Sunday, February 26, 2006

[His] Tender Words

I didn't attend my own church this morning, but rather a friend and I went downtown to a church I've been wanting to visit for a while now. I don't think I can even begin to express in words how the Holy Spirit spoke through this pastor. It was insane... amazing insane. I haven't quite been to a service like the one I went to this morning.

After the service, I met up with my mentor at this church. We both had the same idea of how our time together was going to look...

boy were we wrong. God had something else planned.

We sat talking for 10 minutes about how our weekends were, when out of no where the pastor of this church came walking in. He surprised us both because we thought we were the only two left in the building.

"So I hear the LORD spoke wise words through you this morning Pastor H." He looked at us both and just smiled, "the Father is so good to us!"


The three of us sat in silence with huge smiles across our faces for what seemed like hours. He then turned to me and began speaking words that made me think to myself "umm... are you stalking me?... because why else would you be saying all this stuff?..."

For half an hour this pastor spoke words about where my heart was... the frustrations that I've been feeling... the desires I have for the beautiful things God has placed in my life... relationships... (sidenote: I've never met or talked to this man before in my life)

He wasn't directing these words specifically at me... yet at the same time everything that came out of his mouth was directly for me. Once these 30 minutes passed he just looked back at me and said, "I'm sorry... I have no idea why I said all that. The Spirit just told me too... I'll let you both get back to your meeting."

My mentor and I just sat for a few moments taking in everything he had shared that had been on his heart. She then apologized and said she wasn't feeling great so she had to leave, but then said, "It's funny how God works Jackie... Pastor H doesn't just come and sit down and talk like that with people for as long as he did, especially when he said he's as busy as he is today. God spoke to you through him didn't he...? I can tell..."

More than I can explain.

Though our purpose of getting together was to discuss how our mentoring stuff was going to look, really we were supposed to be there because the LORD wanted to speak some words to me. The same words that He has been speaking for a while, and the same words that I've been hearing, but I haven't fully been understanding the seriousness and depth of them...

How beautiful is it when God uses people we don't know (and do know) to wake us up... and to speak tenderly to us.

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young... (Hosea 2:14-15)

Friday, February 24, 2006

New Love (history)

I have a confession... reading the old testament (minus a select few books such as Psalms, Proverbs, Song or Songs, Haggai, and Habakkuk) is a bit rough for me. It's always been that way. Not because I can't understand it, because I can, but because it's strictly history. Yes, the new testament is also history, but it's different... you know what I mean. If you know me well, you know that history is not my thing. In high school I was lucky to get by with a B or C in every history course I took... I despised learning about what the heck happened back in 650 BC. In fact, I despised learning about what happened just 40 years ago in the 60's. So when I found that in college I was going to have to take 2 history classes in order to graduate, right away I signed myself up for a couple religion classes.

Two reasons... 1.) if I was going to have to sit through lectures about history, I might as well learn more about God as well and 2.) I thought that maybe by studying the old testament it would give me a better appreciation for Biblical history.

But again, history... not my thing.

The past few months I've been feeling more called to dig into the old testament (not just read, but dig. There's a difference). And I admit that I've been somewhat... reluctant to following that call...

I know that He's been wanting me to get in deep, but it's been hard to get past "all I keep reading about is this tribe and how they're related to this tribe... blah blah blah..." So what do I do? Read it just to get through it...

"There, I read 1 Kings Lord. Done."

Yeah right Jackie. It quite ridiculous that I sometimes think I'm fooling God by reading what He tells me to, claiming that I'm digging, when in fact I've thrown the shovel off to the side.

I really hope it doesn't sound like I hate the old testament, because I don't! I know there is so much to discover from these books and it really does break my heart that I don't thirst for those stories and readings more. But praise God for being a God that changes hearts... can I get an amen?!

For a while now, all I've been wanting to do is read stuff out of the old testament... but not just read, I've been digging. And digging hard. It's been incredible. It's completely the Lord because I'm actually enjoying everything I lay my eyes on... even 1 and 2 Kings... wow. Enjoying Kings?! That's something I never thought could happen. I'm craving for God's voice and hand, and I'm heavily hearing and seeing it.

Eli makes me laugh... Samuel easily captures my attention... Nehemiah is crazy (good crazy)...

