Over 50 Books to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption

It is wisely proposed that you will be the same person ten years from now aside from the books you read, the places you visit, and the friends you make. Today I want to offer you a list of over 50 books that highlight orphans and celebrate adoption; books that may forever change who you are and who you are becoming. The common thread of these books are that the main characters are orphans, or their lives directly impact orphans. An orphan/ adoption story doesn’t a good book make, but a host of great literature is composed of stories of tragedy, triumph, and grit of young men and women who have lost their families and the journey that they take to overcome the difficulties of their past and present. These are stories that will either reflect your own life, or provide windows to view and learn from lives unlike yours– perhaps lives that you and I can impact for eternal good.

Whether you are an adoptive parent, or a biological parent, seeking books to celebrate your adopted child, champion the cause of the orphan, or encourage your child’s journey, I am sure you will find many stories on this list that will forever capture the heart and imagination of your family. I suggest you pre-read these stories to determine which ones will be best suited to your children if you have children who are sensitive to sorrow. I have personally read each book and would read them to our family according to the age separation that I made on the booklist.  Some of these stories have happy endings, some do not. I have noted the books which present with violence and sensitive content. You know what will be a trigger for your child for either healing or hurt. Many of our children come from hard places, therefore, while reading stories with death or domestic violence will not affect some children, others are highly sensitive and may need to read more lighthearted tales.

Snag your booklist here: Books to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption

Another note which I have made on some of these stories involve worldview. Your worldview is the paradigm or framework with which you answer the main questions of life: why are we here, how did we get here, what is the chief end of man, what happens to us after we die? If this is a new topic for you, you may want to read more in my post, Mothers with a Worldview (here). Specifically, in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the word magic is capitalized signifying that magic is a deity. This promotes a worldview of mysticism. Additionally, a few passages in the fascinating fictional book, Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter, struck me as promoting a naturalistic worldview. (Read more about this worldview here.) Freckles is a book worth reading and highly recommended! The characters and beauty of the limberlost will remain long after the last page is read. However, though these are two wonderful books with touching stories about orphans, there are also conversations worth having concerning them. (As a side, I noted profanity in the book, Freckles, due to a few times in this book when the Lord’s name is said in an irreverent manner.)

Many of us, no doubt you if you are reading this post, want to supply our children with books rich in truth, goodness, and beauty all the days they are growing in our home. Further, we want them to choose such books for themselves when they are grown and gone from our nest. I have come to the conclusion that many books are good and beautiful, fewer are true, good, and beautiful. Each can be read and appreciated when they are looked at through the proper lenses. We want to equip our kids to recognize and differentiate those books which are simply good and beautiful, and those books which are all three. Next we want them to cling tightly to the true, esteem that which is beautiful, and take the goodness with them always.

I hope that in reading the books found on this list and having conversations about them, that this end of instilling truth goodness and beauty will be met in your home. Further, that the hearts and minds of your children will be encouraged and equipped to show love and kindness to all people, accept who they are and their story in your family, and dream big. With God, all things are possible!

If you have other suggestions to add to this list or specific questions about any of the books therein, please leave a comment or email me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com. Also, a loving thank you to Kasia at Simply Pchee for designing this beautiful download for us all to print and enjoy. Visit her amazing design sight here.

Now, download your booklist by clicking on this link, clicking on the picture, and printing your copy! Books to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption

Happy Reading!

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Dear Paw Paw: A Life Remembered

Dear Paw Paw,

Last night you stepped out of time and space and stepped into eternity with King Jesus, the Maker of heaven and earth. The hope of Heaven is realized and every ailment and tear removed. You’ve been given a new body and issued new work. Oh to hear the stories you could tell about all your eyes have seen, ears have heard, and soul felt as now you know fully, even as you have been fully known for the 85 years you lived in this life. Welcome to eternity Paw Paw!

Ask different people in our community and family as to how they will remember you as they look back on your life well-lived, and they may say a number of things: athlete, serviceman, coach, teacher,  principal, disciple maker, father, friend, fisherman, sportsman, and for my Grammie, faithful husband of 62 years. For me, however, I like to remember you as gardener, hard worker, loyal member of your community, and teller of stories and a few yarns. Perhaps someone should add a real character to this list. I think that would be fitting.

