Without the life of #Jesus and the #NewT

Without the life of #Jesus and the #NewTestament, one cannot properly understand the #OldTestament #Bible.

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#Israel attempts gesture for #peace agai

#Israel attempts gesture for #peace again at a cost! http://ow.ly/nWu5z

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The Beginning of The Fellowship

As most of our closest family and friends know, our family is in the process of relocating to Sweetwater, TN. Hopefully we’ll be moving into a home in town in a month or so. One of the main reasons for the move—the Lord moved our hearts for a new fellowship of believers—to plant a new church in Sweetwater. He has called us to this work, equipped us for it, and we believe He is opening the door for us to begin this task.

I know some of you may question the need for a new church in Sweetwater. I don’t blame you. So did I, at first. However, around 80% of folks in Sweetwater do not attend church on any given Sunday. Furthermore, to my knowledge, it has been at least 50 years or more since a new SBC church was started in Sweetwater. It may have even been as long as 65 years. Furthermore, about 200 million people in America are un-churched, making America one of the four largest “un-churched” nations in the world. Each year more than 3,500 churches close their doors permanently. Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, 4 out of 5 are either plateaued or declining. Another persuading reason to start new churches: 80% of one denomination’s converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.[1] A host of other reasons may give more credence to this task, but the main reason is this: God has given us a burden for this work, and we are committed to it.

The name of this new fellowship of believers will be The Fellowship Church. The name reflects the focus of the church. We believe fellowship is vital in three areas:

(1) Fellowship with the Father—The most important relationship is with our Heavenly Father. So our central emphasis will be emphasizing the importance of an abiding fellowship with the Father through His Son.

(2) Fellowship with the Family—We also believe as followers of Christ, we must connect with one another through fellowship as a family of faith. So, we will gather regularly for worship, small groups, and special events where we can grow in our relationships with God and in our relationship with one another.

(3) Fellowship with the Fallen—Finally we will intentionally seek to build relationships with those who are not Christ followers, so that we can love them like Jesus loves us and introduce them to Him. We will seek not only to be compassionate friends but to reproduce a fellowship of believers in our own city, neighboring areas, our nation, and in the remotest parts of the earth.

Furthermore, we have a few core values we will strive to practice in our fellowship:

(1) Inclusive Fellowship; this means we will be a fellowship of believers that will welcome everyone regardless of race, social status, previous failures, or present struggles etc. We want to be a church that is known to love everyone.

(2) Authentic Community; this means we will be a fellowship that strives to eliminate hypocrisy. We will be genuine, realizing we all have personal struggles, and we will confess our sins to one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, and help one another through and out of our struggles.

(3) Intentional Mission; this means that our desire to reproduce our fellowship will not be passive. We will strive to seek opportunities to lead individuals into a personal relationship with Christ by sharing the Gospel message, that we will seek opportunities to begin new small groups, and that we will seek opportunities to plant new churches, and that we will faithfully take the steps necessary to see these hopes realized.

(4) Compassionate Ministry; this means that we will be a fellowship that strives to treat others with the compassion of Jesus, that we will seek to not only meet spiritual needs of people, but we will also strive to meet their physical needs as well, providing food for the hungry, clothes to the poor, and help for the addicted and counseling for the afflicted.

Prayer requests:

1. Pray for the Lord to move a local church to be willing to be the sponsor church for this church plant.

2. Pray for the Lord to raise up a leadership team for the launch; (1) Musicians for the praise team, (2) A Children’s Ministry Leader, (3) A Youth Ministry Leader, (4) An Outreach /Fellowship Leader, (5) An Administrative Leader

3. We plant to begin a Bible study and prayer focus for The Fellowship in a couple of weeks, so pray that the Lord reveals the time and place for us to meet.

4. Pray for the Lord to move hearts for people to attend our initial Bible study and prayer focus meetings.

Involvement: We plan to begin meeting for Bible Study & Prayer in a couple of weeks. We are still praying about the time and place. If you are interested in participating, please contact us, so we can update you.

