Repeating Lessons

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Me: Prodigal, What a lot of ties!

Prodigal: They keep repeating, I keep seeing the same thing over and over again.

Me: Yeah sometimes I feel life is like that. I feel like I am repeating things over and over.

Prodigal: I have felt like that too.

Me: Today I can share what Chuck Swindoll says about what God might be doing in these times.

Chuck talks about this in his book Living on the Ragged Edge.

<God patiently repeats things until they are learned. We are the ones who pass it by. We are the ones who walk away, so God brings us back to the same lesson to learn it again. And He doesn’t give up when we pass it by. He brings us back again and again to learn our lesson well. We get weary of learning the lesson and we run from it. We turn it off. Yet He repeats the same lesson. He repeats it and repeats it and repeats it until finally the light comes on and we learn it. Why? Because God seeks what you and I try to escape. God pursues what you and I turn off. God makes a permanent lesson out of what you think is a temporary and passing experience.

One thing I have discovered from life is that until we have learned the complete lesson from a crushing experience, we’ll pass through it again at a different age and under different circumstances. For example, one marriage that doesn’t work will reap another marriage that doesn’t work until you learn that you, in fact, are the problem.

God has used repeating patterns in my life to teach me a lesson. See when they happen. Sometimes we avoid by saying, I just have bad luck. Sometimes we say those people are drawn to me. Sometimes we say I am being punished. The truth is that God is trying to teach us something about ourselves. The truth is that this relationship, that person, this circumstance that is repeating is trying to show you something about your life. God wants you to not respond the same way that you keep responding. He wants you to change. He wants to make something new. We want to fight this, run from this and we are scared of this. So talk to God right now and ask Him how he wants you to respond different in your repeating circumstance.

Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing! Not it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Jennifer Van Allen

How Do We Know the Bible is True?

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Prodigal: This bible can be confusing.

Me: Yes at first it can seem overwhelming when you are trying to study and read the bible. What happens over time though is that it makes a lot of sense and really helps you through.

Prodigal: People are always saying that it is not true though and just the opinion of men.

Me: Well, a lot of people say that. I do have an explanation of why it is true though that I think explains it well.

Squire Rushnell and Louise Duart in the book Couple who Pray gives a great explanation of the bible and how it came together under the authority of God.

The standards we use to test any information we receive are relatively consistent. Believability rises when we read multiple documents, written at different times, from independent sources. The more independent the documentation, the more convincing it is.
Take a news story. If ten different news organizations, totally independent of one another, each sent an investigative reporter to dig into a story and if without talking to each other or comparing notes they all came away with the same basic information, we’d feel as though we could trust it.
The same thing happens as we view history. Events that took place at a time when we could not possibly have personally witnessed them need to be judged by the independent reports that are available for us to evaluate.

The bible is a collection of sixty-six books, written by forty or more different reporters, over a period of three thousand years.
The first part of the book, the Old Testament, is the basis of the Torah studied in Judaism. The addition of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, written by a half dozen different reporters over a fifty-year period, creates the Christian Bible.

The number of surviving handwritten manuscripts also validates the events and statements of people in history. It is therefore revealing to compare the number of manuscripts written about various historical personalities whose existence we generally accept.

There are seven known manuscripts about Plato, ten about Caesar, forty-nine about Aristotle, and 24,633 written about the life and times of Christ.

So how many of you have quoted from Plato or Aristotle? How many have believed that Caesar ruled in Rome. Yet we question if Jesus lived. We question what was written about him. We refuse to open up the bible that so many people have talked about and written about for years.

One reason people will not read the bible is that they say it is not true. The funny thing is that most of those people have never read the bible who say that. How can someone give an opinion of a book they have never read. Take a look at the best selling list right now. If I told you I have never read the top seller but I didn’t like it. What would be your response? You would not take me serious. Why though if someone who has never read the bible says the same thing and we believe them?

Don’t ignore the facts. There is something about the bible. Start reading it and find out for yourself.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Jennifer Van Allen

Why God?



