Me:  What are you doing in that tree?

Prodigal:  I am looking for a squirrel, I just saw one but they are pretty fast.

Me:  They sure are,  I can share a story that I think will make you laugh.


This is from the book Parenting From Surviving to Thriving by Charles Swindoll


Many years ago, my good friend Ron Demolar operated a camp called Ponderosa at Mount Hermon in California, where he entertained middle-school kids from churches all over.  Now, Ron’s authentic to the core—he absolutely cannot stand clichéd Christianity and has a very mischievous sense of humor.  He told me about one particular year and how he decided to set the tone for the rest of the week.

He said, “All these kids showed up and were so busy impressing each other with their spirituality that I thought I would break the ice with some simple little questions.”  He started with, “Hey kids, what’s gray, runs real fast, has a big bushy tail, climbs trees, and hides nuts for the winter?”

The place was quieter than a room full of nuns.  The kids just sat and stared.  So he asked again, “Come on…what’s gray, runs real fast, has a big bushy tail, climbs, and hides nuts for the winter?”

Finally, a little girl sheepishly put up a hand.

“Yes, go ahead,”  He said.

The girl hesitated, then said, “I want to say a squirrel, but I’ll say Jesus Christ?”


Today do not try to impress others with knowledge.  Instead try to listen and see what God wants you to know in your heart.


Isaiah 58:6

This is the kind of fast I want.  I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke.


Jennifer Van Allen




Me:  What are you doing?

Prodigal:  I am getting the crib ready for the baby.

Me:  I have a story  about the baby.


This comes from the book Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore

She’s having a baby!

There was no better news to my ears than to hear that a woman in one of my Bible study groups was pregnant.  It was such exciting news that I cried.  The women and I have been praying for this for a very long time.  The news also just “happened” to reinforce our study points for that session;  the power of God, how God answered prayers and how we need to choose whom we are going to serve each day.

In the past, this woman and another woman were both desperate to become pregnant after years and years of trying.  They went to the witch doctor seeking some drugs or amulets to bring fertility to their wombs.  Babies are signs of blessing on their households, as well as insurance that they will be taken care of when they are old.  Children are very important in Africa.

After hearing about Jesus, both women decided to stop taking the medicine from the witch doctor and to trust in God.  We spent hours and hours praying for the two to become pregnant.  Now both women have been blessed with a pregnancy–showing the power of God and showing that He answers prayers.  These women chose to serve God instead of the witch doctor, and the entire village knew their choice.  Each day, we are faced with the same question of whom we will serve.  Choosing to serve the living God is the better way.

Suzie, Central and Eastern Africa


Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15


Jennifer Van Allen






Me:  What are you going to do with that axe Prodigal?

Prodigal:  I am about to chop some wood.

Me:  Well make sure the blade is sharp, it will make it easier.

Prodigal:  Thank you I will


Today I will share from the book Lectures to My Students from Charles Spurgeon


Every workman knows the necessity of keeping his tools in a good state of repair….If the workman lose the edge…he knows that there will be a greater draught upon his energies, or his work will be badly done…

It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or projects schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul, and body are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons for war….


We are still called today to nurture our spirits with Christ so that we can go out into battle.  We do not battle for ourselves but we battle for the Lord.


Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


Jennifer Van Allen



Beyond Opinion

Me:  Be careful Prodigal!

Prodigal:  Don’t worry I will.

Me:  Your friend seems mean that is all.

Prodigal:  He talks tough, but he couldn’t smash a grape in a fruit fight.

Me:  Ok, I believe you, lets talk about how to stand for the faith.


This book is Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias


When most Christian students hear statements that challenge the credibility of their faith  for the first time, they are often caught off guard and left speechless.  In fact, it is estimated that up to 51 percent of Christian college freshman will renounce their faith before they graduate from college.  They have no clue how to defend the biblical worldview because they were never trained to do so.


I turned my back on Jesus in college.  It was never my plan, the world just took me along with it.  Don’t let it happen to you.  I missed out on a lot when I was away from the Lord and it is only by His grace that he brought me back.


Matthew 7:20

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


Jennifer Van Allen




The Girl With the Apple


Me:  That is a good looking apple!

Prodigal:  Yes, I plan to enjoy it.

Me:  I hope you enjoy this story about an apple too!


It is bitter cold on this dark, winter day in 1944.  But it is no different than any other day in the Nazi concentration camp.  Back and forth I pace, trying to keep my emaciated body warm.  I am just a boy, and hungry.  I have been hungry for longer than I want to remember.  Edible food seems like a dream.  Each day, as more of us disappear, the happy past seems also like a dream, and I sink deeper into despair.

