Monthly Archives: July 2013

Adoption Anniversary Week – An Earthly Picture of a Heavenly Reality

Repost from July 27th, 2013:

“He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” (Ephesians 1:5-8)

The Bible uses adoption language all over the place. The apostle Paul used it ALOT. Here Paul, inspired by the Spirit, says that because of God’s predetermined love and Christ’s bloody sacrifice, we sinful humans are adopted into the God’s forever family. What do we have? Not just grace – GLORIOUS grace. Not just riches of grace – but riches that He has LAVISHED on us. We do have a very liberal God – liberal in the sense of showering His children with love and grace and mercy and joy and hope and life. By no work of our own – God adopted us and has blessed us in His Son AND lavished on us His rich grace. To put it plainly: by faith in the finished work of Christ, we have MORE than we will ever need – now and forever.
I got a small taste of this yesterday.
Birtukan, with no work of her own, stood with us before the U.S. Embassy and we were handed her birth certificate and will be issued her passport later today.
She came back with us to our guesthouse and – until she finally dozed off to sleep – went through every possible toy, article of clothing, hair product, backpack, snack, and computer device she could get her hands on. Our stuff had become her stuff.
The very FIRST thing she wanted to do when she got to our room? Take off her orphan clothing (pictured above) and put on a new outfit (pictured to the right) – complete with socks, shoes, undies, shirt, pants, skirt, jacket, and hair thingies (I don’t know what you call them).
She very joyfully and aggressively found what was now hers and immediately made them her own.
Is that not EXACTLY what the Lord wants from us? Remove our old clothes and put on the beautiful ones He has provided (Colossians 3:12ff)? Joyfully and aggressively take what is ours ‘in Christ’ and make them our own as true family members?
Yesterday afternoon and evening was an earthly picture of a beautiful heavenly reality. Birtukan had done nothing to earn our favor and love and gifts. Yet we gladly want her to have everything we have to give her. It was so much fun to see her enjoy discovering what was hers because she was a Pearson! That’s the definition of grace.
Do you know that God has lavished on you grace according to HIS riches? You can’t earn it. That would not be grace. But you CAN receive it, by faith. So go ahead. Take what is yours because of Christ.
Had Birti not enjoyed the afternoon with us, delighting in her ‘new stuff’ and ‘new life’, it would have robbed Katie and I of so much joy.
Have you been guilty of robbing God joy by your refusal to receive the riches of His grace?

Adoption Anniversary Week – A New Normal

Repost from July 26th, 2012:

In about two hours from now, Katie and I will travel to the orphanage again. This time, we will not be leaving without our third child coming with us. . . for good. At two o’clock today the three of us will appear before the U.S. embassy here in Ethiopia, be asked a few questions, vow to take care of her to the best of our ability, and then leave with her in our full custody. All we have been anticipating for the last 3 years will be a reality.
Speaking of reality, it is REALLY starting to set in. The picture you see above? That is how we left her yesterday, the last time we will ever leave her there, napping in her bed. Last night was the last night she will ever sleep in that bed. Last night was the last night Katie and I will sleep without being responsible for her welfare – in every and all situations and circumstances.
In about two hours from now, we will all start our “New Normal.” Life will be new for each of us. A new normal life will begin.
If I can be ‘gut’ honest for a second, there is a part of my flesh that doesn’t want a new normal. Have you ever obeyed Jesus, anticipated what you told Him you would do, and when it came to the moment of ‘no return,’ you freaked out? Maybe it was sign up to go on a short term mission trip. Maybe it was give a certain amount of money for mission work. Maybe it was be baptized. Maybe it was take a cut in pay to take a job where you could be more intentional for the sake of the Gospel. Maybe it was leave your current job and go to seminary. Maybe it was volunteer to teach a Sunday School class. Maybe it was have another child. Maybe it was adopt a child.
Have you ever been there? All was ‘well and good’ until the moment of actually doing it came – then your emotions went into a total ‘freak out’ stage????
Well, my friends, I’m there. I woke up about 2 am last night (6 pm Arkansas time) scared out of my mind. That ‘moment of no return’ hit. That ‘it sure would be nice and comfortable right now if I were back in my home with Katie and the boys watching Food Network or Disney or Andy Griffith’ hit me real hard. It just came out of nowhere. But there it was. Scared. Wanting the ‘old normal’ to stick around. Fearful about what was to come . . . from this day forward.
By God’s grace, I was able to doze back off to sleep (singing to myself Steven Curtis Chapman’s ‘The Great Adventure’! . . . another moment of my past that came ‘out of nowhere’).
You know where my daily Bible reading had me this morning? Mark 4:21-41. While in the shower, I had pleaded with the Lord to speak to me from His Word. As always, He did.
Consider the last 7 verses of the chapter:
“On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stem, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?’” (35-41)
You know what God said to me from this text?
“Hey Matt, I could have easily let the disciples ‘coast’ to the other side of that lake without a storm. It would have been much easier and simpler for them had I not sent a storm. But I love them too much to let them ‘coast.’ Had I not sent the storm into their lives, they would have missed seeing a glimpse of My glory, a demonstration of My power. Matt, in the same way, I love you too much to let you coast through life. I love you and want you to know Me and see Me and experience My power and My glory. Do not be afraid, Matt. Peace. Be still.”
Yes, Lord. Thank You.
I am still battling my flesh this morning. But score yet another win for Jesus and His Spirit speaking through His Word.
Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown. This is a life like no other. This is the Great Adventure (thanks Steven Curtis).

