Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Bodies

Yesterday we went to the KW Regional Children's Museum to see the "Our Bodies" display, and to let the children enjoy the exhibits. When I first heard that people have developed a polymer impregnation method to preserve actual bodies, I was torn. The scientist in me thought that it would be interesting to examine the human body's skeleton, muscles and organs, learning anatomy in the process. Yet the reality that these are actual human remains made me shudder. How demeaning to treat human remains that way, I thought.

I wasn't going to go, but found out that someone I love and respect had seen the exhibit. I thought it might be a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity for the kids, so I made arrangements and off we went.

I'm sorry we did.

These were human beings, made in the image of God, formed and fashioned in the secret place of their mothers' wombs - then cut apart after death and displayed for all to see.

There were some amazing exhibits. The tiny "fetuses" (literally babies, in Latin) were amazing. One was the exact size of baby Jack who was born too soon to my daughter.

The bones of the hands and arms and feet and legs were intricately designed. I was able to point out to Christopher that the meniscus was what his dad had torn when he had his knee operation.
The circulatory system was incredible. We could see the blood vessels that supply the entire body, from the huge ones near the heart to the tiny ones in the extremities.

The nakedness was disturbing to me. I kept thinking that if it were my body, or that of someone I love, I would not want it displayed like that. I thought these people were treated like objects, rather than people who had lived and died, loved and laughed.

One of the things that made it impossible to view these bodies as merely objects was a small torso that had a scar and stitch marks at the bottom. Obviously, this person had undergone an appendectomy.

I'm not against scientific research, nor am I particularly squeamish. Each year we kill and eviscerate our own chickens, and as we do I marvel at the design of the bowels, the liver, the kidneys, the heart, the lungs, and so on. I point out to the kids that the trachea is ribbed so it doesn't collapse easily. I show them the crop and the lungs, which are spongy. It doesn't bother me, because the chicken is not a human being. It has no soul. It is a marvelously designed creature, but it was not created in the image of God.

Humans are.

Each of the people on display will live for eternity. Each will be raised on the last day, the day of Judgment, when an account will be given.

The Bible teaches us that we are to care for the dead and bury them properly. When God judges a group of people for great sin, the judgment often involves bodies not receiving a proper burial. Jezebel, that wicked woman, had her body eaten by dogs.

Jeremiah 19:7 And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. 8 And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds.

There is no reason, in my opinion, to use real bodies to teach anatomy. In this era, people can design anatomically correct bodies with blood vessels and nerves, heart and lungs, everything made of plastic. The children could then touch the exhibits, understanding each of the systems of the body and how they are designed to function so well. That would be a far better learning experience.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Greater Sorrow

I am at a loss for words because of a great tragedy I read about this morning. I was following Amy's links and read the following very balanced critique of Michael Pearl's To Train Up a Child. I recommend you click over and read it, but I warn you that if you follow the links, you will read about the death of a precious little adopted girl from Liberia at the hands of her normally gentle parents. You will read, and you will weep.

I have to say this: the name of the ministry "No Greater Joy" is based on a false understanding of the book of 3rd John. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." has NOTHING to do with parenting if you read it in context.

The book is a personal letter from John to Gaius. The theme of 3 John is steadfastness in the face of opposition. The recipient of the letter, Gaius, faces a troublemaker named Diotrephes.

I don't think there's anything wrong with quoting the verse and applying it to child-rearing, as long as the truth that we are referring to is the TRUTH. And the truth of the gospel is that Jesus came and died, that He showed mercy to the undeserving, that He loved His children with an everlasting love.

Parenting is a difficult calling. The only way to do it well is to rely on the Holy Spirit, not on man-made philosophies. When you have a rebellious child, cry out to God. When you have a disobedient child, cry out to God. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to help you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No, Never Alone...

This brings back memories of the old days when we attended a thriving independent, fundamental Baptist Church. We sang in the choir... and this is one of the songs we sang.

I'm still pondering the fact that Jesus promised never to leave me or forsake me; yet He willingly laid down His life and was forsaken by the Father and left completely alone. For me.

