Worshiping God Produces Good

1 Comment

Worship On The Way – Part 2

Two weeks ago, we began looking at the importance of joining together with fellow believers and worshiping God corporately. Many people will agree that when we worship God together with others that we can connect with God and therefore build our relationship with Him to be even deeper and stronger. And when we stay in connection with God, it is not unusual to find that God has put a bubble of protection around us to help us get through the coming week and all that it has in store for us.

These are the first two reasons that Atteberry gives for us to maintain our corporate worship of God in his book “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.” In this article,  we will consider two more reasons for going to a local church and worshiping God. We will come to see that worshiping God produces good not only within us but also has a positive effect on those who may be watching us.

1.  Worship Improves Your Outlook

Somehow, this reason for worshiping God with other believers in the local church should be rather obvious, and yet for many this is not the case. When we feel sick or tired or depressed or just frustrated with life, you would think that going to church would be a “pick-me-up” and so a positive thing to do. But instead of going to fellowship with other believers and coming out feeling better about life, I have talked with many who have believed that going to church would not help them, and so they stay home and often their mood or situation gets worse.

I do recognize that there are some places and some times that this will be the experience one might have, but it is my experience that this is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I think we need to check what attitude we have before we enter a church, and also try to determine what it is that we expect to find when we go to worship. Consider Atteberry’s words here:

I will tell you right now that if you go with the right spirit to the right church, and open your heart to God, you will come away with a brighter outlook on life. I don’t care how bleak and dismal your world looks when you walk in, worship just has a way of infusing our hearts with hope.  (pg. 136)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Certainly in this ideal picture that he paints, we are bound to come away feeling more positive than when we first entered into worship. And immediately I can hear some people telling me, “But you don’t know our church!” And they’re right, I don’t know what negative things may be happening in their church. Perhaps it may be time for them to consider being in a better fellowship in order for them to experience God were positively.

But notice that I underlined three things within that quotation. Often, people will equate the “right” church with the “perfect” church. And as long as there are people involved with church (which is obviously the case) we will never be able to find the perfect church here on earth. As the saying goes, “A church is not a sanctuary for Saints, but a hospital for Sinners.”

More importantly, the other two important aspects in this quote have to do with you and me personally and are within our control. What is our attitude when we go to church? Is our heart truly open to receive a word from the Lord? In other words, if we go to church openly and honestly seeking God, we will find Him and be renewed and refreshed. Even in poor church situations we can still have these encounters with God, and that alone is a good reason to continue going to local churches to worship God.

2.  Worship Enhances Your Witness

Here is one last thing to consider as we talk about reasons to go to church on a regular basis. Think of all of the activities and behaviors that you display throughout a week and ask yourself this question, “What things do I do that people can see and will clearly know from it that I am a Christian?” Being nice to others is good, showing consideration and love is very good, but you do not need to be a Christian to show these kinds of attitudes and behaviors.

On the other hand, going each Sunday to a local church is a clear signal that you identify with that church, and it is assumed that you would in fact be a Christian. Now we do know that just going to a church does not make a person a Christian; believing in Jesus and accepting him as Lord and Savior of your life is what makes you a  Christian. Still, going to church regularly is a form of witness to your faith.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is how our family felt while we lived in our village in Papua New Guinea. There was a local church there, but it was based mostly upon ritual and form that had been imported by foreign missionaries decades earlier. There was not very much life in the church, and very little understanding of faith and the Gospel. But to not attend that church would send the wrong signal, and would likely have a negative impact later upon our credibility as “Christians”.

So even though we felt that was the “wrong” church for us, we still went with open hearts and a desire to seek God and worship Him. And you know what? We often still had a personal encounter with God, and the people appreciated us coming and identifying with them. This allowed us to build our relationships with the people and to impact them later in our ministry to them.

So there are some very good reasons for all of us to continue attending our local church, to worship God and fellowship with others. It pleases God, it can lift us up, and it can have a positive effect on others. Any one or all of those are good reasons for us to worship God corporately.

