We’re All In Need of Adoption

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12)

I saw a picture the other day of a child posing next to a hand written sign that read “For 806 days I have shared their Love+Home…as of today I share their last name.”

It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like to go from living in the foster care system, with all of its tensions and uncertainty, to being adopted into a loving family as its newest member.

What a transformative and life changing experience!!

Gone are the days of wondering if your current family will be just another temporary place to live as you move from home to home. Gone are relationship ties that are built and then necessarily broken time and again. Gone are the needs for emotional walls of protection and the deep insecurities that develop which will no doubt have life lasting impacts.

On a personal note, I’m grateful to have lived out my childhood in the context of my birth family. In that setting I always knew how much I was loved and supported. As a child I knew that no matter what happened my parents would always love me. I grew up with siblings that to this day I am close to. We can count on each other in good times and bad.

Despite such a stable upbringing, I eventually came to realize that my wonderful earthly family was a temporary one and would not last forever. I sensed an absence in my life that I ultimately identified as spiritual in nature. Although everything around me seemed fulfilled in my life, there was this last nagging piece in my heart that had yet to be satisfied. At some point I realized that the missing element was my relationship with God.

Having grown up around the scriptures, I knew that the Bible spoke of being “children of God.” How could that be? I was already a child of my parents, what more would I need?

I remembered that the scriptures shared a story of another person that was also struggling with this concept. He was a religious leader in his day, a man by the name of Nicodemus.  One night he  secretly met with Jesus in the dead of night and asked him about his relationship with God. I was amazed, here was a devoted religious leader, an educated and intelligent person by any standards. Yet he knew the moment he had encountered Jesus that his life was in some way incomplete.

Jesus shared with him that in order for Nicodemus to have a relationship with God that he would need to be “born again.” Nicodemus didn’t understand at first, as he was already born, how could he be born once more? Jesus explained to him that it was one thing to be born to an earthly family, but entirely a different matter to be born into God’s family.

As I recalled that story from the Bible, I realized that while I might have an early family that loved me, from a spiritual perspective I was really an orphan. I was in need of adoption. The emptiness I sensed was my lack of relationship with God. The reality was simple: unless I was adopted into God’s family I would spend eternity alone and have to face life by myself.

The apostle Paul shared that making a personal decision to trust in Jesus Christ would allow me to be formally adopted into God’s eternal family. He shared that “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”( Galatians 3:26 ) He went on to say that we would “receive adoption” (Galatians 4:5 ) into  God’s family and that as His child I would no longer have to live out my life in fear or uncertainty of the future. In fact I would become  “co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) Wow!!!

As an adopted child of God I knew for certain that no matter what might befall me in this life, even physical death, nothing in all of creation would ever separate me from the love of God. (Romans 8:39 )

It’s a key milestone in our lives when we figure out that life is much better as a member of God’s family than by going it alone. Many choose otherwise and suffer great loneliness and lack of direction in their lives.

Good healthy families care about one another and seek to build each other up, desiring to see each member of their family succeed in this life. That’s the way it is in God’s family. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and He only wants the best for each of us. He will never let us down, even when we might think He has, He hasn’t.

If you’re awaiting adoption…you need wait no longer, the choice to surrender your life to Christ and become part of His family is entirely yours. God is present and awaits your decision, but He will never force your hand. Yours is a response to the love He has already demonstrated to you through His Son Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Copyright FullLifeWord 2016

The Great Piggy Bank Heist

“It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” -Matthew 24:46

 
The Great Train Robbery of ’63 that occurred in London had nothing on the heist I was involved in, known simply by our family as the “Great Piggy Bank Heist.”

I was in kindergarten at the time, and my older brother (Heretofore known as the “ringleader”) was in the second grade. It was in this state of advanced education that he gained certain, albeit incomplete, understandings of money. In school he learned that coins had some sort of intrinsic value, what value of course, was still beyond my limited understanding, but I was certain that my brother understood all those details, and would one day enlighten me with his vast storehouse of learning.

In any event, we had in our shared bedroom a closet; and on the closet floor, way in the back, were two genuine ceramic piggy banks. One was mine and the other was my brother’s. Evidently, as I learned many years later, my Mom had a tradition of giving each child a piggy bank and putting coins in the bank minted with the year of their birth.

Of course my brother and I didn’t know of such details, and while the pigs were a curiosity, they never garnered much in the way of attention; at least not until my brother learned in school that the coins contained within each pig could somehow be traded for toys. Of course the specifics of how such a transaction might come about had yet to be determined.

It was a Saturday morning, and the ringleader filled me in on exactly how this was to go down. Dad was at the store, and Mom was around the house doing things moms do. My job was to stand by the door and keep a lookout for Mom.

The ringleader explained to me that he had evidently developed a clever way of inverting the ceramic pig while shaking it at a given frequency. In doing so, he explained; the coinage would come out of the little slot on the top of the pig’s back. (Somehow in this moment of dazzling insight, he failed to notice the rubber plug on the belly of the pig, which would have made our heist considerably more successful. This and other such overlooked details would ultimately be our undoing.)

At the appointed time, I took my position by the bedroom door, and when Mom went into the garage with and armful of laundry, I gave the signal for the extraction process to start. A lot of shaking was taking place, rather nosily I might add, but not many coins were making it out.

The garage door coming into the house opened suddenly, and Mom reappeared. I quickly hushed the ringleader until she disappeared into another room.

After the coast was clear the shaking resumed. Soon the shaking took on a different resonance, more of an up and down shake pattern. This resulted in a better yield. My brother was clearly brilliant! The coins were practically pouring out onto the wood floor making a steady tinkling pitter patter sound in our closet.

