The Fight

05-28-15 066


Me:  Prodigal, who are you with?


Prodigal:  I am with a soldier from World War II.


Me:  Battles have so many emotions in them.  Sometimes we have to fight them though.


Prodigal: Do you have any battle stories for today?


Me:  I actually I do.  Get relaxed and enjoy this short story.


In the book Freedom Fighter there is a short testimony of  El Shafie.

El Shafie was born in a prominent Muslim family in Cairo.   His father and brother are successful attorneys and an uncle serves as a judge on a high court.

“When you are born into a family like this, you have lots of books on law, justice and freedom.”  he said.  While studying law in Alexandria (Egypt), El Shafie was reportedly shocked to see the harsh treatment of Christians.  Building churches is illegal in Egypt, he said, and Christians are treated worse than second-class citizens.

It was about this time that El Shafie began studying the Bible and in 1998, at about 20 years of age, he gave his life to Christ and organized an underground congregation-worshiping in caves–that attracted 24,000 worshipers within two years.

But trouble began in earnest when El Shafie appealed for equal rights for Christians.  He was arrested and confined in Abu Jaabel prison in Cairo, a place locals call “Hell on Earth,” charged with inciting a revolution, trying to change Egypt’s religion to Christianity and “worshiping and loving Jesus Christ.”

According to the report, while in custody, El Shafie refused to name names (of his friends and other Christians) so his captors took him to “an underground portion of the prison and tortured him for seven days straight,” shaving his head and holding him under scalding hot then freezing cold water.  When that didn’t work, they hung him upside down, beating him with belts, burning him with cigarettes and tearing his toenails out.  Finally, the prison guards tied him to a cross and left him there for two and a half days.

After losing consciousness, he found himself later waking up in a hospital bed.  When a guard tipped him off that he was about to be executed, he escaped out of a back window, rode across the Red Sea on a jet ski, crossed the Sinai Desert and turned himself in to the Israeli government where he remained in custody for 16 months while the United Nations and Amnesty International investigated his story.

Ultimately, he was given political-refugee status and immigrated to Canada.

Becoming a Christian, cost El Shafie his home and his family, who have since disowned him, but he gained a new purpose in life as an advocate for persecuted Christians.  “This whole thing changed my life,” he said.  “I’m not giving up because I know people are going through that.”

To all governments that persecute Christians, El Shafie offers this message:  “The persecuted Christians are dying, but they are still smiling.  They are in a dark night, but they are still holding the light of the Lord.  You can kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream.


God sees what you have given up.  He sees how it seems to be killing you on the inside.  Don’t give up and keep smiling.  This is a battle and the Lord will show up as that light and all will be redeemed!


1 John 4:4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.


Jennifer Van Allen,

The War in North Africa

05-20-15 039


Me:  Prodigal, what are you reading today?


Prodigal: I am reading a short story.  I love a good story!


Me:  Today I have a true story to share with you.


Prodigal:  Let me mark my place in this book and I am all ready!


I am going to share a story from Derek Prince exactly how he shares it.  I think the story says enough and today you will just get this story.


From 1941 to 1943 I served as a hospital attendant with the British forces in North Africa.  I was part of a small medical unit that worked with two British armored divisions–the First Armored Division and the Seventh Armored Division.  It was this latter division that became celebrated as the “desert rats,” with the emblem of the white jerboa.

At that time the morale of the British forces in the desert was very low.  The basic problem was that the men did not have confidence in their officers.  I myself am the son of an army officer, and many of the friends with whom I grew up were from the same background.  I thus had some valid standards of judgment.  As a group, the officers in the desert at that time were selfish, irresponsible and undisciplined.  Their main concern was not the well-being of the men, or the effective prosecution of the war, but their own physical comfort.

I recall one officer who became sick with malaria and was evacuated to a base hospital in Cairo.  For his transportation to Cairo he required one four-berth ambulance to himself, and a one-and-a-half ton truck to carry his equipment and personal belongings.  At that time we were continually being reminded that trucks and gasoline were in very short supply, and that every effort must be made to economize in the use of both.  From Cairo this officer was then evacuated to Britain (a procedure that certainly was not necessitated by a mere bout of malaria).  Some months later we heard him on the radio broadcast relayed from Britain.  He was giving a very vivid account of the hardships of campaigning in the desert!

