Friday, April 1, 2016

The Life Cube Project, a burnt offering to a false god

Perhaps you've been invited to this event in downtown Las Vegas this weekend. Or at least you've heard about it on the news, seen it on Facebook or read about it in a local magazine. This is the second year it's taken place in Vegas (last time was in 2014) and as I think about it more and more, I can't help but want to address the worship of false gods in our culture, in our nation and in this city in particular. I know, it sounds like something coming straight out of left field, especially for this blog. But I can't help but not tackle this one. And that's because the Life Cube Project is the epitome of idol worship.

Here's why.

I get it. It sounds innocuous enough. It sounds beautiful and creative and like something the community can gather together around and agree on, especially in such a tumultuous time. Art, right? We can all agree that creativity and art and music are good things. We can all agree that they are beneficial to us and to our children. And I would say absolutely they are. After all, God, the Creator, gave us creativity. He designed us to be creative. At our core we are made to create and to work and to design because we are all made in His likeness and He is Creator. He gave us art and music and they are lovely. And along with that, He gave us the ability to dream and set goals and seek opportunities and work hard for those things.

But there is a major difference between what the Life Cube Project would have us do with those things and what God calls us to do.

So I guess before we look at what scripture would say about this seemingly innocent display of art and creativity, I should explain a little bit about what it is. I know there are many of you who probably haven't heard much, if anything about it. But as it gains popularity I feel the need to educate. Not only because it's happening at the center of our city, or because it's been so popular, but also because the creator of it and his team has been involving our schools, our children, in the project.

Here is what the creator posted about the preparation of the project 2 years ago:

"Last week we spoke to 440 students at a local elementary school and it was a magical moment.  Because of the impact it had on the kids, I have been asked to speak to another 1000 kids at various schools around town. We are also gifting cubes to schools, and meeting with as many students as possible to share the story of the project." source.

And on KNPR last week in an interview, Scott Cohen, the founder of the Life Cube Project, noted that for this year's project they have already passed 200 smaller life cubes out to 40 different schools and spoken to 15,000 children about participating.

That's concerning to me.

So what is the Life Cube Project? In a nutshell, it's a project, a piece of installation art, that this guy Scott Cohen developed, where a 3 story structure is erected in downtown Las Vegas. He has invited everyone and anyone to come and cover said structure in art of any kind over the course of a couple weeks. He also specifically encourages people to write their dreams and goals down on what he calls a "wish stick" and put it into the giant cube.

Then, on April 2 (this Saturday), they will set the entire thing on fire. All of the art, the poetry, the paintings and drawings, and all of the hopes and dreams and goals and wishes of the participants will go up in smoke, or as Cohen says, "go up into the universe" in an act that he describes as both spiritual and magical.

Sounds pretty weird, right? Or cool, I guess. Or, whatever.

But to me, it sounds like a burnt offering.

I mean, consider the language they use to describe the event. In a letter to his volunteers, Cohen writes, "Please plan to stop by and fill out a wish stick with your wishes, hopes, dreams or aspirations. They will be celebrated and sent to the universe in a fiery ceremony." Did you catch that? A fiery ceremony.

Not to mention all of the activities that have been offered and affiliated with the project since it has been open to the public, like sunrise yoga (yes, as a Christian I have issues with yoga, but that discussion is for another time and place), drum circles, Om chants, firedancing, chanting and praying (to whom I have no idea) and half naked entertainment. Sounds to me like the description of the Israelites worshiping a golden calf and engaging in orgies and drunkenness while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Law from God.

Which brings me back to what I was saying initially. There is a major difference between what the Life Cube Project would have us do with our creativity, with art and music, with our goals and aspirations and what God calls us to do. And it's the reason why I submit that no single Christian should have anything to do with this project, no matter how cool it may seem.

Romans 1:21-23 says, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." (emphasis mine).

In other words, man has a tendency to exchange the glory of God for idols, whether things we've created with our own hands or other things that we place as higher than God in our lives. It's what the Romans did then and it's exactly what we still do today. Idol worship these days isn't as blatant as offering burnt sacrifices before a carved statue, but if there is anything that remotely resembles that, I have to say, it's the Life Cube Project.

To worship anything or anyone other than God Himself, the Maker of art, the Maker of ideas and dreams and goals and passions, The Artist, The Designer, is pure idol worship. And we should never be involved in the worship of any part of creation.

