A Tale of Two Brothers

ATTENTION: This message is for anyone who needs for God to perform a miracle in their lives (or for anyone who may one day need for God to perform a miracle).

Let’s go straight to the Scripture (which is found at Luke 15:11-32):

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Just about anyone who has ever darkened a church door has heard this story.  A rebellious son asks his father for his inheritance and then squanders it on wine, women, and song.  Eventually, he becomes so broke that he has to find work tending to swine — which for a Jew was especially shameful.  Finally he comes to his senses and says, “Hey, I’ll go back to my father and ask for a job as a servant; at least they eat better than this.”  So he goes back home, where he sees his father waiting for him to return.  Such a beautiful picture of unconditional love.

Over the course of 2,000 years, I suspect that there have been hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of sermons about the “prodigal son.”  But in my life I have heard very little about the older son.  You know?  He’s the one who got upset when his father celebrated the return of the rotten scoundrel who had wasted his inheritance on “harlots” (as the King James Version records).

Well, if you are a Christian — if you are a believer in Jesus — who for whatever reason needs a miracle from God in a situation that your now face, the story of the older brother is the most important story that you will hear today.

As the passage shows, the older brother did everything right and nothing wrong.  He worked in his father’s field.  He obeyed his father’s commands.  He was the perfect son.  Or so it seemed.

Look closely at verse 29:

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

For “these many years,” the older brother said, “do I serve thee.”

The older brother didn’t see himself as a son.  He viewed himself as a servant.   Like a servant, the older brother expected to get paid for his work.  So when he heard that his father was throwing a party for his younger brother — the younger brother, mind you, who had disrespected their father by taking his money and leaving for parts unknown– the older brother was angry.  He was furious.  He was bitter.

“Thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.” 

Now before we go any further, can you understand from where he is coming?  The older brother has done everything right and absolutely nothing wrong.  The younger brother, on the other hand, has done nothing right and absolutely everything wrong. If anyone deserves to be celebrated, it’s the older brother!  But instead of rewarding the older brother for his “many years” of loyal service, the father throws a feast, a banquet, an extravagant party, for the worst possible excuse of son — the one who took his inheritance and blew it on prostitutes.

Look at the father’s reply:

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Everything the father had was the older son’s already.

Ponder that thought.  Contemplate it very carefully.

The fatted calf — and all the other cattle in the herd — belonged to the older son.

The house where the party was taking place — and every other building on the estate — belonged to the older son.

Everything that the father owned belonged to the older son.

So why hadn’t the son killed his own fatted calf and hosted a party for his friends?  Better yet, why was the older son still working in the field?

Essentially, for “many years” the older son worked in his father’s field to earn something he already possessed.   Therefore, instead of behaving like a son, he felt like an over-worked but under-appreciated servant.

Now, before we delve any further into the older brother, let’s take a closer look at the father.

When the story begins, the younger brother asks the father for his inheritance.   Did the father argue with him?  Did he refuse his request?  No he didn’t.  Even though it broke his heart to say goodbye to his son, the father gave the younger brother everything he asked for — even though the lad clearly didn’t deserve to have it.

The next time we see the father, it is when the younger brother returns.  The father is, presumably, the first person to see him.  And when the father does see his son, the father drops everything and runs to him.

The last time we see the father is when he is speaking to the older brother and tells him that everything he has belongs to the older brother.

Notice the complete and unconditional grace of the father.

When the rebellious son comes to his father and asks for his entire inheritance, the father blesses him with it.

When the rebellious son returns to his father after having blown his inheritance, the father runs to him, dressing him with a robe and celebrating his arrival.

When the perfect son angrily refuses to enter the house, the father comes out to him and tells him that he owns everything.

Do you see the pattern?

Both brothers received extravagant blessings from the father every time they were in his presence.  Conversely, both brothers received nothing from the father when they were out of his presence.

The older brother, in particular, was so busy working for his father that he was unable to receive the blessings that his father was ready, willing, and able to provide.

