THE EGG BOWL!

Dan MullenI pastor a church that is 74 miles from Starkville, MS and Mississippi State University. Our church is also 95 miles from Oxford, MS and the University of Mississippi. My church is made up of a large contingency of both Rebel and Bulldog fans. These two universities’ football teams have been playing each other since 1901 in what today is known as the Egg Bowl. I need to confess something, I was born and raised in South Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi has always been my favorite Mississippi school. A deeper confession is my father was born in West Virginia and the Mountaineers have always been my favorite college team. The deepest confession is because the Eagles of USM and the Mountaineers of WVU have very seldom garnered much attention nationally, Alabama has always been my favorite big time college football team. So when it comes to this Egg Bowl thing I am an outsider.

This week I have done some reading on the Egg Bowl and thought I would share a few facts about this contest. Please understand that history is a curious creature, it changes depending on if the person telling it is wearing red/blue or maroon/white. The few details I am about to share are facts that seem to be accepted by both sides though I am sure I will be corrected about something as I arrive at church Sunday. I will share a few of my opinions as well. Here we go – THE EGG BOWL:

1. The first game was played between the Mississippi State Aggies and  the Mississippi Rebels in 1901 with State winning the first contest 17-0. In my opinion, the first of something is always the most important. State won the most important contest ever between Ole Miss/MSU. There can only be one first.

2. State dominated the first few years of this rivalry. In the first 23 years the two schools played each other MSU won 18. At one time in this stretch MSU won 13 in a row.

3. The two schools have played twice in the same year only once. In 1918, during the time of bulldog domination in the rivalry, State beat Ole Miss in Starkville 34-0 and then beat them again later in Oxford 13-0.

4. In 1926 things changed. The Rebels beat State 7-6 ending the Bulldog’s 13 game winning streak against Ole Miss. Some of the details are disputed but what seems to be the case is after the game some State fans perceived some Rebel fans were going to tear down the goal post and a melee ensued among the fans. Ask any Rebel fan and he will tell you the Bulldog fans started it. Ask any Bulldog fan and he will tell you the Rebel fans were the instigators. After this game the Rebels would dominate the series.

5. Because of the altercation at the end of 1926’s game a trophy was created to give the rivalry dignity and class as opposed to what happen following the Rebels’ win in Starkville. The golden egg was created. In 1927 the two schools battled for the egg. Ole Miss won the first contest for the golden egg on Thanksgiving Day defeating the Bulldogs 20-12. If the first game was the most important in this rivalry then the 1927 game has to be the second most important. Ole Miss are the only ones who can say we were the first to win the egg. By the way, the trophy accomplished its goal and a dignified trophy presentation took place in 1927 with the players singing their school’s alma mater as part of the presentation.

6. Let’s call it the Egg Bowl. In 1978 the Bulldogs were 6-4 and the Rebels were 4-6 going into the battle for the egg. In 1977 the Clarion Ledger had reported State’s win with a headline that read, EGG BOWL ’77 STATE 20 OLE MISS 14. Because neither team was going to a bowl game in 1978 the EGG BOWL that was used in the headline in 1977 was hyped in the papers and at the schools and the name stuck. It has been the Egg Bowl ever since.

7. When the egg was introduced in 1927 Ole Miss owned it the first 10 years going 9-0-1 against MSU.

8. 1964 was a huge year for State as they won the egg bowl and stopped Ole Miss’ 17 year unbeaten streak. From 1947-1964 Ole Miss had gone 14-0-3 against Mississippi State.

9. Most fans believe the egg bowl first began to be played in Jackson and not on the campuses in 1973. However, that is not the case. The games  were played regularly in Jackson in the early years of the rivalry. The fifth game in the series was played in Jackson in 1905. The game has also been played in Columbus, Tupelo, Clarksdale and even Greenwood in 1920 and 21. However, from 1973-1990 the games were played in Jackson, MS.

10. Some say God had a hand in the Ole Miss win in 1983. Ole Miss was leading 24-23 with 24 seconds remaining and State had the ball on the Rebel 10 yard line. State’s Artie Crosby kicked the ball that seemed destined to go through the goalposts for a Bulldog win. However, a wind gust nearing 40 mph knocked the ball down preserving the Rebel win and a trip to the Independence Bowl. Take a look at the “IMMACULATE DEFLECTION.”

11. In 2003 the Rebels won the 100th renewal of this rivalry; a significant win for sure.

12. State has had the better of it lately winning 5 out of the last 7 contests.

13. Ole Miss leads the rivalry 59-45-6. This is the on the field contests and does not include 2 forfeits by MSU for recruiting violations. Do we really think that in the other 109 meetings there have not been any recruiting violations?

