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.
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.
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.