navigating lent: why?

Lent. A time on the Church calendar nudging those who follow Jesus to look inwardly + upwardly.

Whatever your faith [or lack thereof] looks like, introspection is intriguing — attractive, even.

The rough part: Actually wading in that murky tension of who you are, who you want to be, and who you were created to be.

My favorite seminarian has written a couple thoughts on lent for our friend’s blog, Creative Theology. I think they’re worth reading. I’ve included the links + intros.

  • A New Take on Lent - Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of lent-love in the Craig home. Raised Baptist, I mostly (errantly) believed that Lent was a silly form of legalism created by the Catholic church to keep people afraid and in line. With little-to-no knowledge of the early church or even the fact that it’s not just Catholics who celebrate the Lenten season (whaaaaa?!), it was simpler for me to marginalize the belief and practices of others than to be self-reflective.
  • On Sin and Lent: How do I empty me of… me? When I investigate my innermost desires, I believe I can say honestly that I want to be a vessel from which God pours our healing to the world. But how?

Adoption: Movement or Trend?

This post is pulled from Megan Hyatt Miller’s blog. You can see it in it’s original state here. I particularly like her 4th and 5th points.

While talking with a friend about our adoption recently, she made a comment that adoption just seemed so trendy—all these upper-middle class families running around with their brown babies talking about hundreds of millions of orphans, minus one.

From the outside looking in, it appeared to be the “new thing.” She wasn’t being critical of my family, just making an observation of something she saw happening in the community where we live.

I started to wonder, is adoption just another trendy way to brand yourself as a cool Christian, or is God moving within his church, calling people to respond to the Gospel in large numbers?

Here are a few reason why I believe adoption isn’t just the latest fad, but points to larger movement:

1. There is a difference between a trend and something that is “trendy.”

To be sure, there is an adoption trend within the Christian community in the sense that a trend is anything that a large number of people do at the same time. But, a “trend” is not the same as “trendy.” Trendy implies something that is the fashion of the moment. Here today, gone tomorrow.

2. Adoption is not a new idea, but Christians are finally starting to take the biblical mandate to care for orphans seriously.

The idea of adopting orphaned children comes directly from our example of our adoption in Christ. It is not a new idea. When we adopt orphans, we are simply imitating Christ, giving a family and a birthright to a child who previously had none, just as Christ did with us.

Thanks to people like Jason Kovacs and Dan Cruver, co-authors of Reclaiming Adoption, the connection between horizontal and vertical adoption is being brought to the forefront in a new way.

Moreover, Christians are taking the biblical mandate to care for orphans to heart.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.—James 1:27

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you.—John 14:18

3. Now, more than ever, Christians place a premium on alleviating the suffering of others.

Christians, conservative and liberal alike, are now more aware of global suffering than ever before, and they are doing something about it. Books like, The Hole in Our Gospel and Radical, have inspired us to enter in to the sufferings of others and give our lives away for the sake of the Kingdom. Whether that means opening our homes or our wallets, we are doing it in large numbers.

4. Transracial adoption reminds us of what the Kingdom of God looks like.

As I wrote here, racial diversity, whether in a family or in a church community, speaks of the way we were meant to live—as one. As my friend, Pastor Chris Williamson says, we are one, but not the same. In other words, diversity is beautiful, diversity points to the restoration of all things. Division, hatred and segregation are plagues of a fallen world.

Reconciliation among nations, tribes, and skin colors is God’s kingdom come (again, Pastor Chris). As recently as 30 or 40 years ago, transracial adoption would have been scandalous. Now, it is one way God is breaking down historic walls of separation.

5. Those interested in being “cool” are quickly weeded out by the process.

Finally, if you want to adopt because it’s the trendy thing to do, you won’t last long. Speaking personally, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. The waiting and uncertainty are excruciating, but our boys are worth it all.

I have yet to meet anyone who completed an adoption for the wrong reasons. I’m sure they are out there, but everyone I have met has been profoundly moved by the Gospel mandate to love in a way that costs them everything.

a glad surrender.

