The Theology of Emotion

I feel like…

I don’t think it’s fair that…

I don’t feel like God would make someone unhappy…

Christians are saturated by thousands of blogs, articles, and thoughts about what is ok and not ok to do and be in our day.   One of the more dangerous false teachings I see creeping into the American Christian world is what I want to call the Theology of Emotion.

Theology simply means the study of God.   Our culture is increasingly a generation of Christians that are basing their beliefs about God more heavily on how they feel than what God has revealed about Himself through the Bible.

If you need examples of this just go talk to most young Christians and ask them if they think living together before marriage is wrong.   Or ask them if they think homosexuality is wrong. It seems that many who claim Christianity today are more concerned with how they feel about something than what God has said in the Bible about it.

Don’t get me wrong emotions are a great and powerful driver.   Emotions are the great catalyst to actions. I love so many passionate movements going on in the Christian community such as the “End It” movement to end sex trafficking.   I love the pregnancy care centers that are all over our nation that provide options to mothers who feel like they have no options. I love the push for Christian families to be involved in foster care and adoption. These are great pictures of how God uses our emotional heartstrings to rally us around causes that are close to His heart.

If we do not feel then we do not care and we are never moved to action.

Emotions are great motivators but bad decision makers.

When we allow how we feel about any certain issue to supersede what God has revealed we become our own god and no longer trust Jesus as the authority.

One recent example I read was in an interview with popular Christian author Jen Hatmaker.   I know many women in my church that love her books. Most of what she writes is helpful and beneficial. But when I read her recent comments on the homosexual community I was taken back.

Here is what she said, “From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not. Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.”

I find her statements very disturbing.   The Christian community has the biblical mandate and responsibility to love and minister to every person, red, yellow, black, white, male, female, straight, gay, confused or other. But what she says takes this to another level.   She is taking people who embrace a life and identity that God clearly defined in scripture as a direct rebellion against Him, and associates those who embrace that lifestyle as a fellow believer in Christ.

This is anti-biblical to the core.   Jesus is so clear that when we become His followers we sign away all of our personal rights. We become willful slaves of Christ.   Here are the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Those selfish acts of rebellion no longer characterize our life.   We willingly choose to deny what may seem pleasurable and best to us in order to follow what Jesus says is best.

The Apostle Peter said it this way,

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” (1 Peter 4:1-3)

Dietrich Bonheoffer said so clearly, “the call to follow Christ is a call to die.”

My goal is not to throw stones at Jen Hatmaker or even those who identify as LGBT. The goal is to expose a larger problem that is a bitter root in the tree of American Theology.   It is the idea that we can change our theology to match the spirit and feeling of the day. The beauty of the scripture is that it is unchanging. No matter how we feel about an issue we yield to Christ.   We do not seek to make the scripture fit our feelings. This applies to all of us!   This is no indictment on any particular sin.   It is prerequisite for all of us.   I make my kids take off their shoes before they come in the house.   We must shed ourselves of all of our sins when we come to Christ.

When we come to Christ we do not have the option of holding on to any sin.   Our identity is no longer found in our activity but in our Savior.   The sex addict can come to Christ, but he must repent and turn away from his sex addiction.   The thief can come to Christ but he is no longer a thief, he now seeks to look like his Savior. He goes from taker to giver. The idol worshipper can come to Christ but he cannot bring his idol with him. He must destroy it. The homosexual can come to Christ but he no longer identifies as a homosexual. My point is not to say that Jesus followers will no longer struggle with their sin but that they will STRUGGLE. They will embrace the internal battle that is going on inside of them. They will not give themselves over to the sins of their past. The Holy Spirit inside of them will no longer allow them to be happy in their sin.

Adrian Rogers once said, “Our feelings are the most shallow part of us. God does not do His deepest work in our most shallow part.”

If you are a follower of Christ I would challenge you to read your bible more than you read the latest Christian book.   Remember that if something has been true for 2000 years of the Christian faith then God is not going to suddenly change His mind because the culture now embraces some particular sin.   The call of the Christian life is a call of self sacrifice. It is a call to lay our sins down and lay our lives down for others.

