New Beginnings

With the birth of the New Year there is a new beginning for each of us. It is confirmed by the fact that we have to write 2016, and no longer 2015 on current letters or documents. There are many new beginnings we face in the coming year. For some there is a new beginning of marriage, the birth of a child or loss of a loved one. That was one I had to walk through last year with the graduation of our son Nathan to Heaven. For some there is a new beginning of birth by being born again into the Kingdom of God. The term “born again” is the description of what happens when a person asks Jesus Christ into their lives to be their Savior and Lord. It is the beginning of our journey on earth to eternal life in Heaven.
For most people who make New Years resolutions to change habits, such as diet, exercise, and anger control, they aren’t able to make a solid life change. Temptation and situations soon enter in and the habit from last year pops up again. Some of those who had a born again experience fell way because of not nurturing their life in Christ. They neglected studying the Bible, praying and becoming part of good church fellowship with other Christians.
In working with children I have noticed that if a child can walk through a habit change for three months they begin to solidly set in their mind the desire to be changed. Then begins the real work of keeping that change in place for at least two years. When they have had a true born again experience, we usually see the change come within that period of time.
One day God dropped a thought into my spirit about how I could help bring about change in lives who are yielded to Him. When a person gets braces on their teeth, there are brackets mounted on each tooth. Then the wire is put in place. There is a tightening each time the teeth are brought nearer to the desired change. Finally at the end of usually 2-3 years the person has straight teeth that they can enjoy. The position is secured with retainers to secure the position after the braces are taken off.
When we are born again we have the hope of eternal life and a desire to live righteously on earth. Jesus becomes our Lord as we walk and adhere to Him through every situation in our lives. This includes habit patterns that are not holy or beneficial to our life in Christ.
I have seen many people get saved, but not nearly as many who have let Him become their Lord, and walked with Him in holiness. It is easy to mouth the words of being a Christian, and entirely another to walk the walk with Him as your Lord.
Back to the braces... When the braces are in place and the wires are on, the tightening and positioning process begins. The line is held in place where those teeth are supposed to go. They can get loose with the moving, but they are held in position for positive change. You have to consent to get braces. You have to pay the price of the braces. You have to walk through the uncomfortable moments to achieve the desired results. And, after the process is complete, you have to remember to wear the retainers to hold your teeth in that position.
When children come to us, they are high risk in the eyes of the world. Most of them are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This disorder comes from bonding issues, and they struggle in many areas of their lives because of the lack of bonding. They have to deal with things that are beyond what most people have ever had to handle in their lives. Their parents are desperate and have tried every way they know to reach their child.
Like brackets, house rules are put in place in the beginning of their stay here. There is security in firm guidelines for children. There is peace in the law of the Lord. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Ps 19:9-11.
Bearing in mind that no one can keep too many rules, but solid rules that bring about a healthy atmosphere in the home are good. In showing us the way to carry out rules Jesus gave us a clear path. “ The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”These are the bracket guidelines in the Bible that Jesus puts in place when we are born again. Loving God with all your heart and others as yourself is a new beginning for many.
In our home we share Jesus with the children and offer them the hope the Bible promises for a true and lasting new beginning. It is their choice, either way they have to obey our rules. The brackets hold the wires of the perimeter that have been put in place. The wires are love and consequences for trying to leave that perimeter. “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.” 2 Th 3:5. The perimeter or the wires are tighten when we see the time if right for advancing in the direction of coming in line with acceptable behavior.
It is always an encouragement when they see other children who have come through situations they are dealing with, and who are happy and contented, yet still struggle at times. I sometimes refer to this as positive peer pressure. When others are in position with their behavior then it helps the new child to accept coming in line with kindness and acceptable behavior. It is so important for them to experience the love of Jesus, even when they have been bad. They are loved and accepted, yet behavior out of the perimeter is discouraged.
Our most difficult child, who is now grown, gave us a precious hand made card for our anniversary. She said, “Thank you for never giving up on me.” Jesus never gives up on us. We can no longer live with this older child, but we dearly love her. It is only because of Jesus in our lives that we were able to walk this journey with that child.
Jesus birthed the church to give us that same kind of help. Brothers and sisters are there to help us gain, and maintain the new beginning that comes with our new birth. It is that birth that paves the way to eternal life, but we must still work out our salvation with fear and trembling by walking hand in hand with Jesus through life situations. Php 2:12.
When we are born again we become part of the family of God. In that family there is a smaller family unit where you belong within the body of Christ. It is called The Church. It is the place where you will have sweet fellowship and be encouraged in your new life. Those brothers and sisters are there to help you. I remember as a child, with no other Christian in my family, how I cherished going to church on Sundays, even though I went alone at seven years old. Through those brothers and sisters, in that precious Lutheran Church, I asked Jesus into my life and learned about Scriptural behavior. Their love and acceptance were the ingredients that I needed in order to walk hand in hand with Jesus Christ all my life.
I am a firm believer that God has divine appointments for our lives. It is no mistake that you are reading this article right now. Jesus is reaching out to you this day to offer you a new beginning. Whether it be for salvation or for help in a struggle you have in your Christian life. Jesus will gently lead and guide you as you take His hand to show you the way. If you ask Him, He also will lead you to a church, where there are others who sometimes struggle, but who have found by looking into the Scriptures their way is lit, and the path to take is made clear. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Ps 119:105. Look to Him for your new beginnings this year and He will surely guide you into the Way, Truth, and Life. Jo 14:6. May God bless you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace in Him.

Sandra Moats
Executive Director
New Hope For Adopted International Kids