Being Last

Prodigal: Let’s race!

Me: I don’t know if you are going to win in that.

Prodigal: Maybe it is better not to be first.

I want to be last. That is right, pass me by please. Just move on ahead of me. Take the ribbon, take the platform, and take the mic. I plan on being last.

Well, what about the standing ovation, the line of people admiring you. The questions of how did you do it all. No please finish before me, take that spot. Well how about the money, and recognition? How about taking two months off, and sitting on a beach with no schedules for the day? Take my spot, and please make sure I am last.

Jennifer are you feeling ok? Look around, how will you get ahead if you plan to be last. Nobody wants to be last. Everybody wants to be first. Everybody wants to finish first.

I am feeling fine, I want to be last. This is something new, I was very concerned about being first before. I wanted to be the smartest. I wanted a lot of money. I wanted to be the best therapist. I wanted to even be beautiful above others. I wanted to be first.

Have you lost your confidence? Are you down on your self? No I just found where my confidence should be. I found where my focus should be.

Sometimes the world has it wrong, and I listened to the world. I did not completely understand, but once again Jesus showed me the truth.

Mark 10:29-31

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-along with persecutions- and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

See I need to be last. This isn’t about what happens around me. This is about what happens inside me. When I said I wanted money, I wanted to be smart, I wanted to be beautiful. That became my focus. That was my life to obtain those things are maintain those things. I had to have best clothes, hair, and be physically fit. I had to continue to study everything to have all the answers. I had to work all I could to increase my money. I had to be the best therapist so that others around me could recognize these things.

As that became my pursuit, something happened to me on the inside. I was a tree that had a disease, and was decaying on the inside. At first no one would be able to notice the disease had set in, I had strong bark on the outside. The disease keeps spreading though. Eventually others will see the disease on the tree. The bark will eventually become soft, and parts will fall off. Just as the tree was effected, my speech, my choices, and relationships would be effected by this disease.

The disease had a by product that it produce inside me. That by product was pride, arrogance, selfishness, and unrest. The little choices, and sometimes the big choices were really about my pride, my selfishness and left me empty with unrest. Did others pick up on it, mostly no. I had developed a way to hide it all. I could talk, and even appear that I was unselfish about the decision. I could not run from what was happening inside of me.

What happened? God brought me a wonderful trial. He brought me to a group of people who thought I was last. I did not do things the way they did them. That was the difference. These were all preferences of how to accomplish tasks. Even though they were just preferences I found myself at the bottom. They put me at the bottom, and maybe sure they spoke to me about how I was on the bottom. The conversations would center around how I should work my way to the top.

With a constant speech with every interaction about how these people thought I was on the bottom, I was surrounded with negative thoughts focused on me. I began to seek the Lord about the truth, it was all I knew I could do.

The Lord showed me my pride, arrogance and selfishness that had been a disease inside of me. I slowly took the journey of repentance, and change. I slowly started realizing that money, beauty, being physically fit, smart, good therapist were not bad. What did need to change though was my motives behind it, and the ability to surrender all that if I needed to.

I learned that how people rank me does not matter. How the Lord ranks me is everything. That is what this scripture is telling me. Lord states some people who think they are first will be last. Some people have a disease inside of them. Maybe some of their disease is like mine, some of it is different. Some don’t know they have it, just like I was. Some of the disease is not outward in appearance yet, and they are able to hide it. It is still there. The inside of them is wrapped up in being first, and themselves.

It was by God’s grace that He was able to not only show me, but encourage me in change.

I still work out because I know God approves of me trying to take care of my body. I also know that if I could not move tomorrow that would be something I could surrender. I work to be the best therapist. I work from a heart issue to please God in my work performance. If God called me to stop being a therapist tomorrow, I would. I still like to have money, but I also enjoy giving money just as much. I still like to be called beautiful, but God sees beauty on the inside, and not just the outside. So how am I working to make myself beautiful on the inside.

So please make me last. If I am praised, it is not because of me. It is because of what God has done in me. I was full of disease, but now I am healed. The world’s rank of me really doesn’t matter to me as much anymore. I am ok if you are ranking me last right now. If this writing is last, and not that good. I am ok. God is showing me something else. God is showing me still loves me, and is still happy that I choose to write today.

As I think about it, being last is pretty peaceful, maybe you could join me.

Know therefore that the Lord Thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which kept covenant and mercy with them that Love Him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

A Critical Heart

Prodigal:  I don’t know if I like these flowers.

Me:  Someone spent a lot of time on them.

Prodigal:  I guess I didn’t think of that.

Me: We need to watch our hearts.

