Monday, November 21, 2011

Go Low


I saw a short vision of a “dutch door” in my mind. We’ve all seen dutch doors. They are doors that inhibit children from escaping out of the church nursery. It is a door with two half doors hanging within a single door frame. There is one door on top and one door on the bottom that is usually closed.   However, in the vision/picture that I saw, the top door was actually closed and the bottom door was wide open for people to enter.

Matthew chapter 18 records a question posed by the disciples of Jesus that asked who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Jesus, astonishing His followers, called a small child to Himself, set him before them, and answered, Truly I say to you unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

According to the words of Jesus, the door to the kingdom of heaven is kind of like a dutch door with the bottom one open, and the greatest of all adults are the one’s who humble themselves, bend low and become child-like.   

As adults we teach kids, but Jesus says here that we should also be learning from our Children if we want to enter His kingdom. My wife and I have 5 children and here are a few things I’ve observed from our kids:

 They don’t over-think things
 They rarely worry
 They dance wildly and don’t care what others think
 They implicitly trust that their parents will provide for them
 They forgive quickly and don’t hold onto the past
 They laugh as much as they are serious.
 They don’t judge others.
 They have as much fun as humanly possible
 They are not complicated. 
 They spend zero time looking in a mirror at themselves
 They love being around their father

Just taking these few things and applying them to our lives would create not only entrance into the kingdom, but days full of joy and peace. 

Jesus modeled this same child-likeness while being the most manly-man that ever lived.  He bowed low and entered through every low door presented to Him.  He set aside all of His glory in heaven and actually entered as a child (baby) into the world.  He came to serve rather than to be served. He followed His Father into every adventure He led Him into.  He cared more about what His father thought than anyone else did and He so enjoyed His Dad that He often slipped away from the crowds to be with Him.  Even in His final day on earth, Jesus stripped his garments off, bent down and washed the dust from the feet of those following him; hours later becoming the Door whereby all who dare to bow low would enter and be saved (John 10:9). 

- Matt Peterson

Monday, October 31, 2011

Excited!

When really looking forward to an event or overwhelmed by something good happening, I typically say something like, “This is awesome” or “I’m so excited about...” When I hear some of those in the generation behind me describe how excited that they are, they may say something like “I’m stoked” or “That is so cool!”
Regardless of the generation, words like “excited”, “stoked” or “awesome” all mean the same thing. It means we are pretty happy about something.
A couple thousand years ago, when seventy people came back to report to Jesus after their first mission trip to various cities, the Bible says that they returned with  “joy.” They told Jesus, “even the demons are subject to us!” There is no doubt that you and I would have done the very same thing, but would have thrown in an “awesome”, “it was amazing!” or “it was so cool!” into our description. 
I can imagine Jesus smiling widely with the 70 while hearing the stories and seeing their joy. Moments later it says that Jesus “rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit” about what His Father had revealed to them.
In the midst of the “joy” and rejoicing that the 70 were feeling, Jesus makes an interesting perspective adjustment. He says: “... do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). 
Here are a couple of thoughts: One, is that the word “rejoice” or having “joy” in the New Testament is probably the equivalent to us in our culture of being “really excited”, “stoked” and feeling “awesome.”
Secondly, I don’t think this is a rebuke as much as it is a revealing of something more beautiful than they were currently seeing. Jesus is good with them being excited, but He wants them to have an elevated perspective. Jesus is saying that there is something more magnificent to celebrate than cockroaches being crushed under our feet. He is saying something like this to them: “Do you realize that God knows each of you personally and loves you so much that He has stopped heaven’s activity, walked over to the Book of Life, taken out His personal pen, and hand written your name in His favorite book. Do you realize that this means that thousands of years from now, when the Book of Life is opened and all are judged, it has already been determined where you will be and who you will be with for every age to come throughout eternity? You will be with Me and my Father forever!”
In other words, it’s great to have demons flee when you speak to them, but recognize that this is supposed to happen because you have solidified a place of honor in one book that determines the destiny of every person. You are already a Son, a Daughter, a loved and adopted heir of salvation! This is something worthy of a celebration party, something to wildly rejoice in!
How about you and I stop all our activities for 10 minutes today and ponder on the reality that our name is written in THE Book of Life also? Let’s imagine seeing our name written there and all of the implications associated with us being that special, that loved, that forgiven, that honored for eternity. Excited, thankful, awesome rejoicing is likely to erupt in our hearts if we see it.

