February 22nd, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |  Day Two   |  Day Three   |  Day Four   |   Day Five






Day Two




The elder brother takes cen­ter stage


The prodi­gal son’s brother had been out in the field and there­fore com­pletely obliv­i­ous to all that had hap­pened in his father’s life that day. That meant he was also unaware of the cel­e­bra­tion that was already under way at his house.

It appears that it was late in the evening when the elder brother showed up. The party was already full-blown. It is a strik­ing fact that nei­ther the father nor any­one else had told the elder son about his brother’s return. In all the excite­ment, no mes­sen­ger had been sent to bring him the glad tid­ings, and (even more telling) he had not even been asked to assist with the prepa­ra­tions for the cel­e­bra­tion. That is extremely sur­pris­ing because with so much to coor­di­nate, and so many tasks and peo­ple requir­ing over­sight, the help of some­one with the cloud of a nobleman’s first­born son would cer­tainly be a great ben­e­fit. In fact, the respon­si­bil­ity for set­ting up and over­see­ing the arrange­ments for an event like this in that cul­ture would nor­mally fall on the shoul­ders of the eldest son. Party plan­ning was hardly a patri­ar­chal duty.

In this case, how­ever, before the elder boy he even came into the pic­ture, all the prepa­ra­tions were com­plete, the entire vil­lage had been sum­moned, musi­cians and dancers were already lead­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties, and the party was well and truly under­way. Why was the elder brother not told about all this before now?

There’s only one rea­son­able expla­na­tion. The son had no bet­ter rela­tion­ship with his father than the prodi­gal did when he first left home. The father surely knew that – even if no one else did. Any onlooker from out­side the fam­ily might not notice any obvi­ous ten­sion between the father and his first born. But all his sup­posed faith­ful­ness and com­pli­ance with the father’s will was just a sham. It was noth­ing more than his way of get­ting what he wanted – approval, affir­ma­tion, wealth, land, and pres­tige in the com­mu­nity. In real­ity, this boy was every bit as estranged from the father as his open rebel­lious younger brother had ever been.

The fact that he was not quickly sum­moned as soon as the prodi­gal arrived seems to be clear evi­dence that the father could see what was really in the elder brother’s heart. The father knew the real truth about his first­born son, even if it was not obvi­ous to every­one else.


Read ; ; .
What does Jesus, like the father in the para­ble, know about people?

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That’s why the cel­e­bra­tion began with­out him. The father prob­a­bly antic­i­pated how the elder brother would react to his younger brother’s home­com­ing, and there­fore he delib­er­ately did not bring him into the process early. He didn’t need this young man’s sour, sulk­ing atti­tude to be a wet blan­ket on such a fes­tive occa­sion. Besides, the boy’s pas­sive aggres­sive antag­o­nism would have been no help at all – in fact, it would’ve been a seri­ous imped­i­ment dur­ing the prefa­tory stages of putting on a great feast like this. So the father sim­ply let the elder son remain in the field while he him­self orga­nize the cel­e­bra­tion, invited the guest, began the party, and acted as sole host.


If you had been the old­est sib­ling in this story, would the father have sent for you? Why?

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21 And the scribes and the Phar­isees began to ques­tion, say­ing, “Who is this who speaks blas­phemies? Who can for­give sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus per­ceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you ques­tion in your hearts? (ESV)


24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust him­self to them, because he knew all peo­ple 25 and needed no one to bear wit­ness about man, for he him­self knew what was in man. (ESV)


42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. (ESV)

February 21st, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |  Day Two   |  Day Three   |  Day Four   |   Day Five






Day One




The Elder Brother’s Resentment




His Hypocrisy


The older brother became angry and refused to go in”

, NIV


Sinners come in two basic vari­eties. Some don’t really care who sees what they do. Invari­ably their beset­ting sin is pride – the kind of pride that is seen in an undue love for one­self and uncon­trol­lable lust for self-indulgent pleasures.

At the other end of the spec­trum are secre­tive sin­ners, they pre­fer to sin when they think no one else is look­ing. They try to mask there more obvi­ous sin in var­i­ous ways – often with the pre­tense of reli­gion. Their beset­ting sin is also pride, but it’s the kind of pride that man­i­fest itself in hypocrisy.

Of the two types of sin­ners, the wan­ton sin­ner is much more likely than the sanc­ti­mo­nious sin­ner to face the real­ity of his own fal­l­en­ness, repent, and seek sal­va­tion. His sin is already uncov­ered. It is unde­ni­able. He has to face up to it. Not so with the Phar­isee. He will try as long as pos­si­ble to cam­ou­flage his immoral­ity, deny his guilt, dis­avow his need for redemp­tion, and declare his own righteousness.