Amazing grace.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Not Alone

Jesus' speech to His disciples in John 15 is a very important one, because it's His last long talk with them on this earth, before His death and resurrection. When someone is facing death, they often are very reflective about their lives, their future, their experiences, and so on.

In His Farewell Discourse, Jesus says again and again, "Abide in me." He means that we should live in Him...with the knowledge that He is in us, and that our relationship will continue forever. God with us = Emmanuel. He never leaves us. He would never forsake us.

Abide in me means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience, and joy.
The Farewell Discourse is full of promises. Jesus promises to be with His disciples, but then tells them that he will be going away from them, which is better for them, because He will send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will guide and help His people. There is a sense of security in the face of impending disaster. There is assurance that God will take care of everything. There is also a sense that Jesus is looking ahead with reluctance, knowing that the task ahead is monumental.

He finally tells them plainly that He's leaving this world:

John 16:28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” 29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not a using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; l I have overcome the world.”

Do you see that? Jesus tells His disciples, the closest people to Him on the earth, that they will scatter and leave Him alone. We know this happened. We know that in the Garden He plead with them to stay awake with Him, to pray for Him, to keep Him company, and they fell asleep. When the soldiers came, they scattered.

Jesus knew they were weak. He knew they would leave Him alone.

And then He said, "Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

Jesus had such an amazing relationship with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. They were truly ONE in unity and purpose and power and knowledge. Facing the death that would be the propitiation for our sins, Jesus was not alone. He was secure in the knowledge that the Father was with Him.

Yet soon He would experience being abandoned. The disciples would leave him. The Jewish people would cry out, "Crucify Him!" The political leaders would lie about him. Then the unthinkable would happen: God the Father would abandon Him.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

My ESV note says this:
Jesus utters the opening words of Psalm 22 and in so doing cries out to God in the immense pain of divine abandonment (see Isa. 59:2; Hab. 1:13), which he suffers as a substitute for sinful mankind. Yet the following verses of Psalm 22 also anticipate divine intervention on his behalf. Jesus knows why he is experiencing God-forsakenness, just as he knows his death will not be the end of his story.

Not Alone. Jesus said, "I am not alone, for the Father is with me." And up to that point on the cross when God turned His back on His only begotten Son, He had never been alone. We cannot begin to imagine the immensity of the abandonment Our Saviour experienced. He'd never been alone. He'd always been with the Father. He'd always known the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then all of a sudden, He was alone.

And because of Him, because of His sacrifice, I can abide in Him. I never, ever have to be alone, ever... not for all eternity. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and never alone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm Tired.

So tired.

I bought some organic garlic powder from a health-food store in Stratford on Monday. I love garlic, and I like the convenience of opening a bottle and just powdering it on my salad, or sprinkling it on my steak.

Couldn't figure out why I was so gassy. And tired. And experiencing that stabbing pain deep in my gut.

That is, until Heather came over this evening and asked, "Did you have a reaction to the garlic powder we bought on Monday?"

So, that's why I've been feeling rotten. That's why I'm so tired. That's why I'm bloated and gassy and in pain.

Don't know for sure, but I think there's corn in that there garlic powder. Soy doesn't bother Heather, but we're both bothered by corn.

They say it takes 6 months for the gut to heal.

I don't think I ever go 6 months without having my gut ripped apart by some allergen - mainly wheat, or corn, or soy. Sigh.

Makes me look forward to heaven. But I don't really want to go the cancer route to get there.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The God We Want and the God Who Is

Each Sunday we drive over an hour to go to church. It's becoming tradition to listen to Christian music to pass the time and get our hearts ready to worship the living God in fellowship with others. More often than not we listen to Casting Crowns.

There's one line in the song, "Somewhere In the Middle" that has been continually in my mind for the past few days. The song is talking about being caught in the middle between who I am (a born-again Christian with a brand new life) and who I used to be (lost and undone, without God and without hope in this world). When we become Christians, we are given a new life, but even though our citizenship is in heaven, we are tied to this earth and we struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Part of this reality is that we live in a sinful place. It's a place where fathers or mothers kill their children - unborn ones that are inconvenient, little ones that make too much noise or get in the way of boyfriends, older ones that shame them and break the family rules. It's a place where contracts are broken and people are cheated out of businesses or savings. It's a place where babies are born with heart defects or houses burn down, or we're told we have cancer or some other dreaded disease.

