Loving Prodigals

A big part of my heart is reaching prodigals and those who love them.

I am hoping to get a resource for parents done by next week. It is written from the perspective of someone who has not only been there, but continues to be there.

In the meantime my daughter, Anna, introduced me to the music of Lauren Daigle. The song below speaks powerfully to the longing all parents of prodigals feel.

Don’t give up hope. Listen to the following song and know that God loves your prodigal and is ever reaching out to him/her in mercy and grace.

Come Alive – Lauren Daigle

Surviving the Heat

Surviving the Heat

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NASB)

This Spring our wildflower meadow was due for a burning. It had been three years since we had last done it. The winter had been hard and it was a brown, matted mess. We gathered our shovels, matches and blow torch and notified the fire department of our intentions.

When my husband started lighting the edges the flames licked hungrily to the center where the dried foliage was the thickest. I was surprised at how hot it burned. Even though the day was cold we were both soon sweating. In just a short time we were left with black smoking ground where the meadow had been.

It was hard to imagine we hadn’t ruined it completely. How could anything have survived the heat and flames? We put our tools away and left the blackened ground to cool down and rest.

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Every day we looked at the blackness and wondered. Maybe it had burned too hot. Maybe the flowers were gone forever.

About 12 days after the fire we noticed a slight green haze.

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Another 12 days later a miracle was taking place before our eyes. What once appeared black, smoking and dead, was now green with life.

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Three weeks later the meadow was starting to bloom.

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By mid-summer the flowers were thick and beautiful.

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By early August the meadow had gotten too tall to look across. Many plants were five and even six feet tall. The meadow was spectacular!

Who would have thought?

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Most of us long for the spectacular. We want our lives to be beautiful and fruitful. We want it to take our breath away.

Yet many of us find ourselves in the fire and heat. Difficulties come and we are overwhelmed by the sin in this world.

But like the meadow we need to let the fire and heat do it’s job. Wait for it…

What is dark and lifeless now will be alive again.

The fire we are walking through will not last forever. There will be beauty again where now it looks like dead ashes.

Just like the meadow survived because of the deep roots of the flowers that were planted there 30 years ago. So too, our roots must be deep in God to survive.

He sees. He has not left you alone. His good purpose will eventually come about and your life will be more beautiful than you ever thought possible. If not here on this earth, then forever in heaven with the Master Gardener.

 

Lytroo Retreat 2015 – Running the Race

There is still time to register for “Running the Race”. Hope to see you there.

Lytroo Retreat

What to Expect:  Learn how to run the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus, laying aside what hinders and finishing well. There will be an opportunity to study scripture and interact with others. Lunch will be provided along with coffee, tea and water throughout the day.

When:  Saturday, September 12, 2015 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Click on the Retreat Information tab at the top of the page to register. Registration due by September 5, 2015. Space is limited so register early.

Who: Women 18 to 100

Where:  Fond du Lac, WI

Speaker:  Margaret Falk is a wife, mother of 3 and grandmother of 6. She has served beside her husband, Jon, who has been a pastor in Wisconsin and Maine for 20 years and then another 12 years serving as foreign missionaries with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Uganda, Eritrea and Uruguay. They are presently in Menomonee Falls…

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Be Nice

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3 & 4 NASB)

While driving home from North Dakota to visit some family I saw a billboard with two words on it.

Be Nice

That’s all. No explanation.

It made me smile. It was a plain simple truth that I need to hear more often.

As I pondered those words it reminded me of the Christmas when I was 5. My parents, two sisters and I were visiting my immigrant grandparents on their North Dakota farm.

My grandpa was an unusually quiet man. Living through the depression had brought a sadness to him that I couldn’t understand. He rarely spoke. The only words I remember him speaking to me, were spoken that day.

My younger cousin was getting more attention than I was. In my jealousy I stuck my foot out as she went by. It tripped her. She picked herself up and kept moving with a smile on her face.

That’s when it happened. My grandpa looked at me and said. “That wasn’t very nice.”

Nothing more was said, but those words cut me to my soul.  He didn’t yell or ask why. There were no extenuating circumstances that mattered. He spoke a few plain words that stated the awful truth.

I wasn’t being nice.

The realization horrified me for two reasons.

1) I had to face the reality that I wasn’t as nice as I pretended.

2) I had disappointed my Grandpa.

The man who never spoke was finally speaking to me. I had mistaken his silence for indifference or not noticing. Obviously he was noticing more than I imagined.

I never really got to know this quiet gentle man who was my Grandpa. He died when I was 12. Someday when I see him again maybe I’ll have an opportunity to thank him for those few words I remember him speaking, and just maybe I’ll hear him say, “I see you learned to be nice.”

