On the Plains of Moab Blog
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July 11, 2012, 11:29 AM

Finding the Chicken and Swimming with the Pigs.

On Sunday, when mentioning the parable about the one lost sheep as to the 99 that were not lost -- I haphazardly confessed that I had lost one of my wife's chickens while they were out of town over the weekend.  At least she still had twenty more left!  What's one chicken between us?  We blessed a racoon!

Turns out that that one chicken was the one who laid blue eggs.  Valuable chick!  No more blue eggs and ham, I suppose.  Anyway.  Long and short, I was in big trouble.  How could I not shut that door to the chicken house?  Never mind that I've shut it dutifully many, many times over before.  It's the old adage, "One ah, shux! nullifies ten atta boys."

Well, that chicken came home to roost late Sunday!  I didn't blow it.  And I just thought you might want to know that.

Now, about the sermon this past Sunday.  There is another old adage that needs to be put out there for consumption:  "A preacher can't say everything when he says something."  Here's how it works:  What a preacher doesn't say about a particular passage of Scripture in a given sermon will be interpreted by the hearer as a willful omission or a glaring defect in the preacher's theology.  To which we reply, "We can't say everything when we say something!"  When I preach a sermon, I can't cover every angle and nuance of a particular passage.  I have to be selective.  There are going to be things that are not said.  But that's not because of a "I don't want to go there" omission or defective theology or flat-out ignorance -- though in some pulpits this might certainly be the case -- but not with this preacher!  ;-)

On Sunday, the parable of the prodigal presented an opportunity for this preacher to emphasize the love of God.  But, and I hope I made this clear, this does not mean that the love of God comes without conditions.  I love how the father in the parable tells the older son, "This brother of yours was dead, but now he's alive!" (My paraphrase.)  He's not the same man that he was when he stormed out of the house arrogantly with his inheritance.  He has changed.  He has repented.  He has decided to leave his profligate ways behind, and he wants to live.  To this, the father joyously welcomes this one, lost son back into the family fold -- just as God does with every other hard case, profilate sinners who cry for mercy.

I do not want anybody hearing what I said on Sunday thinking that God's love is a blank check.  No one should imagine that they can define God's love down.  No one can determine that a change in behavior or being is unecessary because God loves them just the way they are -- whatever!  Hardly!  When the prodigal was laying in the muck with the pigs, I can't imagine that he was reassuring himself that his dad (or God) loved him just the way he was!  It took some repentance, man.  (And a bath!)  He couldn't stay where he was or even the way he was. (I know, bad grammar there!)  He had to move.  He had to change.  That's why dad said, "My son was dead, but now he's alive!"

The long and short of the matter:  Repentance will always find the warm, welcome embrace of our God in Jesus Christ.  That's the message.  Oh, and God loves you, too.

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