Sunday, December 16, 2012

The opening scene...

As Christmas draws closer, I am aware more and more that Christmas is just the opening scene in a much broader story than a baby in a manger....

I watch my children start counting the days until Christmas clear back in September.  All of fall, and most certainly December, is a countdown until Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  Not just for the presents - we purposely keep Christ as the focus and weave reminders into everything we do of why we are celebrating.   But come Christmas night, as the last of the ribbons and wrapping paper is put away, there is a sense of sadness that it is "done" for another year.  Much like the curtains falling closed after the final scene of a magnificent play.

We have it so backwards!  Christmas is the opening scene of a story beyond comprehension!  We are celebrating the beginning and then walking away before the grandest of finales!  The magnificence of God is not truly shown in the virgin birth - it is shown in the sinless Son of God becoming sin on our behalf.  It is shown in God's Son Himself bearing the wrath of God for our sins.  It is shown in this great love.  I cannot imagine a person that I could willingly kill my own son to save .....Yet, God sent His own Son to die for those that hate Him.  Those that spit and mock and turn away from His Son on the cross....those that continue to do this even 2,000 years later.



Christmas should be the beginning of the grandest celebration - coming to a crescendo in the celebration of His death on our behalf and then the empty tomb on Easter morning.  Not only did God in His mercy, send His own Son - God in His power, raised His Son from the dead!  He is risen.  HE IS RISEN! 

One of the preachers I listen to the most is Paul Washer.  I listen because of his passion for the Gospel.  I listen because he challenges me like no other.  I remember Mr. Washer was asked, I believe by a child, "How can I love God more, like you do?"  His answer rocked me back on my heels in its simplicity and truth.  He said that we can not just by strength of will - much like pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps - love Him more.  He said, "You don't love Him like I do, because you don't know Him like I do." 

WOW!  Mr. Washer is so right.  I don't love Him well because I don't know Him well.  I study Scripture to know what I should and shouldn't do.  I study Scripture to see what His will is for my life.  I study Scripture to find answers to life's problems - but how often do I study Scripture to KNOW Him for who He is?  This is a study that could occupy me for eternity!  How can a finite, sinful being ever even begin to grasp the infinite, perfect Creator?

One of the areas that God's attributes and character can be seen on greatest display is at the cross.  This is where we see the greatest problem in all eternity solved.  The greatest problem is how can a perfectly just and righteous God, declare sinners righteous?  If we have politicians or judges that cover over wrong or worse yet call wrong-doers innocent - we declare them corrupt and deceitful.  Yet, we don't see the contradiction in thinking God can do the same thing.

If the study of God and the cross sounds honestly a little dry and not relevant to your life right now - it is because you don't know Him or the story of the cross.  It is a bit like those who are looking out at a beautiful landscape and trying to get someone else to come look.  Those seeing the beauty keep calling those others to come see it - and those who don't see it, don't think it is worth getting up to see.  That is what those who have poured over the gospel, the cross, and God are doing - calling us to come see the beauty - beauty beyond description.  But we don't want to take the time....we have other things that seem more important at the time.

If you want to be challenged, begin here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12412113571 .

Then you will want to go here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12101212450 .

And as you catch a glimpse of His majesty, you will no longer be satisfied with that glimpse - you will long for more.  You will begin your own chase after another glimpse of the Almighty...and isn't that the purpose of man?  To know God and glorify Him forever?

To Him be all glory, honor, and power - forever and ever.  Amen!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Popular myths regarding Salvation...

Salvation is such a rich and full mystery - beyond our full comprehension here in this life.  How God could become at once the Just and the Justifier...solving the greatest dilemma in the whole Bible. 

In Proverbs, we are told that a judge who does not punish the wicked is wicked himself.  How then can God call a sinner righteous and still be perfectly just?  In Christianity today, there is a great lack of understanding of who God is and what righteousness means.  Contrary to popular belief, God cannot just "overlook" our sin because He loves us or because He is "kind and loving".  Let me give you an example...

Think of the person/people you love the most in the world...now picture coming home to find that person has been brutally murdered and the murderer is still standing there.  You would be so overcome with rage and grief, your desire would be to kill him right then and there.  But, at the last second, you come to your senses and know that you must turn him over to the authorities for justice to be done.  You call the police and anxiously count the days to his sentencing.  The day finally arrives - you are so hungry for justice, you can barely sit in your seat.  The judge comes out and faces the courtroom.  He says that it has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that this man is a murderer and guilty.  You shift to the edge of your seat, holding your breath for justice to be done....The judge says to the murderer, "For your crimes, you deserve the death penalty.  You knowingly committed this crime and you enjoyed every minute of it.  You knew the penalty would be death, yet you chose to do it anyway."  The judge continues, "Furthermore, after reluctantly admitting that you have done this, your only sorrow was that you were caught - not that you committed this crime.  You have continually tried to justify your actions, even though there is no possible justification for what you have done.  You know the law, and you have broken it."  The judge pauses as your heart cries out for justice to be done.  Finally, the judge takes off his glasses and says, with a smile in his voice, "BUT, I am a loving and kind judge.  I know you have done wrong, but I am going to overlook it because I am so kind and loving.  You are free to go."

What would you do?  Would you be singing the praises of this "kind and loving" judge?  Would you be telling everyone that justice had been done and you were satisfied?  Would you walk out of there with a smile on your face and be able to congratulate the killer on the justice served in the courtroom?

