Monday, April 30, 2012

Know the Shepherd's Voice

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Lately, the Lord has been teaching me about seeking His presence.  His presence should be the first thing I long for when I awake and the last thing I think about before I lay my head down at night.  In today's busy world, full of crazy schedules, to do-lists, as well as great things, it can be difficult to press into His presence on a daily basis.  

In John 10:27, the Lord says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

He is teaching me how important His voice is in my life.  I want to be a John 10:27 woman that KNOWS my Shepherd's voice.  That recognizes and then obeys it.  That can discern His voice out of the many voices we hear on a day to day basis.  That hears it and tastes it and sees that it is good. 

I pray today, that we take time to stop and seek His presence and His voice in our lives. Below is a song that paints a beautiful picture of this for me.

Briana Gray Remkus, Administrative Assistant

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Faith and Obedience

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security… Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Lately, the Lord has been demonstrating His faithfulness in some drastically different ways than the ways that I typically anticipate. This is one of the truly amazing aspects of His character – that He does His will in His timing for His glory. We can truly rest in the fact that His ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is increasingly more capable than I could ever be in anything. This is both humbling and exciting.

As a social worker, it is my privilege to serve families in numerous capacities. I can honestly say that the Lord has given me a much stronger glimpse into His character and His purpose since having worked for this agency. I love that my ways are not the Lord’s. And I love that there is nothing I can do to thwart or control His overall purposes. At times, I find myself longing for the ability to learn God’s next move; however, it is in these moments when I find both the families I serve and myself truly trusting the Lord with all our hearts. And that is the purpose of it all, right? To trust the Lord as Lord over our lives, even with our families and with the future of these beautiful children we advocate for.

Not long ago, my small group and I intensely studied the life of Abraham and His role in God’s redemptive history. Genesis 15:6 makes the astonishing revelation that because Abraham believed, it was credited to Him as righteousness. This is not because of anything Abraham did or said or planned, but because He believed in the promises of the Lord.  He trusted the Lord. This did not guarantee safety, money, health, or anything else.  In fact, Abraham even had to move to a foreign land as a result. It simply meant He trusted the Lord’s covenant that was given, and because of this, the Lord viewed Abraham in right standing with Himself.

What a crazy thought! That God blesses us with His presence and mercy when we trust His promises. When things in our lives begin to look insecure, we have security in the presence of the Lord. Above, I quoted Bonhoeffer. This is a man who believed peace to not be a feeling but a result of obedience in trusting the Lord’s will. He reminds us that the road to peace with God is not always the safest road by the world’s perspective. However, when we are trusting the Lord’s plan and not our own, we begin to really know the Lord for who He truly is. There is an element of risk to seeking the peace that comes from obeying the will of God. When we do, our lives point to the redemption found at the cross through Christ. Therefore, my encouragement to everyone is to hold firm to the promises of the Lord and have faith in all circumstances. If He has led you to this, He will surely carry you through in His faithfulness in order to bring Himself glory. The path may be different than we anticipate, but His purpose is infinitely better. It is simply our role to believe these promises as Abraham did and obey Him wholeheartedly. May the peace of the Lord be with you all. 

 Beth Stanley, International Social Worker

Friday, April 20, 2012

Revive Me with Your Joy

But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits. Psalm 5:11

In a recent book study, I was posed the question: “Do you know the joy of living exactly the way He created you to live?” The statement hit me with a twinge of guilt. It’s a bit of a tricky question, I am living exactly the path He ordained for me to live but am I living it the way he intended? The way he created me to live is directly linked to the joy I would receive from this approach. Our Father has blessed us immensely in making His true joy an attainable free gift at ALL times.  Our greatest joy is not found in the situational activities going on in our lives. But as humans, we are foolish. We fall into the trap of choosing when to turn our joyfulness on and off based upon the surrounding circumstances. As a Christ follower, we are freely given comfort and strength along every bump in the road, take joy in that! The song below is one I’ve been playing on repeat lately; I encourage you to dwell in these lyrics. Our deserts are never without rivers, our dark is never without light, our wells are never dry.

