Cleaning the Grooves

Prodigal: Sometimes it is a tough day.

Me: How so?

Prodigal: It’s the kinda day that my britches are gettin’ caught on my own pitchfork.

Me: I know those kinda days.

This is from the book Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore

My dining room table has a small, decorative groove that circles the entire table. It looks nice, but just as with all small ruts, it collects crumbs that fall in the groove. Sometimes, when I have company, I will put a tablecloth on the table. This keeps the crumbs from getting into the groove and covers any crumbs that I didn’t clean before. Sometimes, though, I will use a lacy tablecloth that has small openings, and sure enough, crumbs get through to the groove until I decide to clean again.

For my regular cleanings, I wipe off the table, wash it and polish it. Sometimes, though, I look closely and decide that it’s time for the scrub brush to really dig deep into the groove.

Thinking about this table, I can easily make a parallel to my own life. Some sins I will instantly recognize that I need to confess and repent from. Sometimes my armor is solid, and my spirit is protected against sin and temptation. However, at times my armor has tiny openings that let sin through. These crumbs may not be overt sin but rather a general acceptance of worldly ways, without questioning them in light of God’s Word and God’s values. That’s when God tells me that it’s time for me to look at the groove in my life in order to scrub away the sin. The days with the scrub brush may be rough, but afterward, I feel clean.

Betty, Central and Eastern Europe

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” John 13:8b

The Heart of Prayer

Me: About to start your day?

Prodigal: Yes, but I am going to pray before I start my day.

Me: That is a great way to start!

This is from the book With Christ in the Garden by Lynn James Radcliffe

Here is the heart of prayer as petition and intercession. We do not assert our wills and our desires and expect God to give just what our limited intelligence thinks is best at the moment. We rather worship and commune with God so sincerely that we are lifted to the place where we sense His Presence and are guided to His will. Then marvelously we are aware that we have touched the outskirts of His power and, by His mighty grace, become the contact point through which His will can be released into the world.

Your Holy word has spoke truth for ages, and it also has changed lives. The word we read today is used for battle but also is used to bring you peace. This word must be the focus and with it, we will in turn do the Lord’s work.

Psalms 118:24

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: Thanks for help with the sandwhiching part.

Prodigal: No problem, we should help to serve others.

Me: That is true.

This is a short video devotional on Proverbs 6:10

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 6:10

A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep– (NKJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

None Have Proved it False

Me: That fruit looks good but it is fake.

Prodigal: Yes, I would like the real thing right now.

Me: Well, I can give you something that is very real.

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

90. Christian Religion: None Have Proved it False.

It is a convincing argument for the truth of the Christian religion, and that it stands upon a most sure basis, that none have ever yet been able to prove it false, though there have been many men of all sorts, many fine wits and men of great learning, that have spent themselves and ransacked the world for arguments against it, and this for many ages.

We want something that is real and that will last. Look to Jesus. Nothing is more real or long lasting than that.

Psalm 23:1

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Our Friendship

Me: You been sitting for a spell?

Prodigal: A little, but I was waiting on a good story.

Me: Maybe this will fill your bucket.

This is from the book Small Miracles for Women by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhal

Our friendship began with Joni’ penpal ad in a monthly magazine. When I answered that ad several years ago, I never could have imagined the journey I was setting out upon! My first letter to her, one of introduction, went unanswered for three months. I’d long since forgotten writing it when her response finally arrived.

In spite of that slow start, we soon discovered much in common–a shared love of writing and music and gardening and needlework–but in many ways our lives were vastly different. She was 33 and recovering from a second abusive marriage and divorce; I was 10 years older and had been married since I was a teenager to the love of my life. Joni had routinely endured abuse I could scarcely imagine. She did not believe in God; I had a lifelong faith which, while shaky at times, had a firm foundation.

Our friendship flourished by way of the inky trail. We exchanged recipes and cross stitch patterns and garden seeds. Our lives became happily entwined as our frequent letters traveled across the many miles between us. The friendship filled a need in both of us for that special relationship neither of us was fortunate enough to have with our biological sisters. She poured out her heart to me, as though the simple act of telling me the horrors of her life would somehow cleanse her soul and put her shattered hopes and dreams back together again. I listened and prayed and tried my best to help her find the peace she was so desperately searching for in her life. The long letters soon were interspersed with equally lengthy phone calls. We laughed and cried together, and though a thousand miles separated us, we became sisters of the heart.

In the summer of 1996, Joni’s world once again came crashing down around her as a relationship she was involved in abruptly ended. She became suicidal and many times in the wee hours of the mornings to follow, I found myself on the phone with her, reassuring my precious friend that she was loved and that her life could again be worth living. My insistence that she seek professional help fell on deaf ears. It seemed as though there was little I could do a I beseeched God to show me a way to help her.

