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Posts from November 2015

Talk Is Cheap - Part 10 - Tongue Tied

11-29-15 - Talk Is Cheap - Part 10 - Tongue-Tied

Some points from James 3 to ponder:

  • Not everyone should be a teacher.
  • Those who do teach are held to higher scrutiny.
  • What we say reveals what is in our heart.
  • You cannot have negative speech and a positive heart.
  • A Christian has not just surrendered his/her heart to God, but his/her entire life (mind, soul, spirit, mouth, etc.)
  • James is really not talking about using profanity here (though that's not encouraged either) but about Christians who can praise God with their mouths in one moment and then curse their brothers and sisters in Christ in the next. "This ought not be so."

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Talk Is Cheap - Part 9 - Faith Works!

11-22-15 - Talk Is Cheap - Part 9 - Faith Works

I fully understand that this is now considered and old movie – a classic, you know, but when the third Indiana Jones movie came out, it did incredibly well at the box office. There was Harrison Ford and Sean Connery and the battle against the Nazis and the search for the elusive holy grail.

I loved that movie.

Then, the fourth one came out with the alien skulls and the nuked refrigerator. . .but I try not to remember that one.

Still, in that third one, “The Last Crusade” there was this scene where Indy was stepping out over an abyss and. . .well, watch this to remember the scene.

Indiana Jones from Anchorsaway Ministries on Vimeo.

 

There’s much about faith throughout the scriptures. It is a hallmark of who we are as Christians, but to just say “You need to have faith” seems to miss the mark as life moves forward.

June-17-mainIn fact, there are even seemingly contradictory teachings on faith in the Bible. Yet, because we know that God does not contradict Himself and his Word, therefore does not, we need to look into this to discern what God is saying.

God is gracious enough to give us a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

These two words “assurance” and “conviction” seem clear at first, but in truth, there’s much more here than the initial reading gives us. These two words are unusual and difficult to translate into English.

Some of you may remember the old English version of this passage that states “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

That doesn’t help much either.

So, before we get into this, ask yourself “Do you have faith?”

How do you know?

How can prove you have faith?

The evidence of faith is that there is a God in control. He reveals is existence in numerous ways and through his revelation and His Spirit, come assurance for those who believe.

James writes of faith clearly to the church and we are wise to listen. . .

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" --and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:14-26 (ESV)

James cuts to the quick here and comes hard at the “faith question.”

At first, it seems to contradict Paul’s writings in Ephesians 2

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Since we want to live by faith, obedient to God, with the mind of Christ and in the Word and every other Christian phrase and title we can think of, we must reconcile this.

Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the early church, an Apostle, teacher and preacher, wrote these words to a church steeped in Jewish legalism and Old Testament laws like circumcision. Many in the church were adding to the Gospel things that weren’t required for salvation and redemption. Paul was fight legalism and reminded the church then and us today that to add anything to the grace of God in the form of works neuters the grace and pulls the focus on us, not God.

James was battling the flip-side of this coin in the church. One group, Paul’s target, were legalists and working to get saved. The other group, James’ target, were living under the belief that “I prayed a prayer and received Jesus and therefore do not have to do anything now.”

Paul is talking about how to become a Christian.

James is talking about how to live as a Christian.

Our faith leads to action. It’s not bragging. It’s just the natural step of men and women of faith.

Now, what works follow faith?

That’s the journey that is exciting, isn’t it? To give you one answer would be doing harm to the body, because each of us are gifted and wired differently. Yet, even in our uniqueness, our foundation is on the Gospel and therefore, our works are those that esteem, elevate and bring honor to God.

This much we know, faith does not lead to sitting. Faith does not lead to just thinking. Faith does not lead to doing nothing.

Maybe our first action step is saying “Yes” to God and let Him lead. Then, as His church, we live equipped and together impact this world for Him.


There Are No "Participation Trophies" in Life

James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers made headlines earlier this year when he took his children's "participation" trophies away and returned them. Some decried this as mean-spirited. Others celebrated the move as something that many parents should be doing.

Here's Harrison's Instagram explaining why the trophies would be returned (and were according to later reports.)

