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What is Keeping You From Saying "Yes" to God?


Mentor Mama:

Today we are going to be talking about how to say yes to God wholeheartedly. You know, oftentimes we allow fear to stop us in our tracks when we feel God calling on us. We desperately want to move forward with his plans, yet fear robs us of experiencing God's best. Our guest today, Jenn Hand, author of the new book, “My Yes Is on The Table,” will be our guide today as we talk about putting our yes on the table. We are going to let faith call us forward with newfound confidence and boldness, and finally put a stop to fear and instead, trust God with our yes!



Mentor Mama:

Jennifer hand, Executive Director of Coming Alive Ministries, founded the ministry in 2012 and loves the honor of traveling nationally and internationally, inviting people to come alive in Christ through conferences, retreats, written resources, and counseling. She has had the joy of serving in over thirty countries. With a Master's degree in trauma counseling, God has opened a unique door for her to respond after natural disasters around the world, providing trauma counseling and the hope of Christ on the holy ground of suffering. Please welcome Jenn.


Jenn Hand:

I'm so excited to be with you today. I love anything that has the word coffee and Bible in it. That's just speaking in my love language right there.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, they definitely go hand in hand, at least the start of my morning gets going that way. Jenn, it's just such a privilege to have you join us today. As I was reading your book, I noticed that you have lived a very exciting life and in your early years you decided to become a career missionary. Tell us how did you come to that decision and where did you serve?


Jenn Hand:

It was really early years, actually. I mean, I still sometimes feel I'm in my early years, but I just turned 40. So, I'm in the mid-years, shall we say? But I remember accepting the invitation. The best ‘yes’, I could say was to Jesus first. I was eight years old and I just really knew I wanted him to be my best friend. And so, I remember writing in my rose-scented diary, ripping out the page and putting it on my parents' bed that I wanted to know how I could know Jesus and at that same time, I was going to church and learning about missionaries around the world and that there were people who did not know Jesus. So even at that young age, I remember feeling called and I remember making kids come to my playground Bible club and wanting to teach God's word. I mean, revival was breaking out at the swing set because they wanted to play and I just knew from that age that I wanted to serve the Lord and so I began to take all the steps I could to become a career missionary.


Mentor Mama:

That's amazing. Tell us about your experience serving in Nepal. You began to sense the Lord was asking you to pick up and move on, but tell us about your experience.


Jenn Hand:

I ended up going to serve as I was appointed in that career missionary journey to Nepal and I had spent a summer there and actually it was a very difficult place. I was really sick that summer with a parasite and I remember telling the Lord I'd be okay to never come back here, and then guess what? God called me back there and so I went and I fell in love with the people and the place, the culture, and what God is doing as his light is piercing the darkness there. And so, I went as a single 20-something-year-old girl and jumped in. That was my yes to God to go live there to say goodbye to everything I knew and loved and go do it, take the adventure of yes, and it was an incredible adventure. I saw God teach me so much about who he was and who I was in Christ and what he wanted to do. Mainly I learned he did not need me, but he wanted me and that is such a freeing gift, that he doesn't need us, but he wants us and he chooses to write his glory in our stories as we say yes, and so that was kind of what I began to learn as I said yes to him there in Nepal.


Mentor Mama:

You were really enjoying and thinking that's where God was going to have you for a while, but then you started to sense the Lord was leading you elsewhere. How did you respond to this idea of moving on to another country in ministry when you thought you were going to be in Nepal for the rest of your life?


Jenn Hand:

I think when we say yes to God, sometimes we can think, well, we said it, it's one and done, because we like safe and same or maybe that's just me but I had settled in, I had learned the hard stuff and yet I knew about six months in actually that God was stirring in my heart that he did not have just one place and one people for me and it took about a year and a half for me to fully surrender and put that yes on the table because my big fear if I'm answering, I want to say yes to God, but I'm afraid of, it is, what will people think? I love people and their opinions and so I'm always having to ask God to help me submit to him and his leading over what people think of what I am doing and listening for his voice and his call. So, my big fear was what will people think? They will think I'm a failure. And like in Genesis 12, where Abraham was called by God to a place he didn't know yet and he didn't really give him the plan yet. When I felt God telling me to leave Nepal, I didn't know where or what was next, and sometimes that's a big part of our surrendered ‘yes’ is trusting God and the now and that he's already gone before us into our next.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, and I can imagine that that was scary, especially when you don't know where the next is. How did facing those fears help you make the right decision and actually say, yes?


