As Jen prepares to move into a new place of ministry, she leaves us with ten things that she has learned along the way.
BY JENNIFER HORNING
We all have one story, one unduplicatable story. Even as I type that word a red squiggly line quickly appears under it. When I click to see what alternative spelling they will give me it says, “no replacement found.” Exactly my point. You were made in the image of God, with a facet of God only you can display! Whoa. We are all here on planet earth for a short time, a specific purpose.
Your family tree is affected by your being fully alive. Your steps of faith, acts of obedience, and redemption stories will affect your great-grandkids. Those can all start now. Can I look back and see mistakes and heartache? I sure can! But I also see a God who poured grace on my head by the gallon, and I can look forward and see an undeniable hope and glorious future of redemption and fullness of His presence. As I reflect on my time here at The Father’s House, I’m baffled by the amount of wisdom I’ve gleaned from the women of The Father’s House. I’m humbled to have been able to sit up close and personal in your lives. I believe you all are and will continue to change the world. I leave you with ten epiphanies that the Lord has so graciously taught me.
- Thankfulness erodes bitterness.
My mom’s life helped me with this. I was so mad when hard things in life would happen. When we’d have to move again and again being a military kid, when there was a death, or when I just wanted to be bitter, she would be thankful, she would ooze with gratitude. At first it bugged me, “Come on, Mom, get angry,” but then it began to change me. She had more reasons to become bitter than I did but she didn’t. It convicted me to the point of change. I can and will always finish my prayer with gratitude. I’ve learned to rehearse the faithfulness of God, and, when I’m struggling, I take out a journal and write list after list of things for which I am thankful. I leave changed.
- Keep a record of rights.
1 Corinthians 13 talks about what love is and isn’t. I always get stuck on, “It keeps no record of wrongs.” How often I can string together wrongs and quickly fall down a slippery slope which is the very opposite of love. In relationships, I see that this is one of the tide turners. One record of wrong can cause the destruction of love between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, parents and kids, and so on. Offense is poisonous and can inflame quickly. Holding it in your heart is like a poison eating away at you, an idol and the lens through which you see life, ruling your thoughts and emotions and becomes the destroyer of peace and joy and dictates how you live and where you go. The Lord showed me that my fuse of grace was short and that I needed to live in the posture of refilling with Him on a regular basis, reminding myself that my life and actions deserve death, and instead, Jesus died and rose for me and stockpiled grace into my bones, life into me, all that He is, in ME. Therefore I should pour out grace like confetti. I should be ready to keep a record of rights, see the beauty and be the quickest to forgive radically and to have a free heart and soul. Would we be extravagant in our love and radical in our grace and forgiveness!
- Love the “One.”
Jesus left the 99 sheep to search for the “one”. He sought for the outsider; He searched and desired to find the one. If you feel like you’re an outsider, know that you’re an insider with Christ, one of His own. Don’t get stuck thinking you’re something you’re not. Instead, use the eyes and heart of what you experience while feeling you are an outsider and minister to the “ones” of this life. Let’s have eyes to search and reach out to the marginalized, broken, seemingly outside, and those who are lost and alone. Jesus was all about this. Instead of sulking in moments I feel left out or on the outside, I will pursue those who really are, who need to experience the love of God through me, going outside of myself to pursue “ones” with Jesus (Luke 15:4, Luke 14:16-24)
- Hotel Earth, Home Heaven.
My husband Benji mentioned this in a sermon once, “Do you spend your time and money decorating your hotel room when you stay there for a night? No! You would decorate your home where you live your life.” Spend your life like this. It’s about “there,” we are only passing through. We are a breath, but we live where “rust and moth cannot corrupt” (James 4:14, Matt. 6:19-20). We have an unshakable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28)!
- “Be bold” replaces “be careful.”
When my dad passed, for almost a year I got an average of two to three hours of sleep a night. I stayed over my Zoe’s crib and wept while making sure nothing was going to happen to her. I was owned by fear. I worshiped and idolized fear. I was scared to drive, scared to take a bath, scared of EVERYTHING. I heard once from Pastor Dan Stewart, “Fear is trusting the voice of the enemy.” Whoa. I was all wrapped in fear. The Lord continued to peel back my fears and trust returned; miraculously, He began to heal me. I still had a residue of fear though, whenever Benji would leave for work I would say pretty frantically, “Be careful.” Zoe, one day, repeated my words, “Be careful, be so, so careful, Dad.” I realized I had a problem. I was teaching my kids to simply preserve life and live in fear…rather than encouraging them to have the courage to live boldly for God in a fear-filled world, to know the light within them and that their souls are indestructible and they can live without fear (Joshua 1:9), Now our mantra as he leaves and to one another is this: “Be bold!”
- By His strength and for His glory!
