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Excellent Resource for Children's Ministry

The resources found in Married Life blog reference are an excellent example of how to Shepherd a child's heart to God. I'm blogging on it right now so that if God blesses me with children some day I can make use of it and hopefully attempt to emulate the format and heart-shepherding intent in my parenting.

My Aching Heart; My Memory of My Dad, Kirt Mellberg

Our Wedding: Dad Signing the Marriage CertificateMy heart aches this morning. Waking up, unable to sleep, at 2:30 in the morning on this first anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, my dad, Kirt Mellberg, I praise God for this pain that I have. I praise God for the pain of the loss. In less than five short years of knowing him (less than four as his son-in-law), the number of memories that I have of him are great and in my memory of him I can remember nothing but great love. Here on earth he was so in love with Jesus and God the Father that I have no doubt that if he were here right now he would direct my heart not toward the hope that I would someday see him again and we could mutually enjoy presence and be reunited as a family in heaven. That is what was so sweet about him. He loved Jesus and because he loved Jesus he loved others especially his family. He would direct me to the hope of God my Savior and His love for me. In the last recording we have of him, he sang a song to his church and the city of Tepic, that he loved and to whom he spent 30 years bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that basically translates from Spanish: "When there's profound pain in my soul...I feel peace...your word enters into my being...Lord my God, my peace in the storm."   And the hope of that song is not that we feel some abstract peace, but a peace knowing God's love that will ultimately "deliver us to him." So I will take his advice and rejoice and find refuge in my God and Savior as his Word fills my being.

How, even in the midst of my pain, could I ever doubt God's love in suddenly taking my dad home to heaven? "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8) "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1). So today as I am filled with pain and I am tempted to question God in his decision, I will remind myself not only of Job 38:2-7, but also of the cross. I will talk to myself in my grief instead of listening to myself, and have joy in my grief.

My dad knew well (and now knows even better) the joy of being called God's son and was an embodiment of 1 John 3. Because he saw the love of the father in his adoption of us as sons he could imperfectly live out the faith-filled consequence of God's love for us: "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." And that love saturated his ministry, and I believe that it was that adoption-as-God's-son-motivated love that enabled him to so completely adopt me and my two sisters-in-law as children.

Family PictureHis family is a testimony to his legacy as well, so for my wife and for my brothers-in-law if you read this, I have this encouragement from Scripture that is applicable this day and every day: "Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus." All the much more when you remember dad, remember the legacy of faith that he left us all with and let's not abandon what he taught us and Words from God who he taught us to love.

I know that I have been anxious for this anniversary of his death to come. What do I say to my wife; how can I possibly be a comfort to her? I want to fill my mind with anything but the thought of the loss. But again, I will fill my being with His word and receive the peace promised, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7).

So again, I thank God for His love for me and I thank God for my Dad, Kirt Mellberg, and his love for me, for my wife (his daughter), his wife, his family, and really the whole world. He is missed dearly because he was such a great gift from God to us. I will never be the same because of the influence he has had in my life. His legacy lives on in his family and through my mom's continued ministry in Tepic, working alongside the thousands of believers who have come to know God's love as a result of his faithful ministry in Tepic.

Update: Read my mom's account of how God used a trial to help her through the difficult day.

Keywords: Kirt,Mellberg,grief,thankfulness,joy

The Logical Consistency of Infanticide

Many are outraged at the recent news of Dutch-government-sanctioned infant and child euthanasia. How unthinkable that a parent or a doctor could determine that a child’s life is not worth living and based on that decision end that life. The connection to abortion is obvious and probably doesn’t need to be made, but I will make it anyway.

In society’s race to run ourselves deeper and deeper into godlessness and depravity, we see a pattern: What was unthinkable 20 years ago is commonplace now and what is unthinkable today will likely be commonplace 20 years from now. While it may seem obvious to many Americans – but I dare not think all – that it is morally wrong, regardless of your political or religious views, for a doctor or a parent to decide that a young child should cease to live, that view is totally inconsistent with abortion. And as Planned Parenthood’s statement view that abortion (the murder of an unborn baby) is a right of every woman becomes more commonplace in society, the next step is inevitable.

  Let’s take a look at the reasons why women in the US report they choose to have an abortion. According to these statistics which are pretty consistent with most that I have found.

