Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Some Thoughts From S.M. Davis

On a recent family vacation, during our long car rides, we listened to S.M. Davis' talk entitled What God Has to Say About Having Children. (I can't find it anywhere on the Internet. If I could, I would include a link.) It was a wonderful lecture and had many great points. Hoping that this information wouldn't go in one ear and out the other (which seems to happen quite often for me), I jotted down some of my favorite points. The following is a conglomeration of Dr. Davis' points and some commentary by yours truly. I realize it's slightly incoherent and disjointed, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water please. : )

Dr. Davis told a story about a little girl and her pastor:
Pastor: How many kids are there in your family, young lady?
Little girl: Seven.
Pastor: Wow! That must cost a lot!
Little girl: Oh, no! We don't buy them; we raise them!

Of course, this is "cute," and most people would laugh it off without realizing that this little girl's perspective is much more biblical than the pastor's. This pastor is viewing children the same way that the feminists of today view them: as a burden. The little girl, on the other hand, recognizes that children are given to parents to raise for the glory of God!

God says that children are a blessing (Genesis 17:16; 24:60; 49:25), an inheritance, and a reward (Psalm 127:3). The word used for "reward" literally means "wages."

The Bible clearly shows that the Lord gives children and withholds them, according to His will. This area is not under our jurisdiction! One of the many verses addressing this is Psalm 113:9:

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children [Emphasis added]. Praise ye the Lord.

This is cause to praise God for His blessings, not to mourn because of a perceived burden!

1 Samuel 2:21 - And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters [Emphasis added]. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

The Lord gave Hannah her children.

Psalm 127:3-5 - Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Dr. Davis brought up an interesting point: Is a man going into battle going to see how many arrows he can take, or how few? Of course he would want to have as many as he could!

In Genesis 1:22, 28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; and 35:11, God tells man to "be fruitful and multiply." He also tells them to "replenish the earth." The word fruitful literally means "full of fruit." Replenish means to "fill up." So we are to be "full of fruit," and to "fill up the earth." If it were God's plan for women to only have 1.8 children, why did He not give her only 3-5 years for childbearing?

Dr. Davis gave lots of statistics on numbers of children which I think are fascinating!

At the time of the founding of our country (1700's), the average family consisted of 8 or more children.

By 1900, the average was 4 children.

Today, the average number of children per family in the United States is 1.8.

On average, American households contain more TV's than children.

In a speech during his presidency, Teddy Roosevelt called women who didn't fulfill their God-given role of having children "criminals against the race." Image someone saying that today!

What are we missing?
Bach was the 8th-born child.
Mozart was 7th.
Beethoven was 5th.
Enrique Caruso, a famous Italian tenor, was the 18th of 21 children. The first 17 children died during or soon after infancy.
Steinway (the piano guy Steinway) was 7th.
George Washington was the 5th of 10.
Pres. Tyler - 6th of 8
Pres. Taylor - 6th of 8
Pres. Pierce - 7th of 8
Pres. Hayes - 5th of 5
Pres. Arthur - 5th of 9
Pres. Cleveland - 5th of 9
Pres. Harrison - 5th of 13
Pres. McKinley - 7th of 9
Pres. Taft - 7th of 10

The average number of children in the presidents' families is 6.3.

Many of the presidents went on to have many children themselves, Tyler ending up with the most: 15.

The mentality that we should have, Dr. Davis boldly declares, is not "I want two, maybe three children," but rather, "I want to have faith to have each child that God gives to me."

The point is not, "I need to have lots and lots of children." Rather, it is "I am open to having however many children God decides to give me, whether it be two or twenty."

Dr. Davis wraps up his talk with the statement:
Think about babies like God things about babies, not like Planned Parenthood thinks about them.

As Christians, we must never forget that every area of life is "religious." That is to say, the Bible speaks to everything! Children are a blessing straight from God. God Himself says so in His holy Word!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The Lord has really emphasized this to me again and again over the past few weeks. What a comfort it is to know that if we put our trust in Him and acknowledge Him in all that we do, He will direct our paths!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Family Friends ... Literally

One of the many ways that the Lord has blessed us over the past few years is by bringing our family closer together. He truly has made my siblings and me best friends. We enjoy doing things together and talking together.

