Are You a Simon Peter or a Simon Pyrite? ~ Three Truths to Remember When Your Faith Feels Worthless

Simon Peter's faith struggled at times, as does ours. But God will grow our faith into bedrock faith when we remember these three truths. (by Jean Wilund)

Enjoy the following excerpt of a post I wrote for www.InspireAFire.com. The link to the rest of the message is here and at the end of the post.


All That Glitters . . .

I saw the
glittering rock in the water and knew my life was about to take a rich, golden
turn.

Carrying
my bright future home to Mom, she studied the rock and the gold that glimmered
through it. “Oh, how wonderful,” she said. “You’ve found a beautiful piece of
pyrite. You know, they call it ‘fool’s gold’ because people often mistake it
for real gold.”

My pride and shining future crumbled under the pyrite’s worthlessness.

Sometimes
I wonder if this is how Jesus’ disciple Simon felt.

When Jesus first called him to become a disciple, the apostle John tell us Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter) (John 1:42, ESV).

Cephas means Peter, and Peter means rock.

Simon Peter vs Simon Pyrite

Simon often looked less like Simon Peter — he who would become a rock — and more like Simon Pyrite — he who glints of gold but is worthless. Keep reading . . .

Simon Peter's faith struggled at times, as does ours. But God will grow our faith into bedrock faith when we remember these three truths. (by www.JeanWilund.com via www.InspireAFire.com)

Simon Peter's faith struggled at times, as does ours. But God will grow our faith into bedrock faith when we remember these three truths. (via www.JeanWilund.com)




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




Why Did God Want Children? Snickering in the Trunk. Freaking Out in the Yard.

Revelation 4:11 and article: Why Did We Want Children? Snickering in the Trunk. Freaking Out in the Yard. via www.InspireAFire.com by Jean Wilund (www.jeanwilund.com)Why did we want children? 

My friend Bev and I often asked each other this question. Usually with a laugh, and especially when our young daughters played together.

My Carolyn and her Bethany possessed tremendous strength of character, which is to say they were quite the characters, loaded with dogged-determination.

Once when they were five years old, Carolyn and Bethany had an idea.

A fun idea.

A terrible idea.

“Let’s play Hide-n-Seek with our moms but not tell them.”

Continue Reading on InspireAFire.com




Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts

 Softened Soil & Hearts — We Interrupt These Blog Posts to Bring You A Hurricane via www.jeanwilund.com

We Interrupt These Blog Posts to Bring You A Hurricane

Stupid hurricane. It blew in and wrecked my plans. For thousands, it wrecked a lot more. 

My heart breaks over the news of those who’ve lost so much in Hurricane Irma (September 2017) [and how Hurricane Florence, September 2018] — especially those who lost their lives.  

I’m thankful to report, we weathered Irma well. We only lost our power for a few hours. (Long enough to remind me how much I depend on it.)

We almost lost a tree, too. After Irma, our Chinese Elm leaned at a 45º angle. This is good, though. It had been growing at an 85º angle since the beginning.  

I kept meaning to straighten it out and stake it while it was small, but one thing led to another. By the time I got around to it, the tree was rooted into the hard clay soil and unwilling to budge an inch. 

I thought about forcing it but was afraid of damaging the tree — maybe even breaking it — so I left it. But now we’ve got to fix it. Tree roots can’t survive above-ground.

Fortunately, we can pull it up with ease because it’s now loose in the Irma-softened soil, and we own a Jeep. Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts (God's work in our hearts) via www.jeanwilund.com

Softened Soil & Hearts

Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts — When a Hurricane actually did something good. www.jeanwilund.comWhen I told my friend Debbie about our poor tree, she pointed out how much our Chinese Elm is a picture of the work God does in our hearts.

Unless God softens the soil of our hearts, no outward pushing or pulling will move it without damage.

I’m guilty of hurting a few people with my well-meaning attempts to force their hearts to move in a direction I felt was best.

I’ve tried to help God rather than wait for Him to do the work only He can do.

Why do I keep forgetting I’m not God?

God’s Perfect Work

God’s work in our hearts is perfect. Only He knows best what we need.

Sometimes God sends a long, gentle rain to soften a heart.

He’ll speak to us through His Word or and open our eyes to a truth we’d missed or misunderstood. Painless.

Other times, He sends a rainstorm that breaks up the soil of our hearts in ways we wouldn’t have chosen.

Painful, but effective.

And then, when necessary, God sends an all-out hurricane to flood and blow against our hearts until they become putty in His hands.

PAINFUL, but perfect.

God’s Work in our hearts isn’t always fun. It helps to remember:

God never allows storms in our lives to blow beyond what is absolutely necessary to cause our roots to grow deep into His marvelous love.

New Life — New Look

If my Chinese Elm continued to grow at an angle the roots couldn’t support, a strong storm would’ve eventually flattened it.

With the soil now properly softened, we can give our tree new life that’s able to weather whatever comes.

We can give it a new look, too. A strong look, rather than looking like it’ll fall over if the wind sneezes.  

As painful as they are, I’m thankful for the storms God has sent or allowed into my heart. He’s used each one to mold me more into the likeness of Jesus. I rarely cheer in the midst of the turmoil, but I grimace less when I remember God’s wisdom is infinite, and His goodness is perfect. I can trust Him.

I may never look just like Jesus with all the twists and turns in my trunk, but that’s ok. My roots are growing down into the soil of His marvelous love, and I’m filled with new life. And hopefully a new look. A look that smiles more than it grumbles or whines.

My goal is before I’m old and gray people who know me will see what Jesus is truly like. My children didn’t see Jesus in me enough, but perhaps my grandbabies will. (Life is a marathon, not a sprint.)

I’m Sorry

To those of you that I’ve hurt by my pushing and pulling, “Forgive me.” I hope you know it was only because I love you — or because I was temporarily an idiot.

And to those of you who’ve been hurt by other Christians who tried to force your heart to believe in Jesus or look like Jesus — on their behalf, I say, “I’m so sorry.”

And to those who are facing a Heart Hurricane, I say, “Embrace it.”

Hang on, but embrace it. Let God have His way with your heart.

Let Him soften and move your heart to where it needs to be before life flattens you. Or even breaks you.

An Encouraging Word From the Word

I now leave you with encouragement from Ephesians 3:16-20:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 


If you want to help victims of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey, Samaritan’s Purse is a great organizations. They provide help to many and are supported by donations.  

Softened Soil & Hearts -- #GodsWorkInUs in the hurricanes of life Click To Tweet




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