Archive for the ‘Helpful things’ Category

I posted my talk for Children Desiring God before Mother’s Day.

In my talk I mentioned that during the child dedication services, “one of my pastors makes the specific point, whether there is a disabled child being dedicated or not, that ALL children are gifts – and then he names some disabilities to make his point that these children are gifts as well.  You can’t avoid that he means all children.”

I had forgotten that every Mother’s Day, Bethlehem dedicates children to the Lord.  And Pastor Kenny did it again – even referencing that he was going to do it again!  It encourages me every single time. (My apologies for the quality of the audio)

After the children were dedicated, Pastor Bud prayed for the children and families.  I routinely record Pastor Bud when he prays. That might sound weird, but I’ve learned so much from this man about boldly coming to God with Bible-saturated prayers that I want to experience it more than once.  I hope you are encouraged by it as well.

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Yesterday several children were dedicated at Bethlehem.

And once again, Pastor Kenny Stokes reminded the congregation that ALL children are gifts, including the ones with disabilities.

Since most children arrive as they are supposed to, without the complications of disability, it would be easy to turn this dedication service into a sentimental, breezy statement about how wonderful children are.  I’m so thankful that Pastor Kenny makes this special effort to remind us that God’s purposes are higher than ours, and that all children in every circumstance should be seen as the gifts they are.

I wasn’t fast enough to record him yesterday, but this older recording will give you an idea how he does it.

Pastor Kenny – ‘they are gifts!’

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Dear fellow worrier. . .

One of the great benefits of the disability conference was having several friends travel to Minnesota.  Dr. Paul Tautges, pastor, author of a bunch of books, and a fellow dad, is one of those friends who I hardly ever get to see.  It was a joy to spend even a few minutes with him.

And he highlighted one of my most difficult sins in a blog post he wrote last Friday.  So I’m copying his entire post here, and commending his blog to you.  Thank you, Paul!

Dear fellow worrier,

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that one of my ongoing battles with indwelling sin is in the area of anxiety. As I continue to seek the Lord for sanctifying help in this much-needed area there are a number of thoughts that are proving to be helpful, albeit the progress I make in application is usually slower than I desire.

The following thoughts come on the heels of a discussion I had yesterday with another pastor whom God is using to help me apply biblical truth in order to grow in trusting God rather than myself. I pass them on in simple list form and trust they will be of benefit to you as well.

  1. Anxiety is fear, which is the opposite of trusting God. I need the psalmist’s resolve (Psalm 56:3).
  2. Anxiety is the desire to know what we cannot know and to control what we cannot control. This is why it is accurate to say that anxiety is the opposite of faith (Matt 6:34).
  3. At the moment in which the emotion of anxiety seeks to take control of me I must rehearse trust-building truths about God. God has given me the ability to control my emotions.
  4. When I let anxiety control me then it hinders my obedience to God in other areas, such as Romans 12:10.
  5. God’s prescription for anxiety is thankful prayer (Phil 4:6-7). When I choose to be thankful to God—and look for, and name, specific reasons—my focus is directed to God and, therefore, away from myself.

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I spent a great couple of days with my middle son, Daniel, last weekend.  From the outside, he’s a typically-developing young man intellectually and physically.  But since he’s MY young man, I think he’s pretty special.  I enjoyed my time with him a great deal. 
And it reminded me of how important and helpful it is that other people recognize that I have several children, not just my oldest with disabilities.  Since I’ve gone over that before, and I’m on the road for a few days, I thought I’d repost something from 2009. A few things have changed since then – like the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

For those of us who have been given the gift of more than one child, and one of those children has a disability, we know it is hard for friends and family to know how to talk to us about our children.

After all, we’re a moving target: are we having a season of good, stable days with our kids?  Are we in the midst of some difficult situation?  Are we consumed with the issues surrounding the child with the disability?  Are our non-disabled children doing something significant and interesting?  Is that all happening at the same time?

Most families are moving targets, of course.  But having a disabled family member seems to ramp up the complications, and those complications are often unusual.  So it makes it a little, or a lot, more difficult to know how to talk with us about our children.

Which leads to two common mistakes people make:

  1. Not talking to us at all, or avoiding any talk about any of our children.
  2. Concentrating all talk to either the child with the disability, or the children without disabilities.

My parents, as we celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this weekend, reminded me of their remarkable ability to treat all their grandchildren and great-children uniquely with the same affections.

These 13 (16 if you count spouses, and my parents love their three granddaughters-in-law as well) individuals are so very different, from age (29 years to 3 weeks), education (pursuing a Ph.D. to not-yet-kindergarten), physical abilities (quite fit police officer to completely helpless babies), or even musical abilities (composer to no musical abilities at all).

