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 help...to keep me accountable, to call me out...love 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...

Reflect:
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?

Connect:
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.

https://youtu.be/Z92vaGrxnQU

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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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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Proven: Week 5 ~ Wrap Up

Have you risked this week?  I'd like to say that I have...but I don't know that I really have, I did have the opportunity to speak to the guys at prison last night and encourage them to risk.  How hard do you think it is for them to risk for Jesus in prison?  Yet, some of them are risking, living and sharing the gospel with gang bangers, drug dealers, and more.  It humbles me, to see their faith and love for Jesus.  I'm going to try to live this next week looking for opportunities to risk, to share Jesus with someone, anyone.  I want to live like this every single day!  I am so weak...but God!  I will simply take it one day at a time, and try to live expectantly and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Living with nothing to prove actually makes God-honoring risk a lot more fun. Just as Jesus risked His reputation to set a man free, we are able to more easily see and meet needs around us with less fear when we let go of controlling the circumstances and how our lives appear. - Jennie Allen (NTP)

Step into the Stream
What is one small or large risk you could take for the glory of God or the good of people?

Quench Your Thirst
Do you have diverse friendships? If so, how have they shaped you? What kinds of people intimidate you? What kinds of people do you not pursue? What keeps you from being close?  Hang out with someone different from you this week.

Simplify (I love this simplify stuff...I long to do it!...see my confession there?)
One night this week, beginning at sunset, do not use any electricity where you live.

  • Make s'mores
  • Read by candlelight
  • Initiate deep conversations
  • Look at the stars
Consider
What is the thing you most fear right now? Write it down or draw an image that represents it.  Now consider how your life would be different if that fear were conquered or overcome.
Consider the following ways to face that fear:
  • Confess it to a friend
  • Pray about it
  • Memorize Scripture that relates to overcoming it
  • Create an action plan
Now go do that.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18

Create (I'm going to throw this one out there...I, ahem, am a terrible artist but this would be fun to try and share, so do it if you're brave enough)
  1. Buy a canvas, a paint set, and paintbrushes (or even just gather simple stuff around your house)
  2. Sit and observe
  3. Paint or draw something that reminds you of God's beauty
  4. Share your artwork online using the hashtag #ProvenBibleStudy
Jesus shows us the way to freedom, what an example for us to follow!

I want to sink all I have in the field with the treasure that goes on forever because it is the wisest risk of my life. Is there a risk Christ is calling you to take? There is no more secure venture than risking on an eternal, loving, steadfast God.  What is holding you back?  - Jennie A. (Proven)

This is a risk song...You Make Me Brave, God will equip us and use us and enable us to do what He's called us to do!
https://youtu.be/_UglO7SGUWk

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Risking for Jesus

Have you ever listened to a missionary's story or someone else's story of faith and been amazed, touched, and overwhelmed with how God used their life for His Kingdom?  What about a teenage girl who sparked the great welsh revival?  Or Corrie ten Boom who was imprisoned for helping Jews escape the Nazi holocaust?  There are many stories like these, many we don't even have names for because they are believers living sold out lives for Jesus in their small towns and neighborhoods in their everyday.  See people, love them...risk and tell them about Jesus, show them who Jesus is. These aforementioned stories may seem like the extreme but they all started somewhere, they all started with obedience, risk.  I want to believe God, believe that He is all powerful and in control, and live like I believe it heeding to every prompt by the Holy Spirit living in me.

Why are we afraid to risk?  Fear of rejection, change, don't think we have the right words, afraid to live outside our comfort zones or are we just plain selfish?  I heard an Alaskan missionary speak last year and he said we tell ourselves that it isn't a convenient time to speak to someone (in the grocery store, doctor's office, etc) so we say nothing....but that there is never an inconvenient time to change a life.  Look for ways and opportunities for the Spirit to lead you into conversations about Jesus, let's start seeing the people in front of us.

I think there should be a God-honoring, obedient risk in our lives every single day. I'm not saying I want that to be true. I'm just saying I believe that Jesus lives on the other side of our comfort. And that when we get comfortable for too long, we start to miss our need for God. We tend to make most of our decisions based on our fears rather than on our faith. Obedient risk will simply be us leaning into His abundance, leaning into His love, simply believing that He will work, believing that He could take any situation and any boring day and cause life change to happen in it. This isn't just random risk, throwing caution to the wind. This is you stepping out of the boat toward whatever risk God puts in your path, no matter the cost. I want to love Him more than I want to appear religious. I want to love people enough to lead them to the One who can heal them. I want to be healed myself. I want to initiate for the good of those around me rather than pad my existence with comfort and ease. - Jennie Allen (NTP)

Some of my greatest "risk" moments have been with my own family members, my own children...uncomfortable conversations that I knew needed to happen, to honor Jesus and point them to Him.  I don't always do this well and sometimes I fail and stumble over my words or get strange looks (especially from strangers) and that's ok.  Lost people especially will think we are odd for loving Jesus wildly and even some of our Christian brothers and sisters will shake their heads at our risk.  When I quit my job last Summer and gave up half our income I thought I would get the "she's crazy" and maybe I did.  But I knew I was being obedient and clung to God's promise of never leaving, nor forsaking me and then I would ashamedly bawl and whine and feel like I was giving up too much or this was too hard and God would gently remind me that this was His plan for me, that He was in control, that He is bigger than all of these piddly things I was concerned about.  The risk...on paper looked completely ridiculous (our tax return even more so), how did we survive?  We serve a big and mighty God, that's how.  And can I tell you that we, my hubby and I, are having the time of our lives!?! We are!!  My husband and I get to do ministry together and we are closer to Jesus and each other than we ever have been.  God really does know what He's doing.  Risk, He's worth it.

