The Run-Away, Run-Back Problem Child: Coming Home to Grace, Mercy, and Love

The elementary school around the corner called. Our problem child
was at it again.

The Run-Away, Run-Back Problem Child: Coming Home to Grace, Mercy, and Love (by Jean Wilund) via www.JeanWilund.com Thoughts about the prodigal son and his father's great love and my Siberian Husky

Princess.

Our two-year old Siberian Husky loved her freedom. She’d busted out of our fenced-in back yard and was tearing across the school playground.

Just like the day before. And the day before that.

To Princess, the children looked like a hundred little playmates.
To the terrified little playmates, Princess looked like a wolf.

The children’s shrieks prodded her on. The ensuing game of chase
with the teachers sealed the deal. The elementary schoolyard was the best place
to play.

Princess was never a danger to anyone except cats. But she was
quick. And she only did what she wanted.

She never wanted to be caught.

“Grab your coats, kids, and some deli meat out of the fridge. We
have to go get Princess.”

My four-year old tromped out the door with the meat and a heavy
sigh. “I wish we had a run-away, run-back doggie.”

“Me, too, honey. Me, too.”

The Run-Away, Run-Back Son

Recently, my thoughts returned to our run-away, never-run-back Princess while teaching the Dayschool children the parable of The Run-Away, Run-Back Son and His Grumpy Older Brother (Luke 15:11-32). 

In this parable, the younger son told his father he wanted his
inheritance. Now.

He basically said, “Father, I wish you were dead.”

In the culture of that day, he should’ve braced himself for a
slap. He’d rejected his father. His father must now reject him.

To the shock and outrage of Jesus’ listeners, Jesus took the parable in a different direction. Instead of exchanging wounds, the father laid down his right to slap his son. Out of his great love, he absorbed the rejection, gave him his inheritance, and let him leave.

The son walked away as good as dead. And happy about it, because
he was free.

Finally. Free.

Until reality slapped him with the truth.

The Truth

The run-away son’s inheritance dried up from wild living. His
friends, fun, and freedom dried up with it. And then the land did, too.

The Run-Away, Run-Back Problem Child: Coming Home to Grace, Mercy, and Love (by Jean Wilund) via www.JeanWilund.com Thoughts about the prodigal son and his father's great love and my Siberian Husky

His hunger drove him to the lowest place a Jewish man could plummet
– scavenging food from the pigs he slopped.

He’d believed the illusion that taking his inheritance and leaving
his father meant no one would ever control him again.

Illusions seem so real.

The truth was that even if he were to rise to the highest throne on earth, he’d still be controlled. If no man controlled him, the laws of nature still would, as would his passions and his pride.

They had driven him far from the father who loved him.

Run

As the son fought the pigs for their garbage meal, his mind raced
back to his father. The father who’d loved him — despite his humiliating rejection.

The father he hoped would let him come home.  

He wouldn’t dare ask to be his son again. That was over. He was dead.
He’d chosen that. But perhaps he could come home as a servant.

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him. And ran.
This Middle Eastern father ran.

Middle Eastern fathers never run.

It was unthinkable. Undignified. Their legs would flash skin.

The social prohibition not to run was such an imbedded part of
Middle Eastern culture, the ancient Arabic translations of the Bible didn’t use
the word for run. It chose the words hurried or hastened.

But this father didn’t hurry or hasten. He ran.

The Run-Away, Run-Back Problem Child: Coming Home to Grace, Mercy, and Love (by Jean Wilund) via www.JeanWilund.com Thoughts about the prodigal son and his father's great love and my Siberian Husky

He ran to reach his son before his son reached the scorn-filled
eyes of the villagers. Before anyone could heap contempt upon his son. He
ignored the rules, hiked up his robe, and ran like he could turn back time and
heal every wound with each step. He didn’t stop running until he’d fallen on
his son’s neck and kissed him.

He didn’t wait for a repentance speech. Or wallowing. He welcomed
his son into his arms. Into his grace and mercy. And back into his love.

Then he called for his servants.

“Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him,
and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the
fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;for this son
of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been
found” (Luke 15:22-24).

Oh, to be found, forgiven, and loved.

Unforgiveable

Our neighbor called. Our problem child was at it again.

But this time, Princess had gotten out and killed my cat.

Unforgivable. That’s what she was. Unforgivable.