Let’s not make a golden image of god in the likeness of the American culture of our day. The world says that we should be happy and we find happiness when we do what makes us feel good.   The word of God teaches us that we should seek holiness.   When we seek to be holy, only then do we find happiness. Happiness in the Christian life is not the goal but the by-product. It’s not found in sin but often found in service.   Happiness can be briefly experienced in the passing pleasures of sin, but that kind of happiness will quickly leave you empty again. Real happiness can only last in the conscious surrender of ourselves to Christ and His calling on our lives. Get your theology from the Bible and not from your heart.

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“Is She A Down Syndrome?”

Recently, my wife and I packed up the family for an afternoon of hiking and exploring in Helen, Ga. We could not have asked for a better day. The kids loved the hike, the weather was perfect and memories were made.   After our hike we had dinner in Helen and we walked around the quaint little mountain tourist town.

My children are Ty (8), Karis (5), Katie (5), and Joy (22 months).   Joy has Down Syndrome(DS).   To be real honest this last detail about Joy is mostly irrelevant in our family.

To us she is just Joy.

She is a great blessing to all of us and rarely does her genetic condition affect us. This is so true that most of the time I forget she even has DS.

On our trip I had forgotten…

I walked with my older children, held my wife’s hand, and pushed little Joy in her stroller.   As we ate ice cream and waited to get our balloon animals, a well meaning young lady looks at Joy and smiles and says to Charyl, “Aw, Is she a Down Syndrome?’’

It doesn’t take long to come back to the stinging reality that our little girl is different and when other people see her they notice Down syndrome and not Joy.

As we walked back to the car that afternoon I had some big old crocodile tears well up in my eyes. As a parent nothing hurts more than when you feel like others do not see the value in your children in the same way you do.

While the conversation was innocent and the young lady was kind, I could not help but feel pierced in the heart by her words, “Is she a Down syndrome?” To a person who does not have a child with special needs this question may seem completely innocent and appropriate but somewhere in the last 22 months I have become one of those overly sensitive parents. Please forgive me. This is not like me.   I am not a particularly emotional or sensitive man.   I rarely cry, in fact I see this as a flaw in my character that I do not feel things as deeply as others, but I have become very sensitive about Joy.   I almost cry as I type this…because I can’t help but desire for people to see Joy as I see Joy. I want them to see HER and not her “Syndrome.” I want others to value her as I value her!

So, NO! She is not “A Down Syndrome.”

She is JOY!

She is made and crafted in the image of God.

She is valuable.

She is beautiful.

She loves to follow her sisters.

She loves to give hugs.

She has a smile that lights up the world.

She has siblings that can’t wait to get home from school to play with her.

She claps and cheers for everyone.

She wakes up happy.

She likes to help her daddy cook.

She is very opinioned and will not eat her carrots no matter how you try to sneak them in.

She is resilient.

She brings hope.

She is her mama’s heart!

She is her daddy’s heart!

Every life God creates carries the stamp of divinity. If we will take the time to get to know people we will be shocked by the beauty we can find in each soul.

I did not ask for, nor did a want to have a child with Down syndrome.   It will always hurt my soul that Joy will struggle with simple things that typical children take for granted.

In spite of my desires God knew better than I did.

I am so thankful that God knows what is best for me when I don’t know how to ask. I am so thankful He brought JOY into my home.

God’ s greatest gifts are often disguised as presents we think we don’t want or don’t need.

When you see a family that has a child with special needs, if you desire to interact with them, ask the person’s name.   Every person is more than their disability.   Say an encouraging word. The family probably needs to hear it.   Find something good you see in the person with disabilities and complement their ability.   It may be as simple as saying, “You have a beautiful smile.” It may mean the world to that family. Be kind and considerate.

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What I Am Going To Do To End Racism

We are on the heels of yet another heart breaking senseless crime. Another young white guy has murdered a mass of people.   This recent mass murder is a little different than some of the others. This one was clearly motivated by racism. This young man in his deranged mind justified the killing of 9 innocent people at a church prayer meeting.

What horrible irony. The place you go to find hope and forgiveness would be the place that he would bring death and destruction.

What if we could end racism? What if the answers are already there?

I can tell you the answer is not in passing a law, having the right person in public office, or going on a social media rant.

