A Prayer

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Me:  Prodigal are you going to church?


Prodigal:  Yep, I am going to church today and wanted to hearing something encouraging.


Me:  Can I share something encouraging about church?


Prodigal:  Sure


Sunday is my favorite day of the week.  The past Sunday I prepared my heart, put on a dress and grabbed my bible and out the front door I went.  I was going to church.  Then later on I was going to prayer meeting that day at my church.  One of my favorite times is prayer meeting.  We get to talk to God as a body of Christ together!  I think that is amazing!

This past Sunday was encouraging to my heart and left me awed at God, and the leadership that I sit under.  An integral leader has to make tough decisions when they are following God.  So when I see the leadership in the church making tough decisions to follow God then it makes me proud, it makes me encouraged to keep following God myself.

There was another way that I was encouraged.  One of the best parts about prayer time is you never know the words that will prayed and how they strengthen you.   There was a prayer that was prayed for the couples in our church and that one prayer was refreshing as an oasis in the driest dessert.  I left that prayer meeting overwhelmed by the Lord and his servants.

So now I would like to try and pass on the encouragement.  I have a prayer for you.  May this prayer support you and encourage you this week.


My Lord, the one who loved me first.

My God, the one who protects me.

My King, the one who guides me.

May God give you strength wisdom and insight as you walk in the front leading us on the path that God has chosen for us.  May you stay focused on Christ and not be distracted by men’s plans as you make decisions.  May your faith grow beyond the need for any sight as you speak God’s words.  May God show me how to support and encourage you during this journey.

In Christ Name I Pray


Hebrews 11:1-3

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.


Jennifer Van Allen,



Never Ending Cycle

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Me:  Prodigal what are you doing on that?


Prodigal:  Well I started on this path and thought I could quickly be done with this, but I find myself unable to get down and keep following these crazy cycles over and over again.  I am getting tired.  What should I do at this point?


Me:  Stand completely still and I know a lot of us get on these crazy cycles and I will share with you maybe a way to finally stop.


Prodigal:  Don’t worry I will not move at all while you are talking!


Gary and Lisa Heim talk about cycles in the book True North Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life.


The biggest obstacle to tasting and seeing that God is good is our foolish assumption that it is all up to us to make it happen.  We so naturally try to live the Christian life in our own power that we don’t realize we are doing it.  When we fail and go south, we just keep trying harder to do the right thing.  We berate ourselves and work harder to stop grumbling and grasping.  We think thoughts such as, I’m grumbling.  Stop doing that!  Or, I’m trying to get their approval again.  Cut that out!  I don’t need their approval.  But we keep failing.  We get discouraged and give up.  Good grief.  Who wants to live in this kind of cycle?  While growth is most often a slow process, we’ll never know God by just trying harder.  But relinquishing self-effort comes hard because by nature we’re proud and self-reliant.  We hate feeling powerless and dependent.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”(Gal. 5:16). “Living by the Spirit” sounds so mysterious that we tend to gloss over Paul’s words.  Or we assume that living by the Spirit means praying, having devotions, and trying to please God by doing what he tells us to do.  We feel pretty good about ourselves when we manage to check those things off our Christian to-do list, and we feel a chronic, low-grade sense of guilt when we keep failing.  Please tell me there’s more to the Christian life.

Yes, the Christian life does involve prayer, Bible study, and hard choices to stay faithful in tough times, but those things will not bear fruit.  Christianity is not defined by choices but by affections.  While true love for God is demonstrated by our obedience to what he tells us to do (Deut. 6-8; John 14:15), we make choices based on what we love and hold as supreme value.  We will always choose what we value most.

This is what is hard for me to express.  I see these Christians that God loves so much and they are stuck on a works cycle.  They care more about the things, the approval, the position, how others see them.   When in reality they are too focused on this list, these boxes they have to check off.  .  It will come natural to us to make choices of obedience when God really is the most valuable relationship and possession in our heart.  God is not fooled by your impressive check list and luke warm heart.  He would rather you complete one box and have a heart that is passionate about who He is.


Hebrews 10:21-22

And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.


Jennifer Van Allen



Sizing Up A Situation

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Me:  Prodigal is that a friend of yours?  I can’t tell if he is smiling or growling at you.


Prodigal:  No, he is a friend, but people tell him all the time that he looks mean.


Me:  Sometimes we have to look beyond appearances and discern with the spirit.


Prodigal:  Please explain more of that.


Chuck Swindoll discusses discernment in his book Growing Deep in the Christian Life


Discernment includes the idea of sizing up a situation or a person correctly.  Spotting evil that is lurking in the shadows.  Sensing something that is missing.  But it doesn’t  always have to do with matters of evil.  Discernment also helps us sense truth and good.  You discern when you are with certain individuals or listening to certain teachers that the person has character.  Or that there is a lot of depth in that person’s life.  You detect that the person is presenting only a bit of what he or she really knows.  You sense that there is a lot more behind the counter.

