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

5 Steps to Embracing the Intimacy We’re Both Terrified of and Longing for

Are you ready to go deep today? Because in this post, I’m going to talk about what we all want and desperately need, but we’re all terribly afraid of. Deep down, sometimes way down there, we all want intimacy. But how can we embrace the intimacy we’re simultaneously longing for and terrified of?

Intimacy == Into Me See

 

We all want to know and be known. We were created in God’s image, after all. God is a triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He’s in relationship with and within himself. We were created for relationship, with him and with others. And in relationship we reflect his image much fuller than we do individually (especially in a marriage, but in friendships, too).

We long to live out who we were created to be, but because of our wounding, we’re often terrified of it. We send conflicting messages like “come here, stay away!” Or maybe “come close, not that close!”

Because of our heart-wounds, often very early in life, we make judgements and believe lies about ourselves, about the world, and about God. Judgements and lies like:

  • “Men can’t be trusted.”
  • “People will reject me.”
  • “I’m dirty.”
  • “Emotions are bad.”

Then, in a desperate effort to protect our heart, rather than trust God with our pain, we make inner vows to protect our heart, in our own strength.

  • “I don’t need anyone. I will take of myself.”
  • “I’ll reject people before they reject me.”
  • “I’ll be what anyone else wants me to be so I’m accepted.”
  • “I won’t have emotions.”

Yes, we’re keeping ourselves safe this way. But we’re doing it by chaining ourselves into a dark dungeon of our own making. And living in a dark, dank dungeon brings its own pain, which we live with as the price for safety. Like a boat safely raised in dry dock, we never risk setting sail on the adventure we were created for.

How tragic is that! Fortunately, God has something better for us, and Jesus made a way with his sacrifice on the cross. Here’s 5 steps to escape from this prison we’ve made for ourselves.

1) Talk to your heart. We can discover these inner vows by, when we’re feeling afraid of a relationship, talking to our heart. Maybe the fear is masked by anger or rage or some other bad behavior to keep people away. But at the root, it’s fear, and if we’re honest with ourselves in a quiet moment, we know it. So find a quiet place, and ask yourself, “Heart, why are you afraid?” Then hush up and listen.

Now our mind, wanting to be helpful, will often jump in and answer the question with lots of rational reasons. If we’re getting words, rather than impressions or emotions or pictures or memories, it’s probably our mind and not our heart. You have to tell your mind to hush up, too. You can literally tell yourself, “Mind, thanks for trying to help, but I was talking to Heart. So just be quiet now and let Heart speak for itself.” Then listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you hear your heart.

We’re not used to listening to our heart, so this can take a while sometimes. Maybe even a couple days or weeks. But keep asking your heart. And keep asking the Holy Spirit to help you hear your heart. Some of us have buried our heart pretty deep. And often our heart doesn’t speak in words, so it can take some effort to figure it out.

2) Identify the benefit. Once we know what the lie is that we’ve believed, and what inner vow we took to protect our heart, we need one more piece of information. What benefit did we get from the inner vow? Somehow it’s protecting us from the pain (although causing us worse pain). Again, ask your heart, and ask the Holy Spirit.

3) Get the opposite of the lie. The next step is to ask God what’s the opposite of that lie for us. If we’re familiar with the Bible, he will often pop a scripture into our heads. The Bible is a promise book, after all. Pastors and other spiritually mature mentors can be tremendously helpful with this. The game here is to replace the lie with God’s truth.

Now we have a choice. We can keep believing the lie, falsely believing we’re in control. Or we can surrender control to God and accept his truth. It’s up to us.

4) Forgive the person who hurt us. Nothing keeps us in prison like unforgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending they didn’t do evil to us. It’s coming to the place where they are not the evil they did to us. We know we’ve finished forgiveness (which is a process, not an event) when we can pray blessing over the person and mean it.

5) Replace the lie with the truth through repentance. Finally, repent of that vow and break it. We need to repent of the vow, and renounce the benefit we’re getting from it. Replace the lie we believed with God’s truth. Here’s a sample prayer. Use this as a template and make it your own.

Lord, I forgive _____ for _____. I repent of believing the lie that _____, and I repent and renounce the inner vow I made, _____. I renounce the benefit I got from that inner vow of _____. I’m now trusting you with my heart instead trying to protect it myself.

This is how we start living in freedom and embracing intimacy with God and others around us. But freedom can be scary, because we’re not in control anymore. We’re living by dangerous faith. Yes, it’s dangerous. Living this way will change us. But don’t worry, it’s good. It is so worth it.

What do you think? Does this resonate? Please tell us in the comments and share it on social media. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Why Your Negative Past Is Key to Your Awesome Future

Have you ever been paralyzed by your past? Have you ever wanted to do something that made your heart leap, but then dropped the idea because your past disqualified you? Maybe you were an addict or had an affair. Maybe it was an abortion or divorce. Fill in the blank for you.

