Christianity 201

January 18, 2016

Understanding God’s Love When Your Earthly Father is Less Than Perfect

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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The Voice, Gal. 4:4 When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. Because you are now part of God’s family, He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts; and the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father.”

I wrote the title for today’s devotional five different ways before settling on what you see above. I know this is an issue that many wrestle with and if you’re in the category of people whose earthly father provided a great analogy to your heavenly Father, please know that this is not true for everyone. Truthfully, the image of God as father is something that can be a barrier to some embracing the Good News. It’s something that apologists need to know how to work around when counseling someone who is blocked by a mental picture they can’t overcome. The article below only begins to initiate our thinking on this topic; feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Today’s devotional is actually a sample of an online devotional app for a variety of devices, Beyond Bible Devotion, which I believe is produced by Salem Media.

Beyond Bible Devotion

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
 
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

I hear about and know of children who honestly think their fathers are the epitome of perfection. As far these children are concerned, their fathers are invincible heroes and they either want to be exactly like them, or marry someone just like them. The thought of this warms my heart, yet at the same time stings a little, too. Even looking back as far as I can remember, there was never a time in my life that I saw my (earthly) father this way. Please let me preface this by saying I mean no disrespect in what I share regarding my father. I love him almost to the point of it hurting. Despite all the dysfunction, I have NEVER doubted his love for me, not in the slightest. But the truth is, his destructive drinking wrecked havoc on just about every aspect of our family and cost my siblings and me any chance of experiencing a carefree childhood. Out of his warped perception of parenting, my dad never set appropriate boundaries, much less disciplined us in a way children need. And I don’t know what was worse, his drinking or the fact that he showed more respect to strangers than he did to my mom.

Despite all that, we knew he loved us and continues to love us with every bit of his broken heart. There was nothing of himself he wouldn’t have sacrificed on our behalf. No question about it. Yet what baffles me is how I can be so confident of my very imperfect earthly father’s love for me; but continue to have such a skewed perception of my perfect Heavenly Father’s love, when He Himself is the embodiment of love?

Assurance of the Lord’s unconditional love is the most significant determining factor in our relationship with Christ. It sets the pace for every aspect of this journey of faith. How we see ourselves; the manner in which we treat others; the decisions we make; the passion with which we live…just to name a few. This is only a personal conjecture, but I wonder if it’s because it’s easier for a flawed person to believe she is loved by another flawed person. After all, what business would a perfect person have loving someone who is horribly imperfect? It’s almost like a woman who has only known a life of drugs, abuse and prostitution, to hear that she is being pursued by a royal prince. Are you kidding? Even if it was true, she wouldn’t know the first thing about how to conduct herself with someone so seemingly perfect. It would be much easier and less nerve-racking to stay with her deadbeat boyfriend because compared to him, she’s practically a saint.

I don’t know. Is it possible that the Lord could understand how and why we constantly have such a hard time believing He really loves us? I can’t wrap my mind around it. It’s easier for me to think He took me in because He felt sorry for me, not because He wanted to make me His bride. But that’s not the case, and it possibly even diminishes the value of His sacrifice.

Heavenly Father, I realize that my lack of faith in Your love for me stands as the biggest obstacle in this relationship with You. You know me, Father. Nothing is a surprise to You. You know that my faith here is shaky, but I so want to believe. Like the man who was desperate for Christ to heal his demon-possessed child, I, too, cry out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).


Related: C201, August 2011: Adopting Wrong Views of God

February 1, 2012

Basilea Schlink Quotations

Okay, for this one, I know the first question some of you are asking is, “Who?”

Mother Basilea, born Klara Schlink (October 21, 1904, in Darmstadt, Germany – March 21, 2001, in Darmstadt) was a German religious leader and writer. She was leader of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, which she cofounded, from 1947 to 2001.