14. Since the egg was introduced Ole Miss has been dominant going 55-26-5. That means they have possessed the egg 60 years to MSU’S 26. It is amazing that out of the 5 ties Ole Miss had won each of the previous years and by rule they were able to keep possession of the egg for another year.

Today when the players from these 2 schools take field they will run by the egg and look at the prize for which they are competing. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:14 ” I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The mark Paul is  pressing forward for is knowing Jesus, maturing in Christ. It is my prayer as God’s children that everyday we run by this trophy for a glimpse as we start our day and remind ourselves today this is the prize, knowing Jesus intimately, that we compete for.

Thanksgiving In Our Speech

happy thanksgivingToday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America. There are debates about when and where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. It is certain that Thanksgiving celebrations were held during the 16th and 17th centuries in the colonies. However, as president of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America on November 26, 1789. We have set aside a time for giving thanks as a people in America  before there was even a nation. I want to take this opportunity to share a few brief thoughts about Thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:4 says, “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not  convenient (fitting): but rather giving of thanks.” Paul is discussing the ways a believer should behave. There are several aspects he shares about the believer’s life. In this passage he says  we are to walk in love and to live a life marked by purity. In verse 4 Paul shares how a believer should and shouldn’t talk. I want to arrest this verse out of the text and point a couple of things out.

I. PAUL SHARES WHAT TO AVOID WITH OUR SPEECH.

Filthiness – This word in the Greek literally means to speak of what is shameful or deformed. This is indecent or obscene conversation.

Foolish Talking – This is not speaking of innocent humor but rather is speaking of conversations that cheapen the people having them and does not build up or accomplish anything. This does not necessarily condemn small talk and chit-chat but as Barnes says, “Christians should aim to have their conversation sensible and serious.”

Jesting – This word literally means “able to turn easily.” This speaks of an individual who can easily turn any conversation  from something that is serious and beneficial to something that does not build up because they introduce jests that are out of place and inappropriate. Humor is a great gift, however, this gift paired with a mind that is carnal destroys good, Godly conversations.

 

II. PAUL SHARES WHAT TO ACCOMPLISH  WITH OUR SPEECH.

Rather than having all the above in our speech Paul tells the believer to give thanks. Sometimes we are quick to turn a conversation to a bad place by our foolish talking and jesting; we should be quick to give thanks. As believers Paul says we should have the pattern of giving thanks in our lives.

I am convinced of all the disciplines Christians are to have giving thanks has to be as important as any. In Exodus 20:17 the last commandment is “Do not covet.” It has been pointed out that covetousness is the final command because if one is guilty of breaking this commandment they open themselves up to breaking all the other commandments.  The more we give thanks for what we have the better our spiritual walk will be. We should be quick to give thanks throughout each day. Look at a few verses about giving thanks.

I Chronicles 16:8 reads, “Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people.” Giving thanks makes the Lord’s deeds known to those we come in contact with.

Psalm 50:14 says, “Offer unto God thanksgiving: and pay thy vows unto the Most High.” Our thanksgiving to God should be marked by our devotion to Him.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks.” Our thanksgiving to God should not happen occasionally or only when what believe to be good comes our way. We should thank God in all things. Our practice should be to look for a way to thank God in every situation.

I want to conclude my Thanksgiving devotional thoughts by sharing the 10 things I am most grateful for.

1. God’s Grace.

2.  God’s Grace.

3.  God’s Grace.

4.  God’s Grace.

5.  God’s Grace.

6.  God’s Grace.

7.  God’s Grace.

8.  God’s Grace.

9.  God’s Grace.

10.  God’s Grace.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

What A Thanksgiving For Ricky Jackson

ricky jacksonThese type stories are uncomfortable to read. Most of the time we skim the highlights and move on to events that are easier to digest. Those of us who are not lawbreakers, with the exception of the occasional traffic offense, are appreciative of our law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and jurors who work tirelessly to keep criminals off the streets. What is painful to hear is that our justice system is not perfect. Sometimes mistakes are made, terrible mistakes.

Let me introduce you to Ricky Jackson. Ricky Jackson, 57, has been behind bars since 1975. He was released from prison last week. Allow me to share a few details from Jackson’s story. Harold Franks was a money order collector in Cleveland, Ohio. On May 19th, 1975 he was murdered in a gruesome way. He was beaten by two men, then had acid thrown on him, then shot twice with a .38 caliber handgun. Harold Franks was murdered in a heinous manner.

