If You Want Me To

fiery1Do you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago?  They were three men committed to following God.  The commitment was not met without resistance.  In fact, their commitment was literally tested by fire.  Their faith was challenged.  Do you really want to sacrifice your very life for “this God”?  So you really think your “God” can save you?

Can you imagine the thoughts passing through the minds of these young men?  Were they asking themselves the same questions being thrown at them?  Do we really want to commit this much to God?  Do we really believe He is able to save us?  Wouldn’t it be easier (even make more sense) to just go along with everyone else?

These heroes of the faith surely carried some of their own questions.  Why is God asking so much of us?  Why do we have to be under the rule of such a egotistical king?  Surely, God doesn’t really expect us to go in that fire?  

I can’t say with certainty that these men struggled with questions or doubt.  The Bible doesn’t actually give us those details. What I can say with certainty is that despite whatever doubts these men may have had, they made a choice.  They chose absolute surrender to a God whom they trusted.  Their obedience was without boundaries or limits.

They refused to bow down to anyone besides the one true God.  As a result the king threw them into the fiery furnace.

Just before their time in the furnace, we read these words directed to the king:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”–Daniel 3:17-18

“But even if he doesn’t…”  Do you trust God even if he doesn’t_____________?  Is your obedience dependent on your life events lining up with your expectations?

[Tweet “Is your obedience dependent on your life events lining up with your expectations?”]

If He Wants Me To

I was on the phone with one of my dearest friends discussing the difficult season she is walking through.  I was both inspired and challenged as she reminded me of a song by Ginny Owens entitled “If You Want Me To.”  One of the lyrics in the song says, “I will walk through the fire, if you want me to.”

My friend said to me, “Bobi Ann, I have to surrender my will to God’s over and over.  I commit to walking through this fire if He wants me to.”

Is the path you’ve found yourself on not the one you would have chosen?  Is your marriage not what you expected?  Is parenting harder than you imagined?  Was the doctor’s report disappointing?  Are you walking through a fire?

When we find ourselves doubting God’s goodness because life isn’t happening on our terms, we may need to redefine “good.”

Elizabeth Elliot said,

“Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy.  Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.”

Trusting God means trusting Him with the plan, the circumstance and even the fire.  Choose to allow God to redefine for you what is good and surrender to His plan.

Commit to walk through whatever storm or fire if He wants you to.

[Tweet “Is the path you’ve found yourself on not the one you would have chosen?”] [Tweet “Trusting God means trusting Him with the plan, the circumstance and even the fire. “]

What I’m Reading–January 2015

books

It has been a while since I reviewed any books.  However, you can trust I have still been reading.  I don’t read very fast so I don’t have a huge number of books to review but here is what I’ve got.

Our Preschool Minister handed a book out to the ministerial staff back in the spring called The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected.  It was in my pile to read but I didn’t get around to it until early this fall.  The Insanity of God is a story of the persecuted church.  I would almost call it a documentary.  The author, Nik Ripkin, so vividly tells the story of his personal experiences, spiritual journey and research into the persecuted church, I felt as if I were watching it on-screen.  I could picture the interviews with the heroes of our faith whom no one will ever know but whom have faithfully executed the calling of every believer.

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected is not written for the new believer.  It is for someone seasoned in their faith.  The questions raised by the author and in my heart are gut-wrenching and hard.  This book challenges and truly turns the Western view of Christianity on its head.

I hesitate to even mention the next book I cracked because I didn’t make it too far. Landmines in the Path of the Believer is written by Charles Stanley. I’m not sure but I’m guessing most Christian leaders have probably read a Charles Stanley book. However, I had not and still haven’t.  I just couldn’t do it. I honestly tried. I love the premise of the book but couldn’t get past the preachy language. Every time I tried to read it my mind would wander somewhere else and I would find myself unsure of what I had just read. I struggled to engage with the book. So after the Introduction and half of the first chapter I had to move on.  For the super spiritual and ultra-intelligent, you would probably eat this book up. However, I discovered it was not for me.

