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This video is disturbing, but necessary. Parents, you should preview this video before allowing your children to see it, if you allow them to see it at all. Whatever decision you make, pray.

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Justin Taylor posted this today:

In the blog post “The Right and Wrong Questions to Ask When You Get Cancer,” I shared how David Sunday (pastor of Grace Community Bible Church) encouraged his wife, Kate—in light of the diagnosis of advanced cancer in her body—to focus not on the questions of “Why me?” but rather upon “Who is God?” “What does He want to teach us?” and “How can we glorify him in this?”

In response some commenters suggested that this was wrong-headed, and that it it biblically permissible to ask “Why?”

David responds:

I am not suggesting that it is sinful to ask God “Why?” questions. I have appreciated Michael Card’s teaching in A Sacred Sorrow and I’m grateful for the psalms of lament.

Nor am I advocating a stoic form of passive resignation. Our friends know—and the Lord knows—that we have shed many tears of sorrow in the last three weeks. We are crying out to God for the gift of healing. I am so thankful to have a God who hears our brokenhearted cries and who sympathizes with us with all His heart in the midst of our fear and sorrow.

I do believe that focusing on “Why?” questions can lead to confusion and despair if we demand answers from God that He has not promised to give us. Instead, by God’s grace, and with the Holy Spirit’s help, we want to focus on the “Who?, What?, and How?” questions—for these questions can lead us deeper into the character of God as we pour out the grief and sorrow of our hearts to Him. When I spoke those words to my wife in the hospital room, I was thinking of the book of Job. Job did ask “Why?” questions and he is not condemned for doing so; but I don’t recall God directly answering Job’s “Why?” questions. Instead, the Lord redirected Job’s focus to Who God is. That, ultimately, is where we hope to settle our hearts: Be still and know that I am God.

Embedded in the Why? questions can be the seeds of unbelief or anger against God.  God does not usually answer our why questions with the answers our flesh is demanding.

But he does give us abundant reasons to sustain our hope. And those reasons are usually a more direct answer to the Who, What, & How questions.  In other words, “I gave you this thorn in the flesh to exalt my strength.” This tells me something about who God is, what God is doing in my life, and how God intends to use me for his glory. It doesn’t necessarily answer the questions we tend to ask, like: Why me (out of all the people on the earth)? Why this particular trial? Why now (as opposed to ten years from now when my kids are grown up)?, etc. . .

Please do remember to pray for this family, even as they teach us much in the midst of this great trial.

Kevin DeYoung has a great little post about Valentine’s day, particularly in his advice to married couples. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read the following regarding pursuing your wife:

Words are wonderful, but pursuit may be even more powerful. Now listen, guys, don’t get all weird and stalker-like. Remember, you should pursue her as she likes to be pursued, not as you do.

DeYoung has a quirky, tell-it-like-it-is sense of humor that I absolutely resonate with deep in my bones. Maybe you didn’t find it as funny. Nonetheless, check out the whole post. It short, instructive and encouraging.

CJ Mahaney offers his tips on how to watch the Super Bowl, including how to be discerning as you watch the game, as well as offering a prediction.

I found this at Justin Taylor’s site and found it helpful.

From Peacemakers Ministries:

As God opens your eyes to see how you have sinned against others, he simultaneously offers you a way to find freedom from your past wrongs. It is called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s.

1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.

John Piper was not always a pastor. He was once a professor at Bethel Seminary. John Piper didn’t even want to be a pastor. Yet God had other plans. Read about the encouraging story of how God called John Piper into the pastorate, a calling that has created an ever-expanding ripple effect for the glory of God as revealed in the Gospel.

Ray Ortlund has a great post on why we should show our love for God’s Kingdom by loving and serving His body, the local church.

“My passion isn’t to build up my church. My passion is for God’s Kingdom.”

Ever heard someone say that? I have. It sounds large-hearted, but it’s wrong. It can even be destructive.

Suppose I said, “My passion isn’t to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I’ll work for that. I’ll pray for that. I’ll sacrifice for that. But don’t expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I’m aiming at something grander.”

If I said that, would you think, “Wow, Ray is so committed”? Or would you wonder if I had lost my mind?

If you care about the Kingdom, be the kind of person who can be counted on in your own church. Join your church, pray for your church, tithe to your church, participate in your church every Sunday with wholehearted passion.

We build great churches the same way we build great marriages — real commitment that makes a positive difference every day.

I didn’t get to watch the entire match. I saw the majority of the 2nd half and highlights (if you can call them that) from the first half. The US continues to lethargically march through the final round of World Cup qualifying, and unless there is a dramatic turnaround in both philosophy and energy over the next month, the US could find itself in significant trouble in their next two qualifying matches versus Honduras and Costa Rica. In fact, the only saving grace for the US is that Costa Rica is actually playing worse than the US right now. After leading the group heading into September, Costa Rica now finds itself in the precarious fourth position, staring down a home and home match with the 5th place team from South America, which right now is Argentina!

The play of the US last night is simply inexplicable. Read the rest of this entry »

Today the United States missed out on a golden opportunity to end their 0-22-1 winless streak in Azteca Stadium in Mexico. When Charlie Davies nailed home a punishing goal on a beautiful assist from Landon Donovan, it looked like the time for the United States to win in Mexico, and at the same time severely cripple Mexico’s chances of making the 2010 World Cup. However, the reality is that overall, Mexico dominated this match. The midfield quartet of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark was completely dominated by their Mexican counterparts. The truth is that this game was lost for the United States in the midfield. And the most discouraging aspect about this is that the midfield is where the United States is supposed to possess the most talent. But it wasn’t until Coach Bob Bradley inserted Stuart Holden and Benny Feilhaber that the midfield began to show any signs of life.

