Christianity 201

July 26, 2011

Fears, Hopes, Insecurities: A Male Perspective

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I could have written this myself, though not as well.  Murray Wittke blogs at All The Days of My Life, where this post appeared originally as A Man’s Dreams and Fears.

I am a man.  And as a man I live with deep longings and unspoken fears buried within in my heart.

On the one hand I desperately long for significance.  I long to be a man of the highest quality of character, the kind of man that moves into and significantly and positively influences the people I love and the world I live in.  I long to be the kind of man that has what it takes to handle difficult tasks, to be the husband and father my wife and children need me to be, and to be the best friend anyone could have.  At the end of my days I want to be able to look back with satisfaction upon a legacy of love carrying on in the lives of others.  Secretly I also long to be recognized, appreciated, and respected for being that kind of a man, by my family, friends, and peers.  Down deep I want to be recognized and valued as someone unique and special, to not simply be a nameless, faceless, and insignificant drone among the billions and billions of identical ants in the anthill of life living and dieing without anyone ever noticing they exist.

But!  On the other hand, and at the same time, I am plagued with unspoken anxiety and insecurity.  I live with a constant and terrible fear that eventually I will be exposed to all the world as a man that is inadequate; weak and powerless, a man of little worth or significance.  I live with the fear that despite my best efforts I will be exposed as nothing more than a man of no substance, a man of no particular value or importance.  I fear ending up as a man who lived and died without leaving any trace of impact or influence, a man no one noticed.  I fear that when it’s all over my life will have had the weightiness or impact of the slight brush of a butterfly wing.  I deeply fear that all I really am is an insignificant drone among the billions and billions of other nameless and faceless people no one ever notices, cares for, or misses when they are gone.  I admit, as a man I contain a strange brew of both deep longings and terrible fears.

What calms my fears and gives me hope is the knowledge that I am God’s child, dearly loved, highly valued, and delighted in by my Heavenly Father.  For reasons I cannot fathom He loves me!  He knows everything about me and doesn’t reject me!  Despite my strike outs, stumbling, errors, and fumbles; despite my shoes being on the wrong feet and my shirt buttoned up wrong; despite my embarrassing displays of temper tantrums, pouting, sulking; and despite sometimes even running away, He still gathers me up into His arms, holds me tight and cherishes me.  Wrapped in the arms of His love all the longings of my heart are satisfied and all my fears are washed away.

I am a man, but I am also His child.

~Murray Wittke

Here’s another example of Murray’s writing; this one is called Soul Surgery.

July 19, 2011

He Will Sing Over You

Yesterday I wrote about the challenge of producing Bible study and curriculum material for children.  It seems easy on the surface, but you have to really understand certain concepts for yourself before you can attempt to state them plainly so that toddlers, school-aged kids, and pre-teens can understand. 

This is part two of a rather rare back-to-back focus on devotionals for kids from Bible Drive-Thru.  (Read yesterday’s for more details if you missed it.)  Violet is a freelance Christian writer from Western Canada who is also a prolific blogger, with seven blogs that I’m aware of!  Maybe your children have never done an exercise like this before at home.  Copy and paste what’s below and print it out for them.  If you don’t have kids, allow the truth of today’s passage from Zephaniah to reach into your heart.

God’s Lullabies

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Zephaniah 3:11-17

TO CHEW ON: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Again Judah was in a mess. When King Manasseh died, his idol-worshiping son Amon became king. Amon was king for just two years when officials murdered him and crowned his eight-year-old son Josiah to be king instead.

God gave another prophet named Zephaniah, messages for King Josiah. Most were not popular. “God’s judgment day is coming,” he said one day. “If Judah doesn’t return to God, it will be destroyed, just the like nations around it. Jerusalem will be destroyed too. Only a few people from it will be saved.”

Then Zephaniah ended his stern message with the beautiful picture of a God who can also be gentle. He is a God who loves and cares for those who stay true to Him.

Have you ever seen a mother or father quiet a crying baby? How do they do it?

In our reading today, God is that parent. He quiets His restless children with love. He sings over them – lullabies perhaps or story songs that remind them of the things He has done for them.

Next time God seems mean and strict and far away to you, remember this picture of God. He is near you even when you don’t feel Him. He can save you from any problem you are in. He delights in you and sings over you. Let Him love you.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to know Your parent-love for me. Amen.

SUPERSIZE IT: Pictures of God.
God is pictured in the Bible in many ways. These pictures help us understand what He is like. Match the references with the way God is pictured in each verse (one verse has two descriptions).

A. Psalm 121:4 B. Psalm 91:4 C. Isaiah 25:4 D. 2 Timothy 4:18

1. ______ Shelter from the storm.
2. ______ Rescuer.
3. ______ Bird who shelters us under His wings.
4. ______ Watchman who never sleeps.
5. ______ Shade from the heat.


Adult readers – DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo’s.

July 14, 2011

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

I sat down yesterday for a half hour with a woman who recently returned from a two month missions trip to Africa sponsored by Youth For Christ.  She told me that she and her husband were sent there primarily to be encouragers to the YFC team, and to share the message of I John 4.  All of John’s first epistle echoes with the message of God’s love, but here is the passage she was referring to:

NIV I John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.   God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

The message that “God is Love” is one of the first thing children learn in Sunday School, or whatever you term its modern equivalent.  “Jesus loves me, this I know…”  It seems so basic, so obvious that chances are many of you read the above passage so rapidly that any new truths that could be revealed from the passage didn’t have the split-seconds necessary to take root.

Let’s slow it down and play back the last two-thirds from The Message Bible:

 13-16This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

 17-18God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 19We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

 20-21If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Think about it… trained missionaries with a respected Christian organization need to be reminded that they are loved by God.  They can’t reach out to others with God love until they feel the embrace of that perfect love for themselves.  They need to be immersed in the awareness of God’s love for them before they can share it with others.

Where does that leave you and I?

My guess is that many efforts at evangelism are thwarted because the “sent ones” lack the 100% conviction that God truly loves them, and I include myself as often guilty of this as well.  Some will say that today’s item wasn’t exactly Christianity 201, but more like 101.  I wonder if the truth of knowing the love of our Heavenly Father is really more like Christianity 301 or 401?

~Paul Wilkinson

Just a reminder, here at C201, scripture passages are usually in green to remind us that God’s word is life.