Which Way?

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Me:  Prodigal, where are you going?


Prodigal:  I am not sure and I am confused about which way to go so I was looking at these signs.


Me:  While you try to figure out which way to go, let me quote from Ravi Zacharias in his book Jesus Among other gods.


Jesus was hungry and physically weak, and the tempter stormed Him with a series of taunts.  One of those gibes thrown was, “Jump, and see if Your Father will honor His word.”  Every temptation was fused with the same challenge:  “Why don’t You do this Your own way and prove Your autonomy?”

Since the beginning the Father of lies has tried to have us to believe that God’s word is not true and also for us to go our own way instead of following God’s way.  Isn’t it normal today not to read your bible?  Isn’t it normal today to prove that you are independent with no need to listen to anyone else let alone God?  Satan’s subtle tactics seem to be working in the world around us.  Is it going to work with you today?


Hebrews 2:18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.


Jennifer Van Allen




Soldier For God

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  Who is your friend?


Prodigal:  He is a soldier.


Me:  Well that is perfect for today because I have some encouraging words for your soldier.


Debra Evans writes in her book But For God some encouraging words I would like to share.


You are not the beggar on the street, without hope.  You have not been orphaned by your heavenly Father and left to the ravages of sin and despair–or even of circumstances beyond your control.  You are a soldier in the mighty army of God, and your boot camp is underway.  I know it wears you down and test you beyond measure, but without training you will never fight strongly for the specific cause He  has called you to.


God has called you to stay the course and He is with you!


James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.


Jennifer Van Allen,




Union With Christ

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Me:  Prodigal, who are you with?


Prodigal:  I am with some fine folks, who have gathered together to hear about Christ.


Me:  They seem all quiet and focused, I am amazed!


Today we hear from RC Sproul in his book 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow.


This union with Christ, in turn, is the foundation for all of Christian unity.  If I am in Christ and you are in Christ, then we are both, right now, spiritually united in Him.  We may be at odds with each other as Christians; we may disagree in our theology.  Nevertheless, we enjoy a transcendent unity by virtue of out spiritual union with Christ.

I hear it said all the time in ecumenical discussions that we are called to pursue organizational unity with other Christians because Jesus, in His High Priestly Prayer, prayed “that they may be one, as We are” (John 17:11).  It is said that we’ve got to help make Jesus’ prayer come to pass.  But in a very real sense, that prayer has been answered already, because we have a transcendent spiritual unity with every Christian in this world.  I am in Christ and they are in Christ, and Christ is in all of us.  So believers’ union with Christ is the foundation for their relationship with Him.

If we are are looking at walking toward Christ as our main goal.  We will be in unity but we may walk at different paces and we may all look individually different as we are walking.


John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.


Jennifer Van Allen







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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  Who are you with today, they all look a lot alike.


Prodigal:  This here is the duck family.  They do look the same but still they are a little different.  They wanted to hear one of your stories.


Me:  Well today we have words from Chuck Swindoll in his book Hope Again When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade.


A unit is a team, folks.  No more brother-bashing.  No more sister-smashing.  No more ugly gossip groups.  No more sarcastic, judgmental put downs.  Jesus prayed that we would support and encourage and love and forgive each other until we are perfected into a unit.

Unity.  That’s what He desires for us.  Not uniformity, but unity; oneness, not sameness.  We don’t have to look alike.  We don’t even have to think alike.  The body is made up of many different parts.  He doesn’t even pray for unanimity.  We can disagree.  Every vote doesn’t have to be 100 percent.  But we must be a unit:  our eyes on the same goal, our hearts in the same place, our commitment at the same level.  And we must love each other.


Guess what I am a little different than you and God loves that!  We can love each other, follow Jesus and still not vote the same way.  Nobody should be just like me (Jesus made sure I wasn’t a twin for a reason).

I am encouraged when I can be myself even if that means I am the only girl within a 10 mile radius checking the scores to the game.  God wants you to feel comfortable if you are rolling your eyes and having no interest in the sports score that I am checking every five minutes.  We can still follow Jesus and we can still encourage each other!


