October 13, 2007

Worldwide Abortion Statistics

Check this out.

What a horrible tragedy. 105 abortions for every 100 live births in Eastern Europe? One child out of every five worldwide brutally murdered?

Words do not do this evil justice.

"He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well
Is not that what it means to know me?"
Declares the LORD." Jeremiah 22:16

What will we do?

August 18, 2007

Caught in the Middle: Richard Nixon on Evolution

I was wandering through the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC last month when I stumbled upon an incredible find: an essay written by Richard Nixon as a college senior. In this essay, Nixon explores the profound questions that his generation wrestled with. Their families and churches had saturated them in religion. Their professors taught them science, and then explained that the two were incompatible. The church offered no clear response.

What would their conclusion be? The future of America hung in the balance.

Below is Nixon's story, the cry of a generation.

What Can I Believe?
Richard M. Nixon, October 9, 1933
Whittier College, Whittier, California

Self analysis must certainly be the most difficult and the most revealing study that a college student can undertake. Being a supposedly educated senior, I thought that it would be quite a simple matter to put my beliefs in writing. Upon looking further into the problem I found that far from being a logically minded college student, I was completely lost in attempting any close analysis of my ideas and methods. However, I shall place my ideas about certain philosophical problems before the reader and let him see what a jumbled mess can be made of a man's brain and ideas by a modern college education.

The first problem which comes up is a matter of method. Which method do I use, or better, which method does my intelligence tell me to use. In making a short study of English philosophers during the past year I became an intense admirer of David Hume. Hume's method, more than that of any other philosopher of whom I know was the most logical, the most scientific. Bacon had described the scientific method but had not used it. Hobbes and Locke had attempted to work without letting tradition and preconceived ideas interfere, but they too failed. Hume, however, took absolutely nothing for granted. He tested all systems of thought by experiment and reason. Therefore, in view of my limited knowledge of methods of thought, I must accept that one which appears most logical and reasonable to me. The scientific method is the one my experience tells me to use. Taking nothing for granted, arriving at conclusions through experiment, using these conclusions as the basis for an hypothesis, and then proving the hypothesis by more experiment. This is my method, the scientific method as near as I can describe it.

But immediately I find myself confronted with an unanswerable problem. Logic tells me to take nothing for granted, but what can I do with religion? My starting point should be something which conforms to the scientific ideal, not a God or a force whose reality is ascertained by intuition. The true scientist would have no arbitrary starting point. He would experiment and reason with the purpose of finding one. Years of training in the home and church have had their effect on my thinking however. My parents, "fundamental Quakers", had ground into me, with the aid of the church, all the fundamental ideas in their strictest interpretation. The infallibility and literal correctness of the bible, the miracles, even the whale story, all these I accepted as facts when I entered college four years ago. Even then I could not forget the admonition to not be misled by college professors who might be a little too liberal in their views. Many of those childhood ideas have been destroyed but there are some which I cannot bring myself to drop. To me, the greatness of the universe is too much for man to explain. I still believe that God is the creator, the first cause of all that exists. I still believe that He lives today, in some form, directing the destinies of the cosmos. How can I reconcile this idea with my scientific method? It is of course an unanswerable question. However, for the time being I shall accept the solution offered by Kant: that man can go only so far in his research and explanations; from that point on we must accept God. What is unknown to man, God knows. I shall use the scientific method to arrive at the concepts I can; then I shall call that great unknown world, God's world.