I'm so fascinated with the people God used, spoke to, punished, blessed. I've even gotten to the point where I'm seeking after outside information to learn more about these people. That may not seem like a big deal, but trust me... for me it is. I'm yearning to learn more abuot the early church. It's weird to think that I've been following after God for as long as I have, and I'm just now willing to sweat and dig and run and dive in after the deepness that is within old testament words. It's refreshing... more then refreshing. He's pulled me to a new level of where He wants me to be. And in the process of pulling me, He's changed my heart.

Again, history was never my thing...

but I think it's becoming my thing.

Funny God. I love it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

All up in my Face [Literally]

I kicked off my acting career last night.

A buddy of mine called me up the other day and asked me to be apart of a video that he's making to help promote the dodgeball league at our church.

"Be there at 7:00... get ready to act your brains out."

Walking into the gym, I joined the other "actors" who sat patiently on the bleachers awaiting their turn in front of the camera. A bit confused at what was going on, I turned to the other confused faces asking whether they knew what their parts consisted of or not.

"I have no idea..."

Whew... at least I wasn't the only clueless person in the room.

One by one each of us were called to film our scenes, finding out our lines and characters seconds before the camera began rolling. Laughter overtook the gym... tears rolled down my face as I tried to compose myself. Improv is hysterical. I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time. I wasn't sure how I was going to hold myself together when it was my turn, especially if I was going to have to act like a complete idiot...

which is exactly what I had to do.

Nate stood with his camera a foot away from my face. "Be hysterical... hyperventilate... just freak out for a few minutes... ready... go."

Do what?! Oh gosh... okay, I'll give it a try.

And so I did. I widened my eyes, I made my face turn bright red, I talked twice as fast as I usually do, I fanned my face, I breathed heavily... I did exactly what they wanted; I acted like a nut. Once I finished and the camera was turned off, we all busted out into even more laughter. I'm not an actor, nor have I ever been, but I loved the rush that came during those few minutes of becoming someone completely different than myself.

Soon after I suddenly realized what I had just gotten myself into...

Next week my face was going to appear on an enormous screen (taking up THE WHOLE screen as a matter of fact) in front of a couple hundred people. Then add the fact that I wasn't going to just be starring into the camera, but everyone was going to witness my seconds of "freak out."

Oh geez...

So next week, I'd like to apologize to everyone for the possible saliva that might be visible, for any food that might be stuck in my teeth, if anything penetrates out from my nose, or if my huge eyes suddenly go cross-eyed for even a moment. This shall be interesting...

as well as embarrassing... Oh well!

So sit back and enjoy this... fabulous piece of video we all worked so hard on.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Painting [by GOD]

God painted a picture for Des Moines Iowa this morning.

The majority of the world claims to believe in a god of some type. We [the people of the world] know this god is big, it's in charge of something, and we can ask it to protect us or help us in times of need. A lot of the time, this is where the view of "our god" stops. Though, questions are continually being asked, yet the ears of the askee are being covered by our own hands.

"God, how much do you control?"

"God, how big are you?"

"God, will you prove to me that you're real?"

"God, why don't you ever answer my prayers?"

"God, what do you look like?"

We find ourselves settling towards a view of god that makes complete and utter sense to our own self. Like mentioned, we know this god is big... bigger than us, it's in charge of something... "destiny", and it will protect us when we're in trouble... sometimes...

We ask how big God is, but when He tries to show us we turn the other way... we close our eyes. We believe He's big, but we aren't willing to believe He's really that big. We live life "allowing" God to be as big as we "let" Him be. We hide from the reality of WHO GOD IS because we can't handle not being in control. We can't handle not having evidence and logical answers to back up God-centered questions. We only believe what could logically be true.

Someone who is cured from cancer has become a testimony of a miracle... not of the Hand of God. An earthquake is only the colliding of plates... has nothing to do with the Hand of God. Sperm and an egg coming together to create a baby... again... it's just that; nothing to do with the Hand of God.

Again, we ask...

"Will you prove to me that you're real God? Will you prove to me that you're big?"

... He wants to...

... and He's been trying.

He's been trying nonstop since the beginning of time. He knows He's big, He knows He can do great things, He knows that He can do it all. Yet some how we keep missing it...