"You revive me
You revive me Lord
And all my deserts are rivers of joy
You are the treasure I could not afford
So I'll spend myself till I'm empty and poor
All for You
You revive me Lord

Lord I have seen Your goodness
And I know the way You are
Give me eyes to see You in the dark
And You race shines a glory
That I only know in part
And there is still a longing
A longing in my heart

My soul is thirsty
Only You can satisfy
You are the well that never will run dry
And i'll praise You for the blessing
For calling me Your friend
And in Your name I'm lifting
I'm lifting up my hands

I'm alive
I’m alive
You breathe on me
You revive me"

Anna Eidson, Administrative Coordinator

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You will never be too old to want a family...

I read the below blog post on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website several months ago. The words of this young women so moved me that I wanted to share it with our Lifeline family. If you are interested in our foster care program, please contact the office and ask to speak with someone in our Foster Care Department.
Amy Griner, Domestic Social Worker
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You will never be too old to want a family...

After unpacking my belongings on Taylor University’s campus in 2004, I melted onto my twin-sized bed in relief; I was officially an adult. Starting that August day, I was financially and emotionally on my own. There would be no more moving homes, no more veiled threats, no more walking on already cracked eggshells around new people. Two days later, it hit me that the oft uttered “on my own” was a mere euphemism for the estimated 29,000 children who will age of foster care this year and will be “all alone.” I was paralyzed by the knowledge that there would be no one to check on my well-being, no financial safety net, and no one to help navigate various barriers in place on a college campus. That first year was terrifying. I was alone, depressed, broke, and furious that, at 18, the system just dumped me.
While I could speak volumes on the aging out process and the system, this not a commentary about a foster care system under increasing pressure to find permanent homes for the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care. This is a post for the families. An ode of sorts for those who give with no ulterior motives, who never stop inviting people into their homes and their hearts, who never lock their refrigerators, and who endlessly and (some might say) recklessly pour into the lives of foster youth.
I was a sophomore in college when I found my forever family; well past the age of “adoptability.” I had long given up on finding a family and was focused on just “making it” when I miraculously stumbled into a loud, boisterous, laughter-filled, caring, and passionate family. It started when I came home with my “sister” for Thanksgiving to escape the dull of the dorms. They were the craziest, loudest, biggest family I’d ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. I came back for Christmas, New Year, and Easter. Each year for every holiday, I was invited back. In 2009, I reached a milestone. Five years was the longest I had ever spent with any family in my life; after that, it was just icing on the cake.
I won’t lie and say that it was easy to come into a new family at 19. It was awkward at first. I spent most of my time during the holidays quietly devouring books so as not to disturb the family dynamics and so I wouldn’t mess things up. Eventually though, my cousins conned me into one of their silly games, my “sister” would flop dramatically on my lap, an Indianapolis Colts game would be on, or we would all just gather for a few moments to listen to Grandma and Grandpa talk or pray for the family. I wept over simple things like actually having a stocking at Christmas, and family members who spelled my name correctly. Our relationship functioned much like a call and response — and they always responded. 
As time has gone on, things have also gotten “real.” As a family, we mourned the loss of close friends from Taylor, and later, the loss of our grandmother. I battled with my own trust issues and the wondered if I was “good enough” for my family. I often hid my struggles from them in an effort to prevent rejection. Eventually my own strength failed me: I reached out to the family who surrounded me with love, prayer, and grace as I battled through my first year of law school. They were beside me during the midnight calls, the times of self-doubt, and the two weeks that make up finals week.
The value of my family comes from the extraordinary things they do that they believe to be ordinary. Like making dried apples, mixing homemade hot chocolate, giving me one of Grandma’s quilts, sculpting butter trees (don’t ask), talking all night, doing crossword puzzles, and eating grapefruit while watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” This year, I got to give Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts; and that is extraordinary. Most recently, while rushing out for work I glimpsed a letter in my mailbox from a member of my family letting me know that she thought I might like a nice note. Thank you Grandma S., I liked it very much. My family is not perfect, nor would they claim to be, but as many groups have stressed, you don’t have to be perfect, to be a family.
I write this blog to highlight a simple point: You will never be too old to want a family. My family is this wonderful, unexpected, hilarious, and compassionate gift from God and I feel honored to have them in my life. But it also saddens me that there are 107,000 other children waiting for their own imperfect family. Even more disheartening are the 29,000 children who will age out of foster care this year by stumbling into adulthood with little support.
So to the families who have heeded the call and continually open their homes to my many brothers and sisters in foster care … thank you, and may you inspire the masses.
By Sharde Armstong
(Sharde Armstrong, is currently a candidate for a Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law. She went to law school because of a belief that child welfare reform can often be accomplished via legislative and judicial action. Her interest in the foster care system stemmed from her own 12 years in foster care in Indiana and Michigan. After graduating from Taylor University in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, she interned with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Senator John Kerry.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Galatians 6:2

