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