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Adoption isn’t ultimate. God is.

The last nine months have been some of the most unsettling months of my life. These months have brought about difficult and trying circumstances and situations that have been outside of my ability to directly influence or make decisions about.

The situation that has been at the top of that list has been adoption. About seven years ago we began doing foster care with our county. As a cop I saw just how often kids needed to be removed from homes in which their well-being was in jeopardy. We also decided to begin pursuing international adoption from Haiti sometime after that.

After several years of waiting to have a placement from Haiti, we wondered if we would ever adopt from that country. However, God saw fit to bring about a situation in which we faced the decision to adopting both locally and internationally at the same time. Both situations came to head in the last 9 months and we’ve been faced with the question as to whether we have the capacity to take on both. (This is a whole other story)

Through prayer and seeking advice we decided to say yes to both. That “yes” has brought about a testing of my faith. Adoption and the adoption process brings with it trials and suffering that only people who have gone through the process can really understand the uniqueness of. Yet, I am told in Hebrews 4:15 that I have a great high priest that can sympathize with my weakness- Jesus Christ. He knows.

As I have gone through this testing of my faith I have meditated on Hebrews 11 which has been an anchor in a stormy sea. I’ve gone back to these verses time and again, and through it I have seen six things that God has been teaching me.

  1. I have seen that what is more important to God than me having a heart that wants to adopt a child, is a heart that wants to trust in the promises of God. Adoption isn’t ultimate. God is.
  2. I have seen that more important than having things work out the way I think they should, is a heart that has in faith in a God who works all things together for my good. He even works out mistakes, regrets, and problems for my good.
  3. The sovereignty of God abounds in the inefficiency of the adoption process. Adoption is unbelievably inefficient, expensive, and slow. I have learned that my joy should not be tethered to circumstances working out the way I want them too. My joy is to be grounded in the fact God reigns supreme over adoption and nothing can thwart his plans.
  4. I have seen that my money is not mine but belongs to God. If we lose money because of problems or inefficiency, my heart ought to still rejoice in God’s plans and purposes. God’s bank account is never depleted.
  5. I have seen a growing awareness of my dependence on God which has caused me to pray more.
  6. I have seen more of the complete brokenness of this world, and the affects of sin on it are more of a reality to me. Red tape, paper work, and inefficient processes exist because this world is fallen. Corruption within adoption has created hoops to jump through which affect the people who rightly care about the orphan. Scripture tells me that in this world I will have trouble. It’s not weird. All the saints who have been obedient to God and have done great things for him have experienced significant, confusing opposition.

Hebrews 11 (and the first 2 verses of chapter 12) has given me the eyes to see these six things. Below, are some of the verses from that chapter that have given me this lens. What is invisible (God) is more powerful that what is visible (my situation). Whatever is ahead for us, may our faith be like that of the men and women in this chapter.

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Hebrews 11:3

”For he (Abraham) was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:10

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

“He (Moses) endured as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11: 27

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

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Dear Taylor

March, 18, 2018

Dear Taylor,

Tonight we were on our way home from church. Sunday nights are when we have our children’s discipleship program. You were in the backseat of the SUV singing along with the children’s catechism songs that were playing. I love hearing you sing.

“Do you have a spirit, as well as a body? Yes, I have a spirit that can never die.”

This lyric repeated itself several times and you sang along with every word. You then said, “My spirit will probably go to heaven when I die because I want to be with Jesus.” I turned the music down and told you that the Bible tells us we can know for sure if we are going to Heaven or not. We don’t have to say “probably”. We can know for certain.

I explained to you that if you have a heart that is sorry for sinning against God and is trusting in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins you can be with him forever in Heaven. You told me that you were trusting in Jesus and wanting to obey him. I asked if you had every actually prayed this and told God that this is what your heart wants. You said you had not yet.

I told you that a prayer doesn’t magically save you, but if your heart is sorry for sin and trusting in Jesus, it would be pleasing to God to tell him that. You said that you were going to do that “right now, but I want to say it silently.” I told you that I would love to hear your prayer out loud and it would make me happy to hear you tell these things to God. After a little coaxing, you agreed to say it out loud.

“God I want to be with you forever in Heaven. I want to be a part of your kingdom. Jesus I’m sorry for my sin. I want to be in your kingdom forever.”

I don’t remember the exact words you prayed, but it was similar to this. It was a beautiful 3 or 4 sentence prayer. The words coming out of your mouth weren’t your salvation. The words were only a reflection of what I hope is truly in your heart- that you are a sinner and Jesus is a wonderful Savior.

