Help for Hurting Parents – 3

Many homes know the heartache of watching a child make a major mistake.  Dr. Luke wrote in his gospel account:  Luke 15:11-13 (NKJV)   Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.”

This looks at the sons but focuses on the father. The dad does everything right as he responds to his son.  We see a seven-fold response.

  1. The dad let him go without rejecting him. He could have easily said, “Ok, take your inheritance but don’t ever come back here.  The dad allowed the son to make decisions that he knew would not be the best for the son…he respected his son enough to let him make his own decisions. Of course, age is a factor . . . you don’t let a 8 year old, or a 16 year old have this total freedom yet.  Real love grants this freedom to a child of age even if you know it is the wrong decision . . . and you don’t reject them.  Sometimes the best lessons learned are those that we learned through a wrong decision.
  2. The dad never stopped caring. Luke 15:20b (NKJV)  . . . his father saw him and had compassion. Everyday that the son was gone, the dad would look and watch intently for his son to return.  Why? . . . he loved his son with all his heart!
  3. The dad’s love ran deepLuke 15:20b-c (NKJV)  . . .  his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. The dad could have been disgusted with the son.  No . . . this dad loved his son no matter what he looked like, smelled like . . . no matter what wrong he had done!
  4. The dad’s love was not conditional. Luke 15:20 (NKJV)  And he arose . . . and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  The dad did not say, “Are you repentant?”  He didn’t ask.  He didn’t wait to see a broken will in the son.  His love for his son was unconditional . . . ”I love you no matter what!”
  5. The dad humbled himself in front of allLuke 15:20 (NKJV)  …he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. In that day and age, it was a disgrace for an older man to run in public. He would have to pull up his outer garment and gird it . . . this was undignified.  This dad didn’t care about this. He humbled himself and ran to his son!
  6. The dad gave the son undeserved generosityLuke 15:22-24 (NKJV)   But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. [23] And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; [24] for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.And they began to be merry. This is nothing more than pure grace!  The tough question is, “discipline or grace?”  In this case, I believe that God had already disciplined the son…now God directs the father to show grace.  For most of us, we probably err on the side of discipline rather than grace.
  7. The dad totally accepts the son. Luke 15:21 (NKJV)  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ The dad does not lay down the new ground rules…that will come later…for now, the dad just needs to accept his son . . . as if the deed had never happened!

This is one of the most wonderful illustrations of responding to a child that goes astray.  The dad knew what complete forgiveness looked like:

  • It was immediate.
  • It was total.
  • It was forgotten.  It was not, “I’ll forgive but I can’t forget!”
  • It was costly.  If the son bore the price, it was justice. If the father, bore the price, it was forgiveness.  The dad just simply absorbed the son’s wrongs.
  • It was restorative.  The former relationship was re-established.

This is the way my heavenly Father loved and forgave me . . . why should I do anything less?  Do you kknow what prodigal means?  It means ‘excessive or extravagant’.  So you have an excessive and extravagant son being given excessive and extravagant love and forgiveness by the dad!!!

But what do you do between the time of their departure from the teachings of Christ and their return?  This is when the heart aches.  So what do you do?  Tomorrow’s post will address this.


Help for Hurting Parents – 2

More and more we hear of Christian parents who are having children to stray from the teachings of Christ.  There are a lot of tears and a lot of heartache.  This is not the first time in history nor is it an isolated problem.  Some of God’s greatest servants have had children who rebelled.  Billy and Ruth Graham shed a lot of tears over Franklin (Check out Ruth’s book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait).  W.A. Criswell was heartbroken over his daughter.  Dr. Scarborough, who was one of the main founders of Southwestern Seminary, would walk the campus and weep over his children who had gone astray.  He was heard quoting the Old Testament passage, “Other vineyards have I tended, but my own I have neglected!”

What do you say?  Who do you blame?  What do you do?  God is the perfect parent and we are His children…and we rebel.  So, even perfect parents have problem children. Children have freewill also.  We can stand around and point fingers all day long to cast blame…what good does that do?  What is important now is the steps that are needed to reclaim the children for Christ.

The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a great passage to help us understand what happened and how to respond as a parent.  I believe that the one principle that comes through the loudest is this:  Parents must demonstrate love and forgiveness to their children.

