Fatherhood, Forgiveness and Faith: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Fatherhood, Forgiveness and Faith: The Parable of the Prodigal SonLast night, I read the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32 to my two older children.

After I finished, the first thing the girls asked was:

“Why did the bad son get a party?”

Why, indeed? What does Christ want to teach us in the parable of the prodigal son? In the story we meet two sons—one who stays and nurtures his father’s financial legacy and another who leaves and squanders it.

But then the squanderer returns to the fold and his father rejoices.

I think that sometimes, each of us are the squanders. God doles out His everlasting and infinite love in equal portions to each of us. He hands out His legacy to everyone who is around and then, He lets us run away with it.

Some of us run far. Others of us stay nearby. But most of us, leave and come back over and over again. And God accepts us and when we return, He rejoices. We’ve been found!

To my children, I asked them how they would feel if they left the family, made mistakes and needed to come home—wouldn’t they want and need open arms and joyous hearts to fortify their resolve to do better?

We all need that fortification. And we all need to be reminded that it is never too late to be found and God, like our earthly fathers, is waiting up late for us to return home. God is waiting to give us the gift of unconditional love and everlasting life.

Our heavenly Father and our earthly Fathers give us so many gifts—we inherit their legacies and how we choose to spend it is entirely up to us. No matter how we choose, we can rest assured that our Fathers will forgive us, guide us and celebrate us!

“But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has ben found.” (Luke 15:32)

Fatherhood, Forgiveness and Faith: The Parable of the Prodigal SonWant to teach your children more about The Parable of the Prodigal Son? Share the story of the Prodigal Son, available in the App Store and as part of Sproutville! Sproutville is a great compliment to your family Bible reading and a great activity to get your children excited about the greatest story ever told!

Guest Post: Re-embracing Motherhood

Guest Post: Re embracing MotherhoodWe are happy to share a guest post from one of our Faith & Family Bloggers, Cindy Dudas from Whatever Works. Cindy shares how she finds herself re-embracing motherhood. 

One of the things I’ve learned while dabbling in the social media field is that people like to read statisics.  Well, here’s one for ya: I’ve been a mom for more than 1/4 of my entire life.

For the past 10 of my 39 years here on this earth, I’ve spent a lot of time changing diapers, fixing lunches, arguing the importance of completing the before-school ritual prior to playing video games, making beds (ok, not really so much on the “making beds” part because I do hold to that theory that Hey, you’re just going to get back in it in a couple hours so why make it), BUT I digress…

Bottom line: I’m a mom.

Out of those 10 years ( minus time spent completing all the motherly tasks and sometimes sleeping), I think I have spent the majority of my time playing with my kids.  After about year 8, I got tired of it.

Yes, you read that right.  I didn’t want to play anymore.

I got tired of Candyland.  I didn’t want to make forts.  I completely stopped enjoying the swing set.

I just wanted to sit back and observe.

I started to get annoyed when my kids would ask me to join them in every single thing they did.

No, I don’t want to ride bikes.

No, I don’t want to jump in the sprinklers.

No, I don’t want to play.

Then one day I heard myself say that out loud.  And it sounded so incredibly horrible that I wanted to jump out a window.  I felt like Mommy Dearest.  What was wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I just play?

All I could think of was the catch phrase “Seven Year Itch”, but in my case it was about motherhood.  At the same time my kids craved my attention, I craved to go off to foreign lands…like any store other than Target, Justice or Five Below.  My kids wanted another teammate for a pick up game of tag, and I wanted to sit in the sun.  I wanted quiet.

Was I becoming a horrible person?  Was I really done with all the fun of motherhood?  Did I give up on my kids?

No.  To all of that self-depricating talk. . .  Just no.

When I was playing all the time and not enjoying it, I was feeling down on myself.  I wasn’t really playing; I was fake playing.  And how is that good for anyone?  The kids might have an extra body to complete their basketball team, but that’s it.  I wasn’t teaching them anything.  I wasn’t smiling.  I was actually quite childish when I forced myself into their games.  I’m not proud of it by any means.

I felt very selfish about wanting to be alone for a while.  But I realize that I must have needed it.  In some way, God was telling me to step back and reevaluate the situation.

So I said no when my kids asked me to race them in MarioKart.  I declined their invitation to a dance party.  I chose to talk with my friend on the bench instead of climbing the equipment at the playground.

I needed to show my kids that I am a person outside of being Mom.  They needed to see me doing things that I like.   And to be honest, I needed to remind myself what activities and things I actually do like!

As weird as it may sound, it made me feel strong again. Once I re-embraced my own self, I was able to re-embrace motherhood, too.  Now I feel like I can do anything.

…Even play a game of Monopoly all the way through.

 

Guest Post: Re embracing MotherhoodMeet Cindy

Cindy Dudas is a work-at-home mom who started blogging as a way to get her feelings out there.  She is a freelance writer currently writing for the Parental Guidance section of NJ.com and her own blogs Whatever Works and What the heck’s a bonbon?  

Follow Cindy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Discussion Guide to Prepare Your Child for Easter

In preparation for Easter Sunday, 4Soils has teamed up with David C. Cook publishers of great Sunday School curriculum to bring you resources for you and your child!

Of course, don’t forget to read the story in Sproutville! Which is made available for FREE to everyone between now and Easter Sunday 4/20/14

Discussion Guide to Prepare Your Child for Easter

Three chapters of the Easter story from Gethsemane to the cross to the resurrection on Sproutville!

