Why I Still Go To Church

Ah yes. Hear that collective groan?  “To church, or not to church,”  that is the question among believers. Many of us are sick and tired of the way churches have become bloated institutions driven by the agendas of a handful of people. Many of us have been seriously wounded, neglected and rejected. Many of us, old and young alike, remark, “I just don’t see the point.”

I do not deny these stark accusations. And yet, I still go to church. Here’s why.

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When Dead Things Come to Life

It is one of those Holy Convergences. You know the ones? When God is trying to tell you something and He brings the same message from all these “random” directions? Yeah, one of those. It is freaky and delightful all at once. Let me break it down.

First came the lunch meeting at Aubrey’s.  I casually glanced out the window and time stopped for a moment as I watched this beautiful “pink snow storm.” Only it wasn’t snowflakes but seeds and petals caught up in the wind.  I couldn’t take my eyes off this magical display. The wind, like the hand of God, just wrapped itself around this life-laden tree. It  gathered up the pink promises, and in a gust, tossed the tree’s future into the air, carrying seed far from the original planting. Literally, it was like a river of pink seed carried through the current of air.

Are you seeing this? the Spirit whispered.  Yes, Lord. Yes.

Then came Easter. God always brings a new revelation around what Father, Son and Spirit did for me. For you. One revelation came as I was planting new flowers and seeds. I heard the phrase, “Jesus was  planted in the earth.”  A dead seed. But then God raised him to life and from his resurrected life came forth many seeds. That is me and you.

Our very spiritual lives are a result of His power to bring new life from the dead.

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The Launching…when God shows up

There are just these moments when other people’s stories collide with my own.  And when they do, it gets so crazy “coincidence” that you know in your Knower that God is up to something big.

I have had this ember burning in my soul for months now. It has been a mystery, a wonder, a prayer. And I have hardly been able to even speak it out and  be coherent. But every time I tried to release in the physical what is happening in the spiritual, the ember would flare up into golden flame.

And then I would hear comments about hunger, and restlessness, and even eagerness.  “I am never going back,” is a phrase I have heard not once but three times from women who have gone beyond the bible study, the church going, who have gone into the deep places of God. My heart beats with theirs. So much so, that I feel like now there is a rolling fire in my soul.   We can’t go back to okay, God is wanting to more for us.

And thus. “The Launching.”

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God is gathering women who are hungry,  even desperate for more of Him.  There is a rising ache and groan among women who have really tasted the beauty and closeness of Jesus. And we want more. But how?

So this event is to help women soak in His presence. Really. To impart revelations that we need to stay centered in the middle of our lives.

Rest. Dependence — which produces peace and confidence. And so much more. Continue reading

Is Forgiveness Real, or Not?

I really blew it with my kids yesterday.  Blame it on a toxic cocktail of hormones,  fear and the need to control.  Or.  Let’s just get real.  It was my loss of self control. 

Either way, when my emotional tornado passed, all of us looked and felt like one of those house-splintered aftermath scenes. They were hurt.  I was hurt. And I was pretty sure the Lord was sad too.  There was  a lot of debris to clean up.

As I made dinner, the scene replayed in my mind: my words, their faces.  My choices, their hurt. Over and over it played. My heart was breaking. I love my girls so much. And yet…I still said those horrible things.

“What do I do now??” I asked the Lord in a near panic.

Of course— I would ask my girls  for forgiveness.  But how do I be different next time? I was in a state of shock and disbelief.

Had He taught me so much only for me to lose it in a moment? Did His love not really matter when I needed it most? Was I ever going to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way in the heat of the moment? Continue reading

Why More Sex Doesn’t Fix Porn

It makes me sick when pastors tell wives that if they had been sexing their husbands enough, then their husbands would not have turned to porn. But it makes me violent when pastors tell these now broken, betrayed wives that it is their duty to keep giving their porn addict husbands sex to make them better.

These same pastors misquote scripture to further beat up these wounded women. Well played guys.  Because orgasm is the god of the age.

One commonly misused passage is 1st Corinthians 7: 1- 7 Continue reading

The Happy God Who Cleans Your House

Monday night, Vince Gibson led an open worship session at Fuse Church. It was rich and intense and wonder-full. The Spirit was heavy on us and among us.  At one point, Vince started asking  Jesus to take us to the “deepest parts” and to sweep away the darkness and the lies.

While we were singing “sweep through the deepest parts,” God granted me an incredible vision.

I saw Jesus sweeping through my “house”  and I knew in the spirit that we were inside my tabernacle, my dwelling place of God. But He was whistling and singing and smiling.  Think of the seven dwarves singing, “Whistle While You Work” in Snow White.  It was like that. Yes. Crazy.

As I watched Him, I laughed and shook my head, clearly this did not make sense.   “What’s He doing? Why is He so happy? I asked.

“There is no shame in your dirt anymore,”  the Spirit said at my side. “He has already paid for it. So He is happy to get it out.”

The Spirit and I stood there together for a moment watching Jesus playfully  sweep up dirt and debris with a broom and dustpan. If you can imagine, He was kind of dancing around and laughing. A crazy kind of joy welled up in my heart. I was relieved and exposed and freed all at the same time.

Then Jesus turned and looked at me with a huge smile and said, “I love your house. I love it when it’s clean.”JesusLaughing

Wow.  I haven’t been able to shake the joy on His face.

Who is this God that does not shirk from our sin nor does He hesitate to get into our souls and get His hands dirty?  What kind of God is so full of joy in our process of redemption?

Praise the name of Jesus.

Yes I know we are responsible for keeping our tabernacle worthy of His presence. But His joy moved me to tears.

