Is Grace Enough?

My 92-year-old dad’s health is rapidly declining. My dog just had surgery and we are awaiting test results to see if it’s cancer. My kids are each going through their own wrenching challenges. My husband’s job has been erratic. And on and on it goes. What’s your list look like?

This is just the obvious stuff. The next layer is even more tender. There’s the grief of losing my mom and the anticipated grief of losing my dad soon. The fear and helplessness of not being able to influence my children can take my breath away. The decision fatigue of managing so many things at the same time sometimes leaves me wanting to run away at best, or zone out and binge a show at worst.

And underneath all of this is my love for God. And the love from God.
I have to stop and pause. I have to stop and remember. He is the way maker.

More than a great song lyric, He really is the one who makes rough places smooth. His light leads through the darkness. He takes me on well-worn paths and to uncharted trails. He guides me through the fire, through the flood. He sets me high upon a rock.

He leads me to green pasture. To rest. To settle. To focus again.

Since I know that nothing is a surprise to Him,
since I know He plans ahead for me,
since I know that He is always with me,
I can turn to Him, see His face, hear His voice, and understand what He wants to show me in these very harried moments.

Today, He says that life is a gift. Don’t waste it by complaining about what is wrong but look for the good, His goodness in the moments.

Today He says that my faith in His provision is my gift to Him. Regardless of the swirl, He has already provided for me and I “get to” watch and anticipate His movement in my life.

Today He says that grace is a reality for me to pull on, to expect, to stand on. It is a divine presence in every situation. I can bank on it.

Last year, God gave me this beautiful revelation about the word grace as represented in Hebrew letters. Hebrew letters are pictures that reveal a much deeper meaning. The word “grace” is literally the letters that mean “beautiful camp.”

The Israelites were a nomadic people so they would travel and then set up tents in a circle close to each other. They would overlap the tent cords on the outside circle of the tents to form a barricade from animals and invaders. Then they would open up their tents to the inside of the circle so that they could freely visit, the children would play safely inside the tent circle. More on this later.  However, God gave me the phrases:

Protection from without.
Provision from within.

That is what I can expect and hope and trust and rely on when I say I need grace. His grace.

God’s protection from without. God’s provision from within. He’s got me, and you, fully covered in grace. I truly am in good hands. And so are you.

 

 

Thanks, Mom.

Today I licked the icing off the beaters and said out loud to no one, “Thanks, Mom.”

Thanks for letting me lick the beaters from so many cakes and icings as a child. It’s one of those traditions I passed on. And there are no children around me to fight over who gets the spatula and who gets the beater, but still, I remember.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the “why” to cook.  I had to learn the “how” to cook after a left her home, but what I learned was the love expressed through a homemade spread of favorite dishes. To be honest, I know I don’t cook the way she did.  In fact, her frequent thing to say when eating the Jana version of her dishes was “well, it’s different.”

Yes, that is a kiss of death from the judges. Smile.

But now, making my dishes, still differently than hers and laughing as I hear her kiss of death comment, I am grateful. To know that more than one way can still be the right way. To know that I can honor her recipes and methods on some die-hard dishes like Thanksgiving dressing and cornbread, and to know that I can discover my own flair with equal success.

Thanks, Mom for the beauty of folks gathered around a table. These days my table is filled with friends more than family. It is a happy and a sad reality.  The changing seasons take getting used to, but she taught me, without ever saying a word, that Jesus loves to hang out and dine with friends. Some of my hardest and most tender conversations have been over a well-prepared meal.

I wonder sometimes if every time we dine, we re-enact the Lord’s supper. Bread, drink, friends.

Thanks, Mom. I understand better why you cried when you made Granny’s coconut cake the first Christmas without her. I did the same thing with your beef stew and oatmeal cookies. And yet we cook. Because we love. Because we remember. Because it’s worth the effort.

Thanks, Mom.

 

Look Full on His Wonderful Face

Jesus Christ is the great leveler.
He creates a level playing field regardless of who you are and where you are.
The shepherds had very little regard or wealth.
The devout carpenter and virgin teenager were simply willing to believe.
The Wise Men knew how to use their intellect and science to follow signs.
The Angels knew the greatest miracle of all was happening
What they all had in common is they personally encountered Jesus.
Not just know about him, or sign a card, or put him in a line up of greatest teachers, they encountered Him.
 
Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived Jesus, then went on to deliver her deliverer.
Joseph was led in a dream to not only receive Jesus as the Son of God, but also to protect his new family in a second dream.
The shepherds had the gift of interacting with the heavenly host singing great news.
Wisemen were led by stars in the sky and also in a dream to find Jesus.
 
All of these God-breathed moments led them to Jesus the person.
The King. The Life changer
God moving into flesh.
 
I have the seed that’s been planted in my heart in recent weeks.
The notion first came from author Baxter Kruger who talks about what it meant for Jesus to come to earth. We sometimes reduce it to the forgiveness of sin. I know that language, the forgiveness of my sin and your sin, is monumental, earth-shattering.
 
But Kruger explains how the man in the woman in the garden, when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they lost their sight of the loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They lost the reality of Presence they had enjoyed up to that moment.
Now blinded, they groped for something to put in place of the true, beautiful, loving, joy-filled, all-providing God. Kruger calls their feeble but deadly replacement, Adam’s god.
 
Little “g” god.
 
With increased knowledge of good and evil, they also discovered selfishness, consumerism, hatred, evil, division, deception, lust hopelessness hiding, shame.
 
Truly they had “fallen” so far from the place of total love, total adoration, the total provision in the presence of the living God, the beauty of the Son, and the power of the Spirit.
 
God’s solution to disrupted love was to repair our sight through a newborn king. However, Jesus coming in human form did not mean that he was unscathed. God in flesh did not somehow give him a magic bullet to dodge or minimize real life on planet earth.
Our lives on painful planet earth.
 
