Brad's Testimony

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This is a testimony shared by Brad Vermeer:

We were just ready to start our Wednesday bible study, and a lady was standing outside the door. I went to talk to her and ask if I could help her. She said she was new to Sioux Center and didn't really have a group of friends to go to. She said she had been at HOME before and felt the Holy Spirit there. She came hoping to find someone to pray for her because she was feeling in the middle of spiritual warfare. God planned this because as a class we were studying spiritual warfare, and that week we were studying prayer against spiritual warfare. It was great hands on application for us, and it was a blessing for her. Our assignment was to practice praying at the end of class, but God wanted us to learn by example. He shows up at perfect times.

Spark Notes (12/10)

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Entering His Presence Through Art

with Pennie Strople

Pennie Strople, a prophetic artist originally from Colorado and more recently from Redding, California, recently moved to northwest Iowa and has been getting involved at HOME. 

Pennie started with explaining that prophetic art positions us to see into what we don't yet comprehend. She explained that it's about furthering intimacy. "Into - me - you - see". It is a way to see deeper into Him - true intimacy. But it is not just for artists! Just like music is not just for musicians. We all use music. We all listen to it or hear it through out the day, but we are not all musicians. We use music to interact with God in worship, but we are not all worship leaders. The music is a tool for intimacy. It is the same situation with prophetic art - we can all use it because it is a tool for intimacy.

How does it create more intimacy? It is a visual experience with the Lord, it brings us back to child-like play where we take ourselves less seriously, and it opens us up to risk taking!

The intimacy is vertical (with the Lord) but also horizontal (as a body of believers). We can interact with the Lord to bring intimacy between ourselves and the Lord, but also we can share our prophetic art with others which can feed into others' intimacy with the Lord. We're offering a glimpse of the Lord to others through our prophetic art. We can prophecy with words, but sometimes giving a visual can have deeper meaning. It is similar to Jesus using parables. For example, with the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus told this whole story to give them a visual when he could have simply said "The Father is one who will always love and take you back". But when we see that picture, we can sit in that and go deeper. 

Pennie then led the group through a couple activation activities. Feel free to try this activity at home! 
You will need two pieces of paper and three different colors (crayon, marker, colored pencil, etc.)

1. Ask the Lord to show you one quick thing. A scene, an object, something you know. Just ask the Lord to show you something and then draw it on one side of the card. It's like Pictionary with the Holy Spirit. 

2. Ask the Lord to show you it again, and something about the image will have changed. Ask "What do you want me to see now?" Part of it may have moved, or something is covered, or something is added. Draw what you see now. 

3. Ask the Lord to bring to your mind an issue in your life right now. Something that you need the Lord's insight. Ask him what that is and write a word or phrase that represents that issue. 

4. Turn the paper over and ask the Lord two questions, 1) Lord, how does the first picture you gave me represent the issue in my life? and 2) How does the second picture you gave me represent the solution to the problem? What is the change you want to bring? 

The second activity was creating a piece of prophetic art for someone else. 

1. Ask the Lord to show you what to create. You might see it in your spirit, or you might know it in your heart, or the Lord may just reveal it to you step by step.

2. Ask for a word or phrase. 

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you who to give the image and words to.

To watch the full service, click here. 

Liza's Testimony

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This is a testimony shared by Liza DeYounge:

The great news is that we are pregnant with our third kiddo!  

The bad news is that, around six weeks in, I became very sick and mostly bedridden.  My doctor diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum - severe vomiting, dehydration and feeling, overall, just terrible every minute of the day.  Many of the women I had talked to, who had also experienced this complication, were sick through their entire pregnancy - hospitalized multiple times throughout, suffered deep depression and were virtually unable to care for their families or continue working.  Not only was I feeling miserable, my heart was consumed with debilitating worry, not knowing how I'd survive the next hour, let alone the next eight months.

Praise the Lord - two of my sweet friends and prayer warriors contacted me and volunteered to visit my home every week and pray.  My house was a mess, kids were interrupting our conversations, and I'm sure I looked frightening, not having the strength to even shower for who-knows-how-long, but the Lord met with us and heard our prayers week in and week out.  I was so exhausted and weary, it was refreshing to have others come alongside and say, "We'll bear your burdens!  Even when you run out of your own words and prayers, we'll stand in the gap - in your place - and cry out to the Lord for healing."  

In the midst of these times together, I grew in hope, and felt like the Lord was confirming that I would not be sick the entire pregnancy, like so many others.  In His mercy, the season of sickness would be shortened!  Even better, I grew in confidence that he was using what was meant for evil, for His great purposes.  