I have been on Lifeline’s administrative team for a little over a month now. Coming from a secular job where I taught 4 year olds to working as an administrative assistant at a Christian organization has been quite an exciting change for me! I can not even begin to express how I felt the first time I heard that Lifeline started out their mornings with Bible study and prayer. What an amazing thing it is to study God’s word together and pray for one another! This reminds me of Galatians 6:2 where Paul says to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
 To be completely honest, the first time that we prayed together and I heard the many burdens of the people around me I felt overwhelmed. I thought “There is so much need here, I can not bear this much!” But the Lord is faithful and through this time He was (and still is) teaching me that I am not to carry these burdens on my own. This is a reason why God has given us Christian brothers and sisters, to help lift us up in prayer. The Body of Christ is made to be the people of God who live in love, unity, compassion, and openness with one another. I believe that Lifeline strives to do these things. I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters in corporate prayer on a daily basis.
Alyxis McLain, Administrative Assistant

Friday, April 13, 2012

His Plan Always Leads to Himself

My church family put together a devotional booklet to walk through together over the Lenten season leading up to Resurrection Sunday. I would like to quote from the devotion written by my friend, Jimmy Sampson: “The Lord’s plan is perfect. It is never detoured. It is never compromised. Most importantly, at the center of it all, His plan always leads to one thing – Himself… He will always point us in only one direction, to Himself. How often do we look for other answers? How often do we seek other ways?”

How often do we try to understand the ways of the Lord? We crave comprehending what He is doing with us, and how, and why, and to what end... The simple answer is that He wills it and that He is using it to point to Christ – for our ultimate benefit and the benefit of others. Of course that is easy to say, but far more difficult to grasp and then to actually practice contentment with that answer. “Why are we going through this trial?” “Why is this bad thing happening to me?” Well, because Jesus wants you to know HIM more than He wants you to be happy.

Because He wants you to know ALL of Him and the joy that goes beyond temporal happiness and allows you to be at peace because you know the One who is the author of all things, holds all things in the palm of His hand, and has every finite detail under His masterful control. That joy that runs so deep that it remains steadfast when the happiness that is dependent on circumstances is rocked and tossed by the waves of tribulation. He wants you to know that when you come to the end of all things, He is enough. He is sufficient. How can you know His sufficiency, unless He permits you to come to the end of all things you cling to for comfort? He wants you to know Him as your Comforter. How can you know Him as Comforter and proclaim Him as that to others unless you have experienced Him as that yourself? If you have been comforted by Him in times of deep hurt and sorrow, what a testimony of His comfort you can be to others! He wants you to know Him as your Provider, but how can you know Him as such unless He permits you to lack and to need and to go without? A deeper knowledge of Himself and a greater intimacy in your relationship with our Lord is worth everything to Him… it matters more than anything else and He will stop at nothing to get that from you. Not because He needs it but because He made you and He knows it’s best for you and you need it! He created you to KNOW Him and as a result, you will never be completely, truly satisfied with anything else!

Again, “His plan is perfect, and it always points to Himself.” Thank you, Lord that you are our answer to every question and that you are both our means and our end in every situation we face.

May we, like Paul, have the chief aim of knowing CHRIST above all things and at all cost. There is nothing more valuable. That we may recognize, believe, and live this! May we welcome all things – trial and difficulty and joyous occasions – with open arms, whatever it takes to push us one inch closer to His throne and into His presence! In Philippians 3:8-11, Paul says, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE, I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Allison Fuqua, Foster Care Social Worker

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Only Because of the Gospel

Easter Sunday is the most fundamental, essential, and important day in the life of any Christ-follower.  We acknowledge this fact each year on Easter Sunday when churches all throughout the nation recruit child-care workers, put out metal chairs, increase the amount of ushers, and find more parking attendants.  Easter Sunday is by far the high watermark for church attendance throughout the US.

However, do we live with the victory of Easter and the battle of the cross stamped on our foreheads and burned in our hearts the weeks after?  Or do we move on with life, business, and pleasure?  Do even ministries and churches, move on to programs, aid, and social justice apart from the Gospel which was so plainly profound from Good Friday to Easter Sunday?

