The Good News

05-20-15 004


Me:  Hi Prodigal, are you happy with hockey season starting again?


Prodigal:  I am just remembering the playoffs.  Some people are disappointed that we did not win the Stanley Cup Finals but I have to say that the good news is that we made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  It was fun and I cannot wait to see what happens this year.


Me:  I have to agree that I cannot wait to see how the hockey season plays out this year but I have other good news that is something everyone can be happy about.


Prodigal:  I am ready to hear this good news!


John R. Scott shares with us what this good news is.


You can never take God by surprise.  You can never anticipate Him.  He always makes the first move.  He is always there “in the beginning.”  Before man existed, God acted.  Before man stirs himself to seek God, God has sought man.  In the Bible, we do not see man groping after God; we see God reaching after man.

Many people visualize a God Who sits comfortably on a distant throne, remote, aloof, uninterested, and indifferent to the need of mortals, until, it may be, they can badger Him into taking action on their behalf.  Such a view is wholly false.  The Bible reveals a God Who, long before it even occurs to man to turn to Him, while man is still lost in darkness and sunk in sin, takes the initiative, rises from His throne, lays aside His glory, and stoops to seek until He finds him.

It is neither a collection of religious ideas nor a catalog of rules.  It is a “gospel”-the good news.  In Paul’s words, it is “the gospel of God…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:1,3).  It is not primarily an invitation to man to do anything; it is supremely a declaration of what God has done in Christ for human beings like ourselves.

What amazing good news!  Where ever you are right now, God has made a plan for you to hear the good news as either as a reminder of the love he has given you or as a first step to accepting a relationship with Christ.  How long has he been planning this?  He has been planning this since the day you were born.  He is an active God.  He is a loving God.  He acts to reach out to us.  Could we possibly take a minute right now to reach back to Him and really tell our appreciation of how He always thinks of us!


Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Jennifer Van Allen

Polka Dots of Many Colors

07-11-15 012


Me:  What are you doing Prodigal?

Prodigal:  I am coloring in all these dots to make some form of art.  What do you think so far?

Me:  I think it looks great!  Do you know we get the term polka dot form the Greek term poikolos

Prodigal:  I did not know that but, how did you know that?

Me:  I was just reading in Chuck Swindoll’s book Hope Again and He defines that term in fact I will share what he wrote.


The world various comes from an interesting Greek term, poikolos, which means “variegated” or “many colored.”  We also get the term “polka dot” from it.  Trials come in a variety of forms and colors.  They are different, just as we are different.  Something That would hardly affect you might knock the slats out from under me–and vice versa.  But God offers special grace to match every shade of sorrow.

Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and he prayed three times for God to remove it.  “No,” said God, “I’m not taking it away.” Finally Paul said, “I’ve learned to trust in You, Lord.  I’ve learned to live with it.”  It was then God said, “My grace is sufficient for that thorn.”  He matched the color of the test with the color of grace.

This variety of trials is like different temperature settings on God’s furnace.  The settings are adjusted to burn off our dross, to temper us or soften us according to what meets our highest need.  It is in God’s refining fire that the authenticity of our faith is revealed.  And the purpose of these fiery ordeals is that we may come forth as purified gold, a shining likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  That glinting likeness is what ultimately gives glory and praise and honor to our Savior.

Stop comparing where you are at with your life and your trials right now to someone else.  We are different colors and size polka dots.  God has meant it that way.  You should not look like my color or my size.  God is doing something else in your life.  What will look the same though is God’s love and his grace!


Psalm 27:13

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.


Jennifer Van Allen


05-28-15 027


Me:  Prodigal, you are speaking truth with that statement!


Prodigal:  Haha, I knew you would love this!


I am going to talk about God’s love today and talk about what it is and what it is not.


Frederick Buechner in the book Breakfast for the Soul gives us a wonderful description of how God loves us.


