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Archive for June, 2012

I haven’t done this in a while, but the middle of the year really is a good time to start reading the Bible!

I wrote the following last year, and it still applies:

There are things we know are good for us, but it can be hard to persevere (or even to start).

Reading through the Bible is one of those things – it really is helpful!

It can also be exciting.  God continues to reveal things I hadn’t seen or understood before, even in passages I’ve read many times.

No, there aren’t fireworks of new insight every day, and some days I approach it with a less-than-expectant attitude.  Frequently, God reminds me on those days that he is the source of joy, he is the provider of faith, and he will never leave us.  Sins get revealed and dealt with, and I experience the freedom that Jesus promises.

I pray you’ll find the same.

So this is one of my regular encouragements to do yourself some good and read through the entire Bible.

I can recommend the One-Year Tract Bible Reading Plan provided for free by Crossway.  They also offer several other plans.

Who cares that you’re starting on August 1 rather than January 1!  Next July 31, you’ll have read all of God’s inspired word!

And if you started earlier in the year and just fell too far behind to catch up – so what!  Start again.

If the first plan you choose just doesn’t seem to work, choose another.  By the start of 2012 you’ll already have momentum to keep going.

I’ve been using a different plan this year.  This one has a single reading in the Old Testament and a single reading in the New Testament every day.  I didn’t like it at first, but began to see the benefits of this organization after a while.

So, join me – let us encourage each other to persevere for the sake of our own joy in reading and enjoying God’s word together for the remainder of this year!

 

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And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV)

This verse was the focus of our devotions at work on Wednesday.  The context is financial (which, given my work responsibilities, was very relevant) but Jon Bloom pointed out that Paul opens it up much broader than that:

  • All grace
  • All sufficiency
  • All things
  • All times
  • Every good work

The one who is providing this is God. This is the same God who knows everything about everything, including how he is orchestrating all things for our good.

I know what it is like to get another medical bill and wonder exactly how it will be paid.  We have had times when we’ve been bone-tired, yet Paul (or some other child) needed attention.  The emotional reservoirs frequently feel empty.

But my perceptions of reality are not reality. God is acting in ways we cannot begin to understand, for his glory and for our good.  Someday we will see clearly.  In the meantime, we have promises like 2 Corinthians 9:8.

And the certainty of eternity with Jesus!

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Pastor John’s tweet on a recent German court decision hit it perfectly:

When a German court rules circumcision illegal, it is too soon since Kristallnacht not to feel stunned. dsr.gd/LAtPTE

If you follow the link to the article, you can see it is an attack on religious liberty and parental rights in Germany.

We have seen it before in Germany and the United States.  These are the building blocks toward eugenics that apparently this judge cannot see in his desire to ‘protect’ children.  And we know how it violently ends for children and adults with disabilities.

Please pray this foolish decision is overturned quickly, and that this particular march toward greater evil is turned back before it gets worse.

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Jesus welcomed one of his own last week, a young mom who lived with cancer for several years until her fight was over last Saturday.

I never met Laura Black, but a friend of mine did know her and pointed me to something she wrote just a couple of weeks ago:  What I Want You To Know: Suffering for the Gospel (as I write this it is on page three; as posts are added you may need to look for it farther back in her CaringBridge journal).

Here is a sample:

Suffering adds to the Kingdom.  Nothing grabs someone’s attention like seeing someone suffer and living out the Christian life during it.  Let’s face it, you can sing the Hallelujah chorus when you just won the lottery, your first grandchild was just born on your birthday, or you just got a huge promotion, but who cares?  I’m not saying it’s not good to praise God for those things. Of course you should praise God for those things and rejoice in them.  But that doesn’t point people to the cross.  When you rejoice and praise Him in the good times, that is expected.  However, when you rejoice and praise God in the middle of the suffering, that points people to the cross.  The fact that our family has gone through five years of cancer and is now watching my body slowly fail and yet we still praise God and rejoice in His plan, that points people to the cross.  There’s no way we could ever do that.  There’s no way we would ever choose to do that.  When people see us do that, they know it’s nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Thank you to Martin Maners for sharing this piece of Laura’s story.  May we all live and die so well.

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And one day I’m going to leave this wheelchair behind. I cannot wait. I may have suffered with Christ on earth, but one day in heaven I’m going to reign with him. I may have tasted the pains of living on this planet, but one day I’m going to eat from the tree of life in the pleasure of heaven, and it’s all going to happen in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord’s overcoming of this world will be the lifting of the curtain on our five senses, and we shall see him and we shall be like him, and we shall see the whole universe in plain sight.

Joni Eareckson Tada from her chapter, Hope. . . the Best of Things in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, p. 202.