NO!  A thousand times NO!  You would be screaming that the judge was even more wicked than the murderer!  You would be screaming that this was NOT just and loving - that this was a perversion of justice in the worst way.  You would be at a complete and utter loss to understand how such perverted reasoning could even occur to someone.  How could that possibly be "just and loving"?

If we, as imperfect humans, can see the flaw in that ruling....how much more of a perversion of righteousness, goodness, and perfection would it be for a perfect, holy, completely righteous God to just wink and nod at our sin?  Sin that we have been told both by His Word and our own consciences is deserving of punishment?  And truly, our only sorrow most times is in that we have been caught or are suffering the consequences for our sins - not because we have sinned against a holy and righteous God?

Yet, this is how most of Christian culture explains salvation....that a loving God "overlooks" our sin.  As a mom, it would not be "loving" for me to overlook abuse that was done to one of my children by another person.  If I did so, you would accuse me of not loving my child!  In addition, we instinctively know that we must discipline our children BECAUSE we love them, when they do wrong.  Yet, somehow we take these instinctive truths and throw them away when we speak of God and salvation.....

God is loving....yet He is also just.  You cannot separate the two.  It is not loving to be unjust - and it is not just to cover over sins because you love someone.  Yet, that is exactly what we say that God does.  Another term for this is "easy believe-ism" - that we can just simply acknowledge that we have sinned and that God will lovingly cover it all over - perverting His own nature - which is just as fully just as it is loving.

We do this, in part, because it makes it easier for us to continue on in our sins without having to repent and change.  If we truly understood the price of sin - and the price to save us from that sin, we would not be able to so comfortably go on with our sinning.

The truth is that the wages of sin IS death (Romans 3:23) - this is not just death on earth, this is the continual punishment of Hell after death.  See, we will all live for eternity - but some will live in the glory of God's presence for eternity and some will suffer in Hell for eternity.   BUT God is loving and He does love us....not in overlooking our sins, but in providing the payment for our sins.  We cannot pay this ourselves because we have only one life - and the forfeit of that is the punishment for our own sins.  We cannot pay someone else's debt, because we already owe.  The only One that could stand in our place is One that has never sinned and therefore does not owe a debt of his own....That One is Christ.  God in the flesh of man....Christ lived as we do, yet He was and is without sin. God loved us so much that He sent His own Son to pay the penalty for our sins.  (John 3:16)

When Christ died on the cross - the payment for our sins was not in His physical suffering - though they were beyond imagining.  The payment was in that God poured out the wrath for each and every one of our sins on Him who had no sin.  Christ suffered every last moment of that wrath for our every sin.  That changes the picture, doesn't it?  It isn't just a doddling old grandfather looking the other way as we sin - it is a perfectly righteous God-man suffering for each sin we have committed or will commit.  It is a just and powerful God punishing those things that deserve punishment and Christ taking that punishment - even while we despised Him.  Wow....there are no words.  How will this truth change you?

To Him be the glory, honor, and power forever!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Awesome orphan/adoption video & a Giveaway!

My oldest son found this song/video today - he couldn't wait to show it to me.  He said, "I know this is a song you will really like Mom."    We love songs about adoption - but this is one of the few "upbeat" adoption songs we have found.  (We also love "This Love" by Mandi Mapes)  The video is really powerful.  Be sure to visit the HandsandFeetProject.org to see what this band is doing in Haiti.  Because Audio Adrenaline has posted it on You Tube, I thought I would share it with you all!...


 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Awesome chance to help children in Guatemala!
 
Adeye, over at NoGreaterJoyMom.com, is raising funds to build a home for children in Guatemala one brick at a time.  My heart is still in Guatemalaf rom when we adopted our twin boys there in 2004....so this project is very dear to me...
 
Click here for more details.
 
(Did I mention they are having a giveaway?)
 
To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!
 
Until He comes!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New faces - precious little ones!

Here are a few more precious little ones in B*.  There is significant information available on each of them, more than I can easily put here.  Please contact Myriam@AgapeAdoptions.org.  She would be more than happy to share the information with you, so you can have a better idea of what these kiddos need.

Freidan
 
Little Freidan has a repaired cleft lip and palate.  She is almost 7 years old.  She has also had other issues such as a neonatal infection.  She has had surgery on her eyes.  But dear Freidan's biggest issue is her self-harming behaviors.  She is on anitpsychotic medications.  She began improving when she was assigned a "Baba" to work with her.  Unfortunately, the program was cancelled and she went downhill very quickly.  I am sure she had just begun to trust and bond with someone - only to have that ripped away from her.  This precious child will need a family who is absolutely committed to her.  Even if you are not that family, don't make the mistake of writing her off as "too far gone" - I am so thankful that Christ didn't do that with me; for I definitely deserve that label.  I have nothing to recommend me - I am ugly, selfish, and violent.  Before He saved me, I lashed out at His Hand trying to save me.  Yet, He chose me.  He didn't abandon me when I hated Him.  He works gently with me - correcting me and guiding me as I learn to trust Him.  Even if He is not calling you to redeem her, please hold her close to your heart.  Pray for her.  I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow that must be wrapped up in this little one, to cause her to so severely harm herself.  Please lift her up to her precious Father ~ we may not know how He will use our prayers - but we do know that He tells us to ask Him.  I am asking Him for a family for this precious child because He is able to do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine".  Eph 3:20  Nothing is beyond His power and His grace.  Join me in prayer?
 