Advertisements

Thanking God Through The Pain

1 Comment

Praising The Lord

Life can be difficult. Life can be painful. How should we respond? How do you respond when life just wears you down? There are lots of ways that we can respond, but let me suggest that the best way is to praise and thank the Lord. And for those of us who are musically inclined, carrying around a song in our mind, in our hearts and even on our lips can be a very good thing. Here is a chorus that came to my mind:

I want to praise you Lord, much more than I do.
I want to praise you Lord, much more than I do.
Learn to seek your face, and the glory of your grace,
I want to praise you.

.

For the second and third verse of this chorus, you substitute the word “love” and then “serve” so that we sing “I want to praise you Lord… I want to love you Lord… I want to serve you Lord”. This is a very simple chorus, but it certainly can affect your attitude and your outlook on life. Now let me give you the background of what happened in these past few days so that you can see why this song would be such a powerful song for me.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Two Sundays ago, I had what I call a “fatigue episode”. Many of you may already know that I deal with a muscle disease on a daily basis. If not, you could go back and read my article from last July entitled “God and My Muscle Disease,” but make sure that you read the next article entitled, “Holy Spirit Enabled Missionary.” From these articles, you will be able to appreciate the challenges that I face, but also how God has become more real and more special to me.

Anyways, let me tell you about Sunday. In the previous week, the muscles in my legs had become more and more tightly knotted up. This would make it difficult to sleep and so it was getting harder to recharge my internal battery. I was able to take a long afternoon rest on Sunday, but when I woke up, I found that I had great difficulty in getting my arms and legs to move. I had literally “fatigued out”.

So there I was lying in bed and mentally saying, “Okay body, wake up!” First came my left hand, and it was kind of fascinating to watch it wave around. Then I would look at my right hand, and it just lay there. Next came my legs, then both hands, and finally my full arms. It took me over 45 minutes to fully get out of bed. I took it really easy that night and the next day, as it was clear that I had done too much in the previous week and needed to recharge my battery.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Two days after this, I was able to get my regular massage therapy done on my legs and this has helped tremendously to allow me to rest and sleep better so that my internal battery would not be so run down on the following day. But I must say that the massage sessions are extremely painful as the therapist has to slowly work deep down and muscle by muscle to work out those tight knotted areas.

What I think is really worth sharing though, is the discussion that I had with a colleague of mine on the day after my “fatigue episode” and also with the massage therapist. Both of them wanted to know what I had thought and what I had felt during that time period. I will admit that part of me got worried, but I also had a very interesting conversation with God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

When I realized that most of my body would not move after I woke up, part of me wondered about the idea of how I would respond if in fact I was paralyzed. And the answer that came immediately to my mind was this: “Well, at least I’m alive.” Then my hand moved, and I thought, “Thank you Lord. At least I have one hand now that works.” And it continued like this until I was finally able to get out of bed.

And so I shared this experience and my thoughts with my colleague and with my therapist. Even now, with all the restrictions and the barriers that this muscle disease has imposed upon my life, I am finding more and more each day that I am thanking and praising the Lord for what I can do, and not focusing in on what I cannot do.

There I was then, three days after having this fatigue episode, and as I was thinking about the Lord the chorus that I included above came to my mind. As Scripture says, our days are numbered and there is nothing that we can do to add to the number of our days. But we can choose what we do with our days. What I think is important is that we realize that we are just passing through this life. In fact, this life is the training ground for how we will spend our lives in eternity.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I think that it all comes back to the attitude, and it reminds me of the simple poem that says:

Two men stuck behind prison bars;
One saw mud, the other saw stars.

As for me, I choose to be like the second man. How about you?

A Hunger For God

Leave a comment

Everyone knows that the human body needs food and water to survive.  And the body has its own natural ways to signal us that it is in need of sustenance.  You know what I am referring to: the stomach growls, the throat is parched, and we feel weak and light-headed. And just like the physical body needs physical nourishment, so also our spirits need spiritual nourishment.

