This Sunday Ashland’s church plant in Madison County (Ashland in Madison County) will move to new temporary facilities. 124 South Keeneland RIchmond Ky 40475 Join us at 10 am! And bring someone with you!
Picture this situation: you have served as pastor of a particular church for less than five years. The church is growing and you think it would be wise to construct a new building… Read the rest of the interview here
GUEST POST by David E. Prince
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:8
In the verse above the Psalmist provides a warning about idolatry. Those who create idols to worship become like them (lifeless, useless, empty). Whatever you heart relies on, clings to, and trusts for security that is your god/God. If it is not the triune God of the Bible then it is an idol god. There is no neutrality or static middle ground; if you worship an idol you become like the object of your worship.
We become like what we worship. Therefore it is equally true that if we worship the triune God of the Bible as revealed in Jesus Christ we will become like Him. And as John Stott has written, “The God of the Bible is a missionary God” and if we worship Him we will be a missionary people. But one of the primary ways that God describes His work of saving and gathering His people from every tribe, tongue and nation is adoption. The children of God through Jesus (His only Son, John 3:16) are those He gave the right to sonship and now these adopted Sons cry out “Abba, Father” (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:5) with their elder brother, Jesus (Mark 14:36; Hebrews 2:11-12).
Therefore, since we become like what we worship, we must be a missionary people who preach the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation and we must also be a people picture that Gospel among every tribe, tongue, and nation through adoption.
What God has joined together let no man separate.
GUEST POST: by David E. Prince
“I thought you said you were having a Mission Conference?” That is not an unusual reaction when people find out that responding to the global orphan crisis through adoption is the topic of our 2010 Mission Conference. The adoption of orphans and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are completely distinct categories in the mind of many evangelical Christians.
The adoption of orphans is a good thing that we are glad some people are involved in but glorifying God through the Great Commission is the central task of all followers of Jesus Christ. Such a view ignores the fact that the Scripture describes the unfolding of the Great Commission as God’s work of adoption (Romans 8:15; 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). As J.I. Packer so powerfully stated in Knowing God, “adoption is the highest privilege of the Gospel.” We are not only declared righteous in a legal sense in the Gospel we are also totally embraced in the family of God with a new identity and inheritance.
Human families exist because they are a reflection of the eternal Fatherhood of God and His plan for the eternal Son to be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11-18). These brothers in the family of God were not born into His family but they are those who by grace “He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:13). They are the adopted children of God. We look to God as Father to understand and define the role of earthly Fathers and as we live with earthly fathers we better understand His perfect fatherly provision in our lives.
Consider how Jesus reasons when He calls for His followers to forgive others their trespasses and for those who refuse to forgive others He warns “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). This plea and warning do not provide a plan for justification by forgiveness but assert the direct relationship between being forgiven by God and forgiving others. Jesus points to the reciprocal relationship between the forgiveness He provides in the Gospel and the forgiveness of the flesh and blood people we rub shoulders with every day. According to Jesus, it is nonsensical for someone who has been eternally forgiven to refuse to forgive.
This reciprocal relationship is the way it always works with Christian living and why the believer never moves past the Gospel. Thus, it is nonsensical for those who were spiritual orphans and have been adopted into the family of God through the atoning blood of Jesus to refuse to be involved in the adoption of the millions of physical orphans in the world today. When we understand this it becomes clear why James refers to rescuing orphans as “Religion that is pure and undefiled” (James 1:27). Not all Christians will or should become adoptive parents but all Christians must be involved in seeing orphans adopted into families and look into the face of an earthly abba, father who will tell them about the Abba, Father and His eternal Son.
As my friend Russell Moore has said, “The Great Commission is a call to spiritual warfare not a public relations campaign.” The same is true for adoption. Christian adoption is not simply a nice thing for kind, charity-minded people. Living the Gospel in the world by adopting orphans is spiritual warfare and Satan hates it because it cannot be severed from the Great Commission. Adoption is a fundamental aspect of the battle against the principalities and powers who hate the Gospel. When we can ignore the cries of the millions of orphans in the world we are not simply saying something about our charity but about our missiology.
“I thought you said you were having a Mission Conference?”
