A Day at the Clinic
A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine messaged me that she wanted to get more involved with the efforts to end abortion. She is an amazing prayer warrior and such a Godly woman so I was thrilled she wanted to know how to get involved, and more importantly, how her church can get involved. We need more churches actively fighting to end abortion. As I heard one woman say, “Christians are the reason abortion still exists.” That is so sad yet so true.
Christian individuals and Christian churches must take action to abolish abortion. However, too many are absolutely silent on this issue! They may say they are “pro-life” because they support pregnancy centers, but they won’t openly expose the evil truth about abortion. And it takes addressing both sides of this issue for us to abolish abortion and save the lives of the innocent unborn.
I shared with my friend several different ways she can get involved in the fight to end abortion.
Ultimately what I told my friend though, regardless of what area she ends up serving, she has to come to the sidewalk with me to see what it’s like. Even though the sidewalk ministry may not be where she works to end abortion, she must go in order to witness firsthand the battleground where abortion is happening. In her words, she compared it to going on a mission trip to better understand overseas missions, though you may not be called overseas.
So she did just that.
Last Friday morning we went to the local abortion clinic together. I chose Friday because that is one of the killing days (as opposed to a consult day) so she could see what the clinic workers were like and what it might be like to save a baby. And boy did she get a full experience!
As we parked on a side road and approached the clinic, I pointed out that the facility is just called a “Women’s Clinic." Were it not for the pro-life ministry on the sidewalk, most people in this city would have no idea what is going on here. Whereas if it were a Planned Parenthood, everyone would know they were in the business of killing babies. But this clinic disguises that fact from passers-by (although their website makes it perfectly clear their main service is abortion).
The set up for this particular clinic, I’ve been told, is one of the most hostile to pro-life work in the southeastern region. The building entrance is on the back side, the door farthest from the street. They have recently installed a large speaker on the side of the building blaring music. The “deathscorts,” as we appropriately call them since they are escorting women and their babies in for death, are all holding large umbrellas and a smaller upright speaker blaring music. As soon as a car pulls into the parking lot, the deathscorts rush to surround the car, open those umbrellas, and crank up the volume. All of this serves to shield women from seeing and hearing the pro-life people on the sidewalk.
The deathscorts don’t want any woman to be told by a sidewalk person that they don’t have to kill their baby. Deathscorts don't want the women to hear that we will give them any money they need to help with their prenatal care, or that we will fully stock their nursery for their baby, or that there are families standing there ready and willing to adopt their baby, or that we can provide any other kind of help they may need to keep their baby. No, the deathscorts don’t want the woman to know there are life-giving choices available to her. They want her to only choose one thing – abortion.
Why? Well, as we watched the owner of the clinic drive in with his Escalade, my friend saw for herself why. The abortionist’s Mercedes and the owner’s Cadillac are why they want women to abort. Abortion is a lucrative industry.
Many people ask if there is shouting from the sidewalk? Absolutely. But shouting at people seems so ugly! Aren’t we just being mean to these vulnerable women, like the media portrays? We have to ask why we are shouting. The shouting is so we can be heard over all the efforts of the clinic to silence us. It is to be heard over the umbrellas and the loud speakers and at the back of the parking lot. The shouting is so these women can hear the last cry for help and hope that they will ever get before they kill their babies.
The deathscorts are doing everything they can to drown out the voices of hope and help. They work to stop these women from the last possibility of choosing life. So we shout in order to be heard. Besides, if it were you inside that womb about to be dismembered alive, wouldn’t you want people shouting in order to save you?
The woman faced with an unexpected, unplanned, unwanted pregnancy is in a vulnerable and difficult situation. She is desperate. She has been deceived by the clinic workers and by culture telling them that her only solution is to kill her child. She is deceived by the lie that her life would be better if she killed her baby. She is possibly* choosing abortion because she thinks there is no other option.
For this woman, we are shouting words of hope and help. “Come talk to us.” “Let us help you.” “You don’t have to do this.” “There are other options.” These are life-giving words to help a desperate woman. For her, we need to be tender and loving, yet that is hard to do when you must shout over the umbrellas and the blaring music in the 10 seconds it takes them to walk across the parking lot.
