Charlie Gard by Rev. Michael W. Salemink (Lutherans for Life)

Charlie Gard turned eleven months old on Independence Day. He may not make it to twelve months. Charlie has a terminal diagnosis. Medical experts believe infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS) will end his life. This rare condition remains incurable. Charlie has suffered seizures and brain damage. He can’t move his limbs on his own, and his muscles grow progressively weaker. He needs a tube to feed him and a machine to breathe for him.

Some months ago, doctors recommended removing the ventilator. “Let him go; he needn’t keep living like this.” Dad Chris and Mom Connie requested their baby’s release from his London hospital. American physicians were ready to attempt experimental therapy unavailable in the U.K. Eighteen people in the U.S. have been treated with an oral medication of natural compounds to remedy MDDS. An internet appeal even raised 1.3 million pounds to pay for it. The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) refused. Multiple British and European courts endorsed that decision to deny. They concluded that seeking the treatment wouldn’t “serve Charlie’s best interests” but only “expose him to prolonged suffering.” Magistrates have ordered life support removed—against the parents’ will (and against Charlie’s will also).

“We just CAN’T let our baby die when there is something that might help him!” Connie pleads. “We won’t give up on him because he has a rare disease. He deserves a chance and he deserves a life.” “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting,” Dad adds. The Vatican Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome has offered to assume Charlie’s care. But GOSH persists in retaining custody (even though nobody has assigned them that authority). Chris and Connie aren’t even allowed to take Charlie home to die. “We want to give him a bath at home, sit on the sofa with him, sleep in the bed with him,” Charlie’s parents explain. “But now we’re being denied that.”

Such situations involve weighing subjective judgments. Does any slim chance at improvement justify certain side effects? What course of action—or inaction—achieves Charlie’s overall welfare? Experimental treatments represent only educated guesses and best estimates. But so do terminal diagnoses. Both science and Scripture testify that biological parents are best positioned to protect and provide for their children, unless the parents prove patently incapable. The Almighty Maker has entrusted fathers and mothers with these deliberations and decisions. He has equipped them not only with minds but also with hearts for the duty.

Chris and Connie are obviously not incompetent. They are not careless. They are not acting out of malice or being abusive. Businesses like hospitals operate with profit, public perception, apportioning resources, and satisfaction of the greatest percentage of customers as highest priorities. Governments best serve the populace when they safeguard the sacred family relationships rather than subvert them. This month’s holiday observance reminds us of the importance of maintaining these strict limits. Forcing doctors and hospitals to participate in procedures they oppose undercuts the usefulness of their expertise. But neither ought the institutions compel the parents. They love Charlie more than medical practitioners do. They love their son better than legal professionals. And parental compassion imparts comforts in difficulty that chemicals, devices, and verdicts can neither replace nor approximate.

Abortion activists want unwilling doctors to refer. Assisted-suicide enthusiasts likewise would make physicians who decline taking part in such a procedure to connect patients with providers who do practice it. Two states obligate pregnancy resource centers to inform their clients about the availability of government-funded terminations. Why aren’t these same voices calling for Charlie Gard’s transfer, or at least his discharge? What about Charlie’s autonomy? What about his parents’ rights and choices? Where has the opposition to bureaucratic interference in health care gone? Critics often accuse the for-life community of interest only in babies before birth and ignoring them after. Yet we fight for Charlie and stand alongside Chris and Connie while almost all others fall silent and sit still.

We ask the real question because we are not afraid of the right answer. Is a life beset with suffering really still worth living? In the fallenness of humankind, no life can escape affliction. Creation’s brokenness makes surviving without suffering impossible. Everybody hurts. Yet under God’s grace, pain never occurs without purpose. Christ Jesus crucified and resurrected portrays, proclaims, and performs greater goods for humankind than painlessness or even pleasure. No one hurts hopelessly. God’s Son incarnate among us redeems the most awful experiences and gives us community, sanctity, and dignity in the midst of them.

Every life, every human being in every state and at every stage, enjoys this infinite preciousness because our Father and Savior has made and died for and joined to each one eternally. And Lutherans For Life will keep speaking truth to change hearts and keep showing love to save lives.

Posted in End of Life Issues, Euthanasia, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, Prolife | Comments Off on Charlie Gard by Rev. Michael W. Salemink (Lutherans for Life)

Clean by Natalie Grant

Posted in Baptism, Christian music, Forgiveness, Jesus Christ, Salvation, Saviour | Comments Off on Clean by Natalie Grant

Register for 2017 International LCMS Disaster Response Conference

The 2017 International LCMS Disaster Response Conference will be Sept. 26-28, 2017 at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., under the theme “Lutherans in the Midst of Disaster.”

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, will make a special banquet presentation. Registration is $30, including meals.

To register for the conference, click on: Lutherans in the Midst of Disaster.

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The Invisible Leadership Virus — Rev. Scott Gress

Rev. Scott Gress discusses the leadership virus that is spreading throughout churches and how to overcome this virus in the following blog post:

There’s a leadership virus going on in churches. It spreads some damagingly false information about what leadership is and what leadership does. The powerful pathogen goes like this:

I’m afraid of coming across as demanding or controlling.
What does this mean? If I’m too forceful as a leader then I would put off and upset some people, perhaps even alienate some and because of that a) they may not like me b) they may leave and c) I wouldn’t be able to be a good pastor to them in the future.

So what is the “safe” (and mistaken) alternative?
To endeavor to be “pastoral” in your leadership style, i.e. more caring, passive, or accommodating, more servant hearted, more supportive of their view, less opinionated, etc. All the while trying to just focus on “pastoral” duties all the more.