And if we can take it a step further, consider that the Life Cube Project would have you lay all of those things down to be burned, as a burnt offering, to be "released into the universe" as some display of "magic" before a false god. Which one? Take your pick. It doesn't really matter. Sounds to me, though, that it's "the universe." The point is, it's a direct violation of both the first and second commandments:

"You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:3-6
We are to worship God alone and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God alone. All of that talent, that art, our creativity, our hopes and dreams, our goals and our aspirations, our work, our ability to design, it's for His glory alone. Not our's. Not anyone else's. And certainly it's not to be offered up to the universe. God alone deserves all the glory and honor and praise.

And as the creator of this project says himself, the act of burning these art displays, these dreams and these aspirations, watching them go up into the universe, is a "powerful" and "spiritual" thing. The underlying meaning of this whole project, whether we want to admit it or not, is spiritual and worshipful. There's no denying that.

As my husband said in a recent conversation we were having about on this topic, "What's next? Burning babies as a sacrifice to this god, also known as the universe? Oh wait, they've basically already been doing that in Oregon."

Or what about temples being erected for Baal? Yup, that's happening too, in New York City.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

how Awana lessons shape our morning time

For the past few weeks we've been beginning our school days with morning time. It has totally transformed our days. The kids look forward to it every day and this past Saturday Isaac even asked why we didn't do morning time after breakfast. (He knows how to make his mommy's heart happy!). If you are not familiar with morning time, you can read about it on Alicia's blog. It's just a simple way to incorporate subjects that all of the kids can enjoy together and start the day off in the same place, doing the same thing.

As soon as breakfast is done, we all take our dished to the sink and then gather back around the table. Sometimes the kids are even finishing up their breakfast.

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Our typical morning time is structured like this:

Young Child's Morning Prayer from the New England Primer
Memory work (Last week we reviewed the days of the week. Next week we'll start on the months. You could do anything in this spot.)

Bible Reading
Scripture Memorization
Hymn Study and/or children's praise song
Short Story
Art Study

The way Alicia does it is to have the first few things as something that is done every single day and then the remaining subjects are on a loop. So they'll make it through, say, geography and history and stop for the day. Then pick up with hymn study the next day and so on. Because my kiddos are still quite young (the oldest is 5), our lessons are very short and we are able to get through almost the entire loop every single morning. We don't always do all the things but we try to incorporate as much as we can. Our typical morning meeting lasts a little over an hour. Sometimes less, sometimes more depending on how interested Isaac may be in a topic.

So where does Awana come in? Well, the first week that we started this new schedule I noticed immediately, since we start with scripture memorization (we always use the verse my oldest has to memorize for Awanahere) that there is basically an entire lesson plan built into each Bear Hug (the week's lesson for the verse the child is to memorize).

For example, this week his verse is "Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." The lesson that goes along with that verse (because they've been going chronologically through the bible) is about the Israelites as slaves in Egypt and when God sent Moses to Pharaoh.

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As we read through the Bear Hug I began to notice how much is packed into each lesson. And all of it fit into the subjects I had planned for morning time. For example:

Scripture Memorization: This is the obvious one. Each week contains a verse of scripture that the child is expected to memorize. Although my 3 year old is not in Awana yet, he still learns the verse with us every week.

Geography: here we discussed where the Israelites were living (in Egypt), how they got there and where they were heading (Israel) once they were set free. We looked at the globe and an atlas and colored a map of the Middle East and discussed where the Nile River was located along with the Red Sea. (This was not all done in one day. It took several days to discuss it all).

History: Along with discussing the biblical history of Joseph, his brothers, the 12 tribes, the Israelites, Moses, etc. this also gave us the opportunity to discuss ancient Egypt and learn about pharaohs and their office and position. We didn't go into extensive detail here because Isaac is still young (we'll definitely learn more in the years to come) but it was a really good introduction. I even picked up a book at the library about pharaohs and we have a couple on Egypt that the kids have been flipping though. Eli, my 3 year old, has been pretending to be Pharaoh for 3 days now and even made himself a throne.

Hymn Study or Children's Praise Song: 2 weeks ago our verse was "Great is Thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:23) so I'm sure you can guess what hymn we chose to sing and learn about that week. This week I taught the kids "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" and they absolutely loved it. They listened to it a number of times while I made lunch today and were dancing and singing along.

Short Story: Each lesson has included in it a short story about Cubbie Bear that continues on each week. Isaac gets so impatient and wants me to read on but he just has to wait and see. Because it's such a short story, we do end up reading other stories throughout the week but this is a good way to get them engaged in the initial learning of the verse for the week.