I can remember in the first church that my husband pastored, one of the deacons of the church had a daughter who was very rebellious and was dating a guy of whom the dad did not approve.  The guy and girl were sexually active and she ended up pregnant.  I can remember the night we heard the deacon say in anger to his daughter, “As far as I am concerned, I have no daughter!”  I will never forget the look on the face of the daughter.  A few weeks after this the girl gave birth to a still-born baby. She was devastated and wanted to see her dad…but her father could not be convinced to go to his hurting daughter.

Establish this rule:  Nothing will cause me to ever stop loving my children!

The father of the prodigal son experienced the same thing that we experience when one of our children rebels against the things that they were taught.  The father experienced rejection, humiliation, and guilt. When the son walked in and asked for his inheritance, he was saying, “I value my share of the inheritance more than you…so give it to me now!”  In essence, he was saying, “I wish you were dead so I could get the inheritance now.”  The son rejected the dad, his customs, and his values.

This had to be humiliating. The custom of the day was that your family would buy a plot of ground and keep it in the family for generations…you simply pass it to your children and they in turn pass it to theirs.  This son walked in and said, “I want it now!”  The father gave it to him, and the son then sold it for cash. Oh how humiliating and disappointing that must have been to this dad…especially to see someone move onto the land that had been in the family for years.

The father was stunned by all of this.  The questions began:

  • Where did I go wrong?
  • What did I do to make him hate me?
  • Why doesn’t he want to be with me anymore?

The father’s mind went back and forth through all the mistakes that he has made as a dad.  These were actions or lack of actions or words that he wished he could correct . . . but it was too late. The more he thought about it, the more the guilt piled up.

But with all the rejection and humiliation and guilt, the story of the prodigal son is more about a loving and forgiving dad than anything!

Remember these two principles:

Parents must demonstrate love and forgiveness to their children.

Nothing will ever cause me to stop loving my children!

Next post will look at the father’s response to the son.


Help for Hurting Parents – 1

I have talked with several hurting parents recently who have watched their children walk away from the Biblical training they were given.  As parents we pray that our children will always walk with Him, however, sometimes they may turn away for a while.  The next few days I will post a series of articles to help hurting parents.

Here are some scriptures I was claiming when we were going through some struggles with one of our children who has since returned to the Lord!!!!!!!

Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.

Jeremiah 24:5-7 (NKJV)
“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.  For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land;
I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.  Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 31:16-17 (NKJV)
Thus says the Lord: “Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, That your children shall come back to their own border.

Proverbs 11:21 (NKJV)
Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the seed of the righteous will be delivered.

Proverbs 12:7 (NKJV)
The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.

Proverbs 24:15 (NKJV)
Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not plunder his resting place;

Jeremiah 4:1 (NKJV)
“If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, Then you shall not be moved.

Isaiah 59:21 (GW)
“This is my promise to them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I put in your mouth will not leave you. They will be with your children and your grandchildren permanently,” says the Lord.

– – Comforting Words from the Lord!!!! Our children will “come back from the land of the enemy” “to their own borders” with “their whole hearts”!!!


An answer to 25 years of praying!

Our son Jon proposed to Mallory tonight!  She is an answer to 25 years of praying.  “We didn’t even know her name, but we were praying for her just the same, that the Lord would write His name upon her heart, because somewhere in the course of this life, our little boy would need a Godly wife.”  We are very thankful for God’s gift of Mallory to Jon and our family.

Please listen to this song.  We first heard it when our boys were very small.  It is a father singing about the little girl that will one day become his little boy’s wife.  Becca and I listened to it together when Josh proposed to her;  Mallory and I just finished listening to it together.

11-somewhere-in-the-world [mp3 download available at Somewhere In The World (LP Version)]

Pray for your children’s future mates.  God is faithful to hear and answer your prayers.  Thank you, Father!!!



She is savoring every moment with Grant. ( So am I  🙂 )
If you are having trouble savoring, listen to this old song by Bill and Gloria Gaither:
we-have-this-moment (Warning – it’s kinda sappy; you may need to have tissues handy)
You can get an mp3 of the song at: