Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Falls Creek

I know you are praying!!!!
Know how I know?
Because my girls are rock stars!!!
I have been able to attend EVERY service! 
Sure, they reach their end point, but we've muddled through it. They are sleeping in their 'tents' as Kasidi calls the pack n plays.
I'm getting some time with the youth and time with the Lord.
Today I got a call from neurology, and Khloie has an appointment next Wednesday!!!
Tomorrow I leave camp for a few hours to have Kasidi re-casted. She is running around like nobody's business! 
God is good, and to Him be glory!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Falls Creek, Here We Come!

It's what we've been preparing for all month...
the day Mama leaves for camp with two Treasures in tow.

To tell the truth, I'm suddenly scared to death.  I'm afraid I won't be able to get the girls up and down the hill from our cabin; I'm afraid they will get really cranky; I'm afraid they won't sleep.  

I know it's the enemy.  He's feeding my fears.  Perspective!  The rest of the Littles are safely with the Smiths; Mr. Greenthumb will be home, just hours away, preparing for the abundant crop; my teenagers will be at camp with me, and I have a sitter to help out.  It's just so out-of-the-routine, and lately we really really need routine.

Kasidi is doing fantastic in her first set of casts!  They haven't slowed her down a bit.  Thursday afternoon we will go to the therapist for her second casting and then return to camp.  The therapist is contemplating hard casts for the second round.

I know God has great things in store for this week, and it's really all about HIM!
To Him be glory!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter 6 ~ Science Has Disproved Christianity

Ni Hao Yall

Summary from Stefanie's blog:
Keller starts out this chapter with the statement “… that science in general, and evolutionary science in particular, has made belief in God unnecessary and obsolete.” (p.87) He uses Richard Dawkins as an example; from Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, Keller says, “[Dawkins] argues that you cannot be an intelligent scientific thinker and still hold religious beliefs.” (p.87)

Aren’t Miracles Scientifically Impossible
A major scientific argument against most religions in general, and Christianity in particular, is a belief in miracles. The claim is “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles,” according to Keller. (p.88)
But upon closer inspection Keller reveals how this belief is, in and of itself, a leap of faith. “It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.” (p.90)
Because science concentrates on the natural world, its adherents suppose there can therefore be no supernatural. Alvin Plantinga argues science is like a drunk man looking for his keys only under the street lamp because the light is better. And then stating that – because things would be difficult to find in the dark – the keys have to be under the street light.
The other premise proposed by the disbelief in miracles is that there is no God to generate such miracles. But if there is a Creator God, then miracles would be a natural, and expected, overflow of His creative genius. “After all,” says Keller, “if he created everything out of nothing, it would hardly be a problem for him to rearrange parts of it as and when he wishes.” (p.89)

Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity
Keller argues that much of the debate between science and Christianity is due to the media’s need to portray the news in terms of a good guy and a bad guy – we naturally respond more passionately to a battle between good and evil, regardless of the side you find yourself. And this black and white view gives undeserved weight to the claims that science and religion are divided by an impassable chasm.
There is an argument by Keller that evolution versus philosophical naturalism is the better debate than Christianity versus evolution. “Christians may believe in evolution as a process without believing in ‘philosophical naturalism.’” (p. 90) Keller provides the argument that “When evolution is turned into an All-encompassing Theory explaining absolutely everything we believe, feel, and do as the product of natural selection, then we are not in the arena of science, but of philosophy.” (p.91)
The next few paragraphs present Keller’s examples of scientists and philosophers, most notable Dawkins, Ian Barbour and Francis Collins, who agree and disagree about the interrelated dynamics of Christianity and science. The arguments range from Creationism in Genesis warring against the philosophical naturalism of Dawkins to the opposite end with faith being a so personal of a choice that it “does not speak to the empirical realm at all.” (p.92).
But Barbour, according to Keller, presents a different view and “prefers the spectrum of more moderate and complicated approaches in which science and religious faith recognize their respective spheres of authority.” (p. 92)
So, are Christianity and science really on opposite ends of a battle, like the Allies and the Axis of World War II? Christian Smith, per Keller, in his history of the secularization of American institutions answers it this way: “… the conflict model of the relationship of science to religion was a deliberate exaggeration used by both scientists and educational leaders at the end of the nineteenth century to undermine the church’s control of their institutions and increase their own cultural power.” (p.92) This manufactured ‘war’ was the purposeful product of a cultural strategy, and many have unknowingly accepted as truth.
So, how about all the highly “intelligent” scientists who are atheists? Doesn’t that prove that Christianity is incorrect? Keller tackles these arguments by debunking Dawkins analysis of a National Academy of Sciences members’ study which found only seven (7) percent believe in God. In actuality the real question was ‘Do you believe in a God that communicates with humanity?’ Not ‘Do you believe in a transcendent God?’ Keller comments that Dawkins not only misinterpreted the results but also made a casual relationship between atheism and science that does not exist.
“Alister McGrath, a theologian with an Oxford doctorate in biophysics, writes that most of the many unbelieving scientists he knows are atheists on other grounds than their science.” (p.93) One of the other reasons, a leading sociologist notes, is our relationship with fellow humans, Keller says. “Scientists, like non-scientists, are very affected by the beliefs and attitudes of the people from whom they want respect.” (p.95) Peer pressure rather than science is influencing beliefs.
Another prominent atheist, Stephen Jay Gould, argues against Dawkins’ statements on the disconnect between religion and the sciences by stating, “Either half my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs — and equally compatible with atheism.” (p.94). Gould is “much more willing to concede that science might not be able to account for everything about human existence to every thinker’s satisfaction.” (p.94)
“There is no necessary disjunction between science and devout faith,” Keller concludes (p.95).

Doesn’t Evolution Disprove the Bible?
“Christians who accept the Bible’s authority agree that the primary goal of Biblical interpretation is to discover the Biblical author’s original meaning as he sought to be understood by his audience,” according to Keller. Of course, he adds, there will always be arguments over the interpretation of the passages, “but it is false logic to argue if one part of the Scripture can’t be taken literally then none of it can be.” (p.97)
Keller says the point isn’t a debate over evolution and the Bible. The correct viewpoint, for those considering Christianity, is to think of the main claims of Christ. “Only after drawing conclusions about the person of Christ, the resurrection, and the central tenets of the Christian message should one think through the various options with regard to creation and evolution.” (p.97)

Healing the World
Keller understands the difficulty some have with a God who intervenes in the natural order. “Miracles are hard to believe in, and they should be.” (p.98) The biblical account of the apostles meeting the resurrected Jesus on a mountainside even depicts some of them doubting; “When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). This passage offers us, the reader, several things: it is a reminder that those who lived and walked alongside Jesus doubted, and so do we. It is also an encouragement to those of us who struggle with doubt. Many who initially doubted became leaders in the church.
But most important is what this text tells us about the purpose of Jesus’ miracles. “They lead not simply to cognitive belief, but to worship, to awe and wonder. Jesus’s miracles in particular were never magic tricks, designed only to impress and coerce… Instead he used miraculous power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead. Why? We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order,” Keller says. (p.99) “The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to all our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” (p.99)
Question: Has the seeming incompatibility between science and the Bible been a hindrance to you in your faith? And if so, has anything in this chapter changed that perspective?
*My Response*

My response to this chapter comes with a huge admission.  I have remained ignorantly silent on this topic of science v. Christianity.  My basic response is, "I just believe."   Call it blind faith; call it lack of intellect; call it whatever you want, but I've concluded that I don't have to fully understand how or why God created everything to believe that He is the Ultimate Authority and no thing or no one is greater.

