My Way

Me: The quilt is looking good!

Prodigal: Yes, it takes some work.

I was sitting, listening, and praying all at the same time. I was at work. This was a difficult hour. The room was a comfortable temperature. The office was the same. My desk was to the left of me, and then two chairs in front of me. I was looking at the person sitting in front of me. I had been seeing this person in counseling for several months.

I had been praying a lot for this person. See I could tell she wanted her way, and not God’s way. Her trials could only be solved by God’s way.

I had listened, empathized, and attempted to explain how God work’s best in our lives when we give up control. When we trust that He will lead us to the mountain top. We can then have a life where we stop fighting God.

She continued to resist God’s way. Her focus was about trying to keep her way. There had to be a way, that this would work. She just had not thought of it yet. The problem is that her solutions had not been working for over 25 years.

The issues that I was having is that after several sessions I began to understand something. The real problem was that she was attempting to get me to agree with her path. After weeks of this, we were going to meet a crossroads. See God’s way, and our way often reaches that point. We find ourselves in a place where we can’t hang on to both. We can’t continue. We come to that fork in the road. We have to choose.

I had reached that fork myself, so I understood how scary it could feel. I also understood why a lot of Christians have taken their road, and not that of God’s. Often God does not show us what His path will reveal. We cannot see all the twists and turns. We cannot see how safe, easy or difficult it will be. He really expects us to trust Him.

So we tell ourselves that at least on our path. I can control what it looks like. What we forget is the sovereignty of God. God can change you path at anytime. You can think the path from your point of view looks straight and easy with shade. After traveling for 500 yards He can make sure that it reaches a desert, a cliff or mud.

When we choose the path of God, it may be difficult, but we grow in trust,and we mature in Christ. We also receive unexpected blessing along the way.

After wrong turns, and trials in my life, I had begun to understand a little about this journey of trust. So here I was with a fork in the road as she was. She was so focused on her path, but she was trying to lead the counseling sessions on the path that was made by her. That meant she wanted me to go that way also.

If I agreed to her way. I would be ignoring God’s way.

No path, no matter how attractive it looks, is worth ignoring God’s way.

I knew the truth. How do you show someone else the truth? That is why I was praying while I was listening. The Holy Spirit had to show me, and I had limited time.

She suddenly started to quote scripture. She said one of her favorite verses was Proverbs 3:5.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

The scripture must have meant something to her. She had memorized it. I listened, and was glad that scripture was brought up.

She then began to explain to me what that scripture meant. She said that Trust in the Lord meant she was suppose to do all she can. What she can’t do she just gives to the Lord.

Now let’s look at that chapter together.

Proverbs 3:5,6,7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

We are not to look to our wisdom, and our way. We are not to think our way is wise. We with our whole heart, and not part of it turn to the Lord. It is not about our will but the Lord’s plans.

At that moment I thought how sad. She cannot understand scripture. She cannot see the truth of scripture. The Holy Spirit reminded me of more scripture.

Luke 24:45

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

With the truth of that scripture, I understood.

The Lord had not opened her mind.

We forget that people can go to church, serve on ministries, memorize scriptures, and yet are lost.

In order to know God. You can’t just know scripture, you have to be able to apply it in your life.

Can you apply those scripture that you are reading on Sunday. Can that person who is teaching it have the fruits of the scriptures in their life?

To me this day. It was another chance to praise God for the wisdom He has given me. It was also another reminder that sometimes what people say they are, and try to look like really is not the truth. Once you to start getting to know them, and ask questions, you find that their is no understanding of scripture. They are unable to apply it to their lives.

With this understand we begin to see that we have two paths to follow. One is God’s, and one is man’s. We need to be reminded when we have these forks in the roads that others who cannot understand God’s truth will tempt us with the wrong path. They may even quote scripture, but it is still the wrong path. The Holy Spirit with scripture will tell us the truth.

We can love another, but still discern where people are spiritually. The church is in the world, but lets not forget the world is in the church. We need to have eyes, and ears open to perceive the truth, and not fall for lies.

Ezekiel 12:2

Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Pharisees Cannot Cope

 

 

Prodigal:  I just ran into a pharisee.

Me:  I hoped you are prayed up!

Prodigal:  I think I need more prayers!

Me:  Maybe this will help you too.

 

The only thing the spirit of the Pharisees cannot cope with is a man or woman who fears God only.  Such a man or woman is beyond their legalistic control and it greatly unsettles them.

Every single revival of God has had to run the gauntlet of the Pharisees.

John Wesley had to preach in the fields because the churches said he was not of God.  Here is a paraphrase excerpt from his journal.

 

May 5th AM preached in St. Anne’s; was asked not to come back

May 5th PM preached at St. Johns’ deacons said ‘ get out and stay out”

May 12th AM preached at St. Jude’s;  can’t go back there.

