Friday, February 10, 2017

Night sounds

I never tire of the sound of Virginia reading the Scriptures aloud. Every night before bed, she reads 3 chapters, always out loud. In one room, Sara and the littles are listening to Scripture songs as they head off to sleep. In the other room, a few more listen to a sermon about the God of creation and His powerful, wise, and awesome plans. Virginia reads the Scriptures as I sit and type.

As we prayed together tonight, we thanked the Lord for the opportunity to preach the Gospel, to disciple our children, to love our enemies (thanks for the challenge Todd Caverly) and to glory in the Lord we adore. In the face of seizures and vomiting, morning (all day) sickness, back pain and neurological dysfunction, we choose to fix our eyes and our hearts instead on the eternal, that which truly matters.

We entrust ourselves to Him who never fails, who loves and leads His children every step of every day, knowing that in all things He is working to get glory for Himself, things He prepared before time began that we might see His glory and wisdom, to marvel and wonder, to worship and adore our King, our Father, our Creator and Lord.

In weakness, His strength

You know that feeling you get when your little girl's heart yearns to minister to others but you are unable to do anything? I have them all too often lately. These are moments when you must rely on the Lord for wisdom, strength, and healing. With sickness in the house and Daddy's neurological problems making it unwise for me to drive long distances alone, we won't be able to make it to Planned Parenthood today to preach the Gospel and plead for the lives of the unborn.

How long will our nation continue in opposition to the Author of life? How long must we battle just to see babies allowed to live rather than being murdered by their own parents? How long will our King tarry? Until the last of His elect have called upon Him in repentance and faith for salvation. Until that day, the wicked will continue to slaughter the innocent, to persecute the righteous, and to rebel against their Creator.

Instead of driving to Portland, we will be in our home, fervently praying to the God who intervenes in hearts and lives for His glory. The lessons God is teaching us as we parent a young woman are at times heartbreaking, but always beneficial in the long run. The things we have taught our children to yearn for are not fashions, entertainment, nor earthly fame, but to know and be known by the only One whose opinion matters. His strength is made perfect in weakness, whether or not I understand or see how. I must continue to "hand over the keys" to Him who controls all things. I must also discern when weakness can be overcome and faith must be believing enough to act no matter the circumstances.

It is no wonder God has us walking through Proverbs this year, as the more I serve Him, the more I see and feel my weakness and lack of wisdom. In all things, I must walk by faith in obedience. How does one deal with the broken heart? Take the broken pieces to the Great Physician that it might be healed. It is only in brokenness that we are fully molded into the image of Christ, in whose name we pray, our Advocate before the Father, the great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession between us and our God.

I pray for healing that I might serve the Lord I adore more fully, and I long to be there more than I can express, but here I sit in a body that at times seems broken and useless. Maybe this post will help others who struggle with similar issues. Maybe I just need to get it off my chest. Maybe my inability to speak coherently this morning causes me to speak my mind more clearly through the written word. Brethren, pray for us. We are praying for you!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

What change is needed? Food part 4

I have to admit that this last week or more since my last post has been difficult. As I continue to examine other issues in my Christian walk, those issues have brought me to what I believe are some final thoughts on the issue of food, but more than anything it is because the Lord has graciously taught me so much more in the interim, I don't want to dwell too long on any single issue. I have an immense amount of encouragement in the Lord from walking day by day as a Christian man, husband, father, and in all my relationships with others. Let's see if we can finish up this topic and find some practical applications that go beyond the realm of food into health and good stewardship of all God has given us.

When I used to think about food, I just looked on the shelves either of our pantry or of the local grocery store. I used to shop and choose what I ate by what felt good at the moment. While I still have decisions to make each day about what I will eat and drink, I have not been tempted to purchase anything that is not food. I thank the Lord for a change of mind that took us in a different direction. When we went out to eat the other night, it wasn't even a question of whether or not we would have soda. It wasn't even an issue worth considering. Soda doesn't have any real contribution to my health, so it is no longer a temptation. I have been inconsistent at times with candy, maybe somehow still justifying the fact that I haven't bought any, that is was in the house already. It just proves to me how little we even think anymore in this culture. It requires no thought to pick up whatever is at arm's reach and looks appetizing, but that does not mean I have to continue to live this way.

I find the implications of this thought pattern everywhere. Recently I came to the realization that we do this same thing in the church. The body of Christ, our Savior and Lord, the One who left Heaven to take on a body of flesh, the One who suffered and died to pay for the sins of evil, wicked, wretched, and unlovely creatures such as myself told us that He purchased us with His blood. Scripture reveals that it is the duty of the Church through its elders' preaching, teaching, and accountability to not only help us to know the character of our God, but also how to live right and stop the evil patterns of sin that we bring into the church from our fleshly past.