A 12-year-old named Eddie Vernon came forward telling police  he had seen Ricky Jackson along with Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman murder Harold Franks. These men were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Jackson’s death sentence was vacated because of a paperwork error. The Bridgemans had their death sentences abolished when Ohio ruled the death sentence unconstitutional in 1978.

The final part of this story is amazing. Mr. Jackson was given a new trial through the works of the Ohio Innocence Project. During the trial preparation Eddie Vernon, now 53, confessed he lied about seeing the murder. He now says friends and the police gave him the information to share as if he were a witness. Mr. Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman were released based on Vernon’s recantation. Ronnie Bridgeman had previously been paroled.

Here are some thoughts on the Ricky Jackson episode.

1. There is a man who is still dead and was murdered in a heinous way. Our sympathy for Ricky Jackson’s false imprisonment should not replace our anger over this murder. Genesis 9:6 teaches the death sentence for murder based on the fact that man is made in the image of God. Harold Franks, made in the image of God, was murdered. We need to pray for his family members that survive until today. Can you imagine the confusion they must have?

2. We should pray for Ricky Jackson. He went into prison as an 18-year-old. The world he now has been turned loose in has completely changed. For certain, he has not been in isolation for 39 years and has some knowledge of what is going on in the world. However, I am sure he still thinks of stores, homes and other landmarks in the neighborhood from his youth that will be gone as he walks those streets for the first time in 39 years. He has an incredible amount of adjusting and adaptation he must go through. We need to pray that he can be successful as a citizen, put together some sense of normalcy in life and above all else that he does not become bitter. He says now he does not blame Vernon for lying for at the time Vernon was only a kid.

3. Could there be some like Ricky Jackson who are imprisoned by God’s design? I was discussing Joseph with a church member just last week when he asked if I thought there are some like Joseph who are imprisoned today by God’s divine plan? In 25 years of pastoring I have never been asked that question. God certainly is not responsible for any murder or evil. However, with His foreknowledge He may orchestrate having a person in prison for the purpose of completing His divine plans. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph went from being a slave in Egypt to the #2 man in the entire Egyptian Empire and was able to save his family during a famine.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph having revealed himself to his brothers and following his father’s death makes this great statement, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” Could some innocent people today, like Ricky Jackson, be in prison as part of God’s divine plan?

4. I imagine the guilt that Eddie Vernon carries with him is tremendous. We should offer prayers for Vernon for he is going to have difficulty in dealing with his guilt. His lie cost a man 39 years in prison. I suspect that each one of has hurt or wronged someone in our lives. I know in my life I have hurt a few people. I John 1:9 gives us this great promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In most instances the ones that I honestly hurt I have attempted to make things right or remarkably they have tried to make things right with me. However, there are times when out of the blue the rush of guilt floods my soul that is hard to describe. Some say that is not of God for He has forgiven. It may not be of God but it sure does humble you. All of us have lived with moments of guilt and regret, can you imagine the feelings Eddie Vernon is carrying? His wounds are self-inflicted but we still can sympathize for him.

5. Finally, I have never understood why the designers of the American justice system feel they are more wise than God. Read Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” This concept is found in the New Testament concerning church discipline. Read Matthew 18:15, 16,And if your brother sins , go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.” This concept is seen again in I Timothy 6:19 about bringing accusations against an elder (pastor), “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.”

Two or three witnesses does not guarantee a fair trial but it gives a better assurance than just one. People’s eyes play tricks on them; their minds imagine things that are not real. In the worst cases someone may try to ruin another and give false testimony. These are a few reasons for requiring a minimum of two witnesses.  Anyway, I still think God’s way is the best way. There is not a single winner in the Ricky Jackson story.

By the way, don’t read this and conclude I am against the death penalty. In a Christian Ethics class in seminary I had to write a position paper on capital punishment. My paper was in defense of capital punishment. My position has not changed. I may pull that paper out soon and share some thoughts on capital punishment.

One Surprising Reason Why Church Attendance Is Down

BIG-FAMILY2There can be little argument church attendance is down in America. The Religious News Service says church attendance has been in decline for sixty years. The decade of the 1950’s had the most people attending church in America. See Religious New Service Graph.

