Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Churches of God" by A. W. Pink



"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews" (I Thess. 2:14).

The ignorance which prevails in Christendom today concerning the truth about the Churches of God is deeper and more general than error on any other Scriptural subject. Many who are quite sound evangelically and are well taught on what we call the great fundamentals of the faith, are most unsound ecclesiastically. Mark the fearful confusion that abounds respecting the term itself. There are few words in the English language with a greater variety of meanings than "church." The man in the street understands by "church" the building in which people congregate for public worship. Those who know better, apply the term to the members in spiritual fellowship who meet in that building. Others use it in a denominational way and speak of "the Methodist Church" or "Presbyterian Church." Again, it is employed nationally of the state-religious institution as "the Church of England" or "the Church of Scotland." With Papists the word "church" is practically synonymous with "salvation," for they are taught that all outside the vale of "Holy Mother Church" are eternally lost.

Many of the Lord's own people seem to be strangely indifferent concerning God's mind on this important subject. One from whose teachings on the church we differ widely has well said, "Sad it is to hear men devoted in the Gospel, clear expounders of the Word of God, telling us that they do not trouble themselves about church doctrine; that salvation is the all-important theme; and the establishing of Christians in the fundamentals is all that is necessary. We see men giving chapter and verse for every statement, and dwelling upon the infallible authority of the Word of God, quietly closing their eyes to its teachings upon the church, probably connected with that for which they can give no Scriptural authority, and apparently contented to bring others into the same relationship."

What constitutes a New Testament church? That multitudes of professing Christians treat this question as one of trifling importance is plain. Their actions show it. They take little or no trouble to find out. Some are content to remain outside of any earthly church. Others join some church out of sentimental considerations, because their parents or partner in marriage belonged to it. Others join a church from lower motives still, such as business or political considerations. But this ought not to be. If the reader is an Anglican, he should be so, because he is fully persuaded that his is the most Scriptural church. If he is a Presbyterian, he should be so, from conviction that his "church" is most in accord with God's Word. So, if he is a Baptist or Methodist, etc.

There are many others who have little hope of arriving at a satisfactory answer to the question, What constitutes a New Testament church? The fearful confusion which now obtains in Christendom, the numerous sects and denominations differing so widely both as to doctrine and church-order and government, has discouraged them. They have not the time to carefully examine the rival claims of the various denominations. Most Christians are busy people who have to work for a living, and hence they do not have the leisure necessary to properly investigate the Scriptural merits of the different ecclesiastical systems. Consequently, they dismiss the matter from their minds as being one too difficult and complex for them to hope of arriving at a satisfactory and conclusive solution. But this ought not to be. Instead of these differences of opinion disheartening us, they should stimulate to greater exertion for arriving at the mind of God. We are told to "buy the truth," which implies that effort and personal sacrifice are required. We are bidden to "prove all things."

Now, it should be obvious to all that there must be a more excellent way than examining the creeds and articles of faith of all the Denominations. The only wise and satisfactory method of discovering the Divine answer to our question, What constitutes a New Testament church? is to turn to the New Testament itself and carefully study its teachings about the "church." Not some godly man's views; not accepting the creed of the church to which my parents belonged; but "proving all things" for myself! God's people have no right to organize a church on different lines from those which governed the churches in New Testament times. An institution whose teachings or government are contrary to the New Testament is certainly not a New Testament "church."

Now if God has deemed it of sufficient importance to place on record upon the pages of Inspiration what a New Testament church is, then surely it should be of sufficient importance for very redeemed man or woman to study that record, and not only so but to bow to its authority and conform their conduct thereto. We shall thus appeal to the New Testament only and seek God's answer to our question.
1. A New Testament church is a local body of believers. Much confusion has been caused by the employment of adjectives which are not to be met with in the N.T. Were you to ask some Christians, To what church do you belong? they would answer, The great insivible church of Christ-a church which is as intangible as it is invisible. How many recite the so-called Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the holy catholic Church," which most certainly was not an article in the Apostles' "creed." Others speak of "the Church militant" and "the Church triumphant," but neither are these terms found in Scripture, and to employ them is only to create difficulty and confusion. The moment we cease to "hold fast the form of sound words" (II Tim. 1:13) and employ unscriptural terms, we only befog ourselves and others. We cannot improve upon the language of Holy Writ. There is no need to invent extra terms; to do so is to cast reflexion on the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit. When people talk of "the universal Church of Christ" they employ another unscriptural and antiscriptural expression. What they really mean is "the Family of God." This latter appellation includes the whole company of God's elect; but "Church" does not.

