Chronic Illness by Esther Smith

Maybe chronic illness has been part of your story since birth. Or perhaps it interrupted your life at what seemed like the worst possible time. Your symptoms could be a minor inconvenience, or they may have devastated all your dreams and plans. No matter your particular circumstances, you have likely grieved and doubted, wondered and questioned. Emotions have overwhelmed you. Fears have enveloped you. The future looms as a frightening unknown. Will you ever get better? What good could possibly come from your pain?

I know you may have struggled to get out of bed this morning. Or maybe you long for just one meal that won’t make your body revolt. You might be exhausted beyond words—weary and ready for bed by mid-afternoon. But after years or decades, just when it seems things will never change, many people find that they do. Sometimes we find solutions that take our symptoms away. Other times, change happens inside us. We change. We grow. We learn better ways to approach being sick.

Learning to live with chronic illness happens through trial and error. We learn as we talk to people who have more years of illness behind them than we do. Most importantly, we learn as we read Scripture and consider what God has to say about physical suffering. And that is what this book is about.

This devotional is divided into four sections that highlight four lessons Scripture has taught me about how to faithfully live with chronic illness. As you continue to read, I hope you are surprised by how much Scripture has to say about chronic illness. I hope you see that Scripture can change what you believe about chronic illness and that this can truly make a difference.

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that chronic illness can take away many things, but it can never take away God’s presence. This doesn’t mean we will always feel God’s presence. It does mean that even when you feel forgotten and alone, God is with you. When you are overwhelmed with sorrow, God invites you to tell him how much it hurts. When life doesn’t offer any answers, God offers you himself. The first lesson is this: Draw near to God, because he is your only certainty.

I have also learned that God invites people who live with chronic illness to make self-care a priority. When you have a chronic illness, taking care of yourself can become all-consuming. You may spend most of each day taking care of your body, managing the emotional and mental toll of your illness, navigating relationships, and maintaining faith during hard times. Spending so much time on self-care can feel selfish or meaningless to some people, but this work is well worth your time. Take care of yourself, because God is glorified when you faithfully care for the body and soul he has given you.

Another lesson I have learned is that God often uses the unique circumstances of people who have chronic illness to further his kingdom. I used to think that my illness was a spiritual liability because it kept me from doing so many things. I now know that physical limitation can become a spiritual asset that leads to dependence on God. Live each day with purpose, using your gifts to serve others, and you will bring encouragement to your soul.

Finally, I have learned the importance of perseverance. I still pray for recovery and hope for better days, but neither of these things are guaranteed. In the meantime, I have learned to keep going, and I hope this book encourages you to keep going, too. Life with chronic illness is hard. The days are long and overwhelming. I know how exhausting and discouraging it is to fall down and pick yourself up over and over again—but you don’t have to do this alone. So keep going. Don’t give up. We are all in this together.

Esther Smith, Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith


3 New Releases Today!

We have 3 new releases today!

June 3rd Releases

2 Timothy & Titus by Richard D. Phillips & Daniel M. Doriani

312 pages | $29.99 | Reformed Expository Commentary series

About

The apostle Paul is known for his doctrinally rich writing, but we should not overlook his concern for the practical. In his letters to Timothy and Titus—faithful younger men who had followed him into ministry—Paul has much to teach every one of us about godly leadership, sound teaching, and holy living.

In this warm and pastoral commentary, Daniel Doriani and Richard Phillips show how the letters brim with the message of God’s grace as it is practically applied, challenging us to embrace Paul’s priorities and to remain faithful in suffering. They explore Paul’s treatment of important doctrines such as election, predestination, assurance of salvation, and more. And they point us to Christ, who empowers us by his grace as we labor for his sake.

Endorsements

“Unobtrusive scholarship and pastoral passion are the earmarks of this volume. . . . The textual comments are clear and on point. The theology is edifying. The applications and illustrations are warm, pointed, and personal. Pastors, particularly, will find the volume valuable both for their own personal benefit and encouragement and for insight in how to preach the Pastoral Epistles effectively to their flocks.”

