Saturday, September 27, 2008

Adopted = Wanted and Chosen

(I speak as an adopted child, not an adoptive parent so if my suppositions are not accurate I apologize.)

There are no unplanned adoptions.

There are children from unplanned pregnancies, or pregnancies that were more or less intentional and then, those children who've resulted from a very intentional desire to have a child.

Adoption can be like the choice to get pregnant; there is this desire for a child and action towards that end and then the uncertainty of how things are developing. A pregnancy however is usually a set amount of time, a certain procedure whereas an adoption hasn’t this set time frame and involves from start to finish many deliberate actions

The one thing though that all pregnancies have in common and that is that pretty much when your child is born – you have a child. Period.

There are no “call backs”, no return policy, no Plan B.

You are now a parent and have both the privilege and responsibility of taking care of this person.

My mom had told me about when I came into their lives. There had been a previous baby that had fallen through at the very end. Then the day came that they received a call about me; I was to be theirs if they wanted. I’d be in their arms tonight if that was still their desire…

They could have still said “No”.

Up until that very last moment there was the ability to walk away and say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

To adopt is to choose and to pursue and to “take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future.

God has adopted you.
God sought you,
found you,
signed the papers and
took you home.” (Max Lucado- The Great House of God)

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:4-9

Perhaps this truth will not strike you as it has me. I was unwanted by someone but wanted by someone else, longed for, and deliberately chosen to be a part of their family.

We, who are the children of God, have all been desired, longed for, snatched from death and given life, through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, in order to become children of God.

When it was the time for the Cross, could not Christ have said, “You know, I think I’ll pass…”?

So maybe today, for just a moment, revel in the fact that your relationship with God didn’t just happen, it wasn’t a “oops” or an “oh well”, it is intentional.

You are a child of God because God wants you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not In My Plans...

July 6th – Get this sudden idea about having a huge neighborhood wide Back To School Bash on a Sunday afternoon all around the outside of the church campus.

-Pitch it to the deacons, am given a thousand dollar budget and offers of help

July – August 31
- Plan games
- Choose and order appropriate and budget friendly prizes
- Make ten separate visits to various stores for school supplies at the lowest possible prices

Sunday - Sep. 7 - Have a massive sign-up list in church and 28 people agree to give up their afternoon and help
- Answer the question “what will we do if it rains?” with a confident “If God could cause the sun to shine for Joshua an additional 24 hours so that he could win the battle, surely He can make it not rain on Sunday afternoon”

Mon – Friday – Make massive lists of details still be to attended to
- Rent popcorn machine, hot dog steamer, inflatable, arrange for tents
- Buy massive quantities of popcorn and hot dogs
- Watch the forecast predicting rain all week
- Answer more questions about what will we do if it rains?
- Have 7 helpers distribute more than 400 flyers all around the neighborhood
- Send emails and make phone calls to those who understand the fervency of intercession that they will pray that it will not rain.

Saturday – 8 pm
Sunday’s forecast – 100% chance of rain – something you never see – 100% and it’s been raining virtually nonstop all day Friday and all day today.

This was your idea from the beginning. You have provided the strength, inspiration, and creativity for this entire event. If it rains we’re sunk because no one will come and all the money has been spent.

Lord, it is now I need to remember the things I know:

Moses and the children of Israel at the Red Sea
Joshua looking at the fortified city of Jericho
The servant whose borrowed ax head has flown off and into the river
The widow preparing the last meal for her and her son
Thousands of people listening on a hillside with no food save 5 rolls and 2 fish
The darkness of Calvary as you’ve breathed your last and there’s been no miraculous rescue from heaven

Because these stories are in the Bible, and the end has already been written, it is difficult to remember that they were real people – with genuine anxiety about the impossible in front of them and all their resources exhausted.

There is nothing I can do Father. I have no control over the weather, only you do.

I am counting on you – this whole thing was your idea from the beginning and meant for your glory and to promote your name – how much you would be honored by giving us a beautiful afternoon – of course the doubt in me would ask you to make it beautiful first thing in the morning so that the set-up will not be so soggy…Lord Jesus, be glorified, in my own heart and amongst your church here and to this neighborhood.

And Father, should the clouds continue their weeping throughout tomorrow may I rest in peace that this was also part of your plan to accomplish whatever purpose this was all meant to accomplish…

Sunday –

Midnight to 6 am – waking up periodically, praying that it does not rain…

6:30 am – faint pink in the sky, everything is wet but IT IS NOT RAINING!!!!

