The last few hours of developments in the Alfie Evans story have been climactic and emotional, but also tragic and utterly horrifying. The 24-month-old little boy suffers from a rare degenerative brain disorder and, as you’ve probably read by now, was recently taken off his ventilator at London’s Alder Hey hospital. The European psychopaths who call themselves doctors — while playing God — have declared that Alfie’s life is simply not worth saving. In fact, they argue that, because of his brain condition, his life wouldn’t even be worth living, so the best thing to do is go ahead and murder him now while he’s two-years-old, rather than allow his parents to seek professional treatment in Italy — treatment that could potentially save his life.
Italy even sent an air ambulance and granted Alfie citizenship in a desperate effort to rescue the child. Of course, this was all for naught as London police officers were put in place to prevent it from happening. The boy should die, they said. If we can't save him, then no one can.
Now a judge has ruled that Alfie may return home, but that his parents cannot leave the country to seek better medical care in Rome for Alfie’s condition. In other words, the courts have sentenced this child to die as his mother and father watch helplessly.
There’s really no way to explain, rationalize or justify such monstrous and despicable behavior. The simple truth is that this an explicit example of the depravity of the heart of mankind and our utter disdain for human life. We should be very clear that any society which no longer values the life of unborn children will inevitably place itself on a trajectory for not valuing life at any stage. Whether it’s a kid with a birth defect or a grandfather with a disability, socialized medicine will eventually dictate that these people aren’t really “useful” or “productive” anymore. Better to rid them of their pains now and free up more space in society. Much of Europe has already immersed itself in this way of thinking. Mark my words: America won’t be far behind.
A hospital actually held a child hostage when he could have been receiving better medical care elsewhere and then, upon releasing him, is now actively barring his family from leaving the country to pursue that treatment on their own in a different country. Why? Because they’re evil and they do not value the worth and dignity of human life. They do not see life as the beautiful and wondrous gift that it was and is designed to be.
That is a travesty of monumental proportions and it is indicative of an ideology that is already slowly seeping into the fabric of our nation. Pray that God will purge it from us before it’s too late.
And then, pray for Alfie and for his family. May God give them a peace that surpasses all understanding and comprehension.
A recent story out of the British news agency South West News Service — republished by Fox News — highlights a local Florida family comprised of a mom, a dad and 16 children. Lyette Reback is 44-years-old and a notable charity founder. Together with her husband of 24 years, estate agent David Reback, they have an astonishing 10 daughters and six sons, all between the ages of two and twenty-two. Twelve of their children are biological, while four are adopted.
I’ll give your brain a minute to process those numbers.
Amazingly, Lyette still finds time for lunch with friends, exercise regimens, daily chores and laundry and has even published a book on parenting. I say “amazingly” because I personally have no idea where she finds the time or the self-discipline. I can hardly be disciplined enough to write two to three columns a week while juggling my church media responsibilities, much less a social life. Many media outlets have labeled Lyette a “supermom,” given that she home-schools all of her kids, “shuttles them to 88 sports practices weekly,” and performs the other twelve-million or so responsibilities that every mom must face. It’s no wonder Fox ran the article in their “Fitness & Wellbeing” section.
The story of the Rebacks has been praised as “inspiring” and “wonderful” by hundreds of thousands of readers. Others, however, haven’t been so flattering in their comments. Here’s a small sampling:
“The brood cow didn’t know when to stop!”
“Another breed happy fanatic looking to launch a reality show.”
“What’s up with all the pregnancy photos, narcissist? What a sad way to get attention, spitting out too many children to give each the attention he or she deserves. It’s all about you.”
Indeed, our society would have us believe that any mother who chooses to “spit out too many children” is just desperate to be in the media limelight or rake in loads of cash. I don’t know the Rebacks. I’ve never met them. I don’t know anything about their spiritual, relational or political beliefs. I’ve read three articles and visited their website and social media pages. That’s about it. But, I do know this: It’s never selfish to have or adopt children, particularly in the midst of a progressive culture that worships at the sacred death altars of abortion and euthanasia. It is a selfless, loving and brave act. In fact, I would argue that now may be one of the best times to have children — as doing so flies in the face of the pro-death narratives preached by the satanic abortion radicals and many deranged doctors.
