Like a Child: Like Parents

When a newborn comes to a family, most people are quick to pronounce, “He has his father’s nose,” or “I see the Diener family all over him.” We notice the resemblance almost immediately.

God is our Father. The Word says that we are created in the “likeness and image of God.”1 We have the divine nature within us. We are supposed to reflect God, and should have the attitude of Christ Jesus.2

Until the life after this one, most people will not actually see God ‘in person.’ But we, as his children, are equipped through the Holy Spirit to help people see God. We are his hands and feet. Our love reveals God’s love.

I remember one particular parent-teacher meeting we had when our boys were in school. One of the teachers was very bold with me. She actually asked, “Do you have anything to do with these boys?” I did not feel very good about that comment — even though I realized she was joking. I guess they just had a lot more resemblance to their father (maybe the African genes are stronger?!)

In every way, we should resemble our Father. When people look at us, they should “see” Jesus. When people hear us speak, they should hear the words of God. When people see how we live, they should experience a touch from the Lord. In actions, in speech and in character, our lives should show the world what God in his fullness is like. Even our marriages are intended to demonstrate to others what the love of Jesus, the Bridegroom, is for His bride.

Do people ‘see’ Christ in me? Do they see God, my father, ‘all over’ me? Do they touch his love and experience his grace? I hope that the resemblance is growing, and that my life points people to my Father.

~ Diane
1Genesis 1:26
2Philippians 2:5

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Like a Child: Total Dependence

None of us likes the feeling of being helpless. We like to be in control – of ourselves and of our situations. We tend to be highly self-sufficient and trust in our own capacity to get things done. We make our own decisions, set our own schedules, and spend our own money. We don’t need to consult anyone, especially not God. After all, isn’t being independent what it means to be a responsible adult?

In previous blogs, we have looked at features of child-like faith, the kind of faith that Jesus said is required for entering the Kingdom of God. One of the important truths of life in the Kingdom that we need to understand from children is dependence on God.

A newborn baby can do nothing for herself, except maybe breathe, sleep and cry. She depends on her caregivers completely and totally. A baby cannot feed herself, change her own diapers, dress herself, or even move from one place to another. An infant, or even a young child, cannot thrive on her own.

John Bowlby is well known for his theory of attachment in children. He says that developing a close relationship with Mommy (or caregiver) is so necessary in the early years. Attachment provides a child with security, comfort and safety. Because of this, and the infant’s uncompromising need for protection, Bowlby insists that attachment is the single most important need of a child in the first year of life.

Similarly, being close to God is our number one need! When faced with the stark reality of my own inability, I feel helplessly overwhelmed. And certainly it is not comfortable to be so needy and unable. It does not feel nice. But that is the exact position where God wants me to stay — in a position of total dependence on Him.

“I cannot do this, Lord,” seems to be a common, desperate prayer of mine, often laden with doubts and fears. God has been telling me over and over, “Don’t worry; I have it covered.” My response? “That is really good, Lord, because I definitely do NOT!”

Dependence on God is a lesson that all of us have to learn, and one that we can learn from the faith of a child. Jesus would also be our example. Jesus, the very son of God, said that he speaks only what his Father speaks and does only what his Father is doing. He acknowledged, “I can do nothing” (John 5:19), and reminds us that apart from Him, “WE can do nothing!”

~ Diane

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Healing is Real

Over the last few years I have been acutely aware of physical illness among us. These vary from different kinds of cancer to problems with backs, knees, skin, lungs, joints and blood. Personally, I have had a couple of issues; so has my mother. The body of Christ is in need of healing now as never before.

Reading through the Gospels, the theme of healing comes alive at every turn of a page. Jesus confronts unbelief, hypocrisy and human suffering with powerful teachings that are punctuated with miracles of healing. As Christ ascends into heaven, the infant church is endowed with power and authority from above. Thousands come to the faith as healing miracles follow the apostolic company. Oh, for a day when we can replay these experiences in our daily walk.

