Church

 

I ran into a dear, old acquaintance this week – old in the sense I have known her for over 40 years, and also old in that she is elderly. I’ll refer to her respectfully as Mrs. “J”. Her husband, now deceased, invited me many years ago to sing in the choir at their church. The end result was that I met my husband, Phil, there. Being the shy person that I am, I introduced myself to Phil ( he had already noticed me though, because he knew my name) and that began what has been my most treasured human relationship. Church is a wonderful place to meet one’s spouse!

Talking to Mrs. “J” again was a chance to recall some precious memories. We mentioned the fact that I sang in the choir under her husband’s direction. I also led the Youth Choir for a year and one of her sons played the piano and three other of her children sang in the choir. During that time I learned many of the old gospel songs that still mean so much to me. I reminded her how blessed I was by her mother-in-law who was in her 80’s and always sat in the front pew. Mrs. “J” Sr. was the widow of the former pastor and I always wondered if she had always been in the front row to support her husband when he preached  – then just stayed there after he passed on “home”. She would get very excited whenever a song about heaven was sung, raising her hand and often even shouting her love for God. This godly saint longed to be in the presence of her Lord Jesus.

As we talked,  Mrs. “J” ‘s countenance became sad, and she asked me if I had heard about the changes in her church. I had, and like so many of us, she had experienced a split in her church that hurt her and members of her family to the core.  Phil and I have experienced a splintering of a fellowship and we have said that it was a hurt and betrayal of commitment that felt to us in some ways as a divorce must feel. I heard a Bible teacher once say that the Christian Army is the only one that shoots its wounded. We Christians have a tragic, yet well deserved reputation for lack of unity. This is a sad commentary to the world around us on Jesus being the Prince of Peace.

Fortunately, by God’s infinite wisdom, the true Church is not the building, denomination, or even the group any of us fellowship with on a regular basis. The Church is the Body of Christ made up of all of us who have put our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The blessing in this is that there can not be splits or divisions of the true Church.  It is a spiritual creation of our Heavenly Father and is not based on any man-made designations. This is a truth that is important to communicate with our children. It is important for several reasons.

  • We want our children to identify with the true Church (Body of Christ) –  not a building
  • We want our children to know that we as people fail, but the true Church has stood the test of time and is eternal  (Colossians 1:17-19 (NIV)17 He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.)
     
  • We want our children to be connected to other Christians to build the true Church – not become “Lone Ranger” Christians flitting here and there, tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14 KJV) 
  • We want our children to know that even when hurtful, wrong things happen in the Church, God is bigger and is at work to accomplish HIS will through His Church (Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 I love the Body of Christ!  I have been blessed my whole life with brothers and sisters in the Body who have loved me and encouraged me in my journey to become all God has called me to be. I want to conclude with the following verse. If we can model this for our children and grandchildren, we will honor our Heavenly Father –

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV) Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Adopted

We received exciting news this month – our nephew and niece adopted a 7 year-old little girl named Priscilla. The parents have a loving, nurturing, godly home already and adding Priscilla will just make it more so. I am thrilled for them, but even more blessed for little Priscilla. She was chosen by her parents, and when she was told who her “forever parents” would be, there were tears of joy all around. My nephew and niece have stayed in our home several times and have always blessed us with their servant hearts and willingness to “go with the flow”.  What wonderful qualities for parents!

I also have a friend who has adopted an infant girl in the past year. This couple too, had a loving, nurturing, godly home and one birth child before bringing a new baby home through adoption. This precious little one had to fight for her life at first and is now thriving in a safe, stable environment.

Two very different situations, yet families blessed by the gift of adoption.

While praying and thanking God for providing a child and families in each of these diverse situations, I was struck by the truth that we as Christians are adopted into God’s family. Paul is talking to the Romans about the work of the Holy Spirit and says –

Romans 8:15 (NIV)

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 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.

Several parallel truths gripped me as I read this passage.

  • Adoption by God frees us from fear since we have a loving Father
  • Adoption for these little girls provides security and protection
  • Adoption provides “sonship/daughtership”, we may call God, Abba – Daddy.
  • Adoption provided a mommy and a daddy for these girls
  • Adoption means we are God’s children with His name – Christian
  • Adoption provides a new name for each of these girls
  •  Adoption means we inherit all God’s promises to His children
  • Adoption means these girls will be provided for and inherit from their families
  • Adoption means we will share in Christ’s sufferings AND His glory
  • Adoption means these little girls will face trials AND triumphs together with their new families.   
  • Adoption is eternal. Our Father’s promise is that we will dwell with Him forever
  • Adoption is a life long committment – a “forever family”

Priscilla and “Precious” are so blessed to be part of their new “forever families”. As God’s children, we are part of His forever family. We enjoy God’s presence, praising Him for His faithfulness and love.

I know of several beautiful testimonies of God’s grace and power being demonstrated through adoption. If you would like to share such a testimony on this site, please e-mail it to me and I can insert it into the blog. Send it to nanawoody9@gmail.com – or include it as a comment. This will be a blessing to others.

Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I realized I think about being a daughter more on Mother’s Day than the fact that I am a mother and grandmother as well. That is primarily true because my parents live with us. As they age I want to honor that relationship as long as I am blessed with their presence. So, I fixed country pork chops, etc. and used my mother’s lovely china. There were only four adults around the table and yet I chose to enjoy the special meal we shared and not focus on the children and grandchildren who were elsewhere. Mother’s Day is not just about me, even though I am a mother. Our daughters are now mothers themselves, and their husbands have mothers and grandmothers, all of whom have a claim on their time and attention.  I choose how I respond to the cards, calls, gifts, etc. and I must sometimes adjust my response to honor the fact that family members are where they should be and that our “home” may no longer be their “home” . I want to support their decisions as a family and not add a burden of guilt “if only you were here!” Certainly I miss them, but if my focus is on the ones that are not here, I won’t enjoy the presence of the ones that are with me.

I  remember a conversation I had with my mother right before our first child was born. First, to give some background I must say that I had an idyllic childhood. I was blessed with two Godly, loving parents who “walked the talk” and lived a consistent example before my brothers and me. Yet, they were not perfect and I wanted my mother to know that although she was a wonderful mother, I needed to warn her that I was going to do some things differently as a parent myself. I was not going to make some of the mistakes  she had made.   She responded with wisdom and grace, “You are right, Gayle. You won’t make the same mistakes I’ve made.  You’ll make your own mistakes.” I knew immediately that she was right. None of us are perfect as daughters, much less as mothers. The following verse that one of our daughters uses at the end of her e-mail gives me hope and comfort –

“Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sin.”  I Peter 4:8

Above all – more important than getting my own way –  LOVE each other deeply. I would venture to say that the most frequent sin that love must cover is selfishness. Just think, love covers a MULTITUDE of sin. When I feel wronged or hurt, love should be my response.  As a wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law, I must make sure that love is the motivation behind my thoughts and actions, not my selfish desires. Then, Our Father’s love can do the work that will bring Him glory.

(re-posted from last Mother’s Day 5-9-11)