Green Pastures – Still Waters

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Are You Listening?

The other morning, I walked outside to the soothing sounds of a cooing dove. I looked up to find the little creature balancing on a power line. I smiled with gratitude. Flashbacks flooded my mind with the times God has comforted me with that same peaceful coo-coo … often when I needed it the most. I’m not superstitious about signs in nature, but I know how His magnificent creation often speaks to my heart. Many writers address how we can best get through the tough times. And, it’s true that we will experience trials. What about the times we feel the presence of God? What about the quiet, still moments when the “noise” of life doesn’t demand every inch of our attention? Do we take time to listen? Are we even aware of the Creator’s desire to have communion with us, His children?

Trials May Come

In 1 Peter 1:6 (NIV) we are told “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3 goes even further by telling us we are destined for them (these trials). That’s certainly not the kind of good news I relish, but it seems to be a natural flow of life … for me, my family, and my friends. Yet, I take courage in knowing this earthly dwelling is temporal, and for this short time, our spiritual enemy has domain. We can rejoice knowing there will be no more sorrow, no more tears in our eternal home, Heaven. We will forever enjoy a beautiful intimacy with Father God, our Creator.

Where Is God?

Recognizing this dichotomy, I have taken a deeper look at the 23rd Psalm. It reminds me again that God will be with me as I walk through the valleys on earth. He assures me He is present right in the middle of the mess of my life. It is my job to look for and listen for Him. In addition, Scripture says, God as my Shepherd “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, (Psalm 23:2, NIV).”


First of all, I love how God makes me lie down. I still remember as a little girl when my mom insisted I lie down, especially on a hot summer day. Didn’t she understand how busy I was? I had serious playing to do. Books to read. Friends to see. Skating. Biking. Yet my mom knew how I was made, and how much happier I would be if I rested. God knows when I need to have a “timeout” from my circumstances. What happens when He leads me to those still waters? Big stuff. He restores me. I become refreshed, and renewed from the chaffing of the rougher situations. I become stronger and more able to live victoriously even through the troubles.

As I take stock of my own testimony of faith, I stop to think about the times when God has intervened and set me in a quiet place. They may not have looked like still waters, but they were evident and restorative. A deep breath of peace. They are times when I sensed God’s presence. Sometimes, such experiences are as fleeting as the song of a dove, or a hug from a child. But regardless of the time, those memories linger as reminders of God’s care.

He is Speaking

Think for a minute about your own life. Everyone has ups and downs, mountaintops and valleys, joys and sorrows. I would encourage you to look for those precious times when you have been able to stop to breathe, even in the midst of chaos. I pray that you have felt reminders of God’s love and comfort. Look for Him to show up when you need Him most. He may want you to lie down in green pastures. Listen for Him speaking to your heart.

Does a Fetus Feel Pain?

Though many do not even inquire, perhaps this is a question that deserves an answer. Many voices in our culture believe women’s rights prevail in choosing to carry a pregnancy to its conclusion, or abort its development. A parallel mindset is the importance of protecting animals from pain. I agree that we should provide humane treatment for all of God’s creation. However, I have to ask why human life shouldn’t at least hold the same value as the animals.

Let’s turn to the research to see if there is any evidence of fetal pain and when it is observed. Since pain is subjective, even for fully formed adult humans, it would be helpful for to look at how doctors determine pain in infants. Young babies cannot communicate verbally or even point to a pain scale to tell how badly something hurts. However, babies are wired to let people know things are not “A-OK.” They grimace, cry, writhe, and withdraw from any perceived painful object.

Prenatal surgeries have been helpful in providing information about fetal sensitivity to pain. Scientists use several clues to rate the ability of a developing fetus to feel pain. Similar to more mature human life, the fetus shows signs of pain through facial grimaces as well as the reflexive response to pull away from objects they sense threaten them.

To determine the degree of pain felt in utero, neuroscientists have measured the activity of pain receptors and stress hormones. The receptors are found throughout the body and quickly respond to potentially damaging events like high heat, extreme cold, injury, and inflammation. Pain receptors and stress hormones can be monitored and measured long before a fetus or infant can rate his pain sensation.

Some proponents of abortion say that the brain must have complex connections between the thalamus and cortex to feel pain, which occurs around twenty-four weeks after conception. However, recent studies have shown that adults without a cortex can feel pain, invalidating this argument.

As early as six weeks after conception, the tiny fetus, measuring only 1.5 inches long, will spontaneously move away from anything that touches its mouth where pain receptor cells first develop. By eighteen weeks after conception, the entire body is covered by pain receptor cells.

By measuring stress hormones in the bloodstream, scientists have noted a stress response to a painful procedure as early as eighteen weeks after conception. For this reason, since the 1980s, doctors have advised using anesthesia and pain management for fetal surgeries. Why would doctors use anesthesia if there was no evidence that a fetus feels pain? Doctors have observed that pain management promotes faster recovery post surgery. And, then there is the ethical reason.