“We are, we really are.”
A few weeks ago, my grandmother told Jonah that she had been to Africa. He responded, as only Jonah could respond, “Really Granny? We didn’t see you there.” Amidst the laughter, I realized something. While Jonah didn’t see his granny in Africa, the mission trip she took there is one reason he is now here 20 something years later.
I was a small child when my grandmother took a month long trip to Africa. She served in a village full of poverty and sickness. She used her spiritual gift of ‘southern hospitality’ to serve the least of these while the gospel was proclaimed where it had never been heard before.
Before leaving for Africa, she sat me down and explained to me why she was traveling so far away for such a long time. She explained that there were people in Africa who had never heard about Jesus. As I began to ask her questions, not only about Africa but also about Jesus, she explained to me my own sin and need for the Savior. It was then that the gospel started making sense to me.
The pictures, stories, and smells she brought back with her never left me. Growing up in her home, I continually found myself thumbing through the picture album created from her trip. She even came to my elementary school to show her slides and explain the issues affecting the people of Africa. With pride, I showed all my friends the souvenir drums and toys she brought home with her. The conditions of the villages displayed in those pictures were forever imprinted in my heart.
Last year, these pictures became reality as I traveled to Africa myself. I was able to witness the poverty and sickness of those pictures firsthand. My wife and I brought home more than just pictures and souvenirs. We brought home two sons.
When we arrived in Lexington, my grandmother made sure she was one of the first family members visit her newest grandsons. With tears in her eyes, she is able to see, touch, and kiss the fruit of an investment she began to make some twenty years ago.
This is one reason I cannot wait for our Care 4 Africa (a virtual mission experience for children) on September 23-26. At Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, we long for our children to touch and feel missions around the world. As they grow in our congregation, we want them to see the mission as central to their life, whether they ever leave the Bluegrass or not.
Our goal is to creatively display the issues that children face in Africa. Our prayer is that there would be many children like myself, who after seeing the sights, hearing sounds, and smelling the smells, will be used of God in years to come to care for orphans and preach the gospel in Africa. Like my grandmother, I long for the day when I will be able to hold some of the children who will be brought home because of Care 4 Africa. Who knows? They may even be some of my own grandchildren!
As we drove through Addis Ababa the excitement about receiving our two newest sons was numbed by the blatant display of poverty along the streets. The mass of humanity before us was sprinkled with ‘outcasts’ whose residence was at best a worn blanket or a piece of plastic. Beggars drug their deformed legs on the pavement. The aroma of roasted corn cooked and sold on the sidewalk waffled through the air. Every now and then, the undeniable odor of refuse was added to the smog. If poverty has a smell, this is it!
I stared speechless out the car window as our driver recounted details of Isaac and Jonah’s life. He recounted the death of a mother and biological siblings. He explained how it was impossible for their father to provide for them.
When they first arrived at the orphanage they both were severely malnourished. Jonah had no mobility. His ankles were like jello. Questions about the beggars with deformed limbs no longer needed to be asked. I now seemed to know firsthand why they drug themselves along the ground.
We finally turned down a gravel road that led us up to a metal gate. I had seen this security gate in pictures and videos. I had imagined this moment for months but it was not happening like I had imagined.
Certain parts of Addis have to share electricity in 24hr shifts. This was a day when the electricity at the home happened to be out. There was also a thunderstorm rumbling in the background. I remember thinking, “This is no hallmark moment!” And yet, the darkness and gloom was about to be overcome by the moment we had been waiting months to experience.
As the metal door was pulled open, I heard some of the nannies yell for Kenesa and Melkamu. I walked down a dark hallway worried that the gloomy conditions would make the transition even more difficult. As I turned to go up some stairs, two little boys met me. I could not make out their faces, but I knew them and they knew me. They reached for us!
Isaac was the closest so I grabbed him. He tightly squeezed my neck with his thin arms. I don’t know if he was scared or excited. I do know he had been waiting for me and was ready for something. With tears in her eyes, Danae went for Jonah. In this moment pictures, videos, thoughts, and prayers became reality. We were holding our new sons.
