Friday, January 28, 2011

Miracles

One of the things that distinguishes you from all of the other children on the earth, is Miracles.  Definitions of “a miracle” could be “phenomena which appear to violate natural laws but reveal God actively moving,” or “a sense of awe that points to the presence of God at work in power.”  Whatever the definition, it is jaw-dropping to either witness a miracle, or be the recipient of one. 

                Throughout time, God has done miracles.  Miracles and power are a part of His kingdom and whatever is touched by His Kingdom, the miraculous is present.  I have personally witnessed things that could not be included in any other category except “the miraculous:”  People healed of cancer, a witchdoctor completely changed in moments,  signs in the sky that spoke clearly, dreams in the night that became reality soon after, unexplained super-experiences, demonic spirits thrust out of a person and peace filling their lives, prophetic revelation being spoken that no one knew about, money appearing at our doorstep or in the mail at the perfect time, and on and on. 

               As I have often asked others to share testimonies of what God has done in their lives, I have heard remarkable stories of the miraculous at work in various ways, with no two stories the same; and though these testimonies speak of God doing something spectacular, of all of the testimonies that I have heard of and experienced personally, I see a pattern that might be surprising.  Most of the miracles and phenomena that violates natural laws for individuals has come through the “touch” or actions of other people!   In other words, most miracles are not God working independently, but rather God choosing to work through His dependants – His kids that step out in love and faith and compassion to touch someone else.   

Think for a moment about your miracles.  How did they happen?  My guess is that most of them came through someone who gave, someone who prophesied, someone who prayed for you, someone who said something that altered your world,  someone who anonymously gave, someone who, for a moment in time, became Jesus to you. 

            What this means is that just as Jesus became the miracle for all of humanity by stepping out of heaven and coming near to people, healing them and releasing them from their bondages, we are here to do the same.

“Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” 1 John 2:6
When we step out of our  “normal” and safe environments and go to the person we see in pain, go to those who are needy for encouragement, pray for the sick or depressed, we become a part of God’s provision for another.  God has chosen to do it this way.  He loves involving His kids in His fun and He has already filled you up with the miraculous to give away. The reservoir of His Spirit inside of you holds the resources that sets others free (Luke 17:21).   God’s is looking for His “dependants” to send a check through – looking for armies of His own children that want to get in on doling out heaven’s riches.  Whether we realize it or not, our own life is a miracle and we are a transport vehicle of miracles to others.  


Matt Peterson

Book of Remembrance


What if we created a Book of Remembrance?  A special place to keep track of God’s intervention, provision, and miracles in our lives, in our families.  Imagine the stories that would be told, the illustrations that would come to life, & the dreams fulfilled!  The legacy that we could pass along right here in the 21st century!

The Jews were encouraged, more accurately, they were commanded to teach their children of all that God had done for them.  Check out Psalm 78:1-7.  Verse 7 explains that as we pass along these amazing stories of what God has done in our lives, each generation sets its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.

The rest of Psalm 78 gives us a picture of what happens when we forget what God has done - or we focus on the wrong things...  As you’ll see - it’s NOT good.

Consider gathering your family together to create a special journal of remembrance.  Feel free to include scriptures, pictures, collages, letters, check stubs, x-rays, any evidence of God’s intervention and blessing.  Add to it.  And during times of discouragement - look through it and thank the Lord for how he’s always at work in our lives, even when we can’t see what he’s doing.   

Wendy Horvath







Golgotha


As I was about to take a drink of orange juice, I noticed a container of MuscleMilk protein mix on the counter. I started thinking about the taste of MuscleMilk as began to drink my orange juice. The first thing I tasted as I took a drink was MuscleMilk! I was quickly disgusted by the taste of oranges in my drink until I realized... "this is orange juice."

We have the power to create with our minds. Our thoughts have power. By simply thinking about MuscleMilk, I began to expect the taste of a protein shake and I really tasted it!

When we entertain thoughts of fear, worry and anxiety, it isn't long before they become our reality. If we are dwelling on the fear of being unhappy, we will soon start to feel unhappy. We will begin to "taste" the disappointment that we were afraid of.

