The Kingdom-Driven Family

Building a Home That Serves Christ and His Kingdom

One of the benefits and blessings of studying, internalizing, and applying the Word of God is that you tend to get wiser. After all, wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.  The progression then leads to knowledge, understanding, and discernment.  This is a process, but one that enables a person to then serve others as a friend, mentor, or counselor.

Not-fully-sanctified humans have a tendency to take something good and mess it up. Having people come to you for help and then finding relief can cause them to place you on a pedestal rather than view you as an equal. And, who can’t appreciate the appeal to be considered important and valuable? While understandable, this is not a good thing for either party. Our eyes need to remain focused on Christ so that we keep ourselves on the narrow path that leads to life, and not detour ourselves to coveting and pursing the praise of men.

It follows that the best thing one can do is encourage a person less-versed in Scripture to develop the practice of going to God’s Word first, before seeking guidance from another. It is true, that the individual may not know where to look, but then the need is to teach them how to use Scripture to inform every area of life and thought.  After all, no one knows how long God has ordained for any of us to be here on earth, so equipping oneself and others is vital to furthering the Kingdom of God.

Once a person has committed and submitted his/her life to the Lord, the next step is to become educated in God’s ways.  This includes the law of God as well as filtering it through the narratives of Scripture to identify how well or how poorly our forebears carried it out.  That is how a person goes from only being able to digest the milk of the Word to the strong meat it provides.

The more I grow in faith, and thus have people seek out my advice, I realize my greatest service to them is to help them get to the point that they no longer need me.  That doesn’t mean our relationship ends.  Rather, it means we are able to have a relationship that serves the Kingdom each from our own spheres and jurisdictions.

I’m convinced this is how we build the army of the Lord. Whether it’s with our children, grandchildren, those within the Body, or even those we work with or casually meet.  The overall goal is not to elevate ourselves to the position of “guru”, but to equip ourselves first, and then the saints. We must decrease so that He (the Lord) is increased.

The following is information to “file away” in case you are ever unexpectedly called to make a decision. Always best to have enough information to make knowledgeable and godly decisions.

The Ethics of Organ Harvesting and Transplant

by Heidi Klessig, M.D.

First published by G3 Ministries

In 1968 in apartheid South Africa, a young black man named Clive Haupt suffered a brain bleed while picnicking with his family. He was admitted to a Cape Town hospital under the care of Dr. Raymond Hoffenberg. Later that night, Dr. Hoffenberg was approached by the transplant team and was asked to pronounce Haupt dead. Initially, Dr. Hoffenberg refused, as he was troubled at the thought of pronouncing someone with a beating heart dead. Reportedly, one of the transplant surgeons said, “God, Bill, what sort of heart are you going to give us?” This is because a heart from a biologically dead body very quickly begins to decompose and is unsuitable for transplantation. So, under considerable pressure, Dr. Hoffenberg pronounced Clive Haupt dead the following morning. Dr. Christiaan Barnard then harvested Haupt’s still beating heart and placed it in the chest of a retired white dentist, marking the world’s first successful heart transplant.

Surgeons around the world took notice. Whereas tissues (skin, bone, corneas) could be successfully transplanted from a corpse, successful organ transplants (heart, lung, liver, kidneys) would require that the organs involved come from people whose hearts were still beating and whose lungs were still oxygenating their blood: people still biologically alive. So, in August of 1968, an ad hoc committee of doctors at Harvard Medical School wrote a landmark paper that re-defined people in an irreversible coma as dead. They did this by the stroke of a pen: there were no tests, studies, or evidence that comatose people were dead. This was a utilitarian pronouncement, made to skirt the ethical and legal issues associated with harvesting organs from people who were still biologically alive.

In 1981, the ad hoc committee’s recommendations were codified into law as the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA). It states that in order to declare someone legally dead, there must be irreversible cessation of cardiopulmonary function or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem. These definitions have allowed the science of organ transplantation to provide life-saving organs for thousands of people. But are the people declared “legally” dead under the UDDA actually dead?

