What are you Holding on too?

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Me: Howdy, Prodigal! Those nachos look good.

Prodigal: Yes, they are! Also they are from a friend. She dropped by and took me to dinner unexpectedly.

Me: Wow, that was nice!

Prodigal: Yes it was and she encouraged me and gave with no thoughts of getting back.

Me: While you are eating, I will then share another person who gave.

This is a story from Chicken Soup for the Country Soul.

Cameron Mounger in the early 1970s was an announcer and disc jockey at KYAL in McKineey, Texas, and attained celebrity status. He met many music
stars, and he enjoyed flying to Nashville in the company plane with the station owner.

One night Cam was in Nashville for the final performance of the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium before it moved to Opryland U.S.A “After the
show, an acquaintance invited me backstage with all the Opry stars. I didn’t have any paper for autographs, so I took out a dollar bill,” Cam told
me. “Before the night ended, I had virtually every Opry personality’s autograph. I guarded that dollar bill and carried it with me always. I knew
I would treasure it forever.”

Then station KYAL was put up for sale, and many employees found themselves without a job. Cam landed part-time work at WBAP in Forth Worth and
planned to hand on to this job long enough for a full-time position to open up.
The winter of 1976-77 was extremely cold. The heater in Cam’s old Volkswagen emitted only a hint of warm air; the windshield defroster didn’t work
at all. Life was hard, and Cam was broke. With the help of a friend who worked at a local supermarket, he occasionally intercepted Dumpster-bound
outdated TV dinners. “This kept my wife and me eating, but we still had no cash.”

One morning as Cam left the radio station he saw a young man sitting in and old yellow Dodge in the parking lot. Cam waved to him and drove away.
When he came back to work that night, he noticed the car again, parked in the same space. After a couple of days, it dawned on him that this car had
not moved. The fellow in it always waved cordially to Cam as he came and went. What was the man doing sitting in his car for three days in the
terrible cold and snow?

Cam discovered the answer the next morning. This time as Cam walked near the car, the man rolled down his window. He introduced himself and said he had been in his car for days with no money or food. He had driven to Forth Worth from out of town to take a job. But he arrived three days early and couldn’t go to work right away.

Very reluctantly, he asked if he might borrow a dollar for a snack to get him by until the next day, when he would start work and get a salary advance. “I didn’t have a dollar to lend him; I barely had gas to get home. I explained my situation and walked to my car, wishing I could have helped him.”

Then Cam remembered his Grand Ole Opry dollar. He wrestled with his conscience a minute or two, pulled out his wallet and studied the bill one last time. Then he walked back to the man and gave him his bottom dollar. “Somebody has written all over this,” the man said but didn’t notice that the writing was dozens of autographs. He took the bill.

“That very morning when I was back home trying not to think about what I had done, things began to happen,” Cam told me. “The phone rang; a recording studio wanted me to do a commercial that paid five hundred dollars. It sounded like a million. I hurried to Dallas and did the spot. In the next few days more opportunities came to me out of nowhere. Good things kept coming steadily, and soon I was back on my feet.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Things improved dramatically for Cam. His wife had a baby and named him Joshua. Cam opened a successful auto-body shop and built a home in the country. And it all started that morning in the parking lot when he parted with his bottom dollar.
Cameron never saw the man in the old yellow Dodge again. Sometimes he wonders if the man was a beggar-or an angel.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was a test, and Cam passed.

God does this. He brings us to an end, when the walls are closing in and we have let go of everything. Then that last dollar, that last concept of what we need is in front of us. He shows we are holding on too it tightly. He gives you a test and he is asking you to release. It goes against what you want. It goes against your protective factors but he ask you too release. It is a test before he changes your life, if only you release. Will you pass the test? Trust God and walk by the knowledge of the Love He has for you.

1 Peter 1:7
These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.

Jennifer Van Allen,


You Shall Love Him

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Me: Prodigal, What are you doing way out yonder?

Prodigal: I wanted to take a short walk and suddenly I found myself in the middle of nowhere all alone.

Me: You must have felt alone with no one around and lost.

Prodigal: I did, but then you showed up!

Me: Yes, I knew it was time for our story so I had to go find you. It took a while but you probably could use some encouragement right now.

Prodigal: Yes, I could.

Frederick Buechner is a writer and theologian. One of his inspiring quotes is

To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness–especially in the wilderness–you shall love Him.