The power of God stands in violent contrast with the power of man.  It is not external like man’s power, but internal.  By applying external pressure, I can make a person do what I want him to do.  This is man’s power.  But as far as making him be what I want him to be, without at the same time destroying his freedom, only love can make this happen.

And love makes it happen not coercively, but by creating a situation in which , of our own free will, we want to be what love wants us to be.  And because God’s love is uncoercive and treasures our freedom–if above all He wants us to love Him, then we must be left free not to love Him–we are free to resist it ,deny it crucify it finally, which we do again and again. 


God’s love is freedom.  When we try to control others and force external pressure to make their behavior look just like we want it, then this is manipulation.  This is not God’s love.  True love is when that person in their heart has decided to love you not because of external pressures but because of internal.

I have the most wonderful friends and family.  I do not force my love ones to love me.  They for some reason beyond my understanding have decided in their internal hearts and with freedom to love me!  They know our relationships are based on freedom and the holy spirit has guided us together  for such a time as this!


Psalm 85:10

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.


Jennifer Van Allen

Thank You

08-02-15 016

Me:  Howdy, Prodigal


Prodigal:  I am enjoying my food so just go ahead and talk.  I am just hear to listen!


Me:  Just going to share some scripture today.  I am keeping it simple.



The Way of Love


1 Corinthians 13


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Thank you for showing me this and what it really means!


Jennifer Van Allen

Don’t Quit

05-28-15 011


Prodigal:  I was just waiting for you!  I decided that today I would like to hear something encouraging.


Me:  Well, why don’t I share a story from Chuck Swindoll


Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer-pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America.  It was an evening to remember-black tuxedos and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza.  Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son.  Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat.  His mother was in hopes that her son would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard.  So-against his wishes–he had come.

As she turned to talk with friends, her son could stay seated no longer.  He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert grand Steinway and its leather tufted stool on the huge stage flooded with blinding lights.  Without much notice from the sophisticated audience, the boy sat down at the stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys.  He placed his small, trembling fingers in the right location and began to play “Chopsticks.”  The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces pointed in his direction.  Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout:

“Get that boy away from there!”

“Who’d bring a kid that young in here?”

“Where is his mother?”

“Somebody stop him!”

Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening.  Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage.  Without one word of announcement he stooped over behind the boy reached around both sides, and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize with and enhance “Chopsticks.”  As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear:

Keep going. Don’t quit.  Keep on playing…don’t stop…don’t quit.

And so it is with us.  We hammer away on our project, which seems about as significant as “Chopsticks” in a concert hall.  And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes the Master, who leans over and whispers:

Now keep going; don’t quit.  Keep on…don’t stop; don’t quit as He improvise on our behalf, providing just the right touch at just the right moment.


The Master is whispering….don’t stop…I will step in at just the right moment.   Don’t stop…keep going!


1 Peter 1:8

Though you have not seen him, you love him


Jennifer Van Allen



God’s Kindness

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Me:  Nice globe Prodigal!

Prodigal:  I am just looking at some of the other countries in the world and wonder what is going on in those countries.


Me:  I can tell you about a story of a man that is from Egypt and was born and raised there as a Muslim.


Prodigal:  Sure that sounds interesting.


Majed El Shafie

This is part of his story that he told in his book Freedom Fighter

“Tell us the names of the other Christians!”  the prison guards demanded.  At that point we were about 24,000 strong-worshiping our Savior under the cover of darkness, in the shadows so not to endanger each other.  Our faith in Jesus as the Son of God brought us strength and courage to endure daily humiliations and even persecution.  That faith is what kept me sane and strong during the seven days of torture and abuse-that faith and God’s miraculous kindness in letting me know that I was not alone, and that He would be with me even in the midst of all manner of physical and psychological abuse.  When the officer unleashed three vicious attack dogs on me in my tiny cell on day three, I looked up, stunned to find all three dogs seated around me as if they were trying to tell me that God had ordered them not to hurt me.  Disgusted, the officer came back with three other dogs but these three took up the exact same positions except that one of them leaned over and licked my face.  What a source of strength that small incident was for the days to follow.”


