Our lives today are filled with distractions! When we are distracted, we can’t listen well, because listening well requires focused attention. Since distractions can negatively impact the quality of our time spent with others, we must become more mindful of the things that distract us from being attentive and fully engaged. We must consider the importance of listening well, because listening well really is a ministry! The question to ask ourselves is this: As a listener, how can I best help and minister to this person?
James 1:19 tells us to be quick to hear. Phil. 2:3 tells us to, in humility, value others above ourselves. Matt. 7:12 tells us to do to others what we would have them do to us. So, what does this look like in a conversation? Focused attention. Active listening. Seeking to understand. We can’t expect to give good feedback in our Yada sessions after our partners share if we aren’t attentive when they are sharing. And our attentiveness communicates our love of and respect for them.
So, think about your key distractors! If you aren’t sure what they are, ask your spouse, your kids, or a good friend! Chances are pretty good they’ll be able to suggest one or two! Life is full of distractions, but we don’t have to be ruled by them. 1 Cor. 6:12 says that not everything is good for us, therefore, we must be mindful and we must refuse to let anything have power over us. Do any of the distractions in your life seem to be holding undue power over you? If we aren’t careful, we may soon find that something very good is morphing its way into becoming an idol in our lives. What do you need to let go of?
Yada sisters and brothers, let’s be diligent about listening well!
One of our core YadaFactor values is, after all, Listening Fiercely.
So, learn to be a fierce listener!
Challenge: Make your Yada times phone-free! Nothing is more distracting than someone constantly glancing at their phone. If you are meeting virtually, take care of things (coffee, kids, dogs, spouses) before you meet so you can be set and ready, in a distraction-free place, to listen and share. See what a difference it makes!
How do we stand in the world around us today?
I want to be empowered to stand firm, how about you? Ephesians 6 gives a clear strategy that will enable any Christian to do just that. Personally, I photocopy these scriptures and print them in bunches of 30. Each day I tape one into my journal and pray through it, asking for God’s protection and armor to cover me. If I happen to miss a day or two, rereading these truths straighten me right up. I underline parts that especially stand out to me. I will sometimes tangent off on one piece of armor. One day I was walking and as I got to the belt of truth I laughed. I had a hip belt around my waist for my phone. I always want to lose a pound or two and this day as I prayed for the belt of truth, I laughed out loud with Jesus because my pouch had gotten a little tighter.
The world seems to be falling apart and the pressure is intensifying. These 10 versus can equip us, inform us, prepare us, and give a clear strategy for fighting the war around us. At some point we must wake up to the fact there is an unseen war that threatens at levels we can hardly understand.
Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief will come, and his agenda is to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to destroy us our peace, our families, our marriages. He wants to steal our jobs, our sobriety and relationships with friends. And he doesn’t want to just steal them, he wants to kill and destroy them. His mission is to destroy us at every level. Jesus has a different goal; he calls it abundance. To have abundance is to have more than enough. Peace in Hebrew is Shalom. Sholom translates to mean enough. The time is come for us to choose.
As Christians we are either arming up to stand firm, knowing the battle is Gods or we are letting evil have its way. We can blame our troubles on our husbands, our mothers and fathers, our boss, the economy, the president’s behavior, the government, the fires, the tornadoes, China. Blaming will not fix anything. We are the leaders of tomorrow. At some point we must stop blaming and start taking responsibility for change, becoming leaders who first choose to follow. If we are not following Jesus to stand firm, no other leader can empower us for the true battle. It starts with me and you, willing to follow closely so we can learn how to lead like Jesus. “He” is more than enough to empower us to withstand this evil day.
Will you join me?
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for the saints, and also for me, that words may be given me and opening my mouth boldly and fearlessly, to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I might declare it boldly and fearlessly, as I ought to speak.”
How are you? I admit I am struggling, tired and don’t really want to do anything. But God! This process we call YadaFactor helps to press in and stand firm despite the emotional struggle that tempts toward anxiety and even worse, complacency, thus avoiding time with God.
But even then, God loves, so I press in to get a message to you as he reminds me to…
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…but if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself…
According to Webster’s, “consider” means to reflect on; to think, believe, or suppose. The thesaurus offers even more insight: contemplate, deal with, examine.
So, I am wrestling with myself and God to stand in what is true, despite thoughts and feelings in this strange time of worldwide pause and panic.
Maybe it’s time for a walk to think about a simple lily? How God is caring even now for such a small, insignificant thing, a flower. If this is true of lilies then how much truer is God’s concern for you and me? Hannah Hurnard calls this loving care “a passionate, absorbed interest.” Let that soak in like the sun to revive our soul now and in the days ahead.
So, wherever you find yourself today mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually, consider this: God’s divine love for you is inexhaustible. Loved, as we are right now through God’s eyes, is our truest identity. He is caring for us even more than the lilies. Let’s keep walking.
