Not Perfect!

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Me:  Prodigal, you have batter all over your face and also there seems to be batter all over your pan on the sides.


Prodigal:  Yeah, I am baking.  I am not perfect and little messy, but I am having fun!


Me:  I think the key is that you have joy and I am not expecting you to be perfect!  Let me share more on the subject of being perfect from Chuck Swindoll.


Being fellow members of one another, we understand that becoming a Christian in no way ushers us into a life of perfection, erasing our humanity and eradicating our depravity.

If all that actually happened, then why in the world is the Bible filled with counsel on forgiving others, understanding their failures, and focusing on their strengths?  It is one thing for an unbeliever to expect perfection- I can live with that and tolerate it fairly well–but it’s most disconcerting to be pushed into a perfection mold by brothers and sisters!

Oh, I understand that our example is Christ…and that our standard is high…and that our motives are often good.  But it needs to be said again and again and again:  Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.

How quickly the thin thread of freedom snaps as heavy weights of perfectionist expectations are placed upon us!  Christ Jesus never did that with His own.  When people were near Him there was this incredible magnetism because of an absence of unrealistic expectations and subtle demands and manipulative devices.   He did not use pressure tactics.  He simply accepted people as they were.

A paralysis sets in when we operate in the choking context of the perfection-expectation syndrome.  Fed by fear and guilt, the Christian becomes a victim of others rather than a victor in Christ.  You see, we ultimately act out those pressures and thereby limit our potential.

I am not perfect and it does not take much time for that to make it self apparent if you talk to me at all.  I don’t expect you to be perfect it either.  Let’s agree that the focus should be on Christ.  Let’s agree so that we don’t increase fear and guilt in others or ourselves.


Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Jennifer Van Allen,


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Me:  Prodigal, what are you doing standing outside in the rain?


Prodigal:  I was taking a walk and it started to rain on me.  But rain is a good thing it helps plants to grow.


Me:  That is true, lets go inside and then I can share another devotion from some one who was looking for rain.


Faye is a missionary in Africa shared this experience in the book Voices of the Faithful


The grass withered in the hot sun.  Water hoes and riverbeds were dry and cracked.  Animals were dying from starvation and thirst.  People would be next.  In desperation, villagers were digging deep holes in the riverbeds in search of water.  Everyone knew that rain was needed, but it was not the rainy season.

It was decided that villagers from all over should conduct a “rain dance”  to plead with the “rain god” and the ancestors to send rain.  One new believer in Jesus consulted the missionary who lived in their village.  “Pastor, what should we do?”  she asked.  “Some people want to pray to the “rain god.”

“Let’s review some of the characteristics of God,”  the missionary suggested.  “The true God controls all things.  God is all-powerful and omniscient.  He knows we need rain.  I believe God is waiting for us to ask Him.  Let’s put our faith in God and pray to Him.  Let’s ask God for rain.”

That night, the small group of believers prayed earnestly for rain.  Before the witch doctors could arrange a proper “rain dance”, the rains came out of season.  It rained for a week!  The young woman later testified, “I told my father that the pastor led us in prayer for rain.  When it rained, my father said that he could see that Jesus had great power.  I explained to him that God is the most powerful of all!”


I don’t think you need rain right now ,but you have another drought and that one is causing you stress.  God wants you to start with not asking the experts but going to Him in prayer.  Who knows how the Lord will choose to answer!


John 14:13

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.


Jennifer Van Allen,

A King is Made

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  Where are you going?


Prodigal:  Going to this castle.  I have a friend who is a King.


Me:  Well I have a story about a famous King, named David.


Prodigal:  I would like to hear.


David Jeremiah discusses King David in his book Slaying the Giants In Your Life.


The Bible tells us that on the day when David was crowned king, God removed His Spirit from Saul and filled David instead.  The new king was mindful of Saul’s great sin and the ugly consequences.  Saul had become a soul castaway, and God had finally set him adrift.  You can imagine that these things are running through David’s mind as he offers this prayer.  Please, Lord.  Don’t let me go the way of Saul.  Don’t set me adrift!  Don’t take You Holy Spirit from me.


Don’t forget the sins of others.  At anytime we can be fall into the same pit of sin that others have.  We need to daily turn to Christ and focus on him so that we  do not even open that possibility of sin.  Once we allow sin to come in with a opening.  Sin will quickly spread and before we know it has grown to something that we can not possibly handle with out serious consequences.


1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Jennifer Van Allen,


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Me:  PRODGIAL,  slow down!


Prodigal:  Sorry for running ahead, I just want to finish this.  I want to get this done as quickly as possible.


Me:  Lets take a break and I can share with you a story of someone else who was running.


Jennifer Rothschild shares in her book Lessons I Learned in the Dark.


Endurance isn’t a virtue if you persevere just to prove you’re not a quitter.  The point of running with endurance is to run well and finish the race–to do God’s will as we follow the course until we reach the finish line.  This means once in a while we have to assess our lives to see if there’s anything we need to get rid of.  Serious runners in a race don’t carry ice chests and portable tape players.  They don’t carry a change of clothes just in case there’s a change in the weather, and they definitely don’t have a Happy Meal in hand.  Tape players, Happy Meals, and extra clothes are all good things, but none of them are the best things to carry while running a race.