- Matt Peterson

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Mystery of God

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t give us all the answers to all our questions? I can’t really think of one story in the Bible where God called someone to do something and told them every little detail of what was going to happen before they stepped out in faith. I can, however, think of a lot of stories where God asks someone to brave the unknown and it led to surprise and adventure. 
One example is the story of Peter in Acts 10. Peter has an open vision that he doesn’t understand in the slightest. The bible says he was “inwardly perplexed” by what he saw (vs.17). Next thing you know, three men show up and take Peter to some Italian guys house, Cornelius, where Peter discovers the mystery that “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel” (Eph 3:6).  
Wow! Did you know that when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, the apostles didn’t even realize that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews? They thought it was just for them! Peter didn’t discover this was for the Gentiles until the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles at Cornelius’s house. Then he understood what his vision meant in which he was “perplexed”, and had to explain it to the rest of the apostles (Acts 11:18). 
What’s really amazing to me, is that when Jesus appeared to the disciples after the crucifixion and taught them over a forty day period “about the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), He didn’t feel it was necessary to tell them that the promised coming of the Holy Spirit wasn’t just for the Jews! You would think something of this importance would have at least been a brief mention! However, it seems as though God thought, “Well, they’ll figure it out eventually.” 
I believe that God is mysterious for our sake. If you knew the ending to every movie you ever watched, it would take the fun right out of it. We were created for discovery! God designed the human heart to long for adventure! This is why some people can possess everything this world has to offer, accomplish every goal they set out for, and still feel unfulfilled. It’s not necessarily the destination that we’re after. It’s the journey and the discovery! 
Another reason the Lord is mysterious is because He doesn’t see things the same way that we see them. He doesn’t evaluate the way that humans evaluate. Humans wait for a finished product, the answer to the question or the fulfillment of the promise as means of evaluation. However, God places a period in what we think to be mid-sentence...
When God gives us a promise, it may not be the promise fulfilled that He’s actually looking for. What shapes us in character, faithfulness and maturity is the process of trusting, leaning and depending on God in between the starting point and finish line.  
Whenever we completely put all of our trust, all of our hope, and our complete dependency in the Lord, He places a period there and calls it a complete sentence.  Our trust and faith in Him is what He’s after. He’s faithful to every promise that He makes, but He’s also interested in the developmental stages in between. 
If you want to follow God without being offended, you have to learn to embrace the mystery of God. You must come to terms with the fact that He knows everything and He’s clearly not telling everything! Don’t call it quits because you don’t currently understand what He’s up to. Following God is the escape from the cycle of the mundane! It’s the adventure that the human heart longs for. If your embark on a voyage with God, get ready for the journey of your life and be ready for lots of surprises! One thing is certain... it will be worth it.  
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out a matter” - Proverbs 25:2

- David Olinger

Friday, September 16, 2011

Take Two

Take two people who dislike each other and stick them in the backseat of a cab. What happens?

In case you’re wondering, that's prompt #80 on a creative writing website I check out from time to time. It lists hundreds of ideas to inspire the imagination and help writers create stories, poems, songs, blog entries, etc.

It got me thinking... Wouldn't it be fantastic to have hundreds (bazillions) of creative ideas about spending time with God? We all love to spend time with him, but as in any relationship, sometimes we get in a routine.  And we both know that after a while routines can get a bit boring and somehow take away from the joy we once knew and experienced.  What would happen if we added a little something different in our routine? If we encountered the Lord in a different way? Would we see a different side of him?  Would we learn something new about him? Could we offer a fresh expression that would touch his heart like nothing ever has before? Maybe he would lean in and reveal a mystery to us…

What are your favorite ways to spend time with him?   Drawing his name in a heart in the sand at the beach with your toes? Writing him a love letter? Jumping on your bed with worship music blasting through the walls? Cheering for him at the top of your lungs while driving your car down Interstate 40 with the sunroof open and the windows down? Praying through the promises in his word?

