You’re Back!

Steve Arterburn

The story of the prodigal son is intriguing because it mirror’s God the Father’s view of you. Like the father in the story, His eyes are always fixed on the crest of the hill, longing to see you coming over the horizon on your way home.

God isn’t the slightest bit preoccupied with whether or not you’re worthy to return to Him. He knows you’re not. Personal worth isn’t the issue at hand. The prodigal son worried about this too. He was certain that his sinful lifestyle had disqualified him’had made him unworthy of being considered his father’s son.

But the father quickly brushed all that aside. ‘What’s this talk about worthiness? You’re back! That’s what matters!’ Their relationship was restored instantly. No paybacks. No shame. No looking back.

Why? What’s Jesus’ point in telling the story? On what basis can the son return? Be careful. Ripping this story from its biblical context distorts its meaning and defuses its power.

Jesus’ point is we’re all prodigal sons. We’ve all taken from our heavenly Father’s generosity, snubbed our noses at Him, and went off to abuse His gifts’using them to cover ourselves in the pig muck of sin!

We can return to Him because we’ve been sought and found by Jesus Christ. His cross has removed everything that separated us from God the Father. So if you’re in the far country, don’t be foolish! Return to the Father through Jesus Christ today. 

Unconditional Affirmation

Steve Arterburn

Men, as you both articulate and demonstrate acceptance to your children, be sure to avoid making that acceptance conditional. Don’t make it dependent upon some accomplishment, such as academics, athletics, Scouting, or civic work. Achievements in those areas are definitely commendable, and you should be sure to communicate that to them. But if your son or daughter only hears affirmation when he or she performs, they’ll leave home conditioned to perform in order to continue hearing the words of acceptance they so desperately want and need from you.

 

When children are blessed by their father, they’re steadily released to become their own person. Then, when the time comes, the father can say, ‘My days of training and influence are complete. I am always here to help you should you need something I can provide. But I am now stepping down from my position over you to assume a position beside you. Instead of your teacher or corrector, I am now counselor and friend. I believe you are well prepared to achieve everything that is your desire and calling. You have my blessing, not because of what I believe you will accomplish, but because of who I know you are.’

 

Guys, that’s what your children desperately need from you. It’ll help them immeasurably as they endeavor to be mature and productive people in this world; to be good husbands and wives and fathers and mothers; and to live faithful, obedient, and joyful lives in Christ.

The Secrets Of God And Men

Steve Arterburn

Secrets aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If they were, God wouldn’t have them. Yet Scripture tells us that God keeps some things completely to himself. The Bible calls these the ‘secret things’ of God. But if it’s acceptable for God to keep secrets, why isn’t it completely acceptable for us men to do likewise?

 

One key difference between God’s secrets and ours lies in the area of motive. Being perfect and pure, God has reasons for keeping secrets that reflect His flawless character. Fallen men, on the other hand, are neither perfect nor pure. Therefore, a man’s motives for keeping secrets are suspect.

 

The bottom line is this, and every man knows it: most of your secrets are kept out of fear’fear of embarrassment, shame, guilt, loss of respect, loss of stature and favor, repercussions, reparations, and so on. In other words, men usually keep secrets for all the wrong reasons. Understandable reasons perhaps, but wrong nonetheless.

 

Beyond being wrong, your secrets are also destructive. They divide you against yourself. They cause isolation and lack of honesty in your relationships with others. And finally, they provide the context in which sin thrives.

 

By way of contrast, exposing secrets to the light of truth robs them of their power to hold and harm you. It fosters humility, creates accountability, and allows you to be restored by the grace and love of God and your loved ones. Men, honesty truly is the best policy.