Monday, February 06, 2012

New Forum!

Hey everybody! New forum is up and running. Check out Hope to see you all there.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

One Day More

aside from les mis, we're one day from the new forum going up. sorry about the wait; there were some unforeseen technical delays. a big thanks to our brother daniel for helping me set it up. i'll post the official link as soon as it goes live. if you have any last minute suggestions/questions/concerns, voice them now or forever hold your peace (at least here).

i'd like to take this last opportunity to say thank you to brian for all the work he's put into this blog. God has used this place to work in a lot of us. We thank God for what He's done through you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

for the quiet ones

some time ago, there was a thread with that asked why people who hadn't posted in a while and/or lurked did so. this may be a little late, but for those who have been more quiet of late, why have you been less vocal? if this blog were to continue, or with any future incarnations, what could change to help you find a voice here?

Planning for Life After this Blog: An Invitation

Since the final days of this blog are upon us, I want to extend an official invitation to join the conversation at our adoption blog, Adopting from Haiti.  I've written about it several times here, but I want to share a little more about how I see that blog developing and why I think it is a site worth checking out.  In order to demonstrate this, I am going to share the direct links to five specific posts that capture the overall spirit of that blog.

1) Bringing Levi Home
This is actually a guest adoption story written by Jason White who, along with his wife Jesse (Callaway) White, adopted Levi just a week or so ago.  This post can serve as a great encouragement to anyone considering adoption and it serves as an example that I am interested in posting the related ideas/experiences of others on our blog.

2) Talking to Our Daughter about Adoption
In this post I try to capture some of the challenges of being a parent while going through the adoption process.  The questions of our daughter are her effort to better understand what we're talking about.  Perhaps if we were all this honest with our curiosity the world would be a little better.  Based upon the overall hits, this has also been one of the most popular posts.

3) A Primer on Adoption
This post serves as a starting point for those just learning the language and details of how various adoptions work.  Many of the obstacles we've encountered have come from people (almost all well-intentioned) working with incorrect information.

4) The Biblical Foundations of Adoption
Most of our readers are interested in the story side of our adoption as opposed to the "whys".  But, I try to balance what I write to help expand the perspective of those who read.  I received an email from an active reader who, being an adoptive parent herself, never considered the biblical connections to her experiences.  Clearly, this perspective was helpful to her.

5) Viewing Adoption from the Ivory Tower
In this post I view our adoption experience through the lens of my academic research.  I was able to connect with several academics who are interested in adoption-related research after they read this post.  Over time I will hopefully be able to post some additional resources that will be of interest to our general readers.

My larger goal is for this blog to develop into a forum for discussion exploring the intersection of the biblical foundation, personal experience, and academic research related to adoption and orphan care.  In order to accomplish that goal I am inviting you to join the conversation to help expand the conversation about the biblical foundation of adoption.  There will be times that this will take us in unexpected directions (just read my "One More Opinion about the Penn State Scandal" for an example).  But, overall, it connects back to the central concern of adoption and orphan care.  I am also open to having guest authors who can write for a general audience.  That audience is not the same audience as this one and I've been reminded of that a few times along the way.

So, if you are interested, check out the blog.  Join the conversation.  Post comments and engage in the conversation.  I am much more active on that blog than I have ever been here.  Also, if you happen to have any administrative suggestions about the structure of the blog I am open to those as well if they will help facilitate the conversation.


Thank You

I originally asked everyone to post in three areas. 1. Celebration of the past of this blog 2. Criticism of the present decision to end this blog 3. Future possibilities Let me take time to celebrate. I appreciate every person who has participated on this blog. The discussion has been very good. We've learned to communicate and work through conflict. We've discussed difficult theological issues. We've poked and prodded at the very fabric of denomination. It has been my privilege to dialogue with intelligent and passionate people. Thank you for joining me on this journey and I pray that you are very blessed in your future adventures. I apologize for any hurt that the abruptness of this ending has caused. That was not my intention. It is a fault that I own that I am sometimes abrupt.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Elephant Room

Last year and again this week, James MacDonald, an influential Illinois church leader brought together a group of guys who might be prone to criticize each other but never talked in person.

There are different camps and we don't often talk.  Sometimes we talk past each other; often we misunderstand.

So MacDonald decided that it was time to address the elephant in the room.  Bring together people who love the Gospel and God's Word, but differ substantially in ministry philosophy and have a 'frank conversation.'

I wonder if it would benefit our body to have an Elephant Room.

Host a live conversation.  Video recored it for the benefit of the body of believers in the CGGC churches.

It takes courage and MacDonald has taken heat - mainly from those in the 'reformed community' who 'aren't fans' of those under the bigger tent of Evangelicalism.