This is from the book Reclaiming Your Heart by Denise Hildreth Jones

A critical heart can also be a by-product of  disappointment and can coexist with other hearts.  Disappointed hearts can easily become angry, isolated, or viciously critical.  When someone has repeatedly broken our trust, when we’ve been perpetually over-looked for that job we wanted, or when we’ve been let down by people who should have had our backs, disappointment is a natural response.  And when we refuse to deal with that disappointment by releasing it to our Father through honest prayer, praise, and singing, the disappointment can reveal itself in a critical spirit.

And though these criticisms are mostly targeted at the person we are disappointed with, that isn’t always the case.  An innocent party close at hand might just become an easy target for our frustration.  Or sometimes, when we do criticize the person who let us down, the criticism may bear little ration to the offense.

As the words pour our of our broken, wounded souls, they hurt those we’re criticizing but also reflect the true state of our hearts–because every time we open our mouths, we choose what will come out.  Proverbs 18:21 states succinctly:  “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit–you choose”

You have been disappointed.  You were suppose to be able to trust these people.  They in turn hurt you to continue to try, and win an argument.  They did not try to love, instead they wanted to just win.  The enemy would like you to become bitter.  All day yesterday, it was up, and down.  You would forgive, but then you would remember.  Keep trying to turn to Christ.  It may take every day this week but try to win the battle of forgiveness.  It is important that you are not critical right now.  Satan would like a critical heart to take over so that you do not give grace, and show the Lord’s glory to others.

That they may walk in my statues, and keep mine ordinances, and do them:  and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 11:20

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: How are you after our walk?

Prodigal: I am fine as frog hair!

Me: Let’s continue then.

Thank you for watching my video

click here to watch

Proverbs 3:33

The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Sing At Night

Prodigal:  It is getting dark.

Me:  Yes, but we do not have to stop.

Prodigal:  Let’s continue then.

This is from Charles Spurgeon

It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is the skillful singer who can sing when there is not a ray of light by which to read, who sings from his heart, and not from a book that he can see, because he has no means or reading, save from that inward book of his own living spirit, whence notes of gratitude pour forth in songs of praise.

Right now my flesh is trying to put my spirit in darkness.  I am having thoughts of past hurts in the past month.  A part of me wants to linger on those hurts.  I know I need to forgive.  I have prayed, and looking to the Lord.  Today it seems a battle to stay focused on love, grace, and forgiveness.  I just need to praise God.  Lord I would never have known you if you did not seek me first.  Thank you for even given me the time to sit, and spend time with you.  Thank you that I have running water, air condition, and also the ability to call someone in just a second.  You really have given me so much and when I focus on that then the spirit changes to be one that is focused on you.

Ye are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5:13

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

My Father In Heaven

Me:  What a beautiful garden!

Prodigal:  Yes, that is what I was thinking.

Me:  What should we do?

Prodigal:  Let’s pray!

 

This is from the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore

 

My Father in heaven,

I thank You for breath this day to give You praise.

I thank You for a life where nothing is wasted,

a life where pain turns into purpose and Your providence

assigns a personal destiny.

You will never allow anything in my path

that cannot bring You glory or me and those around me good.

No matter what this day holds,

I am clothed with strength to overcome every obstacle and all oppression

because I belong to Jesus Christ, and His Spirit lives with me.

You, Lord, are my security.

No one and nothing can take You from me.

You will keep my foot from being caught in a trap.

I choose to turn my back on fear because You are right here with me.

I can smile over the days to come because Your plan for me

is good and right.

My heart is steadfast, trusting in You, Lord.

In the end, I will look in triumph on my foes.

Because of You,

I am secure.

In Jesus’s triumphant name,

Amen

 

Fear ye not me? saith the LORD:  will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it:  and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

Jeremiah 5:22

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Look what I found.

Me: Yes, that was used long ago, to try and keep others safe.

Prodigal: Weapons might have changed but the Jesus has not.

Thank you for watching my video

Click here to watch

Prodigal 3:31

Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways;

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Luke warm

 

Prodigal:  What does Jesus want from me?

Me:  He wants your heart.

Prodigal:  He has my heart.

Me:  He wants all your heart.

 

This is from the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan

 

LUKEWARM PEOPLE say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives.  But only a part.  They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives.

 

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  He said to another man, “Follow me.”  But the man replied, “Lord, first let go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good bye to my family, “Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).

 

The Lord is testing you and wants you to give up control of everything.  Trust Him.  He has a plan but you have to have faith. He needs to work behind the scenes and you will not be able to see what is going on.  This means your faith and trust in the Lord will be your obedience.

 

We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

Psalm 78:4

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Vine

Prodigal:  I want to hear a story to celebrate this special day.