It is so easy for us to distance ourselves from the other members of our families! Everyone has heard of "sibling rivalry," and it seems to be accepted today today that siblings will treat each other in ways that they would never consider treating someone who is no relation to them.

The book Home-Making has an interesting perspective on why this is true:
The fact that it is home and that the ties are natural and thought to be secure; that the members are sure of each other, without making any effort to win confidence and regard; that love between them is a matter of course, as if by nature, without winning it or cherishing it or troubling themselves to keep it, is another of the muses for the absence of real friendship among brothers and sisters. They imagine that family affection is a sort of instinct not subject to the laws which control other affections; that it does not need to be sought or gained or won, as affection must be in others, by giving affection in return and by the countless little tendernesses and thoughtfulnesses which are shown to others whom they desire to win. They forget that the principle, "he that hath friends must show himself friendly," applies in the family just as well as outside of it. They forget that friendship anywhere must be cherished or it will die; that indifference and coldness will muse it to wither as drought causes summer flowers to wither. They imagine, in a word, that the love of the family is so sure and strong that it needs no care, no pains, to keep it safe. So it is that in very many homes brothers and sisters come and go, day after day, and year after year, mingling in all the life of the household, but never really forming close friendships among themselves.*

Indeed, in many homes, this seems to be the norm:
...[T]he intercourse of brothers and sisters in the home lacks even the graces of ordinary civility. As soon as the door shuts them within, restraint is thrown off, selfishness comes to the surface, courtesy is laid aside. There is no pleasant conversation. Neither lives for or tries to please the other. The speech is rude or careless and the whole bearing cold or indifferent.**

How true this is! (And I've been the culprit more than once.)

The solution?
Friendships in the family require care and culture as do other friendships. We must win one another's love inside the home doors just as we win the love of outside friends. ... [W]e must show ourselves unselfish, self-forgetful, thoughtful, kind, tender, patient, helpful. [Yes, even to our siblings!] ... We must live for each other. We must gain each other's heart by giving just what we expect to receive. We must cherish the friendship that we have won. Unless we do, it will not grow. We must watch our words and our conduct. We must seek to please and take pains never to would or grieve. We must deny self and live for one another. We must confide in one another. We must cultivate in our own hearts and lives whatever is beautiful, whatever is tender, whatever is holy, whatever is true. Friendships in our own home, to be deep and true and heart-satisfying, must be formed by the patient knitting of soul to soul and the growing of life into life, just as in other friendships.***

I have been thinking recently: Why is it that when we are home our speech becomes careless and inconsiderate? Why is it that when we are home our dress tends to be sloppy and slovenly? If we gave the members of our families the same respect, civility, politeness, kindness, courtesy, and care that we give to friends and strangers alike, think what our families could be like! Imagine what wonderful, close, satisfying friendships could be formed!

While my siblings and I still have frequent failings in this area, we are thankful that the Lord has worked in each of our lives to bring us closer to each other and to Him.

We know not half the power for good or ill
Our daily lives possess o'er one another;
A careless word may help a soul to kill,
Or by one look we may redeem our brother.

'Tis not the great things that we do or say,
But idle words forgot as soon as spoken;
And little thoughtless deeds of every day
Are stumbling-blocks on which the weak are broken.****


*Home-Making, by J.R. Miller; pg 149
**Ibid; pg. 156
***Ibid; pg. 151
****Ibid; pg. 161

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Little-Known Bible Story

Jeremiah 35:1-10, 18-19

The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,

Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.

Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;

And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:

And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:

Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.

Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;

Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:

But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever
[Emphasis added].

Grandmother's Point of View - Issue III

Grandmother’s Point of View

by Grandma Betty

“God’s best gifts are not things, but opportunities.” Galatians 6:10 says: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” This quotation and verse appeared in a devotional booklet recently.

Applying this concept to the pre-Christmas gift-buying effort, it seems that we have the opportunity to present gifts year-round to our grandchildren: namely, ourselves!

As grandmothers, we sometimes entertain the notion that our usefulness is past; that we’ve done our part in Sunday-school teaching, V.B.S. help, child-rearing, serving the Lord in other capacities, etc.

But time after time, we are reminded that the best gift we can give our grandchildren is to just be available for them: to use the opportunities to help, instruct, and love them.

