main image

There are many things I’ll remember about September 25th, Gotcha Day, when we finally gained custody of our 2 beautiful Bulgarian girls, Lily and Mya.  God has used this process and that special day to teach me many things, but 1 small unexpected thing that caught me off guard was how much God taught me about what He’s done for me.  That 1 small, unexpected thing was a Jumbo bag.  Jumbo is a store in Bulgaria, somewhat along the lines of our stores like Walmart, where you can buy lots of different things.  The Jumbo bag was similar to the plastic bag you’d get when you checkout at a store here in America but a little larger.  Why would a Jumbo bag mean so much to me?  That cheap plastic bag contained all the possessions my 2 new daughters brought with them into our family.  The bag contained a few articles of clothing, a few small toys and some pictures from their childhood.  They had accumulated such a small amount of possessions in their lives.  It would have seemed natural in that moment to think of that Jumbo bag and how we were rescuing them or how we could provide for them a much better life but, that’s not what God chose to put in my mind as I received this Jumbo bag.

It was in that moment as I received that Jumbo bag that thankfully God didn’t allow me to think highly of myself or what I was doing as much as what He’s done for me.  In that moment, realizing the little bit of stuff the girls had, God reminded me that I was the same before Christ, before He adopted me into His family.  The Bible speaks of adoption in a number of places.  Multiple times, just like in the passage below in Galatians 4:4-7, it speaks to how God adopted us and as sons/daughters of Christ we are full heirs.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-7

I’m not sure what our girls thought when they entered our family that day.  I’m not sure they had any concept of what it meant to be adopted into our family.  I’m confident they didn’t understand what it meant to be a full heir, a daughter in my family.  They brought that Jumbo bag, happy with what they had in life and not having a clue how little they had compared to us.  Please don’t misunderstand any of this as bragging about how much we have…but consider how rich we are compared to 2 little girls who only have a Jumbo bag full of possessions.  They couldn’t have understood that they’d go home and have their own beds, their own chest of drawers full of clothes, a room full of toys to play with, food where they could start putting on weight and growing…and the list goes on and on.  They packed up their whole little life in that Jumbo bag.  They felt loved and cared for in their foster family, but they had no idea what it was to be adopted and become full heirs.

Years ago, when I came to Christ, I thought I had a pretty good life.  The possessions I had made me happy.  The little life I’d built for myself by all appearances was pretty special.  The reality is, before Christ, if I had a Jumbo bag full of stuff to present to God, I’d be surprised.  When Christ called me to salvation, when He adopted me into His family, I didn’t have a clue what it really meant to be adopted by Christ, what it really meant to be a full heir in Christ’s kingdom.   To be honest, I still don’t totally know what it means to be a full heir in God’s kingdom.  When my dad passed away a few weeks ago, he got a better glimpse of what it is to be a full heir than any of us this side of heaven have experienced yet. 

When we come to know Christ, we approach God with our little Jumbo bag of stuff that we’ve accumulated.  Proud of ourselves and naïve to the reality of how little we really had.  Then God adopts us into His family and our eyes are opened to a whole new world, a world where God is far richer and gives more generously than we could ever imagine.  I’m not sure what God thinks when He sees His new child bringing their Jumbo bag of stuff to Him.  I’m confident that when I brought my Jumbo bag of stuff to God, that just like my girls when we welcomed them into our family…I had no idea how much God had really done for me through His son Jesus and I had no idea how much more I instantly inherited by being a son or daughter of God.  That Jumbo bag we offer God the Father, is not so jumbo after all!

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
main image

2019 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

The impact of your giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for international missions is truly felt around the world.  Here are two of those stories:  one is from Columbia on the border of Venezuela, and the other is from Japan.

For months, Paul and Robin Tinley have been watching people spill out of Venezuela and into Colombia. It’s about 5,000 a day—a total of more than 3 million total—who have left their homes in hopes of escaping hunger, crime, unemployment, and lack of medical care. “Not only is the flow of refugees not diminishing, it’s actually bumping up,” Robin said. But, she and Paul, who serve as IMB missionaries in Colombia, are working around the clock to meet as many of the vast physical needs as they can. They’re also trying to seize the unprecedented spiritual opportunity.  “Venezuelans are more open now than they have ever been in their history, but they are open to anything—good or bad,” Robin said. “This is a historic moment where Colombian believers urgently need to share the gospel.” Though the Tinleys are stretched thin, they serve tirelessly alongside Colombian churches to offer food, child care, trauma counseling, and Bible study. They’re also working to help Venezuelans start microbusinesses to support their families. “We’re trying to offer them very practical help and also a source of comfort,” Robin said.

On the other side of the Pacific, in Japan, Masuda San was a broken man when he showed up at Mark Bennett’s sidewalk chapel for the homeless in Tokyo. “It was a typical story. They come for the food,” said Mark, an IMB missionary. “But while they’re there, we give them a portion of Scripture and share the gospel.” And, Mark learns their names—a big deal when you feel nameless and faceless, not seen by anyone. It got Masuda San’s attention. It brought him out of the shadows, and he just couldn’t get enough.   He couldn’t get enough Scripture either. He blazed through the Gospel of John and came back and asked for more. Then he asked for more again. Within six months, he had read the whole Bible. “He has this little worn-out New Testament, and it has notes and highlights,” Mark said. “We’ll be sitting around in Bible study, and someone will ask a question and he’ll start teaching them from Scripture. He knows the Word, and the Holy Spirit is using him to teach these other guys.”

PRAY for Paul and Robin to have energy to keep serving Venezuelan immigrants. PRAY for Colombian believers to share the gospel with urgency.

PRAY for the gospel to take root as Mark and his teammates work to meet the needs of dozens of homeless men on the streets of Tokyo. 

PRAY for the men to find their significance in Christ

The generosity of your giving for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering transforms lives around the world just like the people above. 

The 2019 goal for all Southern Baptist churches is $165 million.  The goal for our church is $25,000.  What is your goal? Pray about that, and pray for the people you just read about. 

The 2019 Week of Prayer for International Mission is December 1 – 8.

Posted by Glen Locklear with

12345678910 ... 102103