—Michael Barrett, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Academic Dean, Professor of Old Testament, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

“Paul’s letters to his pastoral apprentices and colleagues . . . abound in wise, concrete counsel, grounded in the gospel of Christ. Who is better equipped to open up these pastoral messages than Doriani and Phillips, who are both seasoned pastors and scholars of Scripture? These expositions provide rich resources for preaching and teaching the Word, while they boldly and warmly challenge us to embrace the grace that yields godly living to God’s glory.”

—Dennis E. Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California

“As the work of two experienced and esteemed pastor-scholars, 2 Timothy & Titus provides sound and in-depth treatment of the biblical text on the one hand, and a pathway to living out the text on the other. Whether for sermon preparation, group discussion, personal Bible study, or all three, Dan and Rick have done a remarkable job of providing a resource to help believers watch our lives and doctrine closely, that we might please the Lord and love our neighbors well.”

—Scott Sauls, Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville; author, Jesus Outside the Lines and A Gentle Answer

“These two epistles cover some sensitive territory—pastoral correction, womanhood, purity, eldership, essence of manliness, to name just a few. These issues are handled with grace and fortitude. As seasoned preachers, Doriani and Phillips deftly manage to convince, correct, and challenge us all at once. Marvelously done.”

—Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries; Chancellor’s Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary


Matthew, Volume 1: Making Disciples for the Nations, (Chapters 1–13), A 13-Lesson Study by Jon Nielson

Matthew, Volume 2: Making Disciples for the Nations, (Chapters 14–28), A 13-Lesson Study by Jon Nielson

120 pages each | $9.99 each | Reformed Expository Bible Studies series

About

The gospel of Matthew is a wellspring of instruction on daily Christian living. Matthew writes to make disciples, forming the minds, hearts, and hands of believers in light of the new covenant. In Matthew 1–13 (Volume 1), Jesus establishes what it means to be a disciple, verifies his authority with miracles, and sends out his apostles to proclaim the kingdom of God. In Matthew 14–28 (Volume 2), Jesus continues to train his disciples before his return to the public eye, final teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Designed for groups and individuals, this Reformed Expository Bible Study gives users the resources they need to delve into God’s Word and understand and apply it for themselves, leading to biblical transformation. Background information and commentary lay the groundwork before readers observe and analyze the Scripture text. Each of the twenty-six lessons makes connections to the rest of the Bible and to Reformed theology before concluding with a section for personal application and a prayer prompt.


The Meekest Doubter on the Earth by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. (Num. 12:3)

I’m part of the generation that first learned about Moses by watching Charlton Heston stand before the Red Sea with his staff in his outstretched arm, commanding the waters in great faith to part so that the Israelites could pass through. Who hasn’t seen the epic 1956 movie The Ten Commandments?

That’s generally how we think of Moses: bold, fiery, filled with faith, making demands before Pharaoh (the most powerful man on earth), commanding bread from heaven, leading the rebels through the wilderness. In addition to being a strong leader, he was also called the most humble, or meekest, man on the earth. That’s quite a combination, isn’t it? His faith was strong enough to enable him to lead millions of people through extremely difficult times, yet his strength didn’t come from pride or narcissism. It came from humility and trust. Have we found someone with perfect faith? Let’s take a closer look.

You remember the story: Pharaoh’s daughter saved baby Moses out of the water and raised him in her household. Once he grew to manhood, he identified with the suffering Hebrew slaves and killed an Egyptian. He soon fled to the land of Midian, where he spent forty years tending flocks. Then, when he was eighty, he came face-to-face with God in a burning bush. After the Lord informed Moses of his identity, he said, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people . . . out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:10).

You would think that Moses, this great man of faith, would say, “Yes, sir, Lord! Sign me up!” But you know that that’s not what happened. No fewer than five times, Moses doubted God’s ability to use him to deliver his people. Five times he argued with a talking bush that burned but wasn’t consumed. Sometimes doubt makes us silly. And even after Moses had gone back to Egypt, he asked questions like “Why did you ever send me?” multiple times (Ex. 5:22; see also 6:12, 30).

