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The Prodigal Son

Monday we looked at God is love and that we are his children.

Today we are asked to consider the Prodigal Son.

“There is a story about a father with two sons in Luke 15:11-32…. First Read the Bible passage.

What do you think about the Father in the story? All that the father wanted was to have his bad son returned home. He waited and waited until the som came back home. He didn’t get angry about the wrong things that his son had done. He didn’t rebuke Him either. He welcomed the son when he repented and returned:  he welcomed him back to his family.”

The first question – what do I think about the father in the story?

One of the dangers of reading a parable is reading too much into it. Parables have one central point and the characters work to draw out this point. We can’t attempt to line up every event and find a spiritual application to it. This parable is good example for this.

What do I think of the father? At first he seems a weak and foolish man. He gives away a portion of his money to his greedy, demanding son who can’t wait for his father to die to get his hands on his inheritance.

The father seems to mature but too late and is filled with hope and regret. He doesn’t know where his son is and can only stand and look for the son. His actively waiting does seem to establish a pattern of resentment within the older son. Who has stayed and been obedient.

When the younger son returns. The father throws a party to welcome the son home causing the older son to explode in action. The father explains his actions and surprise at the older son’s answer. Finally he promises that everything he has will go to the older son.

But that really isn’t the point of the parable, is it? The main points of the story are the fall and return of a first wicked then repenting son and how the son is welcomed home.

What do I think about the father in this light? Loving and embracing, patient, forgiving, hopeful, expectant

Now if we continue in our lesson

He waited and waited…. this is one thing God does not do. God doesn’t wait for us to come home. We are dead, we don’t move. God doesn’t hope we repent, he leads us to repentance. God doesn’t hope that one day we will change, he is the reason we change.

He didn’t get angry – true the father didn’t. But our Heavenly Father does. If you aren’t sure, ask Moses who was kept out of Israel for hitting a stone instead of speaking to it. Ask David about his son’s death. Ask Peter when he said in essnence “Don’t die. We don’t want you to go.”

The point I am making in all of this. God is in many ways like the prodigal son’s father but he isn’t identical.

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God is love?

I was handed a booklet yesterday at church called “Spiritual Formation Training”, the first thing I noticed was the size. It is 9 pages long. You would think that a book on spiritual formation would be thicker, wouldn’t you?

At any rate let’s see what is inside.

1. THE FATHER”S LOVE

God is Love (1 John 4:16), and His love is toward us.  He doesn’t only tell us or make us feel that He loves us, God has made us a part of His family because He loves us: God is our Father and we are His Children (John 1:12). Therefore, one good expression that well descrives God’s love is the Father’s Heart.

Looks ok, but there is few things missing from the first paragraph.

God is love. Perfectly biblical, but I wish there had been a larger explanation to the sentence. Any English teacher knows that the verb be signals an equating relationship to but it seems there are at least three ways this can be done.

1. God is equal to love –> I am Keith. A simple equals sign

2. God is a part of something larger set of things that love. –> I am big. There are many big things, and I happen to be one of them

3. God is an owner of many characteristics, one of which is love. –> I am big. I, Keith am big, but that isn’t the only way you can describe me. I am also an English teacher, an American, left-handed, a foreigner, etc….

How we interpret the statement says a lot about our theology. Which option do you think it means? More importantly, which way did John mean it?

“God made us part of  His family because he loves us.”  I find this far too simplistic a sentence. We have to deal with a few immediate issues.

1. Family here is not “the family of man” but is brought into the church as a believer, not merely an attender

2. What does this say about unbelievers? The need for missions? Does God love some more than others, or loves some differently than others?

3. It isn’t only God’s love that brought us into the family. What I mean by that is God’s love was the reason for the process, but it wasn’t the process itself. God didn’t simply wake up one day and decide to say come on in. The invitation was written with the blood of His Son, who died for our sins, who made fellowship possible.

God is our Father and we are His children (John 1:12) – This makes the assumption that the reader is already a believer. 1 John 3:10 calls those who are unbelievers children of the Devil.

I get the feeling reading this booklet, is a bit like reading the Cliff Notes to a much larger and grander book.

What do you think?

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 It has been over a month of silence at the blog and so far I don’t know if anyone has noticed. Which may be just as well. The articles too long, and it was never personal, just copy and paste. In an attempt to try and have something for everyone, I had everything for no one. It was a long and futile run.

That being said, I missed blogging and had no idea how to start again. Like calling a friend after 10 years, it feels strange to sit again at the keyboard hoping that someone may take an interest in H&D.

I make no promises as to how much will be posted. Certainly not as much as was posted previously and certainly not at that pace.

As always, I am looking for help. This isn’t Keith’s blog,  it is a church blog implying a body of believers, not one man and a keyboard trying to watch 30-40 pots a day lest anyone go hungry. You can eat what I cook here or you can help in the cooking. I would much rather have help in the kitchen so to speak.

If you don’t feel comfortable in English, write in Korean or your home language. We are an international community. We have Koreans, English speakers, Japanese, Xhosa language speakers among others so don’t worry. Your words will reach someone.

If you don’t go to Dongsan, and you would like to post something… please e-mail  yourr submission to hey.keith@gmail.com. I make no promises, but if it is something doctrinally sound, relevant to who and what we are as a church, a special need, global missions news etc…. It will probably go up. Grandma’s cookie recipies, why Obama is the Anti-Christ and other things probably won’t.

Enjoy H&D, it is yours as much as mine.

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bible-4

Deuteronomy 23:1 – 25:19

Notable Verse 23:23

“Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.”

There is a joke I heard at an A.A. meeting that went “How do you know an alcoholic is lying? His lips are moving.” I am sure you have heard the same joke with either an addict or some other personality or occupation put in the slot.

We no longer expect the truth. We know politicians lie; commercials exaggerate their product’s claims. We don’t consider it lying any more. It is just how the game is played. God has a different view of speaking though. Our words carry weight and when we make promises, especially vows, God expects us to keep them even if they come at a great cost.

It is interesting to note that God doesn’t command us to make vows, but when we do, when we call upon the Lord to be a witness to our words, we are asking God to be a part of the promise. God is not a liar and He will not allow himself to be used by a liar.

 

Luke 10:13 – 37

Notable Verse v. 29

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This is a very familiar verse to most Christians and is the beginning to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Over the centuries the question has been asked again and again to either justify apathy or to encourage anger.

I guess my neighbor is anyone I encounter, but the verse seems to point to something deeper. My neighbor includes the one person who is least like me, or the one I least like. So in no particular order or assigned grouping a few of my neighbors:

Muslims: Quite honestly they scare me. There are 1 billion of them. It is said 10% are of the radical variety.  That is 100 million or 1/3 of the total population of the U.S. That is a pretty big number. My chances of running into a radical are 1/10. Would I bind their wounds, take them into my house? I’d like to think that I would but being a Messianic American Jew, it would take supernatural effort to move past my own prejudices to do that.

My co-workers and family: How do I share the gospel and the reality of hell with people I work with and are family with? I am too worried about hurting their feelings then saving their lives.

As I read through this passage, I’d like to imagine that I am the Samaritan, but there are times I know I am the Pharisee, speaking well and running away lest I be seen and feel obligated to do something.

 

Psalm 75:1 – 10

Notable Verse v. 3

“When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. Selah”

The world is quaking. We are in an economic recession. There are terrorists all over the world despite what Obabo (ok, Obama) wants to call it. Depending on who you talk to, we may be getting warmer, or colder. Nothing seems stable.

It is nice to know that no matter how crazy the world gets, there is something firm to hang on to.

 

Proverbs 12:12 – 14

Notable Verse v. 13

“An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.”

Recently I did a study on all of the things you can do wrong with your mouth. You can lie, gossip, backbite, blaspheme, break promises, spread dissention, speak out of bitterness and anger and a whole lot more. Each sin traps us. Either within ourselves, or locks us out of developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.

I discovered after reading this verse and meditating on my tongue. I realized I need to shut up a lot more often.

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Karachai People  

 The Karachai (Karachay) people are a testament to mankind’s will to survive. Their history includes being driven into the Caucasus Mountains by invading Mongols, being converted to Islam by the Kabard people, engaging in bloody revolts against Russia, fleeing the repression of the Russian army, having their homeland occupied by Germany, and being deported to Central Asia by Josef Stalin.

If God did not have a plan for the Karachais, they certainly would not have persevered through these and other violent acts. But He does, in fact, have a plan for them. In Acts, Paul explains that God made all the nations, “having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitations (their settlements, lands, and abodes), so that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him…” (Acts. l7:26,27 Amplified).

His purpose in creating and sustaining the Karachais through all manner of opposition is to have a relationship with them. He has continued to pursue them and wants to make known to them the salvation available in Jesus Christ. At present, however, there are no known believers and no mission agencies targeting this people group.

Pray for God to assign laborers to the Karachais; servants who will faithfully share the gospel with them and demonstrate His love in Christ’s ministry. Pray for Karachai hearts to be open to His call to fellowship and eternal life.-CL View article…

 

Lao Phuan of Laos

People Name: Lao Phuan

Country Name: Laos

Population: 120,000

Primary Language: Phuan

Primary Religion: Buddhism

% Evangelical: 0.20

Status: Unreached

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1 Missionaries, as such, are not welcome in China. Yet China’s desire to improve trading relations with the world makes it possible for many Chinese and foreign Christians to enter as:

a) Tourists — over 30m visited China in 1995 and spent $US9 billion. Many Christians were among them. Pray for their ministry of bringing literature, aid, comfort and, in some cases, teaching. Pray also for safety for them and their baggage, tact and wisdom in their contacts, and guidance for travel.

b) Students — usually for language or cultural studies in various universities. In 2000 there were over 10,000 from 120 countries. Living conditions are often spartan and uncensored friendships with Chinese hard to maintain. Pray for Christians among them to be used of God to share Christ with those who are genuinely seeking the Lord.

c) Foreign experts and businessmen. China aims to recruit about 30,000 experts annually to teach English, Japanese and German as well as other subjects, and also to build up China’s technology and industry. Pray that many may be radiant Christians able to impart their faith while on the job.

d) Chinese family members who visit their ancestral homes. These have flocked to China in their millions. Christians among them have sometimes seen astonishing results when staying with relatives.

2 Provision of Bibles is still inadequate, despite the large increase in the number of copies available. By 1999 it was reckoned that there were 36m Bibles in China. The famine of the Scriptures is most acute in provinces far from the 60 legal distribution points and for the house churches. Amity Foundation, founded in 1986 and sponsored by the TSPM and the UBS, set up a large printing operation in China, and over 22m Bibles and New Testaments had been printed by 1999 — nearly all going to TSPM congregations. House churches have now commenced their own Bible printing presses. A further 12m Bibles and NTs are estimated to have been brought in by visitors. Pray that this flow might increase and that Christians might have access to a copy of God’s Word. There is a great need for study and children’s Bibles. Importation of Bibles is not illegal but prevented for ideological reasons. The Bible League and OD are two of the largest suppliers of Bibles to the house churches.

3 Video and audio tapes. The increasing availability of play-back machines is making foreign-produced Scripture, song, evangelism and teaching tapes a useful means for disseminating the Truth. Pray for all involved in preparing and distributing these tapes.

a) The JESUS film is being widely seen on home video in 20 completed language versions (including eight Chinese dialects, Mongolian, Uygur and Zhuang). Many other language editions are in production or planned. Pray that the film may receive official recognition for public showing.

b) Teaching tapes that deal with the moral and ethical devastation left by Marxist thought and provide solid biblical teaching are a great need to help the many intellectuals who are coming to faith. Pray for the production of reading materials and tapes to fill this need.

c) GRN has produced gospel messages or tapes in 160 languages and dialects; much being done during 1999, but recordings are needed in many more.

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Evangelism Styles and Your Personality

By EvangelismCoach

Peter’s Confrontational Approach — Acts 2:22-41

If Peter was convinced he was right, there was almost no stopping him. He was direct, he was bold, and he was to the point. 

Many of you know Peter’s in your face approach.  Instead of complying, he defied.  Instead of being quiet, he proclaimed.  He was very direct. 

Eric told of a friend who would walk up to bikers outside a bar and say:

“Hey, How is it going?  Have you read your bible today?”

 

Paul’s Intellectual Approach — Acts 17:15-34

Paul was a thinker.  He wrote the awesome book of Romans.  He thought through how to present the gospel to Greeks, Jews, Romans, and others in a contextually appropriate way. 

His treatment of the Altar to the Unknown God at Athens is a testimony to one who can present a rational case, and debate philiosophers in a way that they want to know more.

CS Lewis might be a modern day example of this.  I am not.  I have a hard time reading a CS Lewis book beyond the first chapter because it is at such lofty heights that he writes.  Yet I know people who came to faith because of a little book called “Mere Christianity.”

 

Blind Man’s Testimonial Approach — John 9:1-15,25

This man, born blind, could only speak from his experience.  He confidently declared: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” That’s hard to argue with, isn’t it? 

Many folk can only talk about the radical change in the life that has happened since they started following Jesus.  They may not have the boldness like Peter, or the intellect to defend the rationality of faith like Paul, but what you have is a testimony of a changed life. 

You may not know all that you believe, but your life has been transformed and it’s worth talking about.

 

Matthew’s Relational Approach — Luke 5:27-29

Instead of inviting people to church right off the bat, Matthew invited fellow tax collectors and sinners to his home. 

Do you enjoy having people into your home, sharing a meal, and spending time in conversation? Many people will never be reached until someone takes the time to build that kind of closeness with them.

He was allowing himself to get close first and spend time outside of “the church.”

 

Samaritan Women’s Invitational Approach — John 4

When Jesus encountered this woman, and transformed her life, she ran back to town and started inviting people: Come and See. 

She immediately went to her town and brought her friends to the well to hear Jesus for themselves. This simple invitation resulted in His staying in their town for two days. Many of these men and women became His followers. 

Many people are excited about what God is doing in their church, and in their own life.  Instead of feeling confident about sharing their own faith story, they are eager to invite people to their church to see what God is doing and to hear others proclaiming the news.

Come and see, is a great invitation to give.

 

Dorcas’ Servant approach — Acts 9.

Gifts of Hospitality, the welcoming of strangers, acts of service to those in need are all viable forms of evangelism.  It’s a tangible way of expressing the love of Jesus.

 

Closing comments

What style do you see yourself fitting into best?

From the Evangelism Coach View article…

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