Tag Archives: Obligation

Two examples of authentic love, one from a woman, one from a man

Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love
Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love

Actually, there are 3 stories – Dina added one in the comments which I have copied onto the bottom of the main post.

Let’s start with the most self-sacrificial example first. This one made my toes curl in admiration.

From Life News:

When St. Louis mother Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma while she was pregnant with her fourth child, she was given the choice of having treatment or saving her own life. She chose to save her baby. She decided to put off treatment in favor of giving birth at the 28th week to give her baby girl a chance to live.

Sadly, Combs died Tuesday morning — three days after giving birth.

In deciding to reject treatment, Combs posted the following on Facebook:

I feel it’s time to post this because I know a lot of information is going around. Last week I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. I am also 25 weeks pregnant. I can’t begin treatment while pregnant so I have some tough decisions to make. Against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks. There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. I saw a dermatologist last year and she didn’t find anything concerning. Even my oncologist can’t find the source. At 38 you don’t expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective. All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don’t stress about little things. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later. I know we are in for some big upcoming battles. Thank you for all of the support we have received so far. It is very much appreciated!

Tragically, Roy Combs had to post the message on the family’s GoFundMe page this week about losing his wife:

I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning. I don’t have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all. I always knew she was destined for greater things. We all have a perfect angel looking over us. She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother. She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on. Thank you all for your support and prayers. She was my everything and always will be.

In similar cases, doctors often suggest an abortion, but, as studies show, there is typically no need for women to destroy the life of their unborn child to save their own. Her story story confirms what research has shown: women who are pregnant and battling breast cancer don’t need to have an abortion.

She made the ultimate sacrifice for her unborn child – she wanted to be sure that she would not hurt her child with chemotherapy. Now, can we at least agree that this was a more noble choice than abortion? Not obligatory, for sure. But heroic. That’s the kind of woman I would want to get up and go to work for every day. Someone who thinks about the needs of others first.

Anyway, on to part two!

This one is from MercatorNet.

And they write:

A few weeks ago Shannon mentioned the high numbers of divorces around the world. (She even included a colourful map – I’m such a cartophile…) She wisely noted that dedication is probably the key for a happy marriage, if you are prepared to be in for the long haul from the start then you’re more likely to work through the hard times rather than cut and run.

Along such lines, watch the above video entitled “What is love?”. It shows the love of a man (Bill) for his wife of 50 years (Glad) who has advanced alzeihmer’s disease. God forbid that anything should happen to her, but I hope that I will be able to serve my wife with the love, cheerfulness and dedication that Bill demonstrates in this video. If love is willing the good of another then Bill is a great exemplar of love. It is a great antitode to today’s “me-first-and-foremost” mentality and culture. It is also the (hard) answer to today’s high divorce rates. Perhaps with a few more Bills in the world that map in Shannon’s post will become less red…just something to think about this Advent.

Indeed.

If you are looking for someone to marry, look for someone who is good at dealing with the needs of other people. Someone who doesn’t mind responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Good news for those people, though. You can break that self-centeredness by doing things you don’t feel like doing. You have to train yourself to not cut and run when things get difficult. Doing whatever you feel like doing is bad training for marriage. Doing things for others that you don’t feel like doing is good training for marriage. Fortunately, there are lots of positive messages about self-denial and self-sacrifice in the Bible. Those can really help you if you are unable to resist the pull of fun and thrills.

Here is a comment that my good friend Dina had about the first story:

As you know, I am a midwife. I once looked after a woman with cancer that was diagnosed during the pregnancy. She refused treatment to help baby Grace come safely into the world. They had tried for 12 years to have a baby. The pregnancy made her cancer worse as it was an oestrogen based tumour, and she died when Grace was 10 days old and in the special care baby unit.

I remember wheeling her through on her bed to the baby unit so she could have a cuddle with Grace. She said to me “I would save Grace’s life over mine every time” the morning she died.

I get a Christmas card and a picture of her every year. Grace is 11 now, and I will never forget her mother’s determination, and the strength she found to live long enough to see her born safely.

I read a lot of military history, searching for examples of bravery and courage to humble me. It’s easy for me to think that men are the only ones who are self-sacrificial because that’s who I read about most. But clearly, women love self-sacrificially as well, and sometimes paying the ultimate price.

Finally, here is some good advice from the Bible for everyone to think about:

Phil 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Remember, everyone is made in God’s image, and you can love them. It’s easier if they’re  lovable, of course – not everyone is safe to love.

Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?

Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek
Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor? If a Christian is smart enough to know how to get a degree and how to hold down a job, then that intelligence should also be used to defend God’s reputation when it is called into question. I don’t see how it is possible to claim that you love God, but then not apply your mind to defending him when you apply your mind to other things like education and work.