May it not be so, may we realize that, "Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus is the foremost, fundamental, necessary, nonnegotiable way to address evil and suffering in the world.  To work against evil and suffering in the world apart from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus will ultimately be futile."

Furthermore, the book of Malachi says in Chapter 3:5-7, "Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.  For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.  From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts..."  

If we want to evil purged from our world, we must return to the Lord, we must return to the Gospel.  It is this Gospel that is the heart of the mission at Lifeline.  We cannot avenge the evil that has placed over 500,000 children in US foster care just by putting them into good foster families.  We cannot begin to right the atrocities that have left over 143 million children orphaned around the world devoid of the Gospel.  We cannot make a dent in the epidemic that creates so many fatherless children until we return to Yahweh - the Lord of Hosts.

Two weeks ago, a sibling group of 3 children were ordered by a judge in Alabama to be returned to their biological family, a family they had been removed from in November for many issues.  These children had been in one of Lifeline's growing number of foster homes.  Because these homes aren't for mere altruistic or humanitarian purposes, each family agrees to proclaim the Gospel to these children and invest in their lives no matter how short or long the child's stay might be in the foster home.

As this particular family was preparing these children for their return home, the foster dad asked the oldest, a 9 year old boy, what he had learned and what hell remember from the time he lived with them.  He answered, "to love Jesus with all my heart and to read my Bible."  Then his 7 year old brother chimed in that he had learned, "to be a good boy so I can help my parents."

At Lifeline we praise the Lord for godly foster parents like the Lawsons, who are providing their home to Alabama's foster children because they embrace the Gospel and want to see it proclaimed, viewed, and lifted high.  As the apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:2, may we, "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."

The heart of Lifeline's ministry is to proclaim the Gospel to the nations through care, compassion, rescue and discipleship of the fatherless.  Please pray for Lifeline that the Gospel will always be central in everything that we do.  Pray that the Lord will continue to open doors for his name to be proclaimed, not only to those children in US foster care, but also to the street orphans in Puerto Plata, DR; to the institutionalized orphans living in Odessa, Ukraine; to the orphan vulnerable deaf children learning to communicate through the deaf school in Busenga, Uganda; as well as to the 143 million orphans in every hamlet, village, and people group which is representative of every tribe, tongue, and nation.

May our heart be for the great city revealed to John on the isle of Patmos, which Revelations 22:23-26 proclaims, "the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there.They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations."  This day will be realized beloved, only because of the Gospel which we celebrate Easter Sunday, and every day the Lord gives us breath.

Has the Lord put your family in a place where you could adopt or foster a precious child in need and in so doing disciple them in the Gospel of Christ?  Has the Lord burdened you with his command in James 1:27 to care for orphans in distress?  If so, partner with Lifeline today. Visit to donate to the cause, to apply to adopt, to sign up for a trip through our (un)adopted ministry by visiting orphans in need, to apply to be a foster parent for a child in US foster care, to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans, and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to take the Gospel to the fatherless.

"He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear."  Deuteronomy 10:18-20

Oh beloved, will you allow God to use the Gospel through you to impact the life of a child? Please do not hesitate to give Lifeline a call because we are here...

On behalf of the orphans and fatherless.

Herbie Newell, Executive Director
Twitter: @hmnewell

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sons of God

As I’ve been reflecting on Easter, and the price that was paid in order for us to enter into God’s family, I found this passage deeply encouraging and humbling. It is an excerpt from J. I. Packer’s book Knowing God in a chapter titled Sons of God. It is a beautiful description of our adoption into God’s family, his love and his grace.

In the ancient world, adoption was a practice ordinarily confined to the childless well-to-do. Its subjects, as we stated earlier, were not normally infants, as today, but young adults who had shown themselves fit and able to carry on a family name in a worthy way. In this case, however, God adopts us out of free love, not because our character and record show us worthy to bear his name, but despite the fact that they show the very opposite. We are not fit for a place in God's family; the idea of his loving and exalting us sinners as he loves and has exalted the Lord Jesus sounds ludicrous and wild- yet that, and nothing less than that, is what our adoption means.

Adoption, by its very nature, is an art of free kindness to the person adopted. If you become a father by adopting a son or daughter, you do so because you choose to, not because you are bound to. Similarly, God adopts because he chooses to. He had no duty to do so. He need not have done anything about our sins except punish us as we deserved. But he loved us; so he redeemed us, forgave us, took us as his sons and daughters and gave himself to us as out Father. 

