Blessed to Be a Blessing…

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”― Benjamin Disraeli

My heart is full of joy this morning. I recently received an overwhelming gift. Many of my friends have as well. In my case, someone paid for my entire family to go to a life-changing conference. Among my friends, one received financing for a book project, another was blessed with a new car,  another received long-awaited professional counsel at no charge, another received funding for a photography project. The list goes on…

But there’s more. All of these gifts had one common result—they empowered the recipient to do what God had called them to do. The gift-givers didn’t give out of duty or obligation or worse, pity. They gave with a heart to empower the work of God.

This is the Abrahamic covenant in action. We are blessed to be a blessing. (Genesis 12: 1-3) God was up to something amazing when He released this promise. He began a domino effect that has carried on for thousands of years.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.  Proverbs 3:27

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

–See that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11

domino demonstration knock down small big-1

That is exactly what happened. Each of the gift-receivers praised God for His faithfulness. Don’t miss this. God is teaching us to be like Him.  Out of His abundance, He “graciously gives us all things.” (Romans 8:32) His holy intention is to produce in us a righteous harvest. In layman’s terms, good fruit. He plants His good seed in us so that we will in turn have an abundant harvest to plant good seed in others. Is God smart or what?

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The Manger Moment: The Common Denominator

The manger scene is a wonder to ponder with the poorest of the poor in the shepherds and the richest of the rich in the magi. What a spectrum of humanity it is. Not unlike our own spectrum of Salvation Army bells ringing for donations and registers ringing up designer gadgets and clothing. Yet we will all come to “the moment.” And it will be the same moment for us all, rich or poor.

The gifts will all been opened, and the glee for the “next” will subside.  From the meager gifts of the Angel Tree recipients to the gaudy gifts of the materialists,  the packages will lie unwrapped in a heap, exposed for what they are: more stuff.

And then the moment comes. The manger moment.  In that split second  we ask, we all ask, whether young or old, wealthy or wanting, we ask, “is this all there is?”

This is the very answer they were given at the manger.  Here, wrapped in his mother’s arms, “is all there is.” Jesus is the all in all. He is the first and the last. The rich who became poor only to become rich. He is ancient of Days who became a newborn, the servant who became King. The crucified who rose again. He is the embodiment of the question “is this all there is?” To which He boldly answers, Yes I am. I am the way the truth and the life.

A new song on the radio declares a glorious truth much like the angels did on that first morning:  “our Salvation has a name.”

He is Jesus, Savior,
Son of God, the King of Kings.”
Our salvation has a name.

Jesus, Savior,
Precious Lord of Everything.
Our whole world’s about to change,
And it will never be the same.

He  is one thing that binds us all together… “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10  Beyond the gifts, and the goodies, and the yummies, and the laughter, tears, torment, and longings, Jesus is the great joy that fills in our spirits like no gift card can. Jesus is joy. And He is ours for the taking, if we will only believe.

Don’t miss the answer of the manger moment. Our world will never be the same. Your world will never be the same.

So what are YOU waiting for?

There is lots of flux around me right now. Lots of dreams, lots of plans and at the same time lots of gaping holes. I have pieces missing, people moving away, plans falling through and I am watching in wonder as what I worked and hoped would happen simply fizzle out to nothing. So now what?

Sound familiar? What do we do in the waiting?

I noticed when everything started unraveling I took a deep breath and evaluated what I did know.

1) I know God loves me and only has good for me.
2) I know that I am not quitting just because it got harder than it already was.
3) I know that God never goes back on His word so somehow this change in course is going to get me closer to His plan.
4) I know that waiting on Him is the safest, smartest, healthiest thing I can do.

I realize now this is a pretty great place to be. Waiting sucks. But Jesus is better. Better than running ahead, running away, running crazy. And just to top off the day today, in the middle of the waiting, He gave me this passage:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is the God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30: 18

Are you resting in the truth that God longs to be gracious, giving and good for you? Are standing in the one truth that you will be blessed if you will but wait on Him alone?  Not waiting  on the perfect outcome, or getting your way, or happy endings…but waiting on Him. Alone.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.  Selah.

Weddings, Funerals, Life, Oh My!

We spent last weekend remembering Chuck’s grandmother who died at 103. This weekend we are celebrating the marriage of Sarah and Todd.

