We Are Free To

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Prodigal:  I have been looking for you, Here is my friend and he wanted to know about living our lives with a trust toward God.


Me:  That is no problem.  Eugene Peterson clearly writes how we can trust God and have freedom in this trust.


The moment we begin manipulating lives in order to get control of circumstances, we become enslaved in our own plans, tangled up in our own red tape, and have to live with grievous, unintended consequences.  The life of freedom is a life of receiving, of believing, of accepting, of hoping.  Because God freely keeps His promises, we are free to trust.

No one has understood this better than Paul.  He knew that we are no whole persons until we are free, and that we are not free until we trust.  He faced the reality that religion repeatedly falls prey to the insatiable will of human beings to do and control and thus makes a mockery of that freedom.  And he proclaimed, with rare power and effectiveness, that God in Christ has set us free from that compulsion that we can be free in the original created sense:  free to live in a praising, trusting relationship with God, free to live in a loving, serving relationship with other persons.


God how we take the eyes off of you and tend to try to turn to our own plans.  We need that constant check in the spirit to tell us.  Not that way.  The way you just stepped is man’s plan and not of my own.  God then gently tells us turn over here.  This is the way of freedom.  This is my way!


In God I trust;  I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?

Psalm 56:11


Jennifer Van Allen




God Is At Work

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Prodigal:  What a beautiful view from up here!


Me:  Yes, it is!  God’s work is amazing at what he created!


Prodigal:  I agree.  Is God still working?


Me:  Yes, he is and I can share a story about how he is working.

Dr. David Jeremiah in his book What In the World Is Going On? shares an amazing story about one young man.


God is at work in the Islamic world.  We have reports that many Muslims are being confronted with the gospel in their dreams.  Here is the testimony of one Saudi Arabian who was born close to Mecca and grew up going to the mosque five times a day.  For many nights he had a terrifying nightmare in which he was being taken down into hell.  This dream, always vivid and horrifying, destroyed the man’s peace night after night.  Suddenly one evening, Jesus appeared in his dream and said, “Son, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  And if you would give your life to Me, I would save you from the hell that you have seen.”

This young man knew something of Jesus from the distorted teachings of the Qu’ran, but he didn’t know the Jesus of the New Testament.  So he began searching for a Christian who could help him.  Since Christianity is banned in Saudi Arabia, and a Christian caught witnessing to a Muslim could be beheaded, the young man’s search took time.  But the Lord eventually led him to an Egyptian Christian who gave him a Bible.  He began reading, and when he got into the New Testament, he was moved to give his life totally to Jesus Christ.

Soon afterward, an opponent of the young man discovered his conversion and accused him of being a Christian.  The authorities arrested and imprisoned him.  In jail, he was tortured and eventually sentenced to death by beheading.  But on the morning of his scheduled execution, no one showed up to escort him from the cell.  Two days later the authorities threw open his cell door and screamed at him:  “You demon!  Get out of this place!”

The man learned later that his execution had not taken place because on the very day he was to be beheaded, the son of his accuser had mysteriously died.  The new Christian is now quietly working to bring other Muslims to faith in Christ.


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 2:14


Jennifer Van Allen




Charles Colony

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  What are you doing?  Just leaving my friend’s house.

Prodigal:  They look like they have a nice house, what a blessing that is.

Me:  Yes, it really is a nice place!  I guess sometimes we forget how much we have.  Which reminds me of some others who don’t have a lot.


Majed El Shafie writes in his book Freedom Fighter a story about Charles Colony


Charles Colony is typical of the living situation facing minorities in many areas of Pakistan.  The typical Christian community here consists of “houses” that are actually holes dug in the ground with bricks–no mortar–stacked around the hole on three sides with a ragged old tarp as a roof for protection from rain, heat, debris.  The only water–stagnant–is held in a dirty cement trough that serves about 100 families.  There is no food, no clean water, no school for the children–no dignity.  And the only reason for these conditions–the families are Christians.

The only way out of these modern-day slave camps is to convert to Islam or sell a kidney.

Wow,  imagine knowing your whole life would be about having to deal with these conditions just because you followed Christ!  Lets just pray for these people right now of Charles Colony for their courage and their faithfulness to Jesus.


Romans 8:35

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?


Jennifer Van Allen






When We Suffer

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal are you taking a walk today?


Prodigal:  Yes,  Just a lot on my mind today with all that is going on.


Me:  Can I share a story with you that will hopefully encourage you?


Prodigal:  Yes, I would like that.


Chuck Swindoll in his book Start Where You Are talks about suffering to us.


While I have spent most of my time speaking to those who minister to the hurting, I have not said much to the sufferer personally.  Let me speak to you for a moment.

A major benefit of taking time to heal occurs within you.  Almost imperceptibly, you become a person with keener sensitivity, a broader base of understanding, and a longer fuse.  Patience is a by-product of pain.  So is tolerance of others and obedience to God.  For a lack of a better title, let’s call the whole package “wisdom.”

For too many years in your life you have operated strictly on the basis of knowledge–human absorption of facts and natural reaction to others.  But affliction has now entered your life, and even though you would much prefer to have it over with, it has not ended.  Difficult though it may be for you to believe, the pain you are forced to endure is reshaping and remaking you deep within.


To grow we have to go through this process.  It will be worth it at the end even though it is hard to see that at the moment.  It was hard for me to endure at the time also but it was very much worth all the suffering!!


Psalm 119:67,71,75


Before I was afflicted I went astray,

But now I keep thy word…

It is good for me that I was afflicted,

That I may learn thy statutes…

I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are righteous,

And that in faithfulness Thou has afflicted me.


Jennifer Van Allen




Source of Strength

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Prodigal:  Howdy, I was just leaving church!


Me:  I hope you enjoyed church today?


Prodigal:  I did enjoy today but someone people think it is just a building.


Me:  Well the church is more than a building and it does have strength.  Let me share with you from E.M. Bounds and his guide to Spiritual Warfare


To mistake the true power of the church’s strength is to mistake the true character of the church.  When its character is changed, then all its efforts and aims are also changed.  The strength of the church lies in its devotion to God.  All else is incidental and is not the source of its strength.  But in worldly, popular language, a local church is called strong when its membership is large, and when it has social position and financial resources.


It doesn’t matter the size of the church.  What it looks like from the outside.  What it looks like on paper.  God sees the heart of the church and that is where the focus of our eye should be.  Praise God for all types of churches that has a heart beating for Jesus!


1 Peter 2:2-3

2. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-3. if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.


Jennifer Van Allen





Daily Food or Daily Grace

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Me:  Prodigal, that is a good meal right now and is making my mouth water!


Prodigal:  I have been enjoying it very much!


Me:  While you enjoy that good food then I will share with you from the book Guide to Spiritual Warfare by E.M. Bounds


It is man living for bread alone that makes the temporal become priority.  The secular and worldly take on supreme importance.  Faith becomes secondary-subservient to money and business.  The heavenly is used for the earthly, the spiritual for the natural.  We become more intent on daily food than on daily grace, eyeing the seen more than the unseen.

Of course we need food to eat and we need to make sure we work to have food on the table.  This is talking though about how work and money can become a priority over what God’s direction has over your life.  What is more important making sure to praise God for his grace or you praise God for your food.  One is focused on what he can give you physically which is temporary and one if focused on what he can give you spiritual which is everlasting.  As I have been praying God is still confirming the promise He has been leading me too.  I am still focused on the spiritual and not what is in the physical.


Acts 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Jennifer Van Allen

Just A Kid With Cerebral Palsy

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  What are you doing today!


Prodigal:  It is a quiet day and I am just walking around.


Me:  Well, if you would like I have a story that I found that encouraged me and I would like to encourage you.


Prodigal:  Sure, Lets hear it.


This is a story from Tony Campolo

I was asked to be a counselor in a junior high camp.  Everybody ought to be a counselor in a junior high camp-just once.  A junior high kid’s concept of a good time is picking on people.  And in this particular case, at this particular camp, there was a little boy who was suffering from cerebral palsy.  His name was Billy.  And they picked on him.

Oh, they picked on him.  As he walked across the camp with his uncoordinated body they would line up and imitate his grotesque movements.  I watched him one day as he was asking for direction.  “Which…way is….the….craft….shop?”  he stammered, his mouth contorting.  And the boys mimicked in that same awful stammer, “It’s…..over…..there…Billy.”  And then they laughed at him.  I was irate.

But my furor reached its highest pitch when on Thursday morning it was Billy’s cabin’s turn to give devotions.  I wondered what would happen, because they had appointed Billy to be the speaker.  I knew that they just wanted to get him up there to make fun of him.  As he dragged his way to the front, you could hear the giggles rolling over the crowd.  It took little Billy almost five minutes to say seven words.

“Jesus…….loves……me……….and…………I ……….love………..Jesus.”


When he finished, there was dead silence.  I looked over my shoulder and saw junior high boys bawling all over the place.  A revival broke out in that camp after Billy’s short testimony.  And as I travel all over the world, I find missionaries and preachers who say, “Remember me?  I was converted at that junior high camp.” 

We counselors had tried everything to get those kids interested in Jesus.  We even imported baseball players whose batting averages had gone up since they had started praying.  But God chose not to use the superstars.  He chose a kid with cerebral palsy to break the spirits of the haughty. 

He’s that kind of God.


We need to be careful when we say that person doesn’t have this or that to be doing this type of work for God.  We humans will never be able to look inside a person’s heart and see how God can use that to glorify God.  So why not let God choose and then even if we don’t understand we allow God to show us what God sees.


Psalm 34:18

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Jennifer Van Allen



A Team of Varied Talent

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  Are you throwing around the ole pig skin and I mean the football and not you. lol


Prodigal:  Very funny joke.   I do like football and just love the way the sport is played! (Go Carolina Panthers!)


Me:  Today I can talk about football and God and bring those two topics together.


Prodigal:  I would like to hear about that.


Charles Swindoll in his book The Value of Open Relationships Dropping Your Guard, will bring these two together:


Many years ago I read a statement that has stuck in my head ever since.  I can’t remember the source, but the words have been permanently etched in my mind:  “When a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.”  There is no question that leaders are used in mighty ways to shape the lives of God’s people.  Where would some of us be were it not for “the movers and the shakers”  who challenged us and motivated us?  But no leader, regardless of his or her vision, gifts, or model, is indispensable to God’s overall plan.  Only God is that.  We are fooling ourselves and heading for an abrupt, disillusioning fall if our love for the leader is greater than our love and loyalty to the Lord Himself.

On top of that, God’s desire to have the body get closer and grow stronger together will be hindered if the center of affection and attention is the leader.  To go back to my football example, it is teamwork that makes for a winning season and healthy intrasquad morale.  Even teams that have superstar athletes frequently mention that while they appreciate and admire the star’s ability, they are a team of varied talent, not a one-man operation.  A difficult struggle though it may be, Christians who hope to cultivate meaningful, lasting, and deep relationships with each other must maintain the right perspective at this point.  Had the Hebrews lost their focus, Joshua would have been unable to carry on when Moses stepped aside.  The servant-leader Moses made Joshua’s task easier by continually turning the people’s allegiance away from himself and back on the Lord.

This danger of exalting the leader above the Lord is hindrance to closeness occurring in a group because it tends to emphasize rank and positions of earthly authority above the  oneness we all have in the Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is His lordship that cements us together in one unified whole, placing everyone in the same role–sheep belonging to their Shepherd.  But when the leader occupies a conspicuous place of prominence, the group becomes divided rather then unified and up go the defenses, on go the masks.


Hebrews: 13:15

Through him then left us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,  that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.


Jennifer Van Allen




Two Young Women

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  I see you are with a friend today.


Prodigal:  Yes, I was telling her about some of your insights and stories and she would like to hear about one.


Me:  Today this is about two women and comes from the book Freedom Fighter by Majed El Shafie


In March 2009, One Free World International sent out an alert about two courageous Iranian women, Maryam and Marzieh, who were held for almost nine months in prison and suffered abuse because of their Christian faith.  These two young converts from Islam were pressured, in court by a prosecutor, to renounce their Christian faith-they refused steadfastly and boldly testified about their relationship with God.  In the course of the hearing, the women reportedly indicated that they had become Christians as a result of being convicted by the Holy Spirit.  In response, the prosecutor stated, “It is impossible for God to speak with humans,”  to which Marzieh responded, “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?”  When the prosecutor replied, “You are not worthy for God to speak to you,” Marzieh responded, “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”


So what happened to these young women?  They were able to be rescued from Iran and now live in a country where they are not persecuted anymore.  They continue to live for God.

When you hear God’s voice.  You have a choice to be obedient or not.  If you are obedient to God’s voice then you do it because you trust God and not what people say.

I have a feeling these woman are not mad at the prosecutor, who doubted.  They just want God’s  love to be experienced by everyone.  That is how much God means to these women.  These women just want God’s Holy name to be remembered.  They feel blessed that for some reason God plucked them out of nothing and allowed their lives to be part of a story.  A story of man’s sin and then God’s grace.


2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.  18  For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.


Jennifer Van Allen,




The Power of the Truth

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  What are you doing today?


Prodigal:  I am at this church and just wondering about the Christian faith.  We pass church buildings all the time but what is it about?


Me:  Good question and today I can explain a little bit more about the difference in Christian faith and Islam.


Ravi Zacharias in his book Jesus Among Other Gods explains some of the difference.


The teaching of Jesus is clear.  No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian.  This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam.  In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith.  There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of state.  Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death.


See Jesus is truth and love.  The truth stands alone without having to be forced.  Non truth has to bully and use fear to survive.  Jesus never forces us.  He loves us too much.  He wants a relationship that is based on you seeking Him.  Not one of fear and manipulation.  Jesus wants to love you and not control you.  Jesus wants to have a relationship and not a dictatorship.  Jesus wants peace and not fear to be in your life.

Jesus is different because he is all that He claims to be!


Luke 6:47


Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:


Jennifer Van Allen