Just recently, an elderly couple in Canada decided to commit suicide together by “receiving a doctor-assisted death” — as if you can receive death as casually as receiving a text message on your iPhone or a box of chocolates from a lover. Rather than describing it as the sad and horrifying tragedy that it was, the media hailed it as “dignified” and “honorable.” But, the truth is that there’s nothing dignified about this kind of death at all. There is dignity in living one’s life, running the race and enduring through adversity until the very end, no matter what your age or physical state. I’m sure I’ll be labeled as callous for this assertion, although I don’t care. God help me, I just can’t see any dignity in glorifying suicidal, voluntary or premeditated death. It’s utterly insane.
When it comes to children, our own nation slaughters almost a million unborn babies on an annual basis, somewhere around 60 million since the 1973 Roe v. Wade legalization of infanticide. We stand on the rotting corpses of these dead children while openly mocking and ridiculing families like the Rebacks — and thousands of others — who have chosen life. What is it about us that causes us to hate big families so much? Why do we despise them? More importantly, why do we despise children in general? A century or so ago it wouldn’t have been uncommon for families living on rural farms to have eight or more biological kids while living with another large family or sharing property. Today, we mock parents who decide to have more than three.
The simple reality is that families like the Rebacks deserve our praise and our prayers. They deserve the praise because, no matter what their personal reasons, they’ve chosen life in a culture that exalts death. They deserve our prayers because raising a family of that size — in a culture desperate to devour and indoctrinate children — is quite a challenge.
And, ultimately, it is why you should think twice before judging them.
Last Friday, my father and I had a chance to see Director Andrew Hyatt’s “Paul, Apostle of Christ.” If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, then you know that I don’t often write movie reviews and if I do, it’s usually because the movie was a depraved piece of soul-melting, mind-numbing garbage. In other words, I’m usually trying to warn you to steer clear of most of what Hollywood excretes these days. Just visit my “Entertainment” category tag and see for yourself.
Thankfully, this is not the case for “Paul, Apostle of Christ.” The movie is arguably one of the most powerful and inspiring biblical films to date, right behind Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ.” It’s also helpful that fans of “The Passion” are reintroduced to beloved actor Jim Caviezel, who steals the show, this time as the physician and apostle Luke. Indeed the movie could have very well been titled “Luke” or even “Luke and Paul: Apostles of Christ.” The latter title certainly would’ve made more sense, given that much of the story revolves around Luke writing down a historical account of Paul’s life and ministry, which will eventually become the Acts of the Apostles, known to Christians today as the Book of Acts. Luke also visits with many persecuted Christians, treating their wounds and offering encouragement.
Actor James Faulkner brilliantly portrays the sick and aging apostle Paul, who spends most of the film locked in a dank, dark Roman prison, where he awaits his forthcoming execution for preaching the “The Way” — the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The film certainly isn’t perfect by any stretch. Viewers interested in seeing Paul’s detailed story and background are only given brief flashback sequences. However, it is still quite an exceptional addition to the genre. Of course, it will undoubtedly be nitpicked by elitist Hollywood critics, most of whom have no understanding of biblical history, much less a personal love of the source material.
In other words, this is a movie that will resonate predominantly with Christ-followers. If you’re not a believer, you may find it to be slow or boring. There is very little action or edge-of-your-seat intensity. It’s not “The Avengers” or “Pirates of the Caribbean.” You might appreciate its cinematic artistry and musical score, but don’t expect this one to win any Oscars. Much of the spoken dialogue in the film is taken straight from the Book of Romans and other various excerpts of Scripture. The depth of these lines will likely only impact those who have a deep relationship with the Bible’s indescribable significance, eternal value and ongoing relevancy.
Speaking of relevancy, that’s what makes this film — and the story of Paul and Luke — so beautiful for Christian viewers in particular: It’s relatable and engaging. When you see how intensely Paul regrets his former life as Saul of Tarsus — the prominent persecutor and murderer of Christians — you can’t help but be moved by the immeasurable grace and forgiveness that God poured out upon him on the Damascus road. (Acts 9) Although this conversion moment in Paul’s life is only shown briefly in the film, it still reminds us that no Christ-follower is perfect. We all have a past. We all sin and fail. (Romans 3:23) But, when we repent from our wickedness and seek Christ, we can be forgiven through His work on the Cross. (Romans 3:24-26)
Paul is often theorized by many scholars and theologians to be the anonymous author of the Book of Hebrews. In the latter verses of chapter 10, he exhorts us to “…stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together….” Later in the movie, we meet Priscilla and Aquila — the First Century missionary couple who were close friends with Paul. They graciously open up their home and allow small groups of Christian brothers and sisters to huddle together for prayer, encouragement and support, doing precisely what the text from Hebrews commands us to do today. I was moved by the passion with which these men and women clung to their faith. These were some of the earliest church Sunday school classes and Growth Groups. And they managed to meet together without using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text-messages, websites or Starbucks. Moreover, they did it all while risking certain death if discovered by Roman guards.