At that period our greatest hardship was the shortage of water.  Supplies were very strictly rationed.  Our military water bottles were filled every other day.  This was all the water that we were allowed for every purpose-washing, shaving, drinking, cooking, etc.  Yet the officers in their mess each evening regularly consumed more water with their whisky than was allotted to the other ranks for all purposes combined.

The result of all this was the longest retreat in the history of the British army–about seven hundred miles in all–from a place in Tripoli called El Agheila to El Alamein, about fifty miles west of Cairo.  Here the British forces dug in for one final stand.  If El Alamein should fall, the way would be open for the Axis powers to gain control of Egypt, to cut the Suez Canal, and to move over into Palestine.  The Jewish community there would then be subjected to the same treatment that was already being meted out to the Jews in every area of Europe that had come under Nazi control.

About eighteen months previously, in a military barrack room in Britain, I had received a very dramatic and powerful revelation of Christ.  I thus knew in my own experience the reality of God’s power.  In the desert I had no church or minister to offer me fellowship or counsel.  I was obliged to depend upon the two great basic provisions of God for every Christian:  the Bible and the Holy Spirit.  I early came to see that, by New Testament standards, fasting was a normal part of Christian discipline.   During the whole period that I was in the desert, I regularly set aside Wednesday of each week as a special day for fasting and prayer.

During the long and demoralizing retreat to the gates of Cairo, God laid on my heart a burden of prayer, both for the British forces in the desert and for the whole situation in the Middle East.  Yet I could not see how God could bless leadership that was so unworthy and inefficient.  I searched in my heart for some form of prayer that I could pray with genuine faith and that would cover the needs of the situation.  After a while it seemed that the Holy Spirit gave me this prayer:  “Lord, give us leaders such that it will be for your glory to give us victory through them.”

I continued praying this prayer regularly every day.  In due course the British government decided to relieve the commander of their forces in the desert and to replace him by another man.  The man whom they chose was a general named W.H.E. “Strafer” Gott.  He was flown in to Cairo to take over command, but his plane was shot down, and he was killed.  Thus at this critical juncture the British forces in this major theater of the war were left without a commander.  Winston Churchill, at that time Prime Minister of Britain, proceeded to act largely on his own initiative.  He appointed a more-or-less unknown officer, named B.L. Montgomery, who was hastily flown out from Britain.

Montgomery was the son of an evangelical Anglican bishop.  He was a man who very definitely fulfilled God’s two requirements in a leader of men.  He was just and God-fearing.  He was also a man of tremendous discipline.  Within two months he had instilled a totally new sense of discipline into his officers, and had thus restored the confidence of the men in their leaders.

Then the main battle of El Alamein was fought.  It was the first major allied victory in the entire war up to that point.  The threat to Egypt, to the Suez Canal, and to Palestine was finally thrown back, and the whole course of the war changed in favor of the Allies.  It is no exaggeration to say that the battle of El Alamein was the turning point of the war in North Africa.

Two or three days after the battle I found myself in the desert a few miles behind the advancing Allied forces.  On the tailboard of a military truck beside me a small portable radio was relaying a news commentator’s description of the scene at Montgomery’s headquarters as he had witnessed it on the eve of the battle.  He recalled how Montgomery publicly called his officers and men to prayer, saying, “Let us ask the Lord, mighty in battle , to give us the victory.”  As these words came through that portable radio, God spoke very clearly to my spirit and said, “That is the answer to your prayer.”

How well this incident confirms the truth about promotion that is stated in Psalm 75.6-7.  The British government chose Gott for their commander, but God set him aside and raised up Montgomery, the man of His own choosing.  God did this to bring glory to His own name, and to answer a prayer which, by the Holy Spirit, He himself had first inspired me to pray.  By this intervention God also preserved the Jews in Palestine from coming under the control of the Axis powers.

I believe that the prayer which God gave me at that time could well be applied to other situations, both military and political:  “Lord, give us leaders such that it will be for your glory to give us victory through them.”


Psalm 75 6-7

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.


Jennifer Van Allen

Who Was Jesus Christ?



Me:  Prodigal, what are you doing all by yourself in this barren rocky place?


Prodigal:  Well, I was deep in thought with all that we have been talking about lately.


Me:  Anything specific that you have been thinking of?


