Arizona Cardinal’s QB Kurt Warner

I liked what I read in today’s USA Today.   Kurt Warner was asked about retirement, and I hope that I would have answered the same way if I were in his position.

“That’s the great part of it,” he said. “Sometimes you say, ‘I could still do this,’ but God calls you to something else. And then there’s other times when you say, ‘Well, this is the perfect ending.’ And then God says, ‘No, I’ve still got more for you.

“That’s going to be the ultimate decision and I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know when it’s going to come. I’m going to do my best to listen.”

May the Lord give Mr. Warner a large audience this weekend for the Super Bowl, and may the Lord get the glory.  And now I know what team to root for.  =)

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The God Question

JP Moreland spoke Sunday at our church on defending the faith against attacks by atheists.  It was a very good message designed for most Christians who don’t have time to study apologetic arguments.  He gave some very good and easy to remember arguments you can share at the office or a dinner party with the “village atheist” so to speak, or those influenced by them.  Listen here.

He gives simplified but very effective versions of the Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Moral Argument.  JP was also pitching his new book, The God Question.

BTW, about two-thirds of the way into the message, he playfully gives a member of the congregation a humorous reprimand for answering a rhetorical question and kind of stealing his thunder.  That was, ahem, me.  =)

Good advice can’t do this…

At church tonight something very cool happened.  I have a friend who has had years of career/financial trouble.  Finding something he does well, finds meaning in, and that pays adequately has been uniquely difficult.  And the Lord keeps pouring out his blessings on them in terms of children.  The children are a gift, but of course each one makes the financial situation more difficult.  God provides jobs here and there, enough to keep them in their very modest home and put some food on the table.  But he is certainly not satisfied, and has questioned God’s faithfulness to him.

And, of course, every husband and father has a great deal of his self-worth wrapped up in his ability to provide for his family.  Now, I think this is not right, in that deriving our self-worth from anything but God’s love and acceptance is an idol in our lives, something for us to take pride in.  But despite this sin, I’m not sure I know any man who is completely free from it.  Certainly I am not.  And maybe God is working in my friend to purge him of this.  I obviously don’t know what God is doing.

But tonight, I had the rare privilege of watching God minister directly to him.  Our guest speaker was Ed Piorek, and after speaking (listen here), he invited people to come forward who were feeling God’s  presence on them.  I went up, and after a few moments I noticed my friend was next to me.  Now Pastor Piorek doesn’t go to our church, and does not know me or my friend.  But he began to circulate among us, laying hands on and praying for people as the Lord directed.  He got to my friend, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You are not a disappointment to God!”  Immediately my friend doubled over and began to weep.  He was cut to the heart.  Knowing my friend’s history and some of his heart issues, I began to weep too, feeling God’s heart for my friend.  Pastor Piorek kept praying over him, things like “You have not missed what God has for you,” and “you are God’s son and he is pleased with you.”  How did Pastor Piorek know to say these things?  It seems obvious to me that the Holy Spirit was telling him.

Pastor Piorek then came and prayed for me, but his prayers for me were totally different, and related to my issues.  And, of course, he doesn’t know me at all.

This is the kind of ministry I want to see more of.  A word like that from the Lord can go a long way to healing years of built-up pain.  How many counseling sessions would it take to get my friend to believe that he is not a disappointment to God?  But one word from the Lord, and healing is happening.  Now, I know that my friend’s healing is not complete, and maybe it will never be fully complete until he is with the Lord.  But this was pretty awesome, and this is the kind of ministry I want to be about.

Of course, the hard part is pursuing the Lord to such an extent that you don’t screw up and give people “words” that are just your own thoughts.  Father, may I be diligent to hear correctly what you are saying.  Open the eyes of my heart!

Various Fall/Winter Pics

From Repenting of Religion

From Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd:

In discussing that the goal of creation is for us to participate in the love that the trinity has in and with each other, he talks about how this is done:

It is not by performing good deeds, successfully conquering certain sins, holding all the right theological opinions, or becoming “religious” people.  These may be by-products of the change in reality that takes place in us, but they are not the cause of the change.  We participate in the eternal love of the triune fellowship by allowing ourselves to be placed in Christ by faith.