Now I am ready to choose an hypothesis with which to work. It is still my firm belief, due perhaps to my early training, that God created the universe as it is. There have been changes in the cosmos, in living creatures, etc., but I still believe that changes have been within the different "classes" themselves. For example, human beings were created as they are, although their physical and mental beings have changed through the ages! I know that this idea is a laughing stock among competent scholars, but in view of my past education, or lack of education, I can maintain no other theory. Let me hasten to say, however, that this view is not unsusceptible to further development. I am no longer a "seven day-er"! In declaring that God created the world, I am only acknowledging that my own mind is not capable of explaining it in any other way. How God created the world, I do not attempt to say; I am not able to understand that problem. I believe, however, that I should make an attempt to understand as much about the world as I possibly can. With this purpose in mind, I am going to attempt to prove the evolutionary hypothesis. The concept of growth and improvement seems to fit into my scheme of thought exceedingly well. I am not able to say what evolutionary theory I intend to use. What I do wish to do is to give a fair trial to all of them and to either accept or reject them on their merits. Undoubtedly, of course, my concept of God as the creator will interfer with my impartiality, but it is certain that I shall attempt to make that interference as small as possible. God then is my starting point, my great cause or what you will: I shall attempt to use the scientific method in proving an evolutionary hypothesis as to the origin and development of the universe. Certainly, there could be no more jumbled set of ideas than these. Let us hope that further study will unravel some of the crossed threads of my thought!

Firstly, I am confronted with what to me is the greatest problem of all. What is the purpose of all this study? Where am I heading for? Why not go ahead living and forget this problem of existence? We humans differ from the lower animals in that we are curious about such things. We are never satisfied with just living. We must know why we live. My purpose in making this study of philosophy is to get a clearer picture of how I came to be on this earth, and to learn what my purpose in life is; I used to accept the the biblical account of man's natural depravity and his predestination on to heaven or to hell. My education has taught me that the bible, like all other books, is a work of man and consequently has man made mistakes. Now I desire to find a suitable explanation of man's and the universe's creation, an explanation that will fit not only with my idea of God but also with what my mind tells me is right. I want to know why I am here in order that I may better find my place in life.

With this illogical method, starting point, hypothesis, and purpose, I am entering into the field of philosophy. Where my study will lead I do not know, but certainly any system of ideas would be better than this absurd collection of science, religion and philosophy that I now have!

One in a series of essays prepared for the course, "Philosophy of Christian Reconstruction". It's interesting to note that Whittier College was, in fact, a Quaker institution.

June 30, 2007

Amazing Grace

William Wilberforce was a rising young political star when an earth-shattering event altered the course of his life forever: he found God. Or, rather, as he explained it, "I think He found me."

Amazing Grace, a Bristol Bay Productions film, tells his story, one that cries out to be heard by the apathetic world of today.

God didn't leave Wilberforce alone for long. As he grappled with his newly-found faith, Wilberforce was faced with a dilemma.

"We understand you're having problems choosing whether to do the work of God or the work of a political activist", a group of mysterious visitors told him one evening.

"We humbly suggest...that you can do both."

And he did. Amazing Grace is the story of that battle: one man in Parliament versus his country's largest profit machine. A small band of friends versus evil. All of them fighting an impossible battle.

Wilberforce: "No one of our age has ever taken power."
Pitt the Younger: "Which is why we're too young to realize that certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway."

And so Wilberforce devotes his life to righting a wrong that has plagued him for years - slavery. He gives his brightest years of life to the cause. He gives his health, his sleep, his mind, his soul. His everything. Any hope of a peaceful family life is crushed by the commitment.

But years later, the only thing Wilberforce has won is ridicule. Bitter and depressed, he withdraws to the country to mull over his failures.

"It's only painful to talk about because we haven't changed anything," he says.

The determined Barbara Spooner draws him out, forcing Wilberforce to confront his past. "...If there is a bad taste in your mouth", she scolds him, "you spit it out. You don't constantly swallow it back." And later: "You still have passion! That matters more!"

After they marry, Wilberforce returns to London renewed and once again surrounds himself with his closest friends and confidants, this time a group freshly zealous to end the slave trade once and for all. With a new strategy and revived passion, they continue the fight.

"Your life is a thread. It breaks, or it doesn't break," Equiano, a former slave, comments. Righteousness, however, stretches on - a reality greater than yourself, bigger than anything you could possibly hope to be.