The historic teaching of the church is that we are a body-soul unity. We are not an embodied soul or an ensouled body as in Plato or Aristotle. The Christian view is also different from the Enlightenment view that we are our brains, brains who operate and direct our bodies like machines. According to Scripture, “the body without the spirit is dead,” (James 2:26). Abraham “gave up the ghost” and died at a good old age (Genesis 25:8). Historically, death was defined by the departure of the spirit and was marked by the disintegration of the body, which explains Lazarus’ sister’s alarm at having his tomb opened, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days,” (John 11:39).

Interestingly, the biological definition of death is “the loss of integration of the organism as a whole.” This definition also reflects the “dis-integration” of the body which begins when the spirit departs.

Clearly, people who have been pronounced legally dead under the brain death category of the UDDA, (who still have beating hearts) are not biologically dead and their spirits are still integrated in their bodies. There have been many cases of people who were declared “brain dead” awakening prior to their organ harvesting and going on to live normal lives. Zack Dunlap was declared brain dead in 2007, and recalls being extremely angry that he was unable to move or sign as he overheard doctors discussing harvesting his organs with his parents. Thankfully he managed to move before being taken to an operating room to be killed by organ harvesting.

The newer procedure of “donation after circulatory death” is equally problematic. In this technique, people who are not brain dead (but not expected to survive) have their care withdrawn in such a way as to harvest their organs before the loss of circulation makes them unviable. These people’s hearts are allowed to stop, and then doctors wait between seventy-five seconds to five minutes (depending on the transplant center) before starting the harvest surgery. Many medical professionals are uncomfortable with this because we know that people are routinely resuscitated after seventy-five seconds to five minutes of cardiac arrest. If you are capable of being resuscitated, your spirit has not departed and you are not yet dead. This is borne out by a recent case in Illinois, in which a young lady’s heart spontaneously resumed beating and she began gasping for breath during the removal of her kidneys. The county coroner determined that her ultimate cause of death was homicide.

Even worse, in a procedure called normothermic regional perfusion with controlled donation after circulatory death (NRP-cDCD), doctors are now taking people off life support, clamping off the blood flow to their brains to make them brain dead on purpose, and then resuscitating the rest of the body. According to the University of Nebraska protocol, “once blood flow to the heart is established, the heart will start beating”. This practice plays fast and loose with the “irreversibility” clauses of the UDDA, and has been banned in Australia, though centers in the US continue to pursue it.

Not every type of transplant is unethical. Living donation of a paired organ such as the kidney or a lobed organ like the liver are ethical because both the donor and the recipient remain alive after the procedure. Tissues such as corneas and heart valves can be donated after biological death, though there have been cases of organ procurement organizations harvesting tissues before the medical examiner could determine the cause of death. Thus, the families of these people were left without closure or justice, especially if the death was possibly the result of a crime.

Although the public is generally unaware that organ harvesting takes place before you are biologically dead, many doctors and bioethicists have been speaking and writing about these facts. Doctors Miller, Truog, and Brock wrote in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy:

Nevertheless, scholars have argued cogently that donors of vital organs, including those diagnosed as ‘brain dead’ and those declared dead according to cardiopulmonary criteria, are not in fact dead at the time that vital organs are being procured(.) . . . This leaves the current practice of organ donation based on the ‘moral fiction’ that donors are dead when vital organs are procured.

Dr. Alan Shewmon, professor emeritus of pediatric neurology at UCLA medical school stated:

Just as cigarette ads are required to contain a footnote warning of health risks, ads promoting organ donation should contain a footnote along these lines: ‘Warning: It remains controversial whether you will actually be dead at the time of removal of your organs.’

Ethicist Dr. Michael Nair-Collins writes:

Appealing to the good consequences of organ transplantation in an attempt to justify the lack of transparency, if not outright obfuscation on which the transplantation enterprise rests, is not a very compelling argument.

In light of all this, what should Christians do? First, refuse to be a registered organ donor. If you are a registered organ donor, your organs will be taken, regardless of the objections of your family or your healthcare power of attorney. Second, because the 2006 revision of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) allows even the hospital administrator to consent to donate an incapacitated person’s organs in absence of a specific refusal to donate, fill out a refusal to donate card. Some states have this on their drivers’ licenses, otherwise the HALO-voice healthcare advocacy organization has a life-affirming medical proxy kit and downloadable wallet card stating your refusal to donate.