Me? Devastated, angry, and vengeful. I was Unforgiving. I was unlike like the father.  

I didn’t want to welcome her into grace and mercy. I didn’t want
to run to her and kiss her neck. I wanted to ring it. I was done.

So I shipped her off. I sent Princess to a new home far from us.

The children’s tears and my steely unforgiveness reminded me what
a wretch I am.

Princess had simply been true to her nature. And I’d been true to mine. To my old one. Never mind that in Christ, I’ve been given a new nature. The old sinful one had risen up and taken control.

Praise God, my heavenly Father remains ever true to His unchanging nature.

He moves and works in wretched hearts like the run-away son’s. And mine.

He opens our eyes to see ourselves as we really are. To see the
Father as He really is.

He draws us and places a gnawing hunger into our hearts to come home.

And then He runs.

He sees us while we’re still far off. And He runs.

He runs to embrace us with forgiveness. To kiss our necks and
bring us home into His grace, mercy, and love. Forever.

let us eat and celebrate;
for this son of mine was dead
and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.


What about you?

What has seeing the pure nature of the Father’s love revealed to you about your own nature, about your love? How is God calling you to respond to His love? To His example of forgiveness?


PS

We sent Princess to live on a farm with a family who loved and owned five other Siberian Huskies. She could run to her hearts content and wear herself out playing with the other dogs. It was the best possible resolution for both Princess and our family. We had taken her in from a family who was moving to Cambodia. I treasure the many wonderful memories we had of our time with her, but even our best efforts couldn’t contain her. She snuck out continually and had killed other cats in the neighborhood. Her enthusiasm was simply bigger than our spacious back yard, and her intelligence put our fences to shame.

The Run-Away, Run-Back Problem Child: Coming Home to Grace, Mercy, and Love (by Jean Wilund) via www.JeanWilund.com Thoughts about the prodigal son and his father's great love and my Siberian Husky




Jesus Keeps His Appointments on CBN.com

Jesus Keeps His Appointments on CBN.com

I admit that title may be a bit confusing.

It sounds like Jesus only keeps His appointments on CBN.com. And what kind of appointments does He have there anyway?

Let me clear this up. Jesus Keeps His Appointments is a devotion I wrote for CBN.com — and you.

Check it out. You may even relate to an experience I share, although I hope not my exact experience. 

But surely I’m not the only person who’s envisioned authorities notifying the Department of Social Services about their parenting skills — or lack thereof. 

Click on this link to read the devotion and find out about my parenting skills and Jesus’ appointments:

Jesus Keeps His Appointments on CBN.com

And while you’re there, check out some of their other great devotions and articles. 

May you discover the faithfulness of Christ today!

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Don’t Misunderstand the Song “What a Beautiful Name” — Jesus Doesn’t Need You, But He Wants You

Don't Misunderstand the song "What a Beautiful Name" by Hillsong ~ Jesus Doesn't Need You, But He Wants You (via www.JeanWilund.com)I Misunderstood

The first time I heard What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong I misunderstood.

The song is topping the charts and played in churches around the world, but something about it sat wrong with me.

The line about Jesus not wanting heaven without you and me seemed off.

That line bothered me only because it could be misunderstood.

It sounded to me like the song was saying:

Jesus didn’t want Heaven if we couldn’t be in it.

It wasn’t complete without us.

He needed us so He came down to get us.

Doesn’t that sound sweet? Don’t you feel loved?

Except, No!

And I hope I’m right here, surely the songwriter didn’t mean that.

Surely, he meant:

Jesus didn’t want us to miss out on His perfect and complete Heaven.

We need Him so He came down to make a way for us to join Him there.

Don’t misunderstand. Jesus doesn’t need us. At all. But He wants us.

Now that should make you feel loved.


Jesus Doesn’t Need You, But He Wants You

Jesus isn’t Jerry McGuire coming for his bride. We don’t complete Him.

He’s complete already — self-sufficient, lacking nothing.

He doesn’t even need our friendship.

From eternity past, Jesus has lived in perfect relationship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

He wasn’t lonely and looking for love. He’s always been perfect and complete. 


Why Didn’t Jesus Want Heaven Without us?

Jesus doesn’t need heaven with us. He simply wants heaven with us.

It’s the same reason why He created us.

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.
~ Revelation 4:11

Jesus doesn’t need you. But He wants you. 

