The Prodigal….GOD

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Prodigal – adjective

1.    Recklessly extravagant

2. having spent everything

I remember a story – don’t know if it was a movie or a book – about a Woodsman who lived with his two year old son and a big German Shepherd in a cabin in the wilderness. One evening the Woodsman had to unexpectedly go out, but he felt safe leaving his small, sleeping, son with his loyal German Shepherd. However, as he was returning, he heard a horrible commotion and bursting through the door saw his son with blood all over him and his dog’s teeth and nose covered in it. Without hesitation, he kills the dog. But looking around, he sees that his son is safe and a huge wolf that had somehow got into the cabin lay dead after what must have been a heroic fight put up by his loyal – yet now dead – dog. Sometimes it is good to stop and see things more clearly. It can change everything! 

In the next few weeks, we are going to take a closer look at a very familiar story that Jesus told. Most title it, “The Prodigal Son” and define “prodigal” as “wayward” or “rebellious” or “lost.” But really, it is a story about two lost sons where, to be honest, each of us can find ourselves…..and the prodigal (recklessly extravagant) love of the Father – of our Father God – for all. Like a beautifully cut diamond, we will look with new eyes at a number of facets of this story that Jesus told. It will challenge us, no matter who we are, to see ourselves with new, fresh, eyes, as well our prodigal God. Finally, it will give us a new, fresh, and powerful understanding of Jesus, our elder brother.

As the foundation and springboard for our focus, we will use a wonderful book entitled, “The Prodigal God” which will be given away to all. In the introduction, the author writes, “I believe that if the teaching of Jesus is likened to a lake, this famous Parable of the Prodigal Son would be one of the clearest spots where we can see all the way to the bottom.” This book – and this story told by Jesus – is meant for you whether you are a longtime follower of Jesus or just curious to know “what it’s all about” or anywhere in between.  For finally, we are all trying to find our way back to God. Whoever you are, this short series is for YOU!

Sat./Sun. October 5th/6th         “Setting the Scene For Everything”

Many have compared this story Jesus told to a Two Act play. So today, we are setting the scene, giving the context, describing the audience, revealing the characters, and in all this finding where we fit in the action. If it’s true that this story is a microcosm of the whole Bible, this is all kind of important, don’t you think?...especially where we fit into it all?

Sat./Sun. October 12th/13th          The Two Lost Sons

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the rest of the story?” Many years ago there was an announcer on the radio – his name was Paul Harvey – who made this phrase famous.  After doing the regular Newscast, he did a bit he called “the rest of the story” in which he would take one of the stories in the news and elaborate on it, giving the listener a much more in depth – and amusing – angle on it. It made him famous. Today, we take a closer look at the two sons in our story. They were both lost….and so are we.

Sat.Sun. October 19th/20th             Two Ways To Find Happiness

Everyone is looking to be happy. How is that working out for you? And could it be that the very ways we look to be happy is at the root of our problem?.... always looking but never finding?  Today we look at the two ways all of humankind tend to try to find happiness….And just maybe a third way will be revealed to us that will finally give us what we seek.

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Sat.Sun. October 26th/27th                   What’s a Lutheran? Stand-alone Reformation Celebration

When we lived in Indiana, the natives there called themselves “Hoosiers.” But did you know that no one knows what a “Hoosier” is?

When my son James and His wife Kayla, began their work as campus missionaries on the Chico State campus for CRU (Campus Crusade for Chirst), no one on their team at Chico State had ever heard of a “Lutheran” and, in fact, were kind of fearful at first that they were part of a Christian cult. Today, we remember and rejoice in who we are in Christ as Christians who share this tribe, “Lutheran.” So, you got questions? Trust me, it’s not like “Hoosier.” James really had an answer – and a Christian witness – that put the whole team at ease and created Christian friendship.  Oh, and if your question is more along the lines of “What’s a reformation?”, no problem, it’s not like “Hoosier” either.  

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  Sat.Sun. November 2nd/3rd                  Taking Lostness To Heart 

My brother and I were once caught in a blizzard (that had not been forecast) on a backpacking trip. We soon got out the maps and

determined the quickest and safest way out. Maybe thirty minutes down the trail we met a couple who refused to come out with us even though we showed them on the map that what they were planning was not wise. But they refused to listen. They refused to admit they were lost, going the wrong way, even when shown on the map. When we got back home, we saw in the Newspaper that they had died. Today, we will view “lostness” from a different perspective as it is redefined in the story for each of us, no matter who we are.  It will challenge each of us. We can take it to heart and see another way…or not.  

Sat.Sun. November 9th/10th    Wait! Something’s Missing In The Story!

I love this insight into the story. It is awesome! It brings everything together! We’re going to talk about it this weekend. I can’t wait!

Sat.Sun. November 16th/17th           Home  

In the last movie in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Elrond, an elf, smells the sea breeze and says, “the sea is calling us home.” Where – or what – is home for you? Does the sea breeze call you to the ocean? Do the Mountain winds beckon? Or perhaps another place tied to sights, scenes, smells, and places of your life? But when we go to these places, are they the answer? Are we truly home? Or does the emptiness and longing still remain?...a soft, still voice saying, there has to be another place for me to be happy and whole and complete…for me to be home. Today, we talk about why we have these longings and about being home at last.

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Sat.Sun. November 23rd/24th         Thanksgiving Celebration!    Stand Alone Thanksgiving Celebration!

Thanksgiving is a National Holiday. Funny, that everyone seems to know that we should really be thankful to SOMEONE for everything we are and have! What a gift if one knows who that SOMEONE is! I pray this is true for you and even more so after the last few weeks! In the book of James it says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” Today we together celebrate this God and give thanks for every gift, even as we look to be renewed in reflecting the generosity of our God in our lives. For after all, we have been created- and in Jesus recreated – in His image! “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever!”