Looking back at my earlier years once again, it is clear now that I didn’t bother to cultivate discernment in my life.  I was young.  I was impressionable.  I was caught up in the emotion, the momentum, the brilliance and persuasion of the teacher with hundreds of others.  Maybe it is more accurate to say thousands.  I silenced questions of doubt.  I ignored a few inner reservations.  Though in my heart I knew some things weren’t right, I rationalized around them.  I bought the whole package.  My reservoir of knowledge was growing…but at the expense of my discernment.




Philippians 1:9

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.


Jennifer Van Allen



I Met God

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Prodigal:  Howdy!  Guess what I just saw.  I found a couple of beautiful sailboats out in the water.  They seemed so peaceful.


Me: How long have you been looking out yonder?


Prodigal:  Since this morning.


Me:  I have a poem that I would like to recite that I think you will enjoy as you continue to watch the water.


Bisphop Ralph Cushman  “The Secret”


I met God in the morning, when the day was at its best,

And His presence came like sunrise, with a glory in my breast.

All day long His Presence lingered, All day long He stayed with me,

And we sailed in perfect calmness over a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered; other ships were sore distressed,

But the winds that seemed to drive them brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings with a keen remorse of mind,

When I too had loosed the moorings with His Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret, learned from many a troubled way.

You must seek Him in the morning if you want Him through the day.


Exodus 33:14

Jennifer Van Allen




I Know Something About You….

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Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  Who are you talking with?


Prodigal:  Just some good folks from back home.


Me:  That reminds me of a poem about our conversations with others.  Would you like to hear.


Prodigal:  Yes, I would.


This comes from God’s Little Devotional Book for Women.


Wouldn’t this world be better,

If folks whom we meet would say,

“I know something good about you,”

And treat you just that way?

Wouldn’t it be splendid,

If each handshake, good and true,

Carried with it this assurance:

“I know something good about you”?

Wouldn’t life be happier,

If the good that’s in us all,

Were the only thing about us

That people would recall?

Wouldn’t our days be sweeter,

If we praised the good we see?

For there is a lot of goodness,

In the worst of you and me.

Wouldn’t it be fine to practice,

This way of thinking too;

You know something good about me,

I know something good about you?


Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.


Jennifer Van Allen



While Praying

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Me:  What do you have there, Prodigal?


Prodigal:  It is a coin that reminds us to pray first.


Me:  That is a great reminder.  I have a true story about someone who did just that.


Daniel Christiansen tells about a relative, a Romanian soldier in World War II, named Ana Gheorghe.  It was 1941, and troops had overrun the Romanian region of Bessarabia and entered Moldavia.  Ana and his comrades were badly frightened.  Bullets whizzed around them, and mortar shells shook the earth.  By day, Ana sought relief reading his Bible, but at night he could only crouch close to the earth and recall verses memorized in childhood.

One day during a spray of enemy fire, Ana was separated from his company.  In a panic, he bolted deeper and deeper into the woods until, huddling at the base of a large tree, he fell asleep from exhaustion.  The next day, trying to find his comrades, he moved cautiously toward the front, staying in the shadows of the trees, nibbling a crust of bread, drinking from streams.  Hearing the battle closing in, he unslung his rifle, pulled the bolt, and watched for the enemy, his nerves near the breaking point.  Twenty yards away, a Russian soldier suddenly appeared.

“All my mental rehearsals of bravery served me nothing.  I dropped my gun and fell to my knees, then buried my face in my sweating palms and began to pray.  While praying, I waited for the cold touch of the Russian’s rifle barrel against my head.

I felt a slight pressure of my should close to my neck.  I opened my eyes slowly.  There was my enemy kneeling in front of me, his gun lying next to mine among the wildflowers.  His eyes were closed in prayer.  We did not understand a single word of the others  language, but we could pray.  We ended our prayer with two words that need no translation:  “Alleluia…..Amen!”

Then, after a tearful embrace, we walked quickly to opposite sides of the clearing and disappeared beneath the trees.”


We are told when we see an enemy, to attack to protect ourselves.  We are told I must get him, before he gets me.  God shows us another way.  Stop and pray no matter how many enemies are around and no matter how close they are too you.  In the midst of prayer, you will be amazed at what can really happen!



“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Matthew 5:44-45


Jennifer Van Allen




One Night

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Me:  Prodigal, are you awake?


Prodigal:  Sorry, I just finished a nap.  I was having a dream of running through the corn fields.


Me:  Well, I have a story of a dream that someone had when they were sleeping.  The story comes from the book Voices of the Faithful with Beth Moore and the story is from a missionary named Julie in Eastern Europe


We have so many plans for ministering among our people group.  Often, however, plans fail, never happen or are altered in ways that make our original thoughts completely unrecognizable.

