Archive | January, 2016

Why pastors lie at funerals

28 Jan

Funerals are a place where we pastors can be guilty of lying…a lot.

Maybe I’m just speaking for myself.  So this is my confession: how to do I lie at funerals?  I almost always talk about the person who passed away as definitely being in heaven.  As if there is no question about their eternal destiny.

Should I say that the person who passed away is in heaven?  Do I really know this?  No, I don’t.  I am not the judge.  Only God knows for sure.  So why do I say that the person is in heaven?

I know why I say it. Oftentimes the family has beat me to it. After the person draws their last breath, almost immediately family members start saying their loved one is in heaven. So it can be very daunting and even offensive for me to say at that moment, or anytime in the coming days, “Well, I know your loved one just died, but you don’t really know for certain that they’re in heaven. So let’s talk about that.”

I don’t do that. Instead I just go along with it. But should I?  Am I promoting a lie?

For many of them, based on the life the deceased lived, it is almost certain that their loved one was a true disciple of Jesus, and we can say with confidence that they are in heaven.  Some of them when they were living may have been very vocal about their faith in Christ, some were obviously committed disciples of Jesus.  But for others we are not so certain.  We wrestle with how much theological hairsplitting we should get into with a grieving family.

My thought is that in their moment of crisis and tragedy, I’m not going to make things worse by trying to suggest that maybe their loved one is not in heaven. Instead I have a strong desire to comfort them as they mourn.  I want to help them walk through sadness in a healthy way.  So I choose not to quibble with them about whether their loved one is in heaven or hell.

I’d like to believe that my choice to avoid the discussion is not actually lying.  Instead I look at it as withholding the conversation for a different time.  In fact, that different time is usually during the funeral, though indirectly.  I don’t address the family of the deceased, in the middle of the funeral, asking them pointed questions about their loved one’s eternal destiny.  But I do share with the entire audience about what the Bible teaches about eternal matters.  From there the family can decide for themselves if they want to engage a further discussion.  And you know, while it has been rare, a few courageous ones have had that discussion with me.  They usually ask “I loved my relative, but I don’t know if they are in heaven or hell.”

So, what happens when we die?  Is it possible that we can know now what our eternal destiny will be?  It sure would be nice!

This week in our study of Luke, Jesus tells us a parable set in eternity.  Check it out at Luke 16:19-31.  Perhaps this parable will help us? Or maybe not?  If you haven’t clicked on the link and read the parable, let me warn you, Jesus teaches some rather bizarre details about heaven and hell.  Is he serious?

Join us at Faith Church this coming Sunday, as we’ll talk about this further!

How to have a healthy marriage

25 Jan

I couldn’t really be honest and call this post “How to have a healthy marriage” and then tack on the scripture from our series in Luke on the end of the title like I normally do.  The reason is that Jesus doesn’t really teach how to have a healthy marriage.  He basically says that we should not divorce.

He only brings up marriage because he is talking about the OT Law.  So I didn’t think a title about the OT Law would be as interesting.  Sorry to all of you OT Law enthusiasts.

I did, however, preach a good bit about the OT Law. And I also preached about how to have a healthy marriage.  It’s not enough to just say “don’t divorce.”

The organizations I mention at the end of the sermon are:

House On the Rock Family Ministries

The Marriage & Family Centers

Please contact them, as they offer amazing services for couples in need of help.

Law & Marriage…go together like a horse and carriage?

21 Jan

I am finding Luke 16 to be exceedingly confusing.  As if verses 1-15 and the Parable of the Shrewd Steward weren’t difficult enough (I preached on them this past Sunday…you can read about that sermon here and here), this coming Sunday I’m focusing on verses 14-18 which put Law and Marriage together, and I’m not sure they go together very well!  Last week I had a lot of help from Kenneth Bailey’s studies on the parables of Luke.  Bailey’s awesome study makes great sense of the Shrewd Steward.  This week, well, the scholars are not as helpful.

Let me explain.  My first question is about the placement of verses 16-18 in the passage.  I’ve been reading a number of commentaries, and they have many theories about these verses, most of which don’t even try to see a flow of thought.  They see verses 1-15 and 19-31 as two sections primarily about how to use money.  I get that.  Here’s the strange part: they suggest that the verses sandwiched in between, verses 16-18 about Law and Marriage, are somewhat random.  One scholar, Bock (in the IVP Commentary series), has a theory for the unity of the passage, but I found it unconvincing.

