Yesterday at Northern Hills we had the privilege to hear from one of the all-time greatest women I know, Maxine Morarie. She brought an awesome message for Mother's Day that was filled with encouragement, challenge and hope. This was followed by a time of prayer for moms that was led by a child, a student and one of the elders.
At a couple of the services I made the following comments, that based on the feedback, resonated with several people who have been on one side or the other of adoption. So in hopes of encouraging others here is what I said with some additional comments that follow.
I guess that I have in some ways considered myself as someone who has two mothers. One mom I know very well because she raised me. My other mom I do not know at all. She gave birth to me and gave me up for adoption when I was 7 days old. I have always loved and admired both women, and I am always thankful for the decision that my birth mother made.
While growing up, I can never remember a time that I did not know and understand that I was adopted. I have always, even as a little kid thought it was the coolest thing! My adoption was part of what made me special and unique. I don't remember anyone ever telling me how to view my adoption. I don't remember any significant conversations about my adoption. It was never avoided, but never the dominant discussion issue at any meal. In some ways it was always dealt with in very "matter of fact" terms and for whatever reason that has worked well for me. Describing myself when I was little was something like, "I have big ears and red hair, I love sports, I can run faster than anyone in my class, and I was adopted".
Now I know that some people have some serious baggage that accompanies their adoption experience and in no way to I want to minimize their experience. However, for me I have always viewed my adoption as an incredible gift and opportunity. Now that I am older I clearly see it as part of God's plan for my life.
When I think of my two moms, they both did what outstanding mothers do - they made tremendous sacrifices for the benefit of their child. I am thankful for each of them and I love them both!
Run 21 and Run 22 of the season were very different. Run 21 was casual as I ran and conversed with my daughter Robbin. Run 22 was intentionally run during the hottest part of the day to see I would hold up. Let's just say run 22 was very hot and this (Watermelon Wave)tasted great at the conclusion of my run.
Teaching through Song of Songs in our Pure Passion series has been a blast. Challenging, but rewarding. I have been very encouraged by how this series has been received by the people of Northern Hills. The most common feedback that I have received is, "why haven't we studied this before" and "this is really important for our young people to hear". The evidence suggests that God is doing some incredible work in marriages and "pre-marriage" relationships. It has been awesome to experience and I look forward to the next five weeks.
Here are some of the lessons learned so far:
Be intentional and creative when it comes to your relationship leading to marriage or in marriage.
Value devotion to God and character above all else.
Shower the one you love with encouragement, honor, respect, and heart felt compliments.
Refuse to compromise on your values and refuse to trade your character for “love”.
Consider proximity when spending time together. In marriage to enhance your experience, in dating/courtship to avoid a "premature" experience!
When dating consider the thoughts from your Jesus loving friends about the one you are dating and your relationship with that person.
Men - pursue in a God honoring way.
Women allow yourself to be pursued rather than chasing after just any man because you have this great urgency for relationship.
Trust is built through vulnerability, long conversations, and at the appropriate time sharing of hopes and hurts.
Embrace singleness as a gift from God and max out those opportunities to serve.
Casual, random and reckless dating prepares a person more for divorce than for a life long partnership.
Don’t say no to your sexual desires, say not now.
God brings healing, renewal and purity to those who have been out of bounds in their relationships and ask for his forgiveness and help.
Yesterday while I was teaching at our 10:44 service I spotted a familiar face from the past. I had not seen this person in several years and seeing him caused me to be distracted for a moment. The person was my first ever youth pastor, Ralph Hummel.
Ralph's son has recently moved into the Brighton area and has begun attending Northern Hills with his wife and two sons. On this particular weekend Ralph and his wife Susan made the trek up for a visit. It was great to see him!
Ralph played a huge role in my spiritual development. When I was in high school I was very much a fringe kid as it related to attending church and youth group. One day Ralph called me and invited me to go play racquetball with him. It didn't sound very "churchy" so I said yes and he came by to pick me up. We played. He lovingly destroyed me. He took me to get a soda and then we headed for home. As we are riding in his pick-up, we came upon a hitchhiker. Much to my dismay, Ralph stops and picks up the guy and he was soon riding along right next to me.
The next thing I know, Ralph is telling this guy - a complete stranger about Jesus! I don't remember what happened after that, but that day had a profound impact on me spiritually. It caused me to consider Jesus in ways that I had not up to that point in my life. It caused me to start attending youth group and get involved in studying God's Word, making new friends and looking for ways to serve. In many ways it was the first step to where I am today.
It was a real privilege to share the above story with Ralph and remind him of the eternal difference he made in my life!