I have seen my wife grow in the past year more than I have seen her grow in our entire 17 years of marriage – and this growth didn’t require a new wardrobe.  I am speaking of her spiritual growth and more specifically her love for God’s Word.

A couple of years ago she began to be impacted by a teacher of the Bible.  Her name is Kay Arthur and she is a refreshing departure from the “Bible Study” norm.  She doesn’t publish predigested opinions on how to interpret and apply Scripture.  Unfortunately, much Sunday School, Small Group and personal material is called “Bible Study” but doesn’t actually facilitate much time “studying” your Bible.

What I almost instantly saw in my wife was that she began asking questions of the text: “How does this here line up with this over here?”  She actually began to study her Bible – and not just study it but began to see more clearly its implications to her life.  This enlightenment is 100% a function of the indwelling power of the promised Holy Spirit but I believe it was Kay’s method and paradigm that catalyzed the change.

I can see this very clearly in the form of an analogy.  We all need to be fed – both spiritually and physically.  As believers we typically gather once or twice a week corporately to “be fed.”  This is absolutely vital for our spiritual health.  At some point in our Christian walk, however, we must begin to feed ourselves – not in lieu of the corporate gatherings but in addition to them.  Obviously, this should take place early in the Christian life just as self administering physical nourishment becomes a part the early development of any child.  As our hunger for God’s Word grows we want more than we get on Sunday mornings – that’s just not enough.

So we feel compelled to be in God’s Word but many of us, if not most of us, have never been taught how to eat properly.  Yes, there are manners and methods in our eating.  Just as we can choke on food we have ingested too fast or experience a bad taste from food that has sat around because we’ve neglected it for a long time, there are certain ways in which you can properly and deliberately ingest God’s Word so that you actually realize the benefits of the nutrients within.

To take the analogy one step further and involve Kay’s influence on my wife, let’s consider fish.  If we serve fish on Sunday mornings in our corporate gatherings, to be sure there will be some good southern fried catfish (or maybe sushi for some of us).  So, in a healthy church where God’s Word is held in high regard and there is a commitment to teach truth, one can be well fed.  But how do we teach people to fish – to catch their own fish throughout the week?  So that day in and out they can “feed” themselves?

There is a world full of fishing methods and manners and to each his own.  But, if there is a method that works consistently – a bait that repeatedly yields fruit, then by all means teach it to me!  Kay’s studies don’t predigest the word’s of Scripture with the bold assumption that she knows what the Holy Spirit intends to teach you through a certain passage, she teaches you to fish.  And she does not explain it in some pious instructional video where you have to imagine floating on still waters early in the morning but she takes you to the sweet spot, points out where you should cast your bait and then tells you why.  She might give you some direction on bait types and the advantages or disadvantages of such but she gets YOU to catch the fish.

If you have ever been fishing or hunting and have been successful you know that joy of making your catch.  Compare that joy and experience to hearing of someone else’s catch or watching it on a hunting or fishing show.  Maybe the show or testimony whets your appetite but there is nothing like the thrill of the hunt and harvesting that fruit on your own.

Kay would be the first to tell you that inductive methods of Bible study are not original to her.  However, God has unquestionably used her to help many folks learn to fish for themselves.  She has simply assembled a few charts to give some structure to your thought and narrowed down a wide range of baits that you can use for any given passage and encouraged people to feed themselves – and she has quite the track record to back her up.

I have been cautioned, and rightfully so, that there is a place for the daily reading of God’s Word as opposed to an in depth study.  The “study” it could be argued is what intimidates folks.  First of all, I believe to neglect the general reading of God’s Word would be a detriment to your deeper study.  If all you do is in-depth study then you’ll never get to some parts of God’s Word.  You could easily find yourself only doing a deep study of two or three books in a given year.  It could take you 30 plus years to get through the Bible that way – I don’t know if I have that much time left!

Allow me one last analogy; consider a mine shaft.  Let’s say we are mining for gold.  If I stop at the first few nuggets and spend the bulk of my time mining those, I could very well miss a part of the mine that has more and/or more significant nuggets.  I could also not see certain pitfalls along the path if I am so caught up in the details.  So, it would behoove me to regularly inspect the entire extent of the shaft to know its length and breadth as well as identify particular places.  BUT, if we never dig out any nuggets, then we have never seen any real benefits from the mine.

It is certainly that way with God’s Word.  We must consider and be familiar with the entirety of it – it is foolish not to.  However, if we fail to glean any truth that is applicable to our lives, then our time there was much less than what God intended for it to be.

Reading the Bible through gives you an entirely different perspective.  It helps you paint the overall big picture of God’s redeeming plan for His people and provides a context for the doctrines we will inevitably wrestle with as we do deeper study.  But which comes first?  We could debate that.  All you have to do is be able to read to begin intentionally and systematically reading through the Bible, so in that sense it would certainly take less effort.  So I’d say that for the newer Christian, that is certainly a great place to start.