I would be interested in hosting such an event.

But I wonder what you guys think: would such a thing be beneficial?  Would we get the participation necessary?

I believe that it is necessary for us to continue online, but what about in person?

Monday, January 23, 2012

This blog will end in 9 days

Passionate conversation about substitutionary atonement. Not much talk of what's next.

When Grace Became Amazing to Me

I'm not John Newton.

I didn't make my fortune trafficking in human misery. The 'hour I first believed' was not the dramatic event for me that it was for Newton. It could not have been. In fact, I wasn't amazed by grace until called myself a Christian for decades.

It was only after I decided to practice grace when practicing grace was painful that I began to love grace. Only then did the reality I have received grace become amazing to me.

Many years after I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I decided to take literally what Jesus taught about the Day of Judgment in His sheep and goats description. That decision reshaped how I lived out my faith. I began to do many things that I'd never done before. In the end, that decision changed what I believe.

One of the things I began to do was intentionally to latch on to a person who fit the description the 'the least of these brothers of mine' nearly perfectly. And, I began to take every opportunity to serve him.

It turns out that I chose wisely. The person I chose (call him Abe) is cynical, demanding, ungrateful, never satisfied, perfectionistic, foul-mouthed, judgmental, bigotted and, often, downright mean. On many days, for me even to come into his presence twists my guts into knots. Getting his food for him and taking care of him is never fun because I know that no matter how carefully I do it, I won't do it well enough. Being in public with him is a horror because I'm sure we'll be seen by people who know I'm a part of Faith Community Church who will condemn the church because its 'pastor' associates with a man whose opinions are so vile and whose speech is so coarse. I have never done anything for Abe because I enjoy doing it. I have only ever done it because Jesus specifies, "whatever you did for the least of did for me."

Here's how grace became amazing to me from almost the first moment I connected that closely with Abe:

I realized that I am Abe.

God loved the world so much that He sent His pure and perfect Son into the world to live in it and to die at the hands of the people of the world. When I think about myself in light who Jesus is, I get a more realistic image of myself and I have no trouble serving Abe. When I think about who I am compared to Jesus, loving Abe becomes easy. Liking him? Not so much. But, loving Him? How could I not? How could I have a hope of eternity with Jesus if I do not love Abe?

When I take Abe to see his doctor and I want to hang my head in the waiting room or examination room every time he opens his mouth, I gain a better understanding of what grace is: A kindness done that is not deserved. I realize what Jesus goes through sitting at the right hand of the Father as He intercedes for me.

And, I find grace more amazing than ever.

When Jesus talked about the cross, He talked about a sort of transaction taking place. He died on one for me. There was a ransom, there was redemption, there was reconciliation. (Sorry. I still will not say that there was substitution.)

But, Jesus says that if, in response to His cross, I don't carry my own cross, I am lost because I can not be His disciple. Carrying my cross will never be fun. Following Jesus, knowing His destination when He carried His, will never be, in itself, a pleasant journey. It will never be fun.

However it does, more often that I would have expected, bring joy.

And, it makes grace absolutely amazing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adoption Sermons & Resources

Brian and I have been having a side conversation about his adoption sermons in the midst of the atonement discussion.  I'm starting a new thread so that it's easier to exchange these ideas.  Anyone is free to join in this discussion.

One of the things that has been fascinating in some of my reading is the influence that the first century practice of adoption had on Paul's writings about spiritual adoption.  I've been reading Trevor Burke's book Adopted into God's Family over the last week or so.  It's been interesting to see how Paul took an actual practice of the first century and used it as a metaphor to describe the relationship between God and those who believe in Him.  Today, there are people who are using Paul's metaphorical description to inspire the actual practice of adoption. Practice - Metaphor - Practice  That strikes me as interesting, but it just may be me.

For what it's worth, I have a label on our blog that is titled "Biblical Foundations of Adoption" - click here and  it will take you to the list of the posts that have that as a label.  I'll be adding your sermon(s) and note(s) to the blog soon.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Different Face of Jesus

Last night we went into our nearest city, Lancaster (PA), to feed hungry and homeless people and, as Evelyn and I were debriefing the experience, we talked about one significant reality.

Jesus said, "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Last night, Jesus had a different face than the one we are used to seeing when we do this feeding.

Normally we see people who are young: Dead beat males, drunk or high males with substance abuse problems, single young women who got knocked up and whose babydaddy ain't around or single, abused women recently on their own.

Last night's crowd included those people for sure, but there were also many who were older, wearing nice but old clothes who, apparently, have recently come on hard times. They were a humble, perhaps humiliated, lot.

They are, increasingly, the new Jesus.


But, it is our world these days.