The next time you feel less than lovable, remember the One who doesn’t need you, created you, and He loves you.

Yes, you’re going to act unlovable at times. Welcome to the human race.

But don’t misunderstand: You may act unlovable at times, but you will never be unlovable. 

Jesus proved it by coming down for you so that He can have heaven with you, not without you.

Keep that perspective in mind as you listen to What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong:

Don't Misunderstand the song #WhataBeautifulName. #Jesus Doesn't Need You, but He Wants you! Click To Tweet




Christ is Calling us to Receive His Salvation. Here’s How.

How to Receive Salvation from sin through Jesus Christ (via www.JeanWilund.com)

If you’ve never chosen to trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to pay for your sin, or even really understood what that means, let me explain. 

First, we need to understand why we even need salvation.

The Problem


Sin is the problem.

Sin is the heart attitude that says, “God’s not the boss of me. I do as I please.” It sets itself against God basically saying, “I don’t need you. I decide for myself what is good, what is evil, and how I will live my life. I will be my own god.” 

Sin is opposed to God and separates us from Him. 

It started in the beginning of time when Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, met God’s enemy Satan.

Satan was once one of God’s most majestic heavenly beings, but he let pride rise in his heart. He set his sights on taking over God’s position as Ruler and raised an army of like-minded angelic beings to form a coupe. But his plan failed and God threw him out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:13-14, Luke 10:18)

With his heart hardened against God, Satan determined to hurt God any way he could.

He’d already learned he couldn’t go after God physically. But he found an opportunity to hurt God in another way when he saw Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

He’d hurt who God loves. He’d hurt Adam and Eve.

Of course, he surely knew if he physically attacked them, God would just protect them. So he went after their minds instead — their God-given free will.

He’d tempt them to doubt God’s goodness and His right to rule in their lives. He’d turn them against God. 

Satan tempted Adam and Eve to believe God was lying to them when He warned them not to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because it would lead to their death. (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:4-5)

Adam and Eve swallowed Satan’s lie and rebelled against God. They said in their hearts, “God’s not the boss of me. I do as I please.” And they ate the fruit. (Genesis 3:6)

Their rebellion brought sin and death into the world. (Romans 5:12)

Sin, a heart that sets itself up as God. (James 1:13-15)

Death, separation from God, who is Life and the giver of Life. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

To be clear, it wasn’t the fruit that led to sin and death. It was their rebelling against God and doing what he’d said not to do that brought in sin and death.

And, yes, “They started it.” But no doubt, we would’ve done the same thing. 

As a result, man’s nature changed into a sinful nature and passed down to all generations. Bleh.

We’re all born with that sin nature, and we’re quick to choose it, too.

Every toddler loves to say, “No!” They didn’t have to be taught that.

It’s born in us through our sin nature to rebel against being ruled.

The worst part of all this is that because sin leads to death — separation from God — we’re all condemned to die and spend eternity apart from God in hell.

Hell is a place God created for Satan and his demons. (Matthew 25:41) They want no part of God, so God is giving them exactly what they want.

Anyone who rejects God’s offer of salvation will get exactly what they want, too. He won’t save them. Instead, they’ll be sent to the place where they will be forever apart from God. 

Hell won’t be a kingdom ruled by Satan where anything goes. No, Satan won’t rule anything, for Satan will be just like them. Dying but never dead, suffering and never saved, forever apart from the Light and the Life. (Revelation 20:10)

That’s a problem. A grave problem.

The Answer


Long before God ever created us, He knew we’d rebel. So, even before the beginning, He planned our salvation from sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:4)

Jesus offers us a trade. His life for our sin. (Galatians 1:4)

Jesus came down to earth, lived a perfect life free of all sin, went to the cross, took our sins upon Himself, and died, paying the full penalty for all sin for all time. (Romans 6:23, Philippians 2:5-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

It is finished. (John 19:30)

Through Jesus Christ, everyone who trusts in Him receives forgiveness of their sin and eternal life with Him in heaven. (John 3:16) Not to mention abundant life on earth (John 10:10), which is not to say we won’t have problems. (John 16:33) We’ll have plenty of them, but God gives His Holy Spirit to all who trust in Christ to empower us to experience Christ’s presence, power, and peace even in the worst of times. (Ephesians 1:13)

Plus we’re given a new nature — a divine nature. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 1:3-4)

Our sin nature will continue to poke up its head like an annoying — and at times, dangerous — snake, but our new nature has the power to defeat our sin nature every time. (I John 4:4, Romans 6:14)

Accept Christ’s Gift — Your Salvation & His Nature


We all are born with the problem of sin, but Christ has given us the answer — the free gift of salvation.

