Adoring Christ Blog

When God Delays

My dearest Jade,

You are 20 months as I pen this letter. I cannot express in words how much my heart explodes with joy every day I wake up and see your face. During this season you love to help me in the kitchen. Whether I am cooking or cleaning, you are right next to me on a chair tinkering with something. You find particular pleasure playing with plates, utensils, and cups in the kitchen sink. Today I was washing the dishes and you pushed a kitchen chair over to the sink, communicating your desire to role play. I was eager to give you the desire of your heart, but first I needed to get the dirty dishes out of the sink and sterilize it for your safety (you often put cups or small bowls in the sink, then fill them with water, and drink out of them). You did not quite understand what I meant by “yes, but just wait a minute because mommy needs to clean the sink.” As a result, your heart seemed to fall into disappointment and frustration.

I was reminded in that moment how similar this experience can be to our relationship with God. Just as I was eager to bless you, God delights to give His children the desires of their heart (Psalm 37:4). Scripture is clear that God loves giving good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). In fact, we are told that He has lavishes His grace (unearned favor) upon those who are His and that His grace crashes upon the shore of our lives wave after wave (Ephesians 1:8, John 1:16).

But often times when there is a delay in God’s response to our prayers we can feel disappointed or frustrated. Now sometimes our desires needs to be worked out with God because what we are requesting does not align with His will and thus will not ultimately end in our good. However, there are other times when the answer is “yes, but wait because I am preparing it for you” or “I am preparing you for it.” In other words, something is not quite ready! But it will be in His perfect timing.

In Exodus 23:20 God told Israel, “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” In John 14:2, Jesus speaks of His “preparing” work in heaven, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” And think of how long people of faith waited to obtain promises and desires because God was preparing them. At the age of 17 God gave Joseph dreams of ruling. But, then he was sold into slavery through the jealous hands of his brothers. Through this suffering he was tested, tried, and prepared by God until he was ready to rule Egypt for the salvation of many at the age of 30. You can see God’s pattern of preparation in Moses, David, Paul, and more. And so I want to conclude with a simple rhyme to help you remember this truth:

My dearest Jade I want to encourage you this day, there may be prayers in which God will delay.

But in those times do not be dismayed, for God is simply preparing the way.

Passionate about your good and the desires of your heart, Mom

See the Passion of the Prodigal

Surely the prodigal who has returned to God looks strange to those who have not.

He has a presence of untaintabilty because he found the pure source of satiability.

Naivety has been beaten out of him by the fallen world he once held dear.

Yet his stature declares the freedom of forgiveness that beckoned him to draw near.

Quiet pleasure pours forth from his trade,

And passion from his single-hearted devotion to God captures the attention of half-hearted creatures where they lay.

Luke 15:11-32

Letters to Jade: Fight for Your Family

My dearest Jade,

You are 15 months old and we just returned home from vacation. Several months ago your father approached me with the idea of spending our week vacation over the fourth of July at Pine Cove Family Camp. My initial response was not favorable because I am not much of a “camper.” I had a hotel on the beach in mind. But, I could tell that your father was trying to lead us into spiritual activities as a new family. Thus, I wanted to encourage his efforts. I agreed and he set out to make the plans.

Looking back I can see God’s movement all over this idea. Pine Cove Family Camp has a one year waiting list, yet there happened to be an open slot for us a month prior to the event. They also gave us a scholarship, which made it affordable for us to attend.

When we arrived we were overwhelmed by the fun family activities and spiritual focus. The theme for the week was “Fight.” It was derived from Nehemiah 4:14, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” The fight of course is not against one another or other people. The battle the Bible says we are in is against our own sin and Satan/the spiritual forces of evil:

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11).

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:10).

My dearest Jade, family is one of God’s most precious gifts to us on this earth. And perhaps we can liken it to a plant. If our relationships are cultivated with love, honor, faithfulness, and kindness they will grow strong and yield fruit that nourishes one another and those passing by. We will delight in the deep joy of relationships with unique individuals who love us as their very own soul.