As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives.  So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

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Praying for Partners

Recently, as many of you already know, the Lord moved our hearts to begin a new work—to plant a new church in Sweetwater, TN. He has called us to this work, equipped us for it, and we believe He is opening the door for us to begin this task.

I know some of you may question the need for a new church in Sweetwater. I don’t blame you, so did I, at first. However, around 80% of folks in Sweetwater do not attend church on any given Sunday. Furthermore, to my knowledge it has been at least 50 years or more since a new SBC church was started in Sweetwater. It may have even been as long as 65 years. A host of other reasons may give more credence to this task, but the main one is this: God has given me a burden for this work, and I am committed to it.

So far, I have laid out a general plan, along with the name (The Fellowship Church) and a general vision for the purpose of the church. Furthermore, I have some core values I’d like to see the church strive to practice. I’ve included a couple of images you may view to get a visual of some of these themes. I also have an idea about preferred places to meet for worship, ministry plans, and worship styles.

Vision & Core Values

Vision & Core Values

The Fellowship Plan (2)

What I am requesting from all who read our blog is this: Please commit to praying for this work. If you agree, I will add you to an e-mail contact list: “The Fellowship Church Prayer Partners.”  As we work toward our goal of planting a new church, I will periodically send updates on the progress along with a new list of prayer requests. If you are willing to commit to this, please contact me, and I will add you to the list.

We also would like for all our friends to pray that God will raise up a Sending/Mother Church to partner with us in this task. We feel called to plant this new church, but we also believe that it is best when churches plant churches. We’re praying for one supporting church to be a local church near the Sweetwater area that we can join and work through as we plant The Fellowship as a ministry of that church with the understanding that the long term goal is an autonomous, self-supporting church.

We are all excited about our new adventure for His glory, and We really appreciate all of your prayers and support!

Mat 9:37-38 NKJV  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  (38)  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives. So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

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Legalism, Holiness, and Licentiousness

A recent response by Ed Stetzer to a Christianity Today article reminded me of a pressing issue in many churches in regards to ideas of legalism, holiness, and licentiousness.[1]

Quite frequently pastors are accused of preaching legalism. Recently a pastor I know faced this accusation. It was a shocking accusation because this pastor makes God’s grace through Christ the center of his preaching and teaching. As a matter of fact, to find some hint of this in his preaching I read sermon notes and listened to a number of sermons and found, at least from my perspective, his sermons had made it clear we can never do anything on our own to earn God’s favor apart from the finished work of Christ. Several others gave their feedback as well, and no one agreed with the accusation.

Perhaps the problem was this pastor had emphasized holiness and the need for righteous living in his recent preaching episodes and some misunderstood. They misjudged motives and failed to understand the present passion of the preacher. His preaching had been focused for a time upon God’s judgment upon unrepentant sinners—intentional to emphasize the seriousness of sin. It’s not a pleasant preaching subject, but it is Scriptural. He felt like as Baptists we often emphasize God’s mercy and grace but neglect to proclaim the righteous judgment of God upon sinners who reject the Gospel of Christ. We forget how much God hates sin!

Another problematic view by some who cry “legalism” is licentiousness. This is the idea to which many who follow the reformed doctrinal view of perseverance fall prey. It is the belief that since I have been saved by grace, and I am forever saved, I can live as I wish without any boundaries.

Often those who practice licentiousness accuse those who try to hold them to a standard of righteousness of preaching legalism to them. The truth of the matter is that genuine believers strive for holiness. To be holy is to be like God—to be like Jesus. We want to be like HIM! Furthermore, we are commanded to be holy. 1 Peter 1: 15-16 says, “But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.” To clear up understanding, let’s define the terms.


a.       a strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.

b.      in Theology; the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works; the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.[2]


a.       the quality or state of being holy; sanctity.

b.      Synonym: godliness.[3]


a.       unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral.

b.      going beyond customary or proper bounds or limits; disregarding rules.[4]

So what makes the difference? How can one be holy without being legalistic? How can one be free and yet remain holy?