The other type of person is the wicked. These are the clinic workers. These people’s hearts have been so hardened to the mass murder taking place inside that building. They curse at those who are trying to help. They dance around and celebrate when babies are murdered. They sing songs cheering aborted babies. They taunt the sidewalk workers. We heard one clinic worker shout sarcastically to us, “Did you save any babies today?” They call the police if a sidewalk person has a toe on their grass, more incensed over accidental trespassing than murder.
The words for those people need to lead them to conviction for what they are doing. By analogy, what type of words would you have for the Nazi guard leading the Jews into the gas chamber? Or for a slave owner whipping a slave? The wicked need words to pierce their hearts and awaken them to the evil they are committing.
As we walk up to the building, the head deathscort approaches us with a camera as a means of intimidating us away from the sidewalk. Since I clearly don’t care whether they film me or not, I smile and wave. She flips me the bird and cusses at me. We were greeted by other sidewalk ministers though, which gives everyone a little encouragement. We are all from so many different backgrounds yet united in the fight for life. Ironically, nearly all the people on the sidewalk that day are not from the city of this abortion clinic. Yet this city boasts over 120 churches, not counting the surrounding suburbs. Where are this city’s residents in this fight to end abortion? Where are this city’s churches?
I began explaining to my friend the rules of this particular sidewalk, where you can stand and not stand. How you can cross the entrance to the other sidewalk but not stand in the entrance. How you can’t step on the grass or they’ll call the police for trespassing. how twice they have driven a car up onto the sidewalk, aimed directly at a sidewalk worker. How you can shout to try to be heard over all their noise, but not shout too loud or they will call the police for a noise violation. The clinic makes sure any minor offense is reported to the police so they can murder unborn babies without interference.
Since Fridays are killing days, those are the clinic’s busy days. We notice the full parking lot and are overwhelmed with a wave of grief for how many women are inside that very moment having their babies pulled apart limb from limb inside the womb. We stood there quietly as I held my sign which read, “Killing an innocent person is never the solution to the problem. Let us help.” Then a different deathscort flipped me off and cursed me. I ignored her.
As we walked across the driveway to the other side of the sidewalk, we noticed three police cars pull into the parking lot. The officers approached the sidewalk ministers on the other side of the road. All the deathscorts rushed over with their phones pulled out to film everything. They had called the police because one of the gentlemen had been praying out loud. And they didn’t like it.
During all of that commotion on the opposite sidewalk, a young Latina drove into the parking lot. I was hoping the police distraction would allow me to actually talk to her directly, but a deathscort noticed her too and rushed over with her umbrella so the young woman could not see me. However, I found if I moved farther down the sidewalk I could get around the view of the umbrella and make eye contact with her. You could tell she had been crying and she kept burying her face in her hands. My friend was pacing the sidewalk behind me, praying fiercely for this young woman.
I called out to the young woman, “Please don’t do this. You don’t have to do this. We can help you. Just come talk to us.” In response to me, the deathscort flipped me off and fired up her chant, “Mind your own business. Go away!” This display of ugliness from the deathscorts in response to someone offering to help would weigh heavily in the mind of a young girl unsure of what to do next. I called out, “These women don’t care about you. We care about you. Please let us help.” The deathscort began chanting again as she was joined by two other volunteer deathscorts.
I found their yelling that to be terribly ironic. “Mind your own business”? Why have they made it their business to make sure these girls kill their babies? “Go away”? Why don’t they go away? If they really are about “choice,” why are they refusing these women any chance at hearing the life-giving choices they actually have? Why do they have such a vested interest in making sure a woman kills her baby?
Why have these clinic workers made it their business to make sure these girls kill their babies?
In the meantime, three of our sidewalk ministers are being handcuffed and put into the police cruisers to be taken downtown. For what? For voicing an opinion. For offering help to woman in a crisis pregnancy. For trying to save a life. For peacefully protesting the murder of the innocent. Isn’t this what our Constitution protects? Aren’t we allowed to stand on a public sidewalk and voice our dissent? I wanted to run to the people inside the building and tell them, “We are willing to get arrested to save the life of your baby. These people want to take your money to kill your baby.”
could see me around the umbrellas. There were now four clinic workers, including one man, who kept shouting for me to mind my own business and go away. But I was not going to leave the sight of this woman. After I long time, she cracked her window and said something to the clinic workers. I have no idea what she said, but I knew she had chosen life by the reaction of the clinic workers. The deathscorts snapped those umbrellas shut and stormed off from the car. I continued to pray. She backed her car up and pulled out of that wretched parking lot.