The more I understand what it means to be “in Christ,” the more this concept dominates my understanding of the Christian life.  Through Christ, we have relationship.  And out of that relationship flows everything else.  And this relationship is intended to be intimate, moment-by-moment, and conversational. Many people are defeated by shame from ever pursuing this—how can a holy God want to hang out with sinful me?  But once again, “in Christ” makes all the difference.  It’s not about our holiness or lack thereof, it’s about his righteousness credited to our account.  If we are “in Christ,” God sees Christ’s righteousness in us and has relationship with us on that basis.  We don’t have to hide in shame, but can “approach the throne of grace with confidence” if we are in Christ.

My son was dead, and now he’s alive!

On Sunday after worship I went to a lunch meeting for those on the ministry team, meaning those who pray for people who walk forward for prayer after the service.  A man named Peter told his story about Josh, one of his 11 children.  I took notes, and here it is.

Josh first noticed his headache after church one Sunday at lunch.  By Wednesday, he had to be taken out of a high school baseball game because he couldn’t see the ball.  His parents made an appointment for Friday to see the doctor.  But Friday morning, Josh wasn’t even able to get his clothes on, so he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.  By the time he was examined, he was paralyzed on the left side, and disoriented.  He knew who his mom was, but did not know her name.

A partial diagnosis came back: his immune system was producing antibodies to the white matter (myelin) in his brain, leaving lesions.  They put him on a steroid, and he seemed to improve.

But a few days later, something  changed.  Josh became combative and began throwing things.  He was put on a medication to calm him down.  An MRI revealed that his lesions had grown.  They did a brain biopsy, but the strange thing was they couldn’t find anything wrong with the tissue (no pathology) other than the tissue was dead.  They were sending samples all around the country for second opinions and expert analysis.

Josh slipped into a coma.  But  his brain was losing the ability to control his temperature and blood pressure, resulting in frequent intervention by the medical staff.  He was put on a ventilator and a feeding tube.  The doctors were now sure he was going to die.  The family even had a ‘do not resuscitate’ order placed on him.  Doctors called it “vanishing brain disease” for lack of a better name.  Approximately 1/3 of his brain was now gone.   Peter explained to us that the gray matter, the structure of the brain, remained, but the white matter, the myelin, what makes the gray matter work, was gone.

Doctors ceased treating Josh because they didn’t know what to do.  Still in a coma, he was now under 100 pounds, and the presence of death was heavy in the room.  The insurance began to run out as treatment stopped and options were narrowing.  So the family decided to take Josh off the ventilator and feeding tube.  To everyone’s surpise, Josh began to breath on his own and drink from a straw.  The doctors observed, “he won’t die,” but he couldn’t be kept at the hospital anymore because he was not being actively treated.

The family began to try to find a place for him to essentially go and die.  But in words that the Holy Spirit used to minister to me, Peter said “there aren’t any places good enough for Joshua.”  So they rented a hospital bed and prepared to take him home, unsure of how his mom was going to be able to care for him during the day with 10 other children, mostly younger.

Peter said that the Holy Spirit said three things to him during the crisis.  In the beginning, he said, “Calm down, wait and see.”  Later, when Peter was frustrated by the lack of progress, the Holy Spirit said, “I haven’t forgotten Joshua.”  And now, sitting in his hospital room, essentially waiting for him to die, the Holy Spirit said to Peter, “there is someone in those empty spaces in Joshua’s brain.”  Peter got up and in the name of Jesus said, “get out, you have no place here.”  In response, Joshua had a fit and got stiff, and fell out of his bed.  Whatever enemy/demonic presence that was there had been discovered and fled.

When Peter got him back in bed, Josh opened his eyes, and Peter could see in them, “the boy was back!” Still not well, they brought him home.  A few days later, Joshua said “hi” to one of his sisters, and they knew they had won.  By the next day he was asking for his cell phone and hamburgers.

The doctors still don’t know what it was.  At one point they said that Joshua, if somehow he doesn’t die, will be lucky to learn to operate an electric wheelchair and learn 15-20 words.

Today, Joshua is back in high school and playing baseball, although not quite as well as he used to.  Recovery is ongoing.

Listening to this story, the Lord did much to heal my heart regarding the loss of my son, Michael, over 5 years ago.  Why did Joshua live and Michael die?  I don’t know.  But in those moments of grief for Michael I experienced on Sunday, the Holy Spirit whispered to me a promise too intimate for me to share here, but healing to my heart.  And He pointed out that the words “no place good enough for my son” is how the Lord feels about us in this fallen world.  That’s why he is preparing a place for his sons and daughters.  Praise be his name.

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