Well. I intended to be back before now. But life has been consumed with raising children and soul searching. A healthy break, and a poignant reminder that my thoughts are essential to no one.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church:
3:8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Our church will be observing Orphan Sunday on Nov. 6 (hope yours will be as well). I play a very limited part in what the observation will look like, but it's caused we to wonder (again) nonetheless...exactly what does it mean to care for orphans?? Now that Vince and I have completed two adoptions I ask myself this question even more deeply. So many people are doing so many wonderful things for the cause of the orphan, yet still in my own heart I had not landed upon what it should look like--until recently.
I won't take you on that journey, but here's the conclusion that God has settled in my heart: plant churches. New Testament, Gospel-driven, God-glorifying churches. And plant them in communities where sin is robbing children of their families. This is enduring, life-giving care to the orphan. As a matter of fact, plant them everywhere! Sin is claiming more than families. There possibly are organizations (and more hopefully, churches) that are doing this--I've not researched enough to know.
Paul also said:
1 Cor 15:3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...
...of first importance... is not that orphans are cared for--but that Christ is preached. And it is through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known...when God's wisdom is received and embraced, orphans will be cared for. And even greater than that, more children will remain with their birth families. I know that God is sovereign and allows all kinds of things for all sorts of reasons (ultimately for His glory)--but that doesn't mean that we just accept man's depravity, which destroys families.
Rom 6: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We either live in approval of sin, or, oppose it in power with the truth of the Gospel.
And as I think about planting churches, my heart fills with sadness because so many are willing to go...and have been called to go...but there aren't enough senders. This is because we're not willing to embrace, as John Piper calls it, a war-time lifestyle. God has promised to supply the resources to accomplish His work, so it's not for lack of resources that orphans aren't cared for and that sin is reigning. The only explanation is that we are disobedient...or disbelieving. Am I crazy? (which is quite possible)
Rom 10:11For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
So. This is where I am. Taking baby-steps to embrace my war-time lifestyle...because I believe that the darkness is fading and sin is losing its power to put to shame -- and, by the grace of God, may our family proclaim the Lord of all (bestowing his riches on all who call on him).
2 Cor 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...