I believe that God has gifted each of us differently, and many people have great intellect to design magnificent things, from buildings to lifesaving equipment to medications and so on.  But without God we are all nothing.  We don't create anything.  Our imagination and creativity is a result of His creation.

From my back patio I can see the sun rise each morning, and from my front porch I can see the sun set each evening.  Every time I stop to truly enjoy this sight, I am in awe of God.  Not only that He created everything from nothing, but that He desires an intimate relationship with every person.  I've been fortunate enough to have experienced His miracles many times in my life.  Events that only an all-knowing God could orchestrate.

I don't have the intelligence to argue this point, and I will never sit on a panel where I'm required to do so.  The insight from this chapter has been helpful, but I love the last statement ~

“The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to all our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Sandwich

My friend Lori is an amazing cook!  Lucky for me (and you!) she shares some of her secrets on her blog.
I love how she takes simple things and makes them delectable!!!  Who knew?!?
I buy French bread from W*l-mart all the time to go with homemade soups, but I never thought to do this...

It is just as delicious as it looks!  Lori's recipe is here!  I tweaked it a bit for my our taste.  I don't like to sweat when I eat, so I eliminated the jalapenos.  I used shredded Mozzarella cheese on the bottom half, shaved Cure 81 ham, and shredded pizza blend cheese on the top.  And I had to use two loaves for this Krew.!

And I think I promised I'd share the recipe for this *again*

One Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350
Add the stick of butter to an 8 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and melt over medium-high heat.  Once melted, stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat.
Whisk in egg and milk, then stir in the flour, soda and salt.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes till cooked through.
*we actually prefer gooey*
Serve warm from the skillet.
*The skillet is HOT*

Now, go be a hero!
In one simple post I've given you an entire meal :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

We Went; We Ate; We Played; We Loved

The One Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Kyle is such a sport!

So is William!

 Casting Spidey webs!

Thank you, Kuyler, for letting us bombard your church and your home!
We had a blast!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Night Fun

We had an impromptu wienie roast.
The pictures are self-explanatory :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter Five ~ How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

Chapter 5 was a doozy!  I'm still mulling it over.  The summary from Stefanie's blog:

The introduction to the chapter brings many of the questions that we have all heard or asked ourselves concerning a loving God and hell. Keller says, “In our culture, divine judgment is one of Christianity’s most offensive doctrines.” (p. 71)

A God of Judgement Simply Can’t Exist
Keller postulates that modern man believes the natural world to be malleable, and within his power to manipulate. “Our new confidence that we can control the physical environment has spilled over so we now think we can reshape the metaphysical realm as well.” (p. 74) But according to Keller, this view of modernity is not accepted by all.
So many arguments against Biblical teachings are based on cultural beliefs. Keller shares a story in which a woman approached him to share that the very idea of a judging God was offensive. He responded, “Why aren’t you offended by the idea of a forgiving God? I carefully urge you to consider your cultural location when you find the Christian teaching about hell offensive.” (p.74) He then went on to ask her, did she believe that Western cultural sensibilities should be the final court in which to judge whether Christianity is valid? And did she consider her culture to be superior to non-Western ones? When she replied “no”, Keller concluded, “Well then why should your culture’s objections to Christianity trump theirs?” (p.74)

A God of Judgment Can’t Be a God of Love
The God of the Bible is One of love and of justice. While the love of God depicted in the Bible is not controversial here in the West, the wrath of God is. Keller explains that these two entities cannot be separated. When a loving person is faced with the mistreatment of a loved one, that love is the very root of the resulting anger and wrath.
Becky Pippert in her book Hope Has Its Reasons: “Think how we feel when we see someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might toward strangers? Far from it… Anger isn’t the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference… God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer… which is eating out the insides of the human race he loves with his whole being.” (p.76)

