Posts tagged Jesus
I had this chilling God moment. The kind when you are slicing potatoes one moment and weeping the next.
It started with a conversation a few days before. A friend made the comment that she was disappointed in God. She is hurting after some very tough life circumstances; it is a feeling we can all relate to at one time or another. But the overarching belief for this wounded soul is that God has abandoned her. Forsaken her.
Every time she says this, it causes a spiritual tsunami in my soul. Her words trigger a flood of memories of desperate times in my own life, times of blatant sin, wrenching heartache, unmet dreams, or even waiting in-the-tension prayers. Yet through them all, God’s faithfulness was truly my only hope. Her unbelief grieves me.
I empathize with her hurt and questions — been there and done that. But what separates our path is I took those same questions and hurt right back to Him. Where else would I go? Who else could help me?
How could I run away from the only life and love I have ever known?
So with compassion but with relentless confidence, I continue to declare God’s faithfulness to my friend. I trust He will woo her in time. I pray for my friend, and for us all, to become more steadfast, more determined to believe in the goodness of God.
Then God invaded my kitchen.
I had been listening to a “classic” song called, “Arise, My Love.” This song is so powerful and we sang it often in the church I was saved in.
Fast forward twenty plus years and I hear a line in that familiar song for the first time:
Could it be that His Father had forsaken him?
Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the Spirit. I heard my friend talk about being forsaken, but then I saw Jesus walk over and lay down in the grave. The words “Never Forsaken” were pressed into my heart.
And the thought came to me, did Jesus really believe that God had forsaken him?
“Could it be that His Father had forsaken him?
Turned his back on His Son, despising our sin.
All hell seemed to whisper, “Just forget Him, He’s dead.”
My friend sounded like this. Just forget Him, He’s dead. What about you? When you are broken and beaten beyond recognition, how do you take the next step? Who do you go to?
The Spirit continued our tutorial. What would prompt a man to die for others except for the hope of something greater to be gained? In this holy moment, the Spirit showed me that there is only one reason Jesus was able to lay his body down. For me. For you. For all the world’s sin.
He was to willing to suffer and die and lay down because of one thing—He trusted His Father’s Heart. In my download, I saw Jesus laying in the tomb. WAITING.
Jesus was so confident of the Goodness of God that He was willing to give everything, lose everything, because He knew without a doubt that His Dad, Our Dad, would whisper, “Arise. My Love.”
How then can we ever repeat the enemy’s lie? Forget Him. He’s Dead.
How can we ever say we have been forgotten, or abandoned, or forsaken if we truly see Jesus laying down in the grave, full of faith, confident in the Power of Love.
When Jesus said, “never will I leave you or forsake you,” He meant that with every fiber of His Holy Being. We are Never Forsaken. Hallelujah! The grave could not hold the king.
“The Earth trembled
and the tomb began to shake,
and like lightening
from Heaven the stone was rolled away.
And as dead man
the guards they all stood there in fright
As the power of love
displayed its might
Then suddenly a melody
filled the air
Riding wings of wind,
it was everywhere
The words all creation
had been longing to hear
The sweet sound of victory,
so loud and clear.
Arise, my love.
Arise, my love.
The grave no longer has a hold on you.
No more death’s sting
no more suffering
Sin, where are your shackles?
Death, where is your sting?
Hell has been defeated.
The grave could not hold the king.”
Arise My Love by Newsong
Art Source: unknown
To state the obvious, it is spring. And yet— it is so much more. We are witnessing the natural world sing “Hosanna!” to the Risen King. Every year, no matter when Easter Sunday falls, early in March, or late in April, the trees and flowers come to life to celebrate, to declare, to remember Jesus. They welcome Him as much as we do. It is good for me to remember that He is not just our Savior but all of creation’s hope too.
I am simply star-struck this year. The beauty that will not be denied. The buds that winter cannot hold back. The praise that can not be silenced. Even this morning reading Isaiah, I see it again and again. We dare not we miss this obvious awakening.
Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel. Isaiah 44 ESV
And what of us? Do we see it? Do we regard the displays of beauty as a Holy Conversation? Does this grateful Creation song of worship move us to worship as well? I don’t mean, “oh that tree is beautiful.”
I mean. “I see your praise for the Resurrected King and I join you. Thank you Jesus for coming!”
Maybe I have been reading too much Narnia. Or maybe we are lulled to a sleep by selfishness. But if the trees sing, and the rocks cry out, how can we stay silent?
