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America, Look Up

The importance of America returning to Christian principles and Traditional Family Values

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A Magical Land of Free Abortions


babyinwomb  A few mornings ago, I visited a family at the hospital. As we discussed their loved ones serious condition, at one point, lilting chimes played a sweet lullaby over the public address system. We paused our conversation, and one noted,

“Ohhh, how sweet.  A baby was born.”

For a brief moment, the burden of a loved one recovering from a serious injury was interrupted by the welcomed announcement of a baby’s birth. For whatever reason, my mind transported back 2000 years to the Judean hills just outside Bethlehem.

The Bible records in Luke 2, the most important birth announcement in world history.  Instead of chimes and a soothing lullaby, an angelic choir shattered the silent night with a glorious choral arrangement. The shepherds quaked in fear as the angels announced the Messiah’s arrival.  After the multitude of heavenly beings disappeared into the heavenly realms, the shepherds followed the angel’s instructions, and hurried to find a

“babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

They found the newborn and his adolescent parents huddled together in a musty, dank, smelly stable. Undeterred or confused by this little one’s lowly beginnings, the shepherds left holy ground, serving as the first evangelists to point people to Christ.

Two Sundays ago, a church member sang “A Baby Changes Everything,” in our worship service on Sunday. The song shares the point of view of both Mary and Joseph and their handling of a newborn child. Adding a newborn to the household is a game changer. My wife and I have six children and every time we’ve brought a baby home, the household routine takes a back seat to the infant’s schedule…or lack thereof. But would we have it any other way? Absolutely not! However, there are those who believe the disruption isn’t worth it and opt out of a perfectly viable pregnancy via abortion.

The abortion giant Planned Parenthood has garnered much attention as of late in regards to their handling of the remains of aborted babies. Undercover investigative journalists uncovered unethical practices at several differing clinics across America. It seems that this entity would strive to keep its nose clean to allow the outrage of Conservatives to cool. However, a recent Tweet confirms that the abortion leader feels little remorse about their deviant practices. Someone from Planned Parenthood actually tweeted the following:

“Imagine ‘life in a magical land where abortions and birth control are free and plentiful’ This place exists.”

I’m guessing the place is hell.

In actuality, we should imagine a land where every life conceived is given every opportunity to enter the world and be cherished and loved. Instead, many view the fetus as a burden or compare the unborn child to a tumor or clump of cells, disregarding that God considers the child a masterpiece of His own design.

I can imagine a magical land where abortions and birth control are free and plentiful. In fact, we’re living in that Country now. Okay, so abortions might not be free, but aren’t they plentiful? Does 1,000,000 abortions per year sound like a paltry sum? Should we strive for more? Maybe Planned Parenthood could host a telethon in the same vein as the MDA televised specials of old.  Every time another baby dies, they add a number to the electronic numbers board. Let’s shoot for the moon! And birth control? Most pills cost a mere pittance and there’s still the option of a truck stop bathroom.  And for those who really are desperate for free abortions, let me warn you, free doesn’t mean cheap. It’s costing the collective soul of the United States of America.

This Christmas season, let’s cherish life and celebrate the greatest gift of all. We all should drop to our knees and thank God Mary didn’t visit a Planned Parenthood.

Book Review: The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain


Mike and Jan Berenstain hit a home run with the Berenstain Bears “The Very First Christmas.”  This was the first time I chose to read and review a children’s book, but with six kids, who could ask for a better critic.

As soon as I ripped open the envelope, both of my little girls grabbed for the book.  My seven year old and 2 year old are ardent fans of the Berenstain Bears.  I happened to arrive home in time for the youngest one’s nap, so we cuddled up together and I read the book.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the book’s content.  I’ve noted in other Berenstain stories that the books teach a moral lesson, but I didn’t expect this book to be so Biblical in nature.  In a culture where some wage war on Christmas, booting nativities from the public square, “The Very First Christmas” teaches the true meaning of Christmas in a manner making any Christian parent proud to read it to their children.

I was especially impressed that the authors didn’t lump the Wisemen with the Shepherds at the manger scene.  In “The Very First Christmas” the Wisemen deliver their precious gifts to Jesus at the house where he and his family lived.

