Angels in Blue Jeans

 

Prodigal:  I am ready for bed.

Me:  Would you like a story before bed.

Prodigal:  That would be great!

 

The Pre-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother, and her two small sons attempted a drive.  But Chris’s grandmother lived alone more than a hundred miles away, and couldn’t get out to buy groceries.

“We’ll be fine,” Chris reassured her mother.  “We’ll take that shortcut we use all summer.”  They found the shortcut and turned onto it.  Chris had forgotten how narrow the road was, especially with drifts piled high and wind blowing snow across the fields.  Usually chatting on previous drives, neither woman had noticed how deserted the area was.  When another vehicle roared around a curve, Chris swerved and skidded into a snow bank.  The other car kept going.

The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out.  “Mommy, are we stuck?”  Phillip, her toddler, asked from under his blanket in the backseat.

“Looks that way, honey,” Chris admitted.  They had only seen that one care since they’d turned onto the shortcut.  How long would it be before someone came along?  How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car’s interior?  And why, oh why, had she worn sandals and pantyhose instead of warm boots?

Chris got out, her feet plunging into a high snow drift, and she looked around.  Lord, please send us some help, she prayed.  Then she saw it–a silo and barn roof peeking up from the hills, about a quarter-mile away.  “Mom,” Chris leaned in the car, “I’ll walk down to the barn and see if anyone’s there.  Keep the kids warm.”

The journey was incredibly cold, and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy.  A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls.  It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air.

Even better, Chris heard young male voices behind a stall.  Maneuvering around fresh manure, she followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other.  They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and she quickly explained the situation.

“Stay here!” one said, tramping past the cows and out the door.  A few moments later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn.  There he was, driving a blue pickup truck.  “Get in!” he shouted.

Chris hesitated.  She didn’t know these men.  And yet there was something so merry about them that she couldn’t feel afraid.  She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup and bounced down the road.  There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving.  The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeched into position in front of it.  “Way to go!” his buddy yelled.

Chris gripped the seat.  “Do you always drive like this?”  she asked, only half-joking.

The driver shrugged.  “Well, it ain’t our truck.”

Within minutes, the men had freed Chris’s car, and she opened her purse to reward them.  But both backed away.  “It was our pleasure, ma’am.  Just drive safely.”

You mean, not like you?  Chris thought to herself, grinning as she pulled away.  What wonderful guys.

Chris didn’t realize just how wonderful until two weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother.  Since the snow was almost melted now, the shortcut was safer.  Soon the silo and barn roof came into view.

“Let’s stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma’s that day,”  Chris suggested.  But when they pulled up in front of the barn where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes.

For the barn was vacant, shabby, with paint peeling and door hinges hanging loose.  Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside.  Where were the heifers?  Where were the floors littered with fresh manure?  Even the fan was rusty.

“You couldn’t have seen any farmhands or cattle there,”  the woman at the next house told Christ when she went to inquire.  “No one’s worked that property for years.”

Chris got in the car. “Am I crazy, Mom?” she asked.

“No,” Her mother was firm.  “This is definitely the place.”

Then how…?

Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas, she was filled with awe.  Her angels had worn blue jeans instead of white robes.  But they had delivered the same timeless message to her and to anyone willing to listen:  Fear not.  The Savior is here, and He cares about you.  Hallelujah!

by Joan Wester Anderson

 

Proverbs 3:2

For they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincouseling.org

What Love is Not

Prodigal:  Sometimes I am confused, and unsure what love really is, and how to love others.

Me:  There has been a lot said about love, but maybe this will help.

This is from the book Bold Love by Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III

The “take-care-of-yourself” movement had led many to justify self-centeredness.  And yet, this approach has recognized many significant problems with the traditional understanding of love and forgiveness.  The take-care-of-yourself movement properly refuses to think of dependent, fear-based compliance and rescuing behavior as love.  I could not agree more.  Love is far more than merely doing the right thing; in fact, many relationships are so bound by guilt, fear, and neediness that true love is impossible.

