Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

baby photoThis last week I preached on Psalm 139 and specifically how it applies to the way the church views, thinks, and responds to abortion.  There were some technical difficulties with the audio so I thought I would make the transcript available.  Below is the sermon I preached.  While it is not word for word, it is pretty close (also please ignore all spelling and punctuation errors, this was not written for publishing purposes).  Please leave any comments, I would love to hear you thoughts.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Grasping the beautiful and magnificent knowledge of God produces wonder and worship.

Psalm 139



Today is our last Sunday to be in the Psalms.  And so because of what’s been happening in the media with planned parenthood and abortion I chose Psalm 139.  I had picked up a book a few months ago called, Counter Culture, by David Platt.  It’s a great book that looks at many hot topics of today and shows how the gospel ought to affect the way we think and act.  His chapter on abortion had me convicted within the first two sentences.  He wrote, “Shamefully silent and Appallingly passive.  These are the words that come to mind when I consider my approach to the issue of abortion for the majority of my life as a Christian and my ministry as a pastor” (57, Platt).

Here’s why I relate. I have served full time as a pastor for about 12 years.  I have only preached a handful of messages on God’s love for the unborn child.  And in only a few conversations have I shared my thoughts on abortion.  I have minimally tried to equip and engage the church in how to think and respond to this issue.  And as I watched the horrific youtube videos on Planned parenthood I was reminded of the startling numbers of abortion in America and I couldn’t help but agree, I have been “shamefully silent and appallingly passive”.

I want to take a few moments to give a few facts regarding abortion.  I give these so you might be informed and/or reminded of what is happening here in America.

  • There are 42 million abortions that occur every year in the world..
  • That is 115,000 abortions everyday
  • Conservative estimates are that ⅓ of women will have an abortion at some point in their lives.

It is easy to see how some have labeled abortion as a modern day holocaust.  And that is said in no way to undermine the horror of the Jewish holocaust where 6 million Jews died.  But we cannot glaze over the truth that 42 million babies are killed every year.

In a blog article by Ann VosKamp who is an author and prolific blogger, she writes, 

“In 2012, New York City had more black babies killed by abortions (31,328) than there were born (24,758).  Sit with that. That number of black babies accounted for almost half of all abortions in New York City. More blacks aborted than were born. Three American university researchers discovered that Planned Parenthood’s “primary consideration in placement of centers is not poverty but the percentage of blacks in the area.”

Does that not make you sick to your stomach?  VosKamp continues to write, “History, genocides, Nazism, racism, haven’t they all proved at the very least this to humanity: It’s when we dehumanize anyone, that we can legitimize anything.” 

And central to abortion is the the dehumanizing of babies.  

At this moment you might be saying, that’s some strong language.  Do we really need to take like that?

Illustration: Let me read an article to you written my Mary Elizabeth Williams back in January 23, 2013.  She is wildly prochoice and she titled her article, “So What If Abortion Ends Life.

Yet i know throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me.  I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life.  And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.”

Her rational:

“Here’s the complicated reality in which we all live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-baby-storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides.  She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.”

Do you hear that?  She openly admits that abortion is murder and she justifies it by convenience, by asserting her rights over a baby’s rights.  Matt Chandler, a pastor in Texas wrote, “That sounds like Nazi Germany excrement to me” and I couldn’t agree more (http://qpolitical.com/they-asked-this-pastor-is-abortion-murder-his-response-gave-me-chills/).

We live in a day an age that we can justify murder on the basis of convenience.  And there are blogs and websites now dedicated to making women feel better about their choice to abort.

In August, Lelya Josephine shared a now viral video for her slam poem “I think She Was A She.” She imagines her aborted child “would’ve looked exactly like me,” with full cheeks, hazel eyes, and thick brown hair. And yet, she defends the killing: “I would have died for that right like she died for mine.  I’m sorry but you came at the wrong time.  I’m not ashamed…When I become a mother, it will be when I choose” (world magazine, January 2015, 46).    Do you see how abortion turns us into God? I will become a mom when I want to be a mom and I will take any babies life that threatens my plans or identity.

