A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children

Prodigal

The Father-God Love for the Prodigal

Our father watches, waits and longs for His prodigal children to come home. His heart hurts when we are separated from His presence. He longs for the intimacy that He had with us, when we walked with Him in the original garden. When Jesus came, He came to show us the heart of the father. He represented God the Father in everything that He said and did. Jesus did not live independently of God.
 
When Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), He showed us the heart of the father. The father allowed his younger son, to assert his rebelliousness of demanding an early inheritance. The father did not run after him and try to rescue him when all of his money was gone and there was famine in the land. He waited till his son hit bottom and came to his senses and rightly recognized and honored his father.
 
The father ran to the son when he finally came home. After the son had repented to His father, then the father called for the servant to get a ring for his finger, shoes for his feet and a robe. The Father through a party and celebrated his return. He restored him fully to a place of honor and authority as His son.
 
Too often, we want the privilege, honor and favor of Father God, without full repentance. Repentance is a gift from the Holy Spirit where we turn around and make a complete change of heart, mind and direction of our lives. The joy of holy intimacy with Father God is found when we totally surrender our lives to Him and don’t hold anything back.

Are you a Prodigal?

I was looking up the definition of “prodigal” and was surprised by the definition:

  • prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources. 

  • luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance.

  • lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance.

  • profuse implies pouring forth without restraint.

  • lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion.

As I looked at this definition, I thought of our American lifestyle. Have you or your children followed this pattern:

  • Our children are encouraged to go to Ivy-league schools and to not worry about the debt accrued with student loans.
  • After they go to college, and meet the perfect somebody, they go into further debt from the lavish wedding.
  • Then of course, there is further spending as they purchase their first house.
  • Then they purchase the first  a mini-van
  • Then extravagant equipment for their babies.

The Prodigal Cycle

The out-of-control spending, the reckless and wastefulness of resources has become confused with the American dream. Remember, how our forefathers and mothers sacrificed when they came to a land of freedom. They hoped for a better life, but their definition of a good life is much different than what the entitlement generation feels they deserve.

If you were around in the 80’s when Imelda Marcos, the widow of a Filipino dictator, was found with a legendary 3,000 pairs of shoes. The media was appalled by the extravagance when so many of her people were in great need. Yet, Americans love to shop till they drop and build mansions where only a few people live in them.

The Entitlement Culture

Let me tell you a story of a land which is becoming a culture of waste. The amount of resources that an individual home waste’s every year could feed and cloth all the pilgrims who died trying to settle this country. They gave their lives for religious freedom and we waste what has been given us.

Let me tell you a story from the Bible.

There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

 That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. (Lk 15:11-20).

I have never seen myself as a prodigal…

I fell in love with Jesus early in my life. I didn’t do drugs. I was a virgin when I married. I thought that all the prodigals were people who were “loose” or had sex outside of marriage or had corrupt morals. Yet, when I read this definition: 

I realize that as an American citizen I am included in these statics:

1. Junk galore. Each American throws out about 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of trash every single day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest 2012 figures.

2. Food Wasted. According to America’s Second Harvest, over 41 billion pounds of food have been wasted this year (www.secondharvest.org).

I know that I fall into the above categories of waste. But as Americans, we also have these statistics.

3. Drug Use. America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

4. Teenage Pregnancy. America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.

5. Credit Card Waste: According to a Gallup survey, the average cardholder carries a credit card balance of $2,210 at the end of the month. Statistics on creditcard.com show that the average APR on cards with a balance is 12.78%. Considering that 176 million Americans have a credit card, the wasted amount on credit card interest is over $49 billion each year.

Hope for the Prodigal…

I could get really discouraged by these statistics, but the good news is that the story of the Prodigal Son is not as much about the son who was reckless and wasteful, but about the Father who loves… Look at the how the Father loves every prodigal.

