God's Very Good Idea (Book Review)

Nick loves to read. When we had a fire evacuation a couple of years ago he asked to make sure his two suits (for preaching) and all of his books were safe from potential disaster. I never grew up with a love to read, but after being around my husband the love of reading has rubbed off on me. Inevitably we want not only to foster a love for reading in our boys but also a love for God and his words.  

The children's book, God's Very Good Idea, by Trillia Newbell surprised me on how clearly it represented culture, sin, and the gospel. Trillia did an excellent job of describing the different types of people God has created, all in his own image, and then shows the effects that sin has on the world. She clearly shows how God chose to redeem us from sin and points readers, young and old, to Christ. 

My favorite quote from the book is:

God made it. People Ruined it. He rescued it. He will finish it.

I truly believe that this book would help adults better understand the gospel, and how from creation to redemption, God has created diversity and is redeeming diversity.

I originally wanted to read this to my boys because of how the book displays the many different kinds of people God creates. Tall, short, skinny, big, old, young, brown skin, light skin, etc. Exposure is the best way we can make sure our kids treat and love their neighbors as themselves, and by exposing my kids to all the beautiful different types of people God has created I can hopefully, by God's grace, instill in them a love for all people.

I highly recommend this book to not only kids but to the church in general. I always recommend that new believers read a Children's Bible, like I was told to do, because it clearly explains the Christian faith. This book explains God's design, plan, and the gospel story very simply.

This book was graciously given to me for free. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.

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My Open Letter to the Church

Guest post by Bob Ouzts

 
 

To the Body of Christ,

Our country is awash in division and contrast. Just a few weeks ago two million people were celebrating in the streets of Chicago for the Cubbies and last night thousands were in those same streets not to celebrate a victory but to protest one. Yes, a victory for some and for others a great loss. For some a sense of freedom and for others real fear. 

Our country was founded on the heels of division and today our country is still divided. We have red states, blue states, plastic bags and no plastic bags, no guns, and more guns. We seem to be at war with our own pledge to be indivisible. 

God's word says he sets up kings and he takes them down. Yet, half of our country is in fear of the one president leaving and the other of the president coming in. Our United States is easily diagnosed as severely divided. 

As Christ followers, we must remember that we are only one nation when we are under one God and never will we be one nation under one man. (I am speaking here of the Church.) 

The Church is not a country; it is an invisible kingdom with an invisible King who made himself visible. We are exiles and aliens in a foreign land, the poor who are made rich, and the weak who have been made strong. We are the "called out ones;" adopted sons and daughters of God. We are not our own; we are his. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! And not just say so, but act so!

Let us strive to resist the temptation to be in the middle of a mud-slinging contest. Rather let us work hard to wash the mud away. Remember love covers a multitude of sins. 

Yes, there are strong divisions and strong opinions (and we all have them), but they are like a clanging cymbal without love. 

Laws were written for broken men, but love was written when Jesus was broken for us. The U.S. Constitution was written in ink, but God did not give the Church a constitution; he gave us a covenant that was ratified in his own blood.

Jesus was not brought forth from a polling booth, nor was he put in place by the popular vote or an electoral college. Jesus wasn't inaugurated at the White House and he did not fly in on an Air Force one. He came in on a donkey to set up his kingdom. He does not sit in an Oval Office, but rather at the right hand of the Father. More importantly, we did not elect him, he elected us. He did not win an office or force his agenda, he was in perfect submission to authority and was crucified in order to bring all men to himself. 

His law is love and his commandment is to love. The highest law is not enacted by the Supreme Court, the highest law came from Jesus (when he summarized all the Law and the Prophets): to love God and love one another as he has loved us. A royal law for his royal priesthood.

Those who are in real fear need real love. Remember we preach and we believe that "a perfect love casts out fear." We may be free as Americans to protest, and but we are bound as Christians to love one another.

Many are looking for change but few are willing to be changed. Jesus isn't interested in changing America by way of an election or government edict. He is, however, interested in changing his Church into his likeness by his grace.

Our enemy is not wearing flesh and blood, but our King became flesh and blood to put to death the world, the flesh, and the devil (all of our true enemies). American democracy is the way our country is ruled. It is ruled ultimately by its people and, therefore, its best ruler is broken. There are broken people in the streets rioting, there are broken people peacefully protesting and there are broken people here this morning complaining about those broken people.

God asks us to pray for those who rule over us. I think now is a perfect time to ascribe rulership to our Father and pray for the men who he alone has permitted to rule over us. 

Jesus did not ask us to go and make Republicans or Democrats. He asked us to repent and believe and go and make disciples. It must break His heart when we say "I'm with her" or "I'm with him." We must worship our Creator, not his created people or its institutions. Honor his people, yes. Respect institutions, yes. But never are we to worship them. 

