About a month after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, two of us at Focus on the Family traveled to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Our goal was to determine whether or not open doors existed for Focus to minister to Iraqi families in that war-torn country. At 4:30 a.m., we piled into two GMC Suburbans and departed from Amman, Jordan for the 10-hour drive to Baghdad. Keep in mind, although the war had ended, Iraq was still very much a hotbed of violence.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Take the case of a West Virginia mother who was ordered by a local circuit judge and a family court judge to share custody of her four-year-old girl—not with her ex-husband or other relative, but with two babysitters! It gets worse. These justices, who viewed the babysitters as “psychological co-parents”, also granted them full custody. The mother, in turn, was told she could only visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds.
If you are like most Americans, you’ve watched your retirement savings shrink with the plunging stock market. You might be one of the hundreds of thousands without work searching for a job as unemployment soars. And the forecast out of Washington, D.C. these days says we’re in for tough times. America isn’t the only country rocked by such economic turbulence. Countries around the world are in the same boat.
Which is why the current global economic crisis was the hot topic at last week’s G-20 summit of world leaders in London.
Here’s a conversation stopper: try talking about the topic of death with dinner guests. See how long it takes before someone wants to change the subject. Death and dying makes us uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Even Christians, who have the promise of spending eternity with Jesus, don’t necessarily like to linger on the reality that death is a very real part of life.
They’re two sides of the coin.
As the saying goes, none of us gets out of here alive.
There’s an Associated Press story last week that caught my eye. Here’s the headline: US Births Break Record; 40% are out-of-wedlock. The article reported that “More babies were born in the United States in 2007 than any other year in the nation’s history, topping the peak during the baby boom 50 years earlier.”
Nothing wrong with an up tick in births, that is, until you consider the fact that 40% of the 4.3 million babies were born to unwed mothers.
It was supposed to be a routine checkup for an ear infection of their first child. But last month, when Joel and Jess McClenahan took their precious 11-month-old baby girl, Cora Paige, to the pediatrician, they discovered Cora had stage-four cancer. Two weeks after the diagnosis, Cora died, leaving the McClenahan’s with a mind-numbing grief and a host of unanswered questions.
And yet, Joel and Jess clung to their faith in Jesus to sustain them. On their blog, which they created the day Cora was born for the benefit of friends and family, Jess wrote: “Joel and I can’t make it through this on our own, but we know we can with the Lord walking with us each step of the way, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,’ Psalm 46:1.”
When they began to blog about Cora’s diagnosis and treatment, Cora’s story went “viral” on the web and, almost overnight, the events surrounding little Cora’s life and death was followed by concerned visitors from around the world.
Last fall, California voters were given an opportunity to decide whether to expand the traditional definition of marriage to include those in a same-sex relationship. The measure known as Proposition 8 proposed to add this language to the California State Constitution: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Prop 8 sparked a fierce debate as millions of dollars were spent to lobby both sides of the issue. If you lived in the Golden State, you virtually couldn’t turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or read a newspaper without encountering some aspect of the hotly contested topic.
Jean and I are in Orlando, Florida enjoying a break with the boys. About 5 o’clock on Sunday night, we learned that the Discovery Space Shuttle was scheduled for a 7:43 p.m. launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Since Cape Canaveral was less than 60 miles away, we piled into the minivan and headed due east. The traffic was pretty heavy so we found a place to park along with about forty other cars in a wide area near the intersection of Highways 417 and 528
Even though we were thirty-five miles from the launch pad, the view was breathtaking.
One of the six principles which guide our work at Focus on the Family is the Permanence of Marriage. We believe that marriage, as the basic building block of human civilization, was designed by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman. And since we live in a fallen world, all couples who are committed in the covenant of marriage will at some point face trials, sickness, financial crises and emotional stresses.
You operate a family-owned photography business which, among other services, creatively captures weddings on film. Further, imagine that you’re a Christian photographer and due to your religious convictions, decide to turn down certain photo shoots including “commitment ceremonies” for same-sex couples. Now, imagine your shock when a judge orders you to pay $6,637.94 to settle a lawsuit brought by an individual who complained about this alleged act of “discrimination.”
That’s what happened last year to Jon and Elaine Huguenin, owners of Elaine Photography LLC when Vanessa Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.