John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.


Jennifer Van Allen




Jesus Longs For US

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  What are you doing over there?


Prodigal:  I am at the cross and wondering what it really means with Jesus?


Me:  There is a lot of talk about that but I like what Ravi Zacharias said in his book Jesus Among Other gods The Absolute Claims of The Christian Message.


The first and foremost reality is that suffering and death are not only enemies of life, but a means of reminding us of life’s twin realities, love and hate.  Here, the love and hate did not just happen.  The paths were chosen.  Those who hurt Him hated Him.  Those who hated Him, He loved.  Those who killed Him wanted to be rid of Him.  By allowing Himself to be killed, He made it possible for them to live.  The crucifixion of Jesus was the embodied expression of rebellion against God.  His desolation was a profound attempt to break apart the very being of God, in the Holy Trinity.

But here is the point.  He did not die as a martyr for a cause, as others have done; nor was He just nonviolent so that the enemy would surrender through public outcry, as still others have done.  He did not even die because He was willing to pay the price that someone else would live.  He came to lay down His life so that the very ones who killed Him, who represented all of us, could be forgiven because of the price that He paid in the hell of a world that does not recognize His voice.  Those who had rejected the text and manipulated the context of His Word saw and heard what God incarnate disclosed of reality.  Every feeling they experienced, every state of mind, every utterance was the opposite of what Jesus felt, did, and said.  His counter perspective stands in brilliant and sharp contrast, even as He invited them on the basis of that death to come to Him for forgiveness, because He longed to reach out to them.


Do you see how Jesus stands for something different?   This is not the world.  This is not even something me or you would think of.  We choose to follow lesser people and ideas.  Why not follow something as amazing as this?

Jesus is reaching out to you!


Matthew 7:24

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.


Jennifer Van Allen




The Meaning of Grace

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!


Prodigal:  Howdy, I am just relaxing and waiting for you.


Me:  I wanted to meet up with you so that I could share with you some insightful reading that I found!


Prodigal:  I am not distracted so I am ready to listen.


Jerry Bridges talks about the meaning of grace.


Do you accept the fact that the Bible’s definition of grace-God’s unmerited favor shown to people who are totally undeserving of it–applies to you not only in salvation but in your everyday life?  The meaning of grace never changes.  As I’ve said, grace is always the same, whether God is exercising it in salvation or in His dealings with us as His children.

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  Do you have life, that is, eternal life?  Have you renounced all confidence in your own moral or religious efforts and turned in faith completely to Jesus to be clothed with His righteousness?  If so, you do have eternal life.  But do you have it to the full?  Are you experiencing both the peace of God that comes with salvation and the joy of God that comes with living by grace each day?  If not, you may be saved by grace, but you are living by works.


Are you ready to receive grace?  Are you ready to receive love?  Are you ready to receive your promise?  I am.  I am ready.


Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.


Jennifer Van Allen




Dreams Come True

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Me:  What a nice car Prodigal!


Prodigal:  It is my friend’s dream car.


Me:  I am sure they enjoy it and speaking of dreams, I have a story about Joseph.


This is from the book But For God by Debra Evans


When God made Joseph’s dreams come true–thirteen years later–he was able to stand and say to those who had deterred him, “What you meant for harm, God meant for good,”  That’s been my experience too.  But the reason that was possible was because much earlier in life, Joseph–like every great man or woman of God–had made a stand of faith, choosing to trust God instead of anything else.  If you look at all the people in the Bible who saw the power of God purposefully displayed in their lives, it wasn’t because they were so great.  They were made great because they chose to take God at His word and wait in obedience until He chose to act.


Choosing to see good in evil is not the world’s way but it is God’s way.  Choosing to praise God when you have harm come your way really is not the world’s way.  In the end though God works it all out in a winding path that is almost like a dream that was coordinated by the creator of the universe.  How amazing God is and how His ways will never be guessed!


If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.

Exodus 23:22


Jennifer Van Allen






Stand Your Ground

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Prodigal:  Help! Help!


