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A Special Message From Jennie Allen

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Hello favorite awesome tribe!

What a few months! I have loved hearing many of your stories and have fallen madly in love with this beautiful spot on the internet. You are a mighty force. And God is moving here. To imagine all of your stories of surrender being played out in of your homes and in all of your cities is too much to take in. God is stirring.

It feels a kin to revival. I know we all are aching for just that. And nothing moves God more than surrendered lives who want him more than everything small here.

I pray for you and I will keep praying. Thank you for allowing me in your space. I will miss you but I will keep checking in. Come say hi now and again here:

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I just found myself rereading this entry that I wrote just after the book released. It was actually so good to remember how difficult this prayer has been at times because today I stand looking at an entire life I would be missing if I hadn’t prayed anything….

and I love my hard messy life. I have more God, more purpose, more joy, more peace even with the difficult.

Isn’t it true? The very most fulfilling parts of life are rarely the easiest.

So I don’t know if you stand looking at a cliff, fearing the worst or if you are giddy full of more God but I promise- this surrender- this deep over-the-top trust in such a good God is worth it.

Jesus does promise a backwards way of finding life:

“whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

I am cheering you as you each find your places in God’s story! And I pray our paths cross this side of heaven.

Bless you-

jennie

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more info concerning our upcoming Bible study in the coming weeks! Our next official online Bible study will begin September 2nd! Thanks for joining us and enjoy these next few weeks off. See you again in the fall!

Love Like Jesus

 

Discerning the Will of God

prayer
Your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

Wow, can you believe this study is just about over! It’s crazy how fast time can go by. Well let’s dig into our last verse.

Do you ever struggle with knowing the will of God? I do. Should I buy a used car or a new one? Should I attend this conference or another one?  Should I homeschool my kids? Should I have more children? Should we adopt? Should I marry this man? How should I discipline my children? Which church should we attend? Should I change jobs? What should I study in college? Should I eat these Cheettos? The list could go on and on.

We have a lot of questions throughout our lives–goodness, just throughout our day!–and we all want to know, “What does God want me to do?” The questions is good. But some of us have a tendency to think it’s really hard to know the will of God. As if it is something hidden that we must dig for. As if it is something we might miss.

I want us to take a step back and consider the two primary ways God’s will is taught in Scripture. There is his will of purpose and his will of precept.

God’s Will of Purpose

“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

God’s will of purpose is his sovereign control of all things. We will call this his “sovereign will” or his “will of decree.” In other words, what God has determined to do he does. He cannot be stopped and this will cannot be broken. It always comes to pass. This will is sometimes called God’s “secret will” (Deut. 29:29) because we do not know what it is until it happens, unless he tells us what he is going to do. ie. the return of Jesus Christ.

God’s Will of Precept

God’s will of precept are the things he commands us to do. Think–the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, all the commands in the New Testament, etc. This is God’s will for us to obey. This will does not always come to pass, as we disobey God all the time.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.”

Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands of us: holiness, sanctification, sexual purity.

Phil 2:14 says,” Do everything without complaining or arguing.” This is another example of God’s will for us. For me. For you. It’s also an example of a command that we disobey.

Keeping in mind the two ways we should be thinking of God’s will (purpose and precept) let’s take a look at verse 10 in the Lord’s Prayer. When it says, “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus is talking about God’s will of precept (commands). He is saying that in heaven God’s will is always perfectly carried out and obeyed, but it is not so on earth. Our prayer should be that earth will be made more like heaven. That we would not pick and choose which of God’s commands we feel like keeping, but that we would be willing do anything God asks of us. Anything!

Now back to the question about how do we know what the will of God is for our lives? The simplest and truest answer is we find it in scripture. Does the Bible tell us which house to choose? Yes, and no. No, it won’t give you the address, but we are given guidelines regarding how we should handle money, love our neighbors, etc. So we can ask ourselves questions like:

What are our motives for buying this house?
Is it a need?
Are we trying to keep up with the Joneses?
Do we have the money or will we live above our means?

While the Bible is filled with precepts and principles we will often times still need to wrestle in order to figure out what we should do in certain circumstances. But remember that God has promised to give us wisdom if we ask him. He has given us his word, his Spirit, and a counsel of godly people in our churches. He has not left us alone or ignorant.

The Gospel

While the Bible carries with it many commands, it is not primarily a book of precepts. It is a book of promises. The promise of God is that all who are united to Jesus by faith are made holy and blameless. It is only after we are rescued from our rebellion and cleansed from our impurity that we can delight in God’s will.

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, and say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” you are not only praying that righteousness would reign in the world, but you are offering yourself to God, embracing his will, and committing yourself to delight in his ways. You can do this because you no longer fear being condemned for your sin. Jesus has cleansed you. You are now free to follow God with the assurance that even when you fail, Jesus is your righteousness. So pray your “anything” prayer and see God work in amazing ways in your life.

