Unfaithful Child/Spouse Archives 2014

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  • A Parent's Broken Heart by Mike Gifford
  • It's Always the Parent's Fault...Or Is It? by Pat Gates 
  • Whatever You Write on the Heart of a Child (poem)
  • How to Make a Delinquent in 12 Easy Steps
  • Who is the Delinquent (poem)
  • Your Cheating Heart by Brad Harrub
  • To the Married and Unmarried by Joanne Beckley
  • Don't Hope, Decide! (unknown)
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son by Jim Bullington



A Parent’s Broken Heart

Mike Gifford 

It happens much too frequently. A faithful Christian father and a faithful Christian mother agonize over a loss. It's not a loss of life over which they are grieving. Instead, their distress has been brought on by a son or a daughter who has gone into the world of sin and turned his or her back on God.

The circumstances vary. In some cases the child had been a faithful Christian but has since fallen away. In other cases teh child never obeyed in the first place and now is hard-hearted. Regardless of the reason, the child is a servant of Satan and Godly parents fear for that soul.

Often the first reaction of a parent in this situation is to blame himself or herself. What could have been done differently? What wasn't done that should have been? What was done that should not have been? Since Proverbs 22:6 states, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it," the fact that the child is disobedient to God must mean that there was parental failure, or at least this is the conclusion to which a parent might come. Granted there are examples of parents who did not tend to their children's spiritual needs, but is a child's unfaithfulness always the resut of errors in parenting? If it were true that a parent's faithfulness guarantees faithful children, then would it not also be true that a parent's unfaithfulness guarantees unfaithful children? Of course, there are several examples of righteous men and women who grew up in ungodly homes. Go back and read the history of the kings of Israel and Judah in the books of Kings and Chronicles to see some Bible examples of Godly men whose sons turned away from the Lord as well as ungodly men whose sons turned to the Lord. Let's also consider families in which there are multiple children, some of whom are faithful and some of whom are not. How can that be explained? Even though the parent of an unfaithful child deeply feels guilt over the child's waywardness, the fact of the matter is that the child has free will just like the parent does. With that freedom to choose, he or she has the freedom to make wrong choices, one of which is disobeying God. Certainly a parent should do some self-examination and if an unholy example has influenced the child for evil, then repentance should be made by that parent. Whether or not this is the case, a frank discussion with the child regarding the parent's influence over the years should be conducted.

Communication plays such a critical role in a parent's attempt to restore a disobedient child. Why would a parent not lovingly, yet firmly, show that child from God's Word that he or she is lost? Why would a parent not let that child see and feel the hurt that he or she is causing? When a parent trying to bring a child to God or back to God, it is not a time for timidity or fear of saying the wrong thing that might drive the child away. The child has already left the Lord. Jude wrote, "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh," (Jude 23).

I invite parents to share this article with their unfaithful children. Hoping that will be done, I make an appeal. Unfaithful friend, not only are you lost in your current state of disobedience, you are also tearing your parents up inside. They are afraid that you will die in your lost condition. They love God and are looking forward to being with Him in eternity. They love you and want you in heaven as well. Won’t you at least sit down and talk to them about the direction you have taken in your life? They are hurting. They are heavily burdened by your disobedience. How much do you care about their pain?

A Parent’s Broken Heart
Tonight a heart is shattered,
A face is wet with tears,
A mind is heavy laden
With worries and with fears.
Tonight a soul is praying
In sad and mournful strains.
Few tragedies on earth
Can bring such depth of pain.
“Dear God, I pray, be patient,
Longsuffering and kind.
He’s turned his heart toward sin.
Please, Lord, give him time.
“Lord, it must be my fault.
I must have erred some way.
If I’d been a better Christian
He would not have gone astray.
“Lord, I feel so helpless.
How can I bring him home?
I just can’t bear the thought
Of losing this precious soul.”
Tonight is like the last one
And all the ones to come
For the parent of a prodigal
‘Til he returns to God.
The doubts and fear and anguish
Keep weighing on the soul.
There is little rest for the parent
Whose child has left the fold.
If only sons and daughters
Who’ve chosen to depart
Could see how their unfaithfulness
Breaks a parent’s heart.




It's Always the Parent's Fault...Or is It?


