To grant great good after great evil is one thing, and to turn great evil into the greatest good is another; and yet that is God’s way: the greatest good that God intends for his people, he many times works out of the greatest evil, the greatest light is brought out of the greatest darkness. I remember, Luther has a striking expression for this: he says, ‘It is the way of God: he humbles that he might exalt, he kills that he might make alive, he confounds that he might glorify.’ This is the way of God, he says, but every one does not understand it. This is the art of arts, and the science of sciences, the knowledge of knowledges, to understand this, that God when he will bring life, brings it out of death, he brings joy out of sorrow, and he brings prosperity out of adversity, yea and many times brings grace out of sin, that is, makes use of sin to work furtherance of grace. It is the way of God to bring all good out of evil, not only to overcome the evil, but to make the evil work toward the good.

Excerpt From: Burroughs, Jeremiah. “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.”

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.

Pastor Jason Meyer in his December 5, 2015 sermon on Psalm 14 quoting Tim Keller from The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism quoting  Fyodor Dostoyevsky from The Brothers Karamazov.

We’ve added to our family (see picture below if you’re interested).

The day we brought her home I was reminded of a time when Pastor John referenced his own dog and the new earth. I couldn’t remember exactly what the reference was or when or even the context (sermon? conference message? book?). Thankfully, desiringGod.org has a helpful search engine and I found it in about a minute.

It was from an Advent poem in 1985!

And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream-
Almost-and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye.

And there was so much more I had forgotten:

The blind can see a bird on wing,
The dumb can lift his voice and sing.
The diabetic eats at will,
The coronary runs uphill.
The lame can walk, the deaf can hear,
The cancer-ridden bone is clear.
Arthritic joints are lithe and free,
And every pain has ceased to be.
And every sorrow deep within,
And every trace of lingering sin
Is gone. And all that’s left is joy,
And endless ages to employ
The mind and heart to understand
And love the sovereign Lord who planned
That it should take eternity
To lavish all his grace on me.

Glorified by Pastor John Piper, December 22, 1985

This was ten years before Paul was born and 19 years before Dianne’s cancer was diagnosed. The references to disability and disease obviously had no impact on me at the time. Oh, how I wish they had; 1995 might have been so much different for me.

But God had a different path for us in 1995, and I’m delighted to rediscover this powerful, sobering, joyful poem these years later. Please read the entire poem at the link above. It is not what you are expecting.

And I am not at all surprised that God would use a little dog to bring him glory!


God is providing an opportunity to change people’s hearts and minds about men and women with intellectual disabilities. Let us take full advantage!

More than 7,000 athletes and nearly 30,000 volunteers are gathering in Los Angeles this week for the Special Olympics World Games that starts on Saturday. Special Olympics is dedicated to providing people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to compete and learn skills. The organizing committee for the Special Olympics estimates as many as 500,000 people will attend the games, and ESPN is televising the opening ceremonies and providing regular updates and highlights throughout the week.

These 7,000 athletes represent more than 200,000,000 people around the world living with intellectual disabilities. Their disabilities are related to diagnoses like Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

We will see men and women running, swimming, lifting weights, and competing in ways that will impress us and possibly even confound our understanding of what it means to live with intellectual disabilities. Further, we will see winners celebrating and losers being consoled by friends and family – just like ‘normal’ athletes.

And there is the opportunity for us! The enemy and destroyer of our unborn children with disabilities attempts to make them into a scary diagnosis rather than a real person. That’s much harder to do when you’ve just seen an athlete with Down syndrome or autism compete, showing the discipline and determination that comes with competition. Let’s take advantage of this natural opportunity to make much of God’s diversity in his creation!

Yet we must also be realistic about how some people will respond. The ghoulish videos of executives from Planned Parenthood talking about harvesting the body parts of dead children is evidence of our enemy’s ability to blind the eyes of people from Christ’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:4) and to their own depravity and deadness of heart.

But we live with hope! All of us were blind to his glory and dead in our sins until God made us alive:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)

Please pray this week that God would use this gathering of athletes to open the eyes of spiritually blind people to Christ’s glory. And let us specifically pray for President and First Lady Obama around this event. They are both vocal supporters of Planned Parenthood and so-called ‘reproductive choice,’ and are honorary co-chairs of the World Special Olympics. The First Lady is participating in the opening ceremonies:

Father, as Mrs. Obama looks out over thousands of people living with intellectual disabilities this week, help her and others to see and enjoy them as human beings made in the image of their God, with inherent dignity and value. Celebrating their lives and accomplishments is a wonderful task! And then, Father, give her, and all of us, the desire to protect those in the womb with intellectual disabilities from being intentionally and systematically destroyed through abortion. Sovereign Lord, you are able! Please do it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” (Zephaniah 3:12-13 ESV)

My Paul turns 20 today. This day will be like every other day for him. He does not anticipate his birthday, but neither does he mourn what he cannot do.

