trust God

THE LIFE WE NEVER EXPECTED

img_6724

Book Review by Debbie Huber

“The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children With Special Needs”

Knowing that I have a special interest and love for people with special needs, Kyle bought this book for me to read on my Kindle. As an occupational therapist I want to have a better understanding for the struggles of families with special needs. 

But this book is much more than what I expected. I believe that what the authors have to say will help all who read it have a better understanding of the goodness and dependability of God and His sovereignty over suffering. 

The authors, Andrew and Rachel Wilson, have two autistic children. The children were both meeting their normal developmental milestones until the age of three when their development started going in reverse. This is called regressive autism. Their challenges are many and they share their pain with raw honesty however this is not just a book about children with disabilities…

This is a book about God. 

I was expecting anecdotes about being parents of autistic children.  But in the midst of sharing difficulties and humor, the reader is pointed to the Gospel.  They share their journey to find that God is all sufficient through it all.

For example, the Wilson’s ongoing, earnest prayer is to get a full night’s sleep. That has not yet happened for them which is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Andrew says that “I think the greatest single challenge to my prayer life has been the fact that so many prayers for sleep have gone unanswered.”  But he has learned that even when we do not know why God is not answering our prayer, we can still trust him and be thankful. 

Andrew was having a particularly frustrating and angry evening while praying for healing for his children and feeling that nothing was changing.  Not knowing where to go in prayer he started to pray the Lord’s Prayer. 

“I talked to God and meandered through parts of the Lord’s Prayer I had never seen that way before.  God heard me. I heard God.” He says, “I remember… that praying for healing and blessing at this point, after spending a while responding to God’s love, knowledge, glory, and beauty, meant that my prayers for the children were framed in a right attitude of trust and security, rather than a sofa-thumping anger and frustration.”

Their perspective of God’s grace is so encouraging.  Andrew and Rachel know that they have so much and deserve so little which brings them to a place of humility and gratitude. 

They have begun to notice even the smallest milestones or graces from God every day.  They have chosen to celebrate God’s grace in how much they have and how little they deserve so bitterness is rooted out and gratitude thrives. 

Sometimes we want to “redeem” the story, to write our own happy-ending, to glorify God in the way that WE think is best.  But God’s timing and His ways are often very different from ours. 

Rachel shares a lesson which stood out to me in a new way: 

“So I have to remember: the story is not mine to save.  The pressure to write a story that makes sense of what has happened to us, as acute as it can feel, must be resisted; God is the great storyteller, the divine happy-ending maker, and I’m not.  I am a character in God’s story, not the author of my own, and it is God’s responsibility to redeem all things, to make all things work together for good…(including)every single thing that the curse of sin has touched or tarnished.”

I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to love and trust our God more. 

WHAT HAPPENED BEHIND THE STONE?

“Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking (Jesus) down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”  Mark 15:46

When that large stone sealed off Jesus tomb, it added a sense of finality to his death.  For those who loved Jesus, he was gone!  For those who followed him, it appeared that his ministry and their hope was now over.

What had Jesus’ disciples done while Jesus was taken from them?  Not much.  After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed “at a distance” and then denied knowing him.  The women who ministered to Jesus, watched the crucifixion “at a distance”.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who belonged to the council that condemned Jesus could not stop what took place.  Afterward Joseph gave Jesus a proper burial, as some might say, it was too little too late.

Jesus’ followers meant well, and a few tried to do something, but they could not stop those events.  I think we can relate to them.  It does not take much to reveal the true extent of our limitations.  Even our best efforts don’t look like much and at times we wonder if our lives actually make a difference.

It is true that God always expects us to respond to each situation in a way that honors him; but God never expects us to be the answer or the solution.  

What needed to take place behind the stone that closed Jesus’ tomb was all of God.  Mankind had absolutely nothing to do with these great events God was accomplishing. 

What a relief!  Jesus disciples did not have to come through in the end, and they did not have to figure out how to make it work.  That was God’s job.