Jonah brought to us the pictures of our family we sent them months earlier. Isaac showed me with pride their metal bunk beds. Before leaving, they made sure to hug and kiss all their friends. After seeing many others come and go, it was now their turn to leave. Isaac kept saying something that began with words I could not understand, but included, “airplane” and ended with, “to America!” He had obviously been prepared to leave and was ready to go.
I know this is not normal. Many children when leaving an orphanage kick and scream to stay. This is one reason why the details of this day are so imprinted on my heart and mind. To this day I relive these moments every time one of them runs to my open arms.
We talk about this Day alot around our house. I pray we never shake the details that still seem so vivid. This day has often caused me to consider another Day. The Day that is coming when the Eastern sky will be ripped open as the Son sweeps into this present orphanage. The Day when He comes to rescue all who have been preparing to go with Him. The Day He comes to take over the world. On this Day all darkness and gloom will be shot with the light of His glory.
I pray constantly that all our kids begin to look for and hope in this Day the same way Isaac and Jonah looked for the day when we arrived to bring them home.
Unlike Isaac and Jonah, my problem is that I am constantly lulled into forgetting how much bigger and better this Day will be than anything else I have ever experienced. This is why I so desperately need the transitioning work of Spirit in my life. While He has already called me away from sin, He continues to convince me with the authoritative Words of Christ of the glorious details of this coming Day.
We know in part what this will be like if our hearts have been born from above. But on that Day we will see Him, know Him, and be like Him in an instant. For this reason we pray, “Abba Father!” and “Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!”
As part of our World Impact Conference, THE WORLD MISSION and THE ORPHAN September 23-26, we are offering a free Andrew Peterson Concert. Let us know if your coming here. Check out Andrew Peterson’s stuff here.
Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel offers, even higher than justification. - JI Packer, Knowing God
This is my absolute favorite quote concerning adoption. It’s tragic is that most Christians do not have such a ‘high’ view of adoption. Adoption too often seen as something ‘like’ the gospel. Rather than seeing adoption as central to the gospel.
On September 22nd, to kick off our 2010 World Impact Conference at AABC, we have set aside an evening to rejoice in the privilege we have as sons of God in Christ. We are calling the evening “A Night of Privilege”.
On this “Night of Privilege”, we will have a delicious meal in the AABC family center. As we enjoy this meal together, we will also take in the wonderful music of our very own Pastor Nate BeVier.
Pastor Nate is a tremendous song writer and on this night he will be debuting a series of songs on the privilege adoption. The music will also be interspersed with testimonies from adoptive families and reflections concerning the adoption we experience in Christ as sons of God.
The cost of the evening is free. Any and everyone in the Lexington-Metro is invited to join us!
This year M.L.K. day provided a significant moment for me as a dad. As I threw baseball with three of my four sons, I stopped for a moment to consider with amazement the scene before me. There stood three boys, two white and one black, and they all with equal rights share my last name.
I have often thought like Brad Paisley, “If I could write a letter to me back when I was seventeen…” If possible, the first thing I would do is rebuke every bit of the residue of racism that was alive in my life at that time.
I grew up in the rural south and as a teenager racism was still very much ingrained in my culture. It was subtle, selective, and for the most part behind the scenes. However, when it reared its head it often directed its venom at two things that I now value most in life, family and missions. It was a racism that allowed us to distinguish between those we claimed to love and pray for in Africa and those we neglected in our neighborhoods.
It breaks my heart to say that for sometime ‘the way I was raised’ trumped the gospel on certain issues of race. I’m very proud of where I am from, but this is one root I’ve had to rip up, burn, and destroy. In doing so, I’ve realized that racism isn’t just cultural it’s satanic.
As I watched my oldest son teach his little brother the right way to hold his glove when fielding a ground ball, I was brought to tears. I immediately thanked God that I was literally seeing the sin of their father pass over them. I praised him for the way my family is a repudiation of the anti-Jesus prejudices I once subtly embraced.
The truth is at seventeen I already had a letter that had been written to me. I held in my lap every Sunday morning. I just wasn’t really paying much attention to it. If I had, maybe I would have repented of my sin of racism, understanding that, “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth having determined their allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling places.” (Acts 17:27)