Emil
 
 
Five year old, Emil, also has a detailed medical report.  The summary says,  " The following diagnoses were given to Emil: dropping behind with the psycho motor development. Disorder with the psychological development, undefined. Cryptorchism. Astigmatism. "  He also may have hepatitis.  You would need to go over the medical history with a search engine. Some times the "issues" end up being pretty insignificant - but it would be important to research for yourself.  Remember this handsome little face - put his picture in your Bible - ask our great God for great things for him!
Agape Adoptions will only have these files for a limited time,  please feel free to ask for more information if you have any interest at all.
 
To Him be all glory, honor, and power!
 
Until He comes......
 
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unclaimed treasures....

There are  now four unclaimed treasures from the land of B* that I want to share with you.  Three precious little faces - three little souls worth any price.  Please pray for these little ones...pray for their family to see them and race to rescue them!

Little Kristina
 
I am not going to stop shouting for her until her family finds her.  This precious little one needs tender care so badly.  Please contact Myriam@AgapeAdoptions.org for more information or leave me a comment with you email address (I will not publish it) and I will send you what I can.
 
Little Zoey
 
 
Little Zoey was just listed.  She is 6 years old and weighs less than 10lbs.  She is suffering from SEVERE malnutrition.  Click here to find out more.
 
Nellie
 
 
Tiny Nellie is blind, but has no other health issues.  Her file has been sent back but could be requested again.  Contact Shelley Bedford <shele337@gmail.com> for more information.
 
After I wrote this original post, a friend told me that little Sadie's file has been returned to B* as well.  Precious little Sadie is incredibly smart and sweet ~  she has OI.  This condition effects her body, not her little mind.  She needs a family to love her and help her to thrive!  For more information on this precious little one contact Shelley Bedford <shele337@gmail.com>
 
 
 
Please lift these little ones in prayer - their Father is strong and will defend them!
 
To Him be the glory!
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So thankful, sweet Jesus...

How can I not be thankful when God has given me this...
 

 
And has caused my heart and home to overflow with these....
 
 
 
 
And has led us on an amazing journey to another precious treasure...how can I not sing His praises when  I see this little face.....
 
 
 
 
But even with all these precious blessings, I am most thankful for this....
 
 
 
 
I have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.
 
I praise you my faithful, glorious Savior!  I thank you for showing me what love means by laying down Your life for mine.
 
To You be all glory, honor, and praise - forever and ever.  AMEN!
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Few More Treasures

Here are a couple more precious ones to add to your prayer lists.  Please pray for these two - they are older which immediately puts them at a huge disadvantage.  They are precious and loved by our Savior - treasured by Him. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR:
  1. A family to step forward to redeem them.
  2. For that family's needs to be met -financial, emotional, physical - as they pursue the adoption.  The adoption road is long, tiring, and lonely.  It is always worth it in the end, but getting there can be an extreme test of faith.
  3. Pray for their health.  An orphanage is not a home - it is not warm, welcoming, or necessarily clean.  There is not nourishing food, adequate sleep, and good clothing.  All of these things makes it challenging for their little bodies, even in the "best" of circumstances.
  4. Pray for their hearts.  Pray there would be someone who loves them and treasures them, even if it is only a little time (or pray for a lot of time!).  Pray that they would know their Savior is with them in an extraordinary way - nothing is impossible for God!
  5. Pray for their caretakers - that they would be loving and gentle, patient and compassionate. Pray specifically that Christians in their country would be moved to start staffing or volunteering at the orphanages.
  6. Pray for the spread of the true Gospel of Christ.  Mankind can always abuse, neglect, hurt faster than we humans could ever save - but lives transformed by Christ will care for the least of these, not cast them aside..

Emma
 
 
Precious Emma is 8 years old.  She has been in an orphanage since shortly after birth.  She has been diagnosed with epilepsy and is currently on medication for it.  She is delayed developmentally. Emma is described as  a " very charming and emotional child, and likes to perform for an audience."  But she is also described as quickly shifting emotions and at times rebellious.  She is described as able to bond.  Her birth mother had syphilis.
 
 
 
VALENTIN
 
 
Handsome Valentin is also 8 years old.  He was with his birth parents until he was five years old, and then was placed in a family type home. He is sad to have "normal" emotions, but they are not strongly felt and he has difficulty expressing them.  He appears to be completely healthly and developmentally on target, but is said to have behavioral issues.  He is in dance class and performs on stage for others.  His birth parents are reported to have personality disorders, epilepsy, and possible developmental delays.
 
 
There is more information available for both children by contacting Myriam@AgapeAdoptions.org.  Agape Adoptions is waiting on photos and more information on three more children.  A seven year old boy, a five year old boy, and a three year old girl with DS.  I will post this information as soon as it is passed to me.  I am not a part of Agape Adoptions - either paid or volunteer - but I have asked if I could advocate for the children that they receive files for.
 