Any good thing can weigh us down if we substitute it for what is really best. 

In order to run well, we must listen to God.  He has great plans for us and knows the best way for us to succeed.  God is our Coach.  He’s run this way before, and He can guide us through the choices and help us over the hurdles.


The problem is that some people are telling you to take extra clothes and several other good things, but God is saying that this is not best for you right now at this time.  If we want to proceed with God’s plan, then we need to do it God’s way.  There can be no compromise.


Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.


Jennifer Van Allen,

Don’t Repeat Your Past

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Me:  ummm, Prodial,  I don’t think you are in a good situation right now.


Prodigal:  What do you mean?  I don’t see a problem with anything?


Me:  I think that situation is destructive, Here let me share with you my story and see if it helps.


I share from But For God Only When the Fairy Tale Fades Can the Dream Come True by Debra Evans


Here is a truth we all need to understand:  God will not fix what we will not acknowledge.  If you are in a self-destructive mode-one that has stripped you of your self-confidence and faith and caused you to endlessly repeat your past–then with each day you are wandering farther from God’s dream for you.  How dark does your life have to get before you will admit your helplessness?  The truth is what sets you free.

If doubt or denial is steering your life, you must realize that these are tools used by the enemy or your soul to push your life into the ditch.  And if the enemy is still using others to condemn you and make you believe you are less than God made you to be, pray for God to bring you wise counselors–people who will help you search the baggage of your past and seek God’s healing for your soul.


Sometimes we think that we if do not admit it then it is not really a problem.  Or maybe we feel admitting it would destroy us because it is so much of a problem that we have to keep hidden over and over again.  The truth is that it is a problem in your life.  People see it and it is not hidden.  You think you have covered all your bases but you have not fooled everyone.  Also God sees.  He is only try to get you to seek truth so that he can heal you.  This has to start with you though.

Are you finally going to admit the truth?  Are you going to finally admit that this is self-destructive in your life?  Are you going to finally admit that God wants to heal you from this?


Psalm 30:2

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.


Jennifer Van Allen


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Prodigal:  Howdy!


Me:  What are you doing?


Prodigal:  Just walking and thinking.  Some of the things in the bible are confusing.  For instance what is justification?


Me:  Well, all that can get confusing.  I will let Chuck Swindoll explain it.


It is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while still in his sinning state.  It doesn’t mean that the believing sinner stops sinning.  It doesn’t’  even mean that the believing sinner is made righteous in the sense of suddenly becoming perpetually perfect.  The sinner is declared righteous.  God sovereignty bestows the gift of eternal life on sinner at the moment he believes and thereby declares him righteous while the sinner still lives a life marked by periodic sinfulness.  God takes the guilty, believing sinner who says “I am lost, unworthy, guilty as charged, and undeserving of forgiveness” and extends the gift of eternal life because Christ’s death on the cross satisfied His demands against sin, namely death.  And God sees the guilty sinner (who come by faith alone) as righteous as His own Son.


Romans 5:2

Through Christ we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.


Jennifer Van Allen

Our Own Biases

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Me:  Prodigal, that is the cutest baby in the world!


Prodigal:  He is very cute, I will admit.  You might be biases though because he is related to you.


Me:  I will always look on him with love and I know God looks on him with love too!


Prodigal:  Since you have our attention, why not share one of your stories.


Today I am sharing from Chuck Swindoll’s book Hope Again When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade.


Being obedient to the truth means that we don’t have to look at others through the distorted lenses of our own biases.  We can see them as God sees them and love them as He loves them.  This has a purifying effect on us.  It purges us, not only from a limited perspective, but from prejudice, resentment, hurt feelings, and grudges.  Such purity of soul helps us love each other without hypocrisy and with a sincere love.  It doesn’t blind us to each other’s faults; it gives us the grace to overlook them.


When people have children, they think a lot about the name of their children.  There usually is some reason behind the name.  Of course sometimes it can be a fight between the parents and some names cannot be considered.  In the end though a name is given and it becomes more special as time goes on and they love that child.  Then just the mention of the name by someone else when you are absent from that child will bring a strong loving, caring feeling to your soul.

Now think of names that you know.  Think of co-workers, friends, family, spouses, and neighbors.  Are any of them named Grudge?  Why do you think that is?  Are any of them named Grace?  Chances are you probably know one person who has Grace in their name.  Chances are you know nobody who is named grudge.

We have all had someone hold a grudge against us and have held grudges against others.  We have all received grace and have given someone grace.  The reason grudge is not a name is because the emotion is dark, unpleasant and empty.  We do not want to focus on that.  Now think of the grace you received.  That is a warm, soothing feeling that we want to hold on to forever and not soon forget.

Now if instead of your child, you had to name your behavior for this week.  Would it be named grudge or grace?  The beauty of this is that no matter what the name would have been at this time, your behavior can change so that it will be named what you want it to be.


Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.


Jennifer Van Allen


Faith In Love

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Me:  Prodigal, that looks like a delicious, wonderful supper you are having!