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Let us glorify the Lord of Lords.
As you recall, we are talking about living “from” the expression on Jesus’s face. (See Part 1) How you see Him looking at you is paramount to your intimacy. Allow me to tell you two stories to put things in perspective.
I was a bewildered new mom fumbling along the parenting path when an older dad gave me this great piece of advice. “When your toddler falls down they will look at you. Make sure you smile. If you panic, they will panic. If you smile, or clap your hands, and tell them they are okay, they will react the same. They may cry for a minute, but if you don’t make a big deal out of it, neither will they.”
(Thank you, Michael Patrick!)
So sure enough, Salem would fall down and look for me or daddy. She would search our faces and we would smile really big, and say in a happy voice “Hey baby, you are okay. Get back up!” And she would whimper a moment and get back up.
This also worked with getting the girls out of their cribs. In the morning or at after nap times, they searched my face to get a temperature of their world. So I consciously tried to smile and welcome them, regardless of my own inner reality. Spills and messes? Same technique. We wanted them to know mistakes were okay. They didn’t have to be skiddish or fearful but to simply get up and begin to clean up. It really created peace in the middle of momentary chaos. In all these situations, we set the tone for our children. Do you get it? Our expression of love and devotion directed their actions and reactions.
I would love to say I carried that idea into my whole of parenting. I did not —particularly as they got older and were “in trouble.” When they blew it big, so did I.
Often, I lost the whole notion of how my expression impacted these little learning human beings. And of course, they learned to watch my face when they got in trouble at school or church, or with their friends. Only it wasn’t a good thing. It was a fearful thing. They anxiously approached me because, “Mom, I was afraid you’d get mad at me…” In their greatest moment of need, in their sin, they were afraid of me.
Does this sound familiar to you? To the way you approach God?
God did bring a parenting breakthrough but that’s for later. Here is another story of watching someone’s expression. It’s a familiar story but let’s zoom in on a few details.
Jesus predicted that Peter would deny even knowing him three times before the rooster crowed. While Jesus was being tormented and tried, Peter stood outside in the courtyard around a fire. Three times Peter cursed at people who claimed he had been with Jesus and Luke 22 says, “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”
In this story we often focus on Peter, his failure, how he “wept bitterly.” We can relate to Peter.
But God. I want to focus on the expression on Jesus’s face…
Was he surprised? Disappointed? Shocked? Clearly not, since Jesus told Peter in advance what Peter would do.
Was he angry? Ready to punish? Clearly not, or he would have betrayed Peter and had him on trial as well.
Was he — merciful? Full of the same love that He was getting ready to pour out on the cross?
Let your mind imagine His holy expression. Jesus was devoted to his mission, Even in this moment, pre-crucifixion. His mission: To close the gap between God and man. To remove once and for all the shame that stained the soul of the whole of creation. To display the overwhelming love of God.
Can we handle the Look of Love in middle of our failure?
God understands, more than we do, that we most need mercy when we fail the most. Some powerful moments of healing happened with God in the middle of my sin. One time the Lord told me, “Jana don’t try to hide your sin from Me anymore. I would rather be with you while you sin, than you running away and pretending like I am not there. Stay with Me.”
In the garden, the man and woman sinned and they hid. For fear of punishment. And they were indeed banished. But all that has changed. “Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied ”
Now in Christ, through the redeemed garden of Gethsemane, we don’t hide when we sin but we run to the Father. We look for the expression on His face. We know that just as Jesus looked on Peter with love and mercy, we find the same loving Eyes looking on us. We are not banished, but our fear is. His perfect love banishes, drives out, the fear in us.
So for today, consider where you go when you blow it? Do you hide? Run? Do you turn away from God and go outside and weep bitterly? Ashamed of yourself so God must be too?
Perhaps, one of the greatest things that ever happened to Peter was his ultimate failure. I think it was an incredible gift to us all. Why? Because after his failure, Peter realized what Jesus knew all along.
Jesus’s love was not based on Peter’s actions, but flowed from His Father’s endless, merciful, gracious Heart. Hallelujah.
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5
More to come…
Art by Salem Spicka
Dear friends of mine, friends of WGR and friends of Jesus,
Wow! My first reaction coming off of Sabbatical is— Wow! This has been the hardest and best year of my life. What a God! What a Lover!