     
  • 25.5% of women deciding to have an abortion want to postpone childbearing.
  • 21.3% of women cannot afford a baby.
  • 14.1% of women have a relationship issue or their partner does not want     a child.
  • 12.2% of women are too young (their parents or others object to the pregnancy.)
  • 10.8% of women feel a child will disrupt their education or career.
  • 7.9% of women want no (more) children.
  • 3.3% of women have an abortion due to a risk to fetal health.
  • 2.8% of women have an abortion due to a risk to maternal health.
     
Only 6% of abortions have anything to do with the health of the child or mother (the argument at present for euthanasia in the Netherlands); all others basically end up saying, “The cost of this baby on my life or on society outweighs the value of its life; and therefore, because I can, I choose to end this child’s life.” What happens is that the powerful, in essence create life with a decision. If the mother decides that the fetus is a child, it’s a child with the right to life granted it; if the mother decides that the fetus is inconvenient and therefore not living but a mass of parasitic tissue, then it is not life. The powerful get to play God.

The “positive” effects of abortion on society are well documented. In the interested book Freakonomics an entire chapter entitled, “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” shows how Roe v Wade enabled those who could not care for their children (a high proportion of those children would have grown up to become criminals), to kill them before they were born, which resulted in the decreased crime rates seen in the 1990’s. Since prenatal testing for trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) and other genetic abnormalities began, the load on society from children born with these diseases has plummeted along with birth rates (more).

  With abortion proving such a success in the curtailing of inconvenience and cost, what’s to stop the age of “termination of metabolic processes” to increase? There really is no difference between a fetus and a neonate or a neonate and an infant (…) except for their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency (Klusendorf). The next logical step for our world (Peter Singer is already there; at least he’s consistent) will be to begin selective reduction dependent neonates and infants. This will likely begin as the Dutch have and then continue to run down the slippery slope:

  1. Euthanize children in pain
  2. Euthanize children with short, but expensive life expectancies
  3. Euthanize children whose parents can't afford them
  4. Euthanize children whose parents don't want them 
  5. Euthanize children who society doesn't want
  6. Euthanize adult’s that society doesn’t want
This will likely prove very positive economically, will relieve parents and society of the unfair obligation to provide sustenance and care for parasitic, dependent children who actually offer very little to society (but are only potential contributors, only potential life).

  So while I am grieved by the Dutch decision, I am certainly not surprised. Apart from a miraculous switch in the direction our world is headed in our view of all human life regardless of size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependence - created by God in His image – I expect many more decisions like this in many more countries occurring with increasing frequency and with increasingly blatant irreverence for life.

Keywords: abortion

Common Grace!

Finally, after 143 dry days in Phoenix...Rain!

Common Grace: "He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" - Matthew 5:45

(read more...)

Sin: Dare of Justice, Rape of Mercy, Jeer of Patience...

"Sin is contrary to all the names and attributes of God. It sets itself in opposition to them all.

  1. It deposes the sovereignty of God...It will not [do] that the King of kings should be on the throne, and govern this world which he has made. It was by this instinct that Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I know no Lord above me; I will not let Israel go" (Exodus 5:2). It was from hence that the Jews of old said, "We are lords; we will come no more to thee" (Jeremiah 2:31). Thus it attempts to dethrone God.
  2. It denies God's all-sufficiency. As if there were not contentment and satisfaction enough to be laid in the enjoyment of God, but that vanity and wickedness had more of pleasure and profit than he, whose ways are all pleasantness, and whose service is the health of man! Every prodigal who leaves the Father's house says in effect, "It is better to be elsewhere."
  3. It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst (Malachi 2:17). It provokes the Lord to jealousy, and tempts him to wrath.
  4. It disowns his omniscience. "Pooh!" they say, "God does not see, nor does the most High regard."
  5. It despises the riches of God's goodness (Romans 2:4)
  6. It turns his grace into wontonness (Jude 4). It will make bold with God, and sin because grace abounds.

In short, "Sin is the dare of God's justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love," as one writer prettily expresses this ugly thing. We may go on and say, "It is the upbraiding of his providence (Psalm 50), the scoff of his promise (2 Peter 3:3-4), the reproach of his wisdom (Isaiah 29:16), and...it opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God (and above all that God is called), so that it [attempts to be God, sitting] in the temple of God, showing itself as if it were God (2 Thessalonians 2:4)."

