Prodigal: My friend has some questions about godliness.
Me: I was just reading about that.
This is from the book All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon
Are you surprised that there is such an expression as that in the Bible, “That justifieth the ungodly”? I have heard that men who hate the doctrines of the Cross bring the charge against God that He saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile. See how this Scripture accepts the charge and plainly states it! By the mouth of His servant, Paul; by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He takes to Himself the title of “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” He makes those just who are unjust. He forgives those who deserve no favor. Did you think that salvation was for the good and that God’s grace was for the pure and holy who are free from sin? Perhaps you think that if you were excellent, then God would reward you. Maybe you have thought that, because you are not worthy, there could be no way for you to enjoy His favor. You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” I do not wonder at your surprise. For, with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder at it, either.
To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Me: Animals, flock around you like chickens on a june bug.
Prodigal: It must be my personality.
I have a dog. Animals lovers out there might be interested to know more. My dog is two years old, and still has puppy energy. He loves attention, and takes several walks a day. He is a Malt-tzu. He weights 12 pounds, and loves to play. You will find him often curled up laying right next to me, and just enjoying the time spent.
We were out for the last walk of the night before bed. Before I go further. Romans is one of those dogs who thinks everybody, and everything wants to play with him. He doesn’t understand giving people space.
We were taken one of the regular paths. Another man with his boxer was walking also. We were the only ones out that night. There were no cars, and nobody else was around. People had decided to stay in, and lights were on in the windows around.
Romans sees the boxer, and he pulls the leash in that direction. He does not bark, but he is pulling some. Before I know it, his collar around his neck has slipped off, and he is running full speed in the direction of the boxer, and the man.
This boxer is a big dog, and weighs about 65 pounds. They also have a lot of muscle on them. The man sees my dog, and picks ups his boxer in his hands, and carries the dog. He starts screaming in a panic,” please get your dog away”. He stays paralyzed with fear, and does not move.
Romans who loves to play, thinks this is a game. The man is not trying to leave. He decided to just stand there with his dog in his arms. Romans then starts circling the man, and his dog. He is not barking, but just kinda of jumping around him. Romans thinks this is a game. He thinks this man is joining in the game. I already have figured out this will be difficult to solve. Romans sees me coming, and thinks I want to play also. He does not listen to his sit command, because their is a game that is being played. The man continues to scream, and hold his dog not moving. I am chasing after Romans as Romans is circling this guy with is dog. It was an amusing imagine.
Finally after 4 or 5 laps, Romans gets bored. He realizes this was not a game, and moves on. I am able to grab his collar ,and put his leash back on.
I continued to think about the situation after we continued to walk. I felt very sorry for the man. He had no understanding about what was going on. He let fear control him.
The first thing is my 12 pound dog could never have won a dog fight against a boxer that is full of muscle, that probably weighs at least 65 pounds.
The second thing is my dog could never have won a fight against the man. Even if my dog bite him. It would have been at the ankles. It might have broke the skin or bruised him. My dog could never had pushed him to the ground, and took control of him physically. My dog is 12 pounds, and that man was at least 150.
The third thing is that he didn’t have to stay. He could have just moved on. My dog could not have made him stay.
The fourth thing is that the man did not recognize that my dog was in play mode, and not attack mode. There was not barking, or growling behaviors.
This man was defeated before Romans every made his way to him. This man did not understand that physically he would not have been destroyed. He did not understand that with certain movements he could have solved the problems.
This man allowed fear to tell him, that their was no way out of his situation. He allowed fear to make him believe that my dog could overcome his dog, and him.
That last thing was that this man did not figure out that the enemy was not my dog, but instead his fear. His fear is the what stopped him. His fear is what turned this situation into something that it was not.
We can laugh, feel sad, and understand how this guy felt. What he went through is what we are doing every day and week.
We don’t realize how little power the enemy really has.
We don’t realize how much strength we really have.
We don’t realize we can move on when the enemy does attack.
We don’t realize who the enemy really is.
Satan really does not have that much power.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We have amazing strength in Christ.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
We can move on from an attack and do not have to stay in the present.
Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up; Yet they have not prevailed against me.
We really do not understand who the enemy is. We think it is a person.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Finally if satan can get you to stay focused on fear. He does not have to do much of anything. Fear will cause you to instead stay immobilized. You will not move, and stay stuck.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
God is trying to show you that you have allowed the enemy to circle around you, and create a state of fear in your life. The enemy has no power. The enemy is all show with no bite. You are screaming for help, when God has already given you the strength to overcome. Walk away from the fear. See it as it truly is. It cannot stop you, or hurt you. It cannot cause you to fall. It cannot win the battle. Just open your eyes, and believe.
Open your eyes, and see that satan is smaller than a 12 pound dog. You are physically no match for him. Why keep giving your power to satan? Why not stand up tall, and remind satan of the power of the living Lord.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last.
