The Shortened Arm

In Isaiah 59:1, Scripture records these words, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.” (NASB) Why, then, is God treated by so many people as well-meaning in His desire to save individuals but impotent to actually do so? Is God’s arm actually shorter than the prophet Isaiah thought it was? It irks me to no end to hear sloppy preaching that says, “God has done all He can do, now it is up to you to be saved. You must take that final step on your own.” As if God is helplessly standing by watching millions of people slide into outer darkness because they will not take that step and He cannot reach out to them. That is not what Isaiah 59 says! If you go on to read the chapter you see a picture of man’s descent into sin and his impotence to help himself. The verses talk about how we fell so far that we hope for salvation (11) but are unable to bring it about. Then, because we cannot save ourselves, God’s own arm (16) brought salvation.

Jesus was sent to save His people from their sins. His very name reflects this truth. All the Father gave Him, He redeemed. He did not and cannot fail to save those the Father has elected to be adopted into His family. As has been written many times before on this site, God is Sovereign over the affairs of men and Jesus is both willing and able to save those whom He chooses to save.

I also get tired of preachers spouting, “The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, He will never force you to do anything you do not want to do.” Really? Where do they find that in Scripture? Must be from one of those “lite” versions of the Bible. Mine describes Him as  a counselor, a rebuker, a teacher, a convicter, a judge, an exhorter, an enabler, a baptizer, and a consuming fire but nowhere in Scripture does it say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. Certainly Saul of Tarsus was rudely interrupted on his way to Damascus to merrily kill more Christians. Scripture records Ananias being told that Saul would be taught what things He would suffer for Jesus’ sake. Hardly a gentlemanly way of dealing with someone, and this after being blinded. The Holy Spirit is likened to a wind – it rushes, catches, carries and moves us. It caught up Phillip and deposited him miles away from the Ethiopian eunuch, it swept up Elijah and blew as tongues of fire at Pentecost. Yes, a gentle zephyr is wind also but God works in many ways. Sometimes He does deal gently with us but sometimes He moves violently, swiftly, surely. There are times when God does force people to do certain things. He gives commands – Repent or perish. That is hardly a gentlemanly statement. He whips merchants from the Temple and calls people names. God sends a storm to stop Jonah from going on his merry way and keeps Paul from entering Bithynia. God is sovereign over His creation.

Sovereignty is such a frightening concept to those under the illusion that they are in charge of their little piece of the universe. Instead of seeing sovereignty as a doctrine of complete comfort, allowing us to rest in the hands and plans of a good God who knows what is best for us at all times; instead of seeing sovereignty as God loving us so much He actively keeps us from destroying ourselves, those who undermine this great doctrine do so because of a false notion that they are in charge of their own life. If God is, as Scripture states, sovereign over the affairs of men, don’t you see that this includes their salvation?

I serve a God whose arm was long enough and strong enough to reach down and save me when I was yet unaware of my condition. It was He who awoke my spirit to life, He who gave me spiritual sight to behold His glory, He who gave me faith to believe the promises He told to me, He who granted to me grace, mercy and forgiveness and He who sealed my spirit with His forevermore. Praise be to the God with long arms — great things He has done!

The Free Will of God

We have had many people tell us how proud of us they are that we became adoptive parents. There are so many children in the foster care system that need a good, loving, Christian home to be raised in that it is a shameful reminder that the Christian church has largely failed to address this issue. Be that as it may, I have yet to run into anyone who has chastised our family for only adopting one child when there are so many at risk. We certainly could not have adopted all the children in our state, much less the country or the world, but we could have, possibly, adopted at least one more. Does this make us horrible people, to only adopt one? Does this make us sinful, when it was in our power to affect, at least theoretically, one more life? Are we to be commended because, by our free choice, we adopted one or castigated because of our free choice not to adopt more than one?

Why am I asking these questions? Because many people object to the thought of God adopting some people to become members of His family and not everyone. The doctrine is called election and the Bible speaks of God electing some to salvation and not electing others, leaving them to their fate. Is God to be commended for saving some people, by His own free will, from an eternity without Him or is He to be castigated for not saving more or all? Your answer tells what you truly think of God — a wonderful Being that did not have to save anyone yet did or a horrible monster who didn’t save all. Or, perhaps, a willing but unable Deity who desires salvation for mankind but cannot effectively bring it about and depends on us to do what He can’t. There really isn’t any other way to look at it.

The same people who champion the freedom of the human will to accept or reject God do not seem to be willing to give God the free will to accept or reject man. The double standard screams out. People want the freedom to choose but not to give God the same right. It is not as if our Creator owes us anything. He is not beholden to us, we are to Him because all we are is His. In Him we live, breathe and have our existence. We are His creation, for His glory, a glory He will not share with any other.

I get amused at those who want the freedom to choose salvation but the guarantee that the choice cannot be taken back. A salvation dependent on the choice of man but secured by the power of the Savior. I believe in a salvation dependent on a powerful Savior who can and will keep my soul secure. A salvation given by grace because God decided to adopt me into His family like I adopted a little girl into mine. Not because of anything she had done or might possibly do but because I was filled with love toward her. God saved me not because of anything I did or might possibly do for Him but by His love and grace. My hope is built on nothing less than the grace of God my Savior, secured by the blood and righteousness of Jesus and the sealing of my spirit by the Holy Spirit.

