Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The S.L.E.D. Argument and Abortion

Image result for baby in womb

I heard about a professor who was talking with her ethics class and she posed a problem to her students: “How would you advise a mother, pregnant with her fifth child, based upon the following family medical history. The husband had syphilis, she has tuberculosis, the first child was born blind, second child died, the third child was born deaf and the fourth child had tuberculosis. The mother is now considering an abortion, would you advise her to have one?” Almost everybody in the class would answer, “Yes,” they said, “Based upon her medical history, absolutely.” The teacher took in their data, and then announced, “Congratulations, you have just killed one of the greatest composers ever, Ludwig von Beethoven.”

I wonder how many potential prodigies, doctors, scientists, pastors, artists, and teachers have been aborted since 1973? Only God knows. According to estimates over 60 million babies have been aborted since Roe v. Wade was passed in the United States.[i] It difficult to grasp such a huge number, but historians tell us that during the Holocaust, Hitler wiped out about 6 million Jews and “undesirables.” The Unites States has out done Hitler by ten times, yet we’d never put ourselves on the same moral platitude as Nazi Germany.

At its core, abortion is battle of worldviews—a battle of ideas. Of course, ideas have consequences. Belief effects behavior. You either believe that life is sacred, or life is secondary; that life is precious or disposable. Much of this worldview is tied to a belief in a Creator who is also the source of absolute morality. Moreover, a person’s view of God determines how they view the unborn.

If Christians are going to transform hearts and minds over the issue of abortion, then we must attack the worldview. Like Paul said in 2 Cor. 10, “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

One of the most popular arguments that we hear in favor of abortion is that a fetus is just “a clump of cells.” That somehow the unborn are less than human, even though they are the product of two humans. The pro-choicer would have us believe that the fetus’ short journey down the birth canal suddenly makes them human when they emerge.

One way that we can show the intellectual bankruptcy of this thinking is by a simple acronym argument—S.L.E.D. The argument unfolds as follows:  The “S” stands for “Size.” True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more valuable than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value. The “L” stands for “Level of development.” Are twenty-year-olds more human than ten-year-olds, since they are smarter and stronger? “E” is “Environment.” Does being inside a house make you more or less of a person than being outside? Does being located in his mother’s body rather than outside make a child less human? And “D” represents “Degree of dependency.” Does dependence upon another determine who you are? Is someone with Alzheimer’s or on kidney dialysis less of a person?  

The SLED tactic exposes the argument for abortion for what it really is—murder for the sake convenience and not because the unborn fail to qualify as human. Let us speak the truth in love as we become the voice for the ones who can’t argue for their own value. -DM

[i]  STEVEN ERTELT, “60,069,971 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973” Life News, 18 January 2018 <https://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/18/60069971-abortions-in-america-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973/>

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Myths and Mystery of God's Will

Image result for proverbs 3:5-6 fork in the road

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”       –Psalm 32:8

Adrian Rogers once told a story about an old hobo who spent much of his life walking across the country from one end to the other. Somebody asked him, “How do you decide which way you are going to go?” He replied, “It really doesn’t make any difference to me; I just go.” And they said, “What do you do if you’re walking down the road and you come to a fork in the road? How do you determine which way you are going to go?” The vagabond said, “That’s simple. I just pick up a stick and throw it in the air and whichever way it lands, that’s the way I go.” Then he added, “And sometimes I have to throw it up six or seven times for it to land right.”[1]

Does that sound like any Christians you know? Many of us would say, “I want God’s will for my life,” but we keep ‘throwing up sticks’ until it lands the way we want to go. I’m afraid we come to God like this, “Lord, here’s what I want for my life. Now God help me get there.” Unlike Jesus’ prayer of surrender in Gethsemane we say, “MY will, not THY will be done.”

When it comes to discerning God’s will, I have discovered that there are several myths that believers have bought into. These myths obscure our decision making and prevent us from discerning God’s will. Here are just a few:

·         The Detailed Roadmap – this is the idea that God is going to give you a comprehensive plan for life in the form of a glorious vision or dream. We think our lives would be easier if God would just tell us, “Now go to this school, marry this person and take this job.” The reality is that if God operated that way then it would totally defeat the reason for “walking by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

·         Mud Hut Missionary in Mongolia – this is the idea that if we surrender to God’s will then we will end up being miserable; that God will call us to be a missionary living in a mud hut in outer Mongolia. While conforming our will to God’s may be difficult at first, this idea just doesn’t align with Scripture. Romans 12:2 says, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The only person in the Bible who was miserable because he followed God’s will was Jonah, and that’s because his heart wasn’t right. When he followed God’s will, the result was the greatest revival in the OT.

·         The Bullseye – this is the idea that God’s will for our lives is very small target and if we miss it then our entire lives will be ruined. We think, “If I don’t go to the right school, or marry the right person, or get the right job then I will miss God’s best.” Its true that our sinful choices can lead to bad consequences. But it is equally true that God’s grace can give us a fresh start and He can even redeem the mistakes we’ve made. Joel 2:25 promises, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”

So how can we know the will of God? We can know the will of God by the Word of God. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Moreover, the word of God will never contradict the will of God and vice versa. How many of our bad decisions could be avoided or clarified if we just obeyed the word of God in the first place?

We can know the will of God by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:14 reads, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” The Holy Spirit never shoves; He gently guides. By listening to His voice and obeying we can know the way of the Lord.

We can know the will of God by the people of God. You’ll find out that the Lord also speaks into our lives by the believers He has put around us. That was certainly true in Paul’s life, as Ananias helped Him know what to do soon after his conversion (Acts 9:10-12). Thank God for the wise people God has placed in our lives (Pro. 24:6). -DM      

[1] Adrian Rogers, What Every Christian Ought to Know (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing, 2012), 156.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bananas in a River

Image result for psalm 23:5 prepare a table wilderness

At just nineteen-years-old Bruce Olson left for the mission field deep in the mountainous jungles of Columbia. He felt called by the Lord to attempt a breakthrough with the hostile and superstitious Motilone Indians, a group deemed by other missionaries as “unreachable.”

Because the Motilone were infamous for acts of violence, Olson could not find any mission organization to support him in this endeavor. So he was on his own. During his quest to the Motilone village he was captured by another group of unfriendly Indians, shot with arrows and imprisoned for several days. Olson was able to escape in the middle of the night, but he was badly injured and lost in a maze of thick jungle.

He trudged for days following a river downstream hoping it might lead to civilization. Fever sapped his strength and made him delirious. He hadn’t eaten much for four days and he was barely hanging on by a thread. Olson cried out to God for a miracle and here’s what happened:

“On the afternoon of the fifth day I wearily dropped into a seat between two huge boulders. I looked at my fingernails, blue from the cold water and my hands pale as a sheet. My whole body groaned with pain; my stomach ached with hunger. I started to shake and couldn’t stop. Could I go on any further? I didn’t see how. I needed food and rest. As I looked into the distance, something bright yellow seemed to be waving up and down on the surface of the water. I thought I was delirious. I rubbed my eyes. Then it came into focus. Bobbing along in the current was a stalk of bananas. I grabbed them as they floated by. I couldn’t believe it. They were ripe too. I ate them slowly and I felt them giving me strength and a new hope. I remembered the words of Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me in presence of mine enemies.” God had given me a table in the middle of the jungle, a table of ripe bananas.”[1]

Olson got up, walked another half mile, and stumbled into a village. He was nursed back to health and eventually did reach the Motilone Indians with the Gospel.

Image result for bruchko bruce olson    Image result for bruchko bruce olson

If you study Psalm 23:5 in context, it’s a picture of the hard work that the shepherd must exert in order to prepare a barren land for his sheep to graze upon. There are rocks to disgorge, briars to clear, predators to be driven away and channels of water to be cut. Yet the shepherd sweats and toils so that he can guide the flock to a safe and verdant pasture that is surrounded by wilderness.

As our Good Shepherd, Christ promises His sheep this kind of protection and provision. Our Shepherd meets our needs even in the most remote places and amid predatory foes. Spurgeon commented on this verse, “The Lord prepares for his children, just as a servant does when she unfolds the tablecloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, even though the enemy is at the door. Yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Christ gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances!”[2] 


[1] Bruce Olson, Bruchko (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2006), 75-76.
[2] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Psalms 23:5 <https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-23-5.html>

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Image result for joseph dream bible

Nabeel Qureshi was at a serious crossroads as a 19-year-old medical student. Born and raised an ardent Muslim, Nabeel viewed Christianity with disdain and the Bible as a corrupted book. According to his Muslim beliefs, Jesus was a respected prophet but certainly not the Son of God.

However, cracks began to form in the foundation of his faith as a Christian friend named David started sharing the Gospel with him. Through a series of conversations, David helped Nabeel understand the real Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of the Koran.

It all came to a head one night for Nabeel, when he asked God for a sign to help him know if Jesus was real. That night as Nabeel drifted off to sleep he had a powerful dream. In his dream, Nabeel approached a warmly lit house at night. Standing at a window looking in he saw people sitting at a banquet table. The room was filled with laughter and sumptuous food.

Everyone at the table seemed to be waiting for the master of ceremonies to enter. As Nabeel listened to people chatting, he became aware that they were waiting for Jesus to arrive. Then he saw his friend David sitting among the guests. Nabeel called out to David but at first there was no response. Suddenly a glorious figure dressed in white appeared in the room. Even though Nabeel could not make out his facial features, he intuitively knew it was Christ. That’s when David finally responded to Nabeel saying, “I wanted you to come dine with us, but you never responded to my invitation.”

That was the end of Nabeel’s dream. The next day Nabeel told David about it, in hopes he could help him make sense of it. David pulled out a Bible, opened to the Gospel of Luke and read the following words of Christ, “24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us’” (13:24-25).