Adoption Anniversary Week – He is Faithful

Today is the 1 year anniversary of Birti coming to the USA.

To celebrate, the five of us Pearson’s are on vacation enjoying being a family. I am going to take the week off from blogging. However, to commemorate our ‘First Year with Birti’ -every day this week I will repost thoughts I shared this time last year.

Have a GREAT WEEK!

Repost from July 25th, 2012:

Long story, but Katie and I are now at a different guest house here in Addis Ababa. This place does have internet access (free!) so perhaps now any updates will be a bit more detailed and frequent.

Here are some thoughts I typed out this morning before I realized we did not have internet access:

Last night, after Katie and I cleared customs at the airport in Addis Ababa – having been on an airplane for right t 24 hours – I noticed I was out of clean pages in my passport. Ecuador three times. Vietnam two times. India. Thailand. Turkey. Zambia. Dubai. Ethiopia now for the second time. .

He has been faithful every single time.
When we landed in Addis last night:
Our luggage made it . . . all of it.
We made our connections . . . all of them.
We made it to the guesthouse . . . in the dark.
We slept hard in a comfortable bed . . . somewhat comfortable.
We had a warm shower . . . well, slightly warmer than freezing with water pressure a bit stronger than a trickle.
We just finished a delicious breakfast of fruit oatmeal, banana bread, scrambled eggs, coffee, and a banana/apple/pineapple/milk smoothie . . . that I hope was safe!
God is faithful in all things and in all ways.
I can’t say that on every international trip all of my luggage made it.
I can’t say that every meal I have eaten has been delicious.
I can’t say that I have slept hard on comfortable beds every time.
I can’t say that every shower I have had was warm or made me cleaner than before I took the shower.
I can’t say that I have remained perfectly healthy before, during, or after each trip.
But I CAN say that EVERY time, in EVERY situation and circumstance God has been faithful.
As I type these words on this computer it is evidence of the faithfulness of God. Were He NOT faithful, these thoughts would be jumping from my fingers to the screen!
 The last time I was in Ethiopia a precious little orphan legally became a Pearson. It has been two months since I have seen her. Hugged her. Kissed her cheek. Seen her smile. Heard her sweet voice. When I left her two months ago, I told her I would not leave her, but would come back for her. By God’s grace and faithfulness to me, I am back to bring her home.
Father God, would You please help Birtukan taste Your faithfulness today as she experiences the faithfulness of her mommy and daddy who came back to bring her home. When she sees us today, may her heart know she can trust us; and may that trust be a catalyst for teaching her heart what it means to trust You, the faithful God who will NEVER let her down.

Five @ Free Flow Friday!

Hard to believe, but today is the last Friday in July 2013.

The bad news? August means school starts back.

The good news? FOOTBALL SEASON STARTS SOON!!!

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The reality? The next few weeks includes the potential for us to meet a lot of new people. How? Some of you will be taking a final ‘vacation’ before it all starts again. Some of you will be taking your first vacation of the summer. Most all of us will meet new teachers for our kids and new parents of their classmates, etc. People will be moving to our town in order to be here before school starts.

Meeting New people = Potential for Gospel Impact

That being said, below are five articles I hope will help you get better at being intentional in evangelism.

Enjoy. . .

#1. 5 Evangelism Tips by Jake Chambers

Earlier this year God woke me up from my sleep and asked me questions about evangelism. Questions like, ‘How many people did you share the gospel with this past year? How many people did you invite to gatherings? Why?’ It was one of those gracious conversations that made me realize I was not evangelizing primarily because of my selfishness. I am too selfish to regularly tell people the best news in the world.

#2 9 Signs Your Church is Ready to Reach Unchurched People by Carey Nieuwhof

Unchurched people do not come ‘pre-converted’. They will have lifestyle issues that might take years to change (and let’s be honest, don’t you?). Cleaning up your behaviour is not a pre-condition for salvation, at least not in Christianity. What God has done for us in Jesus saves us; not what we have done for God. Is your congregation really ready to love unchurched people, not just judge them? One of Jesus’ genius approaches was to love people into life change. 