By all means let me know- I'd love to find out and maybe even give it a try myself.
In the meantime, here's one already on my list...

Exercise # 11
Read a passage of scripture. Think it over and read the passage again. Then write it out as if it was your story to tell because more than likely, it is in some way...


The Lord is my shepherd. I do not and will not lack anything. He brings me to beautiful places to stop, enjoy, & rest. He leads me to quiet refreshment in the secret place. There he restores the brokenness deep inside that no one else can see.

To bring honor to his name, he guides me and helps me make right choices.

Even through the darkness of circumstances, there's no need to feel afraid or fear evil - because you are with me. Your discipline and guidance bring me comfort.

You prepare a choice feast for me to enjoy while my enemies stand in awe and watch me eat.

You pour out your Spirit on me to overflowing. I literally cannot contain the goodness you've poured out- it spills out- I can't help it.

Goodness, joy, peace, love spill over and remain in the path behind me everyday of my life. My home with the Lord is secure and his home is my dwelling forever. He lives in me and I am fully alive in him.

- Wendy Horvath

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Put On


Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness once they sinned in the garden of Eden, so God went and hand-made clothing for them from the skins of animals - providing custom tailored coverings for their naked bodies. 
            Since that moment, placing clothing over nakedness has been a necessity.  Today there is an entire clothing industry which supplies everything from cheap to expensive “nakedness coverings” for all of us.  Each morning we choose something out of the closet that we have purchased, put it over our tired bodies and wear it throughout the day.
            What is necessary in the natural has a spiritual equivalent.  We need to be clothed daily on the inside, not just the outside.   As the provider of everything, God has tailored this necessary internal clothing for us also – supernatural attire more expensive than any made in Italy for us to wear.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Rom 13:14
 “…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”   Eph 4:24
    God is very practical, not just giving us spiritual knowledge and understanding, but literal garments and essentials for every part of our being. The spiritual clothing that God has given is none other than the person of Jesus Himself. The Son of God is a covering for our whole spiritual being.  Not only do we get to follow Him, abide in Him and enjoy Him, we have the option each and every morning to pull out of the closet of wonder, the most expensive garment ever given.  Then, we get to put Him on ourselves – first over our head (our minds), then nicely fitting over the rest of our being. 
    The robe of the person of Jesus means that I place upon myself the living, bright Son of righteousness – I’m not guilty, but cleansed.
    This new self, in the likeness of God, is Jesus in me.  My old self is dead and this new self I’m putting on is light, love and power – free from fear, insecurity, dread and shame.
    The very real Son of God should be as normal and important for us to put on as anything that I wear.  What if by faith every morning we didn’t leave home without first putting on the Son of God, then layering our physical body with natural clothing, as He guards our hearts and minds, and radiates His presence from the inside of us through our clothing? 
    This is a part of living supernaturally, part of our inheritance as sons and daughters of God who get to cloth themselves with the Son.   A great day awaits…. 
“…since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge  according to the image of the One who  created him.” Col 3:9-10


