THE POTTER: REFLECTIONS OF A MASTER ARTISAN – Day of Discovery

Words of Life

This is a wonderful video…

potter-reflections-master-artisan-various-dvd-cover-art

From his studio nestled along the Arkansas River in Colorado, potter Dave Blakeslee says, “One of the things I love about God is that He is a creative God.” Watch and listen as he shapes, glazes, and fires ceramic works of art and describes how the Master Potter forms and transforms lives. Discover how God can mold you into a beautiful vessel uniquely designed for His glory in the Day of Discovery video presentation “The Potter.”

You can watch it at this link…

THE POTTER: REFLECTIONS OF A MASTER ARTISAN – Day of Discovery.

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Treasure in a Clay Pot ~ Mark S. Mitchell

This is Chapter 8 ~ Treasure in a Clay Pot of a series called Portrait of Integrity by Mark S. Mitchell.  It is about Pastor Ray Stedman and his four daughters who all grew up in the turbulent times of the 60’s and 70’s, rebelling against their Christian roots in order to fit in with society. I think you will find this account encouraging, knowing once again you are not alone in this trial, but to see what the Lord accomplishes through the suffering of these parents of prodigals, and the faith and the joy of “the homecoming”.

Treasure in a Clay Pot by Mark S. Mitchell

Ray Stedman was not just a pastor; he was also a husband and a father. And during the sixties, the two-story Stedman home on Wellsbury Way in Palo Alto bustled with the busy lives of his four daughters: Sheila, born in 1948; Susan in 1950; Linda in 1954; and Laurie in 1962.

Because of his own experiences as a child–abandoned by his father, emotionally distanced from his troubled mother, and adopted by his loving aunt and uncle–Ray was devoted to his wife and daughters. Yet these childhood experiences and their resulting emotional effect on his life also ill-equipped him to deal with many of the demands of being a husband and father. Ray tended to be emotionally disconnected with the women in his home. Consequently, it was in the family arena, more than anywhere else, where Ray experienced the truth of the New Covenant–that God’s strength could be perfected only in his own weakness.

In many ways, the Stedmans were a typical suburban family of their day. They lived in a comfortable home, their daughters attended decent schools, they enjoyed family vacations, and they endured the normal squabbles associated with seven people and three generations living under the same roof (Elaine’s mother lived with them until her death in 1983.) But it was the underlying foundation of God’s love and truth that held the family together.

Good Times as a Family

RAY’S DAUGHTERS HAVE ESPECIALLY fond memories of camping trips with their father. Because of her weak back, Elaine usually did not participate in these adventures, and with good reason. It was never enough for Ray to simply find a convenient campsite with all the usual amenities. Instead, he drove a borrowed Jeep or Land Rover off-road to the highest lake or remotest river in the area. Ray loved to scare the girls by making his own roads up the side of a mountain or driving as close as possible to the edge of a cliff. During the night, as the girls snuggled in their sleeping bags, Ray would playfully scratch on the outside of the tent and growl like a bear. (Susan and Linda Stedman, interviews by author, July 14, 2001, Grants Pass, Ore., tape recording.)

Ray’s sense of humor took various forms. On one camping trip, he stood shaving with his electric razor plugged into a tree that looked as if it might have been struck by lightning. He convinced the girls that if they ever found a tree that had been hit by lightning, they could stick an electrical plug into it and get electricity. Ray collapsed with laughter when, on their next camping trip, Susan announced she was bringing her curling iron to plug into one of those trees! (Ibid.)

Ray’s love of adventure and risk was revealed clearly during these outings. His daughters remember him as fearless, possessing an unshakable faith that no matter how bad a situation became, everything would somehow work out. And Ray always seemed able to escape tough situations unscathed. On one occasion he took Elaine and Laurie out in a small boat on San Francisco Bay on a Sunday afternoon. In the middle of the bay, the motor hit bottom, severing the shear pin and leaving them powerless. The wind blew so hard that their small paddles proved useless. They wondered where they would end up, and if they would ever get back in time for the Sunday evening service. It was not uncommon for people adrift in the middle of the bay to spend the night on the mud flats! Finally, the direction of the wind changed and pushed them back close to the west shore, where Elaine’s brother picked them up in time to make it to church. To the girls, this was just another example that their father could escape any situation. (Laurie Stedman, interview by author, July 15, 2001, Grants Pass, Ore., tape recording.)