I mentioned earlier that there was little action and intensity. This is only true to an extent, as the film’s PG-13 rating reflects the graphic persecution and torture many Christ-followers endured while in Rome. For me, this was perhaps the most relevant and important aspect of the movie. As the maniacal Emperor Nero is ordering the city reduced to ashes, Christians are crucified and their lifeless corpses are burned on crosses to be used as torches to light the streets at night. Some are shackled and drug into the Roman coliseums where they’ll be devoured by lions and killed for sport (not actually shown.) Another scene depicts the slaughtering of a woman’s family off-camera. However, viewers do later see this mother covered in the blood of her dead children.
While the film certainly isn’t as violent or gory as “The Passion of the Christ,” it is still shocking enough to make its ultimate point: Christians were brutally persecuted and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ and for preaching the Gospel. It’s no wonder that many of them spend most of the movie panicking in fear, debating whether or not they should remain in Rome as a light in the darkness or flee to another city where they could avoid oppression.
Here, the movie certainly begs the question: What would you do in the face of persecution for your faith? As American Christians, I don’t think we confront this question as often as we should. And that’s what I left this movie pondering. Would I be willing to lay down my life for my faith just like Paul, Luke and those early Christians? If I'm being honest, I have to answer: "I don’t know." I would hope so.
But, I do know this: We have no concept of true persecution. Most of us are hardly willing to taint our reputation at work or amongst our friends by revealing that we believe in Jesus. Would we really endure physical pain or even death for our Savior? Would we sacrifice our own lives so that Christianity could endure? The lives of our children? Our loved ones?
Ask yourself these deep questions. Reflect. Pray. Then go see this movie.
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This post is one that probably won't resonate as strongly for many of you, but I’m going to share it anyway because — as my loyal readers and subscribers — you’ve been a part of this journey all along, even if you were utterly oblivious to this fact.
As of right now, this site averages over 12,000 views from about 3,100 unique visitors — people just like you — on a monthly basis. It also rakes in even higher amounts of readership due to cross-traffic from my official Facebook page, where I’m able to do Live videos, post daily commentary and generally spew out my egotistical thoughts on whatever political, cultural and religious issues I choose to address. I admit that when I first started this blogging venture, I never imagined that I’d see such an increase in page hits and followers over the years. All I knew is that I loved to write. I’ve loved it since high school, where all of my English teachers told me I that I was “already writing on a college level,” whatever that meant.
When I finally did go to college, I figured that I might as well get a degree in this whole “writing thing,” so I earned a Bachelors in Journalism and minored in English. I’ve been published in a couple of local magazines, but I never thought that anyone would actually want to listen to my personal opinions. You’ve all proven me wrong and I’m eternally grateful. Every comment, share, retweet, e-mail, compliment, Facebook message, insult and death threat is immensely appreciated.
Anyway, as some of you know from my bio, I also juggle a full-time digital media position at my church and serve on the worship team as lead acoustic rhythm guitarist. And up until November 11 of last year, I was working part-time for Old Navy Clothing Co./GAP Inc.
I say “was” because I’ve officially been out of the sales world for about four months now. It’s still a strange sensation. After all, I had been a retail peasant since 2003. Fourteen years. It was familiar. It was safe. It was comfortable. For a long time, it was the only form of paid employment that I knew.
Unfortunately, the high-stress environment ultimately took a toll on my epilepsy last year and started triggering my seizures (which had been dormant from childhood to 23-years-old) more frequently. I prayed, sought God’s face and had conversations with my parents. After much deliberation, we decided that the most optimal decision for my health was for me to leave my job. I could do part-time yard client work with my dad to earn extra cash during the week. Besides, it’s not like I was making a fortune folding ugly jeans and running a cash register five days a week. My parents graciously offered to help cover some of my medical expenses.