Actually, it is not quite as straightforward or simple as that. We do not stay healthy by simply eating any foods, but rather, we must have balanced or healthy meals for our bodies to be healthy. In the same way, we must be concerned about what we feed our souls, making good choices regarding what we say “yes” and what we say “no” to in our lives.

Consider what is written in this devotion which comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Relentless Pursuit

It is no accident that one of the great spiritual disciplines of the Church is to fast. When we fast, we become acutely aware of our physical hunger. That physical hunger can lead to a spiritual hunger as well. Christians today are returning to fasting and prayer as a means of waking us up to our great need for the presence of God. It may be that we will need to fast from other things than food in order to restore our spiritual hunger.

There may need to be a slowing of our hectic lifestyles that are crowding out our time with the Father. We may need to fast from some forms of entertainment to devote time to seeking the Lord. Those heavily involved in ministry may need to say “no” to that which is good, in order to seek that which is best. We may even need to reevaluate our family schedules.

Tommy Tenney, in his devotional, Experiencing His Presence; Devotions for God Chasers, prays a prayer that we all may need to use daily to build our hunger for God:

“Lord Jesus, my soul aches at the mere mention of Your name. My heart leaps for every rumor of Your coming, and each possibility that You will manifest Your presence. I’m not satisfied with mere spiritual dainties. I’m ravenously hungry for You in Your fullness. I’m desperate to feast on the bread of Your presence and quench my thirst with the wine of Your Spirit.”

May hungering and thirsting for God drive us to a passionate, relentless pursuit of Him.

–Taken from the article Hungering and Thirsting for God by Dave Butts.        Posted 21 Aug 2011

The idea of fasting from physical food in order to be able to concentrate one’s attention upon God is not a new idea. It is a very biblical idea. In fact, this practice of abstaining from food in order to commune with God goes back at least as far as to the time of Moses. While receiving the commandments from God on Mount Sinai, Moses very likely went without food or water for 40 days.

It is possible that the reason Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before he began his ministry was that it was meant to be a parallel to Moses. Both Moses and Jesus had been sent by God to declare the truths of God to the people and to form a new people for God. If that is the case, we must consider a 40 day fast to be the limit for these two very unique and specially called men of God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

There is not enough room in this short article to go into detail about the biblical practice of fasting. But let me just say this one thing that I feel does need to be mentioned. You may recall in the book of Matthew that Jesus does refer to fasting in his famous “Sermon on the Mount”. What is most interesting in Matthew 6:16 – 18, is that Jesus did not say “if you fast…” He said, “When you fast…”

Now I wish that I could say that I have been able to develop the spiritual discipline of fasting from food so that I could then devote more time to communing with God. And perhaps I may still be able to achieve that. One of the reasons that fasting has been very difficult for me to consider is that during my teen years and 20s, I struggled with hypoglycemia. God has cured me from that (and you can read about the story here) but I still have to watch my eating habits carefully.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But take a look again at what is suggested in the devotional reading above. There are many other things that we can “fast” from. There may be other areas of our lives that are controlling us too much, or at least are diverting our attention away from God more than they ought to. I would challenge all of us to examine our lives  to see where this would be true.

Pray to God about this, and you may be surprised at what God reveals about your life and what He might ask you to give up and give over to Him. I was very proud of my son who told me at one point that he felt his Xbox was controlling him too much, and he put it away for over a week. I’ve heard of others who will go on a “fasting” period from Facebook.

These are just a couple of examples to consider. So how about you? After praying, has God shown you one area perhaps that you may need to take a “break” from? You may think that this would be too difficult to do. But I believe that if God has shown you an area of your life to give over to Him, He will also give you the strength to be able to do so. May God bless you richly in your hunger and pursuit after God.

Where Does Faith Come From

Leave a comment

What Is Faith – Part 4

Here is a short summary of what we have learned so far about Faith in our little miniseries of articles. First of all, we know that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) As an individual is exposed to the truth of God’s Word, a seed of faith is planted within the heart of that individual and by the grace of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that faith will grow and ultimately bloom when that individual makes an act of their will to choose to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The second thing that we learned, which almost seems too obvious, is that all believers then possess faith within themselves. But in a previous article we talked about how faith is like a muscle and needs to be exercised to stay healthy and grow stronger. So it is not a question of whether believers have faith or God, but whether or not they are exercising that faith.