But, our sin is like a weed that will grow up and choke the vitality of the family if it is left unchecked. Unfaithfulness, ungratefulness, selfishness, broken communication, and the like are serious threats to a community of love. Furthermore, as Ephesians 6:10 describes above, we live in a fallen world where Satan and spiritual forces of evil are alive and active until the return of Christ. These realities are like the wind, rain, and storms that threaten to lay low the family that is not surrounded by protective barriers.

I share all this with you in the hope that you will treasure three things in your heart:

1. God is a good shepherd who continually guides us toward victory. All we have to do is seek Him and follow Him. God knew we needed to draw away as a family and be refreshed and reminded of the importance of protecting our family.

2. May you honor your earthly father all the days of your life. He is a good father because he seeks God on our behalf and leads us into God’s good plans for our lives. Be grateful for him and honor him.

3. Our family and your future family is a gift from God. Do not take it for granted. Do not get lazy and coast in the destructive streams of life. How do you fight for your family? Simple answer: learn God’s ways in the Bible and apply them to your life. His words are the words of life. His ways are wise—they work! No broken family will ever be able to say it was God’s fault. He teaches sinners His ways and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to apply them to our lives. So let us do them, my precious Jade. Let us take hold of God’s words, apply them to our lives, and fight the good fight for our families. O how our families are worth it!

To God be glory and to us joy,

mom

Letters to Jade: Always Find Strength to Praise Him!

My dearest Jade,

Today was an exhausting day for the two of us. You are 13 months old. Last week I took you to play with a friend your age. When we arrived at his house I realized he was sick and shortly following you picked up his sippy cup and took a drink. I could not get to you fast enough to take the cup away. Like clockwork you began fevering 24 hours later and quickly moved into a full-blown cold.

This morning you threw up from all the mucus in your stomach so the doctor wanted to see you. We sat in the waiting room for one hour and another hour in the doctor’s office. Toward the end of our wait, you lost all patience and cried inconsolably until we got to the car where you passed out for the drive home. Needless to say, we were both exhausted. I drove home with my head resting on my hands, which were on the steering wheel—probably hard to picture from a mere description!

You awoke when we arrived home in a better mood. We went to the refrigerator to get a drink and you decided you wanted to explore the refrigerator. Normally, this is one area of the house I do not let you roam in, but tonight I was so tired I said, “You want to explore the refrigerator, why not?” I sat down on the floor as you handed me various items on the shelves. When you found the cheese door, you looked at me and grunted as if to say, “Please open the door.” So, I slid it open and you handed me your favorite kind of cheese. I began tearing pieces of cheese off the block and resting them on my finger. Every once in a while you would pull your head out of the refrigerator, open your mouth, and scoop the cheese off my finger before returning to explore some more.

In the midst of my exhaustion I began looking around our kitchen and realizing how blessed we are—God has given us each other, doctors to visit when we are sick, a blessed home, a screened in porch that I have transformed into your craft shop—the list could go on. And my soul was moved to joyful worship. My precious daughter, we live in a fallen world where there is sickness, thorns, and hassles. All of them will naturally strip us of energy and strength at times. But none of them can take away our gratitude toward God for the many waves of grace that crash upon our shores. So in all things, find strength to praise Him. And you will soar through hardships on the wings of worship.

I love you my precious girl,

Mom

Letters to Jade: The Face That Launched a Thousand Good Works

My precious Jade,

You and I just finished our first conference together. I want to express how significant your existence was in launching this good work.

I went into labor on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011 and you were born at 7:05 a.m. the next morning. After bringing you home from the hospital I sensed the Lord leading me to meditate on the biblical teaching of God’s image upon mankind—the imago dei. His timing was impeccable. I began considering the profound reality that humanity is made in the image of God while you, a little image-bearer, laid in my arms day and night.