 When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ (Lk 15:20-24)

A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children

Wow! We spend so much time thinking about “the prodigal”, but really this story is about the Father! As we turn around from our own reckless living we can be sure of this! Our repentance opens the door for intimacy with Father-God to be restored. When we change our thinking and embrace a lifestyle of repentance, we draw near to God and He draws near to us. The truth of God’s never-ending story is told again and again as the father welcomes us home to Himself. Remember this:

1. God Loves Us

2. God Receives Us

3. God Restores Us

4. God Authorizes us

God Rejoices Over Us

// ]]> The Father is waiting for you and for me to come home!

Consider taking a spiritual retreat where you spend time with God, coming closer to Him. Click here to download your free guide. Click Here to Download

Hope to hear from you. If you want prayer for your own prodigal heart to come home, or prayer for a loved one, leave a comment and we will join you! A Father’s love never fails to welcome home His child.

5 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

Get ready for Christmas

Get Ready for Christmas

This morning before worship, we took our daughter to breakfast. As I looked up from my omelet, who would be walking in the door of Snug on the Square in Mckinney Texas, but Santa Clause himself. Sadly, Santa was walking in a little bit lost. He asked for directions.

Get Ready for Christmas

Have you ever felt a little lost when it came to the holidays. You may have felt a growing anxiety as your Christmas things to do just kept growing. You had your notes on what you needed to do to create the perfect holiday:

1. Buy perfect holiday gifts (go into debt if you need to).

2. Take flawless family pictures (bribe the kids if you need to).

3. Take ridiculously expensive trips (remember you are impressing your Facebook friends).

The problems with this materialistic approach to Christmas, is that you can have a beautifully decorated home but not have Christmas in your heart. 

10 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

So this year, begin the holiday season by going deeper. Unlike tinsel on a Christmas tree that always falls off, get’s trampled underfoot and thrown away — make your Christmas season centered around Christ.

1. Take time to look back at your year.

If you have been journalling through your year, go back and look at the key things that God has said to you. Ask these questions:

  • How has God answered your prayers?
  • How has God provided for you?
  • What relationships have enriched your life?
  • What losses have you suffered?
  • What victories have you gained?

2. Forgive Everyone who Hurt you this year.

Undoubtedly there have been people and situations that have hurt you this year. You are human. There is no shame in this, you simply need to release those who have hurt you and truly forgive. This is more than just voicing some words, “I’m sorry” Forgiveness is about cleansing your heart of residual pain and loss.

3. Thank Everyone who has helped you this year.

One of the best ways to be free from bitterness is to go a step farther beyond forgiveness and enter the pathway of hope. Take time to thank every single person who has helped you this year. Sit down and make a list. Write thank you cards, or include your thank in your Christmas Cards. 

4. Take Time Praying for Your Family

You may pray regularly for your family, yet Christmas is a great time to set aside time to pray for the particular needs of each one of those you love. Pray for the family relationships. Pray for a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to build family traditions. If you are in a season of transition, let go of the past to make room for the new ways that you will relate as a family. It’s a big transition to go from having babies to toddlers, or from young children to teenagers, or from teenagers to adults. 

5. Take time to Worship Jesus

The best way to overcome the commercialization of the holidays, is to affirm again that the centrality of Jesus to Christmas.

If you are rushing around keeping up with how the Jones’ do Christmas, you will miss out on the sweet simplicity of the season. 

 

This passionate rendition of Mary, Did you Know by Pentatonix is a moving call to worship. This song will get you in the Christmas Spirit.

5 Things You Can Do now to get ready for Christmas Top Ten Things to Pray for your Family

As you prepare your heart and mind to be with extended family during the holiday season, here is a simple prayer card to put in your Bible or to post to remind you to pray for your family.
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Every Mom is Chosen

Every Mom is Chosen

Every mom that I know wants to be the best mom in the world for her child, but sometimes she feels like the worst. Every mom needs a safe place to talk about the real issues she is facing without feeling like she will be judged as a “bad mom.” We need others to come alongside us and cheer us on as moms even when we feel like our parenting skills are lacking and we aren’t going to make it through another Cheerio-filled day.