A few extras: There is always an extra credit type activity suggestion in each lesson and it's just an easy way to add more into what they're learning. It's always something really simple and fun that I enjoy doing with my kids. Also, many nights, Isaac will bring home the coloring page that he was working on at Awana unfinished. This is something for him to work on during our lessons. He never just sits and looks at me as I teach. I always want him to be doing something related to what we're learning about. That is why we always have maps and books and the globe out during our lessons so that he's interacting with what is being taught. You could easily add copy work in here too, which we do off and on (I need to be more consistent with it in this part of our schooling). Simply write the verse down and have the child copy it.

You may be wondering how many days this will take? Awana is on Wednesday so we begin a new lesson on Thursday morning. We take Friday off from school (our outing day) and then resume on Monday. One lesson I pull from Awana will last us all 4 days of school reaching until the next Wednesday. If it doesn't, that's completely fine! But like I said, I'm still working with really young ones and so our lessons are nice and short.

Now, since my child is in Cubbies, I can't say for sure that this would translate for the older kids, but my guess is that it probably could. All it takes it a little creativity on your part and a tiny bit of planning (seriously, it's all right there so there is not a whole lot of planning required other than maybe preprinting a map or checking out a book from the library!).

This has made our mornings so enjoyable and it's really engaged Isaac in memorizing his scripture each week. Last year it was like pulling teeth trying to get him to learn them. Now he really enjoys it. In fact a few weeks ago, after I tucked all the kids into bed, I overheard him reciting one of his scripture verses (Psalm 4:8) over his little brother who is afraid of the dark. There is fruit from this and it's so wonderful to get to see it!

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Oh and in case you're wondering what the littles do while we go through our morning time, after a short story I read just for them, they sit at our feet with some toys and books (or they run crazy through the house and destroy things. Just being real ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

when He weaves it all together

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I'm always in awe when the Lord so faithfully sews together passages of scripture that I'm studying and that I hear either during a sermon, a podcast or somewhere else. It's happened countless times and it's a beautiful reminder that He's intimately involved in my life- knowing precisely where I am and meeting me right there in the midst of it, that the Word of God is active and living and breathing, and that scripture is perfectly constructed and written under the divine inspiration of a God who does not, and cannot change.

We can take Him at His word, always and forever. And we can always count on Him to provide what we need at the right time, if we are seeking after Him.

Count it all as JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Last year, The Village Church started a new sermon series through James. (Go listen). Last week I listened to the sermon on James 1:2-18 about facing trials of various kinds. It's funny because the last time I studied James was when we lived in Texas and attended The Village. I was, at the time, also doing a women's bible study at the church on the Sermon on the Mount. And it was incredible the parallels that God was revealing to me between the words written by James and the words spoken by his brother Jesus.

Like I said, He's there, weaving it all together for us. We just have to listen.

I recently studied through Hebrews. and wow was it fruitful. I had always wanted to study Hebrews but to be honest, it's a bit difficult. I've started reading through it and given up about 5 chapters in, probably on multiple occasions. I've got to say, enduring through this book this time around was incredibly rewarding.

In chapter 12, almost to the end of the book. the author is begins to wrap things up. Now, while I want to write a dissertation about all that he's written, I'll stick to this one verse. It's an incredible summary verse:

Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

So Jesus, founded our faith. He perfected our faith. And as other versions say, He finished our faith. We also read in Hebrews about how He is the trailblazer, the pioneer, the forerunner, of our faith.

In other words, He blazed the trail. He walked the road. He paved the way.

For us.

What the author of Hebrews is so clearly conveying to us is that Jesus has already done it all. Experienced it all. And then He finished it all. He is seated at the right hand of the Father signifying that He's done, the work is finished, complete, done.

And that's why we're in exhorted in this verse to The author has already stated before: "consider Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). In other words, look to Jesus. Gaze upon Jesus. Because He's awesome? Yes. Because He deserves all the honor and glory and all of our attention, passion and consideration? Yes. But it's even beyond that.

The path is rough. It gets hard. There are mountains to climb. Waters to wade through. Thorns to push through. It gets dry. It gets lonely. We get rained on. We become weak. We hunger. We thirst. We tire.