May 12th PM preached at St. George’s; kicked out again.

May 19th AM preached at St. Andrew’s; elders called special meeting and said not to return.

May 26th AM preached in a field; got chased by a bull that was let loose.

June 2nd AM preached at the edge of town; police moved me on.

June 2nd PM preached in a pasture and 10,000 came to listen to me preach.

 

 

Do not give up!

 

Isaiah 6:3

And one called to another and said:  Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: I see you are working hard today.

Prodigal: Unto the Lord!

Me: Take a break and watch the video.

Prodigal: Sounds like a plan to me.

Click here to watch video

Proverbs 3:20

By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

What is First

Me:  It is another nice day to be outside!

Prodigal:  So I figured we could share while we are walking.

Me:  I already have something picked out!

This is from the book My Heart’s Cry by Anne Graham Lotz

Dr. Alan Redpath was an outstanding Bible teacher and preacher from Great Britain.  For years he pastored the great Moody Bible Church in downtown Chicago.  At the height of his ministry, the church was exploding while many national opportunities were opening for him to speak and write.  One day Dr. Redpath was in his study when he suddenly fell to the floor, unable to speak or move.  When his daughter discovered him, he was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined that he had had a massive stroke.  For three months he was totally incapacitated with no mobility at all.  He could not lift his head nor open his mouth nor move his feet nor raise his hand.

Yet, interestingly, his mind was clear and active.  Without ceasing, he bombarded the gates of heaven with his prayers for victory over the stroke, believing it had been sent by the devil to halt his ministry.  Day after day he asked God why he was allowed to remain in what was almost an outward vegetative state.  He became more and more defeated and depressed.

One day, lying propped up in bed, he looked over and saw his Bible lying on the table beside him.  It was open, and his eye fell on Psalm 39:10  “Remove thy stroke away from me:  I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.”  With shocking realization, he knew his stroke had been sent to him by God!  At the same moment, he knew the reason for it–that he had allowed busyness of his work for God to take precedence over his worship of God.  He had concentrated all of his time and attention and effort on bearing what he thought was fruit, and he had ignored his personal relationship with Christ!  As a result, while his life was extremely busy and active, it wasn’t fruitful from God’s perspective and therefore not acceptable to Him.  Immediately, Dr. Redpath repented of his sin.  Almost in the same instant, he found he could move and speak!  His health was restored!

The doctor declared it was a miracle, and it was!  The doctor also told Dr. Redpath he would have to greatly reduce his schedule and that he would never preach again.  Dr. Redpath just smiled.  When I heard him tell this story thirteen years after his stroke, he was preaching as he told it!  But he never again allowed his personal relationship with Christ to take a secondary position in his life.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Romans 5:12

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Suffering

 

Prodigal:  Sometimes I just don’t want to suffer.

Me:  Yes, but that is how we become more like Christ.

Prodigal:  That makes me love Christ even more.

 

This is from the book The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

 

The death of Jesus was qualitatively different from any other death.  The physical pain was nothing compared to the spiritual experience of cosmic abandonment.   Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore, and imprisonment.  On the cross he went beyond even the worst torture, and imprisonment.  On the cross he went human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours.  In his death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken.  Why did he do it?  The Bible says that Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation.  He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.

 

My covenant will I not break, nor later the thing that is gone out of my lips

Psalm 89:34

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

God Always Did the Growing

Me: That tree has been there a while.

Prodigal: Yes, and it looks like it will remain.

I am looking straight ahead. I have stopped. I am not sure why I have stopped. But what is in front of me demands attention without even a sound. It is quiet. A warm breeze is in the air so that your skin does not feel a chill. The squirrels quickly run along the leaves on the ground which causes a rustling to reach your ears. There is no sense of threat. This area is not disturbed. Everything seems as it should.

I can’t take my eyes from what lays a couple of feet away. Most people probably would have kept on walking. Focused on the path, or focused on keeping a pace. Me I saw something different. It was a tree that was big, strong, and alone. The oak tree was not young. This mighty sapling had stood some time, winds, and rains.

As my eyes scanned the tree, something was not present. There were no fallen branches, dead leaves, or signs of disease on this old oak. No this tree, stood, and stretched out with its branches reaching for the sun light. It reminded me of a soul, of a blessing of the Lord.

What have you gone through oak? What have you seen, and yet you remain standing, and have domain on this area where you have been planted.

We cannot trust the Lord unless we learn from this oak. We have to survive, threats, seasons, weather, and our surroundings. We have to reach out to find the sun, nutrients, and to grow.