We contended for 12 weeks - that the Lord would not allow the sickness to pass the twelve week mark of pregnancy, and that He would bring revelation and perspective so my heart could comprehend what He was doing in the midst of the struggle.  

I am hoping to make this short, so I'll jump to the happy conclusion...  I am now thirteen weeks pregnant, and I'm feeling significantly better and so much more like myself.  I've been able to stop IV treatment and stop my anti-nausea medication altogether.  Most significant in my mind are the deep truths the Lord revealed to me in the hours and hours and hours I laid in bed and by the toilet.  He spoke truth into some deep trauma in my past, and He has healed significant pieces of brokenness in my life.  My heart became more tender to his word, awe and wonder returned to the place of worship.  

I am so thankful for the community of faith the Lord has surrounded me with - friends to pray alongside me, random acquaintances who dropped off meals, family who volunteered to watch my kids and do my dishes...  In the darkest and most helpless days, the Lord was providing manna (just enough!) to get through each day.  I am most grateful for God's healing - both in the physical, but also in my heart.  He is so gracious and so faithful.  Thank You, Jesus!

Spark Notes (12/3)

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Teach Us To Pray: Week Six

This week, Jen Sandbulte facilitated a video and discussion on forgiveness, centered on the verse of the week, Matthew 5:23-24,  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."

Jen began with this video of Steven Furtick teaching on Forgiveness - click here to watch.

In small groups, those in attendance processed and discussed how the Father sent the Son to forgive and what that means in our lives, especially as we approach Christmas knowing that Jesus, the beautiful miracle, came to save us and die for our sins. The main point was "Father forgive them, AGAIN. Even though they know what they are doing". 

Next, the groups discussed "As you reflect on the forgiveness of Jesus, what are you most grateful for?"

Jen then brought up these two images, she asked everyone to make their hands into a fist and to squeeze it really tight, then asked everyone to open their hands.
This is an example of how with a clenched fist, it is uncomfortable, but it does not feel uncomfortable for anyone else. The only way to feel relief is by opening your hand and letting go. That's what it is like when we hold onto a grudge and do not forgive. We mostly hurt ourselves from holding onto. Once we let that go, it brings great relief! 

Jen ended with another video on Forgiveness - click here to watch.

To watch the full service, click here. 


Spark Notes (11/26)

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 Brad Vermeer spoke this week on Matthew 6:13, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." 

Brad started with a story about horses. Horses often wear blinders to keep their eyes on what is ahead of them, not what is on either side of them - things that could distract them or spook them. Sometimes, we need "blinders" to keep our eyes off of the things that could tempt us. Brad also told of a family member who trained horses. Part of his training would be getting the horses used to being spooked by throwing a blanket over their heads or opening an umbrella next to them. By getting them used to being spooked, they would no longer spook. Sometimes, being put through difficult circumstances, things that could spook us, helps us as we move forward. We are no longer spooked and have built endurance. 

There are three things that keep our minds from wandering toward temptation:
  1. Praise
  2. Prayer
  3. Sharing your personal testimony
    • Your testimony is not just a story of you, but how God has changed and used you. 
Brad continued on through the Verse of the Week, Ephesians 6:10-11, and on through verse 18. 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
We are told to be strong in the Lord and to put on the full armor of God.

Satan's Influence                                                                        God's Armor
Father of Lies                                                                               Put on the belt of Truth

Uses guilt and accusations                                                           Breastplate of Righteousness

Puts doubt in our minds                                                               Shoes of Peace (the Gospel) 

Darts of temptation and deception                                               Shield of faith

Battles to control our minds                                                         Helmet of salvation

Hand to hand combat                                                                   Sword of the Spirit (God's Word)

To watch the full recording, click on the following:


Spark Notes (11/19)

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This week, as we continue studying the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6, Justin VandeWater taught on verse 11, "Give us this day our daily bread".

He began addressing the tension we feel when we are disappointed by different circumstances. We face all of these trials like sickness or financial struggle, so we continuously ask God, over and over, "give it to us", and then we're disappointed when the outcome isn't what we wanted or we are left waiting. We ask that His Kingdom would come and we believe in His healing and provision, but what do we do when there's that tension and disappointment?

Our verse of the week, Proverbs 30:7-8 reads, 

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die.  Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." 

