A New Spin on Forgiveness

I love it when the Holy Spirit blows me up. He keeps bringing revelation about love and forgiveness. At Yes and Amen  the Lord  called for us to fall in love with Him.  How do we love Him more? At WGR class last Tuesday, we looked at the parable Jesus told about the two debtors.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. (Luke 7:41)

Jesus used this parable to challenge the hard-hearted homeowner who scorned the woman washing Jesus’s feet with her tears.  The bottom line is he who has been forgiven much, loves much. Jesus directly equates our ability to love with our willingness to receive forgiveness from God. But there’s more.

Sunday morning, I was in a wad  before church and  journaled out some confusion and frustrations in relationships. The Lord spoke that forgiveness was the key. So I wrote out the names of the strained relationships and asked the Lord to bring forgiveness to bear in the hearts involved. Then, what was the topic at church on Sunday morning?

Yes, a message on forgiveness. There were  new pieces revealed in this conversation with the Lord even as the pastor was speaking.

The pastor, Scott Hughes,  taught out of Luke 9 where Jesus said that if we are to follow him, we must take up our cross daily. I began to groan under the hint of “work it up” theology, but  Scott quickly commented how misunderstood this verse is. He broke down the meaning. The cross is a symbol of God’s love, the sacrifice of Jesus, the total forgiveness of our sin, but also the sin of every person in the world.  The cross means I’m forgiven, but so is the person I have conflict with.

So when we take up our cross daily, we take up, we carry around with us, the weight, the meaning, the reality, of God’s love and his total forgiveness. We carry the cross so we think rightly about our relationship with God and our total acceptance by Him. But we also carry the cross as a reminder that the others in our lives, even the ones we want to punch in the face, are also dearly loved and forgiven by God.

Then the Lord added His beautiful touch of revelation and the pieces starting connecting together like magnets pulling pins together.

He brought back a memory from another sermon from a few Easter’s ago. Greg Pinkner had fish tank on the stage and illustrated the story of the ax head being raised up out of the river. He said it was a picture of the resurrection of Christ. Greg had a blooming dogwood branch in his hand. As as he taught — about things begin buried, out of reach, and should not be able to be raised up, things like an ax head, like our sin, like  the crucified man named Jesus—he would push the dogwood branch down to the bottom of the water and hold it there.

But as he talked about the power of God, the power of His word, the heart of God to restore all things, Pinkner would release the branch and it would spring back to the surface of the water. The branch could not stay submerged. It had to come to the surface. He did this three or four times. By the third time, I wanted to stand up and yell HALLELUJAH!!! God has taken our sin and our separation and by His own Hand, He buried it in Jesus, once and for all. And then by His own mercy, He called Jesus back out of the grave and us with Him! Jesus could not stay in the grave!

So the cross isn’t just a sign of death. It is a sign of Life. New Life. Resurrected Life. When we pick up our cross daily we can take our offenses and hurts and “bury them” in the Cross of Jesus. He will bring new life where there was only death and separation before. And part of His new life, is an increased love for Him and for others because of this beautiful forgiven and resurrected life.

Oh the beauty of the Forgiving Father! The power of the Resurrected Christ! The promise of the Wonderful Counselor who leads us into increasing freedom with others, and from others.

Could we love others more if we forgave more? Could we love others more if we embraced how much we have been forgiven by God? May God grant us eyes to see and ears to hear all that He has in store for us through His love.

Be Loved

Wanted to turn our hearts to the Heart of God today. Regardless of the outcome of your earthly Valentine’s Day, soak on these truths…

Your Maker is your Husband (Isaiah 54:5)

He rescued you because He delights in you (Psalm 18:19)

Let Him kiss you with the kisses of His mouth
For your love is is more delightful than wine (Song of Songs 1: 2)

Never will I leave you or forsake you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!”
Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22: 17)

Happy Valentine’s Day.
From your One True Love

Faithul is He

We never know when or how God will explode into action, only that He WILL.  We call it trust, or confidence or even faithfulness. It’s an odd word. To quote Princess Bride,  “I do not think it means what you think it means.”  I have been kicking around this conversation with Him lately and I am surprised by what I am getting.  Take the word Faithful. Full of faith. Full of believing, we would say.  Faith is not the same thing as, “I hope so.” Faith is “I know so.”