I wonder what you think when you read chapter 16!

Here is a bit more explanation about Law and Marriage, the two topics that we’re going to look at on Sunday:

  1. How Christians should use the OT Law
  2. Marriage and Divorce

They seem like an odd couple of themes to place together, but that is exactly what Jesus does.  Why, though?  What is it about marriage that might relate to the OT Law?  What do we need to know about the OT Law that could help us with marriage?

There is no doubt in my mind that we need to talk about both of these subjects.  There is perhaps just as much confusion about how Christians should use the OT Law, as there is about marriage and divorce.  Randall Balmer points out in his book, Thy Kingdom Come, that decades ago the religious right stopped talking about divorce and marriage because so many of their leaders had gotten divorces.  They needed a new issue to galvanize support for their causes, so they picked abortion.  Balmer suggests that they never should have stopped talking about marriage.  I agree.  Most of us are married or will be one day, but many marriages fail or are painful.  People are hungry for help in their marriages.

Thankfully the pursuit of healthy marriage is something that God loves and encourages, and many people, pastors, churches, and organizations are talking about it a lot.  So will we this coming Sunday.

As I write this on Thursday afternoon, I have to admit that I don’t have this passage all figured out.  I’ve got study to do!  There’s a potential for a big snowstorm to cover our area, so we may need to cancel worship.  But even if that happens, I won’t be off the hook!  I’ll either record a podcast on Monday or upload the manuscript of the sermon for you.  For now, I encourage you to prepare yourself for worship.  Read Luke 16, thinking about that question of the OT Law.  Are we bound to follow it?  And think about marriage?  What does it mean to have a healthy one so that divorce is not even in the realm of possibility?

And weather permitting, we’d love to have you join us at Faith Church on Sunday as we’ll talk about this further.

Unraveling Jesus’ most confusing parable (the Shrewd Steward…and how it matters) – Luke 16:1-15

18 Jan

Would Jesus teach his disciples to do something evil?  Specifically, did he say “Use your money to buy friends?”  It seems so, as I mentioned last week.  Yet, we know Jesus, and it’s pretty clear that he wouldn’t teach his disciples to do something so wrong.  So it is surprising when we read this in Luke 16:9: “Use your worldly wealth to gain friends.”  And that comes after he has told a parable that seems to make a hero out of a wasteful, dishonest, sneaky guy, telling his disciples to be like that guy.  What is going on here?  We have to do a little digging.  That means we need to try to discover the background of this story.  We’ll try to unravel what some have called the most confusing and problematic of Jesus’ parables.

Scholar Kenneth Bailey tells us that “the most probable cultural setting for the parable is that of a landed estate with a steward who had authority to carry out the business of the estate. The debtors were most likely renters who had agreed to pay a fixed amount of produce for the yearly rent.  The steward was a salaried official who managed the accounts. The master was a man of noble character respected in the community who cared enough about his own wealth to fire a wasteful steward.”

Now that we know the setting, let’s take a look at the story itself:

The rich landowner has been hearing bad reports about his steward, so he calls him in and tells him this.

The steward is silent. No response. How much does the master know? The steward manger figures silence is best.

Then the master fires the steward on the spot saying: “You cannot be steward any longer. Hand over the books.” What is amazingly missing here is that there is no argument, no backtalk, nothing from the steward. He still remains silent. He knows he is caught. There is nothing to say.

Scholars tell us, though, that while his legal authority as his master’s agent is canceled, at the same time his dismissal is in progress. He still has some time to cook the books because word of his dismissal has not gotten around to the renters.

As he is on his way getting the books, he converses to himself, and he concocts a plan. He knows he is guilty, he knows his master knows he is guilty, but he also realizes something very important that is lost on us culturally. Or maybe not, if you think about it: the steward realizes that his master is NOT throwing him in jail.

That’s huge. He is fired. But the master is not bringing up charges against him, and the steward knows that master could do so if he wanted. The master is gracious though. The master doesn’t even scold the unjust steward! The master is merciful in his firing.

The crowd listening to Jesus that day, says Bailey, would have intuitively picked up on some things that were culturally significant about the master. First, the master expected obedience and he acts in judgment on the disobedient servant. That was normal. Second, and this is what is astounding in the parable, the master is incredibly gracious and merciful to the servant, though the servant was dishonest.