Ray’s daughters also remember their father’s love for music. Ray was not a musician, but he loved music and he taught his daughters to appreciate good music. Unfortunately, this did not keep Ray from singing Scottish songs and cowboy tunes in an off-key voice at the top of his lungs. Together the Stedman family sang everything from hymns to songs they learned on their favorite television program, Sing Along with Mitch. Ray’s love for music deeply influenced Susan, and she was accepted into the Wheaton Conservatory of Music after high school. (Susan, Linda, and Laurie Stedman, interviews by author.)

Ray’s unpredictable ways carried over into his spending habits. While Elaine was very frugal, Ray was an impulsive buyer. When he wanted something, he rarely shopped around or waited for a bargain, but would race to a store and buy it. Ray was also extremely generous and enjoyed purchasing impractical gifts for his family. Valentine’s Day was often an occasion for him to get red roses for Elaine and new dresses for the girls. Ray had exquisite taste, and they were never disappointed with the gifts he chose for them. (Ibid.)

Ray’s generosity also translated into hospitality. “We would always have a big meal after church,” remembers Laurie, “and my parents would always invite somebody home who looked like they didn’t have anyplace to go. Usually it was my dad who invited someone. If it was getting close to the time to leave the church, I would remind my dad to invite somebody. I loved having people over. I looked forward to that. We would also have people over on Sunday evenings after church.” (Laurie Stedman, interview.) As a result, a variety of characters came through their doors, and many stayed for more than a meal. When J. Vernon McGee preached at PBC, he stayed with the Stedmans, and the girls have never forgotten his bright colored pajamas. As mentioned earlier, Luis Palau stayed with the family for two months when he first came to the United States in 1960, and his Latin sense of humor brightened their home. When former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver professed to becoming a Christian, Ray opened both his church and his home to him and his family, precipitating a media frenzy in the Stedman front yard. (Ibid.)

Ray and Elaine also created an atmosphere in which learning and thinking were highly valued. Ray prized reading so much that he paid his daughters to read books, including the Bible. When the girls were teenagers, he asked them to present him with a written outline of his sermon after they had listened to him preach. Although they resented it at the time, they say, it taught them to think logically–a skill they used in school and later in their careers. Ray also loved to play chess, and he rarely lost. When he was not beating a fellow staff member or the computer, he played with his daughters, often giving them a handicap so they had a chance to win. (Susan and Linda Stedman, interviews by author.)

But one of the greatest legacies Ray left his daughters was the model of a strong marriage that lasted forty-seven years. Though Ray and Elaine were reserved in their outward expressions of love for each other, their commitment to each other was unquestioned. Every morning when Ray was home, he and Elaine began their day together at the breakfast nook, reading from a devotional book and praying for the family. Ray and Elaine were partners in every sense, freeing each other for the work God had for each of them and thus allowing the Lord to use them in a deeper way.(Elaine Stedman, interview by author, July 15,2001, Grants Pass, Ore., tape recording.) Ray’s one-sided authoritarianism, which characterized their early years of marriage, eventually mellowed into servant leadership. As the years passed, their marriage became even more of a mutual partnership as Ray recognized Elaine’s tremendous gifts. This truly came to the fore in 1975 when Elaine distinguished herself as an author with her book, A Woman’s Worth. When Ray read the manuscript, he was stunned and delighted by Elaine’s insight and encouraged her to use the gifts God had given her in both speaking and writing.