Well not today. I certainly, along with many others, know that we were far from missing God revealing a small part of Himself this morning. The picture above, is a of what appeared before us here in Des Moines, Iowa (I apologize for it not being extremely clear - I took it with my phone). It was incredible. I sat in my car outside of where I work for 10 minutes captivated by the sight.

I love how He captured so many eyes and hearts this morning.

There will still be some who saw the phenomenal sight and still say, "Cool, look how all the gases in the sky are mixing and combusting to form the rainbows and bright lights..."

(Keep in mind that GOD is LIGHT and He is the Maker of those gases and particles)

God is an artist and He treated us to one of His paintings today...

simply to just say,

"Look at Me... I'm so much bigger than you let Me be."


Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast. The voice said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things." And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones--jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads... (Revelation 4:1-4)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

♥ Valentines Day ♥

This afternoon I met up with a friend and her new baby boy. He, might I add, is honestly one of the cutest and most beautiful babies I have ever seen... I couldn't stop looking at him. I found myself captivated by his baby blue eyes and his chubby cheeks. All I could think about was how beautiful he was and that our God knit him together.

I wasn't the only one whose eyes were drawn to him.

Her and I got together to specifically talk about how I should go about getting involved with ministry, rather than continuing down the path of becoming a teacher. She told me her story about how she began a journey of becoming a teacher, but then suddenly found herself running towards ministry... she gave me advice on places I could look at working or volunteering this summer that may help give me a better idea of what the Lord is calling me to... she listened as I poured out my desire to serve God in whatever I did... she prayed for me...

And amongst as this I couldn't help but notice one thing...

she would not stop looking and touching her little baby boy.

If I'm ever in deep conversation with someone and I don't feel that I'm getting their full attention, I'll find myself somewhat flustered; they obviously must not care enough about our conversation to zone in 100%.

But... with her, not once did a feeling of "annoyance" or "anger" enter my mind... only joy and excitement.

I knew she was listening. I knew she was fully focused on our conversation. And I knew that every topic we covered set afire a small piece of her heart. But just as I was in awe of her little boy, she too [even moreso] remained fixed on him.

God showed me Himself today in her... and He showed me myself in baby J. He gave me a picture of the way that He cares for [us] His children. He reminded me that He is always touching and checking up on His kids, after every sound or movement they (we) make, because of how captivated He is by our beauty. And yet, we always have His full attention. Even when He's reaching His hand down to wipe away the tears of another, His attention and His desire to hear your cry remains.

How could I get annoyed with my friend when all she was doing was protecting and making sure that her baby was okay... when all she was doing was being like the Father.

Towards the end of our time together, she asked the question of the day (which take me back a year ago I would've burst into tears from sadness)...

"You have any plans with a special guy tonight?"

Surprisingly I found myself with a huge smile across my face, replying with a cheerful "no... no plans. I'm single and I can honestly say that I'm okay with it..."

She smiled at me, then turned her head towards her little bundle of joy and kissed him. It was breath taking... that's exactly what He was doing to me.

Best Valentines Day ever...


A little something I received from a brother this morning...

Happy Valentines Day.

To the women who are so valuable to the body of Christ.

This day is dedicated to the remembrance of romance and the love between couples. I think that’s cool and all but hopefully everyday you spend with the one you care about is expresses and filled with romance and love between the two of you. I feel that’s what Jesus's relationship to us embodies.

On this celebrated day I just wanted to write you women to share my appreciation of you all. You women of God have influence and changed the way women have been looked at for generations. Us men are in amazement and admiration of your passion, closeness, and relentless pursuit to honor the Lord God Jesus Christ. Women, I would like to thank you all for being just as God wants you, setting the trend and example for the way women should be. Your influence is going to send echoing repercussions for generations to come. You are valued and loved by the men who through God have been given the name and privilege of being called your brothers. Thank you for encouraging, strengthening, influencing, and being our rock in times of weakness. Without you and the way God uses you, us men would be incomplete.

I know on a personal level God has blessed me by getting to know most of you and a big part of my walk with Christ has been forever inspired and changed because of you.

I hope you all spend this day focusing on the overflowing love Jesus Christ has for you all. He is the ultimate romancer who desires to express his love to His valued creation not once a year but everyday. God recognizes and will reward your lovesick pursuit for Him.

Thank you for being in the body of Christ and building His Kingdom.