Jenn Hand:

I just love the grace of God and how he beats us in our fears, and that is what I have learned along the way in my journey of ‘yes,’ is that we would like to say the spiritual answer seems, oh, I'm not afraid, but that's not true. We are human beings who are afraid and faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is where are we running with that fear? And then instead of fear stopping us, faith is propelling us, and I learned that I had to one, recognize the fear, my fear of failure, fear of what people thought, fear of the unknown, and then realize, where am I running with that fear? Because it was there whether I wanted to admit it or not. And so, I would encourage the listener right now to really think and pause, where are you afraid? And that's how I begin to recognize, oh, my fear is people, and Galatians 1:10 tells us, are we trying to win the approval of man or of God? And so just praying Scripture and asking God to give me the strength and the faith steps to not let fear stop me from yes.


Mentor Mama:

That's so important. I know, I struggle with that same kind of fear and I love that passage in Galatians 1:10. So readers, look that one up, and maybe that would be a good memory verse too. So, after saying yes to the Lord, how did this decision lead you to start your ministry called, Coming Alive Ministries?


Jenn Hand:

I came back to America, which is not where I expected God to bring me and part of my next yes, and that's the thing about saying yes to God. He gives you, not always like the 10-year plan, but he will give you the next step in his time and sometimes that’s waiting, and sometimes that's to stay, and sometimes that's to follow, and for me, it was to follow. I got a Master's degree in Trauma Counseling and as I was traveling around to different churches sharing, you know, everyone wants to hear from the single missionary, her stories of adventure, as I was traveling, I began to notice churches that were full of people that said they knew the living God but were dead inside and I began to sense this calling to invite people to live fully alive in Christ so that people that don't know God will want to know the God that's alive in the Christian. And also, God was telling me, Jenn, I want you to live so fully alive, people want to know the God who's alive in you. So, that's how Coming Alive Ministries started in 2012 and I've been doing it full-time ever since.


Mentor Mama:

That's so beautiful. You know, you posted this question that I thought was so interesting, on social media and I wanted to ask it of myself too. Your question was, I want to say yes to God, but I am afraid of, fill in the blank, and hundreds of people responded. Tell us what were some of the answers to being afraid to say yes to God that people have. I just think that this will help people to feel like they're not alone.


Jenn Hand:

I think that was the key as the responses came pouring in, I was realizing, oh, we're not alone in our fears and we all struggle with them and they were everything from, like me raising my hand, fear of what people will think, to fear of will God provide for my yes, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the what if the worst-case scenario happens? As I say yes to God, fear of what will my family's experience be? If I say yes to God, fear of the unknown, I mean, it could go on and on and on and on. So I want to encourage you that you are not alone. And I encourage you to think about this. What does your, fill in the blank, look like? And it may change from Monday to Friday. I know mine has this week. But what I know is that when we begin to recognize this fear, then we can run to God with the fear. And I believe that underneath all of these fears is really the question if we're gut-level honest, can we trust in the goodness and character of God? And that's where we run. We run to the God, who like in Joshua 1:9 said to Joshua, says to us, fear not, be strong and courageous for I am with you. And that's the key is we have a God who doesn't condemn us in our fear but comes alongside us and says, I am with you.


Mentor Mama:

Your book will be such an encouragement and help to people who are tackling this question, so in your book, “My Yes Is on The Table,” you take the reader on a journey into the Promised Land, through the book of Joshua. Tell us, how can we use the journey of the Israelites into the Promised Land to challenge and encourage us in our journey from fear steps to faith steps.


