Archive for January, 2009

Next time you have to take the bus, just be glad you didn’t have to resort to this!

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Lessons from a wreck

Sunday morning started out normal.  I had a bit of cold still so I got up a little bit later than normal, but that was about the only thing different than most Sunday mornings the last 24 years of my life.  Everything changed as I drove to church and had an auto accident.  No one was injured seriously in the accident, praise God, although the car didn’t fare as well.

I wish I could say that my immediate response to the whole situation was “the Lord gave and the Lord took the car away, but blessed be the name of the Lord”, but I would be lying if I did. And my family would be the first to tell you this.  Instead,  my response to the whole ordeal has been more like a roller coast on the graph of my soul rather than a straight line upward.  But by God’s grace, He has taught me many lessons.  “Taught” in the very practical, real life sense.  I knew all these things before.  I could take someone else who was going to a trial to all of these verses quickly.  But God is always in need of re-teaching me things I think I know.

I understand that most who read this have had far worse trials and adversity than a car wreck. After all, I walked away from the accident and seem to be doing fine physically. So did my children and the other driver.  I still have two other cars.  And I had many friends and family who cared enough to encourage and strengthen me.  I don’t deal with chronic pain like others do.  I am not without a job or going to go bankrupt.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Nor am I saying that this is the worst adversity or trial I have ever or will ever face.  I have lost  two brothers and both of my parents in death.  Praise God I will see them again in glory.  Those were more difficult seasons of life than this one.  This one was a new experience to me and it shook me up.  But I have had worst trials.

So I took a few minutes to compile what God has been teaching me.  This is what I am learning. Read the last sentence again: It is what I am learning.  Not what I  have learned.  And I would hope that God will not have to use other means to teach me these lessons again.  But that would be unrealistic, because growing to be like Jesus is not learned in one day, one week, or one month.  It is a lifetime class.  I will never graduate, nor will you.  So here is what I have been learning through the last week of being under God’s good discipline.

I am learning that. . .

  1. God wants to instill courage in me during seasons of adversity (Hebrews 12:5)
  2. I should not be focusing on a way of relief out of the trials but that God is at work in the trials.  Adversity is from God. (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14; Isaiah 45:7; Lamentations 3:37-38 )
  3. hardship is an evidence of God’s love as much as His blessings (Hebrews 12:6)
  4. there is no pain in a Christian’s life without a purpose (Hebrews 12:10)
  5. part of the sanctifying process of adversity lies in its mystery. I don’t have to understand why something happened to benefit from it. God is much wiser than I. (Isaiah 55:9)
  6. submitting to God is an appropriate response to difficult times (Hebrews 12:9)
  7. I must be casting my cares upon Him for He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)
  8. God disciplines me for my good, so that I can share in His holiness and be more conformed to Christ (Hebrews 12:10-11; Romans 8:29)
  9. calming and quieting my soul before God brings peace that passes all understanding (Psalm 131:2; Philippians 4:7)
  10. suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and that produces hope (Romans 5:3-4).
  11. suffering also produces maturity so I should count it all joy (James 1:2-5)
  12. What we can see (a car) is temporary, but what we can’t see (God, heaven, glory) is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 )
  13. When nothing else can bring peace, God can!  (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
  14. Laying up treasures in heaven is always a good investment (Matthew 6:20)
  15. Troubles come when you least expect them. It is always better to have a theology of trouble and suffering before it happens than to try to piece one together after it happens.
  16. God is calling His children to be sufferers who minister to others in pain.
  17. Suffering is one of God’s most useful instruments of change.
  18. God’s grace is sufficient!  God’s grace isn’t only necessary!  God is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  19. no matter how bad things look, I have a better future (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  And nothing can ever take that future away!  It is guaranteed (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Romans 8:38-39).  I am doing far better than I deserve.
  20. there is no benefit to worrying about tomorrow for tomorrow. . . .sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
  21. it’s amazing how a few seconds of your life changes your outlook on so many things (James 4:14).

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Less than a week to go for the Super Bowl.  I’m not an intense follower of the NFL or for that matter any sports. But I do live in Steelers country (although by some accounts the Steelers own “the nation”.)  So I will be rooting for Big Ben and the Steelers.  Although I do like the compelling story of Kurt Warner and his witness for the gospel, so I like watching him play, especially this year after having several years of grabbing no headlines.

Anyway, Worldmag has an interesting statistical comparsion between the two team leaders for those who care.

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I hardly want to publish this, but Ted Haggard is back in the news promoting a documentary about his life from mega-church preacher and president of the National Association of Evangelicals to a life of homosexuality. He’s going to be on Oprah this week talking about the last two years of his life.

In an article in the Washington Post he says now,

“And I call it my sin,” he says. “That’s my sin. I’m not saying everybody is a sinner that does it. I’m just saying with my standards and my values, it was a sin against me and God. For me.”

Oh, how far will people let their wrong theology take them.

Read the rest of the story here. It is one of the saddest articles you will ever read.

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Here’s the story you caffeine-lovers have been waiting for.

Drinking coffee may do more than just keep you awake. A new study suggests an intriguing potential link to mental health later in life, as well.

A team of Swedish and Danish researchers tracked coffee consumption in a group of 1,409 middle-age men and women for an average of 21 years. During that time, 61 participants developed dementia, 48 with Alzheimer’s disease.

After controlling for numerous socioeconomic and health factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the scientists found that the subjects who had reported drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to have developed dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less. People who drank more than five cups a day also were at reduced risk of dementia, the researchers said, but there were not enough people in this group to draw statistically significant conclusions.