Third, share this information with your pastor and your church. It has been over fifty years since the Harvard ad hoc committee changed the definition of death, and the silence from the church has been deafening. The only state with a religious exemption to the new definitions of death under the UDDA is New Jersey due to the strenuous efforts of the Jewish community. Recently, Catholic scholars have been addressing this issue, at least in scholarly journals.

Fourth, be aware that the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) is considering proposals to revise the UDDA in ways that will make it easier to declare someone brain dead, and more difficult for families to contest a brain death diagnosis.

The ULC is planning to release their model statute later this year, and is currently considering expert opinions and suggestions to assist them in this process. If you are a theologian, you are an expert on matters of life and death and should consider sharing them with a letter to the ULC.

Finally, be encouraged, our hope is in the Lord! I have found that most people just don’t know the facts on organ harvesting, but when they find out they care. Become an advocate of life from conception until natural death. Speak and pray against this injustice and together we will “deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain,” (Proverbs 24:11,12).

In 2013, my husband and I decided to get passports in case we wanted to travel outside the country, something we had never done before. As it turns out, between the two of us, circumstances were such (hip replacement for him and some health issues for me) that we didn’t think much about international travel. And then, of course, there was Covid. It dawned on me recently that the ten year lifespan of our passports was coming to an end.  So, I decided to be pro-active and get it renewed before expiration.

I did my online research and discovered that there were post office passport offices I could go to for renewal. The USPS website gave the locations, days, and times of service.  Today, I went to the nearest post office right when it was to open, only to find a couple waiting ahead of me.  At first, they thought I was the person who was going to open the office.  When they said they had been waiting and the office looked closed, I found someone in the back who was sorting mail to help us.

This slight, middle-aged man, with a heavy accent and wearing a mask, told us that we needed to go to the passport office on the other side.  We told him that there was no one there.  He said, he knew that because it is by appointment only.  I let him know that the website doesn’t say that.  He was firm.  An appointment was the requirement.  The couple told him that they had tried repeatedly to make an appointment.  He kept saying that they needed to make an appointment.  They repeated their claim.  I then asked to speak to the person in charge of passports.  That same postal worker told me that he was the Passport person. He offered to walk us to the computer terminal to make an appointment.  The man who had been waiting said, “I tried but it wouldn’t let me.”  Then the postal worker said, “That’s because there aren’t any appointments available and you can’t make one.”

Not sure I’ll ever get those brain cells back! But, not to be deterred, I travelled to a FedEx office because their website said you could renew there.  When I arrived and requested it, they said I had to go online to fill out and forms and then come back for a photo to be taken.  This was getting annoying.

Later on in the day, I found that the US government allows you (if you fulfill certain requirements) to renew online.  I did so, and then my husband and I had to take digital photos of each other with very specific requirements. For the better part of an hour, we repeatedly kept uploading photos only to have them rejected for one reason or another.  Finally, the photos proved acceptable and we were able to move on to the next step.   (I really didn’t like any of the photos of me, but as soon as one of them proved successful, I decided that I loved it.)

The website then instructed me to pay for this service and I thought I would use the Visa Card that arrived the other day from the State of California called “California Middle Class Tax Refund Card,” meant to offset inflation under the banner of the Benefit for Families Act.  Having researched that a bit, I discovered we were going to be taxed on this relief money, and I figured this was a good a place to spend it as anywhere.  Guess what?  The U.S. Government website wouldn’t accept that as payment!  Truly, I am not making this up. Money from California doesn’t cut the mustard, apparently.

Persistence did pay off and finally our applications were accepted, but with a caveat.  If our renewal is denied for some reason, they will not refund our money.

Is my passport saga over?  I haven’t a clue.  It will take 6-9 weeks for me to find out.

It would be a wonderful reality to never experience frustration. Think of it.  Everything you endeavor to do turns out well, people run on schedule, things don’t break, etc. What exactly is frustration?

To me it is similar to the feeling of walking into a very strong wind, or a jar that refuses to open, or being unable to express to yourself what is bothering you.  Another way of saying it is that we experience resistance.

A good procedure when experiencing frustration is to step back and identify who or what is stopping your forward progress in light of what you are attempting to do. Sometimes the correct conclusion is that your “endeavor” is faulty or problematic in some way.  In this case, the resistance proves beneficial.