Prodigal:  Just who Jesus was?


There is a quote from Napoleon who expressed beautiful as someone who has lead people.  Napoleon expressed these thoughts while he was exiled on the rock of St. Helena.  He called Count Montholon to his side and asked him, “Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?”  The count declined to respond.  Napoleon answered:


Well then, I will tell you.  Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend?  Upon force.  Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him…..I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man….I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me….but to do this it was necessary that I should be visible present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice.  When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts…Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space.  Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother.  He asks for the human heart;  He will have it entirely to Himself.  He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted.  Wonderful!  In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ.  All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him.  This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers.  Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range.  This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it.  This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

This comes from a ruler of men, nations and leaders.  This is the words of a man who has known power and devotion.  Christ is still real.  He is still seeking my heart.  He is still seeking your heart.  Does he have it?


Isaiah 30:21

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.


Jennifer Van Allen



The Cross Points the Way

05-03-15 025


Me:  Prodigal, nice cross!


Prodigal:  A friend made it for me, who really believed the love of Jesus


Me:  Well that is a topic I could really talk about, but instead I will share from Ravi Zacharias and his thoughts of the importance of what Jesus has done on the cross.


Jesus Among other gods written by Ravi Zacharias goes over the importance of what Jesus did so many years ago for us and really gives us a fresh perspective.

God conquers not in spite of the dark mystery of evil, but through it.

Mahatma Gandhi made the comment that of all the truths of the Christian faith, the one that stood supreme to him was the cross of Jesus.  He granted that it was without parallel.  It was the innocent dying for the guilty, the pure exchanged for the impure.  This evil cannot be understood through the eyes of the ones who crucified Him, but only through the eyes of the Crucified One.  It is the woman who has been raped who understands what rape is, not the rapist.  It is the one who has been slandered who understands what slander is, not the slanderer.  It is only the One who died for our sin who can explain to us what evil is, not the skeptics.  The cross points the way to a full explanation.

We have no idea what it really felt when Jesus willing died on the cross for us.  We have no idea how much he gave up for us when he breathed his last breath.  We need to be reminded of this so that we do not forget the greatness of our salvation.  I need to be reminded of this so I don’t forget.  Jesus you are an Awesome God and THANK YOU!!!


John 6:47

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.


Jennifer Van Allen


Spiritual Roots

05-03-15 023


Me:  Hi Prodigal, What are you doing out here today?


Prodigal:  Just enjoying the Mangrove Trees and how they love to soak up the water around them.


Me:  Yes, they do but not all crops would like that much rain.


Prodigal:  Really?  I want to hear you explain that.


I will share a short devotion from God’s Little Devotional Book for Women.


Many people see abundant spring rains as a great blessing to farmers, especially if the rains come after the plants have sprouted and are several inches tall.  What they don’t realize is even a short drought can have a devastating effect on a crop of seedlings that have received too much rain.

Why?  Because during frequent rains, the young plants are not required to push their roots deeper into the soil in search of water.  If a drought occurs later, plants with shallow root systems will quickly die.

We often receive abundance into our lives–rich fellowship, great teaching, deep “soakings” of spiritual blessings.  Yet, when stress or tragedy enters our lives, we may find ourselves thinking God has abandoned us or is unfaithful.  The fact is, we have allowed the “easiness” of our lives to keep us from pushing our spiritual roots deeper.  We have allowed others to spoon-fed us, rather than to develop our own deep personal relationship with God through prayer and study on His Word.

Only the deeply rooted are able to endure hard times without wilting.  The best advice is to enjoy the “rain” while seeking to grow even closer to Him.


I have seen this a lot.  The ones that I see in counseling who have the greatest struggle are the ones who grew up in their Christian walk with little or no trials.  They have no spiritual well that they have had to dig during tough times.  They have not had to cry out in desperation to the Lord with tears flowing and no hope of standing up if the Lord does not answer you now.  There is a different walk with the Lord when you have had those moments on your own and you are not just hearing about this from others.  The Lord then becomes real and is your lifeline.  His word becomes real!

Psalm 18:6

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.


Jennifer Van Allen

Samaritan Woman

05-28-15 085


Me:  Prodigal, what are you doing?


Prodigal:  It is a hot, humid day and I need refreshing at this fountain.  Then I think I am going to grab a bite to eat.