This murder has caused a lot of attention toward the Confederate Flag and whether it should be taken down from certain public areas.   Some use the flag as a symbol of pride and to some the flag is an object they have always associated with racist people.   Maybe the flag should come down, but the flag is really not the issue. The issue is always the same. It is a matter of the mind and heart. This is where we are losing.

I grew up in the Deep South. As a Caucasian male I don’t pretend to know what it is like to an African American person. I don’t know how hard it is. I don’t know how a black man sees me, or what feelings well up within him when he come in contact with a white man.

I do know that I grew up in a culture that verbalized disgust when a white woman and a black man were together. I grew up in a culture where there was always some level of fear when young black men were around because the perception was that they were angry and would commit some crime. In the school I attended black people hung out with black people and white people hung out with white people. While I had many friends that were black I did not hang out with them outside of a school setting. We played sports together, were in the band together, and sat next to each other in class but there was always a clear distinction between black and white. There was a always a clear level of separation that was seen most clearly on Sundays at church.   These are just the facts of how things were and how in many places they still are.

As I have grown in the Lord many of my personal views have changes. I have come to fully realize that every person is incredibly valuable because Christ made us.

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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This tells me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ transcends race, socioeconomic status and gender. In Christ we all have value.   We are one church under His blood. The precious blood of Christ was shed for every man.

Because the world is broken and people are naturally sinful I am sad to say that racism will not end.

Many will take this tragedy and use it to politicize their particular agendas.   Many people will use this opportunity to throw out more hatred. Neither of these responses helps anyone.

Racism will probably never end…but I just might be able to end it in my family.

I cannot change the pain and anger that people feel in their hearts, but I can teach MY children.

Here is how I am going to end racism in my home.

I am going to teach my children what God says about people. I am going to teach them that God loves people so much He gave His life to save them. John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

I am going to teach them that we should love people and give our lives in service and love towards others. Matthew 22:39 “…’Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I am going to teach them to do to others, as they would have others do to them. Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

I am going to teach my children to value other people and cultures. 1 Corinthians 9:22 “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.”

I am going to invite people of other races into my home. 1 Peter 4:9 “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”

I am going to teach my children that we do not judge someone by the color of their skin but the content of their character. John 7:24 “”Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

I am going to show them the evil of prejudice and teach them the beauty of love. Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

I am going to (if the Lord allows) open my home to foster children of whatever race the Lord sees fit.   James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

I am going to beg my children to not repay evil with evil but to repay evil with good.  Romans 12:21 “Do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I can’t end racism…but I can make a difference in my home. I pray my son will not be the deranged young white kid with hatred in his heart towards people of a different skin color.

I pray my children will not be the problem but the answer.

We end racism one decision at a time, one heart at a time.

The answer is almost never in legislation or anything in the realm of politics. The Bible has already showed us how to end racism. We just have to obey it.

There is hope. Close friends of mine, who are Caucasian, have become foster parents of three young African American children. I am so thankful for this. One of the children is a girl and she has become best friends with my little girls.

One of the three children is a baby who just turned one and had a birthday party that we attended. It warmed my heart to see my 7-year-old son blowing on the belly of this baby just like he blew on his sister’s belly.   He didn’t even think about the difference in skin color. He just loved the baby.   I pray that my children will grow up to love people…all people.

The families of the victims in the Charleston shooting have showed us what Christian character and love look like. In the midst of the deepest pain they chose to publicly forgive their enemy instead of pile on more hate. Let us all learn from their example.

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Dear Richard Dawkins, YOU ARE WRONG

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned atheist that is known for his polarizing stances on a number of issues. The latest shocking statement he made was in regard to women who find out they are pregnant with a child who may have Down syndrome (DS). I would not usually take the time to address something said by Richard Dawkins, but I feel that I must address this issue because his comments hold the power of life and death. He has a large audience and there are many who will agree with his statement.

Here is what Dawkins tweeted in relation to someone pregnant with a child with DS: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

I believe his comments to be ignorant and murderous. What we believe about life and death, animals and humans has everything to do with our worldview. Dawkins is an atheist who believes we all came from nothing. Therefore, in his view, animals and humans have the same value and any human who cannot further the human race should be discarded. To him, people with DS are simple genetic anomalies that are the result of random chance and should be killed before they have a chance to feel pain or cause difficulty in the lives of others.

