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Pegi Richardson

Observing Father’s Day. What did God have to say to this father?

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I’m sure God still speaks, and He had something to say to my husband on Father’s Day.

His Plan

My husband Joel’s idea of a perfect day is to go fishing. So when Father’s Day was approaching, he decided that was exactly what he wanted to do. We drove up the Florida coastline on Friday night after work and arrived at our destination just before sundown. The next morning Joel was up early getting bait and rigging his kayak for the day. He disappeared from view within minutes after launching his boat and I didn’t see him again until sundown.

His Day, His Way

Two days later, I was the one up earliest. I headed for the kitchen first thing and flipped the coffeemaker on. Once brewed, I poured myself a cup and sat down with my Bible and journal and began to write: “Good morning and Happy Father’s Day, dear Abba-Father…”

Who’s Day Is It Really?

A while later as I was finishing my quiet time, Joel walked out. “Good morning!”

“Good morning!” I responded. “How’d you sleep?”

“Not bad. Are you going to church?” Being away from home, he wasn’t sure what the plan was.

I said, “I’ve been thinking about trying that little Community Church up the street.”

Joel announced, “I’m not going to church.”

“Oh. Okay. Hey, it’s funny you’re saying that. Do you remember how Bryan recently told us that statistically church attendance on Father’s Day is one of the lowest turnouts of the year? I guess you’re proving his statistic.”

Joel sat down with his cup of coffee and Bible as I got up to get my second cup. Suddenly he announced, “Alright, I’m going to church.”

Puzzled, I asked, “Why now?”

Looking at his Bible almost in disbelief he said, “My next scripture.” I read Jeremiah 16 yesterday, so today the very next scripture in Jeremiah 17 is titled, ‘Observing the Sabbath’. “

I burst out laughing, “Well alright!”

“It’s not alright.” He snapped back, half amused and half annoyed.

Snickering I said, “That’s my Daddy! I guess I won’t have to go to church alone.”

Listeners of the Bible

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. In 1 Kings 19, God’s spoke in a gentle whisper to Elijah. Ezekiel heard God’s voice as loud as the roar of rushing water. And just before Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream. Hearing can happen during fiery circumstances of life or when peacefully sleeping. God’s voice may come like an urgent boom while other times it’s barely audible. His counsel is evident both in the Old and New Testament. Each of these listeners was confident they were hearing God. They listened and believed.

Ears in Training

“But I don’t hear God,” some might say. Jesus assures us in John’s Gospel that Christians do hear Him. “My sheep hear my voice…” (John 10:27). He says He calls us by name. His flock recognize the voice of The Shepherd and follow. Many believers start off like Samuel does in 1 Samuel 3, not recognizing God’s voice. Listening takes practice. Learning to hear God is encouraged when we witness it modeled. It gives us confidence. Elizabeth reassures Mary this way in Luke 1:45. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Elizabeth’s support can inspire us to do this for one another today! Reading God’s Word daily, documenting it, and sharing what we hear in a safe, small Yada group is vital. Together we’re training ourselves to listen and believe.

The Invitation

It was exciting to witness God inviting Joel to His house on Father’s Day. God still speaks, and sometimes He’s pretty darn funny. Hebrews 4:12 teaches us that God’s Word is alive, active, and breathing. So, hearing sometimes is simply a matter of agreeing with what God has already said.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

Shepherd’s Voice

Do you expectantly listen for The Shepherd’s voice? Hearing Him is as close as opening your Bible.

Is the honeymoon over?

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I had been a Christian two years. Why wasn’t my life going well? I’d started on a pink cloud and everything was glorious! I was hearing God’s voice. I was all about Bible study. Several people in my family got saved after I did. Then disappointments and discouragements started piling up, and I wasn’t getting answers.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had a close relationship and I was afraid she was going to die. My sister was moving to another state, so I was losing her support. And my relationship with my husband was struggling. Our communication was superficial and it left me feeling empty and wanting something more. I was lonely. It definitely felt like the honeymoon was over. I already suffered from anxiety, even as a Christian, but this was like a debilitating panic attack.