What does that mean? Any Christian that God is going to use will be in the wilderness. My wilderness will not look like your wilderness. My wilderness will not last the same amount of time as your wilderness but you will be in a wilderness. This is part of maturing with God.

Our response determines if and how God will use you. The wilderness is tough. You have to go through the wilderness alone. You will have encouragement, but this has to be your walk, your pain, and your growth. It is between you and God. He wants to see if you shall love Him?

Do you love Him after a blessing? Do you love Him while you worship? Do you love Him when you pray? Now do you love Him and he is silent? Do you love Him and you are suffering? Do you love Him when you are alone? Do you love Him when you have already giving all and he is asking more?

He is waiting. He is waiting on you. In your heart do you love HIM? When we love Him in the wilderness we LOVE HIM!

Psalm 28:8
The Lord is their strength and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

Jennifer Van Allen,


God Created Us

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Me: Prodigal, what are you doing in a Christmas tree in January?

Prodigal: Well, I love the smell, I like the lights and all the ornaments are just so cute! I think it is fun place to just rest.

Me: Well I will have to say that I did not expect to find you here but it looks like something you would do.

Prodigal: Thanks for understanding, I have gotten a lot of weird looks but you know I am enjoying myself.

Me: Well it might not be normal but God does not mind if you hang out in a Christmas tree in January. Speaking of not normal and with it being football playoffs, I would like to share something from Tim Tebow today.

Prodigal: If you don’t mind me listening while I am in the tree then go ahead!

Tim starts with What’s the point of being “normal”? That sounds average to me, and I never felt like I was created to be average.
I remember reading Coach Tony Dungy’s book Uncommon and in it his challenge to so many, especially those of us within the younger generation, to not be “common.” From lessons in his own life, he encouraged us to always strive to be “uncommon” and align our lives with the ways of the Lord.
So if everybody was doing the same thing, the normal and usual thing, I looked for a different way. The crowd, by definition, gravitates toward average, which could tend toward middle of the road or toward mediocrity. If we’re all special in the same way, then nobody really is. A view of that kind of life, I believe, discounts the belief that God created each of us special, each with gifts and abilities like no one else’s. He created each of us different, fully intending that we would use our unique gifts and abilities to do what He created us to do.
You and I were created by God to be so much more than normal. My parents always told us that was true of each of my siblings and me.
Following the crowd is not a winning approach to life. In the end it’s a loser’s game, because we never become who God created us to be by trying to be like everybody else.

I really like how Tim stated not being average and following a crowd. Some Christians encourage us to all follow the exact same plan. The plan is so detailed and specific that we all are grouped in one big look alike crowd.

There is nothing wrong with unity. There is nothing wrong with common goals. The difference though, is that God called us with different abilities to share in that goal. If your group does not allow you to express who you are but you must hide, then that is just being one average part of a group. God has a common purpose for us all but we all can express it differently. I can still be part of a fellowship of believers, still believe in the gospel and yet pursue this in a slightly different way. A God centered group should include people who look a little different and handled things differently. These people are not rebellious, they are just following God the way he specifically made them. I just want to say thank you God that you have made me different and that you love me in that difference even when others do not understand!

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.


Jennifer Van Allen

Daddy’s Girl

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Hi: Prodigal, nice car!

Prodigal: Thanks, but it is not mine but my friend’s Alyson car.

Hi: Nice license plate, is she a Daddy’s girl?

Prodigal: You know she loves her mom but there is something she just loves about her Daddy. She looks like her Daddy also and if I can add has some of that stubbornness of her Dad 🙂

Hi: I am a little bit of a Daddy’s girl.

Prodigal: Really?

You know I can talk football with my Dad and we enjoy that as our time and we love to joke around. When I think of someone who is a Daddy’s girl. I think of someone who loves more then anything their Dad. I think of someone who looks up to their Daddy. I think of someone who trust and respects their Daddy. I think of someone who wants to spend time with their Daddy.

I love my Dad here on earth but I also want to be counted as a Daddy’s girl for my spiritual father, My Lord and Savior. We don’t all have this type of relationship with our Dads but we can have this type of relationship with God. I think though we hold back because we do not trust God like we should. We try to base our trust of God on our experiences with trust of human beings. We then hold back our trust and never develop that (Daddy’s girl) relationship. Here let me add the words of Catherine Marshall. She seems to make the point clearer.