When the slave trade is finally outlawed, there is no doubt: every failure was worth it. As Lord Fox proclaims: "William Wilberforce will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow, and remember the slave trade is no more."

That's not the end of the battle, of course - but it is one glorious victory in the struggle for the sanctity of life. It demonstrates what happens when good men do something.

Amazing Grace reminds us that some things are worth fighting for. Worth giving all you've got - the last drop of blood, the last tear, the last breath. In a world where selfishness is the norm, Wilberforce shows us that there are things that transcend a life of comfort and complacency. Things worth doing.

June 17, 2007

Twisted Justice

"Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful."
- C.S. Lewis

Several weeks ago, I was standing in the Senate Gallery of my State Capitol. Two Senators had just begun to filibuster a pro-life bill that would prevent Planned Parenthood from teaching in public schools and put more restrictions on abortion clinics. I was watching them closely when another Senator slipped in behind me and began speaking to another woman in the gallery.

"I am so excited!"*, the Senator bubbled, putting her hand over her heart and smiling. "I just got an email with the most exciting news! There's a man who was given the death penalty and has been sitting in prison since 1996, but I just received word that he has been granted a retrial. Hopefully we'll be able to get the poor fellow a much lighter sentence. I'm going to try to get him out on probation as soon as possible!"

The other woman expressed her delight, and they began to speak softly of the possibilities for the felon's release. When they had finished, the Senator tossed her head and stepped toward the door. "I'd better get back down there", she declared with chagrin. "After something wonderful like this, I have to go down and worry about that." She motioned with disgust toward the Senate floor, where the abortion debate was still going strong. "See you later."

Her words brought to mind Isaiah 1:16,17: "...Seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan..." In our society, these priorities are often twisted - the ruthless are defended and the vulnerable are oppressed!

Isaiah further states:

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)
Since when did the guilty merit more compassion than the innocent?

*dialogue to the best of my remembrance

March 22, 2007

Ideas Control the World

Adapted from a speech given at the Missouri TeenPact class, March 2006.

A few days ago, when we were all in the Capitol rotunda for the class photograph, I noticed a unique inscription carved on the Capitol wall. It stated simply, "Ideas Control the World."

I ignored the photographer for a moment to focus on the implications of that statement. Do ideas really control the world?

I have come to the conclusion that they do.

Thousands of years ago, God had the first idea. He imagined creating something in His own image, something that He could fellowship and commune with. Someone that would bring Him glory and enrich His life. So He created the first man, and the world has never been the same since.

Then man had an idea. Wouldn't it be a thrill to taste the forbidden fruit? To revel in the delicacies that God had banned?

Mankind acted on that urge, and the world was changed forever on that tragic day.

Not very long afterwards, another human being had another idea, an evil one. His brother had offended him, so what could prevent him from taking revenge?

He acted on that idea, and the first murder was committed.

What followed was a long cycle of hate, tyranny, self-will, and oppression. Most people lived for themselves, rejecting God.

Then God had another idea. Mankind had become corrupt and full of evil ideas, so why not rescue them from the terrible path they were on? Why not send Christ to enrich mankind with beautiful ideas and wash away the punishment they deserved for all the dreadful consequences of their terrible actions, fueled by rebellious ideas?

So God sent His son, the Messiah, who washed away the sins of the world and gave mankind an eternal opportunity for redemption.

And so the battle of ideas began again. A rift was formed between those with naturally evil ideas and those whose ideas had been transformed by the love of Christ.

Eventually the world sunk into a period known as the Dark Ages, a time when fresh ideas were stifled by the tyrannical web of illiteracy, confusion, and lies.

Finally, people began to have new ideas again. A man named Martin Luther dreamed of spiritual freedom and independence. Gutenberg had an idea that evolved into the printing press, which in turn produced books, especially the Bible, that refreshed the continent's ideas with hope and creativity. The Protestant Reformation was born.

