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Debbie Csutoros

Let “He” Become “You”

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When a doctor says words like “biopsy,” “cancer,” or “oncologist,” your mind can go to frightening places. That’s what happened to Steve and me when we received the news of his prostate cancer. Our story in July’s blog, “Learning to Walk on Water,” may have left you hanging, so here’s what happened as we continued to take courage.

God healed my husband and protected our marriage! Steve has been cancer free for over 10 years! We got through the market collapse of 2008 that hurt so many of us.  It was very difficult to go through, but there were many victories as we chose daily to get out of the boat of loss and keep “walking” to Jesus.

Over time, we continue to see how God uses every trial, in mysterious ways, as a catalyst for deeper communion with Himself. God didn’t always answer our prayers the way we asked, but He answered them in ways that grew us to trust Him more, especially when it became so hard to understand what was happening.

Recently our pastor, David Cassidy, became very sick and close to death from a small spider bite. But God was faithful to heal him!  When he came back, Pastor David preached a powerful message from Psalm 23 that he had been slated to preach five weeks prior. He made a profound observation about how life’s trials can become intimate adventures with God Himself.

Pastor David noted that Psalm 23 begins with King David talking about God. He is his shepherd, He makes him lie down, He leads him, He restores his soul. He, He, He. But after King David walked through “the valley of the shadow of death,” God become personal to him. “You are with me; your rod and staff comfort me…You prepare a table…You anoint my head.” You, You, You.

The same thing happened to Steve and me.  God became even more personal during our time in the valley.  We don’t just talk about God.  We know God is with us, continuing to grow us, inviting new levels of trust in His love.  Life can be scary, but He has a way of turning scary “boat rides” into adventures of deeper communion with Him.

Debbie Csutoros, Founder

Balloon Ride

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This summer, my husband Bob and I had the wonderful blessing of being able to take our 12-year-old granddaughter Emily to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on a Road Scholar intergenerational trip.  Nine grandparents, eight kids, and two leaders spent a week hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and (the highlight of the week) an amazing hot air balloon ride.

In recent months, I have been very intentional about being aware of Jesus’ presence throughout my days.  So, while at our highest elevation, I turned my attention inward to seek Him.  I was greeted with His beautiful face, bright with sunlight, wind in His hair, and He was laughing! I was delighted and laughed with Him, treasuring this beautiful moment of being fully alive and present with Jesus, Bob, and Emily.

After we landed, the balloon operator presented each of the kids with a certificate, which included the date and location of their balloon ride.  Included in the certificate was the following poem, which I believe God gave me as a confirmation that He really was there.

The winds have welcomed you with softness.

The sun has blessed you with warm hands.

You have flown so high and so well,

that God has joined you in your laughter

and set you gently back again

into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Thank you, dear Father!!!

 

Christine Davis, YadaFactor Coach, with granddaughter Emily

Learning to Walk on Water

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Adventure is about risky, unknown pathways outside the usual. Adventures can be exciting, exhilarating, even scary.

Peter’s adventure was in the midst of a storm, daring to step out of his boat to join Jesus, walking on the water! How do you think he told the story of what happened that night? I’m guessing it was about walking on the water, not sinking.  Or maybe it was.  Regardless, it was likely a story he told with excitement in his voice because Jesus did the impossible through him!  God was teaching him a faith that can exceed human boundaries.

In 2007, Steve and I found ourselves in a cancer storm. While camping that summer, we received a call from the doctor that Steve had advanced prostate cancer.  Shortly after this, Steve’s dear father passed away. Like the disciples, we were in a storm, and we were “terrified.” (Matthew 14:26).

Then 2008 rolled around and the economy crashed. We found ourselves crying out like Peter, “Lord, save me (us)!” (v. 30). As if that were not enough, a dream investment became a nightmare. But God was teaching us like he taught Peter, to walk by faith not by sight.

