Tag Archives: God

Charles Mully – A Life Well Lived

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I am flabbergasted tonight after watching the life of Charles Mully of Kenya! From orphaned, unwanted and utterly hopeless to the Midas like businessman and millionaire leading to a Paul like encounter with God from which sprung a life of sacrifice and surrender resulting in the care of over 12,000 orphans and eternal treasure! Wow! I am so moved and awed by this movie, I almost feel paralyzed. You can watch the trailer of the movie Mully here.

Why did this movie particularly impact me? Because it is the biography of a man who is a hero. As my husband, Peter said, “It’s a true life fairytale, worth far more than the cost of the tickets!” There are almost no words to describe what this man has done in his lifetime – puts the rest of us to shame. His life plays out like a modern day Moses story. He is possibly one of the most amazing men living on the face of the earth being used by God in a powerful way to fulfill His command in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans…in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)

Impact #1: God Chooses the Weak of the World: “For consider your calling, brothers [sisters]: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

This passage describes Mully! He came from a very impoverished family which boasted an alcoholic, abusive father who could not find a job and provide for them. They lived in a mud hut out in the village. From there, his family abandoned him and left him to his own devices which led him to utter hopelessness and despair. He begged and stole to make a living. He had no chance of an education nor a job. Yet, today, it is Mully and his wife Esther who have impacted the lives of thousands of orphans in Kenya giving them a future and a hope here, in this life, and in eternity while the rest of us who had that comfort and stability, family, home, education and job sit back doing very little in comparison to impact God’s kingdom. The Bible does say that to whom much is given, much is expected. Let’s rethink our lives.

Impact #2: Dying to Live:“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25.

Mully had a God encounter when he was at the peak of his business success with a transportation empire, real estate business as well as becoming the oil baron in large parts of Kenya. He was a millionaire who was respected and worshipped, living in huge houses with servants to tend to his family’s needs. While on that peak, he had an encounter with God where he wrestled for hours with Him and surrendered, choosing to stop all his business dealings and instead remembered his own life struggles and went out to take orphaned children off the streets to help them have home and family. This required his entire family, including his six children to make major changes. His was a family that had grown up in the lap of luxury, living the high life of comfort, wealth and travels, with servants at their beck and call. Dad was now acting like a crazy man, not bringing in any more money and expecting all of them to change with him. They now had to give up all that luxury, roll up their sleeves and help in care of the filthy, angry, hurting, lice-infested orphaned children from the streets of Kenya. They started out hating the kids and even had to be sent away to boarding school. But as funds ran low, they could not even afford the school and were forced to return home to live and study and care for the orphaned kids. They soon saw the power of God at work in their parents’ lives and the effects of their love and care on the orphaned children’s lives. Today, all of Mully’s biological children serve in the Mully’s Children’s Family Ministry. Each of them had to die to self to gain eternal joy. The entire family exemplifies John 12:24-25.

Impact #3: Equality in Christ: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:9-11

Two of Mully’s adult children married rescued children. This may not seem like a big deal in a western culture like we have in the US but in most developing nations, bloodlines, family, education, success, and morality play a HUGE role in how people are treated. This is true in most Christian communities too. So, for a son or daughter of the organization’s head to marry a rescued, street child and former orphan speaks volumes. It means that they went counter culture and ensured that every person’s value and identity was seen through the eyes of Scripture and not through the world’s lenses. It implied that all the children whether biological or rescued were rightfully treated with the value and dignity endowed on them by their Creator! What a gift Mully has given his family!

Impact #4: Welcoming the Orphaned & Vulnerable Children: “So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Luke 12:22-23

 

Mully exemplified this truth. Most of his friends did not understand his mission and watched from the sidelines. But, he was clear that as a former rescued street child, his mission was to rescue the most vulnerable, orphaned children. He welcomed them in droves into His home. Starting from three kids, he went on to invite over 12,000 children to become a part of his family and a part of God’s family. He was “Daddy Mully” to all the children. They were loved and cared for as his own in obedience to God.