Two examples of authentic love, one from a woman, one from a man

What do white roses mean?
Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love

Actually, there are 3 stories – Dina added one in the comments which I have copied onto the bottom of the main post.

Let’s start with the most self-sacrificial example first. This one made my toes curl in admiration.

From Life News:

When St. Louis mother Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma while she was pregnant with her fourth child, she was given the choice of having treatment or saving her own life. She chose to save her baby. She decided to put off treatment in favor of giving birth at the 28th week to give her baby girl a chance to live.

Sadly, Combs died Tuesday morning — three days after giving birth.

In deciding to reject treatment, Combs posted the following on Facebook:

I feel it’s time to post this because I know a lot of information is going around. Last week I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. I am also 25 weeks pregnant. I can’t begin treatment while pregnant so I have some tough decisions to make. Against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks. There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. I saw a dermatologist last year and she didn’t find anything concerning. Even my oncologist can’t find the source. At 38 you don’t expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective. All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don’t stress about little things. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later. I know we are in for some big upcoming battles. Thank you for all of the support we have received so far. It is very much appreciated!

Tragically, Roy Combs had to post the message on the family’s GoFundMe page this week about losing his wife:

I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning. I don’t have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all. I always knew she was destined for greater things. We all have a perfect angel looking over us. She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother. She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on. Thank you all for your support and prayers. She was my everything and always will be.

In similar cases, doctors often suggest an abortion, but, as studies show, there is typically no need for women to destroy the life of their unborn child to save their own. Her story story confirms what research has shown: women who are pregnant and battling breast cancer don’t need to have an abortion.

She made the ultimate sacrifice for her unborn child – she wanted to be sure that she would not hurt her child with chemotherapy. Now, can we at least agree that this was a more noble choice than abortion? Not obligatory, for sure. But heroic. That’s the kind of woman I would want to get up and go to work for every day. Someone who thinks about the needs of others – not someone like this woman who would not resist her own selfish desires.

Anyway, on to part two!

This one is from MercatorNet, and it’s their most popular story for this week:

And they write:

A few weeks ago Shannon mentioned the high numbers of divorces around the world. (She even included a colourful map – I’m such a cartophile…) She wisely noted that dedication is probably the key for a happy marriage, if you are prepared to be in for the long haul from the start then you’re more likely to work through the hard times rather than cut and run.

Along such lines, watch the above video entitled “What is love?”. It shows the love of a man (Bill) for his wife of 50 years (Glad) who has advanced alzeihmer’s disease. God forbid that anything should happen to her, but I hope that I will be able to serve my wife with the love, cheerfulness and dedication that Bill demonstrates in this video. If love is willing the good of another then Bill is a great exemplar of love. It is a great antitode to today’s “me-first-and-foremost” mentality and culture. It is also the (hard) answer to today’s high divorce rates. Perhaps with a few more Bills in the world that map in Shannon’s post will become less red…just something to think about this Advent.

Indeed.

If you are looking for someone to marry, look for someone who is good at dealing with the needs of other people. Someone who doesn’t mind responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Good news for those people, though. You can break that self-centeredness by doing things you don’t feel like doing. You have to train yourself to not cut and run when things get difficult. Doing whatever you feel like doing is bad training for marriage. Doing things for others that you don’t feel like doing is good training for marriage. Fortunately, there are lots of positive messages about self-denial and self-sacrifice in the Bible. Those can really help you if you are unable to resist the pull of fun and thrills.

Here is a comment that Dina (yes, that Dina) left on the post, which I have copied here:

As you know, I am a midwife. I once looked after a woman with cancer that was diagnosed during the pregnancy. She refused treatment to help baby Grace come safely into the world. They had tried for 12 years to have a baby. The pregnancy made her cancer worse as it was an oestrogen based tumour, and she died when Grace was 10 days old and in the special care baby unit.

I remember wheeling her through on her bed to the baby unit so she could have a cuddle with Grace. She said to me “I would save Grace’s life over mine every time” the morning she died.

I get a Christmas card and a picture of her every year. Grace is 11 now, and I will never forget her mother’s determination, and the strength she found to live long enough to see her born safely.

Finally, here is some good advice from the Bible for everyone to think about:

Phil 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Remember, everyone is made in God’s image, and you can love them. It’s easier if they’re  lovable, of course – not everyone is safe to love.

Baby elephant in China cries for 5 hours after being stomped by his mom

Baby elephant rejected by his mother
Baby elephant cries after being attacked by his own mother

From the New York Daily News. (Printable version linked)

Excerpt:

Little Zhuangzhuang, a newborn elephant at a wildlife refuge in China, was inconsolable after his mother rejected him and then tried to stomp him to death.

Tears streamed down his gray trunk for five hours as zookeepers struggled to comfort the baby elephant.

They initially thought it was an accident when the mom stepped on him after giving birth, according to the Central European News agency.

