For our family, late fall is when we are reminded of our adoption into the family of God. We are reminded of this because it was in late fall 2015 when we adopted Gracie.
It all started the day I noticed dirty paw prints all over our car. At the time, I was not amused, but I quickly forgot about the muddy transgression of my property rights. Several days later I saw the source of the muddy paw prints- a small black cat with a white spot on it's chest sitting on our fence. I stood peering out the window at it while feeling a sense of irritation beginning to rise in me while I hoped that the unwanted trespasser was just passing through. We already had enough things to do on our to do lists and caring for another living thing just seemed like an inconvenience at the time. Besides, every single needy animal we had ever acquired had found it's way to us, we had not gone looking for them, and we figured we had every right to begin rejecting refugees since we had already done our fair share of good deeds toward homeless animals. However, a week passed by and reality set in. This cat was not just simply passing through, it was here to stay, and we had to accept the fact that the starving, traumatized, homeless, needy, little beggar who seemed quite intent on calling our house home was now our problem. We began to feel a sense of compassion for the poor little thing which led to us offering her food and care. In return, she seemed happy to be providing us with some companionship, entertainment, and her mouse removal gifts. We knew she was young because she was small and still had a lot of kitten behavior which our vet confirmed when we took her in to be checked out. We also learned it's common for young female cats to be abandoned shortly before they mature in order to avoid the cost and trouble of spaying or a litter of unwanted kittens. The cat received her shots and we paid our vet for her services. Then we scheduled an appointment to have her spayed and realized we were left with the responsibility of trying to figure out how to keep a young and very active female cat from doing things like running and jumping for several weeks while recovering from surgery. By that point we knew it was a done deal, money had changed hands, we had paid her debt, we had adopted her into our family even though it seemed more like she was the one who had adopted us, and we changed her name from Needy Beggar to Gracie. Gracie has been with us for a few years now. She is no longer the skinny, traumatized, shell of a thing that she was at first. We have also learned, thanks to a Netflix documentary, that the white patch on Gracie's chest was referred to as "God's Thumbprint" per Scottish folk lore. The story goes that in medieval times when witches were being burned, their black cats were put into the fire with them unless they had "God's Thumbprint" on them in which case they were spared from the fire because it was believed that the white patch of fur represented the presence of God. Today Gracie is happy, well nourished, and very well cared for. In fact, she is pretty much spoiled. We honestly can't imagine not having her around to keep us company. Gracie is a daily reminder to our family of God's mercy and grace and of our own adoption by God into His family:
Ephesians 1:3-14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
D. Blair Smith, in a recent Tabletalk magazine article ,reminds us that:
"We are brought into God’s family through the Spirit’s uniting us to the Son so that we can call on the Father. We are in God’s family, then, through union with Christ by the Holy Spirit."
~from "God the Father and Our Adoption"
Gracie is also a reminder of what a little bit of care and nurture can do in restoring us to health. It's like Michael Horton said in his book "Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ" on pp. 247-248:
“Before orphans can enjoy the love and care of a new family, they must be legally adopted. Adoption, like justification, is simultaneously legal and relational”
In our day, it has become more and more common to see broken families and empty churches, but here at West Tennessee Reformed we believe that God has the power to restore our broken families and our church families to health through the simple nourishment that is offered: the faithful preaching of Christ from God's Word and participation in the sacraments and prayer because if we claim to have God as our Father, then we must understand that the visible Church of Christ is our mother, and that this is what the church has always believed, as Cyprian said, "No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother." We need the church in order to be healthy and well nourished. The Lord adopted us, brought us into His family, and established His church as a place for us to mature and grow up together in Christ. Being a part of God's adoptive family gives us a sense of belonging like we have never had before. The one who was despised and rejected seeks out the despised and rejected, gathers them to himself, lavishes them with the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1) and equips them for works of service (Ephesians 4).
"In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship—he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge [justification] is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father [adoption] is a greater thing."
~JI Packer, Knowing God
God is the joy of his people, then let them rejoice when they come before him. He who derives his being from none, but gives being to all, is engaged by promise and covenant to bless his people. He is to be praised as a God of mercy and tender compassion. He ever careth for the afflicted and oppressed: repenting sinners, who are helpless and exposed more than any fatherless children, are admitted into his family, and share all their blessings."
~Matthew Henry, Psalm 68:1-6
Are you looking for a good church home? We would like to be a good church home and we are asking God to provide the increase
(1 Corinthians 3:6).
We would love to have you join us, come as you are,
"But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8 (Berean Study Bible).
We meet every Wednesday evening at 7pm and every Sunday evening at 5pm for Bible study.
We gather for worship at Wolf River Presbyterian Church in Collierville, TN.
Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine."
From the Hymn, "Come and Dine"by Charles Widmeyer, 1907,
West Tennessee Reformed is a biblically conservative Presbyterian church planting effort where Christ is preached consistently and where God speaks powerfully through his written word, The Holy Bible.
* We are not an independent Bible study, for more information about us see: https://chmce.org/mission-work/adamsville-tn/