 

More recently, he posted this update about his boys and their trophies (earned this time.)

 Perhaps that is the genesis for this trending commercial for Kia. 

 

 

 

Since we now have a generation that has been rewarded with trophies that are unearned (and likely collecting dust in their rooms on top of shelves) we must address how this impacts faith development and the understanding of eternity. For Boomers or Gen Xers to blame Millennials for their apparent desire to be gifted a trophy for just showing up is short-sighted. I mean, who started giving out the trophies any way?

Haydn Shaw, in his book Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, he shares this account:

A participant in a seminar I led told me about his experience with another parent whose child was on the same youth soccer team: "After our team was beaten soundly in a game, the other child's mother said we should make a 'parent bridge' for the players to run through as they come off the field to get their treats. Mostly joking, I said that as badly as the boys had played, we should just turn our backs and let them get their own treats. The mother was appalled. I asked her, when her son is thirty years old, still living at home, and unable to find a job, if she and her husband will make a bridge, cheer, and give him a juice box for trying his best? I don' think she thought I was funny."

When it comes to eternity, it is unfortunate that many (of all generations) will find themselves standing before Christ, expecting to be ushered into heaven, only to be told "I don't know you?"

That's not just some mythical fairy-tale story. For those of us who believe the Word of God to be true and take this Story seriously, there is a reality regarding the "end of life" trophies. Jesus speaks clearly about this here in Matthew's Gospel account:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

While eternity is a given for all, a home in heaven is only assured for children of God. Children of God are those who have been adopted into His forever family. That adoption comes through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and surrendering to Him. Only children of the Father get a "trophy." And, it's not a participation trophy. It's a "crown of righteousness" for those who have overcome the world. The great thing about this trophy is that it has already been paid for and secured. You receive it as victors and you can only be a victor if you're "on the team."

 


GameDay Church and the Inevitable "Beer Question"

Since we announced the launch of GameDay Church at the site of Old St. Andrews Church prior to the Jaguars - Colts game on December 13, we have had many questions from various sources.

The Beer Question

Drink-beerWhether it has been from church members planning to help make it happen, other church leaders in the city, community friends or news agencies, it seems that a few questions regarding the church service rise to the forefront. They are. . .

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What will it look like?
  • What about beer?

Honestly, the beer question tends to be the first one we are asked. The other two tend to be logistical.

It seems that our response to the beer question has the potential of creating more controversy than a red cup at Starbucks.

Nevertheless, here's our answer to the "beer question."

"We are not providing it."

There. That's it. Simple, right? Well, I thought so, but apparently is not sufficient for some. 

Clarification

Let me be clear, just in case there is some misunderstanding. I do not partake of alcoholic beverages. I do not believe it is a good thing to do so. I do not recommend it at all. Likely, this is due to my upbringing and my years of working with teenagers from challenging homes where alcohol played a role, not to mention the under-age, binge drinking that I have observed and worked young people through. Therefore, the partaking of such is not encouraged by me.

Yet, it is clear that while getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18) is sinful and declared such in Scripture, the partaking of alcoholic beverages is not. I'm well versed in the "do not be a stumbling block" passage and affirm that, but I'm not going to break all that down in this posting, due to the fact it will result in the potential online, comment-driven, debates that do nothing to reach people for Christ and ultimately do the Kingdom no good, but if you'd like to read more regarding this question, from a biblical worldview, check out this link at GotQuestions. (GotQuestions is a solid, biblically-conservative Q & A resource.)

It appears that the only thing that could rival the questions of a Baptist church hosting a tailgating/worship service at an NFL game would be if we hosted a "Line Dancing" event. While the "Baptists don't dance" mantra still exists, I declare that it is more that most "Baptists can't dance." It's apparently a rhythm issue, at least in our church. This is made clear as many in our congregation attempt to clap in-time along with some of the worship songs. But. . .I digress.

No Beer Garden, but No "Beer Guards," Either

So, a simple answer of "We're not providing beer" leads to the follow-up question from some that sounds like this, "But, what if someone shows up with a beer in their hand?"