I could cite example after example, but for today we are going to speak in general principles and tackle the tough details later. As we said before about alcohol use, the Bible is not silent. The Bible does not mandate abstention from consuming alcohol, but it does offer many warnings and regulations in specific passages. Elders are disqualified due to excess use of alcohol, and the only time we see it seemingly commanded for use is in the general terms of those who are indeed perishing. When we look to the Scriptures we find that God created our bodies to need food. God made us and told us what to eat. After the Flood of Noah's day, meat was added to the diet.. Israel was commanded to refrain from certain foods, while having certain foods incorporated into the mandatory (and quite beneficial) feasts and commemorative times where God's people recalled the goodness, mercy, and grace of God through the use of food.

I feel like I have gotten to the point of beating a dead horse in my own mind, and our family has learned so much in the days since my last post that goes beyond the practical to the spiritual. However, there is one issue I want to leave you to consider, dear reader, that I had never considered before. It has to do with idolatry, regeneration, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Voddie Baucham spoke about his upbringing, how his single teenage mother who raised him in South Central Los Angeles was a practicing Buddhist. Voddie spoke of the sensory effect of idolatry and I just about fell out of my chair as I considered how far reaching the applications of idolatry can be. He spoke about how he remembered his life growing up, never hearing the Gospel until college. As he developed his point on the need to leave idolatry, he spoke of how God should have Lordship not only over who we worship, but how we worship. Again, this has implications in regard to the regulative principle of worship (I need to write a whole post on that) but has daily application in our lives, in every part of our lives.

Voddie tells his story of what the idol of Buddha (a statue) looked like, of the feel and sound of beads used in prayer and meditation, of the smell of the fruit offered to this mute and dead idol, of the smell in the air that reminded him, long after becoming a Christian, that Buddha still had a place in his memory that he could not shake. Now, one must realize that the statue itself does and is nothing, but that memories in our minds are often associated with smells, tastes, touch, sounds, and sights.

In the Old Testament, the priests of Israel were given a specific recipe for things to make incense offered before the Lord. That recipe was exclusively used in the worship of God and was not allowed to be used for any other purpose. God is holy, set apart, and He likes the smell of that incense. He will not share it with others.

We could continue to speak about God's design in the Old Covenant, where certain animals were offered, how their blood was shed, where it was sprinkled, how and where to dispose of unclean things, how to determine whether that spot on your head was leprous or not. While we are no longer living in the same age, we are fools if we truly believe that God does not care how we live. I believe the New Testament has equally important, often described (I would argue prescribed) details about how God wishes to be worshiped in this age, and I think most Christians are inconsistent, lackadaisical, and plainly foolish about what we bring into church.

The church is to be a place designated to the corporate worship of God in Christ Jesus, given to the doctrine of the apostles, the breaking of bread, to fellowship and prayer. Often, the church instead tries to make itself a relevant, culture-embracing place where we worship self, Satan, and America right alongside God. Don't get me wrong, I am all for patriotism in its proper place, but in my book draping an American flag over a wooden cross is idolatrous in at least two points. This cultural religion is destroying the true worship of God.

When I see a church decorated for Halloween, I cannot help but notice (and hear from my children in agreement) that those beautiful things that God has given that refer to the harvest of God's bountiful blessings, have been generally co-opted for the purpose of celebrating Satan's favorite holiday. Yes, that was kind of blunt, but as those pagans I know continue to laugh each year when churches hold celebrations of overtly Satanic origins and practices, I am not going to bother defending my statements here.

I look at God's gift of harvested pumpkins turned evil, carving scary faces and often showing depictions of death and evil. I see these at churches, and I want to vomit. I want to ask when we started worshiping the Devil in church, but I know the answer. When we disregard the implications of regeneration and God's commands, we find ourselves in bed with the world and its ruler.

Name a time of year that our culture engages in more eating of non-food, usually candy, more than Helloween. See if you can find a time when even moderately conservative church folk will dress just like the world, do exactly what the world does, and then claim to be redeeming a Satanic celebration for God's glory. I submit that on the issue of this Satanic holiday when everyone is dressing their little children up in fake blood soaked rags and watching horror movies, that the church is heading entirely the wrong direction in the fight to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

When did we go so far off course as to actually defend such practices? How ungodly can we get and still proclaim our allegiance to Christ publicly before God pours out His righteous judgement on us? We must not presume on the mercy of God in such ways, and to be honest as I consider my own life and practices, I make myself sick. But I guess that's the point. That's why you are reading this post, because you want to hear me say things that make you think, perhaps that make you uncomfortable. I know this may be the last post some people ever read, and yet that is not my desire.

