A Sunset in Ludington

Last week the Thoma family took Jen’s mom, Sandy, to Baldwin, Michigan for a few days as a gift to celebrate her 70th birthday. While there, we took an evening trip to Stearns Park in Ludington, which rests at the edge of Lake Michigan. We were only there for about an hour and a half, but there was enough time to explore a few dunes, play in the sand, and wander a short way into the white capping water.

Our time there ended with a stunning sunset.

As I watched the sun make its extraordinary exit, Jen snapped an unsuspecting photo of me stooping in the sand and holding a juice bottle for my diabetic daughter—you know, just in case. I didn’t know Jen had taken it until I saw it on Facebook later that night. When I saw the image, and because I only took the posture briefly, I remembered exactly what I was thinking in that moment.

I had the first portion of Ecclesiastes 7:13 on my mind. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t just thinking the words, but rather I’m certain I said them out loud.

“Consider the work of God,” I said.

I suppose these words came to mind, first and foremost, because a sunset is an inspiring thing. To be able to see this magnificent sphere that hovers nine million miles beyond the edge of our world—a rotating ball of liquid fire so big that a million earths could fit into it—to see this and to know that it was given as a gift from God is quite moving. And then to watch it trace a careful course exactly as God designed it, leaving streaks of lovely hues across the entirety of an open sky and rolling sea, one can’t help but think the divine hand of God is in that moment sketching upon a heavenly canvas.

To steal the words of Thomas Browne, such things are indeed the art of God.

But I was also a little anxious in that moment. I remember thinking that I cannot revise these things. God has put them into place, and with that, they spin and dip and rise and turn without any help from me. The anxiety set in when I thought this was one sunset closer to summer’s end. Soon this season would become another, and eventually another, and with each well-timed tipping and spinning of the earth in its orbit around this beautiful sun balanced before me, I’d remain forever powerless to coax the process to try a different way. Like it or not, summer would pass me by, and as it was last year, I’d stand in its shadow and watch. Why? Because God has fixed it into place. It is to be this way. And while I may disagree, it doesn’t change the fact that what I’m observing is actually good.

In the beginning, God spoke these things into existence and declared them so.

As I revisit these things, another thought emerges. Juvenal wrote in his Satires, “Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.” The Natural Law that God has established steps in time with the wisdom of the Creator, and from this lovely enterprise, life is set into motion. God is actively engaged in all of this. Seeds are planted, they grow, they bear seeds, and other plants are born. God sees to this. Only those things particular to a man can combine with those of a woman to create another human being. It’s an order that can’t be changed. God established it, maintains and blesses it, and He calls it good.

But we resist this. The sin-nature would have its own way. A man would call himself a woman. A woman would call herself a man. With unprecedented ignorance, Planned Parenthood boldly argues for the right of a man to menstruate. A sixty-year-old man leaves his wife and daughter in order to live as a six-year-old girl and eventually be adopted by an elderly man and woman in England.

Sin is its own seed for insanity. It is the ultimate attempt at deviation. But when we wrestle against the Natural Law, we so foolishly wrestle against the One who established it for our good, and in the end we prove two things: We are destined for death and decay, and we need a Savior.

Another thought emerges.

That moment on the beach when the sun slipped below the edge of the world, I was reminded that the Natural Law our God has put into place is not only tireless, but for as bendable as we might seem to consider it, it is impenetrably sturdy. Look at a vacant parking lot and you’ll see what I mean. Man and his sin-stained ego are nothing more than a layer of concrete upon soil. Layer upon layer, façade after façade, the years pass, and the concrete crumbles. But without question, up from between the decaying cracks, blades of grass will emerge. They will always and eventually heed the voice of Natural Law no matter what we do to try to cover them up.

In one sense, I suppose this gives me hope, especially in this current age of radically individualized ego-insanity. I see the structures of mankind decaying and I am reminded that what God has established will never shift into untruth.