And, this is where my answer causes some raised eyebrows. Remember, we're meeting under an open-air tent. We will have a grill set up with some BBQ available and some bottled water as well. Yes, it is a family-friendly event, but then, so is the football game, right?

People will be walking by the tent on the way to the game. Most attendees will stop by for a few minutes, step under the tent, eat some BBQ, play some corn-hole and then move on to the stadium for the beginning of the game. Most, except for those serving and leading, are not thinking about going to a church service. They're thinking about going to an NFL football game.

And, some of those who stop by (not all, because not all who will partake of an officially NFL-licensed Bud Light that day, will be doing so at 11am) will have a beer in hand. And, we are NOT going to set "beer guards" by the entrance telling people to get rid of their beer before they can come in and worship and hear the Gospel. Why? Because we know at that point people will just walk away and think "That's not for me." 

A Simple Focus

1e85eb_ed431ec6c6b24d268fa5ece97ea14d84Simply put, our focus at GameDay Church (as it is at any of our campuses or events) is Jesus Christ. We focus on Him alone, and trust the Holy Spirit to do what He does best.

GameDay Church is an event. We acknowledge that. It is a front-door event for many. It is the church seeking to go where the crowd is, as opposed to simply creating another crowd.

Believing that God has led us to offer this worship and teaching experience at the cross-roads of cultural engagement, leads us to trust Him to draw those to Himself that day. Focus means we must not be side-tracked on issues that are not vital. This is not a watering-down of the Gospel. In fact, by being so solidly focused upon it, it leads us to be missionally engaged in ways that we often just read about and "amen" but never do.

Tweet: If Christianity is simply behavior-modification, then we have lost focus. @davidtark @gamedaychurch http://ctt.ec/B9h25+If Christianity is simply behavior-modification, then we have lost focus.

So, if you're a football fan and have friends who would never attend a traditional church service with you, why not get a few tickets here (use our GAMEDAY code) and come to GameDay Church on your way to the game? Let's trust God to do what His Word declares. He does more than modify behavior, he transforms hearts.

The question has been answered. Now, let's pray that God will draw many to Himself through His church.


Talk Is Cheap - Part 7 - Orphan Sunday

11082015-1045-Hearing and Doing

As we continue our series through James' letter to the first century church, we land on the verse that gives practical examples of how to not only hear the Word, but to do what it says.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)

How appropriate that this past Sunday was "Orphan Sunday." 

I have shared in previous posts this week of the story our church has entered regarding the plight of the orphan. That journey continues to gather steam and last Sunday, we focused on why we advocate and then shared some practical steps for believers to enter the story as individuals.

One of the most amazing moments from last Sunday was the time of prayer over families who are either fostering children or are/have adopted children. To see the dozens of families stand before their church declaring that they have not only heard the Word in this area, but are doing the Word was amazing.

The fact that not every family is called to foster or adopt is clear, but so too is the reality that no Christ-follower can opt out of praying for or advocating for the orphan. This is a family story. . .a firstFAMILY story.

Prayer Cards for Clay County Children

We provided hundreds of prayer cards to members of our family last week. There were two varieties. The first had a name, gender and age of a child in our county. There were over 100 of these. These children are in our foster care system now and our prayer is for them, their families and the potential of a forever family stepping forward for them. Ages ranged from 4 months to 17 years.

The second group of cards featured six individuals. These are teenagers in our county who are just waiting. They are ready for adoption. Our prayer is that six Christian families inner county will say "yes" to adopt and provide these children homes.

Since we have been given permission to share these images and names, please take the time to pray specifically for these children. Their details are listed below.

 

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Brittany - Age 15

 

 

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Cordova - Age 13

 

 

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Dakota - Age 17

 

 

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Emilie - Age 16

 

 

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Joshua - Age 15

 

 

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Westley - Age 15

 


A Simple Gesture Makes a Major Impact

AN ORPHAN SUNDAY STORY. . .

Sometimes the seemingly "little things" mean more than we know.

Yesterday, we celebrated Orphan Sunday at our church and honored and prayed over the families who either are just entering the foster-care/adoption journey or have been a part of this story for years.