Bob Bradley’s decision to start Brian Ching really isn’t as surprising as much as it is revealing. Jozy Altidore didn’t arrive in camp until yesterday from England, so not starting Altidore made some sense. The problem isn’t that Altidore didn’t start and subsequently only played about 19 minutes. The problem is the lack of viable options behind Altidore and Davies. Brian Ching, as he demonstrated today, is not the answer. And neither is Conor Casey. I’m puzzled why he even made the roster. Ching brought almost nothing to the match today.

The match also revealed what a liability Ricardo Clark is offensively. He has ability to track all over the field, and offered a handful of good tackles, but his touch killed multiple attacking opportunities. He doesn’t compliment Michael Bradley well, who while a workhorse in his own right, has to make up for his lack of creativity with hustle and effort. The problem is that Michael Bradley isn’t going to leave the starting 11. And I am not necessarily suggesting that he should. He is one of the US’ best players. But Bradley isn’t a defensive center midfielder, nor is he quite good enough to be an attacking midfielder. You have to put 2 players in the midfield who compliment one another. Unfortunately, Clark and Bradley are too similar in their style and ability.

What should Bob Bradley do? Consider using his son as a substitute, insert Benny Feilhaber or Jose Francisco Torres, and see what Jermaine Jones can do come October. Jones is more of a defensive midfielder, but with better ball skills than Ricardo Clark. Clark can be a valuable asset against lesser quality teams, but his lack of touch makes it difficult for the US to possess in the midfield. And both Feilhaber and Torres are not only more creative than Clark or Bradley, but they are also better on the ball.

The central defenders (Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit) played very well. DeMerit was unlucky on the winning goal, as he made a valiant tackle that, in most cases, dribbles harmlessly out of bounds. Onyewu was the best player on the pitch, with Charlie Davies not far behind. The outside defenders (Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra) were abused throughout the day and neither had a particularly good match. I suspect that Cherundolo will have a difficult time holding off Jonathan Spector, who played brilliantly at the Confederations Cup (though I do understand why Bradley went with experience here). I am not sure that Bocanegra is the answer at LB, but neither is Jonathan Bornstein, so I am not sure where Coach Bradley looks from here.

The officiating was, by far, some of the worst I’ve ever seen in FIFA. The referee’s judgment with cards was questionable and his foul recognition even worse. But this game wasn’t decided by poor officiating (even though it clearly favored Mexico). This game was won by the better team today. The truth is that this game was more critical for Mexico than it was the US. The next two qualifying matches for the US are at home vs. El Salvador and at Trinidad and Tobago. They should be favored in both matches, and will likely win. 16 points will probably secure the US a spot in the 2010 World Cup.

While this match was more critical for Mexico, it was a match where the US should have seized the opportunity to take a giant leap forward towards respectability. The US has taken leads against Italy, Spain, Brazil and Mexico, and yet the US is only 1-3 in those matches. The US has to do a better job of putting quality opponents away when taking the lead. Once again, just like in the Confederations Cup, the US showed it still has a long way to go in becoming an elite team in the world of futbol.

In the meantime Coach Bob Bradley needs to find a reliable third striker to go with Altidore and Davies. Clint Dempsey could be the answer, even though he was noticeably absent in this match. Another option would be to give Michael Bradley a look at striker. The US also needs to settle on outside defenders. Jonathan Spector should be the starter at RB. But right now LB is going to be a weak link, and in all likelihood, unless Jay DeMerit self-destructs, Bocanegra is going to stay there. If this happens the US will remain vulnerable to teams with speed on the flanks. Given the fact that the US was completely dominated in possession against Spain, Brazil and Mexico, trying a different combination at central midfield might not be a bad idea. The US needs someone who can hold possession, and right now only Benny Feilhaber and Jose Francisco Torres fit that description. Bradley would do well to stop punishing Torres for his play against Costa Rica (which wasn’t even bad) and give him another shot versus El Salvador and/or Trinidad and Tobago.

Player Rankings vs. Mexico:

Tim Howard: 8  Did everything that was asked of him. Kept the US in the match.

Steve Cherundolo: 3  Did not have a good match and was abused most of the day.

Oguchi Onyewu: 8 Man of the match.

Jay DeMerit: 6  Played well. Unlucky on game-winning goal.

Carlos Bocanegra: 3  Forgettable match. Too slow for fast wingers. Could have closed space better on Mexico’s equalizer.

Landon Donovan: 5  Brilliant pass to Davies. Held ball too long on certain occasions. Fatigued from 70min on and largely non-existent. Blizted on winning goal.

Ricardo Clark: 4  Several good defensive stops. Showed no ability to possess.

Michael Bradley: 4  Largely ineffective and outplayed.

Clint Dempsey: 3  Where was he?

Charlie Davies: 7  Great effort. Fantastic finish to put US up 1-0. Should have done more with Stuart Holden’s beautiful cross in 71 min.

Brian Ching: 3  I am pretty sure that only thing I saw him do with consistency was head the ball out of play

Substitutions:

Stuart Holden: 6  Impact substitution. Good effort defensively and offensively. Could be a long-term solution off the bench because of versatility.

Benny Feilhaber: 5  Brought some composure to midfield.

Jozy Altidore: No Ranking. Didn’t play enough.