Weekly Photo Challenge — Change

Why a picture of a diaper? Because my wife started a business manufacturing custom cloth diapers (www.damorydiapers.com) after a failed adoption. We thought we were adopting a little girl at birth, but a changed mind by the mom led to our disappointment. An even bigger change occurred when, 11 months later, we were contacted about adopting the same little girl — this time successfully. So change happened twice, a new business and a new daughter. Funny how life’s only constant is change.

Blue Alien Diaper

Orphan Adoption and Theology – an article

A very good article written on adoption and theology. There is a link at the end of the article so you can go to the original posting. Ta Ethne supports the work of Together for Adoption in mobilizing the Christian world for global orphan adoption. Please take the time to read this well-written article and check out their website.

Occasionally, when people hear about Together for Adoption’s emphasis and stress upon theology, they sincerely ask, “Do we really have time to study the theology of adoption when there is so much to be done for orphans now?
Isn’t it enough that Scripture commands us to care for orphans? Shouldn’t we just do it?”
If we think of theology merely as information about God, as the mental collection of facts about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then this question is legitimate. But if by theology we mean a real knowing of God, an ongoing and growing relational engagement with God, the question loses its teeth. Yes, theology necessarily involves information about God. Scripture is full of it. But theology is never merely information.
In Matthew 11:27 Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (emphasis mine). Believe it or not, Jesus is talking about theology here. If you think about it, theology did not begin with the creation of man. It has always existed in the eternal mutual knowing of the Father and Son. For all of
eternity past the Father has known the Son and the Son the Father.
Understood like this, theology is a gracious gift to humanity. In reality, theology is actually a sharing in the mutual knowing of the Father and Son. It is a participation in the communion of love that the Holy Trinity is (“God is love”). There is no greater gift that can be given to man. So, do we really have time for theology when orphans need our help now? Yes, we do. If theology is ultimately about our participation in the love between the Father and the Son, then nothing can better mobilize and energize us to care for orphans now than theology. Nothing. Rightly understood and practiced, robust theology produces robust action. Just look at the life of Jesus. He enjoyed an infinitely robust theology and no one did more for the poor and
marginalized than he did. If you think about it, what orphans need, then, is Christians who are deeply theological. This is why Together for
Adoption stresses theology when we talk about orphan care.Theology is much more than gathering facts about God and arranging them into a system of
thought and belief. Now granted, theology is not less than true statements about God, but it is certainly and infinitely more than true statements about God. As James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” There’s much more to theology than a collection of biblically gathered facts about God. Theology is ultimately our real participation in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit. This is why I said that theology is infinitely more than true statements about God. The study of theology and communion with the Triune God must go hand in hand. No one—absolutely no one—was and is more theological than the Son of God. He has forever known the Father through-and-through, even as he is and has been known. For all of eternity past the Son perfectly knew and communed with the Father. Remarkably, this is the Son
who became man, who became incarnate and lived among us! By becoming the incarnate Son Jesus brought his communion with the Father into the world of men—into the very heart of our broken and devastated world!
That’s the good news of the Gospel!
Suddenly, communion with the Father became a very tangible and possible reality for fallen humanity. Never before—not even with Adam and Eve—had mankind ever known God the Father like the man Christ Jesus knew him (and knows him!). Jesus was a one-of-a-kind man! He is the true man. Jesus was as deeply and profoundly theological as it is possible to be. No matter where in the infinite corridors of eternity you search for someone like the incarnate Son, you will never find anyone enjoying the same level and intensity of communion with the Father as he does. If ever there is someone who is without peer, it’s Jesus —well, except for the Father and the Spirit (both of whom, of course, share his same stratospheric, otherworldly level of communion in all its mind-blowing fullness)! In light of all of this, do you know what’s truly remarkable, though it really should not seem that remarkable to us? Nobody—and I mean absolutely nobody—cared more for the poor, orphaned, and marginalized than Jesus. Rather than his robust theology weakening his social engagement with and commitment to the outcast and neglected, his robust theology unceasingly fueled and sustained his social engagement. As such, Jesus is the truest of human beings! Through the Son’s incarnation, he became what we were and are supposed to be, and he became such for us and in our
place!
What must we learn from this? As orphan care advocates, one of the worst things we can do is neglect or overlook theology. If we do neglect it, we, and the orphans of this world, will be the poorer for it. But if we embrace theology as ones who live in vital union with this amazing Jesus, we, and the orphans we serve, will be the richer for it. What orphans need most, then, is Christians who do not merely know a ton of true statements about God, but who by the power of the gospel daily participate in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit.

Article written by Dan Cruver. Email questions and comments to: dan.cruver@togetherforadoption.org
http://www.togetherforadoption.org/wp-content/media/Article_Do_we_really_have_time_for_theology_PDF.pdf

Weekly Photo Challenge – Best of 2012

A collection of meaningful photos highlighted by the adoption of our little girl, finalized on December 14th! A fun trip to Colorado Springs where we visited Odyssey at Focus on the Family. Through the wardrobe to Narnia was a highlight of that trip. Various books of mine were either published or released in audio format, bringing my total of books written to 4. Of course, adopting Anaya, our newest “Gator Girl” was the best thing 2012 could have ever brought.

0615121325

40_Days_of_Praise_Cover_for_Kindle

The Quest

A Heart Hungry to Worship

Is Jesus Enough?

anaya july 4

gatorgirl