In Jesus’ para­ble, the prodi­gal son obvi­ously rep­re­sents open sin­ners – the rebels, the dessolute, the debauched, the delib­er­ately immoral peo­ple who make no pre­tense of faith in God or love for Him. In other words, the char­ac­ter of the prodi­gal is a sym­bol for those whom we encounter back in verse one: “the tax col­lec­tors and sin­ners” – soci­eties out­cast. Such peo­ple start out by run­ning as far away as pos­si­ble from God. They have no innate love for Him. They desire no rela­tion­ship with him. They want noth­ing to do with His law or his author­ity. They have no inter­est in ful­fill­ing some­one else’s expec­ta­tions or demands – espe­cially God’s. They want no account­abil­ity to Him what­so­ever. They don’t even want to retain Him in their thoughts.

As Jesus con­tin­ues with his para­ble, it becomes obvi­ous that the sec­ond (and oppo­site) kind of sin­ner is epit­o­mized by the elder brother.


Read .

Describe what the elder brother looked like on the outside.

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Describe what the elder brother looked like on the inside.

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The elder brother is an emblem of all the seem­ingly hon­or­able super­fi­cial moral, or out­wardly reli­gious sin­ners – peo­ple just like the scribes and Phar­isees . Here is a sin­ner that thinks hypocrisy is as good as real right­eous­ness. What he looks like on the out­side cloaks a seething rebel­lion on the inside.

The elder son is the one who embod­ies the parable’s main les­son. He is a pic­ture of the reli­gious hypocrite.

The elder son is the third major char­ac­ter in the para­ble, and as it turns out, he is the one who embod­ies the parable’s main les­son. His most obvi­ous char­ac­ter­is­tic is his resent­ment for his younger brother. But under­neath that, and even more omi­nously, it is clear that he has been nur­tur­ing a qui­etly smol­der­ing hatred for the father – a long, long time, it appears. This secretly rebel­lious spirit has shaped and molded his char­ac­ter in a most dis­turb­ing way.

Peo­ple often assume that the elder son rep­re­sents a true believer, faith­ful all his life but sud­denly caught off guard by his father’s gen­eros­ity to the way­ward brother and there­fore a lit­tle bit resent­ful. By that inter­pre­ta­tion the elder brother really needs noth­ing more than just an atti­tude adjustment.

That inter­pre­ta­tion misses the whole point of the para­ble, though. The elder son has never truly been devoted to his father. He is a pic­ture of the reli­gious hyp­ocrite. He is the Pharisee-figure in Jesus’ story. He prob­a­bly had the whole vil­lage sin­cerely believ­ing that he was a “good” son – very respect­ful and faith­ful to his father. He pre­tended to be a loyal son. But in real­ity, he had no gen­uine respect for his father, no inter­est in what pleased his father, no love for the fathers val­ues, and no con­cern for his needy younger brother. That all becomes very clear as the story unfolds.

The elder brother turns out to be just as lost and hope­lessly enslaved to sin as his brother ever was. He just won’t admit that – not to him­self, or to any­one else.


Read .

What false claims do hyp­ocrites make about themselves?

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What true claims does God make about hypocrites?

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28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, (ESV)


25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and danc­ing. 26 And he called one of the ser­vants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fat­tened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never dis­obeyed your com­mand, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might cel­e­brate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your prop­erty with pros­ti­tutes, you killed the fat­tened calf for him!’ (ESV)


If we say we have fel­low­ship with him while we walk in dark­ness, we lie and do not prac­tice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fel­low­ship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive our­selves, and the truth is not in us. If we con­fess our sins, he is faith­ful and just to for­give us our sins and to cleanse us from all unright­eous­ness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV)

February 19th, 2011 | Tags:

What bet­ter way to spend a few hours on Sat­ur­day than with good friends, and rak­ing some leaves? This was cer­tainly a good project; I couldn’t imag­ine any­one doing this all by themselves.

[album: http://richimages.net/Albums/BobbieLeaves/ ]

February 18th, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |   Day Two   |   Day Three   |   Day Four   |   Day Five





Day five




A Pic­ture of Heaven’s Joy


While we are still con­sid­er­ing the prodigal’s father, let’s take notice of the key lessons we can learn from Jesus is imagery. Remem­ber that the father in the para­ble is a fig­ure of Christ.




As you read the fol­low­ing pas­sages in the Bible note how the fathers recep­tion of his son reflects Christ recep­tion of repen­tant sinners.

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There is an end­less sup­ply of mercy with him.




He is the One who bears the sinner’s reproach, invites repen­tant sinner’s to come to him for rest, and embraces all who do come. He said, “the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out” (). There is an end­less sup­ply of mercy with Him. He replaces the rot­ten rags of our sin with the per­fect robe of his own right­eous­ness (). He offers for­give­ness, honor, author­ity, respect, respon­si­bil­ity, full access to all his riches, and the full right to pray in His name.

The fathers eager­ness to for­give reveals to us some­thing about the divine per­spec­tive of redemp­tion. Christ is not a reluc­tant Sav­ior. God the Father is not the least bit reserved in extend­ing mercy to pen­i­tent sinners.


His jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is full and imme­di­ate – a fin­ished real­ity not merely an ethe­real goal for sin­ners to work for.


