My friend Ray had this on his facebook page and I got a kick out of it. Enjoy!
This is more directed towards the men who might be reading, so ladies out there, I hope you’ll forgive me.
Gentlemen, how are some ways that you show your wife you love her? What are some of the things you do that fail to show that?
Last week, I wrote about why I love my wife, but there’s something I do that frustrates her to no end: When I forget to write things on the calendar, it drives her nuts. It may seem like a small thing, but go with me for a second. When I don’t write something down on the calendar, a meeting, a social event, an appointment, it creates a false expectation for a day or evening. If Emily doesn’t know I’m meeting with a friend, or have a business engagement, she expects me (rightly) to be at home with her and Abigail. She makes plans accordingly.
Last night is a perfect example. I forgot to write down that I was meeting with someone; we talked about it, but because of bus schedules, it caused me to have to leave very early—before I had the opportunity to eat the meal she was lovingly preparing for me and spend some quality time with her.
This was not very loving of me, to say the least.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of those stories that everyone knows: A man had two sons. The younger of the two approaches his father and demands his inheritance, despite his father being very much alive and well. He leaves his home and spends all he has on reckless living. As a famine hit the land, he finds himself in need, and gets a job feeding pigs. While longing to eat the pig’s slop, he begins to pine for his father’s house, remembering how well even the servants were treated. So , he returns home, prepared to ask forgiveness and for a job, but his father goes much further than anyone expects—He welcomes him back into the family, and throws a party to celebrate the son who was lost, but is found.
For many of us, that’s about where we stop. The wayward son returns home and there is much joy. Timothy Keller in The Prodigal God reminds us that the parable doesn’t end there—and we have much to learn from the older brother who remained behind and was seemingly obedient to his father.
In this short work, Keller lays out the essentials of the Christian message, the gospel, and how this parable helps us to understand the Bible as a whole. The whole of the Bible is really speaking to two kinds of people: The “reckless spendthrifts” (the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary definition of “prodigal”), licentious sinners, the broken and wayward—the younger brother of the parable—and the self-righteous, religious folk who try to earn their way into God’s grace through morality and strict obedience, but no joy—the elder brother. And more often than not, we’re both at the same time.
Keller rightly asserts that while Jesus was neither on the side of the irreligious nor the religious, “he singles out religious moralism as a particularly deadly spiritual condition” (page 13).
Jesus, Keller says, shows us that while one son stayed and the other left, both were lost. And while the younger realized that he had lost his way, we’re left wondering about the elder son. Jesus doesn’t finish the story. Why does he leave it on a cliffhanger? “[B]ecause the real audience for the story is the Pharisees, the elder brothers” (page 28, emphasis mine). In doing so, Jesus is pleading with the Pharisees to understand the real message behind the parable: That their strict conformity to rules with no joy—their religious moralism—is blinding them to the reality of their own hearts. That for those of us who have a tendency toward the posture of the elder brother, we must be careful that our careful obedience to God’s law doesn’t “serve as a strategy for rebelling against God” (page 37). We must not obey to get things from God, or begin to think that He owes us because we, like the elder brother, “have never disobeyed!” While the younger brother’s rebellion is “crashingly obvious,” says Keller, “the elder brother who is more blind to what is going on” (page 47).
Keller redefines lostness, not simply as irreligious or licentious behavior, but also as a bitter resentment, joyless servitude, and a constant lack of assurance of God’s love. This lack of assurance is particularly devastating as shows us that we do not seek God’s love, but the affirmation of others. Those of us who lean toward the elder brother mentality can’t always see just how damaging our condition is, and “desperately need to see themselves in this mirror” (page 66).
From here, the subject shifts to the gospel. We can be free of our younger and elder brother tendencies as we “gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother [Jesus]” (page 89). In Jesus, we have hope that we can return home to the Father, and that we, too, can rejoice in the new creation when He comes again.
What I appreciate most about The Prodigal God is that in it, Keller doesn’t let me off the hook. He shows me my tendencies (I err on the side of the elder brother—shocking, I know), but doesn’t pat me on the head and say, “There, there… you’re a pain, but God loves you anyway.” He doesn’t call me to pull myself up by my spiritual bootstraps and do better.
He points me to the gospel.
There is no question that Timothy Keller is a pastor who deeply loves people and loves the gospel. And he knows that it’s only the gospel that will bring us to repentance, empowering and enabling us to live transformed lives.
The Prodigal God is a sobering and impassioned reminder that the gospel is “not just the ABC’s of the Christian life, but the A to Z of the Christian life” (page 119). Through the gospel, we can be freed of our younger and elder brother tendencies, and respond rightly to what God has done—with joyful obedience, faithful service and confidence in our status as His children.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2).
This psalm opens with this bold statement: We are blessed when the Lord forgives our sins and transgressions. This weekend, Christians have celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus—by which all our sins are covered and our transgressions are forgiven. Because “He who knew no sin became sin,” we can now, in Him, “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Those who have trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, who have been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, have been given the greatest blessing of all.
But sometimes I wonder—do I really see repentance as the blessing that it truly is? [Read more…]
Mars Hill Church in Seattle is live-streaming their Easter Sunday services. If you’re on the road and unable to celebrate with your church, or you’re just curious about what a Mars Hill service looks like, you can watch online at marshillchurch.org/live.
If you’ve ever wondered where the Easter bunny came from, The Resurgence has provided an interesting article.
Tim Challies provides a helpful review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest book, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will:
Kevin DeYoung takes on this challenge and succeeds admirably, crafting a short but powerful book that really packs a punch. His unique angle is reflected in the title: Just Do Something! “My goal,” he says, “is not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and perhaps, get married.” He fears that many Christians, because of their unbliblical understanding of knowing and doing the will of God, are wasting their lives doing nothing when they should just be doing, well, something! “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering Gods wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”
Piper on God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
“…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” 1 Cor 15:3b
I just watched a stunningly powerful Good Friday service, which included a reenactment of the brutal execution of Jesus. Emily and I watched, horrified and captivated. It was not gratuitously graphic, but it was hard to watch, simply because it brings home the reality of the cross that we sorely need.
Listening to the powerful audio rendition of the story of Jesus’ false trial and murder shook me (in a really good way, I think). It pressed upon me.
Sometimes I wonder how seriously we take the cross. We say “Christ died for our sins,” but I don’t know if we fully appreciate the weight of the statement. Some state it as little more than a throw-away line to the declaration of a victorious life. Some rush past it as quickly as possible, remaining unaffected by it. But we dare not do so.
Christ died for our sins.
Christ died for our sins.
Christ died for our sins.
Let these words sink in today, if you happen to be reading this.
Tomorrow, Christians will be celebrating the Resurrection; celebrating the defeat of Satan, sin and death. Celebrating that those who have faith in Jesus have been made new creations, with hearts desiring to worship Him.
But for today, remember that Christ died for our sins—yours and mine. That His death was only necessary because of our rebellion: Our lying, stealing, gossiping, adultery, sexual immorality, hatred, cowardice and pride.
Remember that Christ died, not because you and I are worthy, but because God is.
Remember the cost. The godly for the ungodly.
The righteous for the unrighteous.
Remember the cost, and praise God for His mercy.