A third thing that we have talked about with regards to faith, is that when we are truly exercising our faith, according to Mark 11:23, when we encounter major obstacles (i.e. mountains) in our life, we can speak out against that and have assurance that God will provide the means or the way for that mountain to be removed. Read last week’s article to see how God answered a major prayer request in our son’s life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now I want to talk about where our faith actually resides. Pastor Leon Fontaine from Springs Church (Calgary) is right on when he says that “Faith is of the heart, and not the head.” To me, this is a crucial point since most of us in North America and Europe (and also now in some developing countries) have grown up in a highly technological age and exist in an evidence-based society. In other words, most people today would say, “Seeing is believing!” instead of “Believing is seeing!”

In our Western culture, it is very easy for us to try to deal with the many challenges and difficulties we face in life from a rational perspective. If it’s a financial issue we are dealing with, we try to work hard, spend wisely, and invest carefully. If it’s a medical or physical issue we are facing, we visit the doctor, take medications, and perhaps change our diet. Whatever the issue is we may be facing, more often than not, we try to deal with the situation first in our own strength.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But that is not the way of Faith. Romans 1:17 tells us that “the righteous shall live by faith.” And I believe that here, and in other places in Scripture, when it talks about “living”, it is not just referring to our future eternal life with God, but also includes the idea of a full life here on earth. In John 10:10, in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, ” I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

I think what happens for many people when things continually seem to go poorly in their lives, is that they see the obstacles that are there and decide that 1) the obstacles are too difficult to be removed, or 2) they don’t deserve God’s help, or 3) God would not care enough about them to help. But all of these are just excuses to not “live by faith” and are results of people thinking from their heads rather than believing from the hearts.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

You see, from a biblical perspective, the “heart” is the central core and the place of true existence for us as humans. And that is why Scripture tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” And Jesus says in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The picture that I get from these verses is that our hearts are like gardens, which when taken care of well will produce beautiful growing flowers and plants and allows a sparkling and bubbling stream to flow out of it. But if we do not tend to our gardens well, and allow thorns, thistles, and weeds to overgrow it, then nothing good can come out of it. As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out!”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So what does this all have to do with faith and our minds and our hearts? Our true existence is in our heart, but the things that we process and hold within our minds will eventually sink down to take root inside our hearts. Therefore, if we allow negative thoughts and ideas to continually be in our minds, or if we hold on to negative attitudes like bitterness, anger, critical judgments, etc., then over time, we condition our hearts to be a seed bed of negativity and doubt and unbelief.

Now that we know that faith comes from the heart and that the head influences the heart, we need to do like what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, to renew our minds so that we are not conformed to the ways of this world. Then, we are free to allow our garden within our heart to grow faith. But as with most things in the Christian life, this is not meant to be a one time event. Rather, this is meant to be an ongoing way of life for us.

God And Me Through The Years

3 Comments

The Plinky Question for this week is:
“Write one thought or sentence that summarizes each year of your life.”

This idea for an aricle caught my attention. I am now 50 years old, which seems to me to be a good place at which I could look back and survey the years that I’ve lived. I think this could be quite interesting, so let’s have a go at this and see what we come up with. What I will try to do is summarize my life in five-year blocks. I hope you also find this interesting.

Infancy

  • 1960: “It’s a boy!”  (Norman Craig Weatherhead enters the world.)
  • 1961:  Not much to say. (But wait until I become a linguist.)
  • 1962: “Guess what Mom? I can sink.”  (The day a lifeguard rescued me.)
  • 1963:  Little boys and puppy dog tails.  (The question was, who was chasing whom?)
  • 1964:  Droopy drawers and hanging out doors.  (Ask my mom about that one.)
  • 1965:  An early perfectionist.  (20 minutes to cut out the picture in kindergarten.)

