Thursday, March 30, 2006

Acres of Hope

Hat tip to Corrie for telling me about the book, Acres of Hope by Patty Anglin and Joe Musser (Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada). Amazon is selling the book new for $19.99, but I notice there are used copies available as well and they are as low as .75 cents!

From Publishers Weekly:

This inspiring memoir by a mother who has adopted eight special-needs children calls readers to regard every child as precious in God's sight. Anglin and her husband, Harold, made a commitment, while fostering 50-odd children through the years, to adopt "the ones no one else wanted." These include two crack-addicted babies born to a 13-year-old prostitute; a son with severe emotional problems whose birth parents had tortured him with cigarettes and hung him upside down for punishment; a Nigerian boy born without lower arms and legs; and a five-year-old quadriplegic from India who weighed only 16 pounds at adoption. Anglin emerges not as a self-righteous attention-seeker but a woman of deep faith firmly committed to the individual nurturance of children. She tries hard not to judge the children's biological parents for their various faults, though her fierce mama bear instincts show clearly in harsh words for the social care system. In particular, she criticizes the growing practice of barring cross-racial adoption as a "a subtle form of racism," describing her tooth-and-nail custody fight against an insensitive case worker who, she says, almost sacrificed a child's life for an ideological principle. Today, the Anglins live and home-school their large family, which includes seven biological children, on a 200-acre Wisconsin farm called "Acres of Hope." Both full-time caregivers, they were able to purchase the $62,500 tract because a local bank president financed the entire amount, saying the community needed more people like them. That's an understatement. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Put Hope in Motion

I have blogged previously about Bethany Hamilton - a young surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack. Bethany has now teamed up with World Vision to raise support for disabled children around the world. Her mission is called Put Hope in Motion.

Here is an excerpt from her website:

Aloha, and thanks for visiting my fundraising page!

I'm so excited to be able to use my surfing to help children in crisis through World Vision. I've chosen to focus on the needs of disabled children around the world, and I hope you'll join me by making a donation that will help provide them care, support, and hope.

Did you know that there are 120 million disabled children worldwide, and less than 2% of them have access to education? Worse yet, many of these kids are abandoned or neglected by family or society. When I heard that World Vision has programs around the world designed to help release the potential that God has given each one of these children, I knew I had to take part.

Here are some ways your donation can help special needs children:

$25 helps pay for a prosthetic limb for a child
$50 helps pay for the building of a therapeutic rehabilitation center
$75 helps pay for mine clearance in rural areas
$160 provides a pediatric surgery
$250 provides a wheelchair for a child

One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Won't you help me show the world's children that this is true for them also -- no matter what challenge they face? Thank you for joining me in this effort!

Mahalo, Bethany

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Is it Uncommon for a Christian to Suffer?

While Christians will never have to suffer the wrath of God, it is no secret that we will have to endure temporal sufferings. I have been pondering lately the Prosperity Theology that is popular in American culture today. While it is being reported that "real Christians" do not suffer and people with "strong" or "genuine" faith are healed of their diseases...I wondered how those sort of statements match up with the reality of Christians in the world who experience pain on a daily basis.

Is suffering really a relevant topic? Is it something that is commonly experienced in the Church, or is pain, as Job friends so erroneously pointed out, just the product of God's judgment and unconfessed sin?

I decided to do a few Google searches. I guess I figured if there are not a lot of suffering Christians in the world, perhaps some key searches would turn up, "Sorry, no results found for your search" or maybe, "5 of 5 links displayed."

Here is what I found after a few off-the-top-of-my-head searches:

Suffering Makes us Strong 39,400,000
Suffering and Christ 13,600,000
Why do I suffer? 108,000,000
I love God but I still suffer 20,600,000
Why does God make us suffer? 22,800,000
Purpose of suffering? 36,200,000
Do Christians suffer? 9,050,000

108,000,000 people go online to ask the question, "Why do I suffer?"

It is easy to read this sentence with the emphasis on the word why, as in, "Why do I suffer?" But I wonder if it could not also be interpreted by emphasizing another word in the phrase, namely, "Why do I suffer?"

Maybe one reason over one hundred million people are asking this question is not because they do not know the source or purpose of suffering, but in light of what is being preached in many churches today (that good, godly, "real" Christians do not suffer) they wonder why in light of all their good works and love for Christ, they are "failing."

Preaching that Christians will not suffer will not automatically decrease suffering. It will perhaps, however, cause godly men and women who are deeply loved by God to question His faithfulness and goodness to them because God is not treating them the way their pastors say He should be treating them.