It's so discouraging to know there are still those in the church who strongly and vocally believe that the parents are responsible for their child's remaining faithful. We constantly pray that ours will see their need for the Lord in their life and return to Him. I also pray for knowledge and wisdom to say and do the right things when I can to prick their conscience. The loss of their souls weigh so heavily on us. -anonymous


My heart goes out to you. Many years ago I experienced this great sadness and fear. Fortunately for me it was short-lived, however, I remember the trauma of those days. I remember how I would hear remarks from others and from the pulpit about children's unfaithfulness being caused by lack of training and teaching from God's word. I believe some of these people say this as a general statement as the writer of Proverbs did when he said, "Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it," Prov. 22:6. Broadly speaking this is true: Teach children the truth from God's word and they will grow up faithful children. Don't teach the truth and they will grow up unfaithful. Proverbs are "wise sayings that expresses effectively some commonplace truth."
However, there are some who believe that proverb applies to every case and will become judges of righteous parents of unfaithful children. How do I know this? Because I was one of those people who wondered what the parents did wrong... I was one, that is, until I experienced the same thing. "Experience is the most brutal of teachers." 

Some may talk about or preach about the parent's responsibility in the child's ongoing unfaithfulness but may not consider the righteous sitting in the audience (or in a discussion group)  who are in terrible pain as they continually contemplate what went wrong. Comments are often made in general but, unfortunately, they may be made without thought of the various situations in the lives of those who are listening, namely righteous parents who have put forth the effort to instruct their children in the way of the Lord.

In regards to whose fault it is when adult children remain unfaithful, consider this:

I was unfaithful in my 18th and part of my 19th year. My mother taught me well, not only in biblical knowledge but by example. While I had been strong and remained firm in my high school years, when I got out on my own I became weak and I chose to give into the temptations of the world. My mom's teachings rang loudly in my head at first and guilt was great, but I soon hardened over time, guilt lessened and it became easy to ignore my conscience that my mom worked so hard on throughout my childhood.

Who was to blame? My mom? After all she wasn't all wise, all knowing, and she did make some mistakes so can I blame my actions on her? Was the world at fault? The truth is, it was my fault, entirely my fault. It was my choice to ignore my mother's teaching and, most of all, my heavenly Father's teaching.

Let's look at an example from the Bible:

And he (Amon) did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as did Manasseh his father; and Amon sacrificed unto all the graven images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he humbled not himself before Jehovah, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but this same Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and put him to death in his own house. But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead. 2Ch 33:22-25 


If we assume it is always the parent's fault that older children choose unfaithfulness then what kind of character should Josiah have? Well, of course, we would naturally come to the conclusion he would be very wicked like his father and grandfather. However, the opposite happened: "And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left." 2Ch 34:2   

Now we have to assume Josiah had faithful children because of his righteousness. After Josiah's death two of his sons became king. The first, Jehoahaz: "Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign...and he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his fathers had done." 2Ki 23:31-32  

Josiah's second son, Jehoiakim, also reigned: "Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem...and he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his fathers had done. 2Ki 23:36-37

The fact of the matter is: Ungodly parents can end up with a righteous child and righteous parents can end up with an ungodly child. Also, a wishy-washy parent may have a child grow up to be firm in the faith while a faithful parent may bear a child who grows up wishy-washy, never developing into a spiritually mature individual. The reason for this is, children grow up with their own individual faith (or lack thereof) and no adult child gets to ride on the faithfulness of their parent's coattails nor does their unfaithfulness point directly to their parents.

Consider the justice of God in Ezekiel 18:20: "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." God, Himself, declares that it is quite possible for a righteous father to have an unrighteous son. Who are we to judge otherwise?

We, too, must be just in our judgments and there are times when judgment is not what is necessary and needed, but rather a genuine love and sympathy for righteous parents who have, hopefully temporarily, lost children to this world. After all, we have a perfect heavenly Father and yet, we have turned away from His teachings. Is it God's fault or ours?

Being the parent of an unfaithful child, as you said, is a heavy burden to bear and one that is lonely and heartbreaking, Not only do these parents have to deal with sadness and fear but the continual search for wisdom of what to say to their child and how to say it. It is an unending labor of survival, continually throwing the lifeline out, hoping to save those who are loved so dearly. These parents need an understanding ear, support, friendship, and prayers.