Jenn Hand:

As I studied the journey of the Israelites this time, as they got to go into the Promised Land, I noticed chapter by chapter often the same fears that were written to the ‘fill in the blank question,’ they were having as well and it may look different but the same God that was guiding them is guiding us. And I began to see that Promised Land living is obedience. That's really what it is and when we put our yes on the table, we are saying, I'm giving you my surrendered obedience. Granted, sometimes we want to take it back and we have a hard time opening our hands in surrender, but so did the Israelites. So, I love the book of Joshua, and as you go chapter by chapter, you see them living their surrendered, yes. Then you see the times when they don't and the results of that and so, I think sometimes we can forget that the Bible characters were ordinary people just like us with an extraordinary God, just like us. And so, the same God that was guiding them is the same God guiding us today. Maybe it's not to a specific land, although we do have the ultimate Promised Land in Heaven, but it is in a specific plan that he has unique just for you.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely, and that's just so encouraging. What are some practical ways that will help a person move from this stage of fear that perhaps they're entrenched in, to faith?


Jenn Hand:

I think the first, as I said, was to recognize what is your fear? And before you even get to that point, I encourage you to take a piece of paper or however crafty you want to get with this, I've seen it done in a lot of different ways and you simply write the prayer of surrender. Just that three-letter word, yes, and put it on a table or put it on a mirror or put it in your car and start there, start with the, here is my yes, Lord, and then begin to recognize what fears are keeping you from the yes. And then running to God with those fears, acknowledging them, running to him with them, and then I believe a big key is remembering. Remember what you have seen God do in the past in your story. Just like when the Israelites in Joshua three and four, we find them at the Jordan river and they step in and take that first faith step, so the risk is involved, but they were following the Arc of the Presence of God and the command of God. So they did it, they did the thing. So, I would encourage you to ask God, James tells us if any of us lacks wisdom, we can ask God who gives it generously. I love that! He gives it generously. So, we can follow him and he will give you wisdom. What is that next, what can feel risky faith step? And then the next one, and then the next one and when you are struggling, remember what God has done before. And that's why they took the 12 stones from the Jordan river, because God said, I know that you will forget, and that's so helpful for me. I have like pages of prayer journals for years, even in the seventh grade where I can look back and see that the God of my yesterdays is working today and he's gone into my tomorrow. So I would encourage you to remember, and then along the way, rejoice, as you see God move you into those faith steps.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely, you know, that was one of the most impactful things that I've ever done was to create this timeline in my life, from birth up until the present day. And I remember looking back and seeing God's faithfulness, even when I wasn't following him, I look back and I see like, I was given up for adoption, but God placed me into an amazing, loving, caring, and beautiful family, and then the next thing, and then the next thing, the next thing. So, that's a great suggestion of looking back and seeing God's faithfulness and I think you'll be amazed if you do that exercise.

Well, Jenn, you've had the privilege of being able to travel in the Middle East and you were standing on Mount Nebo and looking over into the Promised Land yourself. How amazing! What did you learn from God at that moment that impacted your life?


Jenn Hand:

There was something so powerful about reading the last chapter in Deuteronomy, on Mount Nebo, where Moses would have also stood and looked out and he looked out over into the Promised Land, and I've been blessed to be on both sides of the Promised Land, to be in Israel, and then on this side in Mount Nebo, and I was just thinking like, it brought me to my knees thinking about Moses, looking out into the Promised Land, but not actually being in the Promised Land, and I just fell on my face before God and I said, God, I don't want to miss one part of the Promised Land that you have for me because of fear and disobedience, and just standing there, looking out over, just asking God to give me the faith that I don't miss what he has for me, and thinking about what that was like for Moses and then going to the Jordan River the next day and thinking about what it was like for Joshua as he's about to lead the people, not to look into the land, but to live in the land, and just thinking about that Psalm that says, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and I don't want to miss one bit of it because fear has kept me from saying yes.


Mentor Mama:

You definitely don't. You've had some really unique life experiences. Tell us what you learned about God and the adventure of living your yes on the table while on the back of an elephant gone wild!