So the steward starts thinking to himself, what should he do? Digging (manual labor) or begging are both socially unacceptable for an educated man in authority like he was, and culturally we would expect him to reject both options out of hand. Surprisingly he actually considers digging, but feels he is not strong enough.

There’s more here, Bailey tells us, than the steward trying to line up his next meal. The people in the crowd that day would have realized that the steward is in a terrible cultural predicament. To be fired for wasting his master’s property would be shameful, it would give him an awful public image in the community.

Here’s where Bailey’s observations get really interesting. He says “The steward’s plan is to risk everything on the quality of mercy he has already experienced from his master. If he fails, the steward will certainly go to jail. If he succeeds, he will be a hero in the community….and the key to his plan is that no one in the community yet knows that he has been fired. They will find out soon enough, so he has to act quickly.”

In verse 5 we see that the word of his firing has not spread because this steward still has authority to summon the debtors to come see him. If they knew the steward had been fired, they would not have come. They would say “You’ve been fired, buddy; I’m not doing business with you anymore. You have no authority.”

But they do come in. And take notice of the word “quickly” in verse 6. The steward wants this process to move along fast. He knows he has only a short amount of time before his master or the renters find out what is going on. He knows that he has already been fired, he has already lost his authority, and what he is doing is wrong. But the renters have no idea.

The steward is really taking pains to lead them on in verse 5 when he asks the renter, “How much do you owe MY master?” Since the steward has been fired, the master is no longer HIS master. The steward is being dishonest to the renters.

Also, because of the cultural significance of community, the relationship between the master and his renters would have been a very close one. If those renters suspected that the steward was doing something illegal, they would never have risked getting in bad blood with the master landowner. So the result is that the renters believed what was going on here was an arrangement that the master was fully aware and approving of.

One more cultural point about this: the bills are not due, that is clear. The reductions are coming out of the blue, before the bills are due. Bailey notes that a steward like this would have been in the fields regularly, seeing the conditions which could have included lack of rain, insects, or hot sun, which would adversely affect production. So he could easily tell the debtors that he talked with the owner and got their bills reduced. He is like a factory foreman that arranges a Christmas bonus for his workers, and gets praised.

Bailey summarizes the cultural situation by saying: “the steward openly asserts that he still has authority. The debtors assume that the reductions are authorized; otherwise they would not cooperate. The steward quietly lets the debtors know that he has arranged for the reductions. With these assumptions all the cultural elements fall easily into place.”

The debtors each get huge reductions. With the bills adjusted, he now delivers the books to his master as requested in verse 2.

Do you know what the master is thinking when he reads these adjusted numbers? Is he angry? It seems he would be. He just lost loads of income on these contracts. How do you think your boss would react if he lost 50% on one contract and 20% on another? But amazingly, this master is not angry.

He is thinking “Well played, steward, well played.”

You know why? Bailey tells us that we need to think about the community. Again, this is why community and the social ramifications are so important to understanding this story.  Imagine the reaction in the community that by this time has already started as the word of what just happened spreads. One renter just got 50% off, and the other 20% off. We’re talking huge amounts. Their personal profits this year are going to be 50% and 20% more. Imagine getting that kind of raise! You would be on the phone to your wife in a flash.

And remember that it was almost certain that the steward led the renters to believe he had authority from the master to dole out these raises. The renters would be applauding this landowner like you would not believe. Their wives would be ecstatic. Their kids would be rejoicing. Christmas was going to be awesome this year. These are peasants who were struggling all the time to make ends meet, and they just got what might have been the best financial news of their lives. The whole community would be in party mode, and they all would be thinking their master’s generosity was wonderful.

Let’s imagine the two main options the master has at this point:

First, he could stop the party and say “This was all an unfortunate mistake,” explain that the steward was actually fired, that he had no authority to make the reductions, and revert the bills back to their full amounts. But you and I know exactly how the community would respond if he did that.

There was an episode of The Office where that very thing happened. The boss, Michael, led the whole office to believe that they were getting $1000 bonuses. The place erupted. People got on the phone. Told their wives. Started planning vacations. Made purchases. Michael was the hero. But it was all a lie. He lets some time go by and tells them he was just teaching Dwight how to give an influential speech, and once they get over their disbelief, their loathing of him runs deep.

