The God of love and peace be with you on this fine day.
(Yesterday on the blog: What the Canyon Echoed Back)
“Throughout the four Gospels, readers are flooded with examples of the compassion of Christ.” This can and should be very meaningful to us as Christians!
It’s an interesting thought for pastors and for others in leadership: That there is no skill involved in being domineering.
“Your God, in his providence, will turn you every which way but loose. Do not believe the lies that say God wants your life to be as smooth as possible. That he desires for you to have a problem-free existence if only you would have enough faith. To expose those lies, let us look at the life of one of the most faith-filled men of scripture.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this telling of the story of the first missionary hymn. “On Pentecost Sunday 1862, as Western eyes watched civil war rip through America, an event just as momentous unfolded half a world away, hidden from every headline. Some five thousand men and women, many of them former cannibals, gathered on a South Pacific island to worship Jesus Christ.”
This article considers God as our shepherd.
Andrea Sanborn: “My breath came hard as panic pressed on my chest. I stood in the produce section of the grocery store, scanning the aisles, desperate for a glimpse of my towheaded boy. Every parent has been in a similar situation, but most aren’t searching for a nonverbal child who can’t understand when the game has gone too far.”
If there are crowns in God’s invisible kingdom, they are worn only so they can be removed to be thrown at his feet.
I would rather be the means of soothing one perturbed spirit than to play a tune that would set all the sons of mirth reeling in the dance. —De Witt Talmage
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By Tim Challies — 3 months ago
I have said a lot about Nick over the past two years. I have written a lot articles and done quite a number of interviews and even published a book. And I have been aware all the while that I can only speak to a small part of our loss, for there were many people who loved Nick and many who lost him. Today is the second anniversary of his death and I asked Aileen if she felt ready to write something. She said she did, and so today I am turning things over to her.
When I was in Nashville for the Seasons of Sorrow book launch, Tim was asked several times “how are your wife and daughters doing?” It was asked often enough that, upon reflection, I think people understand that Tim has been nuancing the way he talks about my experience with grief as well as that of our girls. He has been very careful to only give voice to his experience of the last few years, and to word it in such a way that people don’t assume that the rest of the family’s experience necessarily matches his. I love him for this, and appreciate it very much. After all, Tim’s story is only part of the story. That’s because a dad’s grief is different from a mom’s grief. This makes sense. God has created each person to be unique which means each person’s experience of grief is unique. Each person’s relationship with the deceased is different as well, and this lends itself to differences in how each person grieves him. Adding another layer of complexity, each circumstance of loss is different as well. As we hear from people who have lost loved ones, I am continually struck by how different and unique each situation is, how grief shows differently in each person and each circumstance. This must be another example of how we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Tim recently asked if for the second anniversary of Nick’s death I would be willing to write something about it—something that may help answer the question of how I am doing.
I was told it would probably take about two years before I felt anything close to back to normal, and it very much feels like the end of year two is the beginning of a new season. Because of this, it feels appropriate to look back and ponder what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for God preparing me.
God has been kind. He gave us one of the hardest things and yet he also gave so much to help us survive. Looking back, I now see how he prepared me years ago to weather such a storm. He blessed me by giving me a bedrock of theology that in my weakest moment I had to simply deploy. I can see how he gave us what we needed moment by moment to continue to walk in faith through such suffering. When nothing felt true, when God didn’t feel kind, when he didn’t feel good, when he didn’t feel just, I had a choice: I could choose to believe what my heart and my emotions were telling me—that God was cruel, unkind and unjust—or I could choose to believe what my mind knew to be true of God’s character and trust that eventually my emotions would catch up to my brain. There are days when this is still a struggle, but I have learned not to trust my feelings. Emotions cannot inform truth. Rather, truth must inform emotions. God didn’t abandon us, he walked with us and prepared us. I had to choose to see his presence, but he was there. I am so thankful in his mercy he prepared me.
I am thankful for God’s sovereignty.
God’s sovereignty is both comforting and terrifying at the same time. I think in the abstract I knew the Lord could choose to do anything he wanted in our lives. But suddenly, on November 3, I learned dramatically that he actually will do anything. Even so, I am so thankful God is in control. This situation would be only worse if God had no control over it. God had every right to chose this for us. I may not much like it, but I know he has purpose in it. As humans we seem to have a driving need to understand why things are happening. It makes us feel better if we can attribute a specific purpose to the hardships we are experiencing. But the reality is that in our human weakness and frailty, God has not given us that ability. We can guess, we can suspect, but we cannot know. God instead gives us knowledge of his sovereignty, and asks us to trust, by faith, that all things work together for our good and his glory. How this is true in Nick’s death I do not know. I don’t expect to ever know, on this earth, the full purpose of this suffering in our lives. But, I do know one day it will all make sense. I can wait, patiently, trusting in God’s character. I am thankful he sees the big picture, that he is in control of all things, and that nothing happens outside his will. I am thankful that God is sovereign.
I am thankful this is temporary.
I also know that as hard as this is, it is all temporary. Initially we divided the days up by doing the next hard thing. That might have been the call to the coroner or the call to the funeral home. It might have been picking out clothing or packing up belongings. But for a long while our life was divided into segments, defined by the next hard thing we had to do. As time has gone on those hard things have grown further apart. Even so, the reality is we will always have the next hard thing we have to do. Life in this fallen world dictates it. But one day, there will no longer be the next hard thing. I am so thankful that this world is not our home. Until that day, when the Lord calls me home, my job on this earth is not yet done. So I will wait patiently, enduring what I need to until one day there will be no more mourning, no more crying or pain, and every tear will be wiped away and death shall be no more. I am so thankful this is temporary.
Lastly, I am thankful I got to be Nick’s mom.
