Return to family

Luke 15:11-32 

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

During this season of #covid-19 as our government mandates #socialdistancing in NC, people from the mountains to the ocean have come home…. and returned to family.

At the same time, I believe our Father in heaven is inviting His children to come home….and return to family.

fullsizeoutput_5d2aThe Bullard Pack has been responding to that invitation since 2007. When the Lord called our children home from public school, He simultaneously called me to be a full-time teacher, to “train them in the way that they should go.” Let me be perfectly clear: I did NOT want to #homeschool. Just like many of you who have been mandated by the state to do so because of the #pandemic, I feared I didn’t have what it takes. I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough, patient enough, blah, blah, blah. It’s true, I wasn’t. It’s the reason for the call. The call to homeschool was a call to follow Him. A call to know the Son. A call to know the Father. A call to receive more of His Spirit. A call to be a daughter. A call to be a wife. A call to be a mother. A call to become a family.

In 2018 the Lord would call our family again. It was a call to leave everything and everyone to follow Him on a new path through the desert. That call, for me, has been excruciating (you can read more about it, here). The call uprooted us from something familiar and transplanted us into something new. When we left the mega church system we also left our friends, our platforms and our positions to return home. The call was an invitation to return to family, an invitation to return to the upper room, an invitation to become one, as the Father, Son and Spirit are one. Dads, moms, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters now meet together each week in our home to worship, pray, study Scripture, share communion and a meal.

We’ve returned home.

We’ve returned to family.

A family that is called to love one another, build one another up, encourage, and strengthen one another (Yes. That includes correction and rebuke!) Last week I was prompted by the Spirit to do something. I immediately obeyed. But… I can be a bit impetuous, like Peter and DO before I think, so my spiritual mommas offered a course correction; wisdom on how to dothe thing.  I’ll admit, the spanking didn’t feel very good in the moment, but this little girl quickly realized it was for my good. Because they love me, they were parenting me, in love. And I know they love me, because they spend time with me……talking, praying, studying Scripture, worshipping, sharing communion and meals. If they weren’t family, I would have taken their correction as rejection, like an orphan. An orphan without spiritual parents. An orphan who feels unloved and unwanted when religious leaders use and abuse them to build their empires. An orphan who is commanded to serve and use spiritual gifts, but never invited to be a part of the family. Sadly, many religious leaders are orphans themselves. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know that they are part of a system that produces religious slaves, not sons and daughters in the Kingdom.

Despite the harsh reality that many orphans are still in bondage, making bricks in Egypt, there is also a remnant, a Church, a body, a Bride, that is returning to the promise of family!!!! A family where moms and dads are building up sons and daughters that know the Father, Son and Spirit!

It’s now 2020, and the Lord is calling our family- and yours to come home. To return to family.

It’s time to come hometo the Father. It’s time to come home to the Son. It’s time to come home to the Spirit. Come home! Return to family.

It’s time to come home to your spouse. It’s time to come home to your children. Come home! Return to family.

It’s time to come home to spiritual moms and dads. It’s time to come home to brothers and sisters in the Lord. Come home! Return to family.

Matthew 12:46-50 

46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”[a]

48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

Ecclesiastes 3 

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

A Prodigals Sister

Luke 15:11-32

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

 

Since 2011 I’ve been at home, working in my Father’s field while my man worked away from home. Let me clarify a few things from the get go: my man is a son, adopted into our Father’s family since he was a teenager. But during the last 8 years as he traveled for his job, his heart became lost.  He didn’t waste his money on wild living. He faithfully supported his family. He didn’t squander his inheritance on prostitutes. He remained faithful to his wife. But, as a self-confessed prodigal, he admits that he left his Father to pursue a life on his own.

During that time, I tilled the ground at home: managing the estate, training the kids, homeschooling, and doing the work of the ministry. I slaved away….and I was continually angry. I was angry that I was doing IT ALL alone. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man left at the beginning of each week. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man came home for weekend layovers. I prayed for him to come home permanently. I begged. I pleaded. I yelled. I threatened. All to no avail. He couldn’t see that he was starving in the farmers field. He couldn’t hear that I was starving for his love and his leadership. As days turned into months that turned into years, I eventually began relenting to corrections from those in the body of Christ who love me, “Jodie, LET. IT. GO. You can’t fix it.” I finally gave notice to the “Mrs. fix it” job when I surrendered to the Spirit at my annual spiritual heart exam this spring. Through the ministry of a pastor (gift, not title) in NC, the Spirit revealed that my heart was done (literally DONE; it had been boiling in a pressure cooker!). I agreed with the Spirt and declared “I’m done.” Two weeks later during a worship service in FL, the Spirit showed me the done heart again… along with a jello heart. He commanded: “choose one.”  I chose jello, and He crushed the done heart into ash.