In between, there was a broken computer (again!), various yammerings between my kids, several chewed up items by the dog, and good news about our website launching Monday. Now add to that, tense conversations between co-workers, problem solving with product delivery, and the tight rope walk of bills.

I love it when lives intersect. Even when it is awkward, messy and confusing.

In my head, I hear Master Ugwe from Kung Fu Panda say, “There are no accidents.”

In my spirit, though, is an even better answer.

I hear the Savior say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness
Watch and pray
Find in Me, thine all in all.

See how there is no striving in that stanza from “Jesus Paid it All.” Only the humble realization that I don’t have what it takes, but He does. The only response required of me is: watch and pray. Not passive but expectant. Not distant but  actively looking, seeking, finding. And then comes the hope and the comfort. Ahhh, yes. You are my all in all. You are all I need in all circumstances.

Lord, thank You for the hard moments of grief, the moments of great joy, and even the sticky, sinful moments. There are no accidents. In all of these moments You are there and it is Your strength that guides me. Your life is all I need and all I want.  Amen.

If Walls Could Talk

Here’s the quote that was engraved in the wall of a 150-year-old church in St Louis.

“I think more of the place where I was baptized than of the cathedral where I was crowned.For the dignity of a child of God, which was bestowed on me at baptism, is greater than that of the rule of the kingdom.The latter I shall lose at death, the other will be my passport to everlasting glory.”

St. Louis IX, King of France

The Last Word

Okay. Don’t creep out. I have a tough question. And your answer might be hard or easy based on how old you are, how psychosomatic or how morbid you are. Ready?

What do you want your obituary to say about you?

I have been to several funerals in the last couple of years. The deceased were in their 20s, 30s, 90s, and the last person was even 103. You can glean a lot of wisdom for the living when you sit in the ceremonies for the dead.

There is almost always a recurring theme. She was a lot of fun. She was a great mom. He was a hard worker. She loved music. And all those things are good and true.

But Chuck and I inevitably asked the same question:  Where was God in their lives? We would sit through these long rememberances of people and then at the end of the service, the pastor would ask God to receive this person into His arms.

Yet there was little to no evidence that this person ever received Jesus into his or her arms or life.

Want to clarify your life goals? Write your obituary. It might help you focus on what you and the Lord really want to accomplish while you are in this earthen vessel.

The Punch of Prayer

I got this great response to  yesterday’s blog. She said, “I think I’m following you, but if you’re not familiar with the kind of warfare-pray-with-authority stuff that you do, it could sound to the average Jane like, ‘See! I told you. So now we’d better just love our enemies and pray.’ That’s NOT what you’re saying…”

She is so right. That is NOT what I am saying. That article is a living, color photo of abuse.  Just like the sex trade. Just like the raid and arrest on Papermill Drive.  Just like the women I talk to whose dads or brothers or mom’s boyfriends stole their innocence and childhood.

I go through a gamut of emotions initially when I see this myself. Shock, rage, revenge, despair. But then I have to remember that God has known about this problem all along. And He has decided that it is time I know about it. It’s time that you know about it. So what do we do?

We tend to do a couple of things: Get overwhelmed and do nothing. Or, get scared and do nothing. Or, start to engage, get pushed back and then quit. This is where the despair kicks in.

But when I look at the model of Jesus, and His instruction to us, He never lost sight of the enemy, the battle and who would win. He modeled for us “praying in the Spirit” and agreeing with God’s perspective. He is a God of Justice. The God of Vengeance. He doesn’t just get even, He overcomes the evil of the world. He makes wrong things right, either in our lives or in the life to come.

My bottom line is this, pray with the power-filled name of Jesus and pray against the evil of the day.

Lord,  You see and know more than I do, the lost, hurt, abused women and children of our day. Please show them that they are not forgotten. Please bring Your supernatural help to them.  Rescue them Lord, send people to them to rescue them from the evil they are facing. Give them hope. And Lord, I pray that You would raise up warriors who would intercede. I speak the name of Jesus into this world. Your name is poured forth like ointment. To Your name be the glory. Amen.

P. S. from Jana

For another way to intercede, read Psalm 140.  It’s is a comfort, but also a great thing to pray aloud.

