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

The Overlooked Testament

“The unfortunate reality is that many believers willfully ignore the Scriptures that Jesus Himself would have read and studied.”

I have talked with quite a few Christians who find themselves either confused or bored by the Old Testament. There seems to be a fog surrounding the first 39 books of the Christian Bible for many modern day believers. The unfortunate reality is that many believers willfully ignore the Scriptures that Jesus Himself would have read and studied.

Part of the reason why many believers might run from the Old Testament is because of a lack of understanding of how to read and interpret it. Many believers find portions like Leviticus 17:10-14 and struggle to see how it impacts them at all today. So, while we don’t have time today to dissect all of the O.T. we will take a brief look at this one passage. Hopefully, understanding one passage will lead to a desire to understand the rest.

The first place to begin is context. What is the context of Leviticus 17:10-14? Well, in short, it is part of the Law given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. The best way to understand the Mosaic Law is to understand it as a covenant between God and His people at a specific time for a specific reason.

When interpreting the Law in its proper context it is shown to have a more clear and deeper meaning. This was not simply a list of do’s and don’ts set up by an impersonal God, this literally was a personal agreement between a loving God and His people. God was teaching them how to live holy with a holy God in their midst. Like the rest of Scripture, when doing hermeneutics, we must first always start with the original meaning to the original audience. Context is always the key.

Leviticus 17:10-14 is a very interesting passage take the time right now to open your Bible or swipe open your app and read it. At first glance, it looks like God preferred well-done steak to rare and unfortunately I have known some Christians to actually take this stance. However, when we take a closer look at the text we can understand its deeper and special meaning. We must look at the text in light of the narrative of the Israelites as well as the greater redemptive story of the whole Bible.

Verse 11 gets at the heart of the issue when God says, “for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” In the context of the ancient Israelites, blood had a very significant role. It symbolized life, of which God had ultimate control over. When we read the Mosaic Law we will find that there are special arrangements to be made for each life that is taken, and how those arrangements must be done in a respectful manner. Death is a serious thing. This is because God as creator is the life-giver. Death had no place in God’s paradise and it still is not to be taken lightly in a fallen world.

The blood more specifically not only represents life in general, but it is also the avenue through which sin can be atoned for. If an Israelite were to eat or touch blood they would be dishonoring the life that God had given, as well as disrespecting the atonement process that God had set up. The blood of a sacrifice was used to purify, and as Hebrews 9:22 lets us know without blood there could be no forgiveness of sins. This system is, as Hebrews says, “but of shadow” of what was to come.” Because although blood was needed, Hebrews 10:4 tells us that the blood of animals is inadequate to take away sins. The only blood sufficient is Jesus’.

This understanding of blood in the Old Testament relates to a New Covenant believer (one who is not bound by the Mosaic Law) in the most significant of ways. Jesus gave Himself (His blood) for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Today we can look at this passage and see the link between this particular law and the atonement that Christ made for us. To see the relationship between this passage and Jesus, the Lamb of God whose blood was poured out for our sake, is to see our Savior more clearly.

So with all of that said, read your Old Testament. It makes the New Testament even more clear. It’s God’s Word. It’s Worth it.

Till next time,

Josh