Help Us Jesus, You’re Our Only Hope

Help Us Jesus, You're Our Only Hope by Shaun McDonald

Help Us Jesus, You’re Our Only Hope by Shaun McDonald

“And what would you like to be when you grow up?” the first grader was asked.

“A dinosaur!”

“Well, little one, you can be whatever you put your mind to.”

“…”

Is that really true? The last time I checked I am not able to transfigure myself, make myself taller, or give myself any special abilities. Even more, try as I might, I cannot seem to change the very basics of my personality. I am a strong leader with an indecisive bent. I am a sensitive lover with an Irish temper. I am ambitious with a need for safety and security. How do I become someone else?

We all know the answer to this. We don’t. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe we were intended to either. Scripture tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14 NIV) Of course that doesn’t mean that God was afraid He’d break us when He made us; nor does it mean that He was afraid we’d break the world. The fear is referring to a very careful, very intentional creative process. His eyes were squinted and His brows were furrowed as He knit each one of us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). And what He knit together wasn’t just good – it was wonderful – and it was you, and it was me.

The narrative that undergirds our young people is not one that gives them more freedom, but rather more anxiety. Depression, anxiety and bi-polar medications are going out the door like Tylenol once did. Suicide rates are at an all-time high, and the age keeps dropping. This narrative has been promoted by Disney for years and our homes, school systems and even churches have all bought into it. Be what you want and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not right, best or possible. I mean, a bunny rabbit arresting a lion… really?

What has happened is this. Little Eden wants to be a famous singer one day, but the poor girl can’t sing. To keep in step with the narrative, her parents, teachers, and even her pastors keep telling her what a beautiful voice she has and how she should “improve” it with some lessons. Sadly, we all know Eden can’t sing. That’s why everyone has a love/hate relationship with Simon Cowell. He says what we all know to be true but have been taught not to say. Meanwhile, poor Eden is getting more and more frustrated because she just can’t land a gig! Eventually that leads to depression because she feels like a failure, which leads to bitterness because the world just doesn’t understand, which leads to another all-too-young obituary.

I know, that’s a little heavy. How about Little Jude? Jude just wants to be a boxer. The only problem is that Jude is only a little guy and he hates getting punched. Not only that, but he is too soft and sweet to want to fight anyone. Or how about Olivia? She wants to be a chemist someday. Unfortunately Olivia cannot do math. I mean… cannot do math. So, to help her achieve her goals, her parents get her the best help available. She has tutors, private classes, and even one-on-one aids in her class to help her get better at what her brain just doesn’t seem to want to do. The result? Not only does Olivia never gets into the program she wants to because she cannot do the math on her own at the level required, but she spent all those years as the “special kid” who needed all the extra help to become something she was not created to be – good at math. And who does she have to blame?

As a last example, let’s take Lorna. Lorna was told that she has to make a good income to be happy. To do so, of course, she needs a college degree. So Lorna chooses the degree she thinks will set her up for the most money in the end. She graduates Magna Cum Laude, but there are simply no jobs in her market. Lorna leaves friends and family in search of a job to pay the debts she accumulated getting the degree she needed for the job that doesn’t exist. She is now living away from home, not doing what she set out to do, nor what she wants to do, all to make a check that barely covers her debts, let alone allows her to enjoy her life.

What a sad narrative. When will we wake up to see that God has made each of us on purpose, for a purpose? And the purpose is simple – to enjoy Him. What if Eden, Jude, Olivia and Lorna were all told from the very beginning, “Follow what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what allows you to love God and your neighbor (including friends, family, co-workers, etc.).” What if each of them was simply encouraged in what they excelled at and lovingly told the truth about their whims? What if each of them was told that a college degree and six-figure salary will not make them happy, but a life of contentment with Christ surely will? The end of each story would change.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6 NIV) Don’t believe it? Consider the man who wrote those words. Paul wrote of himself, “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.” (Philippians 4:12 NIV) To an American, comfort is the meaning of life. In comfort we will find fullness. Perhaps full stomachs and waist lines, but not full lives. Paul was filled to the brim, yet, read what his life was like, “… I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV) To an American, Paul had nothing. He lived a third-world life with first world stress. But, of this type of life, here is what he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV) This was Paul’s secret. Learning to be content had nothing to do with circumstance and everything to do with Christ.