I would recommend this book to any parent wanting to share the true meaning of Christmas!

How the VA Stole Christmas


This past Sunday I filled the pulpit as my Pastor wrapped up a week of vacation.  I chose to deliver a message built around the visit of the Magi.  I titled the sermon, “How the Grinch Almost Stole Christmas,” the Grinch of course being King Herod.   One of the points presented was Herod’s hostility to the new King.  I compared his hostility to the animosity against Christmas in America today.

A few days ago, I read a story written by Fox News and Commentary Radio Personality, Todd Starnes.  He reported about VA hospitals around the Country refusing gifts, carols, and cards if these wishes used the phrases “Merry Christmas,” “God Bless You,” or included Scriptural references.   At one hospital, a school wished to sing carols, but before the kids visited the patients, the VA sent a list of “government approved” songs, 12 in number.  Frosty the snowman made the cut, and knowing the current Administration, probably “Barry Did You Know.”  Any references to the sacred and spiritual meaning of Christmas wound up on the banned list.  I shared this news with our Congregation and unexpectedly, I found myself choking back tears.

Yes, over the last couple of years God’s certainly tenderized my heart, but I didn’t expect the tears on Sunday morning.  Sitting in the congregation, my dad sat teary-eyed as well.  My grief stems not from a sadness for myself, but for the future of my children.  For an instant, I imagined the school children of Grace Academy in Prosper, TX, hunched over their desks, meticulously drawing Christmas cards to cheer men and women recovering from wounds suffered while defending our Country.  I pictured them drawing Christmas Trees, Stars, and Stables, each buckling down to give their very best.  I also envisioned the disappointment on their faces as they discovered any cards wishing America’s brave warriors a “Merry Christmas” or an appreciated “God Bless You” would not be shared.  How does a teacher who instructs about the Constitution explain that political correctness now trumps the First Amendment?

It’s quite possible future soldiers attend this school, but when they become old enough to enlist, why should they place their lives on the line for a Country stripping away the Constitutional rights their fighting to protect?

Two thousand years ago, King Herod failed at eliminating Christmas.  Today, once again it’s the Government actively working to erase any public vestiges of Christmas, and without the Grace and Mercy of God, the America we’ve grown to love, celebrations and all, could become nothing more than an ancient memory.  But there’s good news.

Ban Christmas.  Outlaw Christmas.  Bow at the white round base of Frosty the Snowman.  No one can take away the spirit of Christmas nor the reason we celebrate.

And that’s the birth of Christ.

So, the VA didn’t nor can it steal Christmas but instead it swiped away encouragement and cheer.  And what do I say to that?

Bah, humbug.”

*Update:  I contacted the Grace Academy School.  This was the school that made Christmas cards for soldiers, but the VA refused to allow the Students to pass them out if they referenced “Christmas” or had Scripture.  I think it would be awesome if we sent the school thank-you cards for attempting to make our military wounded’s Christmas brighter.  I received the response below from the school along with mailing information.

Mr. Ridenour, Thank you so much for your kind words. The entire 6th-9th grade students were responsible for making the cards (52 students). Thank you notes would be such a blessing to these students to show them that they are supported in their efforts of standing up for what is right. You may send them directly to the school,

ATTN: Mrs. Chapman, Math and she will ensure that they are shared with the students.  Grace Academy of North Texas 4255 E. Prosper Trail, Prosper, TX  75078

Trading for Ugly


A few years ago, a news report surfaced about a young man making extra money for college selling ugly Christmas sweaters.  Who doesn’t need to make a little extra, right?  I decided one way to help pay down the mounting debt from my son’s medical bills would be use my day off from Church to visit area thrift stores and Goodwill’s and stock up on gaudy sweaters to auction off on eBay.  I accumulated quite a trove of the ugly apparel and started listing them.  Several sold.  However, three plastic grocery bags of sweaters failed to make the cut in purchasers’ eyes, so I brought them to church and offered them to the teenagers.  They took a few off my hands, but many others occupy a table in my cluttered office.

On Sunday afternoon, I received a text from a former youth group member searching for an ugly sweater.  She asked how much my ugly sweaters sold for on eBay.  I responded with, “Don’t worry about the price, I think we can make a trade.”

