Participants: Lonnie Melashenko
Series Code: VOPS
Program Code: VOPS000016
00:31 Dr. Tony Campolo who is a professor of Sociology
00:34 at Eastern College in Pennsylvania
00:37 tells a wonderful story of going to Hawaii
00:41 for a vacation where he prefers to go
00:43 and wander in the streets of Honolulu
00:45 at 3:30 in the morning
00:46 because tourists here from the East Coast
00:49 find themselves wide awake six hours before dawn
00:52 when they get to Honolulu.
00:54 So he said, I get up at 3:30, I'm ready to go.
00:56 I wanted some breakfast,
00:57 but he said everything was closed.
01:00 And as I was wandering these side streets,
01:01 I finally found a little "greasy spoon" restaurant
01:04 that was still open.
01:05 But he said when I came in
01:06 and sat down it was so filthy in there
01:09 I wouldn't even touch the menu.
01:11 He said, I sat down on a stool
01:13 and ordered some coffee and a donut.
01:16 Which the doctor would not approve of
01:18 but he said I ordered this from behind the--
01:21 the big man behind the counter was a fat fellow
01:23 and he said, I found out later his name was Harry.
01:26 To show you how filthy the place was,
01:27 he says Harry reached in with his bare greasy hands,
01:30 he pulled the donut up and he handed it to me.
01:33 Well, he said, I sat there munching on my donut.
01:36 When all of a sudden much to my discomfort,
01:38 he said, the door to that little restaurant opened
01:42 and in marched eight or nine
01:44 very provocatively dressed and boisterous prostitutes.
01:49 And he said, guess where they sat down?
01:52 All around me.
01:53 And he said their talk was so loud and so crude
01:56 that as a Christian he said, I felt completely out of place
01:59 and was about to get out of there,
02:01 I was gonna make my getaway
02:02 when he said I overheard
02:03 the woman who was sitting right next to me
02:05 say to her friends,
02:07 "You know what, tomorrow's my birthday.
02:09 Can you imagine it, I'm going to be 39."
02:13 And the friend that was sitting beside her
02:15 responded rather nastily,
02:17 "So what do you want from me, you want a birthday party?
02:20 You want me to get you a cake,
02:21 you want me to sing 'Happy Birthday?'
02:22 What do you want?"
02:23 And the girl replied, "Oh, come on.
02:24 Why are you so mean?
02:25 I was just telling you, that's all.
02:27 Why do you have to put me down?
02:29 I was just telling you it was my birthday.
02:31 I don't want anything from you.
02:32 I mean, why should you give me a birthday party?
02:34 I've never had a birthday party in my whole life.
02:37 Why should I have one now?"
02:39 Well, When Tony Campolo heard that, he made a decision.
02:43 He decided to wait until the women went back out
02:45 on to the streets after their little break.
02:47 And then he said, "Harry,
02:51 do these women come in here every night?"
02:54 "Yeah, they do."
02:56 "Well, the one who sat right next to me,
02:58 does she come in here every night, too?"
03:00 "Yeah. That's Agnes.
03:02 Comes in here every night. Why do you want to know?"
03:06 Well, he said, "Because she said
03:07 tomorrow is her birthday.
03:09 And, Harry, what do you say
03:10 that you and I do something about that?
03:12 Never had a birthday party.
03:14 What do you think about us throwing a birthday party,
03:16 big surprise for her, right here tomorrow night?"
03:19 "That's great! I like it!"
03:22 Calling to the back room
03:24 through the hole in the kitchen there,
03:25 he said, "Hey Woman! Come out here!"
03:27 Found out later it was his wife who was the cook.
03:31 "Woman, this guy's got an idea, great idea.
03:33 Tomorrow's Agnes's birthday and this guy wants us
03:35 to go in and throw a party
03:37 for Agnes, right here, what do you think?"
03:40 Well, his wife came out all bright and smiley,
03:42 wiping her hands and she said, "Oh, that's wonderful!"
03:45 She said, "You know, Agnes is one of those people
03:47 who is really nice and she is so kind to everyone.
03:50 But nobody ever does anything nice or kind for Agnes."
03:54 "Well, look," says "Tony" he said,
03:57 "If it's okay with you,
03:58 I'm up bright and early, I'm from the East Coast
04:00 so I'll be here tomorrow morning at 2:30.
04:03 I'll bring some decorations, decorate the place,
04:05 in fact I'll even bring a birthday cake!"
04:07 "No way, no." Said Harry.
04:11 "Cake is my thing. I'll bake the cake."
04:14 "Okay" said Campolo.
04:16 Next morning 2:30 he was there,
04:18 great big box of crepe paper decorations,
04:20 and a huge cardboard sign saying "Happy Birthday, Agnes!"
04:24 And he decorated that diner from one end to the other.
04:26 Well, that woman who did the cooking in the kitchen,
04:29 she must have gotten the word out onto the street
04:31 because at 3:15 in the morning,
04:34 every prostitute in Honolulu was there.
04:37 Wall-to-wall prostitutes.
04:40 And one preacher, Tony Campolo.
04:43 On cue they must have gotten
04:46 some one of her friends out there, 3:30 on the dot,
04:49 the door swung open and in came Agnes with a friend.
04:52 And Campolo, who by now sort of dubbed
04:54 the automatic emcee for the evening,
04:57 he had everybody ready as they screamed out,
04:59 "Happy Birthday, Agnes!"
05:01 And she looked and she was absolutely stunned
05:04 and kind of confused, in fact she was so flabbergasted
05:07 and shaken that her mouth fell open
05:08 and her legs began to buckle.
05:10 And they sat her down on a bar stool.
05:12 And she got all misty-eyed.
05:15 But when the birthday cake came out,
05:17 she just lost it as Harry came out
05:20 with all of 39 candles
05:21 and they saying "Happy Birthday, dear Agnes."
