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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Last post about the book that I recommended on Monday.  (You have bought a copy, right?  Or reserved one from the library?  Go do so!  I’m for reals.)  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.

This time it was a story of when his two boys left the orphanage on their way back home.  He writes:

We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys.

They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or felt like they were being carried along a road at 100 miles an hour. I noticed that they were shaking and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance. …

I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you – a home with a mommy and a daddy who love you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!”

But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home. (pg 43)

The trauma of leaving the orphanage was unexpected to me because I knew how much better these boys’ life would soon be. I thought they knew it too. But they had no idea. They couldn’t conceive of anything other than the status quo. My whispering to my boys, “You won’t miss that orphanage” is only a shadow of something I should have known already.  (pg 46)

To the boys, leaving that place felt like suffering.  A form of torture, maybe.  Panic.  Even though they had started to bond with their new parents, they were leaving the only home that they had known.  It wasn’t too long later, he writes, that they were settled at their new home with the Moores.  They got used to wind and cars and sun and not having to hide food.  Their old home couldn’t begin to compare to their new home. But they didn’t know that then.

Do I do that?  Am I in a place that feels like home, but really is suffering compared to something else?  I’m particularly thinking of my eating habits, as unhealthy and undisciplined as they are.  If I were to start eating better, it would feel like suffering to me.  I’d have to deny myself things that I dearly love today.

But if I ate healthier (the AFTER), I might realize that eating healthy isn’t suffering.  It was the BEFORE that was really suffering.  I just couldn’t know that until I tasted (ha!) the something better.  Just like his boys couldn’t have known that it was the BEFORE that was bad without knowing the AFTER.

Makes me think.

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Still talking about the book that I recommended on Monday.  (You have bought a copy, right?  Or reserved one from the library?  Go do so!)  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.

It’s practically a Christian buzz word or hot phrase these days to say “My identity is in Christ.  That’s what matters.  Nothing else.”  I’m sure I’ve said it myself.  But…confession time…I’ve never completely known what people mean by that, to be honest.

Do they mean that nothing else matters on earth?

Does it mean that no one should call them mom or dad or grandma or CEO or pastor because they don’t identify with that role?  Should Phinehas grow up calling me Christian Jayme, not Mom?  Should Jeff call me Christian Jayme, not ‘dear’?

Does it mean that they are confident in everything they do because they know that Jesus has their back?

Does it mean that it doesn’t matter what they do or what they say or what they don’t do or say?

What does it mean?!?

Mr. Moore talks about how the early Christians and Jews were in conflict over circumcision.  The Jews had the rite of circumcision as a way of saying “We are God’s people.”  If Gentiles could now be God’s people because of Jesus, didn’t they need to be circumcised too?  What was the thing that would identify them?  Without something, how would one ever know if they were in or out?

From the book:

The New Testament reminds … of our adoption so we’ll remember that we are here by the Spirit, not by the exertions of our flesh.  Because we’ve been brought into an already-existing family, we ought not to be proud, as though we were here by family entitlement (Rom. 11:11-25).  We’re here by grace.

But our adoption also shows us just how welcome we are here.  This is not, after all, the first time, God has adopted.  Too often we assume that the Gentiles are the “adopted” children of God, and the Jews are “natural-born” children.  But Paul says that Israel was adopted too (Rom. 9:4) … Israel was an abandoned baby, wallowing in its own blood on the roadside (Ezek. 16:5)

…Circumcision answers the question, “Are you part of the family?  Are the promises made to you?  Are you in the covenant?”  … It’s a lack of faith, a lack of repentance.  If they are clinging to their identity in Christ, being found in him, then everything else is rubbish.  Yes, we’re part of the family, but we don’t point to our own circumcised flesh to prove that; we point away from ourselves and to a circumcised, law-keeping, faithful, resurrected Messiah (Col. 2:11-13)

…We now come before God as sons bearing the very same Spirit as was poured out on the Lord Jesus at the Jordan River, a Spirit through which we cry “Abba!”

