Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Prodigal God - Part 2 - The Elder Brother

According to Tim Keller in The Prodigal God, the elder brother in the prodigal son parable seeks happiness through moral rectitude rather than by the way of self-discovery like his younger brother. The problem isn't that he seeks to act rightly, but that he expects his righteous behavior to pay off for his benefit. While the younger brother defies his father by acting according to his own desires outside of his father's direction, the elder brother rejects the father by failing to honor him. He does not address him with respect, but treats him with scorn. Why does he do this? Consider the inheritance. The younger brother squandered his inheritance. What remains? Only that which is designated for the older brother. He has served his father faithfully and views the fatted calf as belonging to him. Does it? What do we claim is righfully ours because we have served faithfully? Health? Security? Children who bless us? It's also interesting that the parable doesn't have a neat ending. The younger brother comes in to the celebration, but the elder brother remains outside. He rejects both the father and the repentant sinner who has returned home. I would add that he also rejects all the others who have come to celebrate with them. Let's make sure we don't do that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Prodigal God - Part 1 - The Younger Son

I'm reading through The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller and thought I'd summarize and share my thoughts with you as I go. It's based on - you guessed it - the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15.
Keller suggests that the story might best be named the parable of the Two Lost Sons. The younger son requests his inheritance while his father is living, which is equivalent to wishing him dead. This is the same thing we do when we crave God's blessings but not God Himself. Keller refers to this son's approach as the way of self-discovery. "In this view," he says, "the world would be a far better place if tradition, prejudice, hierarchical authority, and other barriers to personal freedom were weakened or removed... The person choosing the way of self-discovery says, 'I'm the only one who can decide what is right or wrong for me. I'm going to live as I want to live and find my true self and happiness that way.'"
Anyone would recognize the sin of the younger brother as he humiliates his family and lives a self-indulgent life. His sin is marked by flagrant defiance, and he is like the "tax collectors and sinners" who were drawn to Jesus.
But I'm led to ask myself - in what ways am I defiant like the younger son? What areas of my life do I seek to wrench away from God's control? The way to tell is to ask where I stomp my feet when God's ways conflict with how I want to live and what I feel like doing.
Have I convinced myself I'm a night person because I can be creative after hours and prefer doing that than to rising early in order to prepare for caring for my family? Ouch. That one pins me to the wall. Am I selfishly coveting my time to enjoy doing what I want rather than serving others? Do I seek out the folks who stroke my ego or enjoy the same things I do or make me laugh rather than those who most need friends? Do I honor others in the little things, like preparing what my family members enjoy for meals and serving out the best portions to them rather than myself? It's incredible to me how tempting it is every day to snag that nice hunk of grilled steak or the piece of salmon I prefer while serving out!
And then I have to ask the harder questions. Am I neglectful or stingy with my time with God, or in my feelings toward others, or in my motivations - even for doing good things? May God have mercy on me, because I am.
And, thankfully, He does.
More on that next time...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No, We're Not Expecting

But thought you might enjoy a chuckle with this:

A Bible Study on Pregnancy

Enlarging belly:
Your waist is a (heaping) mound of wheat, encircled by lilies (ok, very long lilies). -Song of Solomon 7:2b

Morning sickness:
You yourself will suffer severe sickness, a lingering disease of the bowels, day after day (after day after day...). - 2 Chronicles 21:15

We were with child, we writhed in pain, but gave birth only to wind. – Isaiah 26:18a

Go. - Matthew 28:19
Yes, go... - Exodus 2:8a
Run... - 1 Samuel 20:36
Run now! - 2 Kings 4:26

Pregnancy diet:
If you find honey, eat just enough. Too much of it, and you will vomit.
- Proverbs 25:16

Maternity clothing:
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide. Spare not! Lengthen all your cords. - Isaiah 54:2

Maternity underwear:
And you shall make for them linen breeches to cover their loins; from
the torso even unto the thighs they shall reach. - Exodus 28:42

The bed is too small to stretch out on; the blanket too narrow to stretch around you. - Isaiah 28:20

Even as (she) walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows
everyone how stupid (she) is. - Ecclesiastes 10:2

Medical restriction from sex:
Then the Lord became angry with me and said, "You shall not enter."
- Deuteronomy 1:37

Baby kicking during church:
The mountain skipped like a ram; the hills like little lambs.
-Psalm 114:4

Water Breaking:
You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from
Lebanon. - Song of Solomon 4:15

If the clouds are full of water, they will pour rain upon the earth.
- Ecclesiastes 11:3a

Hospital attire:
Strip off your lovely clothes, put sackcloth around your waists. -Isaiah 33:11

Bad breath during labor:
(Her) breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from (her) mouth.
-Job 41:21

Husbands during labor:
It is not permitted them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience to their spouses, as the Law says. -1 Corinthians 14:34

Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise - why destroy yourself?
- Ecclesiastes 7:16

You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride. You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain (no, mountain). -Song of Solomon 4:12

Labor not progressing:
My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? Turn, O Lord,
and deliver me! - Psalm 6:3-4

He opened the doors of the temple, and then he repaired them.
- 2 Chronicles 29:3

I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates. - Song of Solomon 8:2b.

Nursing bras:
Therefore, put on the full armor of God...with the breastplate of righteousness firmly in place. -Ephesians 6:11,14

Breast pumps:
Beat your breasts --- for the fruit of the vines. Isaiah 32:12

Any dignity you’ve ever had is gone forever:
I am a handmaiden of the Lord. – Luke 1:38

Written by Mary Elizabeth Hall, with love, for my fellow preggos at Community Bible Study in Opelika, AL in March 1996

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