We spent a lot of time, money, energy and prayers in one village.  It began to look like a black hole with no results.  Then one Sunday, a man from the village told the church he had had a dream in which a man told him to read the Bible!  He read through the Gospels in a couple of weeks, seeking the truth.

God has been teaching me that we can plan and strategize, but He causes His name to be honored.  How great is that!  We aren’t responsible for people coming to Christ.  When we see God causing His name to be honored, as with this man being drawn to Him solely through the Holy Spirit, we feel His presence and are blessed to witness His glory.

I found a verse that addresses how to build an altar and worship the Lord.  God emphasizes that there are to be no “dressed stones” or steps leading up to the altar (Ex 20:25).  God wants the complete focus of our worship, not the work of our hands.  God causes His name to be honored, not us, and if we try to take the credit for His work, our weakness and faults will be exposed.

When we see God moving, we are brought to our knees in worship.  We are encouraged that our witnessing is not in vain.


God thank you for YOUR plans and not my own!  Thank you for letting me witness YOUR plans!

Exodus 20:24

Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.


Jennifer Van Allen,





Walk By Faith

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Me:  Prodigal, wait up you are walking too fast!


Prodigal:  Sorry just ready to get there!  I have been waiting a lot and I am getting inpatient.


Me:  I know, here lets just take a break and I will share a poem with you.


Ruth Morgan wrote this poem.


Sometimes I’m sad.  I know not why

My heart is sore and distressed;

It seems the burdens of this world

Have settled on my heart.

And yet I know…I know that God

Who doeth all things right

Will lead me thus to understand

To walk by FAITH….not SIGHT.

And though I may not see the way

He’s planned for me to go…

That way seems dark to me just now

But oh, I’m sure He knows!

Today He guides my feeble step

Tomorrow’s in His right…

He has asked me to never fear…

But walk by FAITH…not SIGHT.

Some day the mists will roll away,

The sun will shine again.

I’ll see the beauty in the flowers

I’ll hear the bird’s refrain.

And then I’ll know my Father’s hand

Has led the way to light

Because I placed my hands in His

And walked by FAITH…not SIGHT


For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7


Jennifer Van Allen




When We Fight

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Prodigal:  Oh no, I can’t believe I did that, I was close to leveling up!


Me:  Prodigal, what has you upset?


Prodigal:  I am fighting these aliens and I almost was able to level up and I died. How frustrating!


Me:  Let’s take a break, I just found something in Chuck Swindoll’s book Living on the Ragged Edge and I wanted to share.


So long as I fight the hand of God, I do not learn the lessons He is attempting to place before me.  Everything that touches me comes through the hand of my heavenly Father who continues to love me, who continues to maintain control of my life, who continues to be totally responsible for my life as He does with all His created things.   That’s why He’s God!

I encourage you to put this issue to rest.  Come to terms with it.  Recognize and confess how futile it is to fight against the sovereign hand of God.  That is one of the greatest things that has reduced my anxiety level in the ministry.  When I find myself getting anxious again it is usually because the size of mankind has gotten greater than the size of my God.  The horizontal has overshadowed the vertical…and I have momentarily lost sight of who is still on the throne.

It seems you are getting too anxious right now.  Don’t worry, God’s hand is still open.  Give it  to Him right now.  All of it, just say that quick prayer of release and let God handle it.  There is a point to all this.  As you release He will slowly show you what He is trying to teach you!


Galatians 5:1

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


Jennifer Van Allen




Go Carolina!

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Me:  Prodigal, are you excited about Superbowl Sunday?


Prodigal:  I LOVE IT!  My team is the Panthers and we might win our very first Superbowl!!  It has been so fun to watch this team this year!  They really work together and feed off each others encouragement.


Me:  I agree, but a lot of people seem to be critical of them.


Prodigal:  When people make a difference and are of God, then people will always be critical of that.  It is the way of the world.


Me:  Well, before the game starts I thought I would share a little with what is on my mind.


As I wake up and spend time with God everyday, he teaches me and reminds me of what is important.  I would be so lost without Him.  I never want to thing that I don’t need Him.  I do remember when I lived my life and I thought I didn’t need Him.  I thought I was strong.  I thought I was independent.  I didn’t know God very well and He wasn’t close by and I didn’t have a lot of joy and peace.


My heart is just so filled with thankfulness and joy for those who have been with me along the way.  We were God’s team.  We are just loving Him and trying to share who is really is!  So here is my speech to my team!

Thank you for praying with me!

Thank you for encouragement!

Thank you for the times that I was confused and you told me the truth!

Thank you for being gracious with your good deeds! (There were so many)

Thank you not looking at me with judgement!

Thank you for your compassion!

Thank you for letting me be myself!

Thank you for a shoulder to cry on!

Thank you for being steadfast with our friendship!

Thank you for showing who Jesus is with your actions!!


Proverbs 19:17

He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.


Jennifer Van Allen