Monday, August 3, 2015

God - The Ultimate Lesson Planner

Just think about this:  I teach Sunday School and Children's Church on Sundays.  I use a curriculum that teaches scripture from Genesis to Revelation chronologically.  It has taken almost 2 years to get through the Old Testament and begin the New Testament.  And who knows when this curriculum was published, edited by the publisher, written, or planned out by the writers... and yet, the lesson I taught yesterday couldn't have been more timely!  Some would say that God orchestrated all things from before time... no matter anyone's belief on that statement, I know He at least orchestrated this lesson for yesterday long before "these days" were in sight!

So you might be wondering what it was that I taught, and what "these days" I am referring to...

Well anyone who has been alive the past couple of weeks has probably heard of, if not watched, the videos released that show secret recordings inside of Planned Parenthood's facilities.  National shock and disgust has come from both sides of the argument - some upset that babies are dissected and used for research after they have been aborted, while others were offended that these videos were even made and/or edited to come against the abortion giant PP (and do not argue with me about using the phrase "abortion giant"... do some research and then come talk to me).  I was not shocked by these videos.  I have been disgusted by abortion in general for a long time, but horrified in the past year.  But this topic has been everywhere, whether people are angry, sad, fearful, or apathetic...

I am an abolitionist.  That means I am in full support of the immediate end of abortion.  I don't believe in exceptions.  I don't agree with incrementally bringing it to an end either.  I want it to end.  Now.  I want laws to change.  I want people to change.  I want churches to get on-board with foster care and adoption.  I want people who support equal rights for all people to ACTUALLY support equal rights for ALL people... and yes, babies in the womb are people.  Don't even get me started on that one.

Source: Personhood USA

But you know what I really want?  I want people to meet and fall in love with Jesus.  I want His truth and His love to change people's thinking.  And not just on this issue, but all issues.

Why do I want this to happen?  Because I am a Christian.  Part of the definition of "Christian" is that we love Christ so much that we want others to experience His greatness as well!  Without that part of being a "Christian", well, sorry then you aren't a Christian.

But no matter what I believe, say, or write... I can't change the whole world.  I won't even see most of the world by the time I die, I'm sure. But maybe I can change the world around me.  And not because I am so great, passionate, skilled, or whatever.  I'm not.  I think God uses the messed up, the broken, and the desperate far more often than He does those who "have it together".  I mean, read through the Bible once and you'll see some crazy messed up people seeing the greatness of God and suddenly being empowered to do great things!

I can't change anything for anyone just doing my own thing on my own, that's for sure.  Christians who think they can just "be" - work, eat, play, be nice, sleep, and do it all again... you are living a lie.  A LIE.  A lazy lie.  One that is tempting and easy.  And we can polish it and say all the right things to make it seem good and true, but it is still a lie.  Love gives. Love hopes.  Love does!

So I had been asking God a long while what I could do.  Where can I do something?

And I received a phone call out of the blue asking me if I wanted to work with children at church.  And let me tell you, there was a part of me that didn't really want to.  I knew it would add more to my to-do list.  It would cause conflict in my life, because I would be dealing with kids and adults... people will always somehow screw up your life.  But they will also fill it with meaning.  Believe me, my new job of teaching Biblical truths and scheduling all the other teachers' curriculum and schedules has been work!  Preparing lessons, reminding people of their days to teach, communicating with many people each week, getting all the details lined out... it is work!

But last Monday, as I opened up the curriculum to plan for the next Sunday, I was encouraged greatly by what the topic was for me to teach... I could literally feel mental strain fade and my heart warmed.  After watching those secret videos on Planned Parenthood and reading articles and discussing with so many people the truth they don't want to hear... I saw this wonderful opportunity to share the amazing truth in God's Word about babies.

Now, don't go all crazy on me thinking that I told children about the horrific things abortionists do to babies - poisoning, crushing, sucking, stabbing, cutting, sorting... the topic of abortion never even came up!  But I was able to tell these kids a TRUE story from scripture about our Savior, our God, and themselves.

