Unplanned

I watch movies to be entertained. To smile and laugh and cheer at happy endings. I don’t watch movies to be disturbed…until now.

And I’m about to encourage you to watch a movie that will disturb you greatly.

Unless you’ve recently returned from a lengthy stay on an isolated desert island, by now you’ve heard of the movie, Unplanned. Reactions have generally been along expected lines. Most Christians support it and the secular culture abhors it.

Despite an initial limited run (1000 theaters nationwide), the movie came in at #4 in box office receipts for its opening weekend. That’s despite a virtual media blackout and proactive actions by social media gatekeepers to squelch any word of support. Twitter inactivated the official movie account. Television stations are refusing to sell advertising slots.

But the reaction that concerns me most is the one from pro-life Christians who say, “I’m already pro-life, so I don’t need to see it.” Or, “I won’t see the movie because the R rating proves it’s too upsetting.” Or, “I don’t get to the movies much. I’ll wait until the DVD is released.”

This is my response especially for Christians who don’t plan to see Unplanned.

Yes, this movie is rated R for several emotional scenes. But unlike the gore of fantasy movies, this is real. And I find it especially difficult to understand why a teen girl must be protected from seeing the reality of abortion via the R rating when they are legally able to have an abortion performed on them without their parents’ consent. Thousands upon thousands of young girls are marching blindly into Planned Parenthood to subject themselves to this very act of violence. They walk out more broken than they could ever imagine. Oh. My. Aching. Heart!

Let me get this straight: they can do it, but they shouldn’t see it?

This is, indeed, a disturbing movie. But that’s why every Christian needs to see it. Many will not, yet I believe that’s exactly what Satan wants: for us to stay sheltered in our protected Christian bubbles. He couldn’t stop the movie from being made, so he’ll do all he can to stop Christians from wanting to see it.

Too many Christians say they are pro-life, but the reality is many of us don’t really understand the horror of abortion. If we stay in our sheltered worlds, we won’t be as passionately heartbroken about the horror of abortion as we should be. And the enemy will continue winning the hearts and minds of this nation.

Unplanned depicts the level of lies and evil the enemy is wielding in our culture—the very thing Satan does not want us to know.

Sadly, many Christians will not see this movie because they don’t want to come face to face with just how horrible abortion is. Of course, we don’t want to know. Who in their right mind would ever want those images seared into their memory?

Still, how can we take an effective stand unless we know what we are really standing for?

If every Christian truly understood this, organizations and ministries such as Care Net and other crisis pregnancy centers would never lack for volunteers, financial support, and prayer warriors. Support they require to provide services to women and families who desperately need to know about available alternatives.

And these are not just women outside the church. According to a 2015 study, “more than four in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended the pregnancy.”

Seeing Unplanned may not be a movie Christians want to see. But it is a movie we need to see. And it’s a movie pro-choice supporters need to see, as well. Do we all have the courage of our convictions to watch the unpleasant even when it makes us uncomfortable?

See Unplanned. Better yet, take as many people as possible with you. Do it for yourself. Do it for the girls and women who will have abortions without understanding the long-term consequences. Do it for the myriad unborn children awaiting an advocate who will speak up on their behalf.

Do it because it’s the right thing to do.


Outrage is Not Enough
Outrage

I’ve been inundated with outrage this past week. Righteous indignation filling my social media feeds. Outrage expressed in face-to-face conversations. And outrage at the outrage of others.

So what?

So what that Christians are outraged at the recent passage of a bill signed into law in New York State? A law that removes even the veneer of civilization when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us?

So what that Christians are outraged that a practice which ends life is now not only legal, it was celebrated with applause and landmark buildings lit up for the world to see?

And so what that the outrage of Christians is spilling into most of their conversations?

What are we doing about it?

Yes, Christians can feel like salmon swimming against the current in a society that no longer even pretends to share our values and morals.

Yes, Christians can become discouraged, citing the adage, “You can’t fight city hall.”

