“Any leader looking to create change in his organization need not look beyond this little book. It is packed with examples and hands-on tools that will get you moving right away. And it really is a fun read.”
Join us for this Together for Adoption Pre-Conference Switch Workshop, November 5, from 1:00-4:30pm at The Summit Church, Brier Creek Campus (2335 Presidential Dr., Durham, NC 27703). Register for just $35 per person.
Note: You do not need to register for the November 5-7 Together for Adoption National Conference in order to register and attend this Pre-Conference Switch Workshop.
If you have a great idea about orphan prevention, family reunification, orphan care, foster care, domestic adoption, international adoption, or about the kind of adoption language we should use, here’s your opportunity for a chance to share your idea in a main session at this year’s Nov. 5-7 Together for Adoption Conference in Durham, NC.
This year’s conference will be the second consecutive conference we’ve added quite a few 10-minute main session speakers. These 10-minute talks were so popular last year, we’re doing them again. But this year we are saving one of those 10-minute speaker spots for you. We know there are a lot of you out there with amazing and simple ideas of ways we can more effectively care for at-risk or fatherless children. We want to give someone who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity or platform to speak at a conference the opportunity to do just that in one of our main sessions.
First, click the following “Click to Tweet” link:
Second, copy and paste the following text into a Facebook status update: Join us Nov. 5-7 at Summit Church (Brier Creek Campus) in Durham, NC for Together for Adoption 2015. Solutions to the global orphan crisis are closer than you think. http://www.togetherforadoption.org/2015
Third, if you want the opportunity to be selected as our new 10-minute speaker, submit your 200-300 word essay on this online form. Do your very best to sell us on your idea of a solution to a challenge we face in one of the following areas: orphan prevention, family reunification, foster care, children aging out of the foster care system, the adoption language we use, domestic or international adoption, orphan care, or the deinstitutionalization orphanages. If the Together for Adoption team thinks your idea is the best one submitted, you’ll be our newest 10-minute main session speaker. Submit your essay on this online form.
Fourth, make sure you check the boxes on the online form to let us know that you’ve told others about the conference both on Twitter and Facebook.
*Note: Contest winner will receive a free conference registration but will be responsible for all his/her own travel, lodging, and food expenses.
Jesus didn’t try to change the world in a day. He didn’t even swing for home runs every time he stood at the plate to perform miracles. From what we can tell from the four New Testament Gospels, Jesus didn’t wake up every morning thinking, “What’s the big thing I can do today to solve the world’s biggest problem?”
As far as the number of actual miracles of Jesus recorded in the four Gospels, we find just 37 of them. Just 37 miracles on record. If you consider the fact that Jesus’ public ministry spanned just 3 years, Jesus only performed a recorded miracle about once a month; the first of which was a miracle Jesus performed behind the scenes: turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).
But we also know Jesus performed hundreds, even thousands of miracles that the Gospel writers only give a passing mention. Take Matthew 4:23-24 for example:
“And [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan” (emphasis mine).
Most of the miracles of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were for individuals too: healing an official’s son (John 4:46-54); driving out a demonic spirit (Luke 4:31-36); healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15); cleansing a man from leprosy (Mark 1:40-45); healing a Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10); healing a paralytic (Mark 3:1-6); healing a man’s withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14); and many other similar miracles. If you ask me, if the Father had asked Jesus to do so (John 5:19), he could have simply said, “Everyone who suffers from a disease in the land of Israel, be healed!” and everyone in Israel would have been made well. But Jesus never swung for home runs like that. Sure, Jesus feds thousands of people a day here and a day there, but those miracles never came close to solving world hunger. That wasn’t his objective. Jesus wasn’t swinging for the fence when he multiplied the fish and loaves.
Someone might counter, “But when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he sure seemed like he was swinging for the fence.” But such a sentiment misses the bigger point of the Lazarus miracle. Jesus wasn’t swinging for a home run when he raised his friend from the dead. I actually believe what Jesus did by raising Lazarus from the dead is more akin to a batter warming up in the batter’s box.
