Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Letter From A Prodigal's Mother

This is a letter from a mother who watched her child go the way of the world, dealt with the heartbreak that comes with that, and has seen them return. This was written not only because of the things the family went through during the Prodigal's journey to the "far country", but also because of the things they are going through after the Prodigal's return.

"The Lord has been working on my heart for a few months now, even before his return, to talk about what's happened with our oldest son.
A year ago, he announced to us, at barely 16, that he felt we were bad parents, and he moved 1,200 miles away. Our lives changed completely and our family was shattered.
Over the next few months we went through all the stages of grief, and then repeated a few of them over and over again. However, unlike someone who loses a child to death, we weren't allowed to grieve openly. We had to carry on and pretend our hearts weren't ripped out of our chests. Every birthday, every holiday, every time we passed his favorite restaurant or his favorite hangout- all those things would bring that grief back again. It was agonizing!
Then he came back.
Now, it's a whole new set of struggles for us all.
The story of the Prodigal is a well used example of repentance behind every pulpit, but the Bible never tells you what kind of toll it took on the family- before or after his return. It shows you how to celebrate their return, but not how to handle their absence or what happens after the return celebration is over.
But, here we are prayerfully taking it one  day at a time.
We have an epidemic in our churches. My son isn't the only Prodigal out there. I have spoken with many in the ministry- missionaries, evangelists, etc- that travel all over and they all say this is happening in every church.
Social media isn't to blame, but it's making it even easier for the modern Prodigal to slip away in the world and away from the parents that love them so much. It's just a sign of the times.
However, I am speaking as a mother with this experience, and I have three suggestions to those who are watching someone go through this.
1) Just love and pray for the family- don't judge them.
Parenting is tough! We are all doing the best we can. I have heard some pretty cruel comments from people about where we must have gone wrong. Believe me, Satan is working on the parents hard enough, and we don't need anyone else assisting him! Any child can fall away from their upbringing- no one is exempt.
2) Listen to them at church, but don't ask questions.
Don't ask us how our wayward child is doing. Or, if we've heard from them. If we have something new to share with everyone then we will make a public update.
We come to church as our safe place so we can hear what the Lord has laid on our pastor's heart. When people ask for updates, then our thoughts are now steered away from the message that we so desperately need, and focused back on our troubles instead.
That takes a huge emotional toll on us!
3) If the Prodigal does return- rejoice!
That is the example set forth in the Bible. Remember, they are sinners just like each of us and they need to be in church.
I have seen both reactions out of  people- one is rejoicing like the Prodigal's father, and the other is passing judgement like the self-righteous brother. We need to follow the example of the father.
If this Prodigal was a visitor walking through the church doors, how would we treat them? The only difference is, the Prodigal has just had their sins aired out for everyone to hear about, and the visitor doesn't.
The Prodigal has just taken some scary steps to come back, and they bring with them the lasting effects from the consequences of their sins. We don't need to beat them down more! And, as far as that goes, we don't need to badger the Prodigal with nosy questions about their sins, why they left, what they did, etc. It's none of our business! They should be allowed the same privilege we are given- putting it under the blood and encouragement to move on.
Look, if we parents can find a way to forgive them and work toward moving past the hurt then everyone else can, too!
Just remember- we prayed for their return; so let's not  push them away. They need to be here in church. My son needs to be around good singing and  under good preaching. He needs to be able to come back to his home church."


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Healthy Minute- Frankincense OIl

About ten years back, after Hurricane Katrina had devastated all the parishes and counties around us, we found a small scorpion in our church. It was crawling across the floor. The pastor caught it in a jar and we all ogled it for quite a while.
Later, I looked up scorpion stings and how to deal with them. The pain is excruciating and can last for 3 days. It's supposedly felt all over the body, not just at the injection site. IF you go to the hospital for the "anti-toxin" it costs around $1,500. Since we didn't have insurance I was hoping there was another way to deal with it. I ran across a blog in my research where a woman had treated her scorpion sting with frankincense oil. She says it stopped the pain within seconds! I was intrigued and wanted to know more of what this interesting "Christmas" oil could do.
I was amazed to discover that, not only did it help with pain, but it fought cancer, relieved inflammation, reduced stress, and even helped to boost the immune system. But, that's not the end of it.  It also protects skin cells, helping with acne and wrinkles, and it's antiseptic properties makes it a wonderful "go to" for cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
Since it can be ingested it helps with dental problems such as tooth decay, oral infections, and bad breath. Adding it to some homemade toothpaste would be beneficial! And don't worry about accidentally swallowing it, because it helps with digestive problems. IBS, PMS, even constipation can be helped by this amazing oil.
I wonder if Mary understood what an amazing gift the wise men had given her? Because, until I did my research, I never knew!
The video below combines frankincense and myrrh. Since they're commonly thought of together at Christmas time I thought it was appropriate. :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

