Posts tagged Life

Things to Know About Senate Bill 5

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Senate Bill 5On June 25, Senate Bill 5 was under consideration for legislature in the state of Texas. The bill would require that all abortion clinics be certified as ambulatory surgical centers and would not allow abortions to be performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Democratic Senator, Wendy Davis, had other plans. She filibustered the bill and delivered a 10 hour speech in hopes of delaying the vote. The bill was eventually voted on, amidst the chaotic circus of protesters, and passed, but it occurred after midnight and was rendered null. On June 26, Governor Rick Perry called for a special session on July 1st to reconsider the bill.

It is important for us to take into consideration the importance and dramatic scope of Senate Bill 5, for if it passes dramatic changes will take place involving how abortion services are delivered in the state of Texas. The passing of the bill would mean the closing of roughly 80% of abortion clinics in the second most populated state in the union! There are approximately 215 abortions performed daily in Texas. What would that number look like if Senate Bill 5 passes? How many lives will be spared from premature obliteration under surgical blades and suction hoses?

I hold to the view that life begins at the moment of conception and believe that abortion is a moral evil regardless of when it is performed. I stand firmly on the substance view of human personhood, which states that every organism is a substance of a particular kind of being that undergoes changes, but these changes do not affect what they are essentially. Many try to delineate when exactly life begins based on many different criteria. In other words, they may speculate that life begins when the fetus reaches certain development milestones such as cognizance or sentience. Yet, just because a human cannot exhibit all of it’s capacities all the time through life does not mean it is not a full-fledged human being! This is the idea behind the substance view of personhood.

When it comes to abortion, the argument about when life begins has become largely moot because many pro-choice advocates agree that the unborn child is alive. The issue has become that of autonomy and personal liberty. Many in favor of abortion view their right to personal liberty as taking precedence over the child’s right to life, which is completely absurd. One person’s freedom to choose overrides the unborn person’s right to live.

The question I would like to pose, is why shouldn’t late term abortions (after 20 weeks) be abolished? It has been well documented that babies in late term abortion feel pain, possibly as early as 6-8 weeks gestation. Many will argue, well drugs are administered to send the child into cardiac arrest so the surgical procedure is not felt, yet, who says that being sent into cardiac arrest is not painful? I personally have no desire to see what it feels like, but I have spoken to some that say it is not pleasant, to say the least. Why wouldn’t we want to stop late term abortions if they potentially cause the unborn to experience even the slightest amount of anguish? Is it not humane to refrain from doing so? Yet, the real issue at hand is the closing of so many abortion clinics across the state. It appears that the pro-choice advocates are more concerned about availability than the potential pain it might inflict on the unborn. It would also make sense that these procedures should take place at surgical centers. We wouldn’t want women having abortions at chop shops, butcher houses, or in coat hanger closets would we? Why not pass this legislation? Because it would bottleneck the availability of abortions, that’s why.

We should also be reminded of what late term abortions look like.  One must consider the development level the unborn has reached at this juncture. Francis Beckwith states that at 13 weeks the child can “kick his legs, turn his feet, curl his toes, make a fist, suck his thumb, bend his wrist, turn his head, frown, open his mouth, press his lips tightly together. He drinks amniotic fluid.” Then he says at 22 weeks, “He is now about a foot tall, weighs one pound. Fine baby hair begins to grow on his eye brows and head. He sleeps and wakes just as he will after birth.” If that sounds all too human, it is because it is human. This is the point of development reached by a child when late term abortions are performed.

Recently, the highly credentialed, Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist who is now pro-life, described late term abortion procedures in explicit detail. He was testifying in support of a bill that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks nationwide. The procedure he describes is known as “Suction D&E”. In his testimony, he placed in display the primary instrument used to extract the fetus called a Sopher clamp. He states, “This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go.” He continues, “Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard – really hard…You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.” He laments that the most difficult part is removing the head. “You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.

There have been 57 million legally induced abortions within the United States since 1973. Lets pray that Senate Bill 5 passes. It will save the lives of some, though the many will be killed.

Every life matters. Let’s weep with the 57 million that never experienced all that life offers. Let’s pray for legislation to be enacted that speaks for those without a voice. Let’s create a culture of life.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Things I Have Never Heard Anyone Say

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Recently, I was reflecting on life and its fragility. It is unnerving how quickly circumstances in one’s life can change. I see it all the time. One day things are going immeasurably well, and the next, a storm shipwrecks a life upon the rocks. I think it is extremely important that we examine our lives to refocus and find center periodically.