Those facts, com­bined with the imagery in the para­ble of the prodi­gal son, pic­ture God as almost impa­tient when nit comes to His eager­ness to for­give sin­ners. He runs to embrace. He show­ers the return­ing sin­ner with affec­tion and kisses. He quickly calls for the robe, the ring, and the shoes. His jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is full and imme­di­ate — a fin­ished real­ity, not merely an ethe­real goal for sin­ners to work for.


Christ is not a reluc­tant savior.


There is an effort afoot in these post­mod­ern times, even within some quar­ters of the evan­gel­i­cal move­ment, to down­play the sig­nif­i­cance of per­sonal redemp­tion and the promise of heaven for indi­vid­ual believ­ers. I keep hear­ing the sug­ges­tion that per­haps we have missed the real point of the gospel – that maybe it’s not so much about the for­give­ness of this or that person’s sin, but it’s all about bring­ing the king­dom of God to earth here and now. And so, we’re told Chris­tians should be less con­cerned about their own per­sonal redemp­tion and more con­cerned about redeem­ing our cul­ture are solv­ing the large-scale dilem­mas of our times, such as racial prej­u­dice, global warm­ing, poverty, the mar­gin­al­iza­tion of dis­en­fran­chised peo­ple, or what­ever world­wide cri­sis is slated to be the fea­tured calls for the next Live Aid Concert.

Earthly suf­fer­ing is indeed an impor­tant issue for Chris­tians. We need to care for the poor, min­is­ter to the sick and needy, care for those who are sor­row­ing, and defend those who are gen­uinely oppressed.

But notice again that the divine joy Jesus talks about in is not unleashed because some great social prob­lem in the world has finally been solved. Heaven’s inhab­i­tants are not wait­ing breath­lessly to see whether the earths envi­ron­ment can sur­vive the effects of burn­ing through fos­sil fuels. The joy Jesus described is not cur­rently sup­pressed under some divinely decreed mora­to­rium until all the world’s suf­fer­ing can finally be elim­i­nated. Nor is the start of the heav­enly cel­e­bra­tion on hold until a wide­spread revival at last breaks out somewhere.


It seems safe to assume that the party in heaven never stops.


All heaven rejoices “over one sin­ner who repents” (; empha­sis added). Since there’s every rea­son to believe indi­vid­ual sin­ners are being redeemed, some­where in the world, all the time, day in and day out – it seems safe to assume that the party in heaven never stops. All Heaven is filled with the con­sum­mate, undi­luted, and unspeak­able joy. Best of all, that Joy is con­stant and never-ending. That is why God also com­mands His peo­ple here on earth to “rejoice in the Lord always” (). “Rejoice ever­more” ( KJV).


Think of the day you placed your faith in Christ as your Lord and Sav­ior. What hap­pened in heaven that day?

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To refuse to enter into heav­ens joy is prac­ti­cally the most irra­tional and wicked sin imaginable.

In fact, to refuse to enter into heaven’s joy is prac­ti­cally the most irra­tional and wicked sin imag­in­able. Why would any­one refuse to share this father’s glad­ness and cel­e­brate the redemp­tion of so tragic a boy? Yet we are all about to meet the char­ac­ter who in bod­ies that very resent­ment: the elder brother.

Here the para­ble takes another shock­ing turn. This beau­ti­ful story has spanned just a few brief verses so far, but it has fea­tured sev­eral glo­ri­ous and vitally impor­tant lessons about redemp­tion, for­give­ness, jus­ti­fi­ca­tion by faith, and God’s own joy in the sal­va­tion of sin­ners. The para­ble appears to be headed toward a supremely happy ending.

But sadly the whole char­ac­ter of the story changes. The elder son comes into the scene. The story sadly plum­mets towards a com­pletely dif­fer­ent kind of con­clu­sion. And in the end, it dri­ves home an urgent and omi­nous mes­sage for Israel’s self-righteous reli­gious elite.

This is one of the most pro­found and truly piv­otal moments in the earthly life and teach­ing of Christ.






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10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the gar­ments of sal­va­tion;
he has cov­ered me with the robe of right­eous­ness,
as a bride­groom decks him­self like a priest with a beau­ti­ful head­dress,
and as a bride adorns her­self with her jew­els. (ESV)


37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and who­ever comes to me I will never cast out. (ESV)


16 Let us then with con­fi­dence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)


37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and who­ever comes to me I will never cast out. (ESV)


10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the gar­ments of sal­va­tion;
he has cov­ered me with the robe of right­eous­ness,
as a bride­groom decks him­self like a priest with a beau­ti­ful head­dress,
and as a bride adorns her­self with her jew­els. (ESV)