#3. Don’t Complicate the Missionary Call by David Sitton

No aspect of mission is more bogged down with extra-biblical baggage than the ‘Missionary Call.’ The clear command of Christ ‘to go’ should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way to unreached regions. You can’t go wrong by trying to go. Be aggressive to go. The Lord will direct your moving feet.”

#4. 10 Insights to Help us Better Relate to Others by Thom Rainer

. . . as Christians we are called to relate to people who might not ‘normally’ be our best friend. We are to have big hearts that have room for a host of hurting people.

#5. 4 Questions Everyone Needs to Ask by Pete Wilson

Your deepest purposes must bring good to someone who is without justice, reconciliation, or hope. It might be abused women, orphans in Africa, or business men who don’t know Christ.

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago I posted other helpful articles on evangelism. You can find them here.

What articles have you come across that would help us get better at sharing the Good News?

 

Wisdom For Your Wednesday

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Proverbs 24:30-34 :

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

Often when I think of a lazy person (or ‘sluggard’) I think of someone who is lazy at their place of employment. Though that definitely applies here – it is interesting, is it not, that here the author is talking about the residence of the lazy person. He saw everything had been left unattended. He paints a picture for us of sheer neglect. Had Jeff Foxworthy written this Proverb he might have said, “I drove by a lazy man’s house today. This redneck’s yard was so overgrown, he’d find a car if he ever mows his grass.”

When the author ‘applied his heart’ to what what he saw he came to a very simple, yet powerful conclusion: A little neglect now makes for a big mess later. 

Is there anything in your life you have been neglecting? Anything you have been ‘sleeping on’ with the intention of getting around to it later?

– Any areas in your marriage you need to stop ‘folding your hands to rest’ on?

– Any financial arenas in your budget you need to ‘wake up to’ and get after?

– Any relationship building with your kids you need to quit putting off before their gone?

– Anything at work you have been hoping will just magically ‘get done’?

– What have you been ‘napping on’ – hoping things will be different when you wake up?

– Anything starting to get ‘overgrown’ and ‘out of hand’?

Read the verses again. Ignoring what matters now is considered lazy. Are you?

A little neglect now makes for a big mess later. 

Pearson Cousins Camp – 10 Ways It Adds Value

This is annual Cousin’s Camp week for the Pearson family. Read all about it’s purpose and evolution over at my mom’s blog here.

In short – my parents get my kids and I get my wife for an entire week.

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I. LOVE. IT.

Why? Not ONE person doesn’t benefit from this. Not one. Everybody gets an incredible amount of value added to their lives as a result of this week’s ‘gift’ from my parents.

Let me share 10 ways ‘Cousins Camp’ adds Value to us:

1. FUN.

My kids get to have crazy fun with their cousins and my parents for 6 days. My parents win. My kids win. Katie’s happy. If momma’s happy. . .

2. CONNECT.

My family currently lives 8-9 hours away from any immediate family. The kiddos don’t get to see their grandparents or cousins a lot. A concentrated week with no parental interference ensures connection that will last all their lives.

3. VOICES.

During the summer, Katie and me are about the only voices our kids hear. Being that I’m their preacher – they can’t even go to church without having to listen to daddy! It is important to us that they hear other voices emphasizing the same values in different ways.

4. MODEL.

My parents have an incredible marriage. Having my kids spend a week to watch and observe a couple who still loves each other after 40+ years? Yeah, I’ll take it.

5. ADVENTURE.

Anyone who knows my parents will verify that the TV won’t be on and electronics won’t be allowed. Why? Because every minute has been budgeted and planned to maximize every minute with their grandkids. They will get outside and stay outside to swim, fish, ride in a boat, go to a park or zoo, etc. In other words, their week won’t be influenced by Disney, but Creation.

6. REFRESH.

All the parents of these kids get a much needed break. Especially the momma’s. This week gives all of us – again, especially our wives – a week to catch our breath without the constant demands.

7. RECHARGE.

As soon as Katie and me dropped the kids off in West Memphis we noticed the silence. Our car was . . . quiet. Our home was . . . quiet. We are able – without any distractions for a whole week – to be quiet and have our minds, hearts, souls, and body recharged.

8. REESTABLISH.

Yesterday and today Katie is focused on ONE thing – deep cleaning and reestablishing the house. Why? Because she can. All by herself. And you know what else? She can throw away the ‘trash’ without hearing whiny voices telling her not to. She can get her ‘nest’ – if you will – back into shape so she can efficiently function the way she wants to.

