Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Spirit of Adoption
6:40 am edt
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. The Spirit you have received
is not a spirit of slavery, leading you back into a life of fear, but a Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry ‘Abba!
Father!' The Spirit of God affirms to our spirit that we are God's children; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and
fellow-heirs with Christ; but we must share his sufferings if we are also to share his glory."
grew up in a home where I was loved and provided for. I was born into it. I belonged. I knew who I was.
I didn't wonder about it nor was I particularly aware of being grateful for having a place in the family. I was their
son and as such entitled to be a part.
I had a friend who grew up in a different environment.
The closer we became as friends, the starker the differences in our environments became. We spoke as brothers and acted
as brothers and one day he asked to be adopted by our family. He saw it as something he wanted, something maybe he was
missing and needed. He saw it as opportunity and a privilege to be part of this family. I had none of those thoughts
as the "natural son".
God's family is very different than mine or yours. No matter
how good mine (or yours) is or was, His is profoundly better. This is a story of God (the Father) wanting to adopt and
wanting to be wanted in return. God wanted me (and you) before I wanted anything. God planned for me before my
parents even knew to plan for me. God made a place for me before I required a place. Most of all God loved me...
even when I was unlovable. HE asked to adopt me! I did nothing, deserved nothing, wanted nothing (that I was aware
of) when God asked me to belong to his family. God pursued me. Eventually, I accepted.
is a difference between being born into a family and being adopted into one...
A Sense of Gratitude.
God didn't have to adopt me. I didn't deserve to be adopted. Yet, I was welcomed,
included, treated like a part of the family from day 1. It is overwhelming.
A Sense of Humility.
Sometimes I struggle with worthiness. I know I'm not natural to the family and need
reassured. Most times now, my gratitude makes it very easy to be thankful to be a part of God's family. That gratitude
makes me quicker to serve when asked. It makes me willing and able to support my new family with no expectation on my
part... just gratitude.
3. A Quick and Fierce Defense of God and
I don't see any wrong (mostly because there are none) in God, so there is a quickness or alacrity in my
coming to the defense of my Father. Not that he needs my defense, but because I think so highly of him and the idea
of an accusation or shadow being cast on his character "pushes my button". Some may say I am "blinded"
by my devotion. Perhaps. I would say I know him intimately. I have experienced being with him, walking with
him, working with him, being corrected by him, serving him, being provided by him, being protected by him, being approved
by him. My experience, with God as my father, makes it easy to come to his defense (needed or not) with fierceness.
And since I lived outside the family and inside the family, I would say I can see both sides and as such have a clarity of
vision that someone who only sees the family and God from the outside cannot have.
A Contentedness to "Just Be With" God.
I am content to just be with God, to be in his presence.
I don't need or want anything in those moments. Just to feel him close to me, to know he is there.
I was blessed to be a natural son in a good family. I have learned to be grateful for that privilege and to see
it as a gift from God. I am infinitely more blessed to be an adopted son in God's family. I have a keener sense
of the Spirit of Adoption and the word "Dad". When I use the term "Dad", in relation to God, it
It is an adoption we can share. It is a large family and open to any and
all who wish to be a part. There is no limit to the room or the resources available. There is no diminishing of
a "share" in the family by including more "brothers and sisters". It is our family's way.
It is God's way. You can take God's hand and accept the adoption he offers. He loves you more than you know.
It is life as it was meant to be and he did it for you... and for me. Thanks Dad!
Saturday, September 20, 2014
A Note of Thanks
7:35 am edt
I was reminded this week of how big God's family really is. In that reminder is a "Thank You" to God.
On Tuesday, there was a small group of believers that met at my home. We have had a relationship
for 5 years or more. We take a break for the Summer and this was our first get together for this new season. I
realized how much I love and value the people in that group. I realized how much they mean to me as brothers and sisters
This Summer, my wife and I went to Denver. My daughter was serving in an internship
there. We met more brothers and sisters and made new friends. We know the same God. We share similar passions
and insights. Our awareness of the bigness of the Family of God was reinforced.
I played golf with a brother in Christ. We were paired with two other men. Before we left the first tee we realized
we were brothers in Christ. We spent the rest of the round enjoy God's creation, playing golf, sharing the joys and
challenges of being disciples in this world. When we finished, there were handshakes and the normal social patter but
more importantly and uniquely, we prayed... on the green.