11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of prop­erty that is com­ing to me.’ And he divided his prop­erty between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gath­ered all he had and took a jour­ney into a far coun­try, and there he squan­dered his prop­erty in reck­less liv­ing. 14 And when he had spent every­thing, a severe famine arose in that coun­try, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired him­self out to one of the cit­i­zens of that coun­try, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was long­ing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to him­self, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired ser­vants have more than enough bread, but I per­ish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired ser­vants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt com­pas­sion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his ser­vants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fat­tened calf and kill it, and let us eat and cel­e­brate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and danc­ing. 26 And he called one of the ser­vants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fat­tened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never dis­obeyed your com­mand, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might cel­e­brate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your prop­erty with pros­ti­tutes, you killed the fat­tened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fit­ting to cel­e­brate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” (ESV)


Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sin­ner who repents than over ninety-nine right­eous per­sons who need no repen­tance. (ESV)


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (ESV)


16 Rejoice always, (ESV)

February 17th, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |   Day Two   |   Day Three   |   Day Four   |   Day Five





Day Four




Rein­stat­ing His Son’s Status




What three gifts did the father imme­di­ately give his son?

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Jesus men­tions three gifts that the father imme­di­ately gave his pen­i­tent son: a robe, a ring, and san­dals. Every­one in the audi­ence hear­ing Jesus’ story under­stood the impli­ca­tions of those three gifts.

The San­dals …

The san­dals may sound like the least of the gifts, but they were highly sig­nif­i­cant. They made an unmis­tak­able sym­bolic state­ment about the depth of the father’s accep­tance towards his son. Hired ser­vants and house­hold slaves cus­tom­ar­ily went bare­foot. Only the mas­ters and their sons wore footwear. So the shoes were an impor­tant ges­ture that sig­ni­fied the for­mer rebel’s full an imme­di­ate rein­state­ment as a priv­i­lege son.

The Robe …

The robe was an even higher honor. Every noble­man had a choice robe – an expen­sive, ornate, embroi­dered, one-of-a-kind, floor-length outer gar­ment of the high­est qual­ity fab­ric and crafts­man­ship. It was a gar­ment so spe­cial that he wouldn’t even think of wear­ing it even as a guest to some­one else’s wed­ding. It would be reserved instead for his own children’s wed­dings or an equiv­a­lent occasion.

He wanted to put that on this reformed swine­herd before the boy even had an oppor­tu­nity to clean him­self up? Every­one in the vil­lage would be aghast at such a thought. Giv­ing him the robe sig­ni­fied a greater honor than one would nor­mally even think to con­fer on his son. This was a kind of cour­tesy nor­mally reserved for an extremely pres­ti­gious vis­it­ing dig­ni­tary. The father was pub­licly hon­or­ing his return­ing son, not only as a guest of honor at the ban­quet, but also as a per­son of the utmost distinction.

The Ring …

The father also called for a ring to be put on the boys hand. This was a signet ring that had the family’s crest or seal, so when the ring was pressed into melted wax and pressed against a for­mal doc­u­ment, the result­ing seal served as a legal authen­ti­ca­tion. The ring there­fore was a sym­bol of author­ity. The signet ring car­ried a key mean­ing that every­one in the cul­ture under­stood. If for­mally endowed the prodi­gal son with a legal right known as usufruct.

Those famil­iar with legal ter­mi­nol­ogy – espe­cially pro­bate law – will imme­di­ately rec­og­nize that term. The legal prin­ci­ple of usufruct has a long his­tory that dates back to at least early Roman law, and it is still a rec­og­nized right in most sys­tems of civil law today. Usufruct is a Latin expres­sion that lit­er­ally means “use of the fruits,” and it describes the legal right to use some­one else’s prop­erty or assets freely and reap the fruits of them as if they were one’s own per­sonal possession.

In other words, usufruct con­fers all the rights of own­er­ship with­out actu­ally trans­fer­ring the title of own­er­ship per se. The usufruc­tu­ary (non-owner receiv­ing this right) is not autho­rized to sell, dam­age, or dimin­ished the value of the prop­erty in ques­tion. But beyond that, he is free to use it any way he likes. If it’s a field, he can cul­ti­vate it and reap the prof­its of the ven­ture with­out any oblig­a­tion to pay rent. If it’s real estate, he can use the prop­erty as if it were his own, or even lease it out to some­one else and col­lect the pro­ceeds for him­self. This was a high and pow­er­ful priv­i­lege, sim­i­lar to the power of attor­ney, but specif­i­cally with respect to use of the property.

The mes­sage was clear: the father was grant­ing the boy not only for for­give­ness and full rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, but also the full priv­i­leges of nobleman’s son who has come to age and proved him­self trustworthy.

Read the fol­low­ing pas­sages in your Bible. Draw a line from each pas­sage to the gift it indi­cates God gives to his children.

                             Gift of Sonship

                                Gift of Honor 

                           Gift of Authority 






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There will be tribu­la­tion and dis­tress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every­one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. (ESV)


3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called chil­dren of God; and so we are. The rea­son why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (ESV)


26 The one who con­quers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give author­ity over the nations, (ESV)

February 16th, 2011 | Tags: , , , ,



Present Time



Tic … toc … tic … toc …
Still sounds the unstop­pable clock.



