What’s the news? Well, for the past few weeks we’ve been occupied with our new hobby of paperwork and appointments. We’ve had physicals, fingerprints, background checks, psychological evaluations, interviews, training sessions and assignments, and plenty of forms to complete. Our housemates have likewise had to get physicals, background checks, fingerprints, and even up-to-date vaccinations for their pets. If all goes as planned, we’ll complete and submit our big packet this week! Woohoo!

Yesterday, I  came across this blog entry from David Platt. He and his family just picked up his new daughter from China, so he’s been writing and speaking a lot about adoption lately. Very timely for me. This is another one that very much expresses our perspective and passion for adoption – please give it a read.

Here are a couple of my favorite parts:

A child does not choose to initiate adoption; instead, a parent chooses to adopt a child. The same is true in spiritual adoption, as well. The Word is clear that in our sin, we were once children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), alienated from God (Colossians 1:21) and totally unable to save ourselves from our sin in order to become His sons. Talk about special needs. Our minds were blinded (Romans 1:21-23), our emotions were disordered (Romans 1:26-27), our bodies were defiled (Romans 1:24-25), our wills were distorted (Romans 3:10-12), and our relationships were broken (James 4:1-4). We were slaves to sin (John 8:34), lovers of darkness (John 3:20), morally evil (Genesis 8:21), and spiritually lost (Luke 19:10). And the good news of the gospel is that God saw our need and initiated our adoption:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:3-10).

Understanding this biblical foundation of spiritual adoption is critical for understanding the proper motivation for physical adoption. We have a tendency in our day to romanticize adoption, envisaging cute children around the world (both domestically and internationally) just waiting to be adopted. Obviously, they are all cute in their own ways, but they are also needy…and many of their needs are great.

—–

Mere altruism will not sustain you in situations like these [parenting a special needs or even dangerous child]. Only the gospel will. Because in the gospel, you are reminded on a daily basis that there was a day when you were a child of wrath, filled with evil desires, totally unable to control your sinfulness, and desperately in need of Savior, and God reached down His hand of mercy past the depth of your wickedness in order to adopt you as His own. When there was no initiative to draw you to Him, He initiated a relationship with you.

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Confirmations

You know how, when you learn about or begin something new, you see it everywhere? That especially happens to me when the Lord has called me to do something. He orchestrates little confirmations in conversations, songs, news stories, movies, books, prophecy, dreams, and especially Scripture.

One of my favorites from this past week was during the Secret Church simulcast (a joint venture of Disciple-Making International and LifeWay) immediately following our orientation at Bethany on Friday night. David Platt spent a considerable amount of time teaching on God’s heart for families, orphans, and adoption. All questions of his motive for doing such were quelled when he announced that he is flying to China next week to pick up his first adopted daughter! Here are some of the points which stood out most to me:

  • In the United States:
    • Over 45 million abortions have occurred since 1973.
    • 1.4 million abortions occur every year; 3,000 abortions occur every day; an abortion occurs every 20-25 seconds.
    • One third of American women have an abortion at some point in their lives
  • Abortion is an affront to God’s sovereignty as Creator and His glory in creation
  • Until we do something to counter abortion, we don’t have a lot of room to speak against it.
  • God gives children to families by His grace and for His glory
    • “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of  one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” -Psalm 127:3
    • We’re to raise them not to get a great education, become a great athlete, go on great dates, have great careers, or make great money, but to love a great God.
  • Adoption is the essence of the Gospel
    • By God’s grace, we have been adopted as sons of God
      • “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4
      • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ; for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment —to bring everything together in the Messiah,both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.” – Ephesians 1:3-10
      • “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ” Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him  so that we may also be glorified with Him.” – Romans 8:14-17
    • Adoption requires someone who possesses the right qualifications (don’t we know that’s true; paperwork is our new hobby!).
      • Jesus is fully divine, fully human, and fully righteous; the only being who could ever have atoned for the sins of mankind and given us the inheritance of Elohim.
  • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27
    • There are over 140 million orphans worldwide.
    • We care for orphans not because we are rescuers, but because we are the rescued.
    • Ignorance regarding orphans is Biblically inexcusable. 

To this last point, I’ll add a quote from the famous abolitionist William Wilberforce which I saw in a documentary about human trafficking. It also holds true here.

 “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

– B

11/6/11

On Friday, we went to an all-day orientation for Bethany families. We learned more about Bethany;  how their domestic ministry works, what we can expect, and more about the staff. We also had the privilege of hearing from several adoptive moms who told their stories. Among them was the pastor’s wife from a church in our town with which we’re familiar (several friends are members). We didn’t realize they are a Bethany family, so we should try to connect with them!

