Our Patterns

Prodigal: I like the pattern in that quilt!

Me: I reckon it just grows on you.

I looked at my phone.  The time said almost an hour and half.  I could not believe I had been talking for that long.  Time flies when the conversation is great!  It was toward the end of the night.  I had decided to walk my dog, Romans, and talk at the same time.  Romans needed his nightly walk before bed, so it all worked out great. 

I finished the walk, and went inside.  I went to my bedroom, and sat in my chair.  I took out my bible, and nightly devotion.  I sat there enjoying God’s word for the night.  As I closed the bible, I looked around for Romans who usually joins me in bed.  He was nowhere to be found.  I did a quick search of the house, and found him by the door. 

He was staring at his leash, and was ready to go outside.  I thought.  How strange, there is no way he has to go out so quick after an hour and a half walk.  I did not want any accidents though, so we went outside.  Just as I thought.  Romans really did not have to use the bathroom.  I then began to piece it together. 

I had changed up my routine.  Every night I read my bible first, and then walked Romans.  Romans saw me reading my bible, and was just waiting for the usual routine. 

Without realizing it. Romans began to be trained by me.  For two years my dog saw me read my bible every night, and then walk him.  He thought when I read the bible at night, the next step, meant he goes for a walk.  He was just following the nightly routine. 

Routines are developed daily, and then weekly.  Weeks turn to months, and months turn to years.  I have been guilty of the desire to prove “how Christian I am”.  I need people to see this, or understand this about me. 

I need to tell people I do this.  I need to show people I do this.  Then they will see what a great Christian I am.  I think I was way off track with these thoughts. 

 I developed the habit of reading my bible every night for a lot of reasons, but I was determined to make that a goal that stayed with me for the rest of my life.    It really was between me and God, this goal of reading the Bible.  I knew that if His word was so important to me, I would have to make it a priority to at least read part of it every day. 

I praise God that the habit has been developed.  The things we create that are consistent do not need to be shouted out.  They speak for themselves.  Even a dog figured out that I can be faithfully relied upon to read my bible every night.   

Others have watched you too.  They can see what you are faithful about.  You don’t have to list them.  It will show itself to others. 

I love when I can talk, and show others what I have done, and accomplished.  I think this night though God was showing me something else.  He was showing me that just by seeking Him, others will notice.  I don’t always have to be focused on who is seeing, and who is listening, and who understands.  

I read the bible that night and saw God words.  But the Lord used my dog that night to understand what his words look like in action. 

Luke 12:2-3

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: God loves to remind you of His love.

Me: It is good to be reminded

Here is a video devotion about Proverbs

Click here to watch video

Proverbs 4:21

Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart;

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Piano Music

 

Me:  That is an antique!

Prodigal:  Yes, but it still works.

Me:  Here is another story with antiques in them.

 

This is from the book  When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado

 

My wife loves antiques.  I don’t.  (I find them a bit old.)  But because I love my wife.  I occasionally find myself guiding three children through an antique store while Denalyn shops.

Such is the price of love.

The secret to survival in a shop of relics is to find a chair and an old book and settle down for the long haul.  That’s what I did yesterday.  After cautioning the kids to look with their eyes and not with their hands.  I sat down in an overstuffed rocker with some Life magazines form the fifties.

That’s when I heard the music.  Piano music.  Beautiful music.  Vintage Rogers and Hammerstein.  The hills were alive with the sound of someone’s skill at the keyboard.

I turned to see who was playing but couldn’t see anyone.  I stood and walked closer.  A small group of listeners had gathered at the old upright piano.  Between the furniture I could see the small back of the pianist.  Why, it’s only a child!  With a few more steps I could see her hair.  Short, blonde, and cute like….My heart, it’s Andrea!

Our seven-year-old was at the piano, her hands racing up and down the keyboard.  I was stunned.  What gift of heaven is this that she can play in such a way?  Must be a time-released gene she got from my side of the family.  But as I drew closer, I saw the real reason.  Andrea was “playing” a player piano.  She wasn’t making the music; she was following it.  She wasn’t commanding the keyboard; she was trying to keep up with it.  Though it appeared she was playing the song, in reality, she was only trying to keep up with one already written.  When a key would dip, her hands would dash.

Oh, but if you could have seen her little face, delighted with laughter!  Eyes dancing as would her feet had she been able to stand and play at the same time.