This means repentance.  We recognize and know that we never could have found ourselves in this family “through the flesh” — whether that striving was through biblical circumcision or through pagan orgies or through modern self-absorption.  Our identity is found in another – Jesus of Nazareth. (page 30-31)

So, it isn’t that nothing else matters at all.  Other things matter.  The roles that I have on this earth.  The people in my life.  It’s that nothing else is as defining as being a Christian.  It’s that nothing else determines my eternal destiny.  It’s that I don’t have to point to anything as proof of being a Christian.  Other stuff is nice (good deeds, baptism, evangelism, being a wife, being a mom), but it isn’t the definition of me.

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I have found a book that you MUST read.  You must, you must.  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.  Even if you’re not interested in adopting.  Even if you don’t know anyone who is adopting.  Even if you’re already excited about adoption (for you or in general).

The reason: the first 2-3 chapters of this book are life-changing. For me, at least.  The author lays out the theology of how Christians have been adopted by God and weaves his experience of adopting 2 boys from Russia into that.  It is exceptionally well written.  It is a beautiful story – both his story as a adopting dad and our story as believers.

Since they adopted 2 boys at the same time and near in age, he often got the question “Are they brothers?”  Biologically, they were not.  But that didn’t matter.  The moment the judge declared them members of the Moore family, they were.  They were Moore’s children and thus, now brothers.  He reflected on why getting that question bothered him so much:

From the book:

The “are they brothers?” question irritated me so much, the more I thought about it, because it was about more than my adoption process. It was about my pride and self-delusion. It reminded me of my own tendency to prize my carnality, a tendency the Scripture says leads right to the grave (Romans 8:13). None of us likes to think we were adopted. We assume we’re natural-born children, with a right to all of this grace, to all of this glory. (page 31)

As Christians, we have been adopted by God.  We often forget this.  We don’t want to think about it.  We want to think that we just naturally and always have been a member of His family.  But we haven’t.  We once weren’t His children.  There was once a moment that I wasn’t.  The next moment, I was.

Being reminded that I haven’t always been here, in His family, is the impetus that I need to once again, be awed by grace and favor that I have received.  I forget too easily that I once was a “Have Not”, but am now a “Have”.

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I’ll always be grateful that God took the form of a human, was born on this Earth.

I’ll always be grateful that He lived a sinless life, but still allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross.

I’ll always be grateful that He didn’t stay dead, but rose again, so that I could have salvation.

I’ll always be grateful that it isn’t anything that I’ve done that has given me that salvation.

I’ll always be grateful that, by God’s grace, He gave me the faith to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

I’ll always be grateful for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

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For His Pleasure

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,

to receive glory and honor and power.

For you created all things,

and they exist because you created what you pleased.” (Revelation 4:11)

I’ve been attending a Beth Moore Study – Believing God at my church for the last couple of weeks. One of the topics that came up was about why God created us. The answer: For His pleasure. Not so that we can build cool things. Not so that we can share His Word with other people. Not so we can help other people.  Not so that we can have more people.  Nope.  Basically, He created us because He wanted to and we make Him happy.

Normally, that thought wouldn’t really give me pause, but I started thinking about it, the thought became a little more real to me. It was basically the same reason that I ‘created’ Phinehas. (Now, I know it’s really God who creates people, but you know what I mean…let’s not get lost in the details.)

I became a mom because I wanted to. (And because Jeff wanted to be a dad). I didn’t want children so that my son could build cool things. Or so that he could share the Gospel with the kid sitting next to him in 8th grade math. Or so that he could help others. Or so that he could have godly children of his own. As much as I hope my son does those things, it isn’t the real reason that I wanted to have children.

I became a mom because I wanted to. Because something in me said “I want to be a mother! I want to have a family! That would please me.”

My experience, thus far, in being a mother has helped me understand God better.  Knowing that God created me for His pleasure and experiencing a similar relationship with my son gives me a better glimpse on how God sees me.  I make Him happy!

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Turning 33: Finding Community

When you get engaged, you find that no one wants to talk about weddings as much as you do – except for other brides.

When you get pregnant, you find out that no one wants to talk about babies as much as you do – except for other pregnant women.

So, when I found out I was pregnant with Phinehas, I joined a message board for women who were due the same month as I was.  Most of them were due before me, so I got to read posts about things that I was going through or might be about to go through.  It was encouraging to know that I’m not alone.

