Archive for the ‘Galatians’ Category

Do something – 2

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (NKJV)


Having been on that side, Suzanne Fleet[i] knows that there are indeed some things you can do without even asking which can be so meaningful and helpful to a family (or a person) in crisis.  She suggests two more things you can do:

  1. Provide childcare. There’s only so much energy, time, and attention to take care of everyone in the family during a time of crisis. Fleet tells of her experience with a premature baby in the hospital:  “My husband had to be at work and I desperately needed to be cloned in order to take care of my 4-year-old son at home and be with my newborn preemie in the NICU at the same time. With no family in town, we needed childcare all the time. We had friends without whom we wouldn’t have made it. We could’ve used a lot more.”  Even if you can help for a few hours while the person takes care of their loved one, while they run an errand, or simply while they take a little break for themselves it could be a wonderful gift to them.
  2. Remember that when things quiet down, it doesn’t mean the crisis is over. Some of the most challenging times for people in crisis happen when those that came to be with them go back to their own lives and routines. Fleet writes, “When our baby was born, we heard from a lot of people who wanted to help. But after a few weeks, the offers were few. He was in the NICU for 2 1/2 months and many health issues remained for a year even after he came home. Those who remembered us after those first few weeks and stepped in to help were so very appreciated. Even those who simply sent messages made a difference. Make a note on your calendar to check back in with someone one month from today.”

Think of what other practical things you could do to help someone during a crisis.  Things like mowing the lawn, shoveling their driveway, some cleaning, changing the oil in their car, walking or feeding their pets.  A small contribution can make a huge difference in helping them get through these challenging moments of their life.


Father God, help me to take the practical steps to help someone in crisis so they can find some relief during a very difficult time.

[i] http://www.today.com/kindness/dont-ask-just-do-4-ways-you-can-help-family-t55141

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But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV)


Pastor Kathy Cannon[i] and her husband have adopted five children whom they call “the fantastic five.”  She shared these thoughts about adoption and foster parents.

  1. You won’t be able to save any children. You are not the Messiah – Jesus is. The reality is that you are not perfect, and that you are desperately in need of salvation yourself.  But, as she writes, “You will figure out 18 ways to deflect complements about what you’re doing for ‘these kids,’ because you know that your kids are really changing you even more.”
  2. Your children may have problems no one told you about. Just like biological children born with some hidden medical or developmental need, the same thing can happen in adoption. It is not anyone’s fault, and you now have the opportunity as a parent to learn, advocate, and help your child.
  3. You’ll never want to watch movies again. So many movies use the concept of an orphan or adoption. Not just Annie, who gets adopted by someone  a lot richer than her, but also Po searching for his birth pandas, Tarzan’s traumatic childhood, and others. While it should not be a secret to your adopted children that you chose them to be yours, you do need to be careful what messages they may get from the movie industry and which is more often than not idealistic and not very realistic.
  4. You’ll be forced into awkward conversations

It is important that you make their adoption as normal a fact of life as anything else.  Speaking about it from the time they are young will lessen the “shock value.”  Speaking about their birth parents will also normalize conversations about their lives and allow them to continue bonding with you while not dismissing other parts of their history.


Father God, you saved us and adopted us.  As parents, we chose to adopt our children so they could come to know you and be saved to.  Bless our relationship that it may always be a positive, loving one.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Ten-Things-No-One-Tells-You-About-Adoption/

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 (NKJV)


Yesterday we shared the first part of the three-minute exercise that Leslie Becker-Phelps[i], who writes for WebMD, says will help us have a closer relationship with our spouse.  Today we continue with the rest of this short, simple, but valuable tool:

  • When the timer sounds, close your eyes and sit quietly for a moment. And again, briefly share thoughts with each other.
  • Close your eyes again. This time, you don’t need to use a timer (though you can if you want).
  • Imagine one thing you said you love, and be aware of the loving feeling you experience. Then allow the image to drop away so that you are left solely with the loving feeling. (As you move through your day and notice things you truly appreciate, you might choose to reconnect with the deep sense of love.) When you are done, open your eyes.
  • Briefly bring back to mind the things they’ve said they love. These offer a window into who they are deep inside. With this awareness, take a moment to feel loving toward the person across from you.

