Posts Tagged ‘Prodigal God’


Remember-Lots-Wife

Jesus tells us to “Remember Lot’s Wife” in Luke 17:32. I remember watching some movie where it shows her looking back longingly on Sodom, and then suddenly turning into a pillar of salt. It was horrifying to a young child. How could God do something like that?

The RaptureWhen Jesus mentions Lot’s wife, it is in context of looking for His return. So does this mean that when Jesus returns and shouts “Come up hither!” that those that look back or say “wait a minute, let me finish this project” or “let me go back and turn off the iron” will not be raptured?

Elder Brother Left BehindI think what it means is that the Rapture, or any Call of God, simply reveals what is in our heart. Millions of people who thought they were believers in Christ will reach over and find their spouse gone. Many deacons will be left behind. Even many pastors. Jesus began this discourse with His response to the Pharisees demand to know when the Kingdom of God would come. Jesus replied that the Kingdom is not something you look for, it is already here, within us.

Surely he did not mean it was within those self-righteous Pharisees. But ANYONE can have the Kingdom of God within their heart! And if you have the Kingdom of God in your heart, it won’t matter when Jesus comes back!

Jesus does tell us that even with the Kingdom in our heart, the days will grow so wicked that we will long to see Him return. There will be false messiah’s, but when the day of Jesus return is here, everyone will know it,  just as we know there is lightning all around us.

Lots WifeJesus tells us to remember Lot’s wife. She lived in wickedness, yet when the time came to leave, she obeyed, but looked back. She was turned into a pillar of salt. That is what Christians are supposed to be to an evil world, salt. So God left her. I doubt that she ended up in a container of Morton’s salt!

Pillar of SaltWhat does this have to do with Elder Brother’s? The Father was pleading with the Elder Brother to see what was really important, becoming alive from the dead (like the prodigal son), and come in to join the feast. The Father was saying, “hey, come enjoy the Kingdom of God, come enjoy fellowship with Me!“, but the Elder Brother was going “what about my field, what about the crops, what about his behavior, what about MY STUFF!”

Elder Brother Left Behind2So the story ends with the Elder Brother being left behind.

Elder Brother’s must stop looking around at the stuff and start looking to the Father. They must stop saying “what about” and start SEEING the Kingdom of God! They must start saying “what about YOUR HEART Father?The Kingdom is NOT in meat and drink and stuff, but it is in the Father, and in His righteousness, His peace, His joy.FaTHER INVITE eLDER BROTHER IN

He calls all Elder Brother’s to COME! Are you looking back like Lot’s wife? Does His CALL reveal the worldliness and selfishness of your heart? Are you so self-focused that you would hate to be interrupted by the RETURN OF JESUS? If so, I hope you like salt.SALT1



Moses-pulled-his-hair-outMoses was called to lead a bunch of Elder Brother Types across the wilderness desert into the Promised Land. All the pictures of Moses show him with a full head of hair, but I know he must have pulled it all out by the time he passed away. Elder Brother Types do not take leadership easily. Even after being slaves for hundreds of years, they expressed their opinions quite readily. Murmur was their middle name.

manna from heavenGod provided them manna from heaven. They murmured about this after awhile. I imagine most people would. After all, we love variety. How many ways can you prepare manna? I love to read the account of the people’s first discovery of manna:

And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’ ” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. Exodus 16:14-18

The Bible reveals something about Elder Brother’s here. Do you know how to spot Elder Brother Types? By how much manna they gathered. All the EBT’s (Elderly Brother Types) gathered extra. They were the ones racing around to gather as much as they could. It was almost a contest to them.

manna from GodSomething unusual happened with the manna, however. The ones who gathered more had nothing left over. The people who gathered little never ran out. Paul even refers to this phenomena in 2 Corinthians 8:14, here in the context of equality and providing for others.

What does this reveal about EBT’s?

manna spoiled by wormsFirst, if they gathered too much, whatever they did not eat was spoiled with worms. It was no good the next day. EBT’s must learn to be content with what they have on a DAILY basis. We are to depend upon our Father EACH DAY for our daily bread!