The article continues, “But faced with a stream of dissenting comments, he wrote: “Apparently I’m a horrid monster for recommending what actually happens to the great majority of Down Syndrome foetuses. They are aborted.””

What bothers me most is not what Richard Dawkins said, in fact I would expect him to say that, I am bothered by the fact that most people who find out they are going to have a child with down syndrome do choose to abort their child. In some places the statistics are as high as a 90% abortion rate! 90%!!! That is genocide. This could very well be related to the fact that when most women prenatally test for Down syndrome and the results come back positive, what is explained to her is a list of all the things that will be wrong with her baby (when in fact, it’s a list of things that MIGHT be wrong, and many issues can be corrected with surgery and therapy). Obviously not in all cases, but as a whole in our mainstream medical community, abortion is very much encouraged with these mothers and they are led to believe that they are doing “what is best.”

Why abort the child? I think people abort their children for a few reasons:

They think it will be too hard to raise a child with special needs.
They think their child will have no quality of life.
They believe it will cost too much.
They think their child is a curse and will ruin their life.
They believe their child will be destined to a lifetime of ridicule.
They just don’t want to spend the rest of their life taking care of someone else with special needs.

I would like to remind everyone that the hardest things we do in life are the most rewarding. Those who make a great impact on the world are not those who say, “I want the easiest path” but those who decide to do what is right and best in spite of the personal cost to themselves.

Back to the issue at hand, Richard Dawkins and anyone who believes that people with Down syndrome are not as valuable to society as “typical” people are dead wrong. I would argue the opposite to be true. Perhaps people with Down syndrome are some of society’s most valuable members.

Most people assess value in terms of production. Value in the world is assessed in questions like: What can a person produce? Are they a great worker? Are they a great thinker? Are they strong? Are they beautiful? Are they talented?

I want to explore that there are other, perhaps greater, measures of value. What about things like faith, hope and love? Producers are important. Thinkers are important. Doctors, teachers, firemen, secretaries and 1000 other jobs are important. While all of these professions are vital, I have found that the greatest need that people have is to feel love, experience hope, and have faith in something.

The unique genetic makeup of people who possess DS seems to allow them to possess superhuman amounts of faith, hope, and love. Surely we cannot lump every person with DS into the same category, but I believe this generally to be true.

Every person I have ever met who has DS that I took the time to talk to has made me feel better. They made me feel accepted. I felt no judgment from them. The one thing I felt from every person with DS is love. To say people with this special and unique gift should not be given the chance at life because they may have some physical and intellectual challenges is ludicrous. Every single one of us has something wrong with us. There are no perfect people. Eugenics is a dangerous game that leads to the kind of atrocities that Hitler committed.

On a personal level, I have an amazing 8-month-old little girl named Joy who happens to have Down syndrome. When she was born I experienced the most painful and intense emotions of my life. Most of it could be boiled down to fear. I feared what most people perceive about people with Down syndrome. Before Joy, I would have thought that having a child with DS would be one of the worst things that could happen to a family. I WAS DEAD WRONG! Joy has been our family’s greatest gift.

Joy has her challenges. My wife and I are constantly concerned with her health and development. We want to give her the best chance in life that we can. I am telling you no lie when I tell you that she is pure JOY. She brings so much joy into the lives of everyone she touches. She has yet to meet someone she doesn’t like.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and have recently found out that you might possibly have a child who has Down syndrome, please, from the bottom of my heart, please give that child a chance at life. Do not let your fear nor the untrue societal stigma keep you from giving your child life. Talk to parents who have children with DS before you make a decision to kill your baby. I would be glad to talk with you about it. IMG_1762IMG_5161  IMG_3069

Sex, the God that Rules the USA 

Here is the general tidal wave crashing on the beach of our culture: “No one can tell you what you should do in regard to sexuality. The highest evil is preventing someone from having sex in any way…unless it involves children.” (Which I am sure this will soon change. I mean who are we to tell children what they can and cannot do? Apparently it is now wrong to even announce the gender of a child when they are born.)

If you are like me you have probably had your fill of seeing opinions for or against the Supreme Court Ruling on the Hobby Lobby Case.