As she pulled onto the street, she was crying and waving. She slowed down as she passed me, and we smiled at each other. I waved and told her I loved her. I wish she had stopped so I could give her a big hug. But I knew in that moment as she drove away she had chosen life for her sweet, innocent, defenseless baby.
I had such a rush of tears of joy and overwhelming gratitude to God for those answered prayers, and for the role I got to play in helping her have the confidence and courage to choose life.
But then I thought about the two teenage girls who had gone in together earlier. I thought about the man who walked his girlfriend inside. I looked at all those cars in the parking lot. And I grieved again in my heart. Though we saved a baby that day, we had three people arrested and at least 12 other babies who were not so fortunate to survive their mothers’ decisions.
The sidewalk ministry is tough. It is a true, spiritual battleground. But if you’ve ever said #blacklivesmatter and you support peaceful protests, then this is a battleground you can’t neglect. At this clinic, 60% of the abortions performed are on black babies. If you’ve ever said #alllivesmatter and you support peaceful protests, then this is a battleground you can’t neglect. This is where lives of all color, gender, and creed are being torn from the mother’s womb.
crisis centers are choosing life and asking for help. But many women are not even going go the crisis pregnancy center. There must be a voice to help those women and their babies who are already choosing abortion.
If you think that some things aren’t done right at the sidewalk, then come out and do it differently. Come out and change it. If you think it doesn’t really work, say that to the little baby who was saved out there on Friday. I’m fully convinced if we had not been out there that day, that woman would have chosen differently. Our presence, our encouragement, our on-the-spot prayers made a difference. It saved her life and her baby’s.
The Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious law, which includes the biblical, the Talmudic, and the Rabbinic law, as well as the Jewish customs and traditions. There is one law for religious, civil, and criminal law. Therefore, when a person committed blasphemy, a religious violation where a person claims to be equal with God, they would be tried through the same courts as if they had stolen or committed murder.
The Halakha provided strict rules for how trials were to proceed in order to maintain a fair system of legal justice and to administer the law honestly. However, this legal system, as all others, operated under the hands of sinful men and thus, failed to always operate in fairness and honesty. In first century Judea, the religious leaders stoned Stephen in the streets, several times they picked up rocks to stone Jesus, and they were going to stone the woman caught in adultery. These examples violated the Halakha to fairly seek justice.
When a person was properly charged with a crime and taken to trial, there were specific rules for how the trial was to proceed.
John 18:12 – [At night] Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
John 18:19-23 – The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.” And when He said these things one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand saying, Do you answer the high priest like that?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
John 18:24 - Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Matthew 26:57-60a – And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end. Now the chief priests, the elders and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward they found none.
Mark 14:55-56 – Now the chief priest and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.
Matthew 26:60b - But at least two false witnesses came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
Mark 14:57-59 - Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another made without hands.” But not even then did their testimony agree.
Matthew 26:62- 68 - And the high priest arose (Caiaphas) and said to Him, “Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?”
They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palm of their hands, saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”
Mark 14:65 – Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” and the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.
Luke 22:65 – And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.
After reading how trials were supposed to be conducted and reading how the trial of Jesus was conducted, we see the council violated their own laws in their rush to convict Jesus. Jesus was arrested and tried at night at the house of the high priest, not in the Temple during the daytime. The trial was not open to the public. The charges were brought forward by the council not by a third party. And the charges were never read aloud because they didn’t even know what to charge him with at first. Jesus was not granted any defense, on the contrary, was asked to incriminate himself. No credible witnesses were brought forward. The only evidence presented was hearsay from perjured testimony stirred up by the council itself. These witnesses should have been subject to the same punishment that awaited Jesus.
The vote for conviction was not taken individually from the youngest member to the oldest but was declared by the high priest. There was no two day waiting period until sentencing, nor a three day waiting period before execution. There was no fasting and praying by the council to consider the weight of the decision to execute someone. Mercy was not valued.
When Jesus was arrested there was never even a pretense of justice. The trial was a ruse for them to execute Jesus. The verdict and death sentence were not based on careful consideration of full impartial evidence and testimony. All legal decorum had been tossed aside as they spat on and slapped Jesus.
The charge they finally landed on for conviction was that of blasphemy. Jesus did indeed claim to be God, but this is only a blasphemous statement if you are not God. According to Leviticus 24:16, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him.” The punishment for blasphemy is stoning. Why was Jesus crucified then? Because in God’s Sovereignty, the Roman empire was ruling over Judea and the Jews were unable to carry out an execution. This was why the high priest needed Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, to agree to execute Jesus. The Roman form of execution for any non-Roman citizen was crucifixion, thus fulfilling the Scripture that his bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20 and Numbers 9:12) and that He would be pierced for our transgressions (Zechariah 12:10 and Isaiah 53:5).
Of course the trial before Pilate was not a real trial either. There were no witnesses nor evidence provided, only the charges brought forward by the Sanhedrin. In even this though, Pilate seemed more concerned about mercy for a man who appeared innocent than any of the Sanhedrin did. Scripture even tells us that he sought a way to release Jesus. But alas, he feared men more than God. As the angry mob chanted, “Crucify Him!” Pilate released to them Barabbas and sent Jesus to be executed.
But we must remember, none of this happened without God allowing this as part of His divine plan. As Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” God was in complete control, and this was the appointed time He chose to redeem His creation by sacrificing Himself in their place.
Last night I did something I have never done before. I prepared a Passover Seder meal for our family. We started by reading the original institution of the Passover in Exodus 12. We stood there in our robes and sandals with sticks as our walking staffs. I had saved some blood from the lamb I roasted, and we painted that around the front door. Then we went upstairs (my son’s suggestion to be like eating in the upper room) to eat the Passover meal. We ate the bitter herbs to remind us of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. We dipped the bitter vegetables into the salty water to remind us of their tears while in bondage. We broke and passed the unleavened bread to remind us that the Israelites fled quickly. We ate of the lamb, the spotless lamb, chosen as the sacrifice, whose blood would cover over them as God’s judgment passed through the land.
It was a beautiful reminder of the reason why Jesus left Heaven to come down to earth. But the Passover instituted in Exodus and observed since then was just a picture. A symbol. The perfect had not yet come. The real Passover Lamb had not yet been sacrificed.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law or the Scriptures, but to fulfill it. Christianity is an extension of Judaism, the final conclusion to the cliff-hanger given in Malachi for the story God began in Genesis. God had promised out of His love for His creation to provide a remedy for the brokenness that sin had caused.
God said in the garden that one day a Savior would come to crush the head of the serpent forever. He promised Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed. He promised David that of His kingdom there would be no end. And when God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt it was a perfect picture of the rescue that would one day be for all people.
God instructed the Israelites to observe this Passover feast and told them that they should “keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” (Exodus 12: 14) This is the feast that Jesus was having with His disciples in the upper room.
Though they didn’t understand it at the time, Jesus was showing them how He was fulfilling the Passover by being the sacrificial Lamb. He said, “This is my body broken for you and this is my blood poured out for you,” yet they still did not understand.
After the resurrection Jesus interpreted to the disciples on the road to Emmaus “all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 23:27) And to the disciples in the upper room He said, “’These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 23:44-47).
It is from understanding the Old Testament – the Scriptures – that we can see what Jesus was doing. He was the perfect, spotless Lamb who went willingly and silently to the altar. It is His blood that covers over us and protects us from the wrath of God’s just judgment on our sin. It is by His sacrifice that God breaks the chains of our slavery to sin. It was His body broken and His blood poured out so that we could live.
But, just like the Egyptians, if you refuse the blood of the Lamb, if you refuse to acknowledge the one true God and trust in His promises, then you will face the just judgment of your sins.
The Egyptians didn’t listen to the warnings God gave them. They trusted in their own strength, in their false gods, and in their own wisdom. They did not trust in God’s mercy and did not fear God’s wrath. That is a terrible place to be in because both of those are very real things. Do not delay in turning your heart to God and trusting in the blood of Jesus to cover over your sins.