To the one who wrote, I appreciate your labor of love in being diligent in helping your children. Please don't ever give up as I've seen examples of children returning years later. That isn't said to be discouraging, but rather reminding you that hope continues. In regards to what others say about the blame being put on the parents, remember that God knows the situation and while uninformed comments may hurt, ultimately God is the one we need to please.

May God bless you with peace, dear parents, and may you get up from your knees, confident that God hears your prayers

-Pat Gates 



Whatever you write on the heart of a child
No water can wash away.
The sand may be shifted when billows are wild
And the efforts of time may decay.
Some stories may perish, some songs be forgot
But this graven record — time changes it not.
Whatever you write on the heart of a child,
A story of gladness or care

The heaven has blessed or earth has defiled,
Will linger unchangeable there.




How to Make a Child into a Delinquent in 12 Easy Steps

(This list is thought to have been prepared over fifty years ago by a police captain.)

1. Begin at infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way, he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad language, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one, and then let him "decide for himself".

4. Avoid using the word "wrong". It may develop a guilt feeling. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around: books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized—but let his mind feast on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your child. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9. Satisfy every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take your child's part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him!"

12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will be likely to have it.



Who is the Delinquent? 

We read in the papers,
We hear on the air
Of killing and stealing
And crime everywhere.

We sign and we say
As we notice the trend.
“This young generation----
Where will it all end?”

But can we be sure
That it’s their fault alone?
That may be a part of it
Isn’t also our own?

Kids don’t make movies,
They don’t write the books,
That paint a gay picture
Of gangsters and crooks.

They don’t make the liquor,
They don’t run the bars,
They don’t make the laws
And they don’t buy cars.

They don‘t make the drugs
That addle the brain;
It’s all done by older folks,
Greedy for gain.

In far too many cases
We find this to be true,
The label “Delinquent”
Fits older folks, too.


Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:4-6




Your Cheating Heart

Brad Harrub

Having looked into the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to their spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my own children and those whom I love.

Adultery does not start in the bedroom. Oftentimes it starts with a lively conversation or maybe a Facebook exchange. Conversations blossom into flirting. Flirting then takes on a whole new dynamic as personal feelings are shared. Rather than sitting down with a spouse and sharing problems and concerns, individuals spill their guts to a stranger who is quick to console and provide emotional—and eventually physical—support.

I dare say there is not a congregation in the church that has not felt the devastating effects of adultery. Our hearts sink when we hear about yet another couple torn apart by the tentacles of infidelity. Occasionally, the sin is committed with someone outside the church family. Many times, however, a married individual turns to someone within the church family. Multiple families are destroyed as selfish individuals seek their own pleasure and treat their marriages like a doormat. Adultery has affected young and old, rich and poor. We can all identify friends, preachers, deacons, and elders who have turned their lives upside down in search of greener grass. Few consider the lasting damage to their children, their families, the church, and their relationship with God in search of a few moments of physical pleasure. It’s the heat of the moment.

Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about adultery.

I’m going to make an admission that will likely get me into a great deal of trouble: Your mother has more wrinkles and gray hair than the day I asked her to marry me. (I do too for that matter!) But I can honestly say that when I look at your mother today she is more beautiful than the day we married. Many times I will look at her without her knowing and smile from ear to ear at how lucky I am to be married to such a beautiful woman. Your mother has a beauty that radiates from her very soul. I found a Proverbs 31 woman and I rejoice with the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18). I pray that one day you will be able to experience a similar feeling.

Marriage is for life. It is the second biggest decision you will make in your lifetime. The vows you make before God, your family, and friends are not to be taken lightly. The way in which you view the opposite sex must change on that day, as you are no longer “looking” for someone. Your search is over—forever! (Matthew 5:27-30).

Your marriage should focus on getting one another to heaven. If you get married and focus on what you “don’t” have, I assure you that your marriage will suffer. Allow me to be blunt for a moment: There will always be someone out there with more physical beauty, talents, or wealth than your spouse. (You are not excluded from this either!) However, always remember that just because the grass may appear greener does not mean it tastes good or doesn’t come with some serious maintenance. It is easy to focus a great deal of importance on physical things when you are young, but physical things will eventually fade away. I want to encourage you to focus on the beautiful grass you have been blessed with and count your blessings every single day.