Childhood

  • 1966: “I love reading!”  (Me, my Mom, and the Principal. Read the story here.)
  • 1967:  Canada becomes independent. (I rolled my centennial penny all the way home.)
  • 1968:  Sent home with a note.  (“You can’t tackle girls outside school and kiss them?”)
  • 1969:  Standing in the corner.  (“You mean I can’t speak out in class when I want to?”)
  • 1970:  Chased by bullies.  (Aha, that’s why I became a long-distance runner.)

Early Teen Years

  • 1971:  Grade Sixers Rule!  (It’s nice to start the school year at the top of the school.)
  • 1972:  God becomes real. (Read here how God first touched my life.)
  • 1973:  Born-again.  (I commit my life to Christ and am baptized.)
  • 1974:  Special leaders.  (Thank God for Youth Group leaders who cared about me.)
  • 1975:  Love for math.  (Doing 10th grade algebra in my 9th grade math class.)

Later Teen Years

  • 1976:  Love for running.  (All the way to Calgary city finals in the 800 m race.)
  • 1977:  Jesus and me in the Navy. (Read about my faith under fire in this story.)
  • 1978:  A high school grad.  (With honors and scholarships to boot.)
  • 1979:  Up the Amazon.  (My first short term mission with Teen Missions Intl.)
  • 1980:  Full-time missionary.  (18 wonderful/challenging months with Teen Missions.)

Young Adult

  • 1981:  Bible college begins.  (Alberta Bible College – what a great school!)
  • 1982:  Learning pastoral ministry. (Youth group leader and church intern. Crazy!!)
  • 1983:  The famous “Sandwich”.  (How I started dating Jill.  I even made the bread.)
  • 1984:  I graduate, Grandma dies, Jill and I get married.  (What a week!)
  • 1985:  Seminary in subzero.  (Canadian Theological Seminary in Saskatchewan.)

Early Married Years

  • 1986:  Summer missions with Jill.  (Last year Dominican Republic, now Mexico.)
  • 1987:  Celebrate with Jill. (Jill gets her nursing diploma and sings on stage.)
  • 1988:  Church  planter?  (A valiant effort, but a “dry well” in Texas.)
  • 1989:  Our bundle of joy.  (Eric is born. Bring on those diapers!)
  • 1990:  Pain in the offering.  (Not wanted at a church.)

Finding Direction

  • 1991: “Is he the father?”  (Glen is born – 9 lbs. 14 oz. and 23 3/4 inches long.)
  • 1992:  Ministry in the Prairies. (God uses a city boy in a country church.)
  • 1993:  God humbles me.  (Read the full story here.)
  • 1994:  Love for biblical languages.  (Hooray for Lincoln Christian Seminary.)
  • 1995:  Training to be a Bible translator.  (Studying linguistics in Dallas.)

Translation Years

  • 1996:  Churches support our ministry.  (Getting ready and set to go to the field.)
  • 1997: “But it’s not the swamps!”  (We moved to a small village in PNG.)
  • 1998:  An official alphabet.  (The first thing published in the Nend language.)
  • 1999:  Death in the family.  (My father dies; we visit family and supporting churches.)
  • 2000: Hard at work.  (Translation on the Gospel of Mark goes forward.)

Difficult Years

  • 2001:  Bible school in the Bush.  (Teaching Genesis to Revelation in the village.)
  • 2002:  The Diagnosis. (Eric has leukemia and we return to Canada.)
  • 2003:  Chemotherapy and photo ops.  (Eric chosen as cancer’s Spokes Kid.)
  • 2004:  A good year.  (Teaching at Western Christian College.)
  • 2005:  Management training.  (Preparing to serve in East Africa.)

Transition Years

  • 2006:  Family choices.  (Eric returns to Canada for Gr. 12; three of us stay in Africa.)
  • 2007:  Back to Canada. (We help the boys with college and getting ready for life.)
  • 2008:  Another diagnosis!  (A muscle disease hits Norm and walking gets tough.)
  • 2009:  Slowly and carefully.  (Jill and I take one short mission trip to PNG.)
  • 2010:  Finding solutions.  (Wheelchairs, walkers, and recliners allow me to do work.)
  • 2011:  A step of faith.  (Norm lives in Dallas for 4 months doing translation work.)