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I’m grateful that Pastor John pushes us to go deeper into God’s word to see  and enjoy more of God’s intentions and plans and designs for his glory.  Alistair Begg does the same, like in this accounting of Mephibosheth, who was lame in both of his feet and the grandson of Saul, David’s mortal enemy. He was also the son of David’s greatest friend:

Mephibosheth was not an attractive guest at the royal table; yet he had an open invitation because King David could see in his face the features of the beloved Jonathan. Like Mephibosheth, we may exclaim to the King of Glory, “What is Your servant, that You should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” But still the Lord invites us to share intimately with Him, because He sees in our countenances the remembrance of His dearly-beloved Jesus.

Alistair Begg, Mephibosheth’s Example, May 27 Devotional

When we cling to Jesus, God sees Jesus’ righteousness and we get more of God rather than the punishment we deserve!  We are not turned away but embraced!

Pastor John pointed out that this can work in the other direction as well.  After Mephibosheth had been lied about and David had made a decision to give half of what rightfully belonged to Mephibosheth to the man who had lied about him:

Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.” (2 Samuel 19:30)

This is how we should feel about king Jesus. He has come to save us. And he will come a second time to be with us forever. He is our inheritance and our great reward.

Jesus is greater than anything!  It isn’t just to avoid God’s wrath that we should cling to him (as great a gift as that is); if that’s all there is to it, we have really missed the greatest gift of all in being with Jesus forever.

And God chose to use the lame grandson of the enemy of the king to be an example of God’s great mercy and to point us to the center of our joy.  We should never doubt that God is doing something great for his glory and for our joy through disability, even when it is not immediately obvious to us.  Someday, it will be!

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Ed Stetzer preached a wonderful, and humbling, sermon on Saturday evening from 1 Peter 4:

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

He was very clear that the ‘each’ who has received a gift really means each.  That includes everybody called by God.  No exceptions.

Just to make sure, I asked him after the service if this included those God created with the most severe of disabilities, like my son.

His response: “absolutely!”

That was encouraging to hear from a leader of his standing.

So, let’s work hard today to find the gifts that each of God’s creation has received from God, and work hard to equip every saint for the purpose of serving others in the strength that God provides, “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

No exceptions.

Thank you, Dr. Stetzer, for this good word!

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Marriages frequently suffer when disability enters a family.  It is good to get oriented around God’s purposes in marriage and to understand what a picture it is of Christ and his church.

Some friends of Desiring God in the Chicago area invited Jon Bloom, DG’s president, to speak on marriage and the sovereignty of God next Friday, June 29.

I’m meeting him there for that and some other meetings and it occurred to me – maybe there are people who follow this blog in the Chicago area, or their friends, who might be interested in that subject and I could also meet them!

Marriage: So Much More than Being in Love
Jon Bloom, President, Desiring God
 
Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, Illinois
Friday, June 29
7:00 p.m.

It is free and everyone is welcome to attend. Map and directions can be found at the church website above.

We’re also giving away copies of This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence, as well as some other books and resources.

I’m looking forward to being down there, and would be thrilled to meet other people living with disability in themselves or their families.  So, if that’s you, don’t be shy about finding me and introducing yourself.  It would be a joy to meet you and pray with you!

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On Wednesday evening we were watching Dispatches from the Front, a wonderful, powerful look at what God is doing in various parts of the world in the midst of extreme poverty, violence, hostile leaders, and every other barrier you can imagine.

At the end of one episode the African congregation sang Amazing Grace.

Paul decided he should sing it as well.  I coaxed him to do it again for me.

I apologize for the volume and the lighting – we take what we can get when we can get it from this boy!

Obviously he also didn’t get all the words right, but it was still pretty cool and we were all very happy to hear him.  I believe Holy Spirit-filled worship was happening in our home on Wednesday!

Today also marks the 1,000th post at The Works of God.  Ironically, 500 Posts and Counting is still the most-viewed post in our 3+ year history.

Here’s the rest of the top five:

And here’s number six, just because it was so goofy and wonderful: Elephants Exist to Bring Glory to God!

We’re not done yet. Lord willing, we’ll be back again tomorrow.

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Have you registered for Desiring God’s November 8 conference The Works of God: God’s Good Design in Disability yet?  You should!

For example, Mark Talbot will be speaking on Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope.

He has some credibility on the subject; he’s been living with chronic pain since he was a teenager.  One would expect that he would primarily long for freedom from that pain.

Yet, after decades of pain, he can write about freedom like this:

I know that he who has chosen to appoint me to eternal life (see 1 Thess. 1:4-5 with Acts 13:48) will complete the work he has begun in me (see Phil. 1:6) when, one day, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52), he transforms me into the likeness of his sinless Son and thus ushers me into “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

True freedom is the freedom that God in Christ, in their own unchangeable mercy and faithfulness, work within us. By the gift of that freedom we are indeed set free.

Mark Talbot, from his chapter, True Freedom: The Liberty that Scripture Portrays as Worth Having in Beyond the Bounds edited by John Piper, Justin Taylor and Paul Kjoss Helseth, p. 109.

God sets us free, even in the midst of extraordinary trials!  God is doing the work!  We will be transformed!

Dr. Talbot is definitely qualified to speak on his subject of pain and hope for the conference.  You won’t want to miss it.  I hope you can come.

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