During the Advent season I read Ann Voskamp’s daily devotional entitled The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. True to Ann Voskamp’s style of writing, the book was quite poetic. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth and walk through Scripture leading to the arrival of the Messiah. I would highly recommend this book to prepare for advent.

You have to know me for about five minutes to know I’m passionate about leadership development. So, when Seasons of a Leader’s Life: Learning, Leading, and Leaving a Legacy by Dr. Jeff Iorg was put in my hand at the Lifeway National Women’s Ministry Leadership Forum, I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when I opened the book and discovered such vital truths for the Christian leader.

Dr. Iorg is president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. The book is written with the seminary student in mind. It is much like a book I would have read while in seminary. What I love is how practical and biblically sound this book is. It is easy to read and reminds leaders during any season of truths that are easy to forget in the midst of real-life. I have already recommended this book to some of my friends who have a heart for ministry and are seeking God’s guidance and direction for the next step.

She Can’t Even Play the Piano!: Insights for Ministry Wives has been a fun read. God has stirred in my heart a passion for the minister’s wife. The life a minister’s wife is often lonely and misunderstood. I still consider myself a rookie with only 12.5 years in. It was insightful and quite validating to read the stories of so many well-known pastor’s wives such as Ruth Bell Graham, Kay Warren, Joyce Rogers and Carol Cymbala who have gone before me and faithfully run the race next to their minister-husband.[Tweet “The life a minister’s wife is often lonely and misunderstood. I still consider myself a rookie.”]

Finally, I’m finishing up a book which is quite different from what I usually read. I probably wouldn’t have read it at all had it not just been sent in the mail to me by Thomas Nelson publishing. The vice-president of marketing had written a lengthy letter to go along with the book that intrigued me. Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way is a memoir of one mom’s journey through her son’s battle with cancer. Simply put, the book is captivating. I don’t want to read it but I can’t seem to not. Fly a Little Higher is raw and sad and inspiring. Laura Sobiech, the author and mom who lived this heart-wrenching journey is a gifted writer. At no point have I been bored or felt the need to skim over anything. Each word engages the reader. This is not a book for everyone. It may sound strange, however, to say I feel honored to have read it. I feel as if Sobiech let me peek into something sacred.

[Tweet “I feel as if @LauraSobiech let me peek into something sacred.#flyhigher”]

I guess I’ve read more than I realized. The next book I plan on reading is by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Leighann McCoy entitled A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice: Finding Direction and Peace Through the Struggles of Life. Leighann will be at Willowbrook the end of February. Might be a good one to pick up before she comes!

Citizen–A Book Review

I have anxiously awaited the day I could write this review for you.  Early this summer, I had the opportunity to go to London on a mission trip.   The missionary we served there with is Rob Peabody.  Rob also happens to be the author of Citizen.  It is hard for me to write this review without expounding some about what happened in London.

Shortly after I returned from London, life got crazy in my household.  Without going into too much detail, the craziness of home took place at the same time I was processing all that God had showed me in London.  It is why I wrote this post. I still feel slightly strange to tell you that God did something so earth-shattering in my heart in a city like London.  Isn’t God supposed to change you in the villages of Africa or the slums of India?  Could God really turn my life upside down in the fashion-forward streets of London?

[Tweet “Could God really turn my life upside down in the fashion-forward streets of London? “]

cute kid with glasses1Yet, it would seem that is exactly what He did.  As I discovered the heartbeat of a Texas pastor who walked away from his comfortable, ladder-climbing ministry, I knew God was opening my eyes to an alternate Kingdom.  Again, it sounds strange for me to say that my eyes were opened to God’s Kingdom.  Aren’t I seminary-trained, paid by a church and sought after for godly counsel?  Ashamedly, yes.  It isn’t that I haven’t spoken or taught of God’s Kingdom because I have.  The difference is that I was trying to live in 2 Kingdoms when my citizenship is just in one.