Looking To Jesus,

jen-sig

 

 

 

 

Information for our next online Bible study:

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“The Lot” ~ When the very place you pray to leave is right where God wants to use you most…

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Wherever you are, there are people in need both spiritually and physically.  Where does God want to take your plenty and pour it out? ~ Anything, pg. 177

My sister was pouring her heart out in our late night phone conversation, and I could hear the raw emotion in her voice.  The logistics of their family’s recent move wouldn’t go on record as the smoothest one in history.  My sister, her husband, and their four young children had relocated states and ministries after my youth pastor brother-in-law took a position at a new church.  They left behind a familiar place and people that had generously loved on them for nearly fifteen years. Change is hard, but when God says go, you go. 

Yet two years later, they felt anything but settled.  Their stuff was still in storage while they waited for their house-in-another-city to sell.  The economy was struggling more than it had in years.  With no end in sight and no money to spare, they rented a tiny, run-down little place in a not-so-great-area of town, what they lovingly referred to as the “70′s Ranch.”   They overlooked water problems, treated mold issues, shared tight bedrooms, and slept on mattresses on the floor.  What they had determined to make work for a month or two turned into years of living without furniture, toys, clothing, dishes and other conveniences that most would consider necessities.

Month after month, prayer after prayer, there was still no sign of them leaving that “70′s Ranch.” But as time went on, I noticed that the subject of our late night phone conversations had shifted.  We no longer spent the majority of our time talking about poor living conditions or how hard it is for six people to share one bathroom.  Instead, I started to hear a passion in Teresa’s voice as she talked about the opportunities right outside her back door.

Somewhere along the way, when Teresa’s children would play in their back yard in that no-so-great part of town, random children began showing up.  Sometimes just one or two; other times, in masses. They all lived in the large government-subsidized apartment buildings located just behind the “70′s Ranch”, and they started jumping the fence into Teresa’s yard when their ears met with the sounds of joy and hope on the other side.

They were children who desperately needed someone to see them.  Children who were literally hungry, hurting, scared, and sometimes forgotten.  Children who looked at that “70′s Ranch” and saw a mansion.  Children who had never heard the name “Jesus.”

Right in that back yard.

… we were meant for so much more than the American dream.  It resonates because, in order to pursue the welfare of others, especially the marginalized, an element of death is involved; it costs something.  Financially, yes, but bigger than that, it costs our comfort.  The motto of this movement is “Do something.” ~ Anything, pg. 175

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Teresa’s family began sharing popsicles, hugs, and rides to church.  They hosted whiffle ball games and birthday parties, invited extras to their dinner table, and kept children until inattentive parents could be found.  They worked with their church to provide scholarships for a local church day camp, and even found themselves ministering to one young girl who ended up in the hospital, a victim of a terrible crime.

“Lord, open our eyes to something beyond our circumstances.  Father, use us here, for this time.”

And God did just that.

Relationships and trust grew, along with lessons on gratitude, contentment, and focusing on the eternal.  And that tiny little run-down house never did grow in size, but it grew exponentially in love.  God had a plan that far exceeded what things looked like on the surface.

_________________________

My sister’s out-of-town house eventually did sell, but not until after God had fulfilled His purpose for their time in that crazy rental. The space in between the “70′s Ranch” and those government apartments is now known as “The Lot,” and it comes alive every Sunday night with games, crafts, snacks and smiles through a ministry headed up by the children’s pastor, as well as my brother-in-law and their youth group.  For two hours each week, love trumps comfort, giving feels better than getting, and the name “Jesus” falls like rain on dry land.  And just tonight, Teresa shared with me some of the even bigger dreams she’s been dreaming for this place lately.  A soup kitchen… or maybe even a community center one day housed in a facility large enough to meet the needs of whole families, staffed by interns from the local Christian college??  Who knows what God has in store, but I have a feeling that Teresa and her family won’t be leaving “The Lot” any time soon.

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What is your “lot,” friend?  You know, the very thing that you are desperately praying out of your life?

Maybe, just maybe, that’s right where God wants to use you most.

In the thick of it.

In the uncomfortableness of it.

In the sacrifice of it.

In the instability of it.

In the newness or oldness of it.

So many times I’ve prayed an “anything” kind of prayer, but deep down - where all of the truth comes out that I pray that no one else sees - “anything” was really nothing more than my short list of acceptable things that made me look and feel good.

That’s not God’s economy.

That’s not living in freedom.

That’s not “anything.”

Instead…

 We love because He first loved us.  We die because He first died.  We give because He gave everything. ~ Anything, pg. 177

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you

so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…”

~ John 15:16

What is your anything?

At His feet,

{Week 8} Anything ~ Jesus, you are worth more…

I’ll never forget the day that my four year old son drug a clock across our brand new kitchen table, etching zig-zagged grooves deep into the finish.  I felt silly for crying hot tears that day, but we had saved long and hard for that beautiful thing, investing in something we knew we wanted to last, always taking great care to preserve it’s integrity.

I closed myself up in the bathroom, knowing I would need a few moments alone to collect myself.  When I opened the door, I didn’t want to regret what I was about to say.  After taking a deep breath and asking Jesus for the just right words, it wasn’t long before I reunited with my boy, scooped him up, and whispered into his ear,

“Chase, do you know that your momma loves you more than I love that table?”