I could see why she was so happy.  She sat down to attempt “Chopsticks” but instead played “The Sound of Music.”  What’s more, she couldn’t fail.  One greater than she was dictating the sound.  Andrea was free to play as much as she wanted, knowing the music would never suffer.

It’s no wonder she rejoiced.  She had every reason to.  And so do we.

Hasn’t God promised the same to us?  We sit at the keyboard, willing to play the only song we know, only to discover a new song.  A sublime song.  And nobody is more surprised than we are when our meager efforts are converted into melodious moments.

You have one, you know, a song all your own.  Each of us does.  The only question is, will you play it?

By the way, as I watched Andrea “play”  that day in the antique store I observed a couple of things.

I noticed the piano got all the credit.  The gathered crowd appreciated Andrea’s efforts, but they knew the real source of the music.  When God works, the same is true.  We may applaud the disciple, but no one knows better than the disciple who really deserves the praise.

But that doesn’t keep the disciple from sitting at the bench.  It sure didn’t keep Andrea from sitting at the piano.  Why?  Because she knew she couldn’t fail.  Even though she didn’t understand how it worked, she knew it did.

So she sat at the keyboard–and had the time of her life.

Even though you may not understand how God works, you know he does.

So go ahead.  Pull up a bench, take your seat at the piano, and play.

 

Philippians 4:5

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Where is Your Footing?

Me:  How stable is your house of cards?

Prodigal:  I think it is stable.

Me:  When the storm comes you will know if it is stable, or not.

This is from the book All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon

I venture to say that a sinner justified by God stands on a surer footing than even a righteous man justified by his works, if there is such.  Yet, if we were in that situation, we could never be sure that we had done enough works.  Our consciences would always be uneasy for fear that, after all, we would fall short and have only the trembling verdict of a fallible judgment to rely on.  However, when God Himself justifies, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to the fact by giving us peace with God, then we feel that the matter is sure and settled, and we enter into rest.  No tongue can tell the depth of the calm that comes over the soul that has received the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Exodus 15:3

The LORD is a warrior;

the LORD is his name.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Breathtaking Insight

Prodigal:  I was thinking I need to relax more.

Me:  Really?

Prodigal:  Yes, but I need to thank God in the process.

This is from the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

We are tempted to believe there is nothing we can do.  If all human strivings end in moral bankruptcy (and having tried it, we know it is so), and if righteousness is a gracious gift from God (as the Bible clearly states), then is it not logical to conclude that we must wait for God to come and transform us?  Strangely enough, the answer is no.  The analysis is correct–human striving is insufficient and righteousness is a gift from God–but the conclusion is faulty.  Happily there is something we can do.  We do not need to be hung on the horns of the dilemma of either human works or idleness.  God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace.  The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.

Sometimes you think  what you do does not matter, but do not forget to be in God’s presence and do not forget the power of fasting in God’s presence.

Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

A Name

Prodigal: What is God doing?

Me: I don’t know all God is working on, but He is working.

What is your name?  It depends on who is calling you?  Maybe you are called mommy, or daddy?  Maybe you are dear, or honey?  When the doctor calls, your ears hear your full name.  When you hear which name someone is using, then that can tell a lot about the roles that exist between the people. 

The Lord has been known by many names.  In the bible we see different references for the names we know Him by.  One name was used in Daniel alone.  This name was Ancient of Days.  We find this in Daniel 7.   

Daniel 7:9 NKJV 

“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool.  His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire. 

Study light.org commentary discusses that this name Ancient of Days is about stressing the eternity of God.  Oxford dictionary states that eternity means unending time.  Ancient of Days is our Lord showing us that He is beyond time.  That time has no impact for our God.  He is not concerned as the days turn to years.  He is not worried that task will not be completed.  The clicking of the clock is just a background noise with no pressure on His actions. 

How does an eternal Father make a difference in our limited lives right now?  We may have an expiration date on earth, but our prayers to the Lord do not.  Prayers that reached the Ancient of Days is the one thing that will continue with Him, even long after they leave our lips. 

1 John 5:14 NKJV 

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 

Daniel 7:9 gives a good visual of who our mighty God is?  What if our prayer today was focused on this Lord who is eternal?   Let’s take the time to reach out to Him.  When we do, the words that flow from our spirits, can be spoken with a peace.  A peace that they are given to the One who can hold our desperate cries.   

