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Responding to Cancer

Rod DeckerProfessor and blogger Rod Decker posted on his blog this weekend about his cancer. It appears to be more widespread, more aggressive, and more serious than they originally thought. He’s begun treatment to control and reduce the cancer, and he’d appreciate your prayers—as we all would if we were in his shoes.

As I read his post, I was reminded of how often I hear about a friend’s or acquaintance’s getting or dying from cancer—especially with how connected the internet has made us all. I was also reminded that the chances are good that it will touch me or my family at some point.

While it’s not appropriate to worry about a “frowning providence” that God might have in store for us, it is good to equip ourselves with biblical thinking about sickness and death (Ec 7:2). To that end I’d encourage you to read Rod’s post, especially the third paragraph.

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“Faith Reviving” | Augustus Toplady

I recently enjoyed reflecting on this encouraging hymn text with solid theology penned by Augustus Toplady (ERF | ODCC):

Augustus TopladyFrom whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

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Responding Rightly to Guilt

Something I was reading today triggered my memory of a sin from the past. Fresh feelings of guilt swept across me, even though it was something for which I asked the Lord’s forgiveness many years ago. Sadly, my default plan of attack for dealing with that unwarranted subjective guilt was to try to minimize my sin. “It wasn’t that big of a deal,” I found myself thinking. Other forms of rationalizing came to mind like, “I didn’t really fully understand at the time that it was sinful.” Then I noticed the feelings of guilt were starting to lessen. But by God’s grace I quickly caught myself: this was an utterly unbiblical way to handle my guilt because it amounted to a rejection of the sufficiency of the cross and a belittling of the the glory of God.

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The Grace of Cancer

We heard a powerful testimony last night of how God has graciously given cancer to a man in our church who was in rebellion against God and estranged from his wife. With the news of his impending death, God also granted him a renewed heart of repentance. It was sweet to hear his present tenderness to the Lord set in contrast to his past hardness and impenitence. Of course hearing news like that brings mixed emotions: both joy and sorrow. But the joy far outweighs the sorrow. If God had left the man in his sin, but not given him cancer, he may have perished eternally. How gracious of God to give him cancer as a means of bringing him to repentance–even if it means his life may soon end. We pray that God would spare his physical life, but we especially rejoice that God has granted him spiritual life!

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Fighting for a Clean Conscience

I just posted an excerpt from John Ensor’s The Great Work of the Gospel: How We Experience God’s Grace. It’s an encouraging read that I needed. I commend it to you. Here is a portion of that excerpt:

INSTRUCTING OUR CONSCIENCE ABOUT THE CROSS

Not that this sense of liberty is always there and never flags. It surely does. One problem is that our conscience is not sufficiently informed about the gospel. It needs training in righteousness. In terms of human experience, we must often “reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart” (1 John 3:19-20). I take this to mean that we need to bring the work of God in Christ to bear on our stubborn conscience. We must grasp the truth of the cross and wrestle our conscience into alignment and conformity. We must instruct our conscience about the cross until our conviction of guilt gives way to joy and confidence. Hebrews 10:22 calls this having “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil [burdened] conscience.”

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Loving God Supremely

I found these words from Piper to be convicting in that they reveal my all-too-idolatrous heart—my tendency to enjoy the gifts of God more than God the Giver:

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

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