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Archive for April, 2015

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The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes is a classic. It’s based upon Isaiah 42:3, which says, “A bruised shall he not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench.” The first part of Isaiah 42 is a Messianic prophecy pointing, of course, to Jesus Christ. Sibbes’ point is that Jesus will encourage and bolster even the smallest evidence of God’s gracious work in a person’s life. He won’t snuff it out or break it off because it isn’t good enough or strong enough or developed enough. The Lord works to strengthen our “reed” and kindle into flame our “smoking flax.” This is a very encouraging book. The next time I read it, however, I’ll read it devotionally (meaning slowly in small chunks, so I’m better able to digest it). Tolle lege!

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When he was diagnosed with cancer, seminary student Paul Wolfe dealt with the issue of God’s involvement in it. He came to this conclusion, which he records in his excellent book My God Is True, in a chapter called “Who’s In Charge Here?” The section is called “Here I Stand.”

I know that some of my friends did not share my conviction that the Lord brought my cancer to pass. I can recall one conversation in particular in which a dear friend made it clear that this was a claim he simply could not accept.

Setting aside the consideration that the Bible actually teaches this – that is, the comprehensive sovereignty of God – consider the question: Would we really want it any other way?

Concede that just one thing is out of God’s control, and at that point you have opened up a Pandora’s Box of uncertainty and despair. If my cancer was out of his control, then how can I know how many other things are out of his control, and how can I know what they are, and whether or not he will be able to do something redemptive, something transforming, with anything that happens to me? When you have cancer, some want to comfort you with the notion that God had nothing to do with it. But that is cold comfort, indeed. Freezing cold.

After all, what are the alternatives? Would I really want to say that the ultimate explanation for my illness is what some rogue cells just happened to do one day? Or what the human race now justly deserves since the Fall? Or what Satan was able to bring about? Or (stepping beyond the bounds of faith altogether) what mere ‘chance’ brought my way? Where is the comfort in any of those claims?

Notice I said the ‘ultimate’ explanation. Yes, cancer does involve cells gone bad. (As I said before, the natural is real.) Yes, ours is now a cursed world. Yes, Satan is real and active. But am I left to conclude that there is no higher explanation than any of those considerations, no higher reference point, no higher purpose?

No! Take those dreadful answers and run them through the theological shredder, every last one of them. I do not want anything to do with a worldview that says that cells, or curse, or Satan is ultimate. I do not want anything to do with a pitiful, partially sovereign ‘god.’

I boast in this: the trial that was my cancer, plus the trying treatments I received for it, was placed into my hands by the hand of my loving Father above. And as he placed it there he summoned me through the Scriptures to trust in him, promising that he would teach me and transform me along the way, and one day bring me into my cancer-free, sorrow-free heavenly home. The classic question when it comes to suffering is, Where is God in this? Where was God when I got cancer? Let me tell you. He was standing right in front of me, ruling my life, demanding my faith. Sovereign God! Gracious Savior!

Once again, we need only go back to the cross. How often we need to go back there! As infamous and dreadful as cancer may be – and it is – it pales next to the darkness of the cross. See there the unfathomable horror. See there the unspeakable injustice. We Christians are quick to give God the glory for the accomplishment of our salvation by means of that most horrible event. Would we then shrink back from our deepest convictions and say in the case of cancer, ‘God had nothing to do with it’? No, let us come to our spiritual senses, and bow before the Sovereign Lord.

(pp. 26-27)

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I had the privilege of preaching this morning on John 5:25-30. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus defends His deity by proclaiming that He raises the spiritual dead, raises the physical dead, and will be the judge of all mankind.

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Would Jesus bake two wedding cakes for a same-sex marriage? No, He wouldn’t. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise. Here’s some good thinking on this subject by Doug Wilson.

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This book is a must-read. Paul Wolfe gives us the lessons he and his wife learned from his experience with cancer. He skillfully weaves his experience along with sound theology from God’s Word throughout the book- it’s very well done. Wolfe’s conclusion is that God can be absolutely trusted no matter what may come – even cancer.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Read it for yourself (even if you don’t have cancer), and then give it to someone else to read. It’s 150 pages long and not a difficult read. More than anything, it glorifies God because it provides strength and encouragement to all who suffer and those who don’t. This is good medicine for the soul!

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Romans 4:25. Here is a summary of my Easter sermon in one sentence: The death of Jesus Christ secures and guarantees the forgiveness of all those who believe in Him, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ secures and guarantees justification for all those who believe in Him.

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Month in Review

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In March…

finished reading The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. The New Testament says a lot about hospitality – more than we might think. We all know we should be hospitable, but we have a hard time actually doing it. May it not be so.

read By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson. Don’t get bored by God’s grace! It’s far too great a truth to just yawn about and say, “I’ve heard that so many times before.”

We had a visit from the Gideon’s at Cross Creek Bible Church. I love their ministry and want to keep it front of us so we don’t forget about them. We try to have them visit at least once per year.

We said goodbye to Kosmo, our cat of 11 years. She was attacked by a pit bull (which I witnessed almost all of) and died of her injuries about 90 minutes later. Hard. She was good companion.

We attended our first pi party on the 14th (3-14-15) and had a great time!

read All Things For Good by Thomas Watson. A wonderful reminder of the truth of Romans 8:28 – God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

received my Vietnam visa! I’ll be going there in May with Harmony Outreach to train pastors at an underground seminary. I’ll be teaching the book of Romans to about 50 native pastors.

We celebrated my Dad’s 75th birthday with family and had a fantastic time!

We had a visit from Duane and Jodi Decker of China Outreach Ministry at Cross Creek Bible Church. It was a chance to update some of us and introduce their ministry to others.

heard Professor and Pastor Dan Doriani speak at the Spurgeon Fellowship at Western Seminary. I really enjoyed it. Dan is a careful scholar and expositor of Scripture. If you get the chance to read one of his books or hear him preach or teach, take it.

I read Black List by Brad Thor. This was the first Thor book I’ve ever read, and I liked it. It’s a fiction thriller, but seems the scenario is very realistic.

God graciously provided all of the funds necessary for my trip to Vietnam in May. Praise Him for His abundant provision!

Busy month.

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