Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Cross of Christ


Happy Resurrection Day!


In the Gardens of Good and Evil

A garden evokes images of blessing, 
Where growth and beauty occur.
Creation began in Eden’s paradise,
Life’s splendor guaranteed secure. 

The Lord God Himself sowed a garden 
In Eden, a land of the east.
The magnificence of perfection grew up
As an abundance of the living increased. 

Sin gained access to the grandeur
Slithering in through a slimy snake.
God planted the plan of redemption 
To shower with grace our mistakes.

Years passed and wickedness continued
Across centuries of the human race.
At the right time God’s Son became man
To lift up what Satan abased.

So God entered an olive garden
As Jesus on His knees did pray.
Battling with Satan in Gethsemane
The world’s sins on Him did weigh.

He asked for the cup to pass Him by
As He prayed alone that night.
He said, “Your will be done, Dad!”
The Father’s might prepared Him to fight!

He was bruised and crushed for our sins.
And He willingly walked to the cross.
Trading our wrongs for His holiness,
His righteousness covered our dross.

God created and entered two gardens.
Battles transpired in each.
From Eden to Gethsemane
Jesus rescued mankind from the breach.

 DDC  Mar. 2013



The Son Still Shines

Here on earth it’s dark and dreary.
Clouds are looming and I am weary.
The rain comes down alongside my tears,
But I know the Son is still shining!

Above the clouds, from the view in a plane,
Looking around, there is no rain.
The heavens shine brightly all around,
Because the Son is still shining!

As days go by, darkness will loom.
Its power will pull to the place of gloom.
Each day gives way to a multitude of trials,
But I know the Son is still shining!

Thanks to Jesus who died on the cross,
And arose to glory! Let’s lift off the dross.
Hope abounds in heaven and on earth,
Because the SON is still shining!

DDC   Oct. ’05


For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Galatians 6:14 (NKJV)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

KNOW TRUTH


What do you know? What have you experienced? How can you know what you’ve learned and lived are true? 

Maybe you’ve contemplated questions such as these. Whether you’ve been educated in the finest institutions of learning or grasped the skills you need simply by living life, you’ve most likely acquired knowledge. Do you believe what you have learned? Do you know it to be true? How do you know?

We live in a world where many people claim they know the truth. The media all around the world spits out information and most of us listen and believe. Do we know these people who deliver news? Are they reliable? Where do they get their information? Are we to believe what we hear? Have you ever searched the details to discover truth for yourself? 

The Scriptures contain honest facts about God. The people inspired to write those Biblical words experienced life with God, searching until they found His truth. They passed down their practical knowledge of God to us through His Word. When we study these stories of God, we gain more knowledge of Him and grow in our faith. I hope the following narratives will help you seek Him until you discover truth. If you already know Truth, then allow God’s Word to strengthen your faith so that you can say with conviction, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” (Job 19:25)

The account of Jesus’ birth in the second chapter of Matthew tells of magi (or wise men) from the east arriving in Jerusalem and inquiring of the birth of a Jewish King. They had seen His star and desired to worship Him. How did they know a bright star in the heavens was the sign of a very special King? They knew because they studied the Word of God. It’s likely that their ancestors were part of the Babylonian take over of Israel. Many captives probably carried the Scriptures with them and some of them, Daniel for example, became great men in the Babylonian government. Daniel was appointed chief magistrate of the wise men in Babylon and he personally knew the Lord God and His Word. He shared the truth with the captives and rulers of Babylon. This knowledge was preserved through the ages and those studying the truth knew the prophecy of the birth of a King. The wise men obviously knew of the passage of Scripture in Numbers 24:17 that reads:

“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.
(NKJV)

Because of their quest for knowledge, the wise men searched until they found truth, the truth of Jesus Christ. They knew to believe their source of information. Do you believe the sources from where your information comes? Do you know the truth?