At first we are trying to strive so much, and are so small we are not noticed. But if we continue in years, and seasons, we grow without noticing. We grow, and spread out limbs. It is then that we being to resemble a tree. A tree that some people will stop to notice. It then that some will notice our strength, and notice that we have not succumb to the threats that seem always around us. Without saying, without trying people will know that we trust the Lord, and the Lord is with us.

But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending our roots to the water. It is not afraid when hot weather comes, because its leaves stay green; it has no worries when there is no rain; it keeps on bearing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Lukewarm Do Not Act

Prodigal:  My friend wanted to hear more about lukewarm people.

Me:  Well, I was just reading about it so I will share.

This is from the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (James 1:22)

“Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17)

“What do you think?  There was a man who had two sons.  he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard. “I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.  The the father went to the other son and said the same thing.  He answered, “I will sit, but he did not go.  Which of the two did what his father wanted?  “The first, ” they answered” (Matt 21:28-31).

We are all called to stand for Christ.  That means the radical will happen because standing firm, and not compromising today means that we will have enemies.  That means that people will hurt us, and disappoint us.  We are called to continue even when that happens.

O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.

Lamentations 3:58

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Choose

 

Prodigal:  Hi, I am glad we get to spend time together.

Me:  Me too.

 

This is from the book Abraham:  One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith by Charles Swindoll

 

Each morning you wake up with a fresh opportunity to live that day well, to see your next twenty-four hours as a series of choices.  The Lord has granted you a genuine stake in what the day holds.  Choose a positive attitude.  Choose to seek out and focus on the good things.  Choose to face your opportunities with eager anticipation.  Choose to set aside your own expectations, and then embrace what God chooses to do.   Choose to live in a constant state of surprise by laying aside your will and letting the Lord’s will unfold.

Choose your friends well.  Be kind to everyone, but distance yourself from negative people, or you will become like them.  If they’re selfish, you, too, will become self-serving.  If their world revolves around themselves, you, too, will become narcissistic, cynical, and bitter.

 

 

In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14:2

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Just Passing By

 

Me:  Where are you going?

Prodigal:  I’m just passing by, on the way to the store.

Me:  That reminds me of a story.

 

This comes from the book  Angels Watching Over Us

 

Six months earlier, during a winter blizzard, Kathy’s car had spun off an icy road in a series of graceful pirouettes and come to rest in a deep, snow-filled ditch.

Fortunately, there were no other cars around to get tangled up with, but that also meant no one would likely be coming along for hours.  This was Kathy’s usual shortcut on country back roads between her house and the courthouse in town where she was a circuit court judge.

Used to weighing the facts and options of each situation, Kathy knew this one was not good:  First, the pressure on her chest from the steering wheel where she was jammed would kill her if the subzero temperature didn’t do it first.  Second, the airbag had deflated as quickly as it expanded and was threatening to suffocate her.  And third, no matter how much she wriggled, she couldn’t move enough to reach her cell phone for help.

She had no idea how long it had been since the accident, but she knew that the deepening lethargy creeping through her body was a warning that she was about to lose consciousness.  She drifted in and out of awareness, so cold that she could no longer shiver.

Suddenly, a man–ordinary looking in denim coveralls, a hooded parka, and a red-checked hat- appeared beside her car.

“Are you okay, lady?” he asked.

She could only nod, not having enough room to inhale deeply for a shout.

“We’ll have you out of there in a minute,” he said.

Before she could whisper, “Thank you, ” he disappeared.

She didn’t see him return but heard a noise behind her.  Glancing up in the rearview mirror, she saw him shoveling snow away from the exhaust.  Of course-the carbon monoxide would have killed her even before the cold or the steering wheel’s pressure.

“Sit still now,” the man said, shouting through the back window.  “I’m going to be making some noise.”

And, with that , she heard a wrenching sound as the rear station wagon door reluctantly opened.  The man crawled in and appeared behind her.

Carefully, he lowered the car’s seat back and helped her slide out to safety.  He held her in his arms and let her take in several deep breaths.

“We’ve got to keep moving,” he said.

Half pushing, half carrying her, the man got her up the steep embankment to the roadside.  An ambulance was just pulling up behind a farm livestock truck; she could smell the reassuringly familiar aroma of cows.  Gently the man set her down on the ground.  She closed her eyes lightly as she waited for the EMTs.  She opened her eyes again when she felt a blanket being wrapped around her.

“I’m so glad he called you,”  Kathy said to the EMT who was gently stabilizing and strapping her onto the stretcher.

“Who?”  said the EMT, looking around in confusion.  “Nobody called.  We were dispatched to another accident, but then we got the signal disregard it.  We just happened to be passing by.”

When Kathy’s husband went to the accident scene later that afternoon, the snowfall had erased any trace of an angel who’d worn a red checked hat and driven a stock truck.

 

For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever:  and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

2 Chronicles 7:16

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org