Open or Closed Doors

16 05 2013

opendoors

A number of months ago, I announced here on my blog that my family and I were going to start the process of an international adoption. We began to pray about where we wanted to adopt from, and God began to soften our hearts for the orphans of Russia. Many of you know that in December of last year, the Russian government closed its adoption program to Americans. We began to pray again and felt like God was leading us to adopt from the country of Ghana in West Africa. Well, just about a week and a half ago we found out that the government of Ghana closed its adoption program completely. Basically, we are back to square one and have already spent a chunk of money. This has been a very frustrating turn of events. Our ideal situation in our own minds was to be able to adopt as quickly as possible, mainly because I am no spring chicken any more! I am guessing that God has other plans.

This brings me to my topic. I have had a number of people that I love ask me if this might be God’s way of shutting the door on adoption for us. I believe that in our situation it has certainly given us reason to pause and reflect on God’s plan for our lives. I believe that God can and does use circumstances to help guide our paths, so when He shuts down the two adoption programs that we are in, it would behoove us to stop and listen. I believe that we have done so and feel very confident that God is not closing the door of adoption for our family.

In the same way that God uses circumstances, Satan can orchestrate events that present obstacles or opportunities to keep us off track. Therefore we need to be very cautious when it comes to reading into circumstances too much. I believe that Christians too often run into a closed door, call it a door closed by God, and so stop. I see this all the time when it comes to missions. People would like to go on this trip or another, but “God” has the door closed because they don’t have enough money or time. I think that we are raising a generation of soft Christians that value comfort over anything else. As soon as an obstacle is put in our way, we back off couching it in spiritual terms to justify our disobedience. What we are doing is placing circumstances as the most important determining factor rather than the Word of God. Jesus clearly commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, but we like to add “if” clauses to this statement, for example “…if you have enough money,” or “…if you can learn a different language.” By doing this, we prove our lack of faith in Jesus’ authority and power to accomplish what he has commanded through you.

I graduated with a degree in coaching. I love sports. I now have three boys that are playing on three different baseball teams in three different leagues. Needless to say, my family and I are living at the ballparks this summer. If you asked any of my boys, especially the two older ones, what the most important thing for them to do is, they would say, “Be aggressive.” As a coach, I understand that talent and ability makes a difference, but I love those kids more that try hard. I would rather have a team with no talent but gave 110% every play, than a team full of talent that didn’t care. When I coach a team, I tell my players that I would rather them be aggressive and make mistakes, than be afraid to make a mistake and so hold back. Maybe it’s just my personality, but I would rather make mistakes or fail God falling forward. So when it comes to missions or adoption, which are both close to the heart of God, my tendency is to blow through the closed doors. I think that this should be our leaning rather than the other way. I realize that in the book of Acts, God closed a door for Paul to go to an area. When God closed this door on Paul, he didn’t tuck tail and quit the mission. He simply went to another place. In another instance, Paul was stoned until people thought he was dead, but he got up and went back into the city. We would be screaming at Paul that it was a closed door, but Paul would be shaking his head at the lostness of the city.

This is a tricky topic, because ultimately we all must hear from the Holy Spirit personally and should not judge someone’s decision when they feel a distinct call from Him. My point is that when faced with a closed door, we don’t automatically shut that direction down until it is also confirmed by God’s Word either through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, or other Godly people.





The Door

27 11 2012

 

John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

During our annual Thanksgiving Blessing at our church (Grand Avenue Baptist Church) where we present the gospel message and give away 1200 full turkey dinners, our Lead Pastor, Jeff Crawford, presented a message entitled “The Door.” Because of God’s Spirit moving, we saw hundreds of people respond to this message, and that very day we baptized almost 70 people. The one thing that struck me about this message was its simplicity. I think that too often we forget that God does not make it complicated. The good news of Jesus Christ redeeming a lost and dying world is a very simple message that can be explained with an everyday example of a door. It does not take an expert in theology to explain it, and even a young child can understand it.

When my family and I served as missionaries in Tanzania, the one thing that we dealt with more than anything was confusion. The tribal people there knew of the Bible. They knew of Jesus. They heard sermons and worship songs on the radio. The reason that these people were confused was not because God’s message is complicated, but because humans and their sin twisted the gospel into something unrecognizable through their own prejudices, denominations, and pride. I believe that the same thing is happening here in the United States and probably most other places around the globe. The people who responded to Jeff’s message at Thanksgiving Blessing had probably been in church before. They undoubtedly knew who Jesus was, but most of them came in, unknowingly, with a distorted, twisted, and confused view of Jesus and the gospel. When presented in all its beautiful simplicity, the gospel “spoke” truth in their hearts for the first time, and they responded with enthusiasm.

As followers of Jesus, we must be faithful in presenting the pure gospel message – nothing more and nothing less – and allow it to do its own work in and on the heart of the hearers. This brings me to a question… if the gospel is so simple and the Holy Spirit does all the work, why do we not share it more often? We know that people are confused and yearning for and needing this vital message, yet we remain silent. If we can fully explain the gospel using a basic example of a door, or a gate, or a narrow path, etc., this leaves us with no excuse to share it except disobedience. Jeff presented the gospel clearly and concisely, and certainly he is a gifted speaker, but Jesus has called all of us to share the Good News – not just seminary-educated preachers. Pray about who God would have you share the gospel with this Christmas season and be obedient to do it even if you feel unqualified or ill-prepared. Trust in the Holy Spirit that He will give you the words to say at the right time. I promise, you will not regret it.








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