On a recent visit to Texas I had the privilege to see the creations of Chip and Joanna Gaines. If you have not heard of them they had a show called “Fixer Upper” that became very popular. They would take old rundown homes in Waco, Texas area and fix them up for new homebuyers.
As I was perusing the Gaines’ Magnolia store, I noticed a man looking at some small Christmas trees on a shelf. I had been curious about how much they cost, so when I saw this man chuckle looking at them, I asked why he was laughing. He then asked me if I thought the little Christmas trees looked like repurposed bottlebrushes and that they were $10.00 each. I responded, “I bet you wish you would have thought of that idea.”
We laughed and he said he thought many of the items in the store were quite expensive. I immediately replied, “Don’t you think this is about more than a store and Christmas trees? This property that Chip and Joanna have designed with old rusty silos, beautiful gardens, food trucks and community areas is an experience. We are paying for an experience.” Then I asked him if he was a Christian and he said yes.
My next comment to him was a clarifying question for both of us. “Do you think we have lost the inspiration to create environments that allow us to experience God?” He seemed to awaken by my comment and we both agreed.
I went to Waco to experience what I had been learning about Chip and Joanna — the stories they are telling and the beauty they are creating. The man I met saw bottle brushes, not Christmas trees. He saw the high prices and missed the bigger vision: The experience created for us by Chip and Joanna.
God has a vision for each of us: To experience so much more than Chip and Joanna’s silos and gardens (although those are awesome). This vision is found in majestic moments of experiencing God Himself thus creating spaces for this experience. But if we are not awake to unimagined possibilities, we might only see the cost and miss the bigger story.
God is the ULTIMATE fixer-upper of our souls. We place our lives in His hands and we go to Him to experience majesty. When we do this, day after day, He takes the old rundown places of our soul and creates experiences that only He can.
Were you able to savor a moment or two in the presence of Majesty this weekend? Maybe you declared; “Monday I will begin and commit” But Monday has come and is almost gone. Maybe you missed church too and that moment of stillness you promised yourself you would take.
I believe it is right here we can truly begin to taste the real message of Christmas. We feel failure, fret, and fatigue day after day. It comes from work, kids, decisions we have to make. Trying and tiresome circumstances interrupt us over and over, greatly discouraging us to press on in a life of faith that is real. The demands we all face, the deadlines and the drama everywhere consume our moments. If we are not awake they threaten to derail, even destroy, our greatest intentions.
Here is the good news Christmas brings; the day is not over yet. If you are reading this, Jesus was born for this moment. All He wants for Christmas is YOU.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…”
– Matthew 11:28
Come to Him right now with whatever is going on in your mind, heart or life. Keep coming as you are, day after day. So this is Christmas, a Majestic Rescue mission redeeming our life back to God one day at a time.
God knew how discouraged we would become in our seeming failure and unfulfilled intentions. He knew then and knows now how painful and lonely life would be today for you. He knew the joy and peace so deeply hungered for everyday. So God in His mercy sent His only Son called Jesus, Emmanuel, born on Christmas day. He lived a perfect life (the perfect life we want to live and fail to achieve – daily). He came to die a death with thieves and murderers to save them. He suffered three days in hell the punishment my life deserves and then, overcame death! Taking my place on the cross, He rose from the dead overcoming my death and sin forever. As if this was not enough his disciples watched him ascend up into the sky to be with His Father. ALL this He did to rescue me so I could come into His Majestic presence now and forever. He even wants to restore my yesterdays, repurpose the pain and mistakes for His good. Joel 2:25 is a promise I still grip; “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…”
I think for me I have a certain rescue I want now, a job, a thing, a relationship, and when I don’t get it I can be tempted to move away from God to find my own “feel better”. But that just leaves me hungrier. I have learned that if I will just keep coming and remain a little every day, authentic and honest with God, He gives me Himself, His voice speaking to my deepest heart in a moment.
I write questions I have for God, what I am feeling, what’s happening that day, with my next place in scripture. He always speaks. In these moments everything is the same, but I am not. His Truth reframes the way I see things. Because I have tasted a moment with the King, He brings order somehow even in chaos.
No one can give us what I am talking about here, not money, no position or accomplishment. Actually I think its failure, brokenness and misplaced wants that often get us at the feet of Majesty; at least it is for me. At His feet I find love, forgiveness and resurrection power to begin again. It is supernatural. I can’t write, say, do or give you anything you are really seeking this Christmas, no one can. You are the only one that changes your today when you decide to come to Jesus, the true-life changer. I know that coming to Him daily, just as I am, I become His Majestic Rescue.
Christmas is a time of remembering. We have personal memories at Christmas that are magical but also memories that are painful and sad.