And … time con­tin­ues …
As it has since the begin­ning of cre­ation …
As it will til the destruc­tion of the uni­verse …
Time continues …



The sec­ond ago doesn’t feel quite so dif­fer­ent from the sec­ond of now
Yet, it is irre­triev­able, and becomes no more,
Held deep in the mind of the per­son who expe­ri­enced it.



The minute ago doesn’t feel quite so dif­fer­ent from the minute of now
Yet, it too is irre­triev­able, and becomes no more,
Held deep in the mind of the per­son who expe­ri­enced it.



Sec­onds, min­utes, hours, days …
– Months, Years and Decades …



Birth, Youth, Prime, Decline …
– And Death, Inevitable.



Cen­turies, Peri­ods and Ages
– the Roman, Neo­clas­si­cal, the Dark Ages …



All, were cre­ated with the tics, and the tocs …
– the tics and the tocs of the unstop­pable, slow-paced clock.



And …
Time con­tin­ues …
Uncar­ingly, unhur­riedly, unchangablely
Time continues.



My friend, as you read this next line,
How exist your soul in this present time?

Are you yet to be born?
Have you already died?
Are you well and happy?
Have you recently cried?



And after these very same lines, you’ve returned again,
How is present time for you, now, my friend?

Are you up, or down?
If life good, or bad?
What exactly describes the present time
You now have?



My only wish and hope,
Is that it has been good for you in the both.



But my per­fect wish and dream,
Is that we may dwell as safe today
As in those mem­o­ries we held in yes­ter­day
– those mem­o­ries we hold deep in our mind,
– those mem­o­ries, that for us, used to be our present time.



But time has changed for me my friend,
And I’ve found myself back in the bad again.
And as the sands pour through the hour glass,
All good times are returned to the past.



Still, if you can help me in the bad of mine
I’ll promise to help you through all of time.
If you can help me, through just this one — dear friend,
I’ll be there to help you til the very end.



So the cry is made, the mes­sage is clear.
Lis­ten close now …
In this, the answer you should be able to hear:
Tic … Toc … Tic … Toc …
– still con­tin­ues the unstop­pable clock …

- Richard I. Wal­ters, ~ 1989






When I entered the Navy, in early Oct, 1987, I began a gru­el­ing aca­d­e­mic pro­gram — the Navy’s Nuclear Power Pro­gram in Orlando, Fl. (For those famil­iar with the pro­gram — I was in class 8808. ) Nuclear Power classes in the Navy were intense — eight ridged hours of non-stop mate­r­ial com­ing straight at you, fast paced, build­ing prin­ci­ple on prin­ci­ple related to reac­tor the­ory. We had classes in chem­istry, heat trans­fer and fluid flow, atomic level com­po­nent elec­tron­ics, etc …

Each day, after class, I had just enough time to eat, relax for an hour, and re-enter that clas­si­fied build­ing, in uni­form, for my manda­tory five-hours-a-day study of that day’s mate­r­ial. We would need to mas­ter that day’s lessons in order to absorb next day’s classes. Like I said, this was an intense aca­d­e­mic pro­gram — basi­cally four years of col­lege level reac­tor the­ory classes con­densed in six months.

Need­less to say, I was brain-dead long before my daily five hours had ended. I could go on and on about how oth­ers were cop­ing with this lifestyle. I saw many friends inten­tion­ally fail­ing out of the pro­gram. Within my own class of thirty some­thing recruits, one stu­dent attempted sui­cide. We stopped him. He was imme­di­ately ousted from the pro­gram. Weekly we received news of tragic deaths on Honda Hur­ri­cane motor­cy­cles; I hon­estly believe some of these could have been suc­cess­ful sui­cide attempts. (Okay … I’m flash­ing back right now…)

** SNAP **

Any­way, I spent many of those required hours just think­ing. Some­times I wrote poetry — I was just play­ing with words. This is one of those poems dur­ing that stage of my life — it has a lot of sen­ti­men­tal value to me. I hope you enjoy it. (Please do not ask me what the end­ing is about — I really have no idea — again, I was just play­ing with words. Per­haps it was about just being lonely.)

NOTE: I STRICTLY MAINTAIN ALL COPYRIGHT PRIVILEGES TO THIS POEM.

February 16th, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |   Day Two   |   Day Three   |   Day Four   |   Day Five





Day Three




A Speech Interrupted




Read . Com­pare the son’s rehearsed speech with what he actu­ally said. What’s missing?

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The prodi­gal never even got to the part of his rehearse speech where he would asked to become one of the hired ser­vants. By the time he com­pleted his first sen­tence, the father had already rein­stated him as a beloved son, the great cel­e­bra­tion was under way.

The father seems to have per­ceived the depth and real­ity of the boys repen­tance from the sim­ple fact that the boy already come home. He knew his own son well enough to know what his return sig­ni­fied. He could tell from the boy’s appalling con­di­tion how much he had suf­fered the cruel con­se­quences of his sin. So he didn’t even per­mit the boy to fin­ish mak­ing his con­fes­sion before he granted him mercy. This was an act of grace that went far, far beyond any­thing the boy had ever dared to hope for.