Another fear I had was to lead people in worship. When I started leading almost 15 years ago, I would stay up all the night prior to leading worship, nervous out of my mind, sick to my stomach and would fervently and feverishly pray. I was terrified, and I didn’t think it was “for me” to do. Someone else who doesn’t feel this way can do this. Every Sunday after service, I would rush home and rehearse my faults and say, “I’m never leading worship again.” The Lord taught me to “leave it at the altar.” If it was by my strength and for my glory then dissecting how I did would be reasonable, but it wasn’t, it was by His strength and power and for His glory. I realized that this “thorn in my flesh” was actually healthy all these years. It kept me praying, it kept me in a posture of lowliness knowing that all that I do needs to be by His strength and for His glory. I know the enemy desires to take us away from anything that has the purpose of light and life. All the more, I will do the work of the Lord and leave my sacrifice on the altar and infuse His light and life into others by any and all means, by and for Him. I pray that you would do the same, especially if it’s tough and there’s some battle in it. Fight the good fight!
- Worship and obey in the fog.
I went through a grief fog. I call it this because I couldn’t see clearly, my judgment was impaired, I couldn’t think straight, and it seemed that all I knew to do I had to almost relearn. The Lord showed me the passage Zechariah 9:11-17 and chapter ten during this season. These verses spoke directly to my heart and became the words that I say kept me alive. “I will make my people strong. You will worship and obey me, I, the Lord, have spoken.” He promised to strengthen me. He gave me a two-point to-do list that year: worship and obey. I felt this from the Lord, “Jen, if you start kicking and screaming and become a disobedient kid and lose your awe and heart for me, you could potentially ruin your family, ministry, marriage, and all that you love; and when the fog lifts you will look back and you will see destruction.” So, as hard as it is, as impaired as your judgment is, no matter how heavy the trial, keep your to-do list small: worship and obey Him. When the fog lifts, you’ll see that His grace and mercy has carried you.
- Be urgent about love.
“You’ll never regret loving, you’ll only regret having not loved.” The Lord impressed this on my heart at a point when I was really struggling. I thought to myself, “I need to be careful about fully giving my heart to my husband because I might lose him.” Wow, do you see how fear and trust are a big tug of war in my life? The Lord showed me this phrase, and it changed everything. Now, no matter what, I will fully love, because if I don’t, I will regret that in all circumstances. Be urgent about loving, that’s God’s big plan to reach the world: LOVE (John 13:35).
- Be grave robbers.
My Auntie Linda said the following words to Benji and me, “You’re both going to be grave robbers … going into the cemetery at night, rushing through with flashlights and pulling people from death to life. The enemy thought that he had them dead, names on tombstones, done deal, but you will, in the name of Jesus, bring people radically from death to life.” If you know me, I cannot handle a movie with even a tiny bit of freaky; I’m actually quite famous in movie theaters as being the girl who leaves the movie (which if you do for any reason within the first 30 minutes, inappropriate, scary, bad “vibes”, they give you free movie tickets, just FYI.) Life has already proven to me to be scary at times, I don’t need more things to keep me up at night, geesh! But this, this for me was awesome! We, as Christ followers, get to be part of the reconciliation of people to their Rescuer and infuse places of darkness with His glorious light! I remember being pregnant with my daughter Vienna and singing with our band Serenade and Strum in Long Beach at a death metal festival (not sure how this happened, Jesus is funny). I remember a few thousand people walking around, many wearing shirts that proclaimed “f#$@ the Church” in an atmosphere of intense darkness. I went up there, a little nervous (that I may die for my faith, no seriously); but I was excited, although completely out of place in my floral skirt and being eight months pregnant. We declared the Name above all names as we sang about how radiant His love is and how His light permeates the darkness. Go! Be light wherever you are, let the Lord use you in whatever situation comes your way. Say yes to the great adventure of being a part of His rescue team!
- Be Shiny
“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you can be pure and blameless, children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you may shine like the stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:14-15). Nothing is worse than complaining about lame things. I know I’m complaining about complaining, but come on! When my kids are thankful and getting along…. they shine, they are pure and blameless and lovely and I want to soak their faces in kisses!!! I wanna be that kid. Often in our current society we value being real over being really transformed. Often real can just be rude or mean or a complaint. What if we allow the Lord to really transform our lives and the Father of heavenly lights authentically transforms us so we can shine like the stars in the universe? The Lord loves to take the broken, hurting, dead and dark parts of our lives and infuse them with His light and love, healing us and restoring the glow of our lives. Let’s shine, let’s love each other and infuse this world with His light.
As we walk into the next chapter in our lives, I pray you know and feel my love. Tears upon tears have been wept over you and my love for you. Thank you for being a strong sisterhood. It’s rare and beautiful.
Much love and shine bright,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a daughter first and always, a creative, an artist, a wordsmith, a lover of God and people, fighter of the good fight, singer/songwriter for Serenade and Strum, and licensed pastor. I am Benji’s wife and mother of Zoe Oceana, my ocean of life and worship, Jubilee Lania, my noble joy-filled party, Vienna Sofia, chosen by God wise girl, and Augustine Xander, my esteemed defender of the marginalized. I soak up life and give my heart to see beauty and light spring forth. I live with a pressing feeling that it all goes by faster than we can imagine.