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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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We all come into the world helpless, dependent and needing acceptance, to be treated as worthy, and to be blessed. The father wound is the absence of this love from your birth father. The wound can be caused by:. The effect of a father wound is low self-esteem, a deep emotional pain inside and a performance orientation that makes us "doers" rather than "beings.

We tend to have four barriers that inhibit the healing of this wound:. Instead of going to the pain and receiving the healing we need, we tend to respond to life events by creating a misconception about our "Self. As long as we accept these words as truth , we will experience depressed, anxious and angry lives. When misconceptions about God are present i. As long as we accept these words as truth, we will seek to perform and prove our worth through perfectionism and materialism, or seek addictions to cover up the pain.

Why do we need to be intimate, loving beings? Because we were created for love! But before we can truly abide in this love that God has for us, we are to first recognize that our need for such love exists. We are to realize that we cannot meet all of our needs on our own. We cannot control our emotions and destiny without it having harmful generational impact. Adam walked with God every day, with no shadow of sin separating them. He then began to bring all the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, every living creature, before Adam to see what he would call them.

This was not just to give Adam something to do in his spare time. God had a purpose—to show Adam his need for intimacy. Why do you suppose Eve was not created at the same time as Adam? Of course God did. But He wanted Adam to have an understanding of his need. And because he began to understand that need, he was later able to truly love and cherish the woman God brought to him.

For seven years, I prayed two, sometimes three hours a day, with my wife shut out of my prayer closet. It was just God and me, together waiting for her to get her life straightened out. I believed I was the holy and righteous one because I was doing all the right, religious things, but all the while I was unconsciously neglecting my relationship with my wife. God wants us to have fellowship with Him, but a true relationship with God will not come at the expense of intimacy with our spouses and families. If you spend 10 to 11 hours a day ministering to other people, but you spend very little time each day ministering to your spouse, your life is dangerously out of balance.

I may have been focusing on a right relationship with God, but I had not recognized the deep need I had for true intimacy with my wife and family. When Adam recognized his need for intimacy and love, God intervened on his behalf. Because Adam had first understood his need, he later knew when it had been fulfilled. Adam and Eve stood before one another, naked and unashamed.

Although they were two separate people, they became one flesh. They fully knew and were known by each other, with nothing hidden, nothing held back. What a beautiful picture of true intimacy in-to-me-see! Key 3: Embrace your responsibility for intimacy. Many relationship problems we experience are a result of our unwillingness to know others and be known. Do you find yourself holding back in your relationships, unwilling to share your true self with your partner or mate?

Have you been hurt in the past and find it difficult to trust? Are you afraid of further disappointment if you allow yourself to love again? Jesus came to restore our capacity for love and intimacy, despite all the many times we may have been hurt. It is your responsibility to choose to allow intimacy to become a priority in your life. As Christians, what is the most important question we can ask of ourselves?

How much of the Scripture have I studied? How many Bible conferences have I attended? How much faith do I have? Then I learned that I needed to ask it hourly. Now I seek to ask it of myself every 10 or 15 minutes. In our modern Christian culture, the responsibility for intimacy has often fallen upon the female members of the household. Many Christian men shy away from the vulnerability that comes from sharing not only their emotions, but also their spiritual lives, with their wives and families.

And when that happens, women often take up the slack. Women tend to be the nurturers, the ones who are soft, caring, and compassionate. While the distinction between the roles of men and women is important, the Bible never says that a man cannot, or should not, be just as intimate and loving as a woman. He intends for men to experience tender intimacy, too. But there was a difference between the two of them. Although Eve had also sinned, Adam was the one God first held responsible.

But when confronted with his sin, he turned the blame onto the woman, and at that point, the door for male irresponsibility in intimacy was opened wide. Too many Christian men struggle with fears: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of giving love, fear of receiving love, fear of intimacy. They find a false sense of security in their careers, or even their ministries, because they do not want to face the uncomfortableness and insecurity they might experience if they were to be truly vulnerable with their wives. But God has called the man to protect his wife, to shield her and to love her as Jesus loves the Church.

Jesus sacrificed His very life for His Bride; how many of us men are willing to sacrifice our self-love to meet the emotional needs of our wives? Both men and women are to understand the importance of fostering intimacy in their lives and assume responsibility for taking the steps necessary to achieve it. So many of us base our self-worth on the things we do and what we can achieve, rather than who we are. This was a deception I struggled against for many years. I constantly asked myself, How many people have been set free under my ministry this week? How many hours have I spent in the Word and prayer?

How many people have I witnessed or ministered to this week? I began to live my life by the numbers. And that affected all of my relationships because it short-circuited my ability to be vulnerable with others. Do you base your self-worth on how well your career is going? Do you need other people to praise your accomplishments in order to feel good about yourself?