Me: I agree, I do too, they are genuine in a world that is focused on the superficial at times.
Prodigal: Thank God for my true friends!
This is from the book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster
Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a great number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living in to the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm. They urge us to be the answer to a hollow world. John Woolman counsels, “It is good for thee to dwell deep, that thou mayest feel and understand the spirits of people.”
Today don’t try to impress, or focus on numbers. Focus on the intimacy of a relationship with Christ, and how that brings about closer connections to people. You are not the most intelligent person, or the only gifted person. You are someone who does know the Lord.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
This comes from the book Finding Peace for Your Heart by Stormie Omartian
The part we don’t want to hear is that a time comes when each of us must place our desires and dreams in the hands of God so that He might free us from those that are not in His will. In other words, you secure our future by allowing your dream to die and God’s plan to replace it. If you’ve always had a certain picture of what you think you should do, you have to be willing to let the picture be destroyed. If it really is what God has for you, He will raise you up to do that and more. If it isn’t, you will be frustrated as long as you cling to it. Often the desires of your heart are the desires of His heart, but they still must be achieved His way, not yours, and you must know He is accomplishing them in you, not you achieving them yourself. God wants us to stop holding on to our dreams and start holding on to Him so that He can enable us to soar above ourselves and our own limitations. Whenever we let go of what we long for, God will bring it back to us in another dimension.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
I sat down to watch some netflix before going to bed. I had become obsessed with a random series on netflix. I set out to maybe watch two episodes, and then settle in for the evening. As I finished watching the last episode, one of long lasting characters in the series made an interesting comment. He said, “If she has anger in her heart she has no room to love anyone else.”
I started preparing myself with my nightly routine. I just ran that thought in my head back, and forth. I began to understand why God really wants us to forgive.
As a person, I have had pain in my life. As a therapist I have heard more stories of pain then you can even imagine. What eventually happens is that me, or my client’s in our pain, will ask why?
One blessing the Lord has given me has been the people I have been able to interact with. I have met famous people, unknown people, gorgeous people, homely people, very wealthy people, poor people, popular people, and loners. I have been around the young, and the old. The wise, and the ones that have a lot to learn. I have met people with the deepest secrets, and then ones who are an open book. I have met ones that have high IQ’s, and others with low IQ’s. I have met talkative people, and shy people. I have met working people, and retired people. You know what has been there. They have all experienced emotional pain. They all have not been able to avoid it.
I really truly believe we cannot escape this life without feeling pain, and being hurt. I have asked the question of why God allows pain anyway. I am sure you have heard, well satan is here, and there is evil. That is very true. The next question is , why not just stop evil this second. Zap, it is gone forever. Then we hear, well there is a plan in place. This is also very true. This is where we have two choices. One is to continue to question the plan. The second one is to have faith, and trust in the Lord and accept His plan.
Truthfully, I at times thing I have a better plan then what the Lord has stated in the bible about evil, but let’s look at my background for a second.
Was I there when God caused the earth to be formed? Was I in the garden of Eden? Was I there when the flood came? How about when He called Abraham out to a different land? Was I there when David was crowned king. How about when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Was I there to experience the sacrifice, suffering, and love of the cross?
I can say I was around for the last milliuliem, and this new one too. Some of you reading this can automatically think I am old because of that statement. The truth is though I was not even around when Israel became a nation again in 1948.
With such limited years, and knowledge, do I really know better than a God who has never missed a year, hour, minute or second?
No, I really don’t think we can understand what all His plans mean for us, and others completely. To really trust God, we have to have faith. Not understanding everything, but moving forward anyway. Along the way, He shares scriptures, and wisdom with us. This allows us to know so that we can move forward. Satan tries to block that wisdom.
That character on the show was right. If you are angry, how can you love someone else? With that emotional pain that you experienced, there is another choice that goes along with pain. There is a choice that not understanding means you can never heal. Or there is a choice that God can heal you ,and help you move forward with forgiveness.
In this world, a lot of people believe healing is not possible. They hold on to the pain, refusing to let it go. It is always there, and never leaves. If you hold on to anger, love cannot grow in your heart. Satan is trying to block healing also.
This is why God gave us some wisdom today. We can have healing. It starts with forgiveness. As we continue to look to the Lord, He will show us the steps to this healing. We do have a choice though. Trust the Lord or trust ourselves. Hold on to the emotional pain, anger or allow God to have it. What will be that choice in your heart today?
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
God may not stop all the pain you have experienced. He also may not rewrite history. What He is giving you is wisdom, and a path to move through the pain. Let go of that anger, you can’t love until you do. Let go of that bitterness, you can’t love until you do. Stop the fighting, and slander, you can’t love till you do. Forgive, and that is how you can love again. Forgive, and that is how you can move forward. With forgiveness, your heart begins to heal, and you are able to let the past be the past. You are able to move forward to the future that the Lord wants you to have.
