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Simplified Theology

If Chaffetz “doubled down” then Timothy Lee has gone “all in” defending Planned Parenthood

A recent article posted by Timothy Lee of Vox.com critiques the use of a chart by Rep. Jason Chaffetz during the Congressional hearing with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. The article titled “GOP congressman doubles down on comically misleading Planned Parenthood chart.

However, in reading the article, Mr. Lee has hilariously went all in on “correcting” the chart while making some very poor conclusions.

During the hearing, Rep. Chaffetz put a slide of a chart up showing a decline in Cancer Screenings and Cancer Prevention services and contrasted that with the increase of abortions over the same time span. Cecile Richards denied knowing about the chart and when Rep. Chaffetz pointed out that the chart represents data from Planned Parenthood’s corporate reports, she responded with, “Excuse me. My lawyers have informed me that the source of this is Americans United for Life which is an anti-abortion group so I would check your source.”

That quote has apparently given Planned Parenthood lackeys and pro-abortion liberals something to cheer about???

First off, the source of the chart in question was from Americans United for Life, but their being “anti-abortion” has nothing to do with providing information regarding Planned Parenthood’s services that they self-report. So, Mrs. Richards denial and deflection only demonstrates that she’s not familiar with the services that her clinics are providing on an annual basis.

Secondly, as Mr. Lee points out in his article, or attempts to point out, is that while the chart used shows the correct number of services provided when looking at Cancer Screenings/Preventative services provided between 2006-2013 by Planned Parenthood and contrasted with the number of abortions, the representation of the decline vs. incline is misleading.

He has hung his hat on showing the following chart as “misleading:”

Which, at first he made a decent case. Why would the larger number of 935,573 end up below the smaller number of 327,000? That’s not how graphs work. But as I thought about it, it’s only misleading in not being a typical graph display. However, I believe that the makers of the chart have done this intentionally to dramatize the point they were making. It’s showing that one service has declined while the other has increased. Which is true according to the data.

This dramatic representation of correct data, apparently left Mr. Lee upset. So he decided to “correct” the chart:

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The above “correction” shows a more typical rendering of the data. Of course, this is still misleading as the 500,000 increments make it appear as though abortions have stayed the same over the past 7 years as the line does not appear to “increase” at all, but that’s another story. Change the 500,000 increments to 5,000 and you’d see a huge difference!

Yet, this “accurate” graph shows a telling story in the drastic decline of Cancer screening and prevention services. From 2,000,000 to 935,000 over the course of 7 years. Just some quick math, that’s 1,071,798 fewer screenings. A 53.4% decline. While abortions during that time increased by 37,250. Or a 12.9% increase. The cold hard facts are evident, and are not weighing in Planned Parenthood’s favor.

Of course, trying oh so hard to make the chart used appear misleading surely wasn’t a strong case for Mr. Lee’s argument. Creating a typical chart simply couldn’t show the “truth” Mr. Lee wants you to believe, but he doesn’t realize that the irony is on him. So rather than sticking with his hand, he decided to go all-in with a bluff by creating another chart. The problem with his doing this, is that it doesn’t change the cards he’s holding. The thing he missed is that, his going all-in gave away his tell, as the chart he made only further implicates Planned Parenthood’s “quality” of services provided. Let’s take a look at it:

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Here we are focusing on the green and orange lines. The comparison being drawn is on the changes from 2007-2013 of Contraceptive services compared to STI/STD testing and treatment services over that time period.

My first thought when I saw the graph was, “Why would you use this chart to try and defend Planned Parenthood?”

The reason I thought that, is because of how incriminating it is. As these lines clearly show a decrease in contraception services and an increase in STI/STD testing and treatments. For an organization that is supposedly working to reduce the number of “unwanted” pregnancies through providing preventative services such as contraception, they apparently are doing less and less of this every year. However, they are providing more STI/STD tests and treatments. Which this is kind of misleading from Planned Parenthood’s perspective as they do not show the break down of tests vs. treatments being provided. I mean, are they providing 4.3 million tests and only 0.17 million treatments???

Besides my initial thought on why this chart would be used, it also attempts to mislead readers into thinking that Planned Parenthood is providing some sort of “good” service to counter their abortion services. This is a very typical tactic used by Planned Parenthood supporters. But no one should really buy it.

In fact if you do want to buy this guys charts, you should first know that contraception services over the course of 7 years has decreased by about 10% (which I’ll remind you that abortion services increased by nearly 13%). And STI/STD related services has increased by 48%. What this means, is that while the bottom line of total services provided by Planned Parenthood has not seen a drastic overall change, as Mr. Lee points out at the end of his article. The type of services they provide has drastically changed. It could just be a coincidence but for the differences between the decrease of contraception services being approximately the same as the increase in abortion services and the increase in STI/STD related services being approximately the same as the decrease in Cancer screening/prevention services (48% vs. 52%) one has to wonder about the services Planned Parenthood provides and promotes?

