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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Don't Be Fooled...Pure Religion is Far More Than Just Adoption!

On this Orphan Sunday and following the Together for Adoption Conference, below are my observations, musings and ramblings. 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
~James 1:26-27

Together for Adoption 2015


As always, God is constantly growing me spiritually by causing my roots to grow deeper in Him and His Word and by His pruning my unfruitful, sinful branches.  Our spiritual growth can be painful and is certainly humbling, but it is great benefit for His Kingdom and His glory. 

If you do not experience this when His Word is read, preached, taught, discussed or meditated upon...well, let's just say you might want to do some serious self-soul-searching and ask Him, "Why not?" 

From the beginning, March 18, 2008 that day I will never forget, when God said, "I want you to coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world", He has made sure I never mistakenly focused on just the first part of James 1:27, but the entire verse.  Not until this past weekend at the Together for Adoption conference, did He lead me to also include verse 26, as well.

In addition, He also led me to a stronger and deeper understanding when grappling with the orphan crisis in our world, today.  His agenda for me is always different from mine when attending orphan care conferences.  He challenges me to think beyond the surface of things and pulls me in deeper to His heart. Confirmations of His past convictions, by His Spirit, were also reiterated during this conference.

As James expounds on the topic of "religion" in these verses, one is not more pure than the other.  It is all three in conjunction with each other, 1) a tight rein on the tongue, 2) caring for/visiting orphans and widows and 3) keeping oneself from being corrupted by the world (Dan Cruver, Thursday night). 

I have learned much about the "orphan" and God's perspective on the orphan, in the past seven plus years, but it is obvious I still have much more to learn.  My limited human understanding pales in comparison to our God's full intent when it comes to "caring for the orphan".  

Our God's own deep relational character demands our obedience to His command for caring for the orphan become more relational.  For many of us this makes things far more challenging.  It may mean sacrificing more of our time to develop relationships. It may mean being forced to connect with others relationally, which is a greater challenge for some more than others.  It may mean our deep relationships forged, may involve heart-break and suffering, at some point in time.  And it might even change the entire focus of what we have been doing, previously. 

This deeper relational aspect does not come easy.  Simple?  Yes...but.not.easily. 

Christ in you and me...the hope of glory!

This is when we realize "caring for the orphan" is beyond something you and I can do apart from God.  In fact, one presenter this past weekend suggested if you and I are "caring for the orphan" without our God and His gospel being central, it is possible what we are doing is in vain. 

Jesus Himself tells us in John 15, verse 5, "
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Sounds pretty simple.  Huh?!  Why is it, then, you and I make it so hard?

Two areas of "orphan care" that are often overlooked, by the Christian Church, is reunification and family preservation or the prevention of more orphans. 

Reunification is when a child has been removed from a family, for a time, with the purpose of providing interventions and empowerment for family members to ensure the child can be reunited with the then strengthened family. 

Family Preservation (the prevention of more orphans) is often focused on providing necessary stabilization aid and strategies for the family suffering from poverty.  

Sometimes we justify this oversight, by saying saving the family just is not feasible; they are too far gone.  Often we become so obsessed with "saving the orphan" we miss the need of the orphans' family needing salvation, too.  Is this always God's plan?  No, but it should be soberly considered and bathed in prayer each time.

It is possible, you are wondering how I can even mention the above?

Along with orphan care conferences God has exposed me to many things "orphan related" via Joseph, our son.  One of his mentor families provided foster care for three brothers over a period of time, recently. During this time, the foster dad spent time discipling and training their biological father on a regular basis.  Reunification was the goal.  After sufficient time, these brothers were reunited with their father.  This gives me a perspective that I cannot ignore or overlook, any longer.

Allow me to unpack the word "orphan" just a bit.  Rarely, does this label mean mother and father have both died.  More often than not, the more accurate label should be "fatherless".  While this does not necessarily mean the father has died, it does mean the father is no longer functioning as a father should, providing for the family and so on. 

These differing definitions of the word "orphan" have been cause for some inaccurate thinking, within His Church, as the following quote from UNICEF's website explains:


"This misunderstanding may then lead to responses that focus on providing care for individual children rather than supporting the families and communities that care for orphans and are in need of support."

Some sobering statistics, surrounding the fatherless crisis here in America, are found on the following website:

https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/

Christ's sufferings include all the suffering of orphans, from the beginning of time, presently and for those to come.  When you and I care for/visit the orphan, we are sharing with them in their sufferings, which all have been translated to Christ.   
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
~Romans 8:17


When thinking about this plethora of horrific sufferings by the orphan/the fatherless...I dare say His glory in which we will share in, IF indeed we are His children, will be far greater and beyond anything any of us can imagine.

More so than ever before, I am asking God to give me His perspective on all things relating to "caring for the orphan".  In doing so, I am also asking Him to give me the ability to embrace His promise, below, at the same time.
 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
~Matthew 11:28-30



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