Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Personal Quest into "Predestination" vs "Freedom of Will", a letter to my children. (Part 2)

This is the second part of my series on this quest. If you didn’t get to read the first part, here it is.  This is a letter to my children; however I thought that making it public will benefit some that may want to embark on the same quest:

My dear children,

This debate is not new to me. I actually have been hearing about it in messages, books and articles through the years. It’s quite popular. However, it wasn’t until I read this passage the other day that the thought of finally organizing my thoughts about it through the exercise of writing things down came to mind. It was interesting to me that it wasn't Romans 8:29-30, which is classically the passage that most people addressing this debate quotes. I hope to be able to get to many other places in the bible that shed light on this issue. So this won't be a short process.

So today I want to address some insights on the few parables that I am using as springboards to launch me into this study.

-For first time in my Christian life understanding the parable of the Sower, the parable of the Weeds, and the parable of the Net has been a challenge to me. (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, 24-30,36-42, 47-52)*

-Jesus explained the first 2 parables, however at first sight when I looked at them from the lenses of the age time debate of Predestination vs Free-will (Calvinism vs Arminianism), it seems to me these parables may or not present potential facts regarding the validation of one or the other.

-Some of the questions that came to mind when I read this passage today were: How are God's sovereignty and  freedom of will represented in the types of soil Jesus is referring to? And also, how can we explain the concept of freedom of will, if both the "Weed seed", and the "Bad fish" where bad from the beginning?

-I believe that regardless of whether this text is indeed related to this debate, a Holy Spirit led inquiring into it is very important to the mature Christian for the sake of allowing one’s heart to take stances regarding our confidence to preach the gospel, and also to contribute to our view of God and our trust in Him. Do we really view Him as a God that is all powerful and who is really in control of all things? Do we trust God's sovereignty when facing evil or trials?

-If God is the one who does the choosing, then when praying for unsaved dear ones, we should primarily focus on praying that God would choose to open their spiritual eyes, and make the transformational work in their heart which is prerequisite for a person to even start being responsive to the Gospel, instead of praying that that person would just willfully decide to start listening to it.  I hope that getting a better understanding on this subject would give me more peace when facing the way others respond to the gospel, knowing that God is ultimately sovereign over who gets saved, and why.

-I believe that taking either position should not affect the believer’s assurance of salvation, or his willingness to readily preach the gospel and make disciples, as only God, and not us merely humans, knows who are the citizens of heaven regardless of who did the choosing. I believe we are still called to preach the gospel and spread the “seed” as frequently and widely as we can, and allow God to take care of the outcome.

-With this in mind I am going to try to embark on a personal quest to try to sort out my understanding on whether we are predestined to be God’s children or not.  I pray that some of my findings embolden my witness for Christ and my passion to delight in and live for Him. And to trust Him completely.

-On trying to avoid any presumption, I have to understand that this may very well be a quest to last a lifetime. However I pray that God rewards my desire to understand His will, and lead me to fruitful study. I also pray that some of my answers help my children embark in their own quest with God to grow in him and savor His eternal pleasures, after all we were created to get to know Him: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” -John 17:3

To be Continued..

Friday, January 10, 2014

Our Adoption Journey - New Update: Steadely Moving Forward to Go Across that Ocean...of Paperwork!

Hello friends!

As promised, here's a super overdue update regarding where we are on our adoption process. Thank you so much to all of you who haven't stopped praying, asking us questions or showing interest in our adoption journey! We have been specially blessed to know that some of you have even been encouraged to become a forever family yourselves. Yes! For those of you that have recently joined our supporting group and haven't read our previous updates, here they are: Update # 1, #2, and #3. Also, to those that want to know how can you specifically pray for us at this point, there is an updated prayer request list at the bottom of this post. We covet your prayers!

As always we'll spice up your reading with some of our latest family pictures

And invite you to join our wishful thinking as we imagine our daughter being part of them!

 Ok, so without further ado, let us share where we are at the moment. We hope this is informative specially for those looking to adopt in the future:

At this point we believe to be at the tail end of the 2nd step of our "Paperwork pregnancy". Just as a reminder, and at a very high level, the five major steps of an Chinese adoption are:  Applying and Obtaining the Agency Approval,     Compiling the Dossier (Documentation to get approved by China and the U.S),  Being matched with our child,  Traveling to China to bring our child home and last Bonding and Post-placement.

We would love her to try the best Sweet potato casserole of the world, Daddy's!

Or just join our joyful noise as we sang carols after dinner during Christmas!