In a nutshell here are the arguments:

For Hobby Lobby: Private companies should not be forced to pay for conscience violating birth control pills

Against: Hobby Lobby Hates Women!   Get the boss out of my bedroom.

This is such a hot button issue because it brings to light a much deeper divide in our country.   It is the same as all the other divides. It is a divide over what you believe about God.

Whether you agree or not, this country was founded on Christian values and principles.   Sure there are many examples of where our nation got it wrong (slavery, racism, etc..).   But, generally speaking since the foundation of our country the majority of individuals have believed that marriage is between a man and a woman. Sex should be reserved for marriage and marriage alone. This is the basic teaching of the Bible and of Jesus. The New Testament warns over and over about the harm of sex outside of marriage to both your body and your soul.   The Old Testament gives a number of examples of how harmful sex can be with multiples wives, partners, etc.

The culture in the USA is in a major sexual shift. We are becoming “enlightened.”   With the drugs we have today sex is freely available now more than ever.

The heart of the ideological war in our county is over SEX.

The loud voices of the media, liberal politicians, and college students everywhere are shouting, “there is no God and you should be able to do what is right in your own eyes.” Of course most don’t say it like this. In fact most would still identify themselves as Christians. But they are the type of Christians that think Jesus was a celestial nice guy that taught us how to tolerate everyone.   I guess they forget about the part that His message was so radical that they murdered Him on a cross.

The stereotype seems to be that anyone who tells you that you cannot do something, particularly in regards to sex, is evil and a religious nut. The media stereotypes Christians as those right wing nuts who eat the “hate” chicken at Chick Fila and want to take away your right to have sex. This is at the heart of the matter

Some of the most contentious issues in our Nation:

1)   Homosexuality, Same Sex marriage

2)   Abortion and Birth Control

3)   Transgender Issues

4)   Pornography

Most of the above listed issues are becoming more accepted by the country at large as permissible.

To be honest people who do not claim to be Christian should not be held to the standards of Christ. Lost people act lost. They are trying to find fulfillment in sex…however they will not find it. This will not change.   It will only get worse.   The only thing that is new is that now there are no laws to prevent all sorts of sexual deviance. The homosexual agenda has successfully, though falsely, made homosexual issues the civil rights issues of our day.   Who you have sex with is a choice and not a civil right.

I want you to think about this question: Does sex matter to God?

Culture in general is not evil but culture can go in evil directions.   Like an animal in heat, Christians must be SO CAREFUL not to chase after the culture in the area of sexual purity.   The Bible does not teach us that we are simply more evolved animals. The Bible teaches us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose and a calling on our lives to bring glory to God. It is not, nor will it ever be ok for anyone who bears the name of Christ to have sex outside of the heterosexual confines of a marriage relationship. Period!

I have fears and optimism for the next generation of Christians in the US.

My fear is that, in general they are accepting homosexual behavior ok with God. Can we who died to sin continue to live in it?   May it never be! We must remember that we must hate that within ourselves that God hates, sin! We can never be ok with lusts and sex outside of what God says is ok. Sin brings death. We cannot love, in ourselves, or others that which brings death.

My optimism comes in the admission that the next generation will be more loving to homosexuals than the previous.   They do not fear or vilify people who identify themselves as homosexual.   Perhaps they will do a better job of reaching them with the Gospel of Jesus and providing them hope for freedom from a sexually perverse lifestyle.

What Does A Christian Do In Such A Culture Where Sex Is God?

 

Live Pure Lives

Don’t look at pornography or lust after someone who is not your spouse.   Do not sleep with someone you are not married too. Do not entertain yourself with sexual content (movies, shows, books that make you think of sex with people other than your spouse)

1 Corinthians 6:18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Teach Your Children What God Says About Sex.

Teach them that their bodies are valuable.   Teach them that God has a plan for their sex life.   Make sure you help them understand that sex is a good gift from God. His commands regarding sex are not to keep us from sex but to keep us for sex. Teach them that sex more than a physical exchange but a mingling of souls. Let them ask you questions. Be honest. Teach them the value of purity.

Do Not Seek To Shield Them…Teach Them.