In other words, the master would be stupid to choose this option.

Second, he could accept the losses, and receive the praise that is being given to him. He has already shown his generosity in how he treated the wasteful steward, by not jailing him, and so he chooses this option, and says to the steward “you were shrewd.”

Do you see what happened? The steward risked everything on the master’s generous reputation, and his risk paid off!

To the Eastern listener and reader, Bailey tells us, the steward is a hero. This is a David vs. Goliath kind of story. We love that.  What would have been strange to the Eastern listener, to the people in the crowd that day, was that Jesus calls the steward dishonest. In verse 8 he also contrasts the actions of the steward with the people of light, thus equating the steward’s actions with darkness!  We Westerners are surprised at Jesus for putting a dishonest man in the role of hero. But Easterners are surprised at Jesus for calling him dishonest at all!

Bailey says this is very much like one of Jesus’ “How much more” parables. In this case it could be said that his teaching in this parable is “if this dishonest steward solved his problem by relying on the mercy of his master to solve his crisis, how much more will God help you in your crisis when you trust his mercy.”

Before we get too far in the meaning of the parable, though, there is a word in verse 8 we really need to look closely at: shrewd.

We tend to look at shrewd with a negative bent. But this word could be understood more positively, using the word wisdom. So we could understand Jesus as teaching that the steward is praised for his wisdom, Bailey tells us. The steward is sensitive to the hopelessness of his own situation. He is aware of the one source of his salvation, namely, the generosity of his master.  He is praised for his wisdom in knowing where his salvation lay, not for his dishonesty.

This brings us to the second half of verse 8 and the verses following.

In verse 8b Jesus uses shrewd again. If we take the meaning of the parable, that of praising the steward for knowing where his salvation lay, then Jesus is saying that we, the people who he calls the people of the light, should be so shrewd, so wise.  Jesus is saying that we should use our earthly means wisely for eternal purposes. We’ve heard him talk like this before. Store up treasure in heaven.

In verse 10 his comments about being trusted with money, about being dishonest, are reflected in the steward who was dishonest and untrustworthy to start off with, but in the end does something quite wise with his master’s wealth.

So we need to see ourselves as stewards of God’s possessions. Of course Jesus is not condoning wastefulness and dishonesty. Instead he is condoning the wisdom of the steward and the mercy of God.

That causes us to think, then, as we review what Jesus taught in verses 11-13: How am I doing as God’s steward? Am I trustworthy in handling the true riches of God? Which master am I serving? God or Mammon? Mammon is a word that means worldly wealth. Do our lives give evidence that we are serving or pursuing worldly wealth?  Instead, we should see God as the owner of all wealth, and use it to serve his interests.

While Jesus focuses on money throughout this entire section, there is more than just money in view here. Jesus is not just talking about writing a check, putting money in the basket at worship services.

It takes more than just money to make friends.  Our generosity to people can really help, of course. It might open a door. But we also know that we cannot buy friendships. We must give of ourselves. Making friends takes an investment of our lives.

I’ve long admired the lead singer of the rock band U2, Bono, for using his star power for good. He talks about it openly. He knows he has influence and he wants to use it for God’s Kingdom.

We might not have the money and influence of a world-renowned rock star, but we do all have gifts and abilities, money and influence in our families, in our neighborhoods, in or schools. So let us spend our lives using our influence to promote God’s Kingdom, to make disciples. If we do that, just as the renters and their families would have been praising the master for his mercy, more people in our lives will be praising God for his mercy to them.

That time Jesus told us to do evil

14 Jan

Yeah. That time Jesus told us to be evil.

For real.  He did.

Is there a catch?  Though I’ve barely written ten words, you’re probably suspecting that there’s a catch.  There’s no way I would believe that Jesus told us to do evil, would I?

Except that this is what he Jesus said: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves…”.  You can read the whole context if you want at Luke 16:1-15.

What Jesus is doing in this section is normal enough for him.  He is teaching his disciples.  Some Pharisees are there too, Luke tells us.  Though not mentioned specifically, we suspect the large crowds that have been following him in this phase of his ministry are still there too, hoping to catch him healing or say something offensive to the Pharisees.

Go ahead and click on the scripture link above and read the section.  There’s a very interesting parable, and the teaching I mentioned.  Does Jesus really tell people to use their money to make friends?  Yes, but can he mean that?  Is there more to the story?