- Matt Peterson

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dry Bones


The path of life winds through high mountains, across clear streams of water and down through low-lying valleys. As this path makes its way down into a great valley, a terrible sight comes into view. It is here that the bones of thousands are strewn for miles - the bones of those who quit along the way.  These are the bones of the wounded, bones of those who didn’t forgive their accusers, and the bones of those who have lost hope.
These bones belong to people who were once alive and vibrant, fellowshipping with other believers, proclaiming the gospel and praying for the lost.  They were people with dreams, hope and contagious love for Him, but have become lifeless and dry, devoid of purpose.
Ezekiel saw a vision of this great valley:
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.
            And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, {there were} very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, {they were} very dry.” Ezekial 37:1-2
After seeing this vision, the Lord explains to Ezekiel that the bones represent the people of Israel who had said: “Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished” (Ez 37:11).  Though this vision was a picture of Israel, it holds similarities to many in our time as well.  Many Christians whose hope has perished are lying lifeless in the valley of discouragement.
            It’s been said that next to fear, discouragement is Satan’s most effective weapon against a believer.  If fear hasn’t stopped our progress in the Lord, discouragement will attempt to take us out of the race for the upward prize of our calling in Christ. 
            All too often, it’s the people with the biggest dreams and aspirations, the boldest faith and most extravagant passion for the Lord that get taken out by discouragement.  This is because many of the most impassioned people unintentionally produce expectations that God neither initiated nor intended. When these assumptions about God’s will become expectations that don’t correspond with the look and timing that reality presents, discouragement moves in with offence to take them out of the game.
In scripture we find clear examples of people that discouragement intended to remove from active duty, and nearly did. Peter was such a one. Somewhere between hearing the voice of Jesus inviting him to “follow Me” at the sea of Galilee and the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene, Peter had created a picture in his mind of what Jesus was going to do in Israel, and probably what his own ministry position might look like alongside Jesus.
Then Jesus was taken.  Fear crept in and Peter’s expectations were dashed, rapidly followed by his own failure in a crucial moment.  After Peter’s denials of Jesus, his bitter weeping, and the death of Christ, Peter is left devastated, lacking hope.  This downward spiral continued when a few days later Peter makes a decision to leave ministry and return to his old trade of fishing.  Away from the distasteful memories of failure, away from his dashed expectations of Jesus ruling Israel in his lifetime, his old fishing vessel would provide some level of comfort and escape from reality.
            “Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.” John 21:3-4
Going back to the old life we lived before meeting Jesus is often the place people run to after facing failure and unmet expectations. One of the problems with going back to that old place is that when we leave the Lord, all of our efforts from that moment forward will result in empty nets, unfruitfulness, and dry lives. Peter is just one story of thousands who were once active in ministry with the Lord and have found themselves walking away from Him without hope into the bone pile of the discouraged.
Soon after Peter leaves ministry, Jesus called out from the shoreline to fishless fishermen in the boat, but none of them recognized His voice.  Lost hope results in damaged discernment.  Only after a miracle did John tell Peter, “It is the Lord.”  The message of this story is a message for all who have lost hope. Jesus hasn’t forsaken them; Hopelessness has just dulled their hearing and they don’t recognize His voice any longer.  He’s been there all along.
            “I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you always, even until the end of the age.”  Matt 28:20
         The message of the gospel is a message of hope offered to the hopeless and life from the dead.  Those in the bone pile don’t have to remain there.  When God saw dry bones, he found a man to prophesy over them so they would rise out of their graves and come to life again. When Jesus saw Peter in the fishing boat catching nothing, He went down to the sea Himself, cooked for him what he could not catch, restored him, and gave him the identical invitation that He had given him three years earlier – “Follow Me.” 
God is not against the hopeless. To the contrary, He has done everything from prophesying life, to cooking breakfast, to rising from the dead for everyone distant from Him. He is hope for the hopeless.
            For the second time in Peter’s life, he answered the invitation to follow and Pentecost was right around the corner.  Three thousand people were waiting for Peter to leave the bone pile of discouragement.  Peter’s purpose was not voided, it remained waiting for him to arise and walk into. 
           What might God have waiting around the corner for others in the bone pile, who choose to arise and follow Him all over again today? Your hope is as close to you as your breath.  He has never left.  Restoration for the dry has come.
            “…and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”  Ezekiel 37:10

- Matt Peterson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Freedom To Move