Employees removed him, cleaned him up and treated his injuries, then reunited the baby with his momma.

But she was having none of it, and began stomping him again.

So the game keepers stepped in once more and permanently separated the two.

“We don’t know why the mother turned on her calf but we couldn’t take a chance,” an employee told CEN.

“The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled,” he said.

“He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”

The petite pachyderm, born in August, is now doing well. The zookeeper who rescued him from his violent mother adopted him and helped him thrive at the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve in Rong-cheng, China.

I found another photo of the baby elephant here:

Baby elephant's birthday is supposed to be happy
A baby elephant’s birthday is supposed to be happy

And Sun News added this:

Elephants rejecting their young is not uncommon, either in captivity or in the wild. In 2004, baby elephant Keemaya died at the Calgary Zoo after its mother refused to care for it.

I guess a lot of my views on ethics are rooted in the obvious needs that children have. When I look at an unborn baby, I can tell what it needs. So, I am careful not to cause a pregnancy before I can supply its needs. The needs of the little unborn creature are driving these moral boundaries on me. And the same with born children. I oppose gay marriage because when I look at little children, I want them to have a stable environment to grow up in with a mother and father who are biologically related to them (in the best case). I permit lots of arrangements, but I promote one arrangement over the others because that’s what’s best for children. Anyone can look at unborn and born children and see that, just like anyone can look at a crying baby elephant and understand – “I have to govern my behavior so that I don’t hurt you”. If that means cutting off the premarital sex and making decisions that are likely to produce a stable marriage, then that’s what we should do.

Children cry too, you know. They cry when we hurt them. They cry when we make bad decisions and when we don’t provide them with what they need. Children need mothers and fathers who care about them. Making a safe environment for a child isn’t an accident. It isn’t random and unpredictable. We have to control our desires before we have children, so that we provide children with what they need. It would be nice if men and women were more thoughtful and unselfish about children and marriage before they started in with sex.

Bible study: responsibilities and obligations in Philippians 1-4

(Note: this video illustrates an infantry tactic where one group monitors the movement of another group. And then they switch roles. This is called “bounding overwatch”)

Here are some parts of Philippians that speak to an issue that I think is a problem today for many Christians – self-centeredness. I have three parts of Philippians to present below on that topic.

1) The importance of fellowship – preparing to work together with other Christians towards some end:

Phil 1:3-11:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Some Christians find it difficult to “participate in the gospel” with anyone because they feel uncomfortable with responsibilities, expectations or obligations to others. In my experience, people who shun responsibilities, obligations and expectations can improve this by taking Paul’s advice – grow in real knowledge and all discernment. In my experience, I have found that people who shy away from responsibilities, expectations and obligations do so because they are afraid of failing. They are proud and don’t want to look bad if they fail to perform something that they are expected to perform. Christians should not shy away from growing though, because growing is what helps us to be better partners in the gospel. We should try to read hard things, study hard things, and take the hardest jobs we can do – so that we build up our tolerance for responsibilities, obligations and expectations. People who do hard jobs like computer programming or nursing know that that you always struggle to learn difficult things and there is always the risk of looking incompetent. But we accept the risk of looking stupid and being judged and this builds a level of comfort with responsibilities, obligations and expectations. That comfort level with responsibilities, obligations and expectations that you get from doing hard things can only help you be a better partner in the gospel.

2) The importance of not being self-centered, but instead being focused on the needs of others:

Phil 2:1-8:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And Phil 2:19-23:

19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Nothing very complicated here, it’s important to look out for the interests of others and to be concerned about their welfare. I think it’s a good idea to be practical about this, and instead of just expressing opinions like “I care”, try to find out what needs to be done and do it. The important thing is that it’s good to be focused on other people, and not on ourselves, and to think of the interests of others, not our own interests. That point about looking out for other people’s interests is said twice, once in each passage from chapter 2 I quoted above.

3) People who are doing good work for the Lord have needs:

Phil 4:10-18:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

I think if you are friends with a person and they are working on some task or other for the gospel, then it’s a good idea to be sensitive to their needs, and be open to caring for those needs. Your goal should not be to make excuses for why you don’t have to do anything to help them. In my case, finances are not a problem, so I don’t have that need. I use money to supply the needs of people that I partner with in the gospel, though. Instead, I have other needs that people can help with – for example, after a stressful day of work, I am always looking for people to play games with me. Some of my friends show an interest in that, and others don’t. The good things that I do for God are not free, and it matters a lot to me whether those who know me want to listen to me and then take responsibility for making sure that I keep functioning and doing the things that I do for God. We have to have an eye out to maintain people who are doing good things for God – not just take it for granted that it will continue. Sometimes, it is not just sending money (gifts), it can be other love languages like touch, service, quality time and words of encouragement. But turning away from the needs of others is not good for us.