Nor does his grace stop short with that initial act, any more than the love of human parents who adopt stops short with the completing of the legal process that makes the child theirs. The establishing of the child's status as a member of the family is only a beginning. The real task remains: to establish a genuinely filial relationship between your adopted child and yourself. It is this, above all, that you want to see. Accordingly, you set yourself to win the child's love by loving the child. You seek to excite affection by showing affection. So with God. And throughout our life in this world, and to all eternity beyond, he will constantly be showing his love, and thereby increasing our love to him continually. The prospect before the adopted children of God is an eternity of love. 

Once I knew a family in which the eldest child was adopted at a time when the parents thought they could have no children. When their natural-born children arrived later on, they diverted all their affection to them, and the adopted eldest was very obviously left "out in the cold." It was painful to see and, judging by the look on the eldest's face, it was painful to experience. It was, of course, a miserable failure in parenthood. But in God's family things are not like that. Like the prodigal in the parable, we may only find ourselves able to say, "I have sinned...I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men" (Lk 15:18-19). But God receives us as sons, and loves us with the same steadfast affection with which he eternally loves his beloved only-begotten. There are no distinctions of affection in divine family. We are all loved just as fully as Jesus is loved. It is like a fairy story- the reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them. But praise God, it is not a fairy story: it is hard and solid fact, founded on the bedrock of free and sovereign grace. This, and nothing less than this, is what adoption means. No wonder John cries, "Behold, what manner of love!" When once you understand adoption, your heart will cry the same.” (pgs 215-216)

Alesia Barton, Administrative Assistant

Monday, April 2, 2012

Valley of Vision

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I can’t help but want to share with you the lyrics to a song titled Valley of Vision. If you find yourself having a hard time understanding the Lord’s sovereignty in and around your life, you might want to continue reading... Whatever you are going through, God’s hand has not been absent from your life.


Lord most high most meek and holy,
Thou has brought me to this valley.
Live in the depths, but the heights I see Thee,
Behold Thy glory, thou hills of sin surround me.

It is here that you have brought me, It is here that you have taught me,
It is here that I have learned how to see.

Let me learn by paradox, the way down is the way up.
You have broken my heart to heal it,
the low soul is a rejoicing spirit in the valley.
The soul that repents will in victory stand
and there is water and shade when you reach barren land,
In day starts are seen from the deepest wells,
The deeper they are, the brighter you shine.
Let me find your light in my darkest nights,
Thy life in my death, in my sorry They joy,
Let me find Thy glory in my valley.
You have broken my heart to heal it,
The low soul is a rejoicing spirit in the valley.

It is here that you have brought me, It is here that you have taught me,
It is here that I have learned how to see.

In Calm My Anxious Heart, I hit the chapter titled "Trusting God with the 'If Onlys'". The author wrote about a man called to missions in South Africa named Andrew Murray, and how while in England in 1895, he was suffering with terrible back pain from a previous injury. One morning while eating breakfast in his room, his hostess told him of a woman downstairs who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice for her. Andrew Murray handed her a paper he had been writing on and said, "Give her this advice I'm writing down for myself. It may be that she'll find it helpful."
This is what he wrote:

In time of trouble, say, "First, he brought me here. It is by his will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest." Next, "He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child." Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to bestow." And last, say, "In his good time he can bring me out again. How and when, he knows." Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in his keeping, (3) under his training, and (4) for his time."
-Andrew Murray

Blows my mind sometimes how the Lord continues to persist in bringing me the same truths to heart over and over again. Since last week, God has not given up in the lessons he's apparently wanting me to learn... It’s quite humorous to be honest. As much as suffering is no fun, I can't help but experience joy in my heart knowing that yes, things may not be going according to MY PLAN here on earth, but that the Lord is only making HIS PLAN more evident in my life.

[ HOSEA 6:1-3 ]

"Come, let us return to the Lord!
He has torn us to pieces but He WILL heal us;
He has injured us but He WILL bind up our wounds.

After two days He WILL revive us;
On the third day He WILL restore us, that we may live in His presence!

Let us acknowledge the Lord;
Let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises, He WILL appear;
He WILL come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."

Ramsey Pursell, Assistant to the Executive Director