As I reflected on the majestic ways God designed us to be like Him while gazing upon you, the value of your existence went to a whole new level in my heart. Simultaneously, the value of my role to nurture and cultivate the dignity of an image-bearer rose to soaring heights.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for enriching my life in this way. But, I was not expecting what would follow. The biblical teaching of God’s image upon mankind began to overflow into how I saw human being all around me. My heart began to ache unlike any time before for women and children who are devalued through sinful actions such as neglect, abuse, abandonment, and abortion. And I began to boil with a passion to take the gospel of hope to our hurting world.

I responded to this work of God by hosting a conference for two purposes: (1) to biblically refresh pro-life workers including women from pregnancy centers, maternity homes, adoption associations, foster care, and other organizations; and (2) to inspire others to get involved. The main instrument we used to refresh and inspire others was the biblical teaching of God’s image upon mankind. And your face was the feature on all of our advertising.

In God’s precious providence the conference was held one year after your birth. On Saturday May 12, 2012 we had an enchanting shabby chic birthday party in our backyard celebrating your life and the following Saturday, May 19, we hosted a conference to advocate for the value of all human life.

There is a mythological figure called Helen of Troy. She was so beautiful that when she was abducted, her home country launched a thousand ships to battle for her return. While your beauty did not launch a thousand ships, it may have launched a thousand good works!

I pray that you will possess a deep gratitude to God for His grace toward us. He is the source of my understanding concerning your value. He is the source of my passion for parenting. Each time you taste my love, compassion, dedication, and service to you, may your eyes look up to the God from which it flows. And may you continue the good work your life began.

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone),

Mom

Letters to Jade: A Legacy of Compassion and Action

My precious Jade,

I must preface my short exhortation to you today with these words: I humbly bow before my God in deepest gratitude for His goodness to my offspring and groan with petitions for His continued grace upon you.

Thus far God has protected you from horrendous human-hating evil and significant suffering. You do not experientially know the fear of going to sleep because you may be awakened in the night and used as a sexual object by perverse men. You do not experientially know the agonizing desire to be adopted into a home and called someone’s own. You do not experientially know the hopelessness of abject poverty and the piercing pain of hunger.

But, God has given you a gift called compassion whereby you may use your imagination to put yourself into the position of fellow human beings and grieve for their condition. Yet, this is not enough. You must allow these affections to move you forward in action. I pray that God will continue to protect you, bless you, and use as an instrument of hope and help for others. May you use the short days you are given in this life—youth through old age—to be a force of hope and help to other valuable human beings made in the image of God.  This is my desire for you. My prayer for you. And thus the example I am obligated to give you.

Groaning in prayer for your love of others,

Mom

Article to Be Published Soon

The below article will be published in the Journal of Family Ministry this spring, which is a Southern Seminary publication. The article is for the section Equipping the Generations and reflects theologically on motherhood. I wrote the majority of it before Jade was born, but added the application this week. I hope you enjoy!

A Triune Model for Motherhood and Ministry

When I became pregnant with my first child I realized God graciously gives nine months to prepare us for the life-changing experience to come. Since he established my ministry before giving me a child I began praying and scripturally thinking about what it looks like to be a mother and outward minister. I use the word “outward” because I firmly believe motherhood is a ministry in itself.

Foundation

The biblical foundation for the model I began to see is the Trinity. If I am not careful at this point, I could zealously shoot off into all kinds of directions because the Trinity has proven to be the glorious foundation for many areas of my life, such as marriage and diversity/unity in the body of Christ. Thus, I celebrate the opportunity to relish and apply another profound implication of God’s Triune being for Christian living in the realm of motherhood and ministry.

The biblical teaching of the Trinity reveals that God is three distinct persons, each person is fully God, yet God is one being.[i] 1 John 4 tells us that God is love. But love is a relational term. In other words, in order to love you must have someone or something to love. One may initially think, that must be why God created us—he needed someone to love. But John 17:24 tells us that God was love before the foundation of the world. He was love before he created. How could this be?