“Yes, momma.  I love you more than I love that table too.”

We hugged until we both stopped crying, and I thanked God that day for helping me remember that things aren’t more important than people.

That same boy wrote in his Bible study journal last week, and God used him again to remind me of how easily I can get my priorities out of whack when I choose the things of this world over a love relationship with Jesus…

 

Nothing is worth more than Jesus… ~ Chase, age 7

{If you aren’t able to see this video, you can view it here.}

Praying anything is not saying mere words or reckless sacrifice; praying anything begins with love – actually loving a person. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). ~ Anything, pg. 185

 

At His feet,

{Week 8} Challenge:  Ask God to prepare your heart so that in obedience, you might pray, “Jesus, you are worth more than _________,” and fill in the blank with whatever needs surrendering in your own heart and life this week.”

{Week 8} Reading Plan:

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{Week 8} Memory Verse:

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Let’s talk: What has God used (a circumstance, person?) in your life to help you to remember that the things of this world are temporary?  We’d love to hear from you in the comment section today!

**Wanting to lead a Good Morning Girls group in the future but not sure where to start?  Already leading but feel that you could benefit from having an experienced leader come alongside you to provide spiritual and practical guidance and support?  The next GMG Leader Mentoring Session is right around the corner!!!  Be looking for a SPECIAL TUESDAY POST this week, where you can learn more details from Amanda, who heads up our GMG Leader Mentoring Program!

You Have Nothing to Lose

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John Bunyan having a visit from his daughter while he was in jail.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24,25

John Bunyan is famous for his book “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. I am sure most of us have either read it or have a copy of it laying around somewhere. John’s life was one of difficulty and suffering. He was extremely poor, destitute some might say, the father of  6 children, the oldest of which was blind. After his first wife passed away he remarried but shortly after their marriage was arrested for preaching in public.

He missed his family deeply saying “The parting … hath oft been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from my bones”.

Here is the kicker. He could have freed himself. He could have walked out of that prison, gone home to his family, kissed his wife and hugged his children, if he agreed to stop preaching in public.

But he refused, telling the authorities that he would rather stay in prison until moss grew on his eyelids then fail to do what God commanded. He ended up imprisoned for 12 long years. It was during those years that he wrote a number of books including the famous Pilgrims Progress.

Despite what some popular “prosperity preachers” of today promise, the life of a Christian does not guarantee worldly comfort and ease. In fact Jesus promises difficulty, pain, suffering and loss when following him. You can expect hard times to come your way whether that be financial, relational, emotional, physical or spiritual, and this will be part of God’s process for you to grow in grace and become more like Jesus. We must press into this truth with hope, instead of fear, we need to understand the good and sovereign care God has over us all.

God is actively involved in your life–all of it, even the tough stuff. From the smallest inconveniences to the largest, earth-shattering losses God is there and remains in control. He is completely sovereign over all things in your life and will use both affliction and abundance for his glory and your good (your sanctification).

Nothing in your life comes by chance. Everything comes carefully from the very hand of God, therefore we need to examine our attitudes and actions in the midst of the suffering he allows us to bear.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Have you considered that God is not as interested in your comfort and physical safety as he is with your conformity to the image of Jesus and your soul?

Our safety is found in Christ because he protects the soul.  God has gone to great length to retrieve our souls, he will not let anything happen to them. Here we see another way in which God is so different from us. He values the soul much more than we value the body.

As the wicked are hurt by the best things, so the godly are bettered by the worst. —William Jenkyn

So here’s the thing. Jesus says that we must prize him and his salvation more than any good thing on earth, because following him just might mean losing such worldly gifts. And because Jesus and all that we have in him eternally is better than the best this world can offer we do not have to be afraid to live boldly for Jesus! What matters most cannot be taken from us. Our treasure is secure.

So, you can throw yourself into kingdom work, whether that be teaching and training your children, loving your husband, showing kindness to your neighbor, selling your home or speaking hard truth, knowing that whatever man might do to you in this life it is nothing, really.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6

What can man do to us? A lot! BUT we have Christ on our side, to give strength, wisdom, comfort, and hope. As a disciple of Jesus nothing of importance can be taken from us.

What do we gain if we have the world but lose our souls? Nothing. But since the keeper of our souls is Christ we can lose the world and still gain immeasurably more than we can even imagine.

“Why should you fear to be stripped of that which you have resigned already to Christ? It is the first lesson you learn, if a Christian: to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow your Master, so that the enemy comes too late. You have no life to lose because you have given it already to Christ, nor can man take away that without God’s leave. All you have is insured, and though God has not promised you immunity from suffering in this kind, yet he has undertaken to bear the loss, indeed, to pay you a hundredfold, and you will not stay for it till another world.”

William Gurnall  (1658), The Christian in Complete Armour

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

For further reading check out:
The Hidden Smile of God – The fruit of affliction in the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd by John Piper (you can download this book as a PDF for free)

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