Tag Archives: child of God

God Chooses to Adopt You

Derek and Kristen remember the moment God confirmed their call to adopt internationally. After weeks of questioning, the title of the sermon that fateful Sunday morning read, “God Adopts Us into His Family.” Seven months later, after countless prayers, fundraising, and mountains of paperwork, they received confirmation that two beautiful children awaited them in Uganda. Let me introduce you to Viola and Gideon.

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The journey had just begun. It would take nearly all of their emotional, mental, and financial resources, plus 73 days in Uganda attending court hearings and completing more paperwork before Derek and Kristen could bring their children home. Despite all it took, Kristen has said, “I love that adoption is the way I became a mother.” It has been nearly two years and Viola and Gideon are happy, healthy, and secure in their forever home. They have a new sense of belonging and they have received new identities.

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God uses the imagery of adoption to help us understand the relationship He offers and desires to have with us.

In Romans 8:15-17 the apostle Paul says, “You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, ‘Abba! Father!’ as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His.”

Just like Derek and Kristen chose Gideon and Viola, GOD CHOSE YOU. Derek and Kristen went to great lengths to adopt. God has gone to even greater lengths – sacrificing the son He already had in order to make us His children too. Just like Viola and Gideon could do nothing to earn or deserve their parents’ love, we can do nothing to earn God’s love and we certainly do not deserve His grace. Just like Gideon and Viola received new identities, we receive new identities in Christ. And even though Viola and Gideon are adopted, they have the same rights as a biological child. Similarly, as God’s adopted beloved children, we receive the same inheritance as Christ.

God chose to adopt us! Our worth is found in our true identity as God’s beloved children! But like Viola and Gideon were once orphans, before we accept God’s grace and love, we are spiritual orphans. If you have ever been to an orphanage, you may have noticed that after the initial shyness has worn off, the children tend to compete with one another for whatever you have to offer. As spiritual orphans, we tend to do the same thing. In fact, Henri Nouwen says that we try to earn worth through what we do, what we have, or what others say about us.

Listen, true worth is only found in receiving our identity as God’s beloved. Look at 1 John 3:1-2, which says, “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us – He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now.”

Beloved means “dearly loved or favorite.” You are God’s favorite! So, my question is this: Are you living as a beloved child of God or are you still living with orphan mentality?

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An orphan is hopeless. A daughter is hopeful. An orphan is unsure and anxious. A son is assured and confident. An orphan simply survives. A daughter thrives. An orphan competes. A son is content. An orphan has no father to provide a name and therefore creates his own identity from the outside and hopes no one finds out what is on the inside. A daughter receives her name from her daddy and confidently shares what’s inside with others.

The only source of identity and worth that truly satisfies is receiving our adoption into God’s family as His beloved child. The action step is actually not what we need to do, but what we need to stop doing. Stop trying to earn God’s love. Stop looking for worth or identity in what you do, what you have or what others say about you. Viola and Gideon are no longer nameless. They are now Viola and Gideon Kimball. Live confidently out of the name your Heavenly father has given you, the name Beloved.

 

Embracing Small Dog Syndrome

 

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Anyone who knows me knows Hank, my Snorkie pup. It’s kind of amazing that it has taken this long for Hank to appear in a blog! Hank is sensitive, way too smart, playful, and energetic. He is a dog that knows what he wants and knows how to communicate it. And of course, he’s adorable! However, Hank has small dog syndrome. He is a 14 lbs fluff ball on the outside. But he is 100 lbs of fierce guard dog on the inside. He believes he can take on anything and everyone. He has very little fear. In his mind, he owns the whole neighborhood and everyone needs his permission to pass in front of our house or through his yard. Similar to Hank, we might look like lambs on the outside, but we have the power of the living God on the inside. I wonder how often God longs for us to act with the belief and knowledge of that truth.

Recently I’ve been struck by how we don’t typically see ourselves the way God sees us. For that matter, I don’t know that we typically see ourselves the way others see us! So often we underestimate ourselves, and worst of all, we underestimate what God wants to do through us. God’s desire is to use us, despite of and BECAUSE of our weaknesses, to bring glory to God and His kingdom. Paul says, “[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).” God is not embarrassed or ashamed of our weaknesses. No, He delights in them and uses them for His purposes. He longs for us to step out in faith so that he can finish in His strength the tasks that cannot possibly be finished in our own.

In Deuteronomy, God speaks through Moses to give a message to Joshua and the rest of the spies being sent in to scout the Promised Land. He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).” That message still applies to us today. We can be strong and courageous, like Hank watching over the neighborhood, because we know that God goes with us, will never leave us, and will never forsake us. When we live out that truth and remember our true identity is found in Christ, we can live with great courage, be amazingly bold, and demonstrate unshakable faith. We might feel like “small dogs” but because of our identity in Christ and the power of God within us, we need to live like German shepherds.

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When a fastball looks more like a change up: Relying on God’s strength instead of your own

Power pitcher, Roger Clemons, won over 350 games, struck out 4672 batters, and won two World Series Championships during his illustrious major league baseball career that spanned over twenty years with four different teams. Roger was elected to his first of 11 All Star teams in 1986, his third year in the league. Clemons took the mound as the starting pitcher for his American League team in the bottom of the first inning and though he was able to get through the inning without giving up a run, he was clearly nervous.

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As a Boston Red Sox, playing in the American League, where a designated hitter is allowed, Roger had not had to bat during his major league career. Now playing the All Star game in a National League ballpark, where there is no designated hitter, Roger stepped to the plate in the top of the second inning to face National League counterpart, Dwight Gooden. Clemons struck out looking at three straight pitches. As the story goes, he returned to the dugout and asked his fellow teammates if his pitches looked the same as the ones he just faced. A teammate responded, “No, you pitch harder.” Clemons returned to the mound brimming with confidence and pitched two more shutout innings. He earned the All Star game MVP and went on that season to not only win his first of 7 Cy Young Awards (an award given to the best pitcher in each league) but also the American League MVP award, which is rarely given to a pitcher.

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Like Clemons, I wonder how often I lose confidence and grow insecure because I lose perspective. Clemons needed to be reminded of the strength and power behind his fastball. I need to be reminded of God’s strength and power through me. Unfortunately, Roger’s ability to throw a 90 mile per hour fastball faded over time and his career eventually ended. Fortunately, God’s strength and power never fades and are at my disposal at all times.

However, much of the time, it sure doesn’t feel like it! Instead of an All Star, power pitcher able to strike out the side, I typically feel like an old, washed up knuckleballer getting hit all over the park!  And in those moments of weakness I realize three things:

1. I’ve often lost sight of my identity in Christ. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” As God’s child, I have been called up to play in the major leagues yet I often act as if I’m still in the minors.

2. Because I lose sight that I am a child of God, I begin to rely on my own strength and abilities. However 1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

3. I tend to forget that the moments of weakness, when my confidence has been shaken, are the times when God’s power is most evident. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul says, “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” And when God’s power is made evident in my life, God’s name is glorified, and my confidence grows… not confidence in my own ability. No. My confidence in my identity as God’s child grows, a child who has access to her Father’s strength and power to do things that are beyond comprehension or imagination.

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