Let me ask the question another way. Would you live your life giving His love away to others? When you truly grasp His deep and intimate love for you, it will fill you up to such an extent that the most natural thing in the world will be for you to share that love with everyone you meet. Men, we are to love our wives as Jesus loves the Church see Eph.

Loving your wife the way that God wants you to love her, begins by loving yourself. The more we ask Father to fill the void in our hearts and commit to practice loving actions to our spouses, children, or others, the more comfortable we become with God and ultimately with ourselves. And sometimes we may not feel like making that choice. There are days when I come home in the evening, exhausted, and all my tired body wants to do is sit back in the recliner and watch a golf match on TV.

But my wife will be in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove to prepare my dinner, and I realize I need to make a choice to make love a priority. I go into the kitchen, put my arms around Trisha, and tell her what a wonderful gift from God she is, that she is a treasure that can never be replaced. The rewards that come from making this choice are priceless. By practicing a lifestyle of love and intimacy, I open up my heart and allow the love of Father God to flow through me to my wife and my family.

He is coming back soon, and the judgment day of His Church is near. When I stand before that great, white throne to account for my life here on earth, I believe He will ask me just one question. Did you place the great commandment before the Great Commission? See Romans There should be nothing more normal on earth than being a lover. The four keys I have shared with you are important to help you break through the deceptions about intimacy into which you may have bought. They can help you begin to foster genuine intimacy in your relationships.

And if you have experienced not just a lack of love, but also any kind of abuse, you may think it impossible for you to foster healthy relationships. Until you have an encounter with Father God and allow His unconditional, affectionate love to fill the hurt and empty places in your heart, it may be difficult to pour out love to others. For the first 20 years of our marriage, my wife, Trisha, paid the price because of hurts that I experienced in my childhood, especially one traumatic incident involving my mother that occurred when I was years old.

God finally began to deal with me in about these issues in my past that I thought had already been resolved. Through prayer, counseling, and deliverance, I forgave my mother and broke the hurt and the pain associated with that tragedy. But forgiveness and comfort are two very different things, and a little year-old boy had been left uncomforted. As a result, I comforted myself by taking control of my own life. Because as a child I closed my heart to receiving love, it became difficult to pass tender, affectionate love on to Trisha. Instead, the sea became my identity, and later the ministry, leaving my wife to carry the wound of feeling I loved the sea and the ministry more than her.

He gently showed me that even though I had received His deliverance in that event, there was still an ungodly belief there that was hindering my relationship with my wife. I needed a deep encounter with the love of Father God to fill up the void that remained in the heart of that year-old boy. When I allowed His comfort to flow into those deep places of hurt, my heart began to open more freely to receiving nurture and comfort, and my relationship with my wife was able to reach deeper levels of intimacy.

Before we can have genuine relationships with others in which we allow ourselves to be honest, open, and vulnerable, it is helpful to first experience the healing comfort of our heavenly Father in those areas of hurt and rejection in our souls mind, will, emotion, and personality.

You may have forgiven those people in your past who hurt 50 You Were Created for Love you. You may have even experienced deliverance from inner vows you made as a result of those painful events. But have you allowed Father God to wrap His loving arms around you and comfort you in those areas in which you have never felt comfort before? God tells us that He has loved us with an everlasting love see Jer. He longs to gather us to Himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings see Matt.

Allow your Father to touch the deep places in your soul and to fill your heart so full of His love that it will overflow onto everyone around you. You were created for love, for intimacy with God, with your spouse and with your family. God has crafted you to be an instrument of His love and to demonstrate His compassion and tenderness to everyone you meet. When you begin to experience His phileo love for you and allow it to flow through you to others, you begin to experience true fulfillment because you will be doing what you were created to do.

If you want to experience this kind of intimacy and fulfillment in your life, begin by opening your heart to the Father and praying this prayer with me: Father God, I believe that I have been created for love, to experience Your healing love, and to share that love in my relationships with others. I renounce the lie that I am not a lover, that I cannot open up my emotions or allow myself to be hurt again.

Instead, I ask You to wrap Your arms around me, to comfort me in those areas of hurt and pain, and to fill me up so that I can in turn share Your love with those around me. I choose to love my family as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for her. Our audio series You Were Created For Love can help you reorder your values and priorities and teach you how to begin to impart healing and restoration to your family.

What kinds of lies or ungodly beliefs about intimacy have you bought into? Many people derive their self-esteem from the things that they do, their performance in their careers, their spiritual achievements, or success in their ministries. What things cause you to feel good about yourself?