A Loving God Would Not Allow Hell
Keller describes the modern view of hell as God casting souls – those unfortunate ones who did not make the right choices in life before their time was up – into hell for all eternity… despite the pleas and cries for mercy. But this view misses the very nature of evil, Keller says. “The Biblical picture is that sin separates us from the presence of God, which is the source of all joy and indeed of all love, wisdom, or good things of any sort. Since we were originally created for God’s immediate presence, only before his face will we thrive, flourish, and achieve our highest potential. If we were to lose his presence totally, that would be hell – the loss of our capability for giving or receiving love or joy.” (p.79)
“Hell, then, is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever.” (p.79)

Keller utilizes the story of Lazarus, a beggar, and the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31 to support his view of hell. Incredibly, the Rich Man, despite the fact that he is in hell, does not ask to get out. But instead continues to complain to Abraham about his surroundings and even bully Lazarus, the beggar, just as he had during their lives on earth.“Commentators have noted the astonishing amount of denial, blame-shifting and spiritual blindness in this soul in hell… He is only called a “Rich Man,” strongly hinting that since he had built his identity on his wealth rather than on God, once he lost his wealth he lost any sense of a self.”
“In short, hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.” (p.80)

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce, he compares hell to a busload of people who are asked to leave behind their sin and depart the bus – but refuse. Those on the bus are indeed miserable, but the desire for freedom to pursue their sin is too much to resist. They simply cannot risk losing ‘everything’ so instead choose to remain apart from God. Lewis says that the steps to the bus trip “… begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.” (p.81) However, rather than ending the pride of selfishness, people double down in the mistaken belief that they would rather have freedom than salvation. Keller writes, “Hell is, as Lewis says, the greatest monument to human freedom.” (p.82) Ultimately, according to Keller, “All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want, including freedom from himself. What could be more fair than that?” (p.82)

Hell and the Equality of People
Keller argues against the point of view that Christians belief system naturally makes them narrow-minded. He completely dissects the argument by demonstrating that a narrow-minded view is one that argues that there is no eternal consequence of sin. “Both the Christian and the secular person believe that self-centeredness and cruelty have very harmful consequences. Because Christians believe souls don’t die, they also believe the moral and spiritual errors affect the soul forever.” (p.83) This belief should lead the Christian to a greater understanding of the consequence of sin whereas the secular belief leads to a more narrow view because the consequence is finite and not relative past one’s own life.

“I Believe in a God of Love”
Interestingly, Keller titles the chapter as a statement. Previous to this, the title is simply used to break up thoughts. In this case however, he uses quotes to emphasize that this is an argument heard countless times, not merely a natural break in the chapter.
This section is a reminder of his earlier chapter that argued the cultural beliefs of every person influences their interpretation of the Bible. However, Keller also argues that the belief in a God of love is not found in other faiths, so the central tenet must have come from within Christianity. “I must conclude that the source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself. And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgment who will put all things in the world to rights in the end,” Keller says. (p.85) The real leap of faith comes when someone believes that God is love but judges no one. If you love someone and see them harmed, would you not be judging the instigator or would it be better to simply love the victim and the perpetrator? Those serving a loving God are not serving the true God but rather a fictitious god that helps them feel cozy and cuddly without dealing with the evil of this world brought to bear by Satan and man’s sinful nature. “The belief in a God of pure love — who accepts everyone and judges no one — is a powerful act of faith… The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears.” (p.86)

Question: Has this chapter opened your eyes to any false doctrine you’ve knowingly or unknowingly believed about God’s wrath? About hell?