05:25 She just wept uncontrollably like a baby
05:27 and Harry came over after the song
05:30 and he said, "Yo, Agnes,
05:33 you're supposed to blow out the candles,
05:35 blow out the candles, Agnes."
05:37 Agnes just wept, she couldn't control herself.
05:40 "Agnes, if you don't blow out the candles,
05:41 I'm gonna have to blow them out."
05:43 Harry had to blow out the candles.
05:46 Finally, he got a little knife and he handed her.
05:48 "Yo, Agnes, we want some cake.
05:52 Agnes, you got to cut the cake."
05:55 Agnes finally was able to get some words and she wailed.
05:59 "Is this my birthday? Is this my cake?"
06:04 "Yes, Agnes, it's your birthday, it's your cake."
06:08 "If it's my cake would you all mind
06:12 if I just took this cake home
06:13 and enjoyed it by myself for a while?"
06:17 "No, Agnes, it's your birthday party.
06:18 It's your cake, do what you want."
06:20 So Agnes left the party,
06:21 took the cake, and she was gone.
06:25 Well, Campolo rose to the occasion,
06:28 he said, "Okay, everybody, let's pray."
06:31 Bowed his head, began to have a nice little prayer,
06:33 he prayed for Agnes, he prayed for Harry,
06:35 and the girls there, and Harry had other refreshments,
06:38 so of course the girls had a great time.
06:40 When they were finally gone and back out on the streets,
06:42 Harry came over and he leaned on the counter
06:45 and he looked straight into the eyes of Compolo
06:46 and he said, "Hey!
06:48 You never told me you were a preacher!
06:53 What kind of a church do you belong to anyway?"
06:57 It's just one of those moments when the right words came.
07:00 Compolo said, "Well, Harry,
07:03 Harry, I belong to a church that throws birthday parties
07:06 for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning."
07:11 Harry waited a moment,
07:12 then he sneered, "No, you don't.
07:17 There ain't no church like that.
07:19 Why if there was a church like that, I'd join it.
07:24 I would!"
07:28 I have a question for you this morning.
07:31 Isn't that precisely the kind of church
07:34 Jesus came to create?
07:38 Maybe not quite the one we've got,
07:40 so prim and proper and dressed up.
07:43 When I look at the record,
07:45 I discovered that Jesus loved to party
07:50 with all kinds of left-out people.
07:53 The ones that don't get on the invitation list,
07:55 publicans, sinners, lepers.
07:57 And they all loved Him because He partied with them.
08:01 But, you know, Jesus not only associated with sinners.
08:03 He actually enjoyed their company.
08:06 In fact, the record says
08:07 He preferred going to cocktail parties
08:10 with the mafia and the strippers.
08:13 And when the elders and the good people
08:14 confronted Him, Jesus said, "Well, quite frankly,
08:16 I prefer their company to yours."
08:21 I'd like to submit this morning the daring evangelism
08:24 for the 21st century and a dying world
08:28 is gonna force us Christians
08:30 to take another look at the three parables
08:31 Jesus told in the 15 chapter, the book of Luke.
08:34 If you have your Bible, turn with me
08:36 to Luke Chapter 15 where Jesus tells
08:38 the familiar story of the lost coin,
08:41 the lost sheep, and the lost son.
08:46 It doesn't take a third grader
08:47 to figure out that they were all lost.
08:51 But they represent something.
08:53 May I have your eyes for a moment?
08:55 Big class, speak right out loud.
08:58 The Lost Coin, who does that coin represent?
09:02 Does the coin have a brain in its head?
09:04 Does it know it's lost.
09:05 No. No.
09:08 It has absolutely no awareness that it's lost.
09:10 So this coin would then represent those out there
09:14 who are brain-dead, hopelessly lost.
09:19 There is no way they will ever come to know Jesus Christ
09:22 unless someone goes out there and diligently sweeps
09:26 until they find that coin or its history.
09:30 So the coin represents those who are lost
09:33 and they don't know if they're lost.
09:35 All right, class.
09:36 You didn't do too well on that one, help me out.
09:38 The Lost Sheep.
09:40 Who does the sheep represent?
09:43 Does the sheep have a brain?
09:44 Yeah. We had some sheep.
09:47 Has a brain, it's about the size
09:48 of my little fingernail.
09:51 I mean, they are really hopeless
09:52 but they do have a brain.
09:54 And a sheep and I've had to go out
09:56 and get a lost sheep.
09:57 If a sheep gets lost believe me it knows it's lost.
09:59 Ba-ah, ba-ah.
10:01 The problem is the sheep doesn't have enough brain,
10:04 so as to know its way back.
10:06 Its only hope is that someone else
10:08 will go out and seek him out and bring him back.
10:13 Well, let's see how you do on the third one.
10:15 The Prodigal Son. He knows he is lost.
10:20 But he also knows the way back.
10:24 In fact, he has marked the way.
10:26 But he is still lost too.
10:29 By the way there is another lost person in that parable.
10:32 Who is that?
10:34 The Elder Brother.
10:35 The Elder Brother, that's right.
10:38 Only, you see, he thinks he's perfectly okay
10:40 because he's in the home of the Father
10:44 and he even professes to be a Son.
10:47 But it's just lip-service.
10:50 So he represents those-- hang on,
10:53 today who are lost in the church.
11:00 But now the point is they are all lost.
11:02 So what is the point?
11:03 Ah, these three stories were given on purpose by Jesus,
11:07 not to trumpet the various degrees of lost-ness,
11:10 because the grumpy Pharisees could figure that out.
11:12 But Jesus told this to emphasize
11:14 in each instance the finder's outrageous joy.
11:21 There I say it the "C" word, celebration.
11:28 Listen, friend.
11:29 Jesus designed the church to be a party.
11:33 To show the world a thrilling foretaste of what's coming
11:37 and that knowing the Lord Jesus Christ today
11:39 can be more exciting than a Saturday night date.
11:41 Oh, true. Amen.