As Becker-Phelps explains about this exercise, “It can feel uncomfortable to consciously go there because love opens people to feeling vulnerable. But consider this: The exercise offers a way for you to get to know yourself and someone else in an emotionally connected and deeply satisfying way.”

From someone whose love for her husband was strong come these words, “Without mutual forbearance and love no earthly power can hold you and your husband in the bonds of Christian unity. Your companionship in the marriage relation should be close and tender, holy and elevated, breathing a spiritual power into your lives, that you may be everything to each other that God’s word requires. When you reach the condition that the Lord desires you to reach, you will find heaven below and God in your life.”[ii]

Father, may our marriage be the heaven below you desire for us.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/10/get-closer-with-this-simple-exercise.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_101015&ctr=wnl-sxr-101015_nsl-promo-3_title&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.112

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If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? Galatians 5:15 (MSG)

Psychologist Judith Wallerstein[i] followed a group of children of divorce from the 1970s into the 1990s. She interviewed them at 18 months, and then five, ten, fifteen and twenty-five years after their parents’ divorce, expecting to find that they had bounced back. But what she found was dismaying: Even 25 years after the divorce, these children continued to experience substantial expectations of failure, fear of loss, fear of change and fear of conflict. They were especially challenged when they began to form their own romantic relationships. As she explains, “Contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it rises in adulthood as serious romantic relationships move center stage . . . Anxiety leads many [adult children of divorce] into making bad choices in relationships, giving up hastily when problems arise, or avoiding relationships altogether.”  In addition she found:

Compared to kids from intact homes, children who experienced their parents’ divorce view premarital sex and cohabitation more favorably. This is problematic given that cohabiting couples have more breakups, greater risk of domestic violence and are more likely to experience divorce themselves.

Children again feel abandoned as parents pursue better relationships after the breakup.  A second marriage brings complications and new emotions for children – not to mention new stepsiblings, stepparents and step-grandparents, who often are in competition for the parent’s attention. Suddenly, others are competing for the affection of the child’s divorced, and now remarried, parent.

The quick way for parents often results in emotional damage that the children will carry for 30 years or even for the rest of their lives.  While we often think of children as resilient, divorce is no small thing to them. It is the violent ripping apart of their parents, a loss of stability and often a complete shock.  How can we do that to them to gratify our selfish desires?

Father God, help us to think of our children before taking these steps.

[i] Ibid.

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Managing togetherness

Through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 (NKJV)


Yesterday we recommended that couples facing challenges ask themselves three questions.  The first one is, “What Makes us want to stay together?”  The second question looks similar:


  1. How have you managed to stay together?[i]

If you are upset with your spouse, you may remember some negative ways in which you have tried to cope.  For instance, you may have been sleeping in separate rooms, or tried to live separate lives, or maybe you have tried to avoid all conflict.  Maybe you have given each other the cold shoulder or even the silent treatment.

At the same time, you probably have used some more positive ways of coping as well.  What you need to do right now is to bring to mind what you do or have you done in the past to keep the enjoyment and the appreciation, and a desire to keep your relationship alive.

As an example, maybe you have shown respect for each other’s thoughts and feelings.  Perhaps one of you have learned to walk away when things get heated so you will come back to a calmer discussion later. You may have also notice that your spouse is really trying to please you, which can help you stay invested in working things out during particularly frustrating times.

The point is that whether in negative or positive ways you have managed to stay together through some of the difficult, challenging times in your relationship.  It can help you to realize that you have managed staying together so far and how you have done it.  You have not given up yet.  Give yourself credit for that and use your past experience to strengthen your relationship for a better future.  A Christian author wrote, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”[ii]  It is also true for relationships that we have nothing to fear except as we forget all that God has already done to help us stay together in the past.


