Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving! May we be a people eternally thankful for the infinite graces we have been given.

Do not spend a long time reading posts, articles, and stuff online today.  Instead, spend time with family, in prayer, and in the word.

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El Salvador – The Prodigal Son

Hello everyone,

I apologize again that we have not posted a review of the trip yet.  We have had busy weeks with new stresses recently.  Amanda has recently started a new case with more hours and we have been working to get the house prepared for winter.

I hate to disappoint, but we still do not have our review ready to post.  I promise that it is on our to-do lists!

To tide you over until then, I have included the transcript of the the message/lesson that I (Dan) gave at la fuente, the after-school ministry that we were helping at.  Enjoy.

Luke 15:11-24

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

This parable of the two sons presents us with a lot of truth, wrapped up in this short section.  Jesus has this amazing ability to use the parables to teach about who he is and what our relationship with Him can look like in just a few paragraphs.

In this parable, Jesus tells about God’s reaction to two different ways that we may interact with Him.  today, we will focus on what the older brother in this parable teaches us, and next time we are here, John will talk about what the older brother in this parable teaches us about our relationship with God.

Let’s start by making an observation about who the father in this story is.  Honestly, we don’t really get very much information about the father at the start here.  What we do see is that he loves and generously gives to his children.  Right in the beginning, in verse 12, the younger son asks fora  portion of his fathers property, his inheritance.  This request was highly unusual.  Typically, an inheritance is given upon the death of the father.  Even when the portion of the fathers property was given before death, it was the fathers choice.  The son was requesting something that was not yet his, with a  complete disregard for the fathers authority.  The younger son was seeking and asking for the things the father could give, but had little regard for his father.  Even still, the father generously grants the son what is not yet his.

Both sons are starting this parable here, in the presence of their father, each with a share of their fathers property.  it is at this point that their paths diverge.  The younger son, the same son that was asking for his inheritance, takes what his father has given him and leaves his father.  He goes far away and spends everything.  He was living the good-life, enjoying what comfort “things” could give him, until famine struck.  The only work he could find didn’t even pay well enough to provide him a decent meal.

In fact, he had nothing to eat and spent his days deeding pigs.  In their culture, pigs were incredibly unclean animals.  For him to work feeding pigs was the lowest of jobs he could have had.  It would have been shameful and humiliating.  Imagine a rich son who leaves his father, spends all that he has been given, and the only job he can get is worse than a garbage man [in Salvadoran culture, the garbage man was seen as one of the most unclean, shameful jobs].

Have you ever felt like that? We are often just like the younger son in this story.  God has already granted us more than what we deserve, and well before we before we should have received it.  he has given us life and joy, skills and desires, day and night, and we squander them all.  God wants us to thrive near him but we insist that we take control, walk away from him, and throw away what He has so graciously given us.

It can be tempting to depend on these gifts; God has given us many, great things.  But when we depend on these things that God has given us instead of on God himself, the joy and comfort that the gifts provide, does not last.  They cannot be self-sustaining.

We can depend on our friends and family, but they will let us down and disappoint us.  We can depend on our own strength and skills, but we will not be able to do it on our own.  we can depend on having stuff or relationships but they will not continue to satisfy us.

Because then, when we have had our fun, famine arises, ans we are left feeding the pigs, in the lowest of all places.  Maybe the famine deprives you of food, or perhaps you are void of joy?  or you feel alone? or hopeless?

Maybe you experience a physical famine and feel dirtier than a garbage man, but your famine may not be so tangible, but instead seen in some of these other ways.  maybe no one else can tell that you feel like you are missing something in your life and no amount of success and comfortable living can fill that void.

The beautiful thing is that this story, our story, doesn’t end with the famine.  The son comes humbly back to the father, planning to ask for a job.  The son knew that he had done his father wrong, and that something must be done to make up for his mistakes.  He prepares an apology, admitting his faults, and plans to beg fora  place as a servant at his fathers house.

But before he even gets there, the father comes running with arms open wide.  Though the son was prepared to apologize, the father ignores his apologies and instead embraces his son, and begins preparing for a celebration of his return.

The father gives more gifts to his son that had returned.  he brings the best robe, puts a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and he kills the fattened calf.  These were all valuable gifts hat the son did not deserve.  He may have deserved to be living with the pigs, or, at best, his fathers servant because he squandered what his father had already given him, but instead the father gave him compassion, and a loving embrace.

Likewise, we do not deserve to return to God, our father.  We may even feel like we need to do something to make up for what we have done.  This feeling that something must be done before we can come to God isn’t wrong.  We had spent our inheritance and it is not free to replace.  But our God ran to us before we even started our journey back to Him.  He loves us so much that He doesn’t require us to pay back what we have squandered.  Instead, He sacrificed His perfect, sinless son, Jesus, to bare the weight of our actions.  We had accumulated a debt to pay and Jesus paid it in full.  We were dead, and are now alive through Christ.

No matter how far we have walked away from God, He is still waiting with open arms to lovingly embrace you, graciously forgive you, and joyfully celebrate your return.


 

Lecrae – Tell the World

This song resonates with what it means to be missional.  We are called to live such good lives that everyone will glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).  Unfortunately, people do not become Christians by our deeds only.  We can not evangelize and share the Gospel without telling the world (with words) the truth about Christ.  We are called to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:16-20) and this involves living our lives and speaking the truth with those around us (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

I love the images Lecrae uses hear when he talks about living and speaking the gospel.