For further study:

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Matthew 5:44-46; Luke 6:35; John 15:12-17; Romans 5:8; 12:10; 13:8; I John 4:10-11, 19.

 

Lessons From The Lilies

Lessons From The Lilies

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And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

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If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

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Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,

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yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

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But if God so clothes the grass,

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which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,

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how much more will he clothe you,

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O you of little faith! (Luke 12:25-28 ESV)

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Just a tour through a bit of my garden. May you be able to entrust whatever circumstance you are in with the God who loves you. 

 

Anger management

“But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.” (Jonah 4:1 NASB)

Message delivered, people repent. Jonah is beyond upset that God didn’t destroy them.

His anger shocks and surprises us, but should it? Jonah is brutally honest about how he feels. But before we condemn him out of hand we have to admit there are shadows of his attitude in our own hearts.

We cover up our displeasure. Pretend things don’t bother us. But the reality is different.

We think we have a corner on God’s kindness. When we see him show grace to a stranger, someone who doesn’t have a history with God, we feel a little put out. After all, we have spent a good part of our lives serving him, following him. It isn’t fair that this person, new to the faith, is having prayers answered when mine go unanswered.

If I experience broken families, sickness and death of loved ones, prodigal children, job loss, why do they get the good husband, healthy obedient children, good job, nice house . . . and the list goes on.

We equate things with God’s approval. So if someone has more things or better things than we have we are under the mistaken impression that he doesn’t love us as much. Thus the pouting begins. It becomes even more of a sore spot if God shows grace to our enemy.

We find ourselves saying, “If God really loved me he would punish my enemies not bless them. …and bitterness creeps In.

Here is where Jonah’s story gets interesting. God uses a plant to give Jonah shade. Jonah is thrilled. (“extremely happy” Jonah 4:6 NASB) God sends a worm to eat the plant and it withers.

God sends the sun and scorching east wind to beat down on Jonah’s head. Jonah becomes suicidal.

“he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life’.” (Jonah 4:8 NASB)

Why the plant? Why the worm? Why the sun and east wind? Because God loved Jonah enough to try and explain His heart to him. God had a great love for the people of Nineveh.

Jonah wasn’t listening so God laid out an object lesson. “Jonah, you fell in love with the plant that had only been with you for one day. If you felt such strong love for the plant shouldn’t I love these people who I have made?”

God doesn’t delight to destroy, he delights to redeem. He desperately wants Jonah to understand His character.

God doesn’t tell us the rest of the story. Jonah’s response isn’t recorded in scripture. But I hear God asking me the same question he asked Jonah. For He is ever reaching out to me. Trying to teach me things my hard heart is too stubborn to see. And in his pursuit of others He often invites me (or you) to be part of the process.

An Unpopular Message

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh…”  (Jonah 3:1-2a NASB)

Jonah finally obeyed. God had to ask him again, but Jonah obeyed. He got up, went to Nineveh and started preaching an unpopular message.

I’ve confronted an individual or two, but can you imagine confronting a whole city? A city full of violent people you consider your enemies?

Jonah warned that in 40 days God would destroy their city. What was going through Jonah’s mind as he preached? Did he expect to be killed when he opened his mouth? Did he wonder if he would make it out of the city alive? It was too late to turn back. He started walking and preaching.

Their response to Jonah and his message was startling. A grass roots movement was started that spread to all social classes. Eventually the king also heard and put his royal robes aside to become one with the people. A city-wide fast was held that even included the animals.  It was a last ditch effort to appeal to this God who was angry with their way of life.

As I think of the society I live in I am ashamed of my reluctance to speak plain truth. “After all I don’t want to offend. Everyone has the right to believe what they believe.” While that is true, if I loved them I would confront them with the gospel.

There have been many people through the years who loved me enough to point out my need of God. Time and again I was confronted with my sin and my need of a Savior. They helped me shift my focus from self to the God who loves me. My failure to preach that same message to those who are lost is just as sinful as Jonah’s lack of obedience.

Jonah spoke plain truth. It wasn’t a popular message, but God used it to bring an entire city to repentance. What is God waiting to do with the words I leave unspoken?

It might be costly to speak. It will probably be uncomfortable. My goal can’t be self-preservation, but the well-being of those who need to hear of a loving God who loves them enough to tell them the truth.

May we each have the boldness of Jonah. Speaking the truth to a society who has turned their backs on God.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 NASB)

For further study:

I’ve included a series of blog posts that explain the gospel.

Who is God,

Rebellion in Heaven,

Rebellion on Earth,

My Rebellion,

God’s Redemption,

My Response

Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

There is also a Bible study on my resource page that can be printed free of charge.  The link is below.

Redeemed – A Bible Study for Beginners