Jesus stood in the temple and read aloud from the prophet Isaiah saying, “…He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives…” (Luke 4:18).  He then later said of Himself “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).   Jesus was declaring that to all people that the Liberation of Mankind was Himself and a large part of His mission is releasing us from captivity of every kind. 
            One of the stark contrasts between anything that is bound and anything that is free has to do with movement.   A person who is in prison has restricted movement, limited range of living.  A slave’s life is also restricted to the territory of their enslavement, and they are forcibly held to only one address.
            However, when the Liberator and Freedom-Maker comes into our lives, His intention is to set us free all the way down to our cell level.  And with the full freedom we have been given, a new range of motion is also given to us.  We can now go places we’ve never been before and do things that that our old prison never allowed us to do.  Just as 3 million Jews set free from slavery in Egypt went on an adventure into the unknown with their freedom, the natural outflow of our freedom is movement within a limitless territory where the Spirit leads us to meet new people and do things we’ve never done before.
We weren’t set free to simply remain fixed where we have always been and wallow in our good fortune.  No – for every area that we are set free, there is immediately an opportunity to jump around excitedly and do things we have never done before. Freedom isn’t just clarified knowledge and understanding, it’s also action and movement.  There are new places to go, new people to meet, new miracles to see take place, new wars to fight and battles to win.
If the set free prisoner never leaves the prison grounds, he is woefully underutilizing and even wasting his freedom.   Likewise, all of us who have been set from all sin, and given the Spirit without measure to never leave the safety of the shores we’ve grown accustomed to, is a tragedy. The gift of our freedom means it’s time to visit new mission fields, discover new vistas and try new things.   It was for freedom that Christ set you free.  Live large, enjoy trying new things, dance in a new way, go somewhere. 
I’m reminded of a man that once said that the first 3 letters of “Satan” is “SAT,” and the first two letters of “God” is “GO.”  Let’s go into the highways and the byways together, bringing the chain-shattering love of Jesus into the desert-like places around us.

- Matt Peterson

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Twist Ties & Gliders



Can't walk on water yet, but I do love to water ski.  My parents taught me how to ski when I was a kid.  I was young,  but old enough to have seen Jaws and a creepy piranha movie.  To calm my fears and keep scary water creatures away, I sang “Jesus loves me” while getting all situated in the water.

If you've skied before, you know there's only slight adjustments you can make that will either bring you riding on top of the water or force water to bend your body like a twist tie around a bread bag. The thrill of gliding across the waves is INCREDIBLE. However, I'm also very well acquainted with the feeling of water beating my body at 30mph and forcing itself into every opening in my head.

Sometimes, when I'm dissatisfied with life, when I feel like I can't see through the spray of stress, or I'm just complaining - the Lord shows me a picture of water skiing.  I know what it means... the tiniest adjustment can either get me up and gliding or I can continue painfully plowing out the water with my face at high speeds.

One of the easiest, most effective adjustments we can make is thankfulness.  As we thank the Lord for everything he’s given us – the ability to see colors, the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, yogurt bars on a hot day, we start to lift out of the water. As we praise him, we rise above the spray and start to see things with a new perspective and an expectation grows in us for the goodness of God.

1 Thessalonians 5
 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Today let’s sing “Jesus loves me” and ski.

- Wendy Horvath

Monday, June 27, 2011

Out of Control


   The sphere of our control is space where the supernatural is missing.  The supernatural only occurs within an atmosphere of risk, uncertainty – the place of faith.  When I play it safe with my life, with my giving, with my giftings, with where I go and don’t go, with who I meet and don’t meet, then I create the kind of space that pride and the religious spirit like to use.  They settle in nicely there.

   But when I step out into the uncomfortable, into the unknown with love and faith, where I am the master of nothing, the supernatural begins to enter, the air seems to charge with power as the Master moves into this space.   Like a trumpet call inviting angelic intervention, actions of love combined with faith beckon God to move through us (John 14:12).  The Spirit of God moves when we are out of control.
            
Jesus said that everyone who is born of God is like the wind -

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8)
Predictability is an indicator of something caged and lifeless, but wind is fresh, unpredictable and indicator of someone born of the Spirit. You never know where or when the winds will move.  You and I have been born of the Spirit, called to be like the wind.  We are the light of the world, called to bring an encouraging breeze to stagnant hopelessness, called to creatively refresh the hearts of the hurting and lonely.
If we took inventory in our lives for just a moment, are there areas under our control where faith has no freedom to move?  If so, let’s identify it, shove it into the light, and get back on the trail of adventure.  Give away some money, give away some love, dole out some hope, ask God for a new mission to go on with Him today, and like the wind, He will lead you into a place of refreshing someone else’s life with His love. 
Living out of control is the place where we are free, where we can see clearly, where the supernatural is present in our every day lives…. 

