Adoption: Doctrine & Practice

“Adoption, the practice of including someone into a family who originally did not belong, has always been God’s way of doing things. “

It’s the day after Christmas, did you get that special gift on your list? I did. I got to spend time with friends and family and eat loads of cookies…that’s Christmas done right! I remember as a kid December 26th was the time that I stockpiled all my gifts and took inventory of all the cool new gadgets I had been given. Nowadays, I use the time to reflect and be grateful for all the blessings that I have. Today I reflect, once again, on the greatest gift I have ever received, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thinking through my relationship with Jesus is always a mind-boggling experience. According to Ephesians 2, I was, along with the rest of mankind, “dead in trespasses and sins in which I once walked.” I was dead, lost, and hopeless without Jesus. However, the chapter thankfully does not stop there.

Verse 4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved.”

There isn’t any news better than that! But this always makes me pause and ask the question, why? Why did God love me so much? Why did He choose to make me alive? Why am I so valuable to Him?

John 1:12-13 clears it up a bit. “But to all who did receive him[Jesus], who believed in his [Jesus’] name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” God loves me so much because I am His kid.

The doctrine of adoption can be found flowing throughout the Bible. Romans 8 says that those who in Christ are adopted as sons and daughters and are, in fact, co-heirs with Jesus Himself. God took the dead and made them alive, He took strangers and aliens and made them sons and daughters.

If you believe in Jesus Christ you have been adopted into the family of God. God’s family brings light and life, hope and peace, joy and rest, purpose and a place to belong. God loves His children and nothing has, can, or will be able to separate God kids from His love for them.

Throughout the Bible God’s children have been encouraged and instructed to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Taking care of strangers, widows, and orphans has always been a priority to God. Thankfully, history helps to prove that God’s children have taken God’s priority seriously. The first orphanages were started by believers, and despite a few missteps, Christians have always been known for taking care of others.

Adoption, the practice of including someone into a family who originally did not belong, has always been God’s way of doing things. Every day I thank God that, although I once was a spiritual orphan, He made me His own.

Alright, that was the “doctrine” part, so now here is the personal “practice” part.

Ever since our love story began in 2010, Ashley and I have shared the same mutual love for, and desire to adopt. We both always saw adoption as such a clear and wonderful picture of the Gospel by which we both were saved. In addition to that, Ashley’s own incredible story of her adoption (filled with God’s sovereignty and grace) set us on a path to “one day adopt a kid of our own.”

We are both convinced that this is God’s right time for us to go through the adoption process. For the last year we have been quietly researching the adoption, finding the right agency, applying to adopt, going to training session after training session, completing our home study, getting our “profile” together, and now here we are…waiting.

This entire process has been wrapped in prayer. It has been the farthest thing from easy. The process of adopting a child is very involved, and emotional, and expensive, and tiring, and frustrating, and…and…worth it.

Unfortunately, I am not writing this blog post to announce that we are bringing home a baby tomorrow. Rather, I am writing to ask you to pray. Pray for Baby Nelson. We have not met him or her yet, but we already are in love.

Pray that Ashley and I will be able to be the very best parents possible to him or her. We haven’t even been matched yet, but I still ask that you pray for the birth parents, whoever they may be, that God would protect them and direct their paths.

And most of all, pray that Baby Nelson will one day understand that God loves them so incredibly much that He sent Jesus to save them from their sins so that they could be adopted by Him.

In addition to prayer, you can also help us out by saving any shoes that you would normally either throw out or donate. We found an adoption grant program that actually will take collected shoes and give them to people in developing nations in order for them to sell and thus stimulate the economy. In return, we would receive grant money to help fund our adoption. If you have any further questions please feel free to shoot us an email at joshandashley2124@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We know that God is a great and big God who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we think and ask. (Ephesians 3:20-21) We continue to trust Him and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

 

Signed,

An adopted Child of the King

Even on the Cloudy Days

Many people like sunshine, I prefer cloudy days. Most people enjoy warm weather, I don’t. For me, this time of year produces the best kind of weather, cold.

However, I know that while the cloudy skies bring smiles to my face they usually have the opposite effect on people around me. For many, C.S. Lewis painted a perfect picture in his book The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. In Narnia, winter accompanied the oppression and evil of the White Witch. It wasn’t until Aslan’s victory that spring finally came. Many people are already looking forward to spring, and winter doesn’t even officially start for a few days. I understand you, but instead of bemoaning the next few months lets allow truth, not just the weather, to impact our attitudes.

