11 January 2008

CHOOSING LIFE ...
With the National Pro-Life Sunday
coming up on 20 January, I thought
that I'd post the words I shared on
the steps of the Oregon Capital building
one year ago at a state-wide rally.


Good afternoon. My name is Gregg Lamm and I’m a pastor in Newberg. I’ve been married for nearly 26 years to my precious bride Teresa, and am the father of three sons, Ryan, Jesse and Ian, as well as the father of one child who is living with Christ in heaven because of the self-centered choice my girlfriend and I made in October, 1976 to end our child’s life by abortion.

And so while I’m Pro-Life because I’m seeking to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, I’m also Pro-Life because of the brokenness the sin of abortion has caused in my own life, and in the lives of people I’ve shepherded as a pastor over the past 23 years.

In August 2004, Dr. Ken Wilson, the then President of Oregon Right-To-Life wrote the following words in a newsletter …

“Why is killing unborn children still legal?
Because we are failing. Protestant and Catholic
Christians have the power to save millions of
precious babies: We just don't."


So why don’t we stand? Maybe it’s because swimming up stream for thirty-four years has left us tired, and somewhat overwhelmed by the miles of moral and legislative reform yet to cover before our journey is over. Maybe it’s because other priorities of our country, which as Judge Robert Bork wrote, “is slouching toward Gomorrah” have distracted us, and at times even paralyzed us.

Archbishop Vlazny spoke of the legal and statistical realities of abortion in our nation … and challenged us to increase our efforts to stand for the rights of the unborn, to be the voice of those whose voices cannot be heard. As we close our time together today I would like to challenge us to …
  • Let God’s WORD and God’s Truth become in new ways the foundation of why we choose to stand up and let our voices be heard … and I challenge us to …
  • Let God’s WORD and God’s Truth be at the root of our convictions to consistently vote Pro-Life … and I challenge us to …
  • Let’s God’s WORD and God’s Truth be the source of our passion and our energy, the source of our priorities, and the source of the stewardship of our time, our gifts, and our resources.
WHY SHOULD WE VALUE ALL LIFE, BORN AND PRE-BORN? THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR, LISTEN TO AND LIVE INTO THE WORD OF THE LORD …

GENESIS 1:27 … So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

ISAIAH 64:8 … Yet, O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.

WHO IS THE CREATOR OF THE PRE-BORN? THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR, LISTEN TO AND LIVE INTO THE WORD OF THE LORD …

JOB 31:15 … Did not He who made me in the womb make everyone else as well? Did not the same God form us both within our mothers?

PSALM 139:13-16 … For You [oh God] created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

HOW IS GOD CONCERNED WITH THE PRE-BORN? THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR, LISTEN TO AND LIVE INTO THE WORD OF THE LORD …

ISAIAH 49:1 … Listen to Me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth He has made mention of My name.

JEREMIAH 1:5 … [God says] Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you saw the light of day I had holy plans for you …

IS THERE HEALING FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HAD ABORTIONS, OR FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PARTIICIPATED IN PROVIDING THEM? THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR, LISTEN TO AND LIVE INTO THE WORD OF THE LORD …

JEREMIAH 31:15-17 … A voice was heard in Ramah of painful crying and deep sadness: Rachel crying for her children. She refused to be comforted, because her children are dead! But this is what the Lord says: “Cease your cries of mourning; wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have known will come to an end and there is hope for your future.”

ISAIAH 1:18 … [God says] No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. If your sins are blood-red, when you ask Me to forgive you, they'll become snow-white. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow … as white as wool.

Dr. Wilson went on to write in his August 2004 newsletter …

“If some Church leaders are unwilling to
stand for God's truth, God's people must stand
without them. It is never easy being a Nathan
the prophet, [or] a St. Francis of Assisi … and
yet sometimes [God calls us to] tell leaders
they're wrong. How many more million babies
must die before we courageously risk
all in battling this mortal sin?”


The time is now for us to arise, to pray, to give, and as Dr. Wilson said, “courageously risk all in battling this mortal sin” of abortion. But we must enter this next chapter of truth-speaking and aggressively peaceful advocacy with God’s WORD as our foundation, with the Spirit of Christ as our guide, and with our lives, our purposes, and our resources united with one another as we labor within the church, within the government, and within our culture … doing the work of speaking up and standing-in-the-gap for the Pre-Born.