Basilea Schlink was a sister of Edmund Schlink, a professor in theology. Her father Wilhelm Schlink was a professor of mechanics. After finishing high school in Braunschweig and Darmstadt, she was educated (from 1923) at the Fröbelseminar in Kassel, from 1924 at the Inner missions girls’ school in Berlin. In 1929 she became a teacher at the Mission House Malche in Bad Freienwalde (Oder) in German, psychology and church history. After matriculation in 1930 she studied psychology, art history and philosophy in Berlin and Hamburg. This study was completed by a religious-psychologic thesis about “Consciousness of Sin in adolescent girls and its significance for their battle of faith.”

Some years later Schlink was living in a badly bombed Germany with few resources, but it was important for her to repent for Germany’s cruel treatment of other nations during the war, especially the Jews. She felt the temptation to marry like other young women did. Instead she gave her mission the first priority, and so she became a Sister of Mary.

On March 30, 1947, she and Erika Madauss founded The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Darmstadt. In 1948 both the founders and the first seven sisters became nuns. From then on, Dr. Klara Schlink called herself Mutter Basilea and Erika Madaus called herself Mutter Martyria. Today, The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary has 11 subdivisons all over the world, with in total 209 sisters, and about 130 of these are situated in Darmstadt.

~Wikipedia

Basilea wrote at least six books (that we have in English) Bride of Jesus Christ, My All for Him,  Fragrance of a Life for God,  Father of Comfort, Israel – My Chosen People and Repentance – The Joy-Filled Life


Do not lose yourself in your everyday work and activities. Rather, lose yourself in God. When you are doing work, let your innermost heart be centered on Him. Live in His presence and abide in Him. Then your work will follow you into eternity, and you will reap a rich harvest.


Many people have a personal faith in Jesus Christ and call God their Father. Yet they are unfamiliar with childlike prayer, which God promises to answer. They fail to turn daily from their pride and self-sufficiency, their rebellion against chastening, and their desire for power or prestige. With such an attitude how can they pray in a childlike way and receive God’s gifts as true children of His? God gives grace only to the humble. The prayers of the humble and lowly pierce the clouds. Be willing to bear humbling experiences, so that you become a true child. Then your prayers will have power.


When human reason has exhausted every possibility, the children can go to their Father and receive all they need. … For only when you have become utterly dependent upon prayer and faith, only when all human possibilities have been exhausted, can you begin to reckon that God will intervene and work His miracles.


How different the world would look, how different the state of our nation would be, if there were more sanctified priestly souls! These are souls who have the power to bless, for they intercede with sanctified hearts. They never begin their daily time of intercessory prayer without having first brought to the cross all that is unholy in their lives, so that their old self can be crucified there with Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb.


The heart of the Father is the source of all love. If a person refuses our plea for help, we appeal to his heart, to his sympathy, to his compassion. Who can express what God the Father’s heart is like! Before His love all human love pales. No one calls upon the divine heart of the Father in vain. It overflows with compassion and mercy. Those who appeal to the heart of God in the assurance of His love have never been disappointed.


You are troubled and anxious. Yet you cannot solve your problems and difficulties by yourself. Your own restless thoughts and aspirations are making you weak and incompetent. They clog the channel of your heart through which God wants His help to flow. Leave everything to God. Let all your restless thoughts, worrying and frenetic planning come to rest. Rest in God and in His sovereign rule in the knowledge that He will act. Then you will discover that ‘in quietness and in trust shall be your strength’. So choose this course and you will experience help.  Isaiah 30:15 RSV


God wants His wonder-working power and glory to be revealed before all the world. This happens through people who have faith in Him. He is waiting for this to happen through you too. There is a risk-taking element about faith. Dare to put your confidence in Him in a hopeless situation. Then you will be honouring God, bringing joy to His heart and magnifying His name in the sight of others. This in turn will enrich your life and make you happy, and the miracles you experience will strengthen your faith.


Sources: Christian.com, Today’s WritingRefined in the Fire, Kanaan.org*

*official website of The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary with 365 quotations as daily readings

November 16, 2010

With Christ in the School of Prayer: Paraphrased

Your Father knows what things you need before you ask Him

At first, this might seem to make prayer less necessary:  God knows far better about what we need than we do.   But as we get deeper into understanding what prayer really is, this truth will strengthen our faith.