And yet, we are called to endure. To press on. To be steadfast. To not drift. To not waiver. To not shrink back. To persevere. To continue on.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36

Jesus endured. Jesus endured the cross. Jesus endured the ultimate trial. And Jesus counted it as joy because He saw what was set before Him. Through the cross, through that trial, He would gain the crown as Savior. He would be consecrated and appointed as the great High Priest (Heb 5:5). He would become the source of eternal salvation for His beloved (Heb 5:9). He would secure for us eternal redemption (Heb 9:12) and an eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).

And through His enduring the cross, through His steadfastness, Jesus was perfected. As Hebrews 5:9 says, "And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."

Now let's go on a rabbit trail here for a second because I'll be totally honest and say that this verse made me uncomfortable. Not because I don't like what it says, but because I didn't understand it! How could the God of the universe be made perfect? Wasn't He already perfect, long before He walked the earth? Certainly before He hung on the cross?

Yes. A hundred times yes.

But the phrase "made perfect" here is not referring to His holiness in regards to sin. He was always sinless and perfect. It is referring instead to His consecration to a position, to a specific office. We can just as easily us the word "consecrated" in place of "made perfect". (The Greek word being used here is nagazio.)

In other words: through the cross, through His suffering, Jesus was consecrated to (made perfect for, became qualified for) His office as Savior, Great High Priest, Mediator. As Matthew Henry puts it, "He perfected the work of our redemption by shedding His blood and was thereby perfectly qualified to be a Mediator between God and man."

I also want to include this note from the Reformation Study Bible because it's worded so well. "This does not mean that Jesus finally became sinless, since He was always without sin, but that He finished the course of suffering that was set before Him, including the sacrificial death. Having done this, He was "made perfect" or completely qualified to serve as the uniquely effective High Priest."

The point I'm making here is this: Jesus blazed the trail. Jesus endured. Jesus completed the faith. Jesus was consecrated to His position as High Priest.

Therefore, we too can now walk the trail. We can endure. We can have great faith. We are being perfected and consecrated and already are consecrated into the priesthood of believers all because of Jesus.We can walk the path because He's already finished walking the path. We can follow the trail because He's not only blazed the trail, but He's completed the trail. We can endure because He endured to perfection.

I do need to interject here and say that we are to look to Jesus because He set the perfect example, but we are also to look to Jesus because it is only through His perfect work on the cross that we can even step foot on the path. Jesus isn't just someone who did it well that we should aspire to be like. We have something far greater! We have Jesus Himself living within us, pressing us on and giving us the strength to endure. Not only did He already do it, and already did it perfectly, but now we are to do it in Him and with Him.

Which brings me to that last piece of the passage from James. He's telling us that steadfastness (we can call it endurance since we have been reading about that in Hebrews), when it is in full affect, perfects and completes.

Well isn't that interesting?

This verse from Hebrews has recently become one of my most treasured pieces of scripture:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

It would seem that James and the writer of Hebrews have a similar goal in common: to exhort believers to endure to the end, in which we are completed and perfected. We will receive the reward that is promised if we press on, through the trials, down that rough, difficult trail.

And yet! As we read in this verse, we have already been perfected.

We have already been perfected.

And here we meet this idea of "already, not yet." What JOY that I am being perfected, that the Lord is working to sanctify me, that trials are bringing about a holy, complete and perfect person that I will never know this side of eternity. But what JOY that I am already perfected in Christ. He suffered on the cross. He perfected our faith. He was consecrated. And by doing all of that, I too am perfected and consecrated because when God looks at me, He sees the Mediator. The One who has already completed it all.

And all the while, he's not leaving me to myself. He's pushing me on to completeness. Often that road is filled with trials. Often it's filled with heartache and trouble. But take heart! God is using those things for our good. God is doing a work in us through the pain and through the trials.

Just look to Jesus to know where the hard road leads. The reward is great. Don't lose sight of Him.

Monday, January 25, 2016

pregnant Christian momma chats

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A year ago I wrote this post about some of the big things I feel called to do. One of them was to write a book. And a year later, I'm finally in the process of actually doing that, well sorta. But as I started collecting all the thoughts and ideas I want to include in said book, I started to feel like I wanted to start something now that has the same purpose, but that would be a place of community for other Christian pregnant mothers.

As I write this I am 28 weeks pregnant. After getting through 17 weeks of gruesome morning sickness, the holidays, and of course continuing to raise my three crazy rascals, I'm finally in a place to start mentally preparing for the birth of this precious babe.

And I want to share what I'm doing in that process with other moms who are in the same place.

