Two Men

05-28-15 047


Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  Who do you have with you today?


Prodigal:  I have two of my friends and they did want to hear a story from you!


Me:  I have a story about two men and Jesus.


Michael Griffiths writes about a passage in Luke.


Jesus told a story that illustrates this beautifully:  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:  “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

“But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14)

The Bible says that the tax collector went home justified before God.  So does God justify a bad man, but reject a good man?  The key is to ask very simply, “Who is trusting whom?”  The Pharisee’s religion is reminiscent of what we sometimes rather rudely call “public school religion.”  If you lead a decent life and are a decent, nice person, then God, Who is also a nice, decent Person, will accept you.

That Pharisee was trusting in his own good character.  Clearly, he was not really trusting in God, even though he prayed to Him.  Instead, he was trusting in himself.

Listen now to the other man:  “God, have mercy on me, a sinner,”  Who is this man trusting in?  He cannot trust in his own character–he knows he is a sinner.  He cannot trust in his own worthy actions–he has sinned.  He puts all his confidence, therefore, in the character and actions of God.  God is a God Whose character is merciful,  Who has mercy upon sinners.


O God let me not trust in myself at this time but put all my trust in you.


Have Faith in God

Mark 11:22


Jennifer Van Allen



Operating in God’s Love



Me:  Prodigal, is that your bicycle?


Prodigal:  Yeah, I was going to take it for a ride.


Me:  Just wanted to point out to you that I don’t think that the bicycle can adequately hold you.


Prodigal:  Is something wrong with me?


Me:  It is not you Prodigal!  You are looking at it wrong.  Let me explain, how we sometimes think we are inadequate.


Lysa Terkeurst in her book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl talks about the lies we may believe about ourselves.


Operating in God’s love means understanding how His love can redefine my natural thought processes.  Using God’s Word, I can fill my thoughts with His truths to combat the lies tangled around my feelings.  Therefore, when I feel insecure, I can combat that feeling with a reassuring and redefining word from God.

If I want to make peace with inadequacy, I must face head-on those things that trigger such feelings, stop looking at others for validation, and learn to truly depend on God.  Let’s call it like it is and say it out loud:

I sometimes feel insecure and inadequate.  No person or achievement can fix this.  Only God can help me, reassure me, and fill up my empty places.


God already loves you!  He looks upon you with eyes that are filled with tenderness and devotion.  He has your name on the palm of His hand because you are a treasure to Him!  He wants you to feel that right now.  He wants you to know that right now.


Habakkuk 3:18

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.


Jennifer Van Allen



Cozy Place of God

09-19-15 080


Me:  Prodigal, Where are you?


Prodigal:  I am in a cozy place of God.  I found others here too and we are going to fellowship together.


Me:  That is what God has called us too do and it gives us a time of refreshing.  Let me share for you a passage from the bible, with one of the great men of God from Genesis.



Genesis 50:19-21

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.


What does this passage mean to me.  It means that God shows us how everything that is brought to us either through God’s blessing or the enemy can be turned around to not only glorify God but to help others also.  God has showed me that the enemy will strike and try to discourage you like he did Joseph but with time, faithfulness and love then God will use that strike to bring about the truth and bring others toward God.  I feel that God is closing a chapter and starting a new one.  What is in the past is in the past.  We all made mistakes.  Not one of us did not.  God has forgiven us all.  I have forgiven all.  I hope that y’all will forgive me too.  Now there is a famine outside our doors.  It is a spiritual famine.  Lets turn our eyes toward that.

I want to be on a team.

God’s team.

I want to be on your team.


1 John 4:21

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.


Jennifer Van Allen,

Prayer of Relinquishment

08-02-15 040


Prodigal:  AhChoo, AhChoo!


Me:  God Bless you!  Are you sick Prodigal?


Prodigal:  Yes, I am sick.  I do not feel well at all!


Prodigal:  I am sorry!  Just lay down and I will tell you of a story of a woman when she had a long term illness.


Catherine Marshall in her book Beyond Our Selves talks about the Prayer of Relinquishment.