His life is one long example of how to live free in God!

Simplicity: He is happy with what he has: some food, some time to play, and his chicken!

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:8 ESV)


Authenticity:  He does not hide what is going on inside of him. God gave him a natural gift of freedom from fear of people and social norms that most people long to have. He easily pleases his Maker in ways that are hard for us because we long to be in control!

There is a wonderful freedom of authenticity that comes with living under the lordship of Christ. It simply doesn’t matter what other people think if you have pleased the Maker of the universe. John Piper

Accepting: Paul knows nothing of race or economic class or educational achievement or professional success or athletic prowess that we normally use to put people into classes of ‘better than’ and ‘less than.’ Are you kind to him? Do you talk to him? Do you sing with him? Then you are acceptable!

Pastor John put it this way:

Every believer is personally accountable to Jesus as Lord, and we do well not to try to take Jesus’ place and pass judgment ourselves on a brother or a sister. Instead, we should accept one another in spite of our differences.

Perseverance: when he wants something, he will ask until he receives it. There can be meltdowns associated with his autism. But frequently there is no change in his mood or any sign of impatience; he just keeps asking! Is this not an example of persevering in faith?

We should not grow weary in prayer because God is . . . kindly disposed to us. As verse 7 (from Luke 18) says, he will surely vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night. Confirm your call and election, brothers and sisters (2 Peter 1:10). Always pray and do not lose heart. John Piper, sermon from Luke 18.

Expressiveness: it does not matter where we are or what would be considered ‘appropriate’ behavior. If he feels like singing or shouting, he will sing and shout!

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! (Psalm 149:1 ESV)

Trust: There is no thought in him that the world is a bad place. When he is with his family, he knows that all his needs will be addressed.

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11 ESV)

Dependence: Maybe the greatest lesson of all – happy dependency. He is unashamed that he needs the help of others in every area of his life. He does not lament that he cannot be independent. He exhibits in every hour of every day what God has intended for us all:

Therefore, Christ’s lordship not only implies that we are his possession, but that as his servants God supplies all our needs. . . How do we acknowledge Christ as Lord and live for his honor? By receiving what we need from his hand and giving thanks to God. The lordship of Christ, therefore, implies that he will take care of us and provide our needs. Pastor John

Happy birthday, Paul!

IMG_1047 2014_04_05_18_35_41

The guys at DG let me write for the DG blog on occasion, and I was so happy this went up just ahead of World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow, 3/21:

The Happiest People in the World

I was going to list all the young people I know who live with Down syndrome who have encouraged me and who God is using to change families, churches and communities. But as the list was getting longer, I was getting more afraid I would forget someone! That’s a good problem to have.

Yes, God is good in Down syndrome.

The abortion industry is not a respecter of children when they say that any unborn child can be killed—and they go even further in saying that children with disabilities should be killed. We speak up with severe mercy in saying a forceful No to that type of killing. Having a disability should not be a death sentence if you believe in the sovereign goodness of God.

We love to say at Bethlehem that children are gifts no matter how they come. They are a gift when they come with all their fingers and toes, and they are a gift when they come with infantile seizures, cerebral palsy, or chromosomal irregularities.

The supremacy of God is at stake in all of these discussions because God creates wonderful things to elicit worshipful praise.

Pastor Jason Meyer, The Supremacy of God in the Sanctity of Life, preached January 24, 2015

Autism is weird and hard on everyone in a family. And its no picnic for churches, either.

Lori Sealy lives with autism and also parents a child with autism. And she loves God! Her story was interesting and encouraging – and I found her insights into presenting the gospel to those who live on the autism spectrum really helpful.

Thank you, Ruth Brewbaker, Director of Rooftop Friends at Young Meadows Presbyterian Church for sending it to me.

I was playing around with some family photos and thinking about an old DG post I had written when the thought occurred that maybe I could use the animation website to make that point in a different way. Let me know what you think in comments.

You can access the live-stream of TEF’s conference here at the bottom of the page: http://www.tefconference.com

Paul Martin kicks it off at 7 p.m. (Pacific) tonight.

You can learn more about The Elisha Foundation here.

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