To see the information about when and where this article appeared, who exactly wrote it, and other interesting facts, click here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

...All the Days of Her Life

Proverbs 31:10-12 - Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

This last verse is one which I think that most of us girls never really think about: "...All the days of her life." This means the days of our married life; it means the days of our courtship; and it means the days before we ever meet Prince Charming! Yes, we can be doing our husband good even before we meet him! In fact, our preparation prior to marriage is a main determining factor in whether or not we will be good wives ... whether or not we will "do our husband good" during our married lives.

What are some ways that we can "do our husband good" even before Prince Charming comes sailing (or galloping) into our lives?

1. Give our hearts to our fathers for safekeeping.

God has given our fathers to us as our authority. It is our fathers' responsibility to protect us and guide us; it is our duty to honor our fathers and trust them implicitly. We should not be seeking the companionship and protection of other young men, but we should be content and secure in our father's safekeeping. One day, Lord willing, our father will give us away to another young man. Until that time, we belong to him. Giving our hearts to our fathers is the surest safeguard for keeping our hearts pure for our future husbands.

2. Keep ourselves pure not only physically, but emotionally as well.

The question is not "How far can I go?" but "How pure can I be?" Today, with the "Christian Dating" route, the whole emphasis is placed on physical purity. However, we are not just empty shells of skin and bones. We have souls, minds, and emotions inside! When we get married, we are not just giving our husbands our bodies; we are giving them ourselves, our emotions and heart included. We must keep our emotions pure! The modern dating game centers around emotions. It gives emotional thrills and takes young people on exciting emotional roller coasters. But what is being lost during that time? Every time a girl "falls in love" - becomes emotionally involved - with yet another young man, she is giving him a little piece of her heart. She is giving away something very valuable, something that should one day belong solely to her husband. We must purpose to keep ourselves emotionally pure, avoiding emotionally-defrauding relationships.

3. Cultivate a submissive spirit. (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18)

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." We cannot live independent, self-centered, autonomous lives before our marriage, and then expect ourselves to suddenly be transformed into godly, submissive angels on our wedding day! We must cultivate the character quality of submission all of our lives. Before we are married, we must, with the Lord's help, learn to submit our wills to our authorities. We must be eager and delighted to do the will of our earthly father as well as our heavenly Father. Life isn't about us; it is about bringing glory to God through following our great, God-given calling!

4. Learn to be a helpmeet to our fathers. (Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 31:23)

Genesis 2:18 says, "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." This is what we were created for. We have the power to make our husband a success or a failure. But, again, we cannot just jump right in to marriage fit to take on this task. The goal of our single years should be to be an effective helpmeet to our fathers.

5. Develop practical home-making skills. (Proverbs 31:13-15, 18-19, 21-22, 27)

Man does not live by bread alone. However, some bread is necessary. Poorly-cooked food and a messy house are not conducive to a happy, healthy marriage! Proverbs 31, which extols the virtuous woman, places a high value on home-making skills. It describes an efficient seamstress and industrious cook. While cultivating good character qualities, we must not forget that physical needs must be met as well!

6. Enjoy a healthy relationship with God.

None of the previous five points can effectively be accomplished without God's grace and guidance in our lives. Since the fall, man has been an inherently selfish creature, quick to put self first and slow to prefer others. Each of the five preceding points requires us to deny ourselves and work for something beyond ourselves. Only with the Lord's help can this be achieved. It is imperative that we spend time daily in His Word and come to Him daily in prayer.

In these early days of our lives, we must remember that what we do now determines who we will be in the future. As single young women, let us all - myself especially - examine ourselves and learn whether or not we are "doing our husband good" during this season of our lives.

Recommended Reading

So Much More, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

Written by two sisters and including interviews with their father, this book describes the wonderful relationship that should exist between fathers and daughters. It is a very helpful and encouraging book that addresses the subject of life purpose. It clearly describes our role as women and reveals feminism for what it truly is.

Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart, by Heather Arnel Paulsen

Emotional Purity
deals with an issue that is commonly glossed over or ignored in Christian society today. It clearly and coherently reveals the dangers and pitfalls of dating and encourages us to not only remain physically pure, but also to remain emotionally pure until marriage.