And the shocker is, God calls himself Faithful. He says that He is full of faith or full of believing. So who exactly does He believe in? Himself, of course.  God is so sure, so certain, so convinced of His power, goodness and ability, that He says of Himself, I am the Faithful one. There is none like Me.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. Deuteronomy 32:4
On and on in the Scripture God tells us, “This is who I am. Bank on it.”  Sometimes, when we get sideways by success or failure, we stretch  words  of “God’s faithfulness” like a too small band-aid over a bleeding wound. It never seems to cover or comfort the hurt. But I would challenge that His faithfulness was the point any way. His faithfulness is not a consolation prize. It is the goal, to reveal in all circumstances His ability and desire to Be God.  I am that I am.
He means that. Then, now and forever.

Yes and Amen Retreat

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
2 Corinthians 1:20

Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15, 2012

We are going to use this “get away from the world time” to talk about:

What are God’s dreams for us?

What does He see for our lives, and our futures?

What has He already said, “Yes and Amen” to that we just don’t know about yet?

How do women get Un-stuck?

False expectations and demands around food, sex, beauty, and love (and the Lord only knows what else…) What lifts women up?

Rest and release in the love of God.

Freedom to use our voice and heart.

Letting go of the need to control.

Join us for this unique retreat held at Smoky Mountain Christian Village.  A beautiful complex out of the traffic zone of Pigeon Forge, TN

Weekend Package Includes:  Cost is only $80!

  • Five sessions of Teaching and Materials with Jana Spicka
  • 2 Night’s Lodging in a large and spacious chalet.  Heated pool and nature trails on site.
  • Four Meals and Snacks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday morning. (Friday night dinner is on your own before first session.)

This is an intimate gathering limited to 18 women. So don’t wait to register.

Reserve Your Spot Today


Click here to hear a testimony from one of last years attendees.

Women Getting Real Weekly Class

This  is a great place to go deeper into relationship with Jesus and  other  women. Both seem scary we know. But this is a place where we talk  about  real life topics and look for God to show up in the middle of  our lives.

The class is for all ages and does not require perfect attendance. Or homework.

Join us in person at Fellowship Church on Middlebrook Pike,  Knoxville,TN every Tuesday night from 7:00pm – 9:00pm (childcare is  provided for those who register).

For specific details around the class please feel free to email us at info@womengettingreal.com.

We meet three weeks on and one week off. Dates of class are listed below. We are planning to Livestream at least once month. So stay tuned for those details. Be sure to sign up for RSS or Facebook alerts so you don’t miss out on “Monday Snack Time with Jana”, its a weekly vlog.

Class Dates for Spring Semester 2011: April 5, 19, 26; May 3, 17, 24, 31
(new class location coming soon, stay tuned for details)

To hear audio from classes up until now check out our archived classes

The Other Side of Asking

It was one of those 4 a.m. wrestlings.  I was rolling around and around about this relationship and that problem. “Lord, help me, help me.”  And His voice came so clear to my spirit: Do you Receive My grace as much as you Ask for it?

What?? Then He tutored me on moving from always asking to simply receiving the Yes and Amen of His heart: His Grace is His promise to me, to you.  So I went back through my list and re-stated my prayers: “Lord, I receive Your grace for this situation. Lord, I receive Your grace for this relationship. Lord, I receive Your grace for the unknown of this outcome.”

I do a lot of talking to the Lord, which is a good thing. But after this revelation, I realize the Lord is leading me to a different place of believing in Him.  Remember Graham Cooke said that we work “from victory not for it.” So in the same way, we not only ask for grace but we Receive it. Do I believe this? Do you? It is one thing to ask, it is another thing to believe He hears and responds. Yes, we may not see the end result immediately. (It’s called walking by faith not by sight.) But will we walk in the belief of and rest in the Yes of His Grace?

I got the best picture of two people talking. The first person asked for  a present from the other person. But just as the second person began to hand the first a gift, the first person turned her back.  The first person kept turning in circles and continued to ask for a gift.  All the while, the second person was trying to get the attention of the first person to give her the gift she asked for.

Sound familiar?  Maybe today, modify your prayers from “Will You Lord . . . ? to “I receive Your grace for . . . .”  He loves to be our Yes and Amen God.

Delicious Deception

There is a lot of effort, advice, and energy surrounding our issues.  I am thinking of food in particular. It is a tragic trend to study.

Chuck and I have seen the odd parallel rise among the sexes. As men turned to porn for relief, excitement and comfort, women turned to food for the same. For both there exists a deception of love and acceptance.  We form “relationship” with an object. We turn to a seductive picture of a body and how it promises to momentarily makes us feel. We turn to a seductive picture of a food item and how it promises to momentarily make us feel.