The boy had done noth­ing what­so­ever to atone for his own sin, yet the father’s for­give­ness was full and lav­ish any­way with noth­ing held back.

The prodigal’s unfin­ished con­fes­sion may seem a sub­tle detail in the para­ble, but it was made a not-so-subtle point for the Pharisee’s ben­e­fit. There was no way they could have failed to notice that one glar­ing real­ity in Jesus’ descrip­tion of the fathers eager­ness to for­get. The boy had done noth­ing what­so­ever to atone for his own sin, and yet the father’s for­give­ness was full and lav­ish any­way, with noth­ing held back.

The father said to his ser­vant, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and san­dals on his feet. And bring that that the fat­ted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry“

Luke, chap­ter fif­teen, verses twenty-two through twenty-four, HCSB

Here again, as Jesus told the story, eyes in his audi­ence would’ve rolled. Not only the Phar­isees, but any­one steeped in that cul­ture would be com­pletely bewil­dered or by the father’s actions. This man had no shame. He had just sac­ri­ficed his last shred of dig­nity by run­ning like a school boy to grant free and com­plete for­give­ness to a son who deserve noth­ing more than the full weight of his father’s wrath.

As if those actions were not dis­grace­ful enough, now the father was about to use the very best of every­thing he owned (and spent a lot of money in the process) in order to hon­ored this dis­hon­or­able boy – who had already man­age to sin away a con­sid­er­able por­tion of the fam­i­lies wealth in a far coun­try. Even if the delin­quent boy had truly repented, bestow­ing costly gifts on him and giv­ing him such an extrav­a­gant cel­e­bra­tion seemed exactly the wrong thing for this moment.

But the father, unde­terred by fear of pub­lic opin­ion, wasted no time get­ting the party started, even before the elder brother could be sum­moned from the fields, the father had called for a robe and a ring. The fat­ted calf was already being slaugh­tered for the great feast.

The stunned prodi­gal son must have felt his head was spin­ning. After every­thing he had done – and every­thing sin had done to him – he would hardly be able to grasp what was hap­pen­ing. The vil­lagers would like­wise be com­pletely baf­fled by the father’s behav­ior. What was he doing? Obvi­ously to the hurt of his own rep­u­ta­tion, the father was show­er­ing the prodi­gal son with honor after honor. These were all stag­ger­ingly gen­er­ous favors, which the boy by no means deserved.

“Mercy tri­umphs over judgment.”

- James chap­ter two, verse thir­teen, HCSB.


How have you, like the prodi­gal son, expe­ri­ence the truth of above?

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17 “But when he came to him­self, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired ser­vants have more than enough bread, but I per­ish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired ser­vants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt com­pas­sion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his ser­vants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fat­tened calf and kill it, and let us eat and cel­e­brate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to cel­e­brate. (ESV)


13 For judg­ment is with­out mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy tri­umphs over judg­ment. (ESV)

February 15th, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |   Day Two   |   Day Three   |   Day Four   |   Day Five





Day Two




How the Plot Shifted




But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with com­pas­sion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him


At this point, Jesus’ para­ble sud­denly took a dra­matic and unex­pected turn. Here was a father not merely will­ing to grant a mea­sure of mercy in return for the promise of a life­time of mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice – but eager to for­give, com­pletely, at the first sign of repen­tance: “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had com­pas­sion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” ().

It is evi­dent that the father was look­ing dili­gently for the prodigal’s return. How else could he have seen him while he was still a long way off? Why was the father watch­ing? And why did he run to the son rather than wait­ing for the son to come home? The father was truly eager to ini­ti­ate for­give­ness and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with his son.




Read and . What truths are illus­trated by the image of the father run­ning to meet the prodi­gal son?

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This imagery of the father run­ning to meet the prodi­gal son illus­trates the truth that God is slow to anger and swift to for­give. He has no plea­sure in the death of the wicked but is eager, will­ing, even delighted to save sinners.

In the con­text of that cul­ture, the father’s action of run­ning to the boy and embrac­ing him before he even came all the way home was seen as a shame­ful breach of deco­rum. In the jaded per­spec­tive of the scribes and Phar­isees, this was just one more thing that added to the father’s shame.  For one thing, noble­men in that coun­try did not run. Run­ning was for lit­tle boys and ser­vants. Grown men walk mag­is­te­ri­ally, with a slow gate and delib­er­ate steps. But Jesus says “his father… ran” (first 20; empha­sis added). The text uses a word that speaks of sprint­ing, as if it were in an ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion. The father gath­ered up the hem of his robe and took off in a most undig­ni­fied manner.

