Thursday, July 22, 2010

God's Glory

Since I will be in Denver this weekend visiting my brother I am not anticipating doing much blogging so this should tide you over...

Read John 9. In part...

1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

I follow a pastor on Twitter by the name of Britt Merrick. He has a daughter named Daisy who is 1 of 80 children in North American this year who will be diagnosed with a recurring Wilms tumor. They had just battled cancer for 8 months and thought they had beaten it. She started experiencing stomach pains on their first family vacation in Hawaii in quite some time.

Now she is back in the hospital. There is a 30-50% cure rate. They were only able to remove 1/3 of it through surgery. Here is her picture...

Today he tweeted that he had received an email from a girl suffering with cancer. She was going to kill herself until she heard his sermon from last Sunday. You can listen to it here:

God is indeed most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

We may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen. But sometimes He shows us very clearly why our earthly sorrow is necessary for the advancement of His Kingdom. That is a trade we should desire any day.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our One Hope

Tim Vanderveld
Jul 11, 2010 at West Hills Community Church

Tim was our Associate Pastor of Worship for 1997-2004. He is now an Associate Pastor at Converge Church in Minneapolis. Tim contracted gall bladder cancer in 2007. Four months ago, he was given just six weeks to live. Needless to say, the Lord has extended Tim's life. Tim has used this gift of time to speak in support groups, classrooms and churches about where his hope lies. This morning, via Skype, he is sharing from God's word and relating from his own experience of what it means to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with Jesus as his Savior.

5 surgeries...24 rounds of chemo...30 rounds of radiation...36 formal messages given since being given just 6 weeks to live by doctors on March 7th. His prayer has shifted toward extending his life so he may share his story with as many people as possible.

The question he is most frequently asked is, "How are you handling this?" He says his answer is found in 1 Peter 3:15. His hope is in Jesus Christ. (By the way, I think verses 16-17 are also good rebuttals to the prosperity gospel...ESV says, "WHEN you are slandered"...not if.)

Where does this hope come from? Look at 1 Peter 1:3-9.

3Blessed 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, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When you find Jesus in your darkest moments the words out of your mouth should be praise, glory and honor. It can be hard but let your heart rejoice knowing that God's will is being done in your life. He broke down talking about the earthly sorrow he experiences when looking into the eyes of his wife of 29 years and children and knowing they will have to go on without him while attempting to balance the inexpressible joy he will have upon walking into glory. Once again, I was reminded of the phrase "sorrowful yet always rejoicing" which encapsulates our life here in this broken world as we await our eternal home.

No matter your age, your circumstance, your health...the one universal, unshakeable truth is that your hope is in Jesus Christ.

Thanks Tim. God bless you.


"Prayer is not mainly where we give God our to-do list, but where we ask God for help in accomplishing His to-do-list." - Mark Driscoll

Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy.Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. (Isaiah 64:7)

Prayer is our access to God. When we relate to God, we cannot help but be changed. And if we are changed, then our situation changes because we are no longer the same person we were before our prayer. The Bible says prayer is character forming. It increases our faith and without faith it’s impossible to please God and know God’s blessing (Heb. 11:6).

Prayer is also a valued coping practice. Prayer conditions us to cast our troubles onto God and depend on God’s care and sufficiency. Rather than borrow tomorrow’s troubles, prayer keeps us focused on what is at hand and what we can do.

Prayer is likewise a clarifying agent. Nothing clears my head better than a time of prayer. It helps me see a situation more clearly and from different perspectives.
Prayer is a change agent. It changes a person and thus that person will respond to situations differently. When our way of responding changes then people’s responses to us changes as well. The cycle is changed.

One of my favorite theologians is P. T. Forsyth, the Scottish pastor who was born in 1848 and died on November 11, 1927. Forsyth studied under the greatest theological minds of his time, yet he discovered that talking about God is not nearly as helpful and edifying as talking to God. Forsyth is credited with launching a new theological movement that put the person of Jesus Christ front and center in our spiritual lives and theological thinking.

At an ominous time when the world seemed hell-bent on war, Forsyth preached about the sin of prayerlessness. He said the “the worst sin [of all] is prayerlessness.” Prayerlessness is the root cause of human misery.

The Apostle James teaches, “Draw near to God and God will draw near to you” (4:8). Forsyth notes, “We are left by God” because of our “lack of seeking God.” And due to our failure to seek God, we become estranged from and abandoned by others.

Prayer is the great producer of sympathy; it puts us in touch with others. When God fills our hearts, God in turn makes more room in our hearts for others and for their conditions.

Forsyth taught that not wanting to pray is the sin behind sin and it ends up with our not even being able to pray. Failing to pray, we starve ourselves and thus we become spiritually emaciated and helpless.

The unfortunate historic record of World War I revealed Forsyth to be a true prophet.

I think he’s the prophet we need to heed in today. I only hope that asking candidates about their practice of prayer is a result of our growing appreciation to be in continual fellowship with God and all others. I further hope we are not guilty of asking candidates to be responsible for acts of faithfulness about which we ourselves might be derelict.

If we can be prayerful in all things, then we just may witness a new movement of grace in our time.

Reverend Greer is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. You can contact him at