Just remember next week they will probably come out with some story about how coffee consumption contributes to global warming! So go get your cup now while you read the rest of the article for more possible “health benefits” of coffee.

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From Carson’s How Long, O Lord?:  Reflections on Suffering and Evil, chapter 6 “Curses and Holy Wars–and Hell.”

If God felt it was necessary to to curb the evil of the wordld by obliterating most of the human race at the time of the flood (Gen. 6-9) and if by the same, powerfu word that effected that judgment “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 3:7), is it so very surprising that God should inflict through his covenant people punishments of a similar sort, but on a much small scale? (p. 89)

Perhaps, then, we should think of hell as a place where people continue to rebel, continue to insist on their own way, continue societal structures of prejudice and hate, continue to defy the living God.  And as they continue to defy God, so he continues to punish them. And the cycle goes on and on. (p. 91) [Carson is commenting on Revelation 22:11, “Let those who do wrong continue to do wrong; let those who are vile continue to be vile. . . .”

Heaven would surely be hell to those who do not enjoy and desire the blessing of the unshielded presence of God. (p. 92)

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Denny Burk reports:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is defending the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of the forthcoming stimulus package are to be spent on “family planning.” Her argument is very simple. The economy is bad. Having babies costs money. Would-be parents need to save their money by not having babies.

Whatever happened to “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5, ESV).

Click here for video and more analysis.

Update:  Nancy Pelosi’s scheme to include massive spending on family planning as part of the bailout plan is being dropped, thanks to personal intervention from President Obama. According to this article, the President responded to Republican criticism by asking Democratic congressmen to pull the measure.  I salute him for this.

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An unchurched Christian?

Over at Church Matters blog, a post by Thabiti Anaybwile:

Stott writes:

First, I am assuming that we are all committed to the church. We are not only Christian people; we are also church people. We are not only committed to Christ, we are also committed to the body of Christ. At least I hope so. I trust that none of my readers is that grotesque anomaly, an unchurched Christian. The New Testament knows nothing of such a person. For the church lies at the very centre of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community. For his purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory. … So then, the reason we are committed to the church is that God is so committed.

A little later, Stott meditates on Acts 2:47 and the hints there of the early church’s commitment to evangelism. Acts 2:47 reads, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” One of the truths Stott directs us to is:

The Lord did two things together. He ‘added to their number… those who were being saved.’ He didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church. Salvation and church membership went together; they still do.

In our day, we unfortunately have broken apart what the early church seemed to view as a natural, necessary, and seamless chain of events: gospel preaching and evangelism, leading to conversion and baptism, leading to church membership and communion. It’s difficult to imagine that Paul or Peter or John could conceive of something called a ‘Christian’ that was not a baptized, communing member of the church. I think Stott is absolute correct when he refers to such creatures as a “grotesque anomaly.” Part of what is critical to healthy community in the church is the conceptual and temporal tightening of the events in this chain. The clearer these things are (the gospel, conversion, the practice and meaning of baptism, church membership and the privilege of communion) and the more joined together they are in practice the stronger will be the ties that bind the church. Loosen these and you unravel the church.

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Mark Altrogge has this moving story:

ceremony04On January 15, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger guided US Airlines Flight 1549 to an emergency landing in the Hudson river in New York City.  All 155 people on board the plane survived and Sullenberger is being hailed as a hero.

Sullenberger’s wife, Lorraine, at a homecoming celebration for the hero in their home town in California, said with tears in her eyes, “I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot.  I knew what the outcome would be that day because I knew my husband.  But mostly for me, he’s the man that makes my cup of tea every morning.”

Now that’s a true hero.  A man who makes his wife a cup of tea every morning.  And it wouldn’t surprise me that he serves his wife in a thousand other ways.

Most of us won’t ever do anything as monumental as plopping a jetliner onto the Hudson.  Most of us will live rather ordinary lives.  At least from a worldly point of view.  But believers can live glorious lives as we faithfully walk in the works God has prepared for us, be they ever so ordinary and unremarkable.

Jesus said that if we give a cup of water to a disciple we’ll be rewarded.  If we receive a child in his name he takes special note.  Jesus said a poor widow who gave her last penny gave more than all the rich who gave out of their abundance.  Most Christians’ lives are made up of thousands of small, faithful acts of service which glorify Jesus more than we know.

Like my friends Bob and Twila. For the past twenty-two years they’ve been foster parents to 43 children, and adopted 6. How many thousands of acts of kindness and service have Bob and Twila done that only Jesus remembers?

For the past 2 years, Twila has been battling cancer. She’s been in the hospital a lot.  And many nights, Bob, who drives a coal truck, comes in after work at 8 at night, stays with Twila till 2 a.m., then quietly heads out into the darkness for another day on the road.

A true hero is a servant. He makes his wife a cup of tea every morning. Ordinary.  Faithful.  Incredible.

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From Carson’s How Long, O Lord?:  Reflections on Suffering and Evil, chapter 6 “Curses and Holy Wars–and Hell.”

“Is is possible that part, at least, of our horror at hell owes something to our inability (or refusal?) to look at sin from God’s perspective?”

Why is it that we are comfortable with evangelical cliches about God “loving the sinner but hating the sin,” when within the first fifty psalms alone there are fourteen passages where God is explicitly said to hate the sinner, or to be angry with the sinner, or the like?”

“We have given ourselves to thinking great thoughts about human beings and small thoughts about God.”

“How does rebellion appear to One so incomparably transcendent that even the superpowers appear to his eyes like the fine dust in a balance?  How does rebellion appear to One who measures our sin by the death of His Son?” (p

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