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve traded a perfect, unhindered intimacy with one another and hid behind shame and fear. How can you humble yourself and allow God to restore communion in your relationship? Are there any events in your past for which you may have received some healing and deliverance, but not the comfort of your loving heavenly Father?

How can you humbly position yourself to begin to accept His comfort for those painful events in your life? She had tried everything she knew to do, but nothing seemed to be working. Sarah was 16 years old and a typical teenager. Most of the time, she was easy to live with, a true joy to her parents, but then there were those days when no matter what went on, she would be agitated with everyone.

Unfortunately, when Sarah had a bad hair day, she could not just keep it to herself. Everyone around her had to be included as well. Sure enough, the phone call came to my hotel room. I need you to come home and straighten her out. I knew my family needed my physical presence, but it would have to wait until I got home. Although each member of my family understood that I loved them, they also knew my background of harshness and judgment.

When I first accepted the Lord back in , my life was transformed, and I was set free from drugs, alcohol, and pornography—all at one time—never to return. But I easily fell into law and legalism. Becoming a legalistic holiness pastor, I preached hellfire and brimstone to my congregation. I preached more people out of Heaven and into hell than I preached out of hell and into Heaven. I valued obedience over relationship. Somehow I thought that if I could so easily turn my back on my former lifestyle, other people would be able to do the same.

I had no tolerance for any perceived sin or lack of integrity, whether it be an outright commission of wrongdoing or simply an attitude of the heart. I rained down guilt, shame, and condemnation upon my congregation and my wife and children. This was the dad that Sarah expected to meet when her father arrived home. And, boy, was she dreading the experience! But as I was driving back from my trip, the Holy Spirit began to prompt me to handle the situation in a different way, not with my usual lack of grace, but with the unconditional love of Father God.

I want to handle it the way You would handle it, demonstrating Your Fatherly comforting heart to Sarah. As I walked through the front door, she was waiting for me with a look of dread, failure, and utter dejection on her face. She knew she had blown it, and she was almost cringing in anticipation of my disapproving, devaluing look. Instead, I invited Sarah to go swimming with me at the public pool around the corner from our house. For an hour we swam, played, and laughed, but all the while, Sarah was waiting for the hammer to fall. By the time we returned to the house, the rest of the family was home.

Acceptance, laughter, and play had caused Sarah to relax, and after we went inside, she headed for the bathroom to get cleaned up. Do you picture God as the great policeman in the sky, waiting to pounce on any infraction of the law you may commit? I did discipline Sarah later that day for her attitude and the way she had treated her mother and brothers. But I did it with honor, acceptance, and love.

See Luke God certainly disciplines us, but not in a way that imparts shame, fear, or accusation. His motivation behind discipline is His vast and eternal love for us. See Hebrews He does it for our good and betterment because He wants the very best for us. For many years, I believed in and vigorously preached that we sinners are protected from the wrath of Father God only by the compassionate nature of Jesus, who paid for our sins on the cross. He intercedes for us, pleading with His Father to spare us the punishment we so rightly deserve.

This almost schizophrenic view of the nature of God—that Jesus loves us but His stern Father is perpetually angry with us—has been ingrained in the mind-set of many Christians. While they can foster a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus, they are frustrated when it comes to relating to intimacy with Father God.

If you walked into a church service and spotted someone whom you knew was angry with you, you would probably head to the opposite side of the church to look for a seat. When there is a grudge being held or an ongoing disagreement, the people involved usually find a way to conveniently avoid one another, sometimes for years.

Even in marriages, a husband and wife can live under the same roof, but if there is an undercurrent of anger or hostility in the relationship, a vast emotional distance will grow between them despite their close physical proximity. It is difficult to have intimacy with someone who remains mad at you.

When we believe that God is angry with us, it is not easy for us to accept His love or draw near to Him. And, oh, what a wretched sinner I am! When we feel ashamed or guilty, we often run and hide as Adam did in the Garden of Eden. For some people, their addictions provide a safe and familiar environment, but running to these addictions can also cause them to spiral dangerously into a cycle of sin from which it is difficult to break free. For others, hyper-religious activity brings a sense of penance and gives false relief, thus offering a sense of comfort.

Are you afraid to come before God and freely confess your sin? Do you instead try to forget about what you have done, perhaps drowning your guilt in alcohol or some other addiction? Or, as I did, throw yourself into a religious frenzy, trying to atone for your sin and appease an angry God with your good works and religious disciplines and duty? If you follow any of these deadly cycles, you may be being influenced by a religion of fear and intimidation, and you need a new God for your old problems.

You need a new image of God! Religion has misrepresented the nature of Father God and portrayed Him to be something He is not. The idea that Father is the vengeful arm of the Trinity and that Jesus is the compassionate One pleading for our undeserved pardon, is not just harmful to our relationship with God, but it runs totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus came to demonstrate who the Father is and what He is like, and He does this through His words and His actions.