As much as I detested my actual job, it wasn’t easy to walk away from the customer service industry. I spent most of my formative young adult years in that world. I had been molded by it. I gained some independency there. I had met people and made friends. I’ve also never been much of a risk-taker. Ask anyone in my family. I don’t do well with unpredictable circumstances, particularly when it comes to finances. But, here I am now — living on the edge of the unknown — cutting grass, blowing leaves, trimming hedges, teaching guitar lessons, proofreading high school students’ research papers and whatever it takes to earn enough money just to get by, hoping that everything will somehow work out, wishing I didn't have to depend on my parents for money or my family for transportation.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Fast-forward to present day.
This certainly isn’t the life I thought I’d have at 32-years-old. It isn’t the life I want. But, guess what? I still have dreams, hopes and goals. One of those goals is this website and its content. Over 3,000 people read what’s published here every month according to my analytics dashboard. I don’t know why, but they do. This month I might even exceed 4,000. That’s certainly a far cry from the authors and nationally-syndicated columnists who have millions of readers. But, it’s progress. So, I’m going to keep writing, posting and publishing and let God handle the rest. That’s all I can really do. It’s all any of us can do. Maybe I’ll get picked up by a Christian media outlet or conservative digital publication. Maybe I’ll get hired by a Christian author, speaker, church or organization. Who knows? Only God does. And that’s half the fun.
There’s certainly nothing special about my site. It doesn’t boast a slick, modern design (although this may change eventually.) It doesn’t have any fancy gizmos or gadgets. No flash animation or impressive apps. My web design professors from college would probably give me a “C” at best.
Likewise, there’s nothing special about me. I’m just a guy with seizures who writes how I feel about stuff. For some reason, people seem to like what I say, so they read it and leave comments and sometimes they even share it on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t have a particularly climactic, breathtaking or emotional story. At the same time, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and my journey hasn’t always been one full of happiness, fun and success. Indeed, there are parts of my story that have been difficult, dark, terrifying and challenging.
In spite of all that, there are some risks worth taking in life. This writing venture is that sort of risk. I honestly have no idea where it will lead or if it will lead anywhere at all. God could have something else in mind altogether. All I know is that — for the foreseeable future — I’ll still be writing and posting as often as possible. I’ll be doing videos more often. I’ll also be submitting some of my work to well-known sites, publishers and authors. Pray with me that this whole process goes smoothly.
Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. My readers have brought me this far. You’ve shared my articles, left comments, promoted my blog online and by word-of-mouth. You’ve left my cards at local restaurants and coffee shops. I hope you’ll continue to read and engage with my content.
I also hope you’ll be just as adventurous with your ambitions and aspirations. Don’t let fear and all the “what if’s” cripple what you could be doing, especially if you’re still young and single with your entire life ahead of you. Do whatever it takes.
Now isn’t the time to be making excuses, creating safety nets or devising some sort of fallback plan for yourself. I don’t say this because I’ve mastered the art of living life. In fact, I say it because I haven’t. I’m still trying to figure this all out. But, one thing is certain: nothing worth achieving ever came without hard work, sacrifice, sweat, failings, dedication and passion.
Perhaps that’s my ultimate point, if I even have one at all. Like I said, there’s not much to me. I’m just an average dude who writes stuff and puts it on the Internet and on social media. So, if you’re reading this right now, thank you. It means more than you know. Stay tuned for future additions to the website and how you can be engaged and get involved even more.
Last night on Facebook I mentioned that there is a colossal amount of immaturity seeping into the Church and so-called “modern Christianity” as a whole. There was nothing particularly grand or revelatory about this assertion. In fact, I didn’t even back it up with recent statistics, polls or any sort of concrete data. I didn’t cite any news articles or quote any pastors. (Probably because I was too lazy.) It was merely an observation made primarily from personal experience and recent conversations that I’ve had with fellow ministry colleagues. Within about five minutes of posting the status, I received a notification that it was “performing better than 90% of the other posts” on my Page. It received several likes, reactions and shares, not to mention a few e-mail responses, with everyone agreeing that I was “so right” or “dead on” in what I was saying.