7:30 am - steadily raining heavily – radar map for the day is solid green

Tropical depression caused by Hurricane Ike – band of rain from the most intense center in Texas all the way to Canada – mostly yellow in the center path flanked by green…it doesn’t look good…

Father, hold an umbrella over 11024 Bell and please put it in place by the time we get there when the decision needs to be made…

9:30 am – POURING

10 am – Moved the signs to indicate the outdoor carnival is now indoors – get totally soaked, cancel the inflatable

11am – Sunday service begins, still pouring, my heart feels like the weather outside.

12:30 – Everything starts inside –it's loud and confused but many have stayed to help and families have come and there are many smiles and a lot of fun and... it continues to rain -

3 pm – Event ends – and so finally does the rain…

Father, I am disappointed in the weather. I was faithful in my preparation, in my ascribing glory to you, in fervent prayer and yet it still rained. This wasn’t part of my plans – my massively detailed, page after page of plans for this day...

But it was in your plan all along.
I wish I knew why.

I wish I knew what purpose you had in mind to accomplish..
But I don’t.
All I know is that my plans did not include rain, but yours did.

So Lord -and as I say that I am ascribing to you that you are Lord, my master, my God, and the potentate of all - may I rest in the assurance that you are God and I am not and that you know what you are doing, even though I don’t.

And may we all find our peace here when things don’t work out the way we planned.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Isaiah 55:8,9 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tools in the hand of God

I have to say that one of my favorite attributes of God is His constant presence.
God doesn't occasionally "pop" into my life to check out how things are going but He abides with me; there in every moment.

Because we are constantly in the presence of God He uses the ordinary things in our lives to draw our attention to Him. In essence this is the theme of everything I write - God in our everyday stuff.

Today God used a TV dinner to bring me into grateful worship.

I had warmed one up for lunch and it was...well, it was a frozen dinner - could have better, probably could have been worse...and I thought about how I never buy these dinners anymore but how for a year I bought a stack every couple of weeks. My mom had fallen and broken her hip and the best I could do in a culinary way was to make sure her fridge was full of food that was easy to get to and prepare. So there was lots of yogurt, oatmeal, applesauce and simple things, and a stack of frozen dinners - all varieties, all kinds of combinations and night after night she'd heat one up for dinner.

My mom is now in heaven and no longer does she have to eat tasteless meals from black plastic trays. Suddenly God used my bland lunch to cause me to praise Him that now she is feasting at His table and in His presence!

So keep your eyes open as you go through your day.

Let God use, as He chooses, the stuff around you to bring you into conversation with Him.

Let Him exalt something as simple as a TV dinner into an instrument of praise and an example of His love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why do I go to Church?

I'm not going to answer this question.

And notice that I am not asking 'Why do people go to church?' or 'Why should you go to church?"; the question is 'Why do YOU go to church?'

This was a question I wrestled with most of the summer.
I know the "correct" answer but what I needed to know was my own personal answer; the completely honest answer that God already knows and perhaps I have kept hidden from myself.

I will tell you that the first answer that came to my mind was "because it would feel weird not to". My second thought was "now that's a rotten answer", but it was true. I've gone to church all my life so to sit home consistently on a Sunday morning would feel pretty strange.

But is that enough of a reason?

I lead an adult Sunday school class and we vary greatly in how many people are there any given Sunday, which of course leads to the discussion of how do we get people to come to Sunday school? It's obviously not so much of a habit as is attendance at the morning service.

I was in a heated discussion last night about children in the church service as opposed to being in children's church and I find that the answer circles back to this question - Why do I go to church? and therefore why do I take my children to church?

Our churches are packed with people who have sat in the pews every Sunday of their lives because of the answer "It's what we do on Sunday".

I contend that is not enough of an answer.

The second answer is "It's where my friends are".
A sense of community is a wonderful and needful thing - why else would there be as many organizations as there are, Elks and Lions and women's clubs etc., if we didn't have this longing in us to be identified with a group of like minded individuals - and to have a place to bring that great new pot luck recipe...!

But is that answer enough?
I think you know the answer is "no" but my question remains - If you are totally honest with yourself about your motivation to get up every Sunday and walk in the church doors, what is the answer? No one else needs to know your answer but you do. It is imperative for us, as followers of Christ, to examine the things that may have become nothing more than religious habits and see where our heart truly is.

And when you find your answer, you may discover, as I have, that puts a new lens in place to how you view your church attendance and your own attitude in worship.

Why do you go to church?

God already knows.

But do you?