Individuals like Bunyan, Milton, Knox, Michelangelo, and many others were full of fresh ideas that inspired others. The citizenry wrote and read books, traveled, and made new scientific discoveries.

In France, however, the citizenry was dancing to a different drumbeat. The humanistic ideas of the so-called Enlightenment, led by men like Rousseau and Voltaire, rebelled against traditional moral values,replacing them with permissive policies that encouraged civil anarchy and the bloody revolution that ultimately followed. The world watched and wondered.

Meanwhile, the egalitarian ideas of a few pioneers produced America, a land of ideas and thoughts that would become a blessing to civilization in the years to come.

And now here we are, young and bursting with optimism in a land of nearly limitless possibilities and colossal potential. We are bombarded daily with ideas that have enormous potenial for both good and evil.

Here in our time, we have seen the effects of ideas with our own eyes. The ideas of individuals like Hitler and Stalin cost millions of people their lives and denied liberty to even more. Dangerous ideas are eroding personal responsibility and Biblical morality in our country today. The ideas of moral relativism are indoctrinating society with an apathy that will be its downfall if left unchecked.

Ideas can kill and paralyze. They have the potential to bring horrible destruction. Yet at the same time, ideas can invigorate and heal. They can bless many, freeing millions from oppression and despair.

Today we stand at a crossroads. We are future leaders in the culture war, and the ideas we endorse will change the course of society and shape our worldview. They will control the world.

The ideas and philosophies we choose to live by will shape our every moment, for better or for worse. Be careful how you utilize them, because ideas control the world!

January 18, 2007

Vote Yes...for Life!

It's been nearly 34 years since the infamous Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion in the United States for any reason whatsoever, even for no reason at all. Since that terrible day, January 22, 1973, more than 47 million children have been murdered in this country in the name of choice.

There have been many valiant efforts on the part of pro-lifers to reverse the culture of death in this country, yet few have given Planned Parenthood a fight like the one that was waged in South Dakota last year. Both sides on the abortion issue recognized the critical nature of the battle that South Dakotans fought, a battle that was given national attention.

I had the opportunity to travel to South Dakota to work with a Student Project team, consisting of 20
TeenPact teenagers from around the country, as well as their leaders. We spent 8 days in South Dakota campaigning on behalf of Vote Yes for Life, the organization in charge of the pro-life efforts in that state.

Several of you have asked to hear about the campaign, so I'll do what I can to put the experience into words. The week was packed with amazing learning experiences and adventure, and it would be impossible to share all the wonderful things that happened.

The groundwork for pro-life reform in South Dakota was laid many years ago by a strong pro-life legislature and conservative populace. The state's legislature has been passing strong pro-life legislation for years. During the 2006 legislative session, after extensive research by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, they acted on the findings of the task force and succeeded in passing HB 1215, a bill which was entitled the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act. Governor Michael Rounds signed the bill into law, and the measure was to have gone into effect on July 1, 2006.

Planned Parenthood lost no time in gathering the signatures (some of which may possibly have been fraudulent) needed to issue a referendum on the bill, thus submitting HB 1215 to the voters for approval or disapproval on their November 7th ballot. On the ballot, the proposition became
Referred Law 6.

Referred Law 6 basically outlawed all abortions in the state of South Dakota, declaring, "Moreover, the Legislature finds that the guarantee of due process of law under the Constitution of South Dakota applies equally to born and unborn human beings, and that under the Constitution of South Dakota, a pregnant mother and her unborn child, each possess a natural and inalienable right to life." [1].

Any contraceptive measure, however, could be prescribed or used "prior to the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing" [2]. This time frame is approximately 14 days, thus providing time for rape and incest victims to terminate their pregnancy if they so chose. Also, the bill contained provisions for the health of the mother, stating that no doctor who performed a medical procedure to "prevent the death of a pregnant mother" [3] (including abortion) would be guilty under HB 1215.

