"My Goal is to be a Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ until He Calls Me Home" – Matt Chandler at Together for the Gospel 2010

Matt Chandler was a special guest at Together for the Gospel 2010, sharing about how his experience with cancer has impacted him and his theology:

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“My goal is to be a faithful minister of Jesus Christ until he calls me home,” says Chandler.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’ve got that kind of faith. But I want it.

When we suffer, will we suffer well? Will we look at our circumstances with despair or will we join Paul in saying,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Philippians 1:21-24

HT: Matt Robbins

On Suffering Well and The Wasted Life

Matt Chandler, center, holds hands with his son Reid, 4, left, and daughter Audrey, 7, in Flower Mound, Texas as they take a walk after a treatment for Matt's brain cancer. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

 

Yesterday, Eric Gorski from the Associated Press published a fantastic article on Pastor Matt Chandler’s battle with brain cancer. If you’ve not read it, you absolutely must.  

In the article, Gorski wrote,  

Matt Chandler doesn’t feel anything when the radiation penetrates his brain. It could start to burn later in treatment. But it hasn’t been bad, this time lying on the slab. Not yet, anyway.  

Another cancer patient Chandler has gotten to know spends his time in radiation imagining that he’s playing a round of golf at his favorite course. Chandler on this first Monday in January is reflecting on Colossians 1:15-23, about the pre-eminence of Christ and making peace through the blood of his cross.  

Chandler’s hands are crossed over his chest. He wears a mask with white webbing that keeps his head still when metal fingers slide into place on the radiation machine, delivering the highest possible dose to what is considered to be fatal and incurable brain cancer.  

Yesterday I was listening (briefly) to Tapestry on CBC Radio One while on the way to read a book and drink a warm beverage. I caught a snippet of an interview with William Lobdell, a journalist who became a Christian in his twenties, served as the religion reporter for one of the biggest newspapers in the U.S. since become an atheist.  

In talking about the Christian worldview, he said something that really caught my attention, which was that,  

Christians see this life as a fleeting moment in light of eternity. So to waste a day, a month, a year… it’s not really a big deal. They think they’ve got all eternity. But for an atheist, because we know this is all there is, we take as much joy as we can and make the most of every moment (my paraphrase).  

[Read more…]

Book Review: How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?

HowCanAGoodGodBookCoverTitle: How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?
Author: Mark Tabb
Publisher: NavPress

One of the most common objections to the idea of God in general and Christianity in particular is the question of suffering: If God is good, why do bad things happen? Traditionally, the “pro-God” answer falls into one of two categories: Either God is completely good, but not capable of intervening (as argued in Harold Kushner in Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People), or God is capable of intervening, but He’s not good.

You won’t find either of these in Mark Tabb’s book, How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen.

Instead, Tabb offers a third explanation, a biblical one, focusing on one of the most important statements in the story of Job: “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10 NLT)

Tabb does a wonderful job conveying the human perspective of suffering—the pain, the confusion, the frustration… everything that comes with it—but never strays from what Scripture has revealed about God. He provides strong answers that don’t minimize the struggles people deal with. What he offers instead is the truth that nothing is random, even if we can’t understand it. Even if we don’t ever get the “why,” God is working for our good. But, “[t]he good for which God works doesn’t guarantee happiness or comfort or miracles today. He works toward a far more permanent good” (pp. 99-100). But in the end, God owes us no explanation.

That’s the rub, isn’t it? God is completely good, completely sovereign—and not obligated to explain Himself. For us, this is frustrating, infuriating at times… but ultimately it’s a source of comfort. Because a God who we can completely figure out, who we can fit in a cozy box, is no God at all. So we learn to trust Him as He as revealed Himself, and we look toward the promises of Scripture. That there’s a day coming when He will wipe every tear, and there will be no more suffering, no more death. But for now, we wait for that day and press forward, serving others in our suffering.

Recommended

Sunday Shorts (07/12)

John Piper: What is God’s Glory?

How to Be Relevant 500 Years from Now

Kevin DeYoung wrote a wonderful post on the celebration of John Calvin’s birthday and why nearly 500 years after his death, his legacy remains:

Calvin’s confidence was not in man’s potential or the triumph of the human spirit… Calvin’s confidence was in the Word of God, and that’s why his theology and vision of the world continues to capture the minds and hearts of people in the 21st century. That’s why five hundred years later we remember his birth. That’s why Calvin the preacher and expositor has millions more spiritual children than Erasmus the scholar and hermeneutical skeptic. Strive for relevance in your day, and you’ll may make a difference for a few years. Anchor yourself in what is eternal and you may influence the world for another five centuries.

Go, spend about 5-10 minutes reading this article. It’s well worth your time.

The God Who Gives Strength as Needed: An Interview with Terry Stauffer

Tim Challies interviews Pastor Terry Stauffer about how God and strong Gospel Theology has strengthened his family since his daughter’s murder in September, 2008. Normally I don’t include large excerpts, here’s Tim’s introduction:

On September 28, 2008, I was shocked to read these words on the blog of Terry Stauffer, a man I had met at a couple of conferences and who has long been a reader and commenter at my blog: “Last night at about 4:45 our precious 14 year-old daughter Emily was attacked and killed as she was out for a walk. We don’t know a lot of details, but we know that two young men came upon the scene right away, but it was too late for Emily. I will write more as more details come available. Please pray for us, for our church family who are meeting without us right now, and for family that is travelling. We are realizing from the inside the value of good, Gospel theology right now. ”

Terry is pastor of Edson Baptist Church in the small town of Edson, Alberta. Emily’s murder shocked this small town of less than 10,000 people—the kind of town where this crime is unheard of. I continued to follow Terry’s blog as he dealt with the aftermath—Emily’s funeral, national media attention, the arrest of a suspect and life following the loss of a child. Through it all, Terry’s faith strengthened me from afar. I recently asked Terry if he would be kind enough to participate in an interview and I am grateful that he was willing and able to do so. I offer this interview in the hope that it encourages you in the Lord who promises (and delivers) strength as strength is needed.

Read the entire interview at Challies.com

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Everyday Theology: “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” Exploring if there’s any validity to the statement “God helps those who help themselves.”

The Cool Thing About a Genealogy… An important lesson from the genealogy of Jesus in Matt. 1:2-16.

Three Simple Letters Briefly examining one of the most important words in Scripture: BUT

John Piper: "You will Suffer"

The Arrest

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:36-56

Today, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the brutal murder of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. Betrayed, denied, mocked, beaten, and ultimately nailed to a Roman cross—all because of us. And by us.

Let us not make light of the seriousness of sin, particularly as the new day dawns. The cost was high to make God’s enemies His friends. May we worship with hearts filled with thanksgiving as we celebrate our suffering Savior, who cried “It is finished” (John 19:30), and put an end to the curse of death.

And may God bless you as you do.