Here are the general requirements to adopt from this country:
  1. Applicants must be at least age 25 - The age of the parent may determine the age of the child matched, as the parents need to be at least 15 years older than the child they want to adopt. The applicants cannot have had their parental rights terminated for any of their children.
  2. Heterosexual married couples – there is no specific requirement to the length of the marriage or whether or not there has been any divorces; instead the emphasis is on the state of the current marriage and history of the relationship.
  3. Heterosexual single applicants (both men and women) can adopt only one child – no sibling groups.
  4. Applicants with a criminal history of child abuse, violence or domestic violence are not eligible to adopt.
  5. No serious chronic transmissible venereal diseases, HIV+, tuberculosis (TB) or other life threatening illnesses
  6. Minimum annual income of $30,000. Family needs to meet the income requirements provided by the USCIS in order for the adopted child to immigration
  7.  
     
Here are the travel requirements:  Two trips are required for B*. The first trip is for the adoption process in the country and is about 5-7 days. This trip is intended for the adoptive family to meet the child and both parents must travel. The second trip is for the US processing, and the visa process which takes about 7 days. Only one parent is required to travel for this second trip. There is about 2 months between trips, with the first occurring 2-6 months after receiving a child referral.
 
 
Please pray for these children - even if you are not called to save them, please pray for their forever families to find them!
 
Our God is mighty to save!
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

PRECIOUS PENNY HAS A FAMILY!
 
SHE HAS BEEN REDEEMED, AS CHRIST HAS REDEEMED HIS OWN!
 
PRAISING GOD - TO HIM BE ALL GLORY, HONOR, AND POWER!
 
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

How do you walk?

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,  redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17
 
One of my best buddies in high school died unexpectedly this week.  He was healthy, strong, and active - only 38 years old.  But on Sunday night, he died of a heart attack.  No warnings, no time...he didn't probably even realize that it was his last heartbeat.  His days on earth were done - and he didn't even know it the moment before.
 
When we adopted our twins, Romeo & the Professor, from Guatemala, I feel deeply in love with the Guatemalan people.  Oh, how I wanted to adopt another from that country!  To save another pair of chocolate brown eyes and black hair with gorgeous brown skin and smiles as big as the horizon.  I always assumed we would be going back.  I assumed we would be starting on the next adoption immediately after getting home. But we had a very difficult couple of years after the boys came home.  I was overwhelmed and wanted time.  I assumed that I had time......and then the doors to Guatemalan adoptions slammed shut....and they have stayed shut.  All those babies....all those precious lives....we are unable to rescue them regardless of how much they need it. 
 
How many real life experiences are there like that?  Shocking stories, where someone is just going about living their life, making plans, enjoying the days....and then those days are just gone.....in a heartbeat....in a stroke of a pen....in one political decision.  Gone....the days are gone.
 
Jesus tells the story of a certain rich man in Luke 12:16-21
"16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 

 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’


21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” 

His days were gone....in a heartbeat...with no warning...with no chance to go back and do it differently.

It is easy to pass by this story or read something more into the rich man's actions then is actually said in the story.   We have to look at what Jesus Himself says is the point, "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."  Riches are not spoken against in the Bible - it is not that this man was rich.  It was that he was using his treasures for himself, not seeking what God would have him do with it. 

The funny thing is, this is what most of us American Christians are working towards.  We are abundantly blessed - even those on the lower end of the pay scale!  We have abundantly more than over 90% of the world.  But our goal is to gather enough of those treasures and store them up in bigger and bigger barns (i.e. houses and bank accounts) so that we can take our ease and be merry.  Once we have accomplished that, then maybe we can give more to others.

We read of the warnings against "riches" in the Bible and think, "Yeah, those bad rich guys.  If I was rich, I would not keep it to myself.  I would help others.  I wouldn't spend it foolishly.  Then I could give more to missionaries.  Then I could tithe.  Then I could adopt.  Then I could....(fill in the blank with a "good" thing)."  I used to think the same thing.  When I would read about how it was harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven than it was for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."  (Matthew 19:24)  I would think, "Wow, am I glad I am not rich!" 

Then I read a book by Randy Alcorn (Money, Possessions, and Eternity) and he shook my world.  He said (in my paraphrase), "YOU!  You are the rich man.  If you live in America - even on the lower levels, you are richer than 90-95% of the world."  We are the rich man that is so busy with our own worlds that we cannot share with others.  We convince ourselves that we have needs that must be met...when really, with God's grace, we could go without.

Back to the orginal verse....although I hope you followed my bunny trail there. ;-)  We are not here to live for ourselves.  And the point isn't to just meander aimlessly (or semi-aimlessly) through life, pursing our own plans.  Paul is reminding us to think about what we are here for....to think about what we are doing.  God did not just save believers and then step back and say, "Enjoy your life...I will see you when you get to heaven."  He tells us that He saved us with a purpose.  He says that He saved us for specific purposes for each of us -

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2:10
In Eph 5:15, Paul is urging believers, in light of all that God has done for us, to live wisely.  There is a strong emphasis in the Greek words.  The word "be"("Therefore be careful") is translated "look or observe".  "Careful" has the basic meaning of accurate and exact, and carries the associated idea of looking, examining, and investigating something  with great care.  It also carries the idea of alertness.  (courtesy of The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians, Dr. John MacArthur)
 
The point is to be examining our lives in view of salvation and God's purposes for us individually.  This isn't just a quick inventory so we can say, "Yep, I do some good things.  And definitely more good things than my neighbor.  I'm good."  To live wisely, not carelessly and without aim. 
 