We focus so much on the physical preparation for labor and childbirth- see your doctor regularly, keep track of vitals, eat a good diet and also the mental preparation- read about childbirth, take a hospital tour, take a childbirth preparation class. But I feel like we often neglect the emotional and spiritual aspects of preparing for birth. And those are so very important.

And so I decided to host these pregnant Christian momma chats so we can take the time to address those very important things.

It's something I obviously care a lot about. In going through my archive I found post after post after post on the topic.

How can we view labor and childbirth in light of the gospel? And how do I need to prepare my heart and my mind so that I have the right perspective going into such an awesome, incredible, unique, but often frightening experience?

That's what I want to get to the heart of in these chats.

So, if you are a pregnant Christian momma, you are invited to join us. I'll be live on Periscope (you'll have to download the app on your phone) every Tuesday at 2:30pm PST. My handle is @jessibridges. If you miss it live (where you'll have the chance to ask questions and comment), you can watch up to 24 hours after with the Periscope app or you can always find replays on my page.

The topics I want to specifically get into are pretty endless but include:

-how our current emotional state and issues we're facing will affect labor
-that pregnancy and labor is a call on our lives from the Lord
-that unconfessed sin can lead to fear and pain in labor because of a lack of peace from and trust in God
-pain with a purpose, not for nothing
-labor as a sacrifice of self for the sake of your child (not unlike motherhood itself!)
-my one piece of advice when preparing for labor (and really life in general): no expectations
-practical examples of how I prepare spiritually for labor, scripture to meditate over

And those are just a few things, but I also want to be able to chat about the things that are on your mind too. So please feel free to hop on with us and ask questions or email me with questions 

Lastly, I'm asking that if you know someone who could benefit from a community like this, please share this information with them.

Ultimately these chats are because I want to encourage you. As you prepare for your new baby, I want to encourage you to also prepare for the actual arrival of of your babe: intentionally prepare for your labor. This is not something to take lightly. It's not something that is just going to happen. Granted, it will happen. But will it happen on purpose? Will you be intentional about your labor?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

a simple hashtag can actually aid in bringing an end to abortion

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By now you should know what is going on with Planned Parenthood and the scandal they have found themselves in. Today, a seventh undercover video was released by the Center for Medical Progress and the videos are just more damning with each release. If you haven't watched the new video, or any of them, please take the time to watch. This issue is far too important to brush off as just another partisan attack. We are talking about real people who are really being killed and their body parts really being sold for profit. 

And we need to keep in mind that whenever abortion is in the national news (even just a little), whenever we are having a public discussion on the topic, it's good for the pro-life cause. There is always a segment of the population that is determining their opinion and stance on a myriad of issues, abortion being a major one. That segment is the younger generation: the jr. high and high school kids, the college students and some young adults.

True, some of them may have already decided where they stand and true, there are some grown adults who will be affected by this conversation and change their mind from pro-choice to pro-life, but for the most part we should keep in mind that there are young men and women trying to decide today where they stand on the issue of life and abortion. 

Maybe a college freshman has decided she's personally pro-life but she wouldn't dare tell someone else what to do. The discussion about Planned Parenthood, the brutality of abortion that is on display in these undercover videos, it has the potential to change her mind. 

The high school boy who always kept his mouth shut about abortion because everyone told him that "it's a woman's issue, you have no say" may be persuaded to speak up about the unborn as a result of this discussion. 

The young lady who has abortion in her past and has held tight to the "my body, my choice" mantra in an effort to justify her decision may finally have the courage to admit she regrets her abortion and wants to help other moms make a better choice. 

And then there's your average student who doesn't know a whole lot about abortion, but now is forced to look at it, contemplate it and decide. I was that student in the early 2000's, during the partial-birth abortion debate. Abortion was a national topic and many of us were, for the first time, forced to decide where we stood on the issue. It was that discussion, in which the brutality and reality of abortion was in the open for all to see, that caused so many of my generation to choose the side of life

And I believe that this current discussion, the one we're being forced to have once again about the brutality of abortion and the treatment of human beings much smaller and far helpless than we, is going to shape the opinions and beliefs of the generation behind us. And they are going to side with life.

There is no question in my mind.

And here's why I say all of this. Here's why it is a good thing when abortion is a national discussion: because truth is on the side of life. When the truth about abortion is revealed, you can't deny that it's heinous and brutal and horrible and tragic. When the truth about life in the womb is revealed, you can't deny that a human being, a new person, a tiny baby, is forming and that baby deserves respect and dignity and protection.