The Sinfulness of Sin
Ralph Venning
pp. 31-32

Keywords: sin

Sin's Purpose: To Ungod God

"The sinfulness of sin not only appears from, but consists in this, that it is contrary to God...it is enmity itself. Carnal men, or sinners are called by the name of enemies to God (Romans 5:8-10; Colossians 1:21); but the carnal mind or sin is called enmity itself (Romans 8:7). Accordingly, it and its acts are expressed by names of enmity and acts of hostility such as

  • Walking contrary to God (Leviticus 26:21)
  • Rebelling against God (Isaiah 1:2)
  • Rising Up Against Him as an Enemy (Micah 2:8)
  • Striving and Contending with God (Isaiah 45:9), and
  • Despising God (Numbers 11:20).

It makes men

  • Haters of God (Romans 1:30)
  • Resisters of God (Acts 7:51)
  • Fighters against God (Acts 5:39, 23:9), even
  • Blasphemers of God, and in short very
  • Athiests.

It goes about to ungod God, and is by some of the acients called Deicidium, God-murder or God-killing."

The Sinfulness of Sin
Ralph Venning
pp. 29-30

Complete Works of Martin Luther

Solid Ground Christian Books just put their Complete Works of Luther cd for Libronix (Logos) on sale. It is only $157.50 (normally, $220 on sale). That may see expensive until you compare it to what you'd have to pay for a similar collection in print: $1,650 on sale for $1,075. Plus within the Libronix Digital Library System, not only can you carry 55 volumes plus whatever else you have in your library (I have over 3000 titles in my digital library), but the Complete Works will be more valuable to you. What I love about Libronix is that the text is searchable and anytime you are studying a passage you can search your entire collection (or any subset of that collection) for references to that passage. That will, in effect, let you mine the works you have. Logos calls this "facilitating serendipitous discovery".


IMPORTANT UPDATE: Solid Ground has not yet shipped me this order. They have not been able to obtain the merchandise from the publisher. However, in the meantime, Amazon.com has significantly dropped their price and is now selling cheaper than even solid ground. At the time of this post the cd cost $156.87 with free shipping. Great deal! My recommendation (even though I love Solid Ground) is to buy it from Amazon and not Solid Ground.

Keywords: Libronix,Luther

How to Truly Cherish Grace

Ezekiel 16 was a part of my Bible reading today, and oh how this quote rings true after spending much time contemplating exactly what my sin means to God:

Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace."

C.J. Mahaney
Living the Cross Centered Life
p. 88

Count Cancer All Joy: Tom Shrader Responds to John Piper

John Piper's article "Don't Waste Your Cancer" written on the eve of his radical prostatectomy deeply affected me; I pray that it affected me (and has sent shockwaves across the blogosphere) in ways that will prove themselves each and every time I face a trial, big or small. James 1:2, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..." sounds great until I actually face trials. The sad fact of the matter is that the common Christian response, and even more sadly my response at one point in which this verse was presented to me in the midst of trial, is anger and not encouragement. James goes on to show that the trial's purpose is ultimately a testing of your faith and the trial is ultimately given to us for our good. We must prepare our faith when we are not in trial in order that our response in the midst of trial can look like the believer in James 1:2-4. That is exactly what we see in Don't Waste Your Cancer: A lifetime spent desiring God and growing in intimacy and knowledge of Him through His Word proves itself as Piper seeks to not waste his cancer.

Tom Shrader, the pastor of East Valley Bible Church, did something in response to Piper's article that he has never done before: He read the three-page article in its entirety (Download the sermon here), giving us a glimpse into just how much the truth and hope of not wasting the gift of cancer means to him personally as he and his wife struggle not waste her likely-terminal breast cancer. The sermon can be found here. The sermon was given on the text James 1:13-17, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'...Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." For those who know Tom (he was my first pastor since the time of my new birth in 2000), the glimpse into the proving of his faith will likely provide yet another Godly example of how to thank God for the gift of suffering. In that context he shows us how the temptations that come from trials are certainly not from God while the trials are. I hope that this perspective may help with the concerns that were raised in the comments on my original post and will challenge us all (particularly me) to not waste our trials, especially if its something as difficult as cancer.

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