In the fourth chapter of John a Samaritan woman unknowingly met the Source of Truth at Jacob’s well. As Jesus traveled with His disciples from Judea to Galilee, He went through Samaria stopping at this well to quench His thirst. The Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink of water. She said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (vs. 9). You see, Jews had no dealings with Samaritans because they were mixed breeds and practiced pagan rites.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (vs. 10). 
The Samaritan woman asked for the living water and Jesus explained to her how living water led to everlasting life. He then began to describe things about her life that other people did not know. The rest of the conversation is as follows:
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (vs. 19-26).
At first the woman didn’t know who spoke to her at the well. She had been taught that Messiah would one day come, but when faced with the Truth, she was caught unaware. It’s possible that the mix of pagan worship with the worship of God had desensitized her search for truth. Thank goodness Jesus loved her enough to declare His divinity.
Do you know the Messiah, Jesus Christ? Has He stood in front of you declaring His deity? Have you missed the Truth because you’ve allowed other so-called facts to blend with your beliefs? Have you developed a lasting relationship with the Christ by searching the Scriptures, the Word of God? 
The Bible is God’s legal document, handed down for generations and standing the test of time. We can believe its truth because its origin is from God Almighty. We don’t need to be tossed about by numerous pieces of information, wondering about their authenticity. Instead we must compare the earthly knowledge we acquire to the heavenly truth that we know as our Savior Jesus Christ. By putting on the belt of truth and standing firm on the Word of God, we can know our living Redeemer and His great love for us. Just as it takes time to get to know a friend or a family member, it also takes time to know our Savior Jesus Christ. Spend time in His Word daily, studying His truth. Know that He is God!  
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! 
Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.  Psalm 25:5 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 14:6 (NKJV)

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  John 14:16-17 (NKJV)

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.  John 15:26 (NKJV)

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:14-18 (NIV)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32 (NIV)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hundreds Hungry for Truth


A low growl churns from within. A hollow sensation occupies your stomach. Aromas of mouthwatering foods permeate the air. The hunger pains swell and you say to yourself, “I could eat anything right now.”

Restlessness agitates within. A sense of emptiness inhabits your soul. Sights of delight and pleasure encircle close by. The craving for contentment aches and you say to yourself, “I can do that; it won’t hurt anyone.”

Have you experienced the feeling of malnourishment? You’re so hungry thoughts of food torment your body. Not until foodstuffs are consumed will your stomach be satisfied. 

What about your soul? Is there a “vacancy” sign glaring? Is your inner being in anguish? Not until the Heavenly Author and Designer of your body and soul enters will your spirit be fulfilled.

Are you famished? Are you yearning for something more? Have you asked God the Creator and Jesus the Redeemer to be the Lord of your life? Read and hear the words of the ancient prophets, psalmists, and disciples as they describe hunger. Then allow the Word, Jesus Christ, to supply you with truth. Let His words reverberate throughout your soul, filling it to the brim with the reality of a God who loves you. This God loves you with such an extreme love that He died an excruciating death in your place that you might have abundant life on earth and life everlasting with Him. Get to know Him—study His truth and believe!

Hungry? Read below.....

....they brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”  2 Samuel 17:28-29 (NASB)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty;
Their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.
He led them also by a straight way,
To go to an inhabited city.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. 
Psalm 107:1-9 (NASB) 
(If you have access to a Bible, open it and read all of Psalm 107. It describes lost souls that cry out to the God who desires to save them.)

But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction,
And makes his families like a flock.
The upright see it and are glad;
But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth.
Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things,
And consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord. 
Psalm 107:9 (NASB)

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
Psalm 23 (NASB)

Arise, cry out in the night
from the first watch of the night.
Pour out your heart like water
before the Lord’s presence.
Lift up your hands to Him
for the lives of your children
who are fainting from hunger
on the corner of every street. 
Lamentations 2:19 (HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6 (HCSB)

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.  John 6:35 (HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible)


Seeking truth? Read below....
The main thing about your word is that it’s true;
and all your just rulings last forever. 
Psalm 119:160 (CJB - Complete Jewish Bible)

The Word became flesh
    and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
    glory like that of a father’s only son,
        full of grace and truth. 
John 1:14 (CEB - Common English Bible)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32 (CEB)
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6 (CEB)
They traded God’s truth for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  Romans 1:25 (CEB)
Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly.  2 Timothy 2:15 (CEB)
If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.  1 John 1:8-9 (CEB)
So let’s give thanks to the Lord who loves us for He is good. He desires for us to satisfy our longings with His truth, repent of our wrongdoings, and receive His forgiveness, grace, and mercy. When we believe and accept the truth of His Word, Jesus Christ, we will be set free and we will be free indeed. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Path to Peace



Peace—what is it and where is it? Is it guaranteed to all people? Can human beings find peace with each other? Can souls find peace with themselves?

