By Kerry Hasenbalg
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake” –Psalm 23:3
The Shepherd promises to lead us, His sheep, in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. How can we be attuned to His voice so that we might walk in those paths for His glory and for the sake of the orphans whom God has called us to love?
Perhaps the reason we are not hearing God is found in our lack of genuine love and forgiveness towards one another—towards those around us. We have put up barriers between us and the body of Christ, and now we can no longer hear Him who is the head of the Body. Are we choosing to be so contentious and judgmental that we have brought turmoil to our own houses, and consequently, our husband redeemer has been forced to the far corners of our lives? And now we can no longer make out what He is saying from the corner of the rooftop?
We ask God, “Why won't you empower our work in ministry, why won’t you speak to us and dwell with us, your bride?” Perhaps God is answering us by saying, “Because while you are choosing to be contentious and argue with one another, it is better for me, your husband redeemer, to live on the corner of the rooftop. I have not divorced you, but I cannot dwell with you. This is because you will not choose love, unity, forgiveness, considering others better than yourself, speaking the truth in genuine love, and making allowance for the faults of others. For these are the tools I have shared with you, so that you could bring peace to my home. And still you choose to wrongly control me with your self-pity, judgment of others, impatience and self-exaltation. As a result you bring strife and depression to my house. I still choose to love you because of the covenant I made with you, and I am a faithful husband, so I will not choose another. However, as I have told you, it is better for me to live on the corner of the roof of my own dwelling place than to dwell with you (Prov. 21:9). Please remember that while you continue to choose your own selfish ways, my children are being left unattended and are being harmed!”
For our own sake, for the sake of God’s children, and for His name’s sake, may we choose to humble ourselves, repent of our sins, forgive one another, and then step out in genuine love for others. God has clearly told us that those who are in Christ are our brothers and sisters, so we cannot disown them if we are to stay in the family ourselves. God has also clearly told us that He is the Father to the fatherless, and if we are His bride, they are our children also. Just as we desire our own households to be at peace and for our children to get along, so too is this God’s great desire for His family. If we will help bring peace to the Father’s house, He will come and dwell with us and begin to tell us wonderful things.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people’.” –Ezekiel 12:1-3
Hearing God is vitally important not just for our own lives, but also for our ministry to those in need. We must not forget that God is the father to the fatherless, so if we are involved in caring for the ones He has claimed as His own children, we must give God the same respect we would want someone to give us when dealing with our children. If I was entrusting my children to someone for a time, I would give specific instructions on how to care for them. Although we love all of our own children the same, we certainly do not treat them all exactly the same, because each is unique; with individual desires, allergies, talents, fears, etc. We must honor God when dealing His children and seek His permission and direction in caring for each of them. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be able to hear God’s instructions for each orphan child to whom we are called to minister.
Perhaps we must strain now to hear His voice because for so long we really didn’t want to hear what He was saying to us. Have we tuned him out? My mom thinks I don't hear her sometimes, and yet if she only understood that even her whispers are like screams to me. Why? Because she is my mom, and I have been trained to hear and take heed to my parents’ voices. Her opinion matters to me; whether I like all her opinions or not. I often tell her, “Please don't say it if it’s going to hurt me unless you absolutely must, because I can't ignore or forget whatever you say, even if I act as if I am ignoring it.” But too often we refuse to hear what our parents are saying for one reason or another and can actually train our ears to tune them out by practicing to ignore their words. We train our ears rightly or wrongly both with people and with God.
If you sense you are being called into orphans ministry, remember that if you want God’s power to affect change in the lives of the fatherless, you must be sure you are obeying what the Spirit is saying in your own life so that your ear is attuned to His gentle leadings for theirs. Before you can take the second step, you must take the step of obedience first. Perhaps you are still blind to see a certain sin or simply blindly refusing to rid yourself of some sin, and as a result God will not give you more instruction for the next part of your journey. He does this simply to keep you from stumbling along any farther. Perhaps we must cast off something from our own heavy load of sin before we can be equipped for any successful journey into the fields of the fatherless. We certainly wouldn’t want to take things along with us that can bring harm to these little ones.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
The great cry of so many believers is to hear the voice of God. We desire for God to speak to our hearts directly. Does God even speak to us in this present age through His Holy Spirit? In scripture, we read over and over again the great plea of God to His people, "He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to His Church.”
I believe that God speaks to us continually in this present age: directly to our hearts through the Holy Spirit, through His Word, through other members of His body, and through His creation. The issue is whether or not we are ready, willing and attuned to hearing His voice. The word reveals that it is critically important to God that we hear what He is saying to us, particularly as it relates to his instructions on how we are to love and meet the needs of His other children and to trust Him to meet our own needs.