God is present.  Let Him be your source of strength.  He has not left you alone in the darkness.


Job 34:21-22

“For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, And He sees all his steps.  “There is no darkness or deep shadow Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.


Jennifer Van Allen

Remember What Matters

05-28-15 056


Me:  Prodigal, where are you today?


Prodigal:  I am out in this desert heat with my friend Lizard.


Me:  I hope you have plenty of water and you are not planning on traveling too long.


Prodigal:  Well we were not sure in which direction to go when you just showed up.


Prodigal:  While we try to figure that out, can you tell us a story?


Me:  Today I will share about another group of people who wandered in a desert.


Lessons I Learned In the Dark by Jennifer Rothschild shares her thoughts on Israel.


The Bible says that when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God “guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night”(Psalm 78:14).  I bet the nation of Israel remembered the cloud that led them.  But I also bet that when they remembered the cloud, they couldn’t help but recall the difficulties of their journey through the wilderness.  The desert was a place of longing and need, a place that required them to depend totally upon God.

Why did God allow His covenant people to wander in the desert for so long?  The Old Testament suggests that it was because the harsh conditions of the wilderness revealed the true nature of the sojourners.  Early in the book of Exodus we begin to read accounts of grumbling and complaints on the part of the Israelites.  Their faith grew faint, and they often lost their perspective.  Later, Moses reminded them about that:  “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commands” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

I believe that God allows all of us to wander through deserts at times in order to test us.  The wilderness shows who we really are and whom we really trust.  Sometimes God lets us be hungry just so He can feed us, and sometimes He lets us wander just so we’ll look for Him in the cloud.

So when you think of your desert, remember the cloud.  In the Old Testament it always represents God’s presence.  When the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness was over, they still faced an uncertain future across the Jordan, and they were afraid.  But even though the cloud was no longer there to guide them, God was still there.  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.”  Moses reminded them; “he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Even when clouds darken our world, if we look closely, we’ll see that He is with us, and His presence will always lead us to our promised land.


Remember what matters.


If you do, you’ll never forget in the dark what you knew was true in the light, and you’ll be able to smile even when you see nothing buy gloomy shadows.


Today is a day for you to Remember.  It is a day you remember beyond the dark and remember what you know is true in the light.


Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and of a good courage, fear  not, nor be afraid of them:  for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.


Jennifer Van Allen,

Fast Get Away

08-02-15 064


Me:  Wait Prodigal!


Prodigal:  I need to leave quickly, I was just about to be gone in one more minute!


Me:  I know I wanted to talk to you before you left.


Prodigal:  Let me guess another story?


Me:  Yes , but I think you need to hear it.


Chuck Swindoll explores our decisions in his book Active Spirituality


Every waking moment of our lives we operate from one of two viewpoints: human or divine.  I sometimes refer to these as horizontal perspective and vertical perspective.  The more popular of the two is human; the more fruitful of the two is divine.  We much prefer to think, maintain our attitudes, and conduct our lives independently.  Human opinions influence us more than God’s commands and principles.  Horizontal solutions seem to give us greater security and pleasure, unfortunately, than vertical ones.  For example, when under the gun of some deadline, we much prefer a tangible way out than God’s telling us to trust Him to see us through.  Rather than waiting on our Lord to solve our dilemma in His own time, we would normally choose the option of stepping in and manipulating a fast, painless escape.  But by doing so, the divine process is reversed.


Yep, God has just told you to TRUST HIM again for the thousandth time.  But you just don’t understand the heaviness of all this.  But you don’t understand all that may be affected by all this.  But you don’t understand I need to have answers for others.  But you just don’t understand.  God got the message.


Galatians 3:6

Consider Abraham:  “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.


Jennifer Van Allen


05-28-15 060


Me:  I like that house Prodigal!


Prodigal:  It is a friend of mine’s house.  We just had some lunch and were catching up with each other!