11:42 In fact, God historically called His Old Testament Jews
11:46 to do just precisely that.
11:48 In fact, He set it up
11:49 every 50th year was to be an outrageous party.
11:53 They would have canceled all the debts,
11:55 land would return back to its original owners,
11:58 prisoners would open up and set all the prisoners free.
12:01 And God's plan was that the heathen out there
12:03 in the other nations we talked about last night,
12:05 they would say, "Wow, have you heard
12:07 what it's like to be one of God's people?
12:09 We want in.
12:10 How can we become one of them?"
12:13 However, the Jews-- you go back
12:16 and study the Mishnah and the early Jewish writings,
12:19 they never observed Jubilee.
12:22 They taught it in the rabbinical schools,
12:26 but they declared, you know,
12:27 we think that that's gonna be from Messiah to actually do
12:30 when He ushers in the New Kingdom.
12:33 But, you see, God knew
12:34 that whenever His people get together
12:37 and they celebrate and they laugh
12:39 and they sing like we're doing here,
12:40 what we're doing in order to getting
12:41 together like that is we're evangelizing.
12:44 We're sending out a message to the unsaved.
12:46 Hey, you think you're having fun,
12:48 good news, The Kingdom is at hand.
12:51 So those outside, they should be saying
12:53 and pounding on the doors of our church
12:55 and saying, "How do we get in?
12:57 You guys are having too much fun.
12:58 You're too happy."
13:00 The church is supposed to be like that.
13:02 So amazing and so happy and celebrating Jesus
13:04 that they'll say "What do we have to do to get in?"
13:10 Now I know that critics will blast away
13:12 and I'll get some emails tonight on the chat room.
13:15 I'm all right, I'm ready for you.
13:18 Somebody will always find fault
13:20 if you make the Gospel good news.
13:23 In fact, Jesus warned, we'd be criticized
13:26 just like He was back there in Matthew 11:16-19
13:30 where they set up Jesus because He had so much fun
13:33 healing and helping people.
13:35 Well, "He hath a devil!
13:38 Eating, drinking... Behold a man gluttonous,
13:40 and a wine bibber, friend of sinners."
13:45 But Jesus said, "Wisdom is justified of her children."
13:50 In other words, He said, "You know what,
13:51 no matter what I do, there's going to be
13:53 religious types out here who will not be satisfied."
13:57 And, folks, there will always be faultfinders
13:59 who will try to pick us apart.
14:01 Judas-types, you know,
14:03 who complain about how much cologne you're wearing
14:06 or how much make up you have on.
14:09 But Jesus never let that kill-joy Judas
14:12 get away with throwing a wet blanket on His party,
14:15 never got away with that.
14:17 Amen. But now, please.
14:18 We're not talking about worldly partying.
14:22 I don't need to tell you in America particularly
14:24 that the world has its parties, too.
14:27 Like the hazing party up there in Illinois this last week
14:30 that's been in the news.
14:32 So repulsive, so obscene.
14:34 I don't even want to watch CNN clips.
14:37 Number of years ago there was a movie called "Animal House."
14:42 Hope nobody here saw that.
14:44 Because it portrayed college fraternity parties,
14:47 like the one there in Illinois.
14:49 It said, well, those are the best possible fun
14:51 that any late adolescent could hope to enjoy in this life.
14:56 But even Time Magazine and News Week said, listen,
15:00 "That's destroying our young people."
15:03 Folks, that's not the kind of partying Jesus is recommending,
15:06 these extravagant bashes with booze, babes, and boogie.
15:10 They're cruel, they are dehumanizing.
15:12 They are empty and totally impoverished.
15:15 They can never hold a candle
15:16 compared to the joyful celebrations
15:18 of the people of God."
15:21 I appreciate the Amens
15:22 but I'm going to step on your toes right now
15:24 and see how responsive you are to this.
15:27 I know from personal experience,
15:29 I know this pastoring in a church
15:31 and visiting now many congregations,
15:33 my own church as well as other faiths.
15:37 So many of our worship services
15:40 are absolutely devoid of excitement,
15:43 in fact God's messenger says
15:45 a lot about that and about our worship,
15:46 you look up the index of the writings of Ellen White.
15:49 Pages on worship.
15:50 You know what she says about most of our worship?
15:55 She says, "Our worship tires the angels."
16:01 Because most men and women out there, folks,
16:02 live out their lives
16:03 in quiet desperation like Agnes.
16:07 That's why we need some spiritual daredevils.
16:11 Some daring evangelism for a dying world.
16:13 Praise the Lord.
16:14 We need some Evil Knievel Christians
16:16 who'll become a very special kind of party animal,
16:20 not just accepting
16:21 27 propositional truths about Jesus,
16:23 but daring to let their lives become blazingly alive
16:27 and allowing Jesus to invade our entire personality.
16:31 Daring evangelism creates a party
16:34 and that's God's radical plan for His family.
16:37 Whenever anybody becomes a Christian,
16:39 folks, it's party time.
16:42 When I was in Paradise, California,
16:45 we really put focus on our baptismal services
16:48 to the point as we did out here just a few minutes ago,
16:50 we smothered them with flowers and books
16:52 and wrapped around us spiritual guardian
16:54 for that person to be their buddy for a year
16:56 to get him acquainted with a dozen people
16:57 and the new friends and the church family
17:00 to the point people who'd come
17:02 to meet me at the door and they'd say
17:03 "You know, I came to watch this person baptizing.
17:06 Man, if I ever decide to join a church
17:08 I'd like to be baptized in this church."
17:10 I said, "Well, were you thinking about that?"
17:13 "Well, not."
17:14 You know that we baptized four mayors in that community.
17:20 Listen, this is precisely why Jesus told the story
17:23 of the prodigal son, to make this point.
17:27 Luke 15, look at it, verse 22 and on.
17:29 "The father said to his servants,
17:31 'Bring forth the best robe,
17:33 put it on him, put a ring on his hand,
17:34 and shoes on his feet,
17:35 and bring hither the fatted calf,
17:37 and kill it, and let us eat, and be merry.