Is it that in our pride we take credit for those great and profound things we do and say, altogether missing the fact that it was the Holy Spirit who led us to do and say them in the first place? People often ask me how I know it is God speaking these things to me, and my simple answer is that I am acutely aware that I could not have come up with such wonderful things on my own. The more and more we come to terms with the weakness of our own flesh, the more we are able to distinguish the author of those things that flow through us.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child...” –1 Cor.13:11a
I heard our five year old son, Cole, singing the song “Holy is the Lord”, but when he got to the lyrics, “God almighty,” he sang “Calamari” instead: “Holy is the Lord, Calamari!” Children.
So I said, “Cole, you are supposed to sing, ‘God almighty’ because He is the Holy Lord. Calamari is the fried squid that daddy likes to eat.”
After he laughed at his mistake, he then returned to singing, but this time using the right words.
This incident reminded me again that we, like children, can be gravely mistaken when trying to understand and express what we believe to be the messages of God. So may we be as teachable and humble as children when it comes to being wrong and corrected by others.
May we be able to receive correction, laugh at ourselves, and then return to worshipping and sharing about God as best we can. For in a similar way to earthly parents, God is pleased by purity and humility of heart far more than our getting it right.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” -Phil. 4:12
I love to ski. Especially moguls. Skiing moguls successfully is not unlike succeeding in riding the bumps of life and not being broken in the process. Absorbing them with bent knees is the key, rather than tensing up and fighting against the bumps. Because taking the bumps with flexibility makes the ride fun, but tensing up, seeking to protect oneself causes great harm to your body. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.
We have had to learn to be flexible the last few months, trying to survive all the changes in our lives. Trust God; He is good. It may not always seem that way, but He is, and He will take you through. The critical importance for protection in taking the bumps of life is to keep your knees bent... on our knees in prayer that is. May we not become anxious when we find ourselves on bumpy roads. Instead, as the Word teaches, we must bring all things to the Lord through prayer and supplication, and He shall guard us from harm. We can then lean back and enjoy the ride.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” -1 Peter 1:3
My husband and I have talked a great deal about self-pity over the past week. He said, “self-pity is like a pitstop to anger and bitterness, isn’t it?” I agreed. We realized that God gives us comfort when we mourn, but when we choose self-pity, there is no grace and no comfort! I told my mom that memories, thoughts, and pains keep resurfacing as if fresh and new, but that God seems to be there each time. But that there are times when I seem to be just fine and I CHOOSE to return to my pain and that it is in these times there is no grace and no sensing of God’s presence and I feel like I will die. These were the times I CHOSE self-pity and as a result the grace was not there to see me through the valley. Self-pity is Satan’s lie – it is a corrosive evil and it steals from us.
For those adoptive parents stuck in the wait, God will bring about your adoption in His way and in His timing. We do not want what he does not want for us! He does know what’s best. You would not give harmful gifts to your own children – He will not either – not unless we demand our own way and our own timing.
As much as you can, actively give HIM the control back. Live and be at peace. We must trust – otherwise we will start to be blinded and miss out on what is right in front of us. Sadness is OK when God has led us there…..self-pity will kill what is most dear – our peace, our love, our faith!
May He be the lifter of your head today! Remember to let God write your story. Praise Him in all things – He dwells in our praises – and my goodness we need Him to dwell close to us in the valley. Praise is so powerful – do not underestimate it!
by Kerry Hasenbalg
“By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” –Hebrews 10:20
My mother called to say she was coming up to my house to get some more baby stuff for my sister-in-law Jenn. Two days before she had borrowed my co-sleeper and baby glider for Jenn since I would not need them because my baby had died in the womb. I was pretty happy to give these things the other day and had actually offered them in the first place. But for some reason, when she called for the baby wrap I fell apart. I told her that I know it is my issue and that it is not rational, but I am struggling letting go of these things since they were intended for our baby whom we lost. I asked her to wait for a couple of days and then I would bring them myself to Jenn.
When I got off the phone, I began to cry, and I pictured the men at the foot of the cross of Jesus casting lots for His clothing. Even though it was not my mother’s intention to be insensitive (she is one of the most sensitive people I know), it just seemed to be a similar scene for me. I felt like Mary kneeling at the cross still in mourning over the loss of her child as my child’s things were already being taken. I cried out to God in my heart, “It seems so wrong for others to be benefiting from our loss, particularly so soon. Help me with this Lord.” And He immediately ministered to me by reminding me how exceedingly and immediately I benefited from His loss – the death of His son! And this was God’s only begotten Son. His greatest loss, my greatest gain. I know He understands my mourning and my feelings.