Every Mom is Chosen

I want to introduce a new author Jen Forsthoff who has just written Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You with a Special Needs Child which is being published by Life Bridge Press just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s a very vulnerable thing to publish your first book and I want to invite you to read Jen’s post and leave her comments of encouragement as she inspires you with her message.

chosen for charlie Chosen for Charlie

by Jen Forsthoff

It was love at first sight. After thirty-eight weeks, I finally held my firstborn. My beautiful Charlotte Joy. “Charlie,” as we would call her, lay on my chest and wriggled under the bright hospital room light. Not knowing how to comfort her, I held her the best I could. Her sweet cry was music to my ears; to finally hear her voice and see her face was more than I could bear. Though nurses buzzed about the room, cleaning and prepping for Charlie’s first bath and such things, for those initial moments, the world seemed to shrink to just the three of us.

My husband and I stared at her blinking blue eyes, the tuft of strawberry blonde hair atop her head, her tiny shriveled hands, her precious little body. “We’ve been waiting for you,” I cried. I couldn’t look away from her precious face. “Momma loves you so much.”

As new parents, we knew we had much to learn. But with soring hopes of a bright future, we felt sure that, together, we could conquer whatever might come our way.

Just a few days later we received the phone call that confirmed the doctors’ suspicions: Charlie had Trisomy 21. This genetic abnormality, commonly referred to as Down Syndrome, was something we never imagined for our family. We knew, of course, that parenting would be a challenge. But parenting a special-needs child, who could ever be prepared for that?

That once conquering spirit that welled up inside those first few moments quickly turned. I was soon felt as though I was being conquered- with fears, sadness, unanswered prayers for my baby girl. I was devastated. I ached all over. This feeling of pain and heaviness was never one I imagined with the birth of a child.  This is not how a new mother should feel- while friends celebrated the birth of their healthy babies, I was heart-broken. Feeling conflicted within; brokenness was replaced with guilt that I couldn’t celebrate the birth of my baby girl.

Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation- receiving difficult news about your child, a family member, a dear friend, or even yourself. Our reactions in those moments can vary, tremendously. We can feel anger, bitterness, deep sadness, pain, even nothing at all. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to feel in those moments. But I think that what we do in those moments is absolutely defining of what will come next.

Our pain can cause us to push away or pull in close. One yields even more hurt, while the other brings healing. Rather than pushing away, I want to pull in towards my Heavenly Father. And If I do, I will be given beauty for my ashes, joy for my mourning, a spirit of praise for my heaviness- I will be transformed and renewed in His presence (Isaiah 61: 3). As I pull in close, that which seems to be conquering me, will not overcome me. God won’t let it.

If you are like me, your first response is not always to pull in close to God. But I can tell you that amidst my grief, God graciously pulled me close. He took my ashes, my mourning, and my heaviness in exchange for a beautiful perspective on life, an unexplainable joy, and a heart that is full of praise and thanksgiving.

So let me encourage you today, pull in close to God. Give him your heart, your hurt, your heaviness and exchange them for healing from your Heavenly Father.

Click the picture below to download chapter 1 of Chosen for Charlie by Jen Forsthoff. 


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

No matter where you are in the world, giving thanks opens a doorway to a happy life. In the United States, we celebrate thanksgiving as a nation but few of us remember the true sacrifice of the Pilgrims who came to America for religious freedom.  I shared this history with my children as they were growing up and would place “five kernels of corn” on each plate to remember the first pilgrims.

Happy Thanksgiving

Get your copy of The First Thanksgiving here: Get Your Copy Here

The History of Thanksgiving

Most of us have a vague notion that this holiday began when the Pilgrims invited their Indian neighbors to dinner to thank God for his provisions. But there really is much more to the story.