-Matt Peterson

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bearing Fruit

Recently, I had the privilege of taking a tour through Napa Valley, California. I learned that when a vineyard starts bearing fruit, the workers of the vineyard will go through and eliminate all of the less healthy grapes that aren’t as “fruitful.” One particular vineyard that we visited eliminates 50% of their entire harvest! The reasoning is so the best grapes in the vineyard will receive more nutrition and won’t have to share their nourishment with the less fruitful grapes. Although this means there will be less grapes in the overall harvest, the grapes that are harvested will be better quality, in order to be made into better wine. 
This reminds me of the words of Jesus in Mark 4:24-25 about revelation. To the one who uses and applies the revelation that he has been given, more will be given to him. This often seems to be a biblical principle. Have you ever met people that seem to constantly have more insight and revelation than everyone else? I’ve often thought, “How does that person think of these things? I wish I would have thought of that!” When a person values even the smallest amount of revelation, wisdom, understanding or knowledge, the Lord gives them more! He gives even more nutrients to the grapes that are prospering the most! When we steward the revelation, gifting or wisdom that God has given us, He gives us more. When we are prospering with the little that we have, He entrusts us with more influence and responsibility. It's kind of like that old saying, "use it or lose it", in reference to muscle. The more that you use what you have, the more you get! 

I think we can use this principle in our every day lives. Every now and then, it’s good to take a look at all the areas of your life in order to evaluate the areas you are most effective in. If there are areas that are fruitful and yielding a great return on your investment, keep sowing faithfully! If an area isn't producing it's full potential, you may find that it only takes a slight adjustment that could result in a greater “harvest.” However, you may find that there is an area of your life that doesn’t bear much fruit at all. Maybe that’s an area that can be cut out in order to focus on more “fruitful” endeavors. 

As we drove down winding roads looking over the rolling vineyards of the valley, I was also reminded of when Jesus said that any branch that does not “abide” in Him, thus bear fruit,  will be gathered, thrown into a fire and burned. At several vineyards, I noticed there were piles of branches that had been removed from the vines. They were lifeless sticks now,  just waiting to be burned. Jesus said that the only way to bear fruit is by staying connected to the vine. He also revealed himself as the “true vine” in John 15.  If we are connected to the true vine, the only result is that we bear fruit!
In all that we say and do, the most important thing is that we are connected the person of Jesus Christ. When we are in sync with God and abiding in the Vine, His favor acts like compound interest on everything we invest our love and energy into. Any limitations that we had are lifted off by His limitlessness. We bear more fruit with less effort. The life that He has flows into every part of who we are and brings vitality and growth! 
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide..." John 15:16a
 - David Olinger

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Key Exchange



No doubt that most everyone reading this blog has a set of keys.  Some of you even have items like stuffed animals, lip balm, flashlights, sunscreen, or Swiss army knives on your key chain. Others opt for the pocket simplicity of one or two necessary keys on a ring.  Some of you have keys to diamond stores, banks, schools, law offices, post office boxes, motorcycles, boats, even other people’s homes.

We all have access to various places, diverse realms with our keys.  I wonder if that might be true in the Kingdom of God as well.  Through our understanding of God’s word and our unique experiences with Jesus, perhaps He’s shown each of us different aspects of His character, heart, and kingdom.  It seems we all have valuable insight - keys - worth exchanging.  You have a handle on a doorknob of the Kingdom that I don’t know how to access and vice-versa. 

Hebrews 10:24-25 comes to mind, which says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." When we connect with one another and share what the Lord is doing in our lives, keys are exchanged.  These keys not only build us up, but they help us to live differently.

A couple months ago,  a friend from church - Debbie Reed, lost her wedding ring and asked me to look for it at the church office.  After digging through the trash and searching the office, sadly I emailed to give her the news I couldn’t find her ring.  She emailed back 2 weeks later:

Hey Wendy, just had to let you know that I found my ring in my driveway! I remembered hearing Bobby Conner telling a story several years back! He lost his keys and said out loud "I want my keys back!" And all of a sudden the keys dropped on his bed!!!! Isn't that cool? So I yelled out into the air, "I want my wedding ring back!" I found it a couple days later as I went out for my walk! It was just lying on the driveway! Too cool! Just had to share! Love ya, Debbie

I saved that email in my journal.  I love this story!  It opens up a new door of possibility in my heart.  Debbie might not have realized it, but she gave me a key for my spiritual key chain. The key is confidence in the capability of Jesus. 

