Archive for December, 2011

Friday morning I woke up with no heat in the house because the boiler had failed, Desiring God was still $200,000 from its year-end goal, and Paul had multiple seizures the day before.

I felt crummy.  The little darts and arrows of anxiety and doubt were multiplying.  Yet, I knew enough to say to Dianne, “I am commanded to live without anxiety.” To which she rightly replied, “yes, you are.”

So, the fight began.  And God provided, through something Pastor John had preached just this past Sunday.

This is a longer piece from Pastor John’s most recent sermon, but I encourage you to read it all:

And because we have peace with God because of being justified by faith, we can begin to grow in the enjoyment of peace with ourselves — and here I include any sense of guilt or anxiety that tends to paralyze us or make us hopeless. Here again believing the promises of God with a view to glorifying God in our lives is key.

Philippians 4:6–7 is one of the most precious passages in this regard: “Do not be anxious about anything [the opposite of anxiety is peace], but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [in other words, roll your anxieties onto God]. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The picture here is that our hearts and our minds are under assault. Guilt, worries, threats, confusions, uncertainties — they all threaten our peace. And Paul says that God wants to “guard” your hearts and minds. He guards them with his peace. He guards them in a way that goes beyond what human understanding can fathom. Don’t limit the peace of God by what your understanding can see. He gives us inexplicable peace, supra-rational peace. And he does it when we take our anxieties to him in prayer and trust him, that he will carry them for us (1 Peter 5:7) and protect us.

When we do this, when we come to him — and remember we already have peace with him! — and trust him as our loving and almighty heavenly Father to help us, his peace comes to us and steadies us, and protects us from the disabling effects of fear and anxiety and guilt. And then we are able to carry on and our God gets the glory for what we do, because we trusted him.

And God provided, again.  As I write this, I am at peace.  The house is still cold (repairman is on the way, Lord willing), I have no idea what donations will look like for Desiring God, and Paul’s doctor is off until next week so we must wait.

In all this, I know God is good.  I have a foreign righteousness supplied by Jesus that lets me come into the presence of the Lord of the universe to seek his help!  Amazing.

That is why I am optimistic about 2012, and I pray you are as well – not because of our circumstances, but because God himself is for us.  And we know how that story will end someday!

And for my friends who are weary this last day of the year, I also recommend a beautiful post by Jon Bloom, A Year-End Prayer for Weary Waiters.  Yes, come quickly, Lord Jesus – next year in Jerusalem!

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Of all the things I read or watched this year, the video below has stayed with me the most, I think.

God didn’t ask my opinion about having a son with multiple disabilities.  I’m grateful for that as I would have responded wrongly, and I did respond wrongly.  But somewhere along the way he changed my heart about that boy and his disabilities.

And I have a long way to go.  I’ve never met Dr. McQuilken, but the easy way he accepted his new assignment from God as his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed instructs me about my heart and where I want it to be oriented.

Justin Taylor first blogged about Dr. and Mrs. McQuilken in February.  The three articles are devastating and beautiful.

May it be that God does as Justin asked in his post: May God make us men like this.

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I decided my office needed a good purge before we enter 2012, and I uncovered a gem of a little booklet by Paul Tripp, Suffering: Eternity Makes a Difference.

Trials and suffering explode the myth that the goal of life is to get as much as I can. They remind me that the best earthly situations and experiences can pass away, sometimes quite suddenly.

Trials also help me realize who God is and the meaning of the gospel of Christ. Rather than challenging the truths of the love and justice of God, trials and suffering preach them! It is because of them that God will not let me believe the lie that life is found in the things of this world.

God’s love calls me back from hope in the world to hope in him. And in his love he is preparing me for the real thing, eternal glory that far outweighs any pain in this present life.

Paul Tripp, Suffering: Eternity Makes a Difference, p. 23.

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I”m surrounded by prolific readers who make helpful recommendations.  So when I heard several recommendations for Tony Reinke’s book and then was given it, I looked forward to reading it.

But I wasn’t  expecting a book about books to knock me flat on my face to worship!

I can now see the magnificence of our Savior. He is fully God and fully man. He is the Lion and the Lamb – the Sovereign and the Sufferer. He is the Prophet, Priest and King – speaking, dying, and reigning. He is Light to the blind, Health to the sinfully sick, Strength to the spiritually weak, Food for the spiritually famished, Joy for the sorrowful heart, Comfort for the despised, Deliverance for lost souls, Drink for the thirsty soul, and Triumph for the abused. He is my Savior, my Shepherd, my Friend, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End.

Tony Reinke, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, p. 35.

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A helpful word from Charles Spurgeon about using the gifts we have for God’s glory and for the sake of other people, like the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus:

After all, the method which the four friends followed was one most suitable to their abilities. They were, I suppose, four strong fellows, to whom the load was no great weight, and the work of digging was comparatively easy. The method suited their capacity exactly.

And what did they do when they had let the sick man down? Look at the scene and admire? I do not read that they said a single word, yet what they did was enough: abilities for lifting and carrying did the needful work.

Some of you say, “Ah, we cannot be of any use; we wish we could preach.” These men could not preach: they did not need to preach. They lowered the paralytic, and their work was done. They could not preach, but they could hold a rope. . .

O hearts that love sinners lay their lost estate before Jesus; bring their cases as they are before the Savior; if your tongues stammer, your hearts will prevail; if you cannot speak even to Christ himself, as you would desire, because you have not the gift of prayer, yet if your strong desires spring from the spirit of prayer you cannot fail. God help us to make use of such means as are within our power, and not to sit down idly to regret the powers we do not possess.

Charles Spurgeon, Carried by Four, delivered March 19, 1871.

It is also a good reminder – our family and friends with disabilities may not be able to do many things, but God has given them something to do for his glory.  Let us work hard to prepare everyone to use the gifts they have, and not simply grieve what we think is lacking.

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Mark Talbot is a gift to Christ’s church.  He uses his massive intellectual gifts for the sake of the church, and God has shaped those gifts through Dr. Talbot’s disability.  I pray you’ll get to know him better in 2012:

I have come to realize that God is protecting me from idolatrous self-sufficiency by taking various goods away from me so that I am not tempted to rest satisfied in them.  Each morning as I get up, my disability prompts me to trust God rather than to rely on my own strength.  And so, in this second stage of my coming to understand how God works in and through our difficulties, I came to realize that some things that are really evil – Christians are not Christian Scientists who say that evil is illusory – are also really good and that, as such, these evils are actually ordained by God.

What does it mean to say that God ordains something? It means that he has eternally willed it to come about.

Mark Talbot, “True Freedom: The Liberty that Scripture Portrays as Worth Having” in Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity, edited by John Piper, Justin Taylor and Paul Kjoss Helseth, p. 88.

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I really like Matt Hammit of Sanctus Real.

His youngest son was born in 2010 with a serious heart defect.  God provided excellent care, and today he’s growing – with half a heart.

It also did something to his father, making him both more serious and more joyful.  I’ve enjoyed watching this happen, and also seeing how God has continued to fuel his passion for suffering families experiencing what he did.

Earlier this year, Matt created his first solo album which I have enjoyed a great deal.  And this particular song has special meaning.

Merry Christmas, all my friends!  May we bask in the immeasurable grace God has extended to us this day!

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