If words could describe.

The first time I heard Pastor Ty speak, I was captivated by his heart for God and his passion for bringing hope to inner city kids in Omaha, NE. The news of his and his wife’s passing pierced permanently the hearts of thousands.

On July 27, 2015, Ty spoke about death and how it is just a comma before the exclamation point!

So when I do funerals…when I do funerals. The sense I have, this is Biblical, we are going to look at it in a second. But the graveside burial is a comma and not a period. This for the believer, for the lover of Jesus, this is not the end. This is not the ultimate, this is not the goodbye. This is the, we will see you eternally speaking soon. So when I say the comma before exclamation point at the graveside for the believer is a comma before the exclamation point. ~ Pastor Ty “Comma Before Exclamation Point”

The Schenzel’s spent their lives impacting future generations, future generations that will see you soon!

On August 17, 2015, Ty shared via Twitter:

It is with tremendous grief that we mourn the hole left on earth by the loss of Ty and Terri, but it is with great joy that we proclaim that this was just the comma before the exclamation point for them. And we know that “the gap” for Ty and Terry has been erased as they experience God’s love first hand!

Meeting the Master [Gardener]

I am not much of a gardener when spring rolls around, but the one thing I know about gardening is this: weeds happen. Each year we prep our gardens with plants in the hopes that we will have a bountiful harvest of fruit, but no matter how much we prepare them before hand, it will be inevitable that at some point one of those irritating pesky little weeds will pop up through the surface of the ground. I find this to be a rather fine analogy to my walk with Christ.

Galatians 5: 19-21 says,

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: lust, pornography, sensuality, arguments with others, jealousy, outbursts of anger, broken relationships, or drunkenness, and things like these. If you are guilty of these you will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty to modify the wording a little bit to reflect the works of my flesh.

Even though I grew up going to church and attended youth group: I was guilty of all of the listed works of the flesh: You could call them “the weeds that were growing in the garden of my heart. It was when I was in College that I met Jesus and learned a new way of living: As Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23

“[But] the fruit grown by the Spirit of God is unselfish love, gladness of heart, undisturbed well being, self-restraint, not giving into harmful actions or passions, bearing patiently with one another; having the harmlessness of a dove, yet not sparing sharpness to cause good, resting assured in the fidelity of the Gospel.

[Being marked] with humility, gentleness, and chastity, there is no law that can be handed down upon these things.

When I gave my life to Jesus, I began to see the sharp contrast between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit. As I began identifying the sin in my life or the weeds in my garden, I realized that there was a need for me to not let them continue to grow.

As an inexperienced gardener, I had no idea what was a weed and what was a plant that would eventually bear fruit. I had to research and study to learn the difference, and as I began to identify the weeds in my garden  I would to try and take care of the weeds my own way. You see, I was able to identify weeds, but I didn’t know how to get rid of them. Because of my inexperience with ridding my garden of weeds, it was like I took a pair of scissors and cut the weeds down to the surface of the dirt. After cutting the weeds down, I would throw some dead grass clippings to cover up where the weed was growing. The weeds would be out of sight and out of mind for couple of weeks or maybe a month, but eventually, they would grow enough and poke through the mulch I had scattered over top of them.

This certainly is not an effective way to handle weeds growing in a garden and certainly not how God wants us to handle the sin in our lives. To illustrate let’s continue reading in Galatians 5:24

Everyone who has been anointed with Christ Jesus has crucified the corrupt nature of their filthy appetites and passions. So as to mortify the sinful desires that has resulted from the diseased condition of the flesh.

This is the way God wants us to deal with sin; by the cross. God’s method is that of a highly skilled gardener, digging the weeds out by the root. It may not be easy or pleasant to toil and dig a root up, especially if we have allowed the weed to establish its deep roots that lie unnoticed under the soil. But this is the necessary way to put an end to the weeds growth.

A.W. Tozer explained it the following way:

[The cross] destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.

And Paul concluded the passage in Galatians 5 with verse 25:

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

I am still learning the truth of the Christian life, of how I am to live by the Spirit and keep in step with God. But I have found that what I needed, was to stop dealing with the weeds on my own and allow God to utilize His method to get rid of the weeds that were growing in the garden of my heart. As God puts a permanent end to the life of the flesh there is cause to rejoice in the new life that God provides through Christ.

The story behind our baby announcement

Yesterday, my wife and I finally Facebook’d that she is pregnant with our fourth child. It was simple, short, and sweet. We decided to let our daughters share the special news with the following video:

That video was taken when we showed our girls the ultrasound and told them that mommy was going to have a baby. Their genuine excitement and joy over the news of having a baby brother or sister was tremendously heartwarming given our past circumstances.