Obviously there are some things you need to shield your children from. It is inevitable that they are going to see two men holding hands or two women kissing or even a commercial that shows a wholesome family with same sex parents.   These are teachable moments. Be clear that as people who follow Jesus we love all people but God teaches us that these lifestyle choices are wrong and sinful. Teach them of the harmful physical affects caused by sex outside of marriage. When they are old enough give them the statistics from the CDC, “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)a represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and bisexual men. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were gay and bisexual men, or gay and bisexual men who also inject drugs.” Give them facts about the harmful physical illnesses caused by sex outside of God’s plan.

Stand Firm But Remember You Will Not Shout Someone To Your Side

Express your beliefs but do not get into shouting matches or arguments that are unfruitful with those who disagree with you. This is about as helpful as posting a Facebook meme about how awful president Obama is and then expect your liberal friends to want to be conservative. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Remember, just because the government now allows certain evils do not mean we must condone or accept them.

The signs outside of the Courthouse while waiting for the Hobby Lobby verdict read: “BOSSES OUT OF OUR BEDROOM!”

This can never be said of a Christian!   Our Boss is Jesus.  We can never take God out of our bedrooms or any other area of life.   I pray that we would make pleasing Jesus our highest goal, not sexual fulfillment.   I want to warn Christians not to make sexuality the god of their lives.

While Christians are winning fewer and fewer media and cultural debates we choose whether or not will win the private purity debate in our own lives. I encourage you, if you consider yourself a Christ follower to live a pure life and stand for what you believe God says about sexuality.

1 Peter 4:So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.* You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

A Little Girl Died Today

There is a little girl named Annie Golden who died today.   She was a beautiful soul with a smile that could light up a room.   She died because she didn’t get a heart transplant. She died because she was not thought “worthy” enough to even be put on the list. Annie had Down syndrome.   This cognitive disability would prevent her from even being put on the transplant list.   My heart absolutely breaks for the family of this girl.

Little Annie Golden

You see, I have a little girl with Down syndrome.   She turned 6 months old yesterday.   My little girl’s name is Joy.   She is the youngest of my four children.   The last 6 months have changed my life in so many ways.

My journey started as most parents who have any child with special needs. It started out with ignorance. Like most people, I had been around people with special needs, but I’d never been a parent of a child with special needs, nor did I have a close family member with special needs to know and love.

So, in the beginning when my precious girl was born, I was ignorant. I only knew what I had been told by the culture at large. I only knew fear. Fear for the future. Fear of what others would think.   I had fear of my life being over or completely re-directed.   Fear that my child would be nothing more than a despised member of society by the culture at large.

LIES!! These were all lies!

After 6 months, I CANNOT adequately express how much joy, love, and hope my little Joy has brought into my life and the lives of the people around her. She is every bit as valuable as any of my other children.   In fact, I often feel sorry for my other three children because anyone who meets Joy is such a fool about her.   She is full of life!   She is full of love!   SHE IS A GIFT!   She is just how God wanted her to be. I wouldn’t change anything about my little girl. As a dad I would do whatever is in my power to help her if she was sick. I would try to move mountains to get her a heart if she needed it.

I was ignorant about how wonderful my daughter would be. I was also ignorant to a heinous evil that is going on towards people with Down syndrome.

They are being MURDERED!   They are being systematically eliminated by those who are called to protect life. It seems one of the main enemies of little children like mine are the very doctors who take an oath to protect and to save lives.

The reality is that the blood tests performed in a woman’s pregnancy are solely done so that the mother can choose to terminate her baby, and 90% of the time they do in the case of Down syndrome. So many times my wife and I have heard stories from parents of children with Down syndrome that their doctors actually advised an abortion or presented it as an option when they did not present it as an option before the test.   It is obvious that these children are not deemed “worthy” by the medical community as a whole.

Back to little Annie…she died this morning. It seems that the deciding factor to her being able to get a heart transplant was her cognitive ability. Did she have other factors? I am sure she did.   Anyone who needs a heart transplant will have some other factors, but once again, it seems the deciding factor was her IQ.

So now it seems an IQ test is needed for who lives and who dies. If you can score high enough on a standardized test then you are valuable enough to be given a chance at life. This is sick and it is wrong.