Or keep the anger in your heart, I am sure your life may move forward because time does not stop. Your heart never will.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
This is from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen
Now when we arrive for prayer service, we write down our prayer requests on a sign-in sheet in the foyer. During our praise time, the pastor makes a copy of these requests for each person. With list in hand, we find a quiet place to pray individually.
One Tuesday evening our prayer list was short. I prayed for each need listed. I prayed for the church, our community, our state and our country. Then I prayed over the list again.
I looked at my watch thinking the hour ought to be up. I still had fifteen minutes left! There had to be something more I could pray about.
Then my son came to mind. I had not see Teddy in twenty-seven years. When he was less than a year old, his mother and I divorced, and she moved with Teddy out of state. I smiled to myself as I thought back to those months with my firstborn son. I would get off the bus from work and could hear him crying half a block away. As soon as I walked into his room, his cries turned into laughter.
After the divorce, I made an effort to keep in touch, but my first letters were returned unopened. Later they were marked, “Addressee moved, left no forwarding address.” I had no idea where either Teddy or his mother lived.
When Teddy was about five, I learned through an attorney that my ex-wife had remarried and her new husband wanted to adopt my son. I agonized over my decision.
The attorney wouldn’t disclose Teddy’s whereabouts unless I chose to seek custodial rights. But a custody battle might forfeit any chance for Teddy to enjoy a stable life. I reasoned: Teddy doesn’t know me. Would it really be fair to deny him a father to satisfy my own need to see him? Would my selfishness cause more emotional damage?
I loved Teddy and missed him terribly, but I decided I couldn’t interfere with a chance for happiness in his life. I waived my rights, hoping it was the best thing to do for my son.
Now years later, I simply asked prayerfully, “Lord, my son is a grown man now. I love him and miss him. Please just let me know what kind of a man Teddy has turned out to be. Anything more than that I leave in your hands. In fact, Lord, I don’t even know where to start looking for him, so I am truly leaving it all up to you. Please, let me know my son. Amen.”
As I left that prayer service, the Lord gave me peace from the words of Malachi 4:6–“He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
The rest of the week I went about my normal routine and forgot about my prayer. But God hadn’t forgotten.
The Saturday after the prayer meeting, I ran into our pastor at the post office. After I collected the mail from my box, we started to chat. As I scanned through my mail, a letter caught my eye.
I couldn’t place the name or the return address. As the pastor commented on Sunday’s church activities, I started reading the mysterious letter.
“Are you okay?” he asked me. Tears were rolling down my face. I couldn’t speak; I handed him the letter I had just read–from Teddy.
Teddy explained that he had decided to search the Internet for me. This letter was one of the forty-seven letters that my son had written to Richard Whetstones all over the country. Then I noticed the post-mark: It was dated Wednesday, the day after my Tuesday night prayer. This wasn’t a coincidence. This was a direct answer to my prayer.
When I told my wife, Rose, she was excited because she had encouraged me to try to find Teddy. Since I hadn’t mentioned my Tuesday night prayer to her, she was even more thrilled when she learned the whole story.
I decided to call Teddy that day, but I was nervous as I dialed the phone number in Amarillo, Texas. When he answered the phone, I said I had received the letter and I was his father. We agreed to pursue the relationship further.
So I sat down and wrote him back, enclosing a photo I had of him–a color snapshot taken by a family friend at Teddy’s christening. In the photo, Teddy was in his mother’s arms while my dad and I stood proudly beside him.
In Teddy’s return letter, he enclosed the exact same photo–the only family photo he had! That was the confirmation we both needed. I had found my son–or rather, he had found me.
When I told my sister Donna about Teddy, she began corresponding with him, secretly arranging a person-to-person reunion for the two of us at her wedding in May. Teddy and I had time to slip away for breakfast, then walked on the Clearwater beach, talking the whole time.
Teddy had a lot of questions. He had had suspicions about being adopted early on, but didn’t learn the truth until he was fifteen years old. His mother hadn’t mentioned me at all; I was thankful she hadn’t painted me as a terrible person. Having heard all kinds of horror stories about reunions that turned bad, I was reminded once again that God remained faithful.
On October 1997, Teddy and his family–wife Dana, and their children Hayden and Jorden–visited Rose and me in Florida. Teddy’s wife couldn’t get over how similar Teddy and I were–in looks, mannerisms, speech and ideals–even though we lived completely separate lives.
My Tuesday night prayer wasn’t the first or the last prayer that God has answered in my life. But it is one of the most wonderful and satisfying blessings He has ever given me. All I did was simply ask, trusting for His answer.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.