Jenn Hand:

I love it. This is always the rogue question that people are like, huh? They're so intrigued by this, but yes, my travels around the world have led me to all kinds of experiences. I decided with my friends to ride an elephant in the jungles of Nepal and we signed up for this adventure where we would see other animals in the jungle and it just sounded really fun and exotic. So that morning we boarded our elephant, which was, we climbed a ladder got on the back of this box. So, each one of us had a quarter of the box and things were fun until it got boring to me, like we had been plodding for hours on this elephant and we had not seen any other animals. And I just was thinking, oh, I'm kind of bored with this whole ride, and then all of a sudden, the guide down below pointed up and yelled in Nepalese to me and I speak Nepalese, and he said to me, “PI Danny Mo Chicha,” which translates, “you are very fat.” And I was unsure whether to laugh or cry, but this is a thing they say in Nepal as a compliment, so I started laughing and he said you're throwing off the weight of the elephant, now that really made me laugh. I'm like, oh my goodness. So he tells me, I need to get out of the box and climb onto the head of this elephant while it's moving. Oh, so okay, I’m going to try this. I climb out of the box. I get on the head of the elephant, which has no handles, only ears that are flopping and this is not Dumbo. So, I hold on to the ears and things are okay until the elephant sees its friend in the field in the jungle, and it starts no longer plodding, but running, and I mean, running fast, and I'm holding off for dear life. I will save you the National Geographic version and keep it rated G, but all of a sudden before I knew it, this elephant we'll just say that I was no longer on the head, but I had slid right back down into the box that I had started in and this is quite a wild picture, as you can imagine. But at that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart and he said this, Jenn, if you will get out of the box that makes you feel comfortable of your safe and same and what you have planned for your life, and you will take me out of the box of what you think I can do for you, do through you, have planned for you, will do in you, if you will release these boxes, you will go for the Ephesians 3:20, which is, I have more for you than you could ever ask or imagine an adventure of a lifetime. And I have never forgotten that. And I'm always wanting to live where I am not putting God in a box or trying to stay in my box.


Mentor Mama:

Oh my goodness. That is absolutely crazy. What a tremendous illustration that will last you a lifetime of remembering.


Jenn Hand:

Yes. I mean, I could picture it as we're speaking all of it and you probably can too.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, and I think that's a common thing that we all do is we try to put God in this box of what we think he's capable of doing or not trusting him as much as we should. What would you say to the person that wants to say yes to God, but is just scared? Scared to hope in what he is asking them to do.


Jenn Hand:

I would say, one, you are not alone. You are not alone and let me just come alongside you like a friend and say, you're not alone. The Bible is full of stories of people just like you. They were scared to say yes to God, and I think the best key is diving into the Bible where we find out about God and the God that we're saying yes to, who he is, what he is doing, and what his character is. The more you study the people of God and their interactions with God and the Word of God, the more you know who you're saying yes to. I think of Mary and how an angel came to her and said, you are going to be the mother of the Son of God. I mean, talk about fear, stopping you! I am not a mom, but I cannot imagine being told you're not only just going to be a mother and have to explain that to people, but you’re also going to be the mother of the Son of God himself. But what Mary did, it doesn't say she wasn't afraid, but she surrendered and she said, let it be according to your word, I am your servant, and I encourage you to run with those fears, so that same God that met with Mary, he can meet with you, right where you are and the more you get to know him, the more that we can trust him.


Mentor Mama:

Yes. That's so true. You've seen positive changes when a person takes the challenge of living with their yes on the table. What changes can be expected to happen when someone actually says yes to living for God's glory?


Jenn Hand:

That's why I call it Promised Land living because I believe when we know what God is stirring in us and asking of us, and so, the most miserable place to be is when we pretend we don't hear him or ignore him. So, when I see people saying yes to God and taking this adventure, it is so much fun to watch because they are experiencing the power of God, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives inside of us. That's what Scripture says and when we are saying yes to whatever his calling may be, it doesn't always have to be you're leaving tomorrow to go to Africa. It could be, you are called to your job to be a bright light in a dark place or called to your grocery store cashier to just ask, how can I pray for you? But what I know is that when people say yes to God, they see his glory in their story, and that is the story that we want to live. And I see people having moments where they're no longer standing on Mount Nebo, like Moses looking out into the land, they're actually getting to live in the land.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, that is so exciting to see people taking that step of faith and the incredible journeys that God takes them on. One of the pitfalls I think that we can all fall into is that it can be easy to compare our yes story to someone else. So why does my yes to God not look like my neighbors or friends or family members? Why is every persons yes unique?


