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!...


 
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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......