UPDATE: Amos and Story

At her blog, Jamie Ivey has been posting updates regarding the integration of their two newest family members, Amos and Story, into the family. The latest update gives a glimpse into how difficult adoption can be.

Amos asks me every day why I love him. I’ll tell him I love him and he looks at me and says why do you love me? I hate this question. I have never had to explain this Cayden, Deacon or even Story. They have never questioned my love. Amos does daily. Not only in his heart, but he vocalizes it too.

pray for the Iveys as they love and parent these four precious children that God has given them. Pray for Amos to realize that he is here to stay with parents that love him simply because God gave him to them for that purpose.

see here for background information.

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God’s Glory

An interesting twitter discussion has arisen between Mark Lamprecht Wes Widner and Jacob Hall.

Friends of Mark’s have a six year old son who has developed a brain tumor and on his blog, Mark posted John’s facebook entry about Faith, Sovereignty, and God’s glory. Go take a look at John’s response to this situation and the thanks people are expressing for the faith that he and his wife are showing in this trial. here is some of it, but go read it all.

First of all, I’m unsure about what kind of faith is being talked about. I’ve never been sure that it is God’s will that our Gideon be brought back to full health.

Now, when I say that, I’m not saying that I don’t think God could do that nor do I want you do think that I don’t desire that. I just don’t think that is the way God always works. However, I do know that God does work all things out for Him to get the maximum glory.

Now, many of you may ask “how can God get glory unless he heals Gideon?” My response would be that he definitely gets glory by healing Gideon, but He gets even more glory when we have our full satisfaction in Him and Him alone!

God isn’t all satisfying and worthy of my praise because he makes us healthy and wealthy. He isn’t worthy because He heals my little boy. He is all satisfying because He is God and He always does what is right! He is all satisfying because he rescued me from my biggest problem.

Our greatest problem isn’t poverty, lack of self-esteem, or brain tumors. Our biggest problem is we have sinned against a holy righteous God. He has saved me from my sin, and for that reason alone he is all satisfying. He is enough.

Yes, we have faith in our God, but our faith is that He will do what’s right and what is best…even if that meant taking Gideon from us.

Mark then posted the link to the blog entry on twitter as follows:

How would you react if your 6 yr old had a brain tumor? Would you glorify God? One family’s responsehttp://bit.ly/3IV3Xh

Wes responded with this:

@hereiblog Glorify God for what? Giving the strength and comfort to endure it or for giving the brain tumor? One isn’t glorifying.

Jacobhall jumped in then with this:

@kai5263499 Your view of God is totally skewed. He is worthy of Glory regardless of the situation.

then Wes:

@JacobHall86 Not if he kills innocent people for no reason. Sorry, that’s not the picture of God the bible paints.

then Jacob:

@kai5263499 Noone is innocent. That is the picture painted in the Bible. You assume with Pelagian views. None are Righteous.

Now look up at the two portions of Wes Widner’s entries that I bolded. do you see it? Wes has decided that he knows what brings God glory and he knows who is innocent and he knows when there is “no reason” for a death.

I have some questions.
Why does Wes have such a high view of himself and his own knowledge?
Why does he not approach this topic with a little more humility?
Why doesn’t he even give lip service to the possibility that God has something in mind in this situation that is far higher than our poor power to deduce as we rock along here in our finite bubble of right now with our limited intellects and our limited set of emotional responses?

Does Wes think God doesn’t at least have the ability to control this boy’s tumor?
If so, then what else doesn’t God control in Wes’ world?
If not, then isn’t allowing it to happen functionally the same as causing it?
Wouldn’t God remain culpable for the illness?
If that is the case, then isn’t it better to believe God to be fully sovereign over every aspect of this situation and every other situation in our lives?
Isn’t it better to fully trust a sovereign God who loves us, sent his Son to die for us, and promised us good things, with our illnesses and their outcome?
Isn’t it true that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, even in the midst of loss, heartache and pain?
Isn’t that what makes God look most fantastic to this lost and dying world?

just asking some questions here.

