Ragamuffin Brother

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

by Ron Mehl

Roy Angel was a dirt‐poor preacher with a millionaire brother. Back in the oil boom days of the late 1940s, Roy’s older brother happened to own the right piece of Texas prairie at the right time. When he sold, he became a multimillionaire overnight. Parlaying that good fortune, the elder Angel made some strategic investments in the stock market and then cashed in on several mushrooming business enterprises. He moved into the penthouse of a large apartment building in New York City and managed his investments from a posh Wall Street office.

A week before Christmas one year, the wealthy businessman visited his preacher‐brother in Chicago and presented him with a new car—a gleaming, top‐of‐the‐line Packard. Roy always kept his new car down the street in a parking garage, under the careful eye of an attendant. That’s why when he came to get his Packard one morning, he was surprised to see a ragamuffin ghetto boy with his face pressed up against one of the car windows. The little boy wasn’t doing anything suspicious; he was obviously just peering into the new car’s interior with wide, admiring eyes.

“Hello, son,” Roy said. The boy spun around and looked at him. “Is this your car, mister?” “Yes,” Roy replied, “it is.” “How much did it cost?” “Well, I really don’t know.” The boy’s face registered surprise. “You mean, you own this car, and you don’t know how much it cost?” “No, I don’t—because my brother gave it to me. As a present.” At this the boy’s eyes grew even wider. He thought for a moment, and then said wistfully, “I wish… I wish….” Roy thought he knew how the boy would finish the sentence. He

thought he was going to say, “I wish I had a brother like that.”

But he didn’t. The boy looked up at Roy and said, “I wish… I wish I could be a brother like that.”

That intrigued the minister, and because those were more innocent times, he said, “Well, son, would you like to take a ride?”

The boy immediately replied, “You bet!”

So they got in the car together, exited the parking garage, and drove slowly down the street. The little boy ran his hand across the soft fabric of the front seat, inhaled the new‐car smell, touched the shiny metal of the dashboard. Then he looked at his new friend and said, “Mister, would you—could you—take me by my house? It’s just a few blocks from here.”

Again, Roy assumed he knew what the lad had in mind. He thought the boy wanted to show off the car he was riding in to some of the neighborhood kids. He thought, Well, why not? So at his young passenger’s direction, Roy pulled up in front of an old, run‐down tenement building.

“Mister,” the boy said as they stopped at the curb, “would you stay here just a minute? I’ll be right back!”

Roy let the car idle as the boy rushed upstairs and disappeared.

After about ten minutes, the preacher began to wonder where the boy had taken himself. He got out of the car and looked up the unlighted stairwell. As he was looking up the dark stairs, he heard someone slowly coming down. The first thing he saw emerging from the gloom was two limp little legs. A moment later, Roy realized it was the little boy carrying an even smaller boy, evidently his younger brother.

The boy gently sat his brother down on the curb. “See?” he said with satisfaction. “It’s just like I told you. It’s a brand new car. His brother gave it to him, and someday I’m going to buy you a car just like that!”

Looking ahead…

In this story of two benevolent brothers, the millionaire certainly gave a nice present—but it’s the little boy who is the better example of a generous spirit. How many children dream of giving a new car to their brother or sister? Somehow I get the feeling that this little fellow wouldn’t squander a fortune if it came his way later in life.

During the coming week, we’ll be talking about the incredible power of generosity for good—both inside our marriage and in our relationships with others. Tonight I leave you with a question: Do you have a generous spirit?

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “Ragamuffin Brother” by Ron Mehl. Taken from God Works the Night Shift by Ron Mehl. © 1994. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

I Wasn’t Prepared For a Prodigal

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

by Gigi Graham Tchividjian

A flood of gratitude engulfed me as I sat in church behind my handsome young son. His arm draped around the shoulders of Kim, his beautiful fiancée, as they listened to the words of the song “The Keeper.” He, too, was having a difficult time holding back the tears.

Just five years before I had wondered if I would see this beloved son again. Tullian was our prodigal. His father, Stephan, and I had given him all we could. We loved him dearly, but he chose to disregard his teaching and training and turned his back on all that we offered. We had no choice but to let him go—at sixteen.

I’ll never forget the day he left home. I stood in the doorway, watching my son walk slowly down the driveway and out into the street. Then, with a heart that felt heavy as lead, I reluctantly turned away.

I forced myself to go through the motions of fixing dinner and doing the evening chores. When I finally crawled into bed, I lay awake, crying and wondering. Where was he? Had he eaten supper? Did he have a place to sleep? Could we have done things differently? Would he ever come home again?

