Mothers for Prodigals

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Illustrated Messages

The Word in Pictures

May you be encouraged by the Word of God and His heavens. 




Sunday, June 17, 2018

Our Father

Father, Daddy, Pop, Dad, Papa—names describing a male parent. These titles birth intense sensibilities for every person. The emotions expressed can be good, bad, or indifferent. A father’s legacy, whether present or absent, loving or cruel, can last a long time.  

My daddy loved me and my sisters. We loved him. He dispensed persistent, loving discipline with gracious imperfection. He provided the essentials of life, including a firm foundation of faith. Through his example, we learned about our loving Heavenly Father. Partnering with our mom, he led our family unit. At times our relationships lacked civility, but blood and God linked us. Even though both our parents now reside in heaven, my sisters and I share a special bond because of their example of God’s love. 

While on earth, Jesus exemplified the essence of a father/son relationship. Love and trust bound them together. Through prayer they communed. Jesus lived to demonstrate this love to everyone. Once when surrounded by faithful followers and curious onlookers, He told the story about a father and his two sons (Luke 15:11-24). Through this story of redemption, Jesus articulated the merciful love of a parent for a child. The parable’s earthly example of a father represents our gracious Father in heaven.

As the story goes, a father had two sons and loved them both. He provided for them daily while also planning an inheritance for them after his death. When the younger son asked for his share before that dreadful happening, the father granted his request. Before too long, the son took the money and ran off to a distant land. While suffering extreme heartache over his son’s absence, the father waited with hopeful expectation for his return. 

Meanwhile the son’s lifestyle ranged from reckless extravagance to abject poverty. Not until deprived of everything did he realize what he had left behind. Hungry and humbled, he decided to return home to his father as a hired servant.

On the way home, he contemplated his choices and their consequences. He had learned a hard lesson. He desperately desired forgiveness. What would he say to his father? How would his father respond? 

As he neared familiar territory, he spotted his father running toward him. Uneasiness intensified in his gut. He thought about turning around. But where would he go? He had nothing. Even though he felt unworthy, he continued walking. He would ask his father to make him a servant. At least he could eat. 

Before the son could speak, his father’s compassionate arms hugged away any fear of rejection. Tears of relief flowed from two sets of eyes. The son declared his sinfulness. The father granted amazing grace. A changed heart called for a celebration.

The Prodigal Son is a beautiful story of restoration because of a father’s love. But many people have never experienced love from a father. Celebrating dads on Father’s Day may be agonizing. Even praying the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples can be difficult as it begins with ‘Our Father’. Yet Jesus prayed this way. Why? 

Jesus knew the love of His heavenly Father. He yearned for others to know the Father’s love. When Jesus prayed the prayer now called The Lord's Prayer, He began with the unifying phrase of ‘Our Father’. It connects everyone to the Creator God. We are His children. He is our Heavenly Father. He longs for everybody to know Him as a merciful Father. No matter what we’ve done, He waits in hopeful expectation with open arms to offer grace. Amazing grace. 

We are His children. He is our Father. He loves us. Jesus loves us. 

No matter if your father is dead, absent, cruel, or lovingly alive, you are worthy because you have a Heavenly Father who loves you. He created you. He knows you. He yearns for you, His child. Run to Him. Receive His grace. And build a relationship with Him through daily prayer.

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  Matthew 6:10-13 (NASB)

Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, still you would be our Father, our Redeemer from ages past.  Isaiah 63:16 (TLB)

And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, “Father, Father.”  Romans 8:15 (TLB)

And because we are his sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father.  Galatians 4:6 (TLB)

Amazing Grace with lyrics......

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Soothe My Soul, Lord Jesus

I stared out the small window from my seat in the plane. Clouds, only clouds. Without warning, our jet tossed and tumbled. The pilot confirmed we were experiencing turbulence. How could he land a plane surrounded by dense white mist and powerful unsteady air? My stomach lurched as fear gripped me. Am I in good hands?

Oh the ‘what ifs’. What if the pilot makes a mistake? What if we crash? What if I never see my children and grandchildren again? What if I don’t die on impact? What if I’m maimed forever? What if, what if, what if?

I’m sure Jesus’ disciples felt the same way as their boat pitched and plunged in a terrible storm. Waves crashed over the boat, filling it with water. They cried out for Jesus to help them, but found Him asleep at the back of the boat. They shouted, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?” (Mark 4:38)

A swirling worried mind can be overwhelmed with fear. Any sense of calm is completely overpowered by angst. Until we intentionally utter the name JESUS. Jesus. Jesus.  

The Lord is near to all who call 
upon Him, To all who call 
upon Him in truth.  
Psalm 145:18 (NASB)

Come, Lord Jesus. Calm my fears. I cry out to you in truth. You are my God and Savior. I trust you. You are faithful. Amen.

Jesus responded to His frightened disciples saying, “Why are you afraid, men of little faith?” To the wind and sea, He spoke, “Hush, be still.” All at once they sailed on serene water as serenity invaded their souls. The disciples were completely astounded by the man who stood before them.

Jesus replaced my panic with peace. As I breathed deeply, my cloudy mind began to clear. Before long, tranquility resonated within my spirit. Even though we continued to fly into clouds, my apprehension dissipated. Amazing. 

I offered thanks when the wheels of our plane touched the ground. Thank you, Jesus! Smiles washed away worried looks as we landed safely. Sighs of relief expelled around me. In hindsight, passengers could say we were in good hands. I knew whose Hands carried me.

Children of God should confidently say we are in good Hands everyday. We serve a Sovereign God who rules supreme over all things. Over cloudy skies and stormy seas. Over our everyday situations. Can we trust Him? You bet we can! Even when our minds muddle causing cloudy vision, God our pilot sees everything clearly. He is our faithful God who desires for us to have complete faith in Him.

When trouble surrounds you, praise your Heavenly Father. Worship Him in spirit, truth, (John 4:23) and crisis. In the midst of confounding confusion, God can change chaos into order. 

Look past your panic into the peaceful face of your God. He loves and cares for you. You are in good Hands!

Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.  Psalm 22:11 (NASB)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,  Romans 10:8 (NASB)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5 (TLB)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Write It Down

I recently learned of the death of a precious 98-year-old family friend. She left behind a loving legacy of encouragement. Through a card ministry, she mailed comforting words to people with various needs. Her act of writing hope-filled letters will be remembered long after her death.

It may seem old-fashioned in today’s high-speed social media world, but the reality of holding a hand-written card or letter impacts people. I know because I’ve been the recipient of penned hope, strengthened by personal words of encouragement. Realizing the effort involved in writing notes of comfort to troubled souls produces thankfulness. An act of love received with joy.

Jesus’ disciples wrote and sent letters of promise and hope to their followers. Before His ascension, Jesus had commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. One of the many ways the apostles spread the gospel of Jesus Christ was through writing. 

What a joy it must have been to receive a letter from Paul or Peter. Many Jesus followers had become discouraged because of persecution. Some defenders of the faith faced execution. Other believers wrestled with their faith. The early churches yearned for words of truth. 

Compositions from Christ’s apostles reached the desired audiences. Their letters contained words of assurance. Offered promises of God. Expressed comfort, truth, and instructions. The God-inspired words strengthened the recipients, filling them with assurance. These missives, found in the Holy Scriptures, continue to transform lives thousands of years later. 

Consider your own convictions right now. Are you hopeful or hopeless? Are you searching for answers to life’s struggles? Or are you mindlessly sailing through life, come what may? Pause and give thought to these words of Scripture. 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:3-6 (NASB)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.  Philippians 2:14-16 (NASB)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

Can you hear the Lord God speaking? Are you encouraged? These are just a few of the many inspiring words of Scripture. Open the Book. Be comforted by writers who sat down years ago with pen in hand and transcribed words of hope. Receive them as if they were written solely for you. After all, it is Jesus through His servants speaking to you, extending strength and peace.

And then, go and do likewise. Get paper and pen. Encourage someone else who desperately needs to hear comforting words. Both of you will receive the blessings of a loving God.  

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Be Still and Know

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. “Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!”  Psalm 46:1, 10

Clouds hung heavy above me as I walked my dogs down the street. Gray skies depicted my mood. I felt bombarded by life’s twists and turns. “Enough already, Lord,” I cried out as I prayed. 

My prayer became one-sided as I poured out my needs. Unexpectedly I felt a tug on my arm from the dog leash in my hand. I had gotten ahead of my dogs. I turned around and noticed my old golden retriever sniffing some daisies. “Let’s go, come on, I’m in a hurry,” I said rather loudly.

I remembered an old cliche as he inhaled fragrances. Stop and smell the roses. 

“God, you sure have a way of getting my attention,” I said. 

I stared in silence as my pet savored the scents in the air. God’s Word filled my heart and head.


“Okay, I hear you, Lord.”

I continued my walk in silence. My needs forgotten. The beauty of the earth all around me. Praises to my Creator filled my thoughts.

Thank you, Father God, for your eternal Word that stands firm in the heaven (Psalm 119:89). Your Word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). Your promises are pure (Psalm 12:6) and your Word is truth (John 17:17). You are Truth, Jesus (John 14:6), and the truth will set me free (John 8:32). Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, AMEN. 

So what if life throws jabs? Am I going to tuck tail and run? Or stand firm and fight? Everything is not rosy all the time. There will be cloudy days, but the sun remains in the sky. I may experience troubles, but the Son of God stays by my side. Sorrow and joy are part of living and loving. Will I allow pain and pessimism to ruin my day, ruin me?

No. No! NO! If God stands with us, who or what can come against us?

What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?  Romans 8:31-32 (TLB)

Yes, things happen. The busyness of life distracts us. Peace fades. Things turn from gray to black, and quickly. Chaos begins to take hold. Clouded minds give rise to pain-filled hearts. Tears flow. Life seems unfair. And we wonder—where is God?

We should remember Who He is. He’s our Rescuer. Deliverer. Savior. Redeemer. Provider. Those clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3). He is Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14). And He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). Is it possible we left Him?

Stop. Be still. Focus on the God of heaven and earth. Listen for His whisper. Lift up a prayer of praise to Him. Before too long, you’ll see Son rays beaming through those cloudy skies. 

The Lord is good. When 
trouble comes, he is the 
place to go! And he 
knows everyone who 
trusts in him!  
Nahum 1:7 (TLB)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Refreshed and Restored

I tasted the grit between my teeth. Felt dirt in my eyes. Swirls of dust surrounded my feet as I walked. The wind picked up pockets of earth, covering everything in its path. As I began to cough, I realized my dry throat needed water. A desert experience desires refreshment. 

Today we celebrate mothers. Oh the joys and pains of a mother’s heart. When a woman gives birth to a child, a mighty bond emerges. The connection is instant and lasts forever. Love swells to near explosion. Until detonated with rejection. A prodigal child turns away. And a heart breaks, becoming brittle from the dust left in the wake of desertion. A shattered heart longs for restoration. 

Meanwhile adventures sought after by the prodigal diminish. Things go awry. Life damages the spirit. Self-inflicted injury pierces the heart. Filth and anguish fill in the gap. And the wounds of a soul deepen. A wilderness walk calls for relief. 

Refreshment. Restoration. Relief. Balm for troubled spirits. Is comfort available for an anxious soul? Can a broken heart be consoled? Is it possible to live cheerfully again?

Yes. Yes. Yes and Amen. 

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NIV)

Jesus is the answer. He offers refreshment with living water (John 4:14). He provides restoration in green pastures (Psalm 23:2-3). He supplies salve to restore souls. He pours out ointment for comfort. Because of love, His rod corrects and His staff leads to a right path. He walks with you through the valleys. He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5).

These promises are found in God’s Word. They are words of truth. Jesus spoke them with assurance as He ministered to individuals and crowds. And He speaks them to us today. Through faith, we can live in His promises. 

Jesus stands ready to deliver you from guilt and grief. Can you hear Him knocking? Will you answer?

Use the key of forgiveness and let Him in. With humility, forgive others. Forgive yourself. He will forgive you. Allow His comfort to heal your wounds. Feel refreshed. Be restored. Live in joy. 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

“Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.  
Revelation 3:20 (TLB)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Distress and Discontent

Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.  1 Samuel 22:2 (NASB)

He was on the run while only a step away from death. He had served the king well, yet his life hung in the balance. Even though God favored him, the king wanted him dead. He needed safety and security.

It looked bad, really bad, as King Saul threatened the life of David. A new king waited in the wings and the old king was jealous. Saul had rejected the Word of the Lord and now God rejected him as king of Israel. 

The Lord God selected a new king and sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse. When Samuel faced Jesse’s son David, the Lord said to anoint him. As the oil cascaded onto David’s head and down his face, the Spirit of the Lord fell mightily on David. 

Even though David waited for his kingship in God’s time, everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. One success followed another. And Saul’s jealousy swelled to murderous hatred. David feared for his life and ran to the protection of a cave. 

Oh the wounds David endured—fear of death at the hands of the king, betrayal by his own family, self-inflicted hurts when he disobeyed the Lord. Yet the anointing from the Spirit of the Lord also comforted him. David knew the Lord as Helper, Advocate, Shepherd, Friend. He trusted God and his life bore testimony to God’s faithfulness. 

In his neediness, David drew closer to his Heavenly Father. Evidence of a mighty power exuded from his life. His praises rang out to the Lord God of heaven and earth. The proof of power in David’s life drew others to him. Those in distress, in debt, and discontented gathered to him at the cave of Adullam. And David became captain over four hundred men. In the midst of his own cloudy calamity, David met the goodness of God. 

David had declared he was only a step away from death, but the Lord God Himself walked every step with him. With praise to his Shepherd, David penned these beautiful words:

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

David experienced life’s distress and discontent. But the Lord dwelt with him and gave him peace. Others who encountered hard times saw the power that surrounded David. They followed his lead while the Lord led him. Even in tough times, they felt the peace of the Lord.

Despair. Distress. Discontent. Are you down in the dumps? Walking a dark valley? Have no fear for the Lord your God is near. Turn to Him and offer Him praise. He stands ready to comfort you and give you peace.  

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’  Numbers 6:24-27 (NIV)