The mind is a battlefield. The bible says to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Further than that, the bible actually tells us what kind of thing to think about! Philippians 4:8 says, "... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise-worthy - think about such things."

Jesus died at Golgotha, the "place of the skull." Through Jesus, we have victory in the place of the skull - our mind. The mind is the breeding ground for fear OR faith. Let us have thought lives that enable us to live lives full of faith!

David Olinger

Yard Sale

It’s time for a yard sale
It’s way over due
Time to get rid of the old, make room for the new
Boxes of disappointment, shoes & hats that no longer fit
Dust covered self-help books & knick knacks of resentment
Bags of unforgiveness, fears forged into rusty gates
Roots of bitterness & broken mirrors of self-hate
A pedestal for judging others, just a sampling of what you can find
I want them out of my house and out of my mind
Only one person came to my yard sale that day
I told him, “I can lower any price, as long as you haul it away.”
He smiled & laughed as I recall...
Then He called me by name and declared, “I’ll take it all.”
He handed me a blank check and told me to fill in the amount
With the greatest number in earth & in heaven above
He said, “That’s how much you’re worth, that’s how much you’re loved.”
My eyes filled with tears and I hugged Him so tight
All this time later, I still carry that check
Wondering what amount to write
Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
-Wendy Horvath

Inside Out

Integrity is not simply making the right decisions when we really want to do the opposite. It’s not choosing the righteous path, even though we would rather satisfy the flesh. Although, we should make the right decisions and follow a righteous path, true integrity goes beyond the surface of our actions.
Integrity is the consistency of matter. We know that a piece of hard wood is, indeed, hard wood if it has the same consistency on the inside that it appears to have on the outside. If the wood is solid all the way through, interior and exterior, it has integrity. The literal definition for integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided; unified, unimpaired, having internal consistency.”
Having integrity means that we don’t have to put a mask on and pretend to be something that we are not. We don’t need to try to love people, because Love is a person, Jesus, who lives inside of us. Having integrity means that we are free to let the person that we really are on the inside come through on the outside.
The Law of Moses proved to us time and time again that it doesn’t have the power to change the heart. The law could only deal with our behavior. This is how the Pharisees were able to have the appearance of holiness on the outside, and yet be hollow and cold on the inside. Their actions may have changed, but their hearts remained the same. Only Jesus can change our heart.
Your body is the habitation that Jesus has chosen to settle in. His presence now fills the caverns of your heart that used to be desolate. The once chilled air is now replaced by the warmth of His dwelling. Along with His occupancy came renovation. He made it beautiful, all the way through, from the inside out.
- David Olinger

Perfectionism

One of the greatest hindrances to creativity is perfectionism.
Perfectionism is “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable. Especially, the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to... regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness”
Perfectionism is a nasty bondage that binds up many creative people from ever exploring and growing in their gifts. Perfectionism is the offspring of fear and pride.
To be clear, I want to differentiate between “perfectionism” and a desire for excellence. The desire for excellence is biblical and to be commended. Psalm 33:3 tells us to play “skillfully” with a shout of joy. Asaph excelled to a position of authority in the temple because he had cultivated excellence in what he did. (1 Chronicles 15:22)
The desire for excellence stems from a root of joy and passion that fuels us onward to greater and greater heights. It comes from knowing that we are accepted as we are and gives us grace to make mistakes without crushing our spirits.
In my own creative journey, I have discovered the value of making mistakes and learning from them. Perfectionism on the other hand doesn’t allow for mistakes. We are either afraid of failure, of not measuring up, or we become self-important and don’t allow ourselves to explore beyond our comfort zones. (Pride is just another form of fear.)
In that way, perfectionism stifles growth that comes through discovery, trial and error.
As we grow in our identity as beloved children of God, our tendency should increase in fearlessness on all fronts. As children of THE original Creator, we have this inheritance in our DNA to be creative. His perfect love for us liberates us from the fear and bondage of perfectionism. May our praises become more glorious in the days to come as He leads us into the excellence of knowing who He is. Let our creativity continue to pour out without fear.
- Stephen Roach