Me:  I will give you a true story that is very special!

It was September 14th 2018, and it was that time of year that makes you pay  close attention to the weather forecast.  See, my family is from the east coast of North Carolina where hurricanes do hit.  We just don’t know how often, or how strong.  The hurricane that year was Florence.  She had quickly strengthened to a grade 4 hurricane, but by the time she would hit, she would be at a grade 2.  They were predicting a lot of rain though.

I was out of the area at that time, but had been watching and tracking the storm by the internet.  I looked on the radar, and I could see some of the first bands were going over my parents house.  I called to check on them.

“Dad, how are you doing?”  I said.  “We are fine.” my dad said.  ” Where is mom?” I said.  “She’s out yonder walking in the storm.”  “I told her to stay away from trees” replied my Dad with a sense of not understanding.  “I will try to call her, I love you, bye.” I responded.

I attempted to call my mom with no response to her cell phone.  I then decided to wait, and reach back out later.  I waited 15 minutes, and then called back.

“Hi” responded my mom.  “Where are you, and what were you doing?” I asked.  “Well I took a walk over to Miss Libby’s, and I went to grape vine and ate some of the grapes that were on the vine.”  They were not as sweet as your grandmother’s, but they were good.  I only got to eat a handful the rest were not ready yet.”

See I was watching the storm.  I was tracking this storm.  I was listening to several different sources about this storm.  I was wondering what the storm was going to do.  Would it be a bad storm?  Would it leave much damage?  I called, and wanted to know about the storm.  I called, and wanted to know the experience of the storm.

My mom didn’t tell me about the storm.  No, my mom told me about the vine, and the fruit of the vine.

See my mother is the daughter of a farmer.  His whole life was about the farm, and the crops.  That was the focus.  That was the topic everyday, and the crops were what was important.  Crops provided money, food to eat, and a way of life.  How the crops were determined a lot about the day, and week they were having.

Without realizing it, my mother just did what came natural from her relationship with her father.  She went to the vine, and looked at the fruit.  She knew the storm would take away the grapes.  She did not want to waste that fruit.

In John 15 you read the following.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

See our Father in heaven is the true vine, and fruit comes from the Father.  We represent our Father’s fruit.  See some of you are in an emotional storm that is like a hurricane.  Then some of you are watching that storm in a dear friend.  Are you like me?  Tracking that storm, trying to find out all the information you can about that storm?  Are you like my mom?  She is focused on the vine.  She is focused on the fruit.  She is just doing what comes natural because of the relationship with her father.

The storm does not matter as much.  The storm is not as big as the vine, and the fruit on the vine.  Others may think the storm is more important, but your Father is telling to that the fruit is.

Today, don’t be like me.  No, I want you to be like my mom.  Look more closely at that fruit.

Love you mom!

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Always Warm

 

Prodigal:  It is so cold out here!

Me:  I hope the drive back is warmer.

Prodigal:  It should be.

 

This is from the book  Revolutions in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan

 

By the winter of 1980, I was ready to start my first major tour.  I bought a budget air ticket that gave me unlimited travel for 21 days–and somehow I managed to make appointments in 18 cities.  My itinerary would take me through the southwest, from Dallas to Los Angeles.

On the day of my departure, a terrible winter storm hit the region.  All the buses–including the one I planned to take from Eufaula, Oklahoma, to Dallas–were cancelled.

Our old Nova had some engine problems, so a neighbor offered to let me use an old pickup truck with a heater.  The vehicle looked as if it could not make it to the next town, let alone the six-hour drive to Dallas.  But it was either the pickup or nothing.  If I missed my flight, the tightly packed schedule would be ruined.  I had to go now.

Doing the best I could to stay warm, I put on two pairs of socks and all the clothing I could.  But even with the extra protection, I was on U.S. Highway 75 only a few minutes when it appeared I had made a terrible mistake.  A freezing snow covered the windshield within minutes.  After every mile I had to stop, get out and scrape the windows again.  Soon my feet and gloves were soaked and frozen.  I realized that the journey was going to take a lot longer than the six hours I had left.  In my worst scenario, I saw the newspaper headlines reading “Preacher Freezes to Death in Winter”  My head dropped to the steering wheel, and I cried out to God.

“Lord, if You want me to go–if You believe in this mission and in my helping the national evangelists–please do something.”

As I looked up, I saw a miracle on the windshield.   The ice was melting rapidly before my eyes.  Warmth flooded the truck.  I looked at the heater, but nothing was coming out.  Outside, the storm continued to rage.  It kept up all the way to Dallas, but the truck was always warm, and the windshield was always clear.

 

 

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.  The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Mark 14:38

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org