Now the kind of church which is emphasized in the N.T. is neither invisible nor universal; but instead, visible and local. The Greek word for "church" is ecclesia, and those who know anything of that language are agreed that the word signifies "An Assembly." Now an "assembly" is a company of people who actually assemble. If they never "assemble," then it is a misuse of language to call them "an Assembly." Therefore, as all of God's people never have yet assembled together, there is today no "universal Church" or "Assembly." That "Church" is yet future; as yet it has no concrete or corporate existence.

In proof of what has been said above, let us examine those passages where the term was used by our Lord Himself during the days of His flesh. Only twice in the four Gospels do we find Christ speaking of the "church." The first is in Matthew 16:18 where He said unto Peter, "Upon this Rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." What kind of a "church" was the Saviour here referring to? The vast majority of Christians have understood it as the great invisible, mystical, and universal Church, which comprises all His redeemed. But they are certainly wrong. Had this been His meaning He had necessarily said, "Upon this Rock I am building My church." Instead, He used the future tense, "I will build," which shows clearly that at the time He spoke, His "church" had no existence, save in the purpose of God. the "church" to which Christ referred in Matthew 16:18 could not be a universal one, that is, a church which included all the saints of God, for the tense of the verb used by Him on this occasion manifestly excluded the O. T. saints! Thus, the first time that the word "church" occurs in the N. T. it has no reference to a general or universal one. Further, our Lord could not be referring to the Church in glory, for it will be in no danger of "the gates of hell"! His declaration that, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," makes it clear beyond all doubt that Christ was referring to His church upon earth, and thus, to a visible and local church.

The only other record we have of our Lord speaking about the "church" while He was on earth, is found in Matthew 18:17, "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Now the only kind of a "church" to which a brother could relate his "fault" is a visible and local one. So obvious is this, there is no need to further enlarge upon it.

In the final book of the N. T. we find our Saviour again using this term. First in Revelation 1:11 He says to John, "What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia." Here again it is plain that the Lord was speaking of local churches. Following this, we find the word "church" is upon His lips nineteen more times in the Revelation, and in every passage the reference was to local churches. Seven times over He says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," not "what the Spirit saith unto the Church"-which is what would have been said had the popular view been correct. The last reference is in Revelation 22:16, "I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches:" The reason for this being, that as yet, the Church of Christ has no tangible and corporate existence, either in glory or upon earth; all that He now has here is His local "churches."

In further proof that the kind of "church" which is emphasised in the N. T. is a local and visible one we appeal to other facts of Scripture. We read of "The church which was at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1). "The church that was at Antioch" (Acts 13:1), "The church of God which is at Corinth" (I Cor. 1:2)-note carefully that though this church is linked with, yet is it definitely distinguished from "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,"! Again; we read of "churches" in the plural number: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria" (Acts 9:31), "The churches of Christ salute you" (Rom. 16:16), "Unto the churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1:2). Thus it is seen that, that which was prominent and dominant in N. T. times was local and visible churches.

2. A New Testament church is a local body of baptized believers. By "baptized believers" we mean Christians who have been immersed in water. Throughout the N. T. there is not a single case recorded of any one becoming a member of a church of Jesus Christ without his first being baptized; but there are many cases in point, many indications and proofs that those who belonged to the churches in the days of the apostles were baptized Christians.

Let us turn first to the last clause of Acts 2:47: "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be (the V. R. correctly gives it "were") saved." Note carefully it does not say that "God," or "the Holy Spirit," or "Christ," but "The Lord added." The reason for this is as follows: "The Lord" brings in the thought of authority, and those whom He "added to the church" had submitted to His lordship. The way in which they had "submitted" is told us in vv. 41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls," etc. thus, in the earliest days of this dispensation, "the Lord added" to His church saved people who were baptized.

Take the first of the Epistles. Romans 12:4-5 shows that the saints at Rome were a local church. Turn back now to Romans 6:4-5 where we find the apostle saying to and of these church members at Rome, "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." Thus, the saints in the local church at Rome were baptized believers.

Take the church at Corinth. In Acts 18:8 we read, "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Further proof that the Corinthian saints were baptized believers is found in I Cor. 1:13-14; 10:2,6; I Cor. 12:13 rightly translated and punctuated (we hope to deal with this passage separately in a future article) expressly affirms that entrance into the local assembly is by water baptism.