One day I was walking through the mall with Joni very much on my mind. I wandered into a card shop, where my attention was immediately drawn to a music box on a shelf among other music boxes. It was a small box with a short poem of friendship in its lid. As I opened it, my mind was filled with good memories as it played “You are my Sunshine,” a song I’d often sung to my children in their childhood years. I listened to the melody and then closed the lid and continued on my way. As I once again resumed my shopping, I felt a gentle touch of an unseen hand on my shoulder guiding me back to the shop and an urgent need to send that music box to Joni. I bought it and mailed it to her the following day.

Three days passed before I answered my phone to find Joni there crying. She managed, between her tears, to explain to me that she had decided to end her life and had made a list of 10 things she needed to do first. One item on that list was to hear the song “You are my Sunshine” one last time. It was a song she’d loved as a child and it brought back happy memories of those days. Having it come to her as it did reminded her of the love of her faraway friend and prompted her to add one more thing to her list–she wanted to come meet me.

Two very long days later, Joni arrived on my doorstep. What a joy it was to finally meet this friend I’d come to love so dearly. We talked and cried and laughed a lot in the next five days and through the miracle of our friendship, she discovered a desire to live again. As for me, my faith in God was strengthened as I watched in amazement the way He used a simple childhood song in a music box sent to a friend. I learned never to doubt the stirrings of a small still voice or the touch of an angel’s hand.

God truly does work in mysterious ways, or perhaps His answers to His children’s heartfelt prayers are not so mysterious at all.

Matthew 5:23-24

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the alter and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: I am busy as a bee.

Prodigal: You still have time to share.

Me: Always have time to share.

This is a short video devotion on proverbs

click here to watch the devotion

Proverbs 6:9

How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Courageous Leaders

Me: Leading can be difficult.

Prodigal: Yes, and sometimes it is not popular.

This is from the book Spiritual Leadership by J.Oswald Sanders

Courageous leaders face unpleasant and even devastating situations with equanimity, then act firmly to bring good from trouble, even if their action is unpopular. Leadership always faces natural human inertia and opposition. But courage follows through with a task until it is done.

People expect leaders to be calm and courageous during a crisis. While others lose their heads, leaders stay the course. Leaders strengthen followers in the middle of discouraging setbacks and shattering reverses.

To stay the course remember that the Lord is the course. He has prepared you and you can trust Him. He is the way the life and the truth. The Lord is not surprised and will be with you every step of the way!

John 8:32

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Remarkable

Prodigal: This spot is good as any.

Me: Yes, we can rest a spell and then get on with our walk.

This is from the book The Power of Love

This article is written by Ruth Stafford Peale

The first time I realized I had a hearing problem was when I tried to listen to my watch tick and found I couldn’t. With my left ear I could still hear it, but not with my right. When I consulted a doctor, he confirmed that I had a serious hearing loss. At that point, he wasn’t sure why.

Months of tests and examinations followed. Fortunately, the hearing in my “good” ear remained normal. But if a person sat on my “deaf” side, I had to twist my head awkwardly to hear. It was troublesome and a bit frightening at times.

It was during this time that I learned to have a feeling of compassion for people with hearing problems, which has never left me. A blind person or any disabled person arouses sympathy immediately. But many people are insensitive about deafness or partial deafness in others. They can’t “see” the affliction, and so they tend to be impatient with it. This causes a lot of unhappiness, because there are 14.5 million people in the United States alone who are hard-of-hearing or deaf.

My doctors finally came to the conclusion that my problem was otosclerosis, an overgrowth on a tiny bone called the stapes inside my right ear. This bone is the smallest in the human body; ten of them would just about cover the small fingernail. It’s shaped like a stirrup, and is the closest bone to the auditory nerve. Sound makes the stapes vibrate. This stimulates the nerve, which in turn sends the sound message to the brain where its meaning is deciphered. But in my case the stapes had become rigid, unable to vibrate or react to sound.

Time went by. More treatments and one operation didn’t seem to help. Then one day by chance (or was it chance?) I happened to mention to Dr. Louis Bishop, our personal physician, that I had this problem. Louis’s wife Kitty, who had a similar problem with both ears, had just been greatly helped by an operation performed by a Dr. Samuel Rosen. A new technique, they told me. A real breakthrough. They urged me to go and see Dr. Rosen in New York. I did, and met a most remarkable physician.

Dr. Rosen was in his 70’s, gentle, reassuring–fatherly was the word that described him best. I told him about my problem and asked if he could help me. He smiled. “If God is willing.” he said.

He used the same phrase from time to time during subsequent visits when I came in for testing. One day I ventured to ask him why. “When my parents prayed,” he said, “whether it was a prayer of supplication or of thanks, they always ended it with, “If God is willing.” That’s a cornerstone of my faith and work.”