However, those new Christians, and all the ones that are not so new, that aren’t “studying” God’s Word, MUST learn to fish at some point – and at my church, the latter outnumber the former.  Kay has taken a timeless study method and designed a way to help even children of the faith begin to study their Bibles.  As an additional point, I would venture to say that Kay’s approach is not only unintimidating, it will fuel the desire to be reading through God’s Word as well.

I really don’t mean to sound like Kay Arthur’s new marketing strategist; I have merely experienced firsthand the benefits of her ministry.  Not only has God used her to be a catalyst for my wife’s spiritual growth, I have been using the method in my morning studies.  I am convinced that the inductive method as she has so simply structured it is the best tool for anyone to not only catch their own catfish but to skin them as well.

Bitter Winter, Better Thanksgiving,

the story of Miles Standish

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

“Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad …. the Gov/r and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship….”

Capt. Miles Standish had been much at his wife Rose’s bedside. As much time, that is, as he could spare from stalking game, guarding against savages, and felling trees to construct crude homes on shore.

Pilgrims LandingA bitter wind whistled through chinks and cracks in the Mayflower, anchored in Plymouth harbor that winter of 1620-21. Rose’s chills would turn to uncontrollable shaking. Then just as suddenly, her body would be ablaze with fever. Herbs from the surgeon’s chest did little to relieve her. By spring only five wives remained out of the eighteen who had sailed to Plymouth. Rose was not among them.

Thanksgiving? What was that? The golden dreams of a New World that Miles and Rose had cherished together had evaporated into hollow hopes. And yet that fall Capt. Standish joined other bereaved Pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving celebration.

The real test of thankfulness is whether we can give thanks from the heart for what we do have, despite the wounds and pains of yesterday’s struggles. Ours is not some fair-weather faith, but a resilient trust in the midst of pain. The Pilgrims lived close to the edge of survival. Perhaps that is why they were so thankful.

How about you? Does your material bounty cause you to neglect thanks? When your clan gathers this Thanksgiving will a prayer of thankfulness be forgotten between moist turkey and pumpkin pie? Will your children see you bow your head to give thanks, or merely ask for another helping of dressing and cranberry sauce?

Children will be watching, you know. And their little faith is being formed by what they see. Your family’s Thanksgiving celebration will instruct them about thankfulness, for good or ill.

Will they see you too wealthy to be thankful? Too independent to need God any more? Too bitter, perhaps? Or will they watch you truly give thanks for God’s blessings on this special day? And maybe as they watch, they’ll catch a hint that mom and dad and grandmother, in spite of painful seasons they have faced, have seen these bitter winters bear fruit in better thanksgiving.

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“Your blood, has washed away my sin, ‘Jesus, thank You’
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied, ‘Jesus, thank You’
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table, “Jesus, thank You!”
 

Happy Thanksgiving from the Laces!!!

It has now been just over a year since our petition to you for assistance in our adoption of Bethlehem and Tewdrose.  Through those many months, God has been shaping and molding our family in many ways – ways we never could have expected.  Growing your faith, by definition, isn’t a comfortable undertaking.  Nonetheless, it is a basic part of existence for every believer pursuing a life lived to honor our Savoir.  In light of that truth, I’d like to share some of what God is teaching us.

Every day, I grow, in ever so small increments, to understand on a deeper level God’s pursuit of His glory.  As I first wrestled with this idea, I struggled with its seeming contradiction.  On one hand, we have a God who loves us very much.  A God who loved us so much that he planned the cruel, suffering death of His only Son as a payment for the sins of His adopted children. Peter preaches at Pentecost, “This Jesus, [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,Acts 2:22-23.  And Paul writes to his Roman converts, “We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,Romans 5:10.

On the other, we have a God who appears to be a megalomaniac – obsessed with Himself!  The Bible depicts a God who will pursue His own glory at all cost. “I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols.” Isaiah 42:8.  Even humans made in His image were ultimately created for this purpose.  “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made,” Isaiah 43:7.

The more I read Scripture, the bigger my God gets.  If God is who He says He is, and He has done what He says He has done, then ascribing our deepest affections and sincerest praise to anything other than Him is entirely empty.  I can’t imagine an endeavor any more void of significance than for God to command our passionate pursuit of any other end than Himself.

So when God says that we are created to worship Him, is that really megalomania or is it just another facet of His perfect love.  The most loving thing God can do is command our avid admiration of Himself.

In light if this truth I’d like to challenge you, “How big is your God?”  Does He merely desire us to live comfortable lives in pursuit of the American dream?  Or, does He, amid all the ups AND downs of life, desire us to be satisfied in Him?  John Piper, senior pastor of teaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, says it best: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Secondly, God is teaching us, through the process of adoption, how he views His children.  Through his sovereign grace He chose us to be His.  It was grace because there is nothing in us that would make us choose God or earn His salvation: “For all have sinned and fall short…” and we “were dead in our trespasses and sins…” Romans 3:23 & Ephesians 2:1.  Grace by definition is “unmerited favor,” getting something that you haven’t earned.  Bethlehem and Tewdrose have done nothing to earn our favor.  They bring nothing to our family equation that we don’t already have – except their love and devotion!  And honestly, as we are just about to celebrate their fourth month as part of our family, they are still learning to set their affections on us.  A perfect picture of our relationship with our adopted Father!