I won’t speculate that my obedience to the Spirit helped cause a radical shift in our circumstances the following months, but I don’t believe in coincidence. God uses ALL things for our good, according to His purposes, not our own. (Romans 8:28)

Around the same season, my man came to his senses in the pig trough. He began seeing the Holy Spirit burn his hardened heart from the inside out. He started to feel again: longing for relationship with the Father, with his wife, and his children. He confessed. He repented. And a short time later, someone from his companies HR department asked him to apply for a newly created position. He applied. He interviewed. He was flown to headquarters. He was given the job. He accepted. And the location where this newly created global position would be based from? AT HOME!

Not. Kidding.

Oh, how the Father rejoiced when He saw his son come home! As my man received his robe and ring and sandals and gathered with family in celebration, I stood outside the party pouting. Me, the prodigals sister in the Lord. Me, the one who prayed for the prodigal to come to his senses. Me, the Father’s daughter who stayed at home.

Me. Me. Me!

sister.jpg

As steaming hot lava began flowing out of a volcano of emotions, I realized my sense of justice was unbalanced. From my perspective, I deserved to be praised and celebrated for staying at home the entire time! After all, I was the one who had been doing what the Father said. And now, because my brother had finally come to his senses and come back home where he belonged, the entire family was rejoicing like it was 1999…uh, I mean, 2019!!!

Yep. There it was, hidden in my Pharisaical heart: spiritual pride. Only the revelatory conviction of the Holy Spirit could give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Only deep grief through the gift of repentance could remove it. And now, this sister is rejoiceing in the celebration of her brothers homecoming, knowing that:

WE are His beloved children.

WE have been given an inheritance.

WE have the freedom to choose life or death.

WE have been lost.

WE have been found.

WE have received a robe and a ring and sandals.

WE will celebrate together, at the wedding feast with the Father and the Spirit as the Son is joined with His pure and spotless bride (Revelation 19). What a celebration that will be for the family of God, for all eternity!!!

It’s time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I met with my therapist today. I’ve been needing to for a long time, but, well, life, or….. my stubborn will just didn’t want to. He’s the perfect Therapist. Always available. Always willing to listen. Always dispenses wisdom. Always gives me practical things to do to reemphasize His plan for my life.

I sipped on my ½ regular, ½ decaf cup of coffee this morning like I usually do. I talked to the Holy Spirit about what He already knows; I’m struggling in this season. I’ve been wrestling in it for a long time. 7 years long. I’ve pleaded. I’ve whined. I’ve complained. I’ve bartered. I’ve justified. I’ve cried. I’ve thrown adult sized hissy fits. Not one of those things has led me out of the season that I’ve wanted to be over for a long time. 7 years long. So, after I finished pouring out my complaint (Psalm 142:2) again, I read another chapter of Psalms and devotions from Spurgeon, Chambers and Tozer. Then I got up to begin the practical portion of my therapy; de-cluttering and re-organizing.

I LOVE to de-clutter and re-organize our home. It helps to de-clutter my mind and re-organize my emotions. It helps me to see all that we possess and be grateful. It helps me to see what is no longer needed and to grieve the loss. It helps me to see what needs to be thrown away, so that I can embrace something new!

It's time.jpg

Let me put this right on out there: I am severely impatient. When I see a new season approaching, I want it to happen yesterday. I don’t want to wait until tomorrow. Not so ironically, I married a man who approaches life much differently. He’ll ponder and wait and wait and wait. It makes me coo coo for Cocoa Puffs! NOW is the time! No need to dilly dally in today’s season- let’s just MOVE ON! Yet, God in His infinite sense of humor has not only given me the gift of a man who changes seasons slower than I do, but He’s also given me the gift of prophesy so that I can see seasons that are coming in a long, long, time. He’s trying to teach me to be still, to know Him, to realize He has made everything for its own time. He knows His work from beginning to end. He lives outside of time, and He’s planting eternity in my heart so that I will embrace each season from heaven’s perspective.

At the end of today’s session, I heard the Spirit whisper, “it’s time to quit searching, it’s time to throw some things away.” He’s already given me the answer to my endless questions. He’s already shown me the next season, but I must wait for His time to transition into it.

In the meantime, it’s also time to take out the trash which is full of junk that nobody needs, and deliver the pile of household goods that somebody does.