The Mark of Repentance

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Ray Stedman called When Discipline Ends . I thought this an excellent description of what true repentance is… He is writing about a situation in Corinth…  2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (Emphasis is mine…)

In this case in Corinth, the majority of the congregation had been involved in trying to reach the individual referred to here. But the point, of course, is that it had already happened; it had already worked; this man had repented. He had admitted that what he did was wrong; and that is what repentance is. It is coming to a conclusion about yourself that what you have done is hurtful and wrong. This man had reached that place and had demonstrated it by what I like to call, “the mark of repentance.” It is mentioned here in Verse 7. Paul urges them to comfort him that he may not be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

The sign that you really see that what you did was wrong is that you begin to see the hurt that you have caused by it; and it creates a sense of sorrow, of remorse that you have been the instrument by which many have been damaged in their faith or in their feelings. Therefore, the mark of true repentance is sorrow. I know that we are being taught oftentimes today that if you do something wrong, all you have to do is go and say to somebody, “Yes, I did that,” then you instantly demand, in a sense, forgiveness. Well, it is true that the other person should forgive right away, but the mark that shows him that you are really repentant is that, accompanying that admission of guilt, is a sense of sorrow because of the hurt that has been caused. This is a quite different spirit than what we see at times today where people get angry if they are not forgiven instantly.

The mark of genuine repentance is that you do not really believe anybody ought to forgive you, that what you have done is hurtful, and you do not think you deserve forgiveness. Therefore, forgiveness is something that is always freely extended to someone who does not feel that he deserves it; and that is what is clear here. You can see this, by the way, if you look ahead to Chapter 7, where Paul refers to this very incident again, and the congregation’s treatment of it. In Verse 8 of that chapter he says:

For even if I made you sorry with my letter I do not regret it (though I did regret it), for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 RSV)

So the mark of repentance is grief and sorrow over what is done. This man had come to that point, therefore, it was time to end the discipline. Of course, the purpose of the whole process of discipline at any stage is to bring somebody to recovery. The minute he achieves that, it is time to end all the sanctions and degrees of pressure that are being put on, and to begin to extend forgiveness and restoring love. That is what Paul pleads for in Verse 8:

So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:8 RSV)

Any form of correction is never to proceed from anger alone, but from love, and, therefore, the appropriate action is to reaffirm love. Paul suggests how that should be done when he says, “you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him lest he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” Now, because this man had reached this place, Paul goes on to give us a statement of what restoration involves. Verse 9:

For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:9-11 RSV)

There are three things of great importance in that paragraph which help us to understand how you bring people to restoration: The first one, as Paul clearly indicates, is to begin with a faithful confrontation. He says, “I wrote to you to see if you would obey” — not obey Paul so much as obey the Lord. It was not the apostle giving orders, it was his calling attention to what the Lord had said. Their obedience, therefore, was not to him, but to the Lord. And it always is. No man has the right to give orders in the church, but only to call attention, as a brother, to the orders the Lord has already given. The Corinthians had obeyed; they had done what Matthew 18 required by telling it to the church. That is always a very painful, difficult thing to do.

One of the reasons so many churches are rife with splits, divisions, and problems today is because their leadership seems to be made up of gutless wonders who have no moral courage and who are not willing to act themselves in obedience to what the Scripture says. In the instances in the past when this church has had to take action of this sort, we have actually received threats, threats of lawsuits, of bodily harm, against the eldership if they acted. We have had to resist reproof by many people in the congregation, and around, who misjudged and did not understand the situation, who thought it was wrong to act the way we did. So it has taken courage to stand, sometimes, and obey the Word of God. But as Scripture says, “the effect of righteousness will be peace,” (Isaiah 32:17). If you will act rightly, in love, and frontally, with courage, the result ultimately is peace; and this is what was happening here in Corinth. The place to start, therefore, is with a faithful confrontation.

This is true also of individual difficulties. If you have a difficulty with somebody, do what the Lord says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15a RSV). That is always the basis for working out peace in a relationship. But equally important is the readiness to forgive when there is an indication that he has acknowledged that what he did was wrong, or see the hurt that it caused, and there is grief and sorrow because of it. Then we are to instantly restore such a one.