Home-Making, by J.R. Miller

Don't let the title fool you. This book is not about cooking, sewing, and knitting - although these may be important. Home-Making is an inspiring book that describes how the members of a biblical family should interact with one another, and reveals what a blissful haven a Christian home can be. In short, it addresses the topic of family relations: the marriage relationship, the parent-child relationship, the brother-sister relationship. Home-Making is a wonderful book written for - believe it or not - men and women alike.

Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss

Written in the form of a personal journal, this is truly a unique work of fiction. Although the story takes place in the 1800's, the main character, Katherine Mortimer, faces many of the same issues that young ladies face today: honoring her parents, loving God, controlling a quick temper, keeping her emotions in check, honoring her husband, loving her children, applying God's Word to every area of life, trusting God through difficulties, and surrendering to God's will. Kate's "journal" chronicles her struggles, triumphs, discoveries, losses, and joys, from her sixteenth birthday through her forty-third year. When I finished the last page of this book, I felt almost as if I had lost my best friend. I say almost, because the lessons learned from this friend are valuable, inspiring, personal, and - I hope - lasting.

"According to Elisabeth Elliot, Kay Arthur, and Joni Eareckson Tada, Stepping Heavenward will encourage, inspire, and challenge your walk with Jesus Christ in a dimension that few have entered" (from the Testimony, by editor Mark Hamby, at the beginning of the book).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Godly Womanhood ... A Quote

Godly womanhood ... the very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other type of women: beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women. But so seldom do we hear of a godly woman - or of a godly man either, for that matter. We believe women come nearer to fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife, than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realms of morals to be old-fashioned, than to be ultra-modern. The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct. [emphasis added]

- Former U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall, 1940's

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"You Remind Me of ..."

"I don't know who ya'll remind me more of: the Von Trapps or Little House on the Prairie!"
-our neighbor, upon observing my sister working on schoolwork sitting on a blanket on our front lawn

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Peer Pressure

This evening, my mom and I were on a panel, along with a few other women, answering questions asked by some of the local homeschool moms. Everyone else on the panel had graduated at least one child from high school ... except me, of course. I have, however, been homeschooling for longer than any of the moms. I've been homeschooling all of my life, whereas they had only been homeschooling for at most 17 years. : )

The reason I was on the panel was that I have a different perspective than all of the mothers; I'm at the other end of the spectrum. While there may be no reason for any of those moms to ask me questions regarding most areas of homeschooling, I am the one being homeschooled, and can therefore provide a little bit of insight on how the intricate minds of homeschooled children work.

In a way, some of the things expressed by the inquiring mothers was discouraging, and in a way some of it was very encouraging. It was somewhat discouraging to see that many of the battles being fought by homeschoolers are brought on by the church and homeschooling groups. On the other hand, though, it was encouraging to see that these parents are recognizing these problems and are doing something about them.

When asked about what I thought about how to build character in children (although I don't claim to have "arrived" in the area of character by any means) - i.e. what worked in my family, what my parents did that had an especially big impact on us kids, etc. - I said, in part, that the parents can do everything "right" at home: have family Bible time, memorize Scripture, etc. But if they are not carefully guarding the outside influences on their children, all of this may well be severely undermined.

I knew that I was treading on slightly delicate ground when I mentioned that for this reason, my parents made the decision not to get us involved in a youth group. People tend to think that because it is a church program, it must be good. The peer pressure is so strong even there, though! Members of youth groups seem to generally descend to the "lowest common denominator." (Excuse the mathematical term.) Instead of the more spiritually mature teens having a positive impact on the less mature teens, so often the more mature teens end up getting pulled down by their less mature counterparts.
Instead of seeing the youth group edifying and building up the teens, so often the opposite effect is observed. Many teens, understandably because of their age, just aren't prepared to withstand the heavy pressure to conform. The peer pressure in many youth groups is so strong to wear certain clothes, to act a certain way, to date.