The Pilgrims made a 66 day journey across the North Atlantic Ocean.  One Hundred and two made the voyage in a ship the size of a modern day volleyball court. They encountered the full gall of the winter storms of 1620 that plunged the pilgrims into prolonged seasickness.  They were hated by the sailors on the ship who called them “psalm-singing puke-stockings”. Several of the crew threatened to throw them over the side of ship and feed them to the fish.

During one violent storm, the crossbeam supporting the mainmast cracked.  The crew crowded below deck with the screaming children, who were frightened by the loud noise.  All were concerned. What could they do to save the ship?  The Pilgrims responded in the only way they knew how.  They prayed, “Yet Lord, thou canst save!”

In answer to their prayer, the Lord reminded Elder Brewster of the iron screw of his printing press.  In desperation, they brought in the press, cranked it up to meet the cross beam and raised it up to its original position.  Even the sailors joined the Pilgrims as they shouted praise to God.  He had saved each one from the terrors of shipwreck.  They sailed the rest of the way across the Atlantic with a Printing Press holding the ship together.

The joy and expectation that must have filled every heart when at last the words “Land ho” were shouted.  The land they saw was to become “New England”.  It was out of the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company so they needed some law to govern their settlement.  They drafted a simple covenant which said: “…Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation…”

11-24-15 Thanking God

The Pilgrims Find Safe Harbor

When the Pilgrims arrived in the safe harbor they fell on their knees on the sands of Cape Cod thanking God for his blessing.  Bradford later was astonished at “this poor people’s present condition… no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses, or much less towns to repair to…” 

The pilgrims could rely only on God.  They could not take solace in any other thing. “If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world…What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace.”

God used these trials to make the hearts of the pilgrims triumphant.  “God sifted a whole nation, that He might send choice grain into this wilderness.” More than half of them died the first winter which was later called the “starving time.” They buried the dead at night so that the Indians would not know how few their number was becoming. 

God Sent Help to the Pilgrims

In the Spring of 1621,  the cry went up “Indian coming!”  Everyone was surprised to see one bold Indian marching down the center of the street with nothing on except a loin cloth.  In perfect English the Indian said “Welcome.”  Then he looked at the stunned faces of the Pilgrims and said “Do you have any beer?” The Indian’s name was Samoset.  He had learned English from traveling with an English sea captain.

Samoset befriended the pilgrims and introduced them to Squanto.  Squanto had been kidnapped and taken to England where he lived for many years.  He finally found a way back to his homeland, only to find all of his family dead and his home deserted.  Squanto found a new purpose for life by helping the Pilgrims.  He knew that they would starve to death if they didn’t learn how to live off the land.  He showed them how to grow corn, catch fish and hunt. 

The fall harvest was a success.  The Pilgrims were thankful to God for the abundance of His hand of provision.  With Squanto as their interpreter, they invited the local Indian chief Massasoit to come to a day of public Thanksgiving.  The chief arrived a day early with ninety Indians! The Pilgrims were relieved when the Indians did not come empty handed.  They brought with them dressed dear and wild turkeys.  They also showed the women how to roast corn kernels until they popped. The popcorn was a favorite treat. 

This first thanksgiving lasted three days.  The Indians and Pilgrims competed in shooting contests between meals.  The friendship and relationship that was built resulted in a treaty of peace that lasted forty years.

11-24-15 Gratitude

Five Kernels of Corn

Later that fall new settlers arrived by ship.  Everyone was filled with joy at their coming.  But when they realized it was almost winter and the settlers had come with no extra provisions, they knew something must be done to help them make it through the entire winter.  The pilgrims were each rationed 5 kernels of corn per day.  They prayed for God’s mercy and received His sustenance.  Not one of them died of starvation that winter.

