Tag: Valued

The Younger Son A Story – chapter two

A Story

As I have said before, everyone has a story, and every story should be told. Here’s one Jesus told about a father and his two boys.

“To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet and kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:11-24 NLT)

Here’s the story of a father and two sons. Notice, two sons. This chapter will discuss the younger prodigal only. I’ll reserve comments pertaining to the older son for the next chapter.

Note that Jesus told this story to further illustrate a point He made earlier, which was “there is great joy in Heaven when something lost is found.” And if there’s great joy in Heaven, there should be great joy here on earth as well.

If you lose something as common as a paper clip, not much effort is exerted in finding it. Why? Because it is easily replaced and has so little value. But if you lose something, say, your wedding ring, you will not stop looking until it is found. Then, when found, you rejoice with joy unspeakable! The value of the thing lost determines the degree of gratitude.

Remember this: most of the time the thing lost doesn’t realize it’s lost until it’s found. I didn’t understand how lost I was or how much He loved and valued me until He “reached down” through His Son Jesus, and made me a new person.

“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father…” Say what you will, but I really doubt the younger son intended, or planned, on living a wild life separated from his home. He did not plan on getting “lost” anymore than you or I do when we start on a trip with or without directions. Part of growing up is developing independence, which would include trying to make it on his own. Whatever the motive, the father granted his request and divided his wealth between his two sons. Shortly afterward, the younger one hit the road and traveled to a distant land.

Distant land. Ever visit one? So exotic, so appealing, and so much fun! Meet new people, try new food, take gobs of pictures, and experience a side of life many, if not all, of your friends and family have never known.

But this young man didn’t buy a round trip ticket to the distant land. His trip was not a vacation, but a permanent move. He was going to make something of his life. He soon began to walk, talk, think, dream, spend money, and party like the locals. And for a while, all seemed fine.

It’s amazing how well and how quickly the young man could adapt to such a different way of living. Though new to the area, he learned the customs and culture of the land that was far from Father’s Farm.

Popularity. My, how popular this young man became. All the city leaders, merchants, and entertainers welcomed him. His winsome smile, bulging pockets, and small town ways made him an easy target for their schemes designed to separate the man from the money.

Women! He’d never even dreamed of a world like he was experiencing! Why hadn’t his father told him about this side of life? Did his father even know such a place existed? What about his older brother, the “never-spend-a-dime-of-my-own-money” guy? What was he doing with HIS inheritance? Probably the same thing he’d always done with his money. Nothing!

Well, he wasn’t going to act like his older brother! No, sir! He was going to get the most out of life, even if it killed him!

So…

With every pretty girl hitting on him, merchants and peddlers selling him everything but what he really needed, it didn’t take too long to waste his money, lose his companions, and find himself alone. Alone. Something he hadn’t experienced since leaving home. Alone.

Kind of funny, the things you think about when you’re alone. Memories continue to wash over your mind like waves upon a shore; washing away the hamburger wrappers, used napkins, beer cans and cigarette butts left over from last night’s party. Cleansing your mind, revealing memories of life like it used to be. Life with love. Life with father. If only…

Love Is An Odd Thing

HeartLove is an odd thing!

It gives without conditions,
It isn’t fearful of what might happen.
It isn’t blind; in fact, love sees things as they really are.
It is like a mirror, accurately reflecting the condition of the one who stops long enough to gaze into it.

It doesn’t demand it’s own way, or complain if inconvenienced.
It won’t require of others anything it hasn’t already done.
It will not steal, rape, or injure. It simply can’t.
It is intimate, but not obscene.

It is secure, in that it doesn’t need to be accepted to know its value.
It never takes advantage of others; their mistakes, their weaknesses, their generosity, or their trust.
It trusts in. It weeps for. It laughs with. Others.
It fulfills every commandment, plus.

It’s like a saucer that sits under a shaky cup of hot coffee. Catching, protecting, gathering, supporting.

It says one thing and does it.
It’s always trying to find a way to reconcile, yet won’t force its way.
It is the motivation behind every great deed.
It doesn’t require a platform to speak from.

It turns a deaf ear to criticism, yet hears the heart’s cry of the lost and hurting.
It outlasts every threat, every rejection, every indifference.
It is imitated by many, but captured by few.
It is the strongest force in the universe, but gentle enough to caress a broken heart.

It is beyond reason, and our wildest dream.

It won’t be fenced in, can’t be bullied.
It’s too good to be true, yet it is the foundation of truth.
It can not be blocked, stopped, quenched, or killed.
It can be ignored and refused. But it lives on, keeps on.

Love is God, God is love.

It is an odd thing.

Union…Support

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Union-
“an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one”

There are several aspects involved with defining the word “union”, but I think it’s really important to understand the “uniting” concept.

Usually I write about “spiritual” truths, and though this post will primarily apply to labor unions, there’s still a spiritual application to understand.

Whether with marriage, labor, or church, the concept of “uniting” to form one unit (union) out of two or more is the same. Each person that is “uniting” brings to the union all their strengths and weaknesses, answers and questions; in short, who they are and all they are. The union becomes a covenant relationship of sorts.

One major reason for uniting is support. Support FOR each one FROM each one in the union. The strengths of some support the weaknesses of others. Where one succeeds, all succeed. If one fails, it affects all in union. And though there may be personal preferences (which we all have) the success of the union takes precedence.

I have belonged to several labor unions throughout my life, I’ve been married for over 40 years, and I’ve been a Christian (in union with Christ) for 37 years. Each union requires my complete support and allegiance, otherwise the union is in jeopardy.