The picture I will hold in my mind’s eye, is one of you sitting in your work clothes, sweaty from the garden you faithfully kept until a few years ago–just as your mother and father before you–drinking a Coke Cola, and eating a Nutty Bar. After your snack you would head out fishing and enjoy time in nature. It wasn’t until recently that I connected your and Dad’s love of fishing with my own love of hiking and exploring nature. I didn’t inherit the Cost/Davis fishing gene, so I never went on too many fishing trips. I simply couldn’t, and can’t, sit still and wait that long for a fish.  I do enjoy a boat ride just the same.

There are two pieces of wisdom you directly related to me which I will hold onto and follow. The first one being how we can repay our parents for the sacrifices they made to raise us. You passed on this information to me shortly after the death of your mother. Ron and I were newlyweds and we couldn’t make the 500 mile trip for her funeral. The next time we came home, you were out walking and I drove by and rolled my window down to talk. You told me that your mama said the only way we can really repay our parents for all they did for us, was by raising our own children well. I have thought of that often, Paw Paw. I just thought you should know.

The second piece of advice was concerning sports. Having been an athlete yourself, and then coaching dozens or hundreds of young men, you told me that you wouldn’t put your son in sports until they were in middle or high school. You said injury and burn out were too likely and to let our son(s) play for fun before getting serious about a sport. I agreed, and still do.

A few particular memories that I have of you are snippets from my childhood. I have a tendency to forget large chunks of time, but there are some vivid memories that remain. Like each Christmas morning when you and Aunt Ginger would come and see what presents we had received. Or the time you came and picked Mom, Julie, and I up to take to your and Grammie’s house during the Blizzard of ’93 while Dad was out restoring people’s electricity. As well as the time you and Ginger also came to pick us up after we got our pickup truck stuck in the deer woods and had to walk to civilization. I also vaguely remember a story about Brett and Chase riding their bicycles through the Jemison Elementary School  hallways after the original wood floors were newly stained. I don’t think you were to happy with them then. I’ll be sure and ask them about that later.

By far, of all your accomplishments and accolades in this life from friends and colleagues, the greatest gift you gave this world was being a faithful husband and father to your wife and three beautiful girls. That is a legacy that will live on for generations. God promises us that this is so (see Exodus 20:6). I also agree with G.K. Chesterton, The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children. I am forever grateful for being a part of an ordinary family; in today’s world that is an extraordinary thing.

We are joyful you are Home and tearful that you are gone. I love you Paw Paw…see you when I get Home.

P.S. Everyone knows behind a great man is an excellent woman. No one who knows you doubts this. We will take good care of Grammie for you. She is a rare jewel.


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Bringing Christmas Home

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It is all too easy for us to address Christmas as merely a bustle of ribbons and bows, wrapping paper and hot cocoa. However, each of us know that the memories that flood our minds of Christmas’ past encompass much more than that. Holiday movies, family traditions, familiar books, and everyday conversations around twinkling lights are the Christmas gifts we carry with us our lives long.

Our family has developed many traditions starting with our annual visit to Neely Christmas Tree Farm, followed by stringing lights with Dad outside as later mom decorates the tree into the wee hours of the night. Then there is the evenings shared in advent stories and lighting of candles. This year we have an actual advent wreath with candles; last year we merely pretended! A trip to Experience Bethlehem at a local church and a stroll amidst the lights at the botanical gardens are a few traditions that round out our list. These are just a few markings of the season for our family.

We bring Christmas home in the traditions we share and in the sharing of our material and spiritual blessings with others. Providing a shoebox to a child around the world, giving to support a missionary or a local child in need. Praying over the immense needs of people we know and those we read about…our own.

Perhaps my favorite way to bring Christmas home is in the sharing of story. Sitting around the Christmas tree, sipping on cider or cuddled in a cozy blanket, while we share in several familiar and a few new seasonal stories brings me tidings of true comfort and joy.

