Gospel Shoes

Me:  That is a shoe!

Prodigal:  Well, you said you were going to share about gospel shoes, so I thought I would be prepared.

Me:  Well, I am glad you are thinking ahead.

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

When we have this joy of believing, we will also have an eagerness to share the gospel with others.  This is the gospel of peace that may be likened to the shoes of a Roman foot soldier.  Those shoes provided the strength and flexibility that a fighter would need to be fleet.  However, perhaps even more important than the mobility provided by the shoes was the stability it gave him in battle.  The Roman soldier’s shoes were heavily studded with nails in the sole.  This gave him the ability to hold his ground against the enemy.  The believer likewise has sure footing in the gospel.  He is grounded in the “gospel of peace” where there is a wholeness, a completeness, a satisfaction that he possesses, and a peace in the fullness of God’s covenant blessing–shalom.

Stand your ground today, knowing that the Lord goes before you.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful.

2 Peter 1:8

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodialpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

What A Mess!

Me:  That looks like a mess of red pipes?

Prodigal:  Yes, but I will find my way.

Me:  Jesus can lead you out of any type of mess.

This is from the book In the Grip of Grace:  You Can’t Fall Beyond His Love by Max Lucado

The loss of mystery has led to the loss of majesty.

The more we know, the less we believe.

No wonder there is no wonder.

We think we’ve figure it all out.

Strange, don’t you think?

Knowledge of the workings shouldn’t negate wonder.

Knowledge should stir wonder.

Who has more reason to worship than the

astronomer who has seen the stars?

Than the surgeon who has held a heart?

Than the oceangrapher who has pondered the depths?

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we are bound to give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodgialpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Fellow Believers

Me:  I am glad we are here today!

Prodigal:  Me too!  We could be someplace not so nice.

Me:  We should count our blessings.

This is from the book  Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan

One national missionary there served time in 14 different prisons between 1960 and 1975.  He spent 10 out of those 15 years suffering torture and ridicule for preaching the Gospel to his people.

His ordeal began when he baptized nine new believers and was arrested for doing so.  These five men and four women also were arrested, and each was sentenced to a year in prison.  He was sentenced to serve six years for influencing them.

The prison where they were sent was literally a dungeon of death.  About 25-30 people were jammed into one small room with no ventilation or sanitation.  The smell was so bad that newcomers often passed out in less than half an hour.

The place where Brother P. and his fellow believers were sent was crawling with lice and cockroaches.  Prisoners slept on dirt floors.  Rats and mice gnawed on fingers and toes during the night.  In the winter there was no hear; in summer no ventilation.  For food, the prisoners were allowed one cup of rice each day, but they had to build a fire on the ground to cook it.  The room was constantly filled with smoke because there was no chimney.  On that inadequate diet, most prisoners became seriously ill, and the stench of vomit was added to the other putrefying odors.  Yet miraculously, none of the Christians was sick for even one day during the entire year.

After serving their one-year sentences, the nine new believers were released.  Then the authorities decided to break Brother P.  They took his Bible away from him, chained him hand and foot, then forced him through a low doorway into a tiny cubicle previously used to store dead prisoners until relatives came to claim them.

In the damp darkness, the jailer predicted his sanity would not last more than a few days.  The room was so small that Brother P. could not stand up or even stretch out on the floor.  He could not build a fire to cook, so other prisoners slipped food under the door to keep him alive.

Lice ate away his underwear, but he could not scratch because of the chains, which soon cut his wrists and ankles to the bone.  It was winter, and nearly froze to death several times.  He could not tell day from night, but as he closed his eyes, God let him see the pages of the New Testament.  Although his Bible had been taken away, he was still able to read it in total darkness.  It sustained him as he endured the terrible torture.  For three months he was not allowed to speak to another human being.

Brother P was transferred to many other prisons.  In each, he continually shared his faith with both guards and prisoners.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

House of God

Me:  Nice house!

Prodigal:  Thank you!

Me:  I am actually going to share about houses today.

Prodigal:  I am ready.

This is from How to Rise Above Burnout by Malcolm Smith

You understand why religion was invented.  It was to keep God at a safe distance.  I used to believe that all the religions of the world were men reaching our for God.  It isn’t.  All the religions of the world are there to keep God at a safe distance.  You see, man knows there’s a God, but he’s scared spitless of Him, so he’s got to keep Him away.

So I know what we’ll do…we’ll build a God-house and put Him in there!  So we have the “house of God.”  That’s got Him off my back.  If He’s in His house, He’s not in mine!  We’ll give Him a certain day.  That’s it, we’ll give Him one day.  That gives me six.  I’ll give Him times.  We’ll have hours of prayer.  That means I won’t have to pray all the time.  Religion says, “Spend fifteen minutes in prayer everyday.”  That gets Him off your back.  Fifteen minutes.  You’ve got the other twenty-three and three quarters.  Right?  Keep Him at a distance.  See, I know He’s there, but keep Him at a distance.