Behind that stone where Jesus body lay in death, God was still being perfect, God was completely in charge. He was still glorious and almighty! 

For behind that stone, sin – Satan – and death would suffer an eternal defeat.  Behind that stone, the hope for humanity came to life.  What took place behind that stone was beyond human reason, beyond our experience and beyond any expectation.

Yet for all the wonder of that moment, God was not being more of what He had always been.  He is perfect, glorious and almighty at all times. 

If you are in Christ, He is always being glorious with you, for you are forever saved. He is always being perfect toward you, for he loves you in the same measure that he loves Christ.  And God’s plan is always prevailing for you, for the day keeps drawing nearer when you will be glorified.

Now that the stone has been rolled away giving us an open display of God’s glory, how does it affect the way we live?  Do we live wholly dependent upon Christ? 

We answer that question by looking to see if there are any areas in which we are still trying to be in charge. If there are, then we are not wholly dependent on Him.

Do we live trusting that Christ has accomplished everything we need?  He will not accomplish everything we want, because that would diminish his always being perfect toward us; since much of what we want is not best. 

How do we know if we are trusting that God has accomplished all we need?  The answer is in our contentment when God does not do what we want.  If we are not content with God’s way of responding, then we really don’t trust that He is accomplishing everything we need.

Let us be freshly committed to live as if God really did know what He was doing behind that stone – and everywhere else.

LADIES WE HAVE A CONFERENCE FOR YOU!

Sovereign Grace Women's Weekend

by Debbie Huber

Sovereign Grace Church of Marlton, NJ has invited the women of Greentree to attend a special regional Women’s Weekend Conference with speaker and author Nancy Guthrie.

The theme for this conference is “Oh For Grace To Trust Him More”. Pastor Warren Boettcher and his wife Kim of Sovereign Grace Church are dear friends of Kyle and mine and I am confident that the Greentree women will feel warmly welcomed!

Nancy is a prolific author, Bible study teacher, and international conference speaker. She also offers companionship and biblical insight to the grieving through Respite Retreats that she and her husband, David host for couples who have faced the death of a child, through books and through the GriefShare video series. She has also written a series of books, “Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament”.

I first heard of Nancy Guthrie a few years ago through her testimony that appeared on a blog. Nancy and her husband had two babies born with a rare metabolic disorder who both died before they were six months old. The sadness and suffering that they experienced touched my heart, but her response to this great loss was what stood out to me. She learned that God allows suffering into our lives for a purpose, “instead of running from it, we can embrace it, and look around for God in it”.

Nancy’s message to those who are hurting:

“Instead of urging them to pray away their suffering, I want to encourage them to look for God in the midst of it. If God has allowed suffering into your life, it is for a significant purpose. So rather than just focusing on getting rid of it, seek to discover God’s purpose in your pain, to submit to his plan and his purpose, to please him in how you respond to adversity. You have an incredible opportunity to glorify God just by your simple trust in him during these dark days. He will bring you from the darkness into the light, so look for him in the darkness.”

The conference is November 13-14, 2015. It should be a wonderful weekend of refreshment for us with strong Biblical teaching, worship and time for reflection, as well as food, skits, and prizes. There are a block of hotel rooms available at a discounted rate.

This conference is close enough that you can drive both days to avoid hotel costs. Or you can invite a friend to stay with you and enjoy a ladies fellowship getaway!
Whether you stay over or just attend the teaching, consider someone new in our church you can invite to share the experience with us

You can find out more and register here at our website. Remember the deadline for registration is November 1!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.07.15

“The Realities of God Are Greater”

Psalm 4

The Psalms were written as a songbook for God’s people

They present an honest look at the human condition in all our struggles, as we intersect with the realities of God

Psalms are worship that instruct. In this way they are a great example of preaching the gospel to ourselves

 

This Psalm Begins With a Cry to God

It appears from v2 that David is being slandered

It hurt and he was helpless as some lied about him and others received it

Both giving and receiving slander are unloving and sinful (Romans 1 mixes slanderers and gossips with murderers and haters of God)

It takes careful attention to be gossip and murmur free

David turns to God in his hurt and frustration (v1)

He does this because God had proven himself in the past

Why should we be content to entrust our burdens to God?

