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Archive for May, 2012

Life worth living is not found in a set of circumstances – whether pleasant or painful. Life worth living is found in a person, the Prince of Life. The Resurrection and the Life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He has the words of life. And Christ the Savior is the One who will desires to be Lord of your days, as well as your Wisdom for living. When you look to him each day, each minute and hour, your life will count… and it will count for all of eternity.

Joni Eareckson Tada, Making Your Days Count!

The link above will take you to an incredible reflection on a conversation Joni had with a young woman who was dying, and who is now with Jesus.  Take a few minutes and be blessed.

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Every time I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis I am convicted – and embarrassed – by how often I have looked away from Jesus to find my hope.  I am prone to feel sorry for myself.  The world is oriented to feeling sorry for me, giving me permission to focus on how “hard” things are in our home.  The enemy of my faith loves to use misdirection, encouraging me to search for hope in the wrong things.

It is good to be reminded that this life is war.

But not a war with an undecided outcome! And we don’t fight in our own strength.  Jesus has already secured the victory over sin , and we are already free when we cling to him:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)

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The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. . . How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet?

The Devil Screwtape writing to his nephew Wormword in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, p. 67.

How relevant this is to unborn children with disabilities!

Parents are presented possible scenarios for their unborn child with whatever disability has been discovered.  Lists of facts about the disability feel very real and often overwhelming and frightening.

Yet that is not their child! That list is NOT reality! Their child is so much more than his or her disability.

Best of all, that little one is God’s own, created to exist for eternity.

Even after 16 years I only know my son in part (1 Corinthians 13:12).  But one thing I do know: he is a real boy and not a list of medical terms.

The pain of dealing with his disabilities has been sharper than I thought I could stand, and the pleasure of knowing him in light of his creator has been sweeter than I ever would have expected.  Paul has been a touchstone of reality in my life.

The enemy of our faith and of the indispensable weaker members, of course, would rather see them destroyed. They are dangerous to his plans of keeping us in a fog of little pains and little pleasures that deny the reality of hell and the joy of eternity with Jesus. Cleverly, before these little ones can be known as people, he attempts to turn them into something less than human and therefore easily cast away.

Let us continually invite people to experience real pleasure and real pain by inviting them to know real little people.  And may God use that taste to introduce them to the reality of ‘as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Corinthians 6:10).

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They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. . . The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven. . .

The character of George Macdonald to the dreamer in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, p. 67.

An innocent question from my daughter about other fiction that C.S. Lewis has written (she has read That Hideous Strength four times) brought me to read The Great Divorce for the first time.  Though I question some of his imagery in this story, we know that God will, indeed, change sorrow into something else entirely:

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)

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Do you have authors that just the thought of their next book gets you excited?  Then you’ll know how I felt when I learned that Crossway was publishing something by Michael Beates!

We’re about two months away from the public release of his book, Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace.

He has lived this life of disability longer than I have, starting when his oldest daughter, Jessica, was born with a chromosomal anomaly.  Everything I have seen by him has resonated spiritual depth, emotional maturity and deep affections for his family.

I found a short article he wrote in LIFT, a newsletter of the LIFT Disability Network in Florida, where he compares the experiences of Job, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his wife, Mary, and concludes how each experienced Jesus. Emphasis in bold is mine:

Through the similarities and the differences — Job, Jesus’ Mary, and my Mary — the three share a common conviction: they know their Redeemer lives! Job looked forward, hoping in faith to look on his Redeemer. Mary of Nazareth beheld the face of her Redeemer throughout His earthly life. My Mary looks back through the eyes of Scripture to the story, and forward like Job to the prospect of being finally and fully in the presence of the Redeemer. And we are confident because of God’s covenant promises that with us around the throne will be Jessica — whole and finally, perfectly able to praise her Redeemer.

 

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Not so to God!

A friend forwarded me this Christianity Today blog posting on the Facebook controversy related to a mother posting pictures of her son born with anencephaly.

This quote from the blog blew me away:

Those that we call monsters are not so to God, who sees in the immensity of His work the infinite forms that He has comprehended therein. . .

