Monday, October 24, 2005

The other prodigal

One of the best known parables Jesus told was the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The younger son is a runaway who defiantly seeks fulfillment through worldly pursuits. He eventually comes to his senses and returns to his father in hopes of receiving mercy (mercy is less punishment than you deserve). Instead, his father gives him grace (grace is no punishment - it is complete forgiveness). This younger son is the picture of our obvious sins and the grace our Father extends us through the cross. But I recently read a piece focused on the older son. The premise was that there are two prodigals in this parable. The older son is just as lost as his younger brother. His jealousy and judgmental attitude reveal a heart that feels it never received what it was due. He is caught in the dangerous ground of comparison. He firmly believes he is better than his brother. This deep seated thought of "I'm not so bad" has a profound affect on believers and unbelievers alike. It keeps unbelievers from ever realizing they need a savior in the first place - "Why do I need to find my father… it's not like I'm living in the pigpen…". For believers, it chokes out the love, forgiveness, and closeness that Christ wants us to have. The father tells this older son "…everything I have is yours.". He was living in scarcity amongst his father's abundance.

One question to ponder this week: Do I have all that Jesus died to give me? All the joy, love, peace, forgiveness, freedom, etc… Or is pride, comparison, jealousy, unforgiveness, judgmentalness choking it out?

This week let's pray about this older son in all of us.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, October 17, 2005


I recently heard about a psychology term called "learned helplessness". An example is the easiest way to explain the term. When circus elephants are babies, they are chained by their ankle to something too big for them to move. Then when they become adults, all the trainer needs to do is put a rope around the elephants ankle and connect it to a small stake in the ground. Just the presence of the ankle rope makes the elephant think it can't walk away… so it won't even try. This is called learned helplessness. Can you see how this applies to our lives as Christians? When we are re-born, we are to look at the world with fresh eyes. We are to throw away the pre-conceived notions and worldly patterns and habits that we've developed in our pre-Christian life. We're no longer to look at things through the lens of our limited capabilities. Instead we remember that with God, we can do much more than we think we're capable of.

This week, let's pray about the learned helplessness that may exist in us. Is there something God keeps putting on your heart that you are ignoring because you "know" you can't possibly do it? Let's pray to trust God's leading... to throw off the old thinking that keeps us limited. In the process, our faith will grow in leaps and bounds. Ask yourself the following this week (or have some close friends help you assess the following):

1. What is God laying on my heart lately? Am I resisting because of old thinking?
2. Where did I think my walk would be by now?
3. Am I doing things that defy my old thinking?
4. Is my faith steadily growing?

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20b-21

Everything is possible for him who believes. Mark 9:23b

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, October 10, 2005


Albuquerque is a very popular spot for balloonists. Almost every day of the year there is at least one hot air balloon in the air. This past week was the annual balloon fiesta. Each morning during fiesta week there is a mass ascension. Balloonists come from all over the world to participate. It's pretty incredible to see several hundred hot air balloons aloft at one time. These hot air balloons always look so free to me. No schedule to keep… Following where the wind leads… Living in the moment… Above the rat race. It's quite the opposite of me riding in my car… fighting traffic… following the crowd… worrying about things that worry won't help.

Think of someone you know who exudes Christ. Do you see their freedom? They float above us… Not influenced by the twists and turns the world makes… Just joyfully following where the Lord leads… Inspiring us to grow in our own walk. This week let's pray about these role models in our lives. That their example strengthens our walk. That we continue to mature and grow in Him. And on the flip-side, in cases where we are a role model to others (perhaps unknowingly), let's pray that our example strengthens the walks of those watching.

Just one quick note on role models. Let's always keep in mind that they are just an example. They are not Christ. Don't let the examples or analogies in your life confine your image of Christ. He is more than we can ever comprehend.

"Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1-3

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,