I think we can reasonably assume that the father was not working in the field, himself.  Had he been working in the field, himself, he would have arrived to the house at the same time the older brother did.  Besides, the  father had servants to do the work for him.

Assuming that the father was not working in the field, then the older brother’s laboring actually kept him from being in his father’s presence, and by extension, from the blessings that his father would most certainly have bestowed.

Simply put, the father didn’t bless his sons based upon their performance.  The fact that the older brother did right and the younger brother did wrong was of no import.

No, the father blessed the sons — both of them — because they were his sons and because they were in his presence.

And so, if you need for God to preform a miracle in your life, here is what you need to do:

First, you have to become a son (or daughter) of the Father God.  Reconciliation with God comes when we place our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  When Jesus died, He paid the price for our sins.  All you have to do to become a son (or daughter) of the Father God is to place your trust in the finished work of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans, chapters 8 and 10:

Chapter 8

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Chapter 10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Jesus also describes this experience in Mark 16:

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Now, after you have been adopted as a son or daughter of God — and I suspect that most of you already have — all that is left for you to receive your miracle is for you to enter into God’s presence.  But to do that, you have to stop behaving like a servant and get out of the field.

You have to stop trying to impress God with your religiosity, or your good works, or your obedience.

Just stop it.

Your good works do not bring the presence of God.  Instead, the presence of God produces your good works.

Your obedience does not bring the presence of God.  Instead, the presence of God produces your obedience.

You cannot be in the house with the Father (or on the the side of the road with the Father looking for your prodigal brother) if you are in the field working like a servant trying to earn God’s blessing.  And if you are not with the Father, you will not receive your blessing.  It’s as simple as that.

What President Obama Should Have Said About ISIS

Seventy-four years ago tomorrow, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Within twenty-four hours of the attack, President Franklin Roosevelt summoned a joint-session of Congress to seek a formal declaration of war.

Last week, two Islamic terrorists — one of whom was on a foreign visa — shot thirty-one civilians in San Bernadino, California, killing fourteen of them.  These terrorists had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”).  Tonight, President Barack Obama addressed the nation concerning this terrorist attack.

Although the circumstances in 2015 are different from what our nation faced in 1941, the resolve of a president to defend our nation from acts of foreign aggression should remain constant at the very least.   In this vein, I have re-imagined what President Obama’s December 6, 2015 address to the nation would have been like if he had channeled the resolve of President Roosevelt from December 8, 1941:

On Wednesday, December 2th, 2015 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

It will be recorded that the distance of California from the Middle East makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago.

The attack four days ago in San Bernadino, California, has caused many American lives to be lost.

Previously, ISIL also launched an attack against Paris, France.

Previously, ISIL also attacked a Russian jet liner.

Previously, ISIL has beheaded Christians for their faith.

ISIL has, therefore, undertaken an offensive extending throughout the World.  The facts of ISIL’s actions speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated attack, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by ISIL on Wednesay, December 2, 2015, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Compare this modern paraphrase of FDR’s address to Congress with what President Obama actually said.  Pertinent quotes are below:

Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.

My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.

We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.

The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.

In short, President Obama exclaims how we can beat ISIL in the battlefield.  But then, in the very same breath, he says that we shouldn’t do it because we might encourage ISIL’s recruiting efforts (as if bombing them isn’t doing that already).  How absurd!

If President Roosevelt had expressed similar feelings in 1941, he would have been summarily impeached right then and there.

Seriously.  Imagine if FDR had said, more or less, what President Obama said just this very night:

Members of Congress, we should not be drawn into a long and costly ground war with Japan.  That’s what the Emperor wants.  He knows that he can’t defeat us on the battlefield.  But he knows that if we occupy the Pacific islands, the Japanese can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw more kamikazes to attack our ships.

History shows that we did have a long and costly ground war with Japan, losing thousands of our troops in places like Corregidor, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima.  And history shows that the Japanese devotion to the Emperor enabled the island nation to maintain insurgencies for years in odd and sundry places, draining our resources and mobilizing recruits.  So if FDR had declared what Obama would say seventy-four years later, he technically would have been correct.

