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Just another proof that adoption is a really good thing!

romans-3-part-2 click for sermon audio.  Recorded Sunday Feb. 15, 2009 during downtown community fellowship worship service.

Outline of Romans 3:9-22 (Conclusion of Section One: All have sinned and are accountable to God, Transition to God’s Salvation made available through faith.)

I.   All are under sin (3:9)

A.  Proof from OT Scriptures (Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Eccl. 7:20)

  1. There is none righteous, no, not one (3:10)
  2. There is none who seeks after God? (3:10)
  3. They have all turned aside and become unprofitable (3:12)
  4. There is no one who does good, no not one (3:12)

B.   Proof from OT Scriptures Continued

  1. Poisoned Lips (3:13) Psalm 5:9
  2. Mouth full of cursing and bitterness (3:14) Psalm 10:7
  3. Quick to kill, destruction and misery are in their ways (3:15-17) Isaiah 59:7-8
  4. Way of peace they have not known
  5. There is no fear of God before their eyes (3:18) Psalm 36:1

II.  What the law does (3:19-20)

  1. Condemns those under the law
  2. By it every mouth is stopped
  3. Gives guilt to the whole world before God
  4. The law cannot justify man before God
  5. The law gives knowledge of sin (informs man he is lost)

III.  The Righteousness of God is available (3:19-22)

A.  Apart from the Law

B.  Witnessed by:

  1. The Law
  2. Prophets

C.  Through Jesus Christ

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Just because it’s Valentine’s Day, doesn’t mean you can assume your wife prefers roses!

We woke up, got ready, and headed out for our first of two adoption training classes.  We stopped at chick-fil-a on the way and grabbed one of our favorite breakfast meals – a chicken biscuit with cheese and a cherry coke.  We were fueled up for our 9 AM to 4 PM class.

I must say that the hardest part of the training is hearing about all of the abuse children are put through – beatings and burnings, sexual exploitation, and emotional destruction.  My personal emotions run back and forth between sadness and anger.  One moment I want to cry, and the next I want to beat the ever loving snot out of something or someone.  To “be angry and sin not” is quite a challenge for me when I hear about these things.

After the training, we came home and Claire took a nap.  I took the opportunity to grab some last minute Valentine goodies and prepare dinner.  While at the store I ran into one of the college students  I play hoops with.  He saw me standing there with a hydrangea plant with a bunch of huge blooms.  We had a nice talk about relationships, and I got to drop a little wisdom and speak a little about God’s love to him.  We had a good time cutting up and laughing.

After dinner we relaxed and then went downtown to see “Step into Africa”.  It is 3500 square foot exhibit set up to put you in a village in Africa.  You step into the character of a child and live their story.  It was very well done and highlights the devastating affects of AIDS among children in Africa. You can see a very short video that tells you about the experience by clicking this sentence.

It was not a typical Valentine’s Day, but today we grew closer together, and I believe closer to the heart of God.  I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is so full of love and who has such a great capacity to give that love away! “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4).

I was asked the question of whether it was better to adopt locally or internationally.  One argument used for international (particularly in famine ravaged areas) was that those kids are far more at risk of death.  I cannot disagree with that thought.  However, I do not think it is a matter of which is better but which are you capable of doing.

Often people say, “Well if I had the money, then I would adopt.”  And the truth is that there are a lot of us that don’t have $25K to $50K available for the typical cost of an international adoption.  And even many local adoptions have significant expenses related to them.

However, if you adopt a child who is in foster care, then the state actually pays you.  Until the kid is 18, their medical expenses are covered and you receive a per Diem that offsets the additional expenses you will incur by adding to your family.  You will also receive additional tax breaks, and educational supplements are available to help with college tuition.

So the excuse of, “I don’t have the money to adopt,” is taken away by adopting a kid out of foster care. For those who have a lot more jingle in their pocket or who find a unique an inexpensive opportunity, they have a green light to go for the international adoption.  The point of my original post was that the church in the U.S.A. has no excuse for all the kids who are currently up for adoption in the U.S.A. but who are not being adopted.