By 2014, when this picture was taken, our faith was forced to grow or die. We had to choose faith every day at even greater levels, because another storm came up suddenly in a mountainous legal battle that threatened to sink us. But God was taking us on a soul refining adventure to learn to walk with Him on the water of faith.

When the disciples were terrified, Jesus immediately said three things: “Take courage! “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Then Peter said, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”

Jesus uses our storms to draw us closer to himself.  Whatever storm is blowing in your life, you can KNOW (yada) that Jesus is there and says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Storms can be painful and scary, but Jesus can answer our prayers in unimaginable ways. Dare we step out of the boat and join Him to transform our fears and worries into purposeful adventure?

 

Debbie Csutoros

Iron Man and Jesus

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The main character in Iron Man is Tony Stark. In the movie he has a changed heart that redirects his mission to build super-powered armored suits that defend against threatened peace around the world.

So, what does the Marvel movie, Iron Man, have to do with Jesus?

The apostle Paul reminds us that we too have a super-powered, spiritual armored suit for our redirected mission. Ephesians 6:10-20 begins with these words, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.” Our superpower is the mighty power of Jesus that raises the dead and lives in us through the Holy Spirit. In him, we too have been given a new heart, which brings a change of direction.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 Amen!

Tony Stark is a fictional character, but Jesus is REAL and brings life.  We are called to simply believe who he is with a faith that understands he can do the impossible against enemy foes like doubt and fear. We are responsible for suiting up with the armor, but God is responsible to provide the power once we activate our faith in this way. So, get ready, suit up, our mission has just begun.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Dear God, you are infinite, eternal, and deeper than I can ever understand.  Thank you for graciously revealing yourself to me in Jesus Christ by your Spirit.  I marvel that my relationship with you will continually be full of discovery for the rest of my life.  Please give me the assurance and knowledge of this mystery, which is Christ in me, the hope of eternal glory.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

(From Brand New:  A 40-Day Guide to Life in Christ, page 89, from Colossians 1:27.)

Kingdom Wonder

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Sunday, March 13th – 6:15 – 7:27 pm, on my porch

Bill is my stepfather. I wanted so much more than what we had, yet he was always there for my mother, by her side for close to 50 years.  He is Daddy Bill to me, and I believe God allowed him to discover wonder in the later years of his life.

A recent sermon by Al Barth at Spanish River Church helped me experience God’s wonder. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus began to introduce the kingdom of God, saying, “the kingdom of heaven is near.” As Pastor Barth explained the limits of the kingdom of this world, he reminded us that God continues to break through this world so we can know him. I loved how he called God the God of the cosmos. He explained that we have two worlds at work: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. It was so clear as he spoke this message.  I saw the wonder of God in those few moments like never before as he simplified these two worlds.  He said, “But God throughout history continues to reach into our reality, into human existence, interfering with us because he loves us.”

Throughout history God has continued to break through the kingdom of this world, like when he spoke to Noah, telling him to build an ark, and when he told Abraham to leave his country. As Pastor Barth gave examples of how God has broken through the cosmos, it was as if I could see a crack in the heavens, with a flash of how God has broken through my own life to direct my path.

The Bible tells story after story of how God was present in many life journeys. The loss and pain of evil perpetrated in the kingdom of this world is not foreign to God. He continues breaking through the cosmos with ears to hear the struggles that come with life.

The ultimate Wonder broke through the cosmos when Jesus Christ entered this broken world as a baby. Now, through him and the Holy Spirit’s power, anyone who will cry out to him can receive the strength to keep going, trusting Jesus, the only one raised from the dead, with astonishing wonder! He has broken through this worldly kingdom with his life to show us the Father’s Kingdom and a love this world can barely grasp. So, cry out, look up, reach out for God and he will show you his wonder. Then live a life that speaks of God’s wonder and share it.