What will be important to us later in life? I think this is a good question to ask because it demands that we set priorities and hopefully live by them. I have heard many people wish they could correct course earlier in life. I have heard some spill out buckets of regrets they would love to have changed. Yet, there are some things I have never heard anyone say as they looked back across their life.

A list of things I have never heard anyone say:

  • I wish I wouldn’t have wasted so much time spending hours with friends.
  • So happy I consistently chose work over my kids.
  • Glad we waited until our problems were out of control before we got help with our marriage.
  • Why in the world did I spend every Sunday at church?
  • Glad I held onto that grudge and never forgave so and so.
  • Wish I would have spent more time watching television.
  • Happy that I spent more energy doing things I enjoy than spending it with people I love.
  • Sure do regret those Saturdays I stayed home with my family.
  • So thankful I paid more attention to the temporal than the eternal.
  • Glad I made a big deal out of the small stuff my kids did wrong.
  • It is a good thing I never got involved in my church.
  • So glad I kept people at an arm’s length.
  • I wish I had never taken my wife on our dream vacation.
  • So happy I lived my life for just me.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
-James 4:14

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

What is something you have never heard someone say?

Finding God in the Hunger Games

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Last night, I finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I greatly enjoyed the books. They are highly entertaining stories that grip you from the beginning. As any good story does, they make you reflect about certain aspects of your own life. What I greatly enjoyed about the books is they directed my attention onto something we tend to avoiding thinking about: death.

Without revealing much about the stories, I will say they deeply explore death, grief, and its’ effects on individuals. We tend to avoid death much of the time. We skirt around the topic. We use flowery words to cover death’s harshness like “pass away”, “rest”, or “depart”. We deny it at times and live as though we might escape it, yet as scripture states “it is appointed unto men once to die.”

So, as I laid in bed last night closing the final page to the last book of the Hunger Games, I was forced to reckon with the fact that one day the final chapter of my own life will be closed. My story will be written in permanent ink and laid open for all to see. I was forced to think about who I am, who I love, and what I am doing for God.

Death is not a topic that I want to entertain on a daily basis, but it is something that we need to be cognizant of often. Why? Because, death keeps us focused on life. It centers us. It reminds us that we have a limited amount of time. It provides perspective on what is important. It demands that we not waste the amount of time we have been given, though some do.

The Bible reminds us in Pslam 90:12, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” In other words, remind us to live with the end in mind. Help us stay focused on the fact that today is a gift we should not squander. Prompt us to center our lives on what matters.

Let’s live with the end in mind. Let’s remember to tell those we hold dear that we love them daily. Let’s keep God in the center and serve with dizzying passion. Let’s give our families our precious time. Life goes by in a blink. Enjoy it. Value it. Live it full.

The good news is, for those of us in Christ, death is not the end.

“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”
-Leonardo Da Vinci

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

Have you read the Hunger Games? I would love to hear your thoughts about how the books affected you!

Becoming…

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Every day that marches forward, we are becoming something. What is it? What do you want to become? Who do you want to become? What do you want life to look like in the future? What would you like to accomplish? What do you need to change?

For some, it is an improved marriage, a better golf score, a closer relationship with Christ, a healthier lifestyle, or to handle finances better. For others it might be being a better parent, learning to play guitar, changing a bad habit, making more friends, or getting involved at church.

We are all becoming something. Every single day, we either get closer to who we want to be or further away. Time is a cruel mistress. It will chew up the “you” that you want to become and spit “you” out, before you ever actualize your dreams. Sometimes we think that we can remain stagnant, when in reality we are always heading in some direction. Our lives traipse onward, closer to realizing our dreams or saunter in the opposite direction.

There is often a vast disparity between what we tell ourselves we desire, and what we do to actually become what we want. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted writing to be an active part of my life. I hoped maybe one day to even publish something. I would tell myself, “one day, I am going to write.” It sounded great. Then last year it clicked. I want to write. I want to be better at writing. I want to share my thoughts with others. I want to share perspective. I would love to be published in some degree. What was I doing to move closer to this? Absolutely nothing, so I took a step. I started blogging. Then I took another step, I became consistent as to when I posted. I have plans to further this dream along in the future. Before, I was moving further away from my goal by allowing time to strip me of any meaningful progress, by allowing other good things to distract me, by not taking any steps to get closer to what I wanted.