Jesus’ raising of Lazarus was pointing to the future out-of-the-park day ”when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out” (John 5:28-29). Raising Lazarus wasn’t Jesus swinging for the fence. If I can put it this way, Jesus was “simply” doing good in that moment with his end game in mind: the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). What I find instructive of Jesus’ end game as described by Luke in Acts 3:21 is that just a verse earlier, Acts 3:20, Luke says that for those who believe in Jesus, from his very presence comes “times of refreshing.” What this simply means is that Jesus’ miracles provided an advance taste, a refreshing taste of the future restoration of heaven and earth (Acts 3:21). “[Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38), and from the healing presence of Jesus the people experienced wonderful “times of refreshing.”
What’s my point in all this talk about Jesus and his miracles? Jesus went about doing simple deeds of good with his end game in mind: the restoration of all things. He wasn’t swinging for a home run every time he stepped up to the plate to do good. No, Jesus didn’t hit the home run until he actually rose from the dead. The “times of refreshing” Jesus provided through doing good moved him closer, step-by-step, to the home run of his resurrection from the dead and to the yet future restoration of all things.
If we as Christians have Jesus’ end game in mind, an ongoing series of simple actions can make a world of difference for an orphaned or vulnerable child. We, too, can provide times of refreshment in Jesus’ name. Yes, the global orphan crisis is incredibly complex. But if we learn to think simple, I think we’ll find solutions are closer than we think.
Orphan Justice Weekend is designed to be a weekend that engages an entire church with the opportunity to get involved in orphan care at some level, opportunities to get involved immediately, educate your ministry team in biblically based and proven strategies for better orphan care, and inspiration from God’s Word.
Johnny is willing to host two Skype meetings with the ministry team (orphan ministry team, justice team, or which ever is appropriate) to help them prepare for the weekend. He will talk through the plan and answer any questions. Your church orphan/justice ministry team should read Orphan Justice before these meetings are scheduled.
worship service – On Sunday morning/Saturday evening Johnny will preach a message that focuses on special needs adoption. However, other issues within the book will also be discussed and referenced in his sermon. Johnny will work with your church orphan/justice team to prepare them and ensure a maximum return on the weekend.
luncheon – The church should host a luncheon where Johnny will answer questions and also have adoptive/foster/safe families share their testimonies.
training – Johnny will lead a training for your church orphan/justice ministry team. You may invite leaders of other churches to this training. This training will focus on an ongoing ministry within your church to adoptive/foster/safe families and biblically based best practices for international orphan care. This will typically take place on Sunday evening.
book signing – Johnny is open to doing a book signing if you so desire to have one.
One mistake many churches have made following a weekend like this is not giving the opportunity for people interested in becoming an adoptive family to actually meet with a professional. I am happy to connect you with a Christian agency that can work with your families to lead a meeting. The meeting should be held within one week of the event.
You can work harder (better) by resting more. No, this is not a snake-oil scam.
It’s been clinically tested, tried, and irrefutably approved.
Before you “Bookmark” this blog post into that black hole of a Bookmark Bar — (you know, the one into which most blog articles live and die without ever being read) — stop and read this one. Now. Or during an upcoming break time.
Immediately before Jesus said these words in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He said these do-not-enter-unless-invited words in Matthew 11:27:
“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)
Jesus posted a “Do Not Enter” sign on the door of his relationship with the Father, a “lock-everybody-else-in-the-universe-out” kind of sign. If you’re like me, I don’t crash parties like that.
But…Jesus follows his “Do Not Enter” words, (“and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” – Matthew 11:27) with these words, ”Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
What? Is this too good to be true? Yes, this news is too good to be true, except when it’s not.
The kind of good news God gives is news that is too good to be true, only it’s not. It turns on its head the way we think things ought to work and, as a result, actually changes everything.
When Jesus says, “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” he’s talking about a knowing of the most profound kind imaginable. An infinite Person alone can know another infinite Person fully and infinitely. Nobody else has a shot. Not one.
Unless, of course, by some “eucatastrophic” turn of events everyone suddenly has a shot.
What if we were somehow joined or united to the Son in such a way that we actually participated in his very own relationship with his Father? What if we actually found ourselves in the middle of the love the Father and his Son shared with each other, and we found ourselves there for free and forever? Might that be good news?
Maybe Mike Reeves’ words will resonate with you, as they have with me:
“[What I want people to know is that] Jesus is not the God of their imagination, but infinitely better. [My desire is to explore] why people who know Jesus best are always so full of love and joy… Why do they see things about him that are so good that it makes them rejoice?
“Because there are people who do [rejoice like that]…[And] I want to speak that message about who [God] is, what he’s done, and what he thinks of you right now.