Because he is almighty

Because he is faithful

The cross proves God’s faithfulness

The gospel tells the fullness of that faithfulness

What is God’s role to you? Is he “the man upstairs” or is he the full extent of your hope?

 

God Gives David Grace For Those Who Hurt Him

David gives counsel to those who misused him

1. God takes care of those who trust in him (v3)

Those who oppose God’s people are wasting their efforts

This is also a warning, letting them know they were raising their arm against God

2. Fear God and examine your hearts before him (v4)

The phrase “Be angry” literally means “tremble” in either anger or dread. The context seems to be tremble in fear of God

Rather than slander others, they should examine their hearts and consider God’s role over them

3. Submit to God and worship him (v5)

He exhorts them to be worshipers who entrust themselves to God

David’s heart was wounded, but it had not been poisoned

The grace God provided was greater than the sin he endured

If our grace is always greater than our burdens, then grace should always rule

This means we are to stay in the agenda of the gospel toward people – including those who misuse us

This is where David’s heart remained, because God remained present and faithful

Since God never stops his agenda for us, we should not stop serving his agenda

This is not a disadvantaged way to live

This is freeing – because the sin of others doesn’t determine how we live

This is powerful – because it places attention on the glorious realities of God

 

David Then Declares His Confidence (vs 6-8)

He introduces his confidence by making a contrast

David begins with a common question,

“Who will show us some good?

In other words, who or what will make us happy?

Most people don’t have a clear or dependable answer, so they look everywhere

And the truth is – without Christ, people don’t even know what is good for them

There is often a touch of cynicism, with people doubting if anything really works

All this leads to pragmatism which has no moral rooting: Do whatever makes you happy

The result is “all about me” behavior which is manifested by a culture that encourages abortion, affairs, cheating and common rudeness

In contrast for the believer, there is no searching or ambiguity:

“Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” (v6)

If we have the presence of God, we have goodness

There are three implications in this declaration

#1. Engagement with the “face” of God (his personal presence) will meet our deepest needs

#2. The presence of God shines “light” on our life. The truths of God make life clear

#3. If you want goodness in your life, submit fully to the ways of God

David shares a couple wonderful results of entrusting our life to God

1. God puts “joy” in our heart (v7)

This joy is greater and deeper than simply having circumstances go well

It consists of a heart overflowing with the abundant riches of Christ in us

A joyful heart can be touched by pain and sadness, but it will not be drowned by them

2. God brings “peace” to us (v8)

God who is sovereign over everything, is committed to our eternal good

We can “lie down and sleep”, meaning we can rest

 

Let us work on the presence of God and our rest in God

MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE

Yesterday’s article on the Sovereign Grace Blog fits nicely with the content of the past two weeks of preaching from Exodus. And it definitely sets us up well for this coming Sunday’s message from chapter 5.

The article is by Aaron Law, from Metro Life Church, which is a terrific church our family has visited just north of Orlando, FL. The article’s title itself makes the point clear; “Our Circumstances are a Bad Barometer of God’s Presence”.

Aaron doesn’t use the events in Exodus as his illustration, but he does use the very closely associated events of Joseph’s life in Genesis, which is the preceding backdrop to the Exodus story.

As you read over these thoughts by Aaron, ask God to strengthen us in these essential truths we all need to own for ourselves.

 

DO YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS?

images

You say that you believe that God is sovereign and in control of all things. You definitely love Romans 8:28 which tells us, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

So what does it look like to live according to this belief? Or, to put it another way, how do we show God who truly is sovereign, the trust that He deserves?

Here are just a few suggestions. I am sure you can think of a few more.

In fact, why not write them down in the comments, so we can all be encouraged by your additions to this list!

1.  With our Anxieties:  Remember that everything which causes us stress, has always been in God’s eternal plan. If God is never anxious or uncertain, then we can rest in His confident sovereignty.