I thought back on the months before that day. The ups and downs, the emotions, the harsh words, the frustrations, the disobedience, the dishonesty, the questions, the long nights…sitting and waiting, wondering, worrying, asking, “Why?” Why was our son choosing to rebel? He could have a warm, loving home, physical comfort, an education, a godly heri-tage. We had wanted him, prayed for him, and had been overjoyed at his arrival. Tullian had been such a fun-loving, happy child. We called him our “sunshine.”

Unable to control the tears, I thought about all the chances we had given our son. We had taken him back again and again only to have him abuse our trust and disrupt our family life.

I wasn’t prepared for a prodigal. I never imagined I would one night lie in bed, wondering where my son was. But once you love, you are never free again, and the Lord caused this heartbreaking situation to teach me many things. I had to cope with overwhelming sadness that at times almost engulfed me. But as painful as it was, Stephan and I also realized we could not allow the behavior of this one child to consume us. At times we had to purposefully put our prodigal out of our minds. It simply wasn’t fair to focus all our attention and emotional energy on him at the expense of the other members of the family.

I also had to deal with guilt. I wondered: Could I have brought him up differently? Had I been too strict—or not strict enough? Had I shown enough love? Had I truly gone the extra mile?

I even found it difficult at times to trust the Lord. Eventually, when I accepted the fact that God loved my son even more than I did, I was able to surrender Tullian to Him. But as the years came and went, I still found myself discouraged. My hopes would build, only to come crashing down in bitter disappointment. I was tempted again and again to try to do God’s job for Him. Then I would cry the words of the old hymn, “Oh for grace to trust Him more!” And in response I would hear a still, small voice deep within my heart saying, “Love and patience…love and patience.”

I didn’t have a problem with the love part. After all, I’m a mother. But I had a lot of trouble with the patience. My mother reminded me that in dealing with an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God, I had to pray not only with persistence, but with patience.

More years passed. Then, totally unexpectedly, Tullian took his girlfriend by the hand one Sunday, and from high in the balcony of our church, they went forward to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

I was overwhelmed with joy—but also a bit skeptical. I didn’t want to have my hopes dashed again. I waited and watched. As the weeks turned into months, we saw this young man grow and mature into a sincere, dedicated child of God.

Recently he wrote these words to an older Christian friend:

Things went real raw after I last saw you. My whole life went down the tubes. I really fell far from the Lord. Drugs, alcohol, sex, the whole nine yards. I dropped out of school, got kicked out of my house; things couldn’t have gotten much worse.

But I don’t want to go on about the bad stuff. I want to tell you about what the Lord has done for me. After leading a very empty, up-and-down lifestyle, I gave the Lord total control of my life. What a change. Things I used to live for don’t even matter anymore. Things I used to run away from, I’m hungry for.

Isn’t God good? He has been so patient with me. He never gave up on me. For the first time in my life I feel peace and contentment. I don’t worry about anything. I am a totally different person.

Yes, our prodigal had returned.

I smiled in the church that day as I reflected on all these things. My mind drifted back to the present. The song was coming to a close. With thanksgiving in my heart I glanced again at Tullian and Kim sitting in front of me. I, too, was feeling peace and contentment when snatches of a favorite psalm floated into my mind: Truly, the Lord is thy keeper…He does not slumber…He shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in.

Looking ahead…

Parenthood is one of the greatest blessings in life—yet it can also bring on the greatest anguish. Can anything compare to the pain of watching beloved daughters or sons walk away, turning their backs on the love, values, and faith you have so carefully nurtured over many years? Is there a higher torment than seeing your precious children suffer or needlessly abuse themselves? Far too many mothers and fathers wake up to this agonizing reality, and you have my utmost sympathy if you are facing this situation tonight.

Nearly as distressing for many moms and dads is the fear that they will lose their children as we have just described. These parents are tortured daily by doubt and guilt. They ask themselves: Do I know what I’m doing? Am I turning my children into monsters? Have I doomed them to eternal damnation by the mistakes I’ve already made?

Fortunately, there is hope in all of these circumstances. As Gigi Tchividjian has shown us, God does sometimes answer our fervent prayers in this life for our wayward offspring, though it may be years later. And even if we don’t live to see our prodigals return on earth, we still have the great hope of a “homecoming after we are gone.”

We’ll offer further encouragement this week to parents who are plagued by doubt and guilt. Like the psalmist, you too can cry out, “May your unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76). Your heavenly Father will hear and respond—you can depend on it.

James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

GOD’S LOVE WILL NOT BE MOCKED

By the Mighty Mumford

GOD’S LOVE WILL NOT BE MOCKED

God’s love, as the Bible has cried,

Won’t stand people secure in Pride…

Murderer or Gay

If not of His Way,

His answer is cut-and-dried!