17:40 For this my son was dead, and is alive again,
17:44 he was lost and is found.'
17:47 And they began to be merry."
17:51 I'm going to say something to my Caucasian friends.
17:54 I grew up in a black church.
17:56 My father was ordained
17:57 in an African-American church in the islands.
18:01 We miss a lot in our services, folks, a lot.
18:07 But as that one African-American
18:08 preacher put it.
18:09 He said, "You know what"
18:10 he said, "You got to be in the possession,
18:13 not just a profession
18:15 or you won't be in the procession."
18:18 Or else he said, "If you're not in the possession
18:21 and it's just a profession,
18:22 you won't be in the possession,
18:24 but you will be in the dispossession.
18:29 Now this prodigal is about as rotten a figure
18:32 in the New Testament as Jesus ever characterized.
18:34 In fact, it's impossible to over-dramatize
18:38 how deceptive this kid was and manipulative,
18:40 ego-centered, arrogant.
18:43 He finally comes up to his father one day,
18:45 he says "Dad, let me put it to you straight.
18:48 I hate you.
18:50 I don't like being your son.
18:52 In fact, to be honest with you, I wish you were dead
18:54 because if you were dead in our culture
18:56 at least I could collect my inheritance.
18:57 So, Dad, since you now know how I feel about you,
19:01 why don't we just act like you're dead
19:04 and I'm out of here, I'm history.
19:06 Give me my inheritance." Luke 15:12.
19:11 "The younger one said to his father,
19:13 'Father, give me my share of the estate.'
19:16 So he divided his property between them."
19:19 I mean, this dumb dad gives the boy what he wants,
19:23 half the family fortune and the bag--
19:25 The kid, he packs his bags,
19:26 he heads straight over here to the new car dealership,
19:29 he buys a shiny brand new 2004 Chevy Corvette.
19:34 He points that car and he heads west straight to Las Vegas.
19:38 That is exactly what it says in Luke 15:13.
19:41 Look at your Bible.
19:42 "Not long after that, the younger son
19:45 got together all that he had, set off for a distant country
19:49 and there squandered his wealth in wild living."
19:53 That's an interesting Greek expression,
19:55 it says that he, it implies he plunges
19:57 into the worst kind of sin and immorality possible.
20:00 And he blows the entire bundle on booze, bunnies,
20:05 bimbos, blackjack, and bubbly burgundy wine.
20:09 He is light years from home
20:12 down there in glitter gulch on the great wide way.
20:16 But, you know what, the pen of inspiration
20:19 reminds us of the sad, sobering fact, friends,
20:23 those prodigals are our kids.
20:30 And that should haunt us this morning.
20:33 They're the ones who are not with us here,
20:35 not seated beside us in church.
20:38 So my question this morning is,
20:40 "What can be done to win the prodigals back to God?"
20:45 I want to share something with you about this parable
20:47 that just might shock you.
20:49 But before I do, so no one misunderstands,
20:52 let's review first those questions
20:54 I asked in the beginning, see how well we learned.
20:56 The Lost Coin. You remember.
20:58 How was the lost coin found?
21:03 Someone had to sweep, turn the place upside down.
21:06 We would say today in our modern evangelism techniques
21:09 that's the people who go out there like
21:11 the doctors and others like him
21:13 and they do 5-Day stop smoking plans out there
21:16 for some great business
21:17 or turn on 23 projectors
21:19 and have a Weigh-Right program or a Medical Van Ministry
21:23 such as we have on Wall Street there
21:25 where people come out and they don't have a clue
21:27 that why do you do this?
21:28 What makes you tick?
21:29 And they find out a little bit more.
21:31 All right, the Lost Sheep.
21:35 How was the Lost Sheep finally found?
21:39 Again, someone had to go, the shepherd in search,
21:42 this would typify I believe evangelism
21:46 such as we're doing here, personify
21:48 whether it's Voice of Prophecy or it is written.
21:51 Our wonderful associate
21:52 Faith for Today telecast or Breath of Life.
21:55 Many of these other reaching out to find people
21:58 and lead them back closer to a walk with Jesus.
22:01 But in the Prodigal Son story, answer me out loud.
22:05 Who went after him? Who went to see him?
22:11 He was sought after by no one.
22:13 Which tells me, folks,
22:15 you and I don't go after the prodigal.
22:18 In fact, inspiration corroborates
22:21 this about our children who leave the faith.
22:24 Don't go after them, don't harass them,
22:27 don't hound them, or else what will happen to them?
22:31 You'll drive them farther away.
22:34 So what does this father do?
22:37 Well, he does his part.
22:41 From the cradle right on up,
22:42 he starts to take that precious child
22:44 by the hand to the little cradle roll class,
22:47 maybe Sabbath School, Sunday School,
22:49 Elementary School and then Junior Camp,
22:51 Pathfinders or Boy Scouts,
22:53 he's there when that child's baptized,
22:55 foot washing, academy, college.
22:58 But one sad day that son or that daughter goes astray,
23:03 tearing out the hearts of those parents.
23:06 You know, it's interesting that people that you think
23:08 are your best friends will come up and say
23:09 "Well, I never thought I would say this before
23:11 'cause I didn't want to make any waves
23:13 but do you mind if I give you a little counsel
23:16 as to why your son or daughter went astray?"
23:19 And they give you a big guilt trip.
23:22 Here's where you failed as a parent
23:25 or, you know, you should blame the school,
23:27 or that teacher that your child had,
23:29 Sunday School teacher, or Sabbath School teacher.
23:31 You know, folks, we forget that the very best parent
23:35 ever failed with two perfect kids.
23:39 In fact, if we read it, it won't back that up,
23:41 He failed with a whole planet of rebellious kids.
23:47 But I want you to notice the parable.
23:49 Does this father hire a detective
23:53 to slip into Vegas there
23:55 and kind of spy on his son to kind of check things out?
23:57 Does he call a minister in that far town?
24:00 Or maybe like I've had many people
24:02 when I was pasturing there in Paradise, they emailed me.
24:05 "Hey, we hear you have a 12 step program?
24:07 We hear that you're reaching druggies and unmarried--
24:11 Would you go and check on my daughter?
24:12 Tell her about it. Does this father do that?
24:15 What did he do? Nothing.
24:18 Didn't even leave his house.
24:20 You see, since he had met all of his requirements,
24:24 now he could expect that God would come through
24:27 with His promise to save our children.
24:29 He could get on his knees
24:31 and he could pray, "Holy Spirit,
24:32 I can't go harass that son but you go after my son."
24:36 But his father was home, he was ready,
24:39 he was waiting, and he left the light on.
24:43 And sure enough one day at those Vegas slots.
24:45 Luke says that the money finally runs out.
24:48 And suddenly this young Don Juan kid,
24:52 he's got no friends.
24:53 He's sunk to the bottom.
24:54 Bible says he's eating with the pigs.
24:58 We would say today he was eating--
24:59 actually looking for what floated by out of the sewers.
25:03 Now notice verse 17
25:05 because this is profoundly significant.
25:09 It says "And when he" what?
25:11 "Came to himself."
25:17 My friend, to save the prodigal you don't send a posse,
25:23 you don't even mail them
25:24 the Signs of the Times or the Voice of Prophecy
25:26 discover guide or reading tracts,
25:29 you don't send pleading letters with big tear drops on them.
25:33 He knows he's lost.
25:35 And he also knows the way back.
25:39 You've got to let the Holy Spirit
25:41 awaken him with a spiritual pinch.
25:45 And he has to come to this moment of truth
25:47 himself, in his own time.
25:49 And one day sure enough he wakes up and he looks around
25:52 and where he has pigs oinking there him
25:54 and he says, "What am I doing here?
25:58 I am a prince, but I created this mess.
26:02 I have no food, I have no money,
26:03 I don't have any friends, I don't even have any options.
26:06 But you know something I cannot blame
26:09 my principal back there at the academy,
26:11 I can't even blame any of my friends or my parents.
26:14 In fact, I can't even blame
26:16 my religious fanatic brother back home."
26:20 And he says "You know what,
26:23 Flip Wilson's theology is right."
26:27 "The devil made me do it."
26:31 And in his moment of realization,
26:32 he completely gives up.
26:35 And he finally says to himself in verses 17-20,
26:39 "'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare,
26:43 and here I am starving to death.
26:46 I will set out and go back to my father
26:48 and say to him, Father, I have sinned
26:50 against heaven and against you.
26:52 I am no longer worthy to be called your son,
26:54 make me like one of your hired men.'
26:57 So he got up and went to his father."
27:02 Now I want you to please note.
27:04 Friend, it does not say that he has repented yet.
27:09 He hasn't changed yet.
27:12 Oh, he's made up a little speech.
27:14 But I want you to notice, it is totally works-oriented:
27:19 "I'm going to go home and I'm going to work for Dad.
27:21 I'm going to work so hard,
27:22 I'll qualify to maybe even be accepted as a servant.
27:26 And then I'll try to earn my keep."
27:29 Many theologians say that this son comes back home
27:32 for one reason and one reason only.
27:35 He comes back to try to manipulate
27:37 the father once again.
27:39 Because you see, friends, that is the way sin always is.
27:43 Whenever we as sinners come to Jesus,
27:45 we always come for the worst possible reasons.
27:48 Like Judas, Iscariot, Exhibit A."
27:53 But the point is I want you to notice
27:54 what happens next 'cause this is very important.
27:58 The father doesn't care why the son comes home.
28:04 By the way he doesn't walk out to meet his son.
28:08 He runs. Now in the Middle East--
28:10 I wish I could take the time to tell you.
28:12 This is not-- this would be, it would be unheard of.
28:15 The father in this instance
28:16 would be very dignified, very proper.
28:20 Jesus on purpose goads the Pharisees
28:23 and twists the knife and he has the father running.
28:26 And notice, does he accept that son
28:29 because he has got a big repentance?
28:32 It's crystal clear from the Gospels.
28:34 One day that father sees him at a great distance away.
28:38 In other words, this son hasn't changed yet,
28:42 he's still a hobo, he's still a bum.
28:44 In fact, he's father can smell
28:45 his ragamuffin breath a half of mile away.
28:47 Yet the father still runs and he embraces him,
28:51 welcomes him before the son can confess
28:55 or make any statement whatsoever.
28:57 The son is accepted, period.
29:00 Oh, he starts out to blubber out
29:02 his little memorized excuse.
29:03 But he's interrupted right in the middle of that excuse.
29:06 Notice verses 20-24.
29:08 "But while he was still a long ways off,
29:13 his father saw him and was filled
29:14 with compassion for him, he ran to his son,
29:17 threw his arms around him and kissed him.
29:19 The son said to him,
29:20 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
29:22 I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'"
29:24 But the father interrupts him, see.
29:26 He says "To his servants, 'Quick!
29:28 Bring the best robe, put it on him.
29:31 Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
29:33 Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
29:35 Let's have a feast and celebrate.
29:37 For this my son was dead, is alive again,
29:42 he was lost and is found.'"
29:48 I've met Philip Yancey one time
29:50 but I'm not promoting his book,
29:52 I'm not getting any commission.
29:53 But if you ever want to buy a book
29:55 at any religious bookstore in any part of the world,
29:58 you ask for Philip Yancey's book
30:00 called "What's So Amazing About Grace."
30:06 Philip Yancey tells the story of a young teenage girl,
30:09 little teeny bopper who lived in Traverse City, Michigan.
30:13 One day this little teenager decided
30:15 that her dad was just playing stupid,
30:17 home was stupid, church was stupid.
30:21 So she decided to run away to Detroit.