He did not say "when they go low, we go high." He said when I go low my Father is lifted high. So what are we to do if Jesus has saved us from the world? He said to be in it but not of it. He said to wash feet, give a drink not only to your own people but bless those who come against you. He said to share the Gospel. Yes, there is good news for sinners of which we are the foremost! Let's not get distracted by or caught up in the buzz on social media or in arguments or even "Making America Great Again." Let's stay focused on Jesus Christ instead and Make His Commission Great Again!

To close, let's meditate on the words of Daniel found in chapter 7:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

In Christ,

Pastor Bob Ouzts
The Bride Church 
Yuba City, CA

 

adoption

 

April 21, 2016

[Disclaimer: I am only speaking in reference to U.S. Domestic adoptions done through the foster care system and not private adoption. I have not done as much research on international or private adoptions so I am not speaking about those processes. If you would care to share about your experience, please do so because I love learning about other peoples journeys. Leave a comment below.]

Adoption has been on my heart since high school and I look forward to the day when Lord-willing we can adopt a sweet child. Throughout the past year though I have seen some crazy flaws in the adoption system/process that makes me not only upset but sad. You may or may not know that the average U.S. adoption takes about 12 months and that is from the time a home study is completed until placement. This time frame does not include how long it takes to finalize the adoption. In 2001 there were around 1.5 million kids in the U.S. waiting to be adopted. 1.5 million!!!!!! What really gets me going is that these are children who do not currently have a stable home environment. There are many great foster families out there (shout out to all my foster moms), but in many cases these are just temporary homes until they are reunited with their birth family or adopted family.

One of the problems is that there is a shortage of case workers and CPS workers to take care of the huge number of children who need help being placed in foster families or adoptive families.  Why doesn't the government increase employment in those areas? These are kids we are talking about. The future of America. 

Another problem that I have seen in the little time I have spent researching and exploring domestic adoption is how long it can take to complete all the paperwork and classes needed to even be considered for placement. For example, Nick and I went to a introductory class  which was 2 hours long and happens only every 6 weeks or so in our area. We learned we needed to complete 27 hours of classes before we could get placed with a child on top of lots of paperwork, a home study, a few immunizations, back ground checks, etc. The classes needed are held over 40 minutes away from our house and both of us would have to attend. Since we have kids this means we would probably have to alternate times we went if we did not have a sitter which could prolong the process. I understand they want to make sure that all of the children are being put in safe, loving, and prepared homes but the amount of time and inconvenience of location makes it almost impossible for a working Dad and full-time stay-at-home mom to complete. Can't imagine how hard it would be for two working parents, or a single mom or dad for that matter. 

On top of that you cannot move to another county (like Orange County) because the counties typically do not speak to each other. This means you would need to start all over with the process if you move. This is a big reason why we have stopped for the time being on our process of adoption. If we decide to move to the OC anytime within the next year we would have to start all over again and would have completed all of those classes for nothing. Another sad thing I picked up on while at the intro class was the type of people who wanted to either foster or adopt. There were about 4 other couples who looked "normal," but most of the people there had many questions about the compensation they would receive, seemed to have completely lost their minds (based on their questions), or knew little to nothing about children. I am only saying this out of observation. I obviously did not know these people, but let's just say I would never let them watch my boys or any of my friend's children.

There are so many great foster families out there who make a difference in many kids lives, but being in that room also reminded me of how many people out there are not looking out for the best interest of the children. Frankly, this scared me a little. With so many obstacles that can get in the way of a domestic adoption through the foster care system, I can see how much easier it could be to have another one of your own (if that is an option), or to go international, or to simply ditch the dream. I often find myself questioning when we can commit to the process and dreaming of the day we can call another sweet child our own. My prayer is that the government and voters will find a way to help speed the process up for domestic adoptions. That we would see the need for these children to be in loving homes so they can grow and thrive. That we would use all resources necessary to make sure that the child's best interest is always first and that money would not be an issue. 

Sorry for this long rant. I know there are many routes and journeys to embark on when deciding to adopt, but it is hard to not get discouraged. I am thankful for the many friends I know who have persevered despite the many trials they faced and are now united with their beautiful kids. Since I was able to get pregnant pretty quickly with both boys and did not have complications it is hard to wait and to be okay with the unknown. I hope that my fears (whether they are legitimate or illegitimate) about the system breaking my heart or failing our family does not get in the way of us starting and completing our journey. If you have ever adopted or are in the process of adopting I would love to hear more about your story. I have interviewed a couple of moms who have already gone through this and am learning something new each time. 

I have been adopted in Christ in spite of my sinfulness. I am a co-heir with Christ, having done nothing to earn or deserve His unconditional love. It is the love that Christ has bestowed onto his adopted children that encourages me to want to adopt a child. It excites me to have the opportunity to love someone unconditionally and to raise them in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. To share the Gospel with someone who may have otherwise never had the opportunity to hear it. 

1 John 3:1-2 "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."

Ephesians 1:5 " He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will"

Psalm 127 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord"