Nuzzling in God’s Neck – A Sunday Snippet

Maybe you had onjoanna-sweenye of those conversations with your mom, dad, or stepparent.
Maybe your brother or sister is furious that you like your stepmother.
Maybe, even though everything went well, you’re exhausted from keeping parents and steps and assorted others happy at a family event.
Maybe you’re scared because arguments at home sound so similar to the pre-divorce skirmishes you heard as a child.
Maybe life is just hard.

During these times wouldn’t it be great if you could crawl onto God’s lap, let Him wrap His arms around you, and tuck your head into his neck like a little child? But can we do that? Should we do that?

First, can we do that?
Many people see God as ominous, fearful, and untouchable, but as Christians the Bible says, “You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.1 Abba Father can be translated “Daddy.” This is God’s perspective of our relationship with Him, but perhaps a picture can help.

One of my favorites is this picture of President Kennedy with his son, John, playing under the presidential desk.

John Jr. isn’t thinking about being with the leader of the free world. He is with his dad. Likewise, God wants us to curl up with Him, Abba Father, in spite of the fact he is the ruler of all creation.

Second, should we do that?
Countless scriptures declare, “Yes!!!

Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.2

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.3

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.4Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.  For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.5

Third, how do we do that?
Preferences vary. Some literally crawl onto the couch or recliner and pretend they’re in God’s arms. Others pray. For some people, walking with God helps bring God’s reality in troubling situations.

How we embrace our Abba Father relationship doesn’t’ matter. God isn’t picky. He’s just waiting with open arms for us to come to him.

 

1Romans 8:15, NLT
2Hebrews 4:16, NLT
31 Peter 5:7, NLT
4Psalms 121: 2-3, NIV
5Psalms 103-13-14, NLT

Images
Joanna Sweeny
Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

 

 

 

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The Gift of Peace (Not Hating Christmas Anymore)

Sleep in heavenly peace…sleep in heavenly peace.1

When I hear adults with divorced parents describe Christmas and families, heavenly peace rarely tops the list. Hassle, aggravating, sad, confusing, disappointing, draining, and annoying all make the list, however.

A popular phrase is, “Well, we have to go here, then we have to go there, then we have to go there...,” and it’s always preceded by a heavy sigh. Christmas brings to the forefront all of our divorce-related losses.

But if we’re not careful, the pain of loss becomes a dark secret I’ve heard multiple times—I hate Christmas. Maybe we don’t say it out loud, but it floats around our mind. Unfortunately, our real heart’s cry is for a peaceful holiday. If parents could just get along…start-of-bethlehem-nativity-by-garrett-w-30

So if you’re secretly waiting for Christmas to be over, I encourage you to revisit the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of the Prince of Peace.

The one who brings true peace
1) Peace was in Jesus’ character description before he was born.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”2

2) When Jesus was born, peace was in the good news the angels proclaimed:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”3

3) Jesus is peace and desires to give us peace.
Jesus said, “”I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.4

Is peace really possible?peace-ornament-by-john-attebury
Regardless of how frustrating things may get with spouses, parents, stepparents, in-laws, ex-in-laws, siblings, ex-siblings and the extended family, Jesus offers His peace in the craziness. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”5

God wants to give you the gift of peace—peace in your heart, peace in your mind, peace in your spirit—not the peace the world gives, but true peace that only God can give through His son Jesus.

Click here to learn how you can accept the gift of heavenly peace God offers. It may not make the infighting, choosing sides, unforgiveness, and other fractured-family dynamics go away, but you will have supernatural peace amidst it all.

My prayer for you is you’ll receive the wonderful gift of peace from Jesus; not just for Christmas, but for all of the new year!
“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.”6

 

1Silent Night, Franz Xaver, Joseph Mohr
2Isaiah 9:6. ESV
3Luke 2:14 ESV
4John 14:27 NLT
5John 16:33. NIV
6 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV
Images
Start of Bethlehem Nativity by Garrett W
Peace Ornament by John Attebury

Taste and See – A Sunday Snippet

Due to a ministry trip, I haven’t seen my beloved wife for ten days (other than short Google Hangout calls). As I thought of seeing her today and enjoying our first kiss in days, I was reminded of the scripture “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Right now the longing to see my wife is beyond words. Oh that I would have that same desire to spend time with my Lord and praise Him like David does in Psalm 34 verses 1 – 8.

SONY DSC
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
 God we trust by Donny Warbritton cropped
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! [ESV]

Photos:

freedom…! by Kaylan Chakravarthy

God we trust by Donny Warbritton cropped

 

Healed, but Dead – A Sunday Snippet

Jesus was walking with His disciples when ten lepers approach Himten lepers and ask to be healed. For a leper to talk to anyone was risky at best. Speaking to a Rabbi was worse. But the coup de grace was some of them were Samaritans—which, to the average Jew, was worse than being a leper. But Jesus, being Jesus, says “go show yourself to the priests.”1 In essence, “I’ve answered your request. You’ll be healed.”

