fit on the cover in a similar way.

So what are your ideas? Leave them in the comments! Let’s have fun with this!

To Be Right or to Be Jesus, that Is the Question

“To be or not to be, that is the question,” asked Shakespeare through his character Hamlet, in the play by the same name. That’s probably both Hamlet’s and Shakespeare’s most famous line. But the question is incomplete. “To be or not to be WHAT?” What are we going to fall on our swords over this year? Being right or being Jesus?

When I was a teen, I was one opinionated bugger. Why shouldn’t I be? I thought. I’m right! And often I may even have been right, politically, morally, and spiritually. I was a Reagan-Republican, after all. I knew my Bible backwards and forwards. But I was missing something. In my self-righteousness, even when I got it right I missed the best. I so often missed Jesus’ heart.

If just being right is our goal, then we get really angry because everyone else is just so wrong. Just spend an afternoon on FaceBook and you’ll see what I mean. Being right, as an end in itself, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It takes a lot of energy arguing with all those people who just won’t get it, no matter how right we are. Maybe there’s a better way to change the world.

The Pharisees were totally right. Always, just ask them. They were conservatives who knew the Law, chapter and verse. They brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), who according to the Law of Moses should be stoned. That was the “right” thing to do. (BTW, adultery’s not a solitary crime. According to the Law of Moses, the man also should be stoned [Leviticus 20:10]. I guess they rationalized that bit away – first clue they missed something – selective application of the Law. Being all men, the Pharisee’s probably rationalized excusing the man.)

But, fortunately for us, Jesus isn’t after right. He’s after best. The best does not violate what’s right, it supersedes it. You know the story, Jesus saved the woman without violating the Law of Moses. We should, too.

Jesus talks about dying to ourselves. In fact, he says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But wait, that means denying my rights! That’s downright un-American. Was Jesus a communist or something?

No, but he’s after what’s best, not just what’s right, something better than what’s right. Sometimes, often, love means dying to our right to be right.

In high school, a certain bully was going to beat-up my friend Don. After successfully evading the bully one hot summer afternoon, Don drove past him walking home carrying a load of books under the hot sun. Don could’ve honked and waved as he drove by in his air-conditioned car. But he didn’t. He pulled over and offered the bully a ride.

No one was more surprised than the bully. The guy almost fell over. It took him a minute to realize the offer was genuine and Don wasn’t just goading him. “Why are you doing this? Why would give me a ride?”, asked one surprised bully.

“Because it looks like you need one,” my friend Don simply replied. The bully accepted, and they became close friends after that. (And nobody dared mess with Don again or the bully would pulverize them.)

My friend would’ve been within his rights to pass by the bully. But he correctly discerned the Kingdom of God had something better in mind.

This doesn’t mean we don’t hold people accountable when necessary. It’s actually love to hold criminals and abusers and narcissists accountable (1) to prevent future victims, and (2) so they have the opportunity to get help (if they don’t take the opportunity, that’s on them). It’s also love to discipline our children.

But in the common everyday stuff of life, mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13). The best triumphs over the right.

What about you? Does this resonate? Have you shown mercy and had it be better than the “right” would’ve been? Or have you had someone show you mercy when you didn’t deserve it? Tell us your story in the comments, and please share if you think this post would bless someone else.

Why New Year Is in the Dead of Winter

It’s fascinating to me that our New Year here in the West occurs in the dead of Winter. I know other cultures’ New Year occurs at different times of the year, and that’s great. I’m sure God is speaking to all cultures with the timing of their New Year celebration, but I’m only qualified to write about my own culture. What is God saying to us in the West?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the New Year to be at the start of Spring, when everything’s budding and coming back to life? Maybe in some cultures it is; what an awesome time that must be. But God worked through our history to make our New Year when all the leaves are off the trees and everything’s dead. Why do you suppose that is?

I’ve heard a pastor say that leaves don’t actually change color in Fall. They reveal the true color they actually are when not getting overridden by all that green chlorophyll. The point he was making is, in the Autumn of your life, your true colors will show.

What are your hidden colors? Do they reflect the grace and healing of God’s empowerment in your life, or do they still reflect your wounding?

There’s nothing wrong, by the way, with being in a place of wounding. Acknowledging where you’re at is the first step to get healing. Run to God in those times, not away from him. The problem comes when we run away from God and to our chlorophyll of choice to hide our wounded colors, in our own strength.

What is your chlorophyll of choice? Control? Addiction? Entitlement? Performance? (Personally, I’m really good at performance, more about that later.)

Have you ever wondered why we don’t go straight from Fall to Spring? After all, why can’t the new leaves just push out the old? Why do we have to go through a cold, bare-root season first? Why do we have to get stripped down to nothing? Maybe there’s something necessary going on inside the trunk of the tree that’s getting ready for Spring. Maybe Spring couldn’t come without this time of preparation.

What happens when circumstances and struggles reveal our wounding and our chlorophyll of choice stops working? What happens when all the leaves are off the trees of our lives? Maybe when we’re stripped down to the bare trunk, maybe that’s when we hear God best. Maybe because then we have to and we don’t have any other choice. Maybe out of his great love and mercy for us, he’s stripped away everything that distracted us from his voice.

I think God considers that place the beginning. That’s where his New Year starts. Because when all the outside is stripped away, there’s nothing left but to work on the heart. And that’s what he’s always wanted, to heal our wounding and give us a new heart.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I’m up for that. My hidden colors were worthlessness and rejection. The lie I believed was, “I am unlovable.” My chlorophyll of choice was being nice, being a servant to all. Dying to myself, literally, to a fault. My bitter root expectation was, “You’re going to reject me. So I’m not going to give you a reason. I’m going to be as lovable as possible, so that when (not if) you reject me, it’s on you.” We call this performance orientation, and I got really good at it, unfortunately.

God had to take me through a bare-root, cold Winter season. He had to strip away all the false leaves and false colors I used to protect my heart, in order to take that structure of lies and inner vows and bitter root expectations down.

Ironically, it’s when I started coming out of those lies that all disaster broke loose. My family fell apart and disintegrated. It hurt. But it was a season. It was only a season (a long season, several years), and I’m coming through it now. Sometimes the enemy’s greatest deception is to trick us into believing the painful season we’re in is forever, which brings desperation and despair. It’s not forever. It’s only a season. Trusting God brings hope through the pain.

He’s still working on me, but I’ve come a long way. He’s brought me into a fresh, bright Spring the last few years. He’s restored relationships I thought would never be restored, while others I still wait for. And he’s using his chlorophyll to work his colors into me.

How about you? What season are you in, here at the turn of the New Year? Tell us in the comments. If you’re in a cold, Winter, bare-root season, we’d love to pray with you. If you’ve come through such a season, please share your story; it will encourage others. And please share on social media if you think this post would bless others.