30:25 Parents, you pray that if your children
30:26 ever run away they don't go to Detroit.
30:29 She goes to Detroit and sure enough,
30:31 ends up on the streets as a druggie,
30:34 earning a living by turning tricks
30:36 like the other homeless girls do.
30:38 And she's sleeping on the metal grates
30:40 outside of the department stores
30:42 through the harsh Detroit winter.
30:44 You know, I never realized
30:45 how true this is across North America
30:47 until I saw it with my own eyes.
30:49 Couple of years ago,
30:50 I was in Toronto, Canada in December.
30:53 I was walking along the street and all of these lumps there.
30:56 I asked the friend who was with me.
30:57 It was night time and these lumps
30:59 would move under big sheets of cardboard.
31:03 This is beside Simpson-Sears,
31:05 Eaton's of Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company.
31:10 He said, those are homeless teenagers.
31:12 I could see that they were sipping
31:14 little hot McDonalds chocolate coffee or something.
31:18 Our kids.
31:21 And this girl finally decides one night
31:22 as she's shivering there and she knows
31:24 that some disease is coming.
31:26 She is there, I just miss home so--
31:29 she hadn't called home for months.
31:31 And she goes to a telephone booth
31:33 and she gets some change out of her jeans pocket
31:35 and she puts it in and calls home
31:37 and three times straight
31:39 she gets her folks' answering machine.
31:42 Dad saying, "Leave your message after the beep."
31:46 Well, she hangs up quickly.
31:49 Finally after the third time she goes,
31:51 she puts the money in and she hears Dad's voice
31:56 "Leave your message after the beep."
31:58 She says "Dad, Daddy, Mom, it's me, it's your daughter.
32:02 I'm down here in Detriot, I'm so cold.
32:05 I think I'm sick.
32:07 And I was just kind of wondering about
32:09 maybe coming home.
32:12 And I'm going to catch a bus up your way
32:14 tomorrow afternoon about 4 o'clock.
32:16 It would take me seven hours,
32:18 I'll be getting into Traverse City
32:19 about midnight tomorrow.
32:22 Could you meet me at the station?
32:24 Well, if you're not there,
32:26 I guess I'll just stay on the bus
32:27 till it hits Canada."
32:30 She hung up.
32:32 Next day this teenager is riding for seven hours.
32:35 And she is worrying and she is practicing her little speech.
32:38 "Daddy, Mom, I've been so foolish.
32:40 Can you ever forgive me?"
32:41 But the bus is getting closer and closer
32:43 and her heart starts to pound
32:44 as it's just within minutes of getting to Traverse City.
32:48 And she thinks to herself.
32:51 "What if they're not home,
32:53 what if they never got my message?
32:54 What if they're on some cruise or on a vacation somewhere?
32:57 What if nobody is there?"
32:59 And finally Yancey describes
33:01 how the bus pulls into the station.
33:03 There it is, a little, tiny, tiny station at Traverse City.
33:07 And there is the neon lights in the station,
33:09 the big air brakes of the bus, stop.
33:12 The lights come on inside
33:13 but then the driver's voice says,
33:15 "Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's midnight.
33:16 Welcome to Traverse City.
33:18 This is a little short rest stop, 15 minutes, folks.
33:22 You can get out of the bus and stretch,
33:25 rest rooms on the right, coffees on the left."
33:27 Fifteen minutes to decide her life.
33:32 And for this little teenager, it's pure terror.
33:35 Yancey says how she pulls out her little makeup kit
33:38 and she checks her hair,
33:39 and she licks the lipstick off of her teeth.
33:43 Now according to the mathematics of the world,
33:47 she ought to get nothing.
33:49 Zip. And she knows it.
33:52 No forgiveness, no welcome back,
33:54 no making up, especially after
33:57 how she slapped everyone in the face before
33:59 she left home and then took off.
34:02 So this young teenager, she gets off the bus,
34:07 and she walks into this terminal,
34:10 not knowing what on earth to expect.
34:12 Never in her wildest dream expecting to see what's there.
34:16 All kinds of people, 20, 30, 40 people,
34:20 brothers, sisters, cousins, great-aunts, uncles,
34:24 there's grandmother and even great, great-grandmother.
34:27 Midnight and they're all wearing
34:28 these funny goofy party hats and blowing noisemakers.
34:31 And there is a huge banner
34:32 across the entire terminal "Welcome home, sweetheart!"
34:37 And there comes her Dad.
34:39 Her eyes are filled with tears,
34:40 and she begins her little memorized speech,
34:43 "Daddy, I'm so sorry. I know I hurt you."
34:46 And he interrupts her. He says "Hush, child.
34:50 We've got no time for that right now.
34:52 You're going to be late for the party.
34:54 There is a banquet waiting for you,
34:55 the whole town is waiting for you back home."
35:01 Folks, so often when the prodigals say
35:04 they call us up, "Dad, Mom.
35:07 Folks, I'm so sorry.
35:08 I think I screwed up.
35:10 I've sinned.
35:12 I think I need God."
35:14 So often parents say, "Yeah, right.
35:19 I've been praying for you to come to your senses, boy.
35:22 It's about time.
35:23 Girl, do you know how my reputation's been shot
35:26 in this town because of what you've been doing?"
35:29 So many parents, they get so aggravated at their kids,
35:32 they go, pow, pow!
35:35 You shamed me.
35:37 You embarrassed me, daughter.
35:41 Folks, don't say that.
35:44 Keep your mouth shut.
35:47 And let the Holy Spirit finish the job.
35:51 When they say "Dad, Mom, could I come back?"
35:56 Say "Okay."
36:00 Not, "Well, girl, unless you mean it this time
36:03 for serious assure and you changed,
36:05 you can jolly well just pack your bags and leave."
36:08 Friend, listen, dear hearts,
36:11 if you have a prodigal, I have some in my family.
36:16 If you've done your very best.
36:19 Two things this parable tells me.