There is no safer risk than throwing the weight of your life on an eternal, loving, steadfast God. - Jennie Allen (NTP).

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Proven: Week 5 ~ Risk: The End of Passivity

Risk for the Glory of God...is He worth it to you?  The weeks prior have been leading up to this...RISK, anything for Jesus!  I cried watching this week's video, if you haven't watched any sessions watch this one...please.

This week we are going to be studying Jesus healing the blind man on the Sabbath, Jesus' risk and the blind man's risk.  When we build and move for the glory of God we have nothing to prove and nothing to fear!  The rhythm of the world is safety, the rhythm of grace is risk.  Risk your comfort and step out in compassion, compassion for a lost and dying world. What price are you willing to pay so others can see?  Can see the Savior and be free?

Risk forces us to need Him, to need Jesus!  I am so inadequate, I need Jesus, I can do nothing on my own.  Jennie talks about humility and pride this week as well...pride keeps us passive and not willing to risk.  God put music in my heart for a reason, to use it for His Glory!  My pride kept me stagnant, it wasn't humility.  My pride kept me passive and I sat on my gifts for a long time calling it being content with what God had given me but really not doing what He called me to do.  Let me be real, I have moments of insecurity when I lead people in worshiping Jesus, I feel unsure of myself and sometimes like a bumbling idiot.  BUT, I am secure in who I am in Christ (most days), my risk forces me to rely on Him, on His Spirit in me to do whatever He wants, whatever He has called me to.  Here's an example: I do prison ministry, to most that is probably a risk but I have never been afraid or thought it "risky" at all, I love it!  Here's the risk... We were at a prison service last Spring and I told my testimony and led worship, at the end a man told me his sister had a TV ministry in North Carolina and that I needed to meet her.  So, I risked, I called her and we talked and prayed together and she asked me to come to a conference, she flew me and another woman to North Carolina last December; I flew with a woman I had never met, I sat on a panel with 7 black women who were all amazing and confident and yes, I felt inadequate and maybe even out of place but most of all... I felt peaceful...because I knew who I was to Jesus and in Jesus.  And I immediately loved these women and they loved me.  God has let me experience amazing things because of risking, the most amazing is seeing the lost come to faith in Him.

Let's not go through our Christian lives and risk very little for the cause of Christ.  Risking for Jesus is worth it.  What is your greatest hindrance in risking for Christ?  Let's not settle for comfortable but be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus.  Let's pray "Anything you want me to do, Lord, I'll do it for you!"

This week:
Watch the Lesson 5 video ~ Click Here ~
Read NTP (if you have it): Chapter 8 "No Longer Passive"
Proven Study Guide: Lesson 5 (Read/Study John 9)
Answer Questions from the study guide (pages 92-93)
What details do you notice about Jesus' interaction with the blind man?

How did the blind man respond to his healing?

How did the Pharisees respond to the healing?

Why was dealing with Jesus so difficult for them?

What do you think Jesus wants us to understand by His healing on the Sabbath?

It is appropriate to post this song along with this week's study.  A song I wrote last Summer "Anything".

https://youtu.be/zzyBqI3W4i0

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Proven: Week 4 ~ Wrap Up

Rest...we really can rest.

Our confidence comes from believing God can do anything, then stepping back and letting Him.

There's no need to worry about anything this world may throw at us, there's no need to fear, no need to strive for things that are beyond our control.  God's got this, He has us in His hands, in His care and if we will just stop and think about this big God and His power, love, sovereignty...we will feel silly worrying about anything at all.

Trust and rest in the grace and goodness and provision of God.

From Nothing to Prove:
Step into the Stream

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how worried are you today?
  • Name what you are most worried about right now.
Wade in Deeper
Dream a little. What would you do if nothing was holding you back?
  • Tell one person about the dream.
  • Commit to pray for the dream.
  • Identify and take one step toward that dream.
Quench Your Thirst
Invite a woman who loves Jesus and is older than you to lunch. During your conversation, ask her these questions:
  • How have you seen Jesus be faithful in your life?
  • When has God provided in abundance even though you doubted He could?
  • What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
Maybe you feel like you don't even know what to dream, maybe you're struggling with striving, or trusting, or resting in the Lord.  Give it over to Him, He loves you, He sees you, He has you.

I love this song by Tim Timmons "Rest My Soul"

https://youtu.be/K7Dyrt4xWGA

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