And so there you have it folks, my entire life in one page. I found it quite interesting to think back over all the years and consider what the highlights were for each of those years. As you can see, God or ministry work (either in North America or in overseas countries) was a big part of many of these years. Of course there have been some discouraging times and difficult times. But for the most part, I can just about say that I found something positive in each and every year.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed this overview of my life. Perhaps you may find doing something like this, writing out the summary of your life year-by-year, may turn out to be just as interesting and valuable to you as it was to me doing my own life history. In some ways, I think it comes down to our basic outlook and attitude in life. For me, I try to live by these words: “Giving honor and glory to God in all that I do.”

God’s Little Detours – Part 2

2 Comments

The Value Of Detours

This is the second article that I want to talk about this concept of encountering detours in life.  And let’s face it, the question is not whether we will encounter detours, but what to do when we encounter detours.  In the last article, I mentioned that we will all have good moments, and that we must treasure those moments and count them as blessings. And now I would like to suggest that we even consider the detours of our lives to be blessings and to treasure them also.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that I sensed as I read the second half of chapter 9 of Mark Atteberry’s book entitled, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel”.  For those who have been reading these “Hard Road Journey” articles, I would like to suggest again that this book is certainly one worth getting and reading many times.  (You can click here to find out how I can help you to get this book.)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Let’s look then at how Atteberry considers detours in life to be helpful:

1.  Detours Can Train You

One of the first things that Atteberry does in this part of the chapter is to make a distinction between “to teach” and “to train”.  I thought that this was quite good because there is an important difference between the two concepts. You can hear about something, watch something, and even study something, and that might “teach” you something important. But until you have gone through an experience, you have not really been “trained” to be able to handle that experience.

I shared with many people of the strong interest that I had in Bible translation work since the time that I was age 16.  Then, when I tell them that I was 36 years old when our family went over to Papua New Guinea to start working in a translation project, people often ask the obvious question, “So what did you do in those 20 years?”

And I will respond, “Let’s see, I did some short-term mission work in Central and South America. I went to Bible school, then got married, then carried on and went to seminary. After that, I did about five years of pastoral ministry. Then there were some in between years where I felt a little lost and God was teaching me some lessons in humility. And also, we started a family and began raising our two boys.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to ministry work, and especially Bible translation work, I can be very passionate about it. Almost to the point that you could say I become so absorbed or obsessed with it that I can lose perspective with regards to other people or other important things in life. But I would never say that those 20 years between the time that I first thought about being a Bible translator until when I finally got onto the field were wasted years.

This came home to me in a powerful way in 2007. I was in PNG and attending a course to train translators to become Bible translation consultants. We were trained to listen well, ask good questions, be patient, be sensitive to cultural issues, know how to exegete Scriptures well, offer suggestions but not be forceful about it, and much more.

By the third week of this course we had had opportunities to sit in and watch experienced consultants work with other missionaries and the national speakers to check their translations. We were also given opportunity to lead sessions ourselves. When the teacher of this course asked me one day how it was going for me, my reply was, “Everything in my life up to this point now make sense to me.” And I still believe that is true: my theological training plus my years of pastoral ministry plus my village experience as a translator had honed me to be able to be a good translation consultant.

2.  Detours Can Test You.

But just when I thought that everything was now in place for me to be traveling the world as a Bible translation consultant and trainer, that was when my muscle disease hit me and its symptoms flared up. In February of 2008, I had just returned from PNG after doing six weeks of intense consultant sessions and some training sessions. I literally went from running through airports to barely being able to walk across my own living room floor.

As my health deteriorated that year, I slowly released one responsibility after another of the many international tasks that Pioneer Bible Translators had asked me to be involved in. By the spring of 2009, I was hardly doing anything at all, except feeling sorry for myself. And I felt like my ministry work and even my life was coming to an end.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Praise the Lord, God showed me that there were still many things that I could do and that if I leaned on him and trusted him for my daily strength, He would empower me to continue to do this translation consultant work. What I’ve come to realize is that while there may be many things that I would like to do, I am to focus in on this one thing that I can do and which God still wants me to do.