Me:  Howdy Prodigal and Happy.

Prodigal:  I have been trying to talk with Happy but he has been ignoring me.

Me:  Well Happy is deaf and can’t hear you.

Prodigal:  Why is Happy deaf?

Me:  He was born that way.

Prodigal:  Why did God make him deaf?

Me:  Well that is a why question to God.  Phillip Yancey is one who can give the best answer I believe.


Perhaps God keeps us ignorant because we are incapable of comprehending the answer.  Maybe God’s majestic non-answer to Job was no ploy, no other way or dodging questions; maybe it was God’s recognition of a plain fact.  A tiny creature on a tiny planet in a remote galaxy simply could not fathom the grand design of the universe.  You might as well try to describe colors to a person born blind, or a Mozart symphony to a person born deaf, or expound the theory of relativity to a person who doesn’t even know about atoms.


We always want to know “why” don’t we.  We always want to know where this is leading don’t we.  We always want the whole picture in front of us so that we can determine if this a good plan or a bad plan.  God doesn’t work that way so sometimes our “whys” are not answered.

See at some point in our Christian walk we have to be ok with the no answer to the “whys”.  We have to say God knows and he loves me and I am going to submit.  We don’t get answers we want.  Our lives 5 year plan is not given to us.  We still move forward though.  See because when we are following God.  It is not just about us.  We are making an impact on so many others who are watching.  We don’t usually know who we are making an impact on, but we truly are.  That is why my decisions must be made on God leading me and not on what I see with my eyes at the moment.  Or what my plan looks like.  See God is working all around us, he just doesn’t show us how he is working around us until after we have submitted to the following.  Don’t focus on the “whys” of today.  Focus on God right now and trust in his leading!


God will instruct me and teach me in the way I should go.  He will guide me with His eye Psalm 32.8


Jennifer Van Allen

I Have Been Afflicted


Me: What is that crying about Prodigal?

Prodigal: Well my friend Happy, hurt is paw and, his friend Charlie is here to help. I thought I would just be an encouragement.

Me: That is nice of you to try to encourage your friend when he is hurting.

Prodigal: I know what it is like to feel pain and I would like to share in their suffering.

Me: Maureen Brady talks a lot about pain in her book Bound by Illness Freed by Grace. Let me share.

Maureen begins by saying

It takes a long time to recognize the benefits of sharing in Christ’s suffering. Initially, it made no sense to me. I was not prepared for my life to take this turn in the road. I have many plans for my life, and when God changes those plans, I don’t understand. I am often unprepared, and feel ill-equipped, to deal with the chaos that chronic illness brings. Many folks, myself included, waste time by lamenting over their ill-fated pain. Or, many may use their pride to try and manage the situation devoid of God’s help. It is natural to feel despair. In this situation, it’s natural to be afraid of the future. The obstacles in our lives, at times, seem to be growing exponentially and we can’t control it. To try and struggle through chronic illness, rather than accept it, seems like the right thing to do. If we give into it, it might be perceived as giving up. That is unacceptable.

Conversely, affliction that fills me will illness and sorrow, also brings me to a place before God that I would never know without it. I draw nearer to God out of necessity. My prayers become deeper, and my devotion becomes stronger. I now pour my soul before God; I learn to depend on God in a way I never imagined I could.

As I become more and more dependent on Him, I notice my own evolution to positive change. In order to survive the daily struggles that befall me, I find myself in Scripture and prayer from morning until night. I am conscious of the presence of the Lord God Almighty in my life.

I suddenly start to see God’s grace and His strength in my weakness. I celebrate this transformation and thank God for this opportunity. Without all the illness, heartbreak, and grief I have experienced, I would never have grown to this point, spiritually. There is transformation.

You woke up this morning and the pain is suffocating you. You have no strength to get through the next hour, forget about the rest of the day. There is no comfort to be found, not right now, not in this moment. You somehow did make it out of bed though.

