Monday, July 27, 2009

Beautiful In His Time

Last Thursday, I hosted a Moms' Night Out for the moms at my church who have children with special needs. We had such a blessed night! The following is the devotional that I shared that evening.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11a). When I read this passage and think of the moment when I gave birth to my son at 25 weeks gestation, the word beautiful doesn't come to mind. Nor did it come to mind when my son had his 1st seizure in my arms at 9 months. Nor did it come to mind when we found out that he had glaucoma in both eyes. Likewise, beautiful is definitely not the word that I would use to describe the day that my son was officially given the mental retardation label. However, God’s Word tells us that God has made everything beautiful in its - His perfect - time.

If God makes all things beautiful, that means all our suffering & pain are included. Jesus Christ is the most beautiful person in existence. So as a believer, God’s goal is to make us into the likeness of His beautiful son Jesus. God can use our very ugly circumstances through the power of His cross to produce beauty in our hearts if we allow Him to work in us. God turns these circumstances into something beautiful for our good as we become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-29). Therefore the circumstances may never change, but our hearts can. As He makes us more like Jesus, we can have joy in the midst of our pain because we are becoming more mature in Christ Jesus (James 1:2-4).

I attend our church's summer Bible study where we watch the DVDs from the True Woman Conference. This morning we heard Joni Eareckson Tada speak. She said this statement, “Now, I’m not glorifying the suffering it takes to polish my faith. But ladies, I am glorifying the God whose image is reflected on the surface of any smile, my smile, that might be hard fought for through pain or problems. If you want God’s glory to be your shine, girls, it will be on His terms.” She basically described Isaiah 48:10-11 which says that God uses affliction to refine us for our good & His glory.

Even though we may not think of our hard circumstances as being beautiful we can trust our Faithful Father. His purposes will prevail. The puritan, Matthew Henry, gives his thoughts on Ecclesiastes 3:11 –

Every thing is as God has made it; it is really as he appointed it to be, not as it appears to us. That which to us seems most unpleasant is yet, in its proper time, altogether becoming. There is a wonderful harmony in the divine Providence and all its disposals, so that the events of it, when they come to be considered in their relations and tendencies, together with the seasons of them, will appear very beautiful, to the glory of God and the comfort of those that trust in him. Though we see not the complete beauty of Providence, yet we shall see it, and a glorious sight it will be, when the mystery of God shall be finished. Then every thing shall appear to have been done in the most proper time and it will be the wonder of eternity. (Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible - Ecclesiastes 3)

May the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ be reflected in each of our lives through the joy as well as the pain!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Scenes from our Summer so far

The kids had lots of TLC time with their grandparents while we were in the D.R.

They enjoyed many field trips esp. the trips to the mall & the zoo.
"Forget the real turtles; I like this one better."

Grilling Buddies (Kempton & my dad)

Father's Day Picnic

Every Friday Morning, the students come over our house for "Overflow". It's a time to share what God has been personally showing them in the Word. What a blessing to see 13-17 yr olds rise up early on a summer morning to feast on the Word with their peers.

Sidewalk chalk writing with my kiddos.

Kissing siblings at the Wednesday Night Connections.

Every Wednesday, we attend one of our church's Wed. Night Connections. We eat dinner, sing worship songs, and hear teaching on various topics.

We spend lots of time Reading,

And Biking,

And Coloring.

This past Tuesday, approx. 65 students from the student ministry came over for "Sup-n-stuff". We had a pizza dinner, Kempton spoke, they had small group prayers, and ended the night playing games in a near by park. What a blessed night!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Movie Gets Two Thumbs "Up"!

This past Friday, we went to see the Pixar movie, Up. We rarely go to the movies because there are VERY few these days that honor God or biblical values. The last time we went was over a year ago to see WALL-E. Anyway, we really enjoyed Up. Even though there weren't any verses mentioned in the movie, I can think of at least 7 biblical values that can be drawn from it.

1) Proverbs 18:22. Some people may think this is not a big deal. However, you don’t have to look far these days to see that many are confused about the whole idea that marriage is between a man & a woman. Moreover, many people are thinking that finding a wife is definitely not a good thing.

2) Genesis 2:18. It was so encouraging to see the wife helping her husband put on his tie for work all those years. Even though she was a zookeeper, she joyfully served and helped her husband be prepared for his balloon vendor job.

3) I Corinthians 13:7-8a. What a beautiful picture of unity & oneness in their marriage when they joyfully loved one another and stayed together as they endured the trial of infertility.

4) Matthew 19:5-6. To see the couple’s longevity in marriage was so refreshing.

5) Psalm 27:10. The old man was like a father figure to the little boy who seemed to be somewhat abandoned by his parents.

6) Matthew 6:19-21, 24. Seeing how the old man's childhood hero became so wicked and killed everyone in the way of his search for the bird, showed how anyone can become when earthly possessions are their treasure and not Jesus.

7) Philippians 2:3-4. The relationship between the boy, the man, & the bird was a good example of putting others’ needs before ourselves.

So, if you’re looking for a decent movie to go see, I would suggest you check this one out. By the way, we use a website of Focus on the Family called Plugged In Online to research a movie before we decide whether we will go see it or not.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Few Love the Cross of Jesus

An Excerpt from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him.

Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as thy encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection.

Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks.

What power there is in the pure love for Jesus—love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!

“Few Love the Cross of Jesus” p. 47

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Trusting God's Character

John Knight of the BBC Disability Ministry is a great example of trusting God's character as a parent of a child with disabilities. His writings are always transparent and God-glorifying. He doesn't mask the suffering that he endures, but he allows God's sovereign hand of grace to shine through his pain. He & his wife, Dianne, are sweet gifts to the disability community. Here's a recent post that truly encouraged me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Praying the Bible

The following is today's devotional from Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

We know that we’re supposed to pray according to the will of God. And there’s one sure way that we can do that. When we pray the Word of God back to Him, we know that we’re praying according to His will.

Second Samuel 7 gives us one of King David’s prayers. All he does is ask God to keep the word that came to him through the prophet Nathan. David says to God, “keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever.”

God had already promised that one of David’s descendants would continue to sit on the throne. David was just repeating in prayer what had already been promised.

We can do the same thing by praying the Bible back to God. If you ever feel like you don’t know God’s will and don’t know what to pray, try opening the Bible and asking God to do the things He’s already promised.