True fulfillment, true contentment, does not come through a degree or a salary. It does not come through possessions or positions. It does not come through fame or martyrdom. It does not come through anything, but only through One Person, the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

So what does all of that have to do with a kid wanting to be a lion when he grows up? Good question. Everything. The end goal for every human being is to know God and be made like Him. The recipe for contentment and a fulfilling life is always the same – Jesus. It begins with an introduction to Him. From the very beginning our children need to know Who Jesus is, why Jesus came, and what that has to do with them. They need to know of His infinite love for them, proved on the cross. His definite plan for them, modeled in His life. And His ultimate destination for them, displayed in the resurrection.

If our children can truly grasp the first question in the New City Catechism and say that it is true of their own life, they will live the most fulfilling lives possible. “What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong to God.” Do you want to know something? My three year old already has this memorized. The rest of her life, for me, is about helping those words make their way into her heart and life. Everything else is trivial.

For two great resources on this topic see:
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and Ordinaryby Michael Horton

2018-01-08T17:22:25+00:00 By |



3 Things to Keep in Mind This School Year

3 Things to Keep in Mind This School Year by Rebekah B.

3 Things to Keep in Mind This School Year by Rebekah B.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

The month of August symbolizes the beginning of a new school year, back to school shopping, and all those annoying backpack commercials. Whether you are a freshman in high school or a senior in college there are three things you need to know to help keep God at the center of your school year.

 

1# The most important book you will read this year is your Bible.

All the homework you have been assigned will be a temptation (or an excuse) to slide on your Bible reading until that paper is done or when the next break comes. Don’t give in! The time you take to spend soaking in His word will be the most fruitful and character building time of your entire education.

Nothing can replace the wealth of information in the Bible and nothing can prepare you better for life, family, a job, or your next class. Take the time to grow in grace and the benefits you reap will be invaluable.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33

 

2# Don’t let pride grow in your heart.

God despises the prideful (James 4:6). This is enough to know that pride is really dangerous. Your pride will pollute you (Matthew 7:20-23) and keep you out of the Kingdom of God, as we have seen with Satan. Your humility though, is a testament to God’s forgiveness of your sins and His work that is being done in you.
The classroom has, unfortunately, become a breeding ground for pride and comparison. Pride can most definitely be present before our education, but school contest, awards, certificates, and grades seem to encourage the wrong kind of competition — the self-seeking kind. This pride clashes with our Savior’s sacrifice like socks with sandals.

Let us practice being quick to encourage and celebrate others, but slow to think more highly of ourselves then we ought for Romans 12:3 says, ” For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Remember that in all of your good projects, tests, and papers it is God working through you for His glory.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:13

 

#3. Someone younger than you needs a role model.

When I was younger I always admired those older than me, and still do! I wanted to be like them, act like them, and couldn’t wait to be their age or grade. Most young people do, sixth-graders can’t wait to be eighth-graders, who can’t wait to be juniors and so on. The bottom line is that no matter what grade you are in, you will always have someone looking up to you and probably wanting to be like you. Whether you like it or not, you are a role model. So, why not model Christ like love, humility, joy, and service?

Keep your eyes open for the guy or girl looking for someone to look up to, and spend some time and energy pointing them to Christ. Think up some creative way that you can invest the gospel into their lives and show them that they too can be a role model.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 28:19

Whether you’re going to walk, drive, ride the bus, or even bike to school, as you prepare for a day of work and study, remember to keep Him at the center of you day, week, month, and year. By His grace and mercy, I pray that this will be the year that your relationship with Christ blossoms, and that you will be a light to others on campus.

 

Recommended Reading

2018-01-08T19:38:21+00:00 By |

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