Suffering is real. The Bible tells us over and over again to expect suffering and to in fact, not be surprised when it happens. The Bible also teaches us how to prepare for suffering, how to respond to it, and what the rewards for overcoming it will be.

Verses in Scripture that talk about our "not falling" or our "not suffering" should be read in a broader, Christ-exalting, eternal sense. Namely, we will not fall away from God and ultimately lose our salvation. We will not suffer the loss of our souls or suffer the sheer terror of facing God's wrath on judgment day apart from the intercession of Christ Jesus.

Until then, we are called to suffer and to rejoice insofar as we share in Christ's sufferings, so that we may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Michael Schiavo Interview

For those of you who missed it, the transcript of last night's interview between Larry King and Michael Schiavo has now been posted to the Larry King Live website.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Michael Schiavo on Larry King Live Tonight

Michael Schiavo, husband of the late Terri Schaivo, will be interviewed on tonight's broadcast of Larry King Live. The program begins at 9:00 PM, EST (check local listings for time and channel).

He will be on the show talking about "life, his new wife and his new book."

I must end here and omit all personal commentary....that sentence alone makes me sick to my stomach.

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In Our Hearts, We Were Giants

I saw a small portion of a program on the History Channel last night. It was about a family of dwarves that were sent to Auschwitz during WWII and experimented on by Josef Mengele for nine months. Amazingly, the family of 12 (seven of whom were little people) as well as ten other friends and neighbors (who pretended to be related) were all spared and survived the Holocaust. The Ovitz family is the only family to escape the SS killing complex completely intact.

Perla Ovitz, one of the seven siblings, said: 'If I ever questioned why I was born a dwarf, my answer must be that my handicap was God's way of keeping me alive.'

After the family left Auschwitz, they relocated to Haifa, Israel where they resumed the music and comedy stage show that they performed in before the war. They achieved much fame and success and all lived to ripe old ages.

I am inspired by this story, not only because it shows courage and strength but also because of the irony. Hitler was a powerful man and many strong men died as his hand. It is ironic to me that the weak, little ones are who survived. We hear a lot about "survival of the fittest" and about disabled people being "weak." And yet, it was because of the Orvitz's physical weakness that spared their lives and gave them the strength after the war to go on with fruitful lives, rather than sinking into a realm of defeat, despair and self-pity.

Unlike Job and the Orvitz siblings, not many of us with disabilities will ever get a clear and direct answer from the mouth of God as to why He made us the way that He did. But, like Perla Orvitz, we can all say that God had intentional purposes of love and mercy behind why He chose to make us the way that he did.

Heaven forbid that God ever have to answer our persistent grumblings and "why God's?" with an answer as painfully specific as the Holocaust. Maybe we should just have faith that He knows what He is up to and not risk having to be told all of the answers.

If you are interested in learning more about the Orvitz family, click here.

Here are some other links as well:

Doctor Death and the Seven Dwarfs
The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz

Here is an Amazon link to the biography written about the Ovitz family.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Bible Reading Plans

I posted an excerpt on Tuesday from Don Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, which is proving to be a very helpful, sobering, encouraging, and convicting read!

Another tidbit that Whitney puts forth in the first chapter of his book is that the average Bible on cassette series has proven that the entire Bible can be read aloud in the space of 71 hours - which is about the same number of hours the average American spends watching television in two weeks time.

Yes, this is acceptable behavior for the “average" American - but is it acceptable behavior for Americans who believe the verses that say, "You are not of this world" and "be holy because I am holy" and "the earth and its desires shall pass away but the man who does the will of God, lives forever"?

I certainly don't expect anyone to sit down and read the Bible in 71 hours, nor would I even conclude that such a rushed reading would even be profitable. But how about a few minutes a day five times a week? Does that seem reasonable?

I thought for a few days over this post, thinking that the exhortation, while a good one, didn't fit the truncated subject matter of this particular blog. But upon further contemplation, I realized that one of the hardest obstacles to living life with a disability or a deformed face is the fact that you feel, everywhere you go, that you don't belong. This causes depression, isolation, bitterness, self-pity, despair, and complacency. And I wonder if perhaps some of those problems might not be hacked away at by putting away the mirror and picking up the Word?

May the Lord convict and encourage and inspire and motivate us to read and love and apply and share his Word!

Here are some Read-Through-the-Bible programs available online or for download:

Bethlehem Baptist Church's program (Scroll down to the "Weekly Fighter Verse" sidebar. There are two links: Print Program Part One and Print Program Part Two) Acrobat, PDF files.