So off they go to the chief priests who were responsible for verifying that the leprosy was gone and pronouncing people cured. But on the way they are healed! A big deal even by today’s medical standards.

Thankful hearts?
But here’s where things get interesting. One of the lepers, a Samaritan,  realizes he’s healed, turns around and searches until he finds Jesus. He then throws Himself at Jesus’ feet thanking Him for his healing.

Jthankful leper medianaesus asks, ““Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?2 Then Jesus says something that is heartbreaking—““Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”3

Why is that heartbreaking? To me it says that only one leper was saved by faith in Christ and would spend eternity in Heaven. The other nine, though healed, were still dead in their sins. Healed, but dead.

This principle is critical to understand because at Adult Children of Divorce Ministries we’re committed to helping adults with divorced parents heal from the “leprosy” parental divorce can cause. This type of “leprosy” maims hope, kills joy, and withers relationships.

But healing from the “leprosy” of parental divorce without the greater healing of our sin problem is simply being healed, but dead. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”4 Without Jesus, we may overcome common ACD issues and live a full life, but when we die, we won’t have Jesus’ protection from the wrath God pours out on all sin.

The healing that lasts
Like dealing with ACD issues, the Christian walk is a journey. It starts by confessing our sins (the wrong things we do, say, and think), acknowledging that Jesus died for those sins, and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord over our lives. The journey continues with praying regularly with God, reading and studying the Bible, and gathering with other Christians in a Bible-teaching church.Jesus is the bridge to eternal life

Our desire is to help you break the cycle of divorce. But Jesus said, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?5 If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please click here to learn how you can be healed, but not dead!

1Luke 17:14, New King James Version
2Luke 17:17, New Living Translation
3Luke 17:19, ibid
4John 14:6, New King James Version
5Matthew 16:26, New King James Version

 

First Things First – Starting the Year off Right

rescued picture

“Rescued” by Darren Hoover

This is my favorite picture, because it sums up my life. I tried to do things on my own, yet peace alluded me. I felt like I was always struggling to stay above water with waves of fear, stress, anger, and temptations washing over me. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ thirty-one years ago, I finally felt  I had something solid to hold onto and a process of change began that continues to this day. And standing on the truths of the Bible has been a a vital help in dealing with the issues that were created by my parents’ divorce.

I hope that you will make this year a breakthrough time for you. When you look back at 2015, may you see how your fears were reduced and kept in check, anger issues were diminished, and strained relationships were improved or restored. All of these are possible! But the foundation for these breakthroughs is built upon the saving love of God through Jesus Christ.The first issue we need to deal with is our sin. And only Jesus Christ can cleanse us from our sins.

If you don’t understand what following Jesus means and want to better understand and see examples of the exciting things He can do, please click here for “The Message of the Cross” from Billy Graham.  Regardless of the “waves” you are struggling with, Jesus can heal and restore. More important, He wants to heal and restore. Learn more in this surprising and touching video.

May God richly bless you all this new year.

Kent

Finally Picked! A Sunday Snippet

Athletic prowess was not my forte as a child. I could hold my own, but when teams were picked, only two or three kids dreaded the choose-your-players process more than I did. It felt like the entire alphabet of names was covered twice before the “special people” would call my name—regardless of whether it was basketball, football, or even kickball.kickball croppedBut the secret pain of non-selection was a distant memory until I heard a teaching on Jesus’ words “follow me.” In Luke 6:13-16 Jesus picks His inner-circle of disciples.1 When Jesus invited the disciples to follow Him, not one would have been chosen by the “special people” of that day!

We see this when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.”2 Jesus didn’t limit his choices to the ones who can throw, kick, or catch a ball the best. That’s how I made the cut! In 1983, Jesus said, “Kent, follow Me.” I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and committed to follow Him all my days. What a privilege to be chosen for the King of the Universe’s team!!! But there’s good news for you too.

Were you overlooked when the” teams” were chosen at school, at work, or at home? God is inviting you to join His team—a group billions strong—right now. The only thing necessary is to do what I did:

  • Confess that you’ve sinned against God
  • Commit to stop doing that sin anymore
  • Ask God for His forgiveness
  • Make Jesus the Lord of your life and love Him above all else

How sweet it is to be “picked” for the ultimate team! Won’t you join me? If you’d like more information on how you can be on the winning team click here.

choosing the disciples from celebrationpublications.org

1”And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.” NKJV
2from Matthew 5:1-10, NKJV

Praise From a Thankful Heart –A Sunday Snippet

O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your gWoman with Arms in the Airlory above the heavens!1
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?2

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.3
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.4
O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!5

 

1Psalm 8:1, New King James Version
2Psalm 8:3, New Living Translation
3Psalm 9:1-2, New Living Translation
4Psalm 9:9, New Living Translation
5Psalm 8:1a, New King James Version