Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do you choose RIGHT or LEFT?

***please pause my music at the top***

34"Then the King will say to those on his RIGHT, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his LEFT 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Matthew 25: 34-46

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Readoption Day!!!

Yesterday was our readoption day. Readoption is a process (really just more paperwork and more money:) by which our state formally recognizes everything that was done through the court system in Ethiopia here in America. It means that our girls will now be recognized as US citizens and as having all rights as if they were naturally born to us.

I loved the part when the judge asked us if it was our desire for the girls to be recognized as our "natural" children. Of course we do-we know that they are just that. They are our "natural" gift from God, just as all of our children are.

A few days ago I was cooking dinner and the kids were playing outside. I looked out our kitchen window and saw Hermela swinging happily on the swing and thought, "it's as if she's always been here." I absolutely feel no difference of love for any of my children. I think the best way to describe it is that I know that they are all God's children and are only on loan to me to raise for Him. So, how they happen to come into our family is really irrelevant.

That being said, it was a special day (not to mention a relief to finally change the girls' middle names and drop the "William"). Even more special because we got to share it with our friends Heidi and Scott and their baby Jonas. Heidi started the adoption process right after we accepted our referral for the girls. We had dreamed (although I knew it would likely not happen) about traveling to pick up our kids together-which obviously didn't work out. So this was kind of like our consolation prize-we finalized the process together and our children were recognized as permanent members of our families on the same day! Gotta love how God works things out!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

When Did Love Become Unmoving??

Nick and I are leading our small group through the book "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream", by David Platt. I read this book this summer and it has been really challenging my beliefs and awakening a desire in me to abandon everything and follow Jesus (because, after all, that is what it means to be a "Christian").

We covered chapter one this week entitled "Someone Worth Losing Everything For: What Radical Abandonment To Jesus Really Means." This chapter starts out by asking, "Are you going to believe in Jesus" and if you are, "Are you going to obey Him?"

These are pretty important questions because they are the questions that our entire faith are built on. Do we believe that, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16) and what does it mean to "believe in something?" The author of Radical explains that there is a difference in "believing" in something with your head and "believing" it in your heart. When you truly believe something, it causes you to act differently. It causes you to "move" in a direction that is more in line with what you "believe." In a Christian's case, this means we are moving closer to Jesus and our lives reflect that through our actions.

Unfortunately, the actions of many Christians, particularly in America, mine included, are not always in line with what we proclaim to "believe." We have Americanized the gospel and made Jesus into someone who looks like us, talks like us and acts like us instead of the other way around. As Platt says, "We've replaced what is radical about our faith with what is comfortable." "We've settled for a Christianity that revolves around ourselves when the central theme of Christianity revolves around abandoning ourselves."

The question asked in our group that was of greatest importance, for us, and for every other Christian and non-Christian in the world was, "what does it really mean to be a Christian and how do you become one?"

For many of us, we were raised in churches where every week there was an alter call and you were instructed to "confess", "repent" and "believe" and you would go to heaven. Pray this prayer, say these words and you'll be saved. While I do believe Ephesians 2:8-9, "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast", I do not believe that that is the end of our salvation story. Yes, we are saved from our sins through the acceptance of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and not by something we do, but this is the point that so many Christians and churches stall out at.

James 2:14, 26 say, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Our faith in Jesus for our salvation should evoke in us a deep desire to seek God because His gift of grace involves the gift of a changed heart. A heart that should want to know him so much that we abandon all else for Him. We seek to live, love and serve like He did.

So why don't we do just that? Why are we content to sit back and live out our American dreams (or at least attempt to) while all across the world, billions of people don't know the love of Jesus and we don't seem to care. In America, we are blessed to be able to worship, pray, attend church and study the bible whenever we want and with very little sacrifice. There is a perception that there is very little at stake. Honestly the only thing we think is at stake when we do these things is the time we spend while doing them.

The bible has much to say about what is at stake, making our next step in our salvation story crucial. The next step in believing in the gospel of Jesus and His word is obeying it.

To obey God fully means that we have to die to ourselves daily. To truly "follow" Him (and again, isn't that what it means to be a Christian-a "Christ follower"), we have to give up our personal gain, our comfort, and our excuses. We have to choose to join the mission of Jesus and forget about maintaining the status quo, safe, comfortable Americanized Christianity that so many of us have been raised on.