And yes, the political landscape seems skewed toward running away from God and His Word instead of to Him.

But we still have options:

When was the last time you made a difference—and not just expressing your outrage on social media?

Have you donated financially to a ministry such as Care Net Pregnancy Services of the Treasure Coast?

  • If money is tight, have you donated your time to such a ministry? There are opportunities for peer counselors and mommy-mentors. Training is provided.
  • Have you participated in a Walk for Life or hosted a table at a fundraising banquet to give other people an opportunity to donate through your efforts?

Have you come alongside other ministries? Will you explore opportunities with organizations such as:

  • Embrace Grace: “inspiring and equipping the church to love on girls with crisis pregnancies.”
  • Youmoms: a local group whose mission is to “encourage, equip, and empower young and expectant mothers and their children. And to equip the church to be a safe place for them to thrive.”
  • YoungLives: an organization that mentors teen moms
  • Mary’s Shelter: another local group whose mission is to “save lives by empowering and equipping homeless, pregnant young women for lives of dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency.”
  • Hannah’s Home: “provides a safe and loving Christian environment for single pregnant young women. Through counseling, life skills and continuing education, we offer hope and transform lives.”

If these organizations are not available in your area, find ministries with similar missions.

Have you considered how you might encourage foster families?

  • If you can’t foster, how about adopting a foster family? Come alongside to support them in the call on their lives.
  • Or donate to a local foster closet to provide for needs of foster families.

Don’t have an organization in your area similar to the ones I’ve referenced? Then perhaps this Bible verse can apply to you:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 ESV).

Yes, this verse is specific to an event and a person. But the principle still applies. We have been brought into the kingdom of Jesus Christ at this time, in this place. What will we do with the privilege of representing the Savior in the place He has planted us?

In the interest of transparency, I’m a board member of our local crisis pregnancy center, Care Net Pregnancy Services of the Treasure Coast.

But there was a time when I talked a good game of righteous indignation and moral outrage without doing anything. And one day I realized that had to change. I started small by attending a fundraising banquet. The next year, I hosted a table, inviting others to learn about this ministry. Further involvement culminated in my board role.

I say this, not for kudos, but to encourage you to start somewhere.

Start with outrage…but don’t stop there.


Supporting Life

Life

Our society is critical of hypocrites in general, and especially judgmental of perceived hypocrisy within the Christian community. Yet, consider the double standards espoused by our culture. And no where are they more obvious than in the area of protecting life.

Think of the convoluted logic that passes laws to protect unborn eagles but not unborn human babies. Or social mores that advocate protecting women from physical and sexual abuse, but have no problem ending the lives of females inside the womb—the ultimate physical abuse.

How is a Christian to respond to this double standard when it comes to valuing life?

Throw a pity party at the injustice of it all?

I’ve talked to many believers who figuratively and (literally) throw up their hands at the unfair way our culture treats Christians. Citing the adage, “you can’t fight city hall,” they give up. They stop voting, they stop serving, they stop interacting with society. After all, if the culture is against you, what’s the point in trying?

Gloat over those who disagree with us?

Other Christians appear to rejoice in the coming judgment of those who stand against God. They gloat about the hell and damnation unbelievers will face. Their message seems to be, “You’re making life miserable for Christians and killing babies now, but you’ll get yours!”

Shred our opponents with intellectual arguments?

I recently saw a post on social media titled, “Intellectually Shredded!” It celebrated the debate victory won by a believer over his unbelieving opponent.

Christians mock the illogical presumptions of those who live as if God doesn’t exist and claim pre-born babies aren’t really alive. They cite facts with the goal of chalking up a decisive victory against unbelieving opponents. The problem is, our motivation may deteriorate into winning the argument instead of the person.

While these options are practiced all too often, there’s a better way. The way of living with integrity, loving well, and serving humbly. The way modeled by hundreds of thousands of employees and volunteers in crisis pregnancy centers across the United States.