Why are we to do that?  Because the days are evil.  This has several meanings...one is that they are limited.  We don't know when our last heartbeat will be....we are all one heartbeat away from eternity.  We don't know when a opportunity to serve, to speak, to save a life....will be gone.  Suddenly and without warning.  We may have "meant" to get to it eventually - maybe when it was a little more convenient or we felt a little more prepared - but in a blink of an eye the opportunity was gone....
 
Dr. John MacArthur also says "....the days are evil.  We are to make the most of our opportunities not only because our days are numbered but because the world [system] continually opposes us and seeks to hinder our work for the Lord. We have little time and much opposition.  Because the days are evil, our opportunities for freely doing righteousness are often limited. When we have opportunity to do something for His name's sake and for His glory, we should do so with tall that we have.  How God's heart must be broken to see His children ignore or halfheartedly take up opportunity after opportunity that He sends to them. Every moment of every day should be filled with things good, things righteous, things glorifying to God." 
 
We are told what not to do - live as unwise - but we are also told what to do - "understand what the will of the Lord is".   This would be both His general will for everyone (as laid out in Scripture) but also His specific will for our lives.  This specific will is found through knowing His Word, praying, and being willing to do whatever He asks us to do. His Word show us His heart.  It shows us what is good, acceptable, and pleasing to Him.  It shows us what is right and worth pouring our lives into.   He will never ask us to do something individually that contradicts His Word. 
 
We are to redeem the time.  You already know how much I love that word.  We are to "deliver or rescue" the time from being evil.  We are to purchase, through our actions, the time that was sold to corruption and sin when all of creation fell.  This will not automatically happen.  It is an action word.  We must do it - not hope  that it will, or think that it will, or assume that it will.  We are to be in active motion to redeem the days, just as Christ has redeemed us.  What an amazing opportunity to reflect Him.
 
If you do not know His Word - how will you ever know what His Will is?  We are told throughout Scripture that only by following His words, commands, and directions in Scripture will we do what is right.  You are not the only person in the whole of eternity that is the exception to thisYou need to know His Word.  His Word is very clear in general details why we are here, what we are to spend our lives doing, how we are to spend our money, even what we are to think and pray about!
 
We, as believers, claim that we live for Him - that we want to obey Him.  Is that true of your life?  Do you want to live for Him and obey Him?  Okay, let me ask you a couple of questions (ones that heartily convicted me).  You say that you want to live for Him - what are some important issues in life?  Marriage?  What we eat?  What we wear?  How we raise our children?  What we spend our time and money on?  List out your 2 or 3 most important....
 
Now, how many of those topics have your spent time pouring over all of Scripture to know what God says about it?  What does God say about marriage and how you are to treat your spouse?  Now, no cheating - this is not just pulling up as many random Scriptures that you can remember pertaining to the topic- have you actually purposely and specifically searched Scripture for what God's Will is on this topic?  If you are like me, the answer is "No."  I had not done this.  I claimed to want to obey and serve Him - but I couldn't even tell you what He had already said about it!  Other than a few measly thoughts and sermon notes here and there.
 
How does God want you to spend your time?  If you are continually in Scripture, learning His heart and His ways; praying for His guidance and repenting when you sin; and asking for the grace to be willing to do whatever He asks.  He WILL lead you.  He will "open and close" doors to keep you on His path.  He will sovereignty direct your days and the people and things that you come in contact with.  He will give you a passion to obey, whatever it is He is asking.  He will give you the delights of you heart - because your delights will be His.
 
But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you must know His Word.  This is the safeguard that keeps us from just following our own desires...which the Bible tells us are selfish, given to foolishness, and easily swayed.  If you are just following whatever your feelings and thoughts tell you to do, you will go astray every time.
 
Because this is a blog having to do with orphans and adoption, I have to (because of my passion) focus on that for a moment.  Many say that they are not "called" to this area.  Okay, have you searched Scripture specifically and fully to KNOW - not just guess or assume or go by your own feelings - what God says about this?  What does God say about orphans and widows?  What does He say He will do to people or nations that either care for their widows and orphans or those that neglect or oppress them?  Do you know that He says when you are caring for the poor (which would be 99.99999% of widows & orphans) that you are lending to Him and that He will pay you back abundantly?  Do you know what He says shows pure and undefiled religion? 
 
No, He does not say that everyone should adopt.  I have never said that and never will.  But we are all commanded to care for them.  His Word is full of the blessings that He will pour down on those that do.  He also says that this brings great glory and joy to Him.  This is not a suggestion, it is a command. 
 
I am commanded not to lie in Scripture.  I do not get to say, "Well, God has not called me to that.  I just don't feel a passion or desire not to lie."  If I said that to you, you would probably fall over.  Then you would assume (and rightly so) that I might not be saved.  Yet, we feel we can do that when it comes to caring for widows and orphans. 
 
Now, let me swiftly remind you that this applies to all things God commands us to do.  This would apply to sharing the Gospel.  We are called to share the good news of salvation to all the world.  This does not mean that we all go overseas.  This does not mean that we all share the precious Gospel in the same way (although the truth and the message never changes).  Some may pass our tracts, some may stand on street corners, some may become pastors, some may share over a cup of coffee, some may share with a $5 bill given to a homeless person while telling them the good news....the possibilities are endless.  We must all be open and ready to share wherever God prompts us - in season and out of season.  It will look different with each person - though I emphasize again that the message never changes, only the delivery.
 