The stories were similar in that they all pertained to orphan care, but so unique due to each circumstance. Stories ranged from the joy and fear shared by young couples who have completed their required classes and home study and now are waiting for a placement, to those who adopted decades prior and honestly shared how the journey has been difficult and, at times, heart-wrenching. . .but ended with "I'd do it all over again." One couple revealed that they had fostered 120 children in their lifetime and had adopted seven. Another shared their adoption of a young man diagnosed with a mental disability. One couple shared how they had adopted two boys years ago and then the father stated "I was adopted as well." Wow! 

Some of the families who shared have been part of our church family for years. Others, for days. 

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I received this email from one of the moms who stood before the church to share and to receive the church's prayers. She and her husband are new to our church. They have brought a little boy into their family who faces some difficulties. Her note to me was another reminder of how great our God is and how being adopted into His family is vital. I asked permission to share this and it was granted:

Hi Pastor :)  
 
 
I just wanted to write and let you know that we really enjoyed and were encouraged by your sermon today.  Also, I wanted to share with you about something that happened while we were leaving.  I walked out of the gym (FYI - our 9:15am worship service is held in our Family Ministry Center/Gymnasium) and paused to let a lady pass. She came to me and said, "I just want to hug you" and she did.  I was caught off guard and was trying to figure out if I knew the woman... "Why was she wanting to hug me?"  It was not until I saw her walk away and fighting off tears that I realized she was touched by the sermon we heard this morning.  I have no idea who this lady is or if I will recognize her the next time I see her (I'm horrible with remembering faces) but as I was sitting in my car thinking about what had just occurred, I realized that she was expressing God's love and I was instantly overwhelmed in that moment.
 
I know we will be going through some tough times this week and I believe fully that I will look back at this simple hug from a woman that I do not know and I will feel comfort. Another thought is that this woman probably has no idea just how much that hug and seeing her love through tears means to me.  This is exactly what you have been talking about, she has, without even knowing it, supported my family by simply sharing raw emotion and an embrace of love.    
 
I know you do not know our story, but like many others', it is a tough one.  We love our little guy and have faith that God will continue to heal him.  We definitely have some challenging times ahead of us and I am thankful that we have found a church family to help us not only get through these tough times, but that will be fighting with us and encouraging us along the way.
 

Bevin, Buddie & Bathrooms - Election Day in the US

I was talking with a university student yesterday who made the statement that he felt that it was unlikely a Republican or conservative would ever be elected to the office of President again. I am not sure if that was a statement of lament or desire, but I responded that each party's adherents have said the same thing for generations and over time (normally every 8 to 12 years) they often find that the swinging doors to the White House welcome in a President of the opposing party.

Nevertheless, the underlying theme had less to do with the party affiliation of the current crop of presidential candidates and more to do with what has been described as a culturally seismic shift in morality and worldview. There has been much written about these shifts and I do not negate their reality. However, this week our nation experienced some revelations that show that perhaps the total cultural shift is not quite as clearly defined as some seem to propose.

This past Tuesday was election day in our nation. This being an "off year" there were many areas where no elections took place, but in the areas where they did, the nation was watching. 

There were three elections that drew the attention of the national media, and therefore the eyes and ears of many who follow politics and worldview shifts of culture.

Kentucky Governor's Race

First, the gubernatorial election in Kentucky drew quite a bit of focus. This was due, in no small part, to the fact that the Republican running for the office, Matt Bevin, was considered more than a long-shot to win. His stance against same-sex marriage and evangelical roots made him an easy target in the culture wars. Of course, Kentucky is the home of Kim Davis, who made national and international news as a county clerk when she refused to have her name affixed to marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Bevin's friendship with President Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his history of donating funds to the seminary further painted him as an outsider, with no real chance to win.

Even the Republican Governors' Association pulled money for advertising when the polls were placing his opponent as the easy victor.

Apparently, no one told the voting public of Kentucky that Bevin stood no chance at winning. In fact, when the votes were tallied, he basically won in a statistical landslide and will be sworn into office as the Governor next year.