A few hours later she picked up the atrocious sweater and attended a party holding an ugly sweater contest.

What did I trade for?  Babysitting!

I traded something ugly for something wonderful.

After she gladly accepted the deal, a thought struck me.  When Jesus entered this world, he traded a perfect home for an environment ravaged by heartache and pain.  When He obediently took upon Himself the cross of Calvary, He traded His righteousness for our sin so we might have the righteousness of Christ.

Jesus modeled trading something ugly for something wonderful.  So, on December 25th, if after tearing into a wrapped box an ugly sweater or another stomach churning item of clothing greets your eyes, let that gift be a reminder: Jesus took your “ugly” upon Himself to forge something beautiful….a brand new you.

By the way…she won the sweater contest.

We made a good trade.

When Does Life Begin?


Recently, I engaged in a social media conversation about abortion.  The civil discourse revolved around the question, “When does life begin?”  This person shared Genesis 2:7,

“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”

By this verse, she interpreted Scripture to teach life begins when a baby takes his first breath outside of the womb.  She wasn’t alone.  I Googled the topic and found many bloggers and pro-choice advocates embrace this view of Scripture.  She asked if I believed that this verse settled the issue of when life commences.  I assured her I’d research the topic and post a blog about my answer.  After doing a bit of research, I’m even more convinced life begins at conception.

Genesis 2:7, though used as a verse to validate the pro-choice view, cannot be quoted as a verse to okay abortion.  This verse does not apply to a baby developing in the womb, because in this case it’s used to describe the creation of the first human being.  God created humanity, not as babies, but as adults to be stewards and caretakers of the Garden and to enjoy fellowship with Him.  As one blogger wrote, “The key here is that Adam was lifeless prior to the breath of God whereas a baby is not lifeless prior to his/her breath.”

Every time my wife scheduled the ultrasound to learn the sex of our children, I made plans to be away from the office.  The first three times, we watched images of our boys…the last two, our girls.  On no occasion did any of the babies In utero sit completely still.  Occasionally, they wriggled out from under the pressure of the transducer as the technician rubbed it around my wife’s belly.  At other times, the babies kicked at the handheld device feistily.  At no time did I consider the images flashing before my eyes as lifeless.  And besides the black and white pictures, my wife and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sounds on the planet, the rhythmic thumping of our baby’s heartbeat.

Job 33:4 shares,

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

After Elihu listened to Job’s friend address him, he took his turn to talk to Job.  In verse four of chapter thirty-three, Elihu reminds Job they are both created by the same God.  He then says,

“the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The word breath, here, comes from the Hebrew word, “neshahmah” meaning divine inspiration.  Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible interprets the latter portion of the Scripture in this manner,

 in God‘s stead” to thee; a “daysman,” umpire, or mediator, between God and thee. So Elihu was designed by the Holy Ghost to be a type of Jesus Christ

Elihu saw himself as a man created in the image of God as Job, but also a man inspired by God to relay a timely message to Job.  In no way does this verse apply to a baby in the womb.

Ezekiel 37:5 says,

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

The “I will” speaks of God’s sovereignty and omnipotence.  The word “Breath” in the Hebrew is the word “Ruah/Ruach which is also translated spirit. Life from the dead bones requires divine intervention, so in this Scripture God is describing a supernatural event.   This Scripture is not addressing breathing life into a person or persons, but this is a portion of the message Ezekiel delivered about the rebirth of the nation of Israel.  This verse has to be considered not individually but as a part of a whole…in this case, a prophecy delivered in both Chapters 37 and 38 of Ezekiel.

So, does  the Bible give any indication as to when life begins?

Yes.

Psalm 139:13-16 reads,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

The phrase “your eyes saw my unformed body” in other translations reads “saw my substance.”  The word substance comes from the Hebrew word “golem,” and is only found one time in the Bible, here in Psalm 139.  A related word, the verb form “galam” is found in II Kings 2:8 where it is used in reference to Elijah’s mantle.

“And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together.”

That is, Elijah rolled it up, or he folded it.  The noun form “golem” then means, “that which is folded up.”  Therefore, the noun refers to anything folded up or undeveloped.