Invisible Accounts

Similar to an investment account where consistent deposits are made in order to save and grow funds for later (like an IRA - Individual Retirement Account), every person in the world has an Invisible Account they may not be aware they have.
Deposits are made daily into our Invisible Account, with some being much larger than others. Every investment grows with supernatural, compound interest. An example of this account is found in the life of Joseph, described in the last 13 chapters of the book of Genesis.
As Joseph lived his life, he was treated wrongly by many people, including those closest to him – his own brothers. When they sold him as a slave, Joseph somehow forgave them, making a large deposit into his invisible account. As he lived as a slave within Potiphar’s house owning nothing, he chose daily to not despise his condition, but instead gave his heart to faithfully serve and promote his master. Daily, deposits from the actions of love, forgiveness and serving were unknowingly being made into the invisible account that followed him within an unjust world.
When Joseph chose not to have sex with Potiphar’s wife, even at her continued request, a large deposit of righteousness went into his invisible account. When he was falsely accused of rape, a new deposit of justice was made into his account, though he didn’t realize it.
Daily he suffered in prison with rats and criminals, separated from his father and any support, with only a cloud of accusation hanging over him. Though Joseph’s natural stock had been devalued to zero, his invisible account was growing exponentially large. Each injustice endured and forgiveness chosen, poured into his account a river of wealth.
Then after years of injustice, rejection and accusation, came the first dividend check from an account too full to contain any longer. This small dividend disbursement from his invisible resource propelled him from prisoner to the number two ruler in the entire kingdom instantly. Next came a wife, children, wealth, trust, great responsibility, renewed relationship with family, and the wisdom required for it all.
Joseph showed us how to live. Don’t lose faith. Keep doing the right thing when no one sees it. Provide forgiveness to everyone in bucket loads. Secretly supply justice for others and yours will come at the perfect time. God doesn’t forget the righteousness we do in secret. It’s in secret, under difficult situations that our greatest deposits are made, resulting in us becoming more like His Son.
“…and let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” Gal 6:9
Matt Peterson

Patience

“You must shake the tree”, said the wise teacher. The young man looked up into the tree and began to imagine a shower of fruit raining down on his head. “Ouch! Shake the tree? Why can’t we just pick the fruit off with our hands, Teacher?” the boy exclaimed. The teacher turned his focus from the tree, towards his young apprentice, and said, “The fruit of the tree must endure much shaking to reach its full growth. If we pick the fruit with our hands, we might do so before it’s time.”
The young man thought to himself, “So that’s why the wise teacher always has the choice produce!” Perceiving the thoughts of the young man, the wise teacher said, “Patience yields the greater harvest. The fruit that you desire will satisfy you more in its time of maturity; but first… it must endure the shaking.”
Last night I woke up at 3am with this parable in my spirit. It was as if I was living this experience, as I lay awake in my bed. The Lord began to speak to me about promise. The Lord often lets us see our promised land in advance to fill our hearts with hope and expectation. Hope and expectation are needed for our journey.
God’s promises are best enjoyed in their season. As our world is “shaken”, His promises will endure. Be encouraged… He hasn’t forgotten even one word.
Hebrews 6:12 - "... imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised"
Hebrews 6:15 - "And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised"
Romans 12:12 - "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer"
- David Olinger