The answer is the Trinity. At the core of God’s being, he is three distinct persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And these three persons are a community of love.

Scripture reveals that God did not create humanity because he needed us (Acts 17:24). Instead, he created out of the overflow of the joy and love that exists within Trinity. God’s joy is expansive. As John Piper says: “It wants to share itself.”[ii] Thus we read the striking statement in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’”

The plural nouns “us” and “our” in this verse refer to the Triune God. God created humanity in his Triune image to share in the fellowship of the Trinity (1 John 1:3). Indeed, we see in Genesis 1–2 (before the Fall) that humanity consisted of distinct individuals who formed a community of love.

Implications

The smallest microcosm of humanity is the family unit. Pregnancy is the way that new image-bearers of God are added to the original family unit (husband and wife). God designed this community to reflect the Trinity by each person finding their joy or satisfaction in God, treasuring each other’s unique individuality and roles, and letting this joy overflow into self-giving acts of love toward one another. In sum, humanity reflects the Trinity by being a community of love.

And here is where I believe motherhood and outward ministry merge. Just as the joy within the Trinity is expansive—it wants to share itself with others—so should it be within a family. As the father, wife, and child or children live richly in their community of love, this love should bubble up and overflow into outward ministry. Again, the joy and love of God is expansive. Therefore, the Trinity created. Therefore, the human family partakes in the ministry of reconciliation.

Model

Having identified a Triune model, I will not adopt a model of motherhood that focuses “solely” on my children. And I will not adopt a model of ministry that focuses “primarily” on the outside world while neglecting my children. Instead, my model for motherhood will be one that focuses “primarily” on my children (after God and husband), while teaching them that they are not my “sole” love. They will see that I also possess a fervent love for the bride of Christ. My husband and I will seek to love our children fully as individual image-bearers and entice them to join us in letting our familial love bubble up and overflow into the lives of others together through the ministry of reconciliation.

The model I choose to follow will, therefore, be a Triune model for motherhood and ministry.

Application

The practical application of a Triune model for motherhood and ministry will manifest in various ways depending upon the spiritual gifts and calling of each family unit. Every mother will have to prayerfully ask two questions: 1. How can I cultivate familial love? and 2. How can our familial love overflow into the lives of others? I will conclude with three examples of my own:

  1. During the first month of my daughter’s life I began cultivating familial love by meditating on the biblical teaching of God’s image upon mankind while a little image-bearer lay in my arms day and night. Before long the mundane activities of changing diapers and feeding were transformed into meaningful moments of nurturing the dignity of an image-bearer. This heightened love and respect could not be contained within my family unit because I began to see others as image-bearers, as well. Therefore, we decided to host a conference to refresh pro-life workers with the biblical teaching of God’s image upon mankind. My husband is the chairman of our ministry’s board of directors and our daughter was used as the feature on the conference advertisements. As a result, our familial love overflowed into familial ministry.
  2. In the first nine months of my daughter’s life we have expressed our love for her in many ways. One of them has been providing for her material needs: clothing, bathing accessories, developmental toys, and other items. Our expansive joy has moved us to ask our local pregnancy center to pair us with a young single woman who made a choice to give life. We will make this woman and her daughter friends of our family by walking with them through life spiritually and emotionally while also passing down our material goods that assist in parenting.
  3. One arm of my teaching ministry is to biblically encourage single women through quarterly letters to find rest in God as their heavenly husband. After taking Valentine’s Day pictures of my daughter to preserve for family memories we decided to make them into cards to send to single women with a message of God’s love on Valentine’s Day.

These are a few ideas we have discovered in our application of a Triune model for motherhood and ministry. May they open your minds to the vast possibilities you can implement in your own family outreach to the larger world.



[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994),241.

[ii] John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1986), 45.

See the Woman with Much Who Gives Little

See the woman with much who gives little.

For living in a fallen world, she has it good. Three meals a day, snacks in between, and shelter from the unpredictable nature of a broken creation. Her soul is functional and her health is strong.