Let’s fast-forward to the end of Moses’s life. He’d led the Israelites through the wilderness for years. He’d put up with their complaining and unbelief. He’d given them God’s law and built a portable church for them in the desert. Was Moses finally free from doubt now? No. Even after years of seeing God’s miraculous provision, Moses still didn’t fully believe. In a fit of unbelief and anger, he struck the water-giving rock instead of speaking to it. God diagnosed Moses’s problem: he did not believe in him (see Num. 20:12). Even though he saw miracles, spoke with God face-to-face, and was called the friend of God (see Ex. 33:11), Moses still doubted.

Take a few moments now to review the passages above. What are you learning about the interplay between faith and doubt? Was Moses used by God even though his faith wasn’t perfect? Yes, of course he was. What does that tell you about God’s ability to use you even though you struggle? Have you noticed times in your life when your doubt bred anger or self-indulgence? Can you name them?

Elyse Fitzpatrick, Doubt: Trusting God’s Promises

Having more physical proof, like bread falling from heaven, won’t erase our doubt.


The Making Him Known Series

In the Making Him Known series, Authors Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Gary Steward guide parents and their young children through the basics of the Bible, exploring even complex theological topics in easy-to-understand, kid-friendly language. The books includes additional questions for reflection and family activities at the end of each ready-made lesson that will help children to remember what they have learned. These full-color, illustrated books are the perfect devotional tools for families with young children.


MHK series
Making Him Known series

God’s Names

When you want to get to know someone, where do you start? How do you introduce yourself? Usually you start with someone’s name. God knows this—and he doesn’t have just one name to share with us! The Bible gives us many names for God and tells us what they all mean. And when we learn a new name for God, we learn something new about him, too!

This book is for parents and children to read together. Every chapter includes questions for family discussion and an activity.

“Sally Michael has done us a great service in writing God’s Names that we may tell our children not only that God is, but also who he is.”

—Tim Challies, Author, Blogger, Social Media Consultant


God’s Promise

You have probably seen your children’s eyes light up at receiving a present. How excited would they be to get a present directly from God? God already has a present to offer your children. And you can be the one who helps them discover it!

God has given all his children many promises through his Word as gifts that flow from his goodness and love. Each one is backed up by his power and trustworthy character, so we can be confident in them.

This book, for parents and children to read together, will help children learn these promises and put their own confidence in them. Each chapter looks at a new promise and explores it in the context of a Bible story. God has left his promises with his people so they can trust him…and through these pages your children can trust him too.

“This engaging, attractively illustrated book teaches not only the promises of the Bible, but also the character of the God who makes and keeps his promises.”

—Tedd Tripp, President of Shepherding the Heart Ministries


God’s Providence

All parents want their children to feel secure. How reassuring would it be for your child to know that nothing is outside God’s control? Every person, every circumstance, and every action is part of God’s plan—a plan that works all things for the good of those who love him. This is God’s providence, a doctrine that brings us joy even as it staggers our understanding.

Can a child grasp this important, encouraging truth? Sally Michael believes that a child who can embrace God’s providence can rest in God’s sovereign care, and she uses simple truths to help you explain God’s providence to your children. She moves on to show children how God’s providence applies to all of life and creation . . . including themselves.

How many fears, worries, frustrations, and tears would be spared if your children truly understood and rested in the providence of God?

“My heart soars with worship and joy and zeal as I page through Sally’s new book, God’s Providence. . . . Here is a foundation for life that is solid enough to sustain parents and children through the hardest times they will ever face. . . .And here is practical application for children and those who love them enough to teach them.”

—John Piper, Author; Associate Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Chancellor, Bethlehem Baptist Church


God’s Wisdom

Every day our children are confronted with the call of wisdom and the call of foolishness. Which call will they answer?

All of us, down to the youngest child, start out on the path of foolishness because we are born with foolishness in our hearts. Only God can incline your child’s heart toward the path of wisdom—and he can use your example and diligent instruction to do it.

Through these teachings and stories from the Bible, Sally Michael describes for parents and children the characteristics of the foolish and the wise, contrasts for them the way of wisdom with the way of foolishness, and shows them the end result of each path. Explore these two paths with your own child and let the words of Proverbs encourage them on the life-giving path of wisdom.