We belong to such a cool family and God is
so big. We work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) is various traditions... some Catholic, some Lutheran, some Methodist,
some Baptist, some Church of God, some nondenominational, some Pentecostal, and on and on. Yet, when we get together
those "names" get lost in the presence of the Name Above All Names and we simply become brothers and sisters with
and in Jesus. For this, I am grateful... Thanks Dad!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
7:38 am edt
They are cowards at best. Frequently bullies. At worst they have no integrity - brute beasts driven by controlling
desires ("lust"). These cowards do what they want and pressure those around them to go along or get out of
the way...that is until someone in authority shows up. That is the cowardice.
They could have the
courage to act in compliance with the authority. They could have the courage to act the way they act in the face of
the authority. But neither case is true... they lack courage and therefore are cowards. They want what they want
and behave the way they want until someone that could stop them arrives, then they hide. It isn't respect that makes
them stop... Fear maybe. I just think it is cowardice.
It really is simple. "This is the
end of the matter: you have heard it all. Fear God and obey his commandments; this sums up the duty of mankind."
(Ecclesiastes 12:13) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with
all your strength." (Mark 12:30) "This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you."
(John 15:12) It is simple... love and obey.
You see I can be and have been the "they"
above... the coward. When I disobey a traffic rule (like going over the speed limit but slowing down when I see a policeman),
or when I help myself to office supplies (for my personal use), or conduct "secret" relationships (ones I don't
want others to find out about), I demonstrate my cowardice.
Thanks to God and those he has put in my life
I have found the strength and the courage to do what I know is right regardless of the pressure from the ignorant or the cowards.
And yet, there are times I still struggle. While it is simple, it isn't always easy. This is why I need the power
of the Holy Spirit, the Truth of God's Word, His grace and mercy, and the encouragement and accountability of my brothers
and sisters in Christ... the Church.
Father forgive me for my cowardice and that of those around me. Help
us find the courage to honor you in all we do.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
6:59 am edt
What is the nature of love and forgiveness? It is an act of the will. God "willed" that there would
be a relationship between Him and us. God "willed" that we could be forgiven. We "will" love
and forgiveness to others. Our will is the part of us that is most like God. As a result, there is nothing unconditional
about it. In fact, you will not find the phrase "unconditional love" or "unconditional forgiveness"
in God's Word. Love and forgiveness exist upon the condition of the Giver's will. It is true you cannot earn love.
It is true you cannot earn forgiveness. They are gifts given at the will of the giver.
captures an event known as "Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery". When the crowd came to Jesus, the text
says it was to test him. It could have been that everyone involved, including the woman, was complicit in this test.
The Jews weren't able to meet out the punishment for Adultery. They couldn't stone her. I agree with the artist's depiction
that there weren't any "stones" present. The Romans had forbidden the Jews from putting anyone to death (John
18:31). This was the whole reason Jesus had to be brought before Pilate. The text says that they wanted to frame
a charge against Jesus. If he sided with the Mosaic law, he would be advocating the breaking of Roman law. If
he sided with mercy, he would be setting aside Mosaic law. The test was about keeping power, control, maintaining their
Jesus had been teaching. In his response, he continued to do so and teaches us the nature
of love and forgiveness. God decided from the beginning not to violate our will. Our coming to Him must be our
choice. Jesus' response fits God's position on this matter. Jesus' response demonstrates the nature of love
and forgiveness. "Let whoever is without sin throw the first stone."
represents our will. Our sin makes us guilty and hopeless apart from God's will. Unless we give up our will, we
cannot access God's will, which is to love and forgive us. If we do not yield our will, our "stone", and choose
to throw it in judgment, we risk killing the forgiveness available to us.
It isn't that we've been
caught in the act. It isn't that we are looking for ways to take Jesus out of the equation. It isn't even that
we have the right to decide. It is ONLY and EVER about God. God willed Himself to love us. God willed that
our sins could be forgiven. God wills that we will exchange our will for His will. This is the nature of eternal
perfect love and lasting forgiveness... the union of our will to God's.
Thank you for
choosing to love us. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, and the gift of forgiveness. I choose today to yield
my will for Yours.