Here again, the church often offends. I know that one of the frequent causes for hurt and damage to individuals in the church at large today has been unwillingness to forgive things in the past that an individual has cleared up long ago, but they are still being held over his or her head: Take divorce, for instance. I have been in many places where people have gone through a divorce, sometimes on the basis of the biblical reasons for it, but that has been treated as though it was the unforgivable sin. Those involved never could come back to any level of acceptance or leadership because of that. For some reason divorce is made much worse than murder or adultery or anything else. But that is wrong, and great damage is done because of that. If it is true in this situation that Paul himself had personally been insulted by the individual in question, notice how freely he extends forgiveness (Verse 10):

Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, (2 Corinthians 2:10 RSV)

There are no hard feelings expressed, no recriminations, no “well, I-can-forgive, but-I-can’t-forget” attitude. You often hear that, don’t you? That reveals a lack of understanding of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness, basically, is a promise that you make; it is a promise you make to three different individuals. This is true always, in every case of forgiveness:

First, it is a promise that you make to the individual who has offended you and now has repented, in which you are saying to him or her, “I will not let my attitude toward you be governed any longer by this offense. It has been put aside. My treatment of you from here on will be as though this had never happened.” It is a promise you make never to bring it up again. In marriage many problems go on for years and years because we tend to go back and dig up all the past, which is an indication that it has never been forgiven. Some mates don’t get hysterical, they get historical! That is the problem, and that creates a problem.

Second, it is a promise not to pass it on to anybody else. When a matter is forgiven it is to be forgotten. Now it may be that everyone knows it, because, as in this case in Corinth, it had been told to the whole church. But what it means is that nobody throws it at him again, or holds it over his head, or reminds him of it every time any further difficulty occurs. It is a promise to drop the matter, leave it in the past, and never bring it up to anybody again.

Third, and probably most important of all, it is a promise to yourself that, when your memory goes back to it, as it will occasionally, you are not going to allow it to seize hold of your heart and make you angry all over again. The minute it comes back to mind, you put it aside as something that belongs to the past, you are not going to dwell on it. It is a promise, therefore, to repeat your act of forgiveness, no matter how often the memory comes up. That is what forgiveness is; and Paul is so ready to do this.

The reason, of course, is because he himself had been forgiven. People tell me sometimes, “Well, I just can’t forgive in this case. The person said it was wrong, and has asked me to forgive him, but I just can’t do it. It hurt me too much.” Well, that is a revelation to me that that person has never realized how much he has been forgiven already. The basis for Christian forgiveness is always, “Forgive, because you have been forgiven.” If you cannot forgive it is because you have forgotten that you were forgiven. Paul says this to the Ephesians:

…be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV)

That means we are not to be self-righteous and condemning, and assume the attitude, “Well, I could never do a thing like that.” In the eyes of God you have already done worse, and been forgiven for it. That is the basis, therefore, for extending forgiveness to others: “Freely you have received, freely give,” (Matthew 10:8 KJV).

The third element here, brought out in Verse 11, is the need to keep Satan from gaining an advantage over us, for Paul says, “we are not ignorant of his designs.” It is Satan who keeps bringing back to your mind the hurts of the past; he keeps interjecting them back into a situation. He is trying to get hold of you through the situation and wreak havoc with you and your loved ones by taking advantage of it. It is Satan who makes the leadership of a church quail at confronting some situation, makes them say, “Oh, let’s not get involved; let’s forget it.” That is Satan. He is seeking to gain an advantage over that whole congregation so he can dilute their testimony and render them powerless in their effect upon the community.

We were discussing a situation just this last week, and one of our pastors said, quite understandably, “Let’s get hold of that situation and do something about it so it will never come up again.” I knew how he felt, but you cannot always do that, because there is an enemy who will bring it up again, whether you like it or not; he will interject the same situation into circumstances in the future and you will have to fight the same battle over and over again.

That is what Paul means when he says, “we are not ignorant of his designs.” When an arsonist is loose, you can expect fires; they are going to break out all over the place. We have an enemy who is like that, and when you have an enemy you can expect casualties. When you are engaged in warfare, you never can decide on your own terms that you are not going to have any more casualties, because the enemy is there; he is the one who keeps it going.

We often say in American history, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” That is true in the spiritual realm as well. It is only as we are aware that we are in a battle, and an enemy is constantly trying to take advantage of the situation, that we must realize that the thing that defeats him is to extend ready and full forgiveness when there are broken relationships within us. That is what keeps Satan from gaining an advantage over you.

