Archive for August, 2010

Here in Minnesota school begins this week for some, next week for the rest.

Our children with disabilities will be confronted with new therapists, teachers, bus aides and schedules.  Those of us who are parents will be confronted with IEP meetings and requests for updates on how the summer went for our children and any new complications in their lives.

I’m grateful for this reminder from Psalm 127 about how God wants us to think about all of our children.  And how he wants us to think about him.

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

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While I was away the team from Desiring God posted a short video of Pastor John talking about Just the Way I Am by Krista Horning.

I praise God for Pastor John’s persistent, consistent message about who God is!

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This year’s Desiring God national conference includes many new features, including nearly 100,000 square feet of bookstore, exhibit, and seminar space that we didn’t have before.

It also means that registration opens for the conference much earlier than in years past.

So, please plan on coming early as a pair of authors will be signing their books at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, October 1:  Krista Horning and Randy Alcorn.

I’m excited this pairing is happening as they make so much sense together.  Just the Way I Am by Krista Horning is one of the clearest articulations of God’s sovereignty, goodness, mercy and kindness over disability that has ever been created.  And it is beautiful!

Randy Alcorn has been a champion for not-yet-born babies and the most vulnerable of God’s human creations.

I hope to see many of you there.

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Earlier this year, Joni received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Biola University earlier this year and then gave their commencement address.

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Another reason I am so excited about this year’s national conference is the opportunity to meet some long-distance friends who love God and live with disability.

Some of those friends represent Oregon-based The Elisha Foundation:

Our ultimate goal is to equip these special families for a more intimate faith in Christ, passionately lived out with love.

Justin Reimer, Executive Director, will be staffing a booth along with his son, Eli.  Matt Perman, who serves as a director at Desiring God, is a member of Justin’s board.

If you are attending the conference, I encourage you to seek them out!

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God breaks bones?

I’m going to guess that this verse is familiar to you:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

But the verse that immediately follows contains a surprising conclusion:

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  Psalm 51:8

Bones God has broken should rejoice?  How is that helpful?

From Matthew Henry’s commentary:

Note, (1.) The pain of a heart truly broken for sin may well be compared to that of a broken bone; and it is the same Spirit who as a Spirit of bondage smites and wounds and as a Spirit of adoption heals and binds up.

(2.) The comfort and joy that arise from a sealed pardon to a penitent sinner are as refreshing as perfect ease from the most exquisite pain.

(3.) It is God’s work, not only to speak this joy and gladness, but to make us hear it and take the comfort of it.

Jesus himself said it was better for us to disable ourselves than have our sin send us to hell.  Anything that exposes the horror of sin and reveals the beauty and sufficiency of Jesus Christ, even God himself breaking bones, is an undeserved grace.

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We had a wonderful time enjoying God’s creation, though one member wasn’t with us.

Paul took ill again while with his grandmother, so we cut our time away a little short.  We were with a new medical specialist on Monday who is just as flummoxed as we are about what is causing Paul’s spells.  More doctoring is coming.

As wearying as even thinking about a new round of tests and more new doctors is, our vacation provided some important reminders of God’s continuing kindness to our family:

  • Paul has an aunt who lives near grandma, and this particular aunt is a very highly trained and experienced medical specialist herself.  She made sure he was never in any immediate danger.
  • Not one child complained about leaving early.  They wanted to be with their brother.
  • The various reservations were easily canceled without penalty.
  • Paul’s regular pediatrician and her staff immediately got the appointment for Monday with a new specialist.
  • We found Paul in very good spirits.  He didn’t want to leave the farm and he continues to ask for grandma today.  What a comfort to have him bond so closely with such a good woman who loves him dearly!

I try not to take any of the above for granted; yet I am certainly prone to grumbling as plans needed to be changed.

Habakkuk provides good instruction to help me fight self-pity and self-righteousness:

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

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This was first posted last September 8, 2009. Soon all our children will be off to school again.  And so yet another season trusting that God will help us and protect our boy begins.

For all of us with school-aged children, the day after Labor Day is when it all begins again.  An army of people, all listed on my son’s IEP with their official titles and the number of minutes each week he will work with them, will attempt to help him develop skills as much as he is able.

But his favorite part of the day is the enormous bus that will pull up directly in front of the house to transport him to his school, and then back again.  He loves the bus.  So it’s pretty easy to get him going in the morning – a reminder that the bus is coming is usually enough to have him pop up from his bed.

He’s been getting on that bus since he was three years old.  And every year I worry about the bus driver and the bus aides.  I won’t let him on the bus with a sole adult, even with credentials and a clean track record – my son is just too vulnerable.

So, every year I am confronted with my responsibilities to him as his dad, and the command to not be anxious:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

I must do both: carry out my fatherly responsibilities of protection; and not be anxious about anything. This is not a balancing act.

So, in a couple of hours, I’ll put him back on that bus.  And pray like crazy.

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First posted on March 11, 2010. Lord willing, our vacation is coming to an end and we’re on our way home as this is posted.  I am praying as I prepare this on Aug. 10 that I will have kept up the good and helpful discipline of devotions throughout my vacation. What a mistake it would have been to have all this ‘time’ and not spent it in his word for real help and refreshment!

I am using the One-Year Tract Bible Reading Plan to help me read through the Bible this year.

For March 9, there was this stunning, breathtaking reality right next to each other in the readings from Luke 23 and Job 38:

Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Job 38: Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.”

We are as nothing before God.  How did we ever conceive of the idea that we could question God or his motives or his authority?  We were not there when he created all things, and we didn’t (and don’t) have the power to do what God can do.

But Jesus was there.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Father gave us Jesus.  He who knew no sin became sin so that his righteousness could be given to us.  And that Jesus, knowing what he would experience in obedience to the Father, shouted at the most critical moment of all, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  Jesus knew he could trust his Father.

This is overwhelming.

We cannot compare to God on any level.  ’I do not do the good I want’ (Romans 7:19), while God “has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” (2 Corinthians 9:9).

And this God with that power to create out of nothing who grants us a savior we don’t deserve and a righteousness we could never, ever earn – this is the God we are ready to judge because he creates some who will live with a disability?

The One who has infinite knowledge, wisdom, power, authority, righteousness, holiness and justice should somehow subordinate himself to us because our puny, finite, limited sense of fairness says that God should only behave a certain way regarding disability?

We think we have that right to judge this God?  Based exactly on what?

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First posted on January 9, 2010:

A convicting and helpful guest post from my friend, Jan Lacher:

I have been incredibly inspired this week as I have listened to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  The subject  over the past three days has been memorizing Scripture.

Usually, every morning, as I give Michael his medications and tube feeding, Revive Our Hearts blares across the radios in my home.  I typically listen to the program as I move from one room to another, going about my work getting Michael ready for the day. The  featured guest this week  has been a seasoned saint,  Nancy Epperson.

On Wednesday, the discussion between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Nancy Epperson  peaked my interest, and I found myself nodding as they talked about all of the benefits of memorizing God’s Word. As a side note,  I have memorized some of our fighter verses over these past years.  I have had to learn them and relearn them.   I have taught my “normal” children fighter verses; although, I would argue that I did not teach them enough Scripture.  As Revive Our Hearts played, I contemplated how there has not been anything that I have done that has been more beneficial than memorizing the Word of God.  

My mind was swirling as I pondered the question that if memorizing parts of the Bible are so beneficial, why don’t I do more of it? Why am I not memorizing full chapters and possibly books? I certainly know the benefits and have experienced them.   Since Michael’s birth, I have been like a rock skipping across the lake as I have learned some verses and then having periods where I do not. For a variety of reasons, I have not been as consistent these past several years as I would like to be.   I sighed at the thought of the work that it would take to regain the momentum to do such a task as memorize verses and eventually chapters.

My attention was refocused on the program.  The two Nancys continued their discussion.   Then Nancy Epperson  said something that stopped me dead in the middle of Michael’s  feeding.  A segment from the January 6th transcript speaks for itself:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now, don’t go too fast past that because there are a lot of people who will say, “I can’t memorize Scripture.”

Nancy Epperson: They will say that, but can I tell you something? That is not true. It’s true people say it, but it truly is a lie hatched in the pit of hell that Satan loves us to think. The fact is, everybody can.

Now, listen. I’ll never forget this. About 35 years ago, I was at a church in Winston, Salem. They had a group of young adults who were very mentally deficient. They could barely articulate. They were severely retarded, severely. They got up in this church—I will never forget it as long as I live—they quoted verse after verse after verse with the reference—verse after verse.

I’m telling you, I knew exactly, exactly why they could do that, because some precious, dear saint had spent hundreds of hours with them. Those precious, severely retarded young adults just quoted and quoted and quoted. It was just such a blessing.

I realized then anybody honestly can quote Scripture if you’ll go over it enough times. Stop and think about it. Think of all the things you know from memory.

When I heard the story above, my heart jumped.  Michael falls into the severely to profoundly mentally retarded category. Plus, he is nonverbal.  We have no way of knowing what he understands and how he processes information.    We try to teach him simple commands that would aide in his care such as “lean forward” when bathing his back. And through the shear repetition of that command  and through physical prompting, he has learned to do so.   But, I must admit, I have not contemplated  teaching him  Bible verses.  Who knows what he could glean from the repetition of Scripture being spoken to him when he rises up and when he lies down?   Also who knows  how the Holy Spirit could  use it to strengthen and under-gird him in all of his difficulties?

After listening to this program,  I have come away with a renewed vision and a resolve to make Scripture verses part of Michael’s life.  He may never be able to quote the references and verses, but God’s Word does not return void. I am determined to get my hardhat on my head and do the heavy “work” of imparting Scripture to our sweet Fox.

(Note from John: Jan reported last week that she’s continuing to work with Michael on his verse.  What an encouragement to persevere!)

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