Ere passing to the next point let it be said that a church made up of baptized believers is obviously and necessarily a "Baptist church"-what else could it be termed? This is the name which God gave to the first man whom He called and commissioned to do any baptizing. He named him "John the Baptist." Hence real "Baptists" have no reason to be ashamed of or to apologise for the scriptural name they bear. If someone askes, Why did not the Holy Spirit speak of the "Baptist church at Corinth" or "The Baptist churches of Galatia"? We answer, for this reason: there was, at that time, no need for this distinguishing adjective; there were no other kind of churches in the days of the apostles but Baptist churches. They were all "Baptist churches" then; that is to say, they were all composed of scripturally-baptized believers. It is men who have invented all other "churches" (?) and church-names now in existence.

3. A New Testament church is a local body of baptized believers in organized relationship. This is necessarily implied in the term itself. An "Assembly is a company of people met together in organized relationship, otherwise there would be nothing to distinguish it from a crowd or mob. Clear proof of this is found in Acts 19:39, "But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly." These words were spoken by the "town clerk" to the Ephesian multitude which was disturbing the peace. Having "appeased the people," and having affirmed that the apostles were neither robbers of churches nor blasphemers of their goddess, he reminded Demetrius and his fellows that "the law is open, and there are deputies," and bade them "implead one another." The Greek word for "assembly" in this passage is ecclesia, and the reference was to the Roman court, i.e., an organization governed by law.

Again, the figures used by the Holy Spirit in connection with the "church" are pertinent only to a local organization. In Romans 12 and in I Corinthians 12 He employs the human "body" as an anology or illustration. Nothing could be more unsuitable to portray some "invisible" and "universal" church whose members are scattered far and wide. The reader scarcely needs to be reminded that there is not a more perfect organization on this earth than the human body-each member in its appointed place, each to fulfil its own office and perform its distinctive function. Again, in I Timothy 3:15 the church is called the "house of God." The "house" speaks of ordered relationships: each resident having his own room, the furniture being suitably placed, etc.

Further proof that a New Testament "church" is a local company of baptized believers in organized relationship is found in Acts 7:38, where the Holy Spirit applies the term ecclesia to the children of Israel--"the church in the wilderness." Now the children of Israel in the wilderness were a redeemed, separated baptized, organized "Assembly." Some may be surprised at the assertion that they were baptized. But the Word of God is very explicit on this point. "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I Cor. 10:1-2). So, too, they were organized; they had their "princes" (Num. 7:2) and "priests," their "elders" (Ex. 24:1) and "officers" (Deut. 1:15). Therefore, we may see the propriety of applying the term ecclesia to Israel in the wilderness, and discover how its application to them enables us to define its exact meaning. It thus shows us that a New Testament "church" has its officers, its "elders" (which is the same as "bishops"), "deacons" (I Tim. 3:1,12), "treasurer" (John 12:6; II Cor. 8:19), and "clerk"--"number of names" (Acts 1:15) clearly implies a register.

4. A New Testament church is a local body of baptized believers in organized relationship, publicly and corporately worshipping God in the ways of His appointment. To fully amplify this heading would necessitate us quoting a goodly portion of the N.T. Let the reader go carefully through the book of Acts and the Epistles, with an unprejudiced mind, and he will find abundant confirmation. Attempting the briefest possible summary of it, we would say: First, by maintaining "the apostles' doctrine and fellowship" (Acts 2:42). Second, by preserving and perpetuating Scriptural baptism and the Lord's Supper: "keep the ordinances" as they were delivered to the church (I Cor. 11:2). Third, by maintaining a holy discipline: Heb. 13:17; I Tim. 5:20-21, etc. Fourth, by going into all the world and preaching the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

5. A New Testament church is independent of all but God. Each local church is entirely independent of any others. A church in one city has no authority over a church in another. Nor can a number of local churches scripturally elect a "board," "presbytery," or "pope" to lord it over the members of those churches. Each church is self-governed, compare I Corinthians 16:3; II Cor. 8:19. By church-government we mean that its work is administrative and not legislative.

A N.T. church is to do all things "decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:40), and its only authorative guide for "order" is the Holy Scriptures. Its one unerring standard, its final court of appeal, by which all issues of faith, doctrine, and Christian living are to be measured and settled, is the Bible, and nothing but the Bible. Its only Head is Christ: He is its Legislator, Resource, and Lord.

