Last night, I looked at pictures from our family reunion a week ago where we celebrated God’s faithfulness. In addition to the children who are multiplying, I was also struck by the multiplying wrinkles, gray hairs (or vanishing hairs), and other signs of aging. Now, cells die more quickly than they reproduce – especially for some of us. Pictures like these helpfully remind us of the fallen world in which we live, and teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). It also reminds us that we have cause to rejoice in the work of renewal that our great God is doing in the hearts of his people, remembering the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
Since moving to a new house earlier this summer, we have been reminded that we earnestly long for our heavenly home. At this home, weeds grow, trees die, paint chips, refrigerators leak, and drains clog. Yet, by God’s grace we are enjoying this place he has provided. We are the home’s fifth owners, and recently I tracked down the third owner, who occupied the house for thirty-five years. I peppered him with questions, and he delighted to recount the story of the house, the porch he and his wife added, the swing he hung in the tree, and all of the neighborhood kids who squealed with delight on it. Perhaps most fascinating to me was that the first resident was the man who had constructed all of the homes in the neighborhood. The more I know about the house, the more I love it. Isn’t the same true with God? Paul’s earnest desire was to “know him.” The more we know him and about him, the more we love him. That knowledge comes as we hear him recount the great story of redemption in his word, as we interact with his saints, and as we seek his kingdom.
Our brothers and sisters in China who are seeking the kingdom of God made the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal in an article titled “China’s Banned Churches Defy Regime.” The difficult political situation there drives people to see that Jesus is king of all, perhaps more than in parts of the world where men live at ease. Such difficulty is bringing people to Jesus as recounted by one man: “After the brutal suppression of Tiananmen, ‘we felt we didn’t have meaning whatsoever – such desperate pain,’ said Zion’s Mr. Jin, who goes by the Christian name Ezra. ‘Suddenly, after hearing the gospel, we were attracted by it.’”
A friend recently recounted the difficult things God did in his life to bring him to repentance and faith, and how thankful he is for those difficult providences. He is now praying for his brother, who is a paraplegic after an accident a few years ago, and he said something like, “If it brings him to faith and repentance, he will walk in heaven for a long time.”
Finally, it’s not related to suffering at all, other than perhaps sitting in the heat, but we are planning to set a world record for the most Reformed Presbyterians at a professional baseball game one week from today at Victory Field in Indianapolis (non-RPs welcome too!). On August 4 at 7:00 p.m. you’ll find us in the stands in sections 216 and 217. If you are able, please purchase a ticket and join us for good fellowship and watching a game that is biblically oriented – the sport is redemptive in that the objective is to return home!