The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
( printable PDF file)

Read the Bible in a Year by E-mail (sign up for daily e-mail alerts)

One Year Bible Online

Click here for reading plans that allow you to read the:

Whole Bible in a year
Old Testament in a year
New Testament in a year
Old Testament in two years
Words of Jesus 4 times in one year
Whole Bible chronologically in a year
Whole Bible chronologically in a year (option 2)
New Testament Letters three times a year
New Testament and Proverbs twice, Psalms once in a year
New Testament and Psalms twice, rest of Bible once in a year
Proverbs in a month
Gospels in a month
Psalms in a month

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

All Is Vanity

What do you see? A beautiful woman staring at her reflection in front of a mirror? Or do you see a human skull? I first saw this picture hanging on the wall in a cafe in a small town my family was passing through during a camping trip. The image has always stuck with me because not only is it a bizarre optical illusion - but the message behind it is so true to the reality we all live in -- the world looks at something and defines it as beautiful -- but through biblical eyes, those pretty things only lead to death.

If you cannot view the photo I have posted above, you can view it by clicking here. You can view another version of the illusion here.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Taste and See That the Lord is Good

I began reading Don Whitney's, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life last night and was amazed and convicted and inspired and touched by this account found on page 35.

We should all have the passion for reading God's Word of the man in this story. Evangelist Robert L. Sumner, in his book, The Wonder of the Word of God, tells of a man in Kansas City who was severely injured in an explosion. His face was badly disfigured, and he lost his eyesight as well as both hands. He had just become a Christian when the accident happened, and one of his greatest disappointments was that he could no longer read the Bible. Then he heard about a lady in England who read Braille with her lips. Hoping to do the same, he sent for some books of the Bible in Braille. But he discovered that the nerve endings in his lips had been too badly damaged to distinguish the characters. One day, as he brought one of the Braille pages to his lips, his tongue happened to touch a few of the raised characters and he could feel them. Like a flash he thought, "I can read the Bible using my tongue." At the time Robert Sumner wrote his book, the man had read through the entire Bible four times. If he can do that, can you discipline yourself to read the Bible?

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Undeserved" Human Pain

This excerpt was taken from the article, The Problem of Pain, based on the C. S. Lewis book of that same title.

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? Exodus 18:25.

Probably four-fifths of all human suffering, says C.S.Lewis in The Problem of Pain, derives from our misusing nature, or hurting others. We, not God, produced racks, whips, prisons, guns and bombs.

Because we are rebels-against-God who must lay down our arms, our other pains may indeed constitute God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world to surrender. There is a universal feeling that bad people ought to suffer: without a concept of 'retribution' punishment is rendered unjust (what can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?). But until evil persons find evil unmistakably present in their existence, in the form of pain, they are enclosed in illusion. Pain may provide the only opportunity they may have for amendment. It is hard to turn our thoughts to God when things are going well. To 'have all we want' is a terrible saying when 'all' does not include God.

So God troubles our selfishness, which stands between us and the recognition of our need. God's divine humility stoops to conquer, even if we choose him merely as an alternative to hell. Yet even this he accepts!

Lord, forgive me if I regard you as I do a heart-lung machine - there for emergencies, but hoping I'll never have to use it. Amen......

Here is the book review for C. S. Lewis', The Problem of Pain:

The Problem of Pain answers the universal question, "Why would an all-loving, all-knowing God allow people to experience pain and suffering?" Master Christian apologist C.S. Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. In truth, by asking for this, we want God to love us less, not more than he does. "Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect at the opposite pole from Love." In addressing "Divine Omnipotence," "Human Wickedness," "Human Pain," and "Heaven," Lewis succeeds in lifting the reader from his frame of reference by artfully capitulating these topics into a conversational tone, which makes his assertions easy to swallow and even easier to digest. Lewis is straightforward in aim as well as honest about his impediments, saying, "I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine that being made perfect through suffering is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design." The mind is expanded, God is magnified, and the reader is reminded that he is not the center of the universe as Lewis carefully rolls through the dissertation that suffering is God's will in preparing the believer for heaven and for the full weight of glory that awaits him there. While many of us naively wish that God had designed a "less glorious and less arduous destiny" for his children, the fortune lies in Lewis's inclination to set us straight with his charming wit and pious mind. --Jill Heatherly

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If God Wills Disease Why Should We Try to Eradicate It?

This is the latest Freshwords article (written by Pastor John Piper).

This question arises from the biblical teaching that all things are ultimately under God’s control. “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10). “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6). “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35). “[He] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

This means that God governs all calamity and all disease. Satan is real and has a hand in it, but he is not ultimate and can do nothing but what God permits (Job 1:12-2:10). And God does not permit things willy-nilly. He permits things for a reason. There is infinite wisdom in all he does and all he permits. So what he permits is part of his plan just as much as what he does more directly.