Some people struggle with what is known officially as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” otherwise known as seasonal depression. This, unfortunately, according to Mental Health America, impacts about 5% of the population. Additionally, 4 out of every 5 people impacted are women. While I don’t think that we should be quick to diagnose ourselves, we should understand that this can be, and is, a difficult time of year for many people for a myriad of reasons. We haven’t even mentioned the stress and pressure that sadly surrounds the “happy holiday season.”

For many, the cloudy days seem to reflect their current views. With that being said, no matter what our current outlook or mood, we still need to focus our minds on truth.

Today, like all other days is the day that the Lord has made, and we ought to rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) That needs to be true in our lives every single day whether our emotions agree or not. We need to rejoice and be glad in each day that God gives us no matter what is going on around us.

Each day that God gives us is a gift. Let me repeat that, each day that God gives us is a gift, no matter what circumstances surround us. So with the clouds of winter quickly approaching us let’s focus for a few minutes on some timely truths.

God is right there with us in the midst of our feelings.

 Psalm 38:9- “O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Psalm 18:28- “the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

Romans 8:35-39- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No…For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God comforts us in the midst of our feelings.

Psalm 46:1- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

John 14:27- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

2 Corinth. 1:3-4- “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions…

God helps us see past our feelings.

Romans 8:18- “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

2 Corinth. 1:3-4- “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Take time this winter to rejoice in the God who made you and who gave you this season.

Take time this winter to reflect on God’s Word and to lean on Him in the midst of hard times.

Take time this winter to encourage one another and provide comfort.

Most of all, let’s allow the brightness of the Son to shine through our lives so that all may see…even on the cloudy days.

Celebrate Light

“It is fitting that the Light of the World celebrated the Festival of Lights.”

Not too long ago a student said to me, “yea, I know what Hanukkah is, it’s the Jewish replacement for Christmas.” Well, no it is not.

So what, is Hanukkah? Is it found in Leviticus or one of those other Old Testament books? Actually, no. Hanukkah first began in what we call the Inter-Testimonial Period, the “400 years of silence.” This is the time between when God last spoke through the Prophet Malachi and when Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel.

A lot happened in this period of 400 years between the Testaments. The Persian Empire, along with many other nations was conquered and replaced by the Greeks.

After Alexander the Great died, one of his successors, Antiochus IV, unleashed a terrible persecution of the Jewish people. Antiochus, “the Mad Man,” called the people to bow down and worship him. There were several groups, including the Maccabees a Levitical family, who rebelled against Antiochus because they refused to worship anyone or thing other than the one true God.

The rebellion was successful and eventually, the Jews were able to re-enter the Temple. Unfortunately, the Temple had been desecrated. A pig, an unclean animal, had been sacrificed on the altar. Additionally, the eternal flame, that was always to be lit, had been put out. The Temple needed to be rededicated and the flame relit.

Tradition tells a legend that the Jews had only enough oil to keep the lamp lit for one day before more oil could be made. However, miraculously, the oil actually lasted a full 8 days so that the temple could be fully rededicated and oil restocked.

Hanukkah is an excellent time to reflect on how God has preserved the Jewish people throughout the ages. God cares for those that are His.

In the midst of a dark and terrible time, God provided hope and light for His people.

In the Gospel of John chapter 1 verse 5, we find these words, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Interestingly enough, those words were not talking about the Menorah, but instead, of Jesus Messiah.

Jesus, “the true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” (vs. 9) Once again, God had provided help, hope, and light to His people in the midst of dark and terrible times.

Jesus Himself celebrated Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication. In John 10:24 we read “At the time the Feast of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple…”

We 21st-century believers cannot forget that Jesus was entirely Jewish. He was actually, the most Jewish Jew ever! He kept the Law perfectly, something no one else was or will ever be able to do. He continually quoted the Torah (the Old Testament) and He celebrated Jewish festivals and feasts.

It is fitting that the Light of the World celebrated the Festival of Lights.

One of the most incredible lessons that we can take from Hanukkah is that God provided for His people when they needed it most. One of the most incredible things that we can learn from Jesus’ life is that God provided a Savior when His people, and the world, needed Him most.

Jesus is still that Savior, Jesus is still that Messiah.

Today at sundown marks the start of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Jesus’ message is so appropriate for the occasion. He says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

God provided light and life to all who believe. Follow the Light.

Shalom, Happy Hanukkah everyone.