P. P. S. from Laura

Be sure to keep an eye out for our new look!  The updated Women Getting Real website is coming soon…

Those who live by the sword…

I know there is a flood of comments about the mutilated Afghan girl featured in Time magazine. My first response was: Now do you believe me when I talk about the heinous acts toward women worldwide? Now are we getting mad enough, or horrified enough, or outraged enough, so that we might pray and respond? But how?

Jesus said to Peter, one of his own disciples who mutilated a servant during His arrest,  “Those who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 36:52.)

Is that a threat? No, it is a promise. Because right after this statement Jesus asserts His own power and authority saying that He could call down legions of angel armies. Legions. Of angels. Angel armies. Let your mind soak in that. And what was His next action?

Jesus healed the ear. The ear of His enemy.

And so God calls us to this same place of grace. We seek healing for the perpetrators. We call down, with the same authority and confidence, angel armies to help us bring justice to this world.

Our enemy is not the Taliban. It is not even perverted, curse-bearing, female-abusing men. It is the devil who so hates the Image of God that we bear, that he will stop at nothing to distort and destroy it.

Oh Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we cry out to you to in the name of Jesus,
that you would bring set the oppressed free, and break every yoke,
that you would equip and enable us to bring justice in a depraved generation,
that you would bring beauty from ashes, and restoration from devastation.
You are our strength, our hope, our reward, and the only name by which we are saved.
In Your name Jesus, heal us.


Rivers of Living Water

Many of you have asked about Beth’s return trip to Zimbabwe.  When is she leaving? Does she need help?  So I asked her give us some views from her heart and specific needs. Just as you prayed and invested before, please do so again as we witness God’s continued heart for His people. Blessings, Jana

“I started out in Zimbabwe trying to figure out what I was supposed to be getting out of the three weeks.  What I realized by the time we left was that it wasn’t about what would happen during those three weeks; it was about what would continue after.  The biggest thing God revealed to me there is that I still don’t see or know myself as He sees and knows me.  I’ve had a lot of growth in these areas especially in the last three years, but there is more.

In Zimbabwe I was looking at the huge dam that holds back the water, which is what made the gorgeous lake where we had spent the previous few days on a houseboat.  As I stood watching the water pour out I clearly heard the Lord speaking to me.

The water in the lake, while beautiful and containing lots of life, is just sitting there, unchanging aside from occasional fluctuations in level.  But when it is released from the dam it pours out with astounding power creating a moving river and becoming a life of its own.  I don’t know about you but I hate swimming in lakes because when water is still it gets murky and gross, growing all kinds of vegetation with who knows what hiding in it.  I will take a moving river over a stagnant lake any day.  This is what the Lord is calling me to in going back to Zimbabwe.  I’ve been poured into and experienced a lot of healing and freedom in the last three years sitting under Jana’s teaching, but there is a lot in me being held back.  Now God is inviting me out of my familiar environment where I’ve learned how and where to hide.  He’s taking me to a new place where He wants to begin releasing the water and revealing the true life that He has created in me which includes strengths and abilities I’m not aware of yet.  It is an adventure I am excited to take with Him.

While I really don’t have a clue what He has in store for me there, the plan for now is that I will leave August 19 to stay for six months with Alistair and Shelley Croudace who own Lasting Impressions youth camp near Kadoma.  I will be working at the camp as well as helping Shelley home school their three kids and teaching some in her women’s group.

I still have to trust the Lord to come through in a lot of areas.  Here are some things you could be praying for with me.

  • Loneliness since staying connected to people here will be difficult
  • Willingness and courage to step out into the unfamiliar as the Lord leads
  • Health and safety both traveling and while there
  • Finances (Beth needs to pray in $2000 either before she leaves, or on a monthly committed basis)
  • Visa renewals.  I can only get 30 days at a time and will have to apply for a renewal every 30 days.
  • Smooth travel as I will be by myself this time.”

Lord, we thank You for doing far more than we can ask or imagine. We thank You that we are seeing with our own eyes,  “there’s a bigger picture (we) can’t see.” We say yes and amen to these prayer requests and thank You for Your grace and provision. May You continue to bring glory to Your name through Beth and Your work in Zimbabwe.  In the power of Jesus’ name, Amen.