This truth sheds light on something even better—which sits at the heart of the text I whispered from Ecclesiastes 7. The entire verse is:

“Behold the work of God. Who can make straight what He has made crooked?”

The cross is a scandalously crooked thing permanently fixed in place. The world finds Calvary shameful while choosing to find value in the crumbling mammon of this life. But for the Christians, there’s no need to be offended by it. There’s no need to soften the image. Behold the work of God for what it is. Look and believe. It’s there that the Son of God died the crookedly grotesque and wretched death of all deaths in your place. Nothing can alter this fact. It’s there that He’s winning, not losing. It’s there that your eternal life was purchased, and as it meets with what’s been shared here, it served to give over to you as a gift every sunset that will ever occur in your lifetime.

Crouch into the sand and be amazed by the workings of His Natural Law, but as you do, let it be a gentle nudge to not only recall the intricacy of His beautiful world and its value, but also the certainty that what He has established—no matter your opinions of it, no matter if you agree or not—will always best. The cross itself is the unseemly proof.

“Baby Joy!”: The Irony Betrayed by People Magazine’s Latest Cover

Did you see the recent cover of People Magazine? I did. Just in case you missed it, I attached it below.

Did you notice anything interesting about the wording regarding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s current pregnancy? I sure did. A former professor of mine, Reverend Dr. Peter Scaer, noticed it. In fact, he posted a snapshot of the cover on Facebook along with a short bit of insightful commentary. I was right in the middle of doing the exact same thing when I saw his post show up in my feed, so I shared it.

But simply sharing his post didn’t satiate the need to finish sorting through my own observations in a more meaningful way for all of you. There are a few layers of irony to peel away from the image and its tagline, and as Christians, these layers are important to us.

The first has to do with the fact that People Magazine is a journal that not only observes and reports on the latest happenings in our culture, but it seeks to help set the pace for our trends. In the midst of this, more often than not, People Magazine is found toeing the pro-abortion (or pro-choice as some choose to call it) line. It walks the pro-abortion walk and talks the pro-abortion talk. It has offered more than its fair share of articles defending a woman’s right to choose whether or not to end her child’s life in the womb. And several of the authors behind these types of articles have taken this view to some pretty terrifying extremes, such as protecting a woman’s right to abort right up to the moment before delivery—which is, in my opinion, nothing short of strict infanticide. It is to entertain an idiocy that approximates the value of a child based on his or her physical location. In other words, if the child is inside the womb, it’s a medical procedure. Only when the child is outside of the womb could it be considered murder.

Again, the absurdity of this turns my stomach.

In the meantime, true to this irony and by way of one example, People Magazine did an article back in July of 2018 on comedienne Michelle Wolf who had a show on Netflix called “The Break with Michelle Wolf.” Thankfully, it has already been cancelled, because, well, it was terrible. But over the course of its ten episodes, no one could argue that Wolf’s pro-abortion throttle was wide open, especially when it came to bashing pro-life people. She made every effort to communicate that anyone who is “anti-abortion,” is by default anti-women, and a threat to America.

In that same article designed to build Wolf a stage, People Magazine quoted her as saying, “Access to abortion is good and important. Some people say abortion is ‘killing a baby.’ It’s not. It’s stopping a baby from happening. It’s like ‘Back to the Future’ and abortion is the DeLorean. Everyone loves DeLoreans.”

There’s a strange sprinkling of irony in this, too. Wolf is portraying herself by way of her humor, first, as having a philosophical care for women’s health, and second, as being an astute humorist who understands a deeper logic behind this care. But it doesn’t take too much intellectual prowess to know that when you keep a sperm cell from fertilizing an egg cell, babies don’t happen. But there’s a really good chance that a baby will happen if these two cells meet. Additionally, Wolf’s time-travelling analogy, while familiar to most pop culture movie-goers, is so incredibly detached from logic that it truly falls flat. It almost seems like an incredible waste of time to examine it. And yet, we need to examine it because far too many are sitting on the sidelines in our meme-munching society, and these folks appear to be more than accepting of digital one-liners as argument-winning mic drops. We need to take a minute and sort through the facts that aborting a child is in no way like a time-travelling DeLorean in the sense that it is equal to one going backward in time to a moment before someone’s life existed and doing what is necessary to avoid the triggering of that person’s life. It sounds interesting, but it remains science fiction. Abortion isn’t that sterile. Abortion is to continue forward on the same timeline to a point where another life has begun, and as these two lives travel together beside one another on the same timeline, the stronger one extinguishes the weaker one. Wolf’s attempt at humor doesn’t change the fact that a human being existed and was then deliberately snuffed out by another human being.