Quite the opposite. He walked in our flesh and blood, he experienced our broken emotions, he was tempted to minimize and criticize, he was rejected and scorned, abandoned, wounded, all the things that you and I walk around with every single day, and yet.
 
The one distinction that Jesus made as his aim and intention was to experience our human brokenness and yet maintain eye contact with his loving Father.
 
When Jesus says “I only do what I see my father doing,” I think that means far more than we’ve ever considered. Certainly, more than I have ever considered.
 
Jesus stared down Adam’s little “g” god, stood in the face of all of the brokenness. By doing so, Jesus opened the way for us also to restore our ability to see, restore our connection to the loving Father. Jesus fixed our eyes so that we might maintain our connection with God, locking eyes with the one who made us, loves us, perfects us, heals, and changes us.
 
Kruger’s notion of Adam’s god sent me diving into the Spirit. I’ve been just swimming around in the spirit trying to unpack and ask for more understanding and revelation.
 
I just had to laugh because the Spirit brought me a scripture that he showed me years and years ago.
 
16 But the moment one turns to the Lord[a]with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see.[b]17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit,[c]and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil, we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.[d]We are being transfigured[e]into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.[f]And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.[g]
2 Corinthians 3
 
We, with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory.
You, like me, have probably heard this verse many times. Heck, I have taught on it many times…
 
But today I want to share with you the different angle the Lord is sharing with me. We know when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the holy of holy‘s was rent from heaven to earth. Top to bottom, the veil was torn open so that we have access to the holy of holy‘s with God: intimate access, intimate connection, intimate proximity.
 
I love that reality and I also love the visual picture. But this scripture from Corinthian’s has awakened something different for me recently.
 
I previously thought that God put up that veil.
When I look through the eyes of Adam, seeing Adam’s god, I see all these fears, formalities and legalisms and rules and laws and efforts and pressure and performance.
 
Even in the middle of my love for God, I still see how that I sometimes put on God that he is not being who I think he should be.
 
As I have been listening in the spirit, I realize the veil is what I allow to come over my eyes.
When I experience fear and panic and anxiety and hatred and disgust and disappointment, I have allowed a veil to come between me and the true God.
 
The moment, the very instant, I turn my eyes on Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, the veil is gone and so are all of the distortions associated with Adam’s god.
 
The bitterness. The hatred. The smallness. The limitations.
The “I can’t, I won’t, I don’t” fades in the light of the glory of Christ.
 
The glory of his face, the glory of his love and connection to the Father shines through his face to me, to us.
As 2 Corinthians says, the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and we see. The moment we look for his face with an open heart we see the Lord and where you see the Lord, there is freedom.
 
Jesus prayed in John 17:
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
 
Since Jesus gave us His glory, the glory the Father gave him, why don’t we experience more glory?
Why are we not looking for glory?
Perhaps our eyes are veiled by Adam’s god?
 
Whenever we see the Holy They for who they really are, the veil is taken away and we see and share their glory and we become bright like stars in a dark and perverse generation.
My invitation to you this Christmas and going forward is will you look on the face of Christ?
 
Lock on his eyes.
His look of love.
His look of belonging.
His look at acceptance.
His look of compassion.
I’ve been doing this little exercise with the Spirit of God as I try to embrace this revelation down in my own heart. When I feel angry or anxious or forgotten or unloved or abandoned or fearful I just hear in my heart “this is Adam’s god” and I turn back in prayer.
“Spirit lead me back to the face of Jesus.”
 
Chuck was praying the other morning for God to replace judging and condemning with forgiveness and generosity.
This is the stark reality between Adam’s god and the Living God.
 
Adam’s god is all about judging and condemning ourselves and others.
 
The Loving God is all about forgiving and blessing ourselves and others.
 
We have the opportunity to turn with an open heart, to remove the veil, and see the Lord for who he is and who he wants to be for us. All that we desire, all that our heart can stand, and all that we were born for, Jesus has revealed his glory. He has placed eternity in our hearts and eternity we will have with him. Come, Lord Jesus.
 
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on his wonderful face.

What’s Your Spiritual Intention?

Retreats. Christmas Gala. Marriage Retreats. More offerings to come in 2022.

WHY all the fuss? Because we are firm believers that the “world is too much with us.”

So all of us at Greater Things pray and plan, dream and discuss what would help us all come closer to the Living God. How might we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds?” Some of us want to thaw out. Some of us want to burn hotter.  How does that happen in this too-much-with-us -world of endless options for entertainment, complacency, and time sucks?

I believe growth lies in the heart of intention. I can spout off about a great many lofty goals, but unless I put in some grit to take necessary steps, my goals are more hot air than action.

Distraction can be the enemy of intention.

Think of it. When they put the Christmas decorations up before Fall Festival was even here, did it bug you? Did it feel like a distraction to get you off track from the most important and imminent thing?  I had to work twice as hard to walk past that aisle to get the items I actually needed to complete the day’s tasks.

My intention drives my action.

However, those same Christmas decorations can also serve as beacons, to throw our attention and focus on the horizon. Do you notice that you are not thinking of fall festivals or pumpkin patches now? Your energy is on Thanksgiving menus and Christmas Gift Lists. The constant reminder of what’s coming, albeit perhaps for too many months, is paying off. Our intention is set on ringing in the Holiday season once more.

In the same way, Greater Things wants to offer beacons that stir your spiritual intentions.

If you want to grow in the Lord, you are invited to put in some effort. If you want to have meaningful relationships, you are invited to show up. If you want to learn new ways of living life with God and man, you are invited to add to your understanding and experiences.

This is why we have all these opportunities. For you to grow. For you to connect. For you to experience God in a whole different way.

God is worthy of our intentions. His heart is set on us. We hope to provide simple but helpful ways to help us all set our intention on Him.

