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Who’s Speaking?

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Demanding Voices

The cries were deafening. They demanded, loudly screaming, “Crucify him, Crucify him! Jesus was a threat on many levels. The leaders and crowds were unwilling to examine what Jesus threatened in them. History was being fulfilled. God’s long awaited Messiah had come, but they refused to listen to him. The crowds loud demands moved Pilate to please them over the truth he knew. Jesus was an innocent man.

 “…they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demands should be granted.” Luke 23:23-24 

I have to admit; I understand the power of demands that scream so loudly. They come in the form of expectations, obligations, opinions, and decisions. Pilate heard audible voices, but it’s the silent demands in the mind that are harder to detect. Yet if undetected and unexamined they will attempt to crucify our lives.

Internal Thoughts

Seeking God one morning, I was challenged to examine my thoughts and  feelings. I had been studying about the enemy of the soul and how he operates. Here are some of his characteristics:

  • He is a liar and his goal is deception.
  • He manipulates believers to doubt God and his Word.
  • He tempts to move one away from God.

 

Getting Honest

As I began to write down the thoughts I was having I was appalled. I was not conscious of the voices demanding and condeming in silence  until I asked God to show me what was going on. As I wrote these thoughts down they became real, realizing I had been mediating and believing them instead of God’s living Words. These were negative internal thoughts screaming familiar tones;

  • “You can’t do this, why do you keep trying?”
  • “You’re wasting your time with that project, you are not smart enough”
  • “This will never work, give up before you make a fool of yourself.”
  • “You will fail anyway so why not quit now.”

 

These thoughts brought anger and discouragement. I began crying out to God and He said clearly as I read my next place in 1 Corinthians…stand firm.

“Thanks be to God, He gives victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, stand firm. Let nothing move you…”  1 Corinthians 15:57-58

The negative voices were moving me in the wrong direction, and tempting me. It took time in God’s presence with his Word for insight to come. I had to get real with myself and God. In that confessing and brokenness God spoke, his voice commanded me with gentleness, authority, and love to “stand firm and let nothing move me.” He hushed what was false, overcoming the battle in an instant. God and I were alone together deeply connecting. It was an amazing moment knowing He heard me. He was enabling me in great personal weakness to stand above the loud demands that day. I was sustained firmly within by God himself. It is quite unbelievable, but this is why we share YadaFactor with others. These moments add up within us and He uses each experience to morph us into what He has designed us to be, His. To know Him and love Him above all.

Make a Decision Everyday

Everyday is a battle for our attention, the world is loud and the crowds are demanding. Make a decision now, be willing to seek God with all your heart everyday to understand yourself and your thoughts from his living Word, but even greater to know God. Taking time with Him can change everything with only a whisper, silencing the demanding voices of this world that desires our crucifixion.

Who’s voice are you listening to today?

 Take some time to examine your thoughts and let us know how God’s voice is prevailing in your life today. What is He saying to you from His ancient scrolls? 

 

 

 

Many Disguises

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“We create a mask to meet the masks of others.
Then we wonder why we cannot love,
and why we feel so alone” 
– Brenda Shoshanna

 

Many Disguises

We don’t need to wear our masks to hide our true emotions. Emotions like anger can be a mask to cover our pain. How do you handle your anger?

After doing Yada for a few years, I discovered I needed to take the elevator down from my anger and determine what I was really hiding from. I saw the need to remove some masks of my own. Working through my anger and pain, God showed me my call was to help others work through recognizing their disguises of pain. I went back to college, and after several years I have become a licensed professional counselor.

Disguised Emotions

Anger presents itself in different ways. It can be expressed as outward anger such as rage. But it can also go underground and be expressed in depression or anxiety. When asked how we are doing, we often respond, “I’m fine.” We put on a smile and wear a mask of happiness when in reality, we are not.

