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Archive for March, 2011

A friend of mine who is experiencing some very deep waters because of disability in his family sent me some prayer requests in an email earlier this week.  It included this:

That I would genuinely grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus through this particular season (vs. just enduring it), and that as a result I might become an increasingly worshipful and loving servant leader in our home

I read this and just worshipped God for the extraordinary grace that poured through the computer screen and over my heart as I read it.

His child is already complicated, and new circumstances have only increased the complications.

Yet he wants more of Jesus, and not just for himself, but for the sake of his behavior towards his family.

Thank you, my friend, for encouraging me to want more of Jesus in every season!

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Thank you to Jan Lacher for pointing me to this.  This video has been around for almost a year, but I just saw it and was reminded, again, how extraordinary is the love of God toward us.

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In the pile of papers I referenced yesterday were some old test scores.  Since Paul attends public schools, they assess his educational progress as mandated by various federal and state bodies.

The things they want to measure, he can’t do.  His scores on reading, reading comprehension, math, math concepts and the like were as low as you can score and still be breathing.

The things they can’t measure – like his inherent, God-created dignity as a human being – he excels at.

I used to cry when those came in the mail every year.  They still make me sad, not because of how severely disabled they ‘objectively’ show him to be, but because this is the cultural measure of his worth.

And therein lies a danger to children with disabilities not yet born.  These are the objective measures of ‘reality’ that doctors and social workers and university professors understand – and which are communicated to parents who live in and breathe the air of this culture.  The decision to do away with such seemingly worthless human beings then appears to be obvious.

No, let us talk about what is truly real.  God creates some to live with disabilities (Exodus 4:11), he knows all their days (Psalm 139:13-16), he will supply every need (Philippians 4:19), and he knows the end from the beginning (Revelation 21:5-7).

It is entirely speculation on my part, but I believe that my Paul will someday hear these words from Jesus himself:

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

And for another look at what’s going on inside the womb, the folks at Abort73.com have released another video – The Case Against Abortion: Prenatal Development.

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A pile full of grace

We have one of those closets that is full of things we don’t want to really want to deal with.  But we’ve started to deal with it.

One of the things in the bottom of the closet was a pile of papers.  As I started through those papers I found old bills for medical tests, hospitalizations, chemotherapy, professional services and the like.  Stacks of bills, some outlining individual charges in excess of $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000.

All of them paid.

As Dianne walked through I just said out loud, “God has taken care of us.”

Yes, she replied, he certainly has.

 

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In a Friday New York Times editorial, The Shame of New York’s Group Homes, the closing sentence makes a clear and urgent moral pronouncement:

The answer lies in the state’s urgent obligation to protect those who cannot defend themselves.

They are absolutely correct, though it is not just the state who has an obligation to protect the defenseless.  In this case they are speaking of those living in group homes because of their developmental disabilities.

Please pray The New York Times would extend this logic to those even more defenseless: children in the womb.  Imagine the impact that could have if God were to wake up The New York Times editorial board to see this issue clearly!

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After more than 26 years of being associated with Bethlehem, I can say that Pastor John’s preaching has been his primary influence on me.  But a close second are his books.  And of his books, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist lays the foundation for all the rest that are to come.

Through April 7, you can buy a copy of the newest edition of Desiring God for only $5.

A live-streamed web broadcast will take place every Thursday in April at noon (live Eastern Standard Time, rebroadcast at noon during Central, Mountain and Pacific Times), where Pastor John will take questions on two chapters of Desiring God.

Reading the Bible and seeing God as sovereign and good has been massively important in my life in how I understand and respond to disability and disease.  And God has also used Pastor John to help me when he speaks or writes specifically on the issue of suffering:

For (the Apostle Paul) any suffering that befell him while serving Christ was part of the “cost” of discipleship.  When a missionary’s child gets diarrhea, we think of this as part of the price of faithfulness.  But if any parent is walking in the path of obedience to God’s calling, it is the same price.  What turns sufferings into sufferings “with” and “for” Christ is not how intentional our enemies are, but how faithful we are.  If we are Christ’s, then what befalls us is for his glory and for our good whether it is caused by enzymes or by enemies (emphasis mine). John Piper, Desiring God, p. 260.

If the notion of Christian hedonism just seems strange (or even blasphemous) to you, buy the book, read the first two chapters of Desiring God and join in the live-streamed discussion on April 7.  You might think about God’s interest in your happiness in an entirely new way.

You can also read an earlier edition of Desiring God online for free.

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Thank you to Justin Taylor, who posted this announcement on his blog on Thursday:

Harvard Law Professor William Stuntz died last week at the age of 52 after suffering from colon cancer. Both pieces in The New York Times refer to his strong Christian faith. Professor Stuntz developed a distinctly Christian perspective on his field of expertise and in so doing became “one of the most influential legal scholars of the past generation.”

Justin quotes Dr. Stuntz from a Christianity Today article from 2009:

Our pain is not empty; we do not suffer in vain. When life strikes hard blows, what we do has value. Our God sees it.

Justin also provides links to an interview with Timothy Darymple and to the article Dr. Stuntz wrote for Christianity Today.  The interview is, in some ways, very difficult to read for its raw emotion, and Dr. Stuntz had a great way with words which adds to the impact of the suffering he is describing.

But the interview ends on this wonderful note:

The concept that God longs for the likes of me is so unspeakably sweet.  I almost cannot bear to say them aloud.  They are achingly sweet for me to hear.

Thank you, Justin, for pointing to this life well lived.

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