In Time of Perplexity


Me:  Howdy! Prodigal.

Prodigal:  Howdy, I would love for you to take a walk with me!

Me:  I would like that and I can share with you also.


This is from the book Joy In Christ’s Presence by Charles Spurgeon


There was never a problem so difficult to solve as that which is answered in redemption.  The tremendous difficulty was in this:  How can God be just and yet be the Savior of sinners?  How can He fulfill His declarations against evil and yet forgive sin?  If that problem had been left to angels and men, they could never have worked it out throughout eternity.  But God has solved it by freely delivering up His own Son.

In the glorious sacrifice of Jesus we see the justice of God magnified.  He placed the whole weight of sin on the blessed Lord, who had become one with His chosen people.  Jesus identified Himself with His people, and therefore their sin was laid upon Him, and the sword of the Lord awoke against Him.  He was not arbitrarily to be a victim, but He was a voluntary Sufferer.  His relationship amounted to covenant oneness with His people, and “it behoved Christ to suffer”(Luke 24:46).


Psalms 9:7-8

But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.


Jennifer Van Allen

Pruning Time

Me:  Who is your friend there?

Prodigal:  He is the GREATEST wrestler in the whole wide world.

Me:  Who says that?

Prodigal:  He tells me that all the time.

Me:  If he keeps pattin’ himself on the back, he’s goin’ to break his arm.

Prodigal:  Maybe we should just focus on Christ.

Me:  I agree!


This is from the book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness by James P. Gills, M.D.

Referring to the analogy at hand, either to prevent or to bring us out of spiritual backsliding, the Father continually prunes our branch.  The vinedresser sometimes cuts a branch vigorously in order to encourage fruitfulness.  This pruning means that God brings painful experiences into our lives to make us seek Him more earnestly.  And those who are already bearing fruit are pruned so they may bear even more fruit.  In times of suffering you often have nothing else to hold to other than this reality.  Through the pruning, you will come to a new awareness, as the prodigal son did, and seek greater communion with Christ.  He “grafts” us into Him so that we can draw life from Him.  This fellowship with Christ gives us the strength to persevere and grow, and to rejoice in the midst of our trials.


When life goes down that path that looks like a dead end.  Do we turn from our Father?  Or do we praise Him knowing that even with a path of suffering he can bring sunshine and a blessing.


Romans 8:28

And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.


Jennifer Van Allen

Turn the Other Cheek


Me:  Enjoying your walk Prodigal?

Prodigal:  Yeah, but I’ve got more pains than a house full of old windows.

Me:  As you rest than let me share a story.


This is from God’s Little Devotional Book for Women


Ruth Bell Graham tells a humorous story about her daughters, Anne and Bunny.  When Ruth ran to the kitchen to investigate some loud cries, she found three-year-old Bunny holding her hand to her cheek, looking very disapprovingly at her sister.  “Mommy,” explained five-year-old Anne, “I’m teaching Bunny the Bible.  I’m slapping her on one cheek and teaching her to turn the other one so I can slap it too.

When we are wronged, our first response is more likely to fight back than to turn the other cheek.  But many have found that fighting back can be counterproductive.

Missionary E. Stanley Jones was being publicly slandered by someone he had once helped.  Jones’ first response was to write his accuser a letter he relates was “the kind of reply you are proud of the first five minutes, the second five minutes you’re not so certain, and the third five minutes you know you’re wrong.”

Jones knew his comments would win the argument, but lose the person.  “The Christian,” he said, “is not in the business of winning arguments, but winning people,”  and he tore up the letter.  A few weeks later–without having said a word–Jones received a letter of apology from the one who had turned on him.


Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles

Proverbs 21:23


Jennifer Van Allen


Community of Grace


Me:  Are you having fun with chalk?

Prodigal:  Yes, it can be relaxing.  Sometimes we just need to let loose.

Me:  As you finish, I will share.


This is from the book You Can Change by Tim Chester


The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  We are not allowed to be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkable horrified when a real sinner is discovered among the righteous.  So we remain alone with our sin, living the lies and hypocrisy.  But the fact is, we are sinners.