In all the ways that we celebrate Christmas, there are some central truths to our celebrations. The why behind the what that encompasses our season…

We bring Christmas home, because Christ left His home to dwell with mankind.

We each bring Christmas home, because the King of Kings humbled Himself, born as a babe in the lowliest of places, thereby identifying with the poorest among us both in spirit, body, and in means.

We bring Christmas home, because the Gift birthed for all mankind took on flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14)

We bring Christmas home, because we need to ponder all His ways and workings much like Mary pondered the events of His birth.

We bring Christmas home, because we are not home yet, and we await His coming again. The glorious arrival of heaven on earth for all of eternity.

We bring Christmas home, because we have all like sheep gone astray and God laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

We bring Christmas home, because any given Christmas we are either the shepherds or the wise men: we must follow the evidence of promises yet unseen.

In all the ways we bring Christmas home, they serve a purpose to remind us that the bustle of the season isn’t the business of the season. The Christ-child is the business of the season, and the blessing as well. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus brought Christmas home to us. He is the gift.

Even if your Christmas isn’t swaddled in tradition or swaths of red and green this year, may you bring Christmas home to your heart this season and always.

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A Brief Note to Parents on the State of Humanity

A Somber 4th of July

Today we deeply mourn the loss of life and the latest evidences to the degradation of humanity within our culture. These days we can wear our grief like a cloak never fully making it to the wardrobe.

We have turned on one another; which frankly isn’t new in human history. However, this turning against our brother at this scale and with this fervency is new in the course of recent history within our own particular sphere of the globe.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that little black boys and little black girls would hold the hands of little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters. I would argue that his dream has been realized. I am sure of it. I witnessed this dream in action only this morning.

Loading up the kids, we headed to the local zoo. Inside the zoo were a slew of children at the splash park area. Brown, white, yellow, and black children all splashing together in the same water. Oblivious to the hateful murders of the night, they played together in one accord. The children were busy laughing in the warm Florida sun, sharing space and time in the chlorinated waters of the zoo playground where a mere 60 years ago this would have been unlawful for those not white skinned.

The color of a man’s skin need not have been an issue in our past, and it most certainly should not be one any more. Yet, we can’t get away from it all together in the grown-up world. Lord Jesus save us from ourselves.

I do not briefly address the audience on this blog today with any semblance of answers that are easy, quick, or flippant. Nor do so with any intent to sweep away the violence and loss of life occurring as recently as last night. But I come to you today offering hope and a few words of encouragement as we pause and grieve, weep, repent, pray, and express thanks to those who serve and protect.

There is much beauty and goodness in this world if we will take the time to witness it, and to create it. Today, I witnessed it in the laughter and play of children all shades of btown and tan on a splash pad.

Deeply saddened for the loss of life and the loss of humanity we see in our country, we need to remember this: Change starts inside our homes and reverberates throughout our culture and world. Press on dear friends as we grieve with those who grieve and mourn deeply the current situation. Change is possible by the grace of Jesus and our homes are perhaps our greatest, though indeed not our only, conduit for revival. Our job as parents is not easy…it never has been. Our task is significant…it has always been. Our time is now.

Even so come Lord Jesus,

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Thank You For the Cross Lord

Thank You For the Cross

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

~ Matthew 27:24-26

Many people believe that they are good people. Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us. I’ve even had an elderly lady tell me she doesn’t do bad things like those politicians!

Following the example of Pilate, we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride blinds us to our sin and we reason that we are good people.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

The priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

Praise the Lord Jesus Sunday comes after Good Friday. However, today, I am thankful for the cross of Christ Jesus. I am thankful that He would look on a pitiful sinner like myself and lay down His life so that I didn’t have to suffer eternity apart from His Father and all good things.  Let us ponder today the cross and crucifixion of Christ and praise Him for His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. He alone is worthy of our praise.

Thank you for the cross Lord,

*Photo by Hannah Foster, used with permission.