Second, to avoid the stench of rotting manna, you gave away any left over manna to those who (for whatever reason) were not able to gather enough.

This lesson is important for Elder Brother’s. Don’t be so selfish that you hoard only for yourself. If you must gather a lot because of your competitive nature, do so for the purpose of GIVING TO OTHERS. This will get you closer to your younger brothers as well as your Father, because each day you come to Him for your basic needs.

Elder Brother Types tend to depend upon themselves and what they can provide for themselves. God wants EBT’s to see that all self effort is stinking worm food. If you only gather for yourself it will end up rotten, and you will barely have enough. But if you gather for the needs of others, you will never lack, you will know God’s Provision.

Elder Brothers get angry when the work of their hands is destroyed or wasted. If we learn to depend upon our Father, we will never be angry, for we will have plenty to give to others. God’s Chief Delight is to Give!

Father: Forgive me for selfishly hoarding your gifts. Teach me to depend daily upon your provisions. Teach me the importance of giving to the needs of others, that my heart might be drawn to my younger brothers.


Sign Language for "Stuck Up"

Sign Language for "Stuck Up"

Since I began this journey with the Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, my eyes have been opened to see the Elder Brother throughout the Bible. It is a whole new way of understanding the Gospel as well. The most amazing discovery has been the freedom that comes from admitting to God that we are an Elder Brother. There is no point in pretending. He knows our heart. He knows when we look down on others, when we think we are better than others. There is nothing wrong with being an Elder Brother. What is wrong is when we deny it, and say we are OK.

When you realize you are an Elder Brother, and are open and honest with God, and then ask Him to transform you into the True Elder Brother, the one who is not stingy or judgmental or selfish, WATCH OUT. He will start to work, and it will be painful.

Traduce a brotherOne way God will get you to let go of yourself is to let you see your self in a bad light. He will let you be TRADUCED! When you are traduced, you are “exposed to contempt or shame by means of false statements or misrepresentation.God will let you experience what it means to have someone look down at you, to judge you. Even if you have done nothing wrong, expect to be TRADUCED. It is God’s way of softening your heart to the needs of younger brothers. Elder Brothers have condemned and judged younger brothers far too long. God wants to see how you react to the wagging finger and upturned nose.

I experienced TRADUCING yesterday. Someone questioned my character by way of a misrepresentation. They had judged me yet did not have the guts to tell me to my face, or to tell me of their concerns. They had to have someone else do it. I had done nothing wrong, yet my blood started to boil, and I wanted to lash out. I especially despise cowards, people who talk about you behind your back yet will not talk to your face. As I was listening, blood boiling, the Father brought a verse to my heart, about Jesus not reviling when he was reviled, but committing himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:23 paraphrased). He reminded me that I had given my reputation to God several years ago, and that I must rest in Him. That is tough for an Elder Brother to do, especially when he is a Pastor. We tend to say “How Dare You!”

JesusbeatenYet Jesus is our True Elder Brother, and when He was TRADUCED, simply took it, and focused on His Father. He also prayed and forgave those who TRADUCED Him. So for the next few hours I prayed, forgave and asked the Father to enlarge my heart. The only way Elder Brothers will learn to be like Jesus is to learn to Love when we feel like hating or exacting revenge. I confessed I did not know how to love, but I knew the Father did.

Then I read what David Roper wrote in Our Daily Bread this morning:

“It was 40 years ago or more that I observed a friend of mine showing great affection for someone I considered unworthy of love. I thought my friend was being taken in, and I was afraid he would be disillusioned and saddened in the end. When I expressed my concern, he replied, “When I stand before my Lord, I hope He’ll say of me that I’ve loved too many, rather than too few.” I’ve never forgotten his words.”

The author continued expounding 1 Cor 13:7 “Love believes all things”“Love “believes” in people. It can see the potential in them. It believes that God can take the most unattractive and unworthy individual and turn that person into a masterpiece of beauty and grace. If love errs, it must err in the way of trustfulness and hopefulness.”