Come find your place at His table.

Greater-Things.org/events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Story of God And Money

HEART TO HEART

I want to talk to you about what God is doing in Greater Things, about money, and about legacy. Also, let’s talk about what’s next.

Let’s start with what God has done. Many of you know that I started ministry to women a long time ago. I actually started in 2003. The very first event was for teens, and then God kept developing the message. In 2007, I did my first Unhindered which was the release of a book, a CD and a conference by the same name. I thought I had done everything that the Lord asked me to do. But actually it was just the beginning of this whole season of God gathering women and raising them up. 

He gave me the mission statement for that time of ministering and it was “rescue, restore, and release.” Rescue women from the lies, the bondage, the hurt and heartache they had suffered and restore their God given identities, their voice, their beauty, and their value. And then they were to be released to go be, do who they really are in God’s kingdom, in the world today.  Why? Because empowered women change the culture. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. 

That was 2007.  A non profit formed out of that called Women Getting Real. A group of 70 women met on a weekly basis and we did retreats and events to draw in more women and to go deeper. God just kept morphing and changing the ministry and vision. Down the road, Chuck started getting better, and he and I started getting better in our marriage. As that happened God continued to refine the vision. So, fast forward. I go on sabbatical in 2013, and the Lord asks me to shut down Women Getting Real. 

He said WGR was becoming something other than what he wanted for me. God said he wanted my heart to be very focused on him and not on building a ministry and being a figurehead. So he asked me to sit with him for a year because he wanted to talk to me about things, to rewire my thinking and to change my perspective of who I am, who he is. 

Bear with the history lesson. It matters that I give you a sense about why this is so important, about what we’re doing now in 2021. 

LOOKING BACK

In 2014, I came out of that year with the Lord, and he said, “I want you to learn what true rest is.” 

Honestly this is hilarious because I have recently had to revisit that lesson! But hey, at least I knew where to go. Besides rest, God also said, “I want you to rethink the way you do money.” 

He gave me the phrase at that time, “Extreme Security.” 

I said, “I don’t even know what that means.” He asked me a question , “How would you like to live with extreme security?” 

“It sounds amazing, but what does that mean?” I said. God said,  “Up to now, you’ve been trying to make and manage money and figure out how to run a ministry and do life. How would you like it if I’m responsible for meeting all your financial needs?” 

“Well, it sounds glorious. So, how exactly do you do that?” I asked.

God said, “I’m going to teach you how to live out of extreme security.” 

As part of this new learning, new revelation, God asked us to go after the big dreams we had in our heart. Dreams he had given us but so big that we could not do it with our own resources. He asked us to believe him to accomplish those big things. 

Chuck and I prayed and came up with  four Hallelujah things, four big out of this world things that there’s no way that we could do it. We also invited our small group at that time to come into that conversation. Everyone made their Extreme Security list, and we started watching God supernaturally provide just crazy, outrageous things because we believed him to do what he said he would do. Some of it was getting out of debt. Some of it was a bike. Some of it was a trip for the family to Disney, all expenses paid. Crazy stuff, right? 

The Lord was trying to show us that he was generous in his nature and that we could ask him for dreams and desires, big and small. From this process, he was teaching us that we would enjoy his generosity and receive it, and then we would become more generous.  All four of those Big Dreams are either in process or completed. He was training us to go after HIM in faith and trust. 

Extreme Security was taking things to a whole different level. That was 2014. 

We created the ministry, Greater Things, because we now have moved beyond just the focus to the women, and we’re moving towards a focus on women and men, and families, and legacies. We’re still supposed to do the same thing – rescue, restore, release, AND, trust God to provide for what we need but dream big. 

Key words are “Keep dreaming really big.” 

One domino falling started a whole crazy adventure. There was a house that God had promised us… And that’s captured for you in previous blogs and podcasts. But the Lord just kept asking me, “Will you believe me for this? Regardless of what you see, will you believe me for this, that I’ve said I want to give you this?” 

Here we are in 2021, and we’ve had this rock and roll crazy conversation with the Lord going on, praying for our extreme security list. 

EXTENDING OUR STAKES

If you remember from March this year, the Lord asked me if I would trust him in this journey of going into a new building. I stuttered on my “yes” a bit as I was thinking, “Uh, I think so.vAt least I get the vision.”  Inside however, I was wrestling with how much is enough. 

Moving into our new Baum Drive house was really scary at the time. I was “trying” to believe God for all that I knew what was going to be required. You may not know this, we run real lean as a ministry. The move just felt real risky. As I have learned over my life with God, he does not seem to mind risk. At all. 

Remember, he was calling us beyond what we could see. 

ONE HOUSE AFTER ANOTHER

I had been going through this process with the Lord of trusting him to do things – that he could do things beyond what I could do. Part of my testimony is that the Lord gives houses. We didn’t realize until after the fact, but in 2017 he gave us the house that we currently live in. “Give” meaning he opened the door, the finances, the timing, etc.

In 2018, the Lord gave us a new ministry house, which was our house on Sutherland. Talk about risk and faith! And then in 2019, the Lord asked us to step out in outrageous faith and to purchase a beach house in Pensacola. This was mine and Chuck’s house, personally owned, which would impact our community, and God was asking us to join him in that. In 2020, I got my inheritance home from my mom and dad when my mom died, and so we got a house in South Knoxville. And finally (or is it??) in 2021, the Lord brought us to the new ministry house, which is Baum Drive.

Whew. Now, what you need to know about all this is Chuck and I are not independently wealthy. These were adventures of faith and adventures of trust, and adventures of surrendering all the things we wanted to control.  We kept saying, “My gosh, how are we going to do this?” God kept saying, “I’m doing something. Will you join me in this, and will you trust my extreme security?” 

Not my extreme security, His extreme security. 