Confess and repent of your sin,

Both what being done and within…

He said to the whore–

Go and sin no more,

Her accusers took that…on the chin!

Faith means more than being blind,

To His command: be transforming of mind,,,*

No one can stay

As they are and pray,

Labeling THEMSELVES as doing fine!

Consider the mercies of God,

Those who repent and awed…

Will find in Him rest

After He tests,

To admit that without God we’re flawed.

Cast yourselves down on your knees,

Determine the Lord you will please…

Subject to Christ,

Reborn in His Light,

Confess that worldly strip-tease.

–Jonathan Caswell

 * (Romans 12: 1-2)

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Get Back, Satan! 5 Tips for Using Scripture as Defense

  • Alicia PurdyCrosswalk.com Contributing Writer

Get Back, Satan! 5 Tips for Using Scripture as Defense

In case you haven’t already noticed or experienced it for yourself, here’s a bit of wisdom I’ve gathered along my journey of faith in the Lord: The life of a Christian is not an easy one!

It’s not like we weren’t warned, however. Jesus said in John 15:18-19 “But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you. He also said in John 16:33, “…in this world you will have tribulation.” Jesus knew trouble would be part of the Christian experience from beginning to end. And how much more true on some days than others!

Compound human troubles with those created from the spiritual turmoil in darkness trying to influence, manipulate, convince, prompt, and lie to all of humanity and, well, time for an altar call! Jesus, anyone?

The spiritual powers at work are directly tied to the sin and darkness of humanity, so while it’s easy to look at someone and want to watch the earth open up and swallow them, the real fight is against Satan and his angels. Thank God He did not leave us alone to fight on our own! We have weapons and they are created specifically for fighting spiritual battles against spiritual enemies.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood (even if we want to).

You’ve probably read Ephesians 6:12: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

It’s so easy to look at the people coming against us and want to lash out at them, but it’s the demonic, spiritual forces at play in, around, and even through them that we must battle. Like 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” And because your enemy is fighting to the death, you must as well.

Battles hit us in many forms: Someone you love is on drugs or is an alcoholic. You lost your job. One of your kids or your spouse or your parent is gravely ill. You’ve been injured in a car accident. You have to make an impossible decision. You’ve been cheated on, or served with divorce papers. You have a devastating health diagnosis. Someone hates you, or has stabbed you in the back or is trying to constantly bring you down. You have a loved one heading off to war. There’s a domestic violence situation.

You feel helpless, hopeless, despairing, angry, hurt, afraid, desperate, sick, betrayed, unloved, frustrated, anxious, and worse. What do you do now?

The Word of God goes forth and does not return empty.

Remember, in the life of a Christian, the battle is always spiritual. At any moment, Satan seeks to do you harm. Job, the oldest book in the Bible, notes that Satan roams around the earth, up and down and all around. What do you think he’s doing? He’s looking for people he can devour so he can then use them to turn and devour you (1 Peter 5:8)!

As a follower of Jesus, you have absolutely no need to truly fear Satan. Satan traffics in darkness, so you stay in the light. When he tries to get to you, turn and fight using the weapons God gave you – His Word, worship, prayer and even other Christians!

One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is in Isaiah 55:11 which says, “…so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

In Jeremiah 1:12 the Lord says He watches over His Word to see it performed. Speak the Word over your situation! There is true power there! When we agree with God’s Word and refuse to speak against it or disagree with it, we speak faith into existence.

So, the fight of your life is raging in your face, what do you do? Speak the Word!

Here are five tips for using the Word of God to push back and win the war against Satan in your situation:

1. Use fighting words.

Satan hates you, and all of humanity, because you bear the image of God. Your very existence is an unending reminder that God is everywhere and that you are part of God’s winning strategy to destroy Satan. This is why he attacks Christians so violently – because if he can get you to stop fighting, his job is that much easier! Speak faith.

ReadPsalm 18 — This powerful Psalm is battle worship! This is the song of a man whose enemies were bearing down hard and his way out was to remind himself of the mighty, saving power of God and to cry out to His greatness. When you’re in a battle season, print it and read it aloud so Satan can hear it!

Personalize your declaration: “The Lord lives! And blessed be my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me and subdues the people under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You lift me up above those who rise up against me; You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore, I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to Your name.” (Psalm 18:46-49)

2. Own your truth.

One of the things Satan will go after in battle is your identity in Christ. He wants to convince you that you are something apart from what God created you to be, or disconnect you from God by getting you to doubt that He is who He says He is.