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Impact #5: God’s Kingdom vs Man’s Kingdom: “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” Luke 12:24

Kenya is a predominantly Christian country. Yet, when Mully, the street kid who had lived years begging on the streets and had travelled by foot for hours to reach the big city of Nairobi, went from person to person and house to house begging for help to find a job, nobody wanted to help him. If they did look, it was only to tell him to stop being lazy by begging but instead to go find work! The only person who willingly gave Mully a hand up was an Indian woman living in Kenya who welcomed him into her home and gave him the job of a maid! That gesture of acceptance made a world of difference for Mully. It was the first time in his life that he had a place to stay and food to eat. He worked extremely hard and in just six months they promoted to a Manager of 70 people in that family’s business. It was in their business employ, in the fields that Mully met and married his beautiful wife. He was now well on his way to hard work and success!

In contrast, when Mully rescued children from the streets, many of whom had serious problems, the church that Mully attended decided that the children didn’t fit into their societal norms and he was told to not return with “those children” or he will be kicked out of the church! What a tragic picture of Christianity. How often do we feel the same way in our churches too? Are we welcoming of the differently-abled, the hurting, the angry, the abused, the messy people of this world or do we turn our backs on them because they don’t fit into our pretty, neat, moral Christian ideological box? Do we remember Jesus’ words when He began His ministry? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18 Is our ministry and welcome in our churches and homes in line with Jesus’ vision and mission?

Mully went on to create a mini paradise in the desert with the help of all the children he rescued. Today, his family joyfully partners with him in serving the Lord so beautifully caring for over 12,000 children. This is a jaw dropping movie which can only be explained as the hand of God moving to raise up a modern day Moses! Wow!

Impact #6: The Gospel in Action: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:3-10

Mully is a type of Christ. He laid everything down – his wealth, status, power, control, family, friends, and life itself for the sake of unknown children who could very well retaliate in anger, even kill him. He was paying the price to rescue them and make them a part of his family. Mully chose to lay it all down, knowing he could lose his very life on the streets at night to give them temporal and eternal hope. So too, God chose to send His beloved Son into the world (John 3:16), knowing that we would hate Him, reject and persecute Him and finally torture and take His very life. But, He willingly paid the price for us orphans so that we could become Sons and Daughters of God Most High! We just have to accept His invitation and His love to gain eternal peace, joy and rest as His beloved children. Don’t delay – accept His free gift today! He paid the price, its free for us!

Impact #8: Gratitude and Fruit: “We love each other because he loved us first. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:30-21  And. “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”” Luke 10:27

Finally, this movie should drive each of our hearts to be moved into action. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few! Let’s pray that the Lord of the harvest will nudge many of us to step out of our comfort zones into the suffering world to  care for the least of these. In so doing, we could give eternal hope to a child and bring Jesus much glory. Friends, there are over 450,000 children in the US foster system and over 17 million (17,000,000) orphans in India alone. Each child has been created by God for a purpose and like Mully has the potential to impact many lives if we step down and walk with them.

Would you please prayerfully ask God to open your eyes to His truths – it might look like you are losing here on earth if you stepped down but you gain eternally like Mully and his family are gaining! I want to encourage everyone to see the movie Mully (https://mcfus.org). It is worth every dollar you pay.

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Golden Calf Anyone?

John 3:16 states: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Who is this person who died for us? I am going to do a quick survey of the Bible to see.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5). He is the Creator, the Word who became a human being – He laid aside His glory, humbled Himself and stepped down into this disgusting, abhorrent, sin filled earth just to die for us so we can have the hope of heaven.

In Isaiah 6, we are taken into the heavenly throne room of this God sitting in majesty surrounded by Seraphs who cried out: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. Isaiah’s only response was: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! His holiness and purity compared to man’s sinfulness is clearly depicted here.

When Moses asked to see God, this is how God responded: Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth; who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship (Exodus 34:6-8).…

Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light……. behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified (John 17:2, 5-6).

John , one of the closest disciples of Jesus, describes his encounter with the risen Lord: behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald … the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Revelation 4:2-4, 9-11).

Revelation 5: 9-10, 13-14: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,and they shall reign on the earth.”…….And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever”…….And (they) fell down and worshiped him!