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Governor-elect Bevin, his wife & their nine children

Ohio Not "O-High-O"

Second, the state of Ohio was voting on the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Millions of dollars were spent to push the voting public to affirm this as a good option. College students were confronted with "Buddie," an anthropomorphic marijuana bud with a super hero's body as part of the advertising campaign to legalize pot. 

Ultimately, the movement went up in flames (no pun intended. . .okay, a little pun was intended) and even those who really wanted legal marijuana joined forces with those opposed to its legalization for moral reasons simply because of the literal monopoly that would develop as big business would own the legal growing and distribution rights of marijuana in the Buckeye state.

So, this culturally left-leaning movement died in the polls as the voters of Ohio (not O-High-O, as the promoters were advertising) voted NO.

 

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"Buddie" - PHOTO: Facebook/Responsible Ohio

No HERO in Houston

Third, and likely the most media-hyped and focused upon vote took place, not on the federal or state level, but at the city level. The city of Houston, Texas, the fourth-largest municipality in the nation, was voting to either ratify or revoke a bill touted as an anti-discrimination bill, that was pushed through the City Council by the urging of mayor Annise Parker. This bill was known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, for short.

You may remember the threat to religious liberty that occurred in the city, and through Mayor Parker's office, back in 2014. I wrote about that here.

The battle-lines were drawn for the ratification of HERO and big business, the mainstream media, pastors, right-wing and left-wing pundits and even professional sports stars and leagues were weighing in on the matter. What was touted as an anti-discrimination ordinance was soundly defeated.

Why was something that seemed to create equal footing for all citizens defeated? Well, depending upon whose report you read (and I fully admit that all writers are biased to some degree, me included) it was either because "Hate" and "Fear" won out over logic, love and right-thinking, or because the only actual addition this ordinance gave to current anti-discrimination laws on the books within the state of Texas and nationally, was the allowance of any person to enter and use any public restroom regardless of the designated gender defined on the entrance. 

In Albert Mohler's Briefing posted on November 6, 2015, he references a number of stories featured in The New York Times and other media outlets.

The Houston Chronicle had numerous stories as well, as they should, being that the issue was a city ordinance. By and large, most writers were seemingly surprised by the overwhelming defeat of HERO.

Thee are numerous articles and debates as to whether the HERO actually contained "bathroom language" in its final format. It is a matter of fact that at one point, it did. 

Opponents declare that haters jumped on the "bathroom" issue as fuel to continue to repress those in the LGBT community. Proponents of the repeal declared that ultimately, the final language that left the bathroom door open was enough to garner the votes needed to repeal the ordinance, handily.

 

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PHOTO: David Bro/ZUMA Press/Newscom 

 

While the ordinance was defeated, the expansiveness of cultural shift under the banner of "anti-discrimination" and "inclusivity" will appear on ballots again, throughout the nation and likely will be addressed by the courts on a future date.

Personally, I am pleased with the results of all three of the election results mentioned in this post, but I do not see these as indicative of a moral and worldview shift back to the Bible. The world, as we know, will never celebrate the Christian worldview.

For Christians, this is a reminder that worldview matters and that, as the old hymn states, our "hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." That means that we best be in the Word, saturated in the Gospel and focused on Christ. We should understand civics and be righteous, godly citizens, but remember this - our hope is not found in Washington, the state capital or even the ballot box. It is found in Christ alone. In Him we trust.

 

 


Help for the Parent of a Prodigal Child

 

I have just completed our mid-week morning Bible study with our senior adults. This is a great time of study and really is energizing for the remainder of the week. These life-long learners are inspiring to me and so encouraging.

I have discovered some pretty common threads among those in attendance. It seems that these senior saints have varied stories of challenge and difficulty. Now, they're not complaining, but life offers challenges and these from the Traditionalist and early Boomer generations have experienced much.

Many have shared with me, as a way of encouragement, their journeys as parents of prodigals.

The story of the prodigal son in the Bible gives us hope, but in the midst of the journey, there is great pain. The grief of a loving parent seems overwhelming at times. Far too many of you can relate.

