…you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:30

It has become a family tradition to attend the 11 p.m. Christmas service at Southeast Christian Church.  As the words of Luke 1 were scrolling on the jumbotron screen, the words of verse 30 struck me, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”  Found favor.  Mary, a teenage girl – found favor WITH God.

Sadly, this young lady who is called “highly favored” and told that “the Lord is with you” is avoided by most Protestants, not wanting to appear to enter into the great sin of the Roman Catholic Church.  (For a peak at Roman Catholic doctrine related to Mary click here) That aside, she was highly favored, the Lord was with her and she found favor with God.

What an honor! To have in your womb and nurse at your side the One through whom all things were made (John 1:3) – to be given the responsibility of raising God made manifest in the flesh is a remarkable privilege. This reminds us of God’s condescension in becoming one of us. He didn’t come here and live and die and come back to life over the course of three days. He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and was tempted in all points just as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15) – and all this over more than three decades of living among us.

The story does not point us to the one who gave birth to Christ and nursed Him at her side. It points us to the One who left the glories of heaven and became one of us.  Mary, as excellent a young lady as she was, STILL needed the righteousness of her Son when she died – just like the rest of us.  IF Mary had some extra-special righteousness, our Lord had an excellent opportunity to address it.  Remember what happened in Luke 11:27, “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” What was His reply? You’re right! What a great mother I had – why I learned everything from her! No He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God AND obey it.”  The one who is blessed is not the one who bore Christ, it is the one who hears God’s word and obeys it.

My friend, in the coming year may we be those who hear and obey the word of God. By the grace of God, in doing so, the Lord will be with us and we will find favor with Him.

Looking to become a new and better you?

Here is an excellent post on the most important resolution of all. May the Lord Jesus richly bless you in the coming year.

The mystery of God’s providence

I love children.  The Lord has been exceedingly gracious to my wife and I in opening her womb seven times, and in each of those instances, having the great joy of seeing the child delivered with relatively few complications.  By God’s grace, the question has not been, “Will we be able to get pregnant?”, but “What would be a good month to have the baby?”.  Why God has opened April’s womb and not others, I don’t know.  No one does.  God works all things according to what we want.  No.  God works all things according to the fervency of our prayer.  No.  God works all things according to how hard we work to gain his favor.  NO!  God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).  In its context, Paul is speaking of salvation but he doesn’t write that God works salvation according to the counsel of His will – although that is true.  He writes that He works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of His will.  If God has not opened the womb, it is because He has not seen fit to do so.

As easy as it has been for us to get pregnant, the Lord has been pleased to complicate our attempts to adopt.  April and I have what we would call “adoption infertility.”  We have been considering adoption in one form or another since 1996 – our flesh was willing but financially it would have been irresponsible.  It was only after the death of April’s grandmother that we were able to move forward from a financial standpoint.  She graciously left us a sum of money that would pay for a little over half of the cost.  Finally with cash in hand, we began to move forward.  We settled on the country of Guatemala, seeking to adopt a baby girl that would complete our family and give Graceann the sister that we have always wanted her to have.  We completed our paperwork and were placed on the waiting list in November 2007.  Two weeks later, the country shut down all international adoptions.  Through a course of frustrating events – seeking to change countries, change agencies, the economy and the eventual acquisition of my employer – we have had to put our desire on hold – once again.

As difficult as that has been, it in no way compares to what our dear friends have had to go through.  They did all the paperwork gathering (includes having a home study completed, state background checks, FBI background checks, getting physicals for the entire family among other things), finding people to care for their five children and all that entails, traveling to eastern Europe – only to get there – spend three weeks in country and have God close the door at that point.  Their desire was to put into practice what James calls pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27).

While the process that April and I have gone through would be some like losing a pregnancy in its first few weeks, what they have gone through is like carrying the baby to full-term and delivering him still-born.  To be in the country, to hold the little one that you can adopt, to have the officials harden their hearts and not give you any viable options is beyond explanation.  THIS is the mystery of God’s providence.  If He can turn the hearts of kings wherever He wishes (Prov 21:1), surely He can move the heart of an adoption official.  But He doesn’t and He didn’t.  Why, I don’t know.  Pursuing an adoption is a good thing.  Wanting to see a little one who has no hope and no future brought from an impossible situation to a place where they will be loved and nurtured and brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord is a good thing.

I don’t know why God closes the womb and I don’t know why God closes the door.  Here is what I do know.  God works all things according to the counsel of His will.  And His will is perfect.  If He has closed the womb and closed the door it is because He has been pleased to do so.  The Lord opens and the Lord closes.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes…Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Psalm 145:17-19
The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.

What is a mega-family?

img_78762A mega family, loosely defined, is family that has one more child in it than you have.  If you have three children, oftentimes the thought is “I can’t imagine having four!”  April and I starting using this phrase when hotels would no longer put our single family in one room.  This started happening when we had our fourth child, Graceann.  Since our precious daughter was born, we have had three more sons – yes, making a grand total seven children.  This blog has been created to express thoughts and ideas by my wife and I on such things as raising a mega-family, adoption, finances, theology, and other stuff.