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Ten Verses to Walk You Back from the Political Edge

Prayer

Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win the kingdom? There is no salvation or hope of everlasting life but in the cross. (The Royal Road, Thomas a Kempis)

Perhaps you, like me, are a bit consumed with the presidential race of 2016. I’ve poured over pundants, read principled Bible teachers, and raised my fists in both victory and disgust while watching presidential debates. As recently as today, I’ve laughed at memes of Chris Christie’s face as he, to borrow the words of Tammy Wynette,  stands by his newest man–perhaps he finally realizes what he’s done! I’ve done these things all the while praying and simultaneously scratching my head over the polictal carnage inside the Bible Beltway and across our nation. What are people thinking and has it really come to this? Is anger-filled, empty slander, or entertainment, all that a so called civilized people seek in the leader of their country? I hope and pray not.

These thoughts beg the question, what should we do with our political concerns? How does the gospel infiltrate our political thinking?

There is not a short answer to this except to point out that the secular and sacred split we see in our country and the world around us must not be employed by Christ-followers. We are to let the gospel inform every decision we make in all areas of our lives: personal, professional, private, public, and political. We don’t sever the teachings of the Bible from our service in the world. God’s truths aren’t just for the Sabbath, they are for the work-week as well.

I am not implying that all Christians will or should support the same candidate, but that our loyalty to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, resurrected, and coming again would inform our choice.

I am certain that many of us feel as if we have come to a political precipice in our nation. We have a sinful, worrisome tendancy to bite our nails as we see America toppiling over the edge. We need to remember, no matter what happens at the ballot box in the next few weeks, nor in Novemeber, God’s Kingdom will continue to endure. Further, only the gospel changes man eternally and secures him a safe, peaceful dwelling for all of time. Government cannot legislate morality nor forgive the sins of man and right man’s relationship with God. There is no salvation nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross. (The Royal Road, Thomas a Kempis)

Following are 10 verses to walk us back from the worrisome political edge of this election year:

  • You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22, NIV)
  • Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5, NIV)
  • Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36, ESV)
  • Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  (1 Corinthians 5:24, ESV)
  • For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:28, ESV)
  • And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.  (Daniel 2:44, ESV)
  • For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
  • He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21, ESV)
  • The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. (Psalm 33:10, ESV)
  • Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5, HCSB)

May God show His continuing mercy to the people of America by giving us a leader we do not deserve–one who seeks His face. And may we the people of the Lord Jesus spread His gospel in our homes and to the ends of the earth to see everlasting change.

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Investing in Eternity

 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)

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Investing in eternity. That’s what parenting is. We plant the seeds of God’s word, prune and trim our little saplings, and bring rain and sunshine with life giving words and consistent discipline. Indeed, there are days where our words pour forth torrentially, but most days are steady streams of sunshine mixed with necessary watering and pruning as the need arises.

Our second sapling, Joshua, turned six last week. Over the last six years, we’ve diligently laid down tracks we pray he will continue to follow in the future as we tend to and nurture the young warrior God has given us. One discipline that we wanted to initiate in his sixth year, and soon to be our daughter’s eighth year, is that of saving. We’ve preached and modeled giving to God’s Kingdom, then enjoyed encouraging their dreams of giving their money away. But we haven’t as consistently modeled saving money for future use or for unforeseen needs.

On Wednesday afternoon of this week, I taxied Emily and Joshua to the local bank to open his savings account. He decided to place all of his birthday money into the savings account, which I thought was a wise decision. As we waited for the banker that would be assisting us, the lead teller walked by and we told her of Joshua’s plans. She said, “That will make your money grow!” Joshua looked a me and said, “Really mom? Will it make my money grow?” I smiled and answered his question as simply as I could to a degree satisfactory to him.

Finally, our turn arrived to fill out the appropriate paperwork for Joshua’s savings account. We gave the banker the necessary documentation (for future reference, be sure and have your child’s social security number on hand, I had to drive home and get his) and waited for him to process the request. As the banker walked away to gather the account number, he too stated, “Are you ready to watch your money grow?” When he had left us, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to share with Joshua the ways in which we watch our money grow.