We should be about doing all we can every where we can because our neighbor is anyone we have the power to help!

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

In every state in the U.S.A. there are children who are in foster care who are up for adoption.  The parental rights of their parents have been terminated.  They are in need of a permanent home, preferably a home that is full of God’s love and truth.

In my state of Georgia there are thousands of churches that claim to be Christ-centered and tens of thousands of homes that make this same claim.  On Georgia’s My Turn Now website there are 185 listings of children that need to be adopted, 25 of those listings are sibling groups.  We can clearly see that there should be many more Christian homes available than their are adoptable foster kids.  Yet, many of these are at risk of going through life without a family.  Can you imagine to be in that sad state where your biological family has either failed you or died, and there is no other family in the whole world that will make you part of theirs?

Instead of there being a waiting list of kids hoping to be adopted, there should be a backlog of hundreds of Christian families in our state waiting and hoping for their turn to adopt one of these precious ones.  What is stopping us other than a lack of awareness, selfishness, and fear?

Are we really taking seriously the command of God to take care of the orphans? It would be a powerful testimony in your community if it could be said, “There are no orphans here because the church in my community has handled its business.”

May Jesus soften the heart of His church to the needs of the least of these!  May we stop asking the question, “God, do you want my family to adopt?” and start assuming His command to love our neighbors does apply to us in this area by asking the question, “God, is there a reason you have why we should not adopt, or is there a reason you want us to wait to do this?”

Take a look at the kids available in Georgia at My Turn Now.  A quick Google search is all it takes to find the kids in your state.

James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I have been desiring to write about this for almost a week now, but finding the right combination of time, words, and strength has been tough to come by.

Last Thursday, I was having lunch with a good friend of mine at Doc Chey’s in downtown Athens.  I was enjoying our conversation and some spicy orange chicken.  I had my phone on vibrate as I normally do when I am having a conversation with someone.  (disclosure: I have a pet peave about incoming phone calls being more important than the current conversation between two face to face humans.)  The phone in my pocket rang once, it rang twice, a third time, and then a forth.  At that point, I had to say sorry man but something is going on here.  It turns out that Pepe in Mexico was trying to get a hold of me.  He had tried to call me first, but when I didn’t answer he made the smart move to start emailing and calling anyone else in Athens who may be able to track me down.  So still at the table I call down to Mexico, “Hola Pepe!”  He tells me that a lady had a baby the night before that she did not want, and would we want to adopt this baby little boy?  Wow, my heart lept, “I have to tell Claire!”

I called her office which is right downtown, but I was told she was at a meeting on campus.  So my friend and I go to the building she is in.  It turns out that she is in a meeting that happens once a year that has about 50 people in it…lots of UGA big shots.  I interrupt having come from ripping the gutters off my house and lunch – jeans and not showered.  Turns out she is on the other side of the room and I can’t find her so, “Claire, I need to speak to Claire.”  She hops up and comes outside giving me one of those, “Do you know what you just interrupted?  This had better be really important,” looks

I told her Pepe called about a little baby boy that could be ours.  She could not stand.  She just fell to her knees, crying with joy, weeping, heaving.  I kneeled down and held her and we prayed. It was beautiful.  The lights were on.  The cameras were rolling.  This was our moment.

Later, I got home and called Pepe again to find out more details.  The first words out of our mouth were, “Chet I’m really sorry.  She changed her mind.”   News like this feels like a punch in the stomach.  I felt bad for him to have share that news.  I felt worse for my wife and wondered how I would tell her.  I sat for a couple of minutes, prayed, asked God for help, and then made the call.  As soon as I say “hey.” She says, “Oh the ladies here are so great they have already decorated my office for me.”  I say, “Claire, can you get alone? I need to talk to you.”  She says, “No it’s okay go ahead, I think I know what that means.”