This is the picture the Bible consistently paints of this awesome, amazing God. A God who wants us to worship Him with ALL our hearts, minds, soul and strength.

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Most of us know this in our heads. Yet, how do we perceive this God from our human perspective on a day to day basis?

The Israelites had just experienced such awesome miracles at the hand of God, yet they decided to worship the golden calf, truly believing in their hearts that they were worshiping God! Aaron received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4-6)! When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” They started believing that the golden calf was the one true God and soon their lifestyle became just like all the surrounding pagan nations.

If you and I were to honestly examine our hearts, we know that though we may say or think we worship Jesus, we most probably worship golden calves! God reminds us that our hearts are desperately wicked and that we naturally love darkness rather than the light.

I have identified three ways that could reveal our hearts’ idolatry:

  1. How do we react when something dear to our hearts is suddenly taken away from us by God?
  2. What would we do if we were called to lay down our lives sacrificially. Is Jesus still the object of our worship?
  3. A question we need to repeatedly ask ourselves is: what has replaced Jesus in our lives? – ourselves, our children, our spouse, our family, our lineage, our DNA, our education, our jobs, our looks, our position, our community, our friendships, our health, our money, our vacations, our properties, our worldly goods, etc. How different is our life from that of those who don’t believe in Jesus  around us? Are we pursuing the same dreams they are pursuing  – jobs, children’s education and activities, sports, entertainment, vacations, homes, things, cars, etc.? Are we building our own empires? Are we compromising on our Biblical values – stepping on the slippery slope of the world’s morality and values for personal gain? Do we pride ourselves like the Pharisees on being “good moral Christians” looking down on those who are not? Do we treat everyone with respect and honor higher than ourselves? Do we sacrificially step out to love and care for the hurting, the broken, the poor, the sinful like Jesus did?

For me personally, one of my idols is my children and their success. Just like most parents I know, particularly Indian parents, I too wanted them to be good, to study well, to look nice, to be smart, talented, etc. I would even justify my frustration and anger  by convincing myself that all this was good for their future or even that if they succeeded, they would be able to glorify God. Yet, when God didn’t grant me my heart’s desire because my son and daughter struggled for years due to their childhood trauma, I was angry that God was not stepping in and making them succeed.  I wouldn’t easily admit it, but I became angry not so much for His honor but for mine, for we live in a society where children’s success or failure directly translates to parenting skills and love.  Obviously, that made us look like failures despite the extra hard parenting work we were putting in. Through this brokenness in our lives, God showed me that I valued success far more than I valued honoring Him. He showed me that the praises of men mattered more to me than His well done! I had forgotten that His success ran against the tide of the world’s success as outlined in my blog post “Success, God’s Way.  My anger and frustration served to show me how desperately I needed the resurrected Savior, and how far I was from total surrender!

We have all fallen so short of God’s glory that we would only have had hell to look forward to, but  Jesus came to face the anger and wrath of God against my sin and your sin, to pave the way for us to be saved. Let us pray that God does whatever it takes to show each of us our idols so that we have a chance to repent on this side of eternity before it’s too late. He is a jealous God and He will not be mocked. His punishments are sure. He wants us to love and honor Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can do that only in the resurrection power of God! Romans 10:9 says: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. We must fall down before Him in repentance asking Him to forgive us. He promises us a new heart and a new life and a new destiny – eternity lived in His Presence. The promise of joy everlasting! Though this life is filled with many trials and struggles, Jesus died and rose again just so we can have an eternal relationship with the all powerful, holy, awesome Creator God of this universe. Through this relationship, He becomes our Heavenly Father who loves us.

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He wants a relationship with us. In return, we get the privilege of smashing each former idol and learning through His Word to be sanctified and become more like Jesus. We get the privilege of communicating with the God of the universe through prayer – talking and listening to Him as His beloved adopted children! We learn and grow through repentance, through forgiving others, through obedience to His Word, through humbling ourselves and through a life of sacrifice. He wants us to love Him alone with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength – we must live and breathe Jesus! Praise God that the Holy Spirit lives in us when we are born again teaching us, training us, leading and guiding us to become more like Jesus! Easter is truly a celebration – rejoice for we have eternal hope through our Savior!