Cling to this all the days of your life. This isn’t mere sentiment. As you grow older your understanding of salvation will grow more fully. I pray that you will know more fully how awesome the gospel is. Jesus really lived. Your sin really separates you from God. And Jesus really saves by grace through faith.

I sing this song to you many times as you go to sleep. May you embrace it all your days.

Love,

Daddy

ALL I HAVE IS CHRIST

VERSE 1
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

VERSE 2
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

CHORUS
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

VERSE 3
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You


Pierce The Veil

The act of suicide has perplexed me. The unanswered question in my mind has been how could someone be in such a bad circumstance that the only hope they had left was to end their life. I have stood on the doorsteps of houses or made phone calls to parents, children, and family members, giving them the news they do not want to hear. I’ve seen blank faces, watched tears roll, and heard shrieks that will echo in my memory forever.

As I looked at another dead young man, the question came to my mind again. He had dressed himself in his suit, sat down on a chair next to the fire pit in his backyard, and shot himself. His roommate had found him that morning. The entire look and feel of a suicide scene is cold and hopeless.

As I walked through his room, I found the artwork of an album cover leaning up against the wall on the floor. The image on the album had a house collapsing in on itself. The walls were crumbling in and the roof was falling down. Above the house there was the image of a woman. It looked like she was coming up through the roof and ascending into the sky. Finally, in bold, capital letters at the top of the picture was the phrase “PIERCE THE VEIL.”

That image helped me understand the mindset of a suicidal person more clearly. The hope that he had was that by pulling a trigger, he would escape the veil that had been covering him, restraining him, holding him down. Maybe he didn’t kill himself mainly because he was hopeless, because he had a hope in piercing the veil.

I felt the heaviness of that. I wished I could have been able to talk to him 24 hours ago. He didn’t need to pull a trigger to pierce the veil. He only need to turn his heart to Jesus Christ who removes the veil. His freedom didn’t lay on the other side of this life. His freedom could be in Christ.

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed…And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being  transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this come from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:16, 18)

Jesus was the one that pierced the veil of sin and removed the judgement of sin and hell. Our biggest problems are solved at the cross, through the gospel.


The Cops You Don’t Read About

This is a quote from Bob Schieffer, the former host of Face The Nation on CBS, who worked part of his career as a beat cop reporter.

I want to add a paragraph or two to the rash of stories lately about cops gone wrong. This is not about them. This is about all the cops you don’t read about. They deal much of the time with the dregs of our society. The schemers, the murderers, those who prey on the weak. And most of the time, the police deal with them humanely, and as they should.

“What we overlook is just how difficult that can be sometimes. It’s not easy to remain passive when a child-beater looks you in the eye and tells you–you have to understand, the kid was keeping him awake. It takes a lot of professional training and strong character not to respond in anger. I know, because I spent my early years [on the police beat] listening to some of these awful people. Sometimes I wanted to hit them myself. I didn’t, but it helped me understand how hard it is to do a cop’s job right. As hard as it is, the great majority of our cops still do just that.


Fighting

The Art of Manliness had a good blog post on fighting recently. Here is an excerpt from Thomas Hughes written in 1857.

After all, what would life be without fighting, I should like to know? From the cradle to the grave, fighting, rightly understood, is the business, the real, highest, honestest business of every son of man. Every one who is worth his salt has his enemies, who must be beaten, be they evil thoughts and habits in himself or spiritual wickedness in high places, or Russians, or Border-ruffians, or Bill, Tom, or Harry, who will not let him live his life in quiet till he has thrashed them.

It is no good for Quakers, or any other body of men, to uplift their voices against fighting. Human nature is too strong for them, and they don’t follow their own precepts. Every soul of them is doing his own piece of fighting, somehow and somewhere. The world might be a better world without fighting, for anything I know, but it wouldn’t be our world; and therefore I am dead against crying peace when there is no peace, and isn’t meant to be. I’m as sorry as any man to see folk fighting the wrong people and the wrong things, but I’d a deal sooner see them doing that, than that they should have no fight in them.


Planet Earth

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

I found out that Planet Earth is on sale at Amazon.com for $19.99 and bought it for my son’s Christmas present. Two thousand days of filming, over five years with 40 cameramen and an unprecedented budget. The DVD box says, “Planet Earth is the ultimate portrait of our planet.” And I would add that it will be a stunningly awe-inspiring moment of worship to the Creator and Sustainer of our planet as I watch it with Jack.


The Heavens Declare Atheism is Wrong

To watch this video and still say that a Designer did not put this into motion is to reject reality.