The nature of the Father is the same as that of Jesus: He is love. And because God is love, everything He does is out of His love for us. Even when we sin, Father still loves us, and He longs to be the One to whom we run for comfort and forgiveness. God is love, and His perfect love casts out all fear see 1 John Everything Jesus did on earth, including His sacrificial death on the cross, shows us the heart of the Father——a heart of love and compassion, not one of wrath and judgment.

The religion of fear will have no hold on us; and even when we sin, we can still crawl up into the lap of Father God and seek His love and forgiveness. God has blessed us with a large and comfortable home that has room for plenty of guests to sleep, so we frequently house missionaries and pastors visiting from out of town. And with three children over the age of 16, our house has become the local hangout for many youth.

There is rarely a dull moment with so much activity constantly taking place. One good example of this involves my dietary habits. In , I became a vegetarian for medical reasons. But, such a nutritional regimen has its side effects. Beans truly can be magical talking fruit, and my sons love to have wars with these side effects! Many Christians feel that way about God. Isaiah tells us that God wants us to build a place for Him to live, a place in which He can relax and be with us and where we can relax and be with Him.

So often, well-meaning Christians pray for a visitation from God, but what He really wants is a habitation with us. Martha made the same mistake, spending all her time treating Jesus as a guest when what He really wanted her to do was relax and simply be with Him. I have known Father both as a guest and as a true member of my household with whom I have intimate fellowship.

For seven years, I spent at least three hours a day in my prayer closet and in the Word, but I never really knew who God was. I tried to be on my best behavior, hoping to gain His approval. Jesus was the Man He was because of the Father He had.

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See John ; You cannot draw close to an angry God of whom you are afraid, and when you feel you must strive to gain His approval, you will begin to compete with other Christians around you. He gradually lost his childlikeness and innocence until he finally reached a point when he forgot he was Peter Pan altogether. In order to be able to fly and consequently rescue his family from the clutches of Captain Hook, Peter Pan had to remember his happy thought. When my daughter, Sarah, celebrated her 16th birthday, I happened to be out of town, and while I regretted missing the occasion, in a way it was fortunate for me.

To make matters worse, it is only a short distance from the local high school. During this time, when students were dismissed each day, the teenagers would go flying down the street, taking the curve at 50 or 60 miles an hour. Of course, this was the location my daughter chose for her first driving lesson. And sure enough, just as she was approaching that hairpin turn, another teenage driver came barreling down the road straight toward her.

Watch out for that ditch! This driving lesson is over. We will just have to wait until your father gets home for your next one! Daddy would not be upset with me. When you experience the fear of failure or the fear of rejection, are your happy thoughts those of your heavenly Father, your Daddy who is not upset with you and who will cover you with His love? Or perhaps when you fall, your immediate thought is, Oh, what a holy God He is and what a wretched person I am!

There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any more than He does right now. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any less than He does right now. Unconditional love is never based upon the merit of the one receiving it; it is based upon the loving nature of the one giving it. As you meditate on these verses, allow the Holy Spirit to begin to transform your image of Father into that of a loving Daddy who longs to care for you. You may even want to copy these verses and stick them on a mirror. Or better yet, memorize them!

I have never not been loved by Him. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness Jeremiah For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life John For the Father Himself loves you,because you have loved Me,and have believed that I came forth from the Father John But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved ,and raised us up with Him,and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus Ephesians For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation Psalm Your eyes are like doves.

How beautiful is your love,my sister,my bride! How much better is your love than wine Song of Solomon He wants to meet all my needs. You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world Matthew But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth Acts Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God 2 Corinthians I can do all things through Him who strengthens me Philippians For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren Hebrews Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them Hebrews He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our enemies underfoot.

Yes,Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea Micah For He delivered us from the domain of darkness,and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins Colossians If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name John No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you John Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Romans Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

For you have been bought with a price 1 Corinthians He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,according to the kind intention of His will Ephesians In Him you have been made complete,and He is the head over all rule and authority Colossians There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death Romans What then shall we say to these things?

If God is for us, who is against us? Romans Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God Colossians Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need Hebrews There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love 1 John We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him 1 John When I believe in Him, I am not judged.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God John — For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son John And if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world John See how well you hit with it.

Later, I took my son, Micah, out to the golf course to play with my new set of clubs. I wanted my son to be blessed, to have more and better things than me, in spite of his attitude.

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That is also the nature of Father God. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. He blesses the deserving and the undeserving, simply because it is His character to love. Although He disciplines His children, Father does not judge or condemn them see John God is love, and everything He does is done in love see 1 John God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all see 1 John The loving thoughts of Father toward us outnumber the sand; He considers us His precious children see Ps.