Okay, we have come so far. 

Here we are in 2021, and I realize I have missed something as a ministry.

WHAT WE CARRY

I am all about teaching people to hear from the Lord for themselves, to go after an intimacy with God that they have only dreamed of, to embrace he is available and with us, so close and so present in every single moment. We hope to live an abandoned life of surrender. 

But the thing that I have NOT focused on is teaching others  how to walk this outrageous life of faith with money. Chuck and I have been muscling through this, trying to hold in faith the very real tension of, “I don’t have and yet I trust you.” That tension of, “How is this going to work out? Come on, God. I need you to come through.” We have been gutting through this grind for many years now. Every time, God has just expanded our territory. Even as we were quaking in our boots, we watched him provide. 

But I haven’t necessarily given the tools and the testimony to the Greater Things family about what faith looks like and why you would even do that. 

OUR UPSIDE DOWN MODEL

One thing you have to know is that we’re this upside-down crazy ministry. 

Most people start a church. They set their donor base because the church loves to talk about tithing. And then they start doing community outreach, and then events, and then retreats. And then that all funnels back into their church, and funnels back into giving money. In short,  money goes back to the local church, because everybody likes to talk about the local church. 

But the Greater Things model is actually completely opposite. We do big events, and then we do retreats, and we do lots and lots of small groups. We concentrate on small groups. And then way down below these other things is this little church called New Wine. 

But to be sure, New Wine doesn’t carry the weight of Greater Things because Greater Things is a 300 strong community. We don’t all see each other all the time. About 100, of us plus the kids, met for the family reunion. We’re a big community  but do we know that?  We’re all part of one family. We’re all part of one tree, or maybe an orchard of trees. We call it cross pollination. There are over 25 churches represented by the people in Greater Things.

It’s more than one local church.

And for our trees to grow strong and reproduce other trees and continue to expand, we all have to take care of this thing called Greater Things. 

A NEW LESSON FOR US ALL

I don’t ever ask for money because I have learned to trust God to provide. And yet the Lord showed me in recent weeks that most of you as a family have no idea what’s going on with Greater Things. 

More importantly, you may not know how to press in and trust God for beyond what you can see right now in your money. 

Here are a few testimonies. A long time ago, Chuck and I were brand new Christians, we met Gordon Enger. He introduced us to the concept of “faith promise.” That’s how they raised mission monies for the church that we were in at the time. The idea was you would go seek the Lord. (Here is that intimacy and hearing from the Lord for yourself.) You would ask the Lord for an amount and then you would watch for God to provide that amount. When God did in fact provide that amount, you would know it because you’d asked and received. To be candid though, there would come a moment of truth. You asked the Lord for an amount. He gave you an amount. And then you had to do what you said you were going to do with it. 

One time where we were supposed to pay $900 in taxes. 

Chuck and I just cried out to the Lord, “Lord, we’re going to go meet with the IRS tomorrow, and we’re asking that you would just turn things so that we don’t owe money but that they’re going to give us money back. In fact we believe so much, Lord, that whatever we get back by faith, God, that you give us money back, that we’ll give that money to faith promise.” We went from us owing $900 to us getting back $3,012. When the check came from the IRS, there was a temporary moment of thinking, “Uh, I probably could do other things with this.” 

But the awe of God rose up. We had asked the Lord to help us, and we gave back what he gave us. Here is another even crazier story. 

ANOTHER CRAZY STORY

Another faith promise offering rolled around. We did it every year for missions. We were feeling so confident and faith filled so we asked and the amount of money that we got was $5,000. 

Listen. $5,000 was  and is a lot of money. We’re brand new, broke, little chicks asking for $5,000 to give to faith promise was just beyond imagination to us. But God.

We signed our faith promise card and put it in the offering at the church. Do you know that a week later, Chuck got an inheritance check in the mail from his grandmother who had passed away. How  much was the amount on the check? $5,000. 

And so Chuck is yelling, “Do you know what this is? This is our faith promise.” 

And I’m confused, “The timing is not right because the faith promise is supposed to be for the next year.” And Chuck is laughing and shaking his head. “Are you kidding? The Lord gave it to us right now.” 

So, we gave that money to the Lord. Back to the Lord.  We gave us that amount in prayer and then gave us that amount in reality.  It was our delight to give back. And so we have all these stories of believing God for an amount and giving it back to Him, knowing that you cannot outgive God. 

YOU CAN’T OUTGIVE GOD

So, we find ourselves in these crazy situations praying, “Okay, God, we don’t know how to do this, but we know we cannot outgive you.” And that’s part of our legacy to the Greater Things family.

Are you counting every single penny and holding onto everything? You might have a poverty mentality. Have you asked the Lord for money, and then it’s hard for you to let go back to the Lord? That could be because you’re not clear about what God is doing in the world today. 

When you start funding the kingdom, God can multiply so much through our giving.  When you give pennies to the Lord, he brings back thousands because his ability to multiply is so much greater than what we can do with just a few pennies on our own. 

I could talk about the Lord and money all day long. I know this. Because he’s so generous, and he’s so kind. And he’s so good, and he’s so outrageous in his way to do that. 

SO NOW WHAT?

I sat at the beach retreat this year, and I listened to all these women who have been coming back for years, who God met at just the right time. 

Some of them were there on scholarship, weeping because they needed to be with the Lord, and the Lord just opened the door for them to come. And then they came, and then they brought their friends. And then those friends had transformations, and then those friends had transformations. 

I realized in that moment we forget the real movement of God. We start running day to day and we forget that as we’re running in the natural, there’s this supernatural movement of God in the earth today. We forget what he’s actually doing. He is changing and transforming lives. He is elevating women and setting them free. He’s elevating men and setting them free. He’s restoring marriages. There were literally people there whose marriages have been restored, and we are part of that process. 