I did some digging this week and found that scholars are conflicted about this section.  Kenneth Bailey, in his work Poet & Peasant, says that “many commentators affirm that this parable is the most difficult of all the synoptic [material in Matthew, Mark and Luke] parables.”  He goes on to quote C. C. Torrey as writing:

This passage brings before us a new Jesus, one seems inclined to compromise with evil.  He approves a program of canny self-interest, recommending to his disciples a standard of life which is generally recognized as inferior: ‘I say to you, gain friends by means of money.’ This is not the worst of it; he bases the teaching on the story of a shrewd scoundrel who feathered his own nest at the expense of the man who had trusted him; and then [Jesus] appears to say to his disciples, ‘Let this be your model!’

Huh?  What gives?  Is Jesus compromising with evil?  Why is no one talking about this?

Bailey tells us that people have talked about this: “The seeming incongruity of a story that praises a scoundrel has been an embarrassment to the Church at least since Julian the Apostate used the parable to assert the inferiority of the Christian faith and its founder.”

Have you heard of this before?  I hadn’t.

So what should we do?

Join us at Faith Church this coming Sunday morning, and you’ll find out.

How an old painting can change your life – Luke 15

11 Jan

Years ago a guy by the name of Henri Nouwen sat in front of an old painting hanging in a old art museum in Russia.  He stared at the painting, studying it for six straight hours.  It changed his life.  You can read all about it in his powerful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  The painting is Rembrandt’s work of the same title, and Nouwen saw it at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.  At the time Nouwen was feeling very lost.  Though he was a priest who had dedicated his life to the Lord, he felt like something was very wrong inside.  Maybe you feel some of that too.

I find Nouwen’s book to be the best work on spirituality I’ve ever read, and I bought a print of Rembrandt’s painting to hang in my office so I can regularly remember what I learned from Jesus’ parable.

As I mentioned last week, many of us feel lost, whether we are Christian or not.  Just as Nouwen learned through the parable and the painting we can be found by God.

What I write here is a distillation of Nouwen’s writing.  You really should get the book, though, because what he has to say is so encouraging, challenging and hopeful!

First of all, Jesus teaches that We Can Be Lost In A Distant Country.

Before we can be found, we need to realize that we have traveled to a distant country.

In his book Nouwen explains what is going on in the first part of the parable, Luke 15:11-16, where the son asks for his share of the inheritance:

“Kenneth Bailey, in his penetrating explanation of Luke’s story, shows that the son’s manner of leaving is tantamount to wishing his father dead. Bailey writes, ‘For over 15 years I have been asking people from all walks of life, from Morocco to India and from Turkey to Sudan, about the implications of a son’s request for his inheritance while the father is still living. The answer has always been emphatically the same…the conversation runs as follows:

KB: Has anyone ever made such a request in your village?

Villager: Never!

KB: Could anyone make such a request?

Villager: Impossible!

KB: If anyone ever did, what would happen?

Villager: His father would beat him, of course!

KB: Why?

Villager: The request means he wants his father to die.

The son deeply disrespects his family and community by leaving.  Things get worse because he practices reckless living which is living without thinking.  Usually we think of prodigals as people go off the deep end, like the younger son in this story. We have people like this in our lives. People that we point to. People that we compare ourselves to so that we feel pretty good about ourselves and our relatively good behavior. The reality is that we all can travel to distant countries and practice reckless living.  Think you have not done so?  When God is not enough for us we seek acceptance, love, etc. in “distant countries.” Anger, Jealousy, Bitterness, Lust, Greed, and Fantasies show us that we are lost in distant countries.

Still some of us may think, “I’m not like that.” Maybe, then, we are more like the elder son.

In the parable, Jesus teaches us through the elder son that We Can Be Lost At Home.  In Luke 15:25-30 we meet the elder son, who though he stayed home, didn’t practice reckless living, and was faithful, he was just as lost as his younger brother.  How so?  The lostness of the younger son is outward, while the elder son had a lostness that was hidden, inside.

When the elder son moans about slaving for his father, Nouwen points out that “in this complaint, obedience has become a burden and service a slavery.”  The elder son revealed his heart.  He was not joyfully, graciously serving his father because he loved his father.  To him his service to his father felt like slavery. That tells us something about the lostness of his heart, doesn’t it?

Additionally, the older son was confused about the purpose of celebration. How could irresponsibility be celebrated rather than dutifulness? He was so bitter about this that he refused to enter the house.  Jesus purposely gives us that detail.  The older son was no more home than his younger brother; both had left the house.

We can be lost abroad or at home. We need to allow ourselves to be found.  We must be found and live in the Father’s embrace.

In Luke 15:17-24; 31-32 we read about the Father, especially that wonderful moment when he wraps his arms around his lost son.

Why is his embrace so important? Because lostness in the parable is depicted as a state of leaving the father. Something we choose. Deliberate separation.

Being found in his embrace starts by coming to your senses (vs. 17).  The younger son must realize that his life had become pitiful, sinful and rebellious.  Note the big difference between “coming to his senses” and “reckless living/living without thinking.”

In response to the son’s realization, repentance and return, do you see what the Father does?  This shows us how God feels about his lost children!  He celebrates our return and restores us. The ring, robe, and sandals are indications not of slavery but of sonship.  Slaves didn’t wear those symbols, only sons did.  Though we can be lost, God wants to fully restore us!

But the image of God’s love goes even further in the parable.  See how the Father comes to both sons. His love is unconditional and non-comparing.  Though the elder refuses to enter the party, the Father goes out to him, pleading with him to enter.

We don’t know the outcome of the elder son.  But we do know how difficult it is for the prideful, the arrogant, the complainer, the bitter to soften their hearts.  God wants us to know what an amazing loving, caring God he is, though.  He wants to change our hearts, make us new.

And so Nouwen concludes:

“But had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God? I so much wanted to keep some control over my spiritual journey, to remain able to predict at least a part of the outcome, that relinquishing the security of the observer for the vulnerability of the returning son seemed close to impossible.”

We need to be found by God and live in his embrace.  We need to remain in that moment where he has wrapped his arms around us saying “You are my son whom I love.  Welcome home.”

So how do live in the Father’s embrace? Nouwen suggests that we make the following our practice:

  1. Unceasing prayer to stay in his embrace.
  2. Thankfulness that his love is unconditional and non-comparing.
  3. Rejoice in celebration with him.

Are you feeling lost?  Let yourself be found in God’s embrace.

Check out this contemporary retelling of the parable, and come home:


How God feels about you when you feel lost

7 Jan

Ravi Zacharias tells a story about two English Navy men on leave for the weekend.  They decide to go to a local pub and enjoy themselves.  As you can imagine, they get wasted.  Eventually they leave the pub walking through the city for hours only to realize they are hopelessly lost. So they ask a passerby, “Excuse me, bloke, could you tell us where we are?”

Unbeknownst to them, they had just addressed their commanding officer who was incensed at their condition and disrespect. He growls back, “Do you know who I am?!?”

So the one sailor looks at the other and says, “I think we’re really in trouble now!”

The second sailor says, “Yeah! We don’t know where we are, and he doesn’t know who he is!”

Like the sailors and their officer, many times in life we don’t know where or who we are! Many of us feel lost, but we would never admit it.

I once had representatives from a cult group come to my house.  We had a nice chat.  They agreed with everything we talked about except the possibility that they might be lost.  Not lost like those sailors.  They knew their location.  But they would not agree that they might be lost spiritually, that their beliefs might be misguided.  I tried to say that the nature of faith is that possibility that we might be wrong.  I have to concede that about my faith.  It wouldn’t be true faith otherwise.  They refused to agree with me.

Do you ever wonder if we believe a lie? Those visitors wouldn’t hear it, and I fear we will not either. We believe those without Christ are lost and can be found in him, accepting him as Savior.

So why do many Christians seem lost? Without hope, love, faith, or peace?

On Sunday we come to another one of Jesus’ famous stories, the parable of the Prodigal Son.  We’re going to be looking at all of Luke 15, of which the Prodigal story is a part, because the whole chapter is actually three stories about lost things.  A sheep, a coin and a son.

The story of the prodigal is about much more than a lost son.  I have found Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son to be a wonderful guide for mining the depths of Jesus’ story.  Jesus tells such a simple story, but it’s implications are profound.  I encourage anyone to pick up a copy of Nouwen’s book, as he covers the story so well.

And if you are feeling lost, even in a small way, I encourage you to join us at Faith Church this coming to learn more about how God feels about lost things.