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Archive for January, 2010

This headline in the Telegraph says it all:  Haiti ‘faces amputee generation’.

In another article, The Miami Herald reported that Healing Hands for Haiti, the only prosthetic limb manufacturer in Port-au-Prince was destroyed.

Does anyone know of agencies preparing to serve the thousands of newly disabled people of Haiti?  Please add a comment if you do.

And let us all continue to pray for them and support the agencies providing immediate relief.

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Thank you to Jan Lacher for pointing me to Dr. Al Mohler’s blog for Wednesday.

Dr. Mohler provided a critique of The Shack by William Paul Young.  More than 10 million copies have been sold.

Because Pastor John just preached on the subject of Jesus and the man born blind, this paragraph from Dr. Mohler’s blog jumped out at me, particularly the sentence in bold:

While the literary device of an unconventional “trinity” of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. “Papa” tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity “spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God.” Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. “Papa” tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, “he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being.”  When Jesus healed the blind, “He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.” (emphasis mine)

Please note, that sentence is from The Shack.  Dr. Mohler does not hold to that statement.

Now contrast that sentence with some familiar passages where Jesus demonstrates or claims authority to heal for himself:

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”  Mark 2:10-12

And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.  Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. Luke 7:6-10

What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. Luke 18:41-43

Jesus claims authority, uses his authority, and does not correct people who believe he has authority over his creation.  Most importantly:

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

Jesus is God, always has been God and always will be God.

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“My child stayed blind.”

Pastor John answered two possible objections in his sermon, Born Blind for the Glory of God.  Here is the first:

Someone might say, “But this blind man got his eyes and was able to benefit himself from the work of God. My child stayed blind.”

Pastor John’s answer can be found in the sermon link above.

How do I know this objection isn’t hypothetical, or that Pastor John wasn’t just looking for a neat rhetorical device to make a point?

Because a version of that objection was asked in 1996, and Pastor John answered it in his sermon, Sustained by Sovereign Grace – Forever:

He said to me recently: it would be easier if Jesus hadn’t healed (the man born blind) but instead had given grace to endure the absence of healing.

One of the things I said to him was this: That’s exactly what Jesus did do—and for that very reason—in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God’s grace ordains that Paul have a thorn in the flesh for the sake of his humility and then will not remove it in answer to prayer.  But he says,

My [sustaining] grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.

To which Paul responds,

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

And that God-centered, Bible-saturated answer made all the difference in the world.

Pastors (and everybody else, but especially pastors) should be ready to respond to real questions with real Bible.  We have a hope and we have a future because God is sovereign over all things, including when he heals and when he doesn’t heal.  He shows us what that sovereignty looks like in his word.

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If have any doubts about God’s goodness and sovereignty in disability, please watch, listen or read this past Sunday’s sermon from Pastor John.

Born Blind for the Glory of God – Sermon by John Piper, January 24, 2010

Here’s an excerpt:

So when Jesus said in verse 3 (of John 9), “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him,” this is the work of God—that the man see natural light and that the man see spiritual light. That the man be given natural eyes, and that he be given spiritual eyes. That he see the glory of this world, and the glory of its Maker, Jesus Christ. And worship him.

From this I conclude that in every disability, whether genetically from the womb, or circumstantially from an accident, or infectiously from a disease, God has a design, a purpose, for his own glory, and for the good of his people who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Therefore, it is wrong to think that such children in the womb are unimportant, or without a unique, God-given worth in this world. And it is wrong to abort them—to kill them.

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It isn’t unusual for me to have tears come to my eyes at church.  Usually it is in response to prayer, music or preaching.  

Yesterday morning, tears came as I looked at the bulletin:

      

Here’s what got me going:

The sermon will be posted at Desiring God on Monday.  As you can probably guess, I highly recommend it!

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On this pro-life Sunday, please trust in God and his word more than technology.

My family has benefited greatly from research and scientific advancements.  And technologies like ultrasound are responsible for saving increasing numbers of babies.  But technology alone isn’t the answer if we want to protect the lives of unborn babies with disabilities:

The rate of TOPFA (termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly) at all gestations and at less than 16 weeks increased significantly during the time of our study. . . This is likely to be due to the increasing sensitivity of screening programs for the detection of structural and chromosomal anomalies during this period. Serum screening and ultrasound imaging have both improved during this time. 