We are part of that giving voice and giving freedom process.  We have some men that come to New Wine Church who have just bloomed before our very eyes. Their testimony and their strength in the Lord in how they are hearing from God and experiencing him, and how that’s being impacted in their work, and how they interact with their children and their grandchildren. 

God is in the life transformation business. That’s what he does. All of his focus is on setting the captives free and us being rightly restored to people who look like our Holy Dad, who look like our Holy Mom. They are a life giving, generous couple, and they give of everything that they have to see the work continue on. It’s the presence of the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives today. 

So, the beach retreat was a fantastic reminder about what we do and why it’s so important. And if you’re part of Greater Things, maybe you come once a year to the beach retreat, but maybe you come to weekly gatherings. Maybe some of you, if I’m going to be real honest… Some of you have been fed by Greater Things for years and years. 

Some of us have these meals that are set on an ongoing basis. Some once a year, some monthly, some weekly. But we are a family where we have to take care of each other. We have to make sure that we continue to feed those and nurture the family, but also bring more people into the family. Bring more people into this beautiful community of believers who just want all of God that’s possible. 

It takes all of us to do that. 

Not all of us are giving. Not all of us are investing. In fact, a very, very small number of people are actually investing in Greater Things. So, I ask myself, “I wonder why? Do you not know the need?” 

I talked to Sarah Mason, our resident money guru. I love the way she manages money. And she said, “You know, people just don’t know. People have no idea that nonprofits need money because they think a church gets tithes.” 

NON PROFIT NOT THE SAME AS CHURCH

A nonprofit is like its own little thing, and a business is making its own money. Let me break down some numbers for you. We have people who are renting part of our space, and that really helps offset the expense of the overall rent. But remember, we’re not charging those people full price because some of these are startup ministries. We’re trying to help launch and take them to the next level. And so we’re not trying to make money off them. We’re giving them a place where they can practice trusting God and they can grow in their own sense of value. We receive some benefits  but we are not charging them commercial rates.

STAFF REALITIES

Okay, so we talked a little bit about what God has done and talking about the need. So, we talked about our suitemates help us but don’t cover and certainly don’t give us extra. And then there’s a pretty great balance between our old space and our new space because we let go of some of the exorbitant utility costs and all that kind of stuff. 

Did you know that we have one part time person who works 20 hours? We have three other part time people that work about four to six hours a week. That’s our staff and we want to take care of them. Those women do not get paid what they are so very much worth.  I might add how amazing it is what we accomplish with such a small team. We are committed to grow up as a ministry and take care of the team who serve and do so much for GT. 

In case you don’t know this, I do not take a salary.  We have never felt like we wanted to burden this ministry with a director salary or try to raise that kind of money. So, we have just trusted the Lord to provide through Chuck’s work to take care of my salary and provision for our family.  That’s just what God has called me to, and I’m so comfortable with that. 

But I want you to know nuts and bolts – that we are really lean in the way that we manage money. We’re not exorbitant. We don’t have a lot of expenses. However, do you know what killed us was this move. Because we had a fundraiser planned in June and it was moved.  Some donations came in. Then we did our open house giving at the end of July. But you know what happened between these two fundraising events?? The move!

And so now here we are like 20 grand in the hole from the move. You’re going, “Oh my gosh. What did you spend that money on?” It was $6,000 of deposit for us to sign the lease. Boom, right off the bat. In addition to that $6,000 deposit, we had to pay rent at both of the buildings for a couple months. Not 100% at the new building, but we had to pay a portion at the new, and we had to rent at the old. 

Then our costs for our painting… We painted the whole place top to bottom for $14.5000. Well, bless the Lord that we had $7,500 that came in and covered half of that, but we still had to write another debt of $6,000 to pay off the rest of the paint. It took us $2,500 to get moved in the building back and forth. We also had to pay for the beach retreat and the expenses there. 

In fact, I had to write a personal check for some of the stuff that happened at the beach because the cash flow was  just not happening.

Do you know that it costs $500 to get those windows washed because they have those real big, huge cathedral ceilings. It’s like these real simple things that we’re trying to do just to make a beautiful home for Greater Things and for people to come in and have use of it and just honoring the Lord in the way that we keep up with stuff. 

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK

Here we are at this point in our relationship as a family, and I’m going, “Do I trust the Lord?”  Yes. 

And are we in this together?  People think someone else is paying for the needs of Greater Things. We do have a couple of faithful donors. But only a handful of faithful donors. 

To say this with love, we have people who come to our organization either in small group settings, or in church settings, or in event settings on a regular basis, and they never give. They think someone else is paying for this beautiful work that God is doing in the earth today. 

PLEASE PRAY AND ASK

I appeal to you today that none of us are going to be able to retire a $20,000 debt on our own.  It’s going to take all of us giving something, and it’s going to take all of us giving something on a regular basis. So, I’ve told you what God has done. 

I’ve told you what the need is. Let me ask you specifically, will you participate in the work of God that you yourself are receiving. When you give to Greater Things, you’re thanking the Lord for the way that you, yourself have been blessed by Greater Things. You’re making sure that you will be blessed again in the future because Greater Things is going to still be here. 

You’re seeding the future for someone else to receive the same benefits that you have received. It’s like it’s a real simple process. He gives to us. We give it away. And then we give back to the Lord. It’s like this beautiful loop—back and forth to him. 

We honor the Lord with money because we know that when we give him back what he’s given to us, he trusts us even more. 

I think you care about the future of Greater Things. I think that you believe  that what we’re doing is important.

It truly is my delight. It’s my delight to partner with God and watch him change peoples’ lives. That’s my delight. And also my delight is that you do like I do, like God has taught us to do. And we give. We give where we are fed. So, if you have not given to Greater Things, and you’re being fed there then go back and ask the Lord what amount he would have you give. 