*My Response*
Oh my!  I can understand why we believe in a God of pure love, especially in our Western culture, because the Bible teaches us to love God first and then love everyone else, including even those who are unlovely to us.  But it seems somewhere along the way, we sort of grasped the 'love' concept, and then we became the jury, judge and executioner of all we believe to be wrong.  So if we can make things right in our little world, why would we need God to do that?
I am ashamed to include a statement I made before I knew Christ.  I was with my oldest and only child, who was probably 3 at the time, and an acquaintance mentioned something about 'the devil,' and I said, "Oh, we don't believe in the devil or in hell."  Really?!?
It is an honest reflection of my ignorance.  I didn't know Jesus; I didn't acknowledge my sin; I didn't consider the consequences of my sin.
Several years later when I accepted Christ, I recalled that statement, and it haunted me so much that I found that person and corrected myself.
I believe in eternal separation from God, simply as a continuation of the choice one makes to turn from him in this life.  We see people who are self-absorbed, indulgent and ruthless.  They don't want to be 'controlled' by anyone.  They want 'freedom.'  And the Bible tells us that their reward is here on Earth.  Sadly, people living solely for themselves can never get enough of whatever they are after, and they seem to be chasing elusive happiness.  They are critical and blame others, they are paranoid and anxious, and they are always right.
What about the common argument that so-and-so was such a good person, they simply couldn't go to hell?  After all, there are people who are kindhearted, generous and selfless.  I was surprised this wasn't addressed in this chapter, but it's certainly something I hear.  
Even though I've read about the Rich Man and Lazarus many times, I never caught onto the idea that the guy didn't ask to get out of hell.  He simply wanted relief from his torment.  And he wanted Lazarus to do it for him.  He still wanted to be served, even in hell. 
"Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others...but you are still distinct from it.  You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it.  But there may come a day when you can no longer.  Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine.  It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell.  in each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud."  C.S. Lewis
The main impression I am left with after this chapter is that when we choose our own form of 'freedom' on Earth, we will continue to receive that 'freedom' for all eternity.  The freedom from enjoying God in his kingdom will be lost forever.
Jesus, thank you for taking the wrath for my sin, and giving me the one and only way to escape eternal separation from God.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Will We Do?

I asked my friend Laurel if I could re-post this, and since she agreed, I'm going to copy and paste what she wrote, add a few of my own comments and link to her blog.

Laurel's post:
In the past 3 days, I have gotten 3 emails from or about families 
that are REALLY STRUGGLING with their adopted children.  

All 3 families are in serious trouble.

All 3 families are considering disruption.  

All 3 families came to me for help . . . support . . . advice.

My heart is BREAKING for them.

Oh how I wish I had the perfect answer 
(or magic pill to "make things all better).

Oh how I wish that I could take away their pain.

But . . . 

. . . oh how glad I am that they knew they could write to me.

. . . oh how thankful I am that I can show them love and support
      (where others may be giving judgment and condemnation).

. . . oh how thankful I am that they know I will pray for them.

Family #1  

Adopted 2 boys from Africa about 5 years ago.  Oldest son has brought them severe challenges since day one.  He has been in and out of treatment.  Mama is at the end of her rope.  "What should I do?"she cries out.  She does not want to disrupt . . . but does not want to destroy her marriage and the life of her other son if she keeps the eldest at home.

"I love our son, how could I not want to bring him home and raise him. Yet, how can I sacrifice the ability to thrive for our other son."

"Do I want to look back in ten years and realize I lost both children, neither of them thriving, and my husband because I was hard headed and thought I should be super woman?  What level of unsafety do I embrace?"

Family #2

Adopted a 16 month old a year ago.  Yes.  A Baby.  She also has 2 young boys, and is unexpectedly pregnant.  (I received this email from a friend of the mother.)

"Her marriage and pregnancy are suffering from the stress this little girl is bringing into their lives."

"She is a Christian woman who believes she can do all things with God's help but at the same time is watching her life and family crumble before her very eyes."

Family #3

Adopted 2 teen boys just 6 months ago, and they are looking for a new home for the oldest.  

I share these little tidbits of their stories for three reasons:

#1  Please pray for these families.  
     They need us to storm the gates of heaven on their behalf.

#2  They need resources.
      If you know anyone or any organization that works with families
      that are in need of disrupting an adoption, please let me know.
     (you can post a comment, or email me privately with this information)

#3  They need love, support, and encouragement.
      They need to know that they are not walking this journey alone.