Mother Teresa was right when she said that …

"The greatest destroyer of love and
peace is abortion, which is war against
the child … Any country that accepts
abortion is not teaching its people to
love, but to use any violence to get
what they want."

As we leave this place today, I invite us to let the words the Apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Christ living in Galatia to both ground us and guide us … and to be our encouragement and our equipping … Here is a paraphrase of Paul’s words …

GALATIANS 6:9 … Friends let's not allow our fatigue from doing what Christ has called us to … get us off track from being who we’re called to be, or slow us down from doing what we’re called to do. Because in the end, if we stay the course, if we don't give up or throw in our hand … at just the right time [according to how God keeps time], we will see the big picture of what God is up to, what God has invited us to partner with Him in – and the harvest will be astounding. (a paraphrase)

In ACTS 17:6 … the early followers of Jesus Christ were described as “the ones who were turning the world upside down.” And in ACTS 13:36, King David was described as a man “who served the purposes of God in his own generation.” Friends, may these be the words spoken of us today and in the days, weeks, months, and years to come … when describing our commitment to Pro-Life issues, and the methods we employ …

As you and I “serve the purposes of God in our generation” … in our culture, in our state, in our towns, in our churches, in our nation, in the world, and in the relationships we have with those God brings across our path, may God use us to bring Light into darkness, to bring healing into brokenness, and to bring God’s gift of reconciliation into that which has been torn asunder. And may we be known as those who are “turning the world upside down” for the sake of the Kingdom of God and God’s purposes. Godspeed.

read.think.pray.live.

Gregg

3 comments:

Brent said...

Gregg, I really enjoyed reading your post on abortion. I appreciated the many Biblical references as it helped to authenticate what you were saying. You have a strong conviction towards Pro-Life - I really like that.

I'm curious where you believe abortion stands in relation to other moral sins (homosexuality, greed, lust, etc). I completely agree with your stance on abortion, but I find Mother Teresa's quote is a bit extreme: "The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want." I just have a hard time believing this to be true.

Gregg Lamm said...

I don't accept Mother Teresa's (MT) words as truth just because she's now a Catholic saint, but because writing out of her experience she is expressing her view of the pain and brokenness that's so visible all around us.

In India, and in the world in which MT immersed herself for over 50 years, God's WORD and the way society treated the dying was the lens through which her words gazed and found their meaning. Without putting words into MT's mouth, or assigning motives to why she wrote this quote (unfortunately, like many attributable quotes, I don't know the context of these words), here are some simple reflections on her words and your posting ...

If the dying of Calcutta were "innocent in their own dying", that is, that for most of them "the act to die" was not a choice they'd consciously made ... then I can only imagine that the only category of human innocence MT could envision being "more innocent" was that of an unborn child. And so this was the image she used to express her point.

And if this is how MT was thinking (which her life and other writings seem to bear out), then she is making an observational statement more than a prophetic utterance.

Do people who are not pro-life commit sins of a deeper level, or a more sinister nature, than those who are pro-life? I doubt it. Each of us wrestles with our own sins, demons and choices. That said, I don't believe that being "pro-choice" is an indicator of a person's willingness to "use any violence to get what they want".

But I do believe that a pro-choice belief is a reflection of the brokenness of the world, and the manifest pain of sin.

Without hope, "violence" (whether physical, social, economic, sexual, etc...) will always be one of the weapons of choice for dealing with this brokenness. But with the hope that comes as people choose to pursue and maintain an active life of faith as devoted followers of Jesus Christ comes other options such as compassion and the pursuit of justice.

I have pro-choice friends who love Jesus. I am not the judge. But like MT neither do I feel bad about observing, commenting, and basing my actions on what I sense God saying to me through His voice and His presence in my life. Godspeed.

Thanks for your comment and question.

read.think.pray.live.

Gregg

Brent said...

Gregg, I just realized you probably have no clue who "Brent" is. I guess the blog site didn't put down my full name. This is Brent Strandy.

I believe one of my questions came across incorrectly. You said: "Do people who are not pro-life commit sins of a deeper level, or a more sinister nature, than those who are pro-life? I doubt it". I whole heartedly agree. I'm not trying to say those who are pro-choice will commit sins of a deeper level.

Also, I really liked your final thoughts. I'm glad you're willing to stand up, as MT did, and not feel bad about commenting. It seems like so many Christians today are presenting a religion of tolerance and acceptance. I'm not promoting violence here, I'm just saying we need to be willing to love, accept AND exhort one another.

Strandy