Five years ago, my wife had a miscarriage when she was pregnant with our first child. It was very traumatizing as she started hemorrhaging at 12 weeks while on campus for her classes. Thankfully she was rushed to the hospital and I was able to leave work and get to the ER as she was arriving. Her OB took charge of the situation and my wife was taken in for an emergency D&C. Many of our close friends and family who knew about the pregnancy and miscarriage were extremely supportive, but the emotional scaring left by the pain of losing our baby, might never completely heal.

Fast forward 5 years (and 2 beautiful girls later) to 12 weeks ago when we found out that my wife was once again expecting. Shortly after we found out, she noticed some spotting and when she spoke with her OB she was advised to go to the ER. The ER visit was a whirlwind of feelings, bringing back the memories from her first pregnancy and the thoughts of all that could go wrong. The ultrasound was able to rule out an ectopic pregnancy but it was too early to see the developing fetus. So we agonized over the next two weeks as the doctors and nurses told us what they knew but it wasn’t very reassuring as there wasn’t a definitive “yes” or “no” on whether or not the fetus would continue to develop or if we would have another early term miscarriage.

Somehow, we survived the anxiety of those two weeks and my wife went to her first “official” prenatal exam where they did a follow up ultrasound. Of course, you can guess from the announcement and the ultrasound photo above that baby and mom [and dad and girls] are all doing well.

Once again, we are excited to share the wonderful news of our 4th child; who we cannot wait to welcome into the world on (or around) February 23, 2016. We praise God for the miracle of life that He is knitting together.

When atheism memes go wrong!

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and stumbled across the following meme regarding how atheists “pick and choose their morals.” As clever as it may appear at first, there are a few things that have simply gone awry.

  1. It makes the assumption, that *all* the morals atheists “pick and choose” are in fact moral to begin with. Now, I’m certainly not going to begin trying to reason with them regarding the three listed. The issue with the assumption being made is whether or not the side of the fence the atheist lands on is actually the “moral side” of the argument when it comes to *all* the other moral issues out there, not just the three provided.
  2. There is contradiction with the meme’s #1 (child abuse) and #2 (woman’s right to choose). Nearly everyone will “think of the children” and understand that child abuse is wrong, so let’s not go there. But the meme then refers to supporting a woman’s right to choose. This, in the instance of abortion (which a “woman’s right to choose” nearly always implies abortion), it contradicts the view that child abuse is wrong. As abortion is the single most devastating (and legal) act of pre-birth child abuse in the world today.
  3. It misrepresents the actual argument. Quite honestly, I’ve never once heard anyone use the phrase “atheists pick and choose their morals.” That’s not to say it’s never happened. But if I understand where this meme is coming from correctly, the argument is regarding the concept of moral relativism and where objective moral values stem from.

Reading the comments posted by others regarding the meme was quite alarming. Many of them referred to “atheists use reasoning as they pick and choose their morals,” yet I doubt any of them reasoned the inherent issues within the meme itself. I suppose if your reasoning is based on assumptions and contradictions, as it is with the meme, than I can see how an atheist can conclude they are using “reasoning.” The moral of this story is that before you like a meme (comment on, or make one), you should understand everything that has gone wrong with it.

Wednesday Worship 7/29/15

I’ve been listening to my 4 year old sing The Revelation Song all week so I couldn’t help but include it in the first edition of Wednesday Worship. I hope you enjoy the playlist I put together and that it starts a fire in you!

Sovereignty, omniscience, and free will: God’s will – our choice.

Children are dependent on their parents in a number of ways, they are especially dependent on their parents to make them food when they are hungry. However, while children are dependent, they are also independent from their parents: This independent expression of a child can pose a number of challenges for parents every day. Ultimately, this relationship between a parent and their child is how we can view the simple theology of God’s sovereignty and omniscience vs. human free will.

Parents are in control of what they allow or don’t allow their child to eat. They are in control of when their child will eat. The are even in control of how their child will eat. We could make a relatively simple proposition that parents are sovereign over their child’s snack or meal times. However, the challenge that parents are all too well aware of, is that they are not in control of whether or not their child will eat.

As a being independent from their parent, a child possesses free will or the ability to make choices free from their parents governance. A child could tell you that they are hungry or show signs that they are hungry, they may even give you an idea of what they want to eat, and how they want to eat it. Essentially, the child is telling their parent what, when, and how they want the meal prepared. Once the parent cooks and serves the food, the parent may be faced with a child who has changed their mind. The child has freedom to do this: It could be that they have decided they would rather continue playing or perhaps they no longer want what they originally requested to eat.

Even when the parent is able to sit the child down at the table and place the plate of food in front of the child, there is no guarantee the child will eat what’s on the plate. You see, while the parent is demonstrating sovereignty – they also know all too well that in reality; their child can choose to express free will that is an alternative outcome to their will. This “knowing all too well” can be likened to a parents omniscience of possible logical outcomes they face when trying to get their child to eat.