The War Room movie review

The War Room is about an elderly lady who has learned how to fight Christian battles on her knees. She needs to sell her house, and so she contracts a young realtor to list it. Through this meeting she is led to teach the younger lady how to pray. Through prayer, this lady learns how to forgive and eventually saves her marriage and heals her family.
This movie does not use the King James Bible, nor does it teach you how to pray. It does, however, encourage a Christian to have a closer walk with the Lord through yielding control of their lives and allowing God to fight their battles for them. I was blessed as I laughed and cried through this movie, and I think you will be, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Just Take One More Step (poem)

There are sometimes that this old battle gets so weary.
And it feels there’s no more strength to carry on.
It's then I gently hear my Savior whisper to me.
My child look to the cross for I’ve already won. 

Why don’t you just take one more step my dear soldier.
And don’t lay down the sword that’s in your hand.
It won’t be long until the battle will be over.
So in Jesus Christ do all you can to stand.

Oh my fellow Soldier take my hand if you must.
We will fight this raging battle side by side.
If our God be for us who can be against us.
So remember that we’re on the winning side.

In this battle you must remember just this one thing.
For the carnal mind will lead you straight to death.
When your marching in the Spirit then you can sing.
To be spiritually minded is life, joy, peace and rest.

2 Timothy 2:3-4, Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
- Ruth Faunce

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Believer's Heritage- Sam Jones

Samuel Porter Jones was born in Oak Bowery, Alabama on October 16, 1847. His father, John, was a lawyer, and he lost his mother when he was only 9 years old. He grew up in Georgia during the Civil War. His valedictorian speech spoke of his generation as one which came about in the ashes of the Southern Confederacy.
Sam became a lawyer, like his father. He was a wonderful lawyer when he was sober. He was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1868. He married Laura McElwain of Eminence, Kentucky one month later. He was "Sam Jones, the lawyer".
Sam had seen much loss during his young life- the loss of his mother, a war ravaged home, and poor health. He thought that alcohol would help with his ailment, but it only led to him becoming an alcoholic.
He was a terrible attorney when drunk, and also obtained a bad habit of gambling. These two things brought Sam to the point of ruin. The only job he could get was a furnace stoker in a factory where for twelve hours a day he shoveled coal.
His wife bore him two children during this time. His daughter, Beulah died before her second birthday. His other daughter, Mary, was born only one month after her passing. None of these blessings or disasters would change "Sam Jones, the drunkard".
The change occurred when news of his father's sickness came to him in August of 1872. He went to his father's bedside and heard his father's deathbed plea, "My poor wicked, wayward, reckless boy. You have broken the heart of your sweet wife and brought me down in sorrow to my grave. Promise me, my boy, to meet me in Heaven." Sam fell to his knees beside his father and promised him that he would quit drinking.
Sam found himself in a bar not long after. He was about to drink when he looked at himself in the mirror behind the bar. He was dismayed at the wretch he saw sitting there. He threw his glass on the floor and cried out to God for mercy.
He dragged himself to the room he was staying in and begged the ladies running it to bring him a pot of black coffee. He stayed in that room for three days battling to overcome his addiction. Not only was he given the victory over alcohol, but he surrendered his life to the Lord.
He bought a suit and got a haircut and went home to the wife he had left beaten and bruised. When she opened the door he said, "Honey, God has given you a new husband and the children a new daddy, and I wonder if you will forgive me and start all over again." Laura was overcome with joy stating that she had been praying for this.
A week later, he walked down the aisle of his grandfather's church and gave his life to the Lord. He preached his first sermon in his grandfather's pulpit. He was licensed to preach in 1872 and was known as "Sam Jones, the Mountain Evangelist". It was said that he "put the fodder down low where the poor folks could reach it."
He travelled around raising money for orphanages, and preaching where ever he was given permission. He even found himself invited to speak to the State Legislature in Tennessee. It is estimated that in his time he was able to preach to around 25 million people and saw at least 500 thousand people saved.
There was once a time in 1899 during a revival in Toledo, Ohio where Sam Jones, the evangelist would meet another Sam Jones- the newly elected mayor. Mayor Jones had won on the platform of "let everything be done with love". Because of this philosophy he allowed 700 bars and 150 gambling outfits to remain open. Evangelist Jones preached that "if the devil were mayor, he would not change a thing."
D L. Moody wrote him a letter after hearing him preach- God has put into your hands the sledge hammer with which to shatter the formalism of the Church and batter down the strongholds of sin, and He is helping you mightily to use it. God bless you.
It was said when Sam Jones preached that liquor stores closed, theaters and jails emptied, and cursing was reduced to whispers.
On her deathbed, his mother said, "Sam, I will never be able to return to you, but you can come to me." Sam never forgot her words. On October 15, 1906, Sam was coming home to Cartersville to celebrate his 59th birthday. He was on a train when he complained of not feeling well and asked for a drink of water. He died after taking a sip, and went to meet his mother, his father, and his Savior in Heaven.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Funny Happenings- What's In Your Heart?