“Joshua, come here sweetie, I want to tell you something,” I coaxed as he hopped into my lap. “There are two ways to watch your money grow, one is to invest your money in a savings account or investments which will grow your wealth on earth. The other, is to give it away to missions, or the poor, and by doing this, you grow your wealth and rewards in Heaven.” He looked at me and nodded his head in understanding, I continued, “I am so glad you are starting this savings account, and I am also glad when you give your money away to God.”

As Joshua nodded and said, “okay mama, I understand,” I gathered that was enough of a money lesson for the time, but I could not ignore the weight of this teachable moment upon me as a parent. Each time we invest in teaching our kids about godly and biblical principles, we are investing in eternity. That moment it happened to be about finances, but it could have easily been something else to do with friendship, honesty, loyalty, or discipline. Each lesson waters the saplings our children currently are to enable them to become mighty oaks planted by streams of Living Water.

What are the teachable moments you have had with a young person or peer this week? How have you sensed the Holy Spirit prompting you to make a disciple? Please share your moment so that we can learn and rejoice with you.

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Christmas Has Its Cradle

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Christmas Has Its Cradle

by Rae E Whitney

Christmas has its cradle, where a Baby cried;

Did the lantern’s shadow show Him crucified?

Did He foresee darkly His life’s willing loss?

Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its cross.

Christmas has its cradle, shepherds came to see

Little Son of Mary Lamb of God to be;

Had His Father warned Him, none would grant Him room

Save in the Christmas cradle and in the Easter tomb?

Christmas has its cradle, Wise men came to bring

Myrrh and gold and incense, offerings for a King;

Myrrh alone stayed with Him, death’s balm for this Boy,

From the Christmas cradle and to His Easter joy.

Christmas has its cradle, where that Baby cried;

In the Easter garden, Christ lay, crucified;

When death’s power was conquered, God’s life through Him poured;

Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its Lord!

We celebrate Christmas in part for the manger, and in whole for the empty tomb. The One who came as the greatest gift wasn’t fully delivered until He finished the work He came to do: to seek and to save the lost. To take the punishment of mankind’s sins upon Himself then defeat death and conquer the grave. Hallelujah He is risen indeed makes provision for us to sing oh holy night and proclaim good tidings of great joy!

Christmas most likely finds many, if not most of us, weary of the sin-filled world where death temporarily stings and where Jesus’ rule has not yet been eternally established.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

And so, even as we celebrate Jesus’ first coming, we look towards His coming again when God’s Kingdom will reign in the new Heaven and new earth. Where all will be full of truth, beauty, and good. Where we can be joy-filled forever and live holy as He is holy. Where we can see face to face and know Him even as we are fully known by Him. Where we can live at peace with men and nature. Where all is reestablished aright.

Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!

May we ever strain our eyes towards Jesus and Heaven. May we major on the people and the work that is important, and minor on the mirage of material possessions, status, and striving for fleeting pleasures. May we live as Christ. Lord Jesus, help us to do so!

Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its Lord…

Merry Christmas,

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Being the 10 Percent-Humble Gratitude

Living the 10 Percent Thanksgiving 2015

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14, NIV

Last week, we determined that we want to be found giving thanks like the ten percent. Only one leper out of ten returned to thank Jesus for His miraculous healing. However, this week’s account in Luke informs us that mere words of thanks are not enough; it is the heart behind the words that matters most. In this parable about the tax collector and the Pharisee, Jesus is teaching that humility of heart is better than good deeds accompanied by a haughty spirit.

In fact, this parable teaches that there is a wrong way to give thanks.

If we are giving thanks because we are not like other sinners; that is, not bent towards certain less favorable sins. Or, if in order to elevate our filthy rags of righteousness (see Isaiah 64:6), we thankfully condemn more noticeable targets or outright sin, then we are missing grace all together. This isn’t but for the grace of God go I mentality, this is at least I’m not doing… What a dangerous predicament to enter into.

A vacuum of humility in our lives leads to the fertile soil of hypocrisy. Consider,

Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand. 