Thoughts turn to God, of I don’t want to put up with this today, you wish for some escape. You know there is no escape. Not today. No today will be a day of affliction. God may not answer your prayers today, your pain will be there the whole day. You will feel the darkness of the hurt. God is telling you though that he is taking your tears. He knows suffering. He hurts with you. He is grieving with you. He has not lost sight of you. You are His precious child.

Psalm 56.8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle Are they not in Your book?

Jennifer Van Allen,

Are You a One Way Street?


Me: Prodigal, what a nice day to find you on this one-way street!

Prodigal: Yeah, one-way streets were confusing to me at first but then once I learned the trick to them, it has been easy.

Me: If you try to avoid one-way streets in can make it harder.

Prodigal: That is why I just tried to figure it out and put it to practice. So does then mean you are going to talk about one-ways streets?

Me: No, I am not but I am going to talk about one-way expression.

Chuck Swindoll in his book Living On The Ragged Edge does a detailed review on the book of Ecclesiastes. In this book it talks about loving the way God calls us to love.

So much today is a two-way exchange rather than a one-way expression. I do good because you are going to do good back to me. I treat you nice, and in return I expect you to treat me nice. Reciprocity brings us pleasure. But God says He gives us the ability to do good in our lifetime….whether or not others do us good in return. And let me urge you not to wait. Now is the time to do good.

You and I don’t do anyone else a bit of good once we are six feet under. It is all over. Don’t wait until then to make life happier for someone else, to give someone else some financial relief, to express your availability and to help them through a hard time, to baby-sit, to house-sit, to help them purchase a car, or help them get an education. Don’t wait until later to invest in others relief. God says He gives you the ability to do it in your lifetime; it is a gift from Him. Which means that no one can explain in human terms why you would do it. It doesn’t come from any heart of love and compassion, because you and I don’t have hearts like that. Face it, our natural heart is depraved and desperately wicked. That is the kind of human nature we have. Without help from God we are sunk.

But when God, in the person of Jesus Christ, comes into a life, He gives that once-selfish individual the capacity to do good. And that means the ability to do good without being thanked, getting credit or receiving applause. You find yourself motivated to do good, because God’s life is at work in you.

God has been teaching me so much about this. It is so easy to be there for others when they appreciate us. When they give us things in return. When you are popular. When you get favors done because of who your friends are.

Image this scenario though. Imagine that God sent you to his people because they did not understand His love but only know men’s love. God wants them to grow and move to a new understanding of love. You show up, and they turn against you. They don’t want to hear Gods love because they have their own plans. God still loves them and it causes an ache in your heart because you see how they are missing out on Gods love.

So you go around every week. They continue to defile your character, they persecute you, they try to condemn you in front of others. You take it and you turn around and go next week. Why? Why do you put up with it all? Because of God. There is no way in your natural self you would put up with this. You do it because it is Gods people and he loves them. You do it because he has called you to obedience and you love God. Showing God you really love Him is sometimes putting yourself in tough situations and you stay in them. Do not avoid the fire, show God you love Him today. He is calling you.

1 John 4:19

We love because He first loved us.

Jennifer Van Allen

Your Eyes Might Be Unreliable

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Me: You know Prodigal, I have always enjoyed lighthouses. I am from North Carolina and have visited several lighthouses in the south.

Prodigal: I didn’t know that about you. I thought I would take a look at this one and read about the history. You know lighthouse were big in helping ships find there way and keep them from danger.

Me: Yes, they were and sometimes it was just one person helping a whole group of ships from danger.

Prodigal: I never thought of it like that. Wow, how does that person take on that responsibility. How do they manage?

Me: Well I cannot tell you about the keeper of the lighthouse but I can tell you how we as Christians can stay strong and walk by faith.

Prodigal: I wonder what today’s story will be!