More is done with a group of sinners than with a group of hypocrites.  Who did Jesus go to?  Who did he turn and walk away from?  Who did Jesus die for?  See He died for both the hypocrites and the sinners but only the sinners really understand that and praise Him for that!


Acts 20:31-36


Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

And now brethren, I commend  you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.


Jennifer Van Allen

Flowers Outside


Me:  Leaving class?

Prodigal:  Yep and we were studying about Gregory of Nyssa

Me:  Very interesting.  I can share another story for you.

This is from the book Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey


My roommate for two years at a Christian college was a German named Reiner.  Returning to Germany after graduation, Reiner taught at a camp for the disable where, relying on college notes, he gave a stirring speech on the Victorious Christian Life.  “Regardless of the wheelchair you are sitting in, you can have victory, a full life.  God lives within you!”  he told his audience of paraplegics, cerebral palsy patients, and the mentally challenged.  He found it disconcerting to address people with poor muscle control.  Their heads wobbled, they slumped in their chairs, they drooled.

The campers found listening to Reiner equally disconcerting.  Some of them went to Gerta, director of the camp, and complained that they could not make sense of what he was saying. “Well then, tell him!” said Gerta.

One brave woman screwed up her courage and confronted Reiner.  “It’s like you’re talking about the sun, and we’re in a dark room with no windows.”  she said.  “We can’t understand anything you say.  You talk about solutions, about the flowers outside, about overcoming and victory.  These things don’t apply to us in our lives.”

My friend Reiner was crushed.  To him, the message seemed so clear.  He was quoting directly from Paul’s epistles, and was he not?  His pride wounded, he thought about coming at them with a kind of spiritual bludgeon:  There’s something wrong with you people.  You need to grow in the Lord.  You need to triumph over adversity.

Instead, after a night of prayer, Reiner returned with a different message.  “I don’t know what to say,”  he told them the next morning.  “I’m confused.  Without the message of victory, I don’t know what to say.”  He stayed silent and hung his head.

The woman who had confronted him finally spoke up from the room full of disabled people.  “Now we understand you, ” she said.  “Now we are ready to listen.”


Psalm 85:8

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.


Jennifer Van Allen

People in Your Life


Me:  Are you playing basketball?

Prodigal:  Yes, I am playing with my friend.

Me:  How are you doing?

Prodigal:  He’s so fast he can blow out the candle and jump into bed before it gets dark.

Me:  That must be a tough game then.

Prodigal:  It sure is.

Me:  Well let me share while you are resting.


This is from the book You Can Change by Tim Chester


God is using the different people, the contrasting personalities, in your church to change your heart.  He’s using the difficult people, the annoying people, the sinful people.  He’s placed you together so you can rub off each other’s rough edges.  It’s as if God has put us, like rocks, into a bag and is shaking us about so that we collide with one another.  Sometimes sparks fly, but gradually we become beautiful, smooth gemstones.  Remember the next time someone is rubbing you the wrong way that God is smoothing you down!  God has give you the person in his love as a gift to make you holy.  Sinclair Ferguson comments, “The church is a community in which we receive spiritual help, but also one in which deep-seated problems will come to the surface and will require treatment….We often discover things about our own hearts which we never anticipated.


Guess what I am one of those annoying sinful people.  I know sparks are flying but lets focus on Christ so that we become beautiful smooth gemstones.


Proverbs 21:21

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.


Jennifer Van Allen



Lions Roar


Me:  Howdy Prodigal and Lion!

Prodigal:  Howdy we have come to hear a story that my friend can relate too!

Me:  I hope it helps!


This come from the book God’s Little Devotional Book for Women


Birds sing….and never have to apologize for their songs.

Dogs bark and kittens meow…and never have to say, “I’m sorry for what I just said.”

Lions roar and hyenas howl…but they never have to retract their statements as being untrue.

The fact is, the members of the animal kingdom are themselves, and they are true in their expression to what they were created to be.

