Rose Ceremony To Remember the Unborn
This is the message I gave in the five services of Good Shepherd Community Church (outside Gresham, Oregon) January 18 & 19, 1997. I’ve inserted the transparencies, including a few pictures I used, as well as Diane Meyer’s testimony. (Several of these things I didn’t have time to say, or I said them in one service but not others, so this is a slightly more complete version of the message.) We praise God for powerfully answering our prayers. Please pray for the ongoing impact on the approximately 2500 people who heard the message. Randy Alcorn
(Introduction of rose-carrying ceremony)
We who follow Christ sometimes have to face realities that make us uncomfortable—this is one of those times. We must not allow our discomfort to keep us from facing the truth, from coming to terms with God’s Word. So let’s give each other permission to be uncomfortable. The hurt we experience today will be the beginning of healing.
In a few moments we will do something we’ve never done at Good Shepherd. People will come forward, cross the platform, carrying white roses which they’ll put in the cradle. Each rose represents one million children, one million little boys and girls, who have died from abortion in America since it was legalized 24 years ago this week.
The people who will come forward are each part of our church family at Good Shepherd, and each has a special connection to the unborn.
Some of them are men and women who have lost their children to abortion. Some have lost grandchildren, some siblings.
One used to work in Oregon’s largest abortion clinic, the Lovejoy Surgicenter in Portland. One is a nurse who helped perform abortions.
One, a few months ago on the fifth anniversary of her child’s death, went down to place flowers at the Lovejoy abortion clinic where her baby died. While there she met people from a Good Shepherd growth group who were praying and offering counsel on the sidewalk. Good Shepherd people meeting-one grieving, others ministering, and they embraced each other.
One is a teenage girl from our church who got pregnant, then made the right decision to have her baby—she lived at Bethany House, a home for unwed mothers with house parents from our church.
Another woman as a preborn child survived an attempt at abortion and was then carried to term and born.
A woman who was strongly advised by two doctors to get an abortion, and told if she didn’t both she and her baby would have serious physical problems. She carried her baby and he was born prematurely but without complications-her health has suffered, but she’s glad she made that sacrifice.
One is a woman conceived when her 13-year-old mother was raped. One is a prolife physician.
Several, teenagers and adults, are volunteers in prolife ministry. Many of these people are involved in sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics, CPC’s and other ministries.
Not all of these people have had abortions, about half of them have—but unless they’ve told you, you don’t know which, because they choose today to walk in solidarity with each other, standing together as the Body of Christ. They willingly take the risk of someone judging or misjudging them.
I was with these people in a prayer meeting Monday night—one of the most powerful times I’ve ever been part of. Tears of healing and gratitude to God for his grace. Many unforgettable prayers through the tears. One of the teenage girls prayed, “Lord, I ask you speak to the adults this weekend, because I know girls who haven’t wanted to get abortions but were pressured into it by their parents at our church.”
One rose for each million children killed by surgical abortion in America. Each rose carrier’s life touched by abortion, through personal experience or through volunteer ministry and many through both. One of the women who’s had an abortion said, “Thanks for asking me to do this-it will be another step in my healing.”
As the music plays and these dear sisters and brothers come, remember the children and the parents and ask God to speak to your heart.
Note from Randy: As a soundtrack of Brahm’s Lullaby played, over 40 people (several came as couples and as parents with children) walked across the platform and placed the roses in the cradle. The cradle swung slightly from their touch. Some of the women kissed the roses before putting them in the cradle. One woman asked to carry two roses. The lights were dimmed, and a slide of a beautiful intrauterine child sucking his thumb was projected on the large front screen.
Weeping could be heard throughout the auditorium. The different people I sat next to in all five services seemed stunned, and appeared to focus their attention on the faces of the rose carriers. (Before each service we had a powerful prayer time with the rose carriers. After each service many of them had great interactions with hurting people in the church body. ) After the last rose carrier I began the main message:
Today we are addressing something very close to the heart of God. The issue is not what we want to hear, but what God wants to say. If He is our Lord, if we are his people, we must listen to Him.
According to the Scriptures, there are spiritual beings present here, righteous angels and fallen angels, and we are under attack. There is a battle for our minds and a battle for our souls—it’s not fiction, it’s not imagination, it’s revealed reality. There is great spiritual warfare associated with the issue of abortion.
God is the creator of children and a lover of children-Satan is a hater and destroyer of children, because they have been created in God’s image and they are his weakest and most vulnerable victims. Killing children is his way of striking out at the very heart of God—if he cannot kill God, the next best thing to him is killing God’s littlest children. By killing those created in God’s image, he is killing God in effigy.