I have come to believe that only if we can depend upon the Creator as a God of love (not an obscure, ethereal love, but love as you and I know it) shall we have the courage and confidence to turn our affairs over to Him. Hannah Smith once wrote this pithy sentence: “Perfect obedience would be perfect happiness, if only we had perfect confidence in the power we were obeying.”
What builds trust like that in the Creator? Only knowing Him so well-His motives, His complete good will-being certain that no pressures will make Him change, Knowing Him a long enough time to be sure of these things.
There are many persons who claim that they have broken through to that kind of knowing-from the Apostle Paul down through spiritual adventurers in every century, even to our day. “I know whom(not what) I have trusted,” is Paul’s ringing assertion,” and I am certain that he is able to keep what I have put into his hands.”

What lack of trust in our Father is causing you to not fully Obey our Father? He has been leading you, now it is time for you to take that step. Trust Him, he is not like those people who have let you down.

2 John 1:6
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Jennifer Van Allen,

Walking by Faith

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Me: What are you up too today Prodigal?

Prodigal: Walking this path? It seems to end in a circle. I didn’t realize it when I started but I really have not gotten anywhere.

Me: How many times in life have I set forth in my own direction. Following my own will I ended up going no where. Well I learned how to walk by faith and that path is more like a zig zag but always ends up with a gift and blessing from God.

Prodigal: Explain about this walking by faith and not by sight.

Me: Well Jennifer (wonderful name) Rothschild in her book Lessons I Learned in the Dark explains this the best.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). If we understand that this is what faith is, we can exercise it in the confidence the apostle Paul talked about when he said, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking by faith is acting upon a reality not yet seen.
Relying on sight in our faith walk never allows us to accomplish God’s best. What’s more, it never reveals the hidden treasures that only the eyes of faith can see. But most of us never learn to walk by faith…until we learn to walk in the dark. We don’t lean on God until fear makes us feel shaky and weak.

Walking by faith, that is my journey now. I remember my first baby steps walking in faith. It was so difficult. You see, God blessed me with a high IQ. That IQ has helped me in the world of the seen but it prevented me from walking by faith. In my logical, calculating mind, I wanted all the steps before me laid out so I could analyze if this was the path too go. Well that is the opposite of what God wants.

Just imagine. We need to go to a new city and show up at a hotel we have never heard of to attend a meeting with someone very important. What is the first thing we all do. We get the address and put it in our GPS system on phone or device. We determine miles, how long it should take and any plan B’s we might need. We have no guess work at all. We even pull up on Google what the building looks like and the street. No guess work is involved at all so that we will not get lost.

Walking by faith though is when God says I want you to go to this hotel. You cannot use any GPS device at all. You will not know how long it will take. You will not know the path you will drive and what is on the road that you are driving. You have to have faith that I will produce a sign along the road right before you need to turn. You have to trust that I know the way and that you are safe with me guiding you.

You see why it was difficult for me to walk by faith? You see why a lot of Christians will not walk by faith? You see why your Christian friends and family try to talk you out of walking by faith?

Walking by faith means people will not understand you, people will not support you, people will discourage you. It also means surrendering amount of control over this trip. I can say this. Walking by faith means that when everyone else is following the same GPS route and it gets congested and boring. God will have a road full of twists and turns that will keep you being amazed over and over again and will not be boring!

Now excuse me a second I think God just showed up with a quick road sign for me….

2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Jennifer Van Allen

Submission is it positive or negative?

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Prodigal: Hi I just saw this and thought of you. Are you GRITS?

Me: You better believe I am a Girl Raised In The South!

Prodigal: I think it might have been the accent that gave it away. What is so special about Girls raised in the South anyway?

Me: Everything is special about it! Instead of focusing on the blessing of a true southern belle though I would rather talk about women roles with what the bible says.

Prodigal: The bible talks about that?

Me: Of course it does and there can be a negative view point about it. I would like to explain.

Prodigal: I am ready to listen.

Of the different roles that are talked about with women in the bible the most common used and known of is the idea of submission. This one word has received strong emotions from pure negative outrage to someone defending their role in life. The first thing I would like to clear up though is that submission does not mean passive. Anyone who knows me and has been around me knows that being passive is not a strong point of mine.