In Luke 1:39-56 we find the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, very young and recently told by an angel that she was to give birth to the Messiah that so many had been waiting for.  The angel, Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, who was much older than women who are able to have babies, was also pregnant.  Mary went to visit Elizabeth... which means baby Jesus went to visit Elizabeth.  Which really means Mary and baby Jesus went to visit Elizabeth and baby John.  The women probably wouldn't have thought of it that way under normal circumstances, and most of the time neither do we.  But in this story, it must be viewed that way, because the babies in the womb are active participants in the story!  Mary did not tell Elizabeth that she was pregnant.  When Mary (and baby Jesus in utero) arrive, baby John in utero moves greatly within Elizabeth!  Now, I'm sure Elizabeth had felt her baby move before.  She gives birth to John soon after this story, so she was far enough along in her pregnancy that she would be feeling John's movements often.  But this time, the Holy Spirit gives Elizabeth great understanding of the wonderful situation she had found herself in.  She says, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

And upon hearing this, Mary worships.  There is no other way to respond in the situation!  She is a young teenager who has just been told she will be the mother of the Messiah.  She makes a surprise visit to her cousin who already knows not only that she is pregnant, but is pregnant with the Savior!  And baby John was excited for his Savior to be present!

You see, I was able to share this story with the children in my class.  I never said the words pro-life, abortion, pro-choice, etc... I didn't even touch the topic, because I don't have to!  It would never occur to these kids that other women, maybe the same age as Mary was, would pay someone to kill the baby within them, after reading this story along with other scriptures we looked at.

I opened class by asking each of them to write down things they knew God had planned for them - either because they were things that already happened or because of promises in scripture.  Then I asked each of them to write down things they had planned for themselves, for their future.  Then we discussed that God had planned for us to either have dark hair, or green eyes, or a pointy chin, or to be a boy or a girl, to have certain parents, to have certain siblings, to live in a certain place in the world.  And then after they had shared what they planned for their futures, we discussed how those plans might change or may never be fulfilled, just because life happens and changes plans. 

Then we read Psalm 139 and talked about how God could see every baby in their mother's womb before we ever had the technology to see inside.  "For you formed my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother's womb... My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret... Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of... the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."  We talked about how even though there is much about God that is a mystery to us, there is nothing that is a mystery about us to God.  And then we had some fun looking at how technology has advanced in helping us see babies in the womb.


Then we read Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."  Now, in that scripture God was speaking to Jeremiah.  But the application is for all of us, for every baby ever conceived!  That before they were formed in the womb, God had a plan, a purpose, for each person!  Even in John's story that I spoke of earlier, the angel Gabriel visited John's father and told him that John would be the one who prepared others' hearts for the soon-coming Messiah!  John's job was picked out before his mother ever carried him in her womb!  How amazing is that?!

I looked at each child and said, "You too have been created, formed, developed, born, and raised for a purpose.  A purpose that may be fun, maybe not.  But no matter the purpose, it is God-given and God-glorifying.  It is only your job to discover what purpose that is!"

So they might become the "famous painter", "ballerina", "veterinarian", or the "I.T. guy" that they said they wanted to become; they may not.  But at the end, when their lives have passed, they will see that God has purpose in it all.  In all of us.

And I pray that on the horrible day when their ignorance of abortion is ended (because eventually they will hear about it), they will see the truth as God sees it, how God defines it... that every person, born or unborn, is made in the image of God and given life for a God-given purpose.

May those of us blessed to have life outside the womb spend our lives pointing to the One who gives life and hopefully the hearts that would want to end life would be changed.

Ya know what was such a blessing on top of all this?  After Sunday School, when all the kids were back with their parents, and I was singing with my church family, I was surprised and amused when the worship leader started to quote from Psalm 139 and played a song based on that section of scripture.  He had no idea that there were kids from ages 3-12 scattered all around that sanctuary that had just spend some time thinking on this section of God's truth from His Word.

And I said a prayer that the seeds in their hearts would blossom into a garden of change... that they will be apart of generation who looks and thinks back on these past 42 years of legal abortion as the same as I see Hitler and slave owners... I pray it is common to have families in every neighborhood with foster kids, adopted kids, and effective pregnancy centers.  I pray their hearts are bigger than my parents' generation.  I pray their voices are louder than my generation's.  I pray love and truth reign in their lives.

And all I did was open the book to teach the next lesson in the curriculum book.  God will do the rest.

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