I have wanted to tell you all about Nick, but as I began to write this out I found that I still can’t. Another time perhaps, when the pain is a little less raw, when my heart hurts just little bit less, I’ll be able to share a bit more about my firstborn, the one who first made me a mom. God in his mercy gave me a son who brought light and joy to my life for 20 years. Despite all the sadness, I am so very thankful I got to be a mom to my Nick.
A few days after Nick’s death I wrote to a friend of mine and I expressed my longing for the day joy would return. I knew logically that one day it would come, but looking forward all I could see was heartache and sorrow. These have been hard, hard days. But God in his kindness and mercy has sustained us. We have grieved and mourned and wept. But as the two-year mark draws to a close, I am seeing that joy return—joy that is less tainted by sorrow. I am thankful. God has been present. And I think I will end here as I have ended every note I have written in the last two years: God is still good.
This is a special photo as it captured the first moment Nick began to respond to Aileen and ‘talk’ back to her.
By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by RHB Publications.
Everyone who enters the prize draw will get a free eBook of A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin from the RHB Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series.
In addition, three of you who enter will receive a copy of the new hardback set of The Works of Thomas Goodwin – a $480 value! – PLUS the other new titles listed alongside it below.
[Because of problems with the printing supply chain, prize-winning books are not guaranteed to arrive by Christmas]
New Titles from RHB
The Works of Thomas Goodwin
A 12-volume set with an introduction and reading plan by Dr. Joel Beeke
Thomas Goodwin’s works display a pastoral and scholarly zeal that represents the best in Puritanism – combining the vigor of Perkins and Sibbes with the mature thought of Owen.
ISBN 9781601788481 12 volumes 6,600 pages Hardcover $480.00
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Spurgeon, one of Christianity’s greatest preachers, spoke to thousands, trained pastors, started orphanages, and upheld basic Bible teachings. Simonetta uses colorful illustrations and interesting facts to tell a compelling story.
ISBN 9781601788832 64 pages hardcover $18.00
Nugget and the Refiner
Kerry Tittle, Illustrated by Jim McMurry
An illustrated story for children aged 7-12. Nugget is a hunk of ore wrenched from the ground and refined into a beautiful chalice. He learns that painful things can work for our good.
ISBN 978-1-60178-902-0 40 pages Hardcover $18.00
The Glory of the Redeemer in His Person and Work
Winslow’s warm engagement of biblical truth delivers a devotional Christology that excites the soul—tracing Jesus’s glory from eternity past, through the Old and New Testaments, to His return.
ISBN 978-1-60178-884-9 432 pages p/b $20.00 (Soli Deo Gloria)
The Spiritual Marriage Between Christ and His Church and Every One of the Faithful
Girolamo Zanchi (translated by Patrick O’Brien)
This new translation of the classic draws readers into the rich doctrine of union with Christ, showing how our earthly marriages fulfill their truest purpose when we give attention to the spiritual marriage between Christ and His church.
ISBN 978-1-60178-904-4 152 pages Hardcover $25.00 (Soli Deo Gloria)
God to Us: Covenant Theology in Scripture
Stephen G. Myers
God’s unchanging purpose is securing a people for Himself. God to Us explains the work of this eternal covenant in detail—deepening our knowledge of God and enriching our relationship.
ISBN 978-1-60178-873-3 376 pages Hardcover $30.00
The Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions
Written specifically for every Christian as a daily meditation for your soul, Hawker’s 730 devotions will let the Word of God come close to your conscience to your eternal gain.
ISBN 978-1-892777-05-8 944 pages Hardcover $40.00
Again, there are three sets to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below.
Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. When you enter, you opt-in to receive marketing emails from RHB. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes on Thursday 18th November 2021 at midnight.
By Tim Challies — 11 months ago
The God of love and peace be with you on this fine day.
There’s quite an extensive list of Kindle deals to check out today.
Logos users have one more chance to vote for a winner in March Matchups.
(Yesterday on the blog: When “All Things” Don’t Feel So Good)
To Ben on World Down Syndrome Day
I loved Andrea’s tribute to Ben on World Down Syndrome Day. “You stay the same, but you are constantly changing others. Your positive influence on people cannot be overstated. You, in your weakness, have had a greater impact on your world than many of us with advanced degrees and strong skill sets.”
Every Story needs Tension
Every good story needs some tension to be interesting and fulfilling. But as Peter Muturi asks, “Why is it then that we like our stories to be flat? To get all our prayers answered the way we want, when we want and how we want them. To move from point A to Z on a straight line.”
Expressive Individualism in the Church
The new issue of the 9Marks Journal is all about expressive individualism. There are lots of good articles and reviews to read!
Please Waste Some of Your Prayers
George Sinclair encourages you to regularly “waste” your prayers on those you deem unlikely to repent and believe.
That Bible Book You Don’t Like and What to Do About It
“Here’s a question you may not be asked very often: what’s your least favorite book of the Bible? Which book do you avoid reading, or skim over lightly when it shows up in your Bible reading plan? Which book confuses you, frustrates you, or (let’s be honest) bores you?” This article tells you what to do about it.
Do blogs still matter?
Aaron Armstrong: “But blogs… they don’t matter anymore. Or at least we don’t think they do. They’re slow; unlike social media, they take you out of the moment. You can’t have an instant reaction on a blog. They take a lot of work. They require a kind of thoughtfulness, at least in theory, the kind that plays against all the algorithms.”
Flashback: 8 Ways God Turns Temptations to Blessings
The more furiously Satan tempts, the more fervently the saint prays. A running deer sprints as soon as it discerns the presence of the hunter and, in the same way, the soul that comes under fire from Satan’s darts runs faster to the throne of grace.
Wise is that Christian parent who begins every morning with the word of God and fervent prayer. —Theodore Cuyler