Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pastor's Perspective - Adopted!

Recently, several in our congregation and community have shared with me that they were adopted as children. Taking just one glimpse of my family or hearing our story seems to open a door for these personal revelations. The majority of our six children are adopted, and biracial. Needless to say, our family portrait is a unique one and shouts to everyone that we are huge advocates for adoption.

Over the years my wife Michelle and I have heard repeatedly how ‘blessed’ our children are to have parents like us. We always smile and gently remind them that we are the truly blessed ones! The Lord in His infinite kindness has shown us great love by allowing us to provide a Christian home for the little ones He created and graciously entrusted to us to nurture and raise – those made in His very image.

Students of the Bible are familiar with another huge advocate of adoption – God Himself! Paul the apostle wrote to his friends in ancient Ephesus (1:5) that all who call on the name of the Lord and trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are personally adopted by God into His eternal family. In other words, Heaven will be filled with children God chose through His gracious will and pleasure.

Though I still hear some say, “I was an accident”, I try to assure them that there are no accidents with an Almighty God! He deliberately raised you from death to life, gave you a new identity, and gave you a special place at His family table. The Bible states emphatically, ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1).

One of my fondest memories was the adoption ceremony for our daughter Emma. Our family gathered at the courthouse in Tampa, Florida to join us and witness the ratification of our precious child officially becoming a ‘Kiefer’. We sat nervously fidgeting as the judge entered his chamber, sat down and reviewed our case file with a stern face. Then he said and did something that will always be tattooed in my mind. He told Michelle and I to come over and stand by him with the baby while he signed the document. Our family stood nearby pressing in, giddy with anticipation with cameras ready. “When I sign my name on this line, Emma will be all yours,” he announced. As he scribbled his signature, his once stern expression transformed into a wide toothy smile and with a loud exclamation he said – ‘It’s official!” The room instantaneously broke into cheers, tears and hugs. Since that day over fifteen years ago, we have experienced it again and again; and I can tell you, it never gets old.

As a father and pastor, I see several similarities between those courthouse proceedings and celebrations and what it truly means to be adopted by God into His personal family and kingdom.

First of all, our adopted children didn’t need to qualify or audition first to be part of our family. They didn’t need to be good enough or gifted enough. No probationary periods were required. Absolutely nothing hinged on their performance. Instead, it was hinged on our love for them and our desire to share our lives and love with them. In the same way, God loves you today and wants to adopt you. Oftentimes I hear people tell me that when they finally clean up their act, they’ll be ready for God to take them in. As a beloved reader, allow me to share something important with you - You can’t clean up your act! God wants you just as you are right now. Through Christ’s redemptive and substitutionary work on the cross and the regenerating and transformative work of the Holy Spirit, He will graciously do the necessary cleaning up part in you required.

Second, our adopted children, with one stroke of the judge’s pen, became ours, enjoying all of the rights and privileges of naturally-born children. They not only got our name, but every blessings and perk of being a fully-identified family member. Friends, the blessings and privileges of being a Kiefer are nothing compared to the blessings and privileges of being God’s adopted child! To have an ever-growing intimacy with Him and accessibility to Him is an opportunity too sweet to ignore or pass up; knowing that He’s always available to hear me, help me and restore me. His ears are always open, His shoulder always available and His heart always tender with immeasurable unconditional love, patience, wisdom and restoration.

Lastly, allow me to share the best memory of adoption with you. The sweetest moment was when Michelle and I actually got to take our baby home. It was the culmination of all of our desire and preparation. It’s funny that not one of our children remember any details of their nurseries; yet, Michelle and I took such great joy in preparing every detail with eager anticipation. Jesus told His friends just before going to the cross, “I’m going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’ (John 14:2-3). Though nothing can adequately prepare us for the sting and ache that death brings, for God it is a sweet moment to finally take His adopted child home and share with them all that He has prepared. Scripture tells us that ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Cor. 2:9)

Are you an adopted child of God?

Like me, you may have had wonderful parents, but, you still might be lying in a spiritual orphanage. Your adoption does not begin with you trying to clean up your life or trying to be good enough. Your adoption begins with an honest confession of your deepest need, your need for forgiveness and a new start – your need for a Savior – a need only Jesus can fill. Through Christ alone a courthouse scene can take place just for you. The good news is, the judge doesn’t want to condemn you, but instead to welcome you into His eternal family, give you a new shame-free identity, and lavish you with His blessings, privileges and eternal hope. Jesus said that for every adoption here below there is a great angelic celebration that takes place in Heaven (Luke 15:7, 10).

So, why stay in the orphanage one more day?

Call on the name of Jesus and start a party today!

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