Tag Archives: Children

Tug of War

There’s a tug of war in the believer’s heart and one side wants what it wants when it wants.  That’s the self.  On the other side is the part of our heart that truly wants to please our Maker.  On our journey with Christ spiritual growth means that the side that wants to please the Lord is gaining the upper hand.  Oh, how our culture screams in the opposite direction!  We hear a lot about “me.”  “Me time,” “What’s best for me,” “What makes me happy.”  We tend to hear and “I love Jesus” rather than “Jesus loves me.”

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we know if we love Jesus?  Is it primarily a feeling or an intellectual nod to the things He said or what we think about Him? Do we “love Jesus” because He is cool or fashionable?   A writer named John in the Bible said it pretty plainly:

But those who obey God‘s Word truly show how completely they love Him.  That is how we know we are living in Him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.  I John 2:5-6 (NLT)

Obedience and following His example…two things that do not come “naturally” to the human heart!  It’s against our grain – contrary to our independent, seemingly “self-sufficient” nature!  But why should it surprise us that loving God means to be obedient to Him and follow His example?  Don’t we want this from our children?  As parents we want what is best for them, and we recognize being able to take direction even if they don’t understand it is for their own benefit and protection.  No!  Do not put your finger in that light socket!  No, do not run into the street!  No, do not drink that orange scented shampoo!

As parents having our children simply say they love us but reject our instruction and example would indicate that there is no real love at all – just maybe a warm fuzzy affection, at times.  God could have created us without a free will and made us completely obedient beings.  But genuine love cannot exist without the ability to make a decision of our own free will –  from the heart – to obey even when we don’t understand or feel like it.

The only reliable means of measuring our love for God is to examine whether we obey Him.  – From Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom

 

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Unanswered Prayers

Some of God’s greatest blessings may be in unanswered prayers.  That may not be theologically correct…exactly.  Unanswered prayer is what we are feeling sometimes, not the reality of what is happening in the heavenlies.  There are many Biblical references that substantiate that God hears every prayer and knows every intent and motive in our hearts.  It’s just that when we do not experience any outward sign of our petition that we think that perhaps God did not hear.  But because He loves us in a deeper way than we can comprehend, sometimes He holds back.  It is restrained grace.

God the Father 16

God the Father 16 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Sometimes our prayers are focused on the surface – changes that we believe would make our lives go on a little easier.  The requests no doubt line up with God’s will.  We pray for people in our lives and the choices made that cause them harm, ourselves included.  But sometimes it is in the waiting, the longing, even the suffering that His restrained grace has it’s full effect.

The Apostle Paul, when going through a troubling time wrote these words:

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.  We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact we expected to die.  But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves, and learned to rely only on God…We placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.  II Corinthians 1:8-9a,10b

 

English: Saint paul arrested

English: Saint paul arrested (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Our lives are messy.  God is not any less loving than the parent or grandparent that steps back and allows the learning to take place, knowing it is for our ultimate good.  God’s plans and purposes are so much deeper than ours, and His restrained grace is always full of meaning and care.

In Psalm 77 the writer lamented:

When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord.  All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted.”

But later in the Psalm when the writer regained his composure and insight he wrote:

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;  I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.  They are constantly in my thoughts.  I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

Both the Apostle Paul and the Psalmist recognized the mind game that unanswered prayer seems to be.  However God doesn’t play mind games.  It is a mental and emotional challenge for us and step of obedience for us to accept with trust His restrained grace for our good and His glory.  Paul in his troubled time learned to rely on God.  The Psalmist comprehended the importance of mentally reviewing how God had been faithful in the past and his thought patterns changed as a result.  He was able to see that, this too, is still in the hands of the Almighty.

May that which concerns your heart be committed to His restrained grace, and may you experience that day when the tears are ended with the night and you know the full joy of the morning.  Hang in there.

 

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Adoption and a Decision to Love

I came from a large family  and am the baby of six siblings.  My parents always communicated to us that it was a tremendous blessing to have a large family.  Another great attribute of growing up in our home was the appreciation of ethnic diversity.  My older brothers brought home exchange students from the college for family dinners and we developed friendships with people from all over the world.  I particularly remember Si Van, a Cambodian, who was very kind to me.  He brought me little gifts and I later understood that I reminded him of his little daughter he had left back home when he came to the United States to obtain his education.   Another friend was from Nigeria, and my brother pointed out how much nicer his dark skin looked next to the white turtle neck shirt he wore than our pale skin would look.  Another of my brothers sponsored a child from Hong Kong and he and I wrote to each other for many years.  This same brother read me chapters of Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl before I went to sleep at night.  Anne Frank gave me an appreciation of what it was like to be a young Jewish girl in hiding during the Nazi regime.

When I was a little girl and dreamed of the family I might have someday the many children in my home of dreams had all variations of white, brown and black skin.  They came from varied ethnic backgrounds.  Evidently way back then I thought about adoption as a great way to have a family.  The years came and went and although I did not have a large family, I was blessed to become a mother by adoption.

Adoption teaches me in many ways about the love God has for us as His children.  Adoption is referred to in the Scriptures in Romans 8: 15b-17a (NLT)

Instead, your received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children.  Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.”  For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.  And since we are His children, we are His heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.”

In adoption it matters not whether our child looks like us or has a similar personality.  Looks and personality are not prerequisites for my love.  Looking at our world it is evident that God loves diversity.  Our adopted children are loved for the very same reason a biological child is loved.  They are loved because they belong to us – they are our very own.  The bonding of our spirits start as a decision to love, and God completes the bond in  our heart.

I can say with absolute certainty that I was bonded to my adopted daughter the night I learned about her existence.  My first prayers for her were for her own well-being.  I did not want to put my desires to be a mother ahead of what she needed most.  Only after these first prayers about her alone did I put in my request with God for the honor of being her mother.  Exactly three months later she was lovingly placed in my arms.  Just like all parents my husband and I exclaimed together, “she’s beautiful!”

There is a famous cartoon in which one child says to another, “most kids are born from their mommies tummies, but since I was adopted, I was born from my mommies heart.”

If God adopts us as His children, adoption is a good, loving and blessed way to add children to our own family.

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