After the session was over, several mothers came up to Mom and me and voiced some concerns that they had about the peer pressure on their children from the local church. One lady's family visited one of the local mega-churches and decided against attending there when they walked into a room filled with various video gaming equipment, and when the music during the service was so loud and unmusical that the words could not even be understood clearly. Another mother doesn't allow her children to attend Sunday school, and has withdrawn her children from the youth group because of the negative, undermining influences. Yet another mother voiced that the pressure on her daughter within the youth group and homeschooling group to date were immense, and were sometimes difficult to withstand.
Another mother said that hers is the only homeschooling family in their church, and that the church does nothing to encourage their family in this. Rather, it ends up discouraging her family and undermining the principles and values being taught at home. One mother asked my mom, "Am I just being an island to myself when I keep my children out of youth group? I know that the other parents think that I believe I'm better than they are and that I'm too good for them." My mom responded, "Well, you are being an island to yourself, but that's not always bad. It's our responsibility to protect our children from that kind of negative peer pressure."

It was encouraging to see that these parents are recognizing the problems and are striving to keep their children from being influenced in the wrong ways. In some cases, these parents are involved actively in their church to remedy some of these problems, by bringing the parents and their children closer together, instead of tearing them apart by myriads of age-segregated classes. However, it was heartbreaking to hear of some of the battles that are forced on these homeschooling families by their own churches! Surely the church should do everything in its power to encourage these families in their worthy endeavors, and to support the parents in their task of faithfully raising up the next generation!

One of the things that I have appreciated about my parents over the years is that, whenever we were looking for a church, the potential impact on us kids was a high priority. Mom and Dad always wanted to make sure that what was being taught or emphasized through the church was not going to undermine the principles that we were being taught at home. They wanted to avoid putting us in positions that required the spiritual maturity and fortitude of those far beyond our years.

Being on the panel tonight was a wonderful learning experience, and provided valuable insight into the everyday lives of homeschool moms. Speaking with the mothers afterward gave opportunities to share what the Lord has shown us - mainly through Vision Forum - over the past several years, and to learn from their insights. It also gave Mom a way to share with other mothers the vast amount of knowledge she has accumulated from thousands upon thousands of pages of reading material, from many hours of research, and from years of homeschooling four children.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

What's the Difference?

Today, the United States Supreme Court heard the Partial-Birth Abortion Cases Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380; and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, 05-1382. A ruling is expected in July.

For some reason, partial-birth abortions seem to many Christians to be more wrong than normal abortions. Our views, just as everyone else's, have been influenced by "abortion rights" activists. The truth is, it makes no difference whether the child is in the womb, outside the womb, or en route to the outside world. It is the curtailing of a life, no matter at what stage it is ended.

Once it is permissible to end a life inside of the womb, it becomes acceptable to end life outside of the womb, as this article shows. This article appeared in the "Health" section of The Australian.


Euthanase disabled babies, say doctors

November 6, 2006

LONDON: One of Britain's leading medical colleges is calling on the health profession to consider permitting the euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.

The proposal by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecology is a response to the number of such children surviving because of medical advances.

The college is arguing that "active euthanasia" should be considered for the overall good of families, and to to spare parents the emotional burden and financial hardship of bringing up the hardest-hit babies.

"A very disabled child can mean a disabled family," the doctors say.

"If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome."

Geneticists and medical ethicists supported the proposal - as did the mother of a severely disabled child - but a prominent children's doctor described it as social engineering.

The college called for active euthanasia of newborns to be considered as part of an inquiry into the ethical issues raised by the policy of prolonging life in newborn babies. The inquiry is being carried out by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

The proposal does not spell out which conditions might justify euthanasia, but in The Netherlands mercy killing is permitted for babies with a range of incurable conditions, including severe spina bifida and the painful skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa.

Pieter Sauer, co-author of the Groningen Protocol, the Dutch national guidelines on euthanasia of newborns, claims British pediatricians unofficially perform mercy killings, and says the practice should be open.

"In England they have exactly the same type of patients as we have here," Dr Sauer said. "English neonatologists gave me the indication this is happening in their country."

Although euthanasia for severely handicapped newborn babies would be contentious, some British doctors and ethicists are now in favour.

The professor of human genetics at University College London, Joy Delhanty, said: "I would support these views. I think it is morally wrong to strive to keep alive babies that are then going to suffer many months or years of very ill health."

The college's submission was welcomed by John Harris, a member of the Government's Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University.

"We can terminate for serious fetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn," he said. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the fetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?"