36:22 Number one, don't worry,
36:27 and please don't nag.
36:31 Because, my Christian friend, you can send the Holy Spirit.
36:36 You can get down on your knees,
36:37 because God will not forget His faithful servant.
36:41 If we will be faithful to come to these meetings
36:43 and support the follow up meetings
36:44 and go out after the lost sheep and after the lost coin,
36:47 we can leave it with God then
36:49 to go after the prodigal son or the prodigal daughter.
36:52 Amen? Amen.
36:55 Do you know what the Inspired Pen says
36:58 that the final message to this world is?
37:00 I know we talked about the Elijah message.
37:03 But she says the last message of love
37:05 to this world is about what?
37:09 The character of God, which is love.
37:14 Well, folks, listen,
37:16 the radical good news of the Gospel
37:18 is that the Father is more prodigal
37:22 than the prodigal.
37:25 Go home and look up at your dictionary,
37:27 Webster's, and look up that word "Prodigal."
37:28 You know what it really means?
37:30 The word "Prodigal" means overly lavish,
37:33 overly extravagant, generous, wild,
37:36 reckless, wasteful, spendaholic.
37:40 Wow, the real prodigal in the story is the father.
37:44 Outrageous generosity.
37:47 He gives away half the family fortune
37:49 and then when that prodigal comes back
37:51 he hands the prodigal the keys to the bank all over again.
37:55 Undiminished love for both sons.
38:00 Both of those sons sinned.
38:03 Both were prodigals.
38:05 Both needed Jesus.
38:08 Today, every one listening to my voice,
38:11 you are in this story.
38:15 Today, we've either taken the inheritance
38:17 down to zero in our lives,
38:20 or maybe you're like the elder brother,
38:21 you have a few dollars left stashed away
38:23 of good deeds in the bank.
38:26 But the Bible says we're all prodigals.
38:30 You know, in Luke 15 here I was blown away to discover
38:35 that Jesus never finished the story.
38:40 You ever notice that?
38:41 It's the unfinished symphony if you wish.
38:44 There is no hint that either son ever changed his ways,
38:48 that the young prodigal ever conducted himself honorably.
38:53 Do you know why Jesus didn't finish the story?
38:57 He told it this way on purpose.
39:00 The little book "Christ's Object Lessons,"
39:02 page 209 says,
39:03 "It's because those two prodigals represent us."
39:11 And it's up to us to go out of these doors this morning,
39:15 out into the world, and we finish the story.
39:20 And the good news, folks, is God is waiting out there.
39:24 He's ready to party.
39:25 He is ready with the ring, He is ready with the robe,
39:27 He is ready with the shoes.
39:29 Oh, and there's one more thing about heaven.
39:32 You know, they seem to be able to afford
39:34 an awful lot of parties up there.
39:38 Oh, in the little "P.S."
39:41 The movie industry calls it a denouement.
39:44 The end of the show Raymond,
39:45 there's always the last 30 seconds
39:47 you don't want to miss that, that's a denouement.
39:51 The P.S. Tony Campolo
39:54 reported in "Publisher's Weekly" not long ago
39:56 that the story there in Honolulu is going on.
40:00 He says, "I was sent to deliver a very scholarly lecture
40:03 at some college up in the State of Oregon.
40:06 He says, "As I approached the platform,
40:08 I saw it was all decorated
40:10 with all sorts of metallic balloons
40:11 and there on the rostrum was a great big sign,
40:14 "Happy Birthday, Tony Compolo,
40:17 love from Agnes, your friend from Honolulu."
40:22 He says, "Somehow this girl had found out who I was,
40:25 when my birthday was, and where I would be.
40:27 And she had enlisted somebody up there in Oregon
40:29 to set the whole thing up."
40:31 But then he says, "The nicest part of the story is this.
40:35 Agnes is no longer living the life of a prostitute."
40:42 She hasn't made the strongest commitment to Jesus Christ yet,
40:45 but now she's working for Harry,
40:47 the fat guy behind the counter, the diner.
40:50 And Harry has committed his life to Jesus Christ
40:54 and he's now using his restaurant
40:55 as the place to help people,
40:57 street people who come in with problems
41:00 in the middle of the night they have nowhere else to turn.
41:03 So you see, the story continues.
41:06 And it's not over yet.
41:08 Never will be until Jesus comes.
41:11 Because of the heart of the Father
41:13 and the heart of Jesus Christ,
41:14 friend, it must be the heart of every Christian, all of us.
41:20 God wants us to be just like that,
41:23 creating parties for prodigals.
41:26 Making our churches and our homes
41:28 and our job sites places
41:30 where sinners can come and feel welcome again
41:33 and comfortable even the Agneses
41:35 and the prodigals of this world.
41:39 This morning as the Heritage Singers
41:41 sing about home,
41:44 I know that there are individuals right here,
41:47 in your downlink site
41:48 and the churches wherever you are meeting
41:49 and here in this auditorium, I know there are individuals,
41:52 I know that there are families, there are parents,
41:54 my own parents right now
41:57 who want to respond to this message this morning,
42:00 maybe you feel like the prodigal
42:03 and you want to respond to the open arms of the Father
42:05 and you want to say, "Lord, I'm coming home.
42:10 I want to invite you this morning to come forward
42:13 while the Heritage Singers will sing.
42:15 And there are others too out there
42:18 who have a prodigal.
42:22 Well, maybe you know a prodigal.
42:25 While the Heritage sing,
42:28 I want every person here to make some kind of decision,
42:33 maybe you can be a priest on behalf
42:34 of that young person, or that loved one,
42:36 or that companion or that grandchild or a parent,
42:40 come forward and pray on behalf of them.
42:43 Respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit
42:45 playing sensitively on our hearts this morning.
42:48 Right now I'm gonna ask that the row captains
42:53 pass those containers down.
42:55 Please take a commitment card
42:58 and as you respond and decide to come forward,
43:00 bring that card with you
43:01 because we want to go through that together,
43:04 it's so important.