“Sally Michael seamlessly weaves New Testament and Old Testament stories together to teach biblical wisdom in a way that is clear, fun, and engaging for children. Her compelling word pictures and analogies make difficult concepts easier to grasp.”

—Marty Machowski, Pastor, Author of Long Story Short and The Gospel Story Bible


God’s Battle

Parents work hard to protect their children from danger. But are we helping to guard them in the spiritual battle that already rages around them? Whether he consciously takes sides or not, every person is in the middle of spiritual warfare. None of us can choose to sit on the sidelines—and even our children are not exempt!

So rather than trying to shield them from the very real war around them, why not equip them, as early as possible, to take an active role and fight back?

Sally Michael provides the framework for parents to train their children in the fight of faith. In this full-color, illustrated “battle plan,” she uses the gospel message to introduce children to the state of their hearts, then awakens them to the many battlegrounds that surround us—both from our own sinful hearts and from the enemy’s attacks. She then encourages children to be fighters, giving them a biblical battle strategy to depend on God, resist the enemy, and stand strong!

“The Christian life is no Disney adventure. It’s a dangerous journey to the Celestial City, and we spend much of it fighting for faith and for the faith. Our children need to learn early on what the battle is all about, what it’s like to fight, and how to survive.”

—Jon Bloom, President, Desiring God


God’s Design

Parents celebrate both the sons and the daughters that God gives them. It’s more important than ever to teach those sons and daughters to celebrate who God made them, too.

Through this illustrated guide, parents can begin the discussion with both boys and girls about God’s wise and beautiful design for them. Wrong ideas about gender identity are lining up to influence our children, and they are no longer too young to learn what it means to be men and women!

Sally Michael and Gary Steward partner to bring a male-and-female approach to the topic of gender roles—one that is united together under the authority of God’s plan in His Word. Through examples and stories from Scripture, they present this difficult topic delicately and in a way that even the youngest children can understand.

Don’t leave your children to be confused or ashamed of who they are—help them to rejoice in who God designed them to be!

“This wonderful little book brims with wonder at the Lord’s creative intelligence. It savors the way that Christ renews manhood and womanhood, calling us all to a better plan and a grander design than the world offers.”

—Owen Strachan, President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood


God’s Gospel

In God’s Gospel, Jill Nelson guides parents and their young children through the basics of the gospel, exploring even complex theological topics in easy-to-understand, kid-friendly language. At the end of each ready-made lesson, Nelson includes additional questions for reflection and family activities that will help children to remember what they have learned. This full-color, illustrated book is an ideal devotional tool for families with young children.

Covering such questions as “What is sin?” and “Why did Jesus die on the cross?,” God’s Gospel leads kids through God’s plan to save his people from their sins,directing readers to Jesus as their personal Savior.

“Tackling the difficulty of helping children understand the significance of the cross, Jill Nelson clearly and carefully leads her audience through their plight (the bad news of sin) and the rescue promised in the garden (the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus). God’s Gospel presents the breadth of the gospel by including teaching on the Creator, sin, God’s promise, sacrifice, the law, the birth of Jesus, the sufficiency of Christ, the death and payment for sin on the cross, and the resurrection and promise of eternal life to those who repent and believe. By emphasizing key biblical truths written winsomely in a style children can understand, God’s Gospel is an excellent primer on the good news of salvation in Christ.”

—Sally Michael


God’s Word

We all make sure our children know the stories from the Bible. But can they understand their meaning and know the Storyteller behind them?

Sally Michael shows us that even young children can understand the Bible’s message of sin and redemption, because God wrote it to everyone, young and old. In God’s Word she provides a captivating, child-friendly resource for parents to approach the Bible with their children and to involve them in reading it for themselves.

Her exploration of the Word addresses how it came to us, what it tells us about its Author, what it tells us about ourselves, and why it is the most special book ever written. After children learn about the Bible and how to read it, she takes them a step further and teaches them to be doers of what they read. Give your children a firm, early foundation on the truth—introduce them to God’s Word!

