A Blessing in a Different Package

In case you are not a regular reader, I will share with you that our 13 year son, Joshua, has Down’s syndrome. A friend of ours approached me a few weeks ago telling me that he was asked to pray with a family whose newborn child also had been given this diagnosis. He mentioned that some of the others present were praying “against the curse of Down syndrome.” He confided to me that he was unable to pray that way because he did not see the diagnosis in such a negative light. Having been a part of a special needs ministry, he commented that the participants in that program had a unique connection with God.

My response when I heard this was sadness for the baby and the family. I do not feel Joshua is plagued by the curse of Down syndrome or that his condition was a triumph of our Adversary. Joshua is a divine gift for our family for reasons only God understands, yet I do know having Josh has taught us about God’s abundant and unfailing love for his children. Joshua’s presence in our lives has given us a depth of compassion for hurting people that we as a family would not have gained parenting four typical children. Joshua reminds us that our value does not rest on our performance.

Katherine Wolf, who survived a stroke and wrote about her journey expressed an idea in Hope Heals that resonates with my journey.

I have learned to do many things well – to wait well, to suffer well, to cope well, to persevere well, and even to lose well. Our culture tells us to be beautiful, to avoid pain and be happy. What if everything important in our lives is actually the opposite?

The things the enemy intends to devastate and cause despair, God transforms into uniquely designed opportunities for sanctification. The diagnosis or circumstance that someone perceives as a curse may become a window into the heart of God.


Our worship team sings a currently popular song* which includes these lyrics

I know breakthrough is coming
By faith I see a miracle
My God made me a promise and He won’t stop now

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an interesting reference in 1 Chronicles 14:11. David defeated the Philistines saying, “God has broken through my enemies at my hand like the breakthrough of waters.” They named the place Baal-perazim meaning “Lord of Breakthrough.”

Over the years, I have studied the names of God many times, but had never come across this name spoken of God after this victory. I was curious about the word perazim and wanted to find other usages. Just a few verses earlier, it is found in verse 11 of chapter 13. However, this time the context is not favorable. When Uzza touches the Ark of the Covenant to keep it from falling off the cart, the Lord’s anger breaks through and Uzza dies.

The same glory and majesty of God that accomplishes the impossible victory or performs a miracle also breaks forth in judgment.

Contrary to what I first supposed, the idea of a breakthrough coming is biblical. However, the Lord of the Breakthrough may not manifest Himself as the song describes when all will be made right for me. He may breakthrough in correction and refining.

Even so, when we sing the song, I imagine the breakthrough coming described in Revelation 1:7 Behold! He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him.

He promised to His own that is He is coming back to gather us to Him. May we remain faithful and stand firmly until He returns.

Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com

*Won’t Stop Now by Elevation Worship


Do You Love Me?

Last week, my Facetime group finished studying the life of Jesus. We read about the disciples sleeping when Jesus deeply desired for them to be with Him, fleeing during His arrest, and conspicuously absent (except for John) at His crucifixion.

Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Peter failed Jesus-big time! For the most part, I do not identify with Peter because he is outspoken and seems to enjoy being in the middle of things. However, this aspect -disappointing Jesus- to that I can relate. I have slept when I should have been praying. I have I have retreated when I should have taken a stand. I have allowed my feelings to dictate my actions instead of faith.

I wonder what the encounter was like after Jesus rose from death and appeared to the disciples. The last thing they did was abandon him during his most difficult hours.  We don’t know all that was said or what transpired between that meeting and the next occasion when the disciples had returned to fishing. However, once Peter recognized him on the shore, he didn’t hesitate but took off his outer garment and threw himself into the sea in his eagerness reach Jesus.

Peter denied Jesus 3 times, yet when they met again, Jesus did not ask Peter to confess his sin but to confess his love. In John 21, Jesus questioned Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?” Every time Peter adamantly affirmed his love for Jesus. Each time, Jesus instructed Peter to watch over and tend his sheep. Peter wasn’t chastised or dismissed. He was given the very role Jesus embodied – shepherding.

The shepherd became the sacrifice. Because of his love for his sheep, Jesus, our shepherd laid down his life for us.

Peter would ultimately give up his life because of his love for Jesus. After Peter failed, he didn’t give up and go home, he jumped in and served with the strength the Lord gave him until his very last breath.

When our love of Jesus is foremost, our life is focused properly. We won’t live looking back to all the ways we have failed to measure up but in the new grace He lavishes on us each new day.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Sons of Issachar

In 1 Chronicles 12:32, there is a single reference to a group of men, the sons of Issachar, who both understood the times in which they lived and possessed knowledge of what they should do.

We desperately need people like these sons of Issachar who understand our times and are able to apply Biblical wisdom to life today. There is an urgent need for discerning individuals to recognize what the body of Christ should be doing during these challenging days. I desire to be like these men, and I want this for you, too!

 4 keys to understanding our times

  1. To intimately know Jesus who (no matter what times we are living in) is the same yesterday today and forever. Daniel 11:32b states that those who know their God will be strong and perform mighty deeds.
  • Growing Faith – In Isaiah 7:9, Isaiah tells the king, “If you do not believe, you surely shall not last.” We must trust God to complete the things His word declares He will accomplish.
  • Continual immersion in His word – His word is truth and life. The more we meditate on His words and put his words into practice, the stronger our roots grow anchoring us to His firm foundation.
  • Fellowship – Discussing the Bible and our spiritual walks with other believers allows us to perceive a more complete picture than we can grasp on our own.

Each week, the future seems fraught with more unknowns, seemingly spiraling out of control. The only security we have is to trust the One who is omniscient and sovereign. Unless we fully understand who we are and what we have been given through Christ, we will be ill-prepared to meet life’s pressures without compromising or emotionally crumbling.

Ask and it shall be given to you. Today, I humbly beseech you, Lord, to cause us to stand firmly upon your truth; for us to be kept from compromise and from the enemy’s deceptions; for us to shine brightly in the darkness and give understanding to others.

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven and those who lead the many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3