Many times we human beings find ourselves embarrassed at our own words–feeling apologetic, caught in an awkward moment, or recognizing we have spoken the wrong words at the wrong time–because we have begun evaluating the performance of others and develop a critical attitude.

The blue jay doesn’t criticize the robin.  The kitten doesn’t make snide remarks about the puppy.  The lion doesn’t ridicule the hyena.  In like manner, we should not put down others whom we can never fully understand, never fully appreciate, or never fully emulate.

Stick to singing your own song today, and appreciate the uniqueness of those around you.  You will easily avoid putting your foot in your mouth!

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.  Proverbs 15:28


Jennifer Van Allen

One Night


Me:  I don’t think that is a good friend to hang out with Prodigal.

Prodigal:  You don’t think so?

Me:  Well let’s just say he makes a hornet seem cuddly.


This is from the book The God who Hung on the Cross by Dois Rosser and Ellen Vaughn


In Vietnam, a pastor from Ho Chi Minh City, Thanh Huynh, felt that God was leading him to reach people in Ca Mau, a city in the southern tip of his country.  He traveled there, preached, baptized new believers, and rescued street children.  For these terrible “crimes,”  he was arrested repeatedly, harassed, and let go.

One night the policeman who kept arresting Pastor Thanh Huynh took him to the local police station.  When the policeman was asked by his superiors to give a report about the pastor’s activities, he opened his mouth to respond…and found that he was utterly unable to speak.  He could not say anything.

So the authorities had to let the pastor go.

Dumbfounded by this experience–literally–the policeman got a report a few weeks later that Pastor Thanh Huynh was back in town.  He snuck to the meeting, but this time, instead of just arresting the pastor, he listened. He heard the Gospel.  He decided to follow Jesus.

That former policeman went to seminary, and today, he is the pastor of one of the five churches that ICM has built in the Ca Mau area!


James 5:20

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.


Jennifer Van Allen

Hanging On A Tree

Me:  Are you hanging out in that tree?

Prodigal:  Yep, and why don’t you share with me.


In evil long I took delight,

Unawed by shame or fear,

Till a new object struck my sight,

And stopp’d my wild career:


I saw One hanging on a Tree

In agonies and blood,

Who fix’d His languid eyes on me.

As near His Cross I stood.


Sure never till my latest breath,

Can I forget that look:

It seem’d to charge me with His death,

Though not a word He spoke:


My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,

And plunged me in despair:

I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,

And help’d to nail Him there.

Alas!  I knew not what I did!

But now my tears are vain:

Where shall my trembling soul be hid?

For I the Lord have slain!


A second look He gave, which said,

“I freely all forgive;

This blood is for thy ransom paid;

I die that thou may’st live.”

Thus, while His death my sin displays

In all its blackest hue,

Such is the mystery of grace,

It seals my pardon too.


With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,

My spirit now is fill’d,

That I should such a life destroy,

Yet live by Him I kill’d!


John Newton 1779


Isaiah 38:7

And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken;


Jennifer Van Allen



Me:  Did you go to church this morning?

Prodigal:  Yes, I did but something about church wasn’t right.

Me:  Well, Let me share a poem with you.


Envy went to church this morning.

Being legion, he sat in every other pew.

Envy fingered wool and silk fabrics.

Hung price tags on suits and neckties.

Envy paced through the parking lot

Scrutinizing chrome and paint.

Envy marched through to the chancel with the choir

During the processional….

Envy prodded plain-jane wives,

And bright wives married to milquetoast dullards,

And kind men married to knife-tongued shrews.

Envy thumped at widows and widowers,

Jabbed and kicked college girls without escorts,

Lighted invisible fires inside khaki jackets.

Envy conferred also this morning

With all of his brothers.

He likes his Sunday scores today

But not enough;

Some of his intended clients

Had sipped an antidote marked Grace

And wore a holy flower named Love.

by  Elva McAllaster


Philippians 1:15-16

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will:  The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains


Jennifer Van Allen