But he didn’t say that.

He didn’t caution us against fighting.

Instead, President Roosevelt spoke of the “grave danger” that America faced as a result of Japanese aggression.  He spoke of taking “all measures for our defense.”  And he promised that we would “defend ourselves to the uttermost.”

Then he directed the U.S. Army and Navy to kick Tojo’s ass…. which they did!

If President Obama had simply called on the American people to fight this evil — by calling it evil — without pulling any punches, we would be all in.

But instead, the President of the United States just told the terrorists that he intends to fight them with one arm tied behind his back.  That is an open invitation to come back and do some more.

Friends, that is not the way to win a war…. That’s how you lose one.

Gun Control and the Death of Personal Responsibility

Earlier today, Deion Sanders was asked about the shootings in San Bernadino, Calif. In response, he said that guns aren’t picking up themselves and pulling triggers on their own; people are doing that.

Ponder the wisdom of Neon Deion for a moment.

Guns are inanimate objects. They cannot do harm to anyone unless they are first activated by a person. So the responsibility for gun violence cannot rest upon the guns themselves.  Rather, the responsibility must rest upon the people who use them.

Despite the axiomatic simplicity of this notion, liberal politicians race to the nearest microphones every time a mass shooting occurs to bemoan the accessibility of guns – overlooking the fact that in neighboring Mexico, where all guns are banned, the drug cartels have as much firepower in some places as the military.

In short, no gun control law will ever protect the people completely. If the Mexicans are incapable of keeping guns from entering their country, why do liberals think that we will do any better keeping guns out of our country?  (It’s not like we actually have a commitment to border control or anything like that.)

Even if we could seal our borders to keep guns from coming into our fair land, that wouldn’t prevent a terrorist from using a pipe bomb, a truck filled with fertilizer and diesel fuel, or a few box-cutters on an airplane to bring calamity to our citizens.  Yesterday, the San Bernadino terrorists used pipe bombs (fortunately, to no avail).

Nevertheless, despite the utter futility in passing gun restrictions, liberals always blame guns whenever mass shootings happen.  They hardly ever blame the perpetrators. (Or if they do actually mention the perpetrators, it is almost always to blame the perpetrator’s mental illness – and not the perpetrator himself.)

The responses of liberal politicians to acts of violence make perfect sense when we recognize that liberalism and personal responsibility are now mutually-exclusive concepts.

In the eyes of liberalism, nobody is truly responsible for his or her actions anymore.

  • When a man and woman create a baby that they do not want to accept responsibility for, abortion is encouraged.
  • When minimum-wage workers lament their poverty, instead of being told to suck it up, to do an excellent job, and to ready themselves for promotion (like every other person who ever started work at minimum wage), liberals promise them $15.00 per hour just to maintain the status quo.

Simply put, liberals want the government to baby everyone — so that when we citizens misbehave, the government can take our guns, our money, and our property just as any parent would take an unruly child’s toys.

It’s time for America to grow up.

This is a tough world we live in. There are people who want to destroy our way of life just because we stand for freedom. Therefore, we must take personal responsibility for our own actions and for the people we are charged to protect.

Yesterday, the police of San Bernadino performed valiantly in the face of danger. Even though it took only four minutes for police to respond — which is very quick — fourteen people were already dead before they arrived.

When the police are not there to save us, we must be ready to respond. We must be able to take responsibility for the safety and welfare of ourselves and our families.  That means having concealed carry laws to enable law-abiding citizens to bring their own security to public places.

But we simply cannot do that if the government thinks we, the people, are incapable of having that responsibility. And as long as we facilitate that notion of victim mentality – by lobbying for every goody that government can provide at the expense of someone else – we will continue to foster that paternalistic mentality that says Washington must be in complete control of our lives.

And if Washington is in complete control of our lives, then we will never be totally safe or totally free.