May We Never Lose The Wonder

What if there is more to the snow? More than the cooped up crazies with kids or without, or the fear of lost work time, or the endless cooking and cleaning (or avoidance of it). Since God doesn’t waste anything, I wonder, will we tap into the holy lesson of the snow fest?

snowday

I was struck by this scripture out of Job the other night. (I know, Job? Really?) Continue reading

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.”

red Launch

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

 

 

Never Forsaken.

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?IMG_2480

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
Arise… arise…

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

All Creation Sings…Literally!

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.”

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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.