The deep warmth and love between Ray and Elaine is reflected in many of Ray’s letters to her when he was away from home, speaking or teaching. In October 1968, he wrote to her from an airplane en route to Saigon: ”

All day my thoughts have been running back to twenty-three years ago in Honolulu. Sometimes it seems very close in time, and other times it seems worlds away. I’m grateful for this almost quarter-of-a-century the Lord has given us together, for our family and friends, and the ministry we have shared. By nature we both tend to be reticent about our feelings but I think it’s appropriate on this day to tell you I love you very much and feel the Lord has fulfilled all His promise of marital happiness which lay unfolded on that wedding day so long ago. You have done well as a wife and mother and now that we see our first-born about to leave the family nest for good it is good to realize that the years ahead will be different but not empty. (Ray Stedman, letter to Elaine Stedman, October 22,1968.)

Troubled Waters

DESPITE THE FOUNDATION OF love in the Stedman home, through the years the family experienced some great heartache. At different periods of time, each of Ray and Elaine’s daughters went through a significant season of rebellion; at times the relationship between Ray and his daughters was strained or even fractured. Because of Ray’s visibility, and his and Elaine’s deep mutual desire for their daughters to follow Christ, these periods of family discord caused them tremendous pain.

Several factors probably contributed to the difficulties in the Stedman home, and one major factor was Ray’s devotion to his ministry. Like most evangelical leaders of his generation, Ray traveled extensively, seldom counting the cost to his family. “Billy Graham said that if there was one thing he would have done differently, it would have been to spend more time with his family,” says Elaine, reflecting back to those times. “I think Ray really felt that way too. But that was the way that we were trained to think about ministry; that ministry was first and the family came in wherever they fit in. We both thought that way, so we did not object to it. It was tough though. The hardest things that happened with the girls happened when he was gone.” (Elaine Stedman, interview by Wade Whitcomb, November 17-18, 1994, Grants Pass, Ore., transcript.)

Another factor was the spirit of the time and place in which Ray and Elaine raised their daughters. During the sixties, traditional Christian morality was not only questioned but mocked, and nowhere was this more evident than at Cubberly High School in Palo Alto, which was known as the local center of the hippie movement with all the attendant activities: antiwar protests, drugs, and sexual experimentation. Ray’s three older daughters all attended Cubberly, and Linda remembers that the students basically took over the school. “During those days at Cubberly there were groups of people smoking pot in the parking lot with no intervention. Most teachers simply avoided the area. The bathrooms were filled with cigarette smoke during breaks. Many students had some sort of venereal disease. Students seemed to be protesting everything they could think of.” (Linda Stedman, interview.) Being Ray Stedman’s daughters, the girls felt pressure to conform to their parents’ standards and the church culture of which they were a part. At the same time, they desperately wanted to fit in and “be normal” in a school environment that could not have been more different from their home and church.

It is ironic that a church that became a haven for the Jesus People was the very place Ray’s daughters felt they could not be themselves and work through their struggles as normal teenagers. But in the sixties, the evangelical culture in general and PBC in particular were not always as accepting as they would later become in the Body Life services in the early seventies. Both PBC and Ray Stedman experienced a process of maturation in this regard. But for much of the sixties, PBC was a typical evangelical church and Ray was a strict pastor and father. “Dad would not allow me to date a non-Christian,” recalls Sheila, “and so I was limited to the guys at church, which didn’t appeal to me much. . . . I wasn’t allowed to go to school dances, or any movie not created by Disney, and of course never a secular party.” (Sheila Stedman, letter to author, August 26, 2002.)

And without doubt, people in the church expected more from them than from other young people. “They got some pretty hard knocks,” says Elaine. “Things that really derailed them. I don’t think Laurie [the youngest] did, because after Body Life, things changed so much at PBC. It was a different atmosphere and a different way of looking at things. But before that it was very traditional and more was expected of them. People would say things like, ‘How could you do that when you have such wonderful parents?’ But the girls knew their parents! They knew we were just people.” (Elaine Stedman, interview.)

Another factor was that although Ray was always affectionate with his girls, one of his weaknesses as a father was his inability to relate to them on an emotional level. Elaine believes this was a handicap inherited from his upbringing. “He loved his kids. But because they were girls, he felt awkward with them at times. He didn’t quite know how to handle their emotional outbursts. . . . He did not understand the female. He did not grow up with females. He had two brothers. He had two male cousins. He didn’t relate well to his mother at all. He didn’t have a close relationship with his aunt. . . . It was a good relationship, . . . But there was no closeness, no real intimate sharing. He never learned that kind of sharing and intimacy of communication.” (Ibid.)