The local church is to be governed by what "the Spirit saith unto the churches." Hence it necessarily follows that it is altogether separate from the State, and must refuse any support from it. While its members are enjoined by Scripture to be "subject unto the higher powers that be" (Rom. 13:1), they must not permit any dictation from the State in matters of faith or practice.

The administration of the government of a N. T. church resides in its own membership, and not in any special body or order of men, either within or without it. A majority of its members decide the actions of the church. This is clear from the Greek of II Corinthians 2:6, "Sufficient to such a man (a disorderly brother who had been disciplined) is this punishment, which was inflicted of many." The Greek for the last two words is hupo ton pleionon." Pleionon is an adjective, in the comparative degree, and literally rendered the clause signifies "by the majority," and is so rendered by Dr. Charles Hodge, than whom there have been few more spiritual and competent Greek scholars. Bagster's Interlinear renders it "by the greater portion," and the margin of the R.V. gives "Greek the more." The definite article obliges us to render it "by the more" or "by the majority."

To sum up. Unless you have a company of regenerated and believing people, scripturally baptized, organized on N. T. lines, worshipping God in the ways of his appointing-particularly in having fellowship with the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, maintaining the ordinances, preserving strict discipline, active in evangelistic endeavour-it is not a "New Testament church," whatever it may or may not call itself. But a church possessing these characteristics is the only institution on this earth ordained, built, and approved of by the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, next to being saved, the writer deems it his greatest privilege of all to belong to one of His "churches." May Divine grace increasingly enable him to walk as becometh a member of it.

(Studies in the Scriptures, Dec. 1927, pp. 277-281).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Certifiableand Indisputable Election Results

"Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." - Psalm 115:3

"By me kings reign." - Proverbs 8:15

"The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes." - Proverbs 21:1

"He removes kings and establishes kings." - Daniel 2:21

"His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.  And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What hast Thou done?'" - Daniel 4:34-35

"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me,  10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'" - Isaiah 46:9-10

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." - Revelation 11:15

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. " - Revelation 19:6

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Classical and Periodic Reading List

A friend of mine inquired about a reading list. I compiled this about three years ago, and I am sure one can improve the list; nonetheless, for anyone interested, here it is:


Eclectic and Interdisciplinary Reading List

Antiquity
               The Holy Bible
               The Epic of Gilgamesh
               Beowulf
               The Heart of Hebrew History, Hester
               The Sayings of Confucius
               Bhagva Gita
               The Art of War, Sun Tzu
               The Koran
               The Arabs in History, Barnard Lewis
               The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, Lewis

Greco-Roman
               The Aeneid, Virgil
               The Iliad, Homer
               The Odyssey, Homer
               Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
               Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle
               Physics, Aristotle
               Politics, Aristotle
               Poetics, Aristotle
               Aristotle for Everybody, Adler
               The Republic, Plato
               The Symposium, Plato
               Deruram Natura (“On the Nature of Things”), Lucretius

Middle Ages
               The Cloud of Unknowing
               The Consolation of Philosophy
               The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a’Kempis
               King Arthur, Malory
               The Song of Roland
               Murder in the Cathedral, Eliot

Renaissance
               Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets (read in historical context)
               How to Achieve True Greatness, Castiglione
               The Divine Comedy, Dante
               Don Quixote, Cervantes
               Utopia, More
               The Prince, Machiavelli
               Dr. Faustus, Marlowe

Reformation
               The Praise of Folly, Erasmus
               Paradise Lost, John Milton
               The Bondage of the Will, Luther
               Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan
               Robinson Crusoe, Defoe
               “A Divine and Supernatural Light,” Edwards
               “Freedom of the Will,” Edwards
               “Of Original Sin,” Edwards
               “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections,” Edwards
               “Charity and its Fruits,” Edwards

Enlightenment
               Candide, Voltaire
               Theodicy, Leibniz
               Of Miracles, David Hume
               An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume
               Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume
               A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume
               An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke
               Two Treatises of Government, Locke
               Emile, Rousseau
               The Social Contract, Rousseau
               De l'esprit des lois ((On) The Spirit of the Laws), Montesquieu
               La défense de «L'Esprit des lois» (In Defence of "The Spirit of the Laws"), Montesquieu
               A Critique of Pure Reason, Kant
               Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant
               “A Universal History on a Cosmopolitical Plan,” Kant
               “What is Enlightenment,” Kant
               Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon
               The Age of Reason, Paine
               The Declaration of Independence, Jefferson
               “Letter to the Danbury Baptists,” Jefferson
               Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, Jefferson
               The United States Constitution
               “The Bloody Tenet,” Williams
               The Wealth of Nations, Smith
               Democracy in America, de Tocqueville
               “Theodicy,” Leibniz
               “Essay on Man,” Pope