One wonders how much Solomon knew of his dad’s relationship with Bathsheba. Consider the warning he gave against adultery in Proverbs 5. After describing the immoral woman’s lips as dripping honey and her mouth smoother than oil (vs. 3), he goes on to say, “Remove your way from her. And do not go near the door of her house” (vs. 8). Don’t even place that temptation before you. When one combs through God’s Word and researches the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the action of infidelity keeps bubbling up as a lynchpin (Matthew 19; 1 Corinthians 7) that—like death—can sever a marriage. It is a sin that was singled out in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). Guard against it with diligence!

Your mom and I occasionally talk about the reality of adultery. We are smart enough to recognize that the devil is “seeking whom he can devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and that includes the two of us! I am careful not to be alone with any woman other than your mother. I will often talk about my wife and children in front of individuals so they know I am a family man. We know if either of us let our guard down then devastating things could happen. As such, we try to be proactive to ensure that we are never in that position. From basic things like sharing computer passwords to more advanced things like phoning and letting one another know where we are, we are committed to one another (and God!).

I pray that you will “drink water from your own cistern” and work hard to make your mate happy (Proverbs 5:15-20). Read Song of Solomon with your spouse and fulfill one another’s physical needs. Enjoy the intimacy of your marriage and flee temptation. Lastly, my child, never forget the things I have taught you…Proverbs 3:1-6.

Love, Dad




To the Married and Unmarried
Joanne Beckley

Where does emotional intimacy belong between men and women? In the marriage bond. Outside of marriage we are truly vulnerable to giving to another what belongs to our mate and leading us too close to the sin of fornication/adultery.

When we share with another the companionship (our intimate thoughts and feelings) that belongs to our spouse, we have stolen, cheated, even lied–to our spouse and to ourselves. Adultery is condemned many times in the scriptures, but the path taken toward adultery is also recognized and condemned, Job 31:1; Prov 6:25 Mat 5:28. Adultery, the end result, begins in the heart. What can start out in all innocence can develop and change. “Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).

But too many married Christians are not living Jesus’ words as we should. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16; Mt 10:16). Nor are we arming our children to understand the process the heart takes in relationships with the opposite sex. How can we, if we ourselves are not walking wisely? Instead we justify our actions without acknowledging the possible very real end result.

Everyone needs close meaningful friendships, especially with people of the opposite sex. Young unmarried men and women are also vulnerable. Emotional intimacy is a step forward in the process of choosing a mate for life. But when we go down this path with one of the opposite sex without the purpose of marriage in mind, then we walk a very dangerous path. This is especially true in developing friendships with older married men or women. A young person will gravitate toward the one who supposedly understands his/her needs that are not being met. This innocent action toward a married person thus creates a closeness that can open up the possibility toward emotional intimacy and ultimately fornication/adultery.

There are signs that can help us identify when friendship is developing into dangerous waters. The following points are not progressive, but rather they are identifying marks:
▸ You say, “We are just friends”. These words are usually said to justify what we know is wrong.
▸ There is a “twinkle” in the eye. You enjoy the sexual attraction (lustful thoughts) and want more.
▸ You look forward to seeing him or her/you want to tell them the news first.
▸ You share intimate emotions and problems.
▸ You give gifts not normally given to a friend.
▸ You daydream about him or her.
▸ You spend time alone together.
▸ You are feeling guilty and dishonest.
▸ You feel like you have shared too much, and now feel vulnerable.

So, why? Why do we walk down this emotional path that leads to destruction? If we can understand WHY then it will help us to remove the temptation.
▸ Do I have unfulfilled needs?
▸ Do I have a problem accepting criticism, always needing positive feedback?
▸ Am I dealing with a long-term hurt that has not been resolved?
▸ Am I no longer sharing myself (my thoughts, my needs) with my wife/husband?