Susan, Ray’s second daughter, agrees. “The one thing I felt was most lacking from my dad was an ability to relate to me emotionally. He was so mental, and so logical, that anything that operated on the emotional level would just throw him. He had a real hard time with that. . . . And I think part of that might have been from his childhood, and his mother being so overemotional.” (Susan Stedman, interview.)

Ray’s weakness in this area made it especially difficult for him to talk with his daughters about the temptations they were experiencing. Sheila remembers wanting to talk with her dad about her struggles, but feeling unable to do so. “I was always seeking approval from him, so I decided it wasn’t safe to tell him of my dilemma. I wanted badly to tell him, but the few times I tried he would tell me it was wrong to think that Ray and that it hurt him to hear such things. I think that was the biggest ‘wart’ with Dad back then because he unknowingly blocked me from sharing my pain and kept me from being honest with him.” (Sheila Stedman, letter.)

Linda recalls that her father himself often would react emotionally and resort to bribes. “He tried to send me off to L’Abri in Switzerland in order to bribe me not to get married.” (Linda Stedman, interview.) Ray once even threatened to leave the ministry. “Dad made the mistake of threatening to leave the ministry because of me,” recalls Sheila, “so the guilt was piled on and I felt I had to escape even more.” (Sheila Stedman, letter.)

What Ray’s daughters did not know was that the threat to leave the ministry was anything but a bluff More than once Ray doubted his own fitness for the ministry enough that he actually approached the PBC elders about resigning. He felt he was no longer qualified to serve if his children were out of control. But the elders convinced him that since the daughter in question was already out of the house, he should not take responsibility for her actions. In one particularly moving meeting, all the elders shared communion and prayed for Ray. This event, and particularly Ray’s transparency and integrity, left a deep impression on several of the elders.(Jim Heaton, interview by author, March 15, 2001, Gleneden Beach, Ore., tape recording.)

One can’t help but wonder about the role of the Christian’s adversary in all of this. Scripture says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB). Luis Palau believes that many of the difficulties in the Stedman home were the result of spiritual warfare.(Luis Palau, interview by author, September 9, 2002, by telephone, tape recording.) Although Ray never publicly spoke about his daughters’ experiences, his book Spiritual Warfare reflects many of the insights he must have first applied to his own battles.

Remember this–the aim, the goal of Satan in all this clever stratagem, by which he has kept the human race in bondage through these hundreds of centuries, is to destroy, to ruin, to make waste. That is his purpose toward you and me. A young man I know, who had been raised in church, though he is only twenty-one years old, has already become a mental and physical wreck. Why? Because he has turned aside from the truth and followed the philosophy of Satan. Satan is accomplishing his aim, destroying this life which God loves. That is what he is attempting to do with US. (See Ray’s message Spiritual Warfare), Chapter 3: “The Strategy of Satan.”)

But as with so many of Satan’s tactics, they backfired when it came to Ray. “I really believe that Satan’s favorite inroad to attacking Dad’s ministry was through his daughters,” says Linda. “However, I think our rebellion challenged and strengthened Dad’s faith more than any other events in his life. It brought him to his knees time after time.” (Linda Stedman, e-mail to author, September 1,2002.)

Internalizing the New Covenant

IT WAS ON HIS knees, because of his sense of inadequacy as a father, that what Ray called the New Covenant became more than just a doctrine to him. In 1975 he wrote Authentic Christianity as a clear explanation of that covenant, the essence of which is that Christians are vessels designed to contain the life of Jesus.

But the Christian is more than an empty vessel. He has something within or, more accurately, Someone within. We have a treasure in our clay pot! And more than a treasure–a transcendent power! That is humanity as God intended it to be. The clay pot is not much in itself, but it holds an inestimable treasure, beyond price, and a transcendent power, greater than any other power known to humanity. (See Ray’s book Authentic Christianity> [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Discovery House Publishers, 1996], 122.)

