Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fraudulent Living

When we began this study several weeks ago I told you I would pour out my guts to you, would share intimately with you, would be an example to dig deep into the innermost recesses of our hearts and lay everything out.  And I've wondered over the past few weeks if I've really done that or asked myself what I can confess to you.  Here's my confession...I feel like a fraud today, like I haven't done enough, shared enough, spilled my guts enough and I need your forgiveness.  That's sin number one.  Sin number two...I'm a perfectionist, maybe that's laughable to some of you, ahem, but it's true and with this crazy CD recording I faced that perfectionism head-on this week.  And to be "perfectly" honest, it's not perfect and that's okay.  But I tortured myself pretty good and those around me (the hubby) with incessantly listening and ridiculing myself.  I even texted my producer and asked him to make one more change after I had given him the go to master everything.  He graciously obliged but geez...I'm a handful.  How ironic is all this?  God had to remind me that I have "nothing to prove" and remembering this truth gave me peace.  When I began this recording process I had a clear goal, to glorify God, encourage those that would listen to it (my target is offenders) and share the Gospel through music, and help support Sing for the King Ministries.  I believe this is still intact and will indeed remain the goal but somewhere along the way I got in my own head and started over thinking, put too much pressure on myself, and dwelt too much on how this or I would be perceived.  And wonderfully enough, through this study this week I am reminded that my dirt does not define me, my inadequacies and perfectionism is not who I am and I can let it go..I'll try to let it go.  I really do want God to be in control of my life...I really do want to be led by the Holy Spirit instead of my own selfish ambitions...I really do want God to have the spotlight instead of me...I really do want Him to use me for His Glory, my good, and His Kingdom.  I really need His help, I really need your keep me accountable, to call me me enough to do it.

So many of our problems come when imperfect people try to act as if they have it all together.  We all have been there.  And what's the result?  We hide behind images we create of happy, clean, impressive lives.  We are exhausted.  - Jennie Allen (Nothing to Prove)

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Proven: Week 7 ~ Grace: The End of Shame

Confess, and repent.  We've talked about naming our sin, getting caught.  But once we've laid it out there, exposed it...we need to repent and believe.  Jesus forces us into the light to remove our shame, He wants us to be free.  Jennie talks about pride and humility here, none of us want to admit our guilt, our sin...but our pride keeps us from being right with God.  And as she so eloquently states, the rhythm of grace is brokenness.  The rhythm of grace is humility.  I don't know about you but I want to be free from shame but more than that, I want to live a life for His Glory no longer caring about what the world thinks or sees.  I find it so amazing that in this week's video Jennie talks about her son and praying a prayer of humility over him.  My youngest son just moved out of our house and more than him being successful in life, I want him to love Jesus and be right with Him.  I want that for myself as well and it comes from risking exposure, confessing my sin, and turning from it.  Let's bring Him the things we most want to hide from Him.

This week in John 13, Jesus teaches us about humility by washing the disciples feet.

This week:
Watch the Lesson 7 video ~ Click Here ~
Read NTP (if you have it): Chapter 10 "No Longer Ashamed"
Proven Study Guide: Lesson 7 (Read/Study John 13)
Answer Questions from the study guide (pages 132-133)
Describe Peter's reaction to Jesus' humble act.

Why do you think Jesus insisted on Peter receiving this cleansing?

What was Jesus hoping that His men understood by this act?

Describe the kind of love Jesus is calling us to in this chapter.

Why is Jesus so adamantly demonstrating and calling us to this kind of love (vs35)?

It starts with us. If we don't experience His forgiveness and His grace on a regular basis, then how could we give away His forgiveness and grace to anybody else? - J. Allen (Proven)

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Proven: Week 6 ~ Wrap Up

Intense stuff this week...facing fears, embracing suffering, letting go of control, trusting God.

We have to get to a place where we finally believe God is who He says He is, believe that God has a perfect plan that even includes our suffering...for our benefit and His Glory!

Those of us who have Jesus and are found in Him... (Jennie Allen, NTP)

  • We are free of worry about this life working out perfectly, because a perfect eternal life is coming.
  • We are free of guilt and shame, because we have been completely forgiven.
  • We are free of all fear, because who or what on this earth would we fear if God is with us?
  • We get to stop being afraid. Fear has no power over people who aren't afraid of the very worst being thrown at them.
We live in a broken and fallen world and we are going to face difficulties...hard, gut-wrenching moments that may even leave us wondering..."where are you Lord?" but He will be there, revealing His power, His grace, His love upon us and reminding us of the home we have waiting for us in Heaven.

After my son's heart breaking confession I leaned heavily on God, I sought out His promises in His Word and I began to trust Him more.  And throughout the last few years God has graciously shown me little glimpses of Himself in my son's life, what love our Lord has for me, for us!  He is faithful...

