The Journal of the Prodigal Son’s Father

 I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sivan 30,

I am so grieved I can barely write. My younger son asked for his inheritance, and has taken it and left home. I thought he loved me, but he only loved the things I gave him, and apparently wants nothing to do with me personally. My only solace is in my oldest son, who is still by my side and there whenever I need him. At least one of my sons loves me.

Av 29,

It has been two months since my youngest son walked out of my life. Oh how I long to have my son back! My servants have been filling in, doing all the tasks that he used to do, and even my oldest son has pitched in after all of his work but they can’t take the place in my heart that only he can fill. Its not the work he did that I am worried about. I miss our walks together. I miss our conversations at the dinner table. Now I am so sad I can’t even eat. Many nights I find myself skipping dinner and just sitting on the front porch staring out over the hills. Sometimes the children will be playing on the hills and it reminds me of when my son was young and would play on those hills. He would see me from a distance, when I stepped out onto the porch, and he would know dinner was ready and would come running to the house. Many nights I dream of him running home to me again. While my older son can never fill the void in my heart that my younger son has created, I cherish my time with my older son even more. Now I know how precious those moments are. I am so glad my older son loves me!

Kislev 12,

It’s my older son’s birthday today. Oh what a joy and comfort he is to me! He is always there for me. I treasure every moment we spend together. I had planned to prepare a goat for his birthday celebration but then I thought better of it. I am sure my son is grieved that his brother is still missing, and would not feel like celebrating while his brother is gone. After all, he can have a goat anytime he wants. Besides, I would rather eat soup with both my sons than to have a feast without them. I am sure my older son feels the same way. I sure do love him and am so glad he loves me and has not run away too.

Nissan 1,

I am so excited I can hardly write! Tonight I was standing on my porch staring off into the hills, and at first I thought I was dreaming when I saw my son coming home. Next thing I knew I was running out to meet him. I kept hugging and kissing him making sure it was really him and not just a reoccurring dream I have been having over and over ever since he left. It was really him! He is home! All my dreams have come true! He is home! Tomorrow my older son returns from his business trip. I will have both my sons home! I am going to kill the fatted calf and celebrate both my sons being under the same roof again! I am so happy we will all be together again I won’t be able to tell if I am eating streak or eating soup, but what better way to celebrate than having both my sons together under the same roof again!

Nissan 2,

I am heartbroken again! This time it was my oldest son who tore my heart apart. When he got home and saw the celebration he refused to come inside. Then he tells me, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!” How those words tore my heart apart! All this time I comforted myself with the thought that my older son stayed with me because he loved me as much as I loved him, only to find out he did not love me at all. He was trying to earn something instead. A silly goat! A calf? We could have had either one of those on his last birthday, but I thought the important thing was that we were together. That we loved one another. All these years he served under my house I never cared what we were eating so long as we were together and had each other. Tonight I found out he was not serving me because he loved me like I love him. He was hoping to get some kind of reward out of it instead. I found comfort in my older son when the younger son took his inheritance and left me, showing he only cared about my possessions and not our time together. Well tonight I found out my older son feels the same way towards me. All this time he never cared about our precious moments together. All those years I thought he was serving me because he loved me, when in reality it wasn’t about me at all. It was about some silly calf!

Its like my oldest son was never even here. His heart was never with me. It was with all my possessions. he was sleeping right under my roof while his heart was as far away from me as his brother was.

Do any of my children truly love me? Can any of them look past the inheritance and my goats and calves, and love their father who loves them more than anything he owns?

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

All Disciples Are Full Time, Not Part Time Pastors

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I have many friends who are ordained ministers and many friends who are lay pastors, who have a “regular” job and ministry. Some lay pastors say they work all day to support themselves and their ministry, and then after they get off work they then work for God. I don’t see it that way. I believe they are full time pastors, working for God even while doing their “regular” job.

For years I too was a lay pastor while working for UPS. I supervised the early shift starting around 3 AM. I was not the only Christian or even the only pastor working at UPS. Students from a nearby Baptist seminary and other lay pastors of various denominations worked there as well. One morning I had to call and wake up one of my employees who overslept. He apalogized, realizing he was already supposed to be at work. He was a Christian, so I told him, “Get in here as fast as you can, after you have your prayer and Bible time.” First I was a pastor. Second I was a UPS supervisor with a deadline to meet.

As Gospel Workers we always pray before entering the pulpit where we preach for thirty minutes. How much more so should we pray before going to our regular jobs, where we will be preaching by word and example, not a mere thirty minutes but rather 8-10 hours.

This is how it was with Jesus.

Christ was just as truly doing His Father’s business when toiling at the carpenter’s bench as when working miracles for the multitude. –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 214

You might think a “regular” job might get in the way of your ministry, but it does not have to be that way. I talked to a lady, who told me she had a gift and card shop that was just breaking even for many years. She said she kept it open because people were coming in all the time who needed encouragement, and it was a great way to meet people. One morning while working on the sort isle at UPS, the guy sorting next to me started asking me questions about Revelation. While we were working hard at 3 in the morning, I was able to share some Christ centered teachings from Revelation. In all my years as a paid Bible Worker I was never able to give a Bible study at 3 am, but that morning I had the opportunity to share Jesus with someone that I may not have had the opportunity to meet any other time or place.

There’s a story of a Romanian prisoner who was always talking about Jesus. Finally the guard had enough and told him, he could make one last sentence about Jesus, and then could say no more.

What would you say if you could only say one sentence about Jesus?

The Christian prisoner did something very wise. He said as his last sentence, “Jesus is like me.” You may think that statement was a bold and presumptuous. But it was actually very wise and humble. Knowing he could talk about Jesus no more, he simply used those words to let everyone know, watch me, and I will show you Jesus. 

As disciples for Jesus we do not just use our “regular” jobs to support our ministry. We make our “regular” jobs a part of our ministry. We don’t leave our “regular” jobs at the end of the day to go do our ministry. We do our ministry while at our “regular” jobs, preaching by example, and reaching people we never would have met during our “gospel worker” job.

Some police officers wear the uniform, but other police officers find they are actually more effective in accomplishing their mission if they dress just like everyone else. They are called “plain clothes officers” or “undercover detectives.” In plain clothes or in uniform, they are police officers just the same. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you may be wearing a suit like a regular minister, or you may be wearing a delivery uniform or restaurant uniform, or medical scrubs or what have you. Either way, what you really are is a pastor!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.