Rather, my desire is to bare my soul in public, to share with others who struggle in the same ways, who are troubled in their spirit by sin in their own lives, and who rather than disregard the urging of the Holy Spirit to change, will stand up and say "I have accepted my sin too long. Today I repent and by God's grace, I will change." I have so much more to learn about living a godly life, there are probably hundreds of things that I think, do, or believe that are in error. Yet, in this I am not comfortable, nor will I rest until I obey the commands of my Lord in every area. I will not quit until God either calls me home or Christ returns for His Bride. I will examine His Word, heed His calling, obey His commands, and bring honor and glory to His Name until my dying day.

What change is needed? Sadly, the list of my own sins is far too long and troubles me constantly. I have no desire to look at the sins of others unless they are flaunted in front of my eyes, and they often are. When I see sin, in my own life, and that of the church, I will speak out for the glory of God. I will do so because He is worthy of proper, appropriate worship. He has spoken to His people to tell them what He wants, and we must obey. What change is needed? Food is just the beginning.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What change is needed? Food part 3

Over the course of the last few days, so much has changed in my heart and mind upon ceasing taking Keppra, it is difficult to put it all into words. In fact, I don't know if I could explain it all, but I will begin to attempt to record some of what has occurred for the benefit of those who may struggle with similar circumstances and need encouragement. I am also using this blog in part to remind myself of the many blessings given by the Lord as we seek to glorify Him in every aspect of our lives.

Readers may recall that I have had a preliminary diagnosis of complex partial seizures, which have gone away and returned at various times, since 2003. I want to be clear that while "diagnosis" is a term we all may use often, it is at times not terribly helpful in a situation such as mine. This diagnosis is less like knowing that your bone is fractured and needs to be put back in place, and more like I have a series of symptoms that cannot be seen nor measured with current technology, but which symptoms also do not fit into diagnoses which are measurable and repeatable. Therefore, my diagnosis is not actually a factual explanation of what is wrong in my body, but rather what seems to be the case given the available evidence. This is one reason why the neurologist has prescribed a test which lasts for days in a hospital setting. In that setting, they can monitor what I eat, when I sleep, oxygen levels in the blood, and more, the most important piece being electronically monitoring the function or rather malfunction of my brain.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What change is needed? Food part 2

As I begin my journey into discovering and implementing God's design for food and the human body, I am finding the need to sort out my presuppositions and experiences from actual fact. It is my desire to look to the Word of God, which I believe is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness, for my answers. It amazes me how difficult it can be to honestly weed through one's own beliefs, get beyond how long I have believed them, and get to the business of seeing the purpose and plan of the Creator for the human body from a purely Biblical perspective.

We will begin with the assumption that the world was created perfectly self sufficient, that Adam and Eve were expected and entirely capable of living in Eden's garden forever in a healthy and happy state, but that the entrance of sin ruined that perfect place in aspects that we usually don't take the time to consider, let alone genuinely explore or apply.

I will also work upon the supposition that the Biblical account of a vegetarian diet, while the original pattern at Creation, was changed dramatically when God gave Noah freedom to eat animals. I accept that there is a difference between the commands given to a specific people and those which apply to everyone in every place at all times.

What change is needed? Food Part 1

This is one of those blog posts I never want to write. The post is not sad, nor relaying fear due to the turmoil in the world,  nor bad news in regard to the degradation of western civilization. Rather, it deals with public confession and accountability. These past few weeks, as I struggle with physical, financial, and emotional stresses due to the recent return of my seizures, I have begun to think more of the sins nobody ever talks about, examining aspects of my own life anew, and I don't like what I find.

Short of the example of my friend Jason Pauley, who at times I have felt defines gluttony with entirely too broad a brush, I don't recall hearing a single sentence, let alone a sermon, on how we ought to use food as Christians. While for some time I have surely gone beyond the bounds of "I eat to live", I have never felt that I have fallen into the pit called "I live to eat." and in this I have found comfort until recently. I have found ways to attempt to justify using my body as a kind of garbage disposal, to enjoy eating things that offer short lived satisfaction, yet in the end may well be detrimental to my overall health. Whether one likes the word "gluttony" or not, or even if I see my poor eating habits as definitively sinful or meeting the full definition of that dreaded term, I certainly do not always take good care of the temple of the Holy Spirit which is my body.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What is the change we need?

Today was one of those days that reminded me why our family makes daily family worship a priority. Our church Sunday School hour has been working through the " 9 Marks of a Healthy Church" series and we are currently in the book dealing with Biblical conversion. The fundamental questions of the book have led to very interesting discussions as a family, and we have enjoyed hearing questions and insights from the children in response to the teaching time.