We would like to help you turn your thoughts toward Majesty this Christmas and find relief from the stress and worry this season can bring.
What is majestic in our lives today? Other than watching The Crown series on Netflix there does not seem like much.
Today’s Focus – God’s Part:
In Psalm 68 David is remembering God’s glory and power. The theme of this Psalm, as stated in the Life Application Bible says, “Times and culture changes, but God is always majestically present as defender and provider.”
Wow! I want the majestically present God in my moments. Just the word alone strikes my soul deep with desire for more, something this world can never provide. David is remembering the Ark of the Covenant that Moses followed years before him. David himself followed the Ark of the Covenant as it ceremonially re-entered the temple in Jerusalem. This object is where the presence of God rested in the Holy of Holies of the temple.
Today through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we want to help you personally experience the majestic presence of God Himself in moments. Together let us resolve to capture, not squander majestical moments only God can provide.
YadaFactor is a process that uniquely helps us capture these moments as I did reading Psalm 68 several days ago. Here’s what we suggest to help YOU capture majestic moments before the year ends:
- Go out and buy a notebook or journal to write in.
- Place the date at the top of the page and the day.
- Ask God where in the Bible He might want you to go.
- Begin reading just a little.
- Now begin to write to God how you’re feeling about your day. Be honest and real with Him.
- As you write include things that stood out as you read from the Bible.
- Talk to God with your pen about what you read, what you need, what your afraid of, or what you deeply desire.
- Are you feeling alone, forgotten, mistreated, angry, hurt, happy, thankful? Give it all to him.
- Ask Him to speak to you through His Word before you begin.
- Finish up with a prayer.
God is waiting for you to come into His presence. This is what Christmas is all about. He knows you, your deep heart, fears, wants, needs…and He wants to speak to you.
Our part is to practice this after every day, trusting God to provide majestic moments. Remember God is not looking for your perfection. Like a good Father He only desires you.
May God pour His blessings and favor on you as you come and adore Him!
Dear Friends of YadaFactor,
A year ago we took a leap of faith. We launched our first online course called The YadaFactor Experience. For over a decade, YadaFactor has been teaching people how to go deeper with God, how to hear His voice through scripture, how to verbally process what they were learning in a safe environment – and all of this took place in workshops, home meetings and retreats. Last year, we took advantage of technology, and developed a way to expand our reach across the country and globe. AND guess what? IT WORKED!
It worked because of you! Yes, it took many, many hours of work from our team, but it was your prayers, financial support, encouragement and participation that propelled this God-sized vision into a reality! In the past year, 48 people have completed the course and we are preparing to start another session this fall! Momentum is growing.
One of our participants said: “Like the prodigal son, I slowly, reluctantly turned my path toward my Father. He rejoiced and ran out to greet me! I am home again. My burden is light and my heart is full.”
Home again. That is what we hope for every person who encounters YadaFactor; that they will allow the Father’s love and His love letter (The Word) to permeate every part of their life.
Thank you for walking alongside us and WE STILL NEED YOU!
Our cost to put one person through the YadaFactor Experience is much higher than the $149 suggested donation we ask for the program (and we offer scholarships for those who can’t pay). Our budget this year is $161,084. As of today, we are less than 50% funded.
Will you help us?
We know there are so many amazing causes to support. Problems such as homelessness, addiction, starvation, human trafficking, etc. are very real in our world today.
But, could we challenge you to think about the root of many of these problems and their escalation?
We believe God is using YadaFactor to get to the root of these problems; an ever-increasing absence of God in the culture.
Giving to YadaFactor supports something more intangible, but over time it is a catalyst that God is using to communicate through the Bible. As we learn to hear God, he grips each heart as he did long ago through a burning bush. Moses was restored, challenged and called to do something that seemed impossible. He took the challenge when he heard God speak to him.
If you will help us, we believe God will use your partnership to address the root by helping more people hear God, then follow His lead.
Throughout scripture God often used one person, willing to say yes, to change the direction of a nation. Courage comes when God becomes bigger than the giant before us.
The giant before us right now is the budget to keep this program going. We know God will provide, but we also know we must tell others our needs. We need to raise $100,000 by December 31st to meet our annual operating budget. All donations are tax deductible.
You can give today online.
Or you can mail a check to:
11156 Whispering Pines Lane
Boca Raton FL 33428
If you have questions or want to learn more about YadaFactor, we’d love to connect. You can reach Co-Founder Debbie Csutoros at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-756-4268.
Thank you for considering our request for support and your prayers!
Please pray for our fall session of men and women (yes, we just launched a beta group for men!) beginning September 9th. Specifically pray they will:
- Prioritize daily time with God in the Bible to become Godly leaders for change.
- Gain confidence that they are hearing God’s voice.