Edna Kennedy of Newcastle upon Tyne, whose son suffered epidermolysis bullosa, said: "In extremely controlled circumstances, where the baby is really suffering, it should be an option for the mother."

However, John Wyatt, consultant neonatologist at University College London hospital, said: "Intentional killing is not part of medical care."

The Sunday Times


One statement in this article is particularly chilling:

"We [currently] can terminate for serious fetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn," he said. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the fetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?"

What, indeed, has happened? Nothing. A child is a child inside the mother as well as outside. There is no magical transformation undergone by the child during birth. This is the moral dilemma faced by those who support abortion but oppose infanticide. You see, once abortion is accepted, infanticide logically follows. If it is acceptable to kill a child inside the womb, it is okay to kill it on the other side of the birth canal. Where do we draw the line? Some people contend that life does not begin until birth. Others claim that life begins in the third trimester. There are differing opinions held by men. But that is just what they are: man's opinions. What does God say about when life begins? Exodus 21:22-23 says,

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.

In other words, if a pregnant woman is hurt and she gives birth prematurely, but there is no injury (or mischief) done to the child, the offender will be punished in the way that the child's father dictates. However, if there is injury done - the child is born dead, or dies afterwards - "thou shalt give life for life." The child is therefore considered to be a life, just the same as his parents.

A life is a life, whether handicapped or not. The article states, in part,

The professor of human genetics at University College London, Joy Delhanty, said: "...I think it is morally wrong to strive to keep alive babies that are then going to suffer many months or years of very ill health."

The fact that someone suffers pain does not make that person any less a person! And the fact that someone may be suffering does not give anyone the right, or the moral responsibility, to kill that person.

Abortion as it is known in the United States today began with making allowances for the health or life of the mother. If the child was a threat to the mother's health, it became okay to kill it. On average in America currently, well over three thousand unborn babies are killed each day. 93% of these abortions are obtained because of social reasons: the child is unwanted or inconvenient.* Looking at the scenario in this article, it is easy to see in what direction these countries, and eventually ours, are headed. First, we say that it is okay to kill a child if that child has the potential to experience "very ill health," or to burden the family with its handicaps. The next step is to legalize infanticide for social reasons: the child is unwanted or inconvenient.

At Vision Forum's Film Festival, one of the film submissions, titled The Choice, compellingly addressed the issue of at what stage it is okay to end a life.

This 25-minute, anti-abortion drama focuses on the reasoning commonly used to support abortion. Follow the emotion-wrought journey of one couple as they grapple with a monumental decision in their life ... do they want to be parents? This film pushes the issue to the limits of what abortion really is.

In the film, the mother makes the common statement, "It's my choice. I have the right to choose," apparently referring to her right to have an abortion - to kill her child. All of the normal reasons that are given for abortions are used. It is only at the end of the film that we discover that the child who is going to be terminated is ten years old. "But I want to stay with you and Daddy," she pleads. The mother's response is very disturbing, but typical: "It is my choice." This powerful film ends with the parents walking out of the "clinic," leaving their daughter behind, exposing the horrors of abortion and also the direction in which our country is headed.

One reason, I believe, that abortions have become so accepted in our culture, is the choice of vocabulary. There is definitely a very strong agenda behind this. Calling the unborn baby a "fetus" desensitizes people to the actual status of that baby. As soon as the child is born, it qualifies to be called an infant, baby, child, person, boy, or girl. On the other side of the birth canal, it is termed a "fetus."

The phrase "the right to choose," and the term "pro-choice" clearly have an agenda behind them also. Of course we want to give a woman the right to choose! Don't we? It is very noble-sounding! Do we want to give murderers the right to choose, then, too? Do we want to give everyone the right to choose to do whatever they want? This slogan could be applied to any number of areas. A woman does not have a right to choose to kill someone - inside or outside of the womb. Pro-abortionists claim that a mother should have the right to control her own body. What they refuse to realize is that it is not just her body that is involved. It is someone else's body, someone else's life.

In The Australian article, several reasons are cited for the medical college's call for "active euthanasia." The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecology claims to be pushing euthanasia for "the overall good of families, and to to spare parents the emotional burden and financial hardship of bringing up the hardest-hit babies." "A very disabled child can mean a disabled family," the doctors say. Every baby affects a family in one way or another. Following this reasoning, anytime a child has the potential to cause an "emotion burden" or "financial hardship," it is alright to simply kill the child. Every child involves sacrifice on the part of the parents. Again, where do we draw the line? How much sacrifice is too much?