It’s a year later and our babies have been born.  Now we don’t really talk about pregnancy, but about baby-things like sleeping and feeding and clothing and development milestones.  But women also talk about non-baby things and one of the topics that came up recently is abortion.  One woman posted that since her daughter was born, she’s even more pro-choice since she isn’t just fighting for her right to have an abortion, but also for her daughter’s.

It’s a position that I just can’t see.  Since getting pregnant, having a child, I’m even more pro-life (if that’s possible) than I was before.  It isn’t a collection of cells.  It’s a baby.  (If it wasn’t, then you wouldn’t be worried about it, would you?  But I don’t want to get into pro-choice vs. pro-life here.  Maybe some other time.)  Let’s just say that a very charged conversation ensured on the message boards.  Let’s also say that I didn’t respond well. I’m not proud of that.

My heart break at the posts made me realize that I wanted a community of women too much.  That was another clue that I put too much stock into other people’s opinions.  I felt betrayed.  I felt that I had nothing in common with them.  And they were strangers!  I haven’t ever met a single one of them in my life.  I know nothing about them other than their username and a small gravatar image.  And yet, I felt such despair!

I’m finding that the older I get, the harder it is to find friends and community of people that are like minded.  I’m not in high school and have a youth group to belong to.  I don’t live in a dorm on a campus where there are hundreds of friend possibilities.  I’m not in a church small group.  It seems like nothing I’ve tried over the last couple of years has worked very well due to a few reasons.  But truth be told, I haven’t tried super hard. I am going to attend a Women’s Bible Study in the fall – that should help.

It seems the older I get, the less people I have the possibility of becoming friends with AND the more issues there are that will divide us.  It’s no longer a preference between kickball and soccer, people.  We’re grown ups now.

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Turning 33: Keeping silent

I’ve become quieter in the last year.  Not in a “my steps aren’t as heavy as they used to be as I stomp around the house” way.  Not in the “keeping my voice lower” way either.  This really has nothing to do with a baby sleeping in the house nor the pitch of my voice.  As I turn 33, one of the things that I’ll look back on my life and think of my 32nd year as the year that I became a mom, but also as the year that I got humbled.  And being humbled has a way of shutting one’s mouth.

You can be humbled in 2 ways (maybe more – these just come to my mind).  You can be elevated to a really high position and be floored with gratitude and the realization of how much responsibility you have or how much people like and respect you. That isn’t the case here with me.  You can also be humbled in a more humiliating, painful way.  Unfortunately, that is the case with me this year.

Through a couple of big(ger) situations and a few small(er) events, I’ve realized a few different things this past year:

  • I’m not the expert I think I am.
  • I want to be in the center of attention far too often.
  • I don’t have all the facts half 99% the time and yet, I still feel like giving my opinion.
  • I’m not the only one who hears from God/seeks His will/reads His Book.
  • I want people to like me and approve of me too strongly.

I’d rather have learned these lessons in different ways, but thanks be to God (really), it could have been worse.  The lessons could have been learned in much more public ways or had bigger consequences or caused more hurt for others or even learned later in life.  In God’s grace, I learned these things when I was 32 and not 82, after spending another 50 years being even more prideful and arrogant and judgemental and ‘jump-to-conclusiony’ than I still am.  I’m guessing that will save me and others some heartbreak over the next few dozen years, eh?

Year 32 has me staying silent more often.  Staying silent has many benefits:

  • Prevents me from giving unwelcome advice or advice when the full story isn’t known.
  • Stops me from saying things that I’ll have to apologize for later.
  • Stops me from hurting others with my words.  Words that, while I can apologize for them, still sting others and cause wounds which could take a long time to heal.
  • Protects me from unnecessary hurt when others give their opinions too freely.
  • Prevents me from questioning my own choices when I have already made up my mind, gotten Jeff’s desires and had a clear conscious with God.

In some ways, I really dislike that this change occurred.  Because it means that I have experienced pain.  It means that I have caused others to feel judged and pain (that’s the part that I hate the most).  It means that I wasn’t already this way. But in other ways, I’m really grateful for this lesson now and not decades from now.  I do want to be a woman with a “quiet and gentle spirit”  (which doesn’t mean a lower tone of voice or less personality).  But for me, at least for now, it means staying silent as a way of working towards a gentle spirit and humbleness.  Because I do want that.  No matter what my pride says.

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