I Take God

Me:  Today is the day that the Lord has made.

Prodigal:  Yes,  who knows what the Lord will provide.

Me:  Let’s begin with a focus on Christ.

These are the words that Philip Henry, father of Matthew Henry wrote for his children.

I take God to be my chief end and highest good.

I take God the Son to be my prince and Savior.

I take God the Holy Spirit to be my sanctification,

teacher, guide, and comforter.

I take the Word of God to be my rule in all my actions

and the people of God to be my people

under all conditions.

I do hereby dedicate and devote to the Lord all I am,

all I have,

and all I can do.

And this I do deliberately, freely, and forever.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:4

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

A Prince or A King

Me: That chair looks like a throne.

Prodigal: It fits me, don’t you think.

Me: Sure, you are fit for royalty.

I had a busy day at the office, and my introverted self did not want to talk to anyone when I got home. The perfect night after this day was going to watch Netflix. I just wanted to indulge myself, and recharge from the day.

I decided on a foreign show to watch that night. Something different than anything I experience on a daily basis. It was another culture, another time in history, and different beliefs. I clicked on the play button for the show, and my attention was engrossed in the story line that was unfolding.

A prince had made a friend in the palace. This friend had been challenged for several days with certain duties she had to perform. They show her running around hectic and, pushing through all the demands she had. The prince noticed she had not been eating because of her taxing obligations. He took it upon himself to make sure that she had food to eat. Several scenes show him appearing at different times just to give her food. One time she only got a single bite to eat but it helped her at that one moment.

I started thinking how nice. That is very thoughtful that in a busy week someone stops to make sure that their was food available. That nourishment is vital to being able to replenish the energy needed to continue with the task at hand. I started thinking how a prince helping me like that would be wonderful with some of my obligations.

That it when it hit me immediately. I don’t have a prince feeding me, I have a king.

John 6:35

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

My king makes sure that when the world’s thoughts, and motives are surrounding me on a hectic day, He is their with a morsel of truth. I am running between appointments but a bible verse shows up that feeds me for the hour. I have several phone calls to make and a song comes on that helps me worship my God for one minute. I am trying to focus on task at hand and develop plans and, a person reminds me that God is there. I am weary after a long day and the Lord makes sure that my devotion shows me that He sees my weariness.

My king shows up day and night to make sure that I am feed.

It was not always like that. When I thought it was my kingdom and I ruled. I had to do it alone. No one was there to give me the smallest morsel of food or encouragement. I had to find it on my own.

I then acknowledge Jesus as the ruler of this kingdom and since then He reaches out in personal ways to make sure that I know He is watching and He cares. I never know when He will show up next, or how He will show up, but this I know. He has showed up so many days and, hours already that I do not doubt His love for me. Even when I do doubt His love at an especially difficult time, my king shows up then also.

How special that makes me feel, and how cherished I feel from that acknowledgement. God’s word is truth and, His promises are real. Some have not seen how our King really serves us. They think that cannot be true. I have to do it all on my own. Our king could not love me like that because of my faults.

The Lord does not love us for faults or perfection. He loves us just because we are part of his kingdom. He loves us because a great King would love those who He rules. A great King would make sure his subjects are not without support.

I went back to my show. I did not think that the woman had a better deal than me. I knew that my king and, the kingdom that I was in was far better and had so many possibilities. I could only pray that she would know that kingdom one day if she does not already. May you know what our kingdom is really like and the King that we really serve!

Matthew 6:11

Give us this day our daily bread.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Lukewarm

Me:  How is the water?

Prodigal:  It is lukewarm.

Me:  That might be good for swimming but the Lord does not like that.

This is from the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly.  It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.

“The Lord says:  “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isa. 29:13)

LUKEWARM  PEOPLE give money to charity and to the church….as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.  If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so.  After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?

“King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price.  I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing” (1 Chron. 21:24).

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  ‘ I tell you the truth, ‘ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.  They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:26)

“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1)

“Everything they do is done for men to see:  They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them “Rabbi” (Matt. 23:5-7)

For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Gardener

 

 

 

Me:  Look at those branches!

Prodigal:  I know, they are seem to be growing together.

Me:  Yes, they do, someone has taken care of that tree.

 

This is from the book  Longing for More of Jesus:  My Heart’s Cry by Anne Graham Lotz

 

Fruit is only borne in abundance on tender, fairly new growth.  As the wood of a branch gets older, it tends to get harder.  So even though a branch is living and is connected to the vine, it can become barren.  Still leaving the branch connected to the vine, the gardener cuts back the old, hard wood, forcing it into new growth that will produce fruit instead of just more wood and leaves.  In fact, there are times when he cuts branch back so drastically all that is left of it is the connection to the vine.

Jesus described this drastic pruning in a believer’s life when He explained that the Gardener “cuts off every branch in me that bears o fruit” (15:2).  There are times when God cuts everything out of our lives except our relationship with Jesus.  He forces us to pay attention to our relationship with Him because that’s all we have.  And in the process, our “connection” to the Vine is enlarged and fruit is produced.

 

We may be a little fruity, but God planned that to be a good thing!

 

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.  Jeremiah 3:15

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

God Promotion

Prodigal:  You are talking a lot about yourself today.

Me:  Maybe I should not focus so much on myself.

Prodigal:  You do not want to become prideful.