Suddenly those baby things were just things because I had heard from my Lord. And my understanding of God’s great sacrifice grew tenfold. I love my brother’s family and their new baby desperately. It has killed me to think that they were forced to mourn with us simultaneous of their own rejoicing over the birth of their son. Somehow this was too great a paradox. Mourning does not belong at the birth of a new baby – but my brother and his family could not escape it – we were losing our daughter only four hospital doors down from where they were holding their new born son. And my brother spent all night walking back and forth from the room with his newborn son to my room where I was laboring to deliver our daughter, Isabella, who no longer had a heartbeat. And now came yet another great paradox—their benefiting from our loss with the “stuff” we would no longer need for our baby. It was just another one of those ironies; one of those things that don’t fit together. And yet, God spoke and reminded me that His greatest love is the greatest irony of all. His greatest loss was our greatest gain. His greatest loss was my greatest gain. Eternal life came to me because God gave His son for me! And so, in some super small way, to be like Jesus is the opportunity I have found set before us.
The great paradox of death and life (which I have now experienced personally with the birth of my nephew and the death of my daughter happening at the same time on the same hospital floor) came crashing together most profoundly in the cross. God’s great grace.
By Kerry Hasenbalg
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” –Galatians 6:2
Rogo is what everyone calls him. I’m not sure I have even heard his real name. He’s a member of the crew that handles the set-up and teardown of the concert equipment for Steven Curtis Chapman while on tour. When Rogo saw me for the first time since the loss of our daughter, he said, “I have been praying for you; we have all been praying for you since we heard.” I could sense his sincerity. As a result, I wanted him to know how much that meant to me. God had been showing me that it has been the prayers of the saints that have kept Scott and me from even greater pain and long-term harm to our souls and bodies. However, I could not find the words to adequately express how I knew this to be true. He felt just as I did, wanting to express in words how prayer in suffering is far more than just words; it has real power.
God had ministered to me in those moments when I had felt a sense of joy and a certain “break” from the great pain that my rest came because my Christian brothers and sisters were holding me up in prayer and “bearing our burdens.” I shared this with him as I had with a few others, but because I do not understand this as more than a spiritual mystery, I was not sure I was making sense. There was this profound mystery that was bringing life to my family and me, though I could not understand it, let alone adequately share it, with this prayerful man standing before me. I knew my heart was crying out, “Please don’t stop praying for us—we still need your prayers.” I couldn’t tell him why it was so important, but I knew it was. I did say something about how the biblical idea of “bearing one another’s burdens” is not just a shallow words to me, but they are life-giving ones, yet still I came up terribly short of the gratitude I wanted to express. But then Rogo responded by saying, “I just got this picture in my head of a person lying on a bed of nails and not getting hurt.” And there it was… the human picture of the heavenly reality!
My mouth fell open as pictures and scriptures ran through my mind…Jesus on the Cross being pierced by the nails in his hands and feet…pierced for our transgressions…hanging alone… The church as the Body of Christ—the law of Christ… a human body lying on a bed of nails with the pressure of the many nails being evenly distributed and not one part being pierced… One body but many members each doing its part… each bearing its weight so that no one part is pierced…
Poor Rogo! All he saw or heard was a silent me with a perplexed look in my eyes and my mouth agape. He said, “Do you know what I mean? Does that make any sense to you?” And I responded, “Make any sense? It is the great mystery! What a beautiful earthly picture of a heavenly reality!” Oh how powerful the Lover of my aching soul had spoken to me through this precious gentle man! Instead of one member being mortally pierced by one huge nail, the pressure of many smaller nails evenly distributed through prayer to many members allows the body to rest peacefully on its bed of nails.
Thank you Lord! Thank you Rogo! Thank you to all who have prayed for us!
By Scott and Kerry Hasenbalg
“And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus.” - Ephesians 2:7
How can a man who is suffering great loss, by the world’s standards, such as the death of his own child, really stand and boast of God’s favor and kindness? Because the wealth of God’s favor, was shown to us through the work of his son, Christ Jesus - the forgiveness of our sins and the conquering of death on the cross - allowing us to share in the resurrection from the dead.
But perhaps it is not until a man faces death and realizes his own need of the resurrection from the dead that he can truly be grateful for it or see such heavenly things as God’s great love and favor. It is only when a man faces the death of himself or a part of himself, such as the death of his own child, that he has a desperate enough need of the resurrection, of heaven, and of the reunion of the saints.
It was not until we buried our daughter, Isabella, that we truly understood our own need of the resurrection from the dead. No longer wanting the reunion of the saints but needing it desperately!
No longer just hope but rather confidence in the existence of heaven allowed us to hold our lifeless daughter and not see death – but rather beauty. It is the ministry of Jesus Christ which gives us beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61:3)! And so in our time of ashes and mourning, we yet praise you, O Lord, for the incredible wealth of your favor and kindness towards us! Lord, have mercy upon us now!
Friends and family, thank you ALL for your prayers – words can not adequately express our gratitude and need of them.
Scott & Kerry