My niece was walking around singing a little ditty, as children usually do. This one was about a husband. I was a little curious because she had never sang a song about a husband before, so I listened closely.
In a little sing-song tune she said, "And what is in my husband's heart?"
As she la-la's for a few moments I started to wonder if Disney had rubbed off on her. What would she say was in his heart? Hopes? Dreams? Courage? Kindness?
Then she started up with the words again, and sang, "There is blood in his heart!"

Monday, January 4, 2016

Stand Fast (video sermon)

Paul encourages the Philippians to stand fast. He tells others, also, to stand fast- Timothy, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Thessalonians. Christians who read those exhortations should also take it to heart.

There are so many who aren't standing fast today. In the end times there are many who are departing from the faith. They're messing up doctrine. They're giving in to sin. They're quitting the service of the Lord. Now, more than ever, we Christians need to stand fast. The world needs to see the difference between the ungodly and the Saved.

It is possible to stand for God in these last days. We don't have to be the ones who "fall away". We need to be fixed, firm in our walk with our Lord. Trials and troubles will come. We will learn and grow and change. Our relationship with Christ should grow closer, not cold!

John the Baptist baptized Jesus, saw the Holy Ghose descending like a dove, heard the voice from heaven, and yet, when he was in prison he sent his disciples to ask if Christ was the Messiah. He was asking for the wrong thing. He needed God's grace to get through. He needed to stand fast in the prison like he stood fast by the shores of Galilee.

Christ gives us all the victory! Our labor won't be in vain. Your life can be a testimony or an illustration. A testimony of the grace and leading of God, or an illustration of what can happen to those who give up.

We can't control what everybody else does. But, we can control what we do. We can be steadfast. We can be unmovable. Our faith and service can abound. We are suppose to stand fast for Him. We are to keep going until the end. Just don't quit!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pizzetti recipe

1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 (16 oz) jars spaghetti or pizza sauce
4 cups mozzarella cheese
pizza toppings of your liking

Cook the spaghetti noodles according to package directions, making sure to drain the noodles. Mix with the spaghetti sauce.
Preheat oven to 350*.
Get a deep baking dish. Grease the sides.
Layer one third of the spaghetti noodles on the bottom. Place your choice of pizza toppings on the noodles, and then top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat process until you have three layers.
Bake uncovered in your oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated all the way through.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Prodigal's Father

In Luke 15 is a story about the Prodigal Son. This young man asks for his inheritance and then takes it and leaves home. He spends time in the world sowing his wild oats and wasting his substance. After he has nothing left, a famine comes to the country he is living in and he's reduced to living off what he can fight away from the pigs that he now feeds. The story has a happy ending when he finally realizes that he can go home.
The main focus of the story is about the Prodigal Son. But, I want to focus on the Prodigal's Father.
Luke 15:11-13- And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father,  Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
I wonder if he got angry? Or if he blamed himself, thinking he should have done a better job? Did he want to find his son and threaten him or beg him to return? I'm wager when the Prodigal left the father went through various stages before he came to the place where he could accept the son back with open arms. I'm sure he probably went through all of these feelings multiple times.
No where in the story does it say what he was feeling while the son was gone. No where does it say that he knew where his son was or what he was up to. It doesn't even tell us how long he waited for his son to return.
It also doesn't tell us that he did anything wrong as a parent. I wonder if other people who knew the Prodigal had left pondered whether the father was at fault in anyway.
Many Christian parents today are finding themselves in the Prodigal father's shoes. They question if it's their fault. They wonder whether they should threaten or beg the Prodigal home. They doubt their self worth and their calling in the ministry. Others around them may ponder these things.
But, God's calling isn't based upon how their children respond. Christ never tells us that the Prodigal's father failed at his job as a parent. He never criticizes the father, though I'm sure the father questioned himself.
The Prodigal father's and mother's out there are going through a lot! They have their own flesh blaming them, the have the devil accusing them, and there are Holier-than-thou Christian's out there that want to bash the parents of the Prodigal. The Prodigal's decisions don't determine the father's worth! Adam and Eve had God as their father and they lived in a perfect environment, and they still sinned. Quit blaming the father (or mother)!
Mark 4:24- And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.
You never know if you may find yourself in the Prodigal father's shoes one day. It could be you sitting on the porch looking up the road hoping that your wandering child comes back someday.

For those who need comfort while going through this, just coming out of it, or if you want to know how to help someone during this troubled time in their life, please visit the following pages:

When Life Hurts

Have I Failed God?

Letting Go & Letting God


When Life Starts To Make Some Sense Again