I got my first glimpse of it in the fall of 1943.  The illness that I have mentioned before in these pages had kept me in bed for many months.  A bevy of specialists seemed unable to help.  Persistent prayer, using all the faith I could muster, had resulted in –nothing.

One afternoon a pamphlet was put in my hand.  It was the story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years.  Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well, so that she might do His work.  Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, “All right.  I give up.  If you want me to be an invalid for the rest of my days, that is Your business.  Anyway, I have discovered that I want You even more than I want health.  You decide”  The pamphlet said that within two weeks the woman was out of bed, completely well.

This made no sense to me.  It seemed too pat.  Yet I could not forget the story.  On the morning of September fourteenth (how can I ever forget the date?)  I came to the same point of abject acceptance.  “I’m tired of asking” was the burden of my prayer.  “I’m beaten, finished.  God, You decide what you want for me for the rest of my life…”  Tears flowed.  I had no faith as I understood faith.  I expected nothing.  The gift of my sick self was made with no terrace of graciousness.

The result was as if windows had opened in heaven; as if some dynamo of heavenly power had begun flowing, flowing into me.  From that moment my recovery began.


You have been struggling so much.  Trying to hide the struggling from others.  You cry out to God.  You don’t understand.  You have tried this and that and God seems to be silent.  You feeling like breaking.  You are breaking.

Maybe that is the point.  Maybe it is time to just relinquish it all.  I know it is very scary.  You have been asking why?  Maybe it is time that you relinquish it all to God.  I know how hard it is.  I had too.  I don’t regret it at all.  I was given a peace beyond understanding and then God really started using me.


Isaiah 55:8-11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but I shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.


Jennifer Van Allen,

The Muscles of Our Faith

08-02-15 070


Prodigal:  Boy am I tired, I have been rock climbing all day long trying to get in shape.


Me:  Well rock climbing is good exercise!


Prodigal:  I am ready to take a break now though.


Me:  I can tell you some pointers on how to exercise your faith, if you like.


Prodigal:  Sure, I am open to that.


Catherine Marshall in her book Beyond Our Selves shares ways to strengthen our faith.


First, we cannot trust God until we know something about Him.  The way to begin is by reading His word and thinking about it.  The Bible acquaints us with the nature and character of God:  His power; His unselfish, unchangeable love; His infinite wisdom.  We read instance after instance in which God has exercised His power and wisdom in helping and delivering His people.

Second, faith is strengthened only as we ourselves exercise it.  We have to apply it to our problems:  poverty, bodily ills, bereavement, job trouble, tangled human relationships.

Third, faith has to be in the present tense–now.  A vague prospect that what we want will transpire in the future is not faith, but hope.

Fourth, absolute honesty is necessary.  We cannot have faith and a guilty conscience at the same time.  Every time faith will fade away.

Fifth, the strengthening of faith comes through staying with it in the hour of trial.  We should not shrink from tests of our faith.  Only when we are depending on God alone are we in a position to see God’s help and deliverance, and thus have our faith strengthened for the next time.

This means that we must let Him do the work.  Almost always it takes longer than we think it should.  When we grow impatient and try a deliverance of our own, through friends or circumstances, we are taking God’s work out of His hands.


You are tempted to listen to the voices of the world and not pay attention to Gods quiet voice telling you to just have faith at this hour.  Turn to the quiet voice.  Surrender desire to take things in your own hand.  God is going to make a move.

Psalm 104:24

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.


Jennifer Van Allen,


Running Toward Jesus

08-02-15 016


Me:  Howdy Prodigal!


Prodigal:  Howdy, I am just eating and I will let you do the talking.  Because this is too good to stop at the moment!


Today Is from Richard and Sharon Phillips in their book Holding Hands & Holding Hearts


A great many Christian books and counselors hail compatibility as the key to a successful and happy marriage. In our view, this reflects the consumer model of our secular culture more than the sacrificial model found in Holy Scripture. Marriage, experts tell us, works only when our needs and desires are met. But no such teaching is found in the Bible. In Scripture, we find that marriage works as a man and a woman stand before God in obedient faith, giving instead of taking, and serving instead of demanding. This is our problem with the emphasis on finding a compatible companion: it turns the whole of the Christian life on its head. Jesus said of Himself, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28), and surely marital love can be built on no other foundation.


I also feel that in relationships that the Lord will speak to us about the specifics of what we need to know for each us at that present time.  I agree it does have to be a team with God leading that team.   God shows up and gives us direction as we pray to Him everyday.  Then we are obedient in faith.


1 John 2:21

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.


Jennifer Van Allen



The Love We Know

03-09-15 054


Me:  Prodigal, what are you eating?


Prodigal:  Some cookies that were made out of love for me.  They are even shaped like hearts!


Me:  Love that is a topic that is very popular.  Debra Evans talks about God’s love versus human love in her book But For God.


Sometimes the people who are supposed to guard our well-being don’t just disappoint us, they outright devastate us with their unthinking choices.  When they do, we are jolted by the reality that not only is love often conditional, but that their particular love for us has very real limits.  The enemy, seeing a prime moment to attack, then steps forward and says, “See? What you’ve always feared is true: you aren’t worthy of love.  And this proves it.”

But God reminds each of us that when anyone’s love proves conditional, even “When your father and mother forsake you, then I will take you up” Palm 27:10.  Those are healing words, no matter your age, and no matter the source of your devastation.

Some of you are overwhelmed with the loss of your loved one who was suppose to do the right thing.  That love one who was suppose to love instead of turning the other direction.  The pain is so real.  You try to stuff down the pain, move forward and it is still ever presently there.  It has over taken you with grief and you are loss with thoughts of what this means about the person you are.  God sees you and feels the pain of the loss of your loved one.  God is the only one who really understands you right now.  God has been rejected by this person too.  Turn to God and let God share your grief.


Psalm 22:24

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.


Jennifer Van Allen



Straight or Crooked

07-11-15 080


Me:  Howdy Prodigal!


Prodigal:  I am having fun in this Banyan tree! There are all these limbs that are curvy and straight, skinny and thick.


Me:  Looks like fun, I know the curvy limbs are better for climbing but I have some insight today about how straight can be better.


Charles Spurgeon gives us insight into helping others with the Word of God.

There is nothing so cutting as the Word of God.  Keep to that.  I believe also that one of the best ways of convincing men of error is not so much to denounce the error as to proclaim the truth more clearly.  If a stick is very crooked, and you wish to prove that it is so, get a straight one, and quietly lay it down by its side, and when men look they will surely see the difference.  The Word of God has a very keen edge about it.

We forget that God is inside of all of us who has Jesus Christ as our savior.  The Holy Spirit is clearly able to sense error more then we.  We do not need to add much more with the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is about just showing up with that straight stick and being beside the crooked one.


Hebrews 4:12

For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.


Jennifer Van Allen

What Do You See?

05-28-15 053


Me:  Who is your friend Prodigal?


Prodigal:  This is my friend froggy who is blind.


Me:  Wow,  He does not seem frustrated with his blindness.


Prodigal:  No, he has peace with it and actually brings me many blessings with his friendship.


Me:  I have a story about a blind man who changed the perspective of another.


Prodigal:  My friend wants to hear this also!


Max Lucado shares a personal story from his heart.


I had just spend a portion of the morning preparing a lesson out of the ninth chapter of John, the chapter that contains the story about the man blind from birth.  I’d finished lunch and was returning to my office when I saw him.  He was singing.  An aluminum cane was in his left hand; his right hand was extended and open, awaiting donations.  He was blind.

After walking past him about five steps, I stopped and mumbled something to myself about the epitome of hypocrisy and went back in his direction.  I put some change in his hand.  “Thank you,” he said and then offered me a common Brazilian translation, “and may you have health.” Ironic wish.

Once again I started on my way.  Once again the morning’s study of John 9 stopped me.  “Jesus saw a man, blind from birth.” I paused and pondered.  If Jesus were here he would see this man.  I wasn’t sure what that meant.  But I was sure I hadn’t done it.  So I turned around again.

As if the giving of a donation entitled me to do so, I stopped beside a nearby car and observed.  I challenged myself to see him.  I would stay here until I saw more than a sightless indigent on a busy thoroughfare in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

I watched him sing.  Some beggars grovel in a corner cultivating pity.  But this man did none of that.  He stood.  He stood tall.  And he sang.  Loudly.  Even proudly.  All of us had more reason to sing than he, but he was the one singing.

The passersby had various reactions.  Some were curious and gazed unabashedly.  Others were uncomfortable.  They were quick to duck their heads or walk in a wider circle.  “No reminders of harness today, please.”  Most, however, hardly noticed him.  Their thoughts were occupied, their agendas were full and he was…well, he was a blind beggar.

I was thankful he couldn’t see the way they looked at him.

After a few minutes, I went up to him again.  “Have you had any lunch?”  I asked.  He stopped singing.  He turned his head toward the sound  of my voice and directed his face somewhere past my ear.  His eye sockets were empty.  He said he was hungry.  I went to a nearby restaurant and bought him a sand which and something cold to drink.

When I came back he was still singing and his hands were still empty.  He was grateful for the food.  We sat down on a nearby bench.  Between bites he told me about himself.  Twenty-eight years old.  Single.  Living with his parents and seven brothers.  “Were you born blind?”

“No, when I was young I had an accident.”  He didn’t volunteer any details and I didn’t have the gall to request them.

Though we were almost the same age, we were light-years apart.  I wore a shirt and tie and some  new shoes.  His shoes had holes and his coat was oversized and bulky.  His pants gaped open from a rip in the knee.

And still he sang.  Though a sightless, penniless hobo, he still found a song and sang it courageously.  (I wondered which room in his heart that song came from.)

I decided the motivation that fit his demeanor was the one you would least expect.  He was singing from contentment.  Somehow this eyeless pauper had discovered a candle called satisfaction and it glowed in his dark world.

The irony was painfully amusing.  This blind man could be the most peaceful fellow on the street.  No diploma, no awards, and no future–at least in the aggressive sense of the word.  But I wondered how many in that urban stampede would trade their boardrooms and blue suits in a second for a chance to drink at this young man’s well.

“Faith is the bird that sings while it is yet dark.”

For almost a block, I could hear him singing.  And in my mind’s eye I could still see him.  But the man I now saw was a different one than the one to whom I’d given a few coins.  Though the man I now saw was still sightless, he was remarkable insightful.  And though I was the one with eyes, it was he who gave me a new vision.


Do you need a new vision?  Maybe not for a blind beggar but for that person who you look down on.  How would they look through the eyes of God?


John 9:3

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be manifest in him.


Jennifer Van Allen

He Will Humble Us

05-20-15 012


Prodigal: Help, Help!!


Me:  What have you done?


Prodigal:  I thought I could do it without asking for help.  I thought I knew how to make it through.


Me:  So Pride got you stuck, Prodigal?


Prodigal:  I guess you could say that.


Rachel Sinclair in her book Above Average for God talks about ways we may be humbled.

As followers of Christ, we are called to live a surrendered life.  Surrendering your life to God is about humbling yourself before God and allowing Him access to every part of who you are.  As Christians, we will be humbled before God.  However, we have a choice, We can choose to humble ourselves privately, or God will step in to do it for us publicly.

The process of being humbled by God is painful and uncomfortable.  In fact, I believe the more you resist God’s humbling, the more painful it is.  Scripture tells us that throughout our lives, He will humble us as He wants to enable us to live by the Spirit rather than the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  In the midst of being humbled, you may feel you are crashing to your knees or that your world is caving in on you.  Once you are through the fire, you can see that God stripped you of your fleshy ways only to build you back up into a new person with more Christian like character.


The many ways I have been humbled.  That means though God has really also changed me into a new person.  He has added something new to who I am by humbling me.  You have to keep going through it right now.  This is the only way.  Others have been on this path and have made it through.  You can make it through too.


Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.


Jennifer Van Allen