43:06 Perhaps we're aching for loved ones, prodigals.
43:10 We all have one, we know that they aren't here this morning.
43:13 I want you to stand,
43:15 come forward right here in front of the big screen,
43:18 right there in your location wherever you are.
43:20 Come as the Heritage Singers will be signing.
43:23 Maybe you feel you wandered away
43:24 and now you want to come back,
43:26 some of you sense you need to be baptized
43:28 or rebaptized or you feel a special need for prayer.
43:33 Well, you come as they sing.
43:36 Bring your decision card with you and a pencil,
43:39 but come just now.
44:04 Home is where the heart is
44:10 My heart's own home
44:14 Though I never really had one to call my own
44:24 I've been given a key
44:29 By the Carpenter of Galilee
44:34 With interest paid the title's made to me
44:44 Home, where there is no night
44:49 Home, where the Son is the light
44:54 The place I've been dreaming of so long
45:04 Loved one's there to welcome me
45:08 But His sweet face will be the first I see
45:13 When my journey's over I am going home
45:29 Everybody dreams
45:34 Of going home it seems
45:38 Lately I am no exception
45:42 To the rule
45:47 Oh, but home is so much more than the windows
45:54 Walls and doors
45:58 It's a warm embrace
46:00 Where a smiling face is awaiting you
46:08 Home, where there is no night
46:13 Home, where the Son is the light
46:18 The place I've been dreaming of so long
46:28 Loved one's there to welcome me
46:32 But His sweet face will be the first I see
46:37 When my journey's over I am going home
46:47 Home, where there is no night
46:52 Home, where the Son is the light
46:57 The place I've been dreaming of so long
47:07 Loved one's there to welcome me
47:12 But His sweet face will be the first I see
47:16 When my journey's over I am going home
47:26 And when my journey's over I am going home
47:41 You know, I know God's Spirit is here.
47:44 I'm thinking about all those downlink locations
47:46 where there maybe many people still seated
47:48 out in the auditorium because well,
47:50 you're little conscious about walking up toward that screen.
47:54 This is not a call right now to join a church,
47:58 this is a call for commitment for your loved one
48:03 that God will change you first,
48:06 then He can reach out and touch them.
48:08 So if you are still seated there
48:10 and you can't make your way
48:11 down the isle or it's too crowded,
48:12 I want you to just stand wherever you are seated.
48:15 You're going to be an intercessor,
48:17 you can let heaven start with you and your life.
48:20 You're gonna join in this prayer
48:22 as we pray together.
48:23 Let's just maybe reach out
48:25 and take the hand of someone next to us
48:27 and affirm them, they maybe alone tonight feeling like,
48:30 little discouraged this morning.
48:33 Let's pray together.
48:34 Father in heaven, Lord, here we are,
48:37 Your great church, hearts overflowing with tears
48:41 and contrition, God, we're melted,
48:44 we're penitent and waiting, needing healing
48:49 and we sense our heavenly Father rushing toward us
48:51 right now to envelop us
48:54 in Your strong arms, we're needing Jesus'
48:58 strong loving arms to embrace us
49:00 and welcome us home, wrap us up in your precious blood.
49:04 Forgive our sins, Lord.
49:05 Take our guilt away.
49:08 Lord, just now would you bless our homes,
49:11 we have kind words for the stranger
49:13 and sweet thoughts for the sometime guests
49:16 but off for our own, there is the bitter tone.
49:20 But we love our own the best.
49:24 Save our homes and maybe someone out there
49:27 who hasn't been able to get up
49:29 and walk forward or even stand on their feet.
49:32 Friend, if you'd like to be included in this prayer,
49:34 would you just raise your hand
49:36 wherever you are and God will see your response.
49:40 Please, Lord, You know our hearts.
49:43 Would You keep them close to You
49:44 and help us to join the festive spirit
49:47 of your party for prodigals.
49:49 What a God we serve.
49:52 Lord, we've run away from these people
49:53 but You run toward them,
49:56 toward us prodigals who need Jesus.
50:01 This morning we can only respond,
50:02 Lord, I'm coming home.
50:08 I want you to take that response card
50:11 if you didn't bring with you,
50:13 you can go back to your seats quietly in just a moment.
50:17 If you'd like to check number one,
50:19 "I surrender my life to Jesus
50:22 and accept Him as my Savior and Lord."
50:25 Just put a check beside number one, that first box.
50:30 We've invited many individuals to come
50:32 and be here at this service
50:33 who may have been a long time from being at church.
50:37 Maybe you have felt impressed
50:38 this is the time for you to check number two.
50:41 "I have wandered away from God
50:43 and I wish to re-commit my life to Jesus."
50:45 Would you check that if God's Spirit
50:47 is directing you to do that right now?
50:50 Number three.
50:53 I hope many individuals who've been wondering
50:55 and maybe uncertain will decide
50:57 this is the time I need to get baptized.
50:59 We had a wonderful baptism a few minutes ago.
51:02 And we have more of these in our services.
51:05 Please check that today, make your decision right now.
51:09 And finally number four.
51:11 There'll be many who want to check this
51:12 "I desire special prayer for loved ones
51:15 who need to come back to Jesus."
51:18 Would you check that one? Yes.
51:21 Let's do that right now.
51:25 I've gonna ask that the hostesses
51:28 and the row captains make sure
51:30 that they have plenty of the baskets at the doorways
51:33 so that you can have a chance to turn these in.
51:36 We're going to ask in all of the downlink sites
51:38 and here at Columbia that everyone be seated
51:42 because I have a very important announcement
51:44 after I go off the air to share.
51:46 I want you to remember though that tonight
51:47 the meeting will be at 7:15,
51:50 one of the most important in all of this series
51:52 called "The Woman of Revelation Chapter 12."
51:57 Remember as you go, friend,
51:59 God really does love you.
52:04 God bless you.