Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A little advice to husbands...

1.  Invent a reason to take your wife to Birmingham.  Put it on the calendar.

2.  Call (205) 871-9622 a week or so before and make reservations for two.  Request the "chef's table," which does not mean an especially fancy table.  It's just the name for the barstool-table attached to the kitchen; from there you'll be able to watch the dozen or so cooking geniuses going about their dance/work as you enjoy your meal.  Best seats in the house.  Amazing fun.  And, strangely, it's not reserved first.

3.  Be prepared to spend a little bit of money.  Make it a special occasion.

4.  Thank me later.

The place is GianMarco's.  Read more about it HERE.

Best.  Food.  Ever.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Shadow of Gospel Wings

"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him..." 
Deuteronomy 32

"Hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me..."
Psalm 17

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings..."
Psalm 36

"He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge..."
Psalm 91


This beautiful picture is one of the most consistent metaphors that the Lord God uses when describing his care for his children.

Now... with that in mind... look at the words of your Savior, addressed to "church members" who were stuck in the emptiness of dead religion:

"How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"
Matthew 23

Two Reflections:

1.  Jesus is (again) identifying himself as God.  What God had said of himself in Deuteronomy, the Psalter, and elsewhere—that's what Jesus is saying of himself.  He's identifying himself as God in the flesh.

2.  Consider what Jesus' words mean...

The image may not seem especially powerful to those of us who are lacking in experience with hens and their broods, but it's an unforgettable image to farming families (especially of the past) who have experienced this:

A fire has swept through the farmyard and the hencoop.  Then next day you're cleaning everything up, preparing to rebuild what the fire destroyed.

You see a dead hen on the ground; the hen's body has been scorched and blackened by the fire.

You pick up the charred remains of the hen, preparing to dispose of it—and that's when you find living chicks underneath.  The mother hen had gathered and sheltered her chicks under her wings, and then remained unthinkably still while the fire raged over her.

The mother hen literally gave her life to protect and save her children.

(The same kind of thing was discovered with different kinds of birds after the Yellowstone fires of 1988, by the way.)

That's what Jesus is saying.  That's what God is saying.

It's a very vivid, very violent image of what Jesus said he longed to do for his people.  And it's actually one of the strongest statements in the whole Bible, describing what Jesus' death was all about.

Jesus wanted to take upon himself the full force of the fire of God's wrath against sin.  He wanted to bear in his own person the guilt and sin of his beloved people.  He wanted to absorb within himself the disaster that we deserve, because of our sin.

Jesus welcomes you to take refuge under his wings.

His remaining still on the cross is the unthinkable fulfillment of all the "taking refuge under the shadow of your wings" language that we find throughout the Bible.

Welcome to the crucified love of your God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The DPC Adoption Fund

Recently, during a Report of the Living Church, before a worship service began, I announced & briefly described a new ministry initiative at DPC... The DPC Adoption Fund.

And then, more recently yet, I took three of our weekly e-newsletters to the church family to describe this initiative more fully.

Here are all three of those articles, back-to-back.

I invite you to consider supporting this ministry...

"In you the orphan finds mercy." — Hosea 14.3 (Part I)

If you were here last Sunday, you heard me announce a new ministry initiative our elders have established—The DPC Adoption Fund!

But for those of you who were not with us—or for those of you who want to revisit how this new ministry will work—I'm going to review & explain it a bit more, over the next couple of newsletters.

In Psalm 68 our God describes himself to us as "Father of the fatherless."  You know what that is?  That's the language of adoption.  And the church—reflecting the character of this God—is called to cultivate a culture of adoption, to love adoption, to celebrate adoption, to understand our very faith in terms of adoption!  (see Romans 8.15, 23; 9.4; Galatians 4.5; Ephesians 1.5)

In fact, the Scriptures give us a whole doctrine of adoption.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes the doctrine beautifully, in one simple sentence: "Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God."

Hear the Apostle John: "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God!"... "To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Whenever the Bible speaks in these terms, that's the language of adoption.

And because we have been lavishly loved of God and adopted into his family in this way, Christians have historically had a great interest in adoption!  That's just part of our heritage.

