Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why I March for Life

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5-6, ESV).

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The view from within the March for Life as we paraded up Constitution Avenue. Photo by Michael E. Lynch

I joined a contingent from my church and several hundred thousand others in the March for Life in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 27.

Why would I march in this event? Although my company provides adequate vacation time, it is still finite and some people may think I could use my days having more “fun.” Spending nearly 12 hours on a bus (round trip), praying outside the Supreme Court while a small handful of protestors taunt us, and then walking down a street in cold winter weather (the real feel temperature was around 32° that day, which was better than some other years) may be rewarding, but it is not always fun.

First, let us dispense with the standard liberal accusation about why we march: We do not want to oppress women. Probably about one-half (maybe even more) of the participants are female. Some admit that they had babies aborted when they were younger and they now regret that decision. The “women’s rights” argument for abortion would make sense only if another human begin is not involved. Saying abortion is only about women’s rights is like saying that the American Civil War was only about the properly rights of white southerners.

However, another life is involved. When a woman becomes pregnant, her body becomes a sanctuary for another life: A life God has entrusted to her, to nourish, protect, love, and nurture. I can think of no more noble calling than that. The Bible tells us that God speaks of the preborn as if they are alive, calling some to fulfill His purposes while still in the womb [Jeremiah 1:5-6; see also the stories of Jesus, John the Baptist, and Judah (the father of the nation of Israel)].

My son was born two months premature in 1990. After a few rough days when his fate seemed questionable, his condition started to improve. While his mother and I rejoiced about his healing, a very different scene unfolded at the incubator across the aisle from my son. A pair of twins had also been born prematurely, and one’s condition was deteriorating. The parents were saying their good-byes to the smaller boy as he was dying. Tears streamed down the father’s face (he was a tall, rugged-looking guy who I cannot imagine being normally prone to tears). We could not bear to watch. I know we had one thing in common with that couple: We loved our newborn babies, had awaited their births eagerly, and I am sure we would willingly give anything to have healthy children. I am sure none of us could put a price tag on our babies’ lives.

While we prayed for our son and watched that family mourn theirs, I could not help but realize how precious our children were to us. Yet, in much of the country, debate raged (and continues to rage) over whether it would be legal to kill these babies in the womb at that stage of development. Society says that these babies’ value is determined by their mothers. If Mommy wants to keep the baby, he or she is a precious gift from God; if Mommy does not want to keep the baby, he or she is an inconvenience, “growth,” or parasite.

The world becomes dangerous when we determine a person’s value based purely on personal opinions. In the early days of our nation, people of African descent were considered somewhat less-than-human and could be bought or sold with no regard to their best interests. In Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, “ethnically inferior” persons and people with handicaps were considered a cancer upon society, so any means deemed necessary was used to cleanse the nation. The list goes on.

So, I stand and march for life in defense of the most vulnerable in our society. I march to preserve the dignity and value of all human life, from conception until natural death. Last of all, I march in memory of those children whose parents, against their wishes and for reasons known only by God, did not have the pleasure of watching their children grow up in this world.

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Christians and Culture, Current events, Politics | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

In the Now—Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).

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By Jorge Barrios (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was confronted several times today by the notion of living “in the moment” or “in the now.” Such terms popped up in a tourism commercial for Ireland (a visit to my ancestral homeland remains high on my “bucket list”), an article I read in a newsletter, a conversation with a friend, etc. (Furthermore, as a Bee Gees’ fan, I could not resist the opportunity to use the title of Barry Gibb’s recent solo album in a blog post.)

This concept permeates the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. Matthew 6:34 tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the best use of the time, “because the days are evil.”

I value my time and place a high priority on time management. I keep a to-do list handy so that I can keep up with my diverse responsibilities and accomplish a few hobbies. I plan ahead; but do I make the best use of this present time?

I am not trying to discourage anybody from using good time-management skills. Like everything else in life, time is a limited resource, and we should be good stewards of it. However, I think too many of us fall into one of two extremes with time management. One person can be too spontaneous and fail to plan ahead; he might let friends and loved ones down, break promises, and squander life and opportunities by being guided by the feelings of the moment, with no long-term view. Another may focus so much on what is on the agenda tomorrow, or next week, or ten years from now that today slips away.

