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Archive for November, 2011

How often we are anxious when there is no just cause for anxiety. . .

Let us pray for more faith and patience, and allow more time for the full development of God’s purposes.

Let us believe that things are often working together for our peace and joy, which seem at one time to contain nothing but bitterness and sorrow.

J. C. Ryle, The Gospel of John, Kindle Loc. 6571-79.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV)

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Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
(Psalm 86:6-7 ESV)

A little boy we know is having exploratory surgery today.  He lives with a persistent condition that is as yet undiagnosed.

His parents are wonderful; I’ve known the mom since she was a girl.  The boy’s grandparents are pillars of faith, grace, mercy and hospitality.  What God did through them for us cannot be measured.

All of them grieve over the pain this little boy lives with.

And the thing they wanted on Monday night was prayer.  And we wanted to pray with them.

It really is amazing what God does through praying with other people.  The one constant in every prayer was a cry for help, recognizing weakness in ourselves and clinging to promises.

Tears flowed.  The sorrow is real.

After we finished praying, we talked and laughed and simply enjoyed each other.  What a gift authentic friendship is.

And that friendship is fueled by going hard after God through suffering.

Yes, it is good to experience 2 Corinthians 6:10 with other people and live with gratitude to God for all things:  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

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It happened again, this time in Australia.

A woman was advised that one of her twins would have serious medical issues, so she decided to abort that twin.

The hospital made a mistake during the procedure.  The twin without medical issues was killed.  And then the other twin was also aborted.

It has also happened in Italy and the United States.  Here are the headlines for each:

Australia: Hospital kills wrong baby, aborts twin.

Italy: Italian police to investigate abortion of wrong twin

United States: Doctor loses license after aborting wrong twin

Every headline is mistaken.  There is no ‘wrong’ twin in any of these circumstances.  Only helpless unborn babies, every one of them.

The only reason any of these babies was chosen to be aborted was because of potential disabling conditions.

The answer isn’t better medical tests or more specific hospital guidelines, but changed hearts that rush to help mothers and babies rather than destroy them.

And where were the fathers?

Lord, please, change our hearts for the sake of the little ones!

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Regions Hospital has announced that it is closing the GYN Special Services Clinic as of December 9.  This clinic performed abortions within the Regions Hospital complex off of downtown Saint Paul.

Of course this is good news – one less facility to kill our babies is always good news.

There is another reason to rejoice.  The ‘clinic’ was located in the same complex as one of the best medical facilities in the world for children with disabilities.  Gilette Children’s Hospital is also located in the Regions Hospital complex.  For more than 100 years they have been serving children with many different kinds of disabilities.  We have used their clinics and have received excellent care.

How many children with disabilities – the kinds that are treated effectively by Gilette Children’s – were aborted over the years at Regions?

No longer after December 9, thanks be to God.

Planned Parenthood was asked their opinion of this closure:

Planned Parenthood is not troubled by Regions’ decision, said spokeswoman Jen Aulwes. “Regions notified us about this several months ago,” she said. “We are not concerned. Women will still have access to the full range of services as they need them.”

I thought that phrasing was strange – ‘not troubled.’  Isn’t that like asking McDonalds if they are troubled when a mom-and-pop burger joint goes out of business?  Planned Parenthood will obviously get more referrals now.  And their new ‘clinic’ off of University Avenue, conveniently located on the new light rail line and several major bus routes, will be ready for those referrals soon.

I assume the reporter was wondering if they were troubled that their own abortion business could be at risk of closing.  I’m afraid they aren’t that worried about it at present.

Lord willing, someday they will be.

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Contrary to popular belief, God does not place us on the sidelines of life when we walk through hardship. Rather, he takes us to the center of the playing field, so that the world can watch and observe his faithfulness in our lives.

God delivers his people in two ways: he delivers us from our trials, and he delivers us through our trials. The interesting thing is we do not have a choice as to which path we travel. Whether we experience his miracles of deliverance, endure hardship and trials, or even face death, we remain, now and forevermore, his witnesses. This is the essence of our life in him.

John Eaves, An Aim that Keeps Me Pressing On in O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, edited by Nancy Guthrie, pp. 76-77.

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Paul has his nights and days backward again, and his medications already make him sleepy.  So, he slept through the Thanksgiving gathering.

But he was in the middle of it!

His cousin, who is also multiply disabled, seemed to enjoy everything, however.

God is good.

And our family patriarch enjoyed himself as well!

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers (Proverbs 17:6 ESV).

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV).