Love thinks no evil see 1 Cor. There are some who believe these views give people a license to sin. I did not realize anyone needed a license. May I ask you—which Father would you have more respect for: an angry One or a loving, forgiving One? Which God does your family want to be most like? To which God would sinners be most attracted? With which God would Jesus want you to spend eternity? Father God, I come before You today and humbly ask You to forgive me for judging You wrongly and allowing misrepresentations of who You are to affect my perceptions of You.

I have allowed religion, that is based on performance, and fear to color my thoughts toward You. I have sought to please You and gain Your acceptance through my good works. My focus has been on religion and my performance instead of on my relationship with You. Please help me gain a new understanding of Your unconditional love for me. Now I bring to the cross all of those who misrepresented to me Your character as a loving Father. I choose to forgive anyone who gave me a false impression of who You are. I understand now that You are not angry with me, but You are longing for deep fellowship with me because You love me so much.

Help me to realize this fully and share it with everyone I meet. How were you disciplined by your father as a child? In what ways has this affected your image of your heavenly Father? Think about the people you invite into your home. Are there some with whom you feel more comfortable than others? What is it about those people that allows you to relax in their presence? Some Christians are afraid to approach God after they fall into sin and need His forgiveness. After you have fallen into sin, what is your usual pattern of behavior? If so, what is it?

Once a sergeant in the war, he was a strict military man, and that training and experience carried over into the way he related to his family. He loved us and there was no question that he would have given his own life for ours, but he also demanded obedience—unconditional and immediate—to his rules. These rules covered almost every area of our lives, right down to the way we wore our hair.

I was very young when I began to rebel against my father. Things got worse as the years progressed until finally one day when I was 18 years old, a serious incident took place that changed the course of our relationship. Just as it had grown out enough to begin to touch the back of my collar, my dad came home one day and happened to notice my unruly locks.

I have never hit the floor so fast in my life, before or since! My father took me down and forcibly cut off my hair himself. He mistakenly thought that was the best way to control the rebellion that was festering in my heart.

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Unfortunately, his discipline had the opposite effect, and when I got up from the floor with considerably shorter hair, I called my father every name I could think of. Not too long after leaving home, I got a job in a head shop a place where drug paraphernalia was sold on Main Street in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was the place everyone went to smoke a joint and get stoned, and I joined in every chance I got. He passed by every day and would come in looking for his son. And each time he showed up, I went farther back into the cave to light up another joint.

I rejected my father every single day for over a year. But as wounded by my rejection as he was, my dad never stopped pursuing me. He knew where I was living—a communal home with several other hippies—and many times he came by and saw my motorcycle out front. He would stop, come to the front door, and try to talk to me, but I would not receive him.

In over a year, he had to have been rejected by me at least four hundred times, yet he continued to pursue me. If my earthly father, who himself had been abused in his youth, had that depth of love and commitment to me, how much more does Abba Father, our heavenly Father who is perfect love, pursue restoration and intimacy with His wayward children? Eventually, my relationship with my father was restored, but only because of his relentless commitment to restore a relationship with his son. He was a prodigal father and a reflection to me of my heavenly Prodigal Father.

Although the son did spend his inheritance extravagantly, how much more recklessly did his father give honor, compassion, forgiveness, and grace to his son when he least deserved it? This parable is a favorite story taught in churches and Sunday school classes, often to help demonstrate the love of the Father and teach the salvation message. The younger son did not value his relationship with his father for the companionship and intimacy that it offered.

Instead, he became selfish and began to value his father for what material things he thought he was owed because of their relationship. Eventually he totally rejected any fellowship with his father in exchange for the balance of his inheritance. Immaturity thinks only of its own desires, not the heart or needs of others. But this father was different. He was a prodigal father, even before the son left.

He had already forgiven his son for his rebellion, or he would never have given him the inheritance. Many began to hear about healing, so thousands would flock to crusades to receive that blessing from the Lord. Then, a different manifestation of power would begin in another church, and thousands would flock there to receive that portion of their perceived inheritance.

An attitude began to fester among many of these Christians that God somehow owed them the benefits of healing and financial prosperity because it was part of their inheritance in Christ, but they did 78 The Prodigal Father not pursue the way of love. Many ministers began to compare themselves to each other; seeing the power and favor of God in some ministries, others became caught up in ambition, pride, or jealousy.

They wanted the same power of God to be displayed in their own ministries, not in order to bless the people, but to receive the honor and favor that such ministers seemed to have. Because of His love and grace, the Father still pours out His blessings even under these circumstances; but when His children value Him only for what He can do for them, they miss out on the greatest blessing of all—an intimate relationship with Him. When the younger son thought only about his own desires and needs, he was demonstrating his immaturity.