For the Christian who knows that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the reality of living in a sinful place can shake our faith. Why would God ordain that a father would strangle his own daughter, for instance? Why would God use the brutal murders of a beloved wife and two vibrant sons to bring blessing to His people?

Because He's the God Who is.

Sometimes, He's not the God we want.

The God I want is the smiling Father who gives me good gifts that I like. The God I want answers my prayers and blesses me with good health, with lots of friends and a growing family, with work that satisfies, with deep relationships, with opportunities that abound. I know He is able to do all things, and I love it when He does the things I want.

But I am stunned when I read the story of Job, and realize that the God Who Is doesn't deign to explain His actions to this man who has lost everything. I am brought to tears when I read in Terror By Night that the God Who Is not only took Terry Caffey's wife and boys, but he lost his home and all its memories to a blazing fire set by the murderers.

As I sat there reading the book, my tears became tears of joy when I realized that this God, the God Who Is, ordained that a small piece of paper from a book would not only survive the fire, but would lie up against a tree, in plain sight, for Terry to find.

At 3:00 a.m. on March 1, 2008, Terry Caffey awoke to find his daughter’s boyfriend standing in his bedroom with a gun. An instant later the teen opened fire, killing Terry’s wife, his two sons, and wounding him 12 times, before setting the house ablaze. Terry fell into deep depression and planned to kill himself, but God intervened. Upon visiting his burned-out property, Terry noticed a scorched scrap of paper from one of his wife’s books leaning against a tree trunk. The page read: “[God,] I couldn’t understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don’t totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You’re sovereign; You’re in control.” That page was like a direct message from God, and it turned Terry’s life around.
I must admit that I've been caught in the middle the past few days, struggling against the unwanted thoughts that seep into my mind, making me question why a loving God would do what He does.

Because I know this God, this God Who Is, and because He has led me down dark paths fraught with danger and despair and NEVER ONCE LEFT MY SIDE, I know that the God I want IS the God Who Is. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Are you in the middle? Or have you come to the place of peace, the place of full surrender?

"Somewhere In The Middle"

Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Gospel - Good News!

God is not the "god" of your own making. He transcends anything you can imagine, apart from what He has revealed Himself to be. Listen to this clear presentation by Kirk Cameron and John MacArthur.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Plans that prosper

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord. ~Pr. 19:3

I was thinking about that a lot today. Notice that the verse makes it clear that it's the man's folly that is the cause of the ruin he experiences. Notice, too, that he rages in his heart against the Lord.

Have you ever done that? Have you ever thought, "Why doesn't the Lord answer my prayers? Why is my baby sick? Why did my husband lose his job?" It's easy to rage against the Lord and blame Him when we experience trials. It's easy, but it's also very foolish.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

We can plan all we want. We can do the math, save the cash, execute the plan... but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

We watched the story of Amelia Earhart this evening. She was determined to fly around the world, even though she was not qualified to re-fuel her plane in mid-air. She planned her route. She employed the best air navigator in the world. She contacted the ship near the island at which she was supposed to land. But all of her plans were to no avail; the purpose of the Lord came about.

Sometimes the things to pass just don't make sense. Why would God choose Saul to be king over Israel, knowing that his heart would turn from God, and that he'd end up falling on his own sword rather than being taken and tortured by the enemy? What a terrible end for the first king of Israel!

Why would God choose Judas to walk with Jesus for three years? He supped with Him, listened to Him preach, watched His miracles, and still chose to betray the Lord of lords with a kiss.

Why would God allow lying priests to assure His people during Jeremiah's day that nothing would happen to them, even though God planned to punish them with famine and the sword?

Jeremiah 14:11 The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

Because God is God! His ways are not our ways. Yet at every moment of every day, He is executing His plan - His perfect, omniscient, omnipotent plan. He will bring it to pass.

Don't worry if there's a Judas in your life - a betrayer and swindler, greedy for gain, without compassion for the downtrodden. God will take care of him.

Don't worry if there's a Saul in your life - a leader without courage, eager for accolades and jealous of anyone who does better than he. God will take care of him.