“Many adults do not have a good understanding of the doctrine of the Word of God. Sally Michael has written an easy-to-read devotional book that will help parents teach their children about the properties of Scripture. God’s Word shouldn’t be intimidating. A proper knowledge of the Bible gives us hope, helps us to identify false teaching, increases our gratitude and trust in God, and results in his Word becoming more precious to us. Don’t you want that for you and your family? What are you waiting for?”

—Aimee Byrd, Author of Housewife Theologian, Blogger, Contributor to Mortification of Spin Podcast


Cornelius Van Til

Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) was born in Grootegast, the Netherlands, and immigrated with his family to America in 1905. He attended Calvin College and Calvin Seminary before completing his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University with the ThM and PhD degrees. Drawn to the pastorate, Van Til spent one year in the ministry before taking a leave of absence to teach apologetics at Princeton Seminary. When the seminary reorganized, he was persuaded to join the faculty of the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary. He remained there as professor of apologetics until his retirement in 1975. Van Til wrote more than twenty books, in addition to more than thirty syllabi. Among these titles are: Christian Apologetics, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, The Defense of the Faith, Common Grace and the Gospel, and Christian Theistic Evidences.

All students of apologetics should read at least one book by arguably the most important apologist of the twentieth century: Cornelius Van Til. The single best point of entry into Van Til’s writings is Christian Apologetics.

Here Van Til presents the underpinnings of his uniquely biblical approach. He shows how Christian apologetics is rooted in a unified system of scriptural truth, a worldview that encompasses all spheres of knowledge. Noting the ultimate conflict between Christian and non-Christian systems, Van Til sets forth a method of argument that centers on an all-important, biblically defined point of contact with the unbeliever.

In this the first typeset edition, William Edgar sheds light on Van Til’s approach by adding a new introduction and explanatory notes.

The theological foundations of Van Til’s defense of the faith are set forth here as the unified system of truth to which believers are committed and with which nonbelievers need to be confronted.

Writes Van Til: “The Christian faith as a whole, as a unit, must be set over against the non-Christian faith as a whole. Piecemeal apologetics is inadequate, especially for our time. A Christian totality picture requires a Christian view of the methodology of science and philosophy, as well as a Christian view of theology.”

Thus Van Til explores the implications of Christian theology, particularly for philosophy, as he discusses epistemology, general and special revelation, and the knowledge and attributes of God.

This newly edited and typeset edition features an introduction and explanatory notes by William Edgar.

This new annotated edition of The Defense of the Faith restores the full text of the original work in a form that is more easily understood. Cornelius Van Til, who taught for more than forty-five years at Westminster Seminary, sometimes used philosophical vocabulary in The Defense, and many of his conversation partners and critics were not widely known. When later editions greatly abridged this work for these reasons, valuable discussions were laid aside.

Now they are restored, and with added clarification. Newly edited and retypeset, this unabridged edition features a foreword and explanatory notes by K. Scott Oliphint, which help us grasp a method of apologetics consistent with the nature of Christianity itself and continually relevant to our time.

What point of contact does the Christian have with the world in order to bring the biblical message to the nonbeliever? How can the doctrines of election and total depravity be reconciled with the universal offer of the gospel and human responsibility? Does our Lord show favor to saint and sinner alike?

Restoring the full text of the original 1972 work, this collection of annotated essays addresses questions on common grace and its relevance to the gospel. A pioneer in presuppositional apologetics, Cornelius Van Til sets forth a Christian philosophy of history; examines the views of Abraham Kuyper, Herman Hoeksema, and others in the debate over common grace; and replies to criticism.

When defending Christianity, we often play by man’s rules, letting secular science and philosophy determine the cards we’re allowed to bring to the table. But can we effectively defend the primary authority of Scripture if we start with other sources of authority that relegate it to minor status from the outset?

K. Scott Oliphint provides a foreword and explanatory notes in this retypeset syllabus, originally from Cornelius Van Til’s famous Christian Evidences class at Westminster Seminary. Van Til argues for the defense of a pure, full-fledged Christianity, unadulterated by a scientific methodology founded on non-Christian assumptions. He offers us instead a Christian philosophy and methodology for defending the faith that presupposes the absolute authority of the triune God of Scripture.