Her perspective is mushy at best, and at its least, it is a flowery attempt at wit designed to make murder more palatable.

But back to the magazine cover.

Another level of irony I take from the cover image has to do with the swapping of the term “fetus” for “baby.” The cover announces “Baby Joy!” noting that Meghan is three months pregnant. Pro-abortion warriors are usually very careful not to call a fetus at this stage a baby. One of my own family members by marriage is militantly pro-abortion and an example of this dogma. He refused to call his unborn daughter anything but “fetus” until she was actually born. This is important because while the child is considered a fetus, he or she remains an abstract part of a bodily process or condition governed by a certain set of rules and can be dealt with as the sentient host body sees fit. But once the child is identified as a baby—another sentient human being—a different set of rules takes over. These rules announce life and negate the previous set of rules.

People Magazine refers to Meghan’s child as a baby, but based on the magazine’s usual legislative bend, Meghan is carrying a fetus—an optional condition—because she is three months pregnant and still well within the abortion window in most states. I say “most” because right now, a majority of states have laws that close the window for abortion somewhere between 22 and 24 weeks. And yet, because of the efforts of very powerful pro-choice activists—some of whom have written for People Magazine—these limits are less restrictive in other states. Currently, there are at least three states that allow abortion up until 28 weeks, and there are a total of seven states—Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont—that do not limit the procedure by gestational stage at all. (By the way, current science has established that an unborn child is fully pain-sensitive no later than 20 weeks. Some scientists claim it could be as early as 15.)

All of this means that right now, even though Prince Harry and Meghan are excited for the pregnancy, there’s still time for them to change their minds. They can still abort the child. Speaking from an American perspective, if the U.K. suddenly outlawed all abortions, Meghan would only need to travel to a state in the U.S. that allows the procedure during her particular gestational stage.

And I suppose that’s leads us to the final irony that People Magazine has effortlessly betrayed by this cover.

The cover shows us that abortion isn’t really about women’s healthcare. It’s about a radicalized individualism that takes what it wants and gets rid of what it doesn’t. In America, it’s only “Baby Joy!” if we want it. It’s a fetus—an invasive parasite or an intruding glob of cells—if we don’t. A baby can be murdered. A fetus is optional, nothing more than something to be discharged during a medical procedure if we so choose.

Now, I suppose this is an appropriate time to mention something.

Yes, there is forgiveness beyond the shadowland of such a regrettable decision. God mends the penitent hearts of those who’ve done this. This is the Good News. But how about we remind ourselves of the fruits of faith that same Good News produces by the power of the Holy Spirit? Let’s be God’s forgiven people. Let’s be those whom God has recreated by His Gospel to actually care enough to stop folks from arriving at the doorstep of such a tragedy. Let’s be those who know the objective truth of right from wrong, those who hear and believe and are moved by God’s Word to defend the unborn, to defend the helpless. As someone standing right beside you in the trench, I humbly urge you to do what you can to be a shield for those who cannot shield themselves. Stand up and take a step forward to help form the resistance to this ungodliness! In fact, if you feel that the only “stepping up” that you can do is to vote for pro-life candidates in elections, then by all means, do it! You’ll certainly have your chance on November 6. Elections, like so many other means in life, are avenues for the Church to flex the muscle of Law and Gospel and to live and serve and actually be the church in the world around us.