Most of us today would see this moment when the father ran to embrace his son as the most poignant, ten­der moment in the para­ble. It was cer­tainly not viewed that way by the Phar­isees. Nor would the typ­i­cal lis­tener in Jesus’ audi­ence sim­ply take it in stride and admire the fathers com­pas­sion. This was a scan­dal. It was shock­ing. It was even more offen­sive to them in the sense of the prodigal.




The father posi­tioned him­self between his son and the scorn, taunt­ing, and abuse peo­ple in that cul­ture would nat­u­rally have heaped on the boy’s head.




But the father was nev­er­the­less will­ing to have the vil­lagers whis­per among them­selves, “What does he think he is doing? This boy took advan­tage of his father and sinned hor­ri­bly against him. The boy should be made an out­cast. Instead this man who was dis­hon­ored by his own son now dis­hon­ors him­self even more by embrac­ing the wretched boy!” The father in effect posi­tions him­self between his son and all the scorn, taunt­ing, and abuse peo­ple in that cul­ture would nat­u­rally have heaped on the boy’s head.




Read . What did Jesus take off of you and place on Himself?

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Our ver­sion says the father “had com­pas­sion” (v. 20), but the Greek expres­sion is even more emphatic.  It uses a word that lit­er­ally speaks of a sen­sa­tion in the vis­cera – or in today’s ver­nac­u­lar, it was a gut feel­ing. The father was pow­er­fully moved with com­pas­sion, an emo­tion so deep and so force­ful that it made his stom­ach churn.

The fathers com­pas­sion was not merely sor­row over his sons past  sin. Nor was it only a momen­tary sym­pa­thy prompted by the boy’s present filth­i­ness. (Remem­ber, the prodi­gal was by now in rags and smelled like pigs.) Cer­tainly the father’s feel­ing toward the son included a deep sense of pity over all the ter­ri­ble things sin had already done to him.  But it seems obvi­ous that some­thing else was ampli­fy­ing the fathers anguish at that pre­cise moment. His action of run­ning towards a son and inter­cept­ing him on the road sug­gest he had some­thing ter­ri­bly urgent and imme­di­ate on his mind. That’s why I am con­vinced what move the father to run was a deep sense of empa­thy in antic­i­pa­tion of the con­tempt that was sure to be poured on the son as he walk through the vil­lage. The father took off in a sprint in order to be the first per­son to reach him, so that he could deflect the abuse he knew his boy would suffer.

This is indeed a fit­ting pic­ture of Christ, who hum­bled him­self in order to seek and to save the lost – and then “endured the cross, despis­ing the shame” (). Like this father, he will­ingly took upon him­self all the bit­ter scorn, the con­tempt, the mock­ery, and the wrath our sin fully deserves.  He even took our guilt upon his own inno­cent shoul­ders. He bore every­thing for our sake and in our stead.

If the truth were known, this father’s behav­ior, undig­ni­fied as it might have seemed to Jesus’ audi­ence, was actu­ally noth­ing very remark­able com­pared the amaz­ing grace unveiled in the incar­na­tion and death of Christ. As a mat­ter of fact, that was one of the key lessons Jesus was chal­leng­ing the Phar­isees with through his tale.

 





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20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt com­pas­sion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (ESV)


The Lord passed before him and pro­claimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God mer­ci­ful and gra­cious, slow to anger, and abound­ing in stead­fast love and faith­ful­ness, (ESV)


11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no plea­sure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (ESV)


Surely he has borne our griefs
and car­ried our sor­rows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smit­ten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our trans­gres­sions;
he was crushed for our iniq­ui­ties;
upon him was the chas­tise­ment that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniq­uity of us all. (ESV)


look­ing to Jesus, the founder and per­fecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despis­ing the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

February 15th, 2011 | Tags:

Rachael had a small — but nice — Clin­ton birth­day party this past Sun­day — although her actual birth date falls on the day after Valen­tines Day. ( Come to think of it, that’s today! The day this arti­cle was posted — Happy Birth­day again Rachael! ) Granny and Papa trekked over from Vicks­burg — and of course, the birth­day girl was spoiled with many presents. Rachael is cur­rently part of the Justin Bieber craze, (we’re still work­ing on that ;) ) She makes her Dad extremely proud by just being a won­der­ful daugh­ter. Rachael is a beau­ti­ful young lady who loves to laugh, is bright, and does a great job of tak­ing note of other peo­ple. She’s truly a won­der­ful person!

[album: http://richimages.net/Albums/RachaelBDay/ ]

(Be sure to click the Full Screen in the lower right to see much larger images)

February 13th, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |   Day Two   |   Day Three   |   Day Four   |   Day Five





The Fathers Forgiveness




What Every­one Expected


Any father with the proper con­cern about the honor of his own name and the rep­u­ta­tion of the fam­ily would now see to it that a boy like this received the full and just deserts of all his trans­gres­sions, right?