My purpose for this post is to attempt to offer a clear viewpoint that helps us all to understand these three seemingly contradictory positions.

Theological legalism is primarily when one preaches that salvation is available by doing things that please God to earn his favor. Legalists preach that such things as avoiding sins like drinking, cussing, or loose morals helps one to establish righteousness with God, and actions like going to church, giving to the poor, and evangelizing the lost can win salvation from sin and eternal bliss with God. At another level, some preachers and/or churches are described as legalists who demand certain hair styles, specific styles of dress and demand other behaviors as a sign of righteousness.

Others who practice licentiousness believe they don’t have to conform to these “holy” standards such as faithful church attendance, tithing, studying the bible and more because they have prayed the prayer of faith and will go to heaven regardless of how they live. These people live their lives without any concern at all for pleasing God, and their lives give no evidence of a regenerate relationship with God.

So what’s the difference? We know that those who are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ will be conformed into His image and their lives will display acts of righteousness. However, while they still inhabit flesh, their lives are far from perfect.

The difference pertains to motivation.

If you are not motivated to live for Jesus and to live a life of righteousness, and if you are comfortable living licentiously, then it is doubtful that you are a child of God. Over and over again, Scripture tells us that those who are saved desire to live in obedience to Christ. 1 John 2:3 is one instance of this, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

If you are struggling with whether your acts of righteousness are legalistic actions ask yourself this: Why are you doing the good thing that you do? If your answer is that you are doing it to gain and advance in your standing with God, then your act is an act of legalism. Scripture tells us that we can never earn favor with God through the things we do. Titus 3:5-7 (English Standard Version) reminds us of that truth , “5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

If you answer that you are doing it because you love Jesus and you want to try your best to act like Him and please Him because of His love for you, then your act is an act of freedom in God’s grace. Galatians 5:13 reminds us of the freedom to obey, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

When I was a small child, I obeyed my parents because I had to. If I didn’t obey, there were, let’s say, REPERCUSSIONS. When I obeyed, I did so to avoid punishment. Sometimes it may have been to try to earn more favor. I took out the garbage because I was told to—legalism.

As I got older my motivations changed, and now one of the ways I show love for my parents is to do things like taking out the garbage because I want to. I love them and I want to please them because they love me—freedom to serve in righteousness.

So, in summary, if you are a child of God, Live for Jesus obediently and righteously because you want to, not because you have to. It is true, His love has rescued those who are His once for all and forever, and we are eternally His. Let His love compel you to love Him with Holiness!

As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives. So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

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What’s Wrong with My Church?

At some point, in a struggling church, someone who cares will ask the question, “What’s wrong with my church?” For the church to revive and thrive, this question must be asked, answered, and responded to with faith, repentance, and commitment!

I recently read something concerning the cause of trouble with churches in Dr. Gregory Frizzell’s book Returning to Holiness: A Personal and Churchwide Journey to Revival. [1] It resonated with me, and I see it as enlightening—something every church member should read.[2] Perhaps his words will help us all to answer this question.

Frizzel writes:

Are you known as a peacemaker who strengthens church unity or, are you often part of some contentious argument? Do you act like a “self-appointed” critic and judge to set everyone else straight? Are you quick to talk about the shortcomings of others? Do you increase the faith of your church by a positive attitude or, do you tear it down by focusing on its imperfections? Are you quick to divide up and “take sides?” Do you tend to be a part of church cliques? Are you known as a complainer and one who is easily upset? Have you been critical and condemning of those with different tastes in music and worship style?