Jennifer Rothschild in her book Lessons I learned in the dark talks about having a guide and learning to trust that guide. Her story begins below.
As we’re learning to trust God and walk by faith, we also need to learn to remember His Word. That’s because knowing what God tells us in the Bible helps us to act upon what we know is true, rather than merely reacting to what we see.

Life presents us with many optical illusions. Have you ever been in the desert and seen that tantalizing shoreline of water shimmering on the horizon? You could chase it all your life and never wet so much as your big toe. It isn’t really there! And that’s often true with what we think we’re seeing so clearly. The information provided by our eyes may simply be unreliable. There are also times when we can’t see at all. So we must memorize the truth and make sure we remember what matters.

Many of you have started to walk out in faith, with where God is leading you. You are a ship in the deep waters and you begin to see a false light from another ship. In the distance though is the one real light from the lighthouse that will keep you safe.

See some of you are questioning the security of the lighthouse. So instead you have been looking toward the ship light for security. See that ships light will keep changing and moving. See it will keep showing its lights and move you farther away from the lighthouse. The ship will distract you from your purpose and direction of the lighthouse. You can follow that false light moving all over the empty ocean for as long as you make it your distraction. See it is your choice to keep it as your distraction. Or you can follow your foundation of truth with the lighthouse.

Here is your warning though, when you take that next stop though, it may be walking by faith and not seeing with your eyes. That is when you remember God’s promise and you believe Him. That is when you stop right now and say I trust you, lead me now!

Psalms 31:3 For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me

Jennifer Van Allen

Do you Trust God to Provide for You?

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Me: Howdy, Prodigal!

Prodigal: Hi, I am just visiting with my friends of the air. They tend to move around. While he is in town then we are catching up.

Me: Yeah I have friends that are overseas in the mission field and also in the United States. I have one story of a missionary that lived in India.

Prodigal: Since my friend travels, I am sure he will enjoy this story about the missionary.

This is a story from Amy Carmichael, who was called to help orphan children from India in the early 1900’s. This tells of a time when she was in the middle of her calling.

We do not tell when we are in need unless definitely asked, and even then not always; for often the leading seems to be silent, except towards God, and we fear lest our little children should seem to crowd in among the many claims to help which must press so heavily upon the hearts of givers at home, and intercept anything which should be sent elsewhere. We rely upon the verses which assure us that our Father knows our needs, and we take it that with such a Father, to know is to supply.

We remember a time of threatened famine, when prices were suddenly rising and twenty pounds was needed to lay in a stock of paddy (unshelled rice). That week brought us a single gift of 20 pounds from a friend in England, whose very name up to that time was unknown to us. So the paddy was poured out in a great heap on the ground, and measured, and we paid for it with light and happy hearts.

Again we remember a day when a letter came telling us of a child in danger far away. Sufficient money to meet necessary expenses must be sent off that same afternoon, or she would otherwise appropriated, and from that appropriation there would be no release. We had not enough money in hand to pay for the chief charge, the long journey of those who would bring her to us; and no money could possible reach us, even if we sent a messenger with a cheque to cash, it would take two days time. While we were reading the letter, our good postman came up joyfully with a roll of rupees in his hand. It was from Canada, enough to cover all the expenses connected with that little child’s deliverance. We piled the silver on the floor and knelt down round it and thanked God. It meant redemption of another child.

This is faith and a trust in God in the purest form. Amy was not looking to men to meet her needs but from God above. She knew that God saw all and could bring provision from all over the world at the perfect timing. She lived the bible. She did not just quote from it. I see people sometimes who can quote the bible better than I can but they do not have that relationship with the verses. I always feel so sad for them. Their is a richness of love, understanding and closeness that can only come from that relationship.

How do start to have that relationship instead of just head knowledge? You pray for it first and then you don’t always tell everyone everything but just tell God. Let God alone answer you. I have God answer me almost every week about something that is only between me and Him. I write these down, I thank Him for these and it grows us closer together. I start to learn how to follow God and not the men of the world. How can you start today to live the word of God?

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26: Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Jennifer Van Allen