Grace

Austin Christian Fellowship is having a series on the Most Beautiful Word. If you want to hear a demonstration of what Grace is and why it is indeed the most beautiful word, then listen to the interview with Bob and Audrey Meisner. Wow! wow.

two on suffering

first courtesy of Vitamin Z we get this comforting bit that we will never be able to fully explain the problem of evil but that we can trust God anyway:

So how do Christians explain the problem of evil?

The reality is, we can’t provide an exhaustive theodicy or explanation of the existence of evil.  Our minds cannot fully fathom “why.”

But, in his recommended book, Return to Reason, Kelly Clark, explains why Christians need not feel intellectually compromised if they cannot explain the existence of evil.  Here is how he concludes the discussion.

The Christian theist need not be troubled by is his ignorance of a theodicy.  This ignorance is not insincere, questionable or obscurantist.  Rather, it is quite consistent with his theistic beliefs.  The Christian theist will believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil, although  he does not know what it is or know it in any detail.  He believes that God has a good reason because of God’s redemptive incarnational revelation.  It is not rationally incumbent upon the theist to produce a successful theodicy; the theist, in order to be rational, must simply believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil.  A God who shares in our pain, who redeems our sorrows and our shortcomings, who wipes away ever tear, is surely a good God. (page 89).

and then Halim Suh is making plans. He is thinking about what he wants his friends to tell him when suffering comes in his life. It is so very helpful to have right theology and right thinking about suffering firmly in place in your mind before the suffering hits. before the cancer diagnosis, before the layoff, before the horrible accident etc. etc. Here are some of Halim’s prospective advices to himself. Go read the rest.

Yesterday in our book group, we were discussing suffering. Honestly, I haven’t endured a lot of suffering, yet, in this life. Especially not the tragic, life-changes-in-a-moment kind of suffering. But, only the Lord knows if it is coming. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would want people to tell me if I do go through a crisis – and these are things that I think I would need to hear:

Tell me that there is a God in heaven, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Remind me that my crisis, my suffering, is not a surprise to Him, and that it has not happened outside of His control. Tell me that my God has a purpose in everything – my suffering included. Remind me that He is the God who sees everything – not one thing has ever escaped His attention. He sees me now.
….
Tell me that there is a Savior that suffered – a lot more than I can ever imagine. No matter how much suffering I am enduring, remind me that Jesus suffered so much more, infinitely more. Tell me that He can comfort me because He knows my pain. He knows my suffering. Tell me that my Jesus is there.

Tell me that God loves me with a fierce love – the kind that rips open seas, that drowns armies, that throws hailstones from heaven, that shuts up lions’ mouths, that saves from consuming fires, that heals the lame, that feeds the hungry and that conquers death. Remind me that my God loves me like that. And that this God doesn’t change, nor does His love for me change. So, if He has ordained suffering in my life, He is still loving me – although I may not see it or understand it.

Halim is one of the staff at Austin Stone Community Church.

reality of marriage

Challies put up an article on Monday just after his eleventh wedding anniversary that was a very real look at marriage through the device of wanting to give his younger newly married self some counseling.

the whole thing is good, but I thought this part was especially helpful because so many people have unrealistic ideas of the marriage relationship:

Prepare to Hurt and Be Hurt!. One of the greatest ironies and the greatest tragedies of marriage is that a husband and wife have more opportunities to sin against one another than against anyone else in all the world. Over the course of eleven years of marriage, I have hurt Aileen more than anyone else and have sinned against her more than I’ve sinned again anyone else. I suppose this means that marriage also offers unparalleled opportunities to extend forgiveness and to choose to overlook sin. While Aileen and I have had our share of struggles over the years, I truly believe that we carry no bitterness toward one another. Through God’s grace we have offered and received forgiveness time and time again. And through his grace we have overlooked many an offense. Yet there have been many occasions when we have hurt one another and when we have let this wounds fester for just a little too long.

If I could go back, I would prepare myself to be hurt and, even more, would seek to emphasize kindness and forbearance and grace so that I could hurt my wife far less often.

that is why I Peter 4:8 says “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I can tell you after 20 years of married life that in a marriage there are many many sins that will need to be covered by fervent love. It is when you let your love grow cold that bitterness grows. Once bitterness takes hold of your heart, it is very difficult to uproot, so that love can flourish again.