Such subtle sins of attitude and speech are often more damaging to a church than obvious outward sins. In truth, a negative church member can often to more damage than an alcoholic! Does God convict you of any tendency to be contentious, divisive or negative? Do not make excuses or justify your behavior. If you are honest in your confession and repentance, God will totally transform your heart. He will give you wisdom to deal with honest differences of opinion without becoming angry and divisive. God will also lead you to ask for forgiveness from those you have offended (Matthew 5:23-24).

1 Timothy 5:17 – “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.”

This generation has witnessed a shocking increase of preachers and lay-leaders being fired or mistreated for small, (often exaggerated) reasons.[3] Certainly when a leader sins, he or she must be dealt with. Yet today, many churches have forgotten the biblical principle of respect and honor for those who lead the church. In many churches, the Holy Spirit is quenched because the congregation has sinned against a pastor or church leader.

When churches experience revival, they often must seek forgiveness from pastors or leaders they may have mistreated. Many churches may also need to ask forgiveness from a former pastor or lay-leader. (In other cases, pastors must ask the forgiveness of churches they have wronged).

A glorious and growing trend is the number of churches that are getting right with other congregations that formed as “a split” from their own. This does not mean churches have to reunite, but it does mean they must fully forgive past offenses. Until you get right with those you fought in the past, there will not be full blessing on your church or your life!

So, What’s Wrong with Your Church? Instead of blaming your pastor or others, perhaps the best thing for us to do is to look inward. Ask yourself this question: “If every member of my church were just like me, what kind of church would my church be?”

Let the Transformation of Your Church begin within You!


As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives. So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

[1] Gregory R. Frizzell, Returning to Holiness, (Memphis, Tennessee: The Master Design, 2000).

[2] Frizzell, 35.

[3] G. Lloyd Redeger, Clergy Killers, (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster J Knox Press, 1997), 32.

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Why I Preach Expository Sermons

At a time when “feel good” preaching may be at an all-time high, I remain deeply committed to leading my people by preaching messages that come out of the text of Holy Scripture. By “feel good” I don’t mean to imply preaching should not leave you feeling good. In fact, if you respond correctly to the message and to the prompting of the Holy Spirit of God, you cannot help but feel good. Something about the Love of God and His deep forgiveness, grace, and mercy leaves a repentant person feeling mighty fine!

However, I must admit, in today’s entertainment driven culture, the task of adequately keeping attention of worshipers is a difficult one. Often, the droves of folks seek out the “best show in town.” Now, I am not opposed to entertaining worship and preaching. In fact, I prefer it, but it must never come with the cost of compromising the truth of God’s Word and “tickling ears,” i.e. telling people what they want to hear, instead of preaching and teaching the truth.

Unfortunately, some believe expository preaching is dull and doesn’t fulfill what people want or expect from the main message. Perhaps you should remember this: No preacher is trying to make his sermon dull. The truth is, if you are genuinely seeking a Word from God, you will be more concerned with what is said than how it is presented. Every listener, especially believers has a responsibility to listen to God’s Word from God’s messenger.
Now, I want everyone to like my preaching. Don’t you? Unfortunately everyone doesn’t😦.

Should my goal be to get everyone to like my preaching? Was that the goal of the prophets? Of Paul? Of the Apostles? NO! My goal as a preacher is to rightly divide the Word of God and to do my best to bring it to a modern applicable context. If through the sermon, the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin and you repent, or if He leads you to grow in your faith and your mission, then you will like the sermon. I’ll leave all the reasons as to why you might not like the sermon up to your own imaginations for now. You know the reasons.

After the sermon, I must admit, I enjoy hearing compliments. Don’t act like you don’t like them! However, rather than hearing, “That was a really great sermon,” I prefer to hear something like, “Wow, NOW I really understand that passage,” or “I never knew that  . . .” These and other similar compliments, reveal that some are being taught the truth contained in God’s Word—and that will set people free!