“And I want to speak that particularly to broken people right now, who know their failures, who feel they’re certainly not worthy of any God, and they fear God would be purely judgmental among them, not kind, not compassionate. And I want to speak about an entirely different God, a very different God, the God of Jesus. Who is so kind.
“One of our terrible problems as Christians is everyday we mar Jesus in our minds. And I find I do this the whole time.
I find that I hear about Jesus…and just in the course of one night, I find that even if I got some facts about him right–he died, he rose, he ascended to heaven, the kindness of Jesus is unconditional love, historically rooted–in what he’s done for us and I get all the objective facts about him correctly in my mind, but I start to mar Jesus…And I start making Jesus out to be demonic, subtly, subtly, in my mind.
“So I find I wake up in the morning and I don’t desire him. So, everyday I need to hear afresh what Jesus is truly like” (What’s the full Vimeo video of this interview here).
If you want to work harder (better) for Jesus for the sake of the fatherless (or for the sake of anyone for that matter), rest in Jesus more, not less. If all who labor and are heavy laden wish to freely enter into the love between the Father and the Son, simply take Jesus up on his invitation to “Come to me…and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus has NOT given us an empty promise! He’s giving us a promise that gives life! He’s given us himself! And you can believe it now. Just look afresh at him and believe. The Spirit of adoption will do the rest.
Will you join us for our November 5-7 T4A Conference at The Summit Church in Durham, NC? Learn more.
We at Together for Adoption have never been more excited about one of our pre-conference workshops. In light of last year’s conference theme (Urgency & Complexity: Biblical & Ethical Approaches to the Orphan Crisis), this year’s pre-conference workshop could not be more relevant and is the perfect compliment to our conference theme this year: Simple. Solutions are Closer than You Think.
Whatever the major change challenge you need to tackle as a pre-adoptive or adoptive parent, a foster child advocate, foster parent, advocate of family reunification, adult adoptee, or a non-profit or church ministry that works in the orphan care/adoption world, you will receive tools in this 3 1/2 hour workshop to spark and achieve breakthrough change.
Our workshop trainer is Susan Heath Hays (sister of Chip and Dan Heath, authors of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Switch: How To Change When Change is Hard). Susan is the Heath brothers’ #1 Switch trainer. She’s also a member of Brandon and Jen Hatmaker’s church in Austin, Texas (Brandon is one of our speakers this year).
“In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline” (from the publisher of Switch). Solutions to challenges in orphan care, foster care, and adoption are closer than you think.
Learn more about this year’s November 5th life-changing pre-conference workshop. It’s only $35 per person!
These dippings are intended to clear away some of the muddled thinking inherited from the historic neglect of adoption. They offer us a taste of the doctrine’s substratum ~ a foundation touched on in passing in some biblical studies of adoption, but consistently omitted from theological and practical treatments. I am offering not a final word on the subject of adoption as a metaphor, but what is to most readers a first word. I venture into this area not because I have all the answers (nor all the correct ones), but because certain questions need to be posed if the church of Christ is to dig deeper into the doctrine of adoption and to get to the key issues which help us understand the substratum.
In answer to the first question posed, we broke ranks from the assumed legitimacy of conflating the filial terms of Paul and of John (especially). This practice has been typical throughout the history of the church, but it is consistent neither with the authorial diversity of the New Testament (notably the fact that Paul alone uses the term adoption [huiothesia]), nor with the way the theological models of Scripture function.
Since, however, the discussion of the functioning of Paul’s language of adoption is rare (and certainly less than comprehensive), we have taken up a second question; namely, whether the reality of huiothesia is literal or metaphorical. The issues are complex and render dogmatism inappropriate. Remaining open to further light and making no pretensions to have offered a definitive answer, we have drawn what commonalities we can between the two readings (both regard the language of God’s Fatherhood to be divinely inspired and to convey reality), but have gone with the metaphorical understanding.
Accordingly, we come to the third question: If God’s adoption of his people is literal, what does that say of societal adoption? This question was posed hypothetically at the outset of these dippings, pending the outcome of the discussion arising from the previous question. Although we have opted for the metaphorical understanding, there is merit in perceiving how the advocate of the literal reading might answer.
