Archive for March, 2010

At a small gathering last night for some friends of Desiring God, I met a dear saint who had a sister with Prader-Willi syndrome. Her sister died at age 35, many years ago.

Here are a few quotes:

“It is entirely a grace that mom and dad stayed married.”

“I’m glad I’ve forgotten so many stories from those days. It was terribly difficult.”

It was obvious as we spoke that those days were hard on her whole family. And equally obvious that she embraces God as sovereign and good over all things. I was greatly encouraged. We should not hesitate to speak “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

And she left me with this happy statement:

“I want many copies of the book (Just the Way I Am)!”

So do I, dear sister! Lord willing, just a few more weeks to go.

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John 11:43-44

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John 11:53

So from that day on they (the chief priests and Pharisees) made plans to put (Jesus) to death.

John 12:9-11:

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

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Luke 6:6-11 (ESV)

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered.  And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.  But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there.  And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?”  And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.  But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

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A few months ago my dad was looking around his church in Winona and thinking about his grandson with disabilities – and decided he needed to do something at his church.

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know my affections for my dad.  God made him into a truly great man in my life, and about the best grandfather that exists on the planet for a little boy with multiple disabilities.  I am grateful to God for him.

He just turned 80 in January.

So, his phone call to me last night was to report on the most recent meeting of the group that is creating a disability ministry at his church, a group that he quietly started and includes pastoral leadership as well as several others from the church.  He was pretty excited about it.

I am sitting here in tears, grateful that my dad isn’t wasting his life but still looking for ways to bring more people into the kingdom of Jesus.

And I think about my boy, who will never be ‘productive’ from a worldly sense.  Through his grandfather’s love for him, expressed in an entirely different setting, how many people will God call into that kingdom?  Outcomes that lead to an eternity with Jesus seem productive to me!

I don’t think of my dad as ‘aged.’  But this verse is really appropriate tonight from Proverbs 17:6:

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.

Thanks, Dad, for continuing to teach me what love and perseverance look like.

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Zac Smith is a young man dealing with cancer.  It is worth the four and a half minutes to watch to the end.

Thank you to my friend Martin who sent me this link.

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Is Just the Way I Am simply the product of a family, particularly one young woman, who has made ‘lemonade out of lemons’ by persevering through hardship and now has a good story to tell?  Or is there something much more profound, God-centered and God glorifying happening?

David Michael is the Pastor for Parenting and Family Discipleship at Bethlehem, and has been an advocate for the disability ministry at Bethlehem from before its beginnings.  Here is what he has to say about God’s work in Krista Horning’s life:

Nearly a decade has passed since I first met Krista and her family. Her teen years proved to be fruitful and life-shaping. For Krista, Apert syndrome was not a curse to be endured; it was an asset to be invested. Her Maker had a plan for her life and that plan was unfolding before our eyes. Her heart had been uniquely shaped in a way that gave her special understanding, special love, and special influence with other disabled children. She volunteered her time to bless these children and the organizations that serve them.

Our church has many members, and Krista is one of them. There are varieties of gifts and varieties of service. Krista has been given her portion and she has not wasted it.

From Just the Way I Am: God’s Good Design in Disability, p. 54.

The entire Horning family is very special to me.  Krista served my own son for several years before they started attending the South Campus.

But this book is not primarily about Krista – it is rightly focused on God and his good, sovereign design as evidenced in Krista’s life and the lives of all the children who are pictured.

What God is doing through young people like Krista Horning is exciting and life-giving!  And I can hardly wait for more of you to see this book to better understand who our God is – great and mighty in all his ways, kind in all he does, and sovereign over all his creation.

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I had the privilege of being with Krista and Mary Horning when a sample of their book arrived.  It was a very sweet moment!

Lord willing, it will arrive for distribution sometime in May!  Please pray – there are so many families and churches who need this message that God is sovereign over all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ, including disability.

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God has blessed me with many people as we have walked this path of disability.  One is a young woman who writes the blog, In the Small Stuff.

Her blog posting for March 19 is stunning; I highly recommend it.

And please join me in asking God to make her view of God and his purposeful creation of people with disabilities the norm among medical professionals rather than the exception.

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On Monday I’ll be speaking to a group of Bethlehem volunteers who serve our children as small group leaders in the Sunday School program.  In many ways, they are the ‘front-line’ in our disability ministry, as the children with disabilities are also included, as much as possible, in the small groups in the Sunday School classes.

The disability aides make the classes accessible for the individual children with disabilities.  But it is the small group leaders, by their words, actions, and attitudes, who lead the other children in how to think about, welcome, include and love the children with disabilities.

I have some preparations remaining, but am mostly ready to speak to them.  I usually organize it around the story of God’s goodness to my family and the great truth of God’s sovereignty as expressed in the following:

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Exodus 4:11

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.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,  when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  John 9:1-3

If you were to talk to such a group, what would you tell them?

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Thank you to my wife who pointed me to Kevin DeYoung’s blog posting on Wednesday where he was highlighting the books of Ben Patterson, who wrote the following, which I found really helpful:

Ponder this scene in the throne room of heaven: An angel stands before God holding a golden censer, burning incense that is mixed with the prayers of the saints on earth. These prayers go up before God, and then are mixed with fire from the altar and hurled back down on earth. The amazing result is cataclysm on earth, “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Rev. 8:5).

Now picture the saints on earth, huddled in their prayer meetings. If their experience of prayer is anything like mine can be, they may often feel their prayers are barely making it to the ceiling, or are dribbling out and rustling across the floor like dry leaves. Prayer doesn’t frequently bring with it the sensation of cosmic power unleashed, what poet Georg Herbert called “reversed thunder.” But that is exactly what is happening! The whole creation is shaken by the prayers of the saints. Something is happening as they pray. Work is being done, whether they see it or not. Deepening Your Conversation, 24-25

I need encouragements like that!  The unusual daily routines associated with disability in many families can become a grind.  The prayers for strength to face the day can become rote, or feel ineffective. I’m glad the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).  And I am grateful for faithful men who point me to the power of God.

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