Friday, February 22, 2013

Adopted



He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… Ephesians 1:5 (NIV)

My relationship with my daughter Anne started out differently than with my other kids. Anne first came to our home as a foster child, and that’s how I introduced her to people. “This is my foster daughter, Anne,” I would say.

Anne was not like our other children. Not only was there an age gap—she was quite a bit younger than our youngest—but there were also vast differences in the way she related and in the things that interested her. Our other children found her behavior humorously quirky and would comment about things that seemed unusual to them. It was clear that Anne, although loved, was different.

Later on, my wife and I had the joy of adopting her. I noticed that at first, I still clarified our relationship when introducing her. “This is Anne, our adopted daughter,” I told folks. I wondered if I would ever think of her the same as my biological children.

But over time, something changed. I didn’t consciously make a decision to stop identifying her as adopted, but one day I noticed that I had. She simply became Anne, my daughter. I suppose this is a natural progression for parents who adopt children. Time has a way of growing love and making differences less perceptible.

I got to thinking about the fact that God has adopted each of us to be His children. Only with God, His love and affection for us is instantaneous. He brought us into His family, and we immediately received all of the blessings of being His child. No disclaimers. No clarifications. Just His dearly beloved children!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pursuing Purity



All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:3 (NIV)

It was “Ask the Youth Leader Night” for the kids at church, and everyone was putting their questions into the hat. The evening always provided interesting discussion centered on questions about faith, the Bible, and everything in between. Tom pulled the first question out of the hat as all eyes focused on him.

He glanced at the question on the piece of paper and paused for just a moment. Then he said, “Here’s a dating question, it says ‘How far is too far?’” Without much hesitation, he started right in. “You see, here’s the problem: This is really the wrong question. The right question is how far away from trouble’s door can I remain?”

Tom’s astute answer was right on. Too many folks ask the wrong question. They wonder how close they can get to the fire without actually getting burned…when they should be more concerned with staying as far away as possible from the fire! Scripture uses the same object lesson.

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? Proverbs 6:27-28 (NIV)

Purity is the total absence of contaminants. As an example, the purity of gold is measured in carats. The purest gold is 24 carats or roughly 99% pure gold. Eighteen carat gold would be 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals. The point is that if you want the purest gold, you need to keep all the other impurities out.

Is there anything in your life that has become an avenue to impure thoughts or actions? TV? The internet? Books? Video games? A particular relationship? A certain style of music? If you want to maintain a pure life, then it might be time to make some radical changes to avoid being burned.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Brokering Peace



Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

It starts when they’re so young.  The other day I walked in on another skirmish.  “What happened?”  “She hit me!” Came the reply.  Looking at her I questioned, “What should you do?”  “Apologize.”  I try to pry past self-will and pride in an effort to broker peace and teach love and forgiveness.  There is bold resistance by both parties to my intrusion. 

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to learn.  It’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish for children and perhaps more so for adults.  We forgive reluctantly desiring to hold power over those who have wounded us.  In the long run our resistance to forgive ends up hurting only ourselves.  It’s a challenge to forgive even when an apology has been made and the effort required to forgive when an apology hasn’t come is multiplied many times over.  

Our hearts are stubborn, yet God wants us to forgive.  He says so in His Word.  Seven times seventy only underscores the level of forgiveness we are to offer others.  It’s one of the most important things for us to do and it’s required to maintain peace filled relationships with those around us.  Sometimes the hardest three words to say are, “I forgive you.”

The truth is it’s not always that easy.  Sometimes the need to forgive gets complicated and muddled.  Still we’re instructed to forgive and keep our accounts short with others.  Perhaps there is someone who is waiting for your forgiveness.  Won’t you consider offering them your forgiveness today?   
    
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.