It’s been so impacting, in fact, that it will be the source for my next book. There have been so many visions and revelations, so many holy hushes, so many Re-directions. I am hoping to have it finished by fall, please pray with me. (Hint: You might get sneak peeks through my blog and FB posts.)
Now comes a season of “new wine” and “new wineskins.” It could be summed up in a few words. Abandon. Worship. Write.
He has released me from the Drive to be so “productive” that I neglect myself, my family, or even Him! It is a greater work He is after. Therefore, you will likely see less events this year, but you will see more in-depth writing and more opportunities for focused teaching.
Honestly, I am eager to teach. And yet, He has made it clear that it will look very different. Something has shifted even in my outpouring. I felt it when I taught a recent youth retreat and I spoke at a Pep Moms retreat. We went to incredible places with God. I am so grateful He is refining my gifting.
What’s next? Writing and Waiting on Him to open doors. Our conversation went something like this: “Jana your job is to refine the message, I’ll take care of the audience.”
Thus, my next teaching opportunity is April 25-26 Fascinate Women’s Gathering at Fuse Church. I will be one of the keynote speakers! I am so so excited!!
(It’s an open event so you can register at www.fusechurch.com)
An 8-week intensive course to follow up that event called, “Saying Yes to God.”
Location Claris Networks Conference Room, 6100 Lonas Drive. (right off Papermill exit at I-40) Registration is required and space is limited.
Many of you have asked? What about Beautiful, or the marriage retreats? What about Unhindered, Sweetly Broken Abortion retreat, or Yes and Amen? What about church or small group retreats?
Yes and Yes is my answer. I am so willing and available as long as someone else bears the weight of the event. I have LOVED doing the many events hosted by WGR. We had a blast and I am forever changed by what God did in our midst.
Going forward though, I am to be a speaker/teacher. Not an event coordinator. God has made the transition so clear that He moved the incredible women I served with into new adventures. Ahem. We call that “pruning.” Therefore, I am eagerly waiting for an increase of harvest of women who will be rescued, restored and released… smile.
I was at the beach on the close of the Sabbatical which was the exact date of the first Unhindered Encounter in 2007. I stood in complete awe as I considered all that God has done in the last seven years. Really it takes my breath away to consider what he has done for me as well as for many of you. We are different. Our relationships with God, with our friends and family, in our marriages—they are different. Better. Deeper. God has been doing an amazing work in us all.
Will you allow me a few Thank You’s?
I offer a heart felt shout out to:
The Girl Group and the Dream Teams: (you know who you are…)
I look back on all I have learned, all that we did together, all that God taught us and I am humbled beyond words. You each brought such joy to my life. I loved walking that stretch of the road with you. I am forever changed. Your hours invested in the events for other women are mind blowing. Only me and Jesus know how much you gave on their behalf. Thank you.
Lyschel Burket: You were the first insane and brave soul to come along side and “assist” the vision of rescuing and restoring women. I will be forever indebted and grateful for your organizational skills, your deep friendship and encouragement, and your steadfast belief that all the volunteer work was worth it.
Heather Terflinger: When the baton passed from Lyschel to you, I had no idea that the roller coaster was getting ready to speed up. What a ride!! Your laughter and energy took us to new dreams and possibilities. I have enjoyed every minute working with you.
Volunteers: Although that sounds broad and impersonal, I can see your faces as I write. The courage it took for so many of you to step into serving others, the cardboard testimonies, the hours of blood sweat and tears…How do I say thank you? When I did that first conference with 5 dear friends, I had no idea that God would raise up an “army of Friends” to take it from there. Especially you Laura Jones and Beth Hungerford. God bless you and bless you all again.
Mentors and Prayer Warriors: Betsy Michalik, Kate LeBoeuf, my faithful Board, John Dee, the intercessors — thank you for your wisdom, insight, and deep concern for me. I am so blessed by you.
To my husband and children: You are my most important ministry of all. Thank you for your investment, patience, and sacrifice.
Does this sound like a farewell? It is. And it is not. We have all crossed paths out of His goodness. I still ardently pray for harvest to come out of holy seeds that He planted. And my eyes watch and wait for all that He is bringing forth in days and years to come.
I am confident of His calling and His plans. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21
Thank you for being a part of this ongoing work of God. Thank you caring enough to read this. May we press in to know Him more with “ever increasing glory.”