A friend sent me today’s post from A Glad Surrender, a lent blog + devotional by Cornerstone Church in Ames. What a simple + poignant reminder that adoption can reflect the gospel. (Yes, those are the hands of my awesome husband and son.)

"Pure and undefiled religions before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27

Perhaps the most amazing part of the good news of Jesus Christ is that we are not merely forgiven, but we are adopted into the family of God. If we imagine a child in an orphanage who has given up all hope of being adopted by a family and then suddenly finds out that she has been adopted not just by a family, but by a loving father who has a wonderful family and also happens to be the king, we get a partial glimpse of the reality that has happened for each one of us.
A wonderful picture of how we can respond to God’s love is being played out at Cornerstone right now as many families are adopting children both domestically and from abroad. There are many more still in need of homes. Each child is an opportunity for a family to try to reflect the love God has shown us in adopting us.
Starter Prayer: Father, thank you for adopting us into your wonderful family. We pray that you would continue to raise up Christian families to adopt children in need of a home. We pray that you would help us, as a church family to support them and all the parents who are trying to raise their children to love and obey you.

to be orphaned + enslaved.

howtobeagoodchristian:

We are all born orphans. Every person alive was born fatherless, setting out on a journey to find a father whom we were created to know. To make matters worse, we are also all born into slavery. Not a physical bondage, but bondage to sin and despair. This is the sad reality of humanity, and a…

Today is Orphan Sunday.
Led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Orphan Sunday an annual grassroots event calling Christians to be involved in the global orphan ministry. To raise awareness about the orphan crisis and infuse passion into the Church to tackle the problem.
There’s no doubt that the orphan crisis is daunting. How do we help? Where do we begin? Foster care takes time and resources. Adoption is risky, time-consuming and expensive. Supporting a orphan ministry also takes time and money. And all can be exhausting and emotionally draining.
I could share a gazillion statistics about the heart-wrenching orphan crisis. I could show sad photos and attempt to guilt you into action. But that’s not right, either.
It’s easy to feel disconnected. To experience what some sociologists call “compassion fatigue.” The numbers, the pictures, the words—they seem so far away. We know things aren’t right, but we’re overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem.
About two years ago, I wrote an in-depth feature article about childhood malnutrition. I began to realize that I was in a comfortable bubble of complacency. I began to ask God to burst the bubble.  [I continually have to ask and be reminded.] I began asking Him to break my heart for the things that break His. He did that. He is still doing that. In a big way. He will do the same for you. 
It hurts. It heals. It is worth it.
I truly believe that God has a plan of redemption for the world. A plan that He is asking us to be a part of. A plan that includes loving and caring for the least of these. For the abandoned baby boy. For the 16-year-old girl who has bounced from foster family to foster family. For the child who is just waiting for a hug.
This Orphan Sunday, I encourage you to throw up your arms and ask for help. To plead for courage and compassion. To beg for a way to show light to such a dark world.
I don’t have the answers. But He does. And he won’t make you travel that journey alone.
 “Orphan Sunday calls the Church to make the Gospel visible,” said Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, in a statement. “When Christians open their hearts and homes in adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry, we mirror the God who did the same for us.”
[Information + quotes taken from this article.]

Today is Orphan Sunday.

Led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Orphan Sunday an annual grassroots event calling Christians to be involved in the global orphan ministry. To raise awareness about the orphan crisis and infuse passion into the Church to tackle the problem.

There’s no doubt that the orphan crisis is daunting. How do we help? Where do we begin? Foster care takes time and resources. Adoption is risky, time-consuming and expensive. Supporting a orphan ministry also takes time and money. And all can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

I could share a gazillion statistics about the heart-wrenching orphan crisis. I could show sad photos and attempt to guilt you into action. But that’s not right, either.

It’s easy to feel disconnected. To experience what some sociologists call “compassion fatigue.” The numbers, the pictures, the words—they seem so far away. We know things aren’t right, but we’re overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem.

