Sparrow Falls PodcastAug 23, 2022
SF 16: Affliction & the Eternal Decree of God
How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty and human will? How do we reconcile those two things when those things are suffering or tragedy? Does that mean God decreed our suffering from eternity past? If God is in the business of decreeing what happens in this life, what choices we make, what suffering we endure, what does that say about human will and human sin?
A 500-year-old document offers us help to understand how these things work together. It's called the Westminster Confession of Faith. It might be old, but it’s spiritually profound.
We will consider the confessions' first two points of chapter 3 along with it's scriptural proofs. This is a long one, but I think it will be worth your while.
SF 15: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God with Scott Christensen
How are we to understand the sovereignty of God in the midst of suffering and evil? Pastor and author Scott Christensen is our guest to help us scripturally construct a theology to answer this perplexing question.
SF 14: Hope in a Culture of Suicide with Dr. Matthew Sleeth
Suicide is not a subject people want to talk about, but it’s one of those discussions we need to have, and particularly among God’s people and within the church. Suicide is on the rise, even with the advances in our medical system, and with the diligent efforts being made to screen for those at risk.
My guest today is Dr. Matthew Sleeth, who spent many years working as a physician in an ER, and was the head of medical staff at a hospital. He received and treated many patients who attempted suicide, and he himself has lost friends to suicide. He comes at this discussion of suicide as an emergency room doctor and a Christian.
Dr. Sleeth is a lonely voice crying out for the church to become a force for hope in a culture reeling with suicide. He travels as a speaker to talk about suicide to medical professionals and to churches, and he has written a marvelous book on preventing suicide called Hope Always. As he says in his book, there is no treatment for suicide, there is only prevention.
SF 13: Even the One Who Could Not Keep Himself Alive | Psalm 22 part 6
What began as an Israelite peace offering to praise God for deliverance from affliction, becomes a worldwide posture of worship to a God who has shown himself completely righteous in all matters of his rule over this earth. And it gives us a most surprising perspective on suffering. Even those who die in their suffering will worship God. It’s the final episode in our short series on Psalm 22.
SF 12: The Peace Offering of the Afflicted | Psalm 22 part 5
One of the most beautiful ways God and his people interact in intimate fellowship is with a meal. The Passover, the Lord’s supper, and the great feast at the end of the age are all wonderful pictures of God’s fellowship with his people. There is one meal that we are not familiar with that is designed to motivate us to worship and to strengthen our melted hearts. That meal is the peace offering, and this is what the psalmist brings to us in the final verses of this psalm.
SF 11: He Has Not Hidden His Face | Psalm 22 part 4
In our dark times, we often wonder if God is far away; if He doesn’t hear our cries. And we begin to wonder if we can trust him with our pain. Psalm 22 demonstrates, with unmistakable clarity, that our fears are wrong. God is not only trustworthy, he is worthy of the most glorious praise in how he handles our afflictions. If you’re looking for hope. If you’re looking for something to give you strength to get through today, Psalm 22 is a balm that will salve your soul.
SF 10: Cries & Desperation, How the Godly Suffer | Psalm 22 part 3
The darkest moments of our trials can become moments of desperation. We can lose heart, and we can lose the will to go on. Wrestling with trials depletes us of strength and courage, and it takes an even greater toll when we find our wrestling is also against God himself.
We continue our short series on Psalm 22, a psalm that has become precious to me after losing my son. It’s a psalm that provides a foundation for life in a fallen world of suffering and tragedy. It’s comparable to Job, in that it plunges us into the darkest horror, and then rises from that to shine the brightest light that gives us the greatest hope in our suffering.
SF 09: A Battle-worn Faith | Psalm 22 part 2
When we hit rock bottom, and God feels far away when our troubles are close, we always have something of God’s character to sustain us.
In this 2nd episode of our series on Psalm 22, the horrid nature of Jesus’ suffering is described for us, from his perspective. This is how he felt about himself. As hard as it is to imagine, the words here express the reality of his inward struggle. And though God seemed far from saving him, he still had hope — a tested hope that was rooted in the trust God had nurtured into his life. How he reasons his way to hope is instructive for us.
SF 08: The Darkest Hour in All of Scripture | Psalm 22 part 1
The darkest hours in all of scripture are found in Psalm 22. This harrowing psalm describes the execution of our Lord from his perspective, but it ends in victory and gives us a glimpse of a future glory that provides us the greatest hope for all of those who suffer, even those who die in their suffering. It’s an amazing picture that has given me great strength after the death of my son. This is the first of a short series looking at Psalm 22.