What key spiritual principle has God revealed to you that you want to pass on?  What part of His character do you appreciate most at the moment?   Which one of His promises has proven true over and over in your life?

Have a party; it’s time to exchange keys!

-Wendy Horvath

Friday, April 8, 2011

Enjoying Our Sabbath Rest


            Under the Old Covenant, written on tablets of stone for Moses and the twelve tribes, was the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (EX 20:8).   Just as everything the Father does and says, the intent behind this was to help us; in this case, giving us a refreshing pause from continual effort.  Observing the Sabbath was also a sign of God’s covenant with His people.  Slaves, servants, sons and daughters all got to participate in a day of rest from their labors, and while they rested, it demonstrated that they were God’s people.  
Around 1,400 years later as Jesus Himself walked the earth, on Sabbath days He was often found sharing the good news of the kingdom, performing miracles, healing many, providing rest and freedom from torment, while the Pharisees looked on in utter disgust.  The Pharisees missed the motive behind the gift of the Sabbath and had turned a restful day into a heavy burden, demanding compliance separate from mercy, viewing Jesus as a violator of the law.
Undeterred, Jesus shed light on an even greater “Sabbath rest” than the 24 hour time period that the Law had provided.  He said that He Himself was the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5), and invited everyone to “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).  Later, when He said “It is finished” while hanging on a cross, Jesus had just completed all of the work that would ever be required to satisfy the Old Covenant, while simultaneously providing us a brand new covenant.  The Old Covenant had been written on stone for the 12 tribes, and the New Covenant was written in blood by the Stone that the builders rejected for every tribe.  This beautiful New Covenant doesn’t require a single day of the week to show that we are God’s people or to remember Him. Instead, we have the person of Jesus to perpetually rest in and remember 7 days a week, 365 days a year from here throughout eternity. 
Jesus gave the Sabbath a significant upgrade.  Each moment of the day is a celebration of rest waiting to happen, whenever we remember and consider the sensory overloading love and lavish kindness that Jesus has for us.  Instead of sacrificing lambs for our sin, He became the one sacrifice for all time.  Instead of me trying to please God through keeping laws and days and dietary rules, He brought me into His family and I am now a Son purchased and adopted.
Our Sabbath is a Holy Person to be enjoyed moment by moment.  Resting in, abiding in and believing in Him demonstrates that we are His people forever. 

This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  John 6:29

- Matt Peterson

Friday, March 18, 2011

Love Holes


 The septic tank needed attention.  Only problem – Dad could not remember precisely where the tank was buried in the backyard.  With a general idea, he took the shovel to the dirt…  not quite the right spot.  He moved over a bit and made another pile of red clay, missed again.    In close proximity, yet another heap of clay unearthed and laid carefully on the green grass. 

Sweat dripped in the afternoon heat.  Mom came out to see the beautifully trimmed lawn lumped upside down in mounds. “Joe, I’m sure it’s over there in the natural area. Dig over there.”  I wondered how my mother could be so certain of the tank’s location.

And so my father dug.  He dug because he loved and respected my mother, not because it made sense or because she was right.  He told us he was digging a love hole and that’s exactly what it was.  Just a little while later, he found the tank… close to where he started.

My dad taught me the life skill of digging love holes.  As you know, there’s something powerful in serving and honoring others above ourselves.  Breaking a sweat to let someone else know they are important.  Showing love, sacrificing our time when we could just move on with our plan. 

Of course, Jesus is the ultimate champion of digging love holes.  He’s done all manner of things to serve us and show us our worth.  And now it’s our turn to join him in our Father’s work.  Today’s a great day to dig a love hole.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.