And . . . just so you know . . . I will not tolerate ANY condemnation nor judgmental comments about these situations.  Those comments will be deleted immediately, and never mentioned.  

These families have trusted me with their most difficult stories, and I am only sharing them because I know that some of you may be aware of resources that I am not yet aware of . . . and I know that some of you have walked similar paths and may have just the right words to say (even though you don't have a magic pill, either).

THANK YOU for PRAYING with me for these precious families.

My comments:
Will you please join us in praying for these families?
I wish I could tell you that these families' circumstances are an anomaly.
But there are so many families struggling today, for various reasons.
Sometimes families are given no information on their child(ren).
Sometimes families are given misinformation on their child(ren).
Sometimes families are simply not prepared.
And too often when things turn south, families are too afraid to seek help.
Why is that?
In my estimation, the number one reason families don't openly ask for help is judgment.
I would also guess the next reason is simply a lack of resources.
If my child has a cold, there are over 100 physicians nearby.
If my child has emotional or mental illness...and is adopted..., there are a handful of options within 500 miles, and many have little to no experience with attachment disorders, cultural differences and post-orphanage behaviors.
So where does that leave a family?
Alone.  Wondering what they were thinking.  Wondering how this could happen.  Wondering how long they can hang onto what's left of their family.
Please don't hear me say that the majority of adoptions are this difficult.
I'm not discouraging adoption!
I'm encouraging education.
I'm encouraging agencies and families to ask those probing questions.  (although, we must realize that oftentimes both will not receive answers.)
And when a family finds themselves in crisis, they need a safe place.
I wish that the great resources like "Empowered to Connect" conferences weren't so far away and so costly to attend.
So, what can we do?
*First, we can pray.  Sovereign God has not lost sight of these families.  He started the family.  He understands pain, suffering and loss.  Let's take it to Him.
*We can be a safe place for such a family.  If they have finally come to the place of sharing the trauma in their home, the last thing they need is judgment.  They need safety.  They need confidentiality.  They need comfort.
*We can offer to help.  Offering to babysit the kids so Mom and Dad can have a 2-hour dinner alone is priceless.
*If a family can benefit from a conference or seminar, we could offer to keep their kiddos, or even to pay their way.
*Most of all, we can love.  Parents have the very best intentions when adopting.  They expect to love their child(ren) fiercely.  And they feel as if they have failed when their love isn't enough to heal the scars of their child's past.

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 
 1 John 4:19-20

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In a Word ~ PRAISE!

As I posted on Facebook, we had two huge doctor's appointments today.  Their magnitude didn't really strike me until I was packing the diaper bag last night.  At that time I realized that Khloie would finally see a cardiologist and we would get answers as to the condition of her heart.  Khloie's file indicated diagnoses of ASD and CHD, and although we had images and reports, they were a year old.  Today we would find out...

...that Khloie's heart is perfect!!!!  There is NO DEFECT!!!   Dr. P wants to see her again in 2 years, at which time he will release her for all normal activities.  Today he cleared her for eye surgery.  Father in Heaven, we praise YOU!

Then we hurried across town for Kasidi's big appointment with her pediatric rehabilitation doc.  She was scheduled for her first injection of botox to relax and release her hamstring and calf muscles.  Since it is done under sedation it was going to be a pretty big deal.  Dr. W observed Kasidi walk, and although she has made huge progress, he wants the very best for he changed the treatment plan. 
 He made two recommendations, and we opted for the one that would give her the most opportunity for correct mobility.  Kasidi walks in a 'crouched' position, and the concern is that her brain doesn't send a message to her muscles, due to the interruption in her spine, so as her frame continues to grow, her muscles will not.  Eventually, she will need a rhizotomy, a neurosurgery to destroy problematic nerve roots in her spine.  The first surgery is usually between the ages of 4 and 8, but the doctor hopes to delay it as long as possible.  So he has prescribed the injections to relax the muscles, and then she will complete a series of castings to help correct her ankle issues, beginning as soon as possible.  She will wear 3 to 4 casts, changed weekly until the series is complete.  And this will be done every six months.  This is one of the things I love about this doctor ~ he doesn't just want progress; he wants the absolute BEST for his patients!
Kasidi handled the injections and the sedation very well, and tomorrow we will know when the castings start.  Dr. W has noted just how determined Miss Spunk is.  