Every step mentioned above involves lots of action items. We don't want to bore you with details, but please free to ask us if you like to know. It is true, adopting a child requires lots of diligence in the way of legalities that need to be taken care of. And now being in the middle of the process we understand why. In the case of international adoption, making sure that you are dealing with a legitimate organization prevents fraud and abuse.  Human trafficking is rampant worldwide, including the U.S, but is even more rampant and less restrained in underdeveloped countries. Therefore the need for inter-country treaties like "The Hague Convention" which establishes parameters for international adoptions. If you are interested in becoming a forever family, one of the first things you have to make sure when choosing your agency, is that it is a "Hague accredited agency".  The Official Intercountry adoption website  is a good place to educate yourself about many of the details of international adoption. You can read about the status and requirements to complete an adoption from virtually any place in the world.

We dream with getting her 'Thing 3" family t-shirt

And watching  her devour her Birthday cake! =)

At this point we have completed most of our "Dossier", which is the compilation of all the documents required to be approved by the Chinese government. This is a list of roughly about 15 documents (Birth-marriage certificates, employment-income verification, financial statements, social workers interview, etc.) that need to be notarized, and certified by different local, state and federal officials, before they are sent for final approval by the Chinese government. That is how the expression "paperwork-pregnancy" was coined. Capiche?! No joke, dealing with so much red tape has felt a bit like morning sickness at some times.  But do not be discouraged, it's is doable. Our agency has been of great help to keep ourselves organized and going at a good steady pace at this stage of the process.

and to play and read silly stories with mommy and brother!

And to grab Daddy's other leg...wouldn't that be fun!

At this point we are specifically waiting for the last piece of document to add to our pile which is the approval by the Department of U.S immigration. Once this is received, the whole stack will be translated into Chinese and shipped to the CCCWA or the China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption, which is the office that finally approves our family to bring our daughter home.

We are eagerly waiting for you sister!

We have a lifetime of love & adventures  to share with you!

Ok friends I think this gives you an idea of where we are at now. The next time we will be sharing about our Adoption agency CCIA and why we chose to work with them. Again thank you very much for your continuing support and prayers. We are overly ecstatic for the success of our fundraiser "Bubbles for Hope".  We have for sure been super busy making soap, but what a difference when you are exhausted for a purpose! =)

We can't wait 'til the moment where we can hold your hand too! =)

Here is the list of specific ways you can pray for us now:

  • Pray for God's protection over our daughter's life. That the Lord surround her with angels and compassionate people that would protect her thru whatever circumstances are leading her family to abandon her or giving her away.

  • Pray for her health. (I'm tearing up here, this is hard to type) Please pray that God would touch her body with the power of His healing. That He would be her doctor and her main care taker. That He would provide compassionate people, physical and financial means to care for whatever physical challenges she's facing, whether these may be congenital, or any diseases coming from the orphanage setting. Please pray that God would supernaturally strengthen her immune system.

  • Please ask God that she will be given favor and be assigned a foster mother that provide the care and love that she needs at her early age. If this is not possible, that she be surrounded by loving caretakers in her orphanage that would be passionate about caring for these little children.

  • Please pray for protection against any abuse or any harsh circumstances that may cause her to be psychologically, emotionally or physically wounded. And please pray for us as we try to learn about compassionate healing parenting. That the Lord give us the wisdom, stamina, patience and means that we need to love her to health, thriving and to Him.

  • Please pray that God's favor be upon us as we work on the tail end of our paperwork. Please pray specifically that the Secretary of State and the Chinese embassy would expedite the certification of documents and that immigration would give us our approval soon.

  • Please pray that God would orchestrate the timing of our matching with her. That He gives us peace knowing that the waiting is not arbitrary, and that He's the author of our story.

Xie, Xie,


Monday, January 6, 2014

My Personal Quest into "Predestination" vs "Freedom of Will", a letter to my children. (Part 1)

Dear readers, this is a letter to my children. However I thought that making it public may benefit some that perhaps have faced the same questions at some point. Here it is.

My dear child,

Since day one, when we first open our lives to treasure God above everything else and start our pilgrimage towards that special heavenly home, questions will be knocking on our doors. Some questions will be perplexing; others discouraging, yet others may even feel hurtful.  Whichever the nature of questions or doubts you have, I want you to remember that we can always ask God. He wants us to ask him. Otherwise He would not have left the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. (See John 14:26)*.  When we humbly approach God for answers, He actually uses them to strengthen our faith and make our experience with Him the more enjoyable and our lives for His sake even the more fruitful.  Picture a father that sits down with his son to teach him with undivided attention and zealous devotion. This is how God likes to teach us. And everything, including the stuff that makes both the questions and the answers has its origins in Him. (Colossians 2:2-3)*. So rest assured that you will get more than you ask for, in God, you will always get not the answer that you’re looking for, but the answer that you really need.