The campaign to pass Referred Law 6 was an exciting one. Upon our arrival in South Dakota, our Student Project team immediately began doing sign waving, phone banking, lit drops, neighborhood walks, mailings, and whatever else needed to be done for the cause. A group of about 6 guys traveled across the state to Rapid City to work, while the rest of us stayed in the Sioux Falls area. The
Vote Yes for Life headquarters was a large warehouse on the outskirts of Sioux Falls which had been attractively furnished for the campaign. We spent most of our time there whenever we weren't doing work in the city of Sioux Falls and the surrounding districts.

South Dakota has approximately 800 abortions per year, which is one of the lowest state figures nationwide. It's interesting to note that there is not a single physician in the state who does abortions, and there's only one abortion clinic. The only doctor who performs abortions in South Dakota is a 70-year-old woman who flies in from a neighboring state several times a month.

Nevertheless, the whole state was talking about abortion. You couldn't drive anywhere in Sioux Falls without seeing bumperstickers and signs in abundance. There had been some sign vandalism, yet the pro-life signs still appeared in far greater numbers than their pro-choice counterparts.

It was exciting to see that abortion was a topic of discussion. For once, people could not avoid the issue. The pro-choice folks centered their whole campaign on the false statement that Referred Law 6 had no rape or incest exceptions, yet many people knew the truth and were very supportive.

The reactions that we received from South Dakotans were often surprisingly positive, although there were some negative encounters that actually motivated me to work harder, not exactly what the givers intended. The Lutherans yelled us off their church property. One lady told my team that we were trying to take the world back to the Dark Ages, and a man shouted at me and told me that I was a Bible-thumper who was the cause of all the problems in the world. Isn't it interesting that as soon as you mention abortion and the idea of right vs. wrong, many people stiffen up and make a mental connection to God and the Bible?

It was always encouraging to receive random thanks from strangers. Dominic, another SPer, and I were sign waving early one morning at South Dakota's busiest intersection in twenty degree weather when a man in a Cadillac stopped by to shake our hands and thank us for caring enough to come and help. Random people would come up at the strangest times to express their thanks for our efforts and to let us know that they were praying for us. One lady came by early in the morning to give the sign wavers donuts.

Going door-to-door was always interesting, an experience spiced up by some very awkward conversations and several intimidating canines. I saw several people who obviously had babies or young children of their own, yet still planned to vote 'no'. That was heartbreaking.

Singing worship songs in the van as we were hauled back and forth was awesome, as were some of our late night conversations. These included comments like, "This is AMAZING!", "I want to do this for the rest of my life!", "Why aren't all Christians up here helping?", "One of these days we're going to overturn Roe!", and "I have NEVER felt so inspired!"

I was very impressed with the
Vote Yes campaign. Their focus was positive, which was terrific.They played very offensively, taking arguments that Planned Parenthood has traditionally used and turning them around to serve purposes that promote life. Doctors and post-abortive women were very vocal on the team. Abortion hurts women was the campaign's main slogan, encouraging people to think of abortion as the bondage that it truly is instead of the freeing process that Planned Parenthood has made it out to be.

The staff at Vote Yes was very excited about the international expressions of encouragement they received, although by far the majority of support was local. The campaign headquarters received calls from international diplomats and citizens as far away as Japan and Europe who wanted to express their enthusiasm and support for the work. The campaign received international media coverage. People all over the world had their eyes on South Dakota!

Our teams were divided up between several host homes at night. I stayed with 5 other girls in the home of an awesome homeschool family with eight children. They were very active on the campaign, and it was a blast getting to know them and enjoying inspiring conversations at all hours of the day and night!

I learned that Sioux Falls is not where the Sioux fell. :) Also, it's possible to fit more people in a minivan than is traditionally thought. Additionally, we discovered that South Dakota is one of the coolest states in the Union, in more ways than one!

We participated briefly in a parade through Sioux Falls, which was exciting. Buses, floats with children and balloons, motorcycles, and vehicles, all plastered with Vote Yes signs, wound through the city amidst a chorus of honks.