Now it’s simply a matter of accepting that free gift from Him. It doesn’t get any easier. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Except, that means admitting you’re a sinner in need of a Savior, and that’s not always easy. We don’t like to admit we’re sinners. We don’t like appear weak or in need of anything.

Don’t let pride or shame keep you from receiving salvation.

There’s no guilt, shame, or condemnation for anyone in Christ. (Romans 8:1)

He showers mercy and grace upon everyone who trusts in Him. (Hebrews 4:16)

Accept His free gift. Accept eternal life in Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9-10)

There’s No Non-Choice Option


Choosing not to accept Christ’s salvation is choosing to reject His salvation and be separated from Him eternally.

There are only two choices: Christ and eternal life or Not Christ and eternal death. Christ is the only way to heaven. The only way to God. The only way to life. (John 14:6)

I know people who believe this is arrogant to say that Christ is the only way. But this is an example of the heart that sets itself up as God. It’s saying, “No one will tell me how to get to heaven. I’ll get there any way I want.”

There is only one God and only one way to be restored to Him. Jesus Christ.

If you choose not to choose, you’ve chosen to reject Jesus Christ and your salvation. You’ve chosen hell. 

Believe, Confess, and Receive


Salvation is as simple as believing, asking, and receiving. (Romans 10:9-10)

Believe in your heart that you’re a sinner who needs a Savior. Believe Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died to pay for your sins, defeated sin and death on the cross for you, and rose back to life.

Confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Ask Him to come into your life and be both your Savior and your Lord.

Receive your free gift of salvation.

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
-Romans 10:9-10 NASB

Saved By Grace Through Faith Alone


How to Receive Salvation from sin through Christ (via www.JeanWilund.com)“Praying the Prayer” isn’t what saves.

Anyone can say the words. They’re not magic.

It’s God’s grace through your faith that saves you — faith that what you’re saying is Truth, and Jesus really is everything He says He is, and He’s able to save you. That’s what saves you. Not some action. Not some magic words.  

Christ saves by His grace through our faith in what He did on the cross.

That’s it. 

We can’t earn our salvation. We’d have to be perfect, and we missed that before we were even born.

Trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross alone for your salvation, and you’ll be saved. Period.

It’s not Christ plus baptism (although baptism is an important next step in acknowledging your faith).

It’s not Christ plus anything. It’s faith in Christ alone.

At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and adopts you into the Kingdom of God. You’re a child of God and co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:15, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Romans 8:17)

And when your time on earth is through, you’ll walk right into heaven.(Luke 23:43) AMEN!

Choose Christ today. He loves you, and He’s calling you to salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB


If you’ve decided to accept God’s gift of salvation, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you have any questions, I’d love to answer them the best I can. Leave me a comment or send me an email.

And check out other posts online to help get you started in your life with Christ or answer more questions.

If you’re reading this in the email, click the picture above or the “Read More” to go to my blog. And to share this post! Please share!


To learn how to begin the Christian life, check out this post: 

Click to read post: That Moment When Most Christians Blow It (Lessons from Watchman Nee's Classic, "Sit, Walk, Stand") - Part One: SIT!

Or to understand the secret to living free in Christ, check out this post:

"The Exchanged Life" by Hudson Taylor - (Chapter and PDF) "Instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another." www.jeanwilund.com,

God calls us to #salvation through #Jesus. Learn how and what that even means here. Click To Tweet


(Mark 1:15, John 1:12-13, 6:40 and 17:6-8, Romans 5:8-10, 8:16-17 and 10:9-13, II Corinthians 5:21, 2 Peter 3:9)




Ridiculous Forgiveness — A Story You Won’t Believe (And a Song to Testify)

Ridiculous Forgiveness -- Watch a Story You Won't Believe & listen to "Testify" by Needtobreathe (via www.JeanWilund.com

What if the Unforgivable Happened to You?


If a crooked cop — who falsely arrested you and landed you in prison for four years — got hired to work side-by-side with you, what would you do? 

If you’re Jameel McGee, you’d hang out with him and be his friend even though you lost everything when he sent you to prison.