There was a definite point when he left and assumed control of his own life. And it was at that point that his father was no longer able to offer him the benefits of being his child.

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I want to control this on my own. God, give me what You owe me and then let me do things my own way. There were times when we demanded the blessings from God—healing, the gifts of the Spirit, His power demonstrated in signs and wonders—and in His graciousness, God did give us what we asked for.

But the end result was an eventual drought in the spiritual life of the Church. See James ; In a interview with Rick Knoth, managing editor of the Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal, Promise Keepers founder and president Bill McCartney stated that they had researched and found that 62 percent of Christian men admitted to struggles with sexual sin—pornography, adultery, and sensuality. When Christians value the Father more for what He can do for them than for intimacy and love, they eventually begin to seek to fulfill their own selfish desires rather than enjoy the relationship they have with God.

Then, in order to fill the void that has been created, they seek comfort or identity in one or more of the counterfeit affections—power, possessions, position, people, places, performance, or passions of the flesh. You are about to hurt the people around you! Even worse, the fate of the swine was better than the state the son was in; he was actually jealous of the pigs because they had more to fill their cravings than he did!

How do well-meaning children of God fall into such unclean states? I have spent the last 20 years ministering to wounded Christian leaders and their wives. Rarely a week goes by that I do not find myself talking with someone who has found him or herself involved in an immoral situation, and not one of them had planned on drifting into that sin. They all are men and women who had been hungry for God and committed to serving Him. Your spouse cannot ultimately meet your need for intimacy.

If you are expecting him or her to give you all the love you need, when they are unable to do so, you will become vulnerable to defilement by someone else with an unmet love need. Until you value intimacy and love more than what God can do for you, you will continue to have a void in your heart.

And, as in the laws of nature, wherever there is a void, something will try to fill it. Some people try to fill this void with alcohol, with drugs, or even with religion. But the longing and emptiness in your heart cannot be filled by anyone or anything except a relationship with the Father built upon love and intimacy, not duty and works. Until you have experienced this, it may be difficult to experience a truly intimate relationship with another person.

A homecoming begins after you have hit rock bottom in the pigpen of shame and despair, and remember what a loving and compassionate Father you have. He remembered that even though he had completely forsaken his father, his father would never forsake him. True repentance involves both a change of heart and a change in actions.

What love this prodigal father had for his son! What love our heavenly Father has for us! Before the son had ever left home, his father had already forgiven him. He was simply waiting for his son to return so that he could fully express his affectionate love. Before you take even one step outside the covering of your heavenly Father, He has already forgiven you. Not only will He forgive you, but He will also run to you as soon as you take one step back toward His love.

When we have failed, Father does not approach us with a heavy rod of correction. He runs to us with His arms outstretched, ready to welcome us back into His embrace with all the fullness of His forgiveness and love; but sometimes our own attitude can hold us back. But not only did the father accept him back as a full member of his household, he also gave him the royal treatment! He rejoiced that his long-lost, beloved son had returned. They are playing the shame game, a cycle that began at the time of the very first sin in the Garden of Eden.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they were caught in this cycle, which culminated in their hide-and-seek game with God see Gen. Today, Christians do not use literal fig leaves to hide their sin from God, but they may use hyper-religious activity, or spiritual fig leaves, to cover themselves. When Christians fail, they begin to experience fear. They may fear rejection by God or by other Christians who may discover what they have done. They may begin to fear intimacy, because to allow themselves to be fully known involves disclosing their imperfections, or they may fear further failure, which can paralyze them and render them incapable of moving ahead in intimacy with God.

When these fears take root in their hearts, they often become insecure——insecure with God, with themselves, and in their relationships with others. Guilt is the natural consequence of unconfessed sin. Until true repentance occurs, we may be hounded by guilt and self-condemnation. Unable to experience the love of the Father or intimacy with others may cause us to turn to escapism, seeking comfort wherever it can be found, becoming addicted to movies, video games, romance novels, food, alcohol, drugs, or pornography.

If we are not at peace, resting in the love of our Father, we cannot avoid a lifestyle of anxiety. All of these consequences of sin create a vicious cycle, causing further failure to take place. He exchanges our fig leaves of shame for royal robes of righteousness. He places His ring back on our finger, restoring us to the place of full sonship in His household. This parable demonstrates six simple principles we can apply to restore the relationship of intimacy with the Father that was lost because we valued Him for what He could do for us and not for intimacy and love. Come to your right senses.

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, you are a son or daughter of the Father of creation. Even if you are living in a pigpen of impurity and sin, understand that is not where you belong. Come to your senses! Your Father loves you and is eagerly awaiting your return to His house. Confess your sin. Forgive your earthly father or mother for any hurts or issues of the past. Our earthly parents are only human, and they are bound to make mistakes.