Ray had come to learn that the life of Jesus dwelling in the believer would not exempt him from experiencing hardship and heartache. Indeed, it was these experiences that allowed for the experience and demonstration of the life of Christ within:

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest misconceptions held by many is that being a Christian means that life should suddenly smooth out, mysterious bridges will appear over all chasms, the winds of fate will be tempered, and all difficulties will disappear. No, Christianity is not membership in some red-carpet club. All the problems and pressures of life remain, or are even intensified. Christians must face life in the raw, just as any pagan will. The purpose of the Christian life is not to escape dangers and difficulties but to demonstrate a different way of handling them. There must be trouble, or there can be no demonstration. (Ibid., 125.)

When Ray wrote, “There must be trouble, or there can be no demonstration,” he wrote out of his own life experience. Out of his personal sense of inadequacy and failure as a father Ray learned that “the surpassing greatness of the power” was indeed from God and not from himself Out of his own trouble at home came a demonstration of the life of Christ within.

Because of his suffering, Ray became a softer and more empathetic and “human” pastor and father. When he spoke of believers simply being “cracked pots” who held a treasure inside, people knew that he spoke out of his own brokenness. He became more compassionate, tender, and patient with those who strayed. People on his staff and in his church saw the change, as did his family.

Susan views her own rebellious years as a way of knocking Ray off the pedestal she and so many others had placed him on. “When I went through those rebellious years, I had to knock him down; and he was way up there, so the fall was pretty hard for him and for me…. It’s taken me all these years to know my father as a human being, and accept him as a human being, and I don’t ever want to put him on that pedestal again. Because it wasn’t where he wanted to be, and it wasn’t his place to be there, and I just love him so much more now that I know him as a human being and accept him for who he really is.” (Susan Stedman, interview.)

And when his daughters began to experience the consequences of poor choices and needed help, they found their father–and their mother–waiting with open arms. “Over and over again. . . I pushed my parents to the limit,” says Laurie. “But I always felt like they loved me. I never felt rejection. . . . There was always forgiveness.” (Laurie Stedman, interview.) Each daughter experienced this forgiveness and has her own story to tell of a special “homecoming” with her father, when he became the channel of God’s grace to her.

“Dad and Mom were so supportive through the years,” Linda remembers. “In 1981, in the midst of a very difficult marriage, I left my husband and took our sons back to Palo Alto to live with Dad and Mom. They welcomed us with open arms. By then, I was desperate to find my way back to the Lord. My view of God was so distorted by my own sin and the worldly philosophies I had embraced. Dad quickly got me connected with a Christian psychiatrist–a preacher’s kid himself–who helped me get a clear perspective of God’s grace, and assured me that God loved me right where I was, in spite of all my sin and rebellion. It was the beginning of spiritual healing in my life.” (Linda Stedman, e-mail to author, September 1, 2002.)

Sheila’s “homecoming” took place after her father had already retired and was battling cancer. “On a visit to see Mom and Dad in Grants Pass, Dad found out he had cancer. I was in shock! How could that be? We had grown closer over the years, he had grown softer and sweeter, had retired from PBC, and was finally able to relax and enjoy less pressures of the ministry. . . . ”

My son, Jason, had been living the party life in high school, was dating lots of girls, but lately had been dating a particularly sweet girl, Jennifer, and had found out, just weeks before the terrible news about Dad, that he was going to be a father. He and Papa had formed a very close relationship since his birth, being the first grandson and the apple of Papa’s eye. When Jason heard the news, he rushed down to Grants Pass with Jennifer and told Dad how sorry he was for messing up his own life and now his treasured Papa was dying. Dad, in his gracious, loving manner, reassured Jason that it was not bad news at all, but great .news that he would be seeing his Lord soon, and that he, Jason, should realize that life is only temporary. That he should marry Jennifer and turn his life over to the Lord. And do you know, that was the turning point in Jason’s and my life. . . . ”

From that day forward, both me and my children have all come back to a real, personal, fulfilling relationship with our heavenly Father and it has a great deal to do with Dad’s own example of who a father should be. He forgave us when we rebelled against him, and loved us in spite of our ingratitude and selfishness! When I look back on our life together I realize how incredibly blessed I was to be chosen to be my earthly and my heavenly Father’s child!” (Sheila Stedman, e-mail to author, August 26, 2002.)