The truth is, not only can God forgive and heal your past, but your past is actually key to God’s calling on your life. There are two important points here.

First, our past doesn’t derail God’s calling on our life.

But we can derail ourselves. Sometimes we sabotage our own destiny.

“I can’t write that book because I dropped out of college!”

“I can’t lead a marriage Bible study because I’m divorced!”

Sometimes our sabotage is subtle, unconscious, and just under the surface:

“I don’t deserve a healthy relationship after what I’ve done!”

But the good news is our past does not disqualify us from our future for one big reason. That’s not how God sees us. Check out this story.

Ok, so we’re in Damascus, first decade AD. A Christian named Ananias is out watering sheep, or doing whatever they did back then, when God shows up in a vision and calls him by name.

Ananias thinks this is awesome, until Jesus says, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He’s praying and I’ve given him a vision of you restoring his sight.”

Now Ananias thinks, “Snap, not so awesome.” He answers, “Lord, I saw this dude on Jerusalem Today. He was going house-to-house, dragging off Christians and throwing them in prison! And he’s come here to do the same thing! Look, I’ll show you on my iPhone. I’ve got it on YouTube right here.”

Ok, now this is where it gets interesting. Here’s what the Lord never said:

  • “Wow, I hadn’t heard that! I guess I picked the wrong guy. Must be a mix-up in the front office.”
  • “Thanks, Ananias, you really saved me from a big blooper there!”
  • “I sure am glad you’re on my team, Ananias! Way to be on the ball!”

Nope. Instead, the Lord gets a little testy with Ananias: “Go! Don’t you be talkin’ ‘bout my servant like that! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Ok, I took some creative license here, but you can read the real story in Acts 8:3 and 9:1-19.

Here’s the thing: Everything Ananias said about Saul was completely true. And the Lord completely ignored it. Instead of arguing with Ananias over Earth’s truth about Saul, the Lord responded with Heaven’s truth about Saul. “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel.”

Earth’s truth defines us by what we’ve done. But Heaven’s truth defines us by our calling, and that’s how God sees us. Heaven’s truth trumps earth’s truth every time, which is why your past doesn’t disqualify you. You are not what you’ve done.

When we agree with Heaven’s truth, admit the wrongs in our past, and turn from them so we don’t practice them anymore, like Saul did, that’s called repentance. Repentance totally blows our past away so it has no more power over us.

Second, our past is key to God’s calling on our life.

Back to Saul, soon to be the Apostle Paul. God knew the most challenging controversy in the first century church would be the confusion over whether Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the whole Law of Moses or not. There were some very persuasive Pharisees who became Christians and insisted they did. God felt otherwise, but who could stand up to the legalistic and opinionated Pharisees and logically make God’s point to the contrary? Certainly not some uneducated fishermen who could barely read or write!

What God needed was somebody who was himself circumcised on the eighth day, a Hebrew of Hebrews, somebody zealous for the Law who knew it as well as or better than the Pharisees causing all the trouble. If fact, God needed an ex-Pharisee.

Enter the Apostle Paul. He’s wasn’t just an ex-Pharisee, but an exceptional one. He studied under Gamaliel, the greatest Rabbi of that day. He excelled way beyond his peers and was extremely zealous (Galatians 1:14, Philippians 3:4-6). Paul could run circles around the other Pharisees with the Law. He was perfect. Paul’s past was key to God’s calling on his life.

After we repent and go through a season of healing, like Paul did, our past can be key to our future. We have authority over what we’ve been rescued from.

Dropped out of college? You’ve acquired real-life wisdom that makes you perfect to write that book.

Been divorced? You’re perfect to lead that marriage Bible study. You know where the traps and pitfalls are.

Had an affair or abortion? You’re perfect to lead others through the healing you’ve received. You know the pain they’re feeling.

And when you set others free from what you’ve been set free from, that’s revenge. Sweet revenge. Make the enemy sorry he ever messed with you! Make the devil need therapy! Woof!

So what’s Heaven’s truth about you? The Lord has a mission for you. Do you know what it is? It’s connected to your past. You are his chosen instrument for, what? Fill in the blank for you. What’s the passion that rises up in your heart when you think about it. Your past does not disqualify you from it. Your past is actually key to it.

Does this possibility make your heart leap? Does it resonate? Tell us your story in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share on social media if you think this would help or inspire someone else.

[Note: This post was inspired by Graham Cooke’s Living Your Truest Identity 3-CD audio series. I highly recommend it. This is not an affiliate link; we get no commission if you click the link or buy from Graham.]