Confidence

“Now when they saw the confidence of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
The follower of the Jesus is born again into the confidence and boldness of the Son of God. The caricature of a shoulder-forward, head down, shy and anemic Christian is not the picture the scriptures paint of an adopted child, ripped out of darkness. In fact, the natural reaction to a loved, cared for, forgiven and energy packed child is one of giddy joy, an uplifted head, a rascally smile and a adventures to be had.
The fishermen of Galilee had a northern-Israel, uneducated accent, empty pockets, no formal training and probably some rough edges to them; but alive on their insides, were experiential memories of their own hands giving out a pieces of fish to thousands and demons fleeing for cover at the sound of their voice. They had reoccurring sentences spoken from a bold man that reverberated inside of them, like “I will never be leave or forsake you” and “even greater works shall you do because I go to the Father.” And they also had the indelibly imprinted memory of their resurrected leader elevating off the ground and ascending into the clouds after giving them a commission. Since that day, their gaze was up, rather than on the dirt and their inadequacies.
Being with Jesus then and being with Jesus now is dangerous. Dangerous because His words mixed with our believing that these words are actually true may cause a person to act as if they are actually loved, free and unafraid. Being with Jesus can influence a person to live without a ceiling and dare to walk upon problems instead of bearing them. Being with Jesus today for 5 minutes just might awaken ideas and inspire the confidence we need to see ourselves the way He already does.
 - Matt Peterson

Jesus Is The Word

John 1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” As we read on we learn in verse three that “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
What does it mean that Jesus is the “Word” of God and that all created things were made through Him? Let’s start by asking, what is a word? A word is “a sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning…”
A word whether spoken or written is a vehicle of communication. It is the bridge taking one person’s thoughts, ideas, feelings or intentions and communicating them to another.
The Hebrews believed that words were not just empty sounds, but that words were actually “things.” The word they use for “speak”, “lo-davar” comes from the same root as the word they use for object. They believed that words had the power to create reality.
When you look at words from this perspective, it makes sense that God created the whole universe through Jesus Christ, who is the Creative Word of God.
Look at the following scriptures: Colossians 1: 15-16 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Hebrews 1:1-4 “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image (exact image, stamp, character) of His person (substance), and upholding all things by the word of His power…“
Jesus is the perfect communication of God’s heart to mankind. He is the thought of God made manifest. There is no separation or division between what we see in Jesus and what exists in the mind and heart of God the Father.
Meditate on this and next time we’ll explore this idea a little bit further.
 Stephen Roach

Trusting God



Imagine if every painting in the world only consisted of different shades of your favorite color. What if every painter only used his favorite color in his pallet? All painting would simply be blue, or red, or green. There would be a lack of definition and character. I certainly have my favorite colors. I also have colors that I don’t prefer. Most likely, a beautiful portrait will include both colors that I like and also colors I don’t necessarily prefer in order to make the picture complete.
God is painting an amazing portrait with our lives. It’s easy to be afraid when we see brush strokes on the canvas of colors that we don’t like. It’s really easy to say, “this isn’t what I want!” or ask “why is He using that color?”. However, the Lord sees the final image in His mind. If we will choose to trust Him with the “color palette”, we one day look at the final product of of lives and behold a masterpiece that only the Lord could have painted.
If you don’t understand something that is happening in your life right now, step back for a moment, take a deep breath and say the words, “I don’t have to figure this out.” Let the tight feeling in your chest begin to go away and let your heart relax from it’s tension.
God has purpose in the situation that you currently don’t understand. You can trust Him.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” - Jeremiah 17:7-8
David Olinger

Mirrors

Every bathroom in my world has mirrors. Every vehicle I drive has no less than 5 mirrors in it. This means that between my home, office and daily travel (virtually all hours of every day), there is always an opportunity for me to focus on myself or on the things behind me.
While mirrors can be helpful, especially if there is something hanging where it shouldn’t be, mirrors can also be detrimental. Too much time focused on all of the things we don’t like about ourselves or the things behind us that we cannot change is a dangerous distraction from our destiny.
Our natural lives are surrounded by mirrors and the enemy repeatedly gives us opportunities to stare into his “thought mirrors.” His thought mirrors are intended to get us fixated on similar things - ourselves or our past.
Just as every driver of a vehicle must spend far more time looking forward through their windshield than they do staring in their mirrors in order to stay on course and reach their destination, every believer must spend far more time seeing and beholding God than staring at anything else. Anything more than an occasional glance in the mirror is dangerous to driver, passengers and others on the road. Likewise, any thought fixation on fears, what if’s, past failures, or selfishness will cause a wreck somewhere.
Reaching our destination without wrecking our ministry and personal lives means gazing at the Son regularly.
“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” Prov 4:25
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2
Jesus reached His destination without wrecking because He beheld His Father regularly and set His gaze on the joy in front of Him, not the pain of the moment, the wounds of the hateful or the betrayal of former friends in His past.
A glance of thankfulness at what is behind us is healthy. A glance at what God has done in us is also healthy. The mirrors in our lives should reflect the transformation of sons and daughters who are loved, adopted and set free to follow the Son through the wind-shield of our life.
-Matt Peterson