On the Sunday night before the election our team attended a church in the Sioux Falls area. The pastor gave an powerful sermon on abortion. It was incredibly convicting. He easily refuted several popular misconceptions about abortion with facts and statistics. Then he went on to discuss the deeper spiritual aspects of abortion. "Abortion is the symptom", he told the congregation. "We use abortion to cover up the shame of something that has already happened." He added that we need a deeper solution than just outlawing abortion. Abortion happens when a person says, "MY lifestyle, MY personal convenience, MY boyfriend/girlfriend, MY job, MY reputation, etc. is more important than God's moral standard". We have turned choice into an idol. We have put our choices above God. And when a person decides that what they want is more important than God, that is the ultimate form of idolatry. He urged all of us to "lay down the god of choice", however he may be manifested in our lives. God must come first. Then others. We come last! He also issued a challenge to the next generation, and the service ended with an amazing time of prayer for the election. Everyone divided into groups of three and interceded for a county in South Dakota.

A couple of us then had the opportunity to meet Roger Hunt, the state representative who wrote and sponsored HB 1215. He shared some of his thoughts and discussed the bill and its implications in detail. "There is nothing extraordinary", he insisted, "about a bill that tries to save unborn human life". He mentioned that the South Dakota legislature has been portrayed in the national media as though its members woke up one morning and decided to ban abortion on the spur of the moment. He resented this notion, referring to the extensive studies and witness affidavits collected by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion. The task force collected more than 2,000 sworn affidavits from individuals who had been personally involved in or affected by abortion. They also consulted more than 50 national and international experts on the subject of abortion before issuing an extensive report with recommendations for the legislature. The legislature then acted on the suggestions of the task force when they passed HB 1215.

We often sign waved at the busiest intersection in South Dakota during rush hour. A couple of times, there were one or two pro-choice people holding small cardboard signs when we arrived. When our team showed up with large signs, yelling "Vote yes on 6!", "Yes for life!" or "Choose life!", and staffing all 4 corners of the intersection with people from Vote Yes who were jumping up and down with signs, they left soon after.

We had a few signs that said 'Honk for life', and the response was phenomenal. There were times when the whole street was a chorus of honks. It was so exciting to see peoples faces light up when they saw us. They would often wave and give us a thumbs up. Of course, there were people who gave us thumbs down and much worse, but that was definitely not the norm. A couple times, people who were driving by stopped to help wave signs for a few minutes!

The excitement in the hours preceding election day was contagious. We were all pumped up and eager for the climax, as well as rather sleep deprived. The headquarters was decorated beautifully.

One of the most amazing things about the campaign was the prayer support. It was awesome and humbling to see how many people were praying for the election results. We were driving back to our host homes late one night when someone happened to mention that 'such-and-such a church right over there' had been holding a 24 hour prayer vigil for the campaign. Christians everywhere were constantly lifting us and the cause up in prayer. On election day, when I came out of the poll I had been watching, I met a man who had driven halfway across the country just to pray in front of a South Dakota poll on election day!

The poll that I staffed was at a public elementary school. During the course of the afternoon, when I walked out to take a short break, I saw 3 little girls watching the voters inside the gym. They asked me what the people were voting about. Assuming that they were students and thinking it best not to mention abortion, I explained that the voters were deciding who would be the new leaders of South Dakota. They listened intently. When I had finished, one of them asked, "But what about the babies? Aren't they deciding whether or not to kill the babies?" I was quite surprised and answered in the affirmative. They wanted to know more, so I explained. After we had finished chatting, I excused myself. As I was leaving, one of the girls told me, "My Mommy is in there voting right now and she will vote to save the babies!" They told me that they planned to vote to save babies too, when they were old enough. I was very moved. Later, as I left in the van, they saw me and waved, yelling, "Goodbye, Sarah!"

After poll watching, we were joined by the team who had been in Rapid City. Our whole Student Project sign waved for the last time to remind folks who were heading home from work to vote before the polls closed. The response was again inspiring. Back at headquarters, we phoned those who hadn't showed up yet until the minute the polls shut down to remind them to vote.