Me:  I know you just caught up with your friend but I have another story from Patsy Clairmont.


Prodigal:  I like her and would love to her what she has to say.


What picture comes to mind when you hear the word grace?  I think of a woman named–what else–Grace who lived near our family’s home when I was growing up.  She and her husband were friends of my parents and, believe me, that is where the friendship ended.  Grace, had no, uh, grace for children.  She and her husband didn’t have little ones of their own so perhaps that is why Grace had no space in her heart for me.

Years later, in desperate hours of my life, I experienced another grace:  God’s grace.  The Lord gave me a place to stand in his presence.  I couldn’t believe he had space in his heart for me.  This undeserved reception and inclusion stunned me.  And honestly, I struggled…with grace.

Two distinct pictures of “grace.”  One portrays not even a smidgen of favor or friendly regard; the other speaks of lavish acceptance.  I had trouble with both.

I couldn’t bear the feelings I had when I was in Grace’s home.  I felt physically rigid and certain that if I bumped anything or dropped something my life expectancy would be reduced drastically.  Yet what troubled me most wasn’t just the sense that I might do something wrong but the feeling I was something wrong.

God’s grace, which gave me the freedom to be myself without condemnation, was not only foreign but also a little frightening.  I was used to trying to win approval and not receiving it until I had performed some necessary stunts, like making my bed, saying my prayers, and attending church thirty-three times a week.  Unmerited favor is hard to swallow, and yet, when received, it sweetly quenches my deep thirst for unconditional love.

Today God wants you to feel his grace.  No trying to be perfect.  No list that is a mile long to earn it.  No rigid expectations.  Just renew yourself with his grace of love that will help smooth over some of those hurts.


Jeremiah 31:2-3

Thus says the LORD. “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away.  I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.


Jennifer Van Allen,


05-28-15 057


Me:  Aww, Prodigal.  I like that sign!


Prodigal:  That is why I wanted you to meet me here.  I thought of you when I saw it and just had to show you.


Me:  You know me so well Prodigal, because you are right, I really did like it!  I have another story to share with you today about qualities in each of us.


James P. Gills writes in his book The Unseen Essentials about some of our qualities that we all hold at times.


Before we develop a working dependence of the Lord, we often must be broken.  Self-will, so opposed to God’s will, declares its mastery of the soul.  Let one ounce of independence remain, however, and its insidious spread, like an unchecked malignancy, will destroy godly dependence and breed rebellion.

Peter, the most outspoken of the twelve disciples, is an excellent illustration of brokenness leading to dependence.  If ever we wanted an example to prove that God does not choose us for who we are, but for who we can become, then Peter is the one.

Peter-impulsive, coarse, self-centered, strong-willed, and independent-hardly qualifies for high honors.  Despite his obvious weakness, he was included with James and John in an inner circle with the Lord Jesus.  He was even privileged to be present during His transfiguration.  Jesus saw through Peter’s human frailties, as He does all of ours.  He chose Peter because he was a man through whom He could work.  The Lord selects His workers today on the same principle.  He always looks at the heart.

A study of Peter’s preparation for the ministry reveals a beautiful example of brokenness.  God brought him through a process that transformed him-body, soul, and spirit-from a life of self-centeredness to one of joyful submission to the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

Dependence does not come without struggle-a fierce struggle for the independent, successful individual.  First, God focuses on an area that needs work.  Often, His choice does not coincide with ours.  We would keep our strengths and build up our weaknesses, but our strong points are where we are most susceptible to independence and pride.  An acknowledged weakness can be more readily turned over to God than a strength.  It is too easy to want to rely upon our strong points.

So, the Lord pinpoints a problem that may be hindering what He desires to accomplish in and through us.  It can be an attitude, habit, relationship, or anything we are attached to that stands between us and Him.  Usually, He spots something especially dear to us.

You know that spot that the Lord is poking at.  He is developing a beautiful example of brokenness at this present moment.  He is doing this out of love.


Psalm 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.


Jennifer Van Allen