This past Tuesday Jonathan and Kathy Furlong drove to George Bush Intercontinental Airport to greet our new daughter and welcome her into our Fulshear Family. The Furlongs fought Houston traffic, bad weather, and time just to say “HELLO.” (Sorry for bringing attention to your kindness but this was beautiful!!). It was a moving and certainly a very appreciative response.
They brought flowers, warm smiles, love, and kindness. The extension of love, support, and hugs were a special touch for an apprehensive soul, who wasn’t sure about the journey, the language or people.
Love is a universal language that breaks down barriers. Kindness is a gift that has no parameters. You have heard that it actually takes fewer muscles to smile than to from — Well ...that may not be true. However, you would rather receive a smile than a frown because it’s a welcoming invite into a beautiful place. These are gracious gifts for all people, all times, genders and all places.
We have visitors who come into our presence here among our Fulshear Family who are just as apprehensive, nervous, and unsure about what to expect when they arrive. What these precious souls need is love, kindness, a smile, and a gentle warm embrace. It might very well be the response that helps them to understand this is a beautiful place!
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…” Rom. 12:9-10
The day we finally met the girl we have prayed for and loved for two years (CIELO Milagro). The day she met her parents that she heard of for the first time only 8 weeks before (let that sink in for a moment). One of the traditions of Encuentro Day is the adoptive parents bring a special outfit, hand it over to the child’s caregiver, and then the child can get ready to meet her parents for the first time. This broke my heart the first time I heard about it. It seems so humbling, almost sad, for them to rely on and wait for parents they had never met to bring them something to wear for this special day. I cried about it for a while. Then I realized that this is exactly how I am before our awesome God. Completely at His mercy, relying on Him to clothe me with the blood of His Son, before I can be presented to Him.
Adoption is a beautiful mirror of God’s redemption.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of ADOPTION by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." Not only that, but we also who have the first Fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the ADOPTION, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:15,23
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have CLOTHED YOURSELVES WITH CHRIST. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29
The apostle Paul communicates in several passages the important truth that Christ only has ONE BODY (4 times in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 2 times in Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 1:23, 4:4). His message is so radically different than what we see in Christianity today.
It was important for Paul to write this wonderful truth because he received it directly from God. Christ said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18) and that He will be the head of it (Ephesians 1:22-23 according to Paul) because God has given Him all authority (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus paid a high price for the Church - His blood (Acts 20:28)! He willingly sacrificed Himself for this precious body. It is His very body and blood runs through it and provide new life through it. It is living and active doing His will. Reaching out in love with HIs hands and walking with His feet. This body has His mind and thinks of others first by living selfless, and giving much.
While there is only ONE BODY there are many members in this body. If you are not a member of this body then you can become a part by - BELIEVING IN HIM (John 8:24), REPENTING OF YOUR SINS (Luke 13:3&5), CONFESSING HIM (Matthew 10:32-33), and being BAPTIZED IN HIM FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS (Mark 16:16).
Everyone is welcome in the ONE BODY of Christ which is the church.
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. -- 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 & Ephesians 1:22-23
“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth . . .
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” Isa. 43:19
Our life is a journey with God. It may be hard sometimes, but I am assured it would be all worth it. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin. Prov. 3:5-6, Jer. 17:7
We will have to go though many trails and different obstacles. James 1:2-4
God uses events in our lives to shape us, to teach us, to grow us - some of the key events are those sparked by sin in our lives or someone else’s life. On our journey we continually avoid Satan, confess our sins, and forsake them. Paul advise us to “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Eph. 6:11 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am you God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Isa 41:10
A New Beginning is always exciting, refreshing, and makes us thankful. New beginnings often happen at weddings, a new baby’s birth, graduations, retirement, and so on. When these new beginnings include times like a new birth in Christ, a restored soul, land for a new building, leadership in place, the first minister, and restoring fellowship with other brethren we have so much to be thankful for. No words can express how blessed we are!
I’m in my car listening to the radio and Danny Gokey’s song HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET comes on. As I listened to this song tears began to stream down my face. I immediately started thinking about the sweet girl that we are adopting from Colombia, our beautiful Cielo. Thinking about the sunrise on the other side of the darkest night that she is about to see makes me smile. There is this one line in the song that almost goes unnoticed and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Later that day, I looked the song up on the internet and the lyrics as well. Sure enough, that line was there just the way I remembered. “HE HAD THE SOLUTION BEFORE YOU HAD THE PROBLEM.” I will come back to that line in just a moment. But first, think about the massive problem going on in our world and country with children who don’t have a family. Children that want hope, love and to belong.
“According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), there are roughly 153 million orphans worldwide. Every day, an estimated 5,700 more children become orphans. Children are often relinquished due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease, stigma, and medical needs.” “In the United States, there are approximately 437,000 children in the foster care system on any given day. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016 (the last year of reported data) there were over 117,000 children waiting for adoption, but only 57,000 placements occurred.” Let me say that I am grateful for organizations, orphanages, group homes, and foster families who are standing in the gap to help support the helpless. It’s that line, “He had the solution before you had the problem” that I keep thinking about especially with this discussion on Adoption.
Before there was ever a PROBLEM GOD had a SOLUTION. That solution is you and me! We must have open hearts to see the need, open homes to welcome children into our family, and open wallets to support those who are able to adopt. God speaks clearly to His followers in Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 that we are called to be the solution for this problem. Christie and I are overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity, encouragement and support shown to us during our adoption journey. It’s an amazing feeling to know, as we step out in faith, our church family and friends are fortifying our steps and holding up our arms. You are a blessing! You are the sunrise on the other side of the darkest night for Cielo and so many others. Let us continue to glorify God in this community and abroad as the Fulshear church of Christ in all that we say and do. THANKS FOR BEING OUR VILLAGE.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. — James 1:22,27