Sometimes a news article catches your eye immediately, such as the New York Post headline, “Aussie news network broadcasts Satanic ritual accidentally.” As a news anchor reported on a new law protecting police animals, a clip was accidentally shown of a cloaked figure who “enthusiastically says ‘Hail Satan’ in front of an inverted cross and behind a red-clothed altar.” The anchor explained later that this was “a system error and rather unfortunate timing!”
Other stories are less likely to catch your attention. For instance, I’m not sure that you have been following with rapt attention the minutiae of congressional action regarding infrastructure legislation. As a result, you may not know (or care) that House Democrats narrowly passed a measure yesterday approving a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint while locking in a late September vote on a roughly $1 trillion Senate-approved infrastructure bill.
Meanwhile, another legislative debate is going even further under most people’s radar.
Five ways taxpayers could be funding abortions
The 2022 appropriations bill put forward by Democrats in the House of Representatives removes the following provisions:
- The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibiting the Department of Health and Human Services from spending taxpayer dollars for most abortions
- The 1973 Helms Amendment restricting foreign aid funds from being expended on abortion
- The 1983 Smith Amendment that prohibits the Federal Employee Health Benefits program from funding elective abortions
- The 1989 Dornan Amendment that prohibits funding elective abortions within Washington, DC
- The 2004 Weldon Amendment that protects health care providers from discrimination on the basis of their refusal to pay for and provide abortions or refer women to have them
The Daily Signal adds that “a slim majority of Senators still support pro-life policy and may not follow the House’s approach.” That is good news, but if the House approach becomes law, my tax dollars will pay for elective abortions, despite my vociferous objection to this sin.
I’m not alone in my concern: nearly six in ten Americans (including one in three pro-choice advocates) oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion. But abortion advocates in the House seem intent on ignoring the wishes of the majority of Americans by adopting unprecedented taxpayer abortion funding.
Benjamin Watson’s brilliant defense of life
Here’s a related story that has likewise received little media attention: the FDA determined last April that abortion-causing drugs could be mailed to patients during the coronavirus pandemic without requiring a visit to a doctor or clinic. Now abortion advocates are fighting to make so-called “abortion by mail” permanently legal in the US.
Benjamin Watson, a former Super Bowl champion and NFL tight end, recently wrote a brilliant article in USA Today in which he stated that “preborn babies don’t have to prove their worth” to us. Unlike football players who are judged constantly by their performance, he states, “Our dignity as humans—our fundamental worthiness to exist—doesn’t have to be proven; it is an endowment we receive at the moment of conception and keep forever until our natural death.”
He adds: “Nobody should have to pass a test to deserve to exist.”
However, Watson reports, thirty-nine states in the US let you abort a baby “for reason of sex selection,” killing the unborn child specifically because of his or her gender. In addition, forty-six states let you abort a child specifically because of his or her race.
In Jeremiah 32, the Lord grieves that his people “built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech” (v. 35), a reference to child sacrifice. God calls this horrific practice an “abomination,” from the Hebrew word toebah describing something that is “detestable,” “loathsome,” or “horrifying.”
If abortion advocates in the Congress have their way, taxpayer funds will soon be paying for such a toebah in America.
Relativism is infecting the church
How could this happen in a nation founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator” with the “unalienable” right to “life”?
Americans were united in World War II against the threat of Nazi Germany, as when our soldiers liberated Paris from Nazi occupation on this day in 1944. Humans must deal every day with objective realities such as the laws of physics; for example, the world’s fastest roller coaster in Japan suspended operations after four reports of people breaking their backs or necks on the ride. Mortality is a fact for us all, as illustrated by the death of the tallest man in the US, who was seven foot, eight inches and died of heart disease at the age of thirty-eight.
But recent generations have been taught that truth itself is a subjective construct, resulting from the subjective way our minds interpret our senses. With regard to abortion, your body is yours to do with as you wish, or so we’re told. The same moral relativism is applied to sexual orientation and gender identity, euthanasia, and a host of other ethical issues.