It is really humorous, because we do this in so many different capacities. Permit me a few examples:
-I want to be closer to my spouse, so I will spend time with friends, on hobbies, and work.
-I want a closer relationship with Christ, so I will watch a movie instead of spending any   time in prayer or reading my Bible.
-I want to be healthier, so I will take a cheese Coney and chili cheese tots please. Can you make that a large?
-I want to handle my finances better, so yea just put that on my credit card.
-I want to make more friends, so I will just stay home this weekend. Thanks for inviting me.

I have noticed this gap so often in my life. So, why do we say one thing and do another? Sometimes, it is just pure procrastination, plain and simple. Other times, it’s a lack of insight. Often, it is us deceiving ourselves. We set goals for the future to relieve the anxiety of not putting any effort or energy into them. “I will start a diet Monday.” “First of the year I am going to start writing.” “I will spend time with the kids tomorrow.” These future oriented statements let us breathe easy in the moment and relieve the guilt or anxiety we feel for not making progress. So we go through life in a future oriented mindset and escape the daily negative impositions. The only problem is, eventually time runs out.

Who do you want to become? What do you want to be? What would you like your life to look like? You are either moving closer to what you desire or it is becoming smaller in the distance. Be honest with yourself. Start now. Be present. Enlist some discipline. Set goals. Break those goals into smaller goals. Don’t make your goals global. List specific goals that you can measure. Evaluate your progress often. Seek accountability.

We are all becoming something.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Question: What or who do you want to become?

A String of Moments

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Earlier I had to make a late night run into the office to take care of a few things. As I drove, a Jon Foreman song came on that made my thoughts turn to my wife. Out of nowhere I start crying. Why? I wasn’t really sure. It wasn’t sadness. I have no major difficulties going on in my life right now. I am not feeling any anxiety in the moment. But there I was, underneath a black sky, driving down a dimly lit road, weeping.

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I realized it was joy. So here I am now, unpacking the reason for this sudden burst of emotion from the safety and comfort of my bedroom against the backdrop of a humming box fan, my wife breathing, and the familiar rumble of a train as it crawls past my house.

As I drove tonight all it took was that one song to tip the first domino and bring to mind the blessings in my life. In about 24 hours, I turn 30 years old. Three decades. They have gone by in a blink. Sometimes I wish I could slow things down, just let certain snippets of time linger. Life consists of all of your moments lined up in a row, but I am all too often tempted to forget about the moments and press for the future. It is the moments that become lodged in our memory as we reflect back later. So many good moments in the last 30 years have flooded my mind tonight. So many recollections to be thankful for.

I remember my wife on our wedding day. The look in her eye that communicated she never wanted to be with anyone else. I remember the first Island sunset we watched together, the day after we married, as it dipped below the horizon. Coming home together for the first time. Walking across the stage together to receive our Master’s degree. Driving to Dallas to get our dog. The time it snowed in December in Southeast Texas. I remember the first time I saw my son and feeling love and pride well up inside that I could not previously have understood. All the little quirky things he does that remind me of myself. I have hundreds of memories from growing up in my parents home. Late night talks with my mom. Early morning fishing trips with my dad. Movies we watched. Games we played. Sayings we had. Things we laughed at. Vacations that we went on. My dad’s enthusiasm when he saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time and us both spitting off of the top of the Empire State Building. I remember the time a Blackhawk helicopter landed in our yard. I remember naive conversations with friends. Music that we liked to listen to. Studying for certain tests in college. Planning what life would be like. I remember all of the antics my roommates and I had. The time we ran a truck over a Christmas tree in the middle of the parking lot just because we had nothing better to do or pouring washing detergent in the school fountain. I remember Christmas plays that our church had. Specific sermons that impacted me in a significant way. Kind words spoken by others. I remember certain times were God convicted me to change and other times were He nudged me in a certain direction. I remember the first time I spoke in front of a congregation. If space and time would permit, I could fill volumes about all of my memories. All of the moments that have composed my life.

It’s almost been 30 years. I have gotten to love so many people. I have been loved more than seems possible. I have been blessed more than I deserve. I know where I will be when this body wears out. It has been a joy. There have been highs and lows, but the string of moments that have comprised my life have been wonderful. If 30 years is all I get, I can honestly say it has blown any expectations I had. I look forward to whatever the future holds and wonder how it could be any better.

I am thankful that tonight was about remembering, for the flood of unexpected emotion and surprising joy, and for 30 years of life that have gone by too quickly.

“Over and over I hear the same refrain
It’s the rhythm of my heart
And my sleepy girl’s breathing
It’s the rhythm of my Southbound Train”
-Jon Foreman

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

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