So what has become of our modern day faith? It is true that we occasionally see a demonstration of God’s power as demons are cast out and healing takes place. But my heart cries for more.

In my case, I had a painful experience with a prostate biopsy in 2011. My PSA did not go down immediately, but I have seen God’s hand at work. Four years later, I am thankful for the slow but steady drop in PSA levels. Sometimes God heals instantly, and sometimes gradually. This one has taken a lot of discipline including prayer and different herbs — but I thank God there has been no need for an operation, or another biopsy. Whew!

In the case of my mother, over a year ago her kidneys were shutting down. We air-lifted her from Kitale to Nairobi, believing for a miracle. Again, we have seen God’s faithfulness in restoring her health. Today her kidneys are functioning again, while diabetes and high blood pressure are under control. (The remaining struggle is arthritis). Thanks be to God!

My prayer this year is to experience God so powerfully that we will see His hand at work. With the world focusing on terrorism, climate change and economic upheavals, wouldn’t it be just wonderful if God would revive us again!

~ Ibrahim

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Child-like Faith

**I hope no one minds if we keep the Christmas candles a little longer <:) ?

Last year, we opened a series on the topic of child-like faith. While none of us wants to be considered childish, we apparently do need to be child-like in order to genuinely experience the Kingdom of God.

A disclaimer is in order: not all characteristics of children are positive. For example:

  • Children are egocentric. They are not capable of seeing life from the perspective of another person. They are not able to empathize or understand how other people feel.
  • Children also tend to be selfish. Sharing does not come easy for a young child – as every parent knows! One word that children learn soon after “Mommy” is often “MINE!”
  • Children do not score high in the area of patience, either. When they want something, they usually want it NOW.
  • Children do not self-regulate very well. They express with vigor whatever they are feeling, whether that expression comes in a socially-acceptable form, or not.

But these do not cancel the need for child-like faith in our lives. Jesus did not give an option. He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Some of the ways of children are also the ways of the Kingdom, and we see them lived out among the children in our midst.

???????????????????????????????One of the most obvious trait is that children are credulous and trusting. Children believe what they are told. We could even say that they are gullible, naïve, and unsuspecting.

For example, how many of us believed in Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as some cultures name him, when we were young? Logical or not, many children are convinced that Santa Claus flies around the world delivering gifts every Christmas!

Or, if a father tells his 3-year-old, “I will take you to the moon tomorrow,” the child will likely believe it. He might run off to tell Mommy the good news that he will be going to the moon. He would not worry about how practical or possible a trip like that is. If Daddy promised, it is worth believing!

What does this mean for our kingdom walk? In a world where academic arguments are rising fast to refute belief in the supernatural, we need to regain this child-like faith. Science tries to convince us that we should live by facts, not by faith. But there is a purity, boldness, audacity, courage and foolishness about the faith of a child that we desperately need.

We will continue exploring child-like faith in the coming weeks. Welcome!

~ Diane

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THE CHILD is Born!

What a wonderful time of the year! Whether it is a ‘white’ Christmas where flashingly-lit trees and extravagant decorations dominate the view, or a hot, humid Christmas where people are mostly concerned about finding a way to travel ‘home’ before December 25th . . . I love this season.

We have the amazing privilege of being with our three boys and Ibrahim’s family this week. Debbi is ‘alone’ in the States; she decided to stay in her apartment in Wheaton over the holidays.

The birth of the Christ-child is what we are all celebrating. What does that mean to you? To me? This year my response is more like Mary’s: pondering. Jesus came as a baby; the ultimate cross-cultural Missionary. It is good to remember his birth, just as we remember and celebrate anyone’s birthday, but He is in no way a ‘baby’ to me today. Sometimes I might wish that our own children could be babies again; infancy is such an exciting phase of life. But that cannot happen. I must face the reality of who they are today, and relate with them accordingly. So with Jesus. Each one of us needs to reconcile ourselves with the reality of the risen, victorious Christ. Keeping him in a manger might make it easier to dodge the demands of an authentic Kingdom walk, but that is not realistic.