Dr. Rosen told em that his parents were immigrants. His father had peddled crockery, and his mother had suffered from severe asthma. He recalled that one morning, when he was six years old and preparing to go off to school, his mother had such a severe attack that she could not catch her breath.

“To a child that meant that she would suffocate,” Dr. Rosen said. “A doctor came and gave her some medicine, which relieved her, but I would not go to school. I sat by her bedside all day. When I told her that one day I would be a doctor and cure her, she took my hands in hers and said only, “If God is willing.”

Dr. Rosen’s mother died when she was quite young. His older brothers pooled their labor, their savings and love to send him through medical school. For over 40 years Dr. Rosen has been an ear surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and has taught ear surgery in its medical school. In his early days he was baffled by otosclerosis, as were all ear specialists. They knew what it is, but not what causes it. The standard surgery, called fenestration, took over four hours, and required the removal of the second of three bones in the middle ear. Sometimes it helped; mostly, it didn’t. It usually left the patient dizzy for weeks, even months, and often totally deaf.

Like so many dramatic discoveries in medicine, Dr. Rosen’s was an accident. Or was it?

One day in 1952, while operating on a woman who had a hearing loss for over 20 years, he was startled to find that her stapes was not entirely rigid, even though otosclerosis had been diagnosed.

“I wondered how many times fenestration was performed on patients like her,” Dr. Rosen told me. “I decided that from then on I would try to test the stapes with a long, thin needle to see if it was rigid before I operated.”

In the next five operations the stape were rigid. So was the sixth, in the case of a 42 year old engineer, who had been almost deaf for 15 years. But when Dr. Rosen inserted the long needle to make the test, the engineer suddenly shouted, “Doctor, I can hear you!”

“I knew something remarkable had happened,” he recalled. “But what?”

He did not remove the bone from the ear; the engineer recovered his hearing. Afterward, Dr. Rosen tried desperately to recall every detail of what he had done. His nights became sleepless, as he tried to find the answer to the question: “How can I do deliberately what I did accidentally?”

For the next 18 months, after his day’s work was done, he performed autopsies, studying the tiny stapes. What was its structure? How much pressure could it take? How could he get through the complex labyrinth of the ear to try to move the stapes without damaging it or the other fragile bones?

He designed and made at least three-dozen special instruments. None worked. When he finally made one that promised to work, it broke the arms of the stapes. The search seemed endless, the frustration was deep. I asked him what had kept him going.

“Only the Lord knows how the human mind works,” Dr. Rosen said. “But there was something that filled me with hope. How do you reinforce hope? You pray. I did, every day.”

One night, he twisted the delicate sides of one instrument in the hope that it would grasp the neck of the stapes, its strongest part, without damaging it. He wiggled the instrument, and gasped when it moved the base of the stapes–without breaking it. He tried it again and again, and finally murmured, “God is willing!” He labeled the instrument “The Mobilizer,” and used it 400 times before he ventured to try it on a living patient.

“Until then I don’t think I really understood what my parents meant when they ended their prayers with “If God is willing,” he said. “I do now. It could not have happened without His help.”

After a series of successful operations, Dr. Rosen published his findings in medical journals. He was invited to demonstrate and teach the procedure all over the United States and the world. He has trained over 1000 doctors to perform the operation, and they in turn have trained others. Dr. Rosen charges no fees for such teaching. Over 750,000 people have been spared possible deafness in this chain of unquestioning love.

On the morning that I arrived for my operation in 1969, I prayed that God would guide Dr. Rosen’s hands, and prayed for the strength to accept the outcome, no matter what it was. Dr. Rosen began his work. There was complete silence. About 25 minutes later I thought I heard someone speaking. Was it a fantasy? No. The voice was whispering, “I love you.” I looked up in amazement. Dr. Rosen was bending over me, smiling, his lips close to the ear that had been deaf. Now the sound was coming through in the form of the three most beautiful words in any language.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Your garden is looking good!

Me: It is small, but it is growing.

This is a short video devotion on proverbs.

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 6:8

Yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (NIV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Worthy of Our Calling

Me: What is today about?

Prodigal: It is about the Lord.

Me: May we live like it today.

This is from the book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness by James P. Gills, M.D.

The apostle summons us to walk worthy of our calling. According to Paul, we do this by a gentle, longsuffering, forbearing, loving spirit toward on another. (Ephesians 4: 1-3). When we live close to the Son of God, we will know how to forgive others and understand their faults without becoming cynical, like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son.

It is spiritual blindness to have no view or interest in these great realities. Spiritual blindness will leave us to wander, hurting others and ourselves. How blessed, instead, to have spiritual sight through God’s Spirit working within us, quickening us, filling us, and focusing us on the glory of Christ. This is the refreshment for our soul as it is drawn into the ecstasy of communion with heaven’s King and the Friend of sinners.

Romans 8:6

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org