I tell you what we’ll do….we’ll employ people full-time to talk to Him.  Then I don’t have to, see.  Religion.   All religion is like that.  I’m not joking.  Religion keeps God at arm’s length from man.  And now religion is uneasy.  Why?  Because the God they’re supposed to represent has really turned up among them.  And they’re very upset.  God has escaped!  He got out of the house!  And He’s walking among them, and He doesn’t fit at all what they thought He was like.

God escaped!  Don’t worry this is going to be fun!   The Lord and our path will be guided by His light.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have no see, and yet have believed.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Two Faces

Me: You look like you have two faces.

Prodigal: Maybe I do.

Two faces. What am I talking about? Our face that shows the spiritual and, our face that shows the flesh. We all have them.

Mine showed itself the other day. I love doing God’s work and enjoy seeing how He will show up during the day. Maybe it will be a perfect verse at the right time. Or a song that plays, and the voice I hear singing makes me smile. It could be just one sentence spoken by an acquaintance or, a chapter in a book. My day has a ton of ways the Lord can show Himself. That means each day is a gift from God and, something to look forward too.

This day, the face of the flesh showed up. I was not focused on God’s joy but wanted to go to Hawaii for a three week vacation and, just not show up for work. Was there a specific reason why? No.

I just put on the face of the flesh. I imagined that Hawaii on a beach was perfect with the waves and, the smell of the salt air. Being with God, doing His work or, watching His work meant nothing.

The face of the flesh remained. The face of the flesh was starting to increase. This face is a tricky one. See it seems that it will fit perfect. It appears to lure you into thinking that wearing this face will not matter but, truth is that people can see this face at times. People will notice that it does not look good on you. You are different and it is not a pleasant change.

I looked into the mirror briefly. You know this face of the flesh really didn’t sit well with me. I really didn’t like it. I could see the flaws. Wasn’t this suppose to bring me happiness? I thought this was going to make everything right. Maybe the other face is not so bad.

By God’s grace, He nudged me to pick up the face of the Spirit. He nudged me to forget Hawaii. You know there are people on the beach right now with no joy or peace. They are empty inside. Hawaii does not bring me joy. No it is just a distraction. It is distracting me from the Lord.

I look in the mirror again. This time I switched to the face of the spirit. This one seems to fit better. Somehow I don’t have burdens that seemed to be there before. I don’t envy or try to escape. I can just be. I take a breath and look up and into the mirror. Wait, I think I see something, is there light I see somehow? It’s amazing what a change of face will do.

Psalm 31:24

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

White Suit

Me:  You and Romans are looking good!

Prodigal:  Thank you!

Me:  It is good to dress nice sometimes.

This is from the book  Where Angels Walk by Joan Wester Anderson

Louis Torres, a youth minister who now works in Mexico, was the director of a Teen Challenge Center in Philadelphia.  He spoke to Betty’s church congregation one morning and further confirmed the Biblical perception of angels as strong soldiers who sometimes remains invisible except to those who need to see them in order to be convinced.  Betty reports this story about a young woman named Myra, which Torres told her congregation:  Myra worked for Teen Challenge at the time Torres did.  Since it was located in a rough part of the inner city, she was concerned for the teens who had shown interest in receiving Christian counsel.  It was difficult for them to visit the center because on the streets just outside, a group from one of the local gangs repeatedly harassed them.  For a short while each evening, Myra was alone at the Center, and the gang bothered her as well, banging on the door and shouting obscenities.

One night when the gang appeared, Myra suddenly felt inspired to tell them about Jesus.  Knowing the danger, she first prayed for guidance.  Yes, she felt sure she had heard the Lord correctly.  She opened the door and walked outside.

The gang moved around her and, keeping her voice steady, she spoke to them about Jesus.

Instead of listening to her, however, the gang shouted threats of drowning her in the nearby river.  Trying to appear calm, Myra walked back through the door of the Center and shut it.  They didn’t follow her.

The next evening the thugs were back, once again banging on the door, and threatening her life.  Still believing she should try and reach out to them, Myra breathe a prayer to Jesus.  “Lord, let your angels come with me and protect me,”  she murmured.

Then she opened the door and was about to speak when the gang members suddenly stopped their shouting, turned to look at one another and left silently and quickly.  Myra was surprised.  Why had they gone?

The  gang did not return for several days.  Then one afternoon, to the surprise of everyone, they entered the Center in an orderly fashion.  Much later, after a relationship of trust had been built with them, Louis Torres asked them what had made them drop their threats against Myra and leave so peacefully that night.

One young man spoke up.  “We wouldn’t dare touch her after her boyfriend showed up.  That dude had to be seven feet tall.”

“I didn’t know Myra had a boyfriend,”  replied Louis thoughtfully.  “But at any rate, she was alone here that night.”

“No, we saw him,” insisted another gang member.  “He was right behind her.

“He was big as life in his classy white suit.”

Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fished of the sea shall declare unto thee.  Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?

Job 12:8-9

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Tablecloth

 

 

Me:  How is the card making going?

Prodigal:  That sweet young thing is as green as summer grass.

Me:  It is the heart that counts!

Prodigal:  Especially when it comes to card making!

 

This is from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Stories of Faith by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

 

A young minister had been called to serve at an old church that at one time had been a magnificent edifice in a wealthy part of town.  Now the area was in a state of decline and the church was in bad shape.  Nevertheless, the pastor and his wife were thrilled with the church and believed they could restore it to its magnificence.

When the minster took charge of the church early in October 1948, he and his wife immediately went to work painting, repairing and attempting to restore it.  Their goal was to have the old edifice looking its best for Christmas Eve services.

Just two days before Christmas, however, a storm swept through the area, dumping more than an inch of rain.  The roof of the old church sprung a leak just behind the altar.  The plaster soaked up the water as if it were a sponge and then crumbled, leaving a gaping hole in the wall.

Dejected, the pastor and his wife looked at the defaced wall.  There was obviously no chance to repair the damage before Christmas.  Nearly three months of hard work had been washed away.  Yet the young couple accepted the damage as God’s will and set about cleaning up the damp debris.

It was depressed minister and his wife who attended a benefit auction for the church youth group that afternoon.  One of the items put up for bid was an old gold-and-ivory-colored lace tablecloth, nearly fifteen feet long.

Seized with an inspiration, the pastor was the high bidder at $6.50.  His idea was to hang the ornate cloth behind the altar to cover the ragged hole in the wall.

On the day before Christmas, snowflakes mingled wit the howling wind.  As the pastor unlocked the church doors, he noticed an older woman standing at the nearby bus stop.  He knew the bus wouldn’t be there for at least half an hour, so he invited her inside to keep warm.

She wasn’t from the neighborhood, she explained.  She had been in the area to be interviewed for a job as a governess to the children of a well-known wealthy family.  She had been a war refuge, her English was poor and she didn’t get the job.

Head bowed in prayer, she sat in a pew near the back of the church.  She paid no attention to the pastor, who was hanging the tablecloth across the unsightly hole.  When the woman looked up and saw the cloth, she rushed to the altar.

“It’s mine!” she exclaimed.  “It’s my banquet cloth!”

Excitedly she told the surprised minister its history and even showed him her initials embroidered in one corner.

She had her husband had lived in Vienna, Austria, and had opposed the Nazis before the Second World War.  They decided to flee to Switzerland, but her husband said they must go separately.  She left first.  Later she heard that the had died in a concentration camp.

Touched by her story, the minister insisted she take the cloth.  She thought about it for a moment but said no, she didn’t need it any longer, and it did look pretty hanging behind the altar.  Then she said goodbye and left.

In the candlelight of the Christmas Eve services, the tablecloth looked even more magnificent.  The white lace seemed dazzling in the flickering light of the candles, and the golden threads woven through it were like the brilliant rays of a new dawn.

As members of the congregation left the church, they complimented the pastor on the services and on how beautiful the church looked.

One older gentleman lingered, admiring the tablecloth, and as he was leaving he said to the minister:

“It’s strange.  Many years ago my wife-God rest her –and I owned such a tablecloth.  She used it on very special occasions.  But we lived in Vienna then.”

The night air was freezing, but the goosebumps on the pastor’s skin weren’t caused by the weather.  As calmly as he could, he told the man about the woman who had been to the church that very afternoon.

“Can it be,” gasped the old man, tears streaming down his cheeks, “that she is alive?  How can I find her?”

The pastor remembered the name of the family who had interviewed the woman.  With the trembling old man at his side, he telephoned the family and learned her name and address.

In the pastor’s old car they drove to her home on the other side of town.  Together they knocked on her apartment door.  When she opened it, the pastor witnessed the tearful, joyful and thrilling reunion of husband and wife.

 

 

The thing that hath been , it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and that is no new thing under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

 

 

Substitution

Me:  You have a long way to go!

Prodigal:  Yes, but Jesus is by my side 🙂

Me:  I will be with you too!

This is from Dr. J. L. Packer

that Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgement for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption and glory.  To affirm penal substitution is to say that believers are in debt to Christ specifically for this, and that this is the mainspring of all their joy, peace and praise both now and for eternity.

Love is the foundation that changed everything.  It was not control or power.  It was Jesus and a love that would continue to shock the world for thousands of years.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Isaiah 52:7

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org