This is from the book A Man of Grace and Grit:  Paul by Charles Swindoll

We love to promote and independent spirit without ever considering the value of time-forged character.  God never promotes like that.  God takes His time.  When God plans to use us, He puts us through the paces.  He allows a certain amount of suffering.  God may use the strong, stubborn, independent individualists in the world , but not long-term.  He much prefers the humble, the broken, the bruised, the humble, even the crushed.  He works more effectively in the lives of people who’ve learned they can’t make it on their own, especially those who acknowledge they desperately need God and others.  

Keep yourself small.  Keep yourself as the one who needs Christ the most.  You quickly turn to pride and can quickly make decisions without Christ.  So remain as one who is desperately dependent on God.

For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

2 Corinthians 1:20

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Service of the Heart

Prodigal:  This place just has a calming peace with it.

Me:  I know,  to stop and pray would be amazing!

Prodigal:  That would be wonderful.

This is from the book

How Firm a Foundation:  A Gift of Jewish Wisdom for Christians and Jews by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

The reason why we pray, said William James, is simply that we cannot help praying.  Prayer is the most natural and universal human urge, man’s spiritual ladder linking him with ultimacy itself.  It springs almost instinctively from the human condition in which man, a finite being, encounters a personal, infinite, and loving God, one who hears man’s cries and is deeply concerned for his welfare.  Prayer represents the language and music of our souls.  Its enrapturing power penetrates to the very core of our being.  Prayer gives expression to man’s longing for devekut (“union with the divine”) and to his feelings of awe and wonder over God’s creation.  It stems from man’s quest to encounter the living God and from his thirst to communicate with him.  It flows from our abiding faith in God’s immanence and from our unswerving trust that “the Lord is near to all who call upon him …in truth” (Ps. 145:18).  The mystical tradition describes the purifying, regenerative magic of prayer in the following manner:  “As the flame clothes the black, sooty clod in a garment of fire and releases the heat imprisoned therein, even so does prayer clothe a man in a garment of holiness, evoke the light and fire implanted within him by his Maker, illumine his whole being, and unite the Lower and the Higher Worlds.”  Indeed, “would that man would pray all day” (B.T., Ber 21a).

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.  1 John 5:20

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodgialpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

My Friend

Me: I am happy that the Lord has blessed this day.

Prodigal: You can always find a blessing in every day.

Sometimes it hurts you, that you can’t do it for them. You can see the other side. You can see how this will bring in peace, but you can’t do it for them. As my friend described her sorrow with held back tears, I knew she was struggling just to share with me. I also knew that the answer was grace. She had to receive grace.

My friend was dealing with performance issues. The years had added on this idea that she need to perform to receive anything. She needed to be the best or it did not count. The problem that keeps creating a road block is that she is not perfect. She does not attain where she thinks she needs to be. What is on the other side of that road block is grace. She just needs to reach out and, believe that it is real.

One thing unfortunately that I see in Christians, is a lot of talk of grace but they do not believe it is real. Grace is every where in the christian culture. There will be writing, talking and memorizing scripture on grace in almost every church. Why is it not believed?

I think it is because we know of Christians we ourselves have approached. When we reached out with an expected heart, fretful spirit and pleading eyes, the results were a refusal to give us grace. Then we our spirits were crushed.

Confusion may set in because you hear so much talk about grace around you. To reconcile the tangling of emotion, you start to ponder, maybe you did something wrong and forgiveness is needed. That turns into a different story. Condemnation and shame will be thrown at you and you some how leave thinking that if only you performed well enough. Maybe then you could have earned grace.

The way to overcome the fluster of emotions is to turn to Jesus. The Jesus I see really did give grace. The Christians I had run into had their eyes and ears closed. They really did not understand it. So why would I expect them to believe that I would really give them grace. They had never see it among themselves.

So here I was with my friend, struggling with no peace in her heart. The overwhelming since of wrong of who she was, kept drowning out the joy. She had been caught in the same cycle of condemnation, shame and confusion.

She didn’t really believe grace was good enough for her. She really did not believe she could receive that much love, if she only reached out.

I couldn’t do it for her. I can’t make her believe grace is real. I keep praying for her. I noticed that some days are better than others. I noticed that sometimes she has peace. Other days performance is the focus and it tears her spirit in shreds because her performance cannot solve it.

She still has not reached out for grace yet. I am waiting for that day. I am waiting because I will rejoice with her. I will rejoice that finally she really does see what love is all about and she will see that her identity is in the grace and love of Christ.

I know she will get there. In till then, I will sorrow when she sorrows and weep when she weeps. I will also be the one rejoicing as she rejoices.

Isaiah 30:21

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

From Guilt to Love

Prodigal:  The sunshine feels good on my face.

Me:  Yes, we are need of some light at times.

Prodigal:  Jesus is light.

Me:  That He is.

This is from the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Most Christians have been taught in church or by their parents to set aside a daily time for prayer and Scripture reading.  It’s what we are supposed to do, and so for a long time it’s what I valiantly attempted.  When I didn’t, I felt guilty.

Over time I realized that when we love God, we naturally run to Him–frequently and zealously.  Jesus didn’t command that we have a regular time with Him each day.  Rather, He tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  He called this the “first and greatest commandment”  (Matt. 22:37-38).  The results are intimate prayer and study of His Word.  Our motivation changes from guilt to love.

God wants your love and He is not that concerned with any perfection that you think you can give Him.

Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Matthew 5:14

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org