So when we consider who will be most affected by this discussion we have to understand some things about this young generation. First, as Joe Carter has discussed already, they have grown up with the technology of the window into the womb. These young people are very aware of what a developing baby in the womb looks like because ultrasound pictures are continuously posted on Facebook and Instagram. Chances are many of them have seen one of their own brother or sister.

And that brings me to my second point. Where do they spend their time? How will we most effectively reach them? The answer to that should be obvious: social media.

I sometimes catch myself thinking, "is a hashtag really going to make a difference in the effort to save babies' lives?" The answer surprisingly is, it actually can. And here's why. This young generation, they live on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter (and others I'm sure I'm leaving out because I'm too old to understand what is hip). But the point is, they are witnessing this discussion online. They are having this discussion online. Their opinions are being formed online.

So we need to be online.

We have a great opportunity to shape the discussion around abortion right now using hashtags and photos, tweets and blog posts, statuses and comments. We have the chance to change minds and help others form their opinions. 

This chance only comes around once in a while. It happened with the partial-birth abortion legislation. It happened in 2013 during the Gosnell trial and the legislative session in Texas. And it's happening again with the release of these undercover videos. 

Many have done an excellent job of seeing the opportunity and running with it. I want this post to serve as encouragement to keep going. To not sit down and to not shut up. Let's keep the discussion in the spotlight, but especially on social media because that is where the fluid and forming opinions about abortion can be reached and affected and changed for the cause of life.

Because that decision to side with life, it could be the young girl who didn't want to tell someone else what to do, but found out her friend was pregnant and encouraged her to carry and place for adoption. That decision could be the young high school boy who decided it was important to speak out after all and ended up founding a pro-life organization that reaches out to hurting moms considering abortion. That decision could be the post-abortive mother who decided it was worth it speak up for life and started ministering to other women who are hurting from a past decision to abort. And that decision could be your average kid, who decided that life is precious and valuable and is sure to vote with that always in the forefront of his mind during every election now that he's an adult.

The individual people we reach, the single decisions each person makes on this issue, they matter. That's how we end abortion in this country: one heart at a time. And we can reach them with a simple hashtag, a photo posted on IG or a status or video share on Facebook. I hope we are willing to do something so simple for the sake of this next generation and for the sake of these babies.

One final note: I don't think we can end abortion by just posting online. Action needs to be taken. And first and foremost we must be praying and pleading with the Lord for the slaughter to end. But once we say amen, we must stand up to do something. Have a conversation, call a representative, write a letter, volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource Center, counsel outside of an abortion clinic, organize a rally outside of a Planned Parenthood, run for elected office and work to bring pro-life legislation to the floor, start an organization that serves mothers considering abortion, adopt, share your story and the list is endless. But the point is do something. Social media should be a simple stepping stone, a place to begin the discussion and to get people motivated. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

an obituary for ab405

Ab405- Parental Notification for a minor seeking abortion- died 12:00 am, June 2, 2015 in the Nevada Legislature, Carson City, NV.

Ab405 was ill-fated from day one, or so we were told. It was predestined to never receive a fair hearing or a vote. It was supposed to die in committee during the first month of the legislative session. It was never supposed to make it through one chamber, let alone to the other chamber. It was to be downgraded to a "study" and forgotten about altogether.

But it didn't die. It keep moving. And we didn't forget about it. We were bound and determined to not let our representatives in Carson City forget about it either.

Apparently no one has time for important issues like parental rights and protecting children from predators, profiteers and dare I say it, their own bad decisions. Or even if there is time, at least we aren't supposed to care.

But people did care. And they still do.

But truth be told, we all know that Governor Sandoval had Ab405's number from the very beginning. Rumor had it that he made clear to legislators that no controversial bills were to make their way to his desk. Not one. And if there's one single lesson to be learned from the 2015 legislative session, it's that Sandoval gets what Sandoval wants. Even if that means Republicans backstabbing their constituents by voting for a tax increase that nearly all opposed as a ballot measure last year.

The largest tax increase in Nevada history.

But we're here to remember Ab405. It's incredible life and it's tragic death.