During the sixties and early seventies, PBC became one of the most well-known and innovative churches in the nation, and Ray became a Bible teacher and author of international renown. But it was in the context of his family that God was refining and conforming Ray into the image of Christ.

In the end, Ray Stedman was a portrait of integrity not only in the church, but in his home as well.

Title: Ch 8: Treasure in a Clay Pot Author: Mark S. Mitchell
Series: Portrait of Integrity Date: 2004

Good News About Prodigals by Tom Bisset

Someone shared with me this  excerpt from  Good News about Prodigals by Tom Bisset. It is so encouraging that I thought it would be well worth passing on  to those of you  who haven’t heard of it.

   “In this book, I have outlined five basic reasons that prodigals return to the faith. A pattern exists; we know why people drop out and we know why they return. Without exception, you will find one or several of these reasons in the stories of all prodigal’s journey home.

   First, they return because of the influence of another person – a spouse, family member, friend, or spiritual leader. This factor is one constant in all returning stories; someone else is always involved, usually significantly, in the prodigal’s journey home.

   Second, they come back because they have a personal or family problem that they cannot solve. Leaving the faith seemed to be the answer to their problems. But in fact, it wasn’t all that easy. Life brought serious problems and doubts of its own. Typically, trouble takes time – anywhere from several years to several decades. But in the end, problems bring prodigals home.

   Third, they return because they are experiencing an emotional and spiritual void in their lives. When life loses its meaning and all seems lost, empty hearts and tormented minds turn toward the God who is there. The good news is that God promises to be found by all who seek Him.

   Fourth, they come back because they are concerned about their children’s moral and spiritual futures. Love for children is a universal emotion from which no parent can escape. Often, God uses this mother and father love to track down adult prodigals with children and create renewed interest in Himself.

   Fifth, they come home because of unexpected, life-changing spiritual experience. Simply put, God breaks into prodigal lives, sometimes radically and calls prodigals to Himself. It’s as if at a certain point along the way God says, “Enough’s enough. Time’s up. Come home now.” And the prodigal returns, or at least begins the journey home.

   This last reason is the easiest to overlook. No doubt this is because we tend to think about a prodigal son or daughter in practical, everyday terms. We grieve over the mess they have made of their lives. We feel a range of emotions, from anguish and anger to guilt and hopelessness. It’s all very real, very now.

   What is more, we want to do something – talk, plead, take action. We sense that we can help. And in fact, we can (it’s why I wrote this book). We can be an active participant in helping our kids understand the difference between error and truth, between life and death. This is what we have done with our children since they were little. Why stop now? Furthermore, to not take action is tantamount to giving up, something no parent of any prodigal will ever do.

   But doing something is not necessarily the answer. Sometimes, we need to do nothing and let God take care of things. In the midst of our trying and crying on behalf of our prodigal children, the hardest thing of all is to remember two simple words: But God.

…I almost forgot that God can sovereignly take charge of people’s lives at the time and place of His choosing. He doesn’t need you or me to do this. He decides to act, and that’s that.”  ~ Tom Bisset


You can order this book at amazon.

A Praying Momma ~ T. Suzanne Eller

This is a wonderfully encouraging article for parents of prodigals…keep on praying!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

When he first started drinking, she and her husband weren’t sure what to do. Then he was arrested. Soon after they discovered he was using drugs. For the first time in her life, Mickey felt helpless as a mom.

Mickey’s son was raised in church and he once served as a leader in his youth group. Their home was a safe place where faith was lived out. And yet her son continued to spiral downward, no matter what they did. The night he broke into their small business and emptied the cash register was the bleakest night of all.

Mickey looked around the church and realized there were other moms with similar struggles. She started a Prodigal Prayer Group that met on Tuesday nights. They prayed one year, two years and then three.

Mickey saw others’ children come back to their faith, but her prayers for her own son seemed to be going nowhere. Nonetheless, she continued to show up, joining in strength and support with other praying mommas.