- Wendy Horvath

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Praise


Did you know that there are 8 different Hebrew meanings for the word “praise”? When we read the word praise in the  bible, we almost always picture the same thing. However, the different meanings of the word describe different physical expressions of things we can do to worship God. Although, we aren’t limited to these expressions, they are forms that we can put into a regular practice in our worship.

Consider the word praise like a diamond that has many facets. Each facet of the word “praise” is a unique picture of what worship can look like. If we try new things and expand the way we worship, we may end up seeing God in new ways and expanding the way we experience Him. It could very well reveal a new “facet” of God!

The word halal means to “boast, to brag about, to magnify, to be clamorously foolish.” The word shabach means “to address in a loud tone, to command, triumph, glory, shout.” Barak means “to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration.” Karar is “to dance or whirl.” Tehilla is “to sing or laud.” Zamar means “to touch the strings”, referring to playing musical instruments. Yadah and towdah are both pictures of “extending your hands” in adoration. All these words were translated into one word in the scriptures, praise. 

As you read that list, you probably remember worshiping in one of these facets at one time or another. You may even have a few that you practice more than others. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to try to worship in another way than you are used to. Maybe you could even do something that is uncomfortable for you!

Worship is a weapon that we have as believers to overcome discouragement and gain right perspective in every situation and circumstance. It’s a tool for “strengthening ourselves in the Lord” as David did in the Bible. Have you been discouraged or battling depression? Try to karar! Go ahead and start dancing and whirling before the Lord! Do you struggle with insecurity, worrying about what people think of you? Maybe it’s time to halal. Try being clamorously foolish in your adoration for God, boasting and bragging of His good works! If you need a reminder that God is with you, begin to shabach and declare His faithfulness and goodness! 

However you choose to worship God, worship Him with extravagance! He’s so worthy of praise!

- David Olinger

Monday, February 7, 2011

Supernatural Circulatory System


The blood flowing inside of our body right now does amazing things for us every moment of every day.  As our blood circulates throughout our body, it brings nutrients, oxygen, vitamins, and antibodies called killer T-Cells that aggressively attack foreign agents, destroying them.  In addition, our blood absorbs toxins and waste, taking them to our lungs where they are released out through our exhaling breath into the air. All of this is done without any effort or concentration on our part. We just breathe and go about life while this blood flows through the 60,000 MILES of blood vessels within us, cleansing every single cell and protecting us. 
            This same incredible circulatory system that you and I have was functioning inside the physical body of Jesus when He lived on the earth.  Inside the Savior of the world, the same T-cells, red blood cells and cleansing agents swept through his closed system keeping him alive and healthy, circulated by a strong and compassionate heart. 
Then, under great duress, injustice began raining down upon Him.  His body began to be beaten, torn, bruised and pierced on our behalf.  The closed system was breached and leaking out of His body came trickles of flowing life-force.  For hours, His heart kept pumping and His red river flowed.  It poured out of the gaping wounds on His back and out of the thorn pricks around His head.  It flowed from his plucked out beard and it flowed from the huge nails in his hands and legs, running over His toes, down the tree and onto the ground. 
            As this perfect blood flowed, something supernatural began to take place.  The breach of one system, became the river of life for another, new system. Suddenly, that which was leaking out of a physical body began flowing into a brand new creature.  An invisible new body formed  – a spiritual body called “the Body of Christ,” made up of millions of people from every tribe and tongue and nation, reaching back in time to add in all of the saints of old.  The robust circulatory system of the Savior instantly became the sin cleansing, waste removing, disease killing circulatory system for everyone who would ever believe in Him and join themselves to Him (I cor 6:17), becoming one with Him and part of His body.
            The blood of Jesus isn’t just a historical substance that dripped at Golgotha. It is currently today, the wet, ever flowing, supernatural circulatory system of the entire body of Christ around the world. It continues to flow day and night, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year inside of us.  It continually heals us, washes away our sins and any sin we will ever commit in the future. 
            Combined with the Holy Spirit (Breath) of God, this blood and Spirit do remarkable things as we simply breath In Him, live In Him, Abide In Him, and enjoy Him. 

1 Cor 12:27
“Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.”

-Matt Peterson