What can we do if we find ourselves sliding down this path that may already contain lustful thoughts?
▸ Break off the relationship immediately and quickly. Be honest, sincere, and with all humility.
▸ Recognize that emotional intimacy involving one who is married is unfair to all parties involved. Put on their shoes and walk! You have stolen from them in so many ways. Marriage is a bond that requires faith, trust and long-term attention and right now this is no longer possible.
▸ Accept the guilt you are feeling, recognize its source and ask forgiveness from those you have hurt and THEN to your God. Take responsibility for your lack of integrity and honesty. Don’t let guilt overcome you, but rather use this experience as an opportunity for self-reflection and spiritual growth.
▸ Relationships don’t just happen. They all require work. Repairing relationships also require hard work. It is the price you have to be willing to pay.
▸ Analyze any unfulfilled desires. Truly if we don’t deal with the underlying unfulfilled needs, we can fall prey to yet another such temptation later on.
▸ Write down what you have learned. Write down your thoughts and hopes. Write down what you think an ideal relationship should be–with married folk, with unmarried folk. (And to the married, share them with your spouse!)
▸ Don’t hide from your emotions. You have treated them cavalierly and now you must deal with them, control them, divert them.
▸ Create physical distance from the relationship. This must include social media, chat rooms, cellular phones through texting, etc.

Like Job, let us make a covenant with our eyes (our mind, heart, and soul).



 Don't Hope - Decide!

A few years ago a man was waiting for a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon. Among the passengers leaving the plane, he noticed a man coming toward him carrying two light bags. He watched as the man stopped to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he lay down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, the father said, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!"

The man stood up, gazed into the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son's face in his hands said, You're already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one year old) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, "Hi, baby girl!," as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulders, motionless in pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last,” and proceeded to give his wife a long, passionate kiss. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed, “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming at one another, holding both hands. The bystander then realized how totally engrossed he was in the wonderful display of genuine love beside him. He suddenlyfelt uncomfortable, as if he were invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear his own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?”

“Been married twelve years,” the man replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face.

“Well, then, how long have you been away?” the bystander asked.

“Two whole days!”

The bystander was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, he assumed the man had been gone for a least several weeks, if not months. Almost offhandedly,hoping to end his intrusion with some semblance of grace, he said, “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked him in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into his soul he said something that left the bystander a different person. He said, “Don’t hope, friend...decide!"

The following article is a good reminder of our heavenly Father's love and mercy. Let us remember the "Prodigal Son's" father when we are the one who can forgive and be merciful to a repentant husband, son or daughter, friend and brother or sister in Christ. Let us rejoice!




 The Parable of the Prodigal Son

(Luke 15:11-32)

by: Jim Bullington


So is it The Parable of the Prodigal, or The Parable of the Jubilant Father?  The answer is both, but the emphasis is clearly on the attitude displayed by the father upon the return of the lost boy.  Contrasted with the attitude of the father is the attitude of the older son.  First, consider the attitude of the father.

Who had been wronged by the departure and unwise choices of the younger brother?  Was it not the father whose word and wise counsel was disregarded by the younger son?  Was it not the father's hard earned fortune that was squandered for momentary pleasures by the younger son?  Not that the older son was without concern for his younger sibling, but who was apparently looking and longing for the return of the wayward boy?  One does not have to stretch his imagination very far to see the father lamenting over the situation, yearning for the day when the younger son would come to himself and both of their nightmares would come to an end!  Then, one day on a day that was just like every day, the fondest hopes of the father were realized; his son came home!  Live a part of that day.

"But when he [the prodigal] was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the father said to his servants, `Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry." (Luke 15:20-24). 

First, notice that his father saw him when he was a long way off.  This indicates that the father was looking for his return.  Then, note that the father had compassion on him; literally, he was moved with compassion originating from the innermost part of his being.  Next, the father ran!  The reluctance in the boy's heart to return home must have dissolved instantly in the sea of his father's love!  Now, watch with joy as his father falls on his neck and kisses his long lost son! The verb tenses in this passage literally say that he kissed him and kept on kissing him again and again.  Far more than the proverbial yellow ribbon, the jubilant father emotionally demonstrated his joy over the return of his son!

To further his joy, the father then asked his servants to join in the festivities.  And how fitting.  They had known the boy before and surely held some affection for him.  "Give him the best robe, put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet."  The father owed the son nothing; he had given him everything before that he could rightfully claim as his own, yet the father said give more; give the very best! And they began to be merry!  What a delightful picture of a father overwhelmed with the emotions of a son that was dead, but now is alive!  This pictures our Father when we return penitently to Him. Just think about it and then say, Thanks!"


November 2017