In due process, I observed the ringleader skillfully sorting through the growing pile and tossing aside the dimes and collecting the other coins. I asked him why he was doing that. He explained to me, as one with an air of superior knowledge; that obviously the dimes were smaller, in fact they were the smallest coins amongst coins, and therefore they could hardly be worth much when it came time to trade coins for toys. I could find no flaw in such a sound argument. Soon he had the larger pennies stacked neatly, as were the nickels and the occasional quarter, while the diminutive dimes were set aside. With that said, he resumed the shaking.

As there hadn’t been a Mom sighting in a while and my interest in the lookout job was waning, I took it upon myself to gradually move closer to the action, away from my post so that I might study the coin extraction technique in more detail. I figured at my age, having already decided on becoming a lifelong learner, I figured it was to my advantage to pick up a few life skills along the way. This trade the metal coins for fun toys was an example of some real out of the box thinking. Gone would be the days of waiting on birthdays and Christmas times for toys.

It wasn’t long before I found myself standing behind my brother, who was on his knees and halfway in the closet, all the while skillfully shaking one of our beloved pigs. At that moment, one of the lowly dimes popped out of the pig he was shaking. It hit the wood floor and rolled just past me. I was following it with my eyes, and as I turned my head slightly, I noticed that the dime suddenly stopped as it struck a pair of shoes. Unfortunately for us, our careers as professional piggy bank boosters were over, as the dime stopping shoes were occupied by our Mom.

As I reminisced on this childhood memory of my Mom returning unexpectedly to find us boosting the piggy bank, instead of doing what we should have been doing, it reminded me that Jesus is concerned with what I’m doing with my life right now. If He were to show up unexpectedly, as my Mom had, would He approve of what I’ve been doing? As a believer and follower of Christ, I know that He has entrusted me with talents and abilities to use wisely in my earthly life. But what exactly should I be doing? While there are many things I could be doing, I would like to touch on at least three activities I sense we should all be doing.

As a believer, I ought to be living my life out authentically. By that I mean, my life should reflect the principles and character of God as much as possible and as consistently as possible. Not out of a sense of just following a bunch of rules, rather from a place of gratitude in my heart for the love and grace He has already expressed to me.

Jesus said that the love we express and show for one another will identify us with Him to the rest of the world around us.(John 13:35) My life should be marked as a life lived with integrity before God. My motives and heart should be aligned such, that I am viewing life and life situations, as much as possible from God’s perspective. (1 Thessalonians 2:4) That means that I should not allow my life to be governed solely by the approval of others. On the other hand, neither should I fall into a life of challenging others to live out their lives authentically, if I’m not also willing to live by those same principles that Scriptures teach. (Romans 2:21-22)

Secondly, to the best of my ability, I need to do my part to maintain the integrity of God’s Word in my life. This means that I must resist the pressure to compromise or dilute God’s standards defined in His Word for me. (Jude 3) Instead, we need to partner with the Holy Spirit to preserve and teach from the scriptures what God intended for us to hear and then do. (1 Timothy 1:11, 2 Timothy 1:14) All of this is challenging, because we live in unprecedented times in our country. Yet we must find a way to express God’s perspective to a lost world with respect, and to engage our fellow believers with love. (1 Peter 1:22) This approach makes sense to me because that’s how Christ approached me.

Lastly, I need to trust that God is executing His perfect plan for my life and in the world we live in. We need to live expectantly, awaiting Christ’s return and to be prepared for that day. (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Timothy 1:12)

Much like my Mom suddenly appearing, we don’t know when Christ will return; (Matthew 24:36) but we do know this, that He will! And when He does, I want to be caught doing His will and not my own.

The longer I live the less I know

My kids have long since surpassed me in so many ways. Technology abounds while I’m just keeping my head above water.

For example, I’ve never been able to figure out the whole Facebook thing.

People just say to me “Find me on Facebook.”

“Yeah right.”

I gotta call in my kids to help me do that. The real experts!

Last week my daughter starts up this blog thing on something called WordPress, I’m aware of blogs, but totally intimidated by the whole thing. I don’t have a clue. But she’s a writer like no body’s business…I mean the kid is super articulate. I love to read her stuff.

She knows I like to write too, but I’m not in the same league for sure…but I get inspired after she’s kind of blazed the way and looked at all the main blog sites. She settles on WordPress…hey if it’s good enough for her…its good enough for me!

After some effort, I finally get the thing set up, and I spend a few days tinkering with it, and I generate my first official post. I feel pretty good about the whole experience.

I’m thinking, “The old man’s still in the game, I’m holding my own…can’t let these youngsters get to far ahead of me.”

I enjoyed the glow for about thirty seconds. Then I shared with my daughter that I created my first post.

She looks it over and says to me…”nice job Dad. So did you ‘Tag’ it?”

“Tag it?” I replied.

I had that deer in the headlights look on my face.

“I dunno. I don’t think I tagged it. Should I tag it?”

With a degree of patience befitting the likes of Mother Teresa, she pulls up to my desk, takes over the mouse, and deftly starts clicking here and there and then shows me what tagging is all about.

With my blogging 101 lesson completed, I’m once again reminded of how little I know, and the worst part is, that every day I live; I appear to become increasingly ignorant.

This can’t be a good trend…

I think she’s leaving now to go write up this experience in her blog…probably categorized under the heading of “Hopeless Causes.” I’ll likely be reading it in an about an hour and laughing my head off.

 

 

Copyright 2013