There are several reasons given to why fewer people attend church today than in the past. Some people believe church attendance is in decline because of cultural shift. Our nation has certainly seemed to move away from the Christian principles that were in place when she was founded. Our country’s population prefers to seek pleasure for themselves rather than to please God. Some feel church attendance is down because churches have exchanged teaching the deep truths of God’s Word for frivolous activities and thus the church has become non-essential to young people. I often wonder how we know what other churches are doing when we make such condemning statements. I have argued for years that church attendance is not down as much as we think. The way we report attendance is terribly flawed. As Southern Baptists we share with our convention our church’s average attendance for Sundays. The average attendance is not the total number of people attending regularly. Consider a church that has 200 different people that attend 3 out of 4 Sundays. 75% attendance is pretty good. This imaginary church with 200 different people attending 75% of the time would only average 175 in attendance.When we read the average attendance of a church we have to understand that figure does not represent the total number of people attending that church.

Through my reading I have discovered one of the main reasons there are fewer people in church today and it is surprising. Church attendance is declining because of our low birthrate. Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, recently wrote, “For the first time in history, fewer American babies are being born while the senior citizens are growing.” Here are the numbers on our birthrate in America. In 1920 the birthrate for every 1000 women was 63.2. So in 1920 for every 1000 women of childbearing age 63 had a child. That figure grew during the baby boomer years to a high in 1957 of a birthrate of 122.7. So in 1957 for every 1000 women of childbearing age 123 had a child. I have seen current figures that state our current birthrate is from 61-63 per 1000 women. Our birthrate in America is woefully low. I will not state the reasons why I believe this is happening but just report it is happening.

Marv Knox, editor of The Baptist Standard, reports the average woman has to give birth to 2.1 children in order for a society to remain demographically stable. If births fall below that mark a society will age. A shortage of younger people in the work force certainly means smaller work age population and a shortage for Social Security and Medicare. The U. S. fertility rate is 1.88. If our birthrate remains as it is our nation could be facing a demographic nightmare.

How does this relate to the church? The lower the birthrate a nation has the more secular it becomes. The birthrate in Italy has plummeted – 1.41 births per woman. Italy is the home of the Roman Catholic Church. As this birthrate has plummeted Italy has become increasingly secular. Knox points out that the African nations’  birthrates have remained high. Uganda’s birth rate is 6.05. Africa has increasingly become a Christian continent and is projected to be the seat of Christianity by 2050.

Surprisingly the percentage of Americans attending churches while dropping some has not changed drastically over the decades. This Gallop poll shows that through the decades Americans have generally had between 40-45% of its population attending church regularly with the decade of the 50’s having the highest percentage. Gallop poll It is a logical argument there are fewer people in church today because we are having a hard time winning our children AND we do not have as many children to win. I want to scream loudly that a person is free to reproduce at the rate they choose. This issue is between husband/wife and God. However, I ask you to consider the first commandment God gave man. Genesis 1:28 God told Adam to be fruitful and multiply. Multiply means increase in number. Fruitful is not shear numbers but when a harvest is fruitful it has an aspect of quality about it. There are at least six Biblical reasons given for sex within marriage: 1) procreation, 2) companionship, 3) unity – two become one flesh, 4) pleasure – see Ecc. 9:9, 5)  raising up a Godly seed, 6) curbing fornication and adultery. One purpose for God’s people having children is to raise up a Godly seed. Some Americans have foregone having children for the purpose of obtaining certain goals in life. No one can say this is sinful. However, it is one reason why there are fewer people in church today. I pray that the church in America will fall in love again with the Biblical concept of family.

 

Two Things Happened In Dothan

chariots of fireAs disciples of Jesus Christ we are challenged, even required, to study the Word of God. There is no debate on this issue, we are to study the Bible. The issue that is debated is what method should we use to study the Holy Scriptures. When believers attempt to study God’s Word with poor study principles disaster can often result. When I was in high school I remember reading my Bible in study hall one afternoon. Our librarian at the time asked where I was reading from in the Bible. He then shared his technique for reading the Bible. He would open the Bible, place his finger on a verse and read that verse. He then would flip to a new spot and repeat the process. He would read several verses a day using this practice. If he were telling the truth, he read each verse of Scripture as a stand alone proverb. The Bible is not a series of stand alone verses or even a collection of random stories. The Bible is a metanarrative, that is it has a big story. That big story is God’s redeeming work in mankind.

One problem I constantly see is some elevate certain verses of Scripture over others and then build their entire belief system on the elevated verses. Some popular preachers and teachers today employing this practice preach only on grace and never judgment. It seems in their Bible there is a heaven but no hell. Some highlight the promises of blessings for God’s children without ever mentioning the suffering that is guaranteed we will endure. As students of the Word we must study what the entire Holy Bible teaches on a subject. Consider the town of Dothan as an example of why we must study all the Bible.