A few years ago while working for the Postal Service as a Station Manager, I messed up and forgot to do one of my duties. As I sat in front of my boss, answering for my actions, I was in shock by the lack of support I was getting. Finally I said, “I might as well go back to the carrier union; at least I’d get better support!”

Well, that’s where they sent me. Back to support. Back to the union.
(I really want to thank all my union brothers and sisters for their support, and for welcoming me back to their ranks.)

Being in union is more than paying dues, bills, or tithes. It is supporting one another for the benefit of the whole. So be it!

© 2012 Jan Grace

The Chef’s in the Kitchen…it’s pudding time!

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It’s called banana pudding, not bananas with pudding, vanilla wafers and bananas, or even vanilla extract and friends!

Now a recipe may have a main ingredient or two, like in banana pudding, but there are no “big chiefs”. The amount of each ingredient may vary, but every ingredient is necessary. As the pudding is created, everything is mixed together to make something all the ingredients individually could never make, even if they fasted and prayed for 40 days straight! Any ingredient, by themself, is just that; they are by themself. Regardless the amount of “schooling”, or the “heritage” they have, or even the “size of their cupboard”, they are only what they are and cannot be anything different unless mixed with something else. I’ve heard more than one box of wafers cry out, “Fill me without measure!”, yet the only One anointed without measure is The Chef. The ingredients must not think more highly of themselves than they should, and must realize they NEED each other.

Jesus prayed in John 17 for His Church to be one, AS He and the Father are one.

The Lord has all the ingredients to make up His “pudding”. There are bananas, milk, wafers, etc; prominent players and groups of players that are very evident. These are the churches and individuals who seem to be anointed to be “out front”. Then there are others, the supporting cast if you will, that aren’t very appealing to those around them. These are those within the Church that have smaller rolls, maybe believe a little different, do things a little odd (anyway, that’s what the banana told me), and have a hard time mixing with others. Actually, none of the ingredients can mix themselves! Even the best banana in the bunch cannot peel itself. And who really wants to take a knife to their hide and divide what they have just so someone else can be blessed! Don’t expect that from a vanilla wafer!

But the Lord is trying to get the ingredients together! I realize each one likes to hang out with their own bunch, or be in groups where the spoon is not so cold or harsh when it stirs, but you can’t taste the pudding if the ingredients are segregated.

I’ve recently been hanging around various and sundry ministers and ministries and this thought came to me: many are content to join with others when they have time and when they are with people who “taste” the same as they do. They keep to themselves, or their “own kind”, and fail to realize the flavor isn’t the same without them. Also, by keeping apart from others, they will rot or grow stale before they ever become what the Chef has in mind. 

There’s a verse in Hebrews 12 which says, “everything that can be shaken will be shaken.” Allow me to paraphrase-“The Chef has gotten the mixer out of the drawer and has plugged it in!” Kind of a scary thought, to be in the Lord’s mixing bowl. But what a joy when it comes time to lick the beaters…

As I said earlier, the Chef is moving in the Kitchen. He’s pulling the ingredients out of storage and cracking some eggs, cutting some bananas. The salt’s getting pinched, the flour sifted, and everyone is smelling the vanilla! The heat is rising on top of the stove and soon, very soon, the Chef will pick up each ingredient and use them AS HE SEES FIT.

This would be the best time to yield, to be ready to mix it up. For your finest hour is at hand; His Hand.

Who in the world are YOU?

20121129-005935.jpg I was visiting with my pastor today, sharing with him about the direction the Lord seemed to be pointing my wife and I. During our conversation I heard myself say something that really registered with my spirit. Something known as true in my head, but had finally made its way to my heart.

Value. My value. Now don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t just realize I was the most important person in the world. No, what opened up in my spirit is why I am valuable. What’s so special about me? Who in the world am I?

All my life I have placed my value on my grades, my friends, my things, my job, my music ability, etc. When I was in third grade I started taking piano lessons, like my older brother. My motive? I wanted to learn to do something better than him, get more positive attention, add some value to my life.

Even when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior, my value seemed like it was wrapped up in what I did. Music and leading worship, teaching, pastoring a church, prophesying; on and on I could go about the things that seemed to make me valuable. A least, in my eyes.

Now there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, especially when the Lord anoints you to do them. What’s wrong is this. What happens when I can’t do those things anymore? What happens to my value? Do I really listen to the Lord and follow His direction if He’s leading me to do something that doesn’t “add to my value”? If I get my value, my self-worth, from what I do, chances are I will keep trying to do that thing regardless of whether it’s the right thing to do or not. And, if the things I do seem to get old and mundane (losing their ability to give me the value I “need”), after a while my eyes and heart can wander to places that will feed my need for “value”; places that only bring destruction to my life or someone elses.

So it hit me today. It registered deep within my spirit; my value is built into me by my Heavenly Father. “What can a man give in exchange for his soul”, Jesus asked. He also said, “you are more valuable than the sparrows.” The Psalmist said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The truth in this revelation is so freeing! Regardless of a title, position, a gift, an anointing; I am valuable because God thinks so. Yes, I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me. Yes, I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loved me. Yes, greater is He Who is in me than the one in the world. But my value is not it in those truths. Those are extra!

I am free to be me. God so loved ME! Who am I in the world? Me! Nothing I do, good or bad, will add or subtract from my value! It may affect my ability to be useful, or trusted, but my value is eternal!

And you are YOU! Valuable enough to your Maker to give His best for you.

Value. Built into every one of us.

Built by God.

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