Dear Church family,

I don’t know if you have ever noticed that Phil and I often begin these devotionals by calling all of us relatives. (Notice how I began this very email with “Dear Church family”?)

There is a reason for that.

God is called by many names in scripture—Lord, Holy One, King—and God is also called Father. A Parent title is unsettling for some Christians because of abuse or neglect they have received from their Father or Mother. Today I have represented you at the Vera Lloyd Children’s Home Board where just such children are housed and nurtured; children who might hear the term “father” and only think of pain or betrayal or absence.


But what is lost if we do not refer to God as our Father, as our Parent? We know, of course, that was is lost is the family relationship: the kind of relationship where we are, as the writer of 1 John puts it, “little children.” When the promises of childhood have been kept, children are protected. They are placed in a structure, given a home base that guides them. They are enjoyed and loved. Sadly, we are keenly aware that these promises are not always kept. For some of us, they were not kept in our own lives. And what pain comes from this broken promise!


For the children and youth at Vera Lloyd, for the children in Fort Smith’s own varied children’s shelters, for you—if the promises of childhood were not kept in your own life—I offer two scriptures for us all to reclaim. I pray that they reconnect you with the Holy One who is more than holy, who is also your protector, your home, the One who loves and enjoys you.


First, an image to strengthen you from Jesus’ words in Luke 13:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings.”

[Image that: God loves us so much that he clucks over us!]


Second, these beautiful words from the writer of 1 John 3:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”


Little children, may we all live in the promise of our Father’s great love for us.

Christ’s Peace be with you all,