[Tweet “Aren’t I seminary-trained, paid by a church and sought after for godly counsel? Ashamedly, yes”]

I returned home with a copy of Citizen in my email inbox.  I devoured the anointed writing of Rob, a man who lived out everything he taught and believed.  I was witness to the way he disadvantaged himself for God’s Kingdom.

[Tweet “I was trying to live in 2 Kingdoms when my citizenship is just in one.”]

So, my review: Buy this book!  Why?  It is anointed by God.  It is full of Scripture and it is written by a man who is leading the way in a post-Christian nation to build the Kingdom.  Rob Peabody is the real deal.  The words that God gave him are life-altering and so needed in our Western culture where our citizenship gets blurred too easily.

I Love My Job

I don’t necessarily use this venue to discuss much about my actual (for-pay) job.  But, did you know I have the amazing privilege to minister to women at Willowbrook Church in Huntsville, AL?  I don’t begin to do it alone.  I have so many women that serve alongside me.  We recently had our kick-off event where we showed this video from the past year.  I found myself welling up with tears as I watched it because these women bless me so deeply.  They are on such a similar journey to know God and make Him known.  They are my comrades, my sisters.  I just wanted to share with you a glimpse of my job.

WWTC 2014 from Bobi Ann Allen on Vimeo.

Question: Where are you connected to other women seeking to know God? Share your “story” of who you are and where you are from in the comments and find a community here!

Are You Afraid of What 2014 Holds?

While everyone else gears up for the New Year, are you not quite as excited? Are you afraid of the what plans God might have for your 2014? Check out this 5-minute video (my first video-blog) about dealing with fear of God’s plan for your life.

New Year 2014 from Bobi Ann Allen on Vimeo.

Question: What goals have you set for 2014? What challenges do you foresee? Have you ever had something bad happened that turned out to be for the best?

Nobody Has It All Together

I literally laughed when I watched this video! Its true, you know, nobody has it all together! But don’t we all buy into a lie that a certain someone in our lives surely has it all together all the time?

For me it is my friend Susan*. If Susan reads this she would roll her eyes and probably start crying but I look at her and I think she has it all together all the time. I’ve heard her stories of times in her life when she didn’t appear so put together but when I look at her life now it is hard to imagine any of those things were ever true.

Let’s just start with her family. She has a precious husband. It almost makes you sick to watch the two of them together. They are crazy about each other. I’m certain they never fight or have a disagreement. And though her children are great, they aren’t perfect and that only makes me feel worse about the absolutely fantastic mother Susan is. She seems to have an endless supply of patience. She’s ultra-laid back and her kids eat vegetables!

We shouldn’t talk about how pretty she is. Her hair always looks just right and her eye makeup has a smokey eye look EVERY TIME I see her! She dresses cute, eats well and exercises.

I could probably deal with all of those things and have my identity securely in place were it not for her sincere love for Jesus! She really loves Jesus. When I think of living on mission, I think of Susan. Every time I’m with her I feel convicted, not because she preaches at me but because of her passion for the lost.

3004f1d06aaadd53b01b134dc9ed060fI get tired just thinking about Susan. Not because she looks tired but because I’ve tried on my own to be all that. To be the perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect Christian. I can’t do it. And the reality is that I wasn’t created to.

And then I remember a passage in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I love the way the Amplified version puts it.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).

You remember I said I know Susan’s stories? She’s pretty open about her past and the struggles and weaknesses she has faced. She glories in her weakness so that the “power of Christ my rest” upon her! And that’s how she does it…the truth is that her life isn’t perfect even now. I’ve seen her recently struggle and she doesn’t try to hide. Instead, she lets God’s power rest upon her.

Oh that I could boast in my weakness. As Christians we often hide our weaknesses because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that we’ll be found out. Could it be that only when we are real, we admit to our struggles and glory in our weakness we experience His power? I believe so.

What are you hiding? What lies are you believing that make you want to hide more?

I encourage you to spend some time this week writing down those lies and then find a corresponding truth in Scripture to refute that lie. Walk in freedom. Nobody has it all together!

*Names were changed to protect the innocent 😉