Immediately, Nabeel understood that God had spoken directly to him. Nabeel said, “It was clear to me at that moment I would not be at the banquet of God—heaven—unless I responded to the invitation of the Gospel. The door would be shut for good; and the feast would go on without me forever.”[1] That was the first time Nabeel had ever read the Bible, but it was enough.  

(For more on Nabeel’s story watch this brief video by clicking here)

The dream and the Scripture were pivotal in leading Nabeel to faith in Christ. Since his conversion, Nabeel defended Christianity on the world stage with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. In 2017, Nabeel succumbed to cancer and went on to be with the Lord, but his testimony is a powerful example of how God still speaks today through dreams and visions.

Image result for nabeel qureshi

In fact, Lee Strobel writes in his book The Case for Miracles, “More Muslims have become Christians in the last couple of decades than in the previous fourteen hundred years since, Muhammad, and it’s estimated that a quarter to a third of them experienced a dream or vision before their salvation experience.”[2]  

Students of the Bible know that it is filled with dream experiences. While camping in the wilderness, Jacob received a dream-like vision of a ladder extending to heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it (Gen. 28:10-22). As a seventeen-year-old boy, Joseph had two dreams which foretold his greatness and ascendency to political power (Gen. 31:1-11). Later he interpreted dreams for the Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 40-41). Daniel also interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and was elevated in the Babylonian kingdom (Dan. 2). In the New Testament, an angel spoke to Joseph twice in dreams: once regarding the birth of the Christ child (Matt. 1:20) and another time to warn him of impending danger (Matt. 2:12).

In many parts of the world, God seems to be using visions and dreams extensively. In areas where there is little or no gospel message available, and where people do not have Bibles, God is taking His message to people directly through dreams and visions. This is entirely consistent with the biblical example of visions being frequently used by God to reveal His truth to people in the early days of Christianity. If God desires to communicate His message to a person, He can use whatever means He finds necessary—a missionary, an angel, a vision, or a dream. Of course, there is no limit to what God can do.

At the same time, we must be careful when it comes to dreams and their interpretation. We must keep in mind that the Bible is finished, and it tells us everything we need to know. The key truth is that if God were to give a vision, it would agree completely with what He has already revealed in His Word. Visions should never be given equal or greater authority than the Bible.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28


[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Miracles (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 139-141.
[2] Ibid., 141.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

When God Says, "No"

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Not long ago, I was reading about the early years of one of Christianity’s most influential thinkers—C.S. Lewis. This intellectual giant converted to Christ in his mid-life after espousing atheism for decades as an Oxford university professor. What struck me about his testimony is what started him down the path of unbelief was none other than the hurt of unanswered prayer.

At the age of thirteen, a young Lewis prayed for two things—for his mother to be healed from terminal cancer and for his father to let him leave the harsh environment of a boarding school. Neither of these prayers were answered in the way that Lewis desired and because of his disillusionment with prayer, C.S. Lewis turned away from Christianity as a lad.[1]

Later on as a mature Christian, Lewis wrote about prayer like this: “The essence of a request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant them and sometimes refuse them.” Lewis also went on to say that if we always got what we asked for then prayer would be more like “magic—that is, a power in certain humans to control God and the course of nature.”[2]

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He taught this prayer principle, “7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

In one way or another, God answers our prayers in His own timing and in His own unique way. The problem is that we often interpret God’s “No’s” as neglect and His delays as His denials.

Jesus teaches us that when God answers our prayers He will always do so in a way that will have our best interest and character development in mind. Notice that His argument is from the lesser to the greater. No father would give their toddler a loaded gun because they found it in the sock drawer. No father is going to turn their teenage daughter who just got her license loose on the roads with a brand new Camaro.

Sometimes we ask for a snake and God wants to give us fish. We beg for a stone, but God knows we need bread. We need to trust that our Heavenly Father is too loving and wise to always say, “Yes,” to every request, even if God’s “No” means suffering and pain. Aren’t you glad that we have a God who will not give us something good in place of what it best? 

Ruth Graham (late wife of Billy Graham) once told an audience once, “If God would have granted every prayer of mine then I would have married the wrong man seven times.” Ruth also penned the words of this poem called, “A Mother’s Unanswered Prayer.”

Had I been Joseph’s mother I’d have prayed protection from his brothers:
“God, keep him safe; he is so young, so different from the others.”
Mercifully, she never knew there would be slavery and prison, too.

Had I been Moses’ mother I’d have wept to keep my little son for me;
And I would have thwarted the plan for God’s people to be free.

Had I been Mary—Oh, had I been she, I would have cried as never a mother cried,
“… Anything, O God, anything …but crucified!”

With such prayers persistent my finite wisdom would assail
God, how fortunate Infinite Wisdom should prevail![3]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 146.
[2] C.S. Lewis, Joyful Christian (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977), 97-98.
[3] Ruth Bell Graham, Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001).