Saturday, July 28, 2012

Emily's Top Five Links

I thought I would share with our readers some of my favorite links that I like to peruse.  Apart from Facebook and Twitter, here’s where I spend most of my time on the Internet.  Later, we will post these on the right sidebar of our blog for easy access. 

1. The Gospel Coalition.

The Gospel Coalition has quickly become my favorite website.  This group is a compilation of evangelical churches that crosses denominational lines to partner for one single purpose:  the teaching and preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are wholly committed to the Word of God.  I do not agree with every pastor or contributor to this website, but I have found it to be an invaluable resource, not only for ministry, but also for my own personal growth and knowledge.  Here are my favorite things about their website:

  • Blogs - whatever is new and fresh or needs to be addressed in Christendom, chances are at least one person is going to write about it and I can get their perspective on the issue.
  • Book Reviews - I really enjoy the book reviews found on TGC.  They do a thorough job.  One of the best ways to decide if a book is worth the time it takes to read it is to find out what other people are saying about it and who is recommending it.  

2. Desiring God Ministries.

Desiring God Ministries is a one-stop shop of all sermons and books by John Piper.  Apart from Scripture, John Piper’s writings have influenced and impacted my life more than any other source.  Here, you can find blog entries, free sermons (in audio and written form), and all of the other books that Piper has written. 

3. National Review

National Review is a conservative political publication.  Although I no longer get wrapped up in politics like I did when I was younger, I do try to stay somewhat informed on current issues.  What I like about National Review is their wittiness.  If you enjoy reading big words and thinking critically while having a good sarcastic laugh here and there, you will like National Review.  They also have a written publication, but access to their website is free.  I normally only have time to read their blog entitled “The Corner.”  If you want a quick opinion on an issue from a conservative thinker, you can find it here. 

4. Jen Wilkin

I have just recently started reading her blog when one of her posts was picked up by The Gospel Coalition. She’s on staff at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas.  I love her Gospel-centered and Bible-centered approach to teaching – we really need more of this in women’s ministry and youth ministry.

5. IMB.org

This is the website for the International Mission Board, which is the Southern Baptist Convention’s missionary-sending agency.  The IMB facilities and coordinates the mission efforts of Southern Baptist churches.  They are an excellent resource for understanding the spiritual needs of our world.  It also explains all the ways you can be involved in missions including giving, praying and going. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Gospel and Infertility

As anyone can deduce by simple powers of observation, Matt and I do not have children.  Most of our closer friends and a few 
others have been in the loop regarding our struggles with infertility.  But until recently, we have been guarded about sharing openly on this subject.  Some might be disappointed or possibly hurt that I have not talked to them more about this.  Because of this, I want to share just a few reasons that infertility has been hard for us to talk about:
1.    The helplessness associated with infertility can be paralyzing.Therefore, sometimes silence is easier than openness. 
2.    My feelings associated with infertility are closely akin to grief.  I have lost multiple family members over the course of my life.  My feelings and thoughts on infertility are extremely similar to what I have felt in losing my mom, grandparents and stepfather.  Trying to talk about something so personal can be challenging. 
3.    Seems like everybody with kids insists on giving their advice to infertile couples.  Sometimes I just don’t want to hear from someone who’s had no problems having children tell me what I’m doing wrong. 
4.   You can’t please everyone.  Everybody has an opinion about what you should and should not do.  Regardless of what steps Matt and I end up taking or not taking in order to have children, somebody will think we did the wrong thing, or that we didn’t do enough, or that we did too much. 
5.    Infertility is almost like a terminal illness or a communicable disease.  Unless we are blessed with a massive amount of money for treatments or God does the miraculous, this is where we are.  Things can change.  It’s not by any means impossible. But this is where we are today. Therefore, what I understand today about God’s role in all of this will probably change tomorrow and it will definitely change six months from now.  So it’s hard to share with people what I myself am still trying to wrap my mind around. 

So what does the Gospel have to do with infertility? How does Christ’s work on the Cross of Calvary affect our situation? Before proceeding, I have one disclaimer:  I wanted to write this post sooner, but understanding how Christ uses the Gospel to change me and redeem me in the midst of infertility is not something that I have been able to easily grasp or accept.  Like #5 above, a year from now, I’ll probably have much more and better things to say on this subject.  So, here's where I'm at today:
1 Peter 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

The Gospel does not promise us a fulfillment of our wildest dreams.  When God saves someone, she is not automatically given a BMW or promised health and wealth and easy living.  We don’t get everything we’ve ever wanted right when we want it. However, what we do understand about the Gospel is that it redeems us from sin and restores our relationship to our Creator and we are adopted into the eternal family of God.  However, redemption is a process.  Although from a judicious standpoint, I stand confirmed, restored and clean before God (imputation), yet I have not been perfected because sanctification is an ongoing process that will not be complete until this present earthly life is long gone and I stand before my God.  The point is, I currently live in a body infected by sin and I believe this includes infertility. 
What about asking God to heal my body?  Yes, we do see several examples in Scripture of women of faith who prayed earnestly for children and God (in His time) granted them children.  This could happen for us as well, but I do not have some sort of special word from God apart from Scripture (tongue in cheek) that He will do this for us.  Of course, He can grant me wonderfully healthy super-awesome eggs.  He can do anything He wants.

The Gospel is for the Glory of God.  If you spend much time reading God’s Word then you will see that there is a purpose afoot in all that God does.  Ultimately, God’s purpose is to bring glory to himself.  Jesus came to earth and accomplished salvation as a part of that purpose and his most glorious moment was when he was on the cross.  In the midst of the sorrow, pain and death, Jesus perfectly displayed love, grace, wrath (on sin), mercy and power all of the attributes of God were made manifest in the death of Christ.  The Gospel is for the glory of God!  It is not to make me happy.  It is not to make me feel significant.  I mention happiness and significance because these are two feelings that I think are closely associated with parenthood.  Moms feel significant because they are moms and that obviously brings them happiness.  These are not bad things, but God does not guarantee me these feelings in this life.

Just as Jesus was about the Father’s business and fulfilling his purpose, I too have a purpose.  My purpose is to bring God glory in my life.  Of course, I fail at this every day.  But this is what I am created and called to do.  This is where my significance should be found.  What we see in Scripture is that sometimes, God chooses hardship and suffering as the means for sanctification for us and glory for Him in our lives (Job, Paul, etc.).  My worship of God cannot be contingent upon Him giving me what I want (I Th. 5:18).  

The Gospel is the Means for our Ultimate Reward.  As Debbie Todd wrote about in the previous post, as believers, our reward is Jesus.  My greatest joy and fulfillment is found in knowing and being known Jesus Christ.  He is my inheritance and having a child will never compare to this!  As my friend Debbie has reminded me, this journey is a part of my sanctification.  God is using this struggle not only to make me more like Christ, but to make Christ my chief desire. 

The Gospel Gives the Gift of Hope.  If nothing else, we have hope because of the Gospel. Jesus is our living hope!        

So based on all that God has given me and purposed for me through the Gospel with regard to infertility, what I truly feel right now – today – is joy.  Joy that the God of the universe, holy and mighty, loving and kind, has chosen to save me and that in his sovereignty, has purposed to use my life to bring glory to Himself.

Lam. 3:24: ‘“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

My prayer on this journey is that God would be honored and glorified in my life, in my husband’s life and in our marriage.  May He use whatever circumstances or means necessary to achieve this goal.  Would you pray this prayer with me and would you be so bold as to prayer it for your own life as well?