The Secret to Repairing a Relationship You’ve Damaged

We’ve all done it. We’ve damaged a relationship we cared about. We know we’re at fault, although we don’t like to admit it. How can we repair that relationship? Some would say it’s like feathers shaken out of a pillow on a mountaintop—you can never put them back in—it’s too late. I respectfully disagree. There is a way to put the feathers back in the pillow.

Relationships are like bank accounts. They have balances. When we damaged the relationship, we tipped the scale away from the other person. From their point-of-view, there’s a negative balance in the account. That’s why the relationship’s damaged. We need to make a deposit.

“Making it right” is not good enough. Maybe we broke or lost something that belonged to the other person. Just replacing the item is not enough, although that technically “makes it right” and undoes the thing we did. But really we just brought the negative balance back to zero. The other person went from a positive balance to zero—they still lost overall in the transaction. They’ve forgiven us at this point, but they still feel slighted in the transaction, which is why the relationship is damaged.

The secret is to make a deposit (or several deposits) great enough to get the other person above their previous positive balance. Once they feel the scales are tipped back in their favor, you’ve repaired the relationship.

Look at it from their point-of-view. Say my neighbor borrows my car, gets in a fender-bender, and has it repaired. He brings it back and says, “Hey, Dave, I got in an accident but I got it repaired. Here’s your car.” I thank him and forgive him, but am I going to let him borrow my car again? Nope. I feel slighted in the transaction. Now my car’s been in an accident. They never quite drive the same. My resale value is negatively affected, blah, blah, blah. While I’m thankful he at least fixed my car, the relationship is still damaged, because I feel like I’m still getting the short end of the stick.

But say he brings my car back and says this instead: “Hey, Dave, I got in an accident but I got it repaired. While it was in the shop, I took out your stock AM/FM radio and replaced it with a state-of-the-art, surround-sound, premium sound system, with a 6 CD disc changer. Here’s your car.” Now can he borrow my car again? Anytime he wants! And I hope he gets in an accident! Maybe I’ll get spinners next time. (Kudos to John Sandford, Elijah House Ministries, for this example.)

You see how this works? It’s called Restitution. It’s the secret to repairing damaged relationships. You have to go over and above to do something the other person views as significant to tip the scales back in their favor. Restitution makes a deposit that takes the relationship balance back above where it was previously, in the other person’s eyes.

Here’s a couple more examples:

  • If broke your neighbor’s lawn mower, not only do you buy him a new one, top-of-the-line even if his other one was not, you buy him a top-of-the-line weed-whacker as well.
  • If you lost your friend’s book, not only do you replace it, searching high and low on eBay if you have to if it’s out of print, but you give her a $200 Amazon gift card along with it.

It doesn’t have to be monetary restitution, although those are easy examples. Here’s a non-monetary one.

  • Maybe you’ve said or did something really hurtful to your spouse. So you get up early and do some chore they normally do that you know they hate. Maybe you know they clean the bathrooms every Friday, so you get up at 4:00 AM every Friday so you can do it before going to work. How long? Forever. And you don’t say a word about it. Let them discover it.

Restitution is a sacrifice you make, could be monetary, could be effort, from a place of empathy over the pain you’ve caused them. Not because you’re hurting. Because they’re hurting.

Some caveats here:

  • It has to be something significant from the other person’s point-of-view, not from yours. It has to be something meaningful to them.
  • You can’t ask them—that just comes across as the manipulation it is. This might not seem fair, but think about it. Once you ask, you make it about you: “What box do I have to check to get on your good side again?” But that’s not fair! I can’t read their mind! No, but:
    • The Holy Spirit can, and will tell you the answer if you seek him out about it. God is totally into restoring relationships. That’s what that whole cross thing was about.
    • If you care enough about the relationship, you’ll put the effort into figuring it out. Trial ‘n’ error is ok.
  • You can only do this with the right heart. This isn’t penance. You’re not trying to manipulate them because you want something from them. You’ll truly broken and hurt, not because you feel guilty over what you’ve done, but honestly because of the pain you caused them. You hurt because they’re hurting, and you want to bless them not hurt them.
  • Don’t bother with narcissists. There are people that secretly rejoice inside when you do something negative to them. They hold that negative bank account over your head as a way to manipulate and control you, and no restitution you do is ever enough. I wrote this post with the assumption that the relationship you’re trying to repair is a healthy one. No relationship with a narcissist is a healthy one. Do whatever a reasonable person would accept, but don’t submit to any control a narcissist tries to exert beyond that. If they walk away from the relationship, let them.

The other person may or may not allow the relationship to be restored. That’s on them and their ability to forgive. But you’ve done, and continue to do, everything the Holy Spirit lays on your heart to do. Depending on the offense, restitution can take years. But it’s so worth it.

Does this strike a chord with you? Does this resonate? Tell us your story in the comments. How did you repair that relationship? And please share if you think this would help someone else (share buttons below).