Now, i’mma tell the world, tell ’em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ’em
Yeah, i’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ’em
And i’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world
You ought to know, i’m brand new

Notice that both a billboard and a radio never make their own content and they do not sensor the content they are given.  They are only conduits for the message.  We are the conduits that God chooses to use to reach the world.

I pray that we can share our lives as well as the truth of the Gospel so that we can tell the world unashamedly the truth of what Christ has done for us and all of man-kind.

 

 



Now, i’mma tell the world, tell ’em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ’em
Yeah, i’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ’em
And i’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world
You ought to know, i’m brand new

I know one thing’s true: I don’t even really deserve to know you
But, I-i’m a witness that you did this, and I’m brand new
So, I-I’m read’ to go, and i’mma tell the world what they need to know
A slave to myself, but you let me go, I tried getting high but it left me low
You did what they could never do
You cleaned up my soul and
Gave me new life – I’m so brand new
And that’s all that matters
I-I ain’t love you first, but you first loved me
In my heart I cursed you, but you set me free
I gave you no reason to give me new seasons, to give new life, new breathing
But you hung there bleedin’, and ya’ died for my lies and my cheatin’, my lust and my greed, (and lord!)
What is a man that you mindful of him?
And what do I have to deserve this lovin’?

Tryna make the moments last
Holdin’ on to the past
But, like a hero in a dream
Christ came, and he rescued me

Now, i’mma tell the world
Tell the world, tell ’em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ’em
Yeah, i’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ’em
And i’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world
You ought to know, i’m brand new

I can’t offer you nothin’, but your care & kindness keeps comin’
And your love is so unconditional, I get butterflies in my stomach
I got the old me in the rearview, now the new me got a clear view
And I was so dead, I couldn’t hear you, too deep in sin to come near you
But you drew me in, you cleaned me up, so take me home, beam me up
Before you do, just let me tell the truth
And let these folks know that I done seen ya’ love
And it’s everlasting, infinite, it goes on and on, you can’t measure it
Can’t quench ya’ love, they can’t separate us from the love of god, there’s no estimate
My face look the same, my frame ain’t rearranged
But i’m changed; I promise I ain’t the same
Your love’s so deep you suffered and took pain
You died on the cross to give me a new name
Ain’t nothing like I’ve seen before, I got a beaming glow
I was low, down, and dirty, but you cleaned me, lord
You adopted me, you keep rocking me
I’mma tell the world, and ain’t nobody stopping me!

Tryna make the moments last
Holdin’ on to the past
But, like a hero in a dream
Christ came, and he rescued me

Entrusted with the Gospel

We are entrusted with the Gospel.  God didn’t have to give it to us.  He doesn’t have to use us.  He chose to give us his word and use us.

God has given us this Gospel, and I have squandered it.  We are called to share the Gospel and our lives and to let those that we share it with become dear to me.  I may share the Gospel, but the people I share it with rarely become dear to me.  When I do not see them any longer, they slowly fade off of my prayer list and I stop even thinking about them regularly.  If they were dear to me, I would continue to pray for them and I would make an effort to continue to reach out to them.  I pray that God helps me use the Gospel that I have been entrusted with for God’s Glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:4


I apologize for the brevity and near incoherence.

How I am failing as a husband.

Because you are all such good friends and have been reading along with this blog for a while now, I am going to share something that might be surprising: I am not perfect.

Okay, so hopefully that wasn’t too surprising.  I am only human and I try not to hide my faults.  If it was surprising, talk to Amanda and she will tell you about the broccoli, and that was only one of my many mistakes.

The mistakes that hit me the hardest are when I realize when I am not obeying God’s commands.  This isn’t just important to me, it is important to God (1 John 5:2-3).

We are called to pray without ceasing, and as husbands, we are called to pray for our wives, and with our wives.  Both are important, but different ways that we are called to love our wives.

I love Amanda by trusting God can and will care for her, whether I can or not.  If I believe that God is who I say He is, the most loving thing I can do for Amanda is to pray that God will provide, strengthen, and encourage her.

Alternatively, praying with her demonstrates my love for her by relieving the pressure and strain that I could put on her and our relationship.  When we pray together, we are agreeing that it is not the responsibility of either of us to make the other happy.  It is not ultimately our responsibility to make each others lives flow smoothly or be God-like.  The holy spirit changes us, and while he can use us as tools in the life of your spouse, it is not our work.  By relying on God to provide eternal joy and not each other, we can stop stressing about being perfect, stop worrying about upsetting your spouse, stop draining ourselves by slaving away so your wife doesn’t have to and start serving them out of the overflowing joy that we find in Jesus.  By praying together, we help to establish God as the priority in the relationship, and not ourselves or our spouse.

I am failing to pray with my wife.  I pray for her regularly, but when it comes to actually praying together, I chicken out.  I fail to provide this opportunity for us to remind ourselves to frame our relationship in light of Christ.  It is hard for me to walk in this.

Which one are you missing? Praying for her?  Praying with her?  Perhaps both?  I encourage you to start praying for and with your spouse and we will see together how it changes our attitudes, relationships, and marriages.

Have you seen God at work through prayer in your marriage?  Feel free to encourage us all by leaving a comment here.