Prodigal:  Trust me, it is wonderful!  Since I am busy enjoying this food, why don’t you share a story.


Well today I wanted to share from someone who is not well known and not that published.  It is a story from Jennifer Van Allen from her life of One Day at a Time.


Jennifer woke up on Sunday morning, feeling like she had no sleep.  She had a cough that had been bothering her and really was keeping her up at night.  Plus someone really needed to share some important emotions that she loves a lot and so she stayed up really late just letting that person know that she loves them.  Jennifer was of course scheduled to help take care of three years old during church service and then help out with four year old during the bible study time after church.  As she was getting ready, the cough seemed to increase.  She went to church and approached April who runs the children’s program and April wonderfully said that she would find others to cover.  So what did Jennifer do next?  She went to the church service that she was scheduled to miss that day.

Jennifer listened to the sermon that was prepared by her pastor Justin.  There was a lot in the sermon that day that seemed to speak to her heart.  Justin then spoke one short phrase.  As soon as Jennifer heard it, it seemed to just speak to her spirit.  Then Justin repeated it again.  Now hours later this phrase will not leave Jennifer’s spirit.  It seems God is trying to give Jennifer direction and it starts with this phrase FAITH IN LOVE.

See unknown to most.  God has already been working in Jennifer’s heart for about a month or so.  This phrase seemed to demand even further work on her heart from what God had already been exposing.  So then we take another turn in this story because it really started over the past couple of  years.

Jennifer had been hurt by a group of people and one person especially.  So what did Jennifer do.  She really prayed and looked for God to guide her with these hurts and relationships.

God said forgive……Jennifer forgave…over and over again.

God said trust …..Jennifer trusted

God said give grace….Jennifer gave grace over and over again.

God said love……Jennifer loved over and over again.

So what is God saying with Faith in LOVE?

See slowly what had happened is God was working on small parts inside Jennifer that she needed to learn for her character to grow in Christ in order for her to move in the next season of her life.  Now is time for the last part and that is FAITH In LOVE.

See Jennifer is scared.  She trusts God and loves God.  This means though that she has to have FAITH and not FEAR in LOVE.  Right now Jennifer is AFRAID IN LOVE.

Jennifer has been loving at a distance.  Jennifer has been loving with an escape plan.  Jennifer has been loving with trying to protect herself and not get too close.    Jennifer has been remaining emotionally distant to protect herself.  You can’t protect yourself and have faith at the same time.  One will always replace the other.  So FAITH in LOVE.  It means not being afraid and protecting yourself but really opening yourself to give love and receive it.  Now God has given Jennifer the direction.  Jennifer has to be obedient in following God’s plan.  So God once again is directing Jennifer  to jump into this risky business that God seems to be sending her into.  Is Jennifer willing to let the past be the past and move forward with grace with everything. Yes she is!

Does Jennifer know how it will all work out.  Of course she doesn’t.  Does she have a plan.  Of course she doesn’t.  But Jennifer knows the one who does have the Plan!  Jennifer plans to be checking in with Him regularly so He can tell her the direction to go.

So Does God care for you and will HE keep pursuing you until you learn HIS TRUTHS and HIS LOVE.  You bet He will!  He might even involve a bunch of people in your story, who were once strangers,  just so you can learn these truths.  Imagine that…


1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.


Jennifer Van Allen

To Love

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Me:  Prodigal, are you trying to tell me something?

Prodigal:  Yes,  Jesus spoke to us to love our neighbor as our self.  Yet, what does that mean?

Me:  Well, I decided that C.S. Lewis could explain that best.


To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possible be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; bolt it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love….is Hell.


Yet, Jesus was about love.  How broken was Jesus when He went to the cross.  He was broken because He dared to love a people even when they were rejecting Him.  He dared to continue to sacrifice Himself just to show love.  In the end His love did cover a multitude  of sin and with that love He saved His people.


Psalm 96:1

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.


Jennifer Van Allen

Come On, Get with It!

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Me:  Celebrating football playoffs?

Prodigal:  Yep, and you know I have to say GO CAROLINA!

Me:  Well I have a story that involves NFL football players.

Prodigal:  I am ready to hear!


This comes from the book Stories for the Heart complied by Alice Gray


Not long ago I lost one of my best friends, a woman eighty-six years old, the most exciting lay teacher I’ve ever been exposed to.

The last time I saw her on planet earth was at one of those aseptic Christian parties.  We were sitting there on eggshells, looking pious, when she walked in and said, “Well, Hendricks, I haven’t seen you for a long time.  What are the five best books you’ve read in the past year?”

She had a way of changing a group’s dynamics.  Her philosophy was, Let’s not bore each other with each other; let’s get into a discussion, and if we can’t find anything to discuss, let’s get into an argument.

She was eighty-three on her last trip to the Holy Land.  She went there with a group of NFL football players.  One of my most vivid memories of her is seeing her out front yelling back to them, “Come on men, get with it!”

She died in her sleep at her daughter’s home in Dallas.  Her daughter told me that just before she died, she had written out her goals for the next ten years.

May her tribe increase!


11 Corinthians 13:17

Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?


Jennifer Van Allen