Anger is like an engine warning light in your car. When the light is on, it is important to look under the hood to see what the real problem is. We may overreact to a simple incident in anger, but if looked at closely, it can be traced to a buried hurt or a painful event. We may also see or experience injustice, and anger rises up. Psalm 4:4 says, “In your anger do not sin, when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

It is possible to be angry and not to sin but we must not let our anger go underground or spew out in rage above ground. How can we learn to allow anger to reveal the real pain of our heart? James gives the answer in 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring the righteous life that God desires.”

Sometimes we need to share with someone the painful memories we have stored in our hearts. Who can we turn to share the inner hurts we carry?

Mask Removal

All the anger management skills won’t help control our anger if the deep wounds are not exposed and brought into the light for healing. Anger in itself is not a sin, as many believe. It is what we do with our anger that will lead to healing or to sinful behavior. A question we must ask ourselves when anger rises up is “What am I really upset about?” If you cannot figure out the answer on your own, take your hurts to God. The steps are easy.

  • Read His Word
  • Journal honestly what you are feeling and what you think God is saying through scripture
  • Share with a safe Yada group.

Hopefully you can allow God to reveal the submerged emotions and bring them out so the masks of anger can be removed. Removing all our masks can allow us to reflect all God has created us to be in vulnerability. Share your hidden hurts with God and Yada Sisters or Brothers today. By taking off our masks, we give permission for others to do the same, while we all become liberated in the process!

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?

One Degree of Glory

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What is a Degree?

Webster defines degree as; “any of a series of steps or stages, as in a process or course of action.” In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that when we enter life with Jesus we will begin to change, one-step or one degree at a time.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” ESV …Glory to Glory in the NIV translation.

Yada Writing and Sharing

Sharing in YadaFactor facilitates degrees of change. In many ways it is like climbing a mountain, it is a slow and sometimes challenging process. Change doesn’t always come in the time frame or grandeur that we might be expecting in today’s high-speed 21st century. God’s ways are not our ways, and He doesn’t need the transformation; we do.

God’s ultimate goal is to make us into the image of His Son. He wants to transform our thoughts, behaviors, desires, and attitudes to reflect Himself. Jesus’s desire was to love the Father and obey His commands.

Yada meetings are the time and place we take serious our relationship with God and our relationship with one another. Sharing from our journals in Yada helps us to identify sins and gives us an opportunity to confess them. Writing enables us to capture subtle nuances of God insights we would otherwise miss. Processing out loud can help us see our part in any life situation so we can take personal responsibility for what God is teaching us.

Personally

God is dealing with my tongue, and what comes out of it at times. Recently in a Yada meeting, my YadaSister had the courage to gently ask me, “Are you frustrated? Do you know where this anger is coming from right now?” I hated that moment! At the time I didn’t know why I was feeling frustrated; but she nailed it. I couldn’t answer her. All I wanted to do was run and hide or just stay angry. But after 12 years of sharing in Yada and building safe intimacy with friends, you learn that you must vulnerably “go through” the pain of change, in faith, rather than run from it. Later that evening and continuing into the next day, I had to deal with the real feelings behind the frustrations and take it to God. I listened and He lead the way to another degree of healing.

God Met Me

He reminded me that He is making me into His image. He revealed a specific wound of rejection deep inside, that had nothing to do with what was happening on the surface, yet everything to do with what was going on in my heart. God spoke with love and discipline through Proverbs 10. His Word encouraged prayer, change and more confession. He reminded me of what He had said to me two weeks prior. “ I am changing you from glory to glory, one degree of glory at a time.” This degree of change was arrived at only when I shared my writing in group and a YadaSister was inspired to ask a perceptive God question.

One Degree Today and Another Tomorrow

Each day we get to decide if we will take a step toward God or run. We chose the direction. God has something for us at the top of life’s mountains, but the goal is to know Him more with each step. The path to Him is His Word to us daily. He is guiding and speaking. Hearing Him changes us. Which direction are you walking in today? Who are you listening to? Ask God. Write something. Then share it. He will transform your life one step at a time!

Please Jesus change us one degree at a time, give us courage to move closer to you one step at a time. And help us do this just for today. Amen

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).

Why Is It So Hard To Just Listen?