The writer of Hebrews warned against ever letting the root of bitterness grow and prescribed the grace of God as the preventative. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

the hope

this is the hope we have because of the love of God.

1 John 3:1-3: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

conception of self part II

earlier I quoted C.S. Lewis in Perelandra to illustrate the point that our enemy has as his project the inflation of our ego to the point that we find it difficult to deny anything to ourselves and our own vision of how the world should be.

Satan has as his project affirming to us that we are the most important thing in the world and that everything else revolves around us and what we want and like.

I would submit that there are two basic things that we have to get right before anything else in the Bible or Christian life makes sense. We have to have a proper view of God and we have to have a proper view of ourselves in God.

God is everything. He made everything. He is sovereign over everything. He is God. Isaiah 46 is just one place where He laid it out for His people to see.

9remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10(K) declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying,(L) ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11(M) calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
(N) I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

the first four of the ten commandments are also reminders that God is God and will be worshipped as God.

2(C) “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3(D) “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4(E) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5(F) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am(G) a jealous God,(H) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7(I) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8(J) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9(K) Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the(L) seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the(M) sojourner who is within your gates. 11For(N) in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The whole point of all creation is to reflect the Glory of God. God chose Israel as His people in order to show the nations who He is. God chose us for the same reason.

God did not save us in order to meet our needs although that is a byproduct according to Matthew 6. God did not save us because He needed anything that we had to offer according to Romans 5:6-8.

God saved us for the praise of His glorious grace.  Check this out.

3(A) Blessed be(B) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing(C) in the heavenly places, 4(D) even as he(E) chose us in him(F) before the foundation of the world, that we should be(G) holy and blameless before him. In love 5(H) he predestined us[a] for(I) adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,(J) according to the purpose of his will, 6(K) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in(L) the Beloved. 7(M) In him we have(N) redemption(O) through his blood,(P) the forgiveness of our trespasses,(Q) according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9(R) making known[b] to us the mystery of his will,(S) according to his purpose, which he(T) set forth in Christ 10as a plan for(U)the fullness of time,(V) to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained(W) an inheritance,(X) having been predestined(Y) according to the purpose of him who works all things according to(Z) the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be(AA) to the praise of his glory13In him you also, when you heard(AB) the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him,(AC) were sealed with the(AD)promised Holy Spirit, 14who is(AE) the guarantee[c] of our(AF) inheritance until(AG) we acquire(AH) possession of it,[d](AI) to the praise of his glory.

emphasis added.

you have to get these two things written/engraved/etched into your very heart and soul.

1. God is God
2. Everything in all creation including us exists only and always to reflect God’s glory

that’s it.

So, as believers we are mirrors reflecting God’s glory to the world. Notice something though in II Corinthians 3:18:

18And we all, with unveiled face,(A) beholding(B) the glory of the Lord,[a](C) are being transformed into the same image(D) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

emphasis added.

Did you see that? in addition to the magnificent, amazing, unbelievable, wonderful, glorious privilege of being glory reflectors, God is also lovingly transforming us into the very image that we are reflecting for His increased glory.

The point is that God is the only light source in the universe. We are mirrors, not suns.

mirrors try to make themselves better reflectors of God. Little make believe suns try to impose their reflection onto the world.

Do you see why these two things matter?

The basic foundational lie of Satan is that we are little light sources ourselves. As little gods, we are thus entitled to all the perks of godness including a world ordered around us and our whims.

notice on page 179 what the Lady learned in Perelandra after she did not succumb to temptation to go on fixed land:

The reason for not yet living on Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except that because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure–to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave–to draw my hands out of Maledil’s [Jesus’s], to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’–to put in our own power what times should roll towards us….as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

a cold and feeble love and trust indeed is one that says thank you to God for saving us, now get out of our way while we make our world like we want it. But yet that seems to be what we do, and much pain follows our rash willfulness.

Why do we do it? How can we stop?