Paul said that in Ephesians: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” Ephesians 4:26-27). Settle this matter before nightfall, before you go to bed. Don’t carry it over to the next day and thus give opportunity to the devil. When you let it go on and on and on, unresolved, you are giving the devil an opportunity to get hold of everybody involved, to create more problems and spread it widely and turn the whole church upside down eventually. Therefore, one of the elements that restoration always involves is that spiritual awareness that we are in a battle, that we live in a crazy world under the control of a madman, basically, so we cannot expect to settle it all once and for all.

As an old movie once described it, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. — I saw that title in Spanish on a marquee down in Latin America: Todo El Mundo es Loco, Loco, Loco, Loco!

We are to deal with these problems then in our own hearts. That is the way you turn off the attack of the enemy. Some years ago I read about a mental hospital that had devised a very effective test to know whether the patients were ready to go back into life again. The patients would be brought into a room where a water tap was flowing out on the floor and handed a mop and told to mop up the water. If they took the mop and just started mopping away, with the water still flowing, they would be put back in the hospital. But if they had the sense to go and turn off the tap first, and then mop up the water, they knew they were ready to go back into life.

There is no sense in trying to clear up a situation until we have turned off the devil’s tap by forgiving that which has been acknowledged as wrong. If we persist in bringing it up, over and over again, we are trying to mop up a situation where the water is still flowing. That is foolish; it cannot be done. That is why in many marriages, in many family relationships, and in a church, these kinds of hurtful things go on and on and on for decades. Nobody has turned off the tap; nobody has forgiven one another and let it rest in the past, realizing that we all are in need of forgiveness continually. When forgiveness happens, then marvelous healing begins to take place.

I could tell you story after story of how I have seen this happen. Whole congregations have been restored, whole family groups have been opened up by two people who were mad at one another deciding that they would forgive; and when there was any degree of acknowledgment at all that there was injury done, extending forgiveness.

Is there any more beautiful picture in all the Scriptures than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son? The story of the old father waiting at home, watching the horizon and knowing that, when that boy had reached the end and was ready to admit his wrongdoing, he would show up at the house again? At the first glimpse of his son on the horizon, the old man is running down the road to meet him, his arms wide open. Before the boy can utter a syllable of his memorized statement that he has been repeating to himself all the way home — “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:19 RSV) — the old man has his arms around him and he is calling out for a celebration, to kill the fatted calf. (I remember the little story of the Sunday School boy when the class was asked, “Who was sorry when the Prodigal Son came home?” The expected answer was, “The elder brother,” but one little boy said, “The fatted calf!”) Well, there was one who was not sorry, and that was the father. He was overjoyed, because he knew that his son would never have been back if he had not acknowledged that he was wrong. And he did not wait for the boy to say that. He had already forgiven him. The very appearance of the lad on the horizon was enough to tell the father that his son was home again, sorry for what he had done. And, “lest he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow,” the father forgave him from a full and free heart. Now that is God’s picture of what he does with us.

the-prodigal-son-feeding-swine-1660.jpg!Blog

We find all these marks of repentance in the story of the prodigal son…

He had admitted that what he did was wrong.

The mark of true repentance is sorrow.

The mark of genuine repentance is that you do not really believe anybody ought to forgive you, that what you have done is hurtful, and you do not think you deserve forgiveness.

Painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1660

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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The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother

One of my daughters was reading Confessions by St. Augustine about the time I was grieving in tears every day for my prodigal son. I found this story about his mother very consoling because St. Augustine was a prodigal himself who came to be a saint. I’m just going to quote some helpful passages out of the book:

“But you ‘sent down your help from above’ Psalms 144:7, and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son. For in her faith and in the spirit which she had from you she looked on me as dead. You heard her and did not despise the tears which streamed down and watered the earth in every place where she bowed her head in prayer.” (Page 68)

augustine-6

Continue reading this reblogged post here.

The Temptation to Take the Battle in Our Own Hands

Are you struggling with the temptation to make things right? To take things into your own hands because the Lord in your mind isn’t working fast enough?

I read this morning in “Streams in the Desert”….

“I once thought that after I prayed
that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer
to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort
always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely
believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise,
and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and
do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle
into our own hands is often tremendous. We all know how impossible it is
to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is
equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we
insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not,
but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.” C.H.P.

