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Yesterday I had such a wondrous time reading Matthew chapters 5-7 — just alone time with my God and me. I started from the Beatitudes to the end of Christ’s words, and His teaching just struck me as so amazing. Stuff I had heard before, but for some reason I was seeing with new eyes. Like, He says, when your enemy forces you to go one mile with him, you should go with him two miles. Or if he sues you for your tunic, give him your coat also. Wow, how counter-intuitive! How totally lacking in bitterness — what a hard, amazing thing. He’s really saying, in a nutshell, to repay evil with good, to give to your opponent even when you are the one wronged.

THAT takes a lot of maturity — maturity in becoming Christlike. I was just thinking through these three chapters how a lot of it is about our relationships and our character-building — what righteousness is is Christlike character! The whole Christian experience is growing in that character so that we reflect God’s own perfect character. And all the things Christ was saying in these chapters — so counter-intuitive, against your expectations kind of things — it just made me realize how smart, wise Christ is.

Did you ever ponder how He is pretty smart, I mean, like you admire how other people are smart? I’ve been noticing the ingenuity of God lately, like how His greatest act of glory (redemption of fallen humans) is through His greatest humiliation (the cross)! I mean, how genius is that? Who ever thought of winning through utter defeat, giving life through death — that’s just mind-blowing!

My sis and I really started appreciating this because we’re trying to write a novel, and we come up with these story twists and character growths. And then we apply what we’re doing with what God’s doing, and suddenly we see how awesome God is — He is the greatest Storyteller ever. How He ever came up with the cross is astounding. He’s a person who wants to show His great glory — and yet He shows His greatest glory by becoming a weak, poor, tortured man who dies a criminal’s death on the cross. What’s with that — I mean, if I was trying to show my glory, that’s not the way I’d go about it! I’d blast the world with light or something and just everyone will be at their knees. That’s how we’d all do it.

But not God. He really has a humble streak in Him — He loves showing power through weakness, glory through meekness. O how beautiful — can’t you see how incredible He is! God is a genius — we talk about how loving or holy or merciful He is, but has anybody ever just thought of how He’s just so smart, so genius to come up with such a counter-intuitive way of showing all His glory in the most defeating way? Amazing! Awesome! Now He’s Someone to really admire — to revere and worship and just stand in awe!

What Love Is via How to Train Your Dragon

To me, the most beautiful virtues are humility and selflessness. In watching my favorite movie, How to Train Your Dragon, I realize that it is the characters’ incredible self-denial that keeps me coming back to them time and time again. In the music videos I create and in the stories I make of them, it is these virtues I want to express, because it is this character that forms the foundation of all other beauties: kindness, understanding, and love.

I invite you to read of the excellency of what true love is, via Paul, and to see how that is done, via How to Train Your Dragon:

I Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

“Imagine, if you can, that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was. Your patient today is 24 weeks pregnant (LMP). At twenty-four weeks from last menstrual period, her uterus is two finger-breadths above the umbilicus. If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half, from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump, not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last month or more, but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.”

So goes part of the testimony Anthony Levatino gave on May 17, 2012, to the US House of Representatives regarding the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803). As an abortion-performing obstetrician/gynecologist for many years, he has performed about 1200 abortions — “over 100 of them were second-trimester Suction D&E procedures up to 24 weeks gestation.” He has first-hand experience on the reality of abortion. And he reveals the world of abortion in raw blow-by-blow detail:

“The first task is to remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix, the opening to the uterus, to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately • of an inch in diameter. Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine, which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid the looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her.

With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the business end are located jaws about 2 inches long and about 1/2 an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can. At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard – really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face may come out and stare back at you. Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second-trimester Suction D&E abortion.

If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.

Before I close, I want to make a comment on the claims that I often hear that we must keep abortion legal in order to save women’s lives, or prevent grave physical health damage, in cases of acute conditions that can and do arise in pregnancy. Albany Medical Center, where I worked for over seven years, is a tertiary referral center that accepts patients with life-threatening conditions related to or caused by pregnancy. I personally treated hundreds of women with such conditions in my tenure there. There are several conditions that can arise or worsen, typically during the late second or third trimester of pregnancy, that require immediate care. In many of those cases, ending or “terminating” the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life saving, but “terminating a pregnancy” does not necessarily mean “abortion.” I maintain that abortion is seldom if ever a useful intervention in these cases.

Here is why: Before a Suction D&E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D&E. In the mid-second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. If one were to use the alternate method defined in federal law as Partial-Birth Abortion (but now generally banned), this process requires three days, as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.

In cases where a pregnancy places a woman in danger of death or grave physical injury, a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem. Let me illustrate with a real-life case that I managed while at the Albany Medical Center. A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia. Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. A normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well. This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics. In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion “to save the mother’s life” would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care. During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating” pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.”