It’s very, very biblical that you give where you are fed and where you’re nurtured, and where you’re shored up, and where you’re strengthened. Instead of us scrimping every little penny, everyone participates in this beautiful ministry that the Lord has given to us. 

GOD IS TRUSTING US

He has entrusted Greater Things to all of us. For us to hold it, and to nurture it, and to give it away, and to give it back from the Lord. And that we would honor what he’s doing among us. Just in case you didn’t catch this – you’re not giving money to me. You’re giving money to the Lord so that the Lord can nurture and tend Greater Things. 

But we’re all in this together. And it’s like if I could say this so boldly – it gives me such joy that you have freedom to give out of your money that if you’re not tithing, giving on a regular basis, I just bless you to let go of fear because you can’t not outgive God. I give back to the Lord, it’s my first act of worship. 

Chuck gets paid and we give money back to the Lord, and we give it to lots of places. The Spickas, our family, we give mostly, mainly to Greater Things, but we have lots of other ministries that we support. And so I bless you to ask the Lord, “How much do you want me to give?” And ten percent is just a starting place. It’s not the end place. “How much do you want me to give out of my income? And then where do you want me to give?” 

I want you to experience freedom. I want you to experience the joy because the more that we trust the Lord, it seems like the more he trusts us. The more that we give to him and go, “I don’t know how you’re going to make this work, but somehow you’re going to,” he always comes through, and we always feel so changed and strengthened by that. 

In seasons passed, we tried to hold on to every penny. It just never worked. God’s economy is one of generosity. He has all that we need – extreme security. And we just want to posture ourselves with the Lord in faith and even in moments of fear and doubt where you’re going, “Oh, I can’t do that.” 

The Lord said – panic never produces faith. God wants to bring more people in the adventure and not just me and Chuck. He also wants to call us to maturity.

Because mature, trusting Christians know that everything that they get comes from the Lord, and they give a portion back as an act of worship. That’s called maturity. And so if you’re not there yet then let’s have a conversation. Let me connect you with some other people who have gone through this journey but that you would grow up in, and acknowledge, and understand it all comes from the Lord. And you can’t outgive him. You just cannot outgive God.  So, I know this has been a long read. Appreciate your time and your attention. 

And I hope you understand my heart. Freedom has been paid for by the cross. Even freedom around money. Our heart at Greater Things is to pour out and to change Knoxville, and to change families, and to change legacies. And we’ll all do that together. 

BLESS YOU BACK

Lord, thank you for meeting the needs of Greater Things. But also, Lord, thank you for meeting the needs of your people. I pray for every family, every person that’s reading this that you would start a whole new conversation about trust and abandon and surrender, and that you would just blow their mind about how much you want to be their God. I pray for promised land mentality and not poverty spirit. That you would move through Greater Things, Lord, that you would take us all collectively to a new level of trust in you and the way that we think about money. 

So, it’s all yours, God. We bless you for being so kind and so generous to us. And I just thank you for that responsive obedience as we just all come together. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

All right, bless you. If you have any questions, we are a 501C3, so all of our giving…all the giving that is done for Greater Things is tax exempt and a credit for you. And all of our records are public record. There is not one hidden thing. You’ll know who our donors are. You’ll know what we do with our money. It’s like everything is wide open, so please feel free to reach out. 

We do Life transformation. Thank you for being a part. Thank you in advance for caring and for doing this. 

Decision Fatigue, and Other Wiley Rascals

I know it’s not just me. The devil would have me think it is just me, that I am the crazy one, the unstable one. Or worse, the dreaded curse of most women, I am “the over sensitive one.” Yeah, I’m gonna just slide the bullshit card right across the table to all of those lies. I DO know that what is happening for all of us, in different degrees, is the onslaught of “all the things.” Your things may not look like mine, but they hurt the same, they confound the same, they take your breath away all the same as mine.

I told my friend who reached out this morning that I was drowning in decision fatigue. I was spent from deciding so many things at the same time, and, handling the emotional fallout of those decisions.

Welcome to Leadership 101, right?
Cry me a river, right?
Listen, this isn’t a pity party invitation, this is a shout out from the Front Line.

Why, oh why, is the assault against our rest, our peace, our very efforts to do good?

Let me bottom line this — so we will quit.

Quit trying to do good.
Quit trying to find our footing for peace.
Quit trying to solve problems so we can finally rest.
Quit listening for His whisper and kisses.
Quit believing what He has said.
Quit letting faith rise in dead of night.
Quit God.

So now what?

S-T-O-P

Say what you need to say.
For me, sometimes getting it all out is the cure. To clear the air of my mind and heart. Go write it all down. Go speak it out while you are driving, yelling out loud while driving is also acceptable. Pray it out. Cuss it out. Cry it out. But get it out. Why? Because the mere release of your words is an act of faith that Someone is listening. And He cares. He is not bothered by your pretty speech as much as He is moved by your hurting heart.

Truth silences the mind assault.
At 1 a.m. this morning I knew I needed to hear Truth. Tired and half asleep, I opened up the Verse of the Day on my phone. I felt like that was cheating, but God spoke loud and clear anyway. “When you are joined with me and I with you, intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.”

Intimate and organic.
Ah yes. Relationship is always first. Not to-do lists.
Abundant harvests are His doing, not my endless efforts.

“But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.” (John 15: 5-8, The Message)

Make myself at home with Him.
His words at home in me.
Listened to and acted upon. 

The devil is a freaking liar.
Trying to tell me I am alone. Trying to tell me no one cares. Trying to tell me that it’s all on me.

Open your hands in surrender and be filled
Also at 1 a.m., after I read that scripture, I sat in the dark and opened my hands to the Lord again.

Again. How many times have I surrendered my needs, dreams, desires? How many times have I confessed my attachment to my rights and preferences? How many times have I asked Him to remind me one more time about who I am?