I mentioned earlier that I am using this analogy to demonstrate a Biblical truth: That God is sovereign and possesses the foreknowledge of all of our potential logical choices. Yet, it is still logically coherent that we are able to maintain our independent volition to create an alternative outcome to God’s will. There is an old saying that fits along the same lines of my analogy.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

We must begin to understand that God’s sovereignty and omniscience does not impede upon our free will and that together they are logically coherent. Just as a parent may face known challenges in serving their child a meal, God knows all too well the challenges of having created a being that has the potential to act independently of His will. While in the aforementioned scenario, it is the parents desire for their child to eat. It is God’s desire for humanity to freely choose Him and follow His instructions for their lives. All we are left with is the question: How will you express your free will?

Let grace abound!

16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:16-17

The law given through Moses, was given so that one can look at it and know “I am a sinner.” But the grace and truth which comes through Jesus Christ, allows the sinner to look upon the cross and know “I am saved.”

Where sin entraps, grace frees.

When sin condemns, grace forgives.

Do not use grace as an excuse to continue walking in sin or as a pedestal to judge others. Rather allow the abundance of grace you’ve received to be an opportunity to walk in the light of God’s salvation and use it as a podium to extend God’s grace by loving others.

John 1:1-18: Bearing witness to the Wor(l)d

In my walk I often find myself going back to the Gospel accounts. So I thought, what better way to start the Scripture Sunday series than with the first Gospel I read after I became a Christian? The Gospel of John. Back then, I simply read it to get an idea of what it said, now as I’ve been studying it, I have noticed a lot more of the nuances and juicy tidbits that I previously missed. So, let’s go ahead and get started to see what we can unpack:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:1-5 ESV

John doesn’t waste time getting started, does he?

Already, in the first 5 verses of his Gospel account, he has identified Jesus’ nature. For us to understand what John has done, we must look at it this way: That Jesus, before he was in the world, was the Word. And John is giving testimony of the Word in order for the world to know.

What we discover about Jesus’ nature in these first 5 verses is the following:

1) He was the first immaterial intelligence. This is derived from the meaning of the Greek being used in the passage.
2) That Jesus and God are one in essence.
3) That Jesus, with God, have the ability to create ex nihilo.
4) That life is found in him. The life which is the pinnacle of spiritual and soul, is the light of men.
5) The light, which can never be quenched, produces the highest and best of humanity.
6) This light also has overcome darkness, meaning that the consequences of sin cannot overtake the light.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. ~ John 1:6-8 ESV

The Apostle John mentions John the Baptist, who was to give testimony of the light before the light enters the world that all might believe through his testimony. The Apostle John, continues in his Gospel account as to why this is important to understand:

 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:9-13 ESV

You see, John the Baptist was not the light. But he was to bear witness to the true light. We must also understand that Jesus is the only one with the power to give light to everyone. So taking points #1 and #6 about Jesus’ nature, we can understand these verses a little better. To this point, Jesus had not entered the world in a physical sense, but he was about to. This is what John the Baptist was to bear witness to, that the Word was coming. The further importance of this, is that the light given by Jesus to everyone receives him, has the power over death (which is the consequence of sin).

Further, the Apostle John, also refers us back to #2 and #4 of Jesus’ nature at the end of this passage. The picture being drawn here is that no one recognized or knew God, but that through Jesus, anyone who believes in his name would be given the highest and best life as a child of God. This of course cannot be obtain by human will or means, but only given to us from God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ~ John 1:14-18 ESV

Enter stage left: Jesus.

Ultimately, the Apostle John used the first 13 verses of his Gospel to set up the stage for verse 14, when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” This is the climatic verse in the passage. Remember #1-#6 from earlier, well, they all became incarnate. And as a result, God was made known to humanity.

Looking at verses 16 and 17, we see the contrast between the law given to Moses and the grace and truth that comes through Jesus Christ. “Grace upon grace,” meaning that there is an abundance of grace given to all humanity though Jesus that overrules the law given through Moses. This also gives us a reason why in verse 11, Jesus’ own people did not recognize him. Finally, verse 10 is answered by verse 18, where before the Word became flesh, the world knew him not, but now that the Word has become flesh, God has been made known.

If you ask me, it’s quite remarkable what the Apostle John has packed into the first 18 verses of his Gospel. Everything we have unpacked in this passage, as I said in my title, is bearing witness to the Wor(l)d. That is, bearing witness of the Word become flesh for the World to know God. As Christians, we have been entrusted with the knowledge of grace and truth through Jesus Christ in order that we may share his light with the world. The more we learn to understand Jesus’ nature and allow him to give his light to us, the more the world will know God. So the question remains, am I allowing the light of Christ to shine through me?

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