Don't worry if someone has lied to you, trying to placate you and promise you nothing but health and wealth and joy and travels to exotic places. God will close the mouth of the liar.

Like Amelia Earhart, we do need to plan our trip, the next step on the journey. We need to count the cost and do the work, to persevere and proceed with courage. Yet, if the Lord chooses to stop us in our tracks, to give us a delay of four years (as He did with Paul, allowing him to be falsely accused and languish in prison) we need to bow to His will.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Don't bother raging against the Lord when your plans come to naught. His purpose WILL stand. Trust Him to give you a future and a hope.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I thought I was bad. I love books. I can't pass the bargain bins at the grocery store when they're full of books. I go straight to the bookshelves at the secondhand store; I do the same at garage sales. I truly love books.

I love all kinds of books. Poetry, of course. Geography, French, Latin, Biology - all kinds of school books. Dictionaries, Encyclopaediae, Atlases, Thesauri - all kinds of Reference books. Fiction, whether children's or adults', as long as they are well-written with a satisfying conclusion.

Above all, I love theology books. Christian literature of all kinds; counselling, expositions, commentaries... things written by pilgrims, by Church Fathers, by historians. I love them all.

Once in a while, I feel a twinge of guilt about my passion for books. After all, I've spent a lot of money over the years accumulating a substantial library. Could the money have been better used to feed the poor or send missionaries to China? I worry about that, from time to time.

And then I see this: Six video tours of the hallowed libraries of contemporary pastors and theologians. My library pales in comparison to those of Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sprou. I'm just a simple, homeschooling mom and granny. My library doesn't have to look like theirs.

What I really loved about the various libraries was the stacks of things to do - whether in a pile or on a shelf, these men have plenty of future projects awaiting. They take joy in their studies, and they love their books, even the old, first-edition, dusty ones that are freshened up by coffee beans. News flash: coffee beans keep old books smelling fresh and clean!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

War of Words

This is the best book I have ever read on the struggle we have in communication, and I've read plenty. I am often quick to speak, and I find myself regretting the words that come out of my mouth. I know my tongue can be a dreadful thing, used to cut like a sword or flatten like a pancake those who are messing up my world. I have memorized many a verse that addresses the tongue, but it's still a struggle for me to not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of my mouth.

That's why Paul Tripp's book is such a godsend. He doesn't beat his readers up with rules, "Do not gossip", "Do not lie", "Do not speak unkindly"... etc. He sets the stage at the beginning, before the first words were spoken by man in the garden of Eden. He reminds us that the Creator who SPOKE the universe into existence is the Great Speaker.

Paul writes,

"The wonder, the significance, the glory of human communication has its roots in his glory and in his decision to talk with us and allow us to talk with him and others. . . Words belong to God, but he has lent them to us so that we might know him and be used by him."

Words do not belong to us. Every word we speak should reflect God's glory. Our words belong to Him.

When the Serpent entered the garden and spoke to Eve, the war of words began. For the first time, a lie was spoken. For the first time, too, people spoke against each other. For the first time, words of accusation were spoken against God.

Life is War. There's a battlefield in our homes, in the workplace, in the church, in the community. There's a dramatic conflict between the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms and the people of God. There are things we need to understand about this war.

Understand God is Sovereign. He rules, unchallenged, over the universe.

No one has taught God, no one give him advice, no one can legitimately question him, and no one can stand in the way of his will. He sits on the throne of the universe, and he alone rules.

He rules over all things for the church.

He controls the universe so that his redemptive purpose for us and his redemptive promises to us will be fulfilled.

If we understand that the God who loves us - who called us by His grace and for His own glory, who is in control of every aspect of our lives and will without a doubt keep every promise He has made - if we understand that this God orders every moment of our lives, how will it change the way we speak with one another?

He rules over the specific details of our lives. Don't like the car you drive? Don't like your home, your job, your finances? God designed it perfectly for you. Does your talk express envy towards those who have what you long for? Are you missing the fact that God is active in every moment of our lives? Are you forgetting that He brings all things into our lives for our redemptive good?