In Three Words

Much can be said in three words. So simple and yet so profound.
After the crucifixion of Jesus - Peter felt lost. Humiliated at how he had indeed betrayed his teacher and friend, Peter lost hope. It’s funny how when you loose hope in one area of your life - all the rest of your hope leaks out of that hole.
We’ve all been in that place at one time or another - not sure where to go or what to do. Peter went back to what he did before he walked with Jesus. He went back to fishing for fish. Nothing else seemed to make sense, until a seaside breakfast meeting.
You remember the story (John 21), Peter and several of the disciples decide to go night fishing. They fish all through the night, but don’t have a single catch. As the sun is coming up a man on the shore calls out a tip, “Throw your net on the other side and you’ll get some!” They decide to try it and are amazing when the net gets so full they wonder if it will break.
All of the sudden, they realize that man is Jesus! This is the third time he’s appeared to them since he was raised from the dead - and he’s cooking breakfast for them. Can you imagine Jesus cooking and serving you breakfast? Wow.
So you know what happens next - the conversation between Jesus & Peter.Jesus: “Do you love me?
Peter: “Yes, you know I love you.” (Repeat 2 x’s)
Jesus responds to Peter - “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my lambs”, “Feed my sheep”.
Even in just those last three words - it sums up Peter’s purpose and direction for the rest of his life. Simple? Yes. Profound? Yes. Life changing? Yes.
Jesus is still talking today. Do you need some direction? Curious about your life purpose? Life might not be as complicated as we think. Ask Him for three words to give you that mission and clarity. He can do it and you might just be amazed at what he says!
-Wendy Horvath

Newness of Life

“..just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Rom 6:4
The newness of life mentioned here is at first glance under-rated. It sounds like the freshness of spring. Nice, clean, good - and it is. However, placed into perspective, it is so much more. The “newness” spoken of here is mind-blowing and beyond anything that Hollywood could ever conceive of. Consider this for a moment: The death of Jesus removes our past, present and future sin – one time for all time. The death of Jesus breaks the chains of slavery off of all who believe. The death of the perfect lamb of God opens up the heavens for us to enjoy the Father intimately, and purchases for us healing and eternal life. BUT, the Resurrection of Jesus does something even beyond the magnificent cleansing, healing and living forever that was given for us did at the cross. The infusing power that raised the brutalized and lifeless body of Jesus up from the cold stone into the death-free zone of supernatural living is exactly the “newness of life” spoken of in this passage. In other words, the quality and kind of living that Jesus demonstrated after His resurrection, is the kind of quality of life and power that Jesus purchased for you and I to enjoy today.
Oswald Chambers said “The resurrection of Jesus has given Him authority to impart the life of God to me..” Jesus has earned the authority to impart to you and I, the resurrected lifestyle of Himself. Coming out of the tomb with a never before witnessed supernatural body, was not just to fulfill prophecy, it was also to demonstrate to you and I the type of supernatural living that we have access to today. There is a newness beyond anything we have ever experienced waiting for us to walk in, to try out, to take a step forward into. This kind of supernatural freedom, enjoyment, love, power, and a sound mind is available for anyone who not only wants forgiveness from past sins, and eternal life later, but desires to live abundantly in-between past sin and future heaven. The 40 days of life that Jesus lived in-between the tomb and the ascension is a peek into the lifestyle that the Holy Spirit desires to have in and through us.
-Matt Peterson