Known Only to Him

“You are still a promise, the heartbeat of God.
You may have forgotten, but He has not.
You are not your ashes, you are a flame.
Do not ask the shadows, the light of the world knows,
Knows your name” (Nicole Nordeman,  Name).

I find it fascinating that out of all the people in all the parables that Jesus told during His earthly ministry, He only gives one of them a name — Lazarus.

Lazarus is probably the one we’d be most likely to pass by while looking the other way. He was a beggar dressed in rags with open sores that the dogs would lick. He was longing for even the crumbs that fell off the table of the unnamed rich man.

The rich man is probably someone we’d hold up as the example to follow with his acute sense of business and wise investment portfolios. He’d be the hero in most of our stories. Obviously, our idea of blessed is quite different than Jesus’.

Lazarus dies, probably from his illness, and goes to paradise. I believe it was for a simple faith that persevered in the midst of great suffering and want. I like to think that Lazarus never wavered in his faith in the goodness of God and believed wholeheartedly that God would set all things right.

The rich man was the first century equivalent of Forbes’ 50 richest people, one whose name everybody probably recognized. Yet it takes him dying and going to Hades before he shows concern for anyone else but himself (see the NIV Study Bible notes on Luke 16:28). His neglect of Lazarus who sat right outside his gates is telling of what kind of man he was. But God remembered Lazarus.

If God knew the name of Lazarus, He surely knows your name. You are indeed not forgotten. You are still heir to the promise God made to you long ago, even if you have forgotten it.

The Light of the World still knows your name.




Time, Talents, and Treasures

“Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf:  So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide, All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you” (The Lord of the Rings)

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God” (Leo Buscaglia).

Tonight’s topic for the Bible study at Room in the Inn was the parable of the talents. The gist of the story is how one man was given five talents, one two, and the other one. The first two immediately invested the treasure while the third one unwisely buried it.

The first two earned the praise of the master while the third one showed his true colors and saw the fruits of his dishonesty.

I wonder if that third man, instead of thinking of ways to use what talents he had, spent his time bemoaning how the others had more than he and how unfair that was. His envy warped the way he saw the master and his motives.

I wondered tonight why the talents were distributed unequally. Why not give each one five talents? Or two?

I think there’s something to learn from that. Some people have more gifts and talents than others. The question isn’t how much you have but what you do with what you have.

You can waste your talents by comparing them to others, which leads to either pride when you have more and self-pity when you have less. The end result is never fruitful or good.

Or you can use what you have where you are to bless and serve those in your path. You may not have the more showy talents, but God has uniquely gifted you and molded you to play a role that only you can play.

You can compare or you can contribute. The choice is yours.

Lavished Love

“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children” (1 John 3:1a).

Don’t rush past this like I’ve done all these years. Take it in slowly and savor what you’re reading.

This Father, the King of the Universe, has LAVISHED his love on us.

I can’t help but thinking of a chapter I read in a book called The Autobiography of God by Lloyd John Ogilvie. The very first chapter is called The Prodigal God, about the parable of the prodigal son.

In it, Ogilvie defines prodigality as that of being extravagant, excessive, and wasteful. He says the character in that parable that best fits the description of prodigal is the father.

The father is the one who had every right after his son left home to hold a mock funeral and to live as though he had only one son. He could very well have written his son off the way his son had written him off.

But that’s not what happened.

I imagine that father waited every day in the same spot on that front porch, looking out into the horizon for any sign of his son.

I know for a fact that the father RAN (something dignified men NEVER did back in that day and age). The father fell on his son’s neck and lavished him with fatherly kisses and affection.

This was my son who was dead, he said, and is now alive.

That’s the picture of the extravagant kind of love the Heavenly Father lavishes on us. It’s that excessive. It’s that wasteful when you consider how many of us ignore it or take it for granted (and I am one of those).

The Father is running after you, not to scold or punish you, but to envelop you in His arms and tell you right now that He loves you just the way you are, soot-covered, shame-covered, sin-covered, but He in His love refuses to leave you the way He found you.

He wants you to be living out of the full knowledge that you are a son, a daughter, a child of God.




When I was in high school, I went on a quest to find music by a band called The MC5 (which is short for The Music City Five). If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry. Most people haven’t. I remember whenever I asked record store employees about them, they’d look at me like I had an extra eye growing smack dab in the middle of my forehead.

I remember when I found a cassette of their music. It was like finding my own holy grail. I treasured that thing and listened to it repeatedly.

Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God like that. It’s like a man finding a priceless pearl in a field. He goes and sells everything just so he can buy that field and possess that pearl.

The Kingdom of God is worth everything you have and more. What is the Kingdom of God? It is wherever God is working in His people. It’s whenever people choose life over death, hope over despair, righteousness over sin. It’s the rule and reign of God in the people of God breaking through.

Nothing is quite the way it should be. But the Kingdom of God means that one day all will be put right. As I heard it put once, Jesus will take this upside-down world and turn it right-side up again.

Recently, I found a CD of that same rock group. The sound quality is a thousand times better, but I didn’t quite have that thrill of discovery of finding that cassette. Oh well.



Both sermons I heard today touched on the parable on the Prodigal son. I can think of no better story that really illustrates the scandalous nature of God’s love for His children.

In fact, the parable could more accurately be called The Prodigal God, since the word prodigal means “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure” or “recklessly spendthrift” (according to Merriam-Webster). God’s love is both.

It’s prodigal that God paid way too high a price for me with His Son Jesus. It’s prodigal that Jesus didn’t shed some or most of His blood, but all of it for me. It’s way more than I or anyone else deserves.

There’s a fantastic book that’s been out of print for years called The Autobiography of God by Lloyd John Ogilvie. He has a chapter on “The Prodigal God” that impacted me when I read it the first time and still comes to mind every time I hear the Prodigal Son story.

It was shocking to the hearers of the parable the way the father in the story let the younger son have his share. For the son to ask for it while the father was still living was to say in essence, “Drop dead!” and show the utmost comtempt for him.

Even more scandalous was how the father not only received his son at the end of the story, but how he ran to him and threw his arms around him and kissed him. Well-respected men in that day didn’t run. It was not considered dignified. But this father wasn’t about to wait one more second for his son who was coming home.

The Cross is so much more shocking and scandalous than we normally paint it in our sanitized sermons on the subject. By the time Jesus got to the cross, He was barely recognizable as human.

That’s the kind of scandalous, prodigal love God has for those of his prodigal children, whether we rebel in a far country or at home. Honestly, the far country doesn’t have to be geographically distant. It can be relational distance, too.

So if you have experienced radigal grace and forgiveness, take time today to express your gratitude for this prodigal God whose prodigal love for us is the reason we are forgiven and free.