So with this in mind, let me share with you, one of my current quests on documenting some of my personal understanding regarding the age old debate  on whether God chooses us to be his children, or we choose Him.  Many call this debate the debate between “Predestination” vs “Free Will”  or “The Calvinistic Debate".

Some questions like: “Why should I bother preaching the gospel if people are going to come to God if He wills anyway?” or, “Why should we make people accountable for their sin, if God doesn’t predestine everyone to go to heaven?”, or "why does God choose to withhold His truth from some people?", or “Why did God allow evil anyway?” steam from this debate.  And that’s why I think that every Christian should tackle these questions at some point of their pilgrimage.

I want you to know that being on either side of this debate doesn’t affect your salvation, you can be confident on your faith if you are standing on either side. However, a clearer understanding on this issue will definitely embolden your faith, especially when facing life trails.

Finally, I want you to remember that I am not theologian, but just a honest believer wanting to know and experience God. I will never get to all there is out there to read by doctors and theologians on the subject.  I just need to get enough answers trusting that God in His grace will provide them. After all he said that if we lack wisdom, we can confidently ask Him. (James 1:5). However, I hope that some of my findings, or even more, some of my questions, encourage you to dig deeper, bring your own questions, and even your own doubts to a God who is eager to teach you. He really is.

To be continued..

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

“We are Called to Treasure Him Because He Treasured us first” - A few thoughts on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

In my efforts to write more this year I have decided to post some of the lessons and insights I will be getting from my study of the Bible this year. I had some sort of epiphany this morning -At least, I like to believe it was, which sparked my desire to sit down a write. Even though I believe the best journal, message and even book one can write with the lessons got from scripture should be “life itself”, “spoken words” and “daily choices”, I think there is a value to write things down…and share them. Not only to use it as a reminder for later on, but because others can be edified by it. When I was thinking about others this morning, the first ones that came to mind were my children.  And even though I seriously doubt they will be interested in reading my notes on hardcopies many years from now, which will probably be a rarity,  I certainly think, they may be interested in checking their momma’s blog. -Again, I like to think they will..I pray they do!  So anyway, since I am already doing some writing while I work on my BSF homework, I am as might as well, going to try compile my insights and post them in my blog. It’s not a super deep and exhaustive study, (I’m not using any commentaries at this point) but going a little deeper than a quick casual reading on short passages has proved to be of great help to me.   I hope to get better at succinctness with time and practice. So here it goes. Today the lesson was on the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl from Matthew 13: 45-46:


“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”


My dear children, this is some of what I believe this passage is saying:

  • The treasure represents God and His kingdom.  We are to treasure Him above anything else in our lives because we were created for Him, and nothing else in the universe can give us more Joy than this. When He is in the first place in our minds and affections, everything else falls into place. 

  • Even though cross-referencing other passages against this one may raise some questions about the right interpretation of “Treasure”. The meaning at first could be perceived as ambiguous as it refers to “God” in some places, (See Psalm 73:25-26, Col 2:2-3)* and to us in some others.  (See Deuteronomy 7:6)* I favor both interpretations. I don't think they're mutually exclusive in the sense, that we treasure God because He treasured us first. We are intended to love God because He loved us first.

  • In the same way “the Pearl” can mean "us" as the lost treasure that God came to rescue. He found it and bought it for a really hefty price: Jesus' blood. It can also mean "Jesus" as the treasure that God made available for us.  He’s the treasure that we must get to make sense of it all, and to have a real perspective on value. To find joy, meaning, and hope. To learn and experience what delight really is!!

  • The “Merchant” in this passage refers to both "us" and "God" in the sense that He will never ask us to do anything that He hasn't already done. He doesn't only show us what to do, but also produces in us to will it and to do it: (See Phill 2:13)*. He actually modeled it and then wants to do it in and thru me. He is the ultimate mentor.


  • “Selling everything" to buy the pearl from God's perspective may refer to leave His throne to become a man and die for our sins. From our perspective: To let Him have priority over absolutely everything else in our lives: Letting Him have precedence in our affections, and thoughts, and energy, and time, and money, etc.


I think Jesus didn’t interpret these parables because He left the Holy Spirit to teach us and explain to us all things. It is a joy to sit at the feet of the Holy Spirit and have Him explaining to you what Jesus meant thru these words. But most importantly to help you give them full meaning when they become a reality in your own walk with God (See John 14:26)*