Arise Woman Of God

Rise up O woman of God
In what He has given you
The things God has laid on your heart
Rise up, go forth, and do.

Unlock what God has placed within
The potential you have inside
The world is waiting for your release
To expand your wings and fly.

Arise in your God-given gifts
For this is your finest hour
Arise in the Lord’s holy might
Ignited and empowered.

For God is calling you to come forth
To impact this world for Him
Don’t hold back or limit yourself
Let His power arise within.

And take His message to the world
To those that have lost their way
For you can surely make a difference
If you’d hear His voice and obey.

You shall be strengthened in the Lord
As you begin to arise
Conquering those doubts that pull you down
And believe who you are in Christ.

For you shall surely be transformed
As, in you, God increases more
And become a woman of true excellence
Bringing honour to her Lord.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Will (not maybe)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

What an eye-catching verse...

He has made a promise to fill those who crave Him; for the mouths that salivate longing for that righteousness, they will be filled. Not "maybe", not "possibly", and not "sooner or later", but He will fill you. His promises never fail; He will fill you.

The moment that we allow Him to grab a hold of our lives, and everything within them, He meets a need that nothing or no one else can fill. Suddenly, we understand what complete and utter satisfaction means.

Just to sit and think that we no longer have to live an empty life, and we've been handed a promise that hands us countless things... love, wholeness, peace, joy... This Love is...

my (our) Father.

I'm excited to know that you have been filled. I'm excited to know that I have been filled. And I'm excited to know that you can be filled... begin thirsting for Him... you will be filled.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Has, Is, and Will Be

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:9-10

God is God...

He is the Creator of the universe, the ever reigning King, the Father, our Savior of the world... He is the Mastermind behind everything that has been, is, and will be.

Even before the creation of the world, this God had you in mind. Specifically you. He knew how much you were going to weigh when you were born, what color your eyes were going to be, how tall you were going to be when you hit middle school, that you'd be passionate about sports or the arts, your blood type, the exact moment you knew you were in love for the first time...

...even the very hairs of your head are all numbered... (Matthew 10:30)

We long for people to actually know us; to know who we are as a person. We long for attention and love. Especially women, we long to have a man know the smallest details about us... what our favorite books are, what our comfort food is, what makes our heart skip a beat in excitement, how we like our steak cooked... just think... there is in fact Someone who knows all of that, and so much more.

My beloved, God calls you His own. He knit you together and made you exactly how you are at this very moment. That bump on your nose... supposed to be there. The lacking in ability to play football... not a mistake. Your gift of encouragement... given to you on purpose. In our world if you're a woman and you have size 12 feet, you're a freak. If you're a guy and can't play basketball for the life of you, there must be something wrong with you. If you work in a church and struggle with intercession and prayer, maybe you should go into another field...

Flaws? Nope... the way you were made.

We each have different gifts, abilities, desires, hopes. He planted those things within us. If we all had the same look and talents, we'd be living in a very mechanical world. God doesn't want mechanical... He wants beautiful.

He wants... you.

He has incredible plans for you. There is pain and suffering intertwined with His plans, but to know that by always keeping your eyes fixed on Him, you will find joy in the darkest of times. You will find yourself laughing and dancing, when if without Him, you'd be drowning in the depths of your own waters. Paul was in prison for most of his life, but continued to praise God. During depression, David sang psalms to God... He never leaves your side, ever. Even when you don't feel good, it doesn't mean that God isn't good. He has BIG plans for your life... let Him show you. He wants to... He wants to show you so badly.

The moment you allow Him to direct you and take over your heart, you begin to grasp and taste the great things God has waiting for you. The sweetness is indescribable... for years you had planned on doing one thing... but after allowing Him to take the wheel, you find your desires shifting, guiding you in a direction you never would have dreamed of. And you find nothing but satisfaction in knowing that you are finally going after what He has called you to.

Coming to the surface after being held under water... that gasp of fresh air. Sitting in a bar where smoke blankets you... walking outside and inhaling the freshness of clean air. That my friends, is only a tiny glimpse of what God breathed air is like.

Let Him take you places. Trust Him... allow Him to lead you outside of where you feel comfortable. Ask Him to challenge you... ask for opportunities to shape you into the man or woman He so desires for you to be.

Get up and follow Him... I promise, He won't let you down.

...for in the image of God has God made man (Genesis 9:6b).