It seems like we always receive good adoption news on evenings with good friends. Monday night after dinner and sweet fellowship we were notified that we had received our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from China. Sun Zhang Yu will soon live with us and have all the rights and privileges of membership in the Cleland family. Conservative estimates have us traveling to China in 10-12 weeks. If things go well, he could spend Christmas with us.
We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this long journey. For months we have prayed for a boy we don’t know. Not only does he not know us but he doesn’t even speak our language. Lord willing, in just a few months he will live in a home with two brothers and a sister AND be receiving the medical care he needs.
I thought I knew how God was going to provide for this adoption. In His providence He has chosen not to work in that way. But to this point God has always provided. I’ve written checks for thousands of dollars and each time the money has been there. I have no reason to believe that he will not continue to provide.
We need to raise about $15,000 more for our trip. We hope to be rolling out a t-shirt fundraiser soon. Or you can give to our AdoptTogether account and have your contribution be tax-deductible. As always we covet your prayers.
What were your parents doing the day you were born? This is what we were doing the day Harry was born. I was out in the backyard teaching Lucy to play golf (she really hasn’t improved a bit since then.) It was some time later that we looked at the date on the picture and discovered that is was taken on September 15, 2007. We had no idea our little Harry was coming into the world just a few miles away. 6 years ago today I had no idea that a huge blessing was about to come into my life.
It’s not enough these days to say that we are committed to biblical preaching. Few self-respecting evangelical pastors would say, “At our church we don’t preach the Word.” And yet, in many worship services, the Word of God is sprinkled onto the sermon like sprinkles on an Ice Cream Sundae. You may choose to add them in but the ice cream is the star of the show. We need to be clear about how and what we preach. At Cornerstone Church we are committed to expository preaching.
What is expository preaching? Mark Dever, in his little book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church says, “Expository preaching has as its goal to expound what is said in a particular passage of scripture, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation.” We believe that the faithful ministry of the Word of God changes lives. Week by week we work verse by verse through books of the Bible. The scripture drives our services and not the felt-needs of the congregation. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict, encourage and admonish. He moves the affections and emotions of the hearers, not some well placed punch-line or visual aid.
Expository preaching does not have to be boring. It should not be a running commentary on a book of the Bible or an opportunity for a well-read pastor to show off his knowledge of biblical languages. Expository preaching does not have to consist of just a few words of scripture per week. A good expository preacher should be able to preach larger sections of scripture so that his hearers can understand the context and flow of a book. He will add helpful illustrations and may even be funny. But the primary goal of expository preaching should not be to entertain.
It is not uncommon for pastors to think of the people in the pews as consumers. From this perspective, they must be kept happy so that they’ll keep coming back. We see the church as the household of God. The church is both a body and a family. We are saints and the goal of preaching is that the saints be encouraged, edified, and equipped for ministry.