Heavenly Father, You have helped us stay together.  We ask you to help us in the future so we may remain together for our benefit, for our children’s well-being, and for your honor and glory.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2013/07/3-questions-to-get-your-relationship-back-on-track.html?ecd=wnl_men_080513&ctr=wnl-men-080513_hdln_3&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d(accessed 1-10-15)

[ii] White, E.G.(1992). Last Day Events. Pacific Press: Nampa, ID.

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The Option of Adoption

Scripture: Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:3-7 (NKJV)

Observation: Paul speaks of the timely arrival of Jesus to redeem God’s people from the slavery of sin. Jesus came at the right time, that is, at the time the prophecies foretold of His arrival (see Daniel 9). For more than 400 years, the Hebrews had been salves in Egypt, but God sent Moses to lead them out to freedom and to the promised land. In the same way, Jesus came to pay the price of redemption and lead His people our of the slavery of sin and to the Promised Land of eternal life.

Application: Many years ago, as I was doing my internship at a counseling center, my supervisor told me one day of a conversation he had with is daughter. He told her, “If there were 100 children standing against a wall, and you were one of them, and I was asked to choose any of those children to be mine. . . I would still choose you.” Now, his daughter was not adopted, but he wanted to assure her that even though she was biologically born to him and his wife, they were not simply obligated or force to keep her but rather they loved her and were thrilled to have her in their lives.
Children of adoption have a special place in the heart of the parents who adopted them. They were chosen by their parents. They could have been chosen by somebody else or they might have been raised in an orphanage or in foster homes; instead, they were chosen to live in a home, a family, raised by loving parents. At some point in their lives they may wonder why their biological parents didn’t want them or didn’t raise them – that is normal and nothing to be feared.
One of the questions we are sometimes asked is when the children should be told they are adopted. The consensus among experts is that children should be told as they grow up as part of their normal life and experience. As long as they are always surrounded with the love of their parents, their adoption will not be a shock to them. They can be taught of the great joy and privilege of having been chosen and raised by two very special people who wanted to have children to love.
Here’s some valuable information from www.healthychildren,org (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/types-of-families/pages/When-to-Tell-Your-Child-About-Adoption.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token)
For some parents, telling their child that he is adopted is a formidable, anxiety-provoking task, and thus they put it off or avoid it. However, at some point adopted youngsters need to be told about their origins, ideally even before middle childhood. During their preschool years, children begin asking ques-tions like “Where do babies come from?” That is a good time to begin introducing information about their special backgrounds.
What should you say? Make your explanation simple, direct, and honest. Ex-plain that he was not born to you. Tell him that he was born to other parents who could not take care of him. Then describe why you chose to adopt a child. Talk about how much you and your spouse wanted him, and briefly explain the process you went through to get him.
Allow your child to ask questions. For example, he might want to know “What happened to my first mommy and daddy? Where are they?” You can share a little bit of that information with him, but there is no need to go into too much detail. Your comments should answer his questions in ways appropriate for his maturity level. At the time of the adoption you should have been given some basic information about your child’s biological parents—from medical issues (a family history of heart disease, for example) to personal characteristics. (Was the father tall and athletic? Was the mother artistic?) Someday you will want to pass along all of this information to your youngster. One useful way to address all kinds of adoption questions is with a “life-book,” a scrapbook of all of the information you have about his past. This can be very helpful to a child with a complicated past of multiple moves. This book can be “read” in more detail to the child as he matures.
If your child is already of school age and has not been told that he is adopted, you need to talk with him about it, as early during this time of life as possible. Adoption should not be a secret. Every youngster needs to have an honest understanding of his origin. Adopted children who have not been told seem to sense that somehow they are different; this nagging intuition can in-fluence their self-image. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to discuss it with your child. Also, he is liable to find out from someone else—perhaps by overhearing the conversations of relatives, or from teasing by neighborhood children who have learned from their own parents that he is adopted.
If you have waited until the middle years of childhood to tell your youngster that he is adopted, he may be upset, but that is a natural reaction. Allow him to express his feelings. Talk about why he is sad or angry, and let him know that you acknowledge and understand those feelings. Remind him that you and your spouse love him, that this is his family and always will be.
Often parents who are reluctant to tell their youngster about the adoption may have difficulties of their own in accepting that their son or daughter is not their biological child. Sometimes they might feel ashamed or inadequate be-cause they could not have children of their own, and they avoid explaining the adoption to their youngster so that they will not have to revisit that issue.
Sometimes parents are hesitant to talk about the adoption because they are trying to be protective of their child’s feelings, sensing that he might be hurt at finding out he was adopted. They might also be afraid of being rejected by their adopted youngster. They might think, “What if my son says, ‘I don’t want to live with you anymore; I want to go live with my real mommy’?” That, how-ever, is an uncommon reaction, and not one that children are really serious about pursuing.
Keep in mind that it is important for the child to know about his adoption by the time he enters school. Your honest communication about this impor-tant issue early on can strengthen the relationship you have with him, build-ing a strong bond of trust. So if you have any apprehensions about telling your child, try getting beyond them.
After you’ve told your child, he will have more questions about it in the days, weeks, and years ahead. His questions are normal and do not reflect a lack of affection toward you. The more your child talks about it with you, the more comfortable he will feel with the idea, and the stronger his relationship will become with you.

