Archive for March, 2011
I want to thank you all for your faithfulness to us through Jeanine’s back surgery and recovery. You have displayed your faithfulness toward us in your prayers, encouragement and service to us. I thank our God for you!
Jeanine has been recovering steadily throughout the last week. It has been one week since the surgery to remove disc matter that was pressing on her nerve between the L5 vertebrae and S1 region. She has some good days and some not so good days. However, she is a woman of great strength and faith in the Lord, and I know that in time He will give her the strength she needs to fully recover.
On a personal note, the Lord has been teaching me a great deal about dependence on Him through prayer – not just for Jeanine’s recovery, but acknowledgment and thankfulness for all that is “normal.” What I mean is that while we are inclined to go to the Lord in prayer when something is wrong, I have been learning to go to the Lord in thanksgiving for all that is right and good and true. Somehow, we just expect certain things to happen “normally”; however, I am growing in my understanding of thanksgiving for simply getting up and breathing. Our sovereign Lord sustains us through the good and the bad.
My growth in prayer during “normal” times has allowed me to grow in prayer during the “abnormal” and difficult times. I still have so much more to learn, but I rejoice in the Lord’s patience with me. May we all continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Thank you so much for your prayers. By God’s grace, Jeanine did not have a blood clot, so we were able to come home late yesterday morning. Unfortunately the numbness remains. We believe that the numbness will reside with time, and we are praying to that end. It’s taking a little time for Jeanine to recover because her body does not respond well to anesthesia. Jeanine will be taking it easy for a month – basically lying down.
We thank God for our five girls who willingly pick up the slack around the house and for our High Pointe family who cares for us so well. Again, thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the numbness to reside.
Thank you so much for all your prayers for Jeanine! The surgery went very well, and Jeanine has experienced immediate pain relief now that the pressure has been removed from the nerve.
Unfortunately, Jeanine still feels numbness in her left leg and now numbness has increased in her buttocks. This morning the doctor said that those are potential signs of a blood clot. Consequently, she will not be released from the hospital this morning as previously anticipated. They will observe her throughout the day to see if the numbness goes away. If not, she will have an MRI around 5:00 p.m. today. If the MRI shows there is a blood clot, the doctor will have to go back in to remove it.
We are asking the Lord to be merciful to Jeanine and us. Please join us in praying that there would be no clot and that the numbness would reside. Jeanine is in good spirits. On a scale of 1 to 10, her pain has gone from a 10 before surgery to about a 3, this morning. We rejoice in the Lord’s goodness.
Thank you so much for your faithfulness to our Lord and to High Pointe and to our family. As you were made aware this past Sunday morning, I had to leave Sunday morning a little after 9 a.m. to take Jeanine to the emergency room. Once we were at the emergency room, an MRI revealed that she has a severely herniated disc between the L5 vertebrae and the S1 region. Some matter from the disc has leaked through a hole and is now pressing against her nerve, creating great pain and numbness down the back of her left leg.
On Tuesday I took Jeanine to a neuro-surgeon who showed us the MRI results. We believe the best option for immediate and long-term relief for Jeanine is surgery (Lumbar Disc Microsurgery). The doctor will go in and remove the excess disc matter that has leaked out, providing immediate relief of pressure on the nerve and, we hope, immediate relief of pain. If they can see the hole in the disc from which the matter has leaked they will stitch it; however, that is more difficult than it sounds. As a result, Jeanine will be laid up for about a month. We hope that during that time scar tissue will plug the hole in the disc and that no further problems ensue.
Jeanine will have surgery today (Wednesday). She will remain overnight in the hospital for observation, and Lord willing, we will be home by Thursday afternoon. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers. Please pray for a successful surgery with no complications, for immediate relief of pain and for a successful recovery. After many years of battling this issue, we pray that it will be resolved once and for all.
Grace and peace,
Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, has stirred up great controversy within the evangelical world. I have not read the book yet, but from all reports Bell is abandoning the evangelical gospel by denying hell and embracing universalism. Please see the following posts and reviews to get caught up on the conversation:
From Albert Mohler:
We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology
(review of Bell’s book)
As Dr. Mohler points out, this conversation is not new by any means. Nevertheless, this conversation is generally motivated, not by a desire to destroy Christianity, but rather by genuinely good desires. On the one hand, there are those who desire to rehabilitate Christianity. Such apologist seek to “defend” Christianity from its secular despisers. On the other hand, there is the existential motivation – the fact that people we love are going to hell if the gospel is true. How have Christians approached this answer? Christopher Morgan helps us think through this question in his, What is the fate of those who have never heard?
This is an important question that must be answered from Scripture, not matter what our personal feelings may be. Come, let us reason together.
And the number 5 big demographic trend in Austin is . . .
. . . Asian share skyrocketing.