So my second challenge to you is to see yourself as an adopted child of God: “for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons [and daughters] by which we cry out, ’Abba, Father!’” Romans 8:15.  Before our adoption, our master was sin, Romans 6:16-18.  We obeyed it and we were devoted to it.  But now, as God’s children, the most obedient we can possibly be is to set our deepest affections on Him.  For, He has created us for His glory and, after all, He is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him…

Very encouraging to hear how the process of adoption changed these men.  It not only brought the Gospel into better focus, it also exposed areas of sin in their lives.  I can certainly confess that has been true in my adoption experience…  They also share a lot of their practical experiences – very helpful for those considering adoption.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2009/08/21/mars-hill-conversations-on-adoption/

A, E, T and B kneeling 8 x 10

bethlehem 8 x 10

twedrose 8 x 10

eli 8 x 10

autumn 8 x 10

A, E, T and B

laces all 8 x 10 portrait

A, E, T and B Elbows 5 x 7

Sorry for the long silence for those who were so faithfully following our story and praying for us. We do have lots to tell about our journey the past few weeks. My excuses, however lame, are the fact that the Wednesday after we got back our computer was hit by lightening and that summer camp here at Cedarmore consumes 99.9% of my time outside of the time I can carve out for the family. I do still plan to post stories from the trip as well as the events of the past few weeks since we’ve been home.

In the mean time, please check out the following website. It is powerful response to a rather unfortunate twist on a new horror movie by Warner Brothers. Feel free to pass the word along. Thanks!

http://www.orphansdeservebetter.org/video.html

Mommy and Bethlehem play Amharic patty-cake at KVI Addis Ababa our first day in the orphanage.

Mommy and Theodore play the same.

Theodore sings an Amharic praise chorus on the way to Nazareth to visit KVI.

Yesterday and today have been wonderful.  God is so good!  The bedroom and sleeping arrangements have not been an issue.  Jet-lag is till working itself out however.  Theodore was up this morning at 3:30 AM ready to play.  Needless to say we are all very tired.  We were able to keep him up until about 8:00 PM tonight.  Our hope is that he is fully adjusted in another day or two (or I’ll have to begin taking afternoon naps).

I have posted a few pics to sum up our first couple of days as a family united as six.  Enjoy them.  Over the next couple of days I want to post on the following topics while they are somewhat fresh in my head: “The People of Ethiopia”, “The Places of Ethiopia”, “The Food of Ethiopia” and “Why Ethiopia for Adoption?”

I am sorry for not responding to every comment to every post while in the Big E.  Our computer time was limited and I made it my priority to keep the blog updated.  I do want to thank all who have commented and are reading for your support and most importantly your prayers.

I do have to issue one editorial correction/clarification.  Michelle informed me that I did not give proper credit for the backpacks and their contents.  The backpacks were actually the brain-child of her mother Connie and her sister Terri.  So, thank you Connie and Terri – they were not only a huge success with the children they were lifesavers at many points throughout our trip.

Look for a few more posts this week as time and memory allows.  We experienced much and have already learned much and would love to share with all of you.  Peace and grace for today…

We are officially back on USA soil! Every time we landed Theodore asked if we were in KY. I told him each time that we had more planes to ride. He was so excited you would think he had won the lottery. Bethlehem is not feeling so good. She has had a fever since we left the big E but has been a real trooper. We are currently at oHare awaiting our flight to Louisville. While waiting we had our first go at chocolate ice cream to mixed reviews… Oh well. Everything is new for them:escalators, moving walkways, infa red faucets and toilets, hand dryers and you name it! Its been a load of fun! Looking forward to being home.I’ll try to update the blog a couple more times over the next few days, there is so much more that I’d love to share. Its been an awesome journey and we couldn’t have done it without you all!

It’s finally Friday and I have finally found a computer that works.  We’ve been without power for the past two days.  I will be brief because I am at the orphanage and I am missing yet another coffee ceremony.

Today we have had some sibling rivalry.  Too be expected I guess but with no way to really communicate it is very hard.  Please pray for Michelle and me to handle the situations with discernment and wisdom.  We don’t want to risk isolating either of them or add to the fear I know is already looming over them.  We love you all – our time in Ethiopia has been absolutely AWESOME on all levels.  We love the people, the places and the whole experience!  Pray also for the flight back – it will be long but I feel the children will do fine…  Michelle and me however…

I’ll try to put an update up when we hit US airspace.  Lots of you are keeping up with this, we had 230 visitors to the blog one day…

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