Something shifts in these moments. Motive changes. Desire increases. Love abounds. I want to keep my life clean when I know that He loves my house so much. Courage grows when I grasp  He willingness to take out the darkness and dirt that I am afraid to even acknowledge.

What I am afraid to touch, He sweeps away Himself.

What a Savior. What a Friend. What Life-changing Joy.

 

 

 

When You think You Need More Money…

I have a lot of wealthy friends.  We live in really different financial spheres and  sometimes the money gap is comical.  For example,  I was thrilled to go to Florida and one friend vacationed at  a Mediterranean  oasis.  I bought a new house (that I love!) and one friend bought a new house that makes my house look like her bonus room.  Another  friend  eloquently remarked, “Jana I live in a land with lots of zeros, so I  am not worried about the cost of this.”

I laughed out loud. I can’t even imagine making such a statement.

The odd thing though is my wealthy friends also make heart-wrenching comments.  Two of them said  recently that they have a hard time with close friendships because people are jealous of them and that people judge them for how they spend their money.IMG_1962

These comments rattled my soul. For several reasons. I love my friends. Deeply. And they love me. Deeply.

I would hope that their love for me would not fluctuate as my income fluctuates. As in,  when I have no money,  I would have no friendship? So then, why would having a surplus of income mean a sacrifice of friendship?

Do we really believe that more money is the answer to most everything?  If we are not careful, we will have our eyes on more money rather than on more of our Maker.  Look at these statements from wealthy people in my world:

“I have so much money, I don’t really need Jesus for anything.”

“I had an opportunity to make millions, but I don’t think that is what’s best for my family or my own soul. I don’t think this is God’s plan for me right now.”

“I am thankful for the money we have, but my friends think I don’t have any problems.  They think their  life is harder than mine. And it gets very lonely.”

Do you hear the temptation? the poverty? the need?  Suddenly the ground becomes very level at the Cross. Perhaps money isn’t the answer to everything. Here are real life people who have plenty of money, yet still have plenty of lack.

Theologian Henri Nouwen poignantly calls out that we are all poor in some areas and rich in some areas. Some have material wealth, some have spiritual wealth. Some have wisdom, some mercy.  Yet above all things, he asks, where is our trust? The Lord is the source of all, for all.

Extreme security.  These are the two words that God gave me in March.  It was an invitation actually.

“How would you like to live in “extreme security?” He asked.

“What does this mean?” I said. Instantly I thought of paying opportunities that would give me more stability, more options. But that’s not what He had in mind.

“That you would be so convinced of My Provision that I would  become your ‘extreme security’.”

“I would love this Lord, but I don’t know how.”

“Trust Me.”

Trusting the goodness of God is our highest goal. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is why Jesus said you can’t love God and love money. You have to choose.

You can love God and use money. But you can’t love money and use God.

When I love God, I can learn to trust in His abundance for my every need. Enter peace.

When I love money, I am constantly grasping for more to meet my own needs. Enter exhaustion.

My wealthy friends already know this. They have all they need financially and more. (Which is why they give so much away.) They already know that money doesn’t meet ALL their needs. Only God can do that.

So regardless of your financial status, how is your peace? What is your source? Where is your love?

Really let the Lord reveal your mental conversations as you compare yourself to others, or even despise others for their surplus or lack. Are you asking God to meet your needs?  Are you accusing God of not taking care of you? How about this— are you thanking God for what you do have?

And, likewise, let the Lord reveal your areas of spiritual wealth. What areas are you so full that you might share with others?  You may be rich in ways you have never considered. I love what 1 Timothy 6:6 says: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  Godliness. Contentment. Great Gain. This sounds like a great path for us all, regardless of the number of zeros in our lives.

God is faithful to meet all our needs. May we be rich in trusting Him.

 

 

 

Pass the Popcorn…Every good gift is from above.

When Charis came home from school, she wanted a snack. I reminded her of the popcorn in the cabinet which produced a squeal of glee from my eleven-year-old.  “I didn’t know you had this!” she called from the kitchen.

“Yep, just for you, my sweet,” I called back.

A delicious scent filled the house. She plopped her books and  freshly popped snack  on the table and began to study and munch.  I sat down with her to catch up on her day. I reached over to grab a few kernels and she looked at me with shock and pulled the bag away.PopcornKernel

I reached again. She pulled it away again.

I laughed out loud. Then I formally asked, “May I have some of your popcorn?”

Again shock,  followed by a little whine, “But mom, this is my popcorn.”

Trying to play along, I said, “and just where did you get that popcorn?”

She crammed more popcorn in her mouth. “The store.”

“Oh I see,” I said, “and who paid for that popcorn?”

“But it’s mi-i-i-ne,” she said half laughing, half serious.

“Girl, give me some of that popcorn. Everything you have you got from me.”

Again she pulled the bag away so I tickled her and tried to grab it out of her hands.

“This must be how God feels.”  I said. “He gives us everything we have. He asks us to share some with Him and we holler, ‘but it’s mine.’ ”

And there it was. She and I both heard it.  I paused to let it to sink in both our hearts.

Charis handed the bag over, and we both had a laugh and talked with our mouths full of popcorn. But I kept coming back to that thought.

Everything I have comes from the Father. Every. Thing.

Is my posture quick to share when He asks? Is my heart quick to give back to Him ?

Or do I defend, or hoard, or protect, and argue that “this is mine?”

I am talking about every thing in my life. Money, skill, creativity, time, family, comfort, stuff, wisdom, laughter, joy, friendship.

It is all His. Given by Him for our enjoyment, for our good. He has all kinds of surprises for us. Our job?

Say thank you. And share.

Okay that’s all today. Just do a heart check. Are you really grasping that the breath you just took to read this was a gift?  We are all so rich is so many ways. So pass the popcorn— without whining.

 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17