Dothan is mentioned only twice in the Bible.

I. THE SECOND TIME DOTHAN IS MENTIONED GOD SENT AN ARMY OF CHARIOTS AND HORSES FOR HIS CHILDREN.

In II Kings 6 Elisha and his servant are staying in Dothan. Ben-hadad, king of Syria, has sent horses, chariots and a great number of soldiers to capture Elisha. Their reason for attempting to capture Elisha is God revealed to Elisha the military plans of the Syrians. Elisha would tell the king of Israel all of Syria’s military strategies.  In II Kings 6:15 the servant of Elisha wakes early in the morning to find Dothan is surrounded by the Syrian troops. He screams at Elisha, “Master, what shall we do?” He was gripped with fear. Fear is the result of narrow vision. This servant forgot all the miracles that Elisha had performed. By the hand of God Elisha divided the Jordan River and crossed it on dry land, healed poisonous water, allowed a barren woman to conceive. He even raised a dead son to life. The servant, however, suffered from narrow vision. He only saw the armies of Syria and forgot everything else that Elisha had done.

In verse 16 Elisha made an incredible statement to the servant. He said, “Fear not for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” By faith Elisha could see what the servant could not see because of fear. Elisha prays for the servant’s eyes to be opened in verse 17 and the servant sees the mountains around Dothan are full of chariots and horses of fire. God delivered an army to hills around Dothan in order to calm the fears of Elisha’s servant.

II. THE FIRST TIME DOTHAN IS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE ONE OF GOD’S CHILDREN IS SOLD INTO SLAVERY AND SUFFERS FOR YEARS.

In Genesis 37 we read of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. Joseph’s brothers are jealous of Jacob and resent him tremendously. In verses 13 and 14 Jacob sends Joseph to Shechem to check on his brothers who are tending their father’s flocks. In verse 17 a stranger tells Joseph his brothers have gone to Dothan. This is the first time Dothan is mentioned in the Bible. In verse 28, at Dothan, Joseph’s jealous brothers sell him as slave to a band of Ishmaelites who take him to Egypt as their property. After this Joseph’s life is a series of ups and downs. He rises to a high position in Potiphar’s home. Because of Potiphar’s wife’s wickedness and lies Joseph is imprisoned. Eventually he gains his freedom and becomes the number 2 man in all of Egypt. As the number 2 man and by God’s revelation Joseph prepares Egypt for a seven year drought that was going to strike the land. Joseph’s family, the very family that sold him into slavery, journeys to Egypt for the purpose of asking for food because of the severity of the drought. Eventually Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and takes care of them and his elderly father, Jacob. After Jacob’s death the brothers were sure Joseph would then kill them as retaliation for what they had done to him years earlier. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph makes that great statement, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.” God in His sovereignty had placed Joseph exactly where he needed to be to save Israel and preserve the nation that He would eventually use to provide for the world the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Here is the danger of elevating one passage of Scripture and ignoring others, if one reads only Elisha’s encounter at Dothan it is a reasonable conclusion that God will always send His army to deliver His children from difficulty and disasters. However, from Joseph’s encounter at Dothan we learn sometimes God delivers His children into tragedy and disaster for a season in order to accomplish greater things in the future. We can be assured in these times that God means it for good and not evil. The two instances which Dothan is mentioned in the Bible serve as a reminder we must study everything the Bible says on a matter.

The Right To Die

brittany maynardBrittany Maynard is a beautiful young lady whose life came to end Saturday, November 1, 2014. She suffered from a form of brain cancer and was told by doctors she had six months to live in January of 2014. The cancer that attacked her body was glioblastoma multiforme. This is the most aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer. It attacks other parts of the body and few patients survive past three years.(1) She died at the age of 29. However, it was not the cancer that took Brittany’s life. She took her own life so in her own words she could die with dignity. Her husband Dan and his family, her mother, step dad and her best friend were by her side as she took the lethal potion that ended her life. I want to express my condolences to Dan and the rest of Brittany’s family. From my reading about her she seemed to be an incredibly impressive person and it had to be a joy to share time with her. For her life to end so young is heartbreaking. I pray for God’s comfort for her loved ones today.