Often these mistakes color our later views of God and affect our ability to perceive Him as a loving and forgiving heavenly Father. By practicing a lifestyle of forgiveness and releasing your parents to God, you will actually free yourself from your past and begin a journey of experiencing unhindered intimacy with God. Chapters Six and Seven will help you release your natural parents. The lifestyle of the pigpen could not meet the needs of the discontent son.

Even with the inheritance he had received, he was still left wanting because he lacked a relationship with his father. You will not find true fulfillment in counterfeit affections, no matter how appealing they may seem at first. Most Christians expect the rod of judgment when they fail. Even if they do summon up the courage to approach God with their sin, they do so while cringing in fear or shame.

He grieves for their pain, and His compassion is endless. He is waiting with open arms to embrace His wayward sons and daughters as they return to Him. Return to the presence of the Father. The prodigal Father eagerly awaits your return. He is waiting for you to exchange your fig leaves of shame for His love. He lives to take away your shame. See First Peter ; Hebrews ; But he was relentless in his pursuit of the son whom he loved.

One night, at A. Frost, we have your son here at the hospital. For five days, I lay in a drugged, semi-comatose state; the doctors could do nothing for me but wait to see whether my brain would come out of it. My father never left my side, and I miraculously recovered with no permanent damage. As wounded as my earthly father was, and at the time when I had brought the greatest pain, failure, and shame to his life, he still forgave me and actively sought to restore our relationship. He loved me as much in my day of disgrace as he did in my day of grace!

How much more do you think your heavenly Father pursues you and longs to welcome you back into His loving embrace? Hear the words He is whispering to you: My child, I love you. Return to Me. I live to take away your shame. I long to return to Your house. I confess my sin. Please forgive me for valuing my inheritance and the things I hope to gain for myself more than I value an intimate relationship with You. I have taken my inheritance and consumed it on my own lusts. I have left Your house to pursue my own selfish interests,but now I long to return to You.

I make a choice to leave the pigpen of sin and shame. Let me experience Your compassion. Run to me and welcome me back as Your child in Your loving embrace. Restore me to Your love. I choose for You to be my Father and I choose to be Your child. Have you ever valued what God could do for you more than you valued a relationship of love and intimacy with Him?

What was the end result of this attitude? What are some of the fig leaves that you hide behind after you feel that you have failed? Romans 2 section We have seen in the previous chapters how God is now revealing Himself to the world as a loving and gentle Father. Pride, counterfeit affections, hidden core pain from the past, unforgiveness, unresolved conflicts, shame, judgmentalism, and aggressive striving are some of the major hindrances.

Often, as Christians, we think that we have put all these issues behind us. The Father desires that His love begin to lift you above the circumstances that have held you back from experiencing intimacy and love. As you read through these chapters,remember that a river always flows to the lowest point. It flows to those who have been deeply wounded by the sins of others and to those whose own sins have left them clothed with guilt and shame. He has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and has not despised their prayer…. For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to set free those who were doomed to death Psalm , Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.

For many years they had been threatened by this, their most dreaded enemy. The Assyrians, some of the most depraved people on the planet, were a race of unrepentant idolaters, sexual fornicators, and ruthless murderers—a bloodthirsty and savage people who sacrificed their own children to false gods and who took pleasure in tyrannizing the nations they conquered. In the story of Jonah, he has a not-so-surprising change of heart in the belly of the fish. Jonah never wanted his mission to Nineveh to be successful.

To his utter displeasure, they dressed themselves in sackcloth and ashes, declared a fast of repentance, and began to cry out to God for mercy. Jonah believed God would spare Nineveh, but he lacked the compassion for the people that God had see Jon. The heart of the Father is always responsive to those who truly turn to Him, no matter how far from Him they have strayed or how wicked and depraved they might be.

God relented from the catastrophe that He had planned for the Assyrians. Instead, He forgave the people of Nineveh and welcomed them into His presence. One would think that Jonah would have been pleased to see his ministry succeed. As Jonah was pouting outside the city, God caused a plant to grow over his head to provide him with shade.

His pity party resumed and then grew until Jonah became virtually suicidal, begging God to take his life. And should I not have compassion on Nineveh,the great city in which there are more than , persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals? We can only hope that he recognized that his attitude was wrong and experienced a homecoming of his own with the Father.

But the question for us to ponder is this: When God wanted to bring revival to the most wicked city on earth, with whom did He have more trouble—the people of Nineveh or the man of God sent to that city? We may think that revival comes only when the hearts of sinners turn to God, but the hearts and motives of Christian leaders must also be prepared. These sins of the older brother may in reality be a greater hindrance to the Kingdom of God than are the sins of the younger son. In the previous chapter, we discovered that the younger son in actuality had a compassionate, forgiving father waiting to welcome him home with open arms.