Every time this subject is brought up, some people get offended-but the alternative is not bringing it up, and thereby offending God, whose approval is the one that really matters. He is the Audience of One. My prayer is that for everyone offended today there will be three people deeply touched by the Holy Spirit of God. We’re going to get to some very good news—but in order to be touched by the good news, first we’re going to have to hear some very bad news.
Church is more than just a social club. We are not here simply to help each other feel good; we are here to help each other be good. And sometimes that means taking some medicine we’d rather not take in order to get well. I was asked by the elders to speak to you, and I will try to accurately convey God’s perspective. That is an awesome task, one I am not up to, so I ask you to please pray with me.
PRAYER: Lord, we come before you completely inadequate. I lack the ability to communicate this message well, and we as a people lack the ability to hear it well. We are blinded by the relentless propaganda of this culture that pretends to love children, while sacrificing our youngest, weakest and most vulnerable children on the altar of our convenience.
The evil one, the one our Lord called a murderer and liar, has lied to cover his murders and we have bought into his lies. We ask you to break through the rationalizations, to speak to each of us. Father, protect us from the relentless lies of those evil beings who love the shedding of innocent blood.
God, help us to put on spiritual armor and to use the sword of the Spirit, your Word, to fight the darkness that whispers lies into our ears. We pray that by your grace you would let us hear the truth, and that the truth would set us free-free to experience your forgiveness, your grace and your blessing. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
There are 1.5 million children killed by abortion in this country every year. 4400 each day, three each minute, one every twenty seconds. One in every three pregnancies in America ends in abortion. Statistics show that a soldier’s chances of survival in the front lines of combat are greater than the chances of an unborn child’s avoiding abortion. What should be the safest place to live in America—a mother’s womb—is now the most dangerous place.
I want to emphasize that every child has two parents and God puts the biggest responsibility for protecting children on men. More instructions in Scripture are given to fathers than mothers. If we men took our responsibility to be pure and to guard the purity of women rather than take advantage of them, there would be a fraction of the unwanted pregnancies. And if we took our responsibility to raise the children we have fathered, there would be a fraction of the abortions.
Men, we should be the first to accept the responsibility for our actions, first to stand up for women who need help, and the first to stand up for weak, vulnerable children. When men exercise deep loyalties to women and children, we are at our best—when we violate those loyalties we are at our worst. We become abusers or passive cowards. And God will surely judge us for it.
A man in his sixties here at Good Shepherd called me a few days ago and told me of a girl he got pregnant 39 years ago. She gave him a choice of what to do—he chose an abortion. He said it has haunted him since. He thinks about the son or daughter he lost and wonders about the grandchildren he’d now be holding. He said to me, “Tell people about the consequences. Warn our young men—tell them God will hold them accountable for what they do with their children.” Then, be broke down into tears and told me, “I don’t want our young men to do what I did 39 years ago.”
Last week at church one of our growth group leaders came up to me, tears in his eyes. He told me of an abortion he paid for years ago, and what a terrible choice it was. Abortion isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a human issue, and its effects are devastating to women and men alike. People, we are all in this together.
Overhead transparencies of unborn child:
Transparency #1: This isn’t an issue, it’s a baby. It’s not a choice, it’s a child. It’s not politics, it’s a human being created in the image of God. This child is as precious to God as my children and yours—as human, as important, as valuable to God as every child in our church nursery. We need to learn to look at this child through the eyes of God, not the eyes of the world.
Transparency #2: This is a child in the eighth week, meaning he is 7 weeks old, when the very earliest surgical abortions take place.(The largest abortion clinic in Oregon doesn’t do abortions until the child is at least 8 weeks old.) Doesn’t look like a blob of tissue, does it? “It” is actually he, and he’s had a measurable heartbeat 21 days after conception and measurable brainwaves at 49 days after conception. That means every surgical abortion stops a beating heart and stops brain waves. When I showed this picture on a college campus a student said, “You’re not fooling us with that trick photography.”
What she was saying is, “obviously, that’s a baby—but I want to believe that abortion doesn’t kill children, therefore I will choose to believe this can’t be a real picture.” That’s why people hate to see the pictures of aborted babies-if they were just blobs of tissue, they wouldn’t be hard to look at, would they? What makes it hard is that we know these are babies.