Testimony of Anthony Levatino, MD, JD before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives on The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803)
May 17, 2012

Did you know who helped end the entire slave trade in England? He was a Christian in politics named William Wilberforce. Sometimes he would wear chains while in the legislative hall to wake up his fellowmen to the plight of the slaves. He followed God and His will to the ends of the earth, to places even where he was ridiculed. How much we need such a faith as he had! I’ve been reading a modern form of his work, Real Christianity, and it is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

He not only helped end slavery, but his writings and example helped inspire a whole nation to turn back to God. He wrote what it means to have authentic faith in Christ. One of the great principles of authentic faith is a true heart of humility before God:

As we grow in Christian maturity, we will also grow in humility. This is the primary principle on which vital faith rests. To the degree that humility grows, so grows our vitality. To the degree it diminishes, our vitality will also diminish. From beginning to end, authentic faith is based on humility. It takes humility to acknowledge our true state before God and throw ourselves on His mercy. It takes humility to recognize that nothing we can do can change the true state of our heart; only surrender to Christ and opening our heart to the Holy Spirit can enable us to change at all. How we relate to God, to ourselves and to our fellow men and women is all a function of the humility we possess” (Real Christianity, paraphrase of Wilberforce, pp. 176-7).

What is humility? How can we obtain it? Humility, according to the dictionary, is a modest or low view of oneself, being synonymous with humbleness. But I think it is more than just that – it is acknowledging the truth about ourselves. We are naturally an arrogant species – we almost always have a problem with thinking better of ourselves than we actually are. Thus, to really view ourselves as we are in reality, it is imperative that we see ourselves as lower than we otherwise would, because our tendency is to over-inflate our worth. To get to the truth, we must be humble.

One key to finding humility is introspective reflection. We need to examine our hearts to see not just our strengths, but also our faults. And not just the easy faults, like a quick temper, but the sins that stretch deeply into the fabric of our souls, sins that may be looked upon by the culture as good or that are so deeply hidden in our thoughts that others don’t even know they’re there. It is extremely easy to overlook sin – this is probably the easiest thing men on earth do.

I’ve seen it in my life. There are times when I would never suspect I was sinning, but then circumstances revealed otherwise:

There was a time when one of my dreams was to send hundreds of balloons across the world with Gospel tracts attached to them. I’d imagine that I’d figure out the wind patterns so that the balloons would peter out and fall down over Christian-persecuting countries such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea so that the people there could hear the Gospel. Sounds like a pretty neat, unique plan, right?

I thought so. I was happy to have such a unique idea and I dreamed of doing it.

But then one day I heard that Christian South Koreans were already sending balloons with tracts into North Korea. When I heard the news, for a second my heart felt disappointed. Since I’m an introspective person, I pondered: “Why, Rowena, are you disappointed about South Koreans finding an ingenious way of sharing the Gospel?”

I was disappointed because I was sad that someone already had my idea. I liked the uniqueness of the idea so much that when I saw someone else using it, I felt that “my idea” had already been used. What a terrible reaction I had – here when I should be praising God for the spreading of the Gospel, I was instead sad that someone was using “my idea” (which never really was mine).

I’ve thought of this example many times because it shows the super-subtle nature of sin and pride, the antithesis to true humility:

First, what was wrong with my original thought? I wanted to share the Gospel of God. That’s good. I wanted to share it with peoples who could hardly find God on their own. That’s good. I thought of a way to reach these people. That’s good. Everything here is worthy and good – everything as you would want if you were following God and doing His will.

But the greatness of the idea went to my head. My pride stealthily crept in, and I was totally unaware of it until I heard of someone else having the idea before me. Just imagine for a second if I never heard about the South Koreans sending Gospel balloons to North Korea. Would I have known that I was sinning in my pride? No! My pride was mixed in with my good motives of serving God, so that I had no knowledge of it until circumstances brought it to light.

This type of sinning and pride is much subtler than the “obvious” sins of adultery, murder, stealing, etc. It’s easy to see if we are or are not committing such sins. But sins of the heart are much trickier and deceptive. That’s why the path to humility must first be launched on a path of self-reflection, to see the motives and attitudes of our true heart. We need to know the sin in us before we will bow in humility before God.

I’ll give another example, then you should think of your own. When I go with my family to shop at Winco (a great, low-priced place to shop!), my sister and I personally bag our groceries (that’s Winco’s policy – self-bagging). Everybody’s bagging their own groceries. Sometimes I see another girl, about the same age as I am, bagging with her family. If she is kind of geeky-looking or shy, I feel empathy and friendliness towards her. But if she has lots of makeup and looks like a hot-shot beauty, I start to feel less friendly and more competitive. I start thinking about how vain she is.

But as I dwell on her faults, what does that say about me? I was empathetic with the less-pretty, less sophisticated girl (compared to me), but was more competitive with the more-pretty, sophisticated girl (compared to me). Sounds like I’m comparing myself. When I see someone less “attractive” than myself, my pride is not threatened, and I may even feel a sense of superiority over her that I hide as empathy. I would have never known this was my superiority-complex rising up had it not been for my negative reaction to a girl more attractive than myself. Suddenly, my true feelings well up.

I’m sure something like this has happened to you. Right now, just reflect on your own thoughts and reactions towards yourself and others. Don’t think for the moment how this article can really be applied to that prideful, obnoxious so-and-so you know – we need to reflect on our hearts first and foremost.

It’s so easy to apply what you are reading right now to someone you know instead of yourself. It’s fine to apply it to people you know. A couple people right now come to my mind who can learn a thing or two about humility! Can’t you just feel your thoughts naming them right now? I remember instances where someone was arguing how people are hypocrites, and then my mind flashes with all the hypocritical things they’ve done! It seems so clear that they are acting hypocritical – why can’t they see it? Why can’t they see all the faults in themselves that everyone else sees?

One reason they can’t see their own faults is because when they hear about certain sins, like pride, selfishness, unlovingness, etc., their minds immediately come up with other people guilty of these travesties, and not themselves. We – our own minds – always are astute to see others committing sins, but are blind towards our own.

That’s why I’m emphasizing here that, rather than just applying these saying to other people, apply them to yourself. To yourself. Not anyone else in that room with you. Self-reflect on your own actions and thoughts.

  1. Are you focusing your thoughts and actions on God?

  2. Are you thinking about yourself most of the time?

  3. Do you think highly of yourself? If you do, think what reasons you base this high opinion. Is pride stealthily creeping into your attitude towards yourself?

  4. Do you show false humility? For example, if you berate yourself for your faults, and if someone agrees with you, are you mad at them for agreeing with your negative self-assessment? If you negatively view yourself, are you really trying to gain sympathy from others?

  5. When you do “good” actions (such as the balloon-tract idea I had), are you really doing it from pure good motives to praise God, or are your motives mixed with self-pride or self-gain for recognition, etc.?

Doing “good” actions from self-serving motives is probably the most widespread sin on earth – so watch yourself extremely carefully in this area. “Big sins” like murder, lying, and cheating are easy to spot and refrain from, but such sins as seeking for self-adoration from gifts of charity are so hard to see that we often label them as the highest good in society. In all probability, most of the “good things” we do are laced with bad motives.

So if you’re striving for humility, the first step is to accurately assess your own sins. By reflecting on your day-to-day actions and attitudes towards God, others, and yourself, you will see the extent of your own sinfulness, and thus humility will grow in you. You will see why you were under judgment as a sinner before your salvation, and why God is so awesomely amazing to save you from your sins now. When you see yourself as you really are, you will be awed by God even more and learn to say, “Let You increase, and me decrease.”

I’ve often wondered how to be humble. If I start thinking myself as obtaining humbleness, is it really humility or is it self-righteousness? One little test to see how humble you are is if your thoughts revolve around God and others instead of yourself. If you think and meditate so much on God, then you won’t have time to think about yourself and whether or not you’re humble! Rather than wondering how humble you are, you will be living the humble life experientially as you experience God and seek His will alone for your life. Focusing on God is the key to becoming humble. We forget ourselves and melt into His presence and enjoy Him more than anything in the world.

When we long to be His servant and to make ourselves less than Him, we receive the joy of true humility as found in authentic faith.

If I’m Pregnant – What Should I Do?

As a young person still doing my schooling and living with my parents, I would be in big trouble if I got pregnant. Already my schooling takes up the vast majority of my time; when I’m not doing schooling, I’m watching shows at night or trying to have some enjoying-time in-between all the activities that take up the day. If I had a baby now, my whole life would be turned upside down . . .

Since I’m not married or anything, having a baby would be a lot of trouble, and someone may advise me to have an abortion. There’s all this controversy about abortion, with people picking prochoice or prolife sides and shouting slogans at one another: “It’s a woman’s right to choose.” “Abortion’s murder!” “Get out of my uterus.” “Give your baby a chance.”

Though I’m not having a baby and so I don’t have to worry about deciding what to do, maybe you do have to worry about it. Maybe very soon, you have to face that choice, and lots of people are going to tell you what to do.

But “it’s my choice, right?” Yes, it’s your choice. The question is, what will you choose? Are you in this difficult situation? Many other people have had to make hard choices. If it helps you, this movie I saw presents an interesting choice to seven young people who change their minds 180 degrees! I really had fun watching it – and a couple times I cried. Beginning first with a challenging scenario about what you would do in 1930s Nazi Germany if you were forced at gunpoint to do something horrible, this little 33 minutes swings to the present-day and asks a question that turned its seven interviewees’ minds upside down:

For more information, check out: prochoice, prolife, abortion, and If You’re Pregnant.

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