So with caring for widows and orphans, I agree God may not be calling you to adopt.  You should be perfectly content with that answer IF you have truly become knowledgeable about what God has said in His Word, you have sought Him and His guidance through prayer, and you have made your heart willing (by His grace) to do whatever He asks.  If you have sought His will on this and are not called to adopt, then the next question is, "Then what did He ask you to do?"  For He has commanded us all to do something.  To pray for specific widows and orphans?  To give to a family adopting or an orphanage, or to a ministry like Compassion International?  To give of your time?  What has He asked you to do?  You will only be held accountable for what He has asked you to do....He will not ask you for your opinion on what some else should or should not do. 
 
We are all one heartbeat away from eternity....what will you use the next heartbeat for?  And the next?  You never know when your time will be gone - or a precious child's time will be gone....Do not waste precious time and opportunities by getting distracted or just simply not knowing what God is asking you to do.  What if He is asking you to save a little life?  The time you spent distracted with other things may be critical to that little person.  Let me give you an example..
 
This is Sonny.
 
What a precious face.  What a dolly.  It seems sad that he is in an orphanage.  But nothing seems urgent.  It is okay for a family to wait until they feel totally prepared and comfortable - all their needs met first, right?  If they don't feel a passion, they really don't need to pray about it - because God will always make us immediately passionate about something He asks us to do right?  Hmm, if that was true, then Abraham must have been passionate and excited to sacrifice his son, Issac, right? ....
 
Little Sonny -Sad, but definately not urgent.
 
 
 
 
Here is Sonny now -
 
Sonny was not adopted before his time in the baby house ran out.  At not even six years old, he was transferred to a mental institution.  This boy is neglected and abused.  This boy needs help NOW...he needed help a long time before that.
 
The same goes for little Ksenia..
 
 
It may not have been you that was called to save either of these little ones....but what might the consequences be if you are not doing His Will?  If you are His, He has already designed the good and wonderful things He has for you to do.  They may be very, very hard things...but they also may be things that will delight your soul once you finally leap.  They will most definately be things that bring glory to Him.
 
 
Redeem the time....don't let the subtle distractions and lies of this world's corrupt system draw you in to wasting that gift - or not valuing it for the gift it is.  How will you spend your hours this evening?  On the things that will last into eternity - or the things that are here today and gone tomorrow because they have no value?....Until He comes, choose to glorify Him in all we do.
 
To Him be all honor, glory, and power.

After I wrote this post, I was introduced to a new blog....She said perfectly, eloquently, and beautifully what I was trying to say...Please read her post...here.
 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Deep down hurts....

Sometimes the hurts are so deep, I feel like my soul must have no bottom.  How can it hurt down so far?

I found out about a little man in the US that desperately needs a home.  I am not sure what information is public and what is not, so all I can say is that my soul hurts way down deep.  How I wish I could be his mama.  Without knowing any details, could you pray for a little boy that I am calling "Justice" ~ because that is what he needs.  Justice and a family to love him - amazing gift that he is.....I have dreamed about him at night and am asking his Father to redeem him here on earth with a family that will teach him what love is....that we lay down our lives for others, just as Christ did for us.....Oh, little man, I am so sorry.  How I wish I could rescue you...

There is another little man that also causes that hurt too deep for words.  His name on Reese's Rainbow is Sonny.  He is turning 6 in December.  He is in a big country that starts with the letter "R".
This is a picture of him in his baby house:
 
Look at his precious little face!  Those big eyes and that red hair!  I love red hair.  He is described as "active, social, independent" - that sounds like a perfect little boy to me.....full of wiggles and mischief.  Too much energy to be still and too many adventures to have!  Our boys need to be full of energy and adventure and courage!  They need to be the ones to stand firm for their Savior in faith, protect their families, and be the justice for the widows and orphans as God call us to in His Word.  Yes, he does have an extra-special blessing with his extra chromosome.  What a treasure for a family.
 
Little Sonny, you need to be running and playing - singing and dancing - pretending to be a cowboy, or a baseball player, or just like your daddy!  Trying on his shoes to see if they fit yet....watching for him to come home from work so that he can wrestle and slay dragons with you.
 
My precious Sonny, you need someone to slay your real life dragons....Oh, sweet Jesus, rescue and redeem this little one from the evil he is in....
 
This is little Sonny now that he has been transferred to a mental institution - with adults and bigger boys and caretakers that give little care and may be the very ones who are the dragons....
 
 
 
Do you see his bruises and cuts?  Do you see his pale face?  Where is his sparkle?  If my hurts are deep, his are indescribable....Who did this to you, little one?  Your Redeemer is mighty.  He has promised that those who do these things will be held accountable by a righteous Father.  I cry out to Him for justice for you now!  I pray that He will stir a daddy's heart with righteous anger - anger that burns deep enough to make all the roadblocks to get to you as if they were nothing.....A daddy that will hold you in his fierce, yet loving grip, and promise you that those dragons will never touch you again.  Little one, my tears cannot save you, but my prayers to your Heavenly Father will not stop - because He is mighty when I am incapable of stopping the horror in your life.  He can see you even now....He will see justice done.  I promise to lift you up to Him as I would one of my own...
 