Another step is to identify if your stated goal is within your jurisdiction and ability to achieve. Can you really do anything about the war between Ukraine and Russia? Are you in a position single-handedly to stop the corruption in government schools?  Quite possibly the frustration is a result of attempting to take too big a chunk of a task that goes beyond you.  A more realistic approach is to see what is within your purview and how to move in the correct direction, but on a smaller scale.

A subsequent step would be to determine if you are bothered by something entirely different than what you think is at issue. Has someone disappointed you? Are you upset with a lack of achievement in your own life that makes you bitter? Possibly, you need a better diagnosis of the problem, keeping in mind that often our own sinfulness brings about frustration.  You won’t fix the little things in other’s lives until you deal with the big ones in your own.

Prayer is the engine that will fuel all of these aforementioned steps. And in the process of communicating with God, along with the communication we receive back from Him with daily Bible reading, there can be relief in just being heard. Then the foundational doctrines of our faith (God’s sovereignty, His victory, His providential care) will “kick in” and help us patiently endure whatever is going on in the present.

Lastly, one thing I do in the midst of all these considerations is to go and tackle a project that has remained on the to-do list longer than it should. Whether it is cleaning out a drawer, closet, garage, or paperwork, as I focus on that particular task and see success, the frustration either is mitigated or disappears. And if nothing else, something has been removed from my to-do list.

What if frustration is one of the tools our Savior uses to draw us closer to Him and train ourselves to not rely on our own strength, but to rely on His?  I guess you could call that a win-win.

Jesus is called the Second Adam in Scripture. Why did we need a second one? Simply put, because the first one failed in his mission to take dominion in the name of God, to obey what he was told to do. The sin of the first Adam was to make himself God, determining his own definitions of right and wrong and then acting accordingly.

Why is the Incarnation the pivotal point in human history? Because to make up for one of God’s creatures asserting himself as capable of becoming God, God Himself took on flesh to become man in order to right the wrong of Adam’s usurpation.

Did Adam thwart God’s plans? Hardly. As difficult as it might be to fathom, the coming of our Savior was not a “plan B” regrouping to get the mission accomplished. It was the plan. If this proves difficult to receive rationally, it is because this can only be received by faith. Why would God set these things in motion with the knowledge that at one point, He would send His son to suffer and die? Without being able to give the definitive answer, what is obvious is that His ways are so far superior to ours, that this plan brings Him greater glory and blessing and honor.

Being human is not to be rejected or demeaned, as in “I’m only human.” No, being human is so glorious that the Second Person of the Trinity became like us. Our problem has never been our humanity. Our problem has always been sin. Celebrating the Incarnation of Jesus is rejoicing in the solution to our problem.

This in one of my favorite Christmas hymns:

1. Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

2. At His Word the worlds were framed;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!

3. He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!

4. O that birth forever blessed,
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Evermore and evermore!

5. This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

6. O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

7. Righteous judge of souls departed,
Righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted
None in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive,
Evermore and evermore!

8. Thee let old men, thee let young men,
Thee let boys in [Chorus] sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens,
With glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring,
Evermore and evermore!

9. Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!


Covenant keeping is much more than giving assent to the things of God.  If we do not engage the claims of Christ in every area of our lives (including our thoughts), then we are being less than faithful.

Possibly because I grew up in the age of Rocky Balboa and the original Rocky movie and its sequels, that when I think of being a contender, I think of a fighter in the ring, not only willing to take punches, but to deliver as many back if not more.  Yet, it has now been deemed better (or more righteous) in some Christian circles to consider that our main role this side of heaven is to take punches, with little to no defensive actions to counter them, let alone exhibit offensive action.

While it is true that pressing the claims of Christ, turning the other cheek, and praying for our enemies can appear to be contradictory, the reality is that we are called to do all of these things.  How to sort them all out? It is the law of God which we have been given to help us through these maneuvers.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not merely a personal one, but one that encompasses our person and includes every square inch of the created realm. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom. If we are going to truly contend for the faith (see the epistle of Jude), which we are directed to do, then we must train and practice God’s Law on a daily basis, minute-by-minute.