This is another reblog… read the rest  here

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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 ~ Quiet you with His Love

Day 28 ~ Quiet you with His Love

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

He will quiet you with His love
…I don’t think I have ever read this before…He will quiet you with His love…I think it’s because my version says it differently…”The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest (be quiet) in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” KJV

What a beautiful thought…He will quiet you with His love

 
 
 
 
Remember the story about Elijah…how he ran in fear of his life from Jezebel and then he eventually hides in a cave and there is a great wind, but God is not in the wind…and earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake…a fire, but God is not in the fire… and then a still small voice …Then Elijah heard…in the stillness…in the quiet…
 
From Prayers for Prodigals ~

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”What beautiful thoughts, Lord.You are all of those things!You are “with me.”You are “mighty to save.”The thought of you taking delight in me and comforting me with our love gives my soul hope that this world cannot take away.When I imagine you rejoicing over me with singing, I’m reminded that you are my Father, and I am your child (1 John 5:19)”How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)…In the “quietness and confidence” that comes from you alone (Isaiah 32:17), I will wait and watch and pray.” ~ James Banks

Praying that you will hear the Father’s voice in quiet and stillness…that He will quiet you with His love…that he will give you grace and peace to wait on Him.

And praying that our prodigals, no matter where their journey takes them…whether it be through blinding storms or shaking earthquakes, or raging fires… will come to know the stillness of God and His all-encompassing love for them.

 
Elijah in the Wilderness ~ Washington Allston
 

31 Days ~ Waiting for an Answer

Day 22 ~ Waiting for an Answer

I’m going to share a story that James Banks writes about in his book about another prodigal. The lesson here again has to do with waiting on the Lord.
“When our daughter was 15 she ran away.
Katie had fallen in with the wrong crowd at school. When we grounded her and pulled her out of school to finish the final weeks of her sophomore year at home, she made other plans. One day she ran out the door and down the street, where a friend picked her up in a car.
She was gone more than three weeks.
Those were the longest three weeks of our lives. Carl and I looked everywhere for out daughter and sought help from law enforcement and friends. But no matter how hard we tried, it seemed like we were always a few steps behind her.
Her life was in danger and she didn’t even know it. One day, Carl and I found ourselves sitting in the apartment of an armed drug dealer who knew some of Katie’s friends and had seen her recently. Later, we discovered she was even a passenger in a wreck where the car rolled and others were injured. She left the scene when the police arrived.
In the desperate days that followed, Carl and I learned the importance of waiting on God in prayer for those we love. We had no other choice. We had come to the end of our strength and resources and had to rely on God. The more we prayed, the more effective our search became.
It was on Father’s Day that we found her. Carl and I were in a restaurant parking lot, on our way to dinner, when the phone rang. A waitress at another restaurant had spotted her. Katie was only three blocks away. We soon had her home, safe and sound.
God always answers prayer. The answer is either yes, no, or wait. When the answer is wait, it’s easy to confuse it with no answer at all…
Sometimes the answers don’t come when we would hope. Things may even seem to go from bad to worse. But we have to persevere, keep believing and keep asking…
Waiting is never easy, but the end result is worth it. David put it this way: “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalms 9:10)
Keep seeking! Keep trusting! Keep asking! Keep praying!
There is grace to be found in the waiting, even if it takes years for the answer to come.”
James Banks has written another book called ‘the Lost Art of Praying Together’ that this story was taken from.
Here is a link if anyone is interested…
I haven’t read it yet, but I sure think this book that I have been reading and sharing with you, ‘Prayer for Prodigals’ is excellent.
Praying for all of us today that we will become more proficient in this ‘lost art of praying and waiting’ on the Lord through our trial. Perhaps, Father, this is part of the reason we are travailing in this trial…perhaps it is Your way of getting our attention and causing us to fall on our knees and seek You with our whole heart.
I know each one of us as parents, Father, needs to grow in some area in our walk with You. Please, Father, teach us Your ways. And in the meantime bring our prodigals to their senses and back home to know You, to desire You with their whole hearts and walk in Your ways.

 

31 Days ~ If I Should Die Before She Wakes

Day 14 ~ If I Should Die Before She Wakes

“Father I want so much to see my daughter come to you. But what if it takes longer than my lifetime? I will still live by faith and welcome the answers to my prayers “from a distance”.” ~ James Banks

This rings so true to me. I honestly got to the point that I believed my son WOULD turn back to God, but I didn’t think it would happen before I died. And I think that is something that we as parents need to accept. What is most important is their relationship with Jesus. How and when that is worked out is up to the Father. If we get to see it, that is an incredible blessing, and one that I pray you will all experience. But we have to put our children totally in God’s care and that includes the timing.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” Hebrews 11:13

If you haven’t totally surrendered your prodigal into God’s hands…I pray this prayer for you today.