We stand in awe of our awesome God, and He deserves all the glory!!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter Four ~ The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice

Ni Hao Yall
The Reason for God – Chapter Four: The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice

From Stefanie's blog:
“Many people who take an intellectual stand against Christianity do so against a background of personal disappointment with Christians and churches.” (p.53). According to Keller, your opinion of Christianity is largely influenced by your experiences – positive or negative – with the church and/or Christians.
Keller lays out three issues that undermine people’s belief in Christianity: “First, there is the issue of Christians’ glaring character flaws… Second, there is the issue of war and violence… Third, there is the issue of fanaticism.”
Character Flaws
Keller does not dance around the obvious – the average Christian has many flaws and so do their leaders. In fact, he shares a belief similar to the average non-religious person: “Church officials seem to at least (if not more) corrupt than leaders in the world at large.”
Keller goes on to explain that the Bible teaches the exact same thing. God is the Giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17) and those gifts are spread over all humanity – whether Christian or not. “A central message of the Bible is that we can only have a relationship with God by sheer grace. Our moral efforts are too feeble and falsely motivated to ever merit salvation.” (p.54) Christianity is a perfect religion for the broken not a broken religion for the perfect.
“The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” (p.55)
Those who are broken physically, morally, spiritually or mentally are more likely to be at the end of themselves – and therefore more likely to recognize their deep need for a Savior. And so, we should not be surprised when the average church congregation is made up of broken people.
Religion and Violence
Keller begins by asking the question, “Doesn’t orthodox religion lead inevitably to violence?” (p.56) He then proceeds to give examples of religious movements and societies that seem to prove the point: the Inquisition, African slave trade, Japanese influence by Shintoism and Buddhism, Hindu nationalism and Radical Islam. “All this evidence seems to indicate that religion aggravates human differences until they boil over into war, violence, and the oppression of minorities.” (p.56)
Keller gives examples of why that argument against religion flies in the face of reality. From Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot, a forced lack of religion has also caused innumerable acts of violence, murder and subjugation of fellow humans.
“We can only conclude that there is some violent impulse so deeply rooted in the human heart that it expresses itself regardless of what the beliefs of a particular society might be — whether socialist or capitalist, whether religion or irreligious, whether individualistic or hierarchical.” (p.57)
“Perhaps the biggest deterrent to Christianity for the average person today is not so much violence and warfare but the shadow of fanaticisim.” (p. 57) Many have witnesses the transformation of a former nonbeliever into a believer and watched as they seemed to go from ‘normal’ to the deep end of belief. “When arguing for the truth of their faith they [believer] often appear intolerant and self-righteous.” (p. 58)
Keller argues that what people want is a moral equivalent of a self-help program — neither too hot (fanatical) or too cold (nominal Christian). He says that by insisting on the lukewarm center, you instead get the fanaticism you are trying to avoid. When someone is completely surrendered to Christ they realize that they are saved only by the grace of God, and are brought to their knees in humility by that fact. “What strikes us as overly fanatical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Christ and his gospel.” (p.59)
The Biblical Critique of Religion
The Old Testament prophets, and Jesus himself, were overtly critical of the religious fanatics. They knew, based on the sinful nature of man, that even the God-given law could and would be corrupted. “He [Jesus] condemned in white-hot language their [fanatics] legalism, self-righteousness, bigotry, and love of wealth and power.” (p.60)
In fact, Jesus would inevitably be turned over to Pilate for crucifixion by the very religious leaders He had chastised repeatedly for fanaticism. “The tendency of religious people, however, is to use spiritual and ethical observance as a lever to gain power over others and over God…” (p.61)
Our Savior and the prophets speak of true faith as concern for those less fortunate, not ignoring social justice or gaining power. Though the church has indeed been responsible for power grabs and self-righteous behavior, Keller tells us that the standards by which society is gauging the church actually come from the church – the very same institution they are criticizing. “The shortcomings of the church can be understood historically as the imperfect adoption and practice of the principles of the Christian gospel.” (p. 63)
So, what should be done in light of the church’s failure? Should there be an abandonment of the Christian faith? Absolutely not. Keller says, “Instead we should move to a fuller and deeper grasp of what Christianity is.” (p. 63)
Justice in Jesus’ Name
While Christianity must bear responsibility for the African slave trade, it was the awakening of Christians to the absolute horror of lifelong, race-based slavery and its direct conflict with God’s Word that brought slavery to an end. In fact, historians, using a moral relativism of today’s intellectual communities, find it difficult to explain why the Abolitionists were willing to chance economic ruin to free the slaves. The answer was that, “Slavery was abolished because it was wrong, and Christians were the leaders in saying so. Christianity’s self-correcting apparatus, it’s critique of religiously supported acts of injustice, had asserted itself.” (p. 65)
The martyrs who have died to place themselves at odds with the dominant political thought of the day, from Nazi Germany to the American Civil Rights movement died as a result of realizing their higher calling from Christianity not apart from it. “When people have done injustice in the name of Christ they are not being true to the spirit of the one who himself died as a victim of injustice and who called for the forgiveness of his enemies. When people give their lives to liberate others as Jesus did, they are realizing the true Christianity…” (p. 69)
Question: What does your church look like? A hospital for the sick? Or a museum for the saints? What is your vision of a church that is truly pleasing to Jesus?