Me:  That reminds me of the story of the Samaritan woman and I like how Ravi Zacharias in his book Jesus Among Other gods explains it.


In John 4:1-42 Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman and in that dialogue, he had tried to open up the understanding of the disciples minds to what made up the form of life and what constituted its substance.  In fact, He had a brilliant lead-in, had they but listened.  Evidently the disciples missed His point.

They had their lunch bags in their hands and so were completely preoccupied.  He was talking to a socially ostracized and desperate woman whose life has been used and abused till she had no sense of self-worth left.  They chided Him for talking to this outcast.  “You must be hungry.”  they said. “Is it not time to eat?”

“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.  My food is to do the will of My Father.”

There is the first remarkable pointer.  If I am to be fulfilled, I must pursue a will that is greater than mine-a fulfilled life is on that has the will of God as its focus, not the appetite of the flesh.

He went on to say:  “Open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest” John 4:32-35

Here is our next clue.  Maintaining the metaphor of food, He pointed to a hunger that was universal and that went beyond bread and water–a distinctive hunger of universal proportion.  Every sentence of His response had food in it, but of a different kind.  There was hunger everywhere, He said, and food enough for all.  But it was not wheat or water.  It was Christ Himself, the Bread of Life and the spring of living water.  The Samaritan woman grasped what He said with a fervor that came from an awareness of her real need.

The transaction was fascinating.  She had come with a bucket.  He sent her back with a spring of living water.

She had come as a reject.  He sent her back being accepted by God Himself.

She came wounded.  He sent her back whole.

She came laden with questions.  He sent her back as a source for answers.

She came living a life of quiet desperation.  She ran back overflowing with hope.

The disciples missed it all.  It was lunchtime for them.

John 4:23

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.


Jennifer Van Allen


05-28-15 015


Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  It looks like you are enjoying some of the Mangroves that grow in this area.


Prodigal:  They are sturdy and strong and great to climb and explore.


Me:  There is another type of tree called the Sequoia and they are the tallest trees in America.  I can give you some information about them that was found in the book Fireproof Your Life by Michael Catt.


Within the bark of the sequoia is a substance called tannin, which acts as a natural fire retardant to neutralize the burning embers that embed themselves in the tree–like the shield of faith that quenches the fiery darts of the enemy.  A sequoia can live through many fires, but afterward the tree can smolder for six to twelve months.

When a fire sweeps along the mountainside, the giant sequoias take their stand.  The fire attacks the base of the tree, but due to its incredible height the crown of the tree remains above the flames and is merely singed by the heat.  Other less hearty trees are destroyed by the raging flames, but the sequoia withstands its trial by fire with multiple layers of bark.

The sequoia can represent times that our faith is tested.  The fires will come as trials upon our lives.  They are hot, intense and we see how the fire destroys things around us.  God made us like the sequoia though.  We are made to withstand the fire.  God has given us his spirit within us to help with the test.

See that fire will come and it will leave a mark.  We have really two options.  The mark that is left, will show how the fire destroyed us along the way and we seem dead spiritually for the rest of our walk.  The other option is that the fire comes and we rely on the our spiritual substance, that God has given us.  We know that God has equipped us and that someway and somehow we are going to make it through the fire.  We may have a few burn marks but they will represent how God faithfulness is to not allow us to fall during the intensity and heat of the fire.

Look closely at me,  I have a couple of marks and they are a reminder of God’s faithfulness to me.  I think I am just going to rest in that right now.


1 Peter 1:7

So that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perished though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


Jennifer Van Allen



Evil Justifying Itself

05-03-15 011


Me:  Prodigal, who are you with today?


Prodigal:  Just a friend.


Me:  Your friend looks mean?


Prodigal:  He said he was a good person and followed the law to the letter.


Me:  I have a story today about the Pharisees and Jesus and how they used the law to justify evil.


Ravi Zacharias begins in his book Jesus Among Other Gods with this insight on Jesus and the Pharisees.


When evil justifies itself by posturing as morality, God becomes the devil and the devil, God.  That exchange makes one impervious to reason.  Certainly, the high priests represented that lot.  Nothing, absolutely nothing that Jesus could have said would have convinced them of who He really was or caused them even to care.  Their capacity to hate and their love for ceremonial law far exceeded any desire to know truth and goodness.