Romanticism
               “Nature,” Emerson
               Walden, Thoreau
               “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau
               Any work by Byron, Shelly, Keats (especially) or Wordsworth

Victorianism
               “Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse,” Arnold
               “Dover Beach,” Arnold
               “Hebraism and Hellenism,” Arnold
               “Sweetness and Light,” Arnold
               “The Idea of a University,” Newman
               “Liberty,” Mill
               “Utilitarianism,” Mill
               Hard Times, Dickens
               A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
               The Idylls of the King, Tennyson
               Poetry of Browning, Dickinson, et. al.
               Essays by Carlisle, Arnold, Ruskin, Newman, et. al.
               Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, C. H. Spurgeon
               The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wilde

Literature, 18th century to present
               The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper
               The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne
               Moby Dick, Melville
               Huckleberry Finn, Twain
               The Red Badge of Courage, Crane
               All Quiet on the Western Front,  Remarque
               Heart of Darkness, Conrad
               Dr. Faustus, Mann
               Farewell to Arms, Hemingway
               The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway
               The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald
               A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, Joyce
               Murder in the Cathedral, Eliot
               The Wasteland, Eliot
               “Metamorphosis,” Kafka
               Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche
               Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche
               On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, Darwin (Norton Edition)
               Autobiography, Darwin
               Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin
               Ideas and Opinions, Einstein
               The World as I See it, Einstein
               Out of My Life and Thought, Schweitzer
               The Fall, Camus
               The Plague, Camus
               The Stranger, Camus
               Death of a Salesman, Miller
               The Skin of Our Teeth, Wilder
               A Brief History of Time, Hawking
               The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn
               The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis
               The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis
               The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis
               The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom
               Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Physics, Heisenberg
               Philosophical Problems of Quantum Physics, Heisenberg
               Night, Elie Wiesel
              
For a more detailed list of “great books,” see http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/gbww.html

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Family Union

This is the fourth and final part of my adoption narrative. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.

We arrived a few minutes before the agreed-upon time. You may be wondering where one goes to pick up a newly-adopted child---McDonald’s, of course.


We sat down in the middle of the restaurant so that we could keep an eye out through all the windows. To my right, in a booth against a wall, sat an elderly couple. It had to have been 90 degrees outside, but they were sipping piping hot coffee. They were positioned to watch The O’Reilly Factor on the elevated television set. The old man was pre-occupied with killing flies. Apparently, Nacogdoches has suffered a fly-infestation this year due to the mild winter, and this determined man with a high-sittin’ cap was determined to exert dominance over the noxious creatures.

Armed only with a napkin, and an unbridled sense of determination, the old man destroyed his prey. His face lit up more than Ralph Macchio when he caught that fly with a pair of chopsticks.

A few minutes after seven, just outside the Fly Swatter’s window, I noticed a lady walking to the restaurant with a young boy: our son.

Tish and I went outside to meet them; we were overwhelmed with joy, and not exactly sure how to act. Katrina told me to order some chicken nuggets for our new child to nibble on, which I dutifully did. We watched him smile as he ate the chicken. He had the sweetest disposition. Katrina called him our son. Indeed, he was.

Indeed, he is.

When you adopt a child, incidentally, you get to pick a name. We chose Oliver Dickson. We call him Ollie. We named him after my great-grandfather, who was a Baptist preacher in Laurel, Mississippi. His middle name is a family name from Tish’s lineage. We purposefully named him after our relatives because we want him to know that the time Ollie F. Parker (and Ollie Dean Brunson, for that matter) and the Dicksons put in raising the people who would raise Tish and me will have far greater effect on Ollie’s life than genetics ever could.

He will know of Jesus, and His work on the cross. He’ll know a loving home. He’ll know a good education. He’ll know the value of industriousness, the importance of a strong marriage, and why culture is critical.