2.  With our Obedience:  If God is in control, then everything He commands is not only best, it is un-improvable.  Do we really think some other way or wisdom will be a greater benefit in the end?

3.  With our Pursuit of Him:  What could be more urgent, than to draw nearer to God. Nothing will benefit us more, than to have a heart that loves God more

4.  With our Doubts:   It’s not our place to ask “Why, God?” The far better question is “How do you want me to respond”?  Let our doubts be like a mist under the sun which quickly burns away

5.  With our Possessions:  It really doesn’t make sense to grasp so tightly to our possessions, when they all belong to God who will not withhold any good thing in our forever with Him. Let us trust God to give us what is needed, when it is good to have it

6.  With our Worship:  He is always Lord of all, and He is unceasingly praiseworthy!  May our praise be tied to who God is, not what we want Him to fulfill.

The Psalmist writes, ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice!’ (Psalm 97:1)

Do you believe God reigns today?  Then today we should rejoice!

THE THOUGHT OF GOD

A pastor friend once recommended a book by Maurice Roberts aptly titled The Thought of God. It’s a collection of his articles in The Banner of Truth Magazine, which lead us in meditating on the greatness of God. In looking back at my favorite readings, I came across the following that I hope will feed your soul and be of practical use in your life:

“The art of good thinking is to carry thought to its logical conclusion. Sir Isaac Newton is said to have claimed no more for his profound theories than that he took the lines of his thought farther than other men did and so perceived the hidden ‘laws’ which he formulated. That is a lesson which Christians can learn from. The mere thought of God should end all anxiety. They why in my case does it not?  Because I fail to carry thought to its proper conclusion.

If God be God, then no insoluble problems exist. And if God by my God, then no problem of mine is without its appropriate solution.  There is in God just exactly what is needed to solve every riddle of life. Such a Being is God that he comprehends in himself all that we could ever need to neutralize all evils, veto all temptations, negative all sorrows and compensate for all losses.  More still, there is in God such a supply of competence and wisdom that he is able to transform every ill into good as soon as it touches us. 

Panic is the sinful failure to apply our knowledge of God to particular problems. Peter looks at the waves and begins to sink. The disciples in the boat are alarmed at the storm. Like them, we also fall into periodic fits of despair at the state of society, the state of the church, the state of the mission-field where we serve perhaps, or else at the imperfect state of our own souls. Panic is possible only when God is obscured from our thoughts by visible circumstances.

It must follow from what has been said that the degree of a Christian’s peace of mind depends upon his spiritual ability to interpose the thought of God between himself and his anxiety. When the dark cloud of trouble first looms up on the horizon of our thought, then it is the time to apply our theology in downright earnest. For it is not outward circumstances that can drag us down, but our own reaction of despair to them, when we fail to perceive the hidden hand of God in all events.

There is no situation in life too hard for God. But many situations look too hard at first sight.  These are ordained to give us room to wait on God for his deliverance. There is a blessing attached to waiting patiently on God in evil days. The impatient urge to resign and run away when times are trying is unworthy of the sons of God. There is a better way.  Let us remember God and take fresh courage.  He who believes shall not make haste, and conversely, they shall not be ashamed who wait for God (Isa 28:16; 49:23).”

THE HERO WITHOUT

to-do-list460


Guest Blogger: Debbie Huber


In January, I always have the strong desire to get organized. I feel the need to scrub every baseboard, clean out every closet and every dresser in all of the bedrooms, organize all of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, and get rid of all of the junk that has accumulated in the garage. Even though I think I can do it all, often what happens is that I become overwhelmed and give up before the checklist is completed, realizing that I cannot do it with my own strength.

In a similar way, this happens with our relationship with God. We do love Him and we want to grow in our love and commitment to Him. We read where the Bible says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

But where do we begin? How do we love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind?

We often decide to “try harder” by being “better” at reading the Bible and praying, mustering up our own strength. When we do this, we are focusing on what will fail – our own strength.