The author of this proverb was obviously facing disappointment, but asking the Lord to be protected from ever speaking a lie about Him. He then goes on to a radical prayer - give me neither poverty or riches, because if I'm rich, full, then I will deny you, but if I'm poor, I will steal and do wrong. How much faith does it take to say to the Lord, "Today there are things that I want for myself and for other peoples life, but I'm asking you to give me what I need". Often what we want is not always what we need. 

When we look at the lives of Noah and Abraham and so many others in the Bible, we see how through trials, through situations that they may not have wanted to go through, they constantly looked to the Lord. They spent time with the Lord and in His word. There's this pattern of what is wanted, seems to be different from what is need.

As we look back at the themes overarching the themes we've broken down the Lord's prayer into,

Praise - hallowed be your name
Purpose - kingdom come
Provision - give us this day our daily bread
Repentance - forgive us
Protection - deliver us

Jesus knew that all of these things were crucial to the faith. We often see provision out in front of praise and purpose. In Matthew 6:25-33,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

Instead of pursuing God for what we want, or what we think he wants for us, we should seek his Kingdom first, his righteousness, and ask him on a daily basis, "God, I'm trusting you today, what is it that you think I need?"

This piece of the prayer is often an ask. We ask for healing, breakthrough, etc. But all of a sudden, "give us this day our daily bread" becomes a listen as we ask God what we need. "God, what is it that YOU think I need?" Daily. That is a radical prayer and radical faith to ask him that every day. 

When we face the tension found with the disappointment, Galatians 2:20 reminds us of the gospel in this, 

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

We no longer need to ask for what we think we need, because its not even our own life anymore. That's radical! God takes all of our sin, expectation, fear, shame, disappointment, etc. and in exchange gives us all of his righteousness! Christ lives in and through us. We realize that it's not about us! It's about Jesus. He is our daily bread. 

When we look back to the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, when they were in the midst of the trial, they were willing to go back to slavery, to what they thought they wanted or what they thought was better for them. It took just a few days to get the Israelites out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Israelites. 

We have this opportunity to come before the Father and ask "What is it that you think it need?" and listen and receive from the One who always provides what we need. Jesus humbled himself to save us, and as he faced the cross, he prayed to the Father "is there any other way?" but he still went through with sacrificing himself in obedience. 

Justin challenged the group to ask the Lord to come live His life through us. 

To watch the full service, click here.


Spark Notes (11/12)

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This week, Lyle Schut continued in the Lord's Prayer series teaching on "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10 NIV).

Big Picture
We first have to look at this phrase with the "big picture" in mind. When we pray "Kingdom come", this is asking for Jesus' 2nd coming. In Revelation 19 we get the picture of Jesus riding on a white horse, coming back to rule and reign over the earth. 

Imagine how the Jewish people and disciples felt when John the Baptist came. For 400 years before that, there was no voice (no prophet) in the land. But then John the Baptist comes speaking the Word and prophesying. 

We need a revelation about the Kingdom coming. Are we ready for it? Or do we have plans to do so many things before it, thinking, "I want to get married, have kids, go to school, get that job, then I will be ready" The Kingdom is so much greater than we can ever imagine. All of those things will fade in the light of the Kingdom, so we need a revelation about it! 

Already But Not Yet
We hear that phrase so often, but it is a true statement. We sometimes draw back from doing what Jesus said - to pray here and now. Sometimes we pray for healing, yet nothing happens, so we just stop praying. But God says that his will is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), so we should be encouraged to continue praying!

In Luke 11, the disciples come to Jesus and ask him to teach them to pray.  They saw Jesus performing miracles in so many different ways - with his voice, with his touch, with even his spit - then they ask to be taught to pray the way the Son prays to the Father. In Luke 11:20, Jesus says, "but if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you". The Kingdom on Heaven is near us when there is healing. The Kingdom reality has come. 

Luke 17:20-21 - The Holy Spirit is in our midst. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us, which is the reality that the Kingdom is coming. The Holy Spirit is like our down payment of our inheritance. (Ephesians 1:13-14). Jesus sends us out as carriers of his Kingdom. Romans 8 says that the same Spirit that raise Christ from the dead is inside of us. Jesus tells us that all authority has been given to him, so he commands us to "Go" (Matthew 28). When we pray "Your Kingdom come, your will be done" we are praying to destroy the works of the devil. 

Lyle simplified the concept with the phrase, "Whatever is going on up there, let it come down here. Whatever is going on down here that is not of God, let is stop." We long for the day that there is no more sickness, pain, death, lies, deception, etc. We pray that His Kingdom would come and His will would be done!

To watch the full service, click here.
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