Can a woman though be of strong character and yet be submissive as a wife? I think the biggest lie out there is that submissive means that we do not have opinions and we cannot be strong in nature. So what you see is two extremes. The woman who is passive and never stands up for her self about anything. The other side is that woman who turns against submission so that she becomes aggressive. What is needed is a healthy balance between the two of them. Michael Catt a Christian therapist who seems to be able to explain the balance that God has encouraged.

In counseling couples, I’ve also seen some husbands who consider their wives nothing more than cooks and maids. They misuse their authority by bossing their wives around and acting like “submit” is the only word in the Bible. This can easily degenerate into an abusive situation in which the man acts like a dictator.
“Wives, submit” does not mean “husbands, dominate.” God did not create Eve from Adam’s feet to be trampled upon, nor from his head to rule over him. he made her from Adam’s side, the nearest place to his heart, to be his helpmate and companion.
Healthy marriages model a right understanding of submission. A husband is to nourish and strengthen his wife as a leader among equals, and both are to submit to the Lord. As Christ leads and loves the church, so the husband is to lead and love his wife. I’ve never met a woman whose husband loved her as Christ loves the church who opposed the idea of loving submission.

When our relationships mimic the blue print that God has set forth in his written word it is then that we see a change in those relationships. We see God enter in. We cannot do that though if we are stuck with a blue print that means we are too passive or we become aggressive against submission. Ask God in prayer right now, with the start of the week and new year, what needs to be changed in your relationships!

1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Jennifer Van Allen


Are You Hot or Cold?

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Me:  Prodigal, what do you have behind you?


Prodigal:  Some very hot cookies, that are cooling on the rack.


Me:  Speaking of hot, I have a  story to share about us being hot or cold as Christians.


Prodigal:  I have time so go ahead with your sharing.


Rachel Sinclair shares from her book Above Average For God.


When you choose not to apply God’s truths or commands to your life, you are essentially playing church and rebelling against God.  You might put on your church face for Sunday mornings, but your true character will eventually show through.  Not only do you become ineffective for God, but you actually become effective tool for the enemy.

In Revelation 3:16, God says, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth”.  A lukewarm or apathetic Christian is essentially one who chooses the sin of omission, which is the failure to do what you know is the right thing to do.  When you do not “walk the talk,”  you send a hypocritical message to nonbelievers as well as to those who are wavering in their faith.  Irish political philosopher Edmund Barke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  This can certainly be applied to our Christian walk as well.


We really don’t have a choice we are either helping God or helping the Devil in our actions.  Are you satisfied knowing that you might be helping our the Devil?


But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3

Jennifer Van Allen



God’s peace

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Me: Well prodigal I wanted to introduce you to some of my family. Here are two of the most wonderful nieces!

Prodigal: Well I am very happy to meet them, we have been spending time together and they are a lot of fun.

Me: I know for the past several times I have been talking with your friends, but my nieces wanted to join in too.

Prodigal: Sure why don’t we tell everyone about when your niece asked about peace.

Me: I think that would be perfect.

My nieces and I spent some great time together over the holidays. We laughed, hugged, ran around, threw the football, played games for long hours and talked. At one such moment we mentioned peace and we talked about how those who are saved by Jesus Christ can know a peace that unbelievers will not know. A very good question was asked and they wanted to know how can this be and what was it like. I found Charles Spurgeon being able to explain this the best in his book Joy in Christ’s Presence.

The peace of God keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). At such a time there is a delightful sense of rest; we have no ambitions, no desires. A divine serenity and security envelop us. We have no thought of foes or fears, afflictions or doubts. There is a joyous laying aside of our own will. We are nothing, and we will nothing; Christ is everything, and His will is the pulse of our souls. We are perfectly content either to be ill or to be well, to be rich or to be poor, to be slandered or to be honored, so that we may simply abide in the love of Christ. Jesus fills the horizon of our beings.

This is the peace that by knowing Jesus I have been able to have over and over again. To some of you this is all foreign. To others you are remembering that peace that you have had before and it is a cherished memory. The truth though is that this is offered to everyone who believes in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I find though even as a believer the world can distract me from this peace. When I am home with my bible. It is quiet. There is no music, television, and the cell phone is silent. I take these moments to pray and seek his presences. The Lord will then show up with this peace. It refills my soul, it makes everything small and Jesus’s love so big and real. It allows me to not only go through the struggles but praise him during them also.

I pray that for this coming year that you will have that peace during those times your fears or doubts may show. Jesus will be there and can be there to give you his peace.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Jennifer Van Allen,