So instead, I am pondering what Jesus expects from me this coming year — what I need to change so that my life would be more in line with His eternal purpose.

May celebrating the birth of our King this year bring each one of us a re-birth of hope (that might be lost), joy (that might be waning), and faith (that might be weak).

HAVE A BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

~ Diane for the Omondi’s

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Like a Child

None of us would like to be called ‘childish.’ That criticism implies selfishness, immaturity or even foolishness.

But Jesus had a different idea. He told his disciples, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”1 Jesus obviously had a reason for saying that.

Just about one week after the birth of our first son (yep, that’s him!), M David closeI was struck with new insights into our relationship with God as our heavenly Father. I remember one night, lying awake after having been up to nurse him. I should have been tired; the rigor of getting up several times a night was different and demanding. But my mind was racing with one revelation after another. “Oh, that is what Jesus meant when he said we need to be like little children. This precious person depends on me for everything,” I realized. “And he looks just like his father.” (None of our children looked anything like me when they were babies; maybe the Caucasian genes are weaker than the African ones…) One idea after the other about what it means to be ‘child-like’ kept me out of bed that night in order to try to get it down on paper.

Life went on, and I lost the paper where I had written those significant truths. But over the years of parenting and later in the study of child development, reflections about child-like faith keep reverberating in my heart.

Certainly not every characteristic of a child is commendable. Some scriptures encourage us to mature, grow up, and put away childish things. But even so, some of the characteristics of children ARE to be emulated! For example, they are credulous and trusting, completely dependent, free from worry, quick to forgive, totally honest, and pure in heart.

These and more are important truths of life in the Kingdom — the present reality of God’s reign on earth and His Kingship in our lives — that we need to understand from children. This starts a series of blog posts in which we will look to “little children,” to explore these Kingdom-based characteristics.

~ Diane

1Matthew 18:3

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Perspective

The perspective we choose to take on the situations of life have a lot to do with how those situations will affect us.

Israel’s exile into Babylon was a very dark and hopeless time in the history of that nation. The writer of the Chronicles, however, skips through the entire 70 years of Judah’s exile, up to the plans of King Cyrus for restoration, with one simple verse: “The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested until the 70 years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah”.1 This was a terrible situation: young men killed in the sanctuary, women and old men not spared, the temple and Jerusalem’s walls burned down, and a remnant carried into exile!! How can it just be written off as a time for the land to ‘enjoy’ Sabbath rest and a fulfillment of prophecy — as if that was all good?

Joseph being sold into slavery and ending up in prison seemed to be the ‘end’ for him — or at least the end of his dreams for greatness. But he later commented on the abuse and horror that he suffered by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”.2 Don’t those statements seem contradictory?

It strikes me that this is all about perspective. The exile of Judah was within God’s sovereign plan, even though the days of darkness lasted an entire lifetime for most of those who had been carried away. Through all of Joseph’s trials, God had a blueprint for saving an entire nation.view austria 2

It is not easy to see our troubles from God’s perspective. When things are difficult, I feel frustrated and discouraged. When challenges come, I don’t give thanks — instead I complain! It is human nature to see problems as things to be prayed away or things to be blamed on Satan.

Praying is of course important and getting free from Satan’s clutch is also important. But in the midst of the struggles, can we also see God? Can we look to Him who “works out everything” for our good and His glory?

If you are old enough <:), you might remember these words of Amy Grant’s song, My Father’s Eyes: “Eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Eyes that find view utahthe source of help, when help just can’t be found.”

I am asking God to help me, by His grace, to see with His eyes.  After all, if this is what we can see from just an airplane window, God must have a totally awesome viewpoint!

~ Diane

1 II Chronicles 36:21; 2 Genesis 50:20

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