These doctors also claim that allowing the euthanasia of infants may "[prevent] some late abortions
," and make parents "more confident about continuing a pregnancy." Basically, the doctors argue that the parents will be more willing to chance having a disabled baby, because if they see that the child is disabled, they can kill their baby. What is to keep on-demand infant euthanasia from become acceptable and legal? Once we start rolling down this slippery slope, where do we stop? Where is the bottom?

John Harris' statement is truly frightening.

"We can terminate for serious fetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn," he said. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the fetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?"

What, indeed, has happened?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Isaiah 5:20, 21, 23 - Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Psalm 139:13-14 - For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

my soon-to-be-born little brother or sister

*Statistics from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Vision Forum's San Antonio Independent Christian Film Academy

October 15-22, Leslie and I were in San Antonio with our grandparents for Vision Forum's Independent Christian Film Academy and Festival. Even though we know nothing about filmmaking, and weren't interested in it at all (before we went, at least), we got so much out of both the Academy and the Festival.

There were several reasons that we went:

1. Grandma and Pop needed a chauffeur. I was only too happy to oblige ... especially if it meant going to a Vision Forum Conference!

2. Leslie and I love going to Vision Forum Conferences. We both agreed that we could attend a Vision Forum Conference on a subject we were completely unfamiliar with and that we cared nothing about, and still come away inspired and renewed. Just hearing Mr. Phillips talk about how every aspect of our lives needs to be evaluated in terms of the Bible is extremely inspiring.

3. Meeting other like-minded Christians is a great encouragement. Leslie and I enjoy talking with people, learning where they're from, how big their families are, what kind of church they go to, what their interests are, how they heard about Vision Forum.

4. Pop is interested in having his unique World War II experiences made into a documentary. I think that he was hoping that Leslie and I could do it for him, but the more sessions that Leslie and I attended, the more we realized that we were definitely not the ones to undertake this! We met several wonderful people, though, who were very interested in Pop's story. We'll see what the Lord does with that!

Just Leslie and I attended the Academy. It was held at Pearl Stables - originally a stable, which was eventually converted into a brewery. It was absolutely beautiful! It was recently renovated into a venue for weddings, receptions, conferences, and other events. I think that the Academy was only the second group to use it.

The opening talk, which lasted about two hours, was given by Mr. Phillips and Mr. Botkin. Each of the other speakers also gave a short introduction explaining what they would be talking about throughout the Academy. This first talk was my favorite of the entire Academy. Both Mr. Phillips and Mr. Botkin talked about what it truly meant to be a Christian filmmaker. Not only do filmmakers need to create films that don't have scenes in them that actually defile the viewers, but they also need to make films that are built upon a solid, biblical worldview. This doesn't mean that films cannot have in them a rebellious, disrespectful child; it simply means that the rebellion and disrespect need to be revealed for what they are: sin. This kind of behavior should not be condoned as cute or normal.

Another subject covered in the opening session was the act of watching films. One of the points that was stressed over and over again throughout both the Academy and the Festival was "Don't watch films passively!" Don't allow your mind to inertly soak in all of the unbiblical, ungodly messages in films. It doesn't mean that we cannot watch any of the films that are out there today (unless they actually defile the viewer, of course); it just means that we need to use them as learning tools, constantly evaluating them according to biblical standards.

Over the next two days, we were almost overwhelmed by all of the information that was thrown at us. While we didn't grasp very much of the technical information, it was still interesting to discover a little bit about how movies are made, how cameras work, and how computers and modern technology fit into all of this.

Ken Carpenter covered several different aspects of filmmaking. He owns two companies: "Franklin Family Media" and "Franklin Springs Films." He showed clips of different films, series, commercials, and documentaries that he'd done. While addressing many of the technical aspects of the films, he also spoke about the underlying worldviews of each film.