Picture the infant stages of the baby in the womb.  All of the members of the body are folded up and undeveloped.  It will take weeks and months before the differing members of the body assume their distinct form and proportions.  The commentary Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, on the Book of Psalms shares:

“This is undoubtedly the idea here.  Before the embryo had any such form that its future size, shape, or proportion could be marked by the eye of man, it was clearly and distinctly known by God.”

And according to the rest of this passage, even before mom and dad knew of the child’s conception, all of that baby’s future was known by God, and was written down in His book.

Do any other texts suggest life before that first gasping and wailing breath?

In Jeremiah chapter one, we see the call of God on Jeremiah’s life.  Verses four and five say the following:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

But possibly the greatest example of all comes from the Gospel of Luke, chapter one.  After receiving the announcement she was going to carry the Son of God, Mary hurried to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  The account shares that when Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb responded.  At that instant, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

The Bible clearly teaches life begins prior to that of baby’s first breath, and based upon Psalm 139, I believe the Bible teaches life begins at conception.  Why?  Because according to the Scripture, before that baby is a twinkle in his parents’ eye, God’s orchestrating a beautiful plan for that child’s life….a plan summed up in Jeremiah 29:11,

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Praise God, Mary Didn’t Visit Planned Parenthood


A couple of years ago, as I browsed my inbox emails, one subject heading particularly caught my eye.

“Tis the Season to give abortions” heralded one message.

I clicked on it.  In stunned silence, I discovered that some Planned Parenthoods offer clients the option of purchasing gift certificates for their services.  Purchasers can gift an abortion to a loved one, though the facilities claim the certificates can be redeemed on any of their birth control methods.

Am I wrong, or is this an incredibly sick stocking stuffer?

Can you imagine a Christmas card with a Planned Parenthood gift card tucked inside.  The inscription might read,

“Mary kept hers, but you don’t have to….Merry Christmas!”

A few years ago, Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana touted the gift certificates as a beneficial option.  Lifenews.com obtained the following comments from a PPI press release:

“Why not buy a loved one a gift this holiday season that they really need?”  Cockrum asked.  “The gift certificates are also a wonderful idea for that person in your life who puts everyone else first.”

Everyone?  Everyone but the baby….

Another Planned Parenthood in New York gave additional advice before Thanksgiving.  The New York City affiliate published an article entitled, “Talking Turkey: 8 Easy Steps for Discussing Reproductive Health and Justice at the Holiday Table.”  The steps included methods on how to handle pro-life relatives.  One paragraph reads:

The holidays are upon us!  Going home or getting together with relatives for the holidays is always a stressful time, but if your family members are the type who regularly protest outside the local Planned Parenthood, you know that this holiday is going to be a doozy.”

One question asks, “What should one say to Cousin Charlie when he asks if abortion ends a life?”

According to the Planned Parenthood guide on dealing with those annoying pro-life relatives, the answer should be,

“Well Charlie, the decision about whether or not you’re ready to become a parent is a very important one, and that’s why I think everybody should have a chance to become a parent only when they’re ready.”

Unbelievable…

Now, the good news.  Two thousand years ago, a young teenage couple journeyed to Bethlehem, paying taxes being the least of their worries.  Mary shouldered the responsibility of giving birth to the Son of God.  Can you imagine the ridicule and finger pointing?

“Sure Mary, the Holy Spirit did it…”

Possibly Mary no longer enjoyed a simple trip to the supermarket or a leisurely evening stroll; Wagging tongues and judging eyes kept her home.  I wonder what her parents thought.  Did they believe Mary’s story?  And what about Joseph?  If not for his Godly character, a stoning awaited his unmarried and pregnant fiancé.  Though the obligation weighed heavily on this young couple, they remained faithful to God’s special call upon their lives.

This Christmas Season, we once again celebrate our Messiah’s birth and the Life that He brings.  Thankfully, Mary considered the infant growing inside her womb to be of greater importance than the exhausting and ridiculously selfish mantra,

“My Body.  My Choice.”

On Christmas Day, herald the birth that changed the world forever.  Thanks be to God, Mary didn’t visit Planned Parenthood.

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