To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever…….Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And (they) fell down and worshiped him (Revelation 5:13-14)!

A beautiful song of worship: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

Fairytale Dreams

I am a hopeless romantic – I love the Hallmark Channel and romance done right. When and I got engaged in June 1991, almost 25 years ago, I was hoping, no expecting that all those romantic dreams built in my heart and head growing up, were going to be fulfilled – by my husband, no less. Yes, we really loved each other and were excited about our married life together, but life with its unpredictability and brokenness began almost from the very start. And, we failed to recognize that as Christians our marriage was a war zone with Satan doing everything (using situations, extended family, suffering, our own brokenness, etc.) to pull us apart and destroy us. Our life journey has been much harder than we imagined, more so as we stepped out in faith into very hard life tasks God called us to. We still struggle and probably will until the very end – yet, we deeply love each other and still stand firm in this marriage covenant. Anything good in our marriage is just God’s amazing grace!

“Our knight in shining armor should be a carpenter from Bethlehem; and He never disappoints. We think our marriages are meant to suit us and our little earthly desires, but our marriages are really part of a bigger story God is telling through his Son. Our expectations must be shaped by treasuring Christ. Only then will we stop pretending and engage in a wartime mentality toward marriage.” -Liz Wann

This is a lesson I am still struggling to wrap my heart around 24 years into our marriage – I still need to learn to know and love Jesus ahove all else and have all my expectations in Him alone. I still often fail to remember that my husband cannot fulfill all my dreams – that he was not created to fulfill the role that only Jesus can fill.

My children, I pray much that you all will learn these lessons early in life. May Jesus be your all in all so that God willing, each of you can have good marriages in Him.

Reference article by Liz Wann: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-dangerous-fairytale-for-future-wives

Race, Caste and Class

A story is told of a prince who wants to marry a real princess, but is having difficulty because there are many pretenders who are in fact not princesses at all. One stormy night a young woman drenched with rain seeks shelter in the prince’s castle, claiming to be a princess. So the prince’s mother offers her a bed covered by 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds, with a single pea at the very bottom. In the morning, the guest tells her hosts that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed that has bruised her badly. The prince and his family rejoices. Only a real princess would have the sensitivity to feel a pea through so much bedding! So the two get married.

Here is a children’s fairy tale with the subtle message that no one is worthy of the prince’s hand except those with the “blue blood” of princesses! Unfortunately it reflects a tragic reality that exists even today. An article about Princess Kate talks about the class divide that still plagues Britain: “She may be beautiful, graceful and fabulously rich, but Middleton is still a ‘commoner’.”

Coming even closer to home, I hail from a country where the caste system is ingrained in our culture. India’s caste system is among the world’s oldest forms of surviving social stratification. At the top of the hierarchy were the Brahmins who were mainly teachers and intellectuals and are believed to have come from god Brahma’s head. Then came the Kshatriyas, or the warriors and rulers, supposedly from his arms. The third slot went to the Vaishyas, or the traders, who were created from his thighs. At the bottom of the heap were the Sudras, who came from Brahma’s feet and did all the menial jobs. Outside of this Hindu caste system are the Dalits or the untouchables. Christians in India are also often associated with castes that depend on the region and the language spoken.

Yet another way we humans distinguish ourselves from each other are by our race and ethnicity. This is sometimes referred to by the color of people’s skin – red, yellow, brown, black and white. The extreme abuse of this was found in Nazi Germany during the second world war. Nazi foreign policy was guided by the racist belief that an enlarged, racially superior German population should establish permanent rule in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and this led to the horrors of the holocaust.