Our Father holds on to those heartfelt words, knowing that time itself will erase some of the pain of our prayers, and the other ones may be tied to time that only He understands. 

Ancient of Days is just another name in the role that our Savior has with us.  When we have that time alone, what will change knowing that our Lord has a name that is beyond the passage of time. 

Ancient of Days, the God with no limits on time, please help us not be stressed with our limited time.  Allow us peace, comfort, and perseverance when we feel overwhelmed with to do list, and deadlines. 

Proverbs 3:34

Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: The quilt is getting bigger all the time.

Me: You work on it piece by piece, just like life.

This is a video devotion about Proverbs

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 4:19

The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Changing Direction

Prodigal: I sure I’m surprised how nice this walk has been.

Me: Sometimes the greatest things happen when you don’t expect it.

It was early in the morning. The sun was out, and the heat of the day had yet to start on this summer morning.  I had my phone, and ear buds.  I was planning to feed my self spiritually during a brisk walk.  

 I had just started the sermon, and was listening to the introduction.  I passed by a paved parking area.  There are on the ground were two puzzle pieces.  They looked like they belonged to a child puzzle that was about 50 to 100 pieces.  I immediately thought, how disappointing.  Some child will try to put together a puzzle only to find two pieces are missing, and the task cannot be completed. 

I soon forgot about the puzzle pieces as I quickly continued my walk, and the sermon began to dive deeper into biblical truth.  What a great joy!  The sun was shining, and the message was being received by my spirit.  I felt God’s hand guiding me with the knowledge that was shared by the pastor.  Time seemed enjoyable.  I was not in a hurry to pass to the next item on my list, or was I bored withunfulfillment.  It was just what my body, and spirit needed. 

I had turned around, and started walking back toward where I started halfway in the sermon.  As the sermon was finishing, I was close to the parking lot again.  As I was leaving, I saw another puzzle piece from the same two that were lost.  It was a little farther away from the first two pieces that I saw. 

This time though, my thoughts were different.  I am listening to this sermon, and finishing up taking in God’s word. God was showing me my spirit guidance.  He was taking this sermon, His word, and applying it to my life.  He was connecting it all like little puzzle pieces.  I began to see what He was trying to teach,and show me.  Maybe looking at these puzzle pieces was not about sadness.  Instead they were about hope.  He was showing me that I just had to connect them with God’s word, and spirit to understand what I was learning.   

God was giving me pieces to the puzzle this morning.  It was all supposed to be connected, and not separately understood.    In order to grow in God’s purpose for my life, and understand His ways, my spirit had to bring together the connections.  

I began my walk with sadness, and two puzzle pieces on the ground, and when I finished there was one more puzzle piece.  That last piece with God’s spirit had turned my sadness to joy. 

God is connecting pieces for you, just like He was for me.  There may have been sadness when you saw one or two pieces, He gave you.   Wait on a couple of other pieces that God will show you, and joy will come to you too.   

Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Jeremiah 32:17

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Reviewing Style

Prodigal:  Look at all the styles!

Me:  Yes, they are pretty.

Prodigal:  So many to choose from.

Me:  Which should you choose?

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

What in the world is going on in our penchant for honesty and openness?  Our day is so full of hypocrisy, pretense, and deception that we crave a sincere relationship with another person.  One sad byproduct of this legitimate craving is an undisciplined tendency to let people know when we are hurt or offended.  Obviously, there is a place for rebuke and honesty, but not as the primary staple of building or maintaining loving relationships.  My friend was assaulted, at least in part, due to misapplication of material that I had taught on “bold love.”  It alternately breaks my heart and terrifies me that I might unleash a style of interaction that will harm others.

Bold love is not reckless or cruel.  It is not beating up another in the name of sharing or intervention.  Bold love is courageously setting aside our personal agenda to move humbly into the world of others with their well-being in view, willing to risk further pain in our souls, in order to be an aroma of life to some and an aroma of death to others.  Boldly loving another with the energy of Christ (Colossians 1:8-9) would never have produced the destructive confrontation that was thrust upon my friend.

Love the way the Lord wants us to love is to make sure we have no personal agenda, and we are humble.  This is really really tough.  Thinking someone owes us something, making sure we look good from all this.  Making sure that we win the argument.  Making sure we don’t have to give to much.  These are all agenda’s the Lord may ask you to humble, and surrender.

James 2:23

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org