Here are a couple of posts I wrote about surrender that I think will be helpful and encouraging…

I Know Your Pain

Peace That Passeth All Understanding

May God bless you with the peace that passes all understanding…as you surrender your life and your prodigal’s life totally into the hands of the Great Shepherd.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7

The Change We’ve Been Looking For…..Begins in US! ~Diane Viere

So many families who live with the dysfunction of a wayward loved one struggle to find just the right solution that will cause their loved one to change. Paralyzed by fear, defeated by hopelessness, they walk through life never experiencing joy….joy has been deferred until…until…until their loved one changes.
Lifetimes are spent sacrificing personal well-being and fulfillment all in an attempt to change someone else.
Body, mind and soul become depleted as we become financially, spiritually, and emotionally bankrupt.
No matter what we do, we cannot effect change in the life of our loved one. We wait. We search. We believe we are responsible for the change in their lives; and the pain of our struggle grows as we continue to refuse to accept that which we do not want to accept.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” ~ Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
BREAKING NEWS: You are the change you’ve been looking for!
You are NOT responsible for the choices, the behaviors, the consequences of your prodigals life.
He/she IS responsible for his/her choices, behaviors and must face the sting of the consequences to learn from their prodigal journey. As long as we continue to assume the responsibility (cross THEIR personal boundaries), we rob them of the growth opportunity that is presented with every poor choice, every dangerous action, every irresponsible behavior. As long as we continue to enable our prodigals, we engage in their journey causing significant collateral damage. Both to them and to us.
The change you’ve been looking for is IN you!
Things do not change; we change. ~ Henry David Thoreau
You can step into JOY today: YOU can change!
* Decide today to step back into your life.
* Build a fence around you. Define what is your responsibility and what is not. Remember, fences keep danger out and keep you inside, safe from entering harm’s way.
* Begin your ‘boundary training.’ Respect your fence! Honor your boundaries! “Do” your boundaries!
“If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you ‘do’ boundaries […others] will internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.” ~Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Feel the effectiveness of Dr’s Cloud and Townsend’s words: Here we’ve been trying to affect change for all of these years….and all we had to do was establish and ‘do’ our boundaries! We are the change we’ve been looking for!
* Choose what will be protected behind your new fence: your joy, your happiness, your dreams, your goals. Family, finances, faith, fun! What do you want your life to look like? Remember, life is NOT a dress rehearsal! You pass this way only once…isn’t it time to take the reins of your life…and ENJOY!
But what about our prodigals? How can we move on without them?
Grab your Bibles and read Luke 15: 11-24. I’ll be here waiting…go ahead…give it a read 🙂
I just have one question: What did the father of the lost son do?
He did not chase after his prodigal and enter the pig pen with him.
He did not save his prodigal from hunger, despair, or squander.
He! Stayed! Home! He stayed behind his front gate and continued on with his life. Oh, he awaited the return of his lost son (and I can imagine him sending his servants each and every day to look for his son’s return) for we read in vv 22-24: “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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
The father waited, but he never took one step out of his own life, his own purpose. He didn’t engage in his prodigal’s journey in spite of the famine, hardship, danger or despair.
If you love a prodigal–you KNOW, how you KNOW–this could not have been easy.
And yet, what do we learn from the father in this parable?
STAY PUT!
STAY STRONG!
PREPARE FOR THE BANQUET!
We’re gonna need a fortress of boundaries to prepare for that banquet, aren’t we, for with every word of struggle our prodigal faces, we are tempted to ease their pain. With every devastating phone call, we are tempted to save her. With every discovery of imminent harm, we are tempted to pay the price in their stead.
Yet, if we continue to try to change that which we cannot change, how will we ever be able to one day throw a banquet upon their return home if we are broken emotionally, financially and spiritually.
The change begins in us!
Return of the Prodigal by Lionello Spada

Speaking of Waiting…

How long? Oh, how long does the Good Shepherd take to answer our prayers and bring the lost sheep home?

Be assured He is watching and waiting for the perfect time…He knows our hearts, he knows our names…they are written in His hands…He knows the perfect time…

My daughter Sarah did a great post the other day on Waiting…here’s the link to her blog…

Deeper Still

Painting ~ Shepherd Seeking the Lost Sheep by Karin Naylor