I’m not going to show pictures of aborted babies today, but there’s a tremendous irony here. It’s not considered appropriate to show pictures of a baby killed by abortion, but it is considered appropriate to do nothing to stop the killing of those babies in the picture. The problem with the holocaust wasn’t the sickening pictures of bodies stacked like cord wood—the problem with the holocaust was the evil the pictures simply pointed out. If something is too horrible to look at, shouldn’t it be too horrible to defend or too horrible to ignore?
But the truth is, these are babies even before they look like babies. Science and Scripture tell us the same thing about when human life begins.
Transparencies 3-4: Scientists on when human life begins:
When Does Human Life Begin?
Dr. Alfred M. Bongiovanni, professor of obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania:
“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”
Dr. Jerome LeJeune, genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris (discoverer of the Down Syndrome chromosome):
“After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. . . . This is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School:
“It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”
Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic:
“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”
Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School:
“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.”
Dr. Landrum Shettles, pioneer in sperm biology, fertility and sterility, discoverer of male—and female—producing sperm:
“I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest-that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances.”
In science it’s called conception. Sometimes in Scrtipture its called conception, sometimes creation—but it’s that moment before which there wasn’t a person and now there is.
OH # 5-7: Scripture-when human life begins:
Scripture on the Nature of the Unborn
“The babies [Jacob and Esau] jostled each other within her [Rebekah].” (Genesis 25:22)
“In the womb he [Jacob] grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God.” (Hosea 12:3)
“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” (Job 10:8-12)
“Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” (Job 31:15)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . 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.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
“Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)”His mother Mary . . . was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . [the angel said] ‘what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” (Matthew 1:18-20)
“But the angel said to Mary ‘you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:30-31, 35)
Luke 1:39-44: After the angel left, Mary “hurried” (v. 39) to get to Elizabeth. Unborn John the Baptist (in his 6th month after conception) responded to the presence of the unborn Jesus inside Mary. Allowing for travel, Jesus was no more than 8-10 days beyond conception when they arrived. Implantation doesn’t begin until 6 days after conception and isn’t complete until 12—most likely Jesus was not yet fully implanted in his mother’s womb when unborn John responded to his presence.
- Question: in what city did Christ’s incarnation take place? In other words, where did God first “become flesh and dwell among us”? 99/100 Christians will say Bethlehem. But the answer is Nazareth. That’s where Jesus was conceived.
Science and Scripture agree. There is a point of creation, where one moment there is only an egg with 23 chromosomes and a sperm with 23 chromosomes, neither of which has a life of its own, but when they are joined there is a new human being with absolutely unique DNA, a distinct identity, with the equivalent of hundreds of volumes of detailed information down to hair thickness, eye color, height and thousands of other markers. That point of God’s creation of the new individual is indisputably the point of conception.
This has tremendous implications, because no matter how soon after conception it happens, an abortion causes the death of a human being. Therefore using RU-486, the abortion pill, is absolutely wrong. So is the IUD, because it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. So is the morning-after pill, and the mini-pill. Often so are DepoProvera, and Norplant. These can cause early abortions.
I’ve recently become aware that even the standard birth control pill states in its own manufacturers literature, as indicated in the Physicians Desk Reference, that sometimes it can fail to stop ovulation and after conception takes place can prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg. No one seems to know how often this happens, and some think it is rare, but given this information it is a risk I don’t believe we should choose to take. Please, I am not trying to point the finger—Nanci and I used the pill for years, so did Ron and Kathy Norquist, and many of us who are prolife, completely unaware of this possibility. I am currently doing further research on this, but if we believe that each life begins at conception, we need to take a careful look at what we might be doing to threaten the life of an already conceived child.
OH #8: The Early Church Leaders on Abortion
“You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated.” (Epistle of Barnabas 19.5; second century)
“Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant.” (The Didache 2.2; second century catechism for young Christian converts)
“The fetus in the womb is a living being and therefore the object of God’s care” (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 35.6; 177 A.D.)
“It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder.” (Tertullian, Apology, 9.4; second century)
“Those who give abortifacients for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers themselves, along with those receiving the poisons.” (Basil the Great, Canons, 188.2; fourth century)
Jerome called abortion “the murder of an unborn child” (Letter to Eustochium, 22.13; fourth century). Augustine used the same phrase, warning against the terrible crime of “the murder of an unborn child” (On Marriage, 1.17.15; fourth century).
Origen, Cyprian and Chrysostom also condemned abortion as child-killing.
“The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a most monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.” John Calvin (sixteenth century reformer)
The truth is, it doesn’t take a theologian or a Bible scholar or a scientist to know when life begins.