And the roller coaster continues with more twists, turns, loopty loops, and abrupt stops.  God’s grace is sufficient, and on the Rock of Jesus we stand.  It is anything but easy, our since of loss is at times very difficult to deal with.  But we are more determined than ever to see this through.  I am so thanful that even though she hurts, the Lord has given my wife a rare strength.  I am thanful for the many friends who love us and pray for us.  I am thankful beyond words for the compassion of my Savior, King, Priest, and Lord – Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our circumstances, we will praise Him!

Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that we’ve hit a bump in the road with our paperwork process.  I’ll give more details once we have figured out what is the best step to take.  At this point, we will just ask God for the wisdom to make the right decision, and the right attitude to deal lovingly with each party involved.  We are definitely in a learning process, and we hope that even the setbacks and frustrations will be beneficial for other families seeking to adopt in the future. 

 

 

Friday marks the half way point of my time here in Mexico.  Today I was able to get a few hours of rest and study in the afternoon for which I am very thankful!  The adoption meeting that I wrote about earlier was a real blessing.  Also the doctor and his wife from Honduras offered to help my wife and I with an adoption in Honduras if we desired.  Just today they talked with a friend in Honduras that told them about a 3 year old girl who needs adopting.  Her mother had left the family, and the father wants to give the little girl away. How terrible!  I ask you to pray for this little one.  Claire and I aren’t sure exactly which avenue to pursue at this point, but we will seek God in prayer and wise counsel from our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

This evening I had the opportunity to preach here in Rio Blanco.  Our subject matter was Love.  Our texts were Luke 10:25-37, James 1:21-27, and John 15:9-11.

You can read a previous post about the Good Samaritan if you like.

Our main points:

1.  Love is the key!
2.  My neighbor is anyone I have the power to help
3.  I have a special responsibility to those in the church family, the poor – orphans, widows, and aliens
4.  Jesus desires us to be full of joy.
5.  The fullness of my joy in Christ is normally in proportion to my obedience to Christ.
6.  Being full of joy should be the standard for the Christian life, not the exception

It is late, and the schedule for tomorrow is full.  I will be teaching the missionaries for a couple of hours in the morning, and then we will drive a couple of hours to Tehaipango where there will be a music event with many musicians and people from various places.  I have been asked to give a message there.     The Lord has been gracious to provide physical strength, mental alertness, and fullness of spirit.  Thank you to all those who have been praying for me and please continue to do so.  I am truly blessed to have people in this world who truly love and care! 

p.s. I didn’t take a single picture today. I will try to be more faithful with the camera tomorrow.

Ok, here is the update on what happened at the adoption meeting.  The lady I met with is one of the people in charge in this area at the DIF…our equivalent is DFCS.  At the beginning the conversation was a little discouraging as we talked about the process of getting our massive amount of paperwork translated into Spanish and through the proper channels.  Because we are from the U.S.A the normal process is to go through the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta, which then sends the paper work to Mexico City, and then they send it to Jalapa, and then to Orizaba. She said that the process can take more than a year.  She was also very frustrated by this because they have many children who need adopting.  

However, she told us that through a civil organization like an orphanage in Mexico the process can go much more quickly.  I knew the church here had talked about the possibility of starting an orphanage, but I was surprised when Pepe told me that they had recently completed all of their paper work and received approval to begin an orphanage.  Later Pepe called a lawyer in the church about this, and he stated the process could be done in as little as three months.  Step by step we continue to trust God to open doors for us in His time.

As some of you are aware, my wife and I are in the process of attempting to adopt a child(ren) from Mexico. One of the great benefits is our consistent travel here and the opportunity to keep (him/her/them) connected to where they are from.

Thursday was a wonderful and long day.  Hopefully I will have time later today to write more about.  But to my surprise when I arrived back in town last night, a meeting was arranged with the Justice of the area to discuss the adoption.  We have been praying that the process would be smooth and not take as long as it normally does.  Perhaps this meeting is an answer to that prayer.

For my wife Claire and I, adoption is part of what Jesus has called us to in our lives…as we seek to be obedient to God’s general command to love our neighbors as ourselves and His specific command to help orphans.  Jesus came to give us life and life more abundant.  What joy is ours!