In addition to caste and race, there is also an underlying thinking about class and pedigree. We just looked at the story of “The Princess and the Pea”. However, even in everyday life,. We talk about the “poor”, the “middle-class” and the “rich”. We also talk about “blue-collar” workers and “white-collar workers”, as well as about the “educated” and the “uneducated”. An extreme abuse of this was found in slavery, that used to be practiced until relatively recently. Today the exploitation of human beings still exists in a twisted, evil form now known as “sex slavery”, where typically younger children and girls are forced into prostitution. Even leaving aside these extreme forms of exploitation, considerations about class and pedigree have seeped right into our own homes! For example, often the dignity of labor that is taken for granted in America does not exist in third world countries such as India. Most homes employ maids who are not allowed to eat at the table of the home in which they serve, but sit on the floor with a different plates and glasses that only they should use, and are often treated as working machines rather than people. All of us (the exploited and the exploiters) have been conditioned to believe that they do not have a right  to be treated the same way as we are, in society.

The Christian gospel does not give room to us, for using these kinds of differences for social stratification. There are two premises that our fundamental to our Christian faith.

  1. Every single human being is in the same plight – at odds with our Creator, and on the path of His wrath against our sin. None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Rom 3:11-12).
  2. God does not accept a person by any considerations based on race, caste or class. He opens his arms to welcome all of us – all who put their trust in Jesus, who died on the cross on our behalf, and bore the punishment for our sins: God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). One of the apostle Peter’s early discoveries as a Christian caused him to say: I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality (Acts 10:34, KJV).

Thus the playing field is flat. No one has any intrinsic advantage or disadvantage over anyone else. In fact, often the things that we consider to be advantages may actually work against us the other way! But I digress – more on that in a later post. Flushing this out in detail in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul concludes: He Himself is our peace, who has made us one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall  … that He might create in Himself one new man …, so making peace, and might reconcile us all to God in one body through the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16). And Paul triumphantly states: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28). This truth should so grip our hearts and minds, that it should spill into all our interactions with others: Show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? … If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:1-4,8-9)

This radical way of thinking has caused fundamental changes in society that have reverberated across the annals of history. The US Constitution states: …We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. And after this there has been a civil war and a civil rights movement to uphold this now “self-evident” equality in the dignity and value of all human beings. Unfortunately, even truths such as this are not sufficient to erase centuries-old habits and biasses.

More unfortunate however, is the sad fact that although we Christians should be leading the way, we still have not fully embraced these profound truths in our personal lives and families. For example, these differences are deeply ingrained in the Indian Christian Community, and are evident in the choice of spouses we make for our children. One of the ripple effects of this is that most families do not even consider the option of adoption except when they have a need, such as in cases of infertility. Stay tuned for other posts, where I unpack the underlying reasons why I make these statements. May God grant us grace to transform our thinking from the inside, so that behavior becomes consistent with the faith that we profess!

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20 Verses About Hatred

Hatred is a feeling that can be both Godly and sinful depending on why it is there. The Bible speaks of loving God and hating evil, hating evildoers, and hating lies. The more we become like Jesus and understand the love of God, the more we will begin to hate lies, godlessness and the evil of the world. However, we are also warned constantly i the Bible of how hatred and bitterness can destroy us. God tells us in His Word that hate is a heart issue and that someone who hates a brother (anyone) is a murderer! We are encouraged to love one another, not hold one another’s wrongs against them, and forgive them, not building up bitterness or anger in our hearts.

Here are 20 Bible verses covering anger and hatred:

1 John 1:6
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

1 John 2:9-11
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Ephesians 4:31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Proverbs 8:13
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:18
Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.

Psalm 5:5
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong;

Psalm 31:6
I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the LORD.

Psalm 36:2
In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.

Psalm 45:7
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

Psalm 97:10
Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 119:163
I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law.

Romans 12:9
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Leviticus 19:17-18
Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

Luke 6:27-28
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Matthew 5:23-24
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:44

But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you

1 John 3:14-15
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

1 John 4:19-20
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Is Choosing to Adopt Going Too Far?

Adoption is a hard and lonely journey we undertook almost two decades ago when we chose two children to be our son and daughter. Hard because our children faced much loss and came into our family, overwhelmed by trauma and brokenness. Human nature causes us to lean towards personal comfort and away from brokenness. As we traveled this road, we found that most walked away but a few chose to walk alongside us and offered their support in deeply practical ways for which we are very grateful.

