When does life begin?
FEBRUARY 1, 2023
When does life begin? I’ll tell you, on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life here to let Christians know that God isn’t mad at them. Keep listening, and you’ll hear that because of what Jesus has done, you’re welcomed home into the family of God because of his radical grace, free from the penalties of sin, and never alone in your suffering.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, we were talking about the way we identify with God, the image of God in which we’re created, when we laugh authentically and when we weep authentically. And then we started looking at something else that’s different. It is the place where we identify and connect with and bond with other people. Did you hear about the three guys that were talking about when life began? One was a pastor, he said it begins at conception, at that point it’s a life and abortion is wrong. Another guy who was an elder in a Presbyterian church said, no., It begins when there is quickening, that’s what Augustine said. And then one old guy said, you want to know when life begins, when the children finally leave the house and the dog dies, well, yesterday I was talking about how when my brother died and my dog died, I saw something of the connection that we have with people. In my brother’s case, he was my closest friend. And I was absolutely devastated. And if I talk about it long enough, I’ll get down and I’m not going to do that. I remember going, I didn’t, my brother was a district attorney and he was well thought of, had the highest conviction rate in North Carolina and probably would’ve been the governor if he had left. But I was the preacher in the family, so I couldn’t mourn. I had to comfort others and make arrangements and do what was needed during that time. So, I was the strong one. They closed down the streets of the city where I grew up. The police officers saluted him as the hearse went by. We went to the cemetery and we buried my brother with a 21 gun salute from the Marines. And he was a Marine, but I was strong because I was the preacher and I was supposed to be strong, but two weeks later, I flew back to my hometown to be with my mother, and I went out on a cold, rainy day to stand at my brother’s grave and I couldn’t find his grave. I walked around and looked, and we hadn’t put up a gravestone yet, and I just couldn’t find it, and then I’d had it, and I stood there in that graveyard, cold and angry and I said, God, I can’t believe this. My brother died and I miss him and I can’t even find his grave. And that’s when Jesus said, that’s cause he’s not here. You’re seeking the living among the dead, but that was really a hard time and I started getting letters from people all over the country to tell me their stories. And in their stories, they would tell about the loved one they lost and how hard it was. And then they would tell me funny things about the one that they miss. And then when my German Shepherd and I’ve had a bunch of German Shepherds, but during that time, shortly thereafter, our German Shepherd Quincy died. And I wrote a piece in our newsletter about what I’d learned from my dog, and we started getting letters from people all over the country who had lost their pets and talked about how much they loved them and how much fun they were. And there was a mixture of lament and laughter in all of that. And somebody had Key Life, a staff member, by the way, took all those letters and many people sent pictures of their pets that they had lost. And this staff member made a scrapbook for me, which I still have today, from people who laughed and cried. And laughed and cried when my brother died, and when my dog died. And I began to see something that is important and deep. And that is the place where we connect and bond with each other is in the tears we cry and the laughter that we share. If Paul had a favorite congregation, it was probably the church in Philippi. Paul was in prison when he wrote to them. And he said this.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy because of your partnership in the gospel, from the first day until now.
That’s Philippians 1:3 through five. Later in that letter, Paul wrote, referring to the possibility of his execution even, he writes and this Philippians 2:17 through 18.
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you should also be glad and rejoice with me.
In the midst of death and rejection, in prison, pain and laughter, there was an amazing identification of the Christians with one another. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and I’ve experienced that identification in amazing ways with God’s people. There was a time when I was a pastor and I told the people, I’m not your mother, I’m your teacher. I would say there’s nothing wrong with this church, I couldn’t fix with a few funerals. And then I began to realize something was deeply wrong and the thing that was wrong was my love for people. You think about that. Amen.
Such powerful stuff. Thank you Steve. And of course, there’s still more to come in this exploration of Steve’s latest book. Do hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. Well, we’ve been reading through Steve’s book and we talked about the same thing on a recent episode of Steve Brown Etc. In fact, that episode was the first one ever that we recorded live in front of a studio audience. A really fun show, but listen, don’t take my word for it. Take a listen to part of that episode, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.
I would like to just take a minute and talk a little bit about the subject of denial. I find it very effective. I like it a lot. I spend a significant amount of my time living in it and it’s not worked really well, but sometimes it’s been great. What, what is so wrong with denial?
Well first, we all play that game some, we live in a very dark world and there’s some really, really hard stuff that we face. You’ve heard me say on numerous occasions that people say they want to show me the real life. As a matter of fact, I see real life all the time. I just can’t tell you the number of deathbeds I’ve stood by, how often I’ve listened to confessions, how many babies I’ve buried, how many suicides that I’ve had to go back and clean up. It’s just been a lot of years of that sort of thing. And Sometimes you’ve got to read a novel that’s an escape. Sometimes you’ve got to turn away from the darkness and maybe even pretend some, but you can’t do that forever. Eventually you have to take the hand of Jesus and face it, and the hard thing is to do it about those things that we lament, our own personal sin, cancer that’s terrible. So, no matter where it is, at some point Jesus will say, come with me and let’s kiss that demonn on the lips. And that’s when denial stops and we begin to deal with the real thing. Now, you can read what I’ve just said in a lot of books on lament, but very few of those books will tell you about the laughter because in the middle of the bad stuff that we all face. And every one of you know what I’m talking about. In the middle of that, there’s laughter, and it’s the laughter that comes from the redeemed who know that God has their back and that no matter what happens, they can still dance, they can still deal with it, and that Romans 8:28 is still true. I have, was the pastor of a church where a man left because he said, I told jokes and this is so serious, you shouldn’t tell jokes about it. And I told him, it’s so serious that if you don’t tell jokes about it, you miss it. I was young in those days and now looking back on what I said to him, that was a lot more profound than I thought it was. They used to have an invitation at churches. Where the evangelists would say, turn to your neighbor. He would invite people to come forward and receive Christ. And he would say, turn to your neighbor and say to your neighbor, if you go, I’ll go with you. Now, that’s highly manipulative. You don’t do that sort of thing. And I used to think, no, I’m not going to tell you what I think cause it’s not very appropriate for this kind of show. But that’s what Jesus has said to us. If you’ll take off your glasses, the rose colored ones, if you’ll kiss those demons on the lips, if you’ll go there into the dark, I’ll go with you. And that’s what this book is about. You don’t even have to buy it, I just told you. It’s the fact that Jesus goes with us to the darkest places in our lives, the places that most of us just want to deny, and if you do deny it, you miss the joy that he gives in the middle of it.
Like I said, a fun and first of its kind show that I really think you’ll enjoy hearing. We put that entire episode on CD and if it’s okay with you, we’d love to send it to you, for free. Claim your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to key life.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament episode of Steve Brown Etc. And finally, a question for you. Have you ever considered partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy, you can charge a gift on your credit card, you can include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.