We were told on numerous ocassions that Ab405 was in fact dead. It wasn't, obviously, but legislators and the media hoped we would hear the sad news, mourn for a moment, forget about it and move along. I mean, how many times did we read the headline "Parental Notification Bill Not Expected to Pass"? But as I'm sure those same legislators soon came to discover, attempts to silence us only made us stronger and more determined.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen is to be praised and commended for taking on our cause as his own. He is responsible, along with a few other Assembly members, for seeing this bill through. (Thank you Ira!!) He took it into his own committee while it was in the Assembly, giving it that first hearing it was never supposed to have. It sailed through the vote there and quickly moved to the floor of the Assembly. Once on the floor, it passed, 24-17, without any problem.

And then it fell into the hands of Senator Ben Kieckhefer. Oh that poor, poor bill. It had no idea what was coming. What a disappointment it must have been, having just flown through the Assembly, thinking everything was finally right in the world. Ab405 must have been so optimistic at that point, seeing as it was put in the hands of a Republican and in a committee with a Republican majority, and on the road to a Senate with a Republican majority. After all, the GOP is supposed to be conservative. Right? Right?? But Ab405, and all of it's supporters, quickly learned that such assumptions can not be trusted. Something I read recently about politicians and taxes (but that I think we can substitute abortion in for taxes) comes to mind:

you can trust a Democrat to do what he says on taxes [and abortion] and you can trust a Republican to stab you in the back

Ab405 must have felt so betrayed. I know many of us did.

Senator Kieckhefer resolved to kill the bill once and for all by not allowing it a vote in the Finance Committee. But wouldntcha know it? After just a little bit of persuasion, in the form of thousands upon thousands of phone calls, emails, letters, an old fashioned thing we call a post card campaign, and a visit from several dozen parents, Kieckhefer changed his tune. Suddenly he wasn't concerned about the phantom fiscal note that depending on the day or the weather, Planned Parenthood claimed to be $2 million, or was it $5 million? Numbers are hard. I get it. 2 and 5 do look a lot alike... I'm not sure if they ever did figure that out.

But all of a sudden he stated that "it did not have a fiscal impact."

And poof, just like that, Ab405 was once again resurrected.

Senator Kieckhefer rereferred the bill to the Health and Human Services Committee, where it probably should have been referred to to begin with. Committee Chair, Senator Joe Hardy, graciously scheduled a hearing for it, on a holiday of all days: Monday, May 25, Memorial Day. But that didn't stop supporters. Nothing was going to stop them. They flew up to Carson City from Las Vegas and some attended down south at the Grant Sawyer Building. The rooms were packed. So much so that 2 overflow rooms were filled to the brim at the Legislative Building in Carson. To say that there was ample support for the measure would be a severe understatement.

The hearing was too short. So short that Chairman Hardy had to keep cutting the time he was allotting for testimony. I get it, he wanted to be sure plenty of people had the change to speak, but seriously, with THAT much support, he should have made the time. This was obviously important. But apparently only to the constituents because a majority of the HHS Committee didn't even attend their own meeting, to include, you guessed it! Senator Ben Kieckhefer. That guy must be a hide and seek champion!

The hearing wrapped up in the early evening and we were all told later that the measure would be voted on when Senator Hardy was assured he had the votes in the Senate for it to pass.

And immediately we all knew what that meant: there would be no vote without severe pressure. He was working with others to protect the Senators who didn't want to go on record as to whether they stand for parents and children or predators and profiteers, big abortion. And who can blame them!? If I were a pro-abortion "Republican" I wouldn't want my constituents to know! That's bad for business. Keep it a secret.

No vote means no record means no accountability.

For the next several days, supporters of Ab405 continued to call and email and tweet and send letters. Some delivered letters by hand. We weren't going to give up without a fight, something we were well accustomed to at this point. We also contacted the governor several times to ask that he use his position to get this measure a vote.

And that was all we were asking for: A VOTE. It's a simple request isn't it? Our message was: you asked for our vote during elections now we're asking for you to vote. (And if you could vote yes, that'd be awesome too, especially since you claim to be a Republican).

But alas, nothing came of our requests to the governor. And who can be surprised, considering his relationship with one of the top Planned Parenthood lobbyists in Nevada. I still haven't received an answer to my question, by the way.

In the end, it was a long and arduous battle. Ab405 fought hard and we fought hard along side of it, but it was out-schemed from the beginning. We had the numbers, we had the support, we had common sense, constitutionality, ration and popular opinion on our side. But when it all came down to it, none of that mattered. What mattered was politics, positions, records and keeping controversy at bay.

