Thursday, November 29, 2012


Luke 11:
20-21 “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.’
22-24 “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.

I am intrigued by verse 22. It says the father was not listening. We may all have memories when we thought our parent(s) were not listening. Our children are painfully aware of times when we were not listening to them.

A son who asked for an early inheritance was understood as wishing that his father were already dead. And then to take that inheritance and blow it was doubly injurious. 

No wonder the son came home begging for mercy.

The son loves his father in the end, but his love is immature. His love is quick to let shame define the boundaries and rewards of relationship. Immature love knows it is unworthy of acceptance and is willing to settle for the least. The awareness of shame and belief that we cannot be trusted is where we start our lengthy explanations to the father. He hears it and chooses to ignore it. The father is not listening to the shame based rhetoric. Mature love finds the reasons to celebrate and strengthen the relationship. The father focuses on restoration and resurrection. Lost is now found. Dead is now alive.

The father would not listen to the hardened heart of society who defined how to respond to the dishonor from a son who brought so much shame to his household.

Kenneth Bailey, author of The Cross & the Prodigal, explains that if a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, and then returned home, the community would perform a ceremony, called the kezazah. They would break a large pot in front of him and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” The community would totally reject him.
So, why did the father run? He probably ran in order to get to his son before he entered the village. The father runs — and shames himself — in an effort to get to his son before the community gets to him, so that his son does not experience the shame and humiliation of their taunting and rejection. The village would have followed the running father, would have witnessed what took place at the edge of the village between father and son. After this emotional reuniting of the prodigal son with his father, it was clear that their would be no kezazah ceremony; there would be no rejecting this son — despite what he has done. The son had repented and returned to the father. The father had taken the full shame that should have fallen upon his son and clearly shown to the entire community that his son was welcome back home.
In the parable, only the father could restore the son to full sonship in the family. In our case, we are sinners, and there is nothing that we can do to restore our lost relationship with the Holy God of the Universe. He calls us and waits — a single repentant step in his direction, and he is off and running to welcome us back home![i] 

Monday, November 26, 2012


I often think about my parents. I ponder their strengths and weakness. I remember the younger versions and I feel the cord around my soul that pulls me toward the path they’re on.

There have been times when I wanted to be like them and times when I wanted to distance myself. Often these thoughts were simultaneous. Even at this age I still want their approval. I want them to notice the picture of life I’m drawing and hang it on their fridge. Then, when others are around I want them to point to me and smile proudly.

I am a parent of emerging adult children. I see them struggle with feelings I had at their age and wonder if I’ll be able to bring them all the encouragement they need from their father. I am inspired and in awe of my children. They make we want to grow into a more loving and communicative parent. I want share the world with them in so many ways.

I think about Jesus and the inspiring relationship He had with His Father. I compare myself and immediately become aware that His was a superior love. It’s higher, deeper and shows commitment in ways that I do not. There is a love between fathers and sons that can conquer the world. I want to experience that more.

From the University of Connecticut, authors Ronald Rohner and Abdul Khaleque have done extensive research into the influence of parental acceptance and rejection and how it affects their children. Over fifty years of research yielded some stunning conclusions.

"Children and adults everywhere -- regardless of differences in race, culture, and gender -- tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceived themselves to be rejected by their caregivers and other attachment figures."
Looking at 36 studies from around the world that together involved more than 10,000 participants, Rohner and co-author Abdul Khaleque found that in response to rejection by their parents, children tend to feel more anxious and insecure, as well as more hostile and aggressive toward others. The pain of rejection -- especially when it occurs over a period of time in childhood -- tends to linger into adulthood, making it more difficult for adults who were rejected as children to form secure and trusting relationships with their intimate partners.[i]

How has your parent(s) approval and rejection shaped your personality and expression of parenting towards your children and others?

[i] A. Khaleque, R. P. Rohner. Transnational Relations Between Perceived Parental Acceptance and Personality Dispositions of Children and Adults: A Meta-Analytic ReviewPersonality and Social Psychology Review, 2011

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"God told me..."

As soon as you utter these three words, most people will put  their thumb on the scale to weigh in on the state of your sanity.

Jim Samra does an excellent job of handling the objections and finding balance to the often maligned relationship of listening to God for guidance.

It is a significant fact of Scripture that God not only speaks to people, but does so in many direct and personal ways. 

From the clear teachings of Scripture directing us to ask God for guidance to the many testimonials of common people like us, Jim presents a book that will cause you to enquire of the Lord for your own life concerns.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Speaking of leftovers, my son-in-law Doug Baert was given a fully cooked turkey at Thanksgiving. A relative of his cooked four turkeys for a gathering and there was only two used. Doug came home with a complete turkey for he and Karli.

One week later, Doug was telling us that he had eaten turkey every day. He was a little sleepier than usual and definitely tiring of turkey, but he didn’t want it to be wasted.

When the thousands were fed with loaves and fishes, there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Jesus is a little bit like Doug in that way. He doesn’t want anything to be wasted.

Jesus cares about leftovers. Maybe you have felt like a leftover at times. Your freshness is gone, but you still want to be useful. You may feel that God is only interested in the beautiful people with exceptional skills. The world may treat you like a leftover to be kept as Plan B just in case there’s no one better.

But, Jesus cares about leftovers. He cares about us and He gathers us up when others have discarded us.

God loves a challenge. In fact, God loves you with all your challenges. When you feel hopeless and helpless to face the overwhelming, God is not intimidated by the size of your need.

God is never hopeless or helpless when it comes to you. Often, you may hear the Voice pointing to the impossible needs. Do you hear the voice of Jesus who calls us to see the hungry crowd and asks that we feed them?

Though your faith may be small, would you at least look for a starting point? He can take the most insignificant person with the most insignificant amount and multiply effectiveness beyond reasonable calculation.

Will you give up your lunch if He asks for it?

Friday, November 2, 2012


There are many illustrations of God acting as a party planner. He organizes and creates to show His hospitality and kindness. He loves to feed a crowd and is compassionate in responding to our needs.

This is evident in the preparations of Creation we read about in Genesis. Each system is put in place to care for the special guests.

He is the Master of the Feast who sends out servants to draw unlikely guests to His table.

On this day his disciples found themselves with a crowd of thousands in the great outdoors far from town. Seeing the hungry crowd, God’s instincts tell Him to provide the required hospitality. He throws the idea to the boys and is not surprised at their buy-eyed response.

But, as soon as Andrew notices the opportunity with the little lunch of loaves and fish, Jesus begins to pull the party together.

John 6:
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Into an otherwise chaotic situation, Jesus brings order. He loves to bring organization to the meeting of a need. He doesn’t do it alone but uses the disciples to put hands on the miracle.

Jesus likes it when we work as a team with Him to accomplish His work. Afterwards, the disciples not only experienced a miracle—they left with a basket each of leftovers. They were not able to bring the food, but they received a generous portion for their willingness to put their hands to the work.

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