In April of 1623, the Pilgrims worked with new vigor planting corn.  They knew they needed an abundant harvest.  But after planting the seed, they faced a terrible drought.  Once again the pilgrims prayed.  Edward Winslow recounts “…O the mercy of God, who was as ready to hear, as we were to ask.” The very next morning, God gave a gentle shower of rain.

This answer to prayer had a significant impact on the Indians.  They had tried many incantations and rain dances without positive effect.  They were impressed with the goodness of the pilgrims’ God.

The abundance of the harvest that year yielded the pilgrims a surplus of corn.  They invited the Indians to a second Day of Thanksgiving. Massasoit was again invited and this time he came with 120 braves.  The first course was served .  An empty plate was set before each person with five kernels of corn on it.  No one would ever forget to thank God for His abundant provision.

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Did you grow up watching this classic Charlie Brown Thanksgiving? You are probably more likely to remember Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving than to know the history of Thanksgiving.  

Create a Wonderful Thanksgiving for your family!

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Life is Fragile, People Matter

Life is Fragile, People Matter

Life is Fragile, People Matter

My friend Susan’s life was shattered. She had brought two beautiful sons into the world. Nothing could prepare her for loss of her son Kyle to a drug overdose. No mother or father expects to bury their child. The depth of loss drove Susan to her own healing journey to find God’s restoration. Watch Susan’s brief video testimony:

Healing Journey

God leads everyone of us on a healing journey at one point in our lives. Everyone’s journey is different, because we grieve differently.

In the broken, dark moments of our lives we have trouble even taking care of ourselves. We have to choose to respect the unique ways that people walk through their grief. No one knows how the other person feels. It is only Jesus who goes down to the darkest places of our lives.

From Grief to Grace

The wonderful promise of Jesus, is that He is able to take us from grief to grace. He shines the brightest lights in the darkest moments. You don’t realize how terrible loss can be. But we all experience it grief.

We don’t have to wallow in grief. We need the time to seek God’s light to walk into a graceful spot. God can take us out of any crises, no matter how difficult it is!

Dance With Jesus

Dancing with Jesus

We can dance with Jesus at any point in our lives. Often we think about dancing when we are happy. But we can dance our way out of sorrow into His joy. It doesn’t mean that everything in our lives will ever be perfect. Our joy finds it’s place dancing in the arms of Jesus, the only perfect ONE.

Life is fragile, people matter If you would like a FREE BOOK by Susan B Mead called “Dance with Jesus” write a comment below. Two people will be chosen to receive a copy of her book. The drawing will take place by Monday, August 3rd.


 

Unexpected Kindness #LifeGivingLinkup

Unexpected Kindness

Unexpected Kindness

This morning I nagged at my husband about the laundry. I really had nothing to complain about, he was doing the laundry, just not how I wanted it done.

Have you ever done this… demanded your own way…. Have you kept record of wrong? Have you become impatient for someone to live up to your standards?

When I act like this, I’m being selfish and self-centered. Pettiness drains our energy and strains our love. True kindness is unselfish. Read this description with is from my first book 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom.

Unexpected Kindness

Simple Acts of Kindness

So think about it. Is there anyone that you need to say, “I’m sorry” to? Making things right will clear the air. Make your home a place where people want to come back to. Kindness is a quality that warms the heart and hearth.

The fruit of kindness is a remarkable force of persuasion in our homes. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. To be warmhearted, affectionate, and caring.

God’s kindness is not based on my behavior. The only prerequisite for being adopted by God is that we receive Jesus. His kindness and goodness lead us to repentance (See Romans 2:4). Romans 5:6 says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (NLT). We do not earn His kindness, He simply gives it to us because He is good.

Tweetables

Kindness is Love in Action

I hope you enjoyed these tweets. I would love to hear your comments on kindness being love in action.

9 Traits of a Life-Giving Marriage 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Marriage I’m excited to share that I have completed the manuscript to 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Marriage which will be in bookstores beginning October 2. Click the button below and you can download the introduction and first chapter of the book for free.

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