If you have ever said “excuse my language”  after you said something offensive in my presence, many of you will remember that my response was always “it’s not me you need to worry about offending.” If I have never had the opportunity to explain what I mean, please allow me that opportunity now. 

It really has everything to do with the gospel. The word gospel means “good news.” The problem with most Gospel explanations is that the “bad news” is never mentioned and without bad news they’re really can be no good news. Without a proper understanding of the bad news Jesus is at most a good moral example by which we can learn to be successful in life and at worst is reduced to a genie by which we try to accomplish our greatest dreams and goals.

The bad news is that God is good and God is love and God is just. A good, loving and just God cannot allow law breakers to go unpunished nor can He allow sinners to dwell in His presence. None of us claims to be perfect (well at least most of us LOL) but most of us are truly hoping God will grade on a curve – trusting that if our good deeds outweigh our bad then surely a good God will let us into heaven. 

From Jesus’ brother James we learn that if we break God’s law at one point we have broken the entire law (James 2:10).  Think about it, all it takes is for you to steal once to be a thief and murder once to be a murderer.  So, who of us can say that we have kept all of God’s requirements perfectly? Certainly not me! Paul told the Galatians that the law is meant to be a tutor, instructing us in God’s holiness. It is to help us understand the gap between God’s perfection and our inability to live up to that standard. It’s goal is not to diminish our worth; its purpose is to help us begin to grasp the majesty and awesomeness of God.

So, who among us does not want to see justice done when there is a law broken? How loving would it be to a victim’s family to allow a murderer to freely practice his awful behavior? Who would not tremble at the thought of walking up to the judge in the court room and spitting in his face? The Bible clearly explains these are exactly the type of offenses that we carry out against a holy God every day when we choose to disobey His commandments.

Many of you will point to other people who claim to be “followers of Christ” but live lives in utter opposition to God’s Commands. We call these people hypocrites and they are the most frequent excuse for people to discount Christianity. This is extremely unfortunate and some faces have probably just come to your mind. Let me be clear, Christians are not perfect in this life. They will sin and break God’s Commandments; however God’s Word is also clear: true believers bear good fruit and are sorrowful over their sin. True children of God cannot consistently remain in their sin; they will feel the conviction of His Spirit and respond by turning from that sin and embracing the Law of Christ – that is repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

The Bible speaks of this fruit in terms of patterns in our lives. Do you see the habitual fruit of sin in your life or the fruit of God’s Spirit? In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we learn, “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” 

People who claim Christ as their Lord yet continually wallow in the comfort of their sin unwilling to fight it prove themselves to be no such thing as a child of God. Sin is their master. In addition, even if you do not claim to be a Christian yet have never truly understood the depth of your offense to a holy God then you are equally a slave of your sin.

So, what’s the good news? Well, it’s Jesus. Without Him we would be facing the proposition of paying for our own sins for a real eternity in a real place called hell. The good news is that Jesus was sent of God to this earth to put on flesh and live as a man among men.  This was necessary for the following reasons:

To begin with, it was necessary so that He could live among us experiencing the same joys and facing the same trials as we do. He had to be tempted in every way as we have been and yet never have sinned – ALWAYS making decisions, thinking thoughts, speaking with his mouth and actions in such a way that pleased God. This serves as a powerful example to us as how to walk as believers and live a life of Christ-likeness. It also allows Jesus to sympathize with us as he pleads our case before His Father in heaven (Hebrew 4:14-16). But most importantly, He’s perfect life proved Him to be the only sacrifice acceptable to cover sin once for all who believe. Unlike the foreshadowing sacrifices of the Old Testament that had to be repeated, this perfect Lamb of God was sufficient to pay for all the sins of his children – sins past, present and future! “As one trespass led to condemnation for all men…so by one Man’s obedience the many will be made righteous,” (Romans 5:18-19).

By placing your faith and trust in Jesus to have taken the place you deserved on the cross, He takes credit for all your sin and was willingly punished in your place! Even more amazingly, you get credited with His perfect righteousness and it is that righteousness that solves the worst news! It’s this gift that allows you to enter into the presence of the King of kings and the Lord of lords and live forever! 

If, during my time at Leak Eliminators I had not had a chance to explain this bad news and good news to you personally I hope you will receive it now. If we had a conversation along these lines and you have never responded to this news, then I strongly urge you to consider doing so. It is by far the most important thing you could spend your time wrestling with. Please do not let your conscience make you hesitate or dream of getting into better shape prior to dealing with this news. In and of yourself it is completely impossible to improve your situation; only by His Spirit can you ever truly please your Creator. All the fitness that God requires He promises to provide if you will simply confess your hopeless situation and throw yourself on His mercy. Then you must find a local body of Bible-saturated believers and get into fellowship with them.

If you are a believer, let this be a reminder that you are to be about sharing this news (good & bad) with everyone in which you come in contact. Also, let this be an exhortation that you wear the Name above every name and your actions reflect His character – is it an accurate representation?!? You’re an ambassador of Jesus and His Kingdom!

So, to wrap this up, let me go back to the beginning. If you’ve ever been in my presence and said something offensive and apologized, first know that I am no better than anyone else. I have done nothing to deserve God’s grace and mercy toward me. If you noticed anything different about me, it is not me! It is 100% a work of God in my heart and the Spirit that He has given me to be my guide each and every day.  Jesus said in Matthew 10, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  The fact is, we will all stand before God one day.  So, what you need to ask yourself is how will you answer Him on judgment day and he asks “on what basis should I let you dwell in my presence forever?” The only answer He will accept is, “I wear the righteousness of your Son…”

How do we know the Bible is true?

https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/how-do-we-know-that-the-bible-is-true/

And

http://carm.org/can-we-trust-new-testament-historical-document

Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/infallible-proofs/

And

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection

Find a Bible-saturated church in…

Nicholasville & Lexington:

Providence Community Church

http://provcommunity.org/home

Wellington Church

http://www.wellingtonchurch.org/

Boone’s Creek Baptist Church

http://www.boonescreekchurch.com/

Lawrenceberg & Frankfort:

Farmdale Baptist Church

http://farmdalebaptist.com/

The Point Community Church

http://www.thepointcommunity.net/

Buck Run Baptist Church

http://www.buckrun.org/

Richmond & Berea:

Grace Community Church Madison

http://gccmadison.org/

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!

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