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This is a special Thanksgiving Day in our home, and my gratitude to God is simply overflowing!  The gratitude is heightened because I have memories of holidays that were, at best, an obligation.

God is kind to have changed my heart so dramatically over these years.

There is a whole list of things that have never happened in my home before, that, Lord willing, will all come together at noon today:

  • 20 people are coming.  We’ve never had that many on Thanksgiving before.
  • We have no kitchen (long story).  There are ways to have a meal for 20 that doesn’t include a kitchen, but it’s complicated.  But there is also relief – whatever happens, happens!
  • Four generations of Knights are gathering!
  • Three generations of Hahns are gathering!
  • My children have never had all their living grandparents together for a holiday, ever.

The group includes 7 children under the age of 16; my four and my nephew’s daughter and unborn twins!  (Yes, I include my unborn grandnieces or nephews or niece and nephew in the count!)

It also includes two multiply disabled children in my son and my niece on the Hahn side.

Best of all, up and down the entire group that is gathering are experiences of ‘as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.’   The struggle of this life has not ended; there are hard things everywhere.

Yet, God is good, always, in all circumstances.

May you experience that comfort that comes from clinging to Jesus this day!

Here’s a silly picture explaining how we’re all related:

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I know some of you are praying you’ll make it through the next few days, not anticipating anything good to come from gathering with extended family and friends.  Or maybe the disability in your family member means you can’t gather with other loved ones, and the heartache is almost more than you can stand.

It has become a cliche – right next to the article on what 2nd graders are thankful for is the article on the rise in depression during these last two months of the year.

Yet, you’re in the middle of it, and the holidays really are hard.

Jesus knows.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15 ESV).

More than that, he endured and is victorious!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

And there are some of you who can’t see it.  There is still hope.

From Pastor John’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, p. 216:

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought of his own strivings. He said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12). The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him. Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Our faith rises and falls. It has degrees. But our security does not rise and fall. It has no degrees. We must persevere in faith. That’s true. But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible. In fact the darkest experience for the child of God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight. Not out of God’s sight, but his. Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian—and yet still be one.

Jesus understands. Jesus is victorious.  Jesus is the answer.  May you find him, and in finding him find hope and peace in these hard days.

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

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More from The Gospel of John by J.C. Ryle (paragraph formatting mine):

Sickness, in the very nature of things, can never be anything but trying to flesh and blood. Our bodies and souls are strangely linked together, and that which vexes and weakens the body can hardly fail to vex the mind and soul.

But sickness, we must always remember, is no sign that God is displeased with us; no, more, it is generally sent for the good of our souls.

It tends to draw our affections away from this world, and to direct them to things above. It sends us to our Bibles, and teaches us to pray better. It helps to prove our faith and patience, and shows us the real value of our hope in Christ.

It reminds us that we are not to live always, and tunes and trains our hearts for our great change. Then let us be patient and cheerful when we are laid aside by illness.

Let us believe that the Lord Jesus loves us when we are sick no less than when we are well.

J.C. Ryle, The Gospel of John, KindleLocation 3565-72.

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Thank you to Justin Taylor for posting a video on Charlotte Elliot, the author of the hymn, Just as I Am.

I had no idea she lived for decades with infirmities that kept her bed-ridden in her home.  It adds several layers of seriousness to the words she wrote, calling out to God for help.

May we all say to the Father with her, ‘thy will be done!’

“My God, My Father, While I Stray” by Charlotte Elliot:

1. My God, my Father, while I stray
Far from my home on life’s rough way
Oh, teach me from my heart to say,
“Thy will be done.”
 
2. Though dark my path and sad my lot,
Let me be still and murmur not
Or breathe the prayer divinely taught,
“Thy will be done.”
 
3. What though in lonely grief I sigh
For friends beloved, no longer nigh,
Submissive still would I reply–
“Thy will be done.”
 
4. Though Thou hast called me to resign
What most I prized, it ne’er was mine;
I have but yielded what was Thine–
“Thy will be done.”
 
5. Should grief or sickness waste away
My life in premature decay,
My Father, still I strive to say,
“Thy will be done.”
 
6. Let but my fainting heart be blest
With Thy sweet Spirit for its Guest;
My God, to Thee I leave the rest–
“Thy will be done.”
 
7. Renew my will from day to day;
Blend it with Thine and take away
All that now makes it hard to say,
“Thy will be done.”
 
8. Then, when on earth I breathe no more,
The prayer, oft mixed with tears before,
I’ll sing upon a happier shore,
“Thy will be done.”

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