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“How Marvelous, How Wonderful, Is My Savior’s Love For Me!”
I heard Josh McDowell for the first time forty years ago when I went with a group of students from Truman High School in Independence Missouri to Kansas State University where he was speaking with Campus Crusade For Christ. I have appreciated his ministry practically since I committed my life to Christ. He has been defending the faith for over 50 years and has spoken to over 1,200 colleges and universities and given over 25,000 talks.
As an agnostic college student, Josh McDowell believed that Christianity was worthless. But a group of Christians on his campus challenged him to examine the claims of Christianity, particularly Jesus’ resurrection, on an intellectual basis. Instead of succeeding in discrediting the truth of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling historical evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. As a result, Josh accepted Christ as his personal Savior and Lord, and he found his life changed through God’s love and grace.
But there is a part of his story that very few would know and most could not imagine. Paul Lantz, a friend of mine, invited me down to Baltimore to watch a brand new film on Josh titled “Undaunted”, a moving story chronicling his childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. His childhood was also traumatized by years of sexual abuse.
We drove down as a family to watch it and hear Josh McDowell speak. It was a very touching story reminding us again of the power of God’s love to save to the uttermost and take what Josh viewed as a wasted life, transform him and use him for His glory. We certainly declare, “How Marvelous, How Wonderful, Is My Savior’s Love For Me.”
One of the benefits of Bible memorization is our cooperation with the Holy Spirit in recalling sacred Scripture at opportune moments. Many years ago I memorized the daily text, actually aided by it being sung to music, a tune that I can still sing along with. Each word ministers to my heart. But today let us especially consider one phrase, “who loved me.”
Writing of a deep assurance of Christ’s love for him Paul simply says, “who loved me”. This is Paul, who at one time with hateful vengeance, had persecuted the Church and at His conversion heard these words from Christ, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He now reflected on the love His Savior specifically had for him. So much so, that He “gave Himself for me.”
“God so loved the world”. Amen, He sure does and He specifically loves you and me this day and every day. You may not have experienced a loving earthly family as I thankfully have. We personally know so many who have not.
There are some reading our message who, like Josh, have been abused and carry deep scars. Josh kept most of his dark childhood experiences secret even from those closest to him, including his wife of 42 years, until about four years ago. When Josh came to Christ the rage and hatred he felt toward his offenders went away over time. He made the willful choice to forgive them. Yet lying beneath his emotional scars, scenes of his childhood are permanently etched in his memories, all these years later.
Perhaps you or someone you know has had an experience similar to Josh. When a parent, relative, close friend, or a clergy member shatters a youth’s innocent world, their misconduct violates the child’s personal boundaries. The perpetrator misuses his or her power and breaks a fundamental trust given to them by God and earthly authorities. One who has been violated has difficulty learning to fully trust anyone, and this overflows into their spiritual life as well. Josh shared with the audience on Sunday evening that he initially had major struggles loving the heavenly Father when images of his earthly father appeared in his mind.
Earthly parents are imperfect and some have major overriding problems in their lives, often a result of their own upbringing. Our background stories would differ tremendously if we could talk together. But we can all learn to trust our heavenly Father who is altogether trustworthy. His steadfast love never ceases, even during times when others have been untrustworthy or we ourselves are untrustworthy or vacillate in our commitment to Him.
Pastor and author, Robert Morgan, makes this observation: “If you could have one verse of Scripture engraved on your tombstone, what would it be? Or if you could have one verse and only one scripted and framed to hang in your living room or kitchen, which verse would you choose? Or, to put it a little differently, if someone were to write a biography of your life and put one verse on the title page, what verse would best summarize your aspirations and experiences as a Christian? I’d like to suggest that out of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, you’d have a hard time coming up with a better choice than Galatians 2:20.”
Those with deep scars listen carefully to me today. Take our daily verse from Galatians 2:20, write it on a card and memorize it. Say it over and over, phrase by phrase. Hide it deep in your heart. For what Paul said for Paul, you can say for you and I can say for me. When Christ lives within our hearts we are of greater worth “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we have crucified our old nature with Christ and therefore it is Christ who lives in us. The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith through Jesus who loves us and gave Himself for us. If we set our affections on things above, we won’t be as disappointed when we can’t find all the answers here below, but when we appear with You in glory grievances here on earth will disappear forever! Praise God forevermore. Amen.
Brooksyne’s Note: I’ve witnessed the devastation, shame, and lack of self-worth that alcoholism and sexual abuse can heap upon an individual. My heart ached as I watched the movie Sunday as I was reminded of my mother’s childhood years. I believe much of the victim’s frustration and pain comes from his or her longing to want to go back and make things right, to be able to make their childhood memories wholesome. Of course, that’s impossible, but I came across an anonymous quote this morning that speaks to this subject and perhaps it will speak to your heart today as well:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” With God’s help and His Word as our authority for life we don’t have to make the same mistakes and will not want to. So we make a better life for the next generation and that’s just what my mother did for me. And I am so thankful! I always look for a redemptive ending in any tragic story.
Yesterday we shared concerning the 16th anniversary of our Daily Encouragement ministry. That original message along with updates about our ministry are here.
We are sure at a pretty point in the Autumn season. I took this photo of our home from the field across the road.
Last evening we went down to Baltimore to view “Undaunted”, the story of Josh McDowell’s childhood. Brooksyne and I were sitting in the pew when Josh walked up, called her by name and wished her a happy birthday. (Ester had met up with him earlier in the foyer and told him.)
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“I Stand Amazed In The Presence” Video Chris Tomlin
“I Have Been Crucified With Christ” Video Robin Mark
“Galatians 2:20” Video By Chris Nichols
“Undaunted: The Early Life of Josh McDowell” (Trailer) Video
Josh McDowell: Undaunted: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith – Biola University Chapel Video Testimony
Josh McDowell: “It Isn’t an Intellectual Problem, It’s A Morality Problem” Video (a brief video 11:25 demonstrating Josh’s communication skills in an interview.)
Across from our home and down the lane a farmer has stacked a large pile of giant fodder bales. This is the waste from the corn that was harvested earlier and will now likely be used for animal bedding.