Bill was such a tall strong man, yet death is consuming him as I write this blog. Death will come to me and to those who come after me until the kingdom of this world is finished, and the kingdom of God reigns forever

I received a call at 7:27. Bill passed away at 7:23 as I was writing this story. Thank you, Jesus, for your wonder. I know Bill is with you now and he’s laughing with joy at the wonder of you.

 

Written by Debbie Csutoros,

Co-Founder & Executive Director 

The Wonder of Reflection

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Reflection can be described as an act; like a mirror that returns an image.  It can also be defined as “fixing thoughts on something with careful consideration.”

For me, intentionality and courage are required to look back and reflect on my thoughts and behaviors. Often, I’d rather run away and not deal with them.  However, I have discovered that making time for purposeful reflection can bring wonder to each day.

The story of Joseph found in Genesis is a wonderful example. Joseph’s journey didn’t start off so great. He was thrown into a pit then sold into slavery by his brothers, who hated him. He was falsely accused of a felony that would’ve brought shame to most. As he remained in prison, he was passed over by those he had blessed. I think Joseph must have practiced the behavior of reflection, because no matter what happened, he stayed focused vertically on God and his promises. It paid off for Joseph and for many who went before him and after him. I believe Joseph must have just been determined to believe God.  He had a dream, and he knew it was given to him by God. And he knew God was with him, no matter what.

David Kolb’s experiential learning theory is a powerful model to help us understand the wonder that reflection can bring from the things we experience in life, whether joyous or painful. Allow me to paraphrase the big thought around this theory. If we don’t take time for reflection, we simply move from one experience to another without learning from those experiences. Here’s a simplistic diagram of his theory.

I believe YadaFactor is a tool that God is using to transform us through these four steps as we take time to reflect on His Word, write something down, then re-read it in our small triad groups. As I reflect on my life while reading scripture, writing enables me to think about life and truth together. Then I can act on this truth by obeying God and my behaviors change. For example, when a lie is exposed, my ability to stand on truth increases, helping me to take a step of action based on that truth.  As I move into more faith to believe God’s truth despite my circumstances, I begin to experience God in new ways every day, and the cycle continues.

By taking time to reflect, you will discover the wonder of God’s love for you and become more of the person He created you to be.

Renewed Hope

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It was 3:00 am.  I woke up with these words repeating in my head:

“If you’re looking for renewed hope, you will find it. If you’re looking to go deeper to know, you will find that too.”

I was compelled to write it down, so I did, then went back to bed. It was a Sunday, so off to church I went. The sermon focused on the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 1. His three points were about a new power, a new mission, and a new HOPE!! In that moment I remembered my 3:00 am notetaking! The power of the Holy Spirit was being poured out on the disciples to fulfill the commission Jesus had given them. The story of Jesus was to continue, but in a new way. The words “new hope” stood out to me for obvious reasons. The sermon concluded with these two scriptures:

…we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, (disappoint us) because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After this, we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Covid was not going away and people were losing hope. Fear was, and continues to, pour out into this world. Fear is not from God and fosters hopelessness. But with God, we can face the real thing we all fear most: death. The real elephant in the room is death, and death is painfully real, as so many have tragically experienced. It feels as though a new level of fear has been unleashed and many have lost so much. We grieve with you in your loss.  But could our greatest loss be diminishing hope and hopelessness?

God’s inoculation to fear is hope, not wishful thinking. We can know real hope when we seek to know God Himself. He has solved the problem of death by sending Jesus, who died in our place on a cross. God has declared all who trust in him, “not guilty!” God suffered like many of you with own Son’s death. But Jesus did something new; he broke through the grave and rose, alive. He is still alive! This is our hope and Covid cannot mask that. This truth overcomes the fear this pandemic has brought upon our world. I realized as the day progressed that God was speaking the word “hope.” We who know this hope can help people face the elephant in the room. I read somewhere that “hopelessness sets the stage for the moving of God’s hand, and the impossible sets the stage for a miracle.”