He rules over every aspect of our salvation. We are utterly dependent on Him. Apart from His grace, there is no hope for us. We owe a debt we cannot pay. And the greatest gift of all is clearly stated in John 3:16. He gave His only begotten Son.

The bottom line of biblical communication, the first and highest goal of all of our talk: that our words would reflect an attitude of worship that recognizes our utter dependency on God for salvation. - p. 76

He rules over circumstances for our sanctification. He's at work in each and every situation, conforming us to the image of His Son. He doesn't just save us and leave us... He works in us (We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Eph. 2:10).

When we complain about the problems and pressures in our lives, we are essentially grumbling in the face of God. We are complaining that we have been chosen by his love and grace, and that he is putting us in situations designed to make us his holy people! - p.77
Remember, God sends trials into our lives for His good purposes. We're to count them all joy. We're to trust Him in the storms of life, knowing that He will never leave us, nor forsake us, and that He is always in control. We must remember the presence of a Sovereign God, and the truth of His sanctifying control over our circumstances.

He rules over relationships for my sanctification. The people in our lives are not there by accident. That woman who is very needy, that man who is overly friendly, that obnoxious neighbour... all of them are instruments in the Hand of God. Stop treating people as irritants and obstacles, and see them for who they are - special, created beings, placed in your life for a reason. What does God want you to learn from them? How does God want you to minister to them?

He rules over all things for His glory.

He's not at work to provide us with happiness or wealth, or to give us a positive self-image. He is working to make us lights that shine in darkness, so that people would see our good works and give him glory. - p. 82

In light of this, every word we speak should bring God the glory He deserves, and should bring redemptive good into the lives of the people God has placed around us. This high calling for our words - worship and redemption - is why there's a war of words. The Enemy wants us to speak our of our own will, to speak for our own glory. He wants us to speak out of selfish hearts committed to what seems best for us.

But we're called to be different. We're called to be a peculiar people.

We are called to speak out of a thankful heart of submission to God, in every circumstance and situation. The battle starts in the heart. Paul Tripp explains this...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Poem; A Masterpiece: A Work of Art

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We are His workmanship. Pastor Bob explained that this means we are His poem - the poetry of God. We are living, breathing poetry, designed to reflect some of His glorious beauty back to Him. God takes pleasure in His children. Each of us is unique and special to Him. Each of us has been created for a special purpose, with a perfect design and a perfect plan.

We are His work of art. I'm going through some old papers, sorting out a pile of junk, organizing (as usual). I found an old picture today, drawn by Sarah when she was a little girl. She obviously took great care in designing and executing the picture of a lion, with his proud mane and cat-like body. It was a work of art.

All of the created realm is God's work of art (See Psalm 19 - the heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament showeth His handiwork), but Christians - God's chosen ones - are His special work of art - His magnum opus. God is doing a beautiful work in our lives, restoring the image of Christ in us. We aren't just cracked and marred clay pots (although, that we are). We have been formed and fashioned for a specific purpose, designed by the Great Artist for His pleasure.

We are created in Christ Jesus. This is in the passive voice. There was nothing WE could do to be born. We never decided our talents and interests, our passions and strengths. God planned each and every detail of our lives. He is the Potter; we are the clay. He chose the clay (Eph. 1:4), and worked with it to fashion the vessel of His choosing (Eph. 1:7). He placed it in a display cabinet to proclaim the depth of His grace.

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus

We're not perfect yet. We're cracked and chipped and broken. Yet God is working on us.

We're His canvas. He is developing us, shaping us, forming and fashioning us to the praise of His glory and grace.

He uses godly friends to shape us. He uses church and family and work and health issues, job and disappointments, stubbed toes and disappointments, marital difficulties and feelings of failure. Every single thing that happens in our lives is designed to be a part of His great masterpiece of conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ and using us for His glory!

There's never a reason to be discouraged. There's never a reason to give up. The Great Artist, the Creator of Heaven and earth and all that is within it is writing a poem with your life, if you are His child. He is painting a picture, fashioning a sculpture, displaying an eternal trophy of His grace. He won't give up on you. He's still working on you.

He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.

It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.

How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

1. There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,

Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.

But I'll be perfect just according to His plan

Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.


2. In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see

Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.

He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray

Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.