In desperation, I got alone in my bedroom and opened up my Bible. I begged God to talk to me and help me. He gave me Psalm 34, where David is pretending to be insane. Feeling I was on the edge of sanity myself, this took my breath away:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

One more random flip brought me to:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

His peace poured into me like never before. All my anxiety faded as I kept hearing and repeating: “All I want is Jesus.”

With my eyes on Him, I let go of all the expectations for my earthly relationships that day. All these people couldn’t meet my needs, so I kept going to the Bible. I kept reading. I kept writing. I kept sharing in Yada my fears and disappointments, my confessions, my hopes. Time after time, I said, “I’m turning to Jesus. He’s going to have my answers and I’m going to wait.”

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day this year. My husband made me a special, romantic dinner and asked if I wanted to hear a story. When we were dating, I used to ask him to tell me a story, meaning I wanted to know about him and his life. The way he asked took me back there. Of course I wanted to hear a story and said, “Yes!” He began digging in the pocket of his jeans while I waited curiously.

Finally, he pulled out a single white pearl and set it on the table before me. “See this pearl? It really has no value.” Then he paused. “But it’s priceless to me. For the past several days, I’ve noticed this pearl lying in the same place on the ground as I rushed by. Each time I saw it, it reminded me of you. Then yesterday I decided to pick it up so I could give it to you today. It represents how priceless you are to me. Passing it by several times before actually picking it up reminded me not to take you for granted.”

I was stunned. Speechless. With tears in my eyes, I thanked him. It took me another day to really process what had happened. I even asked him to repeat the story. It reminded me of Matthew 13:45-46, the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. I journaled the story and the scripture and prayed, thanking God, so grateful for this husband. It beautifully illustrated the work God had done in our marriage with this extraordinarily touching and tender moment.

Do you long for something that seems impossible to restore? Is the honeymoon over in your marriage, in a friendship, in your job, especially in your relationship with Jesus?

I wasn’t looking to God for my answers. I kept trying to fix things myself. It was only when I let go of all but Him through reading, writing, and sharing over a long period of time that he restored years of disconnect. Jesus became enough in the midst of my struggles.

Praying this is an encouragement to you today.

PS. Save the date of April 4th for our live webinar! More details to come next week.

No Ordinary Know

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What The World Knows

Yada yada yada!

If you’re an American, you probably became familiar with the word “yada” thanks to the infamous “Yada” episode on the Jerry Seinfeld T.V. sitcom in the 1990’s. When interjected in conversations, “yada yada yada” cleverly avoids sharing details of intimate encounters. Since then, yada has become common slang used like “blah-blah-blah” to describe meaningless talk.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines yada as boring talk or words regarded as too dull or predictable to be worth repeating. But, nothing can be farther from the truth. God’s truth, that is. Even today when people are introduced to YadaFactor for the first time, some impishly grin while others can’t seem to resist blurting out “yada yada yada.” Be prepared fellow yada’ers! Use it as an opportunity to share how you know God intimately and daily. Yada is anything but meaningless talk or improper relationship. God created us for yada relationship with Him and to be in relationship with others too and it’s good!

God Knows

The Torah is the original source of “yada.” It’s a Hebrew word, pronounced “yah-dah,” that translates as know or knowledge. But yada is no ordinary know. It’s also far more than intellectual understanding. Yada is not just a head stuffed with the information of geniuses’ or bleary-eyed students cramming for final exams. Yada means being aware in the most intimate relational sense. In the Old Testament it describes husband and wife relationships like how Adam knew Eve. When Paul expresses how he wants to know Jesus in the New Testament, Philippians 3:10, this man’s man and pillar of the faith is talking about having personal intimate yada. Yada relationships involve both head and heart understanding and shared personal experience. Yada is power packed. It’s the superglue of soul intimacy and unity between kindred spirits.