9. RECONNECT.

It’s only been 2 days and Katie and me have been able to have deep, meaningful, and fun conversations. We took a bike ride last night at 9:30 PM. We played golf Sunday afternoon. We grilled steak and salmon, ate on our back deck, and didn’t hear a single complaint. Our dog didn’t even bark. Tomorrow afternoon I am taking her to Memphis for a couple of days. Why? We don’t have our kids and we get to go on one big huge date!

10. REFOCUS.

Having the kids away with my parents and having my wife to myself has reminded me of a very important truth: “The greatest thing I can give my children is a healthy marriage.” I think Andy Stanley said that. It is oh so true. It is real easy to put the kids first and let them prioritize everything else. I need a healthy marriage before any of that . . . and so do they.

Can I challenge you to something?

1. If you’re a grandparent – and are able – would you consider how you might intentionally add value to your kids and grandkids in similar ways?

2. If you’re a parent – especially of young children – would you intentionally plan a time (day or two, or even a week) when you and your spouse can get away without the kids?

3. Pray that my parents do this for a whole month next year? 🙂

Now THAT’s a Good Question!

The question for this Monday’s post is, well, kinda gross. images

It’s a question that – if you read the first couple chapters of Genesis close enough – you begin to wonder, “how in the world?”

Here goes:

If Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, where did the other ‘woman’ come from for them to reproduce and have children?

Gulp.

See? Kinda gross.

First and foremost – we have to stick with the Bible. Always, always, always, always stick with the Bible.

Here’s what we’re told:

Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. . . 

17 Cain had sexual relations with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Then Cain founded a city, which he named Enoch, after his son. 18 Enoch had a son named Irad. Irad became the father of Mehujael. Mehujael became the father of Methushael. Methushael became the father of Lamech.

19 Lamech married two women. The first was named Adah, and the second was Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the first of those who raise livestock and live in tents. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal, the first of all who play the harp and flute.22 Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to a son named Tubal-cain. He became an expert in forging tools of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain had a sister named Naamah. . . 

25 Adam had sexual relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to another son. She named him Seth,  for she said, “God has granted me another son in place of Abel, whom Cain killed.”26 When Seth grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people first began to worship the Lord by name. [Genesis 4:1-2, 17-26]

This is all we’re told.

Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, and Seth.

Seth had Enosh.

Abel was murdered by Cain.

Cain and his wife had Enoch.

Enoch had Irad. Irad had Mehujael. Mejujael had Methushael. Methushael had Lamech.

Read more of their descendants in Genesis 5.

This is ALL we’re told.

My counsel? Don’t EVER make an argument where the Bible is silent. 

We can speculate some. But – at the end of the day – the Bible doesn’t say. So we just don’t know for sure. If the Bible doesn’t say – then God doesn’t think it would help or hurt in our relationship with Him. Remember – the purpose of the Bible is NOT to answer every question under the sun. The Bible’s purpose is to reveal God to us and how we can know Him and be right with Him.

It doesn’t tell us about dinosaurs.

It doesn’t tell us how to bake a cake.

It doesn’t tell us how to change a tire.

It doesn’t explain to us the purpose of twitter.

And it doesn’t tell ‘with who’ Abel had kids.

A couple of speculations:

1. The purpose of Genesis 4 & 5 – GENEALOGY.

Notice the focus on names of men in these chapters. Why? To trace genealogy. These lists and births aren’t there to tell us HOW these births happened – but that they did happen and who the people came from.

2. The law had not yet been given. 

The law didn’t come until later. The law was given to inform us of what is and isn’t sin. So, if Adam and Eve did have a girl and that girl was Cain’s sister and Cain . . . well, you know . . . then how was he to know it was wrong? Gross, maybe . . . but sin? If brother/sister incest IS how it happened, there was no law YET to reveal it as sin.

3. God can do ANYTHING He wants. 

Who’s to say God didn’t create other humans like Adam and Eve? This is doubtful, I know. Our family tree is traced back to Adam and Eve. I get that, believe that, and hold to that. But at the same time, we humans don’t ever need to put limits on God to do whatever He chooses. Who’s to say He couldn’t create a ‘non-sibling’ wife for Cain and Seth?

4. Even if it was through sinful incest. . . 

Let’s say the births did come about through sinful brother/sister incest. In a way, aren’t you glad? Yes, you read that right. If God can take the mess of gross incest and make it into something beautiful (a generation of people made for Him and from whom the Messiah came) – don’t you think He can take the mess we’ve made of our lives and do the same? God works ALL things together for good. ALL.

Again, I repeat: Don’t EVER make an argument where the Bible is silent.

We can speculate. We can wonder. We can try to put the missing pieces together. But if it ain’t there – it just ain’t there.

Always, always, always stick with the Bible. Deal?