During this festival, the time of Jesus had finally come. The perfect, unblemished sacrifice would be made, only this time it would be once and for all. As John the Baptist proclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
Over the next few days, as we remember the sacrifice Jesus made, I want to leave you with a few verses from the book of Hebrews that tie together the Old Testament Passover lamb to the New Testament Lamb of God.
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
This Easter will be a little different than our typical Easter celebrations. With the social distancing and isolation in place, there won’t be the large church services with new spring dresses, the family gatherings for lunch, or the community egg hunts.
But instead of looking at what this Easter will be missing, choose this time to refocus Easter on what Easter is actually all about. We can celebrate this Easter more like the first Easter – in quiet awe of the miracle of the resurrection.
On that first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene went alone to the tomb when she saw the resurrected Jesus. She fell at His feet in worship then ran to the tell the others (Matthew 28:9-10). When John and Peter heard the news, they ran to investigate for themselves, then went home to tell their families (John 20:3-10). The disciples on the road to Emmaus were taught by the resurrected Jesus how the Old Testament scriptures had been fulfilled in Him (Luke 24:25-27). The disciples were together in the upper room when the resurrected Jesus appeared to them. Jesus showed them His hands and His feet, and Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-27). And Jesus taught them from the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms so they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:40-45).
This Easter, may we fall at the feet of Jesus and worship Him, and then run to tell others the good news. May we investigate the accounts of Jesus and the empty tomb to understand its truth, and then teach our families. May we consider His wounds and cry out to Him as our Lord and our God. May we study the Scriptures to comprehend what He has done for us.
In my last post, I talked about ways not to study the Bible. This post has suggestions on how to establish a devoted time to properly study the Bible.
Once you establish good practices of studying the Bible, these are things to help you understand God’s Word as you study.
These are good ideas for how to approach the study of scripture. But where do you start? Thankfully, we are blessed in this nation to have access to so many tools to help you study God's Word.
Study Bibles are a great start. They give explanations, introductions, outlines of the text, cross-references, and notes. The marginal notes will help you with dates, places, and expanded definitions of words. They’ll also have maps and a topical index.
Concordances can also help look up any word found in the Bible. You could even get a topical Bible that organizes Scripture based on a special area of interest, like prayer, marriage, or salvation.
Bible dictionaries, timelines, maps, and atlases can help too.
There are also commentaries for every book in the Bible. Those are entire books dedicated to expounding on the text found within one book in the Bible. It’s a good idea to have more than one commentary – not all theologians agree on certain passages. The commentary can put the book in context and give a deeper appreciation for God’s Word.
From my personal experience, for many years I tried the 5-minute devotional for my quiet time. It always left me with this shallow feeling, like I wasn’t really learning anything new. It seemed just fluff and “feel good-isms” to help you just start the day in a good mood.
And I think I felt that way for good reason. Those five-minute devotionals are shallow. It was a fluffy feel-good story that you could apply to anything you wanted, with no depth and no context.
No wonder I left my quiet times feeling so unfulfilled! We can’t be fulfilled with God’s word in only 5 minutes with just some fluff application of a random few verses. How can you really even effectively apply those random few verses if you have no greater context? When you have no appreciation for the author or the setting?
The quote “et tu, Brute?” only has impact because we understand the characters, the context, and what was at stake. The impact of Scripture comes when we understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
We can’t live out the Scriptures and stand firm on God's Word in the face of persecution, scoffing, and criticism if we don’t understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
How can we defend God’s word to the world if we don’t truly know what it says? How can we answer criticisms about God’s character from certain passages if we don’t understand it in context; if we’ve only read a random selection of verses scattered across the Bible?
So think seriously about how you approach reading God’s word. The more you are in it, the more you will want to be. If you only dabble in enough Bible reading to fill a few minutes each week, then you’ll never feed your soul or move from the milk of babies to the steak of the mature walk.
We all stand in awe of the strength of faith of men like Paul, and David, and Abraham. But they had that strong faith because they were daily committed to knowing God. We can’t just sit back and wish we had that walk yet do nothing differently in our daily life to have that. If you never spend time with God, then how could you ever live a life like Daniel?
Why do we study the Bible? To know God; to enjoy and love God; to understand His commands; to learn direction in life; to find comfort and hope; to let God expose our innermost thoughts and desires; to become pure and holy; to obey the Great Commandment: to love God with all of our being.