Her first thoughts of the day arise with the morning star. As the sun orbits around the earth, her mind revolves around herself and a small band of family and friends.

She is an odd creature to the eye. At first glance God’s likeness can be see through the magnificent gifts she possesses—creativity, a reflective mind, entrepreneurial skills, and powerful speech. Yet, there is a deficiency of God’s character seen through her as she devotes little thought, affection, and action toward those outside her intimate circle.

She dedicates a vast amount of resources to her own welfare. And while her stomach is full, her heart is hungry.

Now look upon the woman who gives much. She is passionate with care for her family. Yet she also considers the needs of others. Her eyes look upon the crushing contradiction of dignified image-bearers treated like trash—unwanted and aborted, exploited and trafficked, neglected and orphaned.

These images prod her heart, refusing to let her pass by. Her mind bubbles up with strategic plans for righteousness. And her resources overflow into action. Though her hand is empty, her soul and basket are full.

Isaiah 58:10

“If you poor yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

Letters to Jade: Seek Him with All Your Heart

My dearest Jade,

You are eight months old as I pen this note. A few evenings ago, I witnessed a striking focus, eager zeal, and unstoppable pursuit erupt from your precious soul. Through this event I perceived a spiritual truth that inspired me to begin preserving these moments for you in writing.

Your father arrived home from work, retired to his comfortable cloths, and turned his attention to you (I often consider the blessing God bestows upon us through your father as he faithfully arrives in the evening with fresh energy, enabling you to play longer and me to find rest). Bobby was on one end of the living room floor and you were on the opposite. In between the two of you was a dazzling toy with lights and music. I happened to look upon your beautiful Asian eyes precisely at the moment that they smiled with an intense focus as if to say “I see something I want and I will get it regardless of the cost.” Within seconds you crawled with speed and charge in the direction of your father, cast aside the toy that separated you, and took hold of him with joyful force.

Bobby and I laughed at the intense pursuit of your father. And I could not help but to see an obvious spiritual truth through it. In Jeremiah 29:7 God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” The Bible is consistent and clear in the message that God is a relational, seeking, and inviting Person. Yet, fallen humanity has exchanged a glorious relationship with Him for the lesser things in creation (Romans 1).

Today it is a dazzling toy that sits in between you and your father. But tomorrow it will be boys, cloths, money, popularity, and success. Do not be confused—God graciously gives us gifts in creation. But, when these gifts capture our heart more than God, we dishonor God who is far more glorious than the things He has made and we cheat ourselves of the fullness of life that comes from relating with God as our greatest treasure.

My dearest Jade, even at this early age your soul has perceived the deep satisfaction that comes from an intimate relationship with your father. You were willing to cast aside any hindrance to obtain this joy. In time, you will see that your earthly father is but a pale reflection of our heavenly Father. And I pray that you will receive God’s good gifts in creation, but always be ready to cast aside any charm that entices you to love it more than your heavenly Father. Why? I cannot articulate it better than St. Augustine: “O God, You created us for Yourself and our heart remains restless until it finds rest in You.” May your life be characterized by a striking focus, eager zeal, and unstoppable pursuit of God as you stand fast in His promise: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Adoring you with joy,

Kori

Join Us at Our Adoring Christ Conference

Dear friends,

I am honored to invite you to the Adoring Christ Conference in Houston, Texas, on May 19, 2012. The two-fold purpose of this women’s conference is to (1) biblically refresh pro-life workers including women from pregnancy centers, maternity homes, adoption associations, foster care, and other organizations; and (2) inspire others to get involved.

The day will be saturated with biblical teaching, worship led by Rebecca St. James, a concert of prayer, and fellowship.

Lunch and snacks will be provided, and gift drawings will add to an already full day.

You can read my personal invitationacquire more information about the conference, and register under the conference tab on our home page. I look forward to seeing God move mightily in the souls of women on May 19, 2012. Join us!

May we be led to adore Christ in all things,

Kori