Security at headquarters was very tight that night for the watch party, due to several threats. Media was swarming the place. We enjoyed the attractive and bountiful food displays and had time to relax a little and visit.

The atmosphere was charged. Everyone was excited and eager for the results, clustering around large-screen TV's to watch the statistics as they came in. There were several bursts of applause as the screen indicated that the SD marriage amendment and Referred Law 6 seemed to be doing well. We knew we had done our best, and the results were up to God.

I was very excited, but I had mixed feelings about the results. I knew we had a very good chance of winning, but the possibility of losing was also very real. It was going to be a close night. I felt completely resigned with whatever the outcome would be, knowing that either way, the pro-life message had been carried to many people for the first time and many had seen the light. God was in control.

The mood was celebratory, with children running around and adults laughing. Media personnel roamed the area for good shots. The yes votes on Referred Law 6 stayed just a few percentage points behind the no's for most of the evening.

As the night wore on, it became evident that Referred Law 6 would not pass. The opposing side gave a press conference declaring victory. Most of the results had trickled in, and it appeared that the final tally would be 56-44. After some patriotic music, Leslee Unruh, the staff, and some of the post-abortive women from the team mounted the stage to speak to the media and the volunteers who had assembled. We held up signs for the cameras and cheered (my Aunt saw me on TV a few days later). Everyone was really more excited than anything. Mrs. Unruh and the others spoke passionately about how abortion had hurt them and of their burning desire to free the women of South Dakota from the pain of abortion. The atmosphere was ecstatic. Everyone cheered wildly. The campaign promised never to give up until the women of SD were free from the bondage of Planned Parenthood.

There was a South Dakota woman who was watching the TV coverage on election night. She was pregnant and had scheduled an abortion, but what she saw that night changed her mind!

The people that I met during the campaign and the things I experienced reinforced my vision and inspired me. The Almighty is doing a great work in the hearts and lives of people all over the world. Individuals and communites are being motivated to put their beliefs into action, and average citizens are acquiring new convictions as they learn the facts about the atrocities that abortion inflicts on human lives in our country every single day.

I believe that God is doing a great work in the pro-life movement, and I was blessed to see so many Christians with a common passion for saving the lives of the unborn uniting to make a difference. What happened in South Dakota is by no means over. We have begun a battle, that, with God's help, we are going to win!

What happened in South Dakota established a precedent and proved that the prolife movement has credibility and influence. Vote Yes forced the abortion industry to be on the defensive for the first time in a long time, which is a victory in itself! So I'm really more excited than discouraged about the results. The whole world was watching, and even though we 'lost', we proved that we are a force to be reckoned with, have truth on our side, and don't plan to give up anytime soon! Perhaps a Vote Yes email said it best:

"...South Dakota voters delivered a significant blow to the abortion industry.

Forty-four percent of the population voted to uphold Referred Law 6.

South Dakotans now know that abortion hurts women, children, men and families. Even the opposition conceded that abortion hurts women.

VoteYesForLife.com has still won. Every time a South Dakota woman chooses life, we win. Every time a post-abortive woman or man takes the first step toward healing, we win. ....

Regardless of this election's outcome, we win when the culture of death is exposed to public scrutiny.

This was a victory against Planned Parenthood and the culture of death it promotes.

The nation's largest abortion provider was forced to spend resources on Referred Law 6 defense—resources it would have used to spread its deadly message.

Because of South Dakota, Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry are weaker today. And for that we are grateful.

We will not rest in our efforts to end abortion."

[1] HB 1215, Section 1, paragraph 1
[2] HB 1215, Section 3, paragraph 2
[3] HB 1215, Section 4, paragraph 2
Photo credits to Dan DeGroot, Josh Patterson, Matt Love, and Sarah Greek.

