Pastor Steve Aguzzi

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February 23


Steve Aguzzi


"The Prodigal Prodigy"


Jeremiah 30:18-20
Luke 15:11-32

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February 20, 2020

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw
and was filled with compassion for him; 
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and 
kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have 
sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "  
Luke 15:20-21

Dear Members and Friends,

This week, I'm blessed to be in North Carolina with Pastor Carolyn, Brant, our Youth Director, and our Children's Director, Ashley. We are experiencing together a conference run by PRMI regarding how to overcome spiritual strongholds in the church and how to deal with spiritual warfare.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, spiritual strongholds are a major theme, though it may not be obvious or evident. A few things are going on here. First the Father wants both his sons to be his disciples. He wants them to follow him, learn from him, and he wants to model both grace and forgiveness to them. It is the essence of generational discipleship. The Father would likely want his sons to get along, also, and to enjoy their relationship with him and each other. But this is where the spiritual warfare sets in.

The younger son is tempted to be impatient. He thinks his life is being hindered by the rules and structure associated with being his Father's son. He is tempted by the ways of the flesh, the world, and the devil, and follows a road of perdition. Later, the younger son is tempted to listen to the devilish voices in his head that remind him that he is no good, and more than that, that he is unredeemable. "I am no longer worthy to be called your son," he thinks, while rehearsing his speech of begging and remorse for his Father. But that is the enemy speaking, and not God. It is God's business to decide who is worthy to be called His child, and the means by which that worthiness will be accomplished. The lesson here is that we need to be listening for the voice of the Father and not simply to the confused voices in our own heads, or the voices around us, or the voices of the enemy.

The older son is equally disturbed and sifted like wheat by Satan. Listen to the text: "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

The older son gets it wrong, but in a different way than the younger son. The older son truly believes and has been convinced by fallen outside or internal sources that his Father's love and approval is predicated upon him following the rules and being obedient. Meanwhile, the Father very rapidly sets the record straight: "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

You see, the Father defines the parental and discipling relationship by the standards of closeness, proximity, and promise-not by the standards of obedience and slave-like loyalty. Furthermore, the Father is concerned with how the older son perceives the state of the younger son. The older son, too, feels it his own prerogative to assign a category to his little brother-a category of unworthiness, resentment, and heathenism. But this is not how the Father perceives His lost son. He cherishes him and has never let him out of His heart.

There are so many lessons here for us, but I'd like to focus on one in particular. My guess is that most of us, though not all, can relate to the older son. We work hard for God. We try to follow the rules as best as we can. We cherish loyalty and servitude. But have we forgotten "the first love of our first Love?" Have we forgotten that the work of God is to believe in Christ and to make that same gospel known to those who do not know Him? The very nature of God is to seek what is lost. Those who believe and are obedient are called by God to share in His concern for the lost, degenerate sinner, just as the Father wants to change the perspective of the older son so that it includes mercy for those who are outside of relationship with the Father. Everything that the Father has is already ours too. So why not share in the Father's celebration as He "draws all men to Himself" in Christ?

In Christ,
Pastor Steve

News and Notes

  • Join us on Ash Wednesday, February 26, for dinner at 6 p.m. and worship at 7 p.m. as we begin the season of Lent.
  • Lent is a great time to go deeper in faith. Pick up a study guide for our new sermon/study series, "Spiritual Pathways," which begins on Sunday, March 1, available in the Narthex and drive through lobby. Check out the list of study groups in the bulletin or contact Pastor Linda to see if there's a group that will fit into your schedule (412-531-3387 ext 207).
  • Sign-ups continue today and next week for the All Church Retreat, March 13-15. There will be a table in the lobby on Sunday morning where you can ask questions or register.
  • If you are unable to go on the retreat, please join us for a unified service at the church on Sunday, March 15, at 10 a.m.
  • The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper will be celebrated in worship next Sunday, March 1.
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