This is an actual CIVIL RIGHTS issue.   People with Down syndrome did not choose Down syndrome. It is part of their DNA. Where are the parades of people crying out that the murder of innocent children with disabilities be stopped?   Where is the outrage over little ANNIE?

What is valuable?

American Culture values net worth, IQ, and sex appeal. The God I serve values something different.   Here is what He says.

“1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Joy

My daughter may never have the highest score on the ACT. Little Annie may have never won the Spelling Bee, but I can promise you that my daughter and thousands of other children and adults like her with DS have been given an extra dose of what God says is most important: LOVE!!   I propose to you that just maybe those whom the culture is murdering are the ones we NEED THE MOST

JOY

Frail

This morning I had one of those frustrating and eye opening moments as I dropped my son off for school.  As I approached the school there was a small SUV in front of me that dropped off a precious little blonde haired girl excited to start her day.   She waved back to her mother and blew her a kiss.  It just so happened that this car was going the same direction as me.   I followed this car for about 5-6 miles.   As I followed this busy mom I became so frustrated I was literally SCREAMING at her from inside my truck.  Not once, not twice, but three times this mom ran across the center line of traffic and halfway into the lane of oncoming traffic before she would quickly correct her course.   One of these times she came very close to hitting an oncoming truck.  Even after this near brush with death the woman continued her erratic driving.  I was so tempted to follow her to where she was going and remind her that her little daughter and possibly husband needed her and she needed to stop looking at her phone and pay attention to the road!  I abstained from giving this woman a tongue-lashing.  I have all too often done the same thing.  My wife has gently scolded me as she reminds me that one glance at my phone could end my life.   This morning’s encounter reminded me that life is frail but so many other things have been reminding me of the same truth today.

Here are a few gentle nudges the Holy Spirit has given me.  Last night me healthy 38-year-old brother had a major surgery removing part of his colon.  The doctor said he would be in the hospital for at least two weeks with a very difficult recovery ensuing.   This morning I picked up the local paper and it had a picture of an awful wreck that killed a local man in my community.  Kenny Chesney’s song, “Don’t Blink” was on the radio this morning as I was driving to work.  All of these incidents remind me of the frail existence I take for granted most days.

The Bible tells us over and over again that life is short, frail, and fleeting.   The Bible describes the brevity of life as a blade of grass, a flower, and a vapor.  It is here one minute and gone the next.  This series of events in my life led me to the question as I was driving to work this morning, “If I died today would I be satisfied with the life that I’ve lived?”  The basic answer I came up with was, “yes and no.”  Yes, I am very satisfied! I am thankful for the job I have.  I am blessed with the best family and friends a person could ask for.  And, no, there are so many moments I am wasting and so many people I need to help and encourage.

I simply enjoy life.  I hurt…I go through trouble…I face people that do not like me, but when I take a step back and look at all my blessings it is vital to just stop, thank God, and enjoy life.

3 TRUTHS WE CANNOT AVOID

1)  Time does not stop nor does it slow down. 

2)  Our health is more fragile than we think it is.

3)  Death is coming to every one of us sooner than we think it is.

20-30 MINUTES EACH DAY THAT WILL MAKE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE BETTER 

I want to make my life count, as I am sure you do as well.  I want to challenge you for one week to do 4 things that busyness has prevented you from doing.

1)   HUG AND KISS YOUR SPOUSE (If you have one) FOR 1 FULL MINUTE EACH DAY – No, not the peck on the cheek or the quick hug as you are running out the door.  Take a solid minute…a whole minute…just wrap yourself up in their embrace and with all that you can, remind them that you deeply love them.

2)   REPEAT STEP ONE WITH YOUR CHILDREN

3)   HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOST MEANINGFUL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE.  Most parents are so busy taking their children places they never take the time to stop and look their children in the eyes and just talk with them.  Would you take 5 minutes of your time today to talk to them…no phone…no distractions…just them and you.

4)   PRAY FOR 10 SOLID MINUTES.  No phone.  No Internet.  No Ipad.  No prayer sheet.   Take 10 minutes.  Sit in His presence.  Listen.  Talk.  This will radically change your life.

Do these 4 things for a week and I will promise you they will enrich your life. Water-Glass