I could jump around Scripture and formulate some soap box preaching in order to advance my own personal agenda or some social change I’d like, but in my feeble mind, I always conclude:  Our God has delivered for us a perfect, infallible, inerrant, authoritative text that is completely useful and applicable for us today. I don’t have to come up with any message. The message is already there! All I have to do is find it, expose it, and apply it.
I digress. Though, I’ve already highlighted them a bit. Here are a few reasons, I preach expository sermons:

1. God’s Word is the Authority. Ultimately, what I say may or may not be taken seriously, but the Word of God is forever true. If I accurately reveal God’s truth in the text, I have a sure foundation to stand on what I say.

2. It forces me to preach the Whole Counsel of God. Let’s face it; some texts of Scripture are much easier to preach than others. It’s easy to want to skip over some controversial topic or a text that is difficult to interpret. However, if we are faithful, we must wrestle over every word in every text to see what God has said to us. When you preach through books of the Bible, if you skip a verse, someone will notice and wonder why you did so. If it’s in there, don’t skip it. God put it there for a reason, and it’s my job to figure out why.

3. It is Convenient for Preparation. If I preach through a book of the Bible, I don’t have to search long for what I will be preaching next week or in the coming weeks or months. I simply move from the previous verses to the next full thought in the text. This enables me to go immediately into exegesis and sermon preparation. Some of the most time-consuming work I do as a pastor is prayerfully working my sermon plan—what to preach next. It’s hard to go wrong if you just preach it like God gave it to us.

4. It is Conducive to Learning God’s Word. The best way to read and learn from a book is to start at the beginning and read to its end. Scripture is composed of 66 individual books. When you preach through books, you get background and context and flow and themes. It helps one to learn the book as a whole and how it fits with all the rest of Scripture.

Here, I primarily wrote about expository preaching and teaching as if it only means teaching through books of the Bible. It is a method I prefer, but one may take individual themes within books and preach parts of books in an expository series. However, remember, expository preaching is text driven. The main idea for the message comes from the text of God’s Word, and the supporting statements for the main idea are found within the text itself.

From time to time, I develop thematic series, but I always go to the text with the theme and do my best to teach it and preach it as God gave it to me. These are a few reasons I preach expository sermons.

As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives. So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

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A New Start at Home

When I returned to college to prepare for ministry, one of my first classes at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College was a church planting class taught by Dr. Tim Searcy. It was a class I took for convenience, just to get my hours in. Ever do that? I really had no idea what it would involve, and I had very little understanding of church planting. Little did I realize at that time a passion would be planted in my heart for God’s work of birthing new congregations of His people.

After finishing up at CCBBC we arrived at SEBTS, seeking whatever the Lord led us to do. I was convinced God was going to use us in the new 2+2 MDiv in Church Planting, but He didn’t.

However, when we left seminary and began leading churches, we became involved in supporting church planters. We provided finances and prayers, and we also helped church plants through mission trips to Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Montana, and internationally in Africa. Recently I have also mentored a young pastor in Pakistan through social media and technology, encouraging and equipping him to proclaim the gospel and to plant churches. So I have been able to satisfy that passion with some involvement.

More recently, as a pastor, I learned of the IMB’s new emphasis on church planting which encourages local churches to adopt Unreached and Unengaged People Groups. I was ecstatic and ready to move forward with something I had already been planning to do. As we planned and worked, we became convinced to adopt a UUPG in the nation with the most lost people, India. However, this attempt to build God’s Kingdom in a new place never gained the support we needed to carry it out.

Furthermore, in October of last year, due to a sudden and unexpected change of opportunity to serve, I began seeking again for God’s direction, and my heart again was drawn to church planting. First, I went to NAMB’s Send North America campaign, and we began praying about going to Cincinnati, OH to plant a new fellowship of believers. However, after 3 months of planning and traveling and speaking to those we needed to get this done, the door was closed for this opportunity as well.

Throughout this time of praying and seeking, I left the door open to return to an established church—one that might be open to be a church that intentionally and strategically plants churches.

