Friday, June 24, 2016

"Help Us Have a Fun Rest of the Day"

“Dear God, please help us have fun.”

This is a prayer we’ve taught our children since they were tiny.

We said, “Have fun” about everything—school, trips, all kinds of activities. I told them to have fun when they were taking big tests. I said it when they were going to the doctor.

They learned it well. For years, when the kids prayed at mealtime, they’d finish with, “Help us to have fun for the rest of the day.” Is that all I’ve taught my kids?

Truly, I think this is a good thing. We didn’t want them to be frightened or worried.

We are to have joy as Christians. Laughter is good medicine. We can’t be good witnesses for Christ by being glum-faced.

Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

So when my kids start a new job, I tell them to have fun as they walk out the door. When they’re doing something unknown or scary, I tell them to have a good time.

It’s good medicine for me too.

When Rebecca moved to another state to start her job, I told her to have fun, even while I was trying not to cry. When Benjamin moves to the dorm this fall, I’m sure I’ll say, “Have some fun,” again fighting the pain in my own heart.

No, I’m not sorry for putting the idea of fun into their heads. We have so many things to be nervous about, to be sad about, many problems and difficulties to climb in life. So let’s strive to have fun any time we can.

Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Prodigal Father

God is a prodigal father.

A year ago on Father’s Day, we walked into Prodigal Church in Lakewood for the first time. They caught Murray’s attention by promising a free cigar to the first ten fathers. He doesn’t smoke cigars, but he thought it was a catchy draw.

We have loved the church. They stress God’s overwhelming love for hurting people, often referring to the story of “The Prodigal Son” in Luke 15.

But Murray and I both decided to look up prodigal the second time we heard them refer to God as “The Prodigal Father.”

We weren’t sure about that. Our idea of prodigal was of the younger son, wasting his father’s money with sinful living, then finding his way back home.

I looked up prodigal on This is what I found.

wastefully or recklessly extravagant:
Prodigal expenditure.
giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with):
Prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
lavishly abundant; profuse:
nature's prodigal resources.

Number one seemed to relate to what I expected. The younger son was wasteful, reckless.

But I had to admit, the other listings pointed to the love God shows us: giving or yielding profusely; lavishly abundant.

The father in Luke 15, a picture of God, showed lavish and profuse love to both his lost sons.

He was watching for his younger son, the one who had taken his money and gone away to waste it. He was watching for him and ran to embrace him when he finally came home.

To think of God loving me this way almost brings tears to my crusty old heart.

This son had treated his father as though he wished he was dead. That is a good picture of how hatefully I’ve treated God with the sin in my life.

But Luke says the father had compassion on his son. I looked up compassion on

a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

That certainly explains how God has treated us. Because of his sorrow for our suffering, he yielded himself lavishly and abundantly to alleviate our pain.

Yes, God is a prodigal father.

Luke 15:20: So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Romans 5: 8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Higher Grounds Cafe

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café, by Max Lucado, Candace Lee, and Eric Newman.

I love reading books by Max Lucado. He has many times helped me find hope from the grace of God. Recently, I found a fiction book he wrote with two other authors, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café.

It was a delight.

Chelsea and her family are definitely in need of a miracle. Separated from her husband, she is trying to run her mother’s coffee shop on her own, handle great debt, and find hope for a new life for herself and her children.

Her guardian angel, Mannie, is sent down to help her. He is disguised as a clumsy, laughable, lovable human, who needs a job just as Chelsea’s assistant leaves her alone. He, and a couple of friends, bring the God blog to the coffee shop.

Only at the Higher Grounds Café can people come to ask God a question, and the business has a speedy growth.

The answers on the blog claim to come from God. They sometimes use Scripture, always agree with Scripture, and each one is personal.

Besides the blog, the story takes Chelsea, her family, friends, and community on a ride with many twists and turns, ups and downs, like one of the frightening amusement park rides Chelsea’s son loves.

A pastor and his wife need to reexamine the focus of their ministry. People with broken hearts find grace. Others come to believe in God, and there’s a Gideon-like sign.

After surprising sorrows and frights, God leads Chelsea and more hurting souls in a dance to find his love and grace, and pass them along to those they would never have believed they could meet with grace.

Psalm 86: 5: You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Hebrews 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?