Me:  Prodigal hold on, how in the world did this happen?


Prodigal:  I got to close and didn’t think it would be a big deal.


Me:  Well even though we can have faith and trust doesn’t mean that we tempt God either.


Prodigal:  What do you mean?


Me:  Well here is a story with some examples.


Debra Evans in her book But For God talks about Satan and some of his plans.


Satan loves to turn our victories (especially the early ones) against us and cut us off at the knees so that we don’t gather more courage in the Lord.  One way he does this is to draw us into a new and more dangerous situation–but so gradually that we let our guard down.  It can begin as simply as choosing the wrong person to confide in.  Another method he employs is to play on our self-doubt and baby faith so that even when we sense a problem, we ignore it and get ourselves into deeper trouble.

So when you’ve followed the path of obedience in one major decision, be grateful to God, but also beware.  Your enemy will target you again, soon–and more subtly:  “He’s not such a bad guy.  What harm will it do to hang out with him?”  But God tells us to keep our battle gear on and keep looking to Him for guidance:  “Be strong in me and in my mighty power.  Put on the full armor I have for you so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes….so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground


Don’t forget that the devil can present himself as someone who is helpful.  When he first talked to Eve, he presented his case as it would be a good thing to do this.  Take all direction from God and also test every person who comes to you with a plan.


Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.


Jennifer Van Allen




Preparation For Leadership

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!


Prodigal:  Howdy, how are you today?


Me:  Good, just doing some extra reading.


Prodigal:  Would you like to share?


Me:  Sure


This comes from the book Start Where You Are by Chuck Swindoll


Far too many today live in a dream world when it comes to preparation for leadership.  There is this popular yet mistaken notion that leaders somehow emerge on the scene having been dropped from a lacy cloud—white, ideal and spotless–like a living Mr. Clean, “untouched by human hands.”  Perhaps that is the reason God led Paul to go back to those painful days when many would have said, “Now, that was in vain.”

But it wasn’t.

What a perfect place to begin when building a biblical model of leadership…the pain of mistreatment, the humiliation and loneliness of being imprisoned.

Some (dare I say most?) of God’s choicest leaders have emerged from wombs of woe.  The Ghetto.  A prison.  Shame or sickness.  A broken home.  Mistreatment and fear.  But resiliently and triumphantly they came through.  From a stormy and tumultuous world of outward opposition or personal insecurity or emotional breakdown or financial failure or physical affliction, they stand today as living trophies of grace.

My point?  Disabilities need not disqualify.  On the contrary, struggling makes a great background for leadership!  Not unless you have struggled with the hopelessness and brokenness of life’s pains can you possibly know how to lead others through such valleys.  Since the prime function of the leader is to keep hope alive,its absence helps the leader never to forget its value.  Yesterday’s pain prompts today’s praise.


What is your idea of  a leader?  Would you vote for the perfect one that has no flaws or would you want the leader who could really understand your brokenness.  The one with compassion.  The one who knows about suffering?

The one who knows that the only leader that will ever be perfect is Jesus.

I will take the broken leader any day of the week.  I want compassion and not condemnation.


2 Timothy 3:5

Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Avoid such people.


Jennifer Van Allen




God As Creator

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal, what are you doing?


Prodigal:  Outside and spending time thinking about who God is.


Me:  I have a short quote from Max Lucado in his book In The Eye Of The Storm that talks about God


When you recognize God as Creator, you will admire him.

When you recognize His wisdom, you will learn from him.

When you discover His strength, you will rely on him.

But only when he saves you will you worship him.


You have learned how to admire God, and you have been learning from his word.  Then it was learning to rely on him and not your own strength.  Now God is setting up something else in your life.  You look around and see everything looks like failure.

God is setting up to save you.  See it will be in God’s way and God’s time.  It will stretch you beyond what you think you could be stretched.

Hold on to this though.

This all does have a purpose and part of that purpose is that …..you will then worship Him.


1 Timothy 1:16

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.


Jennifer Van Allen