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Have you ever been brokenhearted and feared telling a friend? As Christians, we are often hesitant to share our deepest struggles in fear of being rebuked or told we are not exercising our faith. Job says “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14).

We always want to “fix.”

Why is it hard to just listen to a friend who is hurting or angry and not feel the need to “fix” them? I dare say it is because we don’t like to face pain and we try to avoid it in ourselves and others.
When a friend of mine’s 8-year old daughter died, she said so many Christians told her they didn’t know what to say…then they opened their mouth and proved it!
Job’s friends exhibited a short time when they were able to be true friends. Job 2:13 revealed how they sat on the ground with Job for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. They must have gotten impatient with the amount of time the suffering went on, so they decided to give their two cents on “why” they thought Job’s was experiencing his trial. We all know their dissertations went on for over 35 long chapters before God spoke and rebuked them. God asked Job to pray for them and make a sacrifice so that God would not bring down his judgment on their stupidity. (Job 42:7-9).

How we can listen better?

Being a true Yada Sister or Brother to a friend in pain takes patience, time, and lots of listening without giving advice. If you find this is hard to do; look into your heart to see why pain is uncomfortable to be around. There may be unresolved issues from your past that have not been addressed. Often the pain of others reminds us of similar wounds we have faced.
After doing Yada for 11 years with my two Yada Sisters; I can say I have learned to listen better and am heard like I have never been heard before. Where can you share for a half hour and be truly listened to? The Yada experience has changed my life as I have become a better friend and listener to those God has placed in my life.
Ask God to show you how to face pain He has allowed in your life and bear the brokenness of others around you. We are the best friends we can be, when we have experienced his love and healing in our lives first…and then we can show compassion in the measure we have been shown compassion. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, so we are near Him when we are with them.

 

Where have you struggled lately with not listening? Let the YadaFactor experience show you how to improve this skill that can make a huge difference in your life and the life of your Yada Brother or Sister!

Whose Bundles are you Carrying?

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Streams In The Desert

(see videos below)

Devil’s Burden

Consequently a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God.—Heb 4:9 NET

The Lord made them secure, in fulfillment of all he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could resist them.—Josh 21:44 NET

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he exalts the oppressed by delivering them.—Ps 149:4 NET

An eminent Christian worker tells of his mother who was a very anxious and troubled Christian. He would talk with her by the hour trying to convince her of the sinfulness of fretting, but to no avail. She was like the old lady who once said she had suffered so much, especially from the troubles that never came.

But one morning the mother came down to breakfast wreathed in smiles. He asked her what had happened, and she told him that in the night she had a dream.

She was walking along a highway with a great crowd of people who seemed so tired and burdened. They were nearly all carrying little black bundles, and she noticed that there were numerous repulsive looking beings which she thought were demons dropping these black bundles for the people to pick up and carry.

Like the rest, she too had her needless load, and was weighed down with the devil’s bundles. Looking up, after a while, she saw a Man with a bright and loving face, passing hither and thither through the crowd, and comforting the people.

At last He came near her, and she saw that it was her Saviour. She looked up and told Him how tired she was, and He smiled sadly and said:

“My dear child, I did not give you these loads; you have no need of them. They are the devil’s burdens and they are wearing out your life. Just drop them; refuse to touch them with one of your fingers and you will find the path easy and you will be as if borne on eagle’s wings.”

He touched her hand, and lo, peace and joy thrilled her frame and, flinging down her burden, she was about to throw herself at His feet in joyful thanksgiving, when suddenly she awoke and found that all her cares were gone. From that day to the close of her life she was the most cheerful and happy member of the household.

And the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.

—Longfellow

Streams In The Desert – December 1

Public domain content taken from Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman.

 

 

 

 

The Battle to Believe in Life’s Storms

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When pain comes it is hard to understand. Where are you God? Yet we praise Him, and fight to believe what He has promised through the pain. He is enough! This is why Jesus was born. To rescue us, to save us, and to love us home. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. Please listen to this song all the way to the end, there is a small message from John Piper. We pray God speaks to you and strengthens you today.