Again—He held me until peace came.
Again—He sang the song that just sits in my spirit these days,
“Jireh, you are enough.
More than enough.
I’m already loved
I’m already chosen
I know who I am
I know what You’ve spoken.”

Nothing and no one in this world can create peace like the Prince of Peace.

Praise him before, during, and after the assault. 
There are two scenes from The Chosen series that make me cry every time. One is the scene where Jesus meets Nathaniel. He has just told Nathaniel that He saw him “when he was sitting under the fig tree.” You can visibly see that Nathaniel is shaken and wrestling. He keeps looking to Phillip and Jesus says, “Don’t look at him, look at me.” Nathaniel peers into the face of Jesus. Intently. And then his expression of confusion turns to recognition of the One. Jesus laughs and says, “Ah, there it is.”

FAITH. You can see the Faith rise up in Nathaniel and peace was quick to follow. But EVEN more is Jesus’ delight in Nathaniel’s faith.

Have you ever considered it?? That your faith would cause Jesus, the Most High God, to smile?
Oh my soul. Yes, Lord. I delight to bring you joy.

The second scene is just as chilling. It is where the begrudging, and unbelieving, father of Ramah is giving Jesus the intense older man to younger man “this-is-nonsense” talking to. The father challenges Jesus that what he was asking of his follower was extreme. To which Jesus replied, “It is true. I ask a lot of those who follow Me. But I ask little of those who do not.”

Gasp.  All for Jesus. How do we hold on to all He has said? How do we stay in step with all He is doing among us?  Praise. Before, during, and after. Letting our spirit recite the same songs that Holy Spirit is singing over us.  You’ve heard it before, worship is our greatest weapon.

Listen this isn’t a one and done routine. We STOP over and over. This morning at 7 a.m., only mildly more awake, the Lord said, “You need to go sit by the water until you see clearly again.”

He is so worth it. Actually, so is my peace.

 

A Deep Sorrow and Postponed Fundraiser

Dear Friends of Greater Things,
My beautiful mother had a stroke two weeks ago, and we have moved her home into hospice care. We are faithfully tending to her as we pray her into her true and final heavenly home. You can imagine my family’s deep heartbreak and all-consuming focus.
Because of this tragedy, the Greater Things team decided to postpone the Bonfire Fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, October 25.
Honestly, I am grateful for my team’s tender care.
I was trying “muscle through” for the sake of the ministry. They wisely reminded me that part of the culture of Greater Things is to walk together in authentic community. There is nothing to prove or need to perform.  This has given freedom for my heart and attention to be with my mother in her last days and not on vision casting.
Those dreams, visions, and celebrations will happen in the near future, so stay tuned. But for the next coming days, pray for my family, and for all the families around us, who have suffered profound loss.
Please do pray for Greater Things. Thank God with us for all He has done in 2020, and will do in 2021. Of course we welcome you to partner with us even without a fun night together. You can do that at greater-things.org
Let me leave you with a profound insight from this recent journey with my mother.
Use your words. Bless people close to you. Tell them thank you. Tell them you love them. Forgive them. Apologize. Share that thing that make them a delight to be around. Honor, defend, prophesy, and lavish. Use your words.
The stroke took my mother’s words. Her silence is deafening. I am so thankful for every I Love You and every Thank You we have spoken in recent years.  I miss the sound of her voice. So I want to use mine while I can.
I encourage you to do the same.
Held by His grace,
Jana
Those who look to the Lord are radiant.
Their faces are never covered in shame.
Psalm 34:5

Resurrecting Motherhood: 1. Value

Resurrecting Motherhood. Just the words strung together send a tingle down my spine. And yet it is the rumbling that began in my spirit three years ago? Frankly, I just haven’t had the courage to do anything to release it. And now, in the quarantined days of April 2020, I see the time is here and the I also see the very big Why.

So in the strength God gives, let’s begin a journey of Resurrecting Motherhood.

Today’s topic is Value.

What do you value?

Ask any woman or mom that question and we would rattle off various answers. But most of those answers would revolve around people.

We are relational at our core. It’s in our spiritual DNA. Think of how women nurture, work behind the scenes, coach and counsel in countless conversations, spark connection, make things hum and whistle.

Hmmm. . .this sounds like Holy Spirit, but we will come back to that.

Women are wired for relationship. So then. Ahem. Here we are today and our kids/ husbands/homes are DRIVING US FREAKING CRAZY. lol But seriously.

I really don’t think it is Too Much time together.

I think it is Too Little connection being finally revealed.

Did I mention that this journey might be a bit difficult? Just stay with me. God is taking us somewhere.

And our first bite of truth is about Value.

Lately, I’ve heard mom’s say honest and powerful truths:

I don’t know who I am now. My identity has been stripped.

I see my family doesn’t really like each other very much.

In my own house, and heart, I have been confronted with we don’t really know each other. 

All of these, and so many more, have been flushed up by the shelter-at-home orders. God has a funny way of working, doesn’t He?

And just now, in the moment, the Spirit whispers, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Have you read Matthew 6 lately. I just read it again. The Lord’s Prayer. The teaching on fasting. The teaching on giving. The teaching on serving God and mammon. Uhmm it’s loaded.

But I want to pay attention to this verse today:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

God is telling us where His idea of value is. Heaven. Heaven’s ways. What does heaven value, treasure? People. Not bank accounts. Not houses. Not stuff. People.

When your kids say “Mom” for the billioneth time, when they spill it AGAIN, when you just need a moment to be alone, when you need a hug or a cry or a scream. . . you don’t need a sappy tidbit. You need a divine truth. Lean back into His Divine Presence.

He treasures YOU! He will show you how to treasure your kids.