SF 07: Grieving Well Together with Brad & Jill Sullivan of While We're Waiting | Part 3
Grief, grieving together as a couple, the future of While We’re Waiting, and more, in our third and final episode with Brad and Jill Sullivan.
Why is the grief of child loss so much more devastating than other kinds of loss? I’ve lost a father, I’ve lost a son, and they are two very different kinds of grief. And grief is hard enough on it’s own, but when you grieve a child you and your spouse grieve the same loss together. And your form of grieving may be very different from how your spouse grieves, and that can cause other problems. How can bereaved couples who grieve differently, grieve well together? These questions form a rich discussion with Brad and Jill Sullivan, the founders of the While We’re Waiting ministry. And we conclude with what’s in store for the future of the While We’re Waiting ministry.
SF 06: The History of While We're Waiting with Brad & Jill Sullivan | Part 2
The While We’re Waiting ministry was formed to provide biblically based support parents who have lost children. How did this ministry come into being? That’s what we’ll discuss in this second part of three, in my interview with founders Brad and Jill Sullivan.
In our last episode, Brad and Jill shared with us the story of their daughter Hannah who lost her life to cancer. Out of their experience with child loss, they, along with another couple who lost their son, Larry and Janice Brown, formed the While We’re Waiting ministry. They held their first retreat at a youth camp facility in Arkansas in 2010, but since then, they’ve grown to much better accommodations in 9 states, and they’ve built a new facility in Hot Springs Arkansas.
If you missed our first episode and don’t know what this ministry is, While We’re Waiting organizes weekend retreats for bereaved parents. All meals and accommodations are provided for free, supported by donors. These retreats of ten parents are designed to provide fellowship and support as parents share their struggles and celebrate the lives of their children. Each retreat is facilitated by a couple who have lost children themselves. They are all biblically sound, are walking through their own grief well, and are able to lead others through their grief. It’s a wonderful ministry that my wife and I participated in last year.
In this episode, Brad and Jill share with us the history of the While We’re Waiting ministry. We also touch on grief and spiritual warfare.
SF 05: Hannah's Story with Brad & Jill Sullivan of While We're Waiting | Part 1
My guests today are the founders of a very precious organization called While We’re Waiting. Brad and Jill Sullivan lost their 16yo daughter Hannah to cancer, and out of their grief, with another grieving couple, they formed this ministry for bereaved parents in 2010.
SF 04: Affliction and its Cart Load of Limitations and Losses
When afflictions fall upon us, they often bring with them a host of other problems that compound the effect of their pain. Some of these difficulties are short term, such as medical costs, lost time at work, funeral expenses, and such. Some difficulties are long term, and some will last a lifetime.
How do we wrestle with these secondary problems? We should wrestle with them as part of God's handiwork in our lives.
SF 03: Skill in Lamentation
What does it mean to be skilled in lamentation? Skill and lamentation are words we don’t think belong together. Lamentation isn’t a skill. It’s a weakness, a detriment, something to suppress, something to avoid. Those who mourn, grieve, and weep, for too long are people who need to see the counselor or psychologist. Lamentation is something to be fixed, not something to embrace. The sooner someone gets over grief the stronger we perceive them to be.
In this episode we will look at what the Bible calls a skill in lamentation. To lament is to be human. It's to be Christian. The Christian church needs to recover this lost skill of lament.
SF 02: Consider the Sparrow
Have you ever wondered if God knows about your suffering, if he cares about you and the struggles and the afflictions that overwhelm you? Do you wonder if he’s forgotten about you, and left you alone to drift on the on the stormy seas, where the evils of this world are closer to you than the hand of God?
Jesus’ disciples wondered the same thing, and to calm their hearts and allay their fears, Jesus chose to encourage them with a small bird — the sparrow.
Visit Sparrow Falls at sparrowfalls.org
SF 01: Welcome to Sparrow Falls
Sparrow Falls is a ministry for those who find themselves caught in the storms of life. In this episode, Todd Shaffer shares the deeply personal story of how the death of his 18yo son, and his struggle to trust God with this calamity, is the motivation behind Sparrow Falls.
Find Sparrow Falls at sparrowfalls.org