Your answers to these questions should be direct but still sensitive to the emotional maturity level of your youngster, and what he has already learned and understands about the adoption. Do not dismiss these questions and con-cerns, but do not overreact to them either. Acknowledge the fact that his fam-ily situation is different from that of many or most of his friends. At the same time, do not magnify the significance of his special circumstances, nor dwell upon them. Your child’s basic needs are the same, regardless of whether he is living with biological or adoptive parents, and most aspects of his life will be the same as those of his peers.
If your child becomes quiet about the adoption after you have talked about it, give him some time alone with his thoughts. Then, if he hasn’t raised the is-sue again within a few weeks, you might say something like “Since we talked about the adoption, you haven’t said anything more about it. You must have some feelings about it. Do you ever think about your other mommy and daddy? Do you have any other questions you want to ask me?” Make sure he feels as comfortable as possible with the way he became part of your family.
You should not leave it to your child to continue the conversation. Raise is-sues naturally and gently. For example, at his birthday you might say, “I won-der if your birth mom is thinking about you today? She would be proud if she knew you.” Another time you might comment on a physical characteristic, as in, “I bet those broad shoulders came from your birth dad. I remember when I met him…”
There are some normal stages through which your adopted child is likely to pass. During the ages of five to seven years, for example, he may understand that he has “two mothers” and “two fathers,” but the social customs and the full meaning of adoption are probably still a bit unclear. He is likely to ask questions about why his birth mother did not keep him. And he may have anxiety-generating thoughts like “Since my first mother left me, maybe my second one might too.”
When your adopted child is a little older—between the ages of seven to nine years old—he will develop a better understanding of being adopted. You can expect to be asked specific questions about his biological parents. In a sense, he will be trying to construct a more accurate “memory” of his original family, which of course is really just a fantasy about his first mother and father and how he came to be adopted.
Later in the middle years—during ages nine through twelve—all children, in-cluding those who are adopted, become increasingly concerned with their ap-pearance and fitting in. Your adopted youngster may become more curious about and sensitive to differences in his own hair color or eye color if it differs from your own. He will also become even more interested in his biological par-ents, and what his original cultural origins may have been. Expect many more questions about both his biological and adoptive relatives, and his family tree.

Prayer: Father, thank You for creating us, and thank You that through Jesus you have given us the adoption as children who have left You and turn our backs on You, but yet You have taken us back with full rights and privileges as Your children. Help us to extend the same kind of love to others, who are also Your children.

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