About two years ago, I wrote an in-depth feature article about childhood malnutrition. I began to realize that I was in a comfortable bubble of complacency. I began to ask God to burst the bubble. [I continually have to ask and be reminded.] I began asking Him to break my heart for the things that break His. He did that. He is still doing that. In a big way. He will do the same for you. 

It hurts. It heals. It is worth it.

I truly believe that God has a plan of redemption for the world. A plan that He is asking us to be a part of. A plan that includes loving and caring for the least of these. For the abandoned baby boy. For the 16-year-old girl who has bounced from foster family to foster family. For the child who is just waiting for a hug.

This Orphan Sunday, I encourage you to throw up your arms and ask for help. To plead for courage and compassion. To beg for a way to show light to such a dark world.

I don’t have the answers. But He does. And he won’t make you travel that journey alone.

 “Orphan Sunday calls the Church to make the Gospel visible,” said Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, in a statement. “When Christians open their hearts and homes in adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry, we mirror the God who did the same for us.

[Information + quotes taken from this article.]

As the wife of a seminary student (Yes…I’m married to a future pastor, but don’t let that freak you out. I’m not crazy.), you might think I’d be all about staff meetings that brainstorm ways to get “people in the pews.” That I’d judge church success and growth by numbers, charts and stats. No. The church is not a business. I don’t want to blog-scream at you, but NO. NO, NO, NO!

"Instead of Sunday morning guests, the new metric for the church should be zero orphans and kids in foster care in your city.” – Dave Gibbons


I have met a lot of “church people” (and that means everyone from evangelical fundamentalists to hip, emerging church-goers to strict Roman Catholics) that have told me that “the poor” mean a lot to them. Here’s my question: Is there a “poorer” group than neglected and orphaned children? Than those who cannot speak for themselves? Who have no parent who will advocate on their behalf?

How many churches boast about their service projects and missionaries, yet have a church body that lacks the heart, hands and feet to actually doing anything about it in their day-to-day lives? I know that wasn’t a comfortable question to pose (and a lot of people will want to defend how they are called to live a typical American life), but sometimes growth hurts. Sometimes change is uncomfortable.

Walk into an average protestant American church, and you’ll probably hear a typical, topical sermon series on: end times, marriage and relationships, money, etc. Church, we need to take the blinders off.

More than 140 million orphans and waiting children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents. (Unicef)

We must become aware of the plight of orphans and at-risk youth in the world. The church is not called to turn a blind eye to the disturbing plight of our world’s children. Rather, the church is called to expose this shameful state of affairs by shining a light on the problem. (Ephesians 5:11–17.)

Your hearts should be broken for the children of the world. Millions of children right now are being mutilated, raped, forgotten, sold as sex slaves, discarded. There are children who are cold and hungry, and there are children being told that they aren’t worth loving, that they aren’t worth anything. Feel troubled and disturbed. The enemy doesn’t want our community’s, state’s, country’s and world’s orphans to be exposed.

God’s heart for the fatherless (which includes not just orphans but at-risk children) is a consistent theme throughout the entire Bible. James says serving the fatherless is “pure” and “undefiled” religion. It is not just a concern of God. It is a priority of God. (James 1:27)

Well, I’m completely fired up now. Orphan Sunday is coming up (Nov. 7), and there is an amazing website with church resources. For this post, I pulled some things from a sermon guide there. Orphan care, the church, and adoption are recurring themes you will see on this blog.

Guys and gals, I don’t think that caring for the orphan is something “some people are called to do.” I think as those who have been redeemed in Christ, we must take seriously our adoption into God’s family. When we begin to take what God’s heart is, it manifests itself in us as first acknowledging the orphan, then being bold enough to talk about and advocate for the orphan, then caring for the orphan, and then integrating the orphan into our lives, whether that’s through backing a Christ-centered, orphan-centered organization, starting an orphan care ministry at your church, becoming a foster parent, serving at an orphanage, etc.

More than one-third of Americans have considered adopting, but no more than two percent of Americans have actually adopted. (Child Welfare Information Gateway.)

I’ll leave you with this: Imagine how profound and beautiful it would be to remove a child’s “orphan” status by bringing her into your family through adoption.