However, we are finding that adoption is a hard concept for our human minds to grasp.  Recently, when we were in the midst deep struggle, we were told by a well wisher that, “God only talks of orphan care in the Bible and doesn’t talk about adopting children. So, perhaps He only expects us to care for the fatherless by placing them in orphanages where the kids have each other, are well looked after, and might even be happy and thrive. Most adopted children seem so unhappy, and their adoptive parents struggle so much too. It just doesn’t seem worth it!” In other words, they were wondering if adoption was really required.

So the question we had to face was: Had we unnecessarily stretched ourselves too far? Did we go beyond what God had expected of us?

This caused us to pause. It is a very weighty question, because adoption had changed the trajectory of our lives! In choosing this path, had we inadvertently stepped out of God’s will, and were our struggles just a consequence of those self-made choices? We earnestly began seeking answers to these questions, because in addition to being deeply invested in it, we were also involved in adoption and foster care ministry in our church and county. Not surprisingly, the is answer embedded in the very core of our Christian faith! We re-discovered that God did not need to tell  us to adopt in the Bible, because He modeled it Himself through His actions, and Scripture is threaded with His invitation for us to be like Him! To understand this awesome truth, we need to first step back and remind ourselves of how far God was willing to “stretch Himself” for our sake, so we could belong to Him as His adopted children.

The Bible tells us that God created all human beings to reflect His nature and to bring Him glory. However, right from the beginning, we chose to rebel against God our Creator, and broke our relationship and fellowship with Him. Consequently, for His justice to prevail (since He is a perfect and holy God), every one of us justly deserves to experience His wrath against us, and we should be banished from His Presence forever into Hell. However, God in His mercy and compassion chose to do something about it, which He had planned before the world even existed! He sent His Son Jesus, to come to earth as a man, and to die on a cross, bearing the punishment for all our sins on Himself! In this way, God could  freely offer us reconciliation with Him, in perfect mercy and justice, and that we can live eternally with restored fellowship with Him. This is perfectly summed up in this well known verse: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Bible calls this salvation. It is a free gift God has given us, although we did not even deserve it. God demonstrates His love for us, in that while were were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Imagine that! God chose to save us when were were at our worst! He set His love on us! He sent His Son to die on the cross to take the punishment we deserved for our own sins! What a God He is! If He had done nothing more for us than to save us, the echoes of our praises for His mercy and His grace would reverberate throughout eternity!

However, the wonder of the Christian gospel is that God did even more. Far more! With a love that we can only marvel at but never fully understand, God chose to go above and beyond! God chose to adopt us into His family as His beloved sons and daughters, and make us co-heirs with Jesus. That is over the top, outlandish love! This very thought caused the apostle John to pause in the midst of his letter and exclaim in awe: “See, what kind of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1). As Matt Carter once said, we will never understand the depth and intensity of God’s love for us, until we wrap our minds around the kind of love that He has for us. God didn’t just love us by taking our punishment on Himself. He did it by choosing to adopt us into His family at great cost to Himself! He is now our Father. We are now His children. The implications of this thought should really mess us up (in a good way)! Through His grace, we have been redeemed and are raised up  through Jesus as His adopted children. Nothing  can separate us from His love forever! May we never lose the wonder of this staggering truth!  In fact, one day as heirs of God, we will sit with Jesus on His throne and rule all of His creation along with Him (Rev 3:21)!

Here is a powerful message our family recently watched, which explains these truths more clearly: https://vimeo.com/51894525. This message is well worth the watch, and can be life-changing for you!

This is the heart of our Christian faith. It gives us the perfect framework to address the question of whether we go too far when we choose to adopt children! Yes, we can support children in orphanages – and orphanages do have their place. However when we choose adoption, it becomes a beautiful reflection of the very nature of God Himself, and stands as a testament of the gospel to a watching world! If God has loved us so much that He became our Father, how can we stop at less? We can step out boldly, knowing that it greatly pleases and honors God. with the deep assurance that even though the price we pay be extremely high, we are in the center of a His will and that He will walk along with us to provide for all our physical, emotional and spiritual needs! So, the next time we are asked this question, we can confidently say that we adopt because it reflects our Heavenly Father’s heart!