I wish my sweet friend had a video camera recording her son through those dark days. I wish she could have seen Austin rediscover his faith, overcome his addictions, and see him grow into the godly man he is today.

But the reality is that Mickey didn’t have a video camera. All she had was her faith. Faith that was tested over and over.

She was aware of the realities of her son’s choices, but she continued to pray. She continued to believe. She had to make hard choices like setting boundaries. She had to listen to other moms whose children were not straying and who did not understand her struggle.

Mickey says that during that time she began to see Austin through the eyes of faith. She knew that it wasn’t in her power to change her son, but that God could be her source of strength as she stayed the course.

We often say we would do anything for our children. If someone had told Mickey that it would take years of praying and believing like she did without seeing any sign of change, I wondered would she still do it? Mickey says yes, she would.

Maybe you identify with my friend. You raised your son or daughter with love. You provided a safe place. You showed them Jesus, and yet somehow they lost their way. Today I want to encourage you. The Father loves you and your child. In Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32, NIV) we see a son who has hit rock bottom. He finally decides to go home and this is the reaction of his father:

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 

But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” (verses 20-24)

Jesus told this story to illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father. The beauty of a praying momma is not lost in the chaos of your child’s choices. You are not alone as you pray, because He’s waiting, just as you are, to welcome your child in His embrace.

Dear Father, thank You that You love my child even more than I. I am not alone. You are with me. Walk with me today. Give me Your strength. Give me renewed hope and eyes of faith. In Jesus’ powerful, precious Name, Amen.

View this complete article at Proverbs 31 Ministries

Featured Blog ~ Families, Prodigals and Turkeys by Martina Mcgowen

I came across Martina Mcgowen’s blog the other day when looking for something to encourage parents during the holidays. I know this is a very hard time for families dealing with prodigals, but really it can be very hard just dealing with family. I chuckled when I read Martina’s take on it…

“Families and holidays. I often think, “Could the Lord have made a worse combination?” Now, I don’t know about your family, but mine doesn’t always have it all together, but that makes them interesting, usually fun and sometimes downright bizarre.

Most of us worry that our families are a bit dysfunctional. Well, I’ve got news for you- they all are to some degree. Yours, mine, the girl with the perfect hair in High School, that lovely family down the street. All our families have some-thing or some-one that doesn’t seem quite “right.”

Martina is sharing a series called Families, Prodigals and Turkeys. She uses beautiful paintings to embellish her post on the prodigal story. Her series is concentrating not so much on the prodigal, but his brother. Something, as parents, that we need not to forget. The siblings that are still at home need our love and attention.Their hearts may not be quite right and when our focus is mainly on our prodigal, we may not see it.

Featuring Martina Mcgowen …Families, Prodigals and Turkeys

Thank you, Martina, for this wonderful series.

31 Days ~ Strength to Go On

Day 30 ~ Strength to Go On

Sharing again from James Banks Prayers for Prodigals

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3: 17-18
“I will remind myself of this, Lord. It’s always good to praise you, regardless of how I feel at the moment.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (I Chronicles 16:25)
I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God” (Habakkuk 3:18), regardless of my external circumstances on any given day. And why not?
Yes, times are difficult with my child. She’s running from me and from you.
My heart aches. I long to take her in my arms and protect her from harm, if only she would have it.
Then I am reminded of your Word and your promise:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion” (Isaiah 30:18).
There’s a lot of meaning in that one word, yet. You know how I feel, don’t you?
Not only about my daughter. About the whole human race.
That’s why you came, why you sent your one and only son: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Not only do you understand, you’ve faced our rebellion with a heart that feels with more “depth” than I could ever know. (Romans 11:33)
I praise you for that and will wait for you, because “since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). ~ James Banks

31 Days ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Day 27 ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