But they most certainly talk about and with all those children!

My parents love them all in ways that show they know them as individuals, appreciate their particular giftings, delight in their accomplishments, are confident they can get through hard times, and never, in any circumstance, stop loving them.  They are wonderful examples.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Now, certainly, grandparents have a particular interest in knowing and encouraging their legacy.  And we have also been blessed by people who take a particular interest in a child of mine; I’ll post about that later.

But it is a good lesson for anyone who wants to be helpful: demonstrate an interest in all my children.

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Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Some dear friends organized a gathering yesterday for many of us who benefit from Bethlehem’s Disability Ministry.  I think about 90 people showed up.  I enjoyed meeting some of the young men in His Works at our North Campus.

It has been a challenging few weeks in our family and I didn’t think I could make it, but God made a way.  When I arrived at the picnic they were being lead in worship through song, and then Kempton Turner took us to 2 Samuel 19.  Pastor John and Kempton agree that 2 Samuel 19:30 is one of the most beautiful sentences in all the Bible:

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

It isn’t easy having being one church with three campuses, mostly because we don’t get to see each other.  Yesterday was sweet, and a reminder that God is good to give us friends who encourage us in our faith and seek to build us up.

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It was a sober Friday evening at our house as Grandpa was back in the hospital.

Paul was goofing around on the piano and I decided to get some video.

Then God gave me this:

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Psalm 28:7-8

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This life isn’t easy – I need all the help I can get to remember who I can trust in every circumstance!

Dianne keeps this on our kitchen table.

We all love breakfast so it is impossible to miss.  At some point it will change to another.

The other is the Fighter Verse App from Children Desiring God, which helps us with Bible memorization.  This week’s verse was particularly helpful:

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Peter 4:16 ESV)

The app is available for iPhone, Android and Kindle for only $2.99 and comes with many extras.

My own sin, the enemy of my faith, and the world all work against my affections for God.  ‘Bumping into’ God’s word at the breakfast table, on my phone and in my own head helps in that fight.  This is one fight where it is perfectly acceptable to not fight fair but to bring everything we have into it!

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My dad hasn’t been feeling well lately, so my kids made some cards.

Daniel thought maybe a verse he had read recently would be helpful.

Grandpa like it!

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Something a little different today.

I’m very grateful for Bethlehem.  In addition to the preaching and teaching, which has changed everything in how I think about and view God’s sovereignty over disability in this present age, they also help me be a better father and husband, sometimes in very specific ways.  One example was this past Saturday where Hannah and I enjoyed the annual Father-Daughter Tea.

My daughter is a great gift to me, and for my church to encourage special investment in her life was more than helpful – it was also a joy!

The following was at every father’s seat. Yes, we bless Jesus’ name together, for he is our joy and salvation!  May God delight in granting you such joy in his good gifts of children today.

A Father’s Prayer
Author of all existence, for my wonderful children’s sake do not keep silent, and for their sake do not be quiet, until their righteousness goes forth as brightness, and their salvation as a burning torch.
Let men see their righteousness, and women their glory, because You have called them by a new name that Your mouth has given. May they be as a crown of beauty in Your hand, and a royal diadem in the hand of their God. Let them be called My Delight Is In Them, for You delight in Your servants. Fill them with the joyful knowledge that You take pleasure in them, that as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so You rejoice over them. Please establish them and make them a praise in the earth. Let those who eat the grain and drink the wine of their houses praise the LORD, and exult in Your holiness.
My children, behold, your salvation has come; behold, His reward is Himself! Rejoice! For you are numbered among the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you are called Sought Out, A Child Not Forsaken.
O Mighty One, help them to put their hope in You-You who are splendid in Your apparel, marching in the greatness of Your strength, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. Thank you for sparing their lifeblood and bringing to them salvation by Your powerful arm. Thank you, that when they deserved to be trod in Your anger and trampled in Your wrath, You gave Jesus Christ to bear their punishment! We bless His name together, for He is our joy and our salvation. Amen.
adapted from Isaiab 62 & 63
©2010 Setting Their Hope in God by Andrew Case

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The Thorn revisited

My middle son was memorizing a poem for school by Martha Snell Nicholson. I could not remember why that name was significant – until Dianne reminded me that she was also the author of The Thorn.

It is past time to bring it here again.

The Thorn

(a “mendicant” is a beggar)

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

–Martha Snell Nicholson

God is kind to give us writers who help us understand one of the purposes of our pain is to reveal more of Jesus – the greatest gift of all.

(Note: This poem was read during Pastor John’s 2001 Sermon, “To Be a Mother is a Call to Suffer.“)

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