Thursday, September 22, 2011


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.
Ephesians 3:1-6

This passage of scripture was in my daily reading plan this morning, and it really touched my heart. It's not an unfamiliar passage to me, I have heard it probably hundreds of times, maybe even heard dozens of messages on it, but this morning, I don't know it really just struck a cord in my heart.

I have always said that for me at least, being a parent has been an awesome insight into what the heart of God is like. By no means am I successful in loving my children as perfectly and unconditionally as God loves His kids, but it is a glimpse. I do love my kids with all of my heart.

But as much as just being a "mom" shows me a little something about God's love, I have to say, having the privilege of being an adopted mom really is a revelation about God's heart for us all the more.

I think back to the 4 am phone call I received from Oklahoma that morning in February 2001. I wasn't there, my child was being born, but I was 1,300 miles away. There was just one thing to do, get to Oklahoma, and get to my son.

It took me 22 hours between the time of that first phone call and the moment I finally met Ethan. It was a harried day, getting plane tickets for Neal and I, making arrangements for a car when we got to Oklahoma, making arrangements for our older son Jacob, packing, just the actual process of getting there.

When we finally made it to Oklahoma, we were exhausted. Ethan was asleep in his birth mother's room. We said our hellos to his birth mom and her family. I held Ethan in my arms for the first time, and took in this new baby.

I'm not going to lie, Ethan was a little train wreck. He had a couple birth defects that would require surgical correction and he was covered in ugly red pustules all over his body. He was a newborn, but he wasn't cute or cuddly. In all honesty, he was kind of ugly, and definitely broken. As I held him his birth mom asked me, "I know he has a lot of problems, but are you still going to take him?" I am relieved to say that I never had a moment's thought of bailing on this little boy, but if we hadn't already made the commitment, he might have been a hard sell.

The hospital staff was very supportive and soon after we arrived they set up a room for the three of us. Neal and I took our new sleeping son and setting his bassinet between us we each climbed into separate hospital beds and tried to catch a little sleep. It must have been about an hour or so later when I heard the most pitiful bleating cry that awoke me. I got up in the darkened room and went to Ethan.

As I picked him up into my arms, something happened in that moment. I honestly can't even find the words to describe it, but it was as though something physically happened. I am the birth mother of my other two children and I loved them before I ever held them. They were a part of me from conception, but this moment, Ethan and I alone in the dark (because Neal slept through the crying), I actually felt the moment I fell in love with my son. Even now I can remember like a click in my heart, as our two lives became eternally connected.

There was nothing about this little boy that made him desirable. He was a broken mess, He had nothing to offer but had every need for me. He had come in to the world under unfortunate circumstances and he had no fault or control in his situation. He could do nothing for himself, and if someone did not rescue him from himself and his circumstance, the truth is, his future looked very bleak, hopeless even. And yet, in that moment, there was nothing I wanted more in life than to make Ethan my own.

Ethan's adoption story was long and complicated. It was the very next morning that we actually had to begin a 3 1/2 year long and difficult battle to arrive on the day when he would truly become our son legally, but that moment in the dark is when he became the son of my heart.

This is why I get this passage of scripture, and it moved my heart so deeply. You see, Jesus traveled a great distance to come after me, and he came to me in the darkness. I was a broken mess and had nothing to offer Him but ugliness and need. And in the moment that he held me, our hearts were linked together, eternally too. There's no rhyme or reason to the why of God wanting me, but He did. And all on His own, out of the love in His heart, He came to me in my need and made me a part of His family.

The other day, my kids were kind of driving me crazy. And in my typical sarcastic/ comic way, I, in exasperation, blurted out, "I'm going to disown you all!" When I said it, my daughter, who was born to me just under 10 months after that night in the hospital in Oklahoma, said from the back seat, "That's not fair! You can't disown Ethan!"

You see, one of the benefits for Ethan as my adopted child is that I have to guarantee him two things, (1) He will always belong to us, there is no undoing an adoption, unlike my other kids who can be disowned, it can never happen to my Ethan. And (2) I must guarantee Ethan an inheritance. Whatever I leave behind someday, Ethan is guaranteed his portion of it. I cannot leave him "out of the will."

Likewise, when we come to Christ, our position is secure and our inheritance is guaranteed. Though God would never blurt out the threat of disowning us if our actions were frustrating and contrary to His will, I think sometimes in our hearts, the sense of the threat tries to rise up. But be encouraged, it's not so! Our place in Christ, and all the blessings there are ours!

Although we have NOTHING to offer, and we could never find ourselves worthy, God wanted us. He made a way for us, and HE willingly adopted us into His family through Christ!

I have heard Ethan on more than one occasion tell his siblings, "She CHOSE me, she just got stuck with you." And although the truth is that I love all my children equally, there is also truth in Ethan's security that he was wanted, he was chosen, and his bond to our family runs far deeper than blood.

If you are a follower of Christ, you were bought with His blood, and you were wanted and chosen, and your bond is secure. You belong, you are ADOPTED! Never forget what that means!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

100 Verse Challenge - Week 2

Robert J. Morgan tells us in his book 100 Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart, that by adding these two new verse to your scripture tank, you have complete the four corners of the gospel. These first four verses tell the story of the gospel.

I hope you have your first two "tent stakes" down having already memorized Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, our "In the beginning verses."

This week's verses share the common theme of the "One and Only Son. And our first verse actually makes reference to pitching our tent, as you study the Greek, "taking up residence" in the verse refers to "pitching a tent."

"The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 CSB (Holman Christian Standard Version)

Morgan tells us this verse does a better job than any other in the Bible making known the incarnation of Christ. It's when Jesus came and pitched his tent to live among us, to make Himself and the Father known to us.

Our second verse is one familiar to all Christians. It's the crux of the gospel. I like the version that Morgan has chosen and I highly recommend not dismissing the verse as already in your "tank," but rather take the time and opportunity to memorize it in this version and dwell on the truth that it imparts.

Morgan shares a DL Moody hearing a sermon from a young man named Henry Moorhouse, a gambler, gang leader and thief who was converted during a revival. It was Moorhouse who Moody first heard the passage preached to relay the message, "God loves sinners. "

Morgan goes on to point out that in this verse the word GOSPEL is even spelled out. See for yourself:

"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 CSB

Let God's Word dwell richly in your heart this week and change you.

It's not too late to join the Challenge! Click on the box at the top of the collumn on the right to RSVP today!