I kid you not in Walmart last year, there was a calendar display that stopped me suddenly. Side by side. Maxim and Desserts. It was such a telling moment. Two different calendars, one simple lie. A year full of fantasy.

What flavor ? Red head or strawberry? Brunette or banana split?

For both sexes, the compass of True North is broken.  Or maybe instead of True North, the compass of Truth is broken.  We turn to something other than Truth to define, comfort, heal us.

Sure, sure we know that. We only have to look at our out of whack minds and bodies to see this doesn’t work. But now what? Is joining another “don’t touch, don’t eat” group going to really heal the hurt and hunger inside?

For today, I want to suggest you begin a conversation with God and ask Him: Where do I go when I hurt?

It is not a quick conversation. But a slow dawning. Like the sun coming up, the sky goes from black to gray to full light. Ask the Lord to bring you revelation. Before you tear down idols, you have to know the Truth. So let’s begin there.

by Shane Barnard and Shane Everett

Clean I call you clean
I came to clean you and it’s done
Here’s a call to all who’ve
Felt disqualified to run
Pleasures flowing here and there
From my right hand
What’s mine is yours
Come behold all of who I am

You and I will run
You and I will run forever
All is done
You and I will run

Come with what you do not have
And buy what’s undeserved
Feast and drink, the bounty’s great
I know you hear
But have you heard
Have you heard

I’ve called you clean!
“I am dirty”
“So unworthy”
That’s what I’m wanting

You and I will run
You and I will run forever
All is done
You and I will run

“Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
(Is 55:1)

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program… To Vent!

You know you need grace when you get into those situations where you become frighteningly silent for fear of vomiting venom all over yourself, the offending person and the people standing within 10 feet of you.

That happened to me this morning.  I didn’t even look at her for fear that fire-breathing dragons would burst from my eyes and burn her up on the spot.

But after I walked away from the moment, the Lord showed me these scenarios are also good indicators of other things besides grace:

A) God is teaching me self-control.
B) God is setting me up to flush places in my heart that need healing.
C) He is using ME to heal, repair, and convict someone else.

Another possible solution is that He is doing D) all of the above. Not funny, fun or entertaining. At all.

For the sake of social instruction… if you don’t KNOW a person well enough to already KNOW the facts, don’t ask if she is pregnant. Unless she has on a “baby on board” T-shirt, or like message, don’t go there. Not ever. Ever. Just because someone has a pudge, don’t ask, “How far along are you?” Believe it or not, there are about 100 body shapes between anorexic and pregnant. Why do we go from model thin to “with child”? Look around; there are lots and lots of body styles in between these two points on the spectrum.  The last time I had a flat belly, I was 8.  It is socially ridiculous to assume someone is with child because they have a roll.  Can I be more clear? If you haven’t heard through the grapevine, if you don’t see a baby falling out of her uterus,  if you don’t see some book for new mommies nearby, don’t ask.

For the sake of spiritual conviction…why did that bother me so badly that I couldn’t even respond? And what is the appropriate response?

It bothered me so badly because it was like a contest had occurred and I lost. She was thin and attractive and her question was like a judgment that I was not.  I let her definition shake up my heart.  And appropriate? Proverbs says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”  How about a response like, “What an odd question. Why would you feel the freedom to ask that?”

Instead of being honest, I withdrew. Instead of standing in my beauty as God sees it, I hung my head in shame. That really hurt, but instead of being straightforward, I froze in the name of some Christian, Southern, love your neighbor BS.

Why do we shy away from letting people know how we feel? Are only good feelings, happy, holy feelings allowed?  I don’t think so.

Today has been a good, good day by being such a bad one. But here are my God take-aways:

Truth:  I belong to my Lover and His desire is for me (round belly and all).  Don’t give in to social stupidity when it comes to weight, beauty and fashion.
Truth: If you don’t know, don’t ask. Ever.
Truth: Speak the truth, even when it hurts. Maybe it will stop the insensitive person from continuing to ask foolish questions of others.
Truth: Grace is not the same thing as silence.

Blessings on all you round-bellied women!  And you flat-bellied ones, too!

Weight of the Snow

With all the snow, no snow, everyone-else-but-us-gets-snow drama, I am frankly a little over the conversation. But in our brief visit with snow here in East Tennessee, the Lord reminded me of one important lesson and taught me a couple of others.

Looking out my bedroom window, the whole hillside was one thick blanket of white. Now compared to Northern snow accumulation, our blanket was more like an afghan, or a little fleece throw.  But everything had been truly transformed into a glittering white wonderland. The Lord, quietly as the snow falls, brought back memories of the first snow after my salvation experience.  It was the Blizzard of ’93.