OH #9: Have you seen this? (Required in every establishment in Oregon that serves alcohol: “Pregnancy and alcohol do not mix.” Notice the baby inside the mother.
In Portland judges have put women in jail because they’re taking drugs that endanger their unborn babies. But that same woman who is jailed for endangering her child is perfectly free to abort her child. In America today, it is illegal to harm your preborn child, but it is perfectly legal to kill him.
We wonder why child abuse has dramatically increased since 1973—that’s when abortion was legalized. Not a coincidence. If it’s okay to kill a child before he’s born, what’s so bad about hitting around the same child a year later? The first thing I thought back when I heard the horrible story of Susan Smith in Carolina drowning her children, was “this is just a very late term abortion-four years late.” Same mother, same children. Other than timing, what’s the difference?
Some of the lies sound so noble: “Every child a wanted child.” This is the slogan of Planned Parenthood. I agree—”Every child a wanted child, so let’s learn to want children more and get them into hands of those who want them.” But what they mean is, “Every child a wanted child so let’s kill unwanted children before they’re born.” So PP’s true slogan should be, “Every unwanted child a dead child.” Doesn’t sound quite as nice, does it?
“I’m prochoice.” Prochoice about what? Whether you have Mexican or Chinese food? Where you live? What kind of car you drive? Of course. But are you prochoice about rape? About burglary? About kidnapping? Are you prochoice about killing children? Of course not. Let’s cut through the lies and identify what choice we’re talking about—killing children.
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that unbelievers would buy into these lies. Scripture says Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. But the greatest tragedy with abortion is that it isn’t is “out there” somewhere. It’s right in here. Right inside the church. This isn’t just about our nation or our community, people. It’s about us.
Ten years ago the statistics indicated that those who call themselves evangelical Christians accounted for one out of six surgical abortions in America—a quarter of a million abortions per year. Statistics that just came out in July show that now one in five abortions are done by evangelical Christians, or 300,000 per year. And that doesn’t count the chemical abortions.
There are hundreds of women and hundreds of men in this church who have made abortion decisions—some ten or twenty years ago, some two years ago, some last year, some last month. With the 2500 people in our combined services I have no doubt that sitting in church this weekend are some who have made the decision and are planning abortions within the next few weeks. I ask you to pray that God would penetrate their hearts.
Scripture says it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God. We need to look to ourselves first. An unholy world will never be won to Christ by an unholy church. We have no moral authority to speak to the world in the realm of sexual morality or on the issue of abortion unless and until we deal with it in our midst. In order to help bring a solution we must first deal with the fact that we ourselves are a large part of the problem.
How God Sees Children
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)
“Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:14)
“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” (Psalms 127:3-4)
Scripture teaches God is the Creator and Owner of all people and therefore has exclusive rights over them. It teaches God alone is the giver and taker of human life. It tells us God has sole prerogatives over human life and death:
God is Creator and Owner of all people (and therefore has sole rights over all)
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
“Know that the Lord Himself is God: it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3, NASV)
“For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God has exclusive prerogatives over human life and death
“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)
“The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6)
“You shall not commit murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
Note: Except when he specifically delegates that right to men (e.g. capital punishment, self defense, or just war), God alone has the right to take a human life.
“And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. . . . And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.”(Genesis 9:5)
“If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:22-25)
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
Suppose you’re told by your doctor, “The fetus is deformed. It probably won’t survive more than a few weeks after birth, and if it does it will never be able to walk, talk, see or have a normal life. I recommend you terminate the pregnancy.”
What do you do? Well, the last thing you should do is kill the child. If God chooses to take this child, that is his choice, just as if he would choose to take our 5 year old or 10 or 15 or 30 year old. To say that God may choose to take a life is one thing-let God do what he wants. The decision is his, not yours. God has the prerogatives over life and death. If you found out your 5 year old was terminally ill, would you say “since he’s probably going to die anyway, we’ll just kill him.” No? Then don’t do it to your unborn child. Let God decide, not you and not the doctor.
“But what if the doctor says the child will have handicaps?” I’m glad you asked that question.
OH # 10-11 God’s view of Children who are handicapped or conceived by rape
“The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’” (Exodus 4:11)
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’ “This is what the LORD says, the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: . . . do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Isaiah 45:9-11)
“Neither this man [who was born blind] nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)
Jesus said, ‘When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
Don’t kill an unborn person because they are handicapped or conceived by rape any more that you would kill a born person because they are handicapped or were conceived by rape.