Randy Robinson, city of Austin demographer:
The Asian share of total population in Austin almost doubled during the nineties, leaping from 3.3% in 1990 to almost 5% by 2000 and stands somewhere near the 6.5% mark today. Like their Hispanic counterparts, the incoming Asians to Austin during the past 15 years are a much more diverse sub-population than what existed in Austin in the past. For example, thirty years ago, if you were Asian and in Austin, chances are you were Chinese and somehow associated with the University of Texas. Today, Austin hosts an Asian population that spans the socioeconomic spectrum and is sourced by several countries of origin, with India, Vietnam and China being the largest contributors, please see graph.
Austin has become a destination, for example, for Vietnamese households flowing out of metropolitan Houston. This highly entrepreneurial population has opened new businesses, purchased restaurants, made loans available to its network and acquired real estate. Emerging clusters of Vietnamese households are evident in several northeast Austin neighborhoods. Please see map.
Amazingly, by the middle of the next decade, the number of Asians in Austin will more than likely exceed the number of African Americans. While the general population of Austin doubles every 20 to 25 years, the number of Asians in Austin is doubling every ten years.
The question is what will the church do? I thank God for the work of Austin Chinese Church, which is located exactly one mile South of High Pointe. They are doing a great work right in our neighborhood. Their English-speaking pastors are also working with us to help us reach the 218 peoples that live withing five miles of our buildings. Nevertheless, the largest Asian population right where we are is Vietnamese.
I am convinced now more than ever that if the church is to truly reflect the heavenly assembly (Hebrews 12:18-25) and be a light in Austin, then the churches must reflect the fact that the gospel gathers together a diversity of ethnicities and cultures and unites them as one new man in Christ Jesus. May the Lord grant us grace to capture this vision, His vision for His church.
. . . Geography of African Americans, dispersion and flight to the suburbs.
Randy Robinson, city of Austin demographer:
The critical mass and historical heavy concentration of African American households in east Austin began eroding during the 1980s, and by the mid-1990s, had really begun to break apart. Please see map.
Over the past 25 years, middle-class African American households have left east Austin for the suburbs and other parts of Austin, please see map. The level of residential segregation for African Americans has dropped significantly as their level of spatial concentration has diminished. Many community leaders talk today of how many of these families are still returning to churches in east Austin on Sunday morning. However, many of these same community leaders fear that the newly-suburban African American population will eventual build suburban churches closer to home, leaving the original houses of worship somewhat stranded. The potential impact of the loss of these churches and their community outreach and community care programs on the African American households left in east Austin could be devastating.
For each of us the pain we experience in the midst of tragedy seems almost unbearable. It’s hard to understand the suffering of one who has lost a loved one; it’s hard for us even to make sense of terrorist attacks, earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes. Such times of personal and national grief force us to try and make some sense of life’s meaning and the purpose of suffering. Where can you turn during difficult times? Those who reject God may find some temporary comfort in friends and family, but they’ll find no comfort in secular philosophies. In an atheistic worldview suffering has no purpose; tragedies are random and coincidental—stuff just happens.
Those who seek comfort from the divine have a variety of options from which to choose, not all of which are very comforting. For example, if you turn to Rabbi Harold Kushner’s, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” you remain uncomforted by a god whose hands are tied. Kushner says, “God does not want you to be sick or crippled. He didn’t make you have this problem, and He doesn’t want you to go on having it, but He can’t make it go away. That is something which is too hard even for God” (129). Wait a minute! Too hard even for God? If it is too hard for God to cure an illness, then what hope is there that God can take care of bigger problems? We can derive no comfort from an impotent god!
In an effort to comfort those who have experienced tragedy, some “evangelicals,” such as Greg Boyd, present a god that is not too different from Kushner’s. These “open theists” (so called because they believe the future is open to God) suggest that because God does not know the future, He is as surprised by tragedy as we are. Surprised?! Who can find comfort in an ignorant god?
Contrary to these meager proposals, the Bible presents a God who is neither impotent nor ignorant. The God of Christian Scripture is one who can do all things, and no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). The God of Christian Scripture is a God who declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Isaiah 46:10). Even if we tried, we could never escape His presence (Psalm 139:7-12). It is this God who “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). It is this God who sent Jesus Christ, His very Son, to suffer on our behalf (Isaiah 53). Having suffered in our place, Jesus not only sympathizes with our weakness, He has also made it possible for us to approach the Father, “that we may receive grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Now, here is a place, no, even better, a person where we can find comfort. For only the One who has suffered in every way can understand our very sufferings.
Not only do we find salvation in Christ, we find great comfort in the knowledge that He, more than anyone else, truly understands suffering. And having ascended to the right hand of the Father, Jesus is present with us now through His Spirit. One day, our Lord will bring us into the place of His Sabbath rest where there will be no more suffering, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death, no more sin. Until that day of final rest, the Triune God of Christian Scripture is the God who is with and for His people; He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
“‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me’” (Hebrews 13:5-6, ESV).
UPDATE: I posted this article last night before having heard of the earthquake in Japan and the ensuing tsumami warnings heading toward the West coast of the United States. I have added a picture with a link to the news story from ABC. Please be in prayer for all those affected and those yet to be affected. May the Lord glorify Himself and may doors for the gospel and the love of the gospel be opened up through this terrible tragedy.