And today, I want you to see the verse right before this passage:
“your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

He sees. He knows. He will provide you with what you need, moment by moment, if you will value what He values. He values relationship. He highly values connection. He has entrusted you with TODAY with your children and family. Keep your eye on Him today breathing in this prayer,

“Spirit, my ever-present Parent, you understand what is means to be with your kids 24/7. In the same way that You love me non-stop, without running away, or crushing me, strengthen me to love my kids. Give me the desire to be connected to them the way You desire to be connected to me. Thank You for seeing and rewarding my effort. Amen.”

Remembering the Why

Merry Christmas from Our Greater Things House to Your House
Friends! Just want to take a deep breath and review all the Lord has done and is doing. We prayed at New Wine Church yesterday, “Lord please don’t let us have Christmas and miss You!” He is so worthy of our praise and adoration.
 
Through His power and your generosity, Greater Things has discipled multiple groups, with new groups springing off of these original gatherings. The GT house has been used for ministry to inner city teens, prayer meetings, worship nights, New Wine Church, men’s group, Kingdom Moms, The Unveiling Women’s Event, and our still unnamed Wednesday Women’s group. Wink.
 
We had our largest Beach Retreat to date and I can truly say it was ground breaking.
 
In addition, God has opened up a whole new territory for us as Chuck has gone on two mission trips this year to the Middle East. God told me while Chuck was gone that he would never be the same. “Part of his heart lives there now,” the Lord said. So we are planning and learning how to love on those from different countries there and also here.
 
And 2020? I don’t know if you ask the Lord for a word every year, but it is a practice I began years ago under the teaching from John Dee. The how-to is ask God for a word or phrase that He wants to deposit, teach or reveal to you in the coming year. It has been incredible to see Him move in this way and how we spur one another on in the process. Let me just say for this coming year my word is a doozy. I will have to unpack it for you as I get more clarity.
 
Speaking of clarity, a couple of REALLLLY fun things for 2020:
1) Three books in the writing and refining process.
Whaaat? I know, that was my reaction to God’s instruction too.
It has been remarkable to see Him breathe on the dreams that I have hidden for too long.
 
2) Another new thing is Listen and See Podcast Not sure why this thrills my soul, but please listen in.
We are talking about topics that matter with some of my favorite people.
 
3) This is SUPER early announcement, but Kingdom Access School is starting in August. Please stay tuned for more about this!
 
Where Credit is Due
I want to give a shout out to Caroline Ervin, Sarah Mason, Hailey Keene. These women have been incredible to serve and put strength into the workings of Greater Things. Also a shout out to Jessica Counts, Laura Jones, and Beth Hungerford for the unseen ways they serve the many activities. I want to give thanks to the GT Prayer Team for their incredible intercession. And finally, a shout out to Chad Brooks, Peter Simeone, and Joanna Simeone for beautifying and keeping GT grounds. This goes without saying, but I must shine the light on Chuck Spicka for rocking it as my co-heir. I love doing this with you with Him.
 
There are so many others who love, give, support my crazy, and benefit Greater Things. Thank you.
 
You know, maybe you could take a moment to just reach out to the people who help you be you. We really can’t say “thank you” enough. God is so gracious to connect us and help us link arms so that we might advance His Kingdom together.
 
Okay. My last thought.
 
This Christmas season, God has ever so kindly asked about my offering to Him. I know we are consumed with gift-giving to others. However, the wise men brought gifts of honor to the King.
 
The Lord has been breaking it down like this. He is offering me the presence of His Son, fresh and new every year, and what is my response? Will I leave my duties like the shepherds to go and see? Will I treasure what’s right in front of me like Mary and ponder all that God is? Will I bring my costly gifts like the wise men and lay them at His feet because I recognize that I all I need and long for is found in Him?
 
God gave me this beautiful phrase yesterday: Jesus gets personal when Jesus gets personal. Ask Him and respond to Him. I truly believe these acts of devotion are life-changing.
 
I bless you with a rich, full of glory Christmas.
With deep love,
Jana
 
P.S. Just in case you haven’t heard, our giving can now be done online at greater-things.org Thank you. Our ministry is 100% donor funded so we appreciate doing this part together too.

When Restlessness Produces New Fruit

On a regular basis I like to shake things up. No. It’s better said that I have to shake it up. If things get too static for too long I get a little crazy. Ask my mom. And my husband. Well, and my co-workers. My restlessness has prompted many a furniture rearrangement, get out of dodge adventures, and half-baked ministry projects.  What I love about this process is the daring, new experiments that are launched. Full disclosure, some of them crash and burn. Some of them fly high for a season. Some of them resemble oak trees that just continue to grow deep in roots and broad in reach.

Another truth to disclose, I never know what result they will be until they have left my hand. The artist’s plight, I guess.  But the Lord reminded me about a verse the other day. “The good tree produces good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) I read this again and let out a deep, long sigh. Ah. There it is. Pressure is off.

It doesn’t say that every single branch will produce a perfect blossom that will produce a perfect fruit. Rather it says the good tree will produce good fruit. Overall, in an ongoing way, the natural behavior  of a good and healthy tree is it sprouts, blossoms and yields fruit from different branches at different times. It is the tree’s lifetime destiny. And the outcome of the fruit is not necessarily the point either. Some of that fruit falls to the ground and rots. Some feeds squirrels and us. Some fruit is replanted in far away places as the birds carry it away. But the tree, the good tree, firmly planted, just keeps producing fruit.

Before you ask… in God, we are good trees. One thing I have learned the hard way is God is Less interested in my 100% perfect outcomes and More interested in my 100% surrender. My “yes!” answer to Him really, really matters. It really impacts His heart. Your “yes” has the same affect. So today, just give Him a fresh “yes” and let Him pour His good, good love through you.

Here are a couple of the outpourings He and I have been playing with. Feel free to partake of new fruit!

A new podcast called Listen and See  and A Greater Things Christmas Eve