Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to have “gospel amnesia” quite often. I forget that I am totally accepted by God because of what Christ has done for me. I often fall back into either legalistic or licentious patterns in my heart and I forget that all I need and all that I desire is already true in Christ.
There are two books that have been tremendously helpful for me to “preach the gospel to myself” as I suffer from “gospel amnesia”. I am recommending them to you if you see yourself falling off either the “legalist” or the “licentious” cliffs (and you know that deep down that you do). Reading them together is like a “Gospel Double Decker” for your heart. Very cool, indeed.
The first book is called “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared C. Wilson. See the interview below about his book.
The second book is called “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” by Tullian Tchividjian. The title of his book may be a phrase I use often in sermons at Grace Foothills. See the interview below as Tullian (I am on a first name basis with him because I met him when he was in seminary at CIU back in the 1990’s) as he explains the distinction between the gospel and moralism.
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Our friend, Catherine Morris, sent us this quote from Tim Keller last night:
“Sometimes God seems to be killing us when He is actually saving us–to follow God in such circumstances seems to some to be blind faith, but it is actually vigorous, grateful faith.”
Keller is one of those guys who continually points me to the beauty and the difficulty of authentically believing the Gospel. If you have not read or listened to Tim Keller, I would encourage you to do so by clicking here.
Ok, so we are going home today. We began this journey almost two weeks ago with the tension of hope and doubt. As we head home to Tryon, we take the same tension with us. Luke no longer has the colostomy bag, which is a good thing. However, his colon is still not working as God has designed colons to work. We will have to insert a rectal tube every few days to get the stool out. Perhaps that is only a temporary thing, but we just don’t know. Even though we are about to leave the hospital, Luke’s disability continues. Please continue to pray for his colon to “wake up”.
On a brighter note, I am ending these most recent blogs with three clips below. The first one is a clip of Enzo the Clown (I say he is a clown), coming to Luke’s room this past Thursday and goofing around. The last two of are of Jack, who has been with friends the entire time we have been here. For months, Jack has been asking for a double light saber and thanks to Patrick Harmon, who bought Luke one, I bought Jack one. At the same time Jack get his double light saber, his first tooth fell out. Oh, the memories.
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The nuasea is back.
I (and Luke as well) feel like the guy who wrote this:
“Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.”
My comfort right now is that the Gospel tells me that in Christ, God has a face and a body and He walked this earth. We have a God who bled. We have a God who can sympathize with our weaknesses. We have a God who didn’t commute from the suburbs, but moved into the inner city and got His hands messy. He is both immanent (near) and transcendent (far). He is both my God and my Papa. That is my comfort right now and I ask you to pray that would be Luke’s comfort as well.
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Today is day 11 in our little adventure here in Winston. Luke is doing much better today. It was rough going on Tuesday night. Here is where we stand as of this morning: the nausea and abdominal pains have stopped, he is eating light foods, the irrigations are ongoing, and last night we had to insert a rectal tube to get the gas and stool out. It looks like we may have to use a rectal tube for a season when we get home and ween Luke off of it until his colon can do the job without outside assistance. This is not what we were hoping for, but his Docs are saying that the rectal tube would be temporary.
Amy and I are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel (not the kind of light someone may see at death, but you get the point). We don’t know when we will be coming home, but it feels like we have made it through the hardest part. Amy and I had a wonderful date last night in the cafeteria of the hospital. Good conversation and impeccable food (I had the Tilapia marinated in a sweet white wine sauce with fresh zucchini). I can’t say enough how amazing hospital food is (hmmmm, I smell sarcasm).
With all of the waiting around and down time we have had in the hospital, I introduced Luke to “Lost”. I know, I am a horrible parent. I should’ve been teaching him the Westminster Shorter Catechism or something spiritual. I’ve still got time to do that with him. When I was nine, my parents took me to see “Alien”. My brother and I held each other in the lobby of the theater in the fetal position. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did an awesome job raising my brother and I, so I guess exposing Luke to a little pop culture shouldn’t mess him up too bad. Plus, as I have been saying for the past 5 years, the Gospel is all over “Lost”.
Speaking of pop culture, here is yet another version of “Friday”, shot just this morning in Luke’s hospital room:
Thanks to Libbie Johnson, I bought a copy of Relevant Magazine, with the Borders gift card she gave me. The Civil Wars are on the cover. I’ve never heard of them until now, but I like them.
Keep praying for us. We really do appreciate all of you and your prayers, emails, texts, visits, etc. God is good and we have felt His goodness through all of you.
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Being reminded of the Gospel is always helpful when we are here in Winston:
“Christ’s death on the cross was not something that God came up with in response to Satan’s triumph in the garden of Eden or as a last resort when it became evident that men and women couldn’t live up to the Ten Commandments. Redeeming sinners from all nations through Jesus Christ was God’s plan from the beginning.”
–Colin S. Smith
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 7
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Just a quick update on Luke. He is not doing well. He has thrown up several times in the past two hours and has severe abdominal pains. The Docs are tinkering with him trying to figure out what is going on. The upside is that Luke’s colon does appear to be working (barely though). One of the Docs came in and showed us an xray that was taken Friday night that shows that there is activity in the colon. Now our issue is the nausea and pain. We are still not sure when we will be coming home.
So, I am asking you to pray.
A few days ago, I said to God, “This sucks. You raised a dude from the dead! All I am asking is a little help with my son’s intestines.”
This Sunday night, we will be showing “Shadowlands” as part of our church’s summer film festival. It’s about C.S. Lewis’ marriage to Joy Gresham and his loss of her to cancer. Here are some quotes from the film that we will be using in our roundtable discussion that have helped me this week. I realize that Luke does not have cancer, but all suffering in any form is used by God to make us more dependent on Him. Here are the quotes:
“Suffering is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, you learn.”
“Something…. something must drive us out of the nursery and into the world of others, and that something is suffering.”
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
“I’m not sure that God wants us to be happy. I think He wants us to be able to love and be loved.”
“How could Joy be my wife?… I’d have to love her, wouldn’t I? I’d have to care more for her than anyone else in this world. I’d have to be suffering the torments of the damned, the prospect of losing her.”
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We are hanging in there. Yesterday was a good day for Luke. Today is not so good of a day. The nausea and the pain comes in waves. We are not sure when we will be coming home. The good news is that something is going on with his colon. He has had three bowel movements since Friday, so that is new. Amy and I are still in that place of not being so sure all is well. When Luke can eat and poop without the nausea and develop some consistency in his bowel movements, then we will feel more at peace. Continue to pray for us. We are not out of the woods yet.
As promised in an earlier post, here is our music video. Unfortunately, I am in the video way more than Luke and the video was shot sideways by my good friend, Patrick Harmon, who is doing his residency here at Baptist Hospital. Patrick and I worked together in youth ministry at Westminster PCA in Rock Hill back in 1997-2001. The girls in the video are his daughters and nieces.
So, the video. Thanks to my neighbors, Liz and Jordan, for turning me on to Rebecca Black’s classic, “Friday”. This song has not only captured my heart, but also my imagination (and has also kept me up nights). The video was shot on location from the rooftop playground on the 12th floor of Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you, “Friday” (remember, Patrick shot it sideways, so you will either have to turn your laptop sideways or crick your head to the right). Enjoy!
And and outtake with Amy:
And the original:
And the Stephen Colbert version:
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