Suffering and Making God Our All
There is a health update at the end of this message.
CHIP STAM STEM CELL DRIVE: BE THE MATCH
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How do times of personal hardship mold your awareness and attitude about God's might and mercy? Do "rough roads" draw you to the Savior with the posture, "It is well with my soul"? Or do you line up with Job's wife to withdraw and accuse, "Curse God and die"? (Job 2:9). Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a second excerpt from a little book that probes what is sometimes called "the frowning providence" of Almighty God. The author is John Murray.
SUFFERING AND MAKING GOD OUR ALL
Suffering drives us to God. We set out in service thinking God needs us. We soon find out that we need Him. "When God lays men on their backs, then they look up to heaven," says Thomas Watson. We cry to God for blessings but we do not really want Him. He has to teach us that HE is the greatest blessing of all.
This was the discovery made by John Newton in his hymn "Prayers Answered by Crosses."
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.
'Twas he who taught me thus to pray;
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that, in some favored hour,
At once he'd answer my request,
And by his love's constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this? I trembling cried;
Wilt thou pursue this worm to death?
This is the way, the Lord replied
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I now employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may'st seek thy all in me.
In Psalm 73 Asaph recounts his experience of nearly falling: "my steps had nearly slipped" (Psalm 73:2). While the wicked were prospering he was being plagued and chastened. He was perplexed and baffled until he went into the sanctuary of God. There he saw things in their true light. The outcome was that he confessed: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee? (Psalm 73:25). God had become the all-sufficient portion of his soul.
In this way God prepares us for glory. If we lived for nothing but a life of comfort and ease here there would be no desire for the blessedness to come. "God will have his people sigh and groan on the way to glory," writes Maurice Roberts. Thomas Watson emphasizes the same lesson: "The vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction and then the wine of glory is poured in."
— John J. Murray, BEHIND A FROWNING PROVIDENCE. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1990, reprint 2005, pp. 20-21. ISBN 0-85151-572-X. John Murray is retired minister of the Edinburgh Congregation of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). The John Newton hymn quoted in this excerpt is featured on BEAMS OF HEAVEN, a wonderful recording by Indelible Grace.
(audio demo) www.igracemusic.com/ig4
(free lead sheet) www.igracemusic.com/hymnbook/lead/iaskedthelord.pdf
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 1 (Ed Willmington):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 2 (Carl Stam):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 3 (Donald Hustad):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 4 (Ron Man):
Blessings to all!
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Ministries
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
HEALTH UPDATE & PRAYER REQUEST
FOR CHIP STAM, CANCER PATIENT
Thanks again for praying for my cancer treatment and for my healing. Please pray, too, for the success of our ongoing stem cell drive.
More detailed journal entries and some new photos about my cancer treatment are available at www.caringbridge.org/visit/carlstam (click on "journal" or "photos").
Last week was chemotherapy week; this week is just taking my medicines and trying to stay rested. I will visit the clinic today (3/3) for blood tests and consultation with the clinicians. Towards the end of March, they will do another PET scan to see how the lymphoma is responding. At that time, if there is still not a perfect match from the registry for the transplant, we will discuss the various risks of using a mismatched unrelated donor or one of my unmatched siblings. Each of those options has a different set of risks--mostly with what is called Graft vs Host disease. ("Certain cures can kill you," the nurse told us.) I am feeling OK. My appetite is good, maybe too good, and I am taking some very wonderful naps along the way.
BE THE MATCH—CHIP STAM STEM CELL DRIVE:
Over this last weekend (February 28) there were live drives in Chapel Hill (158 samples collected) and at Wheaton's College Church (50 samples collected). That is pretty exciting. Please feel free to distribute this link (www.carlstam.org/stemcelldrive) widely to anyone who might join us for one of the on-site drives or the virtual drive in order to SAVE LIVES. On February 11 in Louisville, we collected over 500 new samples for the national registry. There are upcoming drives at Notre Dame on March 16, 18, and 19, as well as mini-drives at various stops along the Notre Dame Glee Club tour route. The web site includes a three-minute video in which I explain what is involved with the registry process. Cell donors must be 18 to 60 years of age and in relatively good health. The site will help you get all the information you need. Our goal is 1,800 new samples and $45,000 to pay for the processing of the sample kits. This is doable.
Keep praying; and don't forget to care for the cancer patients in your families, churches, neighborhoods, and places of employment.
In Christ's perfect love,
WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
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