It was made by a 16th century philosopher by the name of Michel de Montaigne, of whom I know almost nothing.  But I know that was not an enlightened time with regards to people with disabilities!

May we be so wise today and trust God in all he determines to do.

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A day off

Dianne doesn’t ask much of me. But a couple of months ago she asked if I could take a day off from work so we could spend some time together during the day while the kids were still all in school.

Like many men, that sounded like a great idea – for the future. I was too busy that week. And because I am so “very, very important” the weeks slipped by and I didn’t do it. And it’s also easy to rationalize that I’m a ‘good’ husband and father.

Then I realized that school was almost over!  I could continue to be very, very important, or I could keep my promise. I wish I could honestly say the decision was easy!

I took a day off, and the world (even my little world) didn’t come to an end. And we had a nice day doing nothing in particular.

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I’m grateful for my wife – God was and is kind to me in so many ways through her!

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The world is ready to feed all kinds of destructive behavior wrapped in sweet words and kind sentiment.

The Anglicans who were quoted yesterday would say they were being kind in letting ‘defective’ children die.

The mothers who wrote articles on why they aborted or wish they had aborted their children point to the significant suffering those babies would have or are experiencing.  Many are ready to support them, even encourage them, in their feelings and behavior towards their children.

Most of us who parent a child who is different because of his or her disabilities hear over and over again about what we or our children rightly deserved, but didn’t receive.

The opportunity and even the sanction to grumble is constantly with us.  We must fight that wicked temptation.

Especially when God invites us to run to him for comfort and help in our deepest suffering!

I have recently found these helpful in battling discontent and re-orienting toward’s God purposes:

From Paul Tripp:

You were not created to live an autonomous or self-sufficient life. To try to do so never leads anywhere good.

From Pastor John:

3 reasons why you were made:

1. God made you for his glory. Isaiah 43:7, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Philippians 1:19

2. God made you for joy.

3. He made you to love other people.

From the Apostle Paul:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  (Philippians 4:11-12 ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32 ESV)

From Isaiah:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
(Isaiah 57:15 ESV)

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Because even people in the church can get disability very, very wrong.

From the Anglican Church of Canada, Task Force on Human Life, Interim Report, 1977:

Our sense and emotion lead us to the grave mistake of treating human looking shapes as if they were human, although they lack the least vestige of human behavior and intellect. In fact, the only way to treat such defective infants humanely is not to treat them as human.

As quoted by Dr. C. Everett Koop in his chapter, Ethical and Surgical Considerations in the Care of the Newborn with Congenital Abnormalities, in Infanticide and the Handicapped Newborn, p. 100.

(Update: Please note that Dr. Koop does NOT endorse this statement and stands strongly for children with disabilities.)

To their credit, the General Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada did not approve the report.

But the fact that anyone would speak of another human being this way is not acceptable.  For an official group representing a church body to say such things is astonishing.

We will not repeat their mistake of 35 years ago. And we will not be led by ‘sense and emotion,’ but by the very word of God.

God creates human beings for his glory.  Let those who would speak of them as defective and act as if they do not matter be mindful that God himself has regard for their well-being:

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:14 ESV)

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From Pastor John MacArthur’s sermon, Taking the Mystery Out of Knowing God’s Will, delivered July 16, 2006:

God wills our suffering. That’s right. God wills our suffering because he knows what it does for us. Back in (1 Peter 2:20) he says, “If you do what is right and suffer for it and endure that suffering, this finds favor with God.” God is pleased when we suffer and we endure it. Chapter 4 verse 19, “Let those who suffer according to the will of God,” that’s what it says. “Let those who suffer according to the will of God,” 1 Peter 4:19, “and trust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right.”

So you’re doing what is right. You keep doing what is right. You start to suffer for doing what is right and you endure that suffering and trust in your soul to a faithful God. And you are, in a sense, following the example of Christ, who, being perfect, still suffered.

Thank you to Jan Lacher for pointing out this sermon.

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