Living with integrity

The world is watching how Christians live. Yes, they may be watching us to catch hypocrisy, but many are watching because they want to know if Christianity is real. Do we put our money where our mouth is? We say we believe certain things, but do we live consistent with those beliefs? For example, we say we’re pro-life, but how do we support the ministries that work to protect life? Do we give of our finances? Our talents? Our time? We need to walk our talk if we’re to have any credibility with those who don’t share our beliefs.

Loving well

When Jesus told His followers to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors (Matthew 5:44), He wasn’t speaking theoretically. Jesus prayed for His executioners when He said, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV).

Today, when we speak of unbelievers and abortionists going to hell, we ought to remember what D.L. Moody has been quoted as saying: “When we preach on hell, we must do it with tears in our eyes.”

Serving Humbly

One of the best examples of humble service I have ever witnessed is the work done day in and day out in crisis pregnancy centers around the country.

The work of employees and volunteers on the front lines of the pro-life effort is often unnoticed. Men and women who support those responding to an unplanned pregnancy provide counsel, support, and material resources. Clients may receive services such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD/HIV testing, and parenting classes. They offer these services without pressure in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

Equally important are the abortion recovery services offered to those who have chosen to terminate life, but then live with the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of their choice. Clients never hear, “I told you so.” What they do experience is love, and lots of it.

The Sanctity of Human Life is marked annually, the third Sunday in January. This year, we’ll observe it this Sunday, January 21, 2018. As you learn of the work being done in the crisis pregnancy center near you, will you do more than just listen? Will you live with integrity, love well, and then find a way to serve humbly with your time, talents, and resources?

The difference you make will last for eternity.


Euphemisms

When I worked in the corporate world, we rarely said we were firing an employee. We said they were being “let go.” The euphemism didn’t alter the reality that the person was no longer employed.

Euphemisms are often used to make us feel better about what we’re saying. They take the sting out of painful terms. Euphemisms can also help us avoid facing the reality that we’re making wrong choices. Slap a pleasant—or at the very least, neutral—label on something, and it becomes easier to support.

There’s a quote floating around the Internet attributed to Chuck Norris that illustrates this:

“Instead of baby, we say fetus; instead of killing, we say aborting; instead of dissect, we say research; instead of extermination chambers, we say abortion clinics…”

Sigh. More euphemisms.

Which brings me to the recent news reports of Planned Parenthood’s sales of body parts such as hearts, lungs, and livers from aborted babies. Upsetting, to say the least. Outrageous would be a better word. Our culture’s callous disregard for human life seems to have spiraled out of control to an unimaginable extent.

It also has me shaking my head in confusion. For decades, supporters of abortion have refused to call the unborn child a baby. Women seeking help are told their fetus is not alive; it’s merely a “clump of cells.”

But “clumps of cells” don’t have developed hearts, lungs, and livers. Living beings—people—have hearts, lungs, and livers. So which is it? Are these living human beings with identifiable human organs or are they unidentifiable clumps of cells?

No matter what euphemisms are used to help us hide from reality, the truth is our society has created and established a business whose goal is to kill children at alarming rates. Now it has found a way to generate even greater profits.

This despicable practice is an eerie reminder of a horrifying period in our not-so-distant history we’d rather forget. A time when body parts were also harvested with complete disregard for human life. Julius Hallervorden, a Nazi medical research official, once said to those managing the death camps, “If you are going to kill all these people, at least take the brains out so that the material could be utilized.”

How quickly we’ve forgotten.

Truth & ErrorEuphemisms and short memories make it easier to avoid reality. But no matter how much our culture tries to avoid truth, it cannot change truth. And someday, Jesus Christ, the One who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, will bring a judgment that cannot be evaded.

Still, as Christians it is not for us to rejoice in their judgment. Rather, it is for us to speak of this judgment with aching hearts and tears in our eyes. To speak with the hope that those who practice these horrific deeds may come to know the Savior who died for their sin and ours.

Until that day, may we never grow comfortable with euphemisms that make it easy to tolerate the intolerable.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?


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