Such relativism is infecting the church as well. For example, according to a new study, more than 60 percent of self-described born-again Christians between the ages of eighteen and thirty-nine now say Jesus is not the only way to salvation, claiming that Buddha and Muhammad are also valid paths to salvation.
Let’s test ourselves personally. I recently saw this quote by Ella Fitzgerald: “Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Fitzgerald was one of the greatest singers in history; as the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award, her story of overcoming racial discrimination is truly inspiring.
But are “love and inspiration” all we need to not “go wrong” in life? Are right and wrong this subjective?
Paul Simon on “the way we’re ignorant”
This week, we’ve been exploring the role of the Holy Spirit in catalyzing the moral and spiritual transformation our culture so desperately needs. On Monday, we focused on steps you and I must take each day to be “filled” and empowered by him. (Have you taken these steps yet today?) On Tuesday, we discussed the urgency of being empowered by the Spirit before we face the crises endemic to this fallen world.
Today, let’s consider what is perhaps Satan’s most pernicious strategy in keeping God’s people from experiencing God’s power through God’s Spirit.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Sin blocks his work in and through our lives. This is why we are commanded, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are likewise commanded, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30).
However, if we believe the lies of postmodern relativism, we will not consider our sins to be sins. As a result, we won’t feel the need to avoid them when they tempt us or to confess them when we commit them.
This is a vicious cycle: if we ignore the reality of sin, we grieve and quench the Spirit in our lives, which further weakens us and makes the allure of temptation and the effects of sin even worse. Not only do we lose the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and thus the joy of the Lord, we also decimate our witness and demean our Lord.
In “So Beautiful or So What?” Paul Simon sings:
Ain’t it strange the way we’re ignorant
How we seek out bad advice
How we jigger it and figure it
Mistaking value for the price
The formula for spiritual victory
The answer is to begin each day by surrendering that day to the power and leading of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), then turning every temptation we face immediately over to him for his strength, perspective, and help.
I have learned this fact over the years: Satan is better at tempting than I am at resisting. He knows me better than I know myself. As a result, he knows those temptations I can easily resist and seldom wastes his efforts with them. He also knows those temptations I cannot resist without the Spirit’s help and uses them to entice me into sin.
However, he obviously doesn’t want me to turn to the Spirit for help, so along with the temptation, he tempts me to resist it in my strength. He wants me to believe that I can say no to this sin, that I can stop that behavior before it gets worse, that I don’t need God’s power.
He likes to turn the lights down gradually so that my eyes adjust to the dark before I realize my danger. Or, to change metaphors, he wants to drag me into deadly quicksand an inch at a time until I am trapped before I know it.
As a consequence, I must turn to the Spirit immediately whenever I face temptation. I must remember that if I could defeat this temptation myself, I wouldn’t be facing it. The same is true for you.
Here’s the formula: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Submit, then you will be empowered to resist, and then you will have the victory. But only in that order.
Dark tunnels and wind catchers
Corrie ten Boom was the only member of her family to survive the Nazi concentration camps. She experienced human depravity and suffering at their worst. She therefore had the moral authority to say, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Is your train going through a spiritual tunnel today? If not, it likely will tomorrow. When it does, trust the Engineer.
“Wind catchers” are structures first perfected by the ancient Persians that funnel passing winds from the tops of buildings to the rooms below. They have been making a comeback recently. As Ryan Denison explains in his latest website article, “the fact that conventional air conditioning currently accounts for roughly a fifth of all electricity consumption worldwide means that we’re likely to see more wind catchers dotting the skies in the coming years.”
Ryan notes that the same Greek word (pneuma) was used by early believers both for spirit and for wind “because the latter concept so aptly describes the former.” He adds: “Just as the ancient cultures relied upon working with the wind to harness its power and improve their lives thousands of years ago, we too must learn to work with the Spirit” to experience the power of God.
Is the wind of the Spirit free to work in and through your life today?