Friday, April 05, 2013


I absolutely LOVE that verse in Luke 15 where the prodigal son is seen making his way home from the sorry mess he'd made of things. These words describe it.. “And he arose [the prodigal son] and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Lk 15:20)

Notice the father! Can you imagine it? He bear-hugged him.The word "fell" is the Greek word ἐπέπεσεν which means "to embrace or to hug." It goes on to say the father "Kissed" him Now THAT'S what I would call a real bear hug.

Will it surprise you to know that's EXACTLY the same word used in Acts 10:44 where it says, "The Holy Spirit fell [there it is] on all those who heard the word." When His Word is heard in brokenness, remember Peter had just preached a whopper of a sermon and they were really broken up over their condition, there is a real bear hug from the Holy Spirit in the making. That's just what the prodigal got upon his return in brokenness.

[I'm discounting neither the anointing of the Spirit nor the baptism of the Spirit that places us into the Body of Christ when I say this.]

This seems to me to be part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He makes God's love real to us relationally and it seems to happen__ with some regularity__ when we've really messed up. I think that's extra special in that it characterizes the kind of love our Heavenly Father delights in bestowing on us as His kids. ESPECIALLY when we come clean about messing up. He doesn't love us MORE when we DON'T mess up and He doesn't love us LESS when we DON'T come clean about it. But I do think we are able to RECEIVE AND EXPERIENCE His love more when we learn our mess ups are a heavenly hug and a Kingly kiss "moment in the making." Maybe we haven't learned this because we've lost sight on His love being lavished on us ON THE BASIS OF THE CROSS instead of our success or achievements. We tend to think He keeps His distance when we've not done well. Not true!

You see, God's love is not cold and distant at all, especially when we foul things up, But it is a close and passionate experience when we don't think of His love in cold doctrinal terms. I believe we're to see the Father's agape love as an embracing and enfolding of us with a purposeful and passionate flinging of His arms around us, when we need it the most. The thing to remember is...This is not a momentary emotion with Him, but it is the constant expression of His divine nature and character through the Holy Spirit. HE IS LOVE. All this because the Cross HAS ENABLED HIM TO BE JUST in the doing of it. [Romans 3:26] That is INCREDIBLE.

So the next time things are rough or the bitter taste of defeat is in your mouth, just let God be who He really is to you. Let Him bear hug and kiss you as you readily admit exactly where you are  [It's called confession.] because He doesn't love you any less because of failure or love you any more because of faithfulness. He just loves you. That's who He is.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...



I think of Mary Poppins great word, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"!

There is no single word in the English language, or any other,for that matter, which can express what you have so ably written about.

That's why I usually refer to the parable you mention as the Parable of The Father's Great Love.

Why do you think it is that so many, who teach the Scriptures, never teach that, ".....He doesn't love you any less because of failure or love you any more because of faithfulness. He just loves you. That's who He is."?

It causes me much sadness to think of the couple I mentioned in my last blog article, who have been indoctrinated, and, in turn, indoctrinate others with the very opposite of what you have expressed.

I rejoice with you that,as we approach the end of our tenure in this frail vessel, we can express the freedom which only a loving Father can bestow!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I love that parable as well.

This is extra special to me today as I'm praying for Rick Warren and his family in the tragic loss of their son Matthew. I was Rick and Kay's pastor when they were Seminarians in the late 70s and moved to California to begin what has become a well-known work.

The Warrens are wonderful and gracious people.

Rex Ray said...

Thank you.

I think of this ‘bear hug’ when we finally enter heaven. That comforts me when I think of my wife.

I think the amount God loves us is different in heaven. What we’ve done for his Son is what last forever. The man that’s saved on his death bed will not have as many ‘stars in his crown’.

It’s been said that our purpose in life is to learn more about God so we can enjoy him more in eternity. (A ‘bear hug’ is one of those things.)

The request for her sons to sit on the left and right of Jesus was answered by only God knows.

Paul Burleson said...


You're welcome.

I agree that when we get to heaven we will experience something especially wonderful. Luke 15:6 shows when the Chief Shepherd gets us home there is a VERY SPECIAL welcome that is described as a "rejoicing."

I can only imagine!

Steve Miller said...

Thank you Paul. You always were a pastor with a bear hug mindset. It is hard to hug some one with you arms down by your side. When I read His Word I have this picture of the extended arms of the Father outward in reach and coming towards me. As a result, a big bear hug happens as I draw near to His nearness. Thanks again and I remember Rick during the Southcliff days.


Aussie John said...


I am saddened to read your news regarding the Warren's sad episode. My heart goes out to them. It has only just reached our shores 24 hours later.

I am even more grieved by, and for, those who would claim to be our brethren, and have responded with the ugliest, and most un-Christlike responses, which are appearing today.

If anything tests how God's great grace has filled my life it is the arrogant position in which these folk place themselves as they condemn others who name the precious name of our Savior!

I may not agree with everything another brother/sister says/does, but my/his/her Savior will honor His covenant for all who trust in His finished work.

I am so glad that Christ's great love wasn't as selective as some who dare name Him as Savior.

Paul Burleson said...


You not only remind me of those Southcliff days but you reflect them in your spirit. I appreciate the comment.

Aussie J,

I just shared with my wife what you said in your comment. We grieve with you at the terrible spirit demonstrated by some.

In your great comment was this masterpiece of a statement...

"I am so glad that Christ's great love wasn't as selective as some who dare name Him as Savior."

I'm glad with you. I'm also reminded that not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" knows the Lord of whom they speak.