The day was full of confirmations that we’re in the right place. This is great not just for encouragement for challenges ahead, but because I often struggle with the reasons why I live in the United States. I am uncomfortable with comfort. Since I’ve been involved with a ministry in Haiti, God has been increasing my passion for missional living, simplicity, and people in poverty. Some days I am actually jealous of my Haitian friends’ rich faith and community. In comparison to them (and most of the world), I am materially rich, but spiritually poor. I really would be fine living there and I think that is probably in our future – many friends confirm the same expectation. So I often wonder why I’m here, living in a nice house with a yard and 2-car garage in a nice subdivision, working at a full-time job with benefits, living the “normal” middle-class life. It’s not my style. I get sick of the cultural emphasis of the “American Dream” and its syncretism with Western Christianity. In my view, it just does not line up with the Gospel or Biblical examples of Christ’s church.  I don’t feel guilty for having nice things, but I do see each dollar earned or spent as a stewardship decision – wondering how many people it could feed or how else it could serve the Kingdom.

My go-to explanation/justification is that my job does have Kindgom value (I produce digital Biblical resources) and there are people here in my social class in the United States who also need Jesus. In fact, Jesus said it’s harder for the rich to be a part of the Kingdom, so this is certainly a vital mission field. Nashville also has serious homeless and human trafficking problems to which I’ve been called to respond. We know for sure that we are at the right church. There are men here who sharpen, challenge, and encourage me.

All those are legitimate, but even they feel like cop-outs sometimes. I could do the same job, reach the same people, and serve at the same church if I were much poorer. I would be plenty content if we lived in a trailer. I know it’s weird to be discontent with having what I perceive as too much. But that’s the true context of Philippians 4:13 – contentment with a little or a lot, in whatever situation God has me, through Christ who gives me strength.

This week, that took on a new meaning to me personally. See, when looking through our paperwork and seeing the requirements and qualifications for adoptive families, I realized that we JUST  fit!

God has us exactly where we are right now so that we can adopt.

I am more than content with that. I’m stoked.

–  B

November is National Adoption Month!

I learned via Twitter today that November is National Adoption Month! Curious. God, what are you up to? I sense an endearingly mischievous smile on His face.
Linked in that tweet was this excellent article written last year by Dr. Moore from Southern Seminary. Here are a few selections about why adoption is awesome:

“Families, the Bible tells us, reflect something eternally true about God. It is God’s fatherhood after which every family in heaven and on earth is named (Eph. 3:14-15). We know what human parenting should look like based on our Father’s behavior toward us.”

“Adoption is, on one hand, gospel. Our identity and inheritance are grounded in our adoption in Christ. Adoption is also mission. In this, our adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned, and the fatherless.”

“The Abba cry of our adoption defines who we are and what family we belong to. That’s why Scripture’s witness to the doctrine of adoption has everything to do with church unity, away from the divisions of Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, rich and poor (Gal. 3:28). None of us are natural-born children of God, entitled to all this grace, all this glory … Yes, Abraham was the father of the Israelites, but he was an Iraqi Gentile before he joined the household of God. We Christians receive newcomers because, in Christ, we have been received. Our identity and our inheritance are found in Christ, or they are not found at all.”

“After all, there are no ‘adopted children’ of God, as an ongoing category. Adoption tells us how we came into the family of God. And once we are here, no distinction is drawn between those at the dinner table.”

“The adoption movement is challenging the impoverished hegemony of our carnal sameness, as more and more families in the church are starting to show fellow believers the meaning of unity in diversity.

“That’s why adoption and orphan care can ultimately make the church a counterculture. The demonic rulers of the age hate orphans because they hate babies—and have from Pharaoh to Moloch to Herod to the divorce culture to malaria to HIV/AIDS. They hate foster care and orphan advocacy because these actions are icons of the gospel’s eternal reality. Our enemies would prefer that we find our identity and inheritance in what we can see and verify as ours—the flesh—rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit. Orphan care isn’t charity; it’s spiritual warfare.”

“When we contend for orphans—born and unborn—we are doing more than cultural activism. A culture of adoption, orphan care, and ministry to mothers in distress announces what the kingdom of God looks like and to whom it belongs. We’re contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).”

Amen! Along with the calling and desires God has given our family to welcome another child into our home (and probably to minister to a birth mom or family), I share Dr. Moore’s thoughts and convictions. We hope you will, too —  or at least understand where our hearts are and continue to support and encourage us.

“In saying that orphan care is missional, I do not mean that every Christian is called to adopt or foster a child. But every Christian is called to care for orphans. As with every aspect of Christ’s mission, a diversity of gifts abounds. Some have room at their table and in their hearts for another stocking on the mantle by this coming Christmas. Others are gifted financially to help families who would like to adopt but cannot figure out how to make ends meet. Others can babysit while families with children make their court dates and complete home-study papers.

Still others can lead mission trips to rock and hug and sing to orphans who may never be adopted. Pastors can simply ask whether anyone in their congregation might be called to adopt or foster parent, or to empower someone who is. And all of us can pray—specifically and urgently—for orphans the world over.”

You all have done an amazing job at this already! We can’t thank you enough.

Special thanks today to a family member who gave us another $500!

Love, B.