Mr. David Rasmussen was a quiet, almost shy man. But wait til you hear what he does for a living! During his talk, he told us all about his latest Everest expedition! "Latest" is right. He's been on several. People hire him to film their outdoor expeditions to later make documentaries or other films. Some of the conditions that he's filmed under are absolutely amazing! Sleeping in tents pitched into the side of a 45 degree slope halfway up the biggest mountain in the world ... doesn't seem like it would be conducive to good filmmaking. He had to carry all of his camera gear on his back, so of course he couldn't use the big, high-tech 35mm cameras he would have liked to use. But the footage was still absolutely breathtaking!

One of my favorite sessions was given by Isaac Botkin. He took everyone step-by-step through the entire process of creating a short animated film. He and his siblings had put together a 3-1/2 minute film to use for this demonstration. His brother and sisters did the music, he and his brothers did different voices, and he did the animating on the computer ... completely digitally. Here are a few images from the 3-1/2 minute film:

As you can see, everything looks like it's made of Lego's. It was really interesting how Isaac Botkin constructed these Lego men and ships digitally.

Another one of my favorite sessions was given by Stephen Kendrick, producer of the very successful Christian film, Facing the Giants. The story behind it is pretty amazing. The film itself is amazing, too!

With just a $100,000 budget, this film was made by a church, relying purely on donations. God did so many great things in the making of this film. Some of the stories that Mr. Kendrick told about how the Lord orchestrated everything are so stirring. I don't have time to tell them all here, though.

Mr. Kendrick mainly talked about how to glorify God through your films. With Facing the Giants, each actor had to sign something certifying that there was nothing in his or her life that would cause God to remove His blessing from this film. I think that everyone who acted in it was a Christian, and about 1/3 of them were homeschoolers. All of the actors were volunteers. Mr. Kendrick was asked if they could take God out of the film, to appeal to a larger audience. "No." "Well, could you just take Jesus out of it?" "No." They wanted to be sure that people knew they were talking about God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and not Buddha or Allah.

Its first weekend in the theaters, Facing the Giants "beat" several Hollywood films that were made with a much larger budget. Facing the Giants ended up fourth on the charts. Toward the beginning of the Academy, before Mr. Kendrick's talk, Mr. Phillips announced that the film had brought in $1.2 million the first weekend. Seeing Mr. Kendrick in the back of the room, Mr. Phillips asked him if it had reached $2 million yet. Mr. Kendrick simply said "Four." Everyone was just slightly blown away.
Anyway, it is a wonderful, inspiring, refreshing, God-honoring film with a powerful message. If they would have given in and taken God out of the film, it would have been a slightly cheesy film. I really don't think that this film would have done as well in theaters without the strong, biblical message. That's what made it unique and different. Everything fell into place at just the right times in the plot. If this had been attributed to chance, or "luck," cheese would have been oozing off of the screen. But the message that God is in control, and that he interferes in the affairs of man completely eliminated any whiff of cheese. The only feeling that you come away from the movie with is one of awe and inspiration. We truly have a great God!

Another wonderful session was given by Mr. Botkin and his son, Benjamin. Mr. Botkin talked about how essential good music is to a film. We watched clips of different films, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Over the Hedge (or maybe it was Chicken Little; I don't remember). He pointed out how essential the music was to each scene, and also talked about different ways that music can be used in films: in the background, in the foreground, etc. Benjamin improvised on a keyboard while watching a silent movie, and it was very apparent how much the music determined the mood.

The closing ceremony was really special. Instead of just having everyone pick up their certificates on the way out, Mr. Phillips personally called out each person's name and handed each his or her certificate. I never realized what a personable man Mr. Phillips is. For each person, he had a comment, question, or piece of encouragement or information. Even though it took awhile to get through all 200 attendees, Leslie and I enjoyed hearing him talk to each person and watching him interact with people of all ages.

The Academy was a wonderful experience for Leslie and me. We came away with so much. It was nice to have someone to discuss everything with, and Leslie and I normally had a "picnic" in the lobby of our hotel when we got back (normally around 11pm or so). We discussed everything that had happened, and checked the Harris twins' blog to get anything that we missed during the day. The Academy was a wonderful time to meet new people, learn new things, renew our visions, and spend some real quality time together.

The Harris twins, Alex and Brett, (younger brothers to Josh Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye) kept up live blogging throughout the Academy and Festival. To see a much more in-depth description of both, you can go to their blog.


I plan to post something on the Film Festival soon!