For example, many people ignore the harm done to them and call it “forgiving” the other.  In fact, one reason it may be ignored is the fear of causing conflict.  When fear of the other is the undergirding motive for turning the other cheek, it cannot be called love, or forgiving the other.  A lot of activity that is seen as spiritual is infused with fear, pretense, and ritual.  The take-care-of-yourself movement accurately sees the potential for what appears to be loving behavior to be based on a heart that is not concerned with love , but with protecting the self or others from difficult truths.

The two options discussed are not without merit, but both leave me empty.  The first minimized pain, and the second undervalues sacrifice.  Something is wrong with our understanding of love and forgiveness if popular teaching encourages this.

Titus 3:6

whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Those Who Love God

Me: You must love cupcakes?

Prodigal: I have been known to eat one, or two before.

Me: Let’s talk about what God loves.

God reminded me of some verses once again in the bible. I love the way King James sounds in these verses.

Revelation 3:15-16

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

When we look back at this chapter the Lord is talking to the churches. He is talking to Christians. There are 3 types of people in these passages.

  1. Christians who are hot.
  2. Christians who are lukewarm.
  3. Non Believers.

As Christians we often think there is only one type of Christian. Really there are two. There are those that are lukewarm, and those that are hot.

Somewhere in the church we started a formula.

Go to church = christian.

Have others call you a christian = you must be good at it.

Get the applause of men = God loves you.

The bible does not include this formulae, instead it says in church you will find lukewarm, and cold.

What is lukewarm, hot and cold. It is a measurement of temperature. God is saying He wants His disciples to be only Hot.

How do you check the temperature? If you think your children have a fever, do you think it has something to do with the temperature of you house, the weather outside, or the clothes they are wearing?

No if they have a fever, something is going on inside of them. The temperature is a result from what ever is taking place with cells, white blood counts, and diseases.

God checks out temperature the same way. If we are hot, or cold will depend on what is on the inside. Hot, or cold is not determined by externals. What people think of us, our title, or our social media friends.

Our temperature tells us what is going on inside with our feelings toward God.

Just as children are healthy, and then may become sick. We as christian may have been hot once, but may have become lukewarm.

God tells us that something may be causes the lukewarm heart just as a fever is caused by something else.

I just challenge you to go to God with your heart. Have you become lukewarm? What caused it?

Has these things taken over in your life, boredom, pleasing people, the title that you have, the friendships of others who are lukewarm, the fear of your life changing. How about money becoming priority or is it someone else that has taken over the love of God.

God is calling you back to being on fire for the Lord again with your heart.

He is calling you to return back to your first love.

You have left your first love, and the only way forward is to go back.

If not, you will remain lukewarm. You will remain something that the Lord hates.

Hosea 6:1

Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Resolved

Prodigal:  Sometimes the flock seems to be over there, and I am over here.

Me:  Yes, that seems to be the case…what is really the truth?

Prodigal:  Yes, I need to be reminded.

This is from the book Men of Faith: Jonathan Edwards by David J. Vaughan

Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in knowledge of the same.

We have God’s word so that he can speak to us so that we can know His thoughts at times.  We have words that have touched christian men, and women for centuries.  You have studied his word for years, but it can still touch your heart.  It can still teach in a moment where you need to grow.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

What Did Jesus Warn Us About

Me: That would give off an interesting warning shot?

Prodigal: I am sure people would notice.

Me: Maybe people will listen to this warning.

As we read the gospels, we begin to recognize, Jesus said so much. Jesus did so much.   

Jesus does love us all, and died for us all.  We all have the ability to receive salvation from Jesus.  He did more than just give us salvation.  Jesus guided us with wisdom in daily living.  Studying the book of Luke, we can examine some of the wisdom that these verses impart to us. 

Jesus took one look into the hearts of those around Him, as He was here on this earth.  His response after looking into their hearts, was that they received a tenacious warning.  One that those around will not likely forget in a couple of hours. 