I’ve heard a lot of people bad-mouthing God lately. Mean stuff. Accusing Him of wrong doing, of abandoning people, of being cruel and unjust. And while I know their petty insults don’t put a dent in His endless joy, it aggravates me. A lot.
I rant to God myself but I don’t blame Him for my stupidity or the stupidity of others. In fact, Jesus is my best and brightest hope. So why isolate from the only One who heals, loves to help, and changes circumstances? As I was mumbling to God about these mumblers, He gave me a crazy picture that put things in perspective for us all.
My friend Kate makes the best pesto in the world. The bowls magically empty every time I serve it. Even when it is not served, people request it. “So you got any more of Kate’s pesto?” they ask, already knowing I do. It would be near criminal to refuse them. It’s that good.
It all started with Kate’s crazy basil plant that she ignored and it produced abundantly, out of control. That is another blog post altogether, but she decided to make pesto with her abundant plant and then realized that her quantities of pesto were also abundant. Enter me, the willing pesto junkie, happy to take any extras she may have.
She recently asked me if I wanted last year’s leftovers to make room for this year’s batch. I took it all. Without guilt or hesitation. All. And yes, I shared the abundant stash with other pesto junkie friends.
Now in my world, I have really tried to express my gratefulness. From my perspective, I really, really think I have thanked Kate appropriately. I have bragged on her, I have posted on her Facebook page, I have texted. I am pretty sure that she knows that I am grateful for this delicious gift.
Until. Until she gave me the recipe and I decided to make it myself.
(Jesus is relevant in this story so stay with me.)
She gave me the sacred recipe with extra notes gleaned from trial and error. She gave me some of her sacred, abundant, Basil plant. She told me where and what kinds of ingredients to buy. She even told me what kind of food processor I would need.
I was making it, but everything was still from her and through her…
It was the most humbling moment. When I made it myself, only then did I see the effort required, the true and high cost of the ingredients, the lavish flavors that were carefully blended together. This is not your basic thrown down of mere nuts, olive oil and basil. There were two fine cheeses I couldn’t even pronounce, two different kinds of nuts, extra virgin olive oil, on and on the extravagant list goes. It’s not hard to make necessarily. But when my own batch was done, I found I was grateful beyond words. And no, to be honest, it was not as good as hers. She has “the touch.”
I had no idea. I had no idea the cost of the cheeses and nuts. No idea how much basil was required. No idea of the effort and the precision.
Then it hit me, how could I be fully grateful for that which I had no idea of its true cost?
I thought about Jesus a lot when I was making pesto that day with my junkie friend, Heather. We kept making remarks like, “Now we know why it’s so good.” and “Wow, who knew this was in here?” and, “Oh my goodness, this is so expensive to make!”
I kept thinking about Kate just giving me all that pesto. So extravagant a gift and all I gave her was a greedy thank you and an ask for more. I kept thinking about Jesus. About how I think I know why to be thankful but really I don’t have a clue of the real cost…
A couple of God take aways:
Be grateful rather than greedy. When we complain/accuse/blame The God of Love and Life, we forget that we can’t even breath without His power. He gives us all that we have. We may be dissatisfied, or greedy, or clueless, but we do well to remember that “he graciously gives us all things for life and godliness.” All that we have, even that which we complain about…it’s a gift from Him.
His lavishness is to be shared. It is out of His abundance that He gives us abundance so that we can give abundantly. God blessed Kate’s basil that she transformed and shared with me. Out of her blessing I was able to enjoy this amazing gift but also to pass the blessing on to others. What have you been blessed with? Are you transforming it? Are you sharing it?
Consider the great cost. Jesus has given us His extravagant, abundant love, redemption, adoption—every single blessing we enjoy. On our good days, we throw little thank you’s at Him while our hands are out asking for more. On our bad days, we just complain. And yet we don’t even know all that it took— all the ingredients, the cost, the precision, the sacrifice, for us to have His life.
How gracious. How giving. How generous. How patient with my ignorance.
It is the giver of the gift who knows the full price of the gift. Like Kate with her pesto. Like Jesus with his redemption. It is the receiver of the gift (me!) that would do well to consider the cost and realize some things can never be re-paid only shared. Maybe the best way to bless Jesus, or Kate, is to honor the giver by passing on the blessing I have received with a grateful heart.
As for the trash talking about God? Maybe the sound of our praise and thanksgiving will drown out their doubt and unbelief. Maybe our shared abundance will do more to soften their hard hearts than any correction.