This quarter, through YadaFactor newsletters, we will be sharing messages of hope that renews. Let’s share this hope intentionally and sacrificially. People are hurting, and we have the same power, mission and hope that was poured into the world so long ago.

As the day ended, my rendezvous with hope in the middle of the night made a little more sense:

“If you’re looking for renewed hope, you will find it. If you’re looking to go deeper to know, you will find that too.”

Bring Back The Bible

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Did you know???

In 2019, over one-third of American adults (35%) said that realistically they never use the Bible outside of a large church service or mass. The proportion of Americans who use the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in ten (9%), the lowest number on record during the ten years of the State of the Bible research study. – 2020 State of the Bible, Research from American Bible Society and Barna Group

As Bible engagement and understanding have diminished in our society, so have many of the biblical values we hold dear.  

It’s critical to our nation’s future to restore an understanding of biblical truths.

YADAFACTOR HAS A PROVEN SOLUTION

Yada is a Hebrew word that means “to know.”  YadaFactor is “to know and be known intimately by God and others.” YadaFactor is transforming believers into a listening culture one day and one person at a time, using the Bible as our only curriculum. Bringing people back to God’s word is our top priority! The YadaFactor discipleship model puts each student at the feet of the Father, learning to integrate the Word of God with daily life.

JOIN US TO BRING BACK THE BIBLE

This summer we invite you to help us “bring back the Bible” by making a financial contribution to support our ministry efforts. Since launching our online course and coaching model in 2018, we’ve had 191 people go through our 7-week course. The testimonials have been powerful!

“I have grown in faith as I search His Word for His personal instruction, correction, encouragement or direction for me. YADA just makes me fall more in love with Jesus as I realize His faithfulness to meet with me every day.”

“This method teaches how the Bible is the Living Word and applies to me every day in all situations. I can take each moment to God. He wants to hear about every detail. I can test all things against what the Bible says to see if it is true or a lie from the enemy.”

“Now that I have experienced God this way, I won’t be satisfied with less. Through YADA, He has been answering my prayer for a deeper relationship with Him.”

AND MANY MORE!

GIVE

Would you prayerfully consider making a financial contribution to YadaFactor this summer? We are offering our course at no charge again this fall (however, our cost is approx. $425 per person). Your gift makes this possible.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

We’d be delighted to answer any questions you have about YadaFactor or discuss ways you can get involved. 

YadaFactor is a 501c3 organization. Your gift is tax deductible.

Give Today

Between Two Trees

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As we move through the summer, we hope you will make time for rest. Not just the hammock kind of rest, but the REAL rest God provides continually through Jesus. This kind of rest is a rest of the soul. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? This is why YadaFactor continues. YadaFactor encourages three vital behaviors – read, write, and share – to hear God’s voice.  But to hear him we must come and be willing to listen.

In Matthew 11:26, Jesus invites us to this deeper rest:

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This is where we will spend the summer, exploring the possibilities of living at rest, while at work and play.

 

Between Two Trees

by Debbie Csutoros

The rope falls perfectly

Forming a swing for the body.

One leg at a time gently crawls into 

its natural sway. 

The whole body lays back in rest between two trees. 

How would this be if not for love?

Love sacrificed between two trees, that we might rest in Thee.

Are you resting?

Are you swaying in the comfort of His rest?

Choose this day

to rest…between two trees. 

Guidestar Platinum Seal of Approval

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We are excited to share that YadaFactor recently obtained the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Approval!

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of nonprofit data and this designation demonstrates that YadaFactor is an organization focused on measuring our progress and results in order to provide current and potential funders accurate and detailed information. The designation is only awarded to charities illustrating the highest level of responsible fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.

We are proud of achieving the highest rating in GuideStar. This accomplishment demonstrates our commitment to being fully transparent with our mission, metrics and money.  The rating is awarded to those non-profit organizations that can measure program impact while also providing the highest level of transparency and stewardship of donor dollars.

Read the YadaFactor 2020 Annual Report.