Category Archives: being a disciple

thoughts on being adopted

During this trip to Africa to visit ministry partners, I visited friends who traveled to a foreign country to adopt kids. When I met their kids, I experienced that they were funny and fun to be around, I love their laughs! And based on the kids pre-adoption history, that could very well not have been the case. Thanks be to God for this family. But due to some governmental issues beyond their control they are not able to leave the children’s birth country and go home to the parent’s home country. (Their identity and location are withheld for their well being and to prevent complications.)

While I was there I gained a fresh reminder of how much God loves us and the sacrifice He was willing to make so that he could adopt us.

See, these friends left the West and moved to Africa to take custody of the kids while the adoption process was completed. They got their kids out of the orphanage and set up housekeeping and began the process of becoming the mom and dad for two little ones who had been shuffled from one place to another for most of the young lives. This process has a lot of pitfalls and risks, lots of rules and paperwork and on many occasions requires enormous faith. After lots of meetings, check ups, paperwork and such, the kids became theirs. The kids had passports issued from the parent’s home country, funds were available to get on a plane and fly home. But the children’s home country, like many countries around the world, halted the departure for all children being adopted to Western countries. 

The family was… stuck. 

They are not alone. Many governments,  from all over the world, including Russia and China, are putting tall roadblocks in the path of Westerners who want and are willing and able to meet the huge criteria to adopt. So my friends live in Africa, with their kids, waiting to leave and following up on every hint of hope of a way to get out. It is an incredibly hard life both from the aspect of waiting and living life in a desperately poor country.

But I’m not really writing about them, I’m writing of how they have reminded me of how much my Heavenly Father loved us. So much so that he sent His only begotten Son. He was willing to pay a great price and undergo incredible suffering so as to adopt us. He chose us and brought us to Himself. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you cost Him an amazing price.

What I I’ve learned from my friends is that their love for their kids is greater than the suffering they are enduring. Jesus’ love for you is greater than the suffering that He was willing to endure for you. What an incredible thing to consider. To step down into poverty, into oppression – voluntarily – because He came to pay the price that we may be adopted.

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. (Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV)

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READ: @jr_briggs interviews Eugene Peterson

J. R. Briggs (did you read FAIL yet? you should. go HERE) anyway @jr_briggs interviewed Eugene Peterson about being “The Relationally Grounded Pastor.” It’s about pastoral ministry. Shepherding. Check out these quotes that struck me:

“I’m alarmed that we measure things by what the world counts as important.”

“…if we let people define themselves in terms of problems then they get defined in our minds as problems. We have to fix them, and that’s just death for a pastoral vocation.”

“…let your congregation be the congregation it can be out of who they are.”

Read the interview HERE. I hope you will be challenged and encouraged.

If you have not read Pastor, Peterson’s memoir, you owe it to yourself to make time, maybe this summer, to dwell on this scholar/pastor’s story.

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Be encouraged, be challenged

I learned that when I preach a message, I need to present the context of the text, explain the text itself, and apply it to life. 

Sweet Anna and I visited a friend’s church today, a Korean speaking church. I caught bits and pieces of the sermon (my Korean is very limited) but because I can read a little and know many of the books of the Bible, I figured out the outline of the message (there is a point to these details). Sweet Anna told me it was about ring encouraged. So as I followed the texts on the slides I saw the sermon shaping up as I read their contexts: like figures in Scripture, we get frustrated and discouraged in life, but there is hope.

Moses was frustrated by the whining of the people and expressed his own struggles to God.

If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” (‭Numbers‬ ‭11‬:‭15‬ ESV)

Elijah on the run from Jezebel.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”  (1Ki.19.4 ESV)

Jonah (you should need no intro).

Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4.3 ESV)

Let’s press on. They got discouraged, but God used them:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6.9)

The Prodigal came to his senses and ran home to his waiting father. God is waiting for us:

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 ESV)

Look to Jesus who endured, Jesus is our strength to endure and press on:

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter 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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Heb. 12.2-3)

Press on!

Here’s the beauty of this sermon: it was so based on Scripture and the power of God’s word, it was not dependent on the preacher (or my ability to totally understand the preacher’s words). 

The Word of God preached its own message.

Preachers, let’s be reminded: God doesn’t need your passion, pastoral abilities or plans, just preach the Word of God as the Word of God. 

Preach the Bible not your agenda. The Bible preaches itself as long as we keep ourselves out of its way.

Press on in Jesus’ power, sharing His word! Be encouraged!

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more Keller on prayer as disciple making conversation

Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.

I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘Prayer: A 14-Day Devotional By Tim Keller’. Check it out here:

http://bible.com/r/K0

This app could provide you and a fellow disciple with great disciple making conversations.

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Orwell on Fascism

In the article I referenced yesterday, the author quotes George Orwell. Orwell wrote about Hitler and Fascism in the context of his review of Mein Kampf. Consider these words:

Fascism is psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life… Whereas socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet… We ought not to undermine it’s emotional appeal.

When I read this I immediately thought of Putin sounding a similar call to his people as they take on so many of their neighbors over the years , the most significant being the current war with Ukraine.

Yet last week he was welcomed in Budapest as an economic savior of sorts. Of course the Hungarian PM is sometimes prone to such speech himself isn’t he?

There is a warning against such nationalism in Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Until Justice and Peace Embrace:

Idolatrous nationalism is not healthful; it is intensely poisonous. When a nation suffers from nationalism unchecked, the life of his members is twisted and distorted, and the nation becomes a menace among nations because it accepts no standards for international peace and justice.

Be very careful that your love of country does not become an idol that takes your attention away from God’s sovereign rule of the universe which should include your heart and mind.

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New Devotional on Prayer

A new 14 day devotional from Tim Keller including excerpts from his book on prayer is out. It’s on YouVersion

Check it out here.

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Loving the Bible

This was reportedly said by Charles Spurgeon: “By this the elect of God are known—that they love the Word of God”

I have been a student of the Bible for 35 years now. I try to read it every day and to one degree or another I am successful. It is my source of certainty about the knowledge of God. Yes, I said certainty.

When I was in seminary a while back I was struck to discover that textual criticism had failed as a tool to disprove the Bible, but rather, thanks to the work of textual critics, I can have more trust in the Bible.

Recently I’ve been studying about Islam for a program I’m in. I’m not studying Islam, I’m studying about Islam. As I have read about its early history, I have been struck by the apparent weakness of its core document. It is a document that, according to what I am learning, can not stand the test of textual criticism as the Bible has.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are a learner (that’s what the word means), you should cultivate a love of the Bible, what Spurgeon called the Word of God.

Tragically, studies show many Christians, and, sadly even their pastors, do not share this love of the Word of God. Too bad more Christians aren’t disciples.

Don’t study about God, study God. Be a learner. Be disciplined. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you cultivate a love of the Word He breathed into existence.

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