How can we live most effectively in the now? This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but a few thoughts come to mind:

  1. Make your plans, but keep them flexible. Being good stewards of our time requires some planning. I usually write a to-do list every day, but it is not unusual for my plans to hit a brick wall. What happens when I was planning to do some writing one night, but a last-minute change of plans occurs? Or, I have a rough day at work and am too mentally exhausted to write? I often record 20 items on my to-do list every day. I know I will not accomplish all of them; some items must be done and take top priority. There are items I would like to accomplish; and sometimes, there is a group of little things to do if I am not able to accomplish any important tasks. Some days, I merely cross a few small items off my list at the end of the day, but it is enough.
  2. Welcome opportunities to be a blessing to others. In the previous paragraph, I mentioned a “last-minute change of plans.” For me, such distractions often involve other people: my wife agrees to watch her brother’s children one night, a friend calls me on the phone with a problem that is really troubling him, etc. It is tempting to complain about the distractions, but what if they are God’s way of saying, “I want you to bless this person tonight”? Matthew 25:31-46 shares Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats at the last judgment. The sheep are rewarded for feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and prisoners; whereas the goats are condemned for doing none of these. Jesus says that whatever we did for the “least of these” had been done for Him. [I cannot help but wonder if the “goats” had prayed for these people (James 2:16). God wanted action.]
    We probably do not have to make an effort to find people to bless. If we are willing to surrender our time and efforts to God, we will see opportunities. There are people all around us who need a blessing; we just have to be alert to their presence and willing to recognize the distractions they bring as a mission from God.
  3. Keep it simple! We often overcomplicate our lives by thinking we need more than we actually do. Matthew 6:34 ends a teaching where Jesus urges His listeners not to worry; God will take care of their needs. The average American, though, has all of his needs met and is now worrying about his luxuries. We often work to buy products we cannot afford and do not need, adding excessive stress. Keep it simple: thank God when He has met all of your needs; entrust your cares to Him in prayer; and make the best use of your current time, realizing there is only so much you can do in one day.
  4. Avoid procrastination. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Our lives are short. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey wrote that we should “begin with the end in mind.” We should think of what kind of legacy we would like to leave behind.
    Do not waste your time on trivialities! Think about those things that you would like people to remember about you when you are gone, and set time aside to do them.

Time is a precious commodity. While we often need to keep a long-term, eternal perspective, we have to remember that we can only live in the now. Make the best use of today, whether it is by taking a few steps closer to a life-long dream, recovering from a rough day, or responding to an unexpected request for help.

As a parting thought, you may want to take about three-and-a-half minutes to enjoy this song by David Meece about living in the present moment, “Once in a Lifetime.”

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Holy Name of Jesus

“‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us).” (Matthew 2:21-23, ESV).

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21, ESV).

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The Greek letters in the familiar “ichthys” symbol represent Jesus’ name and titles: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”

Today (January 1) is New Year’s Day. We think of it as a day for new beginnings, a chance to make resolutions to start anew in different areas of our lives. On some church calendars (e.g., in the Book of Common Prayer), it is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Since it is the eighth day since we celebrated our Savior’s birth, we commemorate the day that He was circumcised and His name became “official.”

 

Names matter. They are perhaps the most important part of our identity. If you want to insult somebody effectively and quickly, make fun of their name. Parents usually give much thought to the names for their children. We may name our children after family members, thereby emphasizing the link to previous generations; or, we may name our children after someone we admire (perhaps a hero of the Bible, or a historical figure we respect). We do not name our children after someone whom we dislike or disrespect (I do not know too many people named “Adolf” these days, thanks to one particular scoundrel).

It is thus important to consider the significance of the name of Jesus. His name tells us who He is and why He came into the world. It is the English transliteration of His Hebrew name, “Yeshua,” which means “The Lord is salvation.” He came, first and foremost, to “save his people from their sins,” as the angel told Joseph.

This is who He is, what He does, and what we can expect from Him. Jesus came to save us from our sins. His entire life—including His teaching ministry as well as His death and resurrection—was designed to save us from the kingdom of sin and darkness and bring us into the kingdom of God.

In addition to this name above all names (Philippians 2:9-10), the Bible ascribes numerous titles to Jesus: Immanuel, Son of God, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, etc. If you are interested in an in-depth study of the names and titles of Jesus, an extensive podcast series by theologian Thomas Hopko is available here.

Much has been written about the power of Jesus’ name and the promises in His name. Our eternal condition is closely tied to His name: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Someday, every sentient creature (including every demon in hell, every atheist, and every Islamic terrorist) will bow before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The authority of that name is undeniable, and someday all mankind will acknowledge that.

Those who acknowledge the authority of Jesus’ name can be assured that He will be faithful to His promises. Jesus said, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).

This does not mean (as some misguided Bible teachers claim) that we can force God to give us something simply by ending our prayers with the phrase, “in Jesus’ name.” His Holy Name reflects His authority and power, much as a police officer’s badge reflects his authority to demand that you stop driving and present your license and registration. We do not try to exercise authority over God; rather, we acknowledge Jesus’ authority over our lives and all creation, and on the basis of that authority, we pray with confidence that God will do exactly what He promises. In John 14:13-14, Jesus clearly says that our prayers in His name will be answered so that “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” We pray in Jesus’ name to fulfill God’s will, not to baptize His will into our will or subjugate God to our desires.

The name of Jesus is the springboard to the greatest “new beginning” of all. God’s blessings and promises are intertwined with the name, authority, and character of Jesus, our Savior: the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; the God who is always with us. May 2017 be a year in which we all gain a greater appreciation and awareness of who Jesus is and what He seeks to do in our lives.

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, Scripture Sabbath | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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