*My response*
Wow, this was another chapter packed with good stuff!  I really enjoyed reading it...but I am truly convicted by the question.  It has caused me to evaluate why I'm doing this study anyway, which is to draw closer to God by knowing His character better, to have an answer for my faith and beliefs and to get rid of my own character traits and habits which don't line up with Scripture.  Having said that, I'm talkin' to me in this response!
The only place we will find an entire body of joyful, righteous, sacrificial, obedient, generous people is Heaven, and as long as we enter churches believing that's what we'll find, we will continue to be disillusioned.
We are saved only by the grace of God, pardoned by the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sin.  I love what Keller says, "This means, though, that the church will be filled with immature and broken people who still have a long way to go emotionally, morally and spiritually."  This side of Heaven we are imperfect.  Which means the church is made up of selfish, imperfect human beings at various stages of growth in their relationship with Christ.  We should expect to find the brokenhearted, lonely and needy within our churches.  Maybe the problem is that some churchgoers recognize they are needy and some do not?  
Church is not junior high.  Perhaps the true test of a body is if we had an honest view from the outside looking in, would we want to enter?  Would we see a body of people who lift one another up or a body of folks exercising power over others?  "The Swiss theologian John Calvin, in his commentaries on the Hebrew prophets, says that God so identifies with the poor that their cries express divine pain.  The Bible teaches us that our treatment of them equals our treatment of God."
Still speaking to me!
So, my vision of a church truly pleasing to Jesus?
*people at various stages of growth, but all moving toward Jesus
*people sharing the work of God, for God
*people who spend much time in prayer
*people united for Christ, not divided for self
*people who preach, teach and live out the Gospel
*people who enjoy sweet fellowship
*people who recognize we are saved solely by God's grace
*people who treat others with humility
*people who realize that no person or gift is more important than another
*people with joyful hearts, just because God is God
*people who live humbly for self and generously for God

Lord, please start the change in me!

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