Read: Romans 8:31-39— Remember, God is who He said He is, and you are who He says you are. You were made to walk with Him, to overcome Satan, and to live a life of victory. It is possible to win, but you have to know who you are fighting, why you are fighting, and how to fight with the weapons you were given.

Personalize your declaration: “…in all these things [I am more than a conqueror] through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

3. Speak supernatural power statements.

It’s important while battling the enemy to speak strong words, God’s Word, because he’s not afraid of you, but he is afraid of God, who resides in you, and protects you. This is why we call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). He sends His angels to set up camp around you. (Psalm 34:17) and you’re never alone. (Hebrews 13:5-6) Hard times will come. Confusing times. Frustrating times. Times of fear and despair. You can’t control that, but you can control your response.

You are not a victim unless you choose to be. Satan will lie to you and try to convince you you’ve lost, and that it’s over, but if you will use the Word of God as your sword, and continue on in the fight without giving up, it’s not over until God says it’s over! For how long? As long as it takes to win!

“Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Read: Psalm 118:5-18 — This Psalm is victorious, powerful, declarative and filled with images of the victory of the Lord – for you! Customize this word for yourself or a loved one, and every time a demonic thought comes in, command it out, in Jesus’ name. Shout your Word to yourself, and the enemy, and to the Lord. Your faith is the first evidence of your miracle!

Personalize your declaration: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord is valiant. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord is valiant.” I shall not die, but I shall live and declare the works of the Lord. (Psalm 118:15-18)

4. Know your enemy.

Satan likes people to think he’s a great mystery and that he can keep us on our toes by stirring up fear and doubt. Fear that maybe he really is all powerful. Doubt that God can defeat him. But remember he’s a liar!

Every, single thing that you ever think or speak that goes against even one word of God’s Word is a lie. God’s Word is the only source of truth in existence and if you have doubt in it, Satan has already gained more ground in the battle.

How can you identify the works of Satan? Know your Word! Go deep into the Word for your situation. The Holy Spirit will quicken His Word to you and it’ll be another weapon in the fight.

You have the power, authority and obligation to cast down imaginations and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” But you must be able to identify 1) what things constitute the “knowledge of God” and 2) what things are exalting themselves above that knowledge: imagination, fear, anger, doubt, trauma, bad memories, guilt, shame, unforgiveness, bitterness, worry and more.

Remember, If God didn’t give it to you to bless you, Satan is probably using it to hurt you. Cast it down, in Jesus’ name!

ReadRevelation 12:1-12 — Today, remind yourself (and Satan) of the ultimate fate he will suffer. The lie is that he cannot be defeated. The truth is, he already has been defeated. We tend to look around and see all hell breaking loose and we start to doubt God and believe Satan, and our natural experiences. Read this chapter and glimpse how it all will end. God will have the ultimate victory!

Personalize your declarationMatthew 18:18 says, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” And, Luke 10:19 says: “Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.” So declare it: Nothing by any means shall hurt me, I have power over the enemy!

5. Fight to the death.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for the battle?” Let Satan know you’re coming for him! No more defensive positions. It’s time to attack! Remember the battles you’re in are spiritual. You can’t control the choices that other people make, but you can choose how you respond to them.

God will fight for, in, and through you in the battle for His victory. If He promised life and health and peace – and you’re walking in the light with Him – then those promises are yours and He’ll help you grab hold of them. Maybe the fight will be until your very last day on earth, but don’t give up! He is your deliverer. God’s Word is true and still in effect from now into eternity.

Read: 1 Timothy 6:11-12 — take up the challenge to “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.”

Personalize your declaration: declare Ephesians 6:10-13 over your fight, by saying “I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I will put on the whole armor of God that I may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, I take up the whole armor of God that I may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

You are in a fight that can be won. John 10:10 reminds us that he wants “kill, steal and destroy,” but don’t believe the lie that he will win. God’s Word is the most powerful thing in heaven and on earth. Believe it, use it, and keep fighting. God has the victory!


headshot of Alicia PurdyAlicia Purdy is an author, blogger and professional writer with an M.A. in Journalism, and a human with an ongoing education in all things life-related! Her passion is to write about real life and a real faith in a real Jesus to inspire, encourage and entertain people from all walks of life. She is the host of “Living Out Loud!” a weekly radio show broadcast at the ALIVE Radio Network. You can learn more about Alicia’s books and free worship devotionals at her blog: TheWayoftheWorshipper.com. Alicia and her husband have 5 kids ranging from 20 years old all the way down to 3 – and 1 cat, named Chester. You can find and follow Alicia on Facebook and Instagram. If you meet her in person, she will most likely try and wipe you down with essential oils and then ask if you want to grab a coffee.