His giving God thanks for this, though in itself a good thing, yet seems to be a mere formality. He does not say, By the grace of God I am what I am, as Paul did, but turns it off with a slight, God, I thank thee, which is intended but for a plausible introduction to a proud vainglorious ostentation of himself.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

God’s glory is to resist the proud but give grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Consider the parable of the prodigal son. It was the brother who had done the work diligently and faithfully that had to flee the temptation to be angered at the wayward brother’s reward. The faithful must put off the garment of pride and assumption that God only gives mercy and grace to those who look the part or have played it the longest. It is God’s grace through Jesus Christ that brings our favor. That alone secures our salvation and no works we do on earth can equate the grace that Jesus provides. Works accompany faith, and restoration follows humble confession and repentance–be it in the early years of our life, or in the later years just before arriving Home.

Another lesson from this parable: We who have been in church and within God’s grace for anytime must resist the temptation and tendency to make God’s Kingdom on earth look like anything other than God’s Kingdom in Heaven. God’s Kingdom will consist of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Further, it will consist of the last being the first. The crippled, handicapped, poor, and cast aside populace of the present will be the rulers of the future Kingdom to come. We must not welcome the well dressed and successful among our places of worship to the detriment of the poor, the weak, and the plagued with sin who may stumble into our congregations by the saving grace of God. (See James 2:1-13)

Not everyone in church should look just like you…or me!

If thanksgiving towards God has become a mere formality for us as it was for the pharisee in Jesus’s parable, then it is time to repent in humility and recognize the saving grace of God in our own needy lives. There is always gratitude to be given for God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

If we have neglected to welcome those within our community of believers who don’t look like us, then we must repent and consider what God’s Kingdom will look like in eternity. We should make our churches welcoming congregations for every tribe, tongue, nation, and social status.

Be the ten percent. Give thanks with a humble heart.

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If you want to further explore the thoughts from this post, might I recommend two books that I have read in the past that most likely helped shape some of the thoughts written above?

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges (see here)

Onward by Russell Moore (see here)

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15 Action Steps to Take to Promote A Culture of Life After You Have Prayed


 

15 Action Steps To Take To Promote Life After You Have Prayed

Many of us are dumbfounded, to say the least, after viewing any or all of the 10 videos put out by the Center for Medical Progress which exposes the money making arm of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood and Stem Express are making money off the sale of aborted baby body parts. This news leaves many of us asking, what can we do to put an end to this barbarity? Here are 15 action steps for you to consider and take after you pray for an end to abortion, a defunding of Planned Parenthood, and a respect for life from conception to grave.

1. Give to and/ or volunteer at your local pregnancy center.

2. Call your congressman and senator to petition them to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and legislate an end to abortion.

3.”Adopt” a single mom and her kids.

4. Foster a child. The difference a Christian family can make in pointing children in need to Jesus cannot be measured in this lifetime.

5. Adopt. It is a slow and painful process and you are not guaranteed your child will walk with Jesus. However, you are committed to making a disciple and ending a family cycle of drug abuse, domestic violence, and a host of other problems that plague our society.

6. Vote your moral convictions and not your pocketbook.

7. Spread the gospel and let the seeds bear the fruit that they will. We will not reap what we have not sewn.

8.Make disciples within your church who make disciples. Moms and dads change the cultural fabric of our world one child at a time. For good or for evil.

9. Volunteer with children in the foster care system, a local school, or an orphanage. Mentors change lives by the power of Jesus.

10. Give to organizations like the Center for Medical Progress who expose the truth of abortion and the sale of baby body parts for “medical research.” Or, help fund a friend’s adoption. Many times families who want to adopt don’t because of the money.

11. Educate yourself with the facts. Read and research for the truth. You will likely not hear the facts nor the truth on the evening news or in the New York Times.

12. Do for one mom, teen, child, or orphan what you would do for all.

13. Get creative! Use your artistic abilities of paint, pen, or graphic design to get people’s attention and point them towards life.

14. Include your kids in ministering to the poor, elderly, and the orphan. Developing compassionate Christ-centered lives starts early.

15. Run for office and be involved in politics. We need godly leaders in every area of local, state, and federal government.

What would you add to this list? I welcome your thoughts.

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