However, I began seeking other opportunities to plant, thinking wherever He leads, I’ll go! I traveled and spoke to church planters in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Georgia, Kentucky, the TBC, and I began meeting with a group of Church Planters in Cookeville, monthly called, Churches Planting Churches Network. I read everything I could on church planting, began preparing my heart and head to plant a new church, and I began developing a vision of what I felt God wanted the new church to look like.

One day while sharing my heart with two church planters, they both independently, in different places suggested I should go home to Sweetwater to plant a new church. I must admit, at the time, I didn’t see that happening. I thought, “Sweetwater has plenty of churches. There is no need for a new one.” I had longed to see a new church in a place where the lack of Christian influence was obvious.

However, I made one phone call to TBC church planting strategist, Fred Davis as I traveled home after those meetings. As I shared my heart, I asked, “Is there a place the TBC has seen as a strategic target for a new church plant between Knoxville and Chattanooga?” I continued, “I am from East Tennessee and grew up in the Athens/Sweetwater area, and I am considering starting a new work someplace in that region.” His response sent me into a season of prayer and planning to a see if God was leading us to a new start at home. Fred said, “Every time I get off the interstate in Sweetwater and drive toward town, I always wonder why we haven’t started a new church here.”

I began to think more about that and began to pray about it. I immediately sought out one of the most influential pastor’s in Sweetwater to get his thoughts, and I contacted the local Associational leader. Later, however, one thought kept coming to my mind: In my lifetime, I have never seen Southern Baptists plant a new church in Sweetwater. That fact, and the encouragement I received from others, along with the drawing of the Holy Spirit of God convinced me; it is time.

About a month later I found myself at the TBC’s “Basic Training for Church Planters” in Brentwood, and during that week of training, my heart began to warm even more toward the idea of coming home to start a new church. In the week that followed, I laid out a basic vision that had been developing in my heart over the last 6 months, and I began sharing it with others. Each time I shared, I became more passionate about this and believed more and more this is God’s call for us.

Various possible opportunities to realize this have presented themselves, and one of them includes a possible call to an existing church in Sweetwater that may be willing to re-launch as a new church or commit to being the sponsor church for the new work.

We still aren’t exactly sure how God is going to work all this out, but eventually, we arrived at the point that we could not do anything else. I believe God’s desire is for us to plant a new church in Sweetwater—a sweet fellowship where everyone feels loved and welcome and a place where we can learn to have fellowship with God and each other as He intends.

We are excited about how God is working things out for this to happen—contacts with churches and possibilities of partnerships—and we can’t wait to share more as it develops, but for now we are thrilled that God is calling us home to serve the people we love most, and we can’t wait to see how he is going to change us and our hometown for His glory as we seek to love and obey Him!


As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives.  So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.

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Bringing the Family Home

It’s been a while since we have shared publicly on this blog about the latest events in our lives, and in part the lack of sharing has been intentional. As we shared in our last post, within a few days after returning from the adoption of Koby and Si in the Ghana courts our lives were put in somewhat of a tail spin. Our worst fears were that the completion of the adoption and the approval from the USCIS to bring our new sons home would be delayed, or worse. So doing whatever we needed to do to get them home became our primary focus.

Praise the Lord, though the holidays and the first of the year was rough, we finally were able to get approval and got their passports and visas. So Christy and I traveled to Accra in February, and after spending a few days with the boys near the orphanage and getting the opportunity to preach again in the church, we left with Koby and Si in our arms and arrived home with our boys on February 26. I’m sure Christy will have more exciting news to share on her blog about this trip soon.

Since arriving home, Koby and Si have fit right in with our family. We were concerned most with how they might relate to Levi and how Levi might react to them, but we couldn’t have asked for any smoother transition. They have a soft disposition toward Levi, and they are both affectionate toward him, especially Si.

One major difference of course is that there is much more hyperactivity in our house, and for some reason children’s shows appear much more frequently on the television, and the decibel levels have risen considerably, but it is a joy to be a family of 7 now, and we are blessed to have added James Koby and Josiah Gerrad to the McCosh Clan! Ivy and Sophie are a huge help with the boys, and the boys love them too!

Not only have we brought the family home by bringing Koby and Si to the USA, but we are excited to announce more news. We have been praying and seeking a new direction for ministry, and are thrilled to finally realize that God is leading us back home to Exalt Jesus and Build His Kingdom in Sweetwater, Tennessee. We will be making the move in the next few weeks. So all our homies should be watching for us. We can’t wait to reconnect with family and friends as we re-settle back into life in our hometown.

Stay tuned, and in my next post, we’ll let you know more about what God has in store for us as we bring the family home!Image

As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives, so please feel free to share your thoughts or questions with us on this blog, facebook, twitter, google+, or any other way you prefer.

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Praying Koby and Si Home

It’s been a while since we updated anything on our adoption. Part of the reason for the delay is a series of tumultuous events in our life shortly after returning from Ghana. Perhaps we’ll be able to share more about that later, but for now, we are simply concentrating on walking in obedience to Christ and getting our new sons home!

As most of you probably know, we traveled to Ghana in mid-September for our court date. It was important to us to meet Koby and Kwesi before we went to court, so we traveled and met them the day before our court date. Emotions were turning with nervous anxiety for us and for them, I’m sure, as we sat and watched them enter the gate to our hotel. However, we warmed up to each other quickly, and Christy and I fell in love with them again as we spent time with them. See this pic of our first face to face encounter.

The night before court was filled with much anxiety as well. Christy and I spent a lot of time praying and seeking God. So much change for our family rested in the next 24 hours, and this court decision would ultimately change the course of many lives. We were concerned and a bit fearful. Eventually the Holy Spirit reminded us of God’s work in this, and we knew that God in His sovereignty had brought us to this moment, and we were content to trust Him!

Our court session was in Cape Coast, so we set out for an interesting trip in a van full of parents, children, and orphanage personnel. Eventually we found ourselves in the judge’s chambers. We listened intently as she went over the paper work commenting from time to time. Eventually looking at Christy and me she declared that from this day forward Edward Kwobena Armah would be known as James Koby McCosh and that from this day forward Gerrad Kwesi Owusu wouldbe known as Josiah Gerrad McCosh, the names we had chosen for the boys. She further stated that Christy and I were now their legal parents, and reminded us that we are responsible for their food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care etc.

In the moment of the pronouncement of the decree, emotionally I experienced a familiar place not much different than that when my 3 biological children were birthed into this world. Up to the point of delivery, I knew they were mine, and I couldn’t wait to see them and hold them, but Christy had taken care of them pretty much solo up to that point. However, the moment they were born, I somehow immediately morphed into the provider and protector–The proud but cautiously over-protective father.

Emotionally, this adoption decree was very similar. At once, at the moment of the pronouncement, unexpectedly, I felt it–OKAY THESE ARE MY SONS, and I will provide and protect them as my sons Forever! At that point, even though I already loved them, the paradigm changed. The love I have for them now is different! Now I love them as my own sons! I am so thankful that God’s love for me is that of a son. I wonder if upon the moment of my conversion and justification if God’s heart felt like mine: “Now your are my son forever!”

John 1:12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
Rom 8:14-17  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ . . .

The next several days with them were such a blessing. You can see pics of our trip here. We enjoyed spending all of our time with them, but unfortunately we had to leave them behind for now. We still have to wait on approval from the USCIS to get visas to bring them home.

That’s where this post comes in. Our court decree had misspelled names, and we haven’t been able to get a corrected decree so we can file our paperwork. It’s caused us to delay filing for more than a month. Please pray that we can get our corrected decree and that our I600 can get filed and approved quickly. Please help us pray Koby and Si home!

As Always, we’d love your feedback, questions, or input, so please comment below.

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