It is days like today that remind me not only of the responsibility given to fathers to train their children in the ways of the Lord, but of the blessed privilege I have to lead my whole family in worship of the God that reaches down from Heaven and intervenes in our lives with His great grace and mercy. I continue to be amazed by the power of the Holy Spirit in this time of worship together, and I hope this account is an encouragement to others, whether for those not currently practicing daily family worship, or for those whose times of worship may have become more about completing a task than enjoying God in all His glory.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A busy week is a blessed week

This week is going to be one of those weeks that we are exhausted at the end, and quite possibly all throughout, and yet one which promises blessing when we are willing to look beyond the busyness and see what God has prepared.

Today we had dentist appointments for two of the children. Tonight, we are headed to have dinner with a couple from church, who also raised 5 children and have wisdom to share with us young folks as we seek to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Tomorrow, the day begins with a run to my doctor to report all of the recent goings on with my seizures and see if he has any wisdom to share with us as we go forward. We then will have Nathaniel, our oldest son, over for supper and to spend the night before we take him to Portland for what promises to be his last appointment with the hand surgeon. We pray that this report opens the door for Nathaniel to continue his plans to leave next month for culinary school in Texas beginning in  January. We will then take him to his home in Palermo and then head toward Kingfield for the next stop of our whirlwind week.

The stop in Kingfield promises to be one of the greatest blessings of the week. Last weekend we were scheduled to spend the day with the Bates family, our dear friends who will soon be moving to Canada for work. Rory is a border patrol officer and has accepted a position for the next few years in a place that we will not be able to visit. With our recent visit cancelled due to illness on their part, we are looking forward to this visit even more than we previously expected. We plan to spend the night at the Bates home and then head back to our own home on Thursday evening.

I realize that to some people, this doesn't look like that busy of a schedule. However, when you factor in the feeding, care, and training of 5 children and my recent physical constraints, this week is going to be a killer at least for Sara. She now must do all the driving, which is in itself a chore due to our infant daughter's disdain for riding in a car in the dark. Thankfully, the other children are very helpful in caring for the baby and we won't be driving in the dark too much. The more I think about the strength, patience, and compassion that are the hallmarks of Sara's life, the more I love her and thank the Lord for her.

Through it all, while we know there will be challenges aplenty, we will be together, We will endure whatever comes our way as a family. We will sacrifice for others, we will remind ourselves of the grace and mercy of God whose example of sacrificial love enables us to endure the trials, and we even find joy at the end. Truly, the words of James chapter 1 give us hope and wisdom.

What a blessing it is to know that our trials do not come from the apathy of God, nor any lack of power on His part to remedy our situation. Rather, trials serve a purpose, that is to make us more like Christ, to equip us for every good work, to show the steadfast love of God whose absolute power and wisdom can be trusted to work all things together for our good and His glory. 

My weakness, His strength!

Day 4 on Keppra: Today was a moderately good day. I seem to have caught a slight cold, yet besides a good sneezing fit here and there, I feel well. I am still feeling a bit of brain fog, whether from the meds or the cold I know not, but I find that almost any amount of physical exertion causes me great fatigue.
I had one seizure thus far that lasted longer than most, and I could not speak for nearly 30 minutes. I was able to type (very slowly) after 15 minutes or so, it seems my fingers know what my brain wants to express even if I can't make my mouth work!

Today I walked for 15 minutes, then stood talking for 15, and could not make it from the back yard to the house without laying in the wet grass for a while, exhausted beyond belief. Later on, I walked with the kids for about 25-30 minutes and had to come inside where I collapsed into my chair and had the aforementioned seizure. I cannot adequately express how tired I feel from even this limited activity, but this has hit with or without seizures more and more the last few weeks. Sometimes, I wonder if it is safe to go for a simple walk, as at times it seems that is all the energy allotted to me for the whole day.
I don't like this new normal. I love to work, I love to run up and down the halls and outwork everyone around me. I enjoy hearing people at work tell me to slow down, that the place won't burn down if I slow down a little bit. I wish I had that kind of energy today, but for some reason, God has placed me in a slow and weak body today. His will and His ways are perfect, even when, ESPECIALLY when I don't understand why. It is in my weakness that His strength is manifest.
In spite of the frustration, surely this time is being used of the Lord to conform me into the image of Christ Jesus, my Lord and my Savior, the One who willingly took upon Himself a body of flesh, endured temptation and suffering, and ultimately tasted (and defeated) death to save sinners from the wrath of the Father. Whatever it takes, Lord. Whatever it takes! Not my will, but Thine be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Remembering Joshua 2009

Friends, readers, and loved ones:
I would like to let you know about the events of the last day in our lives. We were expecting the arrival of our son, Joshua Daniel Cowperthwaite in the next few weeks. Joshua was born about 9pm Wednesday, March 25,2009. He never took a breath, his heart never beat outside of his mother's body, and we believe he is home with the Lord.

We cannot comprehend the reasoning behind this event, but know that God is in control and that His purposes will be revealed when we all get to heaven.