So how are we the church to respond?  Are we to picket planned parenthood centers?  Are we to sign petitions?  What do we do?  As Christians our first priority is to ask what do we know about God and how does that inform the way we think about abortion?  And then secondly we need to see how our understanding of the gospel will affect how we think and act regarding abortion.

Transition: So let’s begin with what we know about God and for that we will turn to Psalm 139.  Now you might be thinking, how does our view of God affect abortion.  After all, isn’t’ theology just a lot of head knowledge?  Unfortunately theology (meaning our view of God) has often been divorced from our feelings and actions.  But what we see in Scripture is that an accurate view of God will inform how we think, how we feel, and how we act. So with that, let us read Psalm 139

Read Psalm 139 and Pray

  1. This chapter is broken in to four 6 verse sections.  The running theme throughout this chapter is the omniscience of God, meaning He knows everything.  But in addition to His perfect knowledge, we will see 2 other essential attributes that are related to His knowledge.  As we move through this text, I want you to consider David’s description of God and his response to who God is.
  2. Verses 1-6 God’s knowledge is all-inclusive.
    1. In verse 1, David affirms that God fully knows him.  He knows everything that David does. In verse 2, we see God knows whether he sits or rises.  God also knows every thought that David has.  We read that God discerns his thoughts from afar.  Meaning, God knows Davids thoughts long before David knows his thoughts.  In verse 5, David says, God hems him in.  Here God is pictured like a blanket surrounding all of David.  The point is that God’s knowledge of us is all-inclusive.  There is nothing that God does not know.
    2. Now this knowledge that God has is not to be thought of in the same sense as George Orwell’s Novel, titled 1984.  In the novel, Big Brother is like this fictional character or symbol within a totalitarian state, called Oceania.  The citizens are regularly reminded that they are under constant surveillance, Big Brother sees everything.  The result was fear and chaos. But look here in verse 6.  David praises God.  He says, your knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.  David is not filled with fear or anger.  He does not feel somehow violated.  But rather he is in humble awe of God.  You get the sense that David falls to his knees in awe and wonder at the awesome all-inclusive knowledge of God.
    3. So this is our first foundational stone.  God is omniscient (all-knowing).
    4. Transition: Now let’s look at the next attribute of God.
  3. Verses 7-12 God’s presence is all-encompassing
    1. In these verses we see that there is no where we can go to escape the presence of God.  In verse 7, it reads, “where shall I go from Your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?”  In verses 8-12 David says he can go up or down go from the east to the west (that’s what it means when he says, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea”).  Or he can even go and cover himself in absolute darkness and there still God is with him.  There is no hiding from God.  There is no place in which God is not with you.
    2. Illustration of Jonah:
      1. If you remember the story of Jonah.  God told Jonah to go to Nineveh but instead Jonah fled to Tarshish.  Did Jonah get away from God?  No, God was still there and in fact God was even with Jonah in the belly of the fish.  There is no where in all creation that we can go in which God will not be with us also.
    3. Do you know that?  Do you know that God is with you?  Do you know that you are not alone?  Listen, you may right now feel all alone.  You might feel like nobody knows, understands you, or loves you.  But the truth is, God knows you.  In fact He knows you better than you know yourself.  And He is with you.  You are not alone.
    4. Transition: And to illustrate that God knows us and is always with us we look at verses 13-18.  In these verses we come to the third section of this Psalm where we see some of the most beautiful, rich, and intimate words in all scripture.  I want to read them one more time.  READ VERSES 13-18.
    5. Here we see that in the darkness of a mother’s womb God is there.  And what is God doing?  He is actively working.  He is forming and knitting the child.   We see that…
  4. God’s creative power is life-giving. (v.13-18) 
    1. God creates life in the womb.  In verse 15 we see that God know’s our frame before we are even formed.  And in verse 16, God sees our unformed substance. And we even read that God has a book and before we are formed or born, God has written out our days.
    2. Now let’s just step back for a moment.  Here we have and infinitely huge God,  A God who whose knowledge is all-inclusive, who presence is all-encompassing, and whose creative power is life-giving, and yet He is personally involved in the forming of every child and establishing their days.
    3. And so what is David’s response? Praise and Adoration.  In verse 14, he cries out, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.”  David’s response to the hugeness of God and also His most intimate involvement in our formation is praise.  What we see here is that proper response to who God is and how He is involved in our lives from even before we are formed is praise and adoration.