Success, God’s Way!

IMG_1513Our world seems to glorify success … something deep in the psyche of the human mind runs a deep desire to associate with power, control, and success. I am sure many of you will identify with me as I often find myself really wanting to be successful by the world’s standards and struggling when I am not. We praise and desire or boast about beauty, intelligence, academic achievements or career success, being talented, family/lineage, heritage, power, wealth, etc. We always talk about climbing UP the ladder of success in life. We feel “blessed” or favored by God when we get or achieve many of these things. Have you seen the #blessed on twitter or Facebook? It is claimed when someone has gained one of these desires and it usually comes slathered with pride! The flip side is that we often tend to feel like God has turned His face away from us when we walk through darker valleys and seasons of pain, suffering or loneliness especially when they occur for prolonged periods of our lives.

I have been trying to understand who Jesus really is through the depth of His life and sacrifice for us in just thirty-three years of His life on earth. I was reading Isaiah 53 and it hit me afresh that Jesus ran counter to everything we would consider successful. Listen to the prophecy about Him:

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
And no beauty that we should desire him
… He was despised and rejected by men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed him not.
… We esteemed him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
He was pierced for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
… The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
… Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter
… By oppression and judgment he was taken away
… Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
He has put him to grief;

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Not a pretty picture of success there at all. Why? Why did the King of kings and Lord of Lords choose to come to earth this way when our human wisdom tells us that we need to desire and be “successful”? He was born to a poor family, in a manger because there was no room for Him at the inn. His life was in danger as Herod sought to kill him. He lived an obscure life for thirty years as a carpenter. He had no home and depended on the kindness of others as He served God in obedience during His three years of ministry. He was despised to the point of death, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Why in the world would a God who has the power and glory of heaven and earth, the Creator of the universe, the One whom angels bowed down to as described in Isaiah 6, come to this earth and become sin and suffering?

Just imagine that! I honestly cannot fathom why God chose to do that! God chose to step into the brokenness of our world and of our lives, and humble Himself to the point of death, due to His great love for us (Phil 2:5-11). And this passage says that we are to “have this mind” among ourselves.

Thus it comes as no surprise that God called my husband and me eighteen years ago to step into the life of two very broken, hurt, rejected children. We were called to adopt our traumatized six year old son and baby daughter against the tide of culture, family and popular opinion. It required us, and me in particular as their adoptive mom, to lay down my life and my plans that I had worked so hard for, to enter their brokenness, pain and suffering. This long journey has been very costly to me – I lost myself in the process as I needed to immerse myself in helping them find their footing in life. However, even though my sacrifices were made willingly in love in the beginning, as the years passed the pain often became more than I could bear. God called me to trust in His goodness without seeing any tangible results, and often my weary heart began  questioning Him, even rebelling. And, in the midst of millions of tears, I prayed and begged God to give me parenting success. This passage shows me even now, how far from Jesus I truly am. He had the power to be in control and to ease His pain, yet, He chose to empty Himself to enter our world, with one purpose – to die on that cross for you and me, to enter our brokenness and to take it willingly on Himself so that we can have eternal hope, peace and joy! God lovingly through His Word showed me my foolishness and sinfulness for so desperately desiring success the world’s way instead of God’s way. May God forgive my faithlessness, for although I call myself His follower, I do not want to carry my cross and follow Him instead I want comfort, ease, praise and glory. He joyfully and purposefully chose to go counter to the world and climbed down the ladder from heaven to earth, from everything to nothing, from perfect peace, love and comfort to horrible brokenness and suffering. True success is imitating Jesus!

So, the next time we are tempted to be proud of our worldly successes under the guise of #blessed, let’s remember that we are on the dangerous grounds of idolatry for this is NOT success God’s way. Let us ask Jesus to show us how we can joyfully follow in His footsteps to willingly and sacrificially step down to love and care for those around us who are suffering and sorrowful, going counter to our intuition and to the world around us for that IS success God’s way!

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

So too may Jesus’ name be exalted through our lives!

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