The scribes and Phar­isees surely expected the prodi­gal son’s father to drop the ham­mer hard on the way­ward youth. After all, the father’s honor had been turned to shame by his son’s rebel­lion, and the father had brought fur­ther shame on him­self by the lenient way he responded to the boy at the start. Hope­fully this father had learned a les­son even more valu­able than what­ever prac­ti­cal wis­dom the prodi­gal had gained from his expe­ri­ences. Any father with the proper con­cern about the honor of his own name and the rep­u­ta­tion of the fam­ily would now see to it that a boy like this received the full and just deserts of all his trans­gres­sions, right?

Bear in mind that Jesus was telling this para­ble chiefly for the ben­e­fit of the scribes and Phar­isees. In a story filled with shame and shock and sur­prises, they were nev­er­the­less on board with Him up to here. Oh, yes — they were greatly amazed and even skep­ti­cal at the part about the prodigal’s repen­tance. But they def­i­nitely would affirm the boy’s planned course of action: going home, hum­bling him­self, con­fess­ing that he had been wrong, renounc­ing all the rights to his posi­tion as a son, and work­ing as a hired ser­vant in an outcast’s role while he labored to make resti­tu­tion. All of that, by their way of think­ing, was exactly what the way­ward youth needed to do. Finally, some san­ity in this story!

Read . What did the Phar­isees know a father had every legal and moral right to do with his son?

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As the prodi­gal son approached his father’s home, the real­ity and urgency of his sit­u­a­tion must have been at the fore­front of all his think­ing. His life was now com­pletely depen­dent on the mercy of is father. With­out the father’s resources, he would have no hope what­so­ever. Every­one else in the vil­lage would cer­tainly scorn him; peo­ple had to do that in order to pro­tect their own honor. The prodi­gal there­fore hung help­less in the bal­ance between life and death, and if his father turned him away, he would be doomed. In that cul­ture, no one would even think of tak­ing him in if his own father declared him an out­cast. So every­thing hinged on his father’s response.

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son. Make me like on of our hired ser­vants

As he drew nearer to his home, the prodi­gal must have rehearsed his plea dozens, maybe hun­dreds, of times: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired ser­vants” ()

Per­haps he won­dered how that request would sound to rea­son­able minds. Was it out­ra­geous for him to seek his father’s mercy? Was he ask­ing too much to ask for any favor at all? That’s how the typ­i­cal per­son in that cul­ture might feel.

What if the father took his plea for mercy as just another scan­dalous request and turned him away for­ever? In that cul­ture of honor, espe­cially in a sit­u­a­tion like this, it would be noth­ing extra­or­di­nary if the father sim­ply refused to meet the boy face to face. In fact, even if the father were inclined to grant the pen­i­tent son an audi­ence, it would be fairly typ­i­cal to pun­ish him first by mak­ing a pub­lic spec­ta­cle of his shame. For exam­ple, a father in those cir­cum­stances might have the son sit out­side the gate in pub­lic view for sev­eral days, let­ting him soak up some of the dis­honor he had brought upon his own fam­ily. The boy would be com­pletely exposed to the ele­ments — and worse, to the utter deri­sion of the whole community.

The full penalty pre­scribed by Moses’ law for such a rebel­lious son was death by pub­lic stoning.

That may seem harsh, but remem­ber — the full penalty pre­scribed by Moses’ law for such a rebel­lious son was death by pub­lic ston­ing. The instruc­tions in the law ordered that all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you” (). So pub­lic humil­i­a­tion in lieu of ston­ing was actu­ally a mercy the boy did not deserve. And in that cul­ture where honor and shame meant so much, the community’s pro­found con­tempt for this boy’s behav­ior prac­ti­cally demanded some kind of expres­sion. Most likely, that’s pre­cisely the kind of treat­ment the prodi­gal son expected.

After a few days’ wait like that, if the father did decide to grant him an audi­ence — assum­ing he was will­ing to extend a mea­sure of mercy to the pen­i­tent rebel — the son wold be expected to bow low and kiss the father’s hand. The only proper demeanor for such a son would be to fall pros­trate with his face to the ground before the father whom he had disgraced.

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you, there is for­give­ness: there­fore, you are feared

- Psalms One Hun­dred Thirty; verses three through four, HCSB.




Read . What is the only rea­son any of us can stand before out Heav­enly Father?

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The father would most likely meet him with a mea­sure of frigid indif­fer­ence. To save face the father would need to approach the arrange­ment for­mally, like a busi­ness deal, with­out show­ing any overt affec­tion, or ten­der­ness for the boy there was no nego­ti­ate to be done; the father would sim­ply out­line the terms of the employ­ment – spelling out what would be required of the boy, what kind of fla­vor he could expect to be assigned, and how long he needed to serve before he could be given even the small­est mea­sure of privilege.






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18 “If a man has a stub­born and rebel­lious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they dis­ci­pline him, will not lis­ten to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stub­born and rebel­lious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glut­ton and a drunk­ard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)


18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer wor­thy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired ser­vants.”’ (ESV)


21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)


If you, O Lord, should mark iniq­ui­ties,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is for­give­ness,
that you may be feared. (ESV)