Men, Let Us Quit Holding Back
Modern drive-by ministry makes we want to vomit.
Okay, there. I said it.
The church ought to be challenging people. We ought to be calling ourselves to higher levels of service to accompany a deeper knowledge of the Lord. That’s not what seems to be happening.
Many churches behave as if they exist to afford you, the church attender, with the possibility of contribution with no sacrifice. Pay a bit of money, money that you can afford if we’re honest, and I’ll fly you halfway around the world to hand out water bottles with Bible verses on them to complete strangers that you’ll never see again.
Don’t forget the mandatory pic with some brown people for your social media account to confirm that you’ve been ‘on mission’.
I find no prescription for this in the Bible.
I find a prescription for community, for sending money, for church planting…
…and for adoption…all things that demand of you.
Let us dispense with the platitudes.
You keep some of yourself for yourself, as do I.
Whether it be time or resources including money—we reserve some of it for ourselves.
If I give all of my time to another, to anyone or anything, then I won’t have as much time left for myself as I’d like. We all wake each day with a predetermined idea about how we would like to spend our time. Some of you (us) jealously guard our time. We demand “me” time.
And if I gave all my money, I likewise wouldn’t have any left for myself. If I put my money toward anything other than me, then I’d have less to spend on, well, me. I may not be able to afford that new bass boat or Harley-Davidson. I may have to make do with my 2015 F250 and not be able to upgrade to that cherry 2019 Dodge Ram with a supercharged hemi.
If I give of myself too much, I may have nothing left for…me.
I can be generous. I have been generous. I’ll give to another. If a friend of mine has a need, I’ll be there, as long as that need corresponds with a convenient time for me. If a family member needs something, hey, I’ll be there, within reason.
Within reason…this is the universal caveat to much in the way of our generosity.
Don’t actually ask me to sacrifice.
Isaiah likens the church to a tent.
As he prophesies about the growth of the church, he commands God’s people to stretch out the tent, to lengthen the ropes, to strengthen the stakes, driving them deep. As the tent is stretched, nearly tearing, those in desperate need of shelter can be pulled into the sanctuary of the tent where they find rest and protection. (Isaiah 54:2-3)
This is the kingdom of God.
This is the Church.
This is what happened to me. I was an orphan, Fatherless. Yet unknown to me at the time, the Father had set His affections on me in eternity past and one day nearly 14 years ago, He affirmed those affections and saved me, adopting me as a son of the Lord God on high, pulling me into the tent of His shelter.
I am His. For good. A son.
Now, imagine setting your affections on one in a similar manner, deciding to love them as your own, deciding to adopt, pulling them into the tent of your shelter. Sounds good until you start to notice how crowded it’s getting in that tent. Sure would like to have a bit more space for myself.
In the middle of the tent metaphor, Isaiah inserts this curious phrase, “Do not hold back.” (verse 2) “Spare not,” is another rendering.
Interesting that in the context of pulling orphans from their affliction, Isaiah feels led to exhort men to stop holding back.
He must know something we do not.
Fact: Adoption is a Gospel issue, not a social issue.
Okay, it is a social issue. Orphans never adopted suffer in life. Period. Homelessness, incarceration, addiction, pregnancy out of wedlock—pick an affliction and they almost all suffer it. Hardly any go to college and these are all real issues.
But the greatest issue is that they don’t know Jesus!
Scripture states it, reality bears it out. The most effective evangelist, by far, is a loving and engaged father. Children tend to inherit the faith of their fathers, or lack thereof. What of those who have no father?
Who will be the one to teach them about the Lord, to bring them up in the way so that when they are older, they will not depart from it? Will you be the one?
Scripture is intensely clear on the mandate for parents to make disciples of their children. What of the children with no parents to make them into disciples? The world and Satan will gladly make disciples of them, thereby relinquishing you of your obligation.
As we, men, worry about being inconvenienced, every year tens of thousands of children nationwide turn 18 and ‘graduate’ the system to a life of hopelessness. As we idly dither about with various trifling pursuits, thousands come of age and assuredly will never know the Lord.
But that Hemi sure is sweet.
I cannot adequately describe the need. It is that vast.
I cannot adequately describe the cost. It is that vast.
Nothing will stretch you out more spiritually than bringing a child not your own, particularly an afflicted child from the system, into your home and loving them as your own. I have done nothing harder than foster and adopt my sons.
I have done nothing more valuable.
Preaching, teaching, evangelizing, ministering to my congregation: all take a back seat to the ministry of adoption. And I have my sons! I cannot imagine my life without them. Would I have left them to languish for the sake of my comfort or my standard of living? At one time, the answer would’ve been a resounding, ‘yes!’
Several years ago, I held two-month-old Max in my arms, begging God to take him from me.
I’m too old God. (I was 42)
I can’t do this God.
I don’t want this God!
But he wore me down, God and Max. As I pondered his solemn brown eyes, the still soft voice of the Holy Spirit whispered continually into my ear, “It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault.”
I crumbled like tissue paper.
Three years later, I am privileged to call this little guy my son.
Brothers, let us stop holding back. Your hemi will one day be no more. Your home will one day be a pile of rubbish. All that you lust after will all come to naught. The heart and soul of an orphan though, here is eternity.
Men, let us stop holding back…let us adopt.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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