What are the unintended consequences?
The church seems to lack direction or momentum. It bumps along from season to season, activity to activity and one idea to the next with no cohesive thought. The loudest (or angriest) voice in the room often gets their way, even if it is from left field. The pastoral leader gets frustrated at the decisions that often take place. The leader may even feel like leaving or quitting but often they simply retreat once again to their pastoral duties of preaching and teaching. They try to dismiss the frustrations that happen with the church council or elders or voter’s meeting. Sometimes they react by snapping at others but more likely they snap at the family dog (or worse).

To learn how to combat and overcome this leadership virus, click on: Leadership Virus.

Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, scottgress@me.com or scottgress.com.

Posted in Church revitalization, Leadership, Missional Leadership | Comments Off on The Invisible Leadership Virus — Rev. Scott Gress

Lutheran Mission Matters — A Journal Worth Reading

The current issue of Lutheran Mission Matters presents a variety of viewpoints on contextualization. The authors include Lutheran Missionaries who served at the grassroots nationally and worldwide. They include well experienced theological educators, mission executives, area directors, practitioners and mission historians. Rarely does a journal like this enjoy the privilege of presenting Lutheran theologians and missionaries from Ethiopia, India, Japan, and Vietnam — all in one issue. This issue also features a special article by President Emeritus of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick who has written about the challenge facing Lutherans today, the transition from a heterodox Christian culture to a culture that is indifferent or even hostile to Christianity. Below is a list of the articles now available:

Some of the articles in the May 2017 issue include:

Missiology of Recontextualization by Victor Raj
Quo Vadis, LCMS? Wine Women Worship Witness Warfare by Gerald B. Kieschnick
Quincentennial Celebration: The Paradigm Shift from Martin Luther Then to Ours Now—Part One by Enoch Wan
Multiethnic Ministry: Some Obstacles and Insights to Overcoming Them Paul Mueller
Paul’s Greatest Missionary Sermon: A Lesson in Contextualization from Acts 17 by James Tino
The Father’s Heart by Todd Jones

Posted in Evangelism, Lutheran, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Lutheran Missiology, Martin Luther, missio Dei, Missiology, Missional, World Missions | Comments Off on Lutheran Mission Matters — A Journal Worth Reading

“Canada’s Assisted Dying law – one year later” by Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg, the Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, highlights and comments on some troubling trends related to Canada’s Assisted Dying law. Here are some excerpts from his blog.

One year after the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, Canada has become the prime example of how legalizing assisted dying cannot be controlled and why these laws are naturally expansive. Society needs policies that encourage caring and not killing. …

Even though we are well into 2017, the data from 2016 indicates that there were 970 reported assisted deaths in Canada.

Other than Québec, where there were 463 deaths in the full year, these deaths occurred in 6.5 months (June 17 – Dec 31). The percentage of assisted deaths is highest in British Columbia, where there were 188 assisted deaths, where they have two euthanasia clinics, as compared to 189 assisted deaths in Ontario. The 970 reported assisted deaths represented 0.6% of all deaths in Canada.

To read Alex’s article in its entirety, visit: Canada’s Assisted Dying Law.

 

Posted in Assisted suicide, Euthanasia, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, March for Life, Physician Assisted Suicide | Comments Off on “Canada’s Assisted Dying law – one year later” by Alex Schadenberg

Voice of Christ Media Ministries — Reach Iranian Muslims for Christ

Voice of Christ Media Ministries serves Iranians and other Persian-speaking people in many countries by bringing them into a life-changing encounter with the living Christ through the internet, satellite radio, AM broadcasts, Facebook, YouTube, and other media. We love Persians because Christ loved us first when we had no hope of knowing God.

The Persian world, located in the heart of the “10-40 Window,” is one of the least reached areas of the world. This includes 72 million Iranians, 27 million Afghans and the 7 million Tajiks who are among the world’s least evangelized. Most of them know nothing at all about the good news of God’s love. However, God is moving among Iranians as never before, bringing thousands to Himself. In fact, more are coming to Christ than at any time in the past 1,300 years!

To learn more about this ministry  and to access their witness resources, visit the Voice of Christ Media Ministries.

Posted in Christian-Muslim Relations, Evangelism, Islam, Missionary, World Missions | Comments Off on Voice of Christ Media Ministries — Reach Iranian Muslims for Christ

Living “Questionable” Lives — Michael Frost at Exponential 2014

Back by popular demand!

In the following presentation Michael Frost addresses the trend of congregations reducing being missional to simple acts of kindness, service, and relationship building in their neighbourhood. Frost counters that, “If we do not ever get an opportunity to announce the name of Jesus and declare that He is King and rules over all … then we are not being missional.” Debunking Francis of Assisi’s often quoted statement, “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words” Frost says, of course words matter. “Faith comes from hearing.” Frost exhorts people to live “questionable” lives that provide a forum for Christians giving an account of the hope within them.

This video is from Exponential East 2014:

Posted in Church revitalization, Discipleship, Evangelism, Exponential, Missional, Missionary, Priesthood of all Believers, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach | Comments Off on Living “Questionable” Lives — Michael Frost at Exponential 2014

Here We Stand! Some Lutherans For Life Resources

Are you looking for Christ-centered, biblical prolife resources? Check out the following resources available from Lutherans for Life:

Posted in Abortion, Abortion Recovery, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, Personhood, Pro-Life, Prolife | Comments Off on Here We Stand! Some Lutherans For Life Resources

Study: Euthanasia is not about ending uncontrollable pain — Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith writes, “The euthanasia movement fear mongers its agenda as a means of preventing an agonizing death in pain that cannot be controlled. It’s all a false pitch. That’s not why it’s actually done.” …  

To read the rest of Smith’s article, visit: It’s not about end uncontrollable pain.

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