Jenn Hand:

We live in a world where we can compare everything. I mean, we can compare our breakfast to someone else's on social media because we can see it and be like, wow, they really made that fried egg sandwich, you know? And so, it's so easy to compare our yeses and to think that one yes is bigger or better or braver or the one that's shinier that you would like to be living that yes. Maybe the yes God has called you to feels a lot more hidden and behind the scenes. Or maybe it's not the yes that feels as fun or flashy. I just believe though, that God is faithful when he says in Psalm 139:14, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And then he says, I have numbered your days and I know your comings and goings, and it's so specific to you, and when we waste our lives, comparing our yes steps, we miss what he has specifically planned for our stories for his glory. And it's so fun. I have an identical twin sister. So I get to actually see this played out in that we have both said yes to God and put our yes on the table. But our yeses look very different. She is a mom to four kids and a church planting wife and her ministry is out of her home. People are there all day, every day. She's feeding them, she's sharing her life, mentoring, planting a church with her husband pretty much staying in her little area of town and my yes is leading me on an airplane around the world. But both yeses are what God has for our unique stories for his glory.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely, and they're just as God has designed them for you and God will allow you to flourish when you do say yes. Jenn, your book is so amazing. Tell everyone how they can find out more information about you, your ministry, and your book.


Jenn Hand:

I’d like just to be friends! Let's have coffee and Bible together. But you can find me at comingaliveministries.com or you can follow me on Instagram @comingalivejenn or look up Coming Alive Ministries on Facebook—I would love to have you. You can find out about the book and I would love for you to join in the adventure of yes by you putting your yes on the table. I love hearing your stories as God moves you from fear to faith.


Mentor Mama:

Before we go, I want to ask you some of our favorite Bible study tool questions. So what Bible do you use and which translation is it?


Jenn Hand:

I have like a bunch! It depends on the morning and the day as to which one. I have the, She Reads Truth Study Bible, which I believe is CSB. Mostly, I use the ESV and I will tell you, one of my favorite things is last year, I have a friend that for the past seven years, we text each other every morning and we read a chapter of the Bible together and we text each other what we got out of it. It's just simple, three to four sentences. It has been the most fun and last year we did the whole New Testament and then Psalms with the ESV study Bibles that you can get one book at a time that has journaling places. That was so much fun to just pause and do a chapter a day and have space to really reflect on each of those. They're beautiful. So, that was a great, fun way to really take a deep dive.


Mentor Mama:

I love the idea of reading a chapter a day with a friend and sharing notes on that. That's awesome. Do you have any favorite journaling supplies that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?


Jenn Hand:

I love a good pen for one thing. I am a Paper-Mate Flair girl. Those are my favorite. I have to wait for them to go on sale and I have all of them, I'm telling you. So I love that. And I also love the Cultivate What Matters, Study the Word Journals, Write the Word Journals. I really enjoy those because it's just like a page where either it'll give you a specific Scripture and you journal through that, or it'll just have blank space, so I just really enjoy using them and they're pretty, I like pretty things!


Mentor Mama:

Those sound great. Lastly, what is your favorite app or website for Bible study tools?


Jenn Hand:

I have all the Logos Bible software, which I do love, but for when I am just using an app on my phone I love the Blue Letter Bible App because it’s free and you can click and read and find out the original languages right there from your app. So, I love using that app.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, the Blue Letter Bible. That is an awesome app. Jenn, thank you so much for being here today to help us confidently move from fear to faith and say yes to all that God has for us.


Jenn Hand:

What a joy to be with you and you're listeners today.


Mentor Mama:

And for our readers pick up a copy of Jen's book, “My Yes Is on the Table.” You can find the link in our blog. While you are at the blog, please leave your comments. Finally, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. Thank you for joining us today on our podcast. We love you all. Have a blessed day.


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