 
Would you please pray for Justice and Sonny with me?  I will probably never know this side of heaven what happens to Justice, but I will beg God for a family for him regardless.  For little Sonny, he is listed on Reese's Rainbow.  Would you please print off his picture and pray for him?  Would you pray about donating to his account?  Even $5?  The more money available to his future family, the easier it will be for them to race to save him....
 
Father in Heaven - You are mighty to save - please save them.  To You be all glory, honor, and praise!
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Prayer Babies.....Join me?

 Right after I wrote the last post...being so weary...yet by the end, reminded why I do what I do - I read Julia's post.  She is shouting for the kids posted on Reese's Rainbow that are older - kiddos that often get overlooked for many reasons.  She challenged her readers to pick one (or more) children and look at their pictures and read about them.  Then to lift prayers to heaven on their behalf.

I have been studying and focusing on prayer again.  What a mystery!  God is sovereign - His Hand has already designed all of our days....and yet He tells us to come to Him in prayer.  As His child, to ask Him for the things we need and for the things that bring Him glory.  This is irreconcilable by human thought - everything is already designed, and yet our prayer can bring about amazing things.  This is not a simple thing - anyone who tells you it is is wrong.  Here is a fabulous sermon by Paul Washer if you want to be challenged!  Click here.

Another fabulous source for prayer is The Valley of Vision  a collection of Puritan prayers.  My husband and I have been so challenged by this book.  It is like finding a whole new book of the Psalms.  Here is just one of a book full of amazing and life-changing quotes, “Nothing exceeds thy power, nothing is too great for thee to do, nothing too good for thee to give. I ask great things of a great God.” ~The Valley of Vision

So I am challenged and encouraged all over again - I can pray at any time - I can be caring for widows and orphans no matter what else God has put on my plate.  Here are my new babes (in addition to those already on the side of my blog):

 
Sealey - This precious little man just turned 8. He needs a family so desperately….he has severe CP, and is diagnosed with congenital brain malformation; anencephalea (no cerebral cortex). He is not able to walk and needs full care. It will be so wonderful to see him blossom in a loving family. He is facing the institution very soon.
 
 
Russ - 7 years old
Russ’s profile says “goloproentsephaliy” which is unclear, other than there’s some condition with his brain. It’s unclear if it’s a physical or mental condition.  The heartbreaker for Russ is that he is facing imminent transfer to adult mental institution.  I cannot describe the hell on earth that most of these places are.
 
 
This precious boy, Collier, just turned 13.  He has Down Syndrome and significant delays - but he is precious in God's sight.  Is this your son?
 
 
 
Breanna - What a face! She is 7 years old and has Down Syndrome.  All her file says is "Nature sociable, friendly, affectionate, easy to contact" - but there is a heart, a soul, a little person that cannot be captured by her photo.
 
 
 
What a happy face.  Her only description is "Down Syndrome with a calm nature".  She is eight years old.  What a smile - is she yours?
 
How about you?  Who are your prayer babes?  Find one, even one, to pray for until they get a home!  Choose one from the sidebar of this blog or go find your own at Reese's Rainbow.  Your heart will not be the same.  Bookmark their page on your computer - check it regularly - when it says "My Family Found Me" at the bottom, you know your prayers have been answered!.
 
There are some additional little ones, I would ask you to pray for with me.  It will be a little harder to know when their family finds them, because they no longer have files listed with Reese's Rainbow.  But I trust God will find a way to show me when they have families...These five are in a terrible orphanage.  If you would like more information on them, please email Andrea Roberts at andrea@reecesrainbow.org.
 
 
Chad
 
 
Brandi
 
 
Garnet
 
 
Harvey
 
 
Kramer
 
Finally, I have to shout out for my little Kristina.  She reminds me so much of a little breakable dolly.  She needs a family so badly.  She is another one of my heart babies - God has pressed her continually in my thoughts and prayers.  For more information, please contact Myriam@AgapeAdoptions.org.
 
 
Kristina
 
If I hear of any of these precious children finding families, I will post immediately!  If you are reading this blog and know that any of these children have families working to redeem them, please leave me a comment and let me know - what a joy that would be!
 
 
To Christ be all glory, honor, and praise!  Until He comes...... 
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heart Weary.....

I knew this day would come...I thought I was there several times in the last several months, but each time I was strengthened and renewed for the fight through His Word and the stories of others...but here I am today; so heart weary that I don't want to see another little face needing a family...Another life, precious beyond measure, left to rot in a hellish place. 

Today was the day I clicked on the "New Children" tab on Reese's Rainbow and I just couldn't look any farther.  It was not that particular little beautiful face - just knowing that here was another little one who needs a mama to snuggle her and wipe her tears and a daddy to carry her in his strong arms and whisper to her that he will protect her.

After shouting and wrestling in prayer time after time for little one after little one, today I wished for a few moments that I just didn't know.  That I was still wrapped in my little self-focused life - enjoying the sunshine, dreaming about cinnamon rolls and making beautiful dresses for my girls and smiling as my boys play football on the street outside. 