So what is at stake? The stakes are two fold. First, when we choose to hold on to the "treasures" of this world, the "stuff" that we all hold so tightly too, we are trading those treasures for the ones promised in heaven. Even more costly though is the price that the lost, poor and needy pay at the expense of our apathy.

Nearly two thirds of the people in the world today do not know Jesus and this is what the bible says about them (and to those who do not obey Him), "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

Those are pretty harsh words, but if we believe the bible to be true, then they are true words that should break our hearts for the lost (our neighbors, our friends, our family members, people around the world) and stir us to action.

The poor and the powerless also suffer and for those of us who have been ignoring their cries, the bible says, "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" (Proverbs 21:13) and even more compelling, to those who do not feed the hungry and clothe the naked, Jesus says, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
So if that doesn't get our attention, who knows what will. Interestingly enough, those verses about being thrown into the eternal fire were not just directed to non-believers. So it stands to be concluded that there is work to be done. Work that we as Christians have been commanded to do:

".. .Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mathew 28:18-20)


" look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)


If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. (Deuteronomy 15:7)

I know this post was exceptionally long, but I suspect I'll sleep a lot better tonight after getting all of this out of my head. This video below is a song by Sidewalk Prophets that I love. It is a really bad audio version, but it has the lyrics on it which speak so much to what I've written.

As David Platt writes, "The gospel does not prompt you to mere reflections; the gospel requires a response."

(pause my music at the top of my page)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Day of School 2010

Welcome to school!

The "lunch room"-as they like to call it.

First day of school pics.

It was the first day of school for our family today. Caleb and Hermela started first grade and Caroline and Meron are doing Pre-K work. Colton's hanging out with us as well-I'm always surprised by how much he picks up just by being in the same room as us.

This is our second year home schooling-something I really never set out to do, but now that we are committed to it, I can't imagine doing anything else. We feel it is the best way to raise our children for the Lord. Plus, I can't imagine them all being gone for most of the day. Colton and I wouldn't know what to do with ourselves.

We converted our living room into a school room. Our school district has a surplus store, so we got all of their desks for just $25! The kids love having their own little desks and I love seeing my little students in them.

We had a pretty good first day of school with the exception of "recess" being rained out. I'm looking forward to this year and seeing the kids grow and learn together.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Like Arrows in The Hands of The Mighty Warrior

We dedicated the girls at church this past Sunday. It was especially special as the other two couples who did it with us were our good friends. Also special because out of the four kids being dedicated, three were Ethiopian-pretty cool!
Pure cuteness (sporting my high heals-one of her favorite things to play with!
All dressed up. The kids all love to wear their Ethiopian clothes. We also celebrated with a meal at our local Ethiopian restaurant. The girls ate so much of that yummy food that their bellies were protruding by the end of the meal. Tasted like home-they couldn't get enough. I've cooked some, but I've never gotten the injera quite right. They definitely got it right on Sunday. Hermela said, "mommy, why you can't make it like this?" I told her, "well, I'm not from Ethiopia." Sure wish I could though-I'll have to practice a little more.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.
Psalm 127:4

Friday, August 6, 2010

Be a Starfish Thrower

A very sweet friend of mine sent me this beautiful starfish necklace. I just love it and the story that goes with it. A lot of you have probably heard the story of the starfish thrower, but it is so true and such an inspiring message that I've posted it below. We can all do something and every time we do, it makes a difference to that one.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"
Be a Starfish Thrower!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

These Are The Children

Here is a great post by a young women who has taken God's word seriously and obeyed His command to care for the orphan and the widow in their distress. She moved to Uganda a few years ago to be a teacher and has since adopted 14 daughters.

I think her post is an awesome reminder that the children we have been given are the children that God has chosen to bless us with (great reminder when one of them wets my bed-for the second time this week-after crawling in to snuggle at 3 am or another one throws up in the backseat).

Also a great reminder when they tell you, "Of all the mommies in the world, I would pick you."

Then Esau looked around and saw the women and children: "And who are these with you?"

Jacob said, "The children that God saw fit to bless me with." Genesis 33:5