Face some of your darkest fears and hurts.  God already knows and He is there to strengthen and comfort you.  Take an hour or two by yourself with a journal and consider these questions.

What are some of your greatest disappointments? Can you see the presence and purpose of Jesus in those moments? Where? How?

What are some of your greatest doubts about God? Have you shared those doubts with Him? What do you think Jesus would say to the doubts?

What are some of your deepest hurts and insecurities? How does Jesus want to meet these needs in your life?

What are you most afraid of? What do you believe Jesus would say to your greatest fear?

Look for people who are suffering and find a way to encourage them. Grab some friends and visit a homeless shelter, prison or jail, nursing home or hospital. You don't even have to bring anything; just go talk to people. Look them in the eyes and hear their stories. Be with them. Practice the ministry of presence.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Faith Over Fear

Live believing.  The hope that Jesus gives is assurance, peace, and faith. If we believe God and trust in His plan then we have nothing to fear...even in suffering.

Is it conceivable that God may allow temporary suffering to expand our faith? Absolutely. (See Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:2-4)  Our faith, tried and tested, will lead us to our eternal home where pain and suffering will never touch us again.  But what if the very thing that God is allowing for our good, our faith, our hope, our perseverance, we keep pushing away and avoiding?  We can either move into the suffering within us and around us or we can try to avoid it. But if we choose avoidance, not only will we miss the hard parts but we will miss the best parts, too. - Jennie Allen (Proven)

John 11 - the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is all about our faith and His Glory.  I want to live for His Glory and have my faith strengthened.  I cannot attest to seeing someone raised from the dead but I have seen miracles in my own life in the midst of suffering that have resulted in a closer walk with my Savior.  In August 2010, I was pregnant with our third child, I was 11 weeks along and miscarried.  We were grief stricken with our loss but I had a peace that was beyond imagination.  Leading up to this loss I felt God preparing me for it, that may sound strange but He did...and He grew my faith and trust in Him in so many amazing ways.  Another example, my oldest son walked away from Jesus...and I was devastated.  It was one of the most heart wrenching moments of my life, this child that was on fire for Jesus, that was a leader amongst his peers in FCA, who preached in front of youth and adults, was telling his mama that he didn't know that he believed in God anymore.  I asked many to pray and then gave it to God, or at least I tried to.  During the year or so that followed God did a work on my heart, I lived believing in His promises, trusting Him more, and that whatever would happen in my son's life would be for God's glory.  And I began to pray differently for my son...if suffering or the hard things in life will bring my son back to loving Jesus then please Lord, do whatever it takes.  When he would call home and be distressed about something I would pray, Lord, use this to draw Him back to You.  In times of distress I ask God what He's going to teach me through this (most of the time, I'm still human, ya know).  It is freeing, this trusting God, believing He has everything under control.  He has proven Himself over and over again, in His Word, and in my own life and He is worthy of our trust and faith in Him.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Proven: Week 6 ~ Hope: The End of Fear

I heard speaker and author, Dr. Robert Loggins, say at a leadership conference recently that he was grateful for the suffering he and his family have endured.  An odd statement, right?  But it was because in those times of suffering he began to know Jesus more.

What if we are missing the very best parts by pushing away the hardest?  Jesus is calling you into the darkest places, because in the darkest places, His love and light burn brightest. - Jennie Allen

If we're honest we would say we don't want to suffer, we wouldn't choose suffering for ourselves or for anyone we cared about. But as Jennie states, Jesus' light shines brightest in the darkest places. Our suffering may show Jesus to someone and bring them to repentance, a loved one's pain may reveal Christ more to them in a way they've never known before.  Suffering, pain, and death in our loved ones, children, and servants of Jesus is difficult for us to comprehend.  Do we believe God?  We can!  Jesus gives us assurance and faith, He gives us hope!  And hope changes us and we get to live fearless, believing lives and it is worth it.

This week we will study John 11, this is not just a story about Jesus raising someone from the dead, this is a story of Jesus' tender love for us, His light shining in the darkness, glory to the Father, and so much more.

This week:
Watch the Lesson 6 video ~ Click Here ~
Read NTP (if you have it): Chapter 9 "No Longer Afraid"
Proven Study Guide: Lesson 6 (Read/Study John 11)
Answer Questions from the study guide (pages 111-112)
Why did Jesus wait to go to Lazarus?

What feelings and convictions do you hear in Martha's words in verses 21-22?

How did Jesus respond to Martha?

Describe Mary's faith and posture in verses 28-32? How was it different than Martha's?

How did Jesus respond to Mary?

Why do you think Jesus wept with Mary?

What did Jesus ultimately want for the people He loved (v. 15)?

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