Do You Know?

God created you to know-yada Him. In John 17:3, Jesus identifies eternal life as dependent on our having this yada relationship with God and Jesus. God wants you to know Him. But there’s a problem. Sin keeps imperfect people from having a personal relationship with the perfect God. And you’re not alone in this. The Bible says,

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23 NLT)

But the Good News of the Gospel is that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save sinners like you and me. Only through Him can we have a personal relationship with God.

 In the Bible, Book of John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Do you want to know God? You respond by receiving Jesus Christ and by trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV)

The Bible promises in the Book of Romans “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV)

Have you done this? Awesome! You’ve just begun your yada relationship with Jesus.

Know What?

The word “know” in John 17:3 from the Amplified Bible expresses the word know as progressively more intimately getting to know. Like any relationship, it takes time and effort to get to know God and Jesus after your salvation introduction. This relationship includes many, if not all, of the same growing pains and highs and lows as any other relationship. There’s building trust, learning how to hear God’s voice, discovering your love language with God, just to name a few. But because it’s founded on Christ’s love and hopefully motivated by our desire to grow increasingly more in love with Him, this is a match made in heaven. In YadaFactor the three daily commitments to read it, write it, share it (the Bible) keep us growing in intimacy with God and with each other. They are not laws we have to follow but practices that help us persevere, overcome trials, and celebrate triumphs together!

“There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve him, boldness to share him, and contentment in him.” ~ Author J.I. Packer

 Who Do You Know?

How is your yada relationship with God today?

  • I don’t have a personal relationship.
  • I would like a personal relationship.
  • I have a personal relationship and would like to deepen it.

Let us know how we can help you know Him.

 

 

Observing Father’s Day

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I’m sure God still speaks and He had something to say to my husband on Father’s Day.

His Plan 

Joel’s my husband. His idea of a perfect day is fishing. So when Father’s Day was approaching he decided that was exactly what he wanted to do. We drove up the coast to Cocoa Beach on Friday night after work, arriving just before sundown. The next morning Joel was up early getting bait and rigging his kayak for the day. He disappeared from view within minutes after launching his boat and I didn’t see him again until dinnertime.

His Day, His Way

I was the first up on Sunday morning and headed for the kitchen to turn on the coffeemaker. Once brewed, I poured myself a cup and sat down with my Bible and journal and began to write: “Good morning and Happy Father’s Day dear Abba-Father …”

Who’s Day?

About the time I was finishing my quiet time, Joel walked out.

“Good morning!”
“Good morning!” I responded.
“Are you going to church?” he asked.

Going to church is flexible when we are away on weekends. We often decide last minute if we’re going to attend the familiar “big” church, try a new church, or perhaps listen to a sermon online.

“I’ve been thinking about trying that little Community Church up the street. It’s randomly come to mind several times this past week.” I answered.
Joel quickly replied, “I’m not going to church.”
“Oh. Okay.” I said, “Funny you’re saying that. Remember what Bryan said about church attendance being one of the lowest turnouts of the year on Father’s Day? I guess he was right.”

Joel sat down at the table with a cup of coffee and his Bible as I got up to get my second cup.

Suddenly he announced, “Alright, I’m going to church.”
Puzzled I asked, “Why?”
“My next scripture” he said. “The title of the very next scripture I am reading today from Jeremiah is chapter 17: “Observing the Sabbath”
I burst out laughing, “Well alright!”
He retorted, half amused and half annoyed, “It’s not alright.”
I laughed again and said, “ That’s my Daddy! Now I won’t have to go to church alone.” 

Listeners of the Bible

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. In 1 Kings 19, God’s spoke in a gentle whisper to Elijah. Ezekiel heard God’s voice as loud as the roar of rushing water. And just before Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream. Hearing can happen during fiery circumstances of life or when peacefully sleeping. God’s voice may come like an urgent boom while other times it’s barely audible. His counsel is evident both in Old and New Testament. Each of these listeners were confident they were hearing God, listened, and believed.

