Layers of the Prodigal

I've been enjoying reading N.T. Wright lately.  When he approaches Scripture, he often talks about it containing multiple layers and then he takes time to look at each layer contained.  The story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15, is well-known and it is another story that contains many layers.  I want to share two resources that look at two totally different layers of the Prodigal Son story.  Both are good, both are true but I think they may speak to people who may be in different places (or else it speaks to different places in our hearts):

The first is a beautiful country song that tells the story of the Prodigal in a modern-day format (between a father and a daughter):

The second resource is a sermon by Pastor Todd Hunter called: What Do We Do with the Prodigal Bits of Us.  If you've struggled in your Christianity with constant feelings of shame and guilt - I think this sermon does a great job of reorienting your perspective to be in line with what God's original intent was for us.  Here is a snippet from the beginning:
"I almost feel like I need to apologize on behalf of my generation of Christian leaders that you have not been taught this: That there is actually a child-like, joyful-like, learning to play an instrument way of learning to follow Jesus.  It is not guilt-based, shame-based and while it has its humans up and downs about the way we feel about something... it was never intended that our journey it Christ-likeness should be consumed by negative feelings."

Finally, below is the Psalm that correlated with the sermon on Prodigal Son, a good reminder for us to live and walk in:
Psalm 32
1 Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.[b]
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Praying that today you feel the depths of your Father's love for you.

In Christ,

Dealing with Sin

Our family has been reading through the book of Matthew for this Lent season.  The other day, we came across Matthew 18:8-9.  I could see the verses coming and I decided to "plow through" knowing that I had a 7 & 9-year-old listening.  A part of me was hoping that they weren't really paying attention and we could read through it without conversation.  In retrospect, I'm glad they were actually listening and I also am thankful for the orchestration of the Holy Spirit and His timing in all of it.

Here is Matthew 18:8-9:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

As I read this aloud, I could see my 7-year-old's eyes growing wide.  She stopped me and asked, "What did Jesus mean by this?"

Well, just minutes before we read this, she was looking at something I had received in the mail from All Girl's Allowed. This organization has taken China's One-Child policy head-on and "seeks to restore the God-given life, value and dignity to women by seeking transformation both of hearts and of societies."  My kids and I had just finished talking about the fact that China's  one-child policy has often led to the ending of many babies' lives.  As I looked more deeply at the passages we just read I suddenly noticed these verses are sandwiched between the following,

Matthew 18:6

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

and ends with

Matthew 18:10

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

We were able to look at all of these verses in the context of present day situations.  It is very clear that our Heavenly Father, cherishes children and babies.  It is also very clear, from present day realities that when sin is not dealt with and taken seriously it has detrimental effects on others - present and future generations.  As I continued to talk through Scripture, my daughter looked through the pictures in the pamphlet and I think the reality of Jesus' words really began to sink in (at least they did for me).

I told my kids, that sometimes they may wonder why I address sin in their lives immediately and I said these situations and Jesus' words help us to see what happens when we ignore sin.  

Our family is involved in a ministry where we have the privilege to see precious newborn babies on a weekly basis.  I said it is hard to imagine how anyone can go from a place of wanting to protect these precious little ones to the opposite extreme of actually being on a mission to harm them.  We then brought up Moses and how his mother had to rescue him and that this "story" is actually an old story that continues on today.  Yet we can see that our God and the mission of His kingdom remains the same - to rescue and save His people and that He has invited us to participate in this story.

In Christ,

P.S. I have no formal affiliation with All Girls Allowed, nor do I speak on their behalf.  This article is written purely out of life experience.  I have read A Heart of Freedom by Chai Ling and that is where I learned about this amazing ministry.

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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