From “Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly: a population-based study 1995 to 2004,” published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, March 2007. 

What does that mean?  As technologies for diagnosing fetal anomalies improve, increasing numbers of babies with disabilities are aborted.

And of the 3189 cases they studied, 102 babies were born ALIVE following the abortion attempt: 

Of the 102 live births, the gestation ranged from 17 to 33 with a median of 21 weeks. The survival duration for liveborn TOPFAs was a median of 80 minutes. Thirty-seven cases survived for 1 hour or less and six cases survived 6 hours or more. . .  

The process of registration of a live birth and subsequent completion of a death certificate involves the professionals in additional duties and responsibilities with the involvement of the coroner’s office in some cases. The incentive therefore is very much to err on the side of not recording signs of life (emphasis mine) where any doubt exists. (From the same article cited above)

When medical professionals see paperwork as incentive ‘to err on the side of not recording signs of life,’ we know a line has been crossed.  

But we can always take heart!  Even for those doctors who believe they have been given god-like abilities, God himself is still in charge:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1

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Today marks the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade.

I’m grateful for this video from Abort73.c0m on what is obvious: from conception, there is life.

The Psalmist saw it long before he could know all that we know today:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Psalm 139:13-15

We have a particular stake in this issue.  More children identified with a disability in the womb will die than will live – not because of the disability, but because of abortion.  Nine times more babies will die than live when Down syndrome is found.

Pray that this ends now.

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From a sermon Pastor John gave in 1991, He Saw the Grace of God and Was Glad:

If anything is clear from the Bible it is this: the grace of God does not spare his people suffering in this age, but rather uses suffering to bring people to himself. The Son of God himself suffered to save people from condemnation. And now he turns suffering again and again for our good both in this age and in the age to come.

Two years ago I saw Joni Eareckson Tada, who is almost totally paralyzed from a swimming accident, lift her arms as high as she could in her braces and shout, “This is the prison where God set me free.” What she meant was that the pain and limitation and frustration brought on by her disability threw her back on God in such a way that she discovered what true freedom in life is all about—and it is not about arms and legs and skiing and jogging. It’s about forgiveness and hope and love and meaning and eternal life. It’s about knowing that God is for you and not against you even in suffering. That’s how grace becomes visible.

Amen!

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People stare.

Which is why you should pray for the siblings of children with disabilities as much as you do for moms and dads.

My Hannah is a ferocious protector of her older brother.  She is known in our house as ‘she-who-can-do-no-wrong’ because Paul trusts her completely about everything.

Her antenna is tuned to any slight she thinks is headed his way.  She hates it when people stare at Paul or our family.

Several years ago when she first began to notice people staring, she would consider my explanation that people just weren’t used to seeing boys like Paul, and we needed to be patient and kind.  She could accept that children might stare, especially children younger than she was.  But she has never gotten used to adults staring.  “Adults should know better,” she once said to me.

Yes, they should.  How do I encourage her to be respectful of adults who behave badly or speak utter nonsense in their ignorance?  It is a struggle for me to lead my children well in this area, and I expect it will get even harder.

But she keeps finding ways to make her point without being combative.  Over the summer we visited a pool and two boys were very curious about Paul.  She simply took him in her lap and held him, clearly stating without words, “he is loved.  He is protected.  He is my brother.”

Thank you, Lord, for this girl and for this boy!

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If that headline doesn’t make sense, go to Desiring God and listen to this week’s sermon, “Help the Children Love the Different People.

Here is what Pastor John had to say about disability in the context of this sermon:

So I am going to explicitly apply what I say to racial differences, and trust those of you for whom disability is a more immediate issue to listen between the lines and make the applications wherever they are appropriate.

You can also hear his remarks on this topic, from about minute 22 to 23, on the video at the link above.

I was already doing that, Pastor John, when you got to it on the video!  Noel gave you very good advice.  And you are right, your points are appropriate for those of us dealing with disability.

Tomorrow, a lesson I had to learn about staring, from how my daughter reacted to people staring at her brother.

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