The Story of Ridiculous Forgiveness


One morning in 2005, Police Officer Andrew Collins set a goal for himself. By the end of the day, he’d get another drug arrest no matter what it took. Even if he had to destroy a life to do it. And he did.

Collins arrested Jameel McGee on false charges of drug dealing, sending McGee to prison.

McGee lost everything. He almost lost his life as he considered suicide. He determined to find Collins and take his revenge when he got out. But before he could, the truth caught up to Collins.

The courts sent the crooked cop to prison and exonerated and released McGee. 

Collins served 18 months for his crimes. McGee served four years.

Back in Benton Harbor, Michigan, McGee and Collins faced each other for the first time in many painful years. 

McGee’s Moment Finally Came


McGee could finally exact his revenge on the crooked cop who stole four years of his life. He took full advantage of that moment and shocked the world.

He forgave Andrew Collins. He forgave the unforgivable.

What Collins did for evil, God used for good. It was while they were in prison that they both found faith in Christ, and McGee found the power to forgive.

Hear the story in their own words and then find out what kind of response they’ve received:

 

They Don’t Get It


I was overwhelmed by their story.

Others were outraged, which I discovered after reading the comments on the youtube video.

Some praised both men. Collins, for confessing and repenting. Andrew, for taking the hardest step — forgiving him. 

Others commenters felt nothing but hate and anger — violent anger.

Here’s a more G-rated comment: 

You can’t put someone in prison and EVER be free of what you did to them. I don’t care if today he says “I’m sorry”. Tough.

Ridiculous Forgiveness -- Watch a Story You Won't Believe & listen to "Testify" by Needtobreathe (via www.JeanWilund.comAnother person wrote, “They would of been doing a interview from death row because I would of killed his [bleep].”

Most comments were so toxic, I can’t print them.

My heart breaks for these people even more than for McGee, because McGee gets it, but they don’t.

Forgiveness frees the one who forgives even more than the one being forgiven.

McGee didn’t forget he spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He simply chose complete freedom.

I said “simply” not “simple.” Forgiveness can be extremely hard, but not impossible. With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26.

It wasn’t enough for McGee to be free of the jail cell. He chose to free his heart of the destructive forces of unforgiveness and hate as well.

He set his heart free to embrace life and experience overwhelming peace every day.

Unforgiveness and hate rot the heart to the bone.


Collins stole four years of McGee’s life. Hate would steal more. It would steal his whole life, infect every relationship he had, and rob him of a life of joy and peace.

Hate and revenge don’t bring happiness or contentment. They rot the heart to the bone leaving a shell of discontentment and loneliness.  

McGee isn’t just content. He’s happy.

If he’d followed the advice of those who want Collins destroyed, McGee would live every day filled with anger and rage. When has that ever made anyone happy?

If more people believed like Jameel McGee, our country would be known for its love and unity, not for divisiveness and hate. 

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

Unforgivable and Yet Forgiven


What Collins did is unforgivable, and yet, because of Christ, he’s forgiven.

And because of Christ, McGee can forgive.

He now lives a full, happy life and enjoys a life-changing friendship that the world would do well to emulate, not hate.

Are Anger and Unforgiveness Holding Onto You?


Does the mere mention of a particular name bring up feelings of bitterness?

Do anger and unforgiveness have a hold on you?

No matter what anyone has done to you, heinous as it may be, the worst tragedy is letting unforgiveness steal your chance to live free of bitter hatred.

Nothing is worth harboring bitterness and anger. Let them go. Christ paid for it all on the cross. He paid for your offender’s sins and yours.

Each of us will answer to God one day for the things we’ve done.

Those who hurt us will answer for their crimes. And we will answer for our crimes — including the crime against God of refusing to forgive as He’s commanded. (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14, Matthew 18:33)

Embrace the joy, peace, contentment, and freedom that forgiveness brings.

As Steve Hartman said in the video, “If these two guys can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?

Testify


I want to end this post with a song that exudes the freedom Jameel and Andrew enjoy: Testify by NeedtoBreathe.

Jameel’s and Andrew’s lives testify to the power of Christ to wash away anger, despair, and guilt.

They came to the fountain of Christ and are satisfied.

Let’s get lost inside the fountain of Living Water.

Go ahead, sing with all your might. I am.

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. 

Forgive as Christ forgave you.

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