A person’s right to die is a complex issue. As Christians our belief system is governed by the Bible, God’s Holy Word. This often puts us on opposite sides of certain issues with nonbelievers and theologically liberal Christians. Because we do not agree on certain issues does not mean we have to be adversarial. As I have read Brittany’s story all I feel is pain for her family and sorrow that this special person to so many has passed. With Brittany’s story as my backdrop I want to share a few thoughts on a person’s right to die from a Biblical point of view.

I. The Key thought on this matter is humans are created in the image of God.

On the opening pages of the Bible we read humans are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26, 27 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth and the creatures that crawl on the earth. So God created man in His own image…'” In Christian ethics human dignity is found in the fact that we are  made in the image of God. If someone is severely deformed or in constant pain because of terminal illness they still bear the image of God and maintain that dignity.

II. Life is sacred because God gives life to humans.

As a Southern Baptist pastor, I note my denomination has continually sounded the bell for the sanctity of human life. God gives life to us as a gift and then sustains our life. Colossians 1:16 states that Jesus created everything and verse 17 says He holds all things together. God has given us our lives as a gift. To treat life with little regard for any reason is an act of ingratitude. The Christian perspective is not that we own life but God owns life and has given it to us and we are accountable to Him with what we do with that gift of life. Because life is sacred Christians believe we should cherish the gift of life. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.” This is speaking of course of murder. The Bible offers a few reasons when killing is justified. Historically Christians have embraced the exceptions for killing as: a just war, self-defense and capital punishment.  A very interesting study is Genesis 9:6 which reads, “Whosoever sheds man’s blood his blood will be shed by man for God made man in His image.” God in His system of justice demands the life of one who takes another’s life because the murderer did not respect God’s image in the person he murdered. Regardless of the physical condition of a person they are still made in the image of God and their life is sacred.

III. The argument that euthanasia is not suicide because the person who takes their life is dying is flawed.

In one article I read Ms. Maynard said she was not committing suicide because she wanted to live but was dying. Her position was she would not take her life if she were not dying from brain cancer so dying with dignity is not equivalent to suicide. In no way am I being trite, but, the Bible is clear we are all dying. While we may not all have a terminal disease we are all in deed terminal. If her argument is logical then any person may end their life at any time for all are surely dying. As Christians we do not view the death of an unbeliever(I have read nothing concerning Brittany Maynard’s faith) as relief from pain and suffering. Christians do not view death as an enemy to be avoided. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” However, the death of an unbeliever is not the end of pain and suffering but is met with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28).

IV. Suicide does not condemn a person to hell.

Some have viewed suicide as a mortal sin that condemns a person’s soul to hell. The Catholic Church used to deny a Catholic Mass funeral service for a person who commits suicide. I understand that practice has been changed. Consider for a moment how we are saved. Read Ephesians 2:8, 9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works so no one can boast.”  Salvation is not a matter of doing; it is a matter of grace and faith. We are saved by grace through faith. Then in Romans 8 Paul declares nothing can separate the believer from the love of God. He gives a list of things that cannot separate us. In verse 38 he says death is one thing that cannot separate us. While suicide is not an unforgivable sin it still is a sin. Taking the totality of Scripture suicide/euthanasia has to be seen as self-murder. I must share that many who commit suicide do so because of the effects of disease or depression has had on their minds. There are some who cannot be held responsible for these actions because they have lost their faculties.

V. There is a huge difference between euthanasia and denying heroic medical treatment to keep a person alive.

Some argue Christian ethics demand  life support, feeding tubes and such must be continued because of the sacredness of human life. I argue the refusal of treatment is not equivalent with euthanasia. In euthanasia a foreign subject is introduced into the body for the purpose of ending life. In heroic medical treatment a foreign subject is introduced for the purpose of keeping a body alive even though the life may be artificial life. If neither foreign subject is introduced nature would take its course and both would die at the appointed time.

VI. Christians are to reject the teaching that God’s children will not suffer.

Romans 5:3-5 actually teaches there is value in our suffering. Our suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. It is not easy to hurt or to suffer. Yet the Bible says in the midst of this suffering there is value. Many believers today have accepted a false teaching that God’s children will be blessed and favored to the point that they will not suffer. The Bible teaches we will indeed suffer in our lives and at the end of our lives.

I have mentioned only a handful of issues for the Christian to consider in euthanasia. There are hundreds more to consider. The issue of “dying with dignity” will only become a larger issue in the years ahead. In the Feinbergs’ book on ethics, “Ethics for a Brave New World” they point out that in America soon there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 5.

If you have read this article please pause to pray for Brittany Maynard’s husband Dan and the rest of her family.

 

(1) http://time.com/3553770/brittany-maynard-dies/