The world we live in cannot and does not offer us any peace. Nations are at war. Rulers reign with terror over the inhabitants of their country. Bombs detonate, leaving families homeless. Gunfire kills one or many individuals. Where is peace?

Living in a land ruled with peace doesn’t guarantee peace. Disturbed persons can disrupt the peace at any time. Even dwelling within safely guarded communities doesn’t promise peace within the souls of mortal beings. Where is peace? 

Let’s be frank. Peace cannot be obtained in this world because the lord of this world is Satan. All he has to offer is noise, agitation, distress, conflict, war, and death. He may disguise his offerings in pretty promises of prestige and pleasure, but in the end, if we’ve accepted his gifts, we’re left as pathetic and pitiful creatures. Where is peace?

Peace comes from God. The Lord is peace. How can we know that He is peace and promises to give us peace? From Genesis to Revelation, His Holy Word repeatedly extends peace, rest, calm, and quiet. Specifically in the book of Judges, peace appeared to be fleeting, even though God continually offered it. Why was peace so elusive? Because the people did not KNOW God!

God called Abraham to be the father of many nations, giving the name of Israel to His people. He designated them a special people, asking them to follow His commands leading to rest and assurance. Time and again they chased anything but God, seeking contentment in all the wrong places, discovering conflict instead. Disobedience brought discontent.

Later as Moses led the Israelites away from their Egyptians captors, God created a miraculous pathway to peace. A short time later they again chose to seek fulfillment in idols. After forty years God provided them a land of promise, asking for their faith and obedience. But they chose to assimilate with the people around them rather than obey God and peace again eluded them. Why? The answer can be found in the book of Judges. 

The book of Judges describes lives involved in the cycle of sin. The cycle consisted of sin, bondage, repentance, devotion, followed again by sin and bondage. Peace was short-lived as the people inconsistently obeyed God’s way of life; they did evil in His sight. The sixth chapter of Judges relays how God allowed the Midianites to oppress the Israelites for seven years because of their disobedience. Then the Israelites cried out to God and He sent a prophet to them saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” (verses 8-10 NKJV) Because of their refusal to yield to God’s way, restlessness abounded in the lives of the Israelites.

Are you restless? Is your life anything but calm and tranquil? Are you living without serenity? Is your life in a cycle of sin? Where is your peace? Do you KNOW the God of peace?

Spend some time with Him right now. Let Jesus know how you have sinned against Him (He already knows, but tell Him anyway). He’s waiting to hear from you. Go ahead and get started. Use His own words to speak to Him, and then let His words fill your mind with the peace that passes all understanding.

Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it. 
Psalm 34:14 (NKJV)

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
  Psalm 25:1-7 (NKJV)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. 
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace. 
Proverbs 3:17 (NKJV)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27 (NKJV)

I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in Me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”  John 16:33 (CEB)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 (NKJV) 
For He Himself is our peace....  Ephesians 2:14 (NKJV)
.....and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 (NKJV)
.....and he reconciled all things to himself through him—
        whether things on earth or in the heavens.
            He brought peace through the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:20 (CEB)
“Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.”  ---quote from Alexander Maclaren                                 
The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.  Psalm 29:11 (NKJV)                                                                                       
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you; 
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” 
Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”  Psalm 122:6 (NKJV)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Heart of the Matter


I wrote this article for a writing class several years ago when I struggled with physical ailments. God was faithful to abide by my side, giving me strength. I share my experiences with you in hopes that you can see what God has done for me and trust that He is faithfully available to you as well.                                            
                                                           