Suddenly, I see something moving in the field beyond the camp’s two barbed wire fences.  Families are working in the field; near the outer fence is a young girl.  With an eye out for the guards, I hurry to the inside fence.

The girl stops working and looks at me with sad eyes-eyes that seem to say she understands.  I ask, across twenty feet and two fences, if she has something to eat.  She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a red apple.  A beautiful, shiny red apply.  She looks to the left and to the right and then with a smile of triumph, throws the apple over the fences.  I pick it up, holding it in trembling, frozen fingers, then run away as fast as I can.  If the guards see us, we will both be shot.

The next day, I cannot help myself-I am drawn at the same time to that spot near the fences.  Am I crazy for hoping she will come again?  Of course.  But in here, I cling to any tiny scrap of hope.

She comes.  And again, she brings an apple, flinging it over the fences with that same sweet smile.  This time I catch it and hold it up for her to see.  Her eyes twinkle.  And for the first time in so long, I feel my heart move with emotion.

For seven months we meet like this.  Sometimes we exchange a few words.  Sometimes, just an apple.  But she is feeding more than my belly, this angel from heaven.  She is feeding my soul.  And somehow, I know I am feeding hers as well.

One day I hear frightening news:  We are being shipped to another camp.  The next day when I greet her, my heart is breaking.  I can barely speak.  “Do not bring me an apple tomorrow,”  I say.  “I am being sent to another camp.  We will never see each other again.”  Turning before I lose all control, I run away.  I cannot bear to look back.  If I did, I know she would see tears streaming down my face.

Months pass, and the nightmare continues.  Only the memory of this girl sustains me.  And then one day, just like that , the nightmare is over.  The war has ended.  Those of us still alive are freed.  I have lost everything precious to me, including my family.  But I still have the memory of the girl, a memory I carry in my heart as I move to American to start a new life.

The years go by.  It is 1957.  I live in New York City.  A friend convinces me to go on a blind date with a lady friend of his.  Reluctantly, I agree.  But she is nice, this woman named Roma.  And like me, she is an immigrant, so we have at least that in common.

“Where were you during the war?  Roma asks me gently, in that delicate way immigrants ask one another such questions.

“I was in a concentration camp in Germany, “I reply.

Roma gets a faraway look in her eyes.

“What is it?”  I ask.

“I am just thinking about something form my past, Herman,”  Roma explains in a voice suddenly very soft.  “You see, when I was a young girl, I lived near a concentration camp.  There was a boy there, a prisoner, and for a long while, I used to visit him every day.  I remember I used to bring him apples.  I would throw the apple over the fence, and he would be so happy.”

Roma sighs heavily and continues.  “It is hard to describe how we felt about each other–after all, we were so young, and we only exchanged a few words when we could–but I can tell you, there was much love there.  I assume he was killed like so many others.  But I cannot bear to think that, and so I try to remember him as he was for those months we were given together.”

With my heart pounding so hard I think it will explode, I look directly at Roma and ask, “And did that boy say to you one day, “Do not bring an apple tomorrow.  I am being sent to another camp.?”

“Why, yes,” Roma responds, her voice trembling, “But Herman, how on earth could you possibly know that?”

I take her hands in mine and answer, “Because I was that young boy, Roma.”

For many moments, there is only silence.  We cannot take our eyes from each other as we recognize the soul behind the eyes, the dear friend we once loved so much, whom we have never stopped loving.

Finally, I speak:  “Roma, I was separated from you once, and I don’t ever want to be separated from you again.  Now I am free, and I want to be together with you forever.  Dear, will you marry me?”

I see that twinkle in her eye I used to see as Roma says, “Yes, I will marry you.”  We embrace-the embrace we longed to share for so many months, but barbed wire came between us.  Now, nothing ever will again.


the story of Herman and Roma Rosenblat


Mark 9:50

Be at peace with each other


Jennifer Van Allen



I Will


Me:  Prodigal, there is an alligator behind you in that lake.

Prodigal:  I know I want to get closer to him.

Me:  You’re diggin’ your own grave with a spoon.

Prodigal:  Well I will try not to get to close.


I wanted to share today from the book I have a Friend Who’s Jewish Do You?  by Don Goldstein


First of all, many rabbis who have studied independently have become believers in Yeshua.  Have you ever heard of Rabbi Daniel Zion?  Probably not, yet he was the chief rabbi of Bulgaria during the Holocaust.  He saved hundreds of Jewish lives during that tragic period in our history.  A hero, yes?  In fact, he was so highly respected by the Orthodox leaders in Jerusalem that in 1954, he was offered the position of judge in Jerusalem’s Rabbinic court.  So why do you never hear about him?  He was never accepted the position because he was a believer in Yeshua and would not renounce his beliefs.