Whether it's the ancient Christians of the Roman empire searching for and adopting the abandoned babies of that time... or the European Christians adopting the persecuted children of the Jews in World War II... or the countless orphanages which Christians have founded around the world... the church has always sacrificed itself to meaningfully reflect the mercy and love of God to the orphan. 

And really, this is the only way that this world's treatment of inconvenient, unwanted children will ever be effectively addressed.  The church of the Lord Jesus Christ must rise up and say, "There are no inconvenient, unwanted children in this whole world.  We will take your children.  We will love them and sacrifice ourselves for them.  Give them to us."

What if every faithful church in this country united together in saying this?  What if we restructured our budgets around saying this?  What if we all found ways in which each one of us could be a part of saying that?

Well, that's what the DPC Adoption Fund is all about.  It's a way in which every single one of us—from the smallest child in Sunday School to the most elderly senior among us—can be a significant part of saying that.

More next week.


"In you the orphan finds mercy." — Hosea 14.3 (Part II)

In last week's article we introduced the theological foundation for and the love-for-the-kingdom-of-God motivation behind the DPC Adoption Fund.  If you've deleted last week's email and want it sent to you again, just let us know.  Of course, you will be much shamed and ridiculed, but we'll send it anyway.

Recently two DPC families have announced plans to adopt needy children into their homes.  And more are considering.  

But you know what?  Adoption is tough.  And adopting families need the support of their church.  It's a very difficult calling.

And while adoption itself is not a calling for everyone, every Christian can and has good reason to want to be engaged and involved in the work and ministry of adoption.  

That's what the DPC Adoption Fund is all about.  It's one way a whole church can meaningfully say to a family, "We want to help you in this adoption.  We support you in this call; we are in this with you; through you, we're adopting this child into our church family."

There are two ways to give to the DPC Adoption Fund.

One is by direct, designated giving.  This will mostly be used, I imagine, by family members and friends and other outside-of-DPC acquaintances of adopting families who want to make a tax-deductible gift to a specific adoption.  But it's open to anyone.  Merely write a check to DPC with "Durocher adoption" or "Keith adoption" (or others in the future?) on the memo line, and your gift will go specifically to that family's adoption expenses.

The other way to give comes from DPC's new partnership with a beautiful ministry called "Lifesong for Orphans."

More on that next week.


"In you the orphan finds mercy." — Hosea 14.3 (Part III)

This is Part 3 of a series of articles on a new DPC ministry initiative, the DPC Adoption Fund. Last week we ended by announcing DPC's partnership with a wonderful ministry called "Lifesong for Orphans." 

Visiting lifesongfororphans.org will allow you to get more familiar, but here's a brief introduction:

Lifesong is designed to help churches help their families meet the challenges of adoption, so that those families might enjoy effective and successful adoptions.  Few things are more heartbreaking than a miscarried adoption.  

Of course, every loving church would want to do all they could to help their adopting families, but few churches have the resources to know exactly how to best help.  But that's exactly what Lifesong does!  

And they do it in three big ways:

1.  They manage, facilitate, and administer a church adoption fund.  And through this fund, every penny you donate goes directly to helping families in your church meet the financial challenges of adoption. Every penny. More on that in a moment. 

2.  They connect adopting families to resources.  When one investigates adoption, one can find thousands of rabbit trails... and some of them are not helpful. But here is a great team of experienced people, ready to help you navigate adoption—again, at no cost.  

3.  They help examine and affirm a family's sense of call and readiness to adopt.  As we said in last week's article, adoption is not a calling for everyone. (Though everyone can be involved in the ministry of adoption! Indeed, that's what this serioes of articles is all about.)

And Lifesong does all of this at no charge to the church.  100% of what we give goes to helping our families.  

How?  Because Lifesong's salary needs, office needs, travel needs, and all other administrative needs are cared for by a foundation that supports this ministry from the proceeds of a business that sold well, many years ago.

So... the DPC Adoption Fund is a win for everyone.

The child gets adopted.  The family gets support, encouragement, and help from their church.  And the church itself gets meaningfully engaged in the ministry of adoption.  

No matter what season or stage of life you're in—from the smallest child in Sunday School to the most elderly senior among us—you can point to a former orphan, now adopted into a Christ-honoring, covenant-keeping family and say, "By God's grace, I was privileged to be a real part of that."  

"In you the orphan finds mercy."  Hosea 14.3