     Fumbling around in the bottom of my purse, I discovered a small red circular stone and immediately remembered receiving it at a Christian retreat. Many may view it as meaningless, but for me it’s a symbol of a belief that is grounded in the depths of my soul.
     I find myself gazing at this rounded stone with a flat side. Clutching it in my hand, I stare into the clear reflective red of the little rock and my mind’s eye travels to the center of the earth. The inner core of the earth is extremely hot and under such violent pressure that it is compressed into solid iron. Trekking back mentally to the surface of the earth, I encounter fractures in the crust caused by earthquakes. I’m quickly reminded of the strength that abounds in and around this astounding planet. Only a Creator God could speak into existence the planet on which we live. Within the essence of my being, I believe a Supreme Being exists. 
     Realizing I’m actually sitting in my living room, I fondle the pocket-sized stone and examine its vivid intensity. Staring at it again, the color red reminds me of a heart beating with passion and overflowing with compassion. Scientifically speaking, the heart pumps blood carrying an iron-containing protein called hemoglobin all throughout the body. As I imagine the sound of the beating of life, I’m convinced only the Most High God can create such complexity. Immediately pain draws me away from my wonderings and awakens my memory to blood once pooled at the bottom of my foot. It wasn’t an earthquake or some seismic vibration causing me to land on large rocks in a creek. I simply fell off a log that traversed the creek, disconnecting ligaments and tendons in and around my foot. Wearing a boot for two months to heal my injury generated damage to the discs in my back, rendering me a bit rickety. As my bodily discomfort reminds me of my weakened physical state, I wonder—how stable is my core? 
     While pondering about my inner stability, I pick up the stone seeking an answer. Drawn across the top of the little red stone is a gold cross and I remember my core’s substance, the heart of the matter. My strength, the iron within, comes from a greater Power. The same Creator God who fashioned the earth formed me. Holding the polished stone, I’m aware of Who makes my rough places smooth. This I believe: I have a Savior God who lives to enhance my life with Him on earth. He’s a friend who is closer than a sister, sticking by me through thick and thin (Proverbs 18:24).
     Why do I believe these things? How do I know this great Power? Have I seen evidence that He lives? I believe I have. He speaks to me through His creation. A month after my Daddy died, while sitting in my car, a butterfly flew alongside the hood, hovered at the windshield, and then took flight. Why a butterfly? The butterfly symbolizes new life and because God knows I treasure this creation, He speaks to me through its beauty. He lovingly communicated the eternal life my Dad gained through death. 
     More confirmation of God manifesting Himself to me came though four fragile years with a prodigal daughter. In my heart I believed she would eventually return to her family. But as doubt plagued my mind, I spoke to God about her and a butterfly glided down into my backyard and floated up to me. My Friend had spoken again.
     Just recently more proof of His existence came my way. Receiving verification from the doctor of a slipped disc in my back, I left work alarmed and crying out to God. Setting out on my twenty minute ride home, butterflies approached my car. Whether they were near or far away, the creatures were clearly visible. By the time I pulled into my garage, I counted twenty-nine beautiful butterflies. I knew in my heart I’d be OK! This I believe to the core of my being: a higher Being is watching over me.  
     As I cradle the valuable red rock in my hand, I understand it must be kept in a safe place for future use. Since I uncovered it in my handbag, I decided to return it there permanently. I pray the next time I locate that stone, God will take me on another promising journey, increasing my confidence in Him and the conviction of my faith.

Look up at the sky and consider:
    Who created these?
    The one who brings out their attendants one by one,
    summoning each of them by name.
Because of God’s great strength
    and mighty power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, Jacob,
    and declare, Israel,
    “My way is hidden from the Lord
    my God ignores my predicament”? 
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the creator of the ends of the earth.
    He doesn’t grow tired or weary.
His understanding is beyond human reach,
    giving power to the tired
    and reviving the exhausted.
Youths will become tired and weary,
    young men will certainly stumble;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength;
    they will fly up on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not be tired;
    they will walk and not be weary. 
Isaiah 40:26-31 (CEB)