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Archive for April, 2011

To know that our Father in heaven has ordained our pain is not a comfortable truth, but it is comforting. That our pain has a loving and wise and all-powerful purpose behind it is better than any other view—weak God, cruel God, bumbling God, no God. To know that in his hands “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17) is profoundly reassuring. And yes, “light” and “momentary” meant, in Paul’s case, a lifetime of suffering. The excruciating “lightness” of his suffering was light compared to the weight of glory. And the interminable “momentariness” of his suffering was momentary compared to the eternality of the glory.

John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, pp. 138-139.

You can download the book for free at the link above.

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I didn’t realize leprosy was anywhere in the United States until I read this article.

Then it came up yesterday in my Bible reading:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead. . .” And the people of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as the Lord said to Moses, so the people of Israel did. Numbers 5:1-2, 4

Being forced outside the camp was a hard thing on everybody.

Maybe disability gives a little glimpse into what that was like.  Many of us live in a different kind of world than most of the people we know.  It is a world with a different vocabulary, full of educational and medical specialists and paperwork and expenses.

And suffering.

We live outside the camp of our culture.

It isn’t so bad.  It’s where Jesus is.

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:12-14

Yes, it is worth it to live outside the camp with Jesus!

Pastor John helpfully looked at Hebrews at Together for the Gospel in 2008.  It is a longer message at just over an hour, and requires direct attention – don’t try to have this on in the background while you do something else.  It is worth it.

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His providence enfolds all who bear his image in everlasting arms. He will advance you higher, and secure you better than any noble birth or estate could ever do.The delight and pleasure resulting from the observation of divine providence is very great. It will doubtless be a part of our entertainment in heaven to view with transporting delight how the designs and methods were laid to bring us there. Providence not only brings you to heaven, it brings heaven to your soul now.

God is providentially steering all to the port of his own praise and his people’s happiness, while the whole world is busily employed in managing the sails and tugging at the oars with a quiteopposite design and purpose. They promote God’s design by opposing it, fulfil his will by resisting it, and enlarge his church by scattering it. They make the saint’s rest sweeter by making their condition so restless in the world. What a history we might compile, as we trace the footsteps of providence along the way. . .

O reader, what a life of pleasure you might live by noticing the ways of providence towards you! What a heaven upon earth you may have! Taste and see the glory of the study of providence.

John FlavelWorks, IV: 336-342

Thank you to the chain of people who passed this on, and to Carol Steinbach who shared it with me.

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We’ve been going through an extended difficult season with Paul’s overall health.  I appreciate firm reminders that God’s wisdom is guiding things to the best possible eternal result.

From Wayne Grudem’s Making Sense of Who God Is: One of Seven Parts from Grudem’s Systematic Theology, p. 83.

God’s wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals. This definition goes beyond the idea of God knowing all things and specifies that God’s decisions about what he will do are always wise decisions: that is, they always will bring about the best results (from God’s ultimate perspective), and they will bring about those results through the best possible means.

Scripture affirms God’s wisdom in general in several places.  He is called “the only wise God” (Rom. 16:27). Job says that God “is wise in heart” (Job 9:4), and “With him are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13). God’s wisdom is seen specifically in creation. The psalmist exclaims, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Ps. 104:24).

And some of those ‘all’ will be made by God to live with disabilities (Exodus 4:11).  I’m grateful that God always chooses the best goals AND the best means.  He is entirely worthy to be worshiped for his wisdom.

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This Easter was one of contrasts with previous years.

We attended the Sunday evening service for the first time.  We experienced a wonderful worship team rather than the wonderful orchestra.  The normal excitement and energy of a packed room was replaced with a more peaceful, less crowded time of worship.  And no trouble parking!

Last year, Paul was awake and active and blessed many by singing the Resurrection Chant.

This year, he was mostly lethargic and slept through the service, an impact of both the new medicines he is taking and the spells he continues to have.

One thing remains the same: hope in Jesus Christ!

I soaked in one of the readings from Sunday, and invite you to do the same, from 1 Peter 1:3-7:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

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Matt Chandler explains why the ‘swoon theory‘ (that Jesus didn’t really die but simply fell unconscious, then awoke and exited the tomb) is ridiculous.  Anyone who has experienced even a temporary disabling condition involving the feet will understand!

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The LORD is risen!

And this risen Lord made disease and disability a central part of his ministry.

As God, he declared to Moses: “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)

He showed us how a king behaves when David actively sought to keep his promise of care and redemption to the disabled grandson of the man who wanted him dead:  “Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.” (2 Samuel 9:11)

He confirmed he has authority over sin: “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. . . (Mark 2:10-12a)

He sees people with disabilities: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” (John 9:1)

He taught us disability brings him glory: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

He demonstrated he is the One: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7:22-23)

He blinded Paul for three days (Acts 9:3-5) and made him spend a lifetime of suffering so that Paul could teach us: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. . . (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Even as he died, powerful men understood who he was: And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:37-39)

Dead people rose to talk about him: And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53)

He is the risen King of Kings!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.”  Luke 24:1-6a

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