Parent Devotional

Why do you believe that Jesus is alive? Luke 23:46—24:12 reports Jesus’ victory over the grave as historical fact. Other eyewitness accounts in the Bible as well as Old Testament prophecy support Luke’s account. But the women who went to the tomb did not go expecting to find Christ alive. They went because they had known the love of Jesus. They wanted to honor their memories of Him.

When the 11 disciples were told what the women had seen, they didn’t believe that Jesus was alive. Even though Jesus had told them it would happen, they didn’t believe. Did Peter run to the tomb expecting to find Christ alive? He went away wondering what had happened (Luke 24:12). What did it take for Peter and the other disciples to believe that Jesus is alive?

The women, Peter, and the other disciples believed that Jesus is alive when they had a personal encounter with the risen Lord. Not until we encounter the risen Lord can we truly believe that Jesus is alive.

As you celebrate that Jesus is alive, thank Him for what His death does for you. Prepare your heart to worship our risen Lord. Then let that excitement overflow as you worship with the children.

Tips for Discussing this with your Children

Children this age are eager to embrace the wonder of Bible stories that teach about God’s power. They don’t need to understand how God does a miracle in order to accept the fact that He can do miracles. This lesson is an opportunity for you to encourage their natural sense of wonder about God.

  • Children are very trusting. Don’t assume that they, like Peter and the disciples, will doubt that Jesus is alive. They will believe the Bible. Encourage their faith by confidently stating that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive.
  • Share with the children your own joy and wonder over the Resurrection. Share what is meaningful to you about the ways your family/church celebrates that Jesus is alive. Point out to them special decorations, traditions, or music that show the joy of this occasion.
  • Give the children time and opportunity to respond to the lesson. Each part of the lesson is designed to help you interact with the children and what they believe about Jesus being alive.

 

Activity: True or Not?

This activity will teach children they can believe Jesus is alive. The activity will get children thinking about things they believe.

Instructions to children: Listen to some sentences I read. If you think what I say is true, show a thumbs-up. If you don’t believe it’s true, show a thumbs-down.

Read each statement below one at a time. After each one, let the children show what they think. All of the statements are true. The information following the statements gives details on why they are true. 

  • It snows in the middle of summer. The snowflakes almost always melt into raindrops before they reach the ground, except in very cold places like the North Pole. 
  • Your fingernails and your hair are made of the same stuff. Both are made of keratin. A bird’s feathers are also made of keratin. 
  • A little frog in South America is the most dangerous animal in the world. The skin of just one poison arrow frog contains enough poison to kill hundreds of people. People put the poison on the tips of arrows. Lions and poisonous snakes are dangerous, but it would be hard for one lion or snake to kill hundreds of people. 
  • The humps of a camel do not hold water. The humps are fat. Fat gives food energy so camels can go a long time without food. Their stomachs hold a lot of water. 
  • Hummingbirds can fly backward. Hummingbirds can rotate their wings similar to the way we can rotate our shoulders. This allows them to push backward just as we can swim in a backward direction. 
  • Sponges are animals. Sponges are like sea anemones. They are animals that attach to rocks. They don’t have eyes. 
  • Glass is made from rock. Sand, lime, and soda, which come from rocks, are melted together to make glass.

All these statements are true. You should have believed every one and given it a thumbs-up. Let’s talk about what you believe.

Sharing Time

  • What is something you know is true? Let the children tell their ideas. Some children might tell things you are certain are not true. This is okay. Simply acknowledge what they say.
  • What does it mean to believe something? Believe means we accept something is true. We believe things we are completely sure of. Make sure your children understands what it means to believe something. Give an example, such as: The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening.
  • What are some things you believe? They might talk about believing people love them, the day of the week, their name, God’s love, the Bible is God’s Word, and so on

 

Bible Story Review Questions

Q: Who died on a cross?
A: Jesus died on a cross. 

Q: What is a tomb?
A: A tomb is a cave for burying dead people.

Q: Why did the women go back to the tomb?
A: They wanted to put spices and perfume on Jesus’ body.

Q: What surprised the women at the tomb?
A: The tomb was open. The stone was already moved away.

Q: Who suddenly stood beside the women?
A: Two angels.

Q: What did the angels tell the women?
A: Jesus is alive.

Q: What did the women do?
A: They remembered what Jesus said. They went to tell the disciples what they saw and heard.

Q: Who believed that Jesus is alive?
A: Peter, the disciples, and the women believed Jesus is alive.

Q: What can we believe about Jesus?
A: We can believe that Jesus is alive.

Prayer Time

Let’s use our prayer time to talk with Jesus about what we believe. You might want to tell Jesus that you believe He is alive and thank Him for rising from the dead. Begin a time of silent individual prayer, then close your prayer time.

Here is a suggested close.

“Dear Jesus, thank You for rising from the dead and that You are alive. In Your name I pray. Amen.”

Guest Post: Expanding Children’s Minds with Bible Stories

Guest Post: Expanding Childrens Minds with Bible Stories

As the mother of three children – ages 9 and 6 (yes, I have twins) – it is mindset to go beyond the education they receive in school. With the importance schools place on standardized testing, I want to teach them the things they need to know in life that are not included in these tests. Their understanding of courage, faith, and perseverance are just as important as learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. I have found the Bible is the best way to teach them these things.

Here are some of the ways the Bible has helped my children to grow:

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