Jesus knew that their love for the law was nothing more than a desire to find ways to manipulate the law to serve their own immoral ends.  Anytime Scripture is quoted for the express purpose of advancing one’s selfish aims, light is turned into darkness.


My prayer is that the Pharisees’ eyes that are reading this will be open to the evil that is being done by loving the law more then Jesus.


Matthew 22:15

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.


Jennifer Van Allen



Surrendered Territory

05-03-15 024


Me:  Howdy Prodigal, how is your day today?

Prodigal:  Wonderful, I am out here enjoying the wilderness and spending time with nature.

Me:  Looks very peaceful and the perfect setting for a story to encourage you this week.

Prodigal: What is the subject today about?

Me:  We are talking about surrender and this is from author Bill Stafford in his book, Spirit-filled Giving.


 Until a person is brought to this truth and starts to release his hold on things, there will always be an area of fear in his life that the devil can use to suppress victorious living.  Every area of our lives must be opened and surrendered unreservedly to the lordship of Christ, or the enemy will attack and overcome us.

Because of incorrect doctrine, traditional preaching, or half-truth, we have wandered in the wilderness of doing the best we can.  If you own ninety-nine acres of ground but another person owns an acre right in the middle of your ninety-nine, he must be given a right of way to his one acre.  This means he can walk all over your territory to get to his.  So it is in the life of the Christian.  That one acre you fail to give becomes a stronghold for Satan, and he will walk all over your surrendered territory to get to his one acre.

You wonder why it is so hard to surrender that one acre right now in your life.  It is because it is in the center.  It is because it is the one area that you have really cherished.  You never knew how much it really meant to your identity, until now.

There are so many fears and questions if you really give it up.  Will everything fall apart if you do give it up?  I don’t know if God wants you to give it up forever.  I just know he wants your whole heart and that means surrender.  Are you willing to surrender this for God?   God may have to help you with the surrender and that is ok.  The goal is that you are willing.


Job 11:13

Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer.


Jennifer Van Allen,

Turning Back

05-20-15 049


Me:  Howdy Prodigal!


Prodigal:  You showed up at the right time, me and my friend were just wandering what to do next.  We have not decided yet.


Me:  Maybe I can share with you some encouragement?


Prodigal:  That would be great!


Today I am going to share about legalism from the book Light for the Path by Edward Welch


Turning Back

“Tell me, you who want to be under the law,” wrote Paul to the church.  The gospel becomes a new self-imposed law when we add anything to what Christ has done, and Paul says that we actually prefer this arrangement.

Leaving entrenched legalism is a straightforward process, but you should expect to leave many times.  It won’t happened all at once.  In Paul’s book to the churches in Galatia, he marshals a number of arguments to persuade people of the truth of Christ and the error of legalism.

–He expresses his personal astonishment that people would turn from the grace of Christ (Gal 1:6).

–He establishes his own credentials to speak with authority (Gal 1-11-2:14).

–He cites Abraham as an example of how we are first given promises we receive by faith, and only then are we given rules for living.  These are responses to his grace (Gal. 3-1-25)

–He cites how God chose Isaac, Abraham’s son by God’s promise, rather than Ishmael, Abraham’s son by a man-made plan (Gal. 4:21-31).

–He reminds us that it is only grace that keeps us from racism and other forms of pride.  Otherwise, we judge by laws we think we have kept and others have not.  If we add our works to the grace of God, we will no longer be one people unified by Christ, but one small clique that thinks it is better than the others (Gal 3:26-29).

–He keeps emphasizing that he wants us to be free, and freedom can only be found when we acknowledge that Christ has done it all (Gal. 5:1-5).

Paul summarizes his teaching against legalism with this familiar exhortation:  “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”(Gal. 5:6).  If this is true (and it is) we as legalists should respond by saying, “Lord, forgive me.”  We had been counting on something we could accomplish ourselves rather than relying on the grace of God.  We were actually proud enough to think we could please God on our own merits.  To think so, we must have had a very superficial understanding of sin.

First we need to look for  legalism in our walk with God, our relationships, our church and then fight against this daily and weekly.   We then turn to grace and God’s love for us.  Only then are we able to  recover our joy and return to the heart of the gospel.

Philippians 3:4

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.  If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:


Jennifer Van Allen