This warning comes in Luke 20: 45-47 (NIV) 

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law.  They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.  These men will be punished most severely.” 

This is at the end of Luke 20 after some people tried to catch Jesus saying something wrong when they asked about taxes to Caesar.  We read this, and it is not about the murders in prison, the thieves on the street, or the fraudulent black-market crooks.  This was about the religious leaders.   

It would be equivalent to a visitor going up to your church and saying “You know that elder that sits up front, and says those long prayers.  Yeah you know the one I’m talking about; I’m going to punish him most severely.” 

A lot of us have an imagine in our mind that deceitfulness, evil, corrupt, crookedness will show up on the outside of people.  We think that some haircut, skin color, tattoo or jewelry will somehow aid us in identifying these people.  If we have somehow managed to move beyond those prejudices, we think someone’s job title, and finances will surely determine the sincerity of their heart. 

Jesus who knew everyone’s heart gave us a warning.  Who did He warn us about?  He warned us about the religious teachers. 

Before we send a social media, post blasting a religious teacher, I think we first have to examine ourselves.  Could this be a warning for us also? 

As we look to help others in Jesus name, the recognition, and honor can easily be taken from Jesus, and turned to our own name.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  We attempt to give back, and honor the Lord.  We are giving in the church, and outside the church.  Success is voiced by others in the actions we are involved in.  Little by little we think it is us independent of God creating the success.  We forget that God’s hand has given us everything.  We begin to go to church, and our actions are focused on how to accomplish our task. We forget to seek God for direction, and we take over.  It is now about our plan.   

We have all felt that temptation to the flesh.  Some have started to live that temptation in the flesh.  The Lord sends warnings first, and wants all to come to the repentance.   

Now is a time of repentance. May the warning Jesus spoke of turn our hearts, and spirits to Him, and may we not ignore His truth.  After all who really knows our hearts better than Jesus? 

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Of Flying Vain Hope and Pride

Me:  Prodigal, are you staring at yourself in the mirror.

Prodigal:  Just checking the outfit out.

Me:  That is fine, but be wary of it turning into vanity.

Prodigal:  I don’t want that.

This is from the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

Vain is he that setteth his hope in man, or in creatures.  Be not thou ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ; nor to be esteemed poor in this world.

Presume not upon thyself, but place thy hope in God.  Do what lieth in thee, and God will assist thy goodwill.

Trust not in thine own knowledge, nor in the subtilty of any living creature; but rather in the grace of God, who helpeth the humble, and humbleth those that are self-presuming.

2.  Glory not in wealth if thou have it, nor in friends because they are powerful; but in God who giveth all things, and above all desireth to give thee Himself.

Extol not thyself for the height of thy statue, or beauty of thy person, which is disfigured and destroyed by a little sickness.

Take not pleasure in thy natural gifts, or talent, lest thereby thou displease God, whose is all the good, whatsoever thou hast by nature.

Esteem not thyself better than others, lest perhaps in the sight of God, who knoweth what is in man, thou be accounted worse than they.  Be not proud of good works, for the judgments of God are different from the judgments of men, and that often offendeth Him which pleaseth men.  If there by any good in thee, believe better things of others, that so thou mayest preserve humility.  It doth no hurt to thee to set thyself lower than all men, but it hurteth thee exceedingly if thou set thyself before even one man.  Continual peace is with the humble; but in the heart of the proud is envy and frequent indignation.

We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.

Mark 14:58

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

A Sign

Prodigal:  I think this is my sign.

Me:  You were asking for one……

Prodigal:  I guess it was.

This is from the book Men of Faith :  Jonathan Edwards by David J. Vaughan

Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

The Lord sees all, and has already accepted us.  He loves us.  People do not love like God at times.  They love selfishly, and they love with motives.  They love to help themselves.  Why do we listen to people instead of God?

,

Thou, even thou, are Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

Nehemiah 9:6

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org