Lastly, and briefly, let me say this:

I can think of no greater picture of the gospel. Through Jesus, we have been given the power to become the sons of God, “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And so Ollie is born to us, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh. We chose Ollie, just as God chose us. We chose him before knowing of any good or bad he’s done. We chose him because it pleased us. In this simple act, we take part in the kingdom of God as His people.

Might I add, that no one has yet to come up to us to condemn us for adopting only one child when so many were in need, though we may have the means to do so. Instead, people say something to the effect of, “this child’s life is saved,” and they rejoice in that. Chew on that last point some.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trial and Jubilation---Part 3 of an Adoption Narrative

Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

The following day Faye (one of my law partners) and I called Katrina to come up with a game plan. Faye said she would drive down to Nacogdoches the following day to speak with Katrina and the birth mother and try to talk the birth mother into relinquishing her rights in my favor.


Tish and I prayed again.

Thursday I had a trial in Rusk, Texas. It was a little fender-bender case. My client was the spitting image of Eddie Murphy in “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” and at lunch told us that the plaintiff is rumored to have had an oedipal relationship with his mother, but he didn’t want to gossip. The trial went well, and I was on my way back to Tyler, curious as to how Faye’s meeting with the birth mother was going, but not really believing a woman would agree to give us a child, sight-unseen.

Just as I was getting into Tyler, Tish called to tell me that Faye was driving back from Nacogdoches with an Affidavit of Relinquishment, and the child was, for practical purposes, ours.

I couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t told anybody this was even a possibility.

My legal assistant was in the car with me, so I told her, took her back to the office, made a quick announcement, then I went home to meet Tish.

By this time it was 3:00 p.m. or so, and we were to go to Nacogdoches immediately to get the child, our son, at a McDonald’s.

We owned nothing for children, except for a jogging stroller someone had given us. We resisted ever buying things for our future adopted child, because, frankly, it would be depressing to have baby stuff in our house with no children.

We had no crib, no clothes, not a single diaper. And we realized we had no car seat.

Off to Target.

Actually, we tried Wal-Mart first, but I hate Wal-Mart, and was unsatisfied by what I saw. I was already becoming a yuppie parent.

How does one buy a car seat? Not the cheapest; not the most expensive; halfway between the median and highest price seemed best. So we got the Eddie Bauer edition car seat.

You know those annoying television shows and movies where the dad is portrayed as a complete, bumbling fool? That was me. I could not for the life of me get the cotton-pickin’ thing hooked into the backseat!

It so happened a couple from our church (and two of the few people who knew what our plans were for the evening because we had called them an hour before) was pulling into the Target parking lot. We spent the next 20 minutes installing the car seat.

Off to Nacogdoches!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Call, a Prayer, and a Picture


Fourteen months prior to that episode two important events occurred: Tish and I attended an informational meeting at a church near Lindale for potential adoptive parents through Loving Alternative (a local adoption agency), and a young child was born to a single mother and absent father in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The most difficult aspect of adopting is the waiting. It took us from February of 2011 until December of that year to get all of our home-studies done and our paperwork together. From December of 2011 to May of this year was simply waiting. 

While you’re doing home studies and getting references and such the wait is no big deal, because you’re doing something. Some document must be turned in before you get a child, so there’s no need to be concerned—that’s the attitude, and a source of comfort during that period. But once there’s nothing to do but wait, you just wait.

Hopefully, you also pray, which we did (with varying levels of consistency). Feelings of anxiousness were compounded somewhat, though, by the remarkable fecundity within our Sunday School class. 

As I bemoaned not having a child, a young boy was being passed around from home to home. He was born to an unfortunate drug addict, who had given birth to three prior children, placing them all to adoptive parents or with relatives. After a year or so of neglect, his birth-mother’s aunt stepped in and petitioned a court for custody of the child. CPS got involved and sided with the aunt. After the child was placed with Aunt Kim, she was diagnosed with melanoma, and having several children of her own, she simply could not afford to take care of the young boy, so she asked a friend of hers, Katrina, to keep him

For six weeks, the child lived with Katrina, her three kids, and all of their goats, donkeys, chickens, and dogs out in deep East Texas, in a mobile home off of a black-top road. Katrina is a good, country woman who is a legal assistant at a law office in Nacogdoches, whose husband operates a watermelon farm elsewhere in Texas for much of the year. She found someone to sit with the child during the day while she worked, and she dutifully cared for him for six weeks.

On Tuesday May 29, 2012, around five o’clock, I received a call from Chris (the court reporter). 

