Pearls of Wisdom: What’s Your Alabaster Box?

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels
to show that this power is from God and not from us.” 

Unlike the Olympians we are celebrating, I spent years feeling worthless, disqualified and inadequate. All through high school people told me I had “lots of potential,” however, I didn’t really have a  clear vision about what to do with this supposedly budding possibility. So years after high school and college, with a life in ruins, I felt all my potential had resulted in nothing more than dried up, broken rubble.

God found me in this broken state. Because He is so kind, He set about to repair me, to mend and heal. Even redefine me.  God began telling me who I was in His eyes. His dreams about me. More than just some haunting, ever needing-to-be proven potential, God told me He dreamed of how His power could complete the work He began in me. He was moving through me, with me.

He washed off the disappointment I felt from myself and others. He washed off fear of failure and even the unwillingness to try. He redefined my idea of success. He had to because once I began to produce, my eyes were constantly looking for others’ approval.

God made things really simple for me. He said that all the gifts and callings in me were put there by His hand. Yes, there were natural talents from birth. But He had placed things in me that could only be accessed and released through Him, in relationship with Him.

I told Him I didn’t understand. So He gave me the revelation of the alabaster box. alabaster-jar

I so relate to the story in Luke when a sinful woman anointed Jesus. She had been completely overwhelmed and overhauled by the love of Jesus. She wanted to express her love and devotion so she poured costly perfumed oil on his feet and wiped it with her hair. You know the story, I am sure. The whole room was changed by her act of abandoned worship.

But here is what Jesus said to me:

Jana, your computer (it was a white iBook then) is like your alabaster box. Use your computer like oil to be poured out on Me as an act of worship. As you love on me, others may see your devotion and smell the aroma the perfume, but it’s for Me. I love it when you love on Me like this. I’ll change the room. You focus on Me.

What’s your alabaster box? Art. Sewing. Cooking. Math. Engineering. Or like we have seen lately, gymnastics, swimming, or diving.

I can tell you there was a shift from that day forward. It has taken a lot of pressure off my need for approval. Now, when I sit down to write or prepare, I present my alabaster box to the Lord. I ask Him what He wants to pour out of it. Simply put, whatever comes out, it’s for Him.

The oil of my devotion is for the One who gave me a new life. A life that’s not just full of potential, but full of His power. 

Verse adapted from 2 Corinthians 4:7



What Are You Battling and Why?

The world, the flesh and the devil.

I have heard three very powerful concepts lately. First: Graham Cooke talks about how “in the Kingdom we fight from victory not towards it.” Second: another devotional talks about how weary we become when we battle the world, the flesh, and the devil. And finally the Lord is giving me a revelation out of Psalm 19 about the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths. Stay tuned as we unpack all three of these and how they are related over the next few days.

For today, I want to sit in the reality of the sufficiency of God in our lives and in our moments. If Christ is victorious, then why do we live such defeated, helpless lives? If God is for us, then why do we live as if we are abandoned and alone? If the Holy Spirit leads us into truth and comforts us, then why do we talk more about our world, our flesh and our enemy than the presence of God? 

This morning my soul groans to be swept up into the arms of God to see the greater reality of Him. Either He is, or He isn’t. If He truly IS, then everything about our lives is changed because of it. If He IS NOT, then indeed our lives are as bad we say they are. It is our trying to live between these two statements that is killing us.

Today, let’s realign ourselves with the Truth. He is a warrior God, Almighty is His name. He is victorious over the world, our flesh and the devil. We are on the Winning Side. We are not the conquered captives, hanging our heads in shame. We are the valiant ones charging forward in the name of God, in the shadow of His wings. Be still and KNOW that He is GOD over all. Even your world, your flesh and your devil.

Divine Power

Sometimes I get twisted about the things of God. I see so much mayhem and dysfunction. I hear stories that make you want to weep. Not stories of “people out there,” but stories of people sitting in my living room, across from me at coffee. I experience in my own life, and see in others’ lives, circumstances that don’t add up. We are not the pagans, but still life feels confounding, complex, and often painful. Our stories simply defy gravity.

In these twisted moments, I wonder where is the reality of God? The prophet Isaiah declared that His “arm is not too short to save,” (Is. 59:1). So where then is the saving?

Do you really believe that God will save you in your circumstances, from your circumstances, through your circumstances? Do you? Really?

I don’t want to diminish the pinch of this question with Christian Band Aids. God does not mind our inquiries, nor does He need us to defend Him. His reputation is secure. Instead, it is what we believe about His reputation that is at stake.

Two thoughts here.

First, I have been asking the Lord for more of the supernatural. More of Him. If He is who He says He is, then I want the “divine power that has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

I don’t want to memorize it. I want to live it.

Second, the place I go to in the “twisted moments” is to reflect on the wonders of God. King David said, “I will meditate on Your wonderful works,” (Psalm 145:5). It is hard to have a God box and then say His arm is too short to save.

Today, ask for divine power. Today, meditate on His persistent, loving work in your life. Today, declare to your own heart, and to the hearts of others, ‘His arm is not too short to save.’

Father, Son and Spirit, we submit our understanding to You. We declare that we trust Your heart, Your way, Your sovereignty and Your tender embrace.  Amen.

Dare to Dream

If you think about it, God is the most creative, audacious, out there, fearless dreamer around.

Sound crazy? Then you need to get back in your Bible. You need to check out the headlines. You need to let yourself be awed by nature.

But wait, wait. The Bible is old and irrelevant. The headlines are full of mayhem and horror. And nature is on an auto pilot course to destruction.

Maybe. But maybe not.

A dream is a strongly desired goal or ambition. And the thing that most often keeps us from 1) acknowledging our dreams and 2) pursuing them is fear of failure. We have fallen flat one too many times, or had our hands smacked for asking. Somewhere in the living in this world of real life, we have lost connection with our True Life. We have lost permission to know who we really are and what we were really created to do— to achieve, accompish, enjoy, dream.

But if we, in our fallen state, have dreams, or wish we could, then where did we get that? I believe that every aspect of our make up is from God, is in His image. I believe that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have dreams and desires that They are presently working on.

If God dreams, and I assert that He does, then this opens up a can of heavenly whoopla. This stupifies our frail imaginations because we dream with an excuse in each pocket. We need some card to pull out so we can justify why our dreams drizzled. Not so with God. There is no fear big enough to cause Him to stumble.  In fact, His perfect loves drives out, casts out, mutes and silences fear.  And since God does not fear and cannot fear, what can thwart His dreams?

You ready? Ask Him what He dreams for you. And then instead of clinging to your shabby little piece of paper with your weaknesses scribbled out and your history of past failures itemized, grab on to His résumé of mind boggling achievements.  Past and Present, Now and Then.  Was, Is, and Will Be.

I mean really. If nothing and no one can stop His Son from the cross and resurrection, what can stop Him in us doing what He calls forth?

Amen and Amen.