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In Ann Mobley's book If I Tell You I'm Gay, Will You Still Love Me? (available at our church's online bookstore) she shares the painful and true story of truth and grace through the difficult days with her son. 

While the prodigal story may involve same-sex attraction and an abandonment to orthodox Christianity, that is just one small area that leads the child down toward the identity of "prodigal." Stories are different. Wounds are unique. Yet, regardless of your story's details, these points from Mobley are helpful for the Christian parent struggling with what to do while the prodigal is still on the run.

What to Do While Waiting in Hope

Spend time in God's Word.

Choose to believe and live by the truths of God's Word. Regular reading and meditating on God's Word will keep you focused on God's truths and enable you to discern the lies of Satan. Discouragement is a major tool of the Enemy against God's people, but God's Word is your source of encouragement.

Pray for your child.

Do not underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for your son or daughter that God will, by the power of His Spirit, do a strong and eep work in his or her life, drawing him or her to himself and destroying the strongholds of the Enemy in his or her mind and heart.

Pray for yourself.

As you pray for change in your loved one's life, be aware that God may desire to make changes in your life. Honest self-examination is needed. An important reminder is this - Guard your heart agains bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).

Keep the lines of communication open.

Having open lines of communication is often the fruit of responding in love to your child. God's Word reminds us that love is not just expressed in words but also in our actions. We need to ask God to teach us how to show his kind of love to our loved ones. Remember, we are only responsible for our own responses, attitudes, and actions. We cannot dictate or control the responses, attitudes, or actions of our loved ones. The relationship and paths of communication may be damaged or broken by their own choosing, and they may not respond in kind to our overtures of love. That is painful for the parent, family, or friend reaching out to them. But, we should not allow their negative or unloving response toward us dictate our behavior.

Continue to love your child and "keep the porch light on."

Peter Lord, in his book, Keeping the Doors Open, urges parents to adopt an open-door policy; figuratively speaking, "Keep the porch light on." Let your loved ones know that he or she can always come home or visit as often as he or she wants. You may disapprove of his or her lifestyle and the choices he or she is making, but still love them and do not reject them. Don't let the separation be on your part. It' heartbreaking for the family when a son or daughter chooses to close the door of communication and walk away, cutting off all contact, perhaps even disowning the family and leaving no way for the family to maintain contact. But parents still can pray and must pray. God knows where your child is.

Don't travel alone on this journey.

Reach out to others who can pray with you and sometimes just listen to you. Look for friends or family members who view life from a biblical perspective, who will stand with you in a loving and committed biblical position and provide spiritual and emotional encouragement. 

Never give up. Keep on praying.

Jesus told his disciples a parable to encourage them to keep on praying, even if they didn't seem to be getting any results from their prayers. He said they should not "lose heart" or "give up." Just because we do not see things happening in the visible, physical lives of our loved ones does not mean our Father is not listening or responding to our prayers.

Holding on to the God of Hope!

Today, whatever your circumstances, you can have hope. Our hope is in the character of a faithful God, in the promises of his Word, in the power of prayers offered in faith in Jesus' name, and in the Holy Spirit who can work powerfully in the hearts and minds of our loved ones - and our hope is in the never-ending love of the heavenly Father for his prodigal sons and daughters.

These are great reminders and needed in these days. It hearkens back to the story of the Prodigal Son in Scripture. These characteristics of the father in the story are key for us as parents:

  • He relinquished control of his son, let him go, and allowed him to reap the consequences of his wrong decisions.
  • He never quit loving his son and remained watchful in the hope that his son would return. 
  • He welcomed his son back - not with a scolding, not with words of condemnation for his sinfulness, not with a consignment to the servants' quarters, but with compassion, love, a strong embrace, and even a kiss! (BTW - imagine what he looked and smelled like upon the return, especially after sleeping with the pigs.)
  • He was not ashamed of his wayward son, but threw a big celebration party, inviting everyone to rejoice with him. His son was safely home!

May all parents of prodigals take hope in these words. God knows what you're facing. He loves your child even more than you. Trust him to do what he does best and rest in the truths of God's Word.