Of all the sins committed in the Old Testament, one stands out above the others in its utter abomination to God-the killing of children:
The Shedding of Innocent Blood
“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:21)
“The LORD said . . . ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. . . . by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. . . . If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech . . . I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him . . .” (Leviticus 20:1-5)
“Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.” (Deuteronomy 19:10)
“The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.” (2 Kings 24:2-4)
“The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’” (Genesis 4:10)
“For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” (Psalm 72:12-14)
“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
“Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you.” (Ezekiel 35:6)
Whether children offered to the demon god Molech then or the god of convenience and affluence today, God hates the killing of children.
In 2 Kings 24, God says he brought destruction on the nation Judah because of the evil of King Mannaseh, for “he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood,” the blood of children. I thought of that passage just a few months ago when the President of the United States officially approved partial birth abortion. This is a practice in which children are delivered to the point that their whole body is out of the womb up to their neck; then the “doctor”—and I choke to call such a person a doctor-inserts scissors into the base of the baby’s skull, and makes a hole. Next he inserts a suction catheter into the wound which pulls the baby’s brains out. Then he crushes his skull.
I know we don’t want to hear this. Any more than the German Christians wanted to hear what was happening to Jews. But it is happening and we must face it. If we can’t face the truth in church, where can we face the truth? Don’t get angry at me, get angry at the killing of innocent children and what legalized abortion has done to this country. I assure you, God is angry.
Our United States Congress couldn’t even come up with enough votes to override the President’s action. God help us. And where was the church? By our silence we consented to child-killing, as the people of Israel consented, to the evil of their head of state by their failure to speak up. I confess I did not do enough to speak up against this horrible evil. God forgive me. God forgive us. We surely deserve every bit as severe a judgment as the destruction God brought upon the nation Judah. Don’t think for a moment America is somehow immune to God’s judgment. We are not.
God is a lover of children, Satan is a hater of children. When we care for little children, we do the work of God. When we destroy little children we do the work of Satan.
These are hard words. But they are true-I wish they weren’t. I debated whether to say some of these things, and last night I asked a dear friend her advice. She said “yes, you should say them.”
I want to introduce that friend to you now. She is a sister whom I love and respect. (“Come on up, Diane.”) 15 years ago she lived in our home, now she works with our ministry. For all those 15 years she’s been a part of the Good Shepherd Community Church family. She is a true disciple of our Lord Jesus. The hand of God upon her has been powerful—many have been touched by her life. Please listen and pray as Diane Meyer shares her story with us.
Diane Meyer’s Testimony
When I was 17, I found myself apart from my family, involved in an unhealthy relationship with a man and pregnant—which was something I didn’t want to think about or deal with.
Eventually, though, I did go down to Lovejoy abortion clinic in Portland to make an appointment to have an abortion. I made this decision because I had no desire to be a mother, and quite honestly, because I was terrified of going through the pain of labor. I just didn’t think of it as being wrong.
When I was examined I was found to be 24 weeks, or six months, pregnant. But I was assured that although I couldn’t have a simple clinical abortion, I could still have one done at a nearby hospital. I agreed. I would have done anything to not be pregnant, and I showed up at the hospital on the scheduled day.
I was placed, along with about a dozen other young girls, in a large basement ward which was lined with cots. There, we received a saline injection in our abdomens which was designed to kill our unborn babies and expel their tiny bodies.
I will never be able to forget the sights or sound burned into my mind on that day. After a few hours of labor, we all began to lose our babies.
When the girl on my right lost hers, she began shrieking and screamed for the nurses to “get that away from me!” as she crawled backwards up her bed. The girl on my left cried quietly and asked the nurses if hers was a boy or a girl.
I felt a violent lurching sensation as the baby slid from my body. It is so sad to me that the only memory I have of my child is that of a small, still huddled form covered in blood laying on the white sheet of my cot.
When I left the hospital, I determined to put this horrible episode behind me, never thinking about it, never talking about it.
My relationship with my boyfriend, never strong, was now almost nonexistent. About this time, some friends of mine introduced me to the pastor of their church. His name was Randy Alcorn. When he saw my precarious living situation, he invited me to come and live with himself, his wife Nanci, and their daughter Karina. While living there, I sensed the extraordinary joy in their existence and I wanted that too. So I accepted Christ as my Savior. Unfortunately, I was already pregnant again. Knowing that I would never go through a late-term abortion, I decided, with the full love and support of Randy and Nanci, to give my baby up for adoption.
But I was completely unprepared for the feelings of awe that overwhelmed me when I give birth to a healthy baby boy. I was, however, content with my decision to give him up to a childless Christian couple.