January 13, 2007

One Night Over Chicago

Adapted from a journal entry, November 8, 2006

I'm in the plane now, en route to Springfield. The gentleman seated beside me, a publisher who just happens to contract and publish for Answers in Genesis, was just asking me about my thoughts on Christian involvement in the political arena. Somehow our conversation turned to Ted Haggard.

Ouch. Why do conservatives constantly have such hypocrites counted in their number?

We flew out of Chicago a few minutes ago. The night was crisp and perfectly clear. It was just a few minutes after 6 PM, yet already very dark.

The city was absolutely beautiful from the air, quite undescribable really. The sparkling of millions of lights was indeed a sight to behold, miniature explosions of iridescent brightness surrounded by utter blackness. Their glow looked so warm and ingratiating.

I noticed, for the first time, the striking difference between the effects of the light of traditional streetlights and that of flourescent ones. Problems seemed to lose themselves as we ascended and various points of reference disintegrated into the broader scheme. The fence that had been on eye level suddenly fell far below my window. The gas station pumps became miniscule and terribly insignificant.

Flying gives one a larger perspective, I think, a more balanced view of life. It's difficult to overestimate your own significance when you see how small your world really is.

The lights gradually morphed into a sea of illumination as we gained altitude, sliding away around the beautiful sphere we call Earth. It struck me that I was viewing a small scale version of the entire world.

I could almost picture God zooming in and focusing on a particular spot, perhaps a place where He was wanted or somewhere in which an event of particular interest to Him was taking place. It was as though I could see the earth tonight as He saw it just then.

I was thinking of Ted Haggard, and the responsibility of life struck me suddenly, as it has so often before. As the earth, strangely illumined, fell out before me, I saw the world, in desperate need of hope. The world. A strange oasis of life in a desolate universe, on a frantic search for goodness, reality, and consistency. The world, with all its hurts and turmoil, groping for security and love in a cold place. Reaching out for something better than itself.

They have heard of God, but they have not yet seen Him. They have never seen His love revealed in one of His followers, or found a person who truly mirrors the character of Christ in the way they live. They see only hypocrites.

In his book "The Deadliest Monster", J.F. Baldwin says, "Most of us have heard non-Christians argue that Christianity can't be true because Christians are just as bad as everyone else. If Christians have been "born again", the world argues, why do they look and act like everyone else?

This is a fair question, and it deserves a fair answer - but this book can't provide it. Neither can any other book, nor any other argument. The only sufficient response can't be jotted down or memorized; it has to be lived. This is the sense in which our lives are an apologetic for our faith. People understand that our actions are determined by our faith, so if they find that our actions are honorable and in step with reality, then our foundation for our actions - our worldview - becomes much more credible. The non-Christian charge that Christians should behave differently is completely justified - we should! And the only way to refute their conclusion that trusting Christ doesn't change lives is to show them that it does." [1]

We are flying over countryside now. Lights here are far fewer, but the scintillating particles visible from my window are striking. The gloom of night swirls around them, threatening to extinguish their resplendent glow, yet they flicker on unceasingly. Perhaps the world is more like this than Chicago. More empty. More desperate for light.

I once heard someone say that we should use words to support our faith only when necessary. Our lives ought to speak loud and clear. All too often, they don't. We pretend to be something that we are not.

With people like Ted Haggard in this world, with hypocrites and two-faced liars roaming in abundance over this place, how can we fail her? How can we reject the call, or refuse to answer the terrible longing for leaders, encouragers, and examples? How can we not reach out with a consistent, clear, uncompromising example of integrity? How can we fail?

But we're about to land now. My seat light must go off in deference to the glorious glow of Springfield.....

[1] "The Deadliest Monster" by J.F. Baldwin, pages 130-131. Used with permission.

January 6, 2007

The Ways

To every man there openeth
A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
And the High Soul gropes the High Way,
And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
And in between, on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A High Way, and a Low.
And every man decideth
The Way his soul shall go.

-John Oxenham, 1861-1941