He or she likely considers human practices of adoption evidence of the image of God in man. We adopt, in other words, because we are made in God’s image and after his likeness. On this understanding, God’s image in us is not simply moral (man was created possessing knowledge, righteousness and holiness) but natural. By this we mean that man, notwithstanding his Fall, retains vestiges of rationality, creativity, communality, etc. While his adoptive practices cannot exactly replicate God’s adoption ~ for he is neither God nor upright ~ he nevertheless does adopt. He cannot ordinarily adopt the children which he has brought to birth, as does God, and is not bound by one practice of adoption or another (whether Greek, Roman, contemporary, etc.), and yet he does adopt.
Advocates of a metaphorical understanding surely welcome such reasoning. We question not what the literal reading says of societal adoption, but the assumption that because man adopts, God must have literally adopted to begin with. Admittedly, this parity is simpler to grasp, and is attractive for that reason. Yet it does not answer other upcoming issues relevant to the way Paul uses the term huiothesia, nor does it prove the necessity of equating the communality of God with his act of adoption per se. God is certainly communal because he is eternally triune, and is definitely accepting because he has sovereignly and freely decreed and acted to accept sinners when under no obligation to do so. Yet, since there is nothing in Scripture (explicitly in Paul), so far as I can see, to oblige us to regard the truth of our divine acceptance as a literal adoption, it is feasible to argue that man’s practices of adoption are an unwitting and varying interpretation of his creation in the image of God, rather than a necessity of it. In this regard, the absence of the term huiothesia from the Septuagint and the uncertainty of the adoptive practices of the Hebrews ~ whether enacted essentially or formally ~ is of potential significance. The metaphorical reading, it is worth noting, considers man’s adoptive practices to be a humanly constructed expression of his imaging of God’s communality. Consistent with this, the expression varies from culture to culture and from era to era, some adopting and others not, some in one way and some in another. The apostle Paul for example, living in the first century A.D. and exposed to the Semitic and Graeco-Roman influences of his time, ran under the inspiration of the Spirit with the idea of adoption, using it to explain the believer’s acceptance with God in ways which otherwise would have been impossible, certainly in any substantive or colorful way. We believe him to have spoken the truth of our acceptance with God, but to have done so in a metaphorical way.
For all that we have discussed here, it is doubtless God has more light to shed on the functioning of biblical language. How this light is dispersed ~ whether through other minds, the ongoing recovery of adoption, or the ages to come ~ we shall see. Evidently, we peek through a glass darkly at the present, ever so dependent on the Spirit for his illumination. In this state of tension we proceed next time to answer the fourth question. We shall find, Lord willing, that the study of metaphor casts at least some light on Paul’s use of huiothesia.
To follow the conversation from the beginning, go to: www.fromhisfullness.com
We have the privilege of partnering with Northland Camp & Conference Center this year for a family retreat with an adoption focus. The goal if this unique June 22-27 family retreat is to provide adoptive families with refreshment and encouragement…and the encouragement begins by providing you with a 15% discount when you use the code “T4A” when you register. Learn more about this adoption-focused family retreat.
Adoption is one way that Christians have tried to be faithful to their duty of caring for orphans, and it is a practice that reflects how God has embraced and adopted Christians through faith in Christ (Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:5). Adoption is a wonderful thing, and yet families who have adopted also face unique challenges. At Northland’s new Adoption-Focused Family Retreat, such families will be encouraged by two speakers who themselves live with the joys and challenges of adoption. It is our desire for this retreat to be a time of renewal and refreshment through spending time in God’s Word, getting questions answered, fellowshipping with families in similar situations, and joining together in Christ-centered worship.
In addition to teaching for the whole family, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take part in our many activities. Whether you’ve already adopted, are in the midst of the process, or are simply considering adoption, this Family Retreat is for you!
Austin Stone’s Story Team just released its latest film, If Not for You. This is a story of Janice Moody, a birth mother who placed her baby for adoption and after twenty two years, she had the opportunity to meet him face to face for the first time. It’s a powerful story of adoption that shows the painful, yet redemptive journey of a birthmother.
Synopsis: For a pregnant twenty-year-old trying to decide what to do, the world does not offer much hope. After the harsh reality of a trip to a Planned Parenthood clinic, Janice Moody bravely carried her son to term and placed him for adoption, without knowing what the future held.
This sermon jam is a 3-minute excerpt from a sermon I preached a few years ago at a Covenant Care Services‘ event. My sermon was on Psalm 36:7-9. You’ll find those verses below the sermon jam video.
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
—Psalm 36:7-9, ESV
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