Afterwards I moved out on my own, eager to begin my life as a new believer at Good Shepherd. I became involved with the college—age group, attended a weekly Bible study and weekly functions, as well as church on Sundays. I met a lot of really neat people, including a guy named Rod, who became my boyfriend.
I wish I could end my story there, but I can’t. Though I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, I hadn’t put my sinful lifestyle behind me. I became deeply involved with Rod and I became pregnant again. If anyone could die of shame, I would be dead. I was so scared everyone would find out and see what a phony Christian and failure I was. I was too scared to tell Rod. I knew he would marry me, but then he would have to tell his parents that I was pregnant. I was so ashamed. My only option seemed to be abortion. So I went down to Lovejoy and had it done, never giving a thought to our baby. I would never tell anyone what I have done. I would go to my grave with this secret.
Time passed and my secret remained deeply buried. Eventually Rod and I married, we had two kids, Josiah and Amy, we bought a house, attended Good Shepherd Church and Growth Groups. But something was wrong.
My hidden sin held God at arms length. I couldn’t grow as a believer because I would never let God close to me, afraid he would see me as I really was, sinful and ugly.
One day when I had been married for eight years, God decided it was time for me to come to know him better. I felt an intense, growing awareness of the Lord. I was totally overwhelmed by the incredible knowledge of His love. I felt chosen, special, humbled and loved, not because of what I had or hadn’t done, but simply because it was His pleasure to do so. For a week I was compelled to immerse myself in scripture and constant prayer. And for the first time in my life I fell in love with my God.
At the end of the week I was praying in my room. I prayed, “Lord, I asked you into my life a long time ago but I never understood about wanting to give something back. I’m willing to die for you.” No sooner had the words left my lips when my horrible sin rose up before me. I fell to my face on the carpet and wept as all the years of deceit and hypocrisy paraded before me. I cried even harder as the truth of having murdered my own children slammed into me.
When I went to Rod, I began by saying how sorry I was, over and over. I just couldn’t say the words that would tell him that I had taken the life of his first child. If you know Rod, you know how he loves babies.
When I finally got the words out, Rod lay his head in his arms at the table. I remember looking at him suffering from this horrible loss, and all I wanted to do was reach out and comfort him. But I couldn’t touch him. I felt so unclean, I was the one who had done this to him.
When he finally looked up, Rod tried to take my hand in his but I pulled away. He caught it and held on. Then he asked me to forgive him.
I was stunned. I couldn’t say anything. He hadn’t responded like I thought he would, like I deserved. Instead he accepted his responsibility in everything and asked me to forgive him. We cried and we asked each other and the Lord to forgive us.
The consequences to what I’ve done are great. I wonder about the children I lost to “choice” and see who they might have looked like in the smiles of Josiah and Amy. Sometimes I think I can almost hear them. But comforting me through it all is the awesome knowledge the Jesus blood fully paid for my debt and that He loves me completely.
I want to thank Diane and Rod—without Rod’s full support Diane would not have been up here. They have given us a gift of honesty and transparency, at cost to themselves. It’s a gift I believe will result in many saved lives; more children in our church nursery; fewer men and women suffering under the weight of guilt; more confession and repentance and healing; more effective kingdom work because of cleansed hearts. More glory to our God.
As Diane spoke, you saw that children are not the only victims of abortion. Mothers and fathers and grandparents and uncles and aunts and many others. You may think our children’s classes are full, but they are missing many children; maybe one of them would have been your child’s best friend; maybe several of them would be going on one of our summer missions projects.
If you have been damaged by an abortion, you are not alone. This room is full of damaged people. All of us have been damaged by the loss of those who should be here with us today.
35 million abortions—at least 6 million by those who profess to be evangelical Christians. But that’s just the Moms. Throw in an equal number of Dads and you have 12 million. But that’s not all. There are mothers who drove their daughters to an abortion clinic, fathers who have given them money to get an abortion. People who talked someone into an abortion or didn’t try to talk them out of one. Health care professionals who have referred people for abortions. In some churches, there are pastors and lay leaders who’ve failed to speak up for fear of offending the congregation or Chairman of the Trustees; or to protect their reputation have they’ve stood by while their own children had abortions.
There’s a lot of guilt feelings here today. And you know what? The reason we feel guilty is usually quite simple—it’s because we are guilty. A lot of people think we need to get rid of the guilty feelings. What we need to deal with first is the guilt itself. No matter how often someone may say to you, “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” your guilt feelings will remain because deep inside, in your conscience, in your heart, you know better.