Many people who are aware of my muscle condition have commented to me how amazing it is that I am still able to do this work. I could let this go to my head, but instead, I point to God and say it is by God’s grace and grace alone that this is possible. I will close this article was a very good quote from Atteberry on page 124:

Make up your mind that you’re willing to learn whatever the experience is ready to teach you. And remember that your character is being put to the test. People are watching and will be influenced for better or worse by what you say and do.

Blessed Be His Name

3 Comments

My Attitude Towards Illness

In this article, I will try to express and explain what I think and believe about illness.  This is quite relevant to our family situation, considering that our older boy, Eric, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002 and had to go through 30 months of chemotherapy, and now I am diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease that produces pain and fatigue every day, and limits my walking to about 1,000 steps per day (about 700 meters).

Actually, I will limit myself to just share my heart on this matter.  If I tried to attempt to explain pain and suffering, I would simply end up added another book to the already endless mountain of theological and philosophical volumes on this topic.  So I will simply reflect on our situation and intersperse the words to a song that has become more and more meaningful to me.  It is the song “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

If we go all the way back to the book of Genesis, we see that from the very beginning, God intended that Mankind was meant to interact with and have a full and vibrant relationship with God.  That is the story of Adam and Eve and God in the Garden of Eden.  But when the choice was made to disobey God, then the perfect relationships between God and man, between men, and between mankind and the world was broken.

The consequence of that sin (spiritually), resulted in suffering and death (first physically, and then spiritually).  I believe that from Adam and Eve, right up until you and me today, goodness and perfection was intended for all of us, but inherited sin from the beginning plus our own sins today results in us having only glimpses of this perfection, but more often offers us pain and suffering in this life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

One of the question I would ask all of us is this: “What should our attitude be, whether we have those moments of pure joy in this world, or if we are experiencing the pain that comes from being a part of this broken world?  Read the first part of Matt Redman’s song:

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I believe that after the fundamental questions have been answered positively (there is a God, and I should submit to His lordship over my life), the second response I think ought to be one of praise and honor to God.  Our suffering is not caused by God (as some think that He does this so that we will become “stronger”), but from a fallen world and sin.

But God loved us so much He did not let us stay in that state of sin.  He sent His own Son, Jesus, to take the full brunt of the penalty and suffering of sin away from us.  Although the spiritual penalty of sin has been removed (eternity in Hell) for those who have faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross, that does not mean that all the physical consequences of sickness and death are finished.

We certainly can rejoice on one hand for the spiritual victory that is ours as true believers in Christ, but the hope for complete physical renewal and the promise of a new heaven and earth will have to remain until the end of time itself.  Reflect on the second part of the song now:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And that brings me now to this personal question: “How do I respond when my son gets a disease and could have died, and even now suffers from some post-cancer issues?”  And “How do I respond to God with regards to the muscle disease He has “allowed” me to get in these recent years?”  Should I attach my attitudes to my circumstances? (i.e. when all is good, I am happy in life and I like my God, but when things are bad, I am very unhappy and I am mad at God.)

Of course this is not the answer.  That is so ethnocentric: “Why did you do this to me God?”  No, rather than blaming God for the situation, and asking “Why?”, I look to God in the midst of the situation, and ask “How?”  How God do you want me to act or react?  How God are you going to bring out good from this, as you promise in Romans 8:28?  How God can I bring glory and honor back to You in this situation?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And I recognize that “God sends rain on the just and the unjust”, and so when He give us good things, I say “Thank you.”  And when He allows bad things, I still say “Thank you.”  Its the big picture which counts.  God is still God of the Universe, and He died to save me from my sin.  I will praise Him always:

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

http://www.lyricsbox.com/matt-redman-lyrics-blessed-be-your-name-pfs45jc.html

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And one final word to consider comes from the book of Job.  I don’t think it can be said any more wisely or simpler than this:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
(Job 1:21-22)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Older Entries