Ears in Training 

“But I don’t hear God”, some might say. Jesus assures us in John’s Gospel that Christians do hear Him. “My sheep hear my voice…”(Jn 10:27). He says He calls us by name. His flock recognize the voice of The Shepherd and follow Him. Many believers start off like Samuel does in 1 Samuel 3, not recognizing God’s voice. Listening takes practice. Learning to hear God is encouraged when we witness it modeled. It gives us confidence. Elizabeth reassures Mary this way in Luke 1:45. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Elizabeth’s support can inspire us to do this for one another today! Reading God’s Word daily, documenting it, and sharing what we hear in a safe small Yada Group is vital. Together we’re training ourselves to listen and believe.

The Invitation

It was exciting to witness God inviting Joel to His house on Father’s Day. God still speaks, and sometimes He’s pretty darn funny. Hebrews 4:12 teaches us that God’s Word is alive, active, and breathing. So, hearing sometimes is simply a matter of agreeing with what God has already said.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).

Shepherd’s Voice

Do you expectantly listen for The Shepherd’s voice? Hearing Him is as close as opening your Bible. What Did God Say To You Today?

You Can’t Fake Listening

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There is an old adage that says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can hear twice as much as we speak.” As clever and funny as this saying is, most people find it true and personally challenging. What about you?

Fake Listening

Not too long ago, I had someone close their eyes during my sharing time in Yada. I had previously given them the benefit of the doubt when I observed them becoming distracted or inattentive. But this time, after having just actively listened to them for 45 minutes, their behavior hurt and frustrated me. Recently, I learned about psychological studies done on infants where significant caregivers were asked to frown, scowl, or fake disinterest by appearing emotionless. It’s proven to immediately cause distress in infants. Well let me tell you, we adults are not that different if you ask me. It’s upsetting!

Real Listening

In Yada groups we make it our aim to put real listening into practice. Where in this hectic, noise-filled, opinionated world do we ever get the opportunity to think out loud about life and God’s Word with two loving friends listening without correcting or interrupting? Focused listening demonstrates respect, interest, and a willingness to connect and understand. This is different from listening to discern what we think, feel, or react to personally. 

Active Listening Tools

Being a fully engaged listener demands patience, concentration, and focus. Many of us take notes when others are speaking. We document to remember what God is doing, where He is leading, and what He is saying. We even try to pay attention to what the person might be communicating with his or her body language, tone of voice, and gestures. We learn to replace old habits of judgment and giving advice by training ourselves to make observations, ask important questions, or offer words of affirmation instead.

Listen Like Jesus

Jesus was an expert at asking questions. Why? Surely it was not because He didn’t know the answers. On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus asks questions to allow the two men to express their feelings. Could it be because He wanted those He was with to hear their own voices processing their own thoughts so that they could freely reach decisions and conclusions on their own? Freedom to think, feel, and wrestle with God’s Word in the security of our Yada groups makes for true change and mature disciples.

Time to Speak

Okay … so we’ve listened, taken notes, and our friend finishes speaking. Does this mean our time ends with stares and awkward silence? Definitely not! Now it’s our turn to do one or more of the following:

  • Affirm where we observe God working
  • Encourage where we see personal growth
  • Summarize our friend’s story in our own words
  • Remind what God has said to them in the past
  • Mention a theme revealed, a prayer answered, or a scripture repeated
  • Ask powerful questions that point others back to God and His Word spoken personally to them

 

Listen To What The Spirit Says

We actively pay attention to what the Spirit is saying in the lives and stories of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then Yada feedback validates that we’re worthy of being listened to and that the listeners trust God to be at work in others to will and act according to his good purpose. Our meetings become a sacred place where the shy find their voices, the talkative use their ears, and where the Holy Spirit is entrusted to counsel and change us.

Listen To What God’s Word Says

“My dear brothers/sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry …” (James 1:19).