Instead of looking within ourselves, look to the Gospel of Christ that is the power that has changed us and is the hope that will continue to transform us into the likeness of Christ.

In a recent post on the Gospel Coalition blog, Tullian Tchividjian wrote:

“When you’re on the brink of despair-looking into the abyss of darkness, experiencing a dark-night of the soul – – turning to the internal quality of your faith will bring you no hope, no rescue, no relief. (It is) the equivalent of giving a drowning man swimming lessons: “Paddle harder, kick faster.” We assume that people possess the internal power to get things right so we turn them in to themselves. But, as too many people already know, every internal answer will collapse underneath you.

Turning to the external object of your faith, namely Christ and his finished work on your behalf, is the only place to find peace, re-orientation, and help. The gospel always directs you to something, Someone, outside you instead of to something inside you for the assurance you crave and need in seasons of desperation and doubt. The surety you long for when everything seems to be falling apart won’t come from discovering the dedicated “hero within” but only from the realization that no matter how you feel or what you’re going through, you’ve already been discovered by the “Hero without.”

For certainty of faith, the believer must look outside himself to that word of the gospel: ‘the promise of forgiveness of sins and justification because of Christ.’ “

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk,” (1 Peter 2:2). Go with longing to God, asking for His strength to help you depend fully on Christ, the “Hero without”, and His finished work for you.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.25.12

“A Light That Never Goes Out”

Acts 16:16-34

Life has many dark places

Try to picture yourself lying in a foul dungeon, bleeding and in pain from a terrible beating. You are accused, yet innocent.  How unfair!  How humiliating!  How painful!  How dark!

Imagine what could have been in the hearts of Paul and Silas

What is your dark place?

How does being in that dark place affect you?  Common responses are fear, depression, resentment and addictive / self-destructive behaviors

Yet, there is no trace of these responses in Paul and Silas

They may have been in a dark place, but a light was shining

They experienced abuse, cruelty and injustice, but these things did not shape them

Paul and Silas were not the only ones in that dark place, but they were the only ones singing

Verse 25 shows us that for Paul and Silas life was about God; He shaped their responses

When life is for God, the light is always on

God is never in darkness (1 John 1:5)

God has the light of his wisdom

He knows all things, and how they will end. To God nothing is ever unknown, confusing or fearful

God has the light of his glory

There is nothing God cannot do (except fail). He is never out of control or anxious, so why are we?

God’s plan is always in full and successful motion, so we can be confident

When we walk with God, we walk in his light

We are always in the light of God’s presence (He is always here)

The purpose of the gospel is to restore communion with God; it removed our separation from Him

The Deceiver uses dark circumstances to whisper, God is far off or uncaring

Paul and Silas sang “to God” who was in the dungeon with them

In your darkness God could not be closer and worship helps brighten that reality

We are always in the light of God’s truth (because it never fails)

We know wondrous truths that can pierce any darkness

  • About God:  He is greater bigger than any burden or sorrow
  • About Christ:  He went through the worst darkness, so we could remain in light
  • About Eternity:  Nothing can compare to forever
  • About the question Why?  So God will be glorified and we will have reason to praise him

What is shaping your perspective?

  • The sickness in your body, or the eternal body that’s ready for you
  • The financial pressures from a recent bill, or the inheritance you have in Christ
  • The person who hurt you, or the Savior who loves and died for you
  • How you have failed, or how God wants to use you right now

When life is for God, light shines through us

At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God

It was the darkest hour; their pain and the stocks were very real

For them life was not about what men do, it was about who God is

God was working in them and so he worked through them.  How wonderful!

Prisoners were listening

Paul and Silas were not the only ones in the dark

These were people who could only have been reached by someone else in that dark prison

In your dark place God has plenty of light to shine on you and in you

We are surrounded by people who are in darkness; will we shine the light of Christ for them?

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

A couple weeks ago I featured a video story from Fotolanthropy about a family that has embraced life with their severely disabled little boy. Today I am sharing another testimony from a young husband and father who was faced with an aggressive cancer.