“I have a question for you.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Are you and your wife still interested in adopting a baby?”

“Yeah, absolutely.”

“Are you still okay if the child is half-black, half-white?”

“Sure, we’d love a mocha baby!”

Chris went on to tell me about this little child, and gave me Katrina’s phone number. It turns out that Katrina knew Chris had previously adopted a black child, and asked Chris whether she’d be interested in a new addition. She was not, but mentioned my name.

Immediately, I called Tish.

Immediately, Tish cried. 
A few minutes later, Katrina emailed a picture of the child.  

After work, Tish and I prayed, then went to vote in the primary election. We had to go to two polling places, because my voter registration still had me at an old address. Then we went out to eat, discussed the hope before us, and came home.

Around 7:30 we called Katrina and spoke with her for about 20 minutes---after only 2 minutes she was all-in on us having the child. There was one hang-up, however; neither Katrina, nor Aunt Kim had the authority to facilitate an adoption. The birth mother had to be convinced to place the child.

 Tish and I prayed. We thanked God for the hope he’d given us. And we prayed for the child and the birth mother. We also prayed that we would avoid heartache.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It All Started with a Hundred Dollar Bill

This is the first of a series of posts regarding the Fair Tish and me adopting a baby boy. I've broken this up for readability, so I'll post a new part each day over the course of this week.


On April 3rd of this year, I drove down to Center, Texas, which, incidentally, is nowhere near the center of the state, in order to take the deposition of a police officer. This day was going to be an absolute whipping. After the officer’s deposition that morning, I was to take the deposition of a crusty old woman who was driving an 18-wheeler involved in the accident made the basis of the suit I was working. After that deposition, I was to be in Lufkin, Texas to meet with a new client on a case for which I had just been retained, the trial for which was set for a month later.

When I set up in the conference room in Center, the court reporter came in beaming, “I just found a $100.00 bill outside!” 

“Wow, I know who’s buyin’ us lunch today, Don,” I told the other lawyer.

“Of course, I really think I ought to since I found it outside your office,” she said to Don.

“We’ll do it,” Don said, and it was settled.

Except it wasn’t.

The officer’s deposition concluded about 11:30 and the court reporter (Chris—a woman) said, “Okay gentlemen, where to?”

“Let’s just go somewhere within walking distance,” I replied.

“Oh, I’m going to have to bow out, I’m afraid,” was Don’s response.

I was stuck. I have it as a policy to not eat alone with a woman who is not my wife, and I wasn’t thrilled about the awkward situation in which I’d placed myself. 

As we walked out to head over and get our enchiladas, I called the fair Tish to tell her I was having lunch with another woman. She was less than thrilled, not because she was nervous (I created my policy, she didn’t mandate it) but because she wondered why I would break with tradition. I explained, and she was “okay” with it. Bah! And now I wouldn’t be home until at least 7:00 p.m. 

Over the course of lunch we discussed several things, including family. I told Chris that we didn’t have children, but we were “on the list” at an adoption agency in Tyler, and I mentioned that we were open to adopting a child of any race. Chris said that she and her husband had adopted a black boy years ago. She went on to tell me about that experience—it was all positive.

Before the next deposition, I called Tish and told her about my lunch conversation. She seemed pleased.
As I predicted, the rest of that day was, indeed, crazy. After my second deposition in Center, I trekked over to Lufkin to meet with my car-dealer client, then about five started heading home to Tyler. And there was the worst storm I’ve ever driven through in my life. I have never before been afraid of my car being struck by lightning, but as I came up through Jacksonville, I was getting concerned. It happened that one of my law-partners was five minutes ahead of me on the road (he had been out of town for something else) and we ended up sitting out the storm at a public house on the south side of Tyler, imbibing while the hail passed over. I think we spent most of our time discussing how we thought the Supreme Court would strike down Obamacare.

Got home at 10:00 or so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

True worship is a sovereign act of God Almighty,

whereby the Third Person of the Trinity condescends to the human soul,

quickening the soul by His power through effectual grace and the instrumentality of the Word of God;

prostrating the flesh in fear, humility, conviction of sin, and contrition before the Almighty;

and then elevating the soul spiritually to contemplate the glory of God revealed in Christ Jesus,

especially His cross;

resulting in the transfiguration and transformation of the soul,

and the soul’s coronation of Jesus Christ as

King of Kings and Lord of Lords,

Redeemer,

Savior,

and

God.