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. 

Creating Your Boundaries

Steve Arterburn

Men, establishing personal boundaries is imperative to your spiritual freedom and vitality. These boundaries should be intentional and thought out ahead of time; while in the midst of temptation is no time to attempt to put them in place. They should be determined by and measured against God’s word. And finally, boundaries should be appropriately and strategically customized to your unique life situation and struggles.

 

These are some general guidelines for thinking through how you create and apply boundaries. But what concrete expression might they take in your life? Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. Perhaps your boundaries may include:

         Blocking the pay-per-view option at the hotel front desk.

         Refusing to make low-blow putdowns during marital disagreements.

         Saying ‘no’ when asked to do things on weekends that don’t involve the whole family.

         Never being alone with a woman who isn’t your wife.

         Turning the channel when there’s too much skin and too little clothing on TV ‘ even if it’s only a commercial.

         Refusing to keep self-destructive secrets from your wife.

         Never making a significant financial or family decision without first consulting your wife.

Guys, formulating and committing to personal boundaries forces you to take honest stock of your life both practically and spiritually. It means counting the cost of what it’ll take to build a solid spiritual life, and adjusting your expectations to match the reality of being God’s man.

Dad-Stories

Steve Arterburn

Most men have Dad-stories, don’t they? I sure do. But in his book, When Men Think Private Thoughts, Gordon MacDonald makes the observation that men with positive Dad-stories are in the minority. MacDonald finds the majority of Dad-stories he hears are about anger and regret’stories punctuating the sad reality that the son never really knew his dad, or his dad never seemed to be around, or his father never conveyed to him that he loved him and enjoyed being his father.

Do Gordon MacDonald’s observations parallel your own? Many men don’t have as many positive Dad-stories as they should have’or need to have.

Guys, have you ever considered the connection between the fact that Jesus of Nazareth appears to have been the most assured man to ever walk the face of the earth and what His Father said to Him when He began His public life: ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).’ That simple statement contains two things every man needs to know from his father: he’s loved, and he’s well pleasing. To pronounce such a blessing upon a young man or woman’of any age for that matter’releases pent-up anxiety that constantly wants to know, ‘How am I doing, Dad?’

If you’re listening, and you have a son or a daughter, give him or her this invaluable gift. Let them hear your affirmation, and let then know they’re pleasing to you.