Therefore this raises the question: If God wills disease why should we try to eradicate it? This is a crucial question for me because I have heard Christians say recently that believing in the sovereignty of God hinders Christians from working hard to eradicate diseases like malaria and tuberculosis and cancer and AIDS. They think the logic goes like this: If God sovereignly wills all things, including malaria, then we would be striving against God to invest millions of dollars to find a way to wipe it out.

That is not the logic the Bible teaches. And it is not what Calvinists have historically believed. In fact, lovers of God’s sovereignty have been among the most aggressive scientists who have helped subdue creation and bring it under the dominion of man for his good—just like Psalm 8:6 says, “You have given him [man] dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.”

The logic of the Bible says: Act according to God’s “will of command,” not according to his “will of decree.” God’s “will of decree” is whatever comes to pass. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). God’s “will of decree” ordained that his Son be betrayed (Luke 22:22), ridiculed (Isaiah 53:3), mocked (Luke 18:32), flogged (Matthew 20:19), forsaken (Matthew 26:31), pierced (John 19:37), and killed (Mark 9:31). But the Bible teaches us plainly that we should not betray, ridicule, mock, flog, forsake, pierce, or kill innocent people. That is God’s “will of command.” We do not look at the death of Jesus, clearly willed by God, and conclude that killing Jesus is good and that we should join the mockers.

In the same way, we do not look at the devastation of malaria or AIDS and conclude that we should join the ranks of the indifferent. No. “Love your neighbor” is God’s will of command (Matthew 22:39). “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is God’s will of command (Matthew 7:12). “If your enemy is hungry, feed him” is God’s will of command (Romans 12:20). The disasters that God ordains are not aimed at paralyzing his people with indifference, but mobilizing them with compassion.

When Paul taught that the creation was subjected to futility (Romans 8:20), he also taught that this subjection was “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v. 21). There is no reason that Christians should not embrace this futility-lifting calling now. God will complete it in the age to come. But it is a good thing to conquer as much disease and suffering now in the name of Christ as we can.

In fact, I would wave the banner right now and call some of you to enter vocations of research that may be the means of undoing some of the great diseases of the world. This is not fighting against God. God is as much in charge of the research as he is of the disease. You can be an instrument in his hand. This may be the time appointed for the triumph that he wills to bring over the disease that he ordained. Don’t try to read the mind of God from his mysterious decrees of calamity. Do what he says. And what he says is: “Do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10).

Longing to relieve suffering with you,

Pastor John

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Joni Eareckson Tada Audio Books

I recently discovered the "Audio Book" section of the iTunes music store home page. I was pleased to discover a pretty thorough "Religion and Spirituality" section.

Five of Joni's books are available for download (MP3 format). Another perk is that Joni herself is the one reading the books. Her personality, sense of humor, joy, and kindness come through amazingly well in her readings.

Here is what is available so far:
Diamonds in the Dust (devotional) $10.95
Heaven: Your Real Home (Abridged) $8.95
Joni (unabridged autobiography) $25.95
The God I Love (unabridged) $25.95
When God Weeps (abridged) $8.95

C. S. Lewis
I wrote a post back in June called Till We Have Faces which was a book review of the C. S. Lewis book of the same title. The book is a work of fiction that retells the classic Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche.

That book is also available for download through the iTunes music store. It is the unabridged version and is priced at $20.95 and is narrated by Nadia May. The MP3 download price is actually very reasonable as the audio cassette version is going for $31.47 on Amazon and the CD-ROM version is going for $49.99 on

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Krista on the Radio!

You may remember my friend Krista from a story that I posted on this blog back on January 23, 2005. (If you haven't read it, click here).

I just received an e-mail informing me that Krista has been interviewed. Here is information on where to go to hear that program! (Way to go, Krista!)

Krista was interviewed as a part of the radiothon described below. She will be on the radio sometime during this coming weekend. We don't know when, but you can hear the interview on the KS95 website starting Friday morning, by following the instructions below.

Tune in to the 8th annual KS95 for Kids® Radiothon, broadcast live March 3-5 from Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka. During the past seven years, this premier fundraising event has generated more than $7.7 million for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare and Children's Cancer Research Fund. To hear the courageous stories of kids battling cancer and living with disabilities, tune in to 94.5 KS95 FM or log on to

Krista's story and photo is also featured under "Meet the Kids" at :

Go to

Click on KS95 for Kids

Click on Meet the Kids

Click on Krista Horning

Click on the link to listen at the top of their story

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