It will teach us that we do not need, as in other religions, a multitude of words or urgency, to try to compel an unwilling God to listen.

It will lead us to a holy thoughtfulness and quietness in prayer as it begs the question: Does my Father really know that I need this?

It will, once we have been led by the Spirit to the certainty that our request is indeed something that, we do need for God’s glory, give us wonderful confidence to say, “My Father knows I need it and must have it.”

And then, should there be a delay in getting the answer, it will teach us in quiet perseverance to hold on…

Oh, the blessed freedom and simplicity of a child that Christ our teacher would desire to cultivate in us, as we draw near to God; we should look up to the Father until His Spirit works that freedom and simplicity in us.

We should, at times when we’re praying, when we’re in danger of being preoccupied with our fervent, urgent requests — so much that we forget that the Father knows and hears — we should hold still and just quietly say:  My Father sees, My father hears, my father knows.   It will help our faith to accept the answer and to say that we know that we have the requests we have asked of Him.

from Lesson 3 of With Christ in The School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

November 5, 2010

God as He Wants Us to Know Him

I found this quotation from Baxter Kruger today on a blog called Richard Rantz, while I was researching something else; where it appeared under the title, Fear in the Eye of the Beholder…

Perception

How much erroneous theology has been birthed out of misreading into what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam chose to disobey?

I want to share some thoughts here from a brother, Baxter Kruger, on what I am asking.
I would love to hear any thoughts you might care to share here on this matter.

Rich

“Reconciliation began when the Father saw that His children could not see His heart, the Son realized that we could not receive his Father’s love, and the Spirit saw the joy of fellowship with the Father vanish from our lives. Reconciliation is about the Father sending His own Son into our darkness. It is about the Son identifying with us, seeing our good, feeling our fear, experiencing our brokenness. Reconciliation is about the Spirit bridging the horrible gap between the Father’s heart and our blindness, as Jesus embraced it in his own being. It is the suffering of the triune God, righting the doomed ship of our fallen minds, until we know the Father with Jesus in the fellowship of the Spirit.

Reconciliation is the Father’s forgiveness determined to become flesh, determined to incarnate itself into our fallen existence in order to undo our alienation. It is the relationship, the fellowship and communion of the Father, Son, and Spirit stepping into our blindness and mythology, into the cesspool of our trauma and wounds, so that human perception can be thoroughly converted and the Father’s love can be truly known and experienced. The purpose, the aim, the object of reconciliation is not to change God, but to bring us into communion with the Father, so that we could know Him and His lavish heart and live life in the freedom of His embrace.”

April 27, 2010

God’s Eyes Are On The Loners

It’s been a hectic day.   I’d like to say that I could do a post each day on this particular blog on things that God has shown me from His Word that day, but sometimes reality sets in.    The thing is, I want this to be a blog of substance; a collection of posts which separate it from the crowd, so to speak.

So as I scrolled through my personal bookmarks — which list about 150 or so blogs — I asked myself, “Where do I look today for depth?”   That’s when I knew right away I wanted to share something from Kevin Rogers’ blog Orphan Age.   This post, although it’s from this week, is a kind of signature post for the blogs title.

God’s eyes are watching loners.  He is the shepherd who leaves a flock of ninety-nine in the care of another and travels to find the one-hundredth sheep that wandered away and was lost.

He is the Father who watches and waits for broken rebels to humble themselves and return home to His endearing love and unmerited acceptance.

God is a father to orphans and a new husband to widows.  The societal separation, abandonment and sudden loss create a lack of belonging.  The loneliness of orphans becomes their new identity.  Where will the widow and orphan belong?    Who will provide for them?  Who will be their protector?

God not only finds loners but calls them to belong to His family.  He adopts and marries the ones misunderstood, rejected and divorced from their own family of origin.

His presence in a life can sometimes cause difficulty and separation from your roots.  The sins of the fathers affect the family down to the great-grandchildren.  But God’s blessing goes further in unlimited potential.