The Review Journal published an article after the end of session recounting the winners and losers of the 2015 legislative session. As a result of the passing of Ab405, there are several winners and losers the article failed to mention. I'd like to add them here.

Predators and sex traffickers who use secret abortions to cover up their crimes.
Big abortion who prey on young, scared pregnant teenagers who in a moment of crisis will make quick, rash decisions to try and "correct" their mistake or cover it up. Abortionists are happy to cash in on such an opportunity.

Parents who don't have the state on their side, in support of their efforts to parent their child the best they can by knowing all the information.
Children who are victims of pedophiles, predators and sex traffickers. Children who are victims of the abortion industry. Children who have a hard time dealing with the difficulties that come with being post-abortive, with always having to carry that pain.
The voters, who when they cast their vote for a Republican, assumed they were voting for a conservative who held their same values, who cared about the rights of parents and for children. Some of whom out-rightly claim to be pro-life and yet were silent when pro-life legislation made it's way to them.

And so, when the clock struck midnight on that late Monday evening, it was all over. Ab405 died quietly in the night. No vote was ever cast in the Senate. It wasn't defeated, it was simply left to die. And at the hands of those who claim to be on the side of parents and life. But if I had to come to a conclusion based on what happened to Ab405 over the course of 120 days in the Nevada Legislature, it would be that too many legislators are, in fact, not on the side of parents and children and life. And if that is the case, then who's side are they on?

Ab405, you will not be forgotten. You will be remembered. We will carry your memory with us wherever we go, but particularly into the next campaign season as we decide who's campaign to contribute to and we will carry your memory into the voting booth as we cast our ballots.

Friday, May 29, 2015

my question for Governor Brian Sandoval

Relationships can tell us a lot about a person. They give us clues into where a person's loyalty lies and what is truly important to the individual.

This is especially true in the world of politics.

I remembered hearing last election cycle that Governor Sandoval had endorsed a Planned Parenthood employee in a race in northern Nevada. I remembered being incredibly disappointed. But that's all I remembered.

And then last night this memory resurfaced and I decided to look into it a bit more. After all, the biggest opposition to the parental notification bill, AB405, is in fact Planned Parenthood.

The moment I began to search online for Governor Brian Sandoval's endorsement of a Planned Parenthood employee, an extremely familiar name popped up and with it, an extremely familiar connection.

The person Governor Sandoval endorsed in the Reno City Council race in 2014 was Elisa Cafferata.

Elisa Cafferata is the current President and CEO of Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. She is a Nevada lobbyist for Planned Parenthood. That was her position in 2014 when Governor Sandoval endorsed her and that is her current position today.

Cafferata basically represents the opposition to AB405. She was the first person to testify at the hearing on Monday, May 25 in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It is her organization that has flooded facebook and twitter with all sorts of opposition to the bill. It is her organization that is soliciting for donations to mobilize activists to make phone calls and appear at the legislature. It is her organization that is hell-bent on killing AB405.

It is Elisa Cafferata and Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates who is spear-heading the opposition to AB405.

How incredibly interesting that she was endorsed by the Governor of this state who, in 2013, campaigned in support of parental notification laws.

And now, all of a sudden, he's become quite silent on the issue. The only statement he's made regarding AB405 is that he would consider it if it gets to his desk. And based on the evidence, it would seem members of his party are trying their hardest to keep this bill from even getting a vote, let alone passing and making it's way to his desk.

One has to wonder, what is the relationship here? The connections cannot be denied and the people deserve to know: is Planned Parenthood influencing the very legislators who ran on conservative pro-life values? When we elect politicians into office who say they are Republicans and who claim to be conservative, we expect them to vote that way (I am speaking of course of the GOP Senators. We all know that Sandoval has never claimed to be pro-life; only that he did support parental notification). We will not tolerate when those same politicians bow to big abortion and sacrifice the good of the people for their own political gain. We will remember come next election cycle.

My question to you Governor Sandoval is this: has your relationship with Elisa Cafferata impacted your stance on AB405 and subsequently the actions of the senators in your party who have resolved to kill this bill?

Once, you stood with parents and you supported our rights, specifically our right to be notified. Once, you stood with the overwhelming majority of Americans who support parental involvement when a minor seeks an abortion. But as of late, it seems as if your loyalty no longer remains with the parents and the vast majority of voters in this state. From where I stand, it's looking as though your loyalties may be with the extreme position on this measure.

Which is it? The people deserve to know what is going on behind closed doors.