What would have happened to the younger son if the older brother had approached him before the compassionate father did? They may be the most loyal, hardworking, and dutiful workers in their Christian service. From all outward appearances, they seem to be the holiest, most virtuous members of the church, but a closer examination of their hearts tells a different story.

And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things might be. For so many years I have been serving you,and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.

His attitude put a damper on the entire celebration; it threatened to affect the happiness of the younger brother, the father, and all the guests. How many wayward children would like to return to the house of the Father but are prevented from experiencing a true homecoming because of the unloving attitudes of those within the church? Those who profess to love God and who diligently live by a strict form of law and legalism are sometimes the greatest hindrance to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

This sin against love may be the greatest sin a person can commit because it violates the very nature of the Kingdom of love that God is seeking to establish on the earth. Yet ironically, that is the sin that many Christians, and even many leaders drift toward—the sin of aggressively 96 The Older Brother Syndrome striving to be better than others and to earn their way to favor with God.

It is so easy for us to judge the offenses of the rebellious son, to identify and condemn them, because those offenses are more obvious to the outside observer. But the older brother looks so righteous, so good, that it is often difficult to discern the hidden sins of superiority, jealousy, pride, and self-righteousness that lurk within his heart.

The attitude of the father toward the older brother is the same as the attitude he has toward the younger son: His loving compassion entreats him to change his attitude and join in the party. The younger son had physically lived in a distant land, but the heart of the older brother was much more distant from a loving home. But the father still entreats him to come home, to change his attitude and join in the joyous celebration.

I was a rebellious son who had entered into the welcoming embrace of Father God, and I experienced the joyous homecoming found in Jesus Christ. At that time, I was living on the sea 20 to 25 days a month, and it was just God and me out under the stars. I would weep for hours, overwhelmed by His love and forgiveness. I realized that I wanted to share this overwhelming love with others, so I decided to become a minister. I left the life of the sea and enrolled in a traditional Bible school to learn all the things I needed to know about ministry.

I soon began to drift further and further into the attitude of the older brother. In Bible school, I began to learn the disciplines of the Christian faith: prayer, the study of the Word, witnessing and evangelism, fasting, and tithing. I began to slave faithfully in the fields of the Father, and I was always striving to live up to my own exacting standards.

I never allowed one moral failure in my behavior, not one slip-up or negligence of integrity in my actions. I quickly learned how to please the governing board of my denomination: grow the membership of my congregation and increase the financial income of my church. By my second year in the ministry, I had the fastest-growing church in my denominational district. By all outward appearances, I had become a success in the ministry. But my heart told a different story. I was gradually becoming more distant from the Father, and I was drifting away from the joy of my salvation bit by bit, day by day.

When we begin to serve God for the praise of man or to find identity in what we do, no matter how great the call of God is on our lives, no matter how powerful the gifts or the anointing flow in our ministry, that underlying attitude of self-love can begin to produce a hidden resentment and anger, fueled by a fear of rejection and a fear of failure.

There is nothing wrong with practicing the Christian disciplines of tithing, fasting, prayer, Bible study, or witnessing.

Understanding and healing the father wound

These can help us grow and mature and are outward expressions of the intimate relationship that we are cultivating with our heavenly Father. But as I was learning these disciplines in a rigid holiness environment, I was filtering them through the system of love that I had learned in my childhood. When I was younger, I had to strive to receive any type of affirmation from my father. I had to hit the ball just right.

I had to be the perfect, obedient son. However, my obedience was based on the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. I obeyed my father in order to gain his approval rather than obeying him because of the close relationship that I had with him and a desire not to grieve him. My obedience was based upon a fear of punishment or loss, not love and honor.

The Christian disciplines, when motivated by unconditional love, can bring great blessings to the Church and be an important witness to those outside the faith. But when they were poured through the filter system that I had carried over from my childhood, they created a burden too heavy for me to bear. No amount of fasting or study or servitude can earn the love of the Father, especially when the motivation behind these actions is based on a desire for personal gain and reward. As the weight of pleasing the Father became heavier and heavier on my shoulders, I sought release from the burden, by looking down on others not as disciplined as I was, in order to make me look good.

I spent a great deal of time and energy on achieving excellence in myself, and I came to expect that same level of commitment from my family, my congregation, and everyone else around me. When I placed my exacting standards on other people and found them to be lacking, my own ego was inflated and my spirituality seemed that much more holy, more pious, and more perfect than theirs. I was blind to my own self-deception.

The key to breaking the cycle is to recognize the symptoms early enough to thwart its development.