I don’t say this to gloat. The truth is that I hate receiving that sort of feedback. I didn’t want people to agree. However, it at least confirmed what I was thinking: The undeniable reality is that much of our culture’s political and social immaturity has permeated and infected the Christian faith and, as believers, we have willingly stood by and allowed this happen. In many cases, we’ve even fostered and welcomed it.
Indeed, there are a vast array of immature spiritual delusions and fallacies that have overtaken the modern Church and and the thought patterns of many believers. But, I just want to focus on one here today. It can generally be summarized like this: “I can leave a church whenever I want to or whenever I feel like it, for any reason whatsoever, and it doesn’t matter.”
As a consumer-driven and emotion-based society, it’s easy to see why and how so many American Christians have fallen victim to applying this mindset to their church attendance. We mistakenly believe that we should only be loyal to a church so long as our personal needs, wants and selfish desires are being met. If a church fails to make us “feel good” or “feed us” in the exact ways that we believe it should, we head out to find another one as if we were switching from Apple to Samsung or Nike to Adidas. In essence, we become church shopping consumers, rather than hard-working contributors.
Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons to leave a church: heretical teaching, unbiblical value statements, lack of a clear mission, etc. But there are a lot of really dumb reasons too. Here are three of the most stupid reasons to ditch your church:
1) “I’m not experiencing any spiritual growth.”
Yes, a senior pastor has a responsibility to shepherd his flock toward spiritual growth. But, he also has dozens of other responsibilities like staff administration, sermon preparation, weekly meetings, counseling appointments, speaking engagements, hospital visits, weddings, random spiritual crisis emergency management moments and about a thousand other things. Take it from the son of a pastor, they can’t be expected to do or handle everything. It’s not humanly possible. In fact, this is why they surround themselves with committed staff and volunteers in the first place. It’s also why any good pastor will make sure his church offers small groups and Bible studies throughout the week. Dominant spiritual growth isn’t supposed to happen on Sunday mornings.
Moreover, we’re living in the 21st Century. If you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or even a library card, then you have a world of scriptural, doctrinally-sound teaching and endless sermon audio and video files right at your fingertips. “I’m not spiritually growing,” is arguably the most pathetic and weakest excuse any Christian can have for abandoning a church. Take some initiative and responsibility yourself and seek spiritual growth through online messages or small group Bible studies. (2 Timothy 2:15) (Joshua 1:8)
2) “I don’t like the pastor.”
This is usually one of those purely emotion-based, often knee-jerk-reaction-sort-of-reasons that tends to occur when a pastor says or does something that, while not unbiblical at all, just bothered you on a personal level. Maybe he resolved a conflict differently than you would have. Maybe he made a spiritual leadership choice that you were too insecure or too unwise to understand. Perhaps he made an executive decision with which you disagreed. Maybe he had the sanctuary carpet color updated. Maybe he authorized modifications to the stage or lighting. Maybe he approved some contemporary changes to the style of worship music. Oh, the horror.
Ask yourself why you’re going to church in the first place. Examine your own heart. If you’re only there for the things that make you happy and comfortable, then the problem is not the church. It’s you. Repent of your selfishness (Philippians 2:3-4) and invest in serving (1 Peter 4:10), rather than receiving. Commit to understanding the reasons for the decisions and changes, rather than complaining about them.
3) “The people there are weird and annoying.”
I hear this one a lot and my immediate response is always: “Yup.” After working 15 years in the clothing retail world, there’s one thing I can say without a doubt: Human beings are some of the weirdest and most troublesome — often infuriating — creatures ever to exist on planet Earth. And I hate to break it to you, but the church (both globally and locally) is made up of people. The church is the people. The Gospel brings together men, women and families from multiple backgrounds and all sorts of unique and diverse situations. That’s the beauty of it. The likelihood that you will ever find a church full of people just like you is nearly nonexistent. Besides, such a church would be subverting the entire point of the Gospel, and you really wouldn’t need to be there anyway.
So, if you’ve recently abandoned a church based a similar excuse, you may need to stop, pray, repent and carefully reexamine your motivations. If you’re thinking about looking for a new church, don’t do it based on one of these excuses or any variances thereof. Otherwise, you’ll spend the rest of your life miserably hopping from one church to the next — utterly unhappy with each one — and you’ll probably be just as miserable in Heaven too.