I must ask everyone who reads this, regardless of your views on abortion, to consider the ethics involved in suctioning or dismembering a fetus without any anesthesia. Since we have powerful campaigns to apply ethics to protecting animals, which have much less complex nervous systems and brain capacity than a human life, should we not at least protect these young ones from such a destructive end without any intervention? Even if you staunchly stand for a woman’s right to “choose,” should not a young one in utero be given the respect animals are?

For those of us who believe human life is made in the image of a Creator God, we need to be informed and able to provide scientific answers to those who believe a fetus is a mere glob of cells. The Bible tells us human beings are privileged with a spirit life, unlike the animals in our creation. We may not persuade others of this understanding without an opening of their spiritual “eyes.” However, we can at least argue for humane treatment in the same way pro-choice advocates stand for the ethics of animal treatment.

For more information, check out my source:

Katrina Furth, Ph.D.

Research on Fetal Brain Development

Scientists have been studying the growth and development of the human brain from conception to birth, and the results are fascinating. The evidence of the brain’s early capability is compelling. The brain develops progressively, as does the body, from the first cell union, or zygote, the beginning of human life. It’s difficult to imagine how a single cell could become a super-powered “apparatus” with abilities far surpassing mechanical responses in only a few months.

Let me take you through an overview of the steps. After only three weeks from conception, chemical messages are telling some of the new cells to become the building blocks of the human brain. In only four weeks from conception, the brain has developed into organized structures. By five weeks after the moment of conception, the brain neurons begin communicating to the muscles, and movement begins. From the seventh to twenty-eighth week, the brain neurons seem to “explode” at the multiplication rate of 250,000 per minute! Ultrasounds show that hand dominance begins at seven weeks from conception.

Memory functions begin by twenty-nine weeks. Late term fetuses have a capacity for remembering the sounds and sensations experienced inside the womb. Songs sung and stories read are later recognized with interest by the infant after birth. The fetus has been listening to his or her mother’s voice and will easily relate to it after birth. One could say, without a stretch of the imagination, that learning is happening ten weeks before a normal full term birth.

There is no single milestone to determine when consciousness begins. This realization makes a case for us to do what we can to protect this little one, from conception to birth.

These facts are attributed to Katrina Furth, PhD. See her website below:

Katrina Furth, Ph.D.

Where Are You Going?

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I am a self-admitted “planner.” I like to know where I’m going, literally, figuratively, and spiritually. When I don’t understand the course ahead, I feel the tension of the limbo state, or as I call it, the Great Unknown. As one who likes to see where she’s going, I realize that some would castigate my desire with the label “Control Freak!” I don’t personally recognize this trait in my everyday life, but regardless, I will accept the label in stride and realize there are consequences. What I do know, as one who yearns for God’s way, I must relinquish my desires to His. He knows best, not me, and in this, I am certain.

I take great comfort from the often quoted Scripture in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (NIV). So, aha! My heart leaps with joy. God has plans too, and they are good plans for me. Why would I insist on doing my own thing when the God of the Universe wants to show me His way? His wisdom is superior, so shouldn’t I look, listen, and walk in it? Sounds like an unbeatable plan, right?

However, on a long road trip recently, I was reminded of how easily I can be redirected. The “voices” that call to us, distract us, and deter us are everywhere. So many daily distractions, even the normal life routines, can carry us off course to prevent us from obtaining our God-inspired purpose. I was driving and listening to our GPS for directions to our destination. My husband was sitting behind me in the backseat, keeping our pets content.

Here’s how it went. “Siri,” our voice on the GPS, kept issuing orders to me: “Take a left at the next ….” My husband, with a calm, but authoritative tone, said, “Ignore her, and keep going straight ahead.” It happened three times just like that.

As I drove along, trying to ignore the GPS and trust in my husband’s judgment, I thought how similar this is to our spiritual journey. The Lord has good plans, straight ahead, but something makes me turn from that course. Distractions come at me daily, and some are very winsome and attractive.

Where the GPS wanted me to go, I don’t know, nor probably ever will. She was so insistent. I paid attention to the clear directions from the voice behind me. I had reason to trust the man saying, “Stay the course.” I know his character. I know from experience how much better his internal navigation is than my own. (I can get turned around in a heartbeat.) We had no problems when I followed his directions, and we soon arrived safely at our planned destination.

If this metaphorical analysis works for you as it did me, perhaps we can become better “followers” and learn to stay on task. When I come face to face with my Lord in Heaven, I want Him to know I tried to follow as the Psalmist writes: “My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled,” (Psalm 17:5, NIV). I know I will not do this perfectly, but He also knows I am mortal. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness are mine in salvation through Christ.