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Archive for December, 2010

This year has been challenging on many levels.  Paul’s still undiagnosed issue has been hard on the family.  We’re grateful for the promises God has given to us.

And we’re grateful for many wonderful things God has supplied this year with regards to disability and the church!

  • Pastor John delivered one of the most helpful sermons I have heard on God’s sovereignty over disability when he preached Born Blind for the Glory of God in January.
  • Just the Way I Am: God’s Good Design in Disability by Krista Horning was released!  Pastor John added an encouraging trailer to why this is an important, helpful book in answering the question of suffering.  The testimonies that have come to me about its impact have been very sweet.
  • Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas was released!  Having had the chance to meet Greg and understand a bit of his heart made this book even more precious to me.
  • They have existed for a few years, but I was introduced to The Elisha Foundation in 2010 and have been personally encouraged by the men who lead them (and that Matt Perman of Desiring God has joined their board!).

And there were others.  Lisa and Larry Jamieson’s book sits in my pile, begging to be read (Dianne has heard Lisa speak and says, “she’s the real deal!”).  There are new developments happening at church that, Lord willing, will help us serve more people.  There’s a young man who has recorded a song that I’m praying the Lord will use to encourage families in our situation.  I’ve heard from several churches that are beginning or expanding their ministries to those living with disabilities.

So, my heart lives ‘as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Corinthians 6:10) as we close 2010.

Happy New Year!  May we all experience the miracle of God’s peace and divine heart protection in 2011:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

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David Powlison helpfully unpacks what trusting God means in Psalm 28:

Consider David’s Psalm 28. “To you, LORD, I call. My Rock, do not be deaf to me. If you don’t answer me, I will die. Hear the voice of my supplications, my cry for help to you” (vv. 1-2, AT).

This is an example of what it means to “entrust your soul” to the sovereign God. It’s not sedate. David does not mentally rehearse the fact that God is in control in order to quietly press on with unflinching composure.

Instead, trust pleads candidly and believingly with God: “This is big trouble. You must help me. I need you. You are my only hope.” Prayer means “ask for something you need and want.” Supplication means “really ask.” Frank supplication is the furthest thing from keeping everything in perspective so you can move on with life as normal.

The sovereign God does not intend that you maintain the status quo while suffering. Pain disrupts normal. It’s supposed to disrupt normal. It’s supposed to make you feel a need for help.

Psalm 28 is not an orderly “quiet time.” It’s noisy and needy. When you let life’s troubles get to you, it gets you to the only one who can help. As Psalm 28 unfolds, David specifically names the trouble he’s in, what he’s afraid of, what he wants (vv. 3-5). His trust in God’s sovereignty moves to glad confidence (vv. 6-7). Finally, his faith works out into love as he starts interceding on behalf of others (vv. 8-9).

David Powlison, “God’s Grace in Your Sufferings,” in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, John Piper and Justin Taylor, general editors, pp. 160-161.

 

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For some reason, Google has been bringing me a number of articles recently that deal with disability and anger.  It is a grace to realize I don’t live in that constant, debilitating state of anger at everything, including God, any longer.  God is very merciful.  And he continues to help me fight it today.

In our circles dealing with disability, being angry with God over our circumstances is common.  I won’t say universal as I have met people who did not struggle with anger towards God.  But they would have to be in the minority.

Pastor John dealt with this issue some years ago, and I’ve always appreciated how helpful it was.  So, here’s an excerpt from his article, Is It Ever Right to Be Angry at God?

This is why being angry at God is never right. It is wrong – always wrong – to disapprove of God for what he does and permits. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25). It is arrogant for finite, sinful creatures to disapprove of God for what he does and permits. We may weep over the pain. We may be angry at sin and Satan. But God does only what is right. “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:7).

But many who say it is right to be angry with God really mean it is right to express anger at God. When they hear me say it is wrong to be angry with God, they think I mean “stuff your feelings and be a hypocrite.” That’s not what I mean. I mean it is always wrong to disapprove of God in any of his judgments.

But if we do experience the sinful emotion of anger at God, what then? Shall we add the sin of hypocrisy to the sin of anger? No. If we feel it, we should confess it to God. He knows it anyway. He sees our hearts. If anger at God is in our heart, we may as well tell him so, and then tell him we are sorry, and ask him to help us put it away by faith in his goodness and wisdom. (Emphasis mine)

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he removed forever the wrath of God from our lives. God’s disposition to us now is entirely mercy, even when severe and disciplinary (Romans 8:1). Therefore, doubly shall those in Christ turn away from the terrible specter of anger at God. We may cry, in agony, “My God, My God, where are you?” But we will follow soon with, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

No, this is not easy, especially when the air we breathe in our American culture tells us that we have the ‘right’ to be angry.  I’m thankful God is so much bigger than that and is ready to help us!

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J.I. Packer on grace:

Grace is God drawing us sinners closer and closer to himself.

How does God in grace prosecute this purpose? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to him more closely.  This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another: it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast. The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defense, and a sure refuge and help for the weak, is that God spends so much of his time bringing home to us that we are weak, both mentally and morally, and dare not trust ourselves to find or to follow, the right road.

J.I. Packer, Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 250.

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He came sent by the Father.

Those who live with disabilities (and those who don’t) are assured he will act.

He is the fulfillment of scripture:

And (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:16-21

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Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

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“Mama, shall we pray?”

Paul never talks like that, using the appropriate pronoun in context. He has little language.  He had Dianne’s full attention on Wednesday.

“What shall we pray, Paulie?”

His reply, “Dear Jesus. Thank you for Paulie.”

I know that sounds self-serving, his thanking God for himself.  But it isn’t at all.  When he wants something, he says, “do YOU want a drink?”  And that means he wants a drink.

So in Paul’s unusual speech, I believe what he was saying was, ‘I thank you, dear Jesus.’

It was a very good prayer.

If you are imagining tears of broken-hearted gratitude, you are correct.

Yes, Lord, thank you for Paulie.  Thank you for letting this praise come from his lips.  Thank you for the many unusual words that have come from this boy these past, hard months.  He is all gift.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

May you all experience such a blessing from the hand of God this season.  Merry Christmas!

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