Love the UnlovelyThis is what Elder Brothers need to see. Instead of thinking we are the righteous ones, the ones whom the Father needs because we are so responsible, we need to see ourselves  along side the younger brother in the pigsty. We need to know what it is to be TRADUCED and looked down upon. Then we need to look at our Father and say, When our heart feels the Love of the Father even when we are at our worst, please let me never see another person as unattractive or unworthy or filthy or useless. Let me see them as YOUR MASTERPIECE! Then our heart is enlarged to LOVE THE UNLOVELY! May we ever look to the Father and pray that He will some day accuse us of loving too many, rather than too few!

Have no HeartElder brothers need to be TRADUCED so that we understand the pain and hurt of our younger brothers. When our hearts are aching then we will be sensitive to the pain of the younger brother’s heart. We will reach out to our Father for help, and only then will we be able to reach out to our younger brother. Sure, they may continue to break our heart, but as David Roper said: “It’s better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart at all.

Lord, help us to believe in people
And all that in them You can do,
So we can say we’ve loved too many,
Rather than too few. —Sper

The Father looks beyond what the brothers are to what they can become.

Father: Soften and enlarge my heart to love my younger brothers the way my True Elder Brother loves me. Empower me to love the unlovely. May I never look down on anyone. May I see others as You see them!


Why Pesecute me SaulIn the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I always identified with the Elder Brother, but in a good way. I was the hard working, father pleasing son. I tried to do the responsible things, while my younger brother went off and broke our father’s heart. God has opened my eyes to see just how lost the Elder Brother was, and to see my life in the same light. So the question I find myself asking is this, “What must the Elder Brother realize in order to bring about a better ending to this parable?”

This morning the Spirit brought Saul of Tarsus to mind. He was the classic Elder Brother, yet his life had an amazing turnaround. He was at that point in our parable where the Father was pleading with him to come and join the feast with his found and forgiven younger brother. He thought he was OK, that he was the righteous one.

But Saul, blinded by a bright light heard the words, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”

Younger Brothers in the Body of ChristIn that one moment our Lord let Saul know that all found younger brothers are actually connected to Him! And Saul rejecting and persecuting these younger brothers was actually hurting the Son of God. The Elder Brother in our parable could only focus on what he had and how his younger brother had wasted everything. He rejected the feast as a wasteful extravagance. But in rejecting the feast and the younger brother, he was rejecting the Father, for they were intimately connected!

Saul (now called Paul) wrote years later that “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and we all belong to one another.” Rom 12:5.

asleep in our safe coffinIf Elder Brothers in the church are to re-write the ending of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we must see our connectedness with those lost younger brothers. We must see that seeking after them is the way we strengthen our relationship with our Father!

To be comfortable in our self-righteousness is to be comfortable in our coffin, safe and protected from the world, but cold and lifeless as far as our relationship with the Father. We must see what is missing. We must see that our Savior, our Christ is aching without the younger brother. We must see that by ignoring our younger brother we are actually ignoring our Savior!

Father: Open my heart to see and feel the needs of your heart, the relationship you desire with the lost younger brothers. May I see that my apathy toward younger brothers is really apathy and coldness toward You!


Tompkins Family 1970As an Elder Brother I must confess I was never close to my earthly father, especially growing up. He was typical of most fathers at the time-not touchy feely, not very open, a man of few words; but when he spoke, you obeyed because you feared the consequences. Even as a young man working for him, we were never very close. I knew he loved me and had my best interests at heart, but there never was a closeness that some sons enjoy. He was always gone in those important 4-14 years, a traveling salesman. When he was home it was usually in a disciplinary fashion. Mom had had enough of dealing with three and then four rambunctious boys all week long. Friday evening was reckoning time around our house. I loved my Dad, I respected my Dad, I even feared my Dad, but I never felt close to my Dad.