    4. So what does Abortion do to this truth?
      1. Now I want to take a moment and look at how abortion denies the truth’s we see here in Psalm 139.
      2. Abortion denies the activity and intimacy of God in the womb
        1. God is the who is creating life through the act of a sperm and egg coming together.  Abortion often treats pregnancy as an accident, a mistake, an inconvenience, but what we see here it is a divine act of God that He is personally involved in.(v.13)
      3. Abortion denies that the child in the womb is fearfully and wonderfully made.  In verse 14, David says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  You don’t destroy that which is wonderful.  You destroy that which is accidental, which is horrible, which is not important, which is irrelevant.  Which is exactly what we saw in the words of Mary Elizabeth Williams when she said her rights were more important than the life of a baby.
      4. Now some people attempt to say that the baby, especially in the first trimester is simply just tissue. But that is a foolish and unsubstantiated argument.  It is universally accepted and taught in academic textbooks that the zygote, which is a fertilized egg is the beginning of life.  In fact one abortion doctor said, “I know that we are killing children.”… “It’s simply a matter of justice for women. It would be a greater evil to deny women the equal right of reproductive freedom” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/we-know-they-are-killing-children-all-of-us-know).  What he means is that because men can have the option of being a dad or not, shouldn’t mom’s also?  While David is moved to praise and worship because of God’s involvement with a child in the womb, abortion exalts the right of the women and diminishes and/or denies the works of God and justifies the killing of a life.  To make a dark picture even more horrendous,  A pediatric geneticist at Boston Children’s Hospital reported that “and estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies.”  Let me unpack that for a moment.  Our medical community says, if you have down syndrome you are not fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are a mistake.  You are a financial hardship.  And that is a blatant outright lie and blasphemous of God’s Word.  Every child God makes is fearfully and wonderfully made.
      5. Illustration: of blind man
        1. I am going through the Gospel of John right with Isaac.  And this last week we read chapter 9 which is about a man born blind who then was healed by Jesus.  And when asked why this man was born blind, this is what Jesus said, “it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in Him” (Jn 9:3). God created this man that through His blindness God’s glory might be made known.  God loves to use what is considered insignificant or even foolish for his glory.  Isn’t that the gospel?  Through the death of Jesus Christ at the cross, what many considered to be proof that Jesus was not the son of God, is the very means in which we are saved and forgiven. Let us not think that we are in a position to judge and determine who has value and who does not.  Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made.
      6. Abortion denies the sovereign actions of God.  Abortion says that we are in charge of who is born and who is not born.  Abortion attempts to make us the giver of life and not God. God might be the author of a book with our days written in them, but abortion says, we are the publisher and we choose to either accept or reject his book.
      7. There are many other things we could say here.  But I hope you see that our theology of God is of the upmost importance in determining how we are to think and act.
    5. And in the last section of Psalm 139 we see that David experienced and inward and outward response to his understanding of who God is and what He has done. And both of these responses are linked by a hatred of sin.
  5. Accurate theology will always produce humility before God and animosity of sin. 
    1. In verses 19-22 David is asking God to judge those who reject Him.  David is asking for God to judge those who deny His knowledge, His presence, and His creative power.  The more we know God the more our hearts and minds are made like His.  That is why in verse 21, David says, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?”  The reason David says this is because he knows that those who reject and deny God are committing the highest of crimes. They are sinning against the Most High God, the very one who made them in the womb.
    2. And in verses 23-24 we see David not only looks at others but he looks at his own life and he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there by any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” The more we know God, the more aware we become of our own sin, and the more we will ask God to reveal our sin that we might repent of it and that He would lead us into “the way everlasting.”  So what I want to do as we close, I want to ask based upon who God is what He has done for us through Jesus Christ (meaning the gospel), how are we to respond to abortion.
  6. Application for how we respond to abortion:
    1. We must Repent.  I began this sermon by saying that I have been “shamefully silent and appallingly passive.”  I have not hated the things that God has hated.  I say that because while my words may condemn abortion my actions have done nothing to stop it. Can we as the church be passive when a 115,000 babies are murdered everyday and that’s just here in America, we haven’t even looked at abortion in other countries?
    2. We must be known by our love.
      1. We will not overcome abortion by simply yelling louder than the other people, although we should speak.  We will not overcome abortion by simply picketing planned parenthood, although we should at times make a public stand. We will not overcome abortion by simply knowing more facts, although we do need to be educated.
      2. We will overcome abortion when we the church love the mothers and the babies to such an extent that we welcome the changes to our lives that it will require to help them. When Jesus came, He left heaven, He became the son of a carpenter, He was beaten, spat upon, and crucified.  His love for His Father and us is what brought him to earth and ultimately the cross.  And this is how we are to love.
      3. There are many women who will have an abortion who readily know they are killing a baby.  But there are also those who will have an abortion out of fear.
      4. IN Ann VosKamp’s blog she wrote, “Abortion isn’t so much about a woman having a choice — but a woman feeling like she has no choice at all. Sheer terror can make people feel like all they have is terrible choices.”  No choice.  Are we willing to accept that there are women who will have their babies killed because they are so scared they don’t have a choice?
        1. What if we the church became known as the place women could turn to?
        2. What if we told these women who are scared that we will walk with them through their pregnancy?
        3. What if we helped them raise their child?
        4. What if they still were not sure or able to raise the baby, we adopted the baby.
      5. Throughout God’s Word we see Him looking after and protecting the orphans and widows.  He loves to help those who are outcasts and have no choice.  And because of our faith in Jesus we become the body of Christ and therefore it is through the church that God will meet the need of those who are outcasted.
      6. Now what about when the woman says, but I was raped, if I have this baby I will be continually reminded of that horrific event.  Let’s walk with them through the pregnancy and birth, let’s counsel them, and let’s tell them that God specializes in turning the horrible into something beautiful.  That’s the gospel. The most horrific event in history, the crucifixion of the Son of God is also the most glorious event in all of history where man can be saved and forgiven.  Let’s also tell the the amazing truths of God.  We let them know that God sees them and is with them.  We let them know that what is happening in their bodies is a divine act of God, and the baby is fearfully and wonderfully made.
      7. Listen, we are the church. That means we are the body of Christ, the very hands and feet of Jesus.  And we have been given the blessing, the privilege, the opportunity to love others as He has loved us.
      8. Now you may be here today and you have had an abortion.  I in no way want to minimize your pain or act like I know why or how you made your decision.  But I do want you to know there is forgiveness in Jesus.  In Jesus you have hope.  Jesus came and died so that our sins, our rebellious acts, would be forgiven if we believe in Him.  So I want you to know the cross of Jesus is sufficient to cover you in grace.  I want to urge you to share your story with me, one of our elders or another believer so that we would be able to pray with you, to come alongside you and help you.
      9. But for those who do not repent.  For those doctors who think they can take life each day and not be judged.  For those women who think their right to their freedom is greater than their babies right to live.  For our political officials who think they can advocate the killing of babies, there is a day of judgment coming.  In verse 19, David cries out to God, Slay the wicked, O God!”  Our hope is that through our acts of love abortions can be decreased.  But, one thing for sure the day of abortions is coming to an end.
      10. So I ask you, i beg and plead with you, do not be “Shamefully silent or appallingly passive.  Let us be filled with love and compassion for women and their babies.  Let us proactively go and look for women who are scared, who are making choices more out of convenience then for the life inside of them.  And let’s not just focus on women but let’s focus on men.  Let’s help men understand the consequence of sex and their role as a father.  Let’s come along side men and pray with them and let them know we will help them become good husbands and fathers.    In order to do that it will take time and developing relationships.
      11. Let us be known for more than just words, but for our love and compassion.  Let us dig deep into the treasure chest of God’s Word that we would love what He loves and hate what He hates. And let’s worship the God who knows us, is with us, and because of His creative power we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Coming to God for Mercy

Psalm 123:2-3

Behold, as the eyes of the servants 

look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the Lord our God,

till he has mercy upon us.

Israel knew that God is the One who gives mercy. The only rest that satisfies their souls was in God.  They had played the whore with other idols only to experience misery and pain.  It is God who gives mercy, and rest, and peace.  

How desperately we today need to be reminded to come to God for mercy and grace.  We can so easily be tempted to look for hope in other places.  But let us come before God as a servant does his master, as a maidservant does her mistress, and with arms open wide and heads down in worship receive mercy from the one true God.  Mercy and grace flow as naturally from God as water does a fountain.  And He loves to to satisfy His children with Himself.  Let us come before God.


35 years old

Today I am 35 years old and that means I have taken approximately 242,725,000 breaths in my life.  That’s a lot of breaths.  And as I was thinking of time, age, and breathing, God in His providence brought me to Psalm 90.  I have always liked this Psalm and today it became even more beautiful for me.  

In this Psalm we have the grandeur of God contrasted with the frailty of man.  In verse 2, it says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  And then in verse 3, we read, “You return man to dust.”  

God is great, glorious, and everlasting and then there is man, who is not great, glorious or everlasting.  The life of man is compared to grass that grows and flourishes in the morning but then fades and withers in the evening. Man is weak and frail and dies.  Even Methuselah, the oldest man recorded in scripture reached the very old age of 969 years, but then in Psalm 90:4 we read, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past.”  Methuselah almost reached 1000 years old and that seems amazing. But in light of verse 4, that is like one day for God.  In fact, Methuselah didn’t even live for one entire day.  The Psalmist has made it absolutely clear, sinful man is frail and returns to the dust while our holy God lives forever in perfect glory.  

And then we come to verse 12.  Here the psalmist says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  The psalmist realizing that life is short, appeals for God’s wisdom that while we live here on earth we might live holy lives.  Then in verse 14, he cries out, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” And then in verse 17, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

So to summarize, the Psalmist, knowing that God is great and glorious and that he is weak and frail, appeals to God for His wisdom, steadfast love, and favor.  The psalmist throws himself at God’s mercy and grace.  He has nothing and in his sinfulness He deserves nothing.  

So what happens?  Well Psalm 90 doesn’t tell us, but as we consider the grand narrative of the Bible we see that God does answer this request.  He does gracioulsy provide wisdom, steadfast love, and favor for man.  And he does it through His Son Jesus Christ.  And now because of the grace of Jesus we have been given the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5; 1 Cor 2:14-16) that we would live holy and wise lives.  We have been given the steadfast love of God for it is God who now dwells in us (1 Jn 4:7).  And we have certainly received the favor of God through His Son Jesus.  For because of Jesus, God tells us He will continue to lavish His grace upon us for all eternity (Eph 2:7).

So in the end, I am 35 years old and I am not promised one more day.  But by God’s grace I will live a holy life for His glory.  God satisfies me everyday with is perfect all-satisfying steadfast love.  And I know His favor rests upon me, not for what I have done for Him, but because of the grace He has bestowed upon me.