In the yeshivas, when the students are studying to become rabbis, they are not allowed to study the prophets without a rabbi there to explain what they are reading.  Furthermore the studying is focused on other rabbis’ commentaries (Talmud, Mishna, Targums, Midrash).  The sad fact is they believe the commentaries that previous rabbis wrote (by human wisdom and interpretation) are actually more important that the written word of G-d.


Only God has ultimate wisdom and not man.  Man’s best day can not out do God at any given moment.


Acts 4:11

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.


Jennifer Van Allen





Me:  Nice shoe Prodigal!

Prodigal:  You can say it is one of a kind.

Me:  That I will agree with.

Prodigal:  How about if you share a story.

Me:  How about if I share a story about shoes.


This is from the book Great Women of the Christian Faith written by Edith Deen and is a story about Amanda Smith


She depended on God to supply her simplest needs.  When the soles of her only shoes were so broken that they did not keep her feet dry, she prayed for shoes and heard a voice say:  “If thou canst believe;  all things are possible to him that believeth.”  She answered:  “Lord, the shoes are mine and I put them on as really as ever I put on a pair of shoes in my life.  O, how real it was!  When I got up I walked about and felt I really had the shoes I had asked for, on my feet.”  Three days later, while she was at church, a two-dollar bill and three one dollar bills were placed in her hand by a stranger.  She heard a voice say:  “You know you prayed about your shoes.”  Filled with gratitude, she observed in her autobiography:  “It was the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous.”


We forget to remember some of the small things that are the Lord’s doing but make a difference in our life.  What about that encouragement today that came from the unexpected person that helped lift you from despair to hope and rejoicing?  We may not need a lot of shoes in our society today but we sure could use a lot of encouraging.


Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


Jennifer Van Allen







Me:  Watcha doing Prodigal?

Prodigal:  I am making gravy.

Me:  I love the saying you don’t know your grits from gravy.

Prodigal:  Well trust me I do know my grits from my gravy and this is gravy!

Me:  I believe you do.


This comes from the book Hope Again When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade by Chuck Swindoll


One of the most frustrating things about Jesus is that He just won’t settle down.  He is constantly moving us away from the places where we would prefer to stay….And moving us closer to ….where we do not want to go.


This does not mean that He is mad or trying to harm you.  It just means that He is refining you so that He can work on skills that need improving.  See if it was up to us, we would never work on those skills because it would mean moving away from where we have become comfortable.  So even though it is difficult now, just keeping turning to Jesus and let your light shine among others.


Acts 1:17

For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.


Jennifer Van Allen





My Dear Sister


Me:  Your friend has a pretty dress on today.

Prodigal:  Yes, yesterday she was in a horn-tossin’ mood so I thought a visit from you would be good for her spirit.

Me:  Let me share something for all women.


This is the words from Sister Etter


My dear sister in Christ, as you hear these words may the Spirit of Christ come upon you, and make you willing to do the work the Lord has assigned to you.  It is high time for women to let their lights shine; to bring out their talents that have been hidden away rustling; and use them for the glory of God, and do with their might what their hands find to do, trusting God for strength, Who has said, “I will never leave you,”  Let us not plead weakness; God will use the weak things of the world to confound the wise.  We are sons and daughters of the Most High God.  Should we not honor our high calling and do all we can to save those who sit in the valley and shadow of death?  Did He not send Moses, Aaron–Miriam to be your leaders?  Barak dared not meet the enemy unless Deborah led the van.  The Lord raised up men, women, and children of His own choosing–Hannah, Hulda, Anna, Phoebe, Narcissus, Tryphena, Persis, Julia, the Marys and the sisters who co-labored with Paul.  Is it less becoming for women to labor in Christ’s kingdom and vineyard now than it was then?


1 Timothy 1:11

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.


Jennifer Van Allen



Need for Approval


Me:  Don’t fall in Prodigal!  You might get green all over you.

Prodigal:  It would be better than if I belly flopped into a pile of manure.

Me:  I am sure it would smell better too.

Prodigal:  That I agree with, but don’t worry, I am paying attention so I don’t take the wrong step.


This is from the book Parenting From Surviving to Thriving by Charles Swindoll


People with a poor self-image fail to set healthy boundaries, which leads them to accept abuse.  They can also allow themselves to be stretched and pulled and pushed and overextended by people who have no intention to abuse them.  But with such an overwhelming need for approval, people with no regard for self assume that acceptance means never saying no.


Jesus said no to the Pharisee’s

Jesus said no to Satan

Jesus said no to removing Paul’s thorn


Why do we think as Christians we cannot say no?  Why do you think you cannot say no?


Matthew 9:13

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice:  For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.


Jennifer Van Allen