Am I saying this is easy? It is enough to say that it is required.  Whether or not anyone finds it difficult is beside the point.  Since we have been called, we must proceed with the reality that in Christ we are equipped.  Should we feel insecure or without confidence in this, it means we must up our training schedule and continue to advance even in the reality of taking a punch now and again.

If we wish to do more than oppose this evil, we must be ready to confront those who consider the subject already settled in the minds of most people.

What if we said, “Sit and watch this with me and then tell me whether this subject should be settled?”

Might we lose some friends? I have. Yet, should I want a person as a friend, who when faced with the reality of abortion, still considers it unimportant?

Choose this day whom you will serve…..

Does the fish know he’s wet?  The question indicates that we are not always aware of the context in which we exist.  That is why a biblical world and life view is so important to learn and reinforce on a daily basis. Without immersion in the Scriptures, we are vulnerable to surrounding influences, often without even being aware of such.

An example:

A radio station was playing in the background and a “public service announcement” came on scripted as follows:

“Are you anxious, depressed, and dealing with unwanted emotions? This is perfectly normal, and we can help.” 

What follows is a telephone number and website address directing the listener to people who will help make this all better.  Did I check to see if these lead to pharmaceutical solutions?  No, but I am reasonably sure that will be the eventual destination after psychiatric help is given.  I submit, that making anxiety and depression normal, eliminates the abnormality of sin.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians, St. Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication to make our requests known to God.  Jesus, in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, instructed us to take His yoke upon us, in that He will bolster us up and carry our burdens.

These are not the solutions being offered by the world.  Moreover, even in Christian circles we hear of those “suffering” from depression rather than those abandoning God’s law-word and seeking sympathy and pity from those around them.

The greatest lie we have bought in to is ignoring Jesus telling us what should be ourmost important emphasis – the Kingdom of God and His righteousness/justice.  If we are focused on the Lord’s concerns, we may find little time for self-pity or a victimhood mentality. Every soldier faces the realities of injury, illness, or emotional distress.  However, if he abandons the mission and just focuses on what is going on with him, he pretty much misses the promised benefits of “all these things will be added unto you” (food, clothing, shelter of Matthew 6).  The war we are in is real, and raging. Don’t help the enemy sideline you or those you care about.

If you want to avoid being sucked into deceptions and false ideas, then stay in God’s Word and whenever you hear the enemy-driven lies which surround us, respond knowledgably with “Thus sayeth the Lord.” What’s more, you will be a true help to those who are being deceived and headed for more hurt than help.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Eph. 5:11).

“If you do that again, there will be consequences.” — Is this statement a promise or a threat

Some might say, because it sounds “negative,” it is a threat.  Others might say that it constitutes a promise (whether negative or positive) that a particular action will lead to a subsequent action or series of actions.

Within evangelical Christian circles, the “promises of God” always seem to be assurances of positive blessing and congregants are encouraged to “claim” them. The negatives of disobedience are often missing from these sermons. Is this “half-truth” really masking an entire lie?  I believe it is.

Let’s go back to my question at the start of this essay. Doesn’t the context of the original statement have everything to do with whether we would want the outcome indicated? One would have to know what the “that” is in the statement to discern whether the result would be desired.

When you fail to look at the entire Bible as God’s revelation of His will to all men, it is easy to pick and choose from those things you prefer rather than hope to ignore. However, the Lord doesn’t waste a word anywhere in Scripture, and it is wise to pay attention all the time, lest we receive unwanted and unintended consequences.

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are not “feel good” passages once you go beyond the 13th verse of the former and the 14th of the latter.  The rest of each of these chapters includes the promises of God, but ones few people would want to be on the receiving end of.  Read them and you will know what I mean.

So, the next time you hear a sermon or read a devotional that discusses the promises of God, it would be wise to evaluate whether or not you are only getting a partial view of the mind of God, and the pleasant aspects at that.

What’s more, reading through Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 begs the question: Do we have to “claim” these promises for them to go into effect?  Or, are we responsible to look to the commands of God in His law-word to recognize which consequences we will receive?

Next time you are encouraged to “claim the promises of God” remember that God’s law-word is not a potluck or smorgasbord of items you can accept or reject at your leisure. Rather than claiming them, recognize that they have a claim on you.