Talk about snow. That day as I enjoyed the deep breath that always comes after a heavy snow, and marveled at the sheer beauty of the white expanse,  the Lord brought to mind words from an old hymn: “Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” My heart stopped for a moment. As a new believer, I needed that tangible, living picture of what God had done and was doing.  He took my torn and ravaged heart and life, and washed it, covered it, transformed it into a glittering white wonderland. So now when I see a landscape transformed, with no control or ability to self-snow, I thank the Lord once again for His unfailing grace and love.

This year’s revelation is equally thoughtful. When we turned on the radio to assess one of the “impending” snow storms, (there were three whole flakes on the ground) they kept talking about the “weight of the snow” and its ability to break power lines.

I don’t know why but that phrase keeps rolling around in my head. The weight of the snow.  Think tiny flakes that add one on another. Each one unique and different. One author likened the snow as evidence of God’s ability to be Creator of us all.  We balk at the notion of 7 billion people being valued originals. But one has only to measure a couple of city blocks of snow, covered in billions of original snow flakes to see this kind of creative endeavor is no hill for a Climber.

However, I am going in a different direction.  Just as there is a weight of snow, there is a weight of God’s grace.  And we sometimes view grace like we do snow. We question whether we will even get grace. Whether it is enough to even be concerned about. We complain that some get more than others. Then we flip radical switches and fear God will break our power lines and render us helpless and stranded. Of course, all the while, we talk, predict, disparage and mumur about the “snow” instead of talking to the “Snow Maker.”

There is a weight of God’s grace. Like a robe that has been thrown over our shoulders. We can feel it. Tangibly know it is there. There is also an accumulation of His grace. It seems hardly worth the notice but when it starts pouring, it changes everything. It causes us to stop and breathe, to redirect our routes, to get out and play. It even teaches us how to prepare for when things go completely awry and we are without independent power. We hole up and wait.

One thing about this picture that is kind of scary and kind of fun: we never know when we will get either, snow or grace. Only that we will. Just as as He boasts of his “storehouses of snow,” our God has limitless grace. You can eat it, wear it, play in it, build in it and you can even crash in it.
He is the everlasting Grace Giver.

Enjoy your “snow” days.

Who’s Running On Empty?

So we’ve talked about Elijah’s journey through the draught, the brook, the widow and the showdown with the false prohets.The rain has begun again and there are posters all over town that Jezebel is going to kill Elijah. Better than any reality TV.  And even after all this God movement, Elijah is scared and pooped.

Is that okay?  I mean do you ever feel like it is Un-Christian to be afraid and need a break?  I talk to a lot of people, including myself, who have this spiritual notion that if you are “rightly filled with God” you will never get scared or weary.  Or if you do, you’d better not admit it. Lord knows, there are plenty of scriptures that charge us to “press on” no matter what. Here are a few:

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize….”Phillipians 3:13-14

These are all 100% true. And on the right day  these verses really strengthen me (and you).  But our fear and fatigue is 100% true too. And on the wrong day, these verses just make us feel more afraid, tired and alone. However, if we look at Elijah’s story a little bit differently, we might see God a little differently too. Much writing on this part of Elijah’s story focuses on Elijah.  We despise his weakness. Maybe because it reveals our own.

But like most of the Bible, this story is not about the frail human, but the loving God who reached down and comforted His son. Go back and look at the passage again:

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.  1 Kings 19: 5-7

Why did God do that?

The angel touched him. He “came back a second time.” He fed Elijah. He gave him water to drink. He let Elijah sleep. He woke him up. Picture a mother or father standing over the bed of sick child. Watching, waiting, hoping praying for restoration. Again, why did God do that?

I don’t think for one minute that God was disappointed in Elijah. I don’t think He scorned or rebuked him. For sure I don’t think He despised Elijah’s fear or weakness.  That is what we do, perhaps. But that is not what God does. He comforted, supplied and strengthened His child. This is a loving compassionate interchange. God is so pleased to dwell among weak, broken people like Elijah, like us. And where was all this effort leading Elijah? To the mountain of God.

Where are you freaking out? What has got you running blind with fear? What has you so despondent that you would rather die than press on?  Then purposefully take a rest. Take a nap, a walk, a breather. Take a time out and let God feed and refresh you. Let Him remind you that He is right with you in the middle of the mess. And He alone knows where you are really headed — the mountain of God.