Jonathon-attacks-PhilistineJonathon must have had that type of relationship with his father Saul. Saul had great responsibilities leading Israel, but he was a poor father. He was even a poor King. One day (1 Sam 14) Jonathon did a typical Elder Brother thing. He went with his armor bearer and tackled a guardpost of Philistines deep in Israeli territory. They killed as many as 20 men, causing the other Philistines to think an army was upon them. King Saul was told what was going on and ordered an assault. The Philistines were in disarray and suffered heavy casualties. Saul was so focused on complete victory that he ordered his soldiers to not eat or drink anything until all the Philistines were killed. His men were weak from hunger and thirst. Jonathon, unaware of the command, dipped his spear in some honey and was instantly energized after eating it. When told of the command of his father, he said the order was nonsense.

King Saul Orders attackKing Saul inquired of the Lord to get further military instructions (at least he was still trying to follow the Lord at this point). No Word from God came. He was upset and sought to find out the cause. Even if it was his own son, Jonathon, the perpetrator would be killed. The answer came back that Jonathon was indeed the cause, and Saul ordered him KILLED! The people intervened and Jonathon was spared. Some dad eh? All mine ever did was spank me!

Imagine how difficult it would be for Jonathon to get close to that kind of father. Selfish, conceited, unloving, such was King Saul. Fortunately, as a young teenager my life was influenced by a Divine Father who desired a close relationship with me. I discovered He is the most loving Father anyone could want. We all need to be loved, to have close friends, even us Elder Brother types.

Touch Hem to be WholeWhen Jesus walked this earth, people were drawn to Him, but only those who had a relationship with Him were changed. Mark 6:56 reveals why: “as many as touched (háptomai) him were made whole.” We think that the tactile touch was all it took, but the word haptomai means much more than a physical touch. This “TOUCH” means that “the handling of an object was done in such a manner as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself”.

I experienced such a TOUCH in times of reading my Father’s Word, in times of praying with my Father. Those ‘touches” exerted a modifying influence upon me, upon my heart.

When I was 19, my earthly father touched me with a confession. With tears in his eyes he told me that God had given him a second chance, and he asked my forgiveness for not being around when I was growing up. I remember the converstaion as if it was yesterday.

Father-and-Elder-BrotherSuch is this God, this Divine Father that loves us so much. When He touches our heart, we are never the same. That touch will open our hearts to those around us, those in our care. When God touches us with His Love and Forgiveness, it gives us the ability to Love others!

Elder Brothers need to be touched, need to have our hearts opened up to the needs of those around us. The Elder Brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son kept his heart closed, resisting the touch of his father. The younger brother had nowhere to go, so he eagerly accepted the touch and kisses of his father.

jonathan_davidJonathon met a younger brother named David, and their souls became knit together. Jonathon gave everything he had to care for David. He was the Elder Brother that David needed when everyone else was against David. Jonathon was even the target of his father’s own spear because of his love for David. The time came for David to go into hiding because it was obvious King Saul wanted him dead. Jonathon and David met secretly and said their goodbyes, “Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.” (1 Sam 20:41)

Have you been touched by your earthly father? Have you been touched by your Heavenly Father? Is there a younger brother who has been touched by you? Will there be tears when you say goodbye?

My dad went to be with God in 1995 at the age of 63. In typical Elder Brother fashion I was the strong one during the funeral and the days following. I could not cry. I drove down to my Mom and Dad’s home in Destin Fl, to get some things of my dad. While I was there, trying on some of his clothes, it finally hit me. I broke down and wept and wept and wept. I don’t know how long, I only know I had never wept like that before. It was at that time I renewed my commitment to my Divine Father to serve Him and to answer the call to preach that He had given me 24 years earlier.

Jim-Tompkins-Sr-My-DadIn those few moments alone with the last remnants of my earthly father, my heart had finally been touched in a way to open my heart and eyes to the needs of others.

Dad, thanks for touching me with your life, thanks for opening my heart to serving the younger brothers around me. Your touch continues to be upon my life all these years later. When I preach, when I teach, when I serve, I know it is your touch that is by my side.

Father: Thank you for those who touch our lives. Would you open our hearts to be sensitive to the needs of all those around us. Would you allow us Elder Brothers to touch you and be made whole!