- Enjoy abundantly living in God’s promises despite their circumstances.
- Wrestle through fears and questions in the safe spaces Yada provides.
- Grow in their spiritual stability to endure life’s storms.
- Trade hectic schedules for silence and green pastures.
PS. If you are near the Boca Raton, FL area – please save the date of November 1st for our annual fundraiser. Stay tuned for more details.
Debbie, Pegi, Cindy
and the YadaFactor Team
Today is the last day of July, but it’s still not too late to write about freedom, is it?
My time with Jesus yesterday began with some things I was upset about, things I was concerned with, and my unending desire to find a normal rhythm to my schedule. As I lamented to Jesus about all this, I concluded that I agreed with David’s “one thing” in Psalm 27, mentioned at church on Sunday. This “one thing” theme has come up often for me in recent years. Here is David’s “one thing” in Psalm 27:4.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.”
I looked up the cross-reference to this verse and it took me to the Mary and Martha story in Luke 10:38-42. Truthfully I was looking for the reference to Paul’s declaration of his “one thing,” but curious, I stopped here and read this familiar story again. Verse 42 reads, “…but only ‘one thing’ is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…” Wow, I never saw that before. When I re-read verse 41 where Jesus says, “Martha, Martha,” I heard, “Debbie, Debbie, you are upset about many things,” to which I agreed and began to cry.
Jesus highlighted so much to encourage me deeply in that moment:
- Martha had opened her home to the Lord (way to go Martha)!
- Martha openly took her needs in that moment to Jesus without hesitation; she was so real and comfortable with him.
- Jesus listened and responded to her.
- Jesus knew her name and spoke it to her with love and concern.
- Jesus taught her the “one thing” that matters most.
- The “one thing” was the “better thing” to choose.
- Jesus gives freedom for Martha to choose it for herself.
Jesus whispered all this so sweetly to my heart as the tears came again. He was so present. He heard my cries and complaints, my prayers and fears of failure. He spoke my name because he knows my name. I cried more. This is the “one thing” – Jesus – that Mary was experiencing. Mary’s life found its proper place in Christ’s presence and now so was I.
All my troubles didn’t get fixed in these moments, but they did take their proper place at his feet. He was teaching me that each day I have a choice to invite him into my mess like Martha did. But most of all, I have been given freedom to listen to him respond to my cares and teach me like Martha. This must be what David experienced with the Lord as he expressed himself in Psalm 27. We too can find this kind touch from Jesus even in heartache.
Jesus is no less present with you right now than he was with Martha and Mary so long ago.
It is our prayer that together we seek his face and rest at his feet. Know today with a renewed certainty that Jesus knows your name and cares deeply about your concerns. He has something to say to you too. Chose today the “one thing” that is the “better thing,” acting on the freedom we have been given to listen and experience Jesus even now.
We love you too.
Brennan Manning was an amazing man of God who said, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” The Bible is about this kind of radical love. In the book of Hosea, Gomer was loved despite all the ways she hurt her husband and God. Hosea was instructed by God to marry a woman he knew would betray him. What courage, what obedience. But even greater is how God uses this story to tell of His love for His beloved people, Israel. He gave them everything and they betrayed Him for the lust of other lovers. Many of us know the hurt and pain unfaithfulness causes. In the midst of this betrayal, God shows love and mercy. Reading Hosea 2:14-23, God makes an amazing declaration for Gomer and Israel then, and more importantly to us today:
“Therefore, I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope.
There she will sing (respond) as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt (slavery).”
Where is there for Gomer, for Israel? Where is there for us today? Where is God taking you to know and hear His tender voice, redeem what you once had, and find a door of hope from the trouble you face? There was a desert for Gomer, Israel and Jesus. But there they get back the vineyards, hope and an opportunity to respond to the One that provided the mercy and love to get back what they once had–a relationship with radical love.
The desert is a dry place where thirst and hunger are not satisfied. It is hot, and without provision death comes fast. It is not a place of vineyards and hope. But there was where God was and he was at work to draw back a people, not His people, to be His beloved. He loved in the midst of His pain, as they and we chose other lovers.
Maybe your desert place, your there, is the very place God is drawing you to renew your true identity as radically loved by God? It is in desolation and desert places of the heart that God desires to speak tenderly to you and draw you back to what has always been there – God the Father’s love. God goes on in these verses to declare His commitment to an undying relationship in an unbreakable covenant of love for Israel and for us today:
“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion…”
Jesus Christ has fulfilled this promise and has betrothed us to Himself. He is the Bridegroom and we are His beloved Bride, the Church. He has given us everything. In this season of love may we all be willing to go there with our Lover. Let God satisfy our true longing with His radical love because “beloved by God” is our true identity.
(Please play “Love Like This” by Lauren Daigle. Let’s celebrate True Love today!)