 From Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks…
“Your word says that you send your angels to do your “bidding“, Father (Psalms 103:20).
Thank you for giving our children angels who “always behold” your face.
Thank you for all of the times you’ve looked after my child when I could not: the near misses,the fraction-of-a-second, happened-too-fast-for-me-to-react moments when your angel intervened.
My child needs the protection of your angels now, Lord.
You’ve said that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalms 34:7).
Because I “know what it is to fear” you (2 Corinthians 5:11) with reverence, awe, and love, I ask that you deliver my son.
Your word tells me about what you’ve done for those you call your own: “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them” (Isaiah 63:9).
Redeem my son, Lord! Let him be a joy to you and to all of heaven, because “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
I don’t know how you will do it, but I ask you to help his open his heart to you.” ~ James Banks
Father, I pray for each and every prodigal represented here today by Godly parents who fear you and ask that You would deliver these children from the enemy of their souls.
And we will watch and pray and wait, and say with the angels, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:11-12
The Guardian Angel  Pietro Da Cortona (Barrettini).

31 Days ~ Joy in the Presence of the Angels

Day 26 ~ Joy in the Presence of the Angels
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” Luke 15:10What a beautiful thought this morning! I visualize the heavenlies full of rejoicing magnificence. And it happens every day…every day somewhere there are those that fall on their knees in repentance. What joy it must bring!
“I ask that he will make the angels sing, Father.
I pray he will turn from his past and run with an open heart and mind to you!

I can imagine the joy.
My joy here on earth would only be part of a much larger celebration, because “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10)
Your word tells of “thousands upon thousands of angels” joyfully praising you (Hebrews 12:22), and so they should!
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelations 4:11)
You created my son and gave him life.
You long for him with an everlasting love.
You loved him so much that you gave your “one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
No wonder the angels sing when one sinner repents!” ~ James Banks

Praying today that our sons and daughters will know the joy of repentance. Praying that our prodigals will give their hearts to the Lord soon. Rejoicing today for every prodigal that repents this very day and the joy that they bring to all around them.

Praying too, Father, that Your joy, Your peace that passes all understanding will keep the minds and hearts of all the parents as they wait to see their prodigals return.

31 Days ~ Called Out of Darkness

Day 23 ~ Called Out of Darkness

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” 1 Peter 2:9

Called out of darkness…how many of you were called out of darkness?

From the concordance darkness means: of night darkness; of darkened eyesight or blindness; of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway.

I once was lost…and now I’m found…

I once was blind, but now I see…

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” Psalms 40:2

If I had Christian parents they would have been devastated, but they also would have rejoiced at what Jesus has done in my life. I don’t know that a single prayer was uttered for me during this time of darkness, but Jesus called me out of it.

Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 3:7

Father, you are very aware of what our prodigals are doing right now. For from the beginning of time men turn away from you and follow darkness. Father, right now, our children are living in darkness, making horrendously horrible choices that will effect their lives forever. We cry out to you, Father, for we of ourselves can do nothing. Please bring them out of the miry pit, the ungodliness, the immorality, this horrible wretched darkness that holds sway over them and causes such blindness. Father, we cry out to you today, please call them out of darkness into your marvelous light.

Quoting James Banks
“I ask for your light to fall on this path and lead him home.

Let him see your light from the distance and be drawn to you.

Even though now he sits in darkness, I ask that you will be his light.(Micah 7:8)

I praise you that there is no darkness so black that you can not show him the way out of it.

Bring him to the place where he can say, “You are my lamp, O Lord the LORD turns my darkness to light” (2 Samuel 22:29)” ~ James Banks

And Father…I pray for none of this middle of the road stuff. I pray when our prodigals come to their senses and see your Light…when they truly give their hearts and lives to Jesus, that there will be no turning back. That they will put the past behind them and walk forward…the past immorality, drugs, rock music…make it absolutely abhorrent to them.

Thank you, Jesus, for what you have done in my life, I know without a doubt that you can do it in any life. And I especially ask today, that you would visit the suffering parents. Please take them in your arms. Fill them with your peace, hold them tight so that they know you are with them in their grief. Give them a knowing that you are at work in the hearts of those they love and hold most dear, right now as we are praying.

Forgive us all, Father, for we are so prone to wander, so prone to be unbelieving and faithless.

We are called to show forth your praises, even the sacrifice of praise…

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15