Was there really a time that I didn't feel that constant tug at my heart, whispering that there are children somewhere in desperate need of love and just simple care - that need to be rescued from hell on earth?  Was there a time that I looked forward to the day when it would just be my husband and I at home, instead of thinking, "How old is too old to adopt another?" and smiling that we will never be alone?  Was there a time when I dreamed of fluffy handmade (by me) quilts in my kiddos rooms and plenty of time to do my favorite things, instead of figuring out how to squeeze at least one more bed into our house?  Was there really a time when I wanted nothing more than to just have acres to work on and time to can and bake and read a good book, instead of trying to figure out how to make a house handicap accessible while spending as little as possible?  Was there really, really time that I dreamed of diamond earrings, instead of wondering how tacky it would be to sell my ring to help pay for another adoption?  (Not that it would bring that much! ;-) )  Was there really a time when I felt like my self-focused life was glorifying to my Savior Who gave everything for me?

The war in my soul at the moment is one of weariness - of wanting to lay down the sword and just pretend there is not a battle going on.  My weary traitorous emotions want to just pretend that it all has not happened....to go back to the ignorant bliss of thinking I was just here to live my own life and that would be enough...

I am not a Hobbit fan - I never have been.  But my two oldest struck a bargain with me - if they read the whole series of books first, I would let them watch the Lord of the Rings movies.  I had no interest in watching them....but I just happened to be in the room at the end of the last movie.  Frodo and clan are back after their life-changing mission.  I hadn't followed the movie and honestly, it is just a movie, but I was immediately struck by the deep sadness in Frodo's eyes.  As life was moving on around him, it was like he couldn't truly rejoin his old world because of the damage that had been done to his soul in the battles he had gone through.  I almost cried.  I thought, "That is me!"  I can't just rejoin my old life....to pick up where I left off when God changed the course of my life by saying, "Look here.  See where My heart is.  See where I want your heart to be."  

The damage that has been done to my heart by seeing face after face, precious life after life being abused, neglected, starved, ignored, forgotten, beaten, tortured, cast aside.....The damage that is done by "friendly fire" when a family does step out in faith to rescue one of these precious children.  It creates scars so deep that they feel like they will never heal.  And when they do heal, the new covering is so stiff and foreign that the phantom pains and awkwardness never goes away... Frodo didn't truly smile and seem at peace until he was taken away to another world....

Somehow I think that will be part of the ending of my life....true peace and freedom from knowing will not come until He takes me Home.  Until then, I will always hear those whispers...the whispers telling me that another needs to be redeemed in this life, just as Christ has redeemed me...Redemption Whispers....Ahhhh, now I remember why I do this - my Savior did this for me, and so much more....How can I do any less? 

The battle is on...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Letters.....

This was a letter written in response to my post "Flames" - I didn't want it to be lost in the comments, so I am reprinting it, along with  my response here...

I came to this post from Susanna's blog, and am so glad I did. Well, glad in the big picture; I am still really heart-raw at the moment, struggling with my own sinfulness and begging God to please grow me. . . and yet not wanting to grow too much, too far, too scarily. I feel led to share what I wrote in response to your post--it might be helpful to someone else also struggling, or maybe you would like to see the powerful effect of your imagery played out in my heart. http://www.oblesseday.blogspot.com/2012/09/adoption-giveaway-last-day.html

Blessed


Dear Blessed ~

Your honesty and openness is a blessing to me! Your struggles and feelings describe exactly the path that we have walked before plunging "headlong into the depths of the terror" - what an exact description!

Honestly, my husband and I know that without God first giving us a biological child with severe special needs, we never would have made that plunge - no matter how long and hard we talked about it! Our "talking" about it before our daughter was born helped us through shock (we didn't know she would have SN until she was born)- but we couldn't have taken that plunge without His Hand leading - even pushing us! - off the cliff.

Please know that this is truly an area that God prepares the ones He has called - NOT that He calls those that are prepared! Don't see too much greatness in those who are doing this - only see the greatness of our Father! He asks, we jump - THEN He catches us in His grace. If He has not asked you to jump - don't search for the courage to do it - you probably will not find it! He gives us the ability to do what He has called us to do - not the ability to do what He has called others to. (I could not live in Paupa New Guinea with my best friend as a missionary! Unless He called us to...) You are glorifying Him and supporting the fatherless through your prayers and in asking others to pray. How thankful I am for that!

Another thought, He does engrave very specific children on our hearts - to the point that their needs do not seem to matter as much as getting them into our arms. Again, this is His grace guiding us and strengthening us. I have been just as guilty of mentally setting a child "aside" - if you read my post "I Know What Breaks God's Heart....it's Me." You will see God's chastening of my heart for thinking that.

The other thing He burnt into my heart is that I - ME -I am the one with that horrifying diagnosis. Without God's grace, I would be the one calling for the crucifying of the Savior - I had spurned Him, spit on Him, and driven the nails into His Hands! Yet, He chose in His grace to adopt me as His child - the one who would have killed Him in my sin. How can I do any less for a child - IF He asked me to? I am thankful -truly relieved! - and thankful He has not asked me to embrace a child with RAD, etc - yet.

But in a touch of irony, one of the things I had claimed that I could not do is parent a child with autism. Guess what? One of my children is on the autism spectrum...we did not even suspect this at the time he joined our family. God knew I would fail completely to leap off that cliff...so He gave him to me first and then revealed that.

You are on the right path...you are asking God to soften your heart to whatever He is asking you. Trust Him to do that - in His time and in the direction He would have you go. It may or may not be adoption - but you are glorifying Him with your prayers and willingness.

May God richly bless you! To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!
 
I have to add Penny's beautiful picture here....she is still in that burning building....