By denying reality you can try to avoid guilt feelings, but this denial is unhealthy. It sets you up for emotional trauma whenever something reminds you of the child you once carried or the killing place where your child died. It doesn’t help to ignore a cancer. It doesn’t help to put a Band-Aid on a cancer. When a person is writhing in the pain of cancer it isn’t truthful and it isn’t loving to say to them, “You really have no reason to feel bad.”
We all need a permanent cure to the disease of our guilt, a solution based on reality, not denial or pretense. Because as long as we deny we have cancer we won’t get treatment for it. As long as we deny our guilt we won’t experience God’s forgiveness and healing.
Look at our sister Diane. God got hold of her life when she faced head-on the reality of her abortions. Probably some people were tempted to say “It’s not so bad, Diane.” But she knew how bad it was, she had the courage to face it for what it was and God has gotten hold of this woman and done something amazing, something beautiful with her life. And he wants to do the same with every one of us.
In C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there’s a part where the boy Eustace becomes a dragon, and he must submit to Aslan, the Lion who is King, to claw away at his dragon skin and make him into a new person. I have felt the claws of the Lion of Judah. I can tell you, it hurts. But I would rather be hurt by my God as he cleanses and heals me, than to slowly die without his cleansing and healing because I’ve tried to protect myself from being hurt.
OH #12-13: God’s Forgiveness
God’s Offer of Forgiveness
“God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“When I kept silent [about my sin], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. . . . Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’óand you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:3-5)
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
You may feel, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.” That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. Christ got what we deserved on the cross, so we could get what we don’t deserveóforgiveness, a clean slate, a fresh start.
No matter what you have done, no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. The apostle Paul himself was a murdereróhe had participated in the killing of Christians. He called himself the “chief of sinners.” Do you think God used Paul? Then he can surely use you.
Maybe you imagine in heaven the skeleton’s going to come out of the closet and someone will discover you had an abortion or whatever. Well, no skeletons are going to come out of the closet, because there’s no skeletons and there’s no closets-God knows already. God has seen us at our worst and still loves us.
God loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way. He is determined to bring us to our knees to confess, repent, and be healed. There are tremendous consequences to unconfessed sins in the body of Christ. They make us ineffective for God:
The Impact of Unconfessed Sin
“Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18)
“If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.” (Proverbs 28:9)
“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 7:13)”Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7)
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
Once we acknowledge our sin and repent and ask God to forgive us, we must resist the temptation to wallow in guilt feelings, for we are no longer guilty. Christ calls upon us to accept his atonement, not to repeat it. I spoke with a woman at Good Shepherd recently who said, “I believed God could forgive any sin, except my abortion.” She discovered that she had been wrong-she’d been punishing herself for a sin Christ had already taken the punishment for. No sin is too big for the Savior to forgive. That’s the amazing grace of God. Are you thankful for that grace?
There are some unique aspects to abortion that often require a very special healing process. 95% of people in the church who’ve lost children to abortion have never really come to terms with it. There are a number of people hearing this message who’ve never told a single person they’ve had an abortion. They’ve suffered in silence. We need to create a climate that let’s them come out of the closet if that’s what they want to do.
The church isn’t a showcase for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners. You’re a sinner? Welcome to the club. The truth is, I’m a worse sinner than you know, and you’re a worse sinner than I can know. So we’re even. You will not be judged and condemned for a sin Christ has forgiven. The rest of us at Good Shepherd are just as human, just as imperfect, just as needy as you are.
In the your bulletin (3rd panel) and growth group lesson are phone numbers of the HEART and BEAR programs, 14 week Bible study groups designed for women and men touched by abortion. (Also, one through East Hill Church.) There are also phone numbers of women at Good Shepherd who have worked with those who’ve had abortions. At the table in the foyer we have these booklets from Focus on the Family. (Hold up “Overcoming Post Abortion Syndrome.”)
You need the help and support of your church family. This week a woman in our church told me there are 13 people in her growth group. She shared her testimony and talked about her abortion, and now 5 out of 13 have acknowledged that they’ve lost children to abortion. Sometimes it takes one person with the courage to speak up and a group with enough love to put their arms around them and weep with those who weep and comfort the hurting.
Bear Each Other’s Burdens
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
“Be merciful , just as your Father is merciful.” (James 2:13)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
We cannot heal on our own or carry all our burdens on our own-God has given us to each other to help carry the load.
Some of you may choose to share in High Ground or Bible study or accountability group or your growth groups this week. There will be no pressure whatsoever. You may not be ready to or it may be God’s timing for you. That’s between you and the Lord. We want what’s best for you.
I want to share with you a powerful passage, one which is a prophecy of the ministry of our Lord Jesus, written 700 years before he was conceived-it is for anyone who feels like her life is in ashes, anyone who feels brokenhearted, imprisoned, in darkness, to anyone who mourns and grieves and feels despair:
OH # 14: Isaiah 61:1-3
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
OH # 15: Defend the Weak and Helpless
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)
“House of David, this is what the LORD says: ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done-burn with no one to quench it.’” (Jeremiah 21:12)”Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come . . . take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me . . . . For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. . . . ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:31-46)
What can we do for weak and helpless children? A thousand different things. If you’re interested in knowing, call the phone numbers in the bulletin for Crisis Pregnancy Center in Gresham or Sandy Family Services or Ron Norquist at Eternal Perspective ministries.
Last week I heard the director of CPC’s heart program say that one of the biggest things women recovering from abortions have to work through is their anger toward those who knew abortion was child-killing but didn’t speak up and try to talk them out of it. (Repeat!) To be silent is a sin against God, a sin against the child and a sin against the person getting the abortion.
It is never the loving thing to do to ignore someone’s sin, and it is never in their best interests to encourage or assist someone in their sin. If you knew your friend was going to kill her three year old, would you consider it an act of friendship to look the other way? If you know someone is going to get an abortion, would you ever say “I can’t risk my friendship by confronting them?” If you understand abortion and you understand friendship and you understand what it means to be a follower of Christ, then you realize you must speak up or you will have betrayed your friend, an innocent child, and your Lord.
A word to young people and all of us: Pregnancy outside marriage can be prevented by not having sex outside of marriage. Even if you don’t get pregnant, if you have sex outside marriage you are violating the law of God and setting yourself up for disastrous consequences. I can’t overestimate the importance and the rewards of sexual purity. But if you’ve gotten pregnant, realize there’s a child there. Don’t try to cover one sin by committing a greater sin.
OH #1 Remember, this is who we’re talking about. This isn’t an issue, it’s a baby. It’s not a choice, it’s a child. It’s not politics, it’s a precious human being created in the image of God.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
Silence is never the solution. When churches are silent about abortion we encourage it. Silence becomes a form of consent, a quiet permission. Let’s not be cowards. Let’s stand up for truth, let’s reach out in compassion. And don’t be distracted from ministry by irrelevant
Whenever I see the face of a child in our church nursery, and I happen to know his mother was going to get an abortion until someone talked her out of it, I praise God they spoke up—and I pray God will make a great champion for Christ out of that child whose life was spared.
OH # 16: Choose Life
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Table in Foyer: “Identifying and Overcoming Post-Abortion Syndrome”; “The First Nine Months”—plenty, take some for friends.
Next Step room: Want to talk about a relationship with God; people who know about abortions and God’s grace; some of rose carriers and others; they will help you.
As the worship team comes, let’s pray together.
“Lord, when we walk out of this service we’re going to go back to a world of lies about this issue. We go back to a godless generation that won’t let their children get in the way of their careers and won’t let their elderly parents get in the way of their retirements. We want to be different, God. We must be different or we have nothing to offer this dying world.
“Please, Father, bring healing to those who’ve had abortions-men and women; help them to get the help they need; help our young people to practice sexual purity, and help all of us not to succumb to the spirit of our age and sacrifice our children.
“Teach us not only to abstain from the wrong, Lord, but to do the right-to intervene on behalf of unborn children. Our Lord Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these my brothers, so you’ve done it onto me” and Inasmuch as you’ve not done it unto these, you’ve not done it unto me.”
May we serve you Lord by looking out for and standing up for the weakest and most helpless children you have created. May we be their defenders, and may you be pleased with our efforts done in your strength and for your glory. Who will stand up for the children? May the answer Lord, be us. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen.
Note from Randy: The service concluded with Jim Seymour and the worship team singing “Who Will Stand Up for the Children?” An image of an unborn child sucking his thumb was projected on screen. As Jim asked “who will speak up for the Children